Top Ten Internet Tragedies of all Time :: a Tongue in Cheek Look at Spilt Milk and Other Tear-Enducers

Tragedy All'Arrabiata Not to take the sad events of this week’s losses lightly, but I daresay that the media blitz we are currently experiencing on the heels of a pop star’s demise is a bit of a dramedy.

Oh do go on and poo-poo me, for being a bad sport [read: realist]. In fact, I’ve already written what I took as a more suitable memorial than what I kept blaring out at me from the headlines: (it’ll be on Broowaha later today, but you can find it here for now) you’ll see that in fact I took the time to speak to not only Michael’s memory but also to the tragedy that his death represents: the ultimate casuality of a fickle system that builds up and breaks down human spirits for entertainment. It’s not a leap to realise he’s merely one of many (both passed and still living, if barely so at the soul-level) who the media and in turn the public destroy by demonstrating the meanest grade of pack mentality — hating and adoring in lightning-fast turns.

But here my goal is a different one: this is not a memorial.

Instead, here I seek to draw attention to the topsy-turvy-ness this represents. “And ohhhh, what topsy-turvy-ness is *is*, Alice,” said the White Rabbit. Ahem.

Let us consider for a second that ALL our headlines (not only in this country) have this death as their top story. It’s all over the news, with every channel tuned to each breaking bit of “information”. It’s actually a challenge to find out what else happened yesterday. How many of us know what other, tragic deaths or truly heartwrenching events happened yesterday? Do we truly put more value in this death than in the death of a child from preventable hunger?

Sigh, pop culture. I love it as much as I hate it, and right now, I feel like I’m swimming in an embarassing sea of ridiculous.

So, as a bit of an anti-paeon to the state of public tragedy, I offer this: an interwebs-eye view of all things “tragic.” What cream would settle to the top of the heap via our friend and trust magic-eight ball of relative importance, GOOGLE, when one types in the word, “Tragedy?” The results speak for themselves.

1. Of course! the wikipedia definition of Tragedy, in which the dramatic version is described. Who knew it came from the root “goat-song”? But best of all, it offers this as its opening, defining statement: a form of art based on human suffering that offers its audience pleasure. Need I draw the line between two points, under the circumstances? What’s that they say, life is a cabaret?

1, part b: Image. The image used here is the first image result: an italianate sculpture, used as an background image in a college discussion about tragedy. The artist is unnamed, but it reminds me of Canova. Pretty well in keeping with the above as our item of clear, key importance in this grave conversation.

2. Obituary of Michael Jackson from the LA Times. “Filled with fantasy and tragedy.”

3. Video results: clips both live and canned of Bee Gees song, “Tragedy.” CLASSIC. I love a good Bee Gee vocal.

4. News results: from that bastion of public service, the Southern Utah site Spectrum, we are informed that the band “This Romantic Tragedy” will join “Confine” and “Of Machines” in concert. Wow, I don’t know about you but I am just relieved that I received that essential bulletin. I can rest easy tonight!

5. Ooh, ooh, more Bee Gees, this time a la a tribute band named after the song performed above! Actually, a link to their myspace page.

6. In another offering of basic “information,” here we’ve got the entry for tragedy in the Merriam-Webster dictionary online. I find it both fascinating and incredibly telling that the first definition is that of dramatic type or play, followed by the clearly less relevant or important “a disastrous event:CALAMITY:MISFORTUNE” that succeeds it.

7. The Google Books entry for Shakespeare’s Othello, curiously categorized as “Juvenile Fiction.” Absolutely! At least we’ve got intrigue, murder, and double crossing between friends! As it says here, we are to be excited that one can now “reach today’s adolescents with the universal messages of great literature.” Fabulous! Thanks, Google Books.

8. An adapted, condensed description of Aristotle’s Poetics from an undergraduate textbook “Guide to the Study of Literature,” on the English Department website of Brooklyn College, CUNY. Thrilling, of course.

9. Our favorite Bee Gee’s cover band, Tragedy, is back again, with their website, “Let’s Make Tragedy Happen.” I cannot resist including the tags that come up in the search, unedited: “mmmmmmmm. mmmmmmm. WE ROCK SWEET BALLS AND CAN DO NO WRONG – THE DEBUT ALBUM BY TRAGEDY – AVAILABLE NOW – VISIT THE MERCH PAGE AND BUY MULTIPLE COPIES.” ‘Nuff said?

10. What tragedy is complete without a German (theorist)? (Wait wait… disclaimer necessary: I totally meant that in a bad academic joke way, but how can I remove it? I have many German friends, I love and dream of Berlin… you all do realize I mean theorists and philosophers, right? Please have a sense of humor.) Anyway, now we really can feel like we have of course exhausted the top ten of tragedies of all time, now that we’ve added to this most comprehensive overview the google books entry on Nietszche’s “The Birth of Tragedy: Out of the Spirit of Music.”

In closing, I say good night and good luck, fair web-izens. Thank goodness we’ve got all this information on here to keep our heads clear and our eyes bright.

Lynne DeSilva-Johnson

Brooklyn native, of late absconded to the Hudson Valley in search of blessed unrest by the shores of the river that flows both ways. Will have a sailing license sooner than a driver's one. Has a tendency for costume, soup in all seasons, and scavenging for fiddlehead ferns. Deep believer in citizen journalism. All around gadabout, tortured/reticent academic, teacher of writing and philosophy to undergrads at CCNY, prefers pin-striped man pajamas, likes hats and typesetting. "I have never quite succeeded in getting used to existence, whether it be the existence of the world or of other people, or above all of myself. Sometimes it seems to me that the forms of life are suddenly emptied of their contents, reality is unreal, words are nothing but sounds bereft of sense, these houses and this sky are no longer anything but facades concealing nothing, people appear to be moving automatically and without reason; everything seems to melt into thin air, everything is threatened -- myself included -- by a silent and imminent collapse into I know not what abyss, where there is no more night or day. What magic power still holds it all together? And what does it mean...? And yet here I am..." //Eugene Ionesco //

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  1. July 6, 2009

    […] Top Ten Internet Tragedies of all Time :: a Tongue in Cheek Look … […]

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