The White House, apparently eager to capitalize on the Hunger Games publicity blitz, has released portraits of the two official candidates for National Thanksgiving Turkey. It’s not that they think the turkeys are just cute, and it’s not that they’re trying to raise our awareness of, say, the terrible conditions on turkey farms. Caramel and Popcorn are presented to us complete with their favorite songs — “Bad Romance” and “Halo,” respectively. And as though we were spectators in the Capitol, we are expected to take this information and choose as our favorite the one turkey who will survive. WE’RE BEING ASKED TO KILL ONE OF THESE TURKEYS BY WAY OF FACEBOOK LIKES. [Update: Okay, apparently in the fine print both turkeys have been pardoned. We suggest that the symbolism of the thing is still too much for us, particularly because we suspect most of America will be as confused as we are. Plus, probably within a year all pardoned turkeys end up dead. IT’S JUST A FACT.]
It’s rather cruel, really. I’m not sure who exactly at the White House had the idea. But intrinsic to the social compact we all keep is that we only eat meat when its provenance is comfortingly concealed from us. The veil of ignorance is important, not just in the matter of turkey but in the matter of social cohesion as a whole. This little turkey campaign reveals us to each other. It turns out that we are just a bunch of bird-slaughterers, whose criteria for survival of the fittest boil down to which pop star one prefers. I don’t know about you, but I prefer to think of us as not being so bloodily arbitrary, even if it is an illusion to think so.
As such, I have been ruminating on the appropriate mode of protest. I am put in mind of the activism of one Claudia Jean Cregg:
Not all of us, sadly, have this kind of access to the Oval Office. But assuming that someone’s still at work down there in DC, I entreat them to march into the office of whoever is running the president’s social media campaign. I entreat them to do so, and to play the associated video. And then to TAKE DOWN THAT FACEBOOK LIKE PAGE.
We are becoming a country that Yelps everything, up to and including each other’s dating profiles. It is risible. It is disgusting. It is ruining the fabric of our culture and of humanity as a whole. Let’s all be better than a people who vote, online, for the deaths of turkeys based on make-believe criteria. And let’s leave the cutesy trappings of said kinds of massacre to the dreamers who write dystopian YA franchises. That’s where this kind of stuff belongs.