I'm A Victim, You're A Victim, Wouldn't You Like To Be A Victim, Too?
In 1974, the bestselling book Sybil was published. It concerned a young woman who, it was claimed, had 16 different personalities. The condition is known as dissociative identity disorder, and— before you could say TV miniseries— multiple personalities was all you could hear in the culture.
There were two movies made on Sybil (actual name Shirley Ardell Mason), countless books and magazine articles. Dissociative identity disorder was suddenly being diagnosed everywhere. An epidemic of people on TV or radio claimed to have three, five, ten, twenty separate personalities swept the media. In this explosion of cases, a number of clinicians campaigned to have it considered a legitimate diagnosis.
There was furious debate as to whether Sybil was a fraud or the condition a true psychological problem. It also became a punchline for comedians as “victims”, each more fantastic than the last, clawed for public attention. You could almost describe the public reaction as a panic.
And then, as quickly as it blossomed, dissociative identity disorder faded like the spring flowers. Today, it’s a quiet corner of the world of psychology with debates still waged over its authenticity or whether Mason was a fraud. After its initial enthusiasms, the mainstream media has devoted approximately zero segments to dissociative identity disorder in the past decade.
Public panics are a regular feature of life in modern societies. What’s even more predictable is the experts and analysts assembled by the networks and newspapers will insist that we have never been here before.
Currently the age of the internet has spawned a number of pervasive panics. For example, there is Al Gore’s “We’re all going to die in a fiery inferno” panic— also known as global warming/ climate change. It has captured the frontal lobes of the future King of England, a good deal of Hollywood and a healthy swath of elected officials. (Although polls show its losing its punch.)
But nothing speaks to O Tempora O Mores better than the epidemic of Victims ‘R’ Us epitomized by former U.S. president Bill Clinton on his recent book tour. Flogging a tome co-authored with scribe James Patterson, Clinton entertained the ladies and gents of the media.
Now, when it comes to 95 percent of the working press, Clinton has a permanent Survivor immunity from questions about his career as a sexual predator. So you can understand him thinking he could just throw his jock on the field and have no one ask about the stinky thing.
Except, the times are a-changin’ for members of the Harvey Weinstein Charm School. No longer can you simply say Shakespeare In Love and get a pass. So a cheeky NBC reporter (will wonders never cease?) asked Bill if he’d ever taken the time to apologize to one of his conquests, Monica Lewinsky, the lady in the stained blue dress.
A flummoxed Clinton took repeated runs at an answer, trying to nuance the word “apologize” in his Slick Willy fashion. His face, already showing the effects of age and lifestyle, turned beet red. He did the flop sweat. Patterson even tried to rescue him with a “Hey, it’s been 20 years, guys”. Nothing worked. (Until Stephen Colbert applied a healing tongue balm to his hero later that night on his show.)
In desperation, Clinton proclaimed himself a victim. Because if nothing else works in this age of Poor Me, it’s the #metoo fallback. Of course it’s absurd. But pity the company or institution that doesn’t take seriously the agony of victimhood.
In fact, victim status may be the final immovable pillar of Barack Obama’s legacy left in Trump’s America. While put-upon is an old narrative in the rest of the world (Canada’s elite has its PhD in victimhood), the U.S. had resisted seeing itself as a blubbering basket case of insecurities.
Until POTUS 44 taught them victim status. From blacks to women to trans people to millionaire NFL players he orchestrated a symphony of self pity.
There are real victims in society. Not everyone is dealt a fair hand. But now we equate the real victims of the Parkland High School shooting with dessicated hacks like Bill Clinton extracting a little pity for being asked tough questions on a book tour.
It’s no coincidence the Left likes victimhood. The catnip of victimhood is the utter hopelessness of its subjects without the state to minister to them. When everyone is oppressed, Obama preached, only the vast apparatus of government— with its well-paid experts, consultants and diversity gurus— can quench the pain. So give up trying.
Life in an Obama world is a vast grievance tote board in which one accumulates points for every time they’ve feeling put upon. From real victims to perceived victims— the line is now so blurred that once Weinstein goes to jail we may run out of oppressors.
The paucity of punching bags was on display this week as the Super Bowl champion Philadelphia Eagles spurned a visit to the White House. The offended black players claim Trump is a virulent racist and sexist and flautist and who knows what else. This kabuki theatre played out alongside news that Trump had pardoned boxer Jack Johnson and convicted felon Anna Marie Johnson— both black.
The Eagles pearl clutching also played against this week's news of the lowest black American unemployment rate (6.6 percent) since records were kept in 1972. That’s down from a high of 17 percent in the Obama administration. If this is oppression then most blacks should want more of it. As Kanye says, give him a chance.
But with a hysteria to perpetuate, the asshats of the Eagles weren’t going to relent. The best way to protect their community is apparently to preserve the failed narrative of the Obama years. In the case of progressives and their sports puppets, only one personality is allowed. And it isn’t Sybil.
Bruce Dowbiggin @dowbboy.is the host of the podcast The Full Count with Bruce Dowbiggin on his website is Not The Public Broadcaster (http://www.notthepublicbroadcaster.com). He’s also a regular contributor to Sirius XM Canada Talks Ch. 167. A two-time winner of the Gemini Award as Canada's top television sports broadcaster, he is also the best-selling author whose new book Cap In Hand will be available this fall.