I used to care about things. Or, at least, I thought I did. I never really did much about any of it except write things for an online weekly column called "Shut Up and Listen" I did for five years. I railed against politicians and governments and idiots and authority and was a great angry young man who didn't actually do anything except spew shit out into the world, convinced that my opinion meant something. It didn't. Still doesn't really. But, hey, it was fun thinking otherwise? Fun trashing Bush and Harper and mocking fuckwits like Gore and Kerry and Martin and Chretien. I watched political conventions and speeches and wrote about them like I knew what was going on. I did to an extent, but not as much as I thought I did. Having done nothing, it's hard to say I really got things. Hunter Thompson was a great writer and Fear and Loathing: On the Campaign Trail '72 is a great fucking book, but that doesn't mean you know shit just because you read it.
Still, I miss that guy. There was a recent federal election in Canada and I voted as I always do, but there was a definite disconnect. A bigger disconnect than ever. I barely followed along as it went, only clicking on top stories about the NDP gaining in the polls or summaries of the debates. On election night, I paid attention to the results while watching wrestling for the Instant Analysis review I write for 411mania. At one point in my life, the election would have been one of my top priorities. Something I followed closely and cared about.
It's not that I didn't care this time. I did. But I didn't. Does that make any sense? I wanted Harper and the Tories to lose, I wanted the Liberals to lose, I wanted the NDP to win, and... well, that was it. Vague ideas of what's right and what's wrong and nothing to back it up except ideas I've been living off since I was fucking 16. That bothers me.
I hadn't reread Channel Zero by Brian Wood in years. Shit, I couldn't tell you when it last was. Before I moved to Windsor -- and probably not anytime soon before that. Over five years, probably somewhere close to seven maybe? I'm not sure it holds up as well now. It still looks impressive and different and some would say that it's politics are more relevent than ever (they'd be both right and wrong, I imagine). I haven't kept up with Wood's work extensively. I have the first four DMZ trades, got that DV8 series, enjoyed the return to Demo, and have plans to read Northlanders at some point. At one point, he was on my 'read everything' list. Now, he's... kind of? There's probably no connection between that disconnect and my political disconnect, but let's pretend there is.
Rereading Channel Zero was both disappointing and refreshing. The older me, the one that knows so much more and cares so much less, couldn't help but find the writing a bit simplistic and underdeveloped. I'm not sure Wood would disagree with that judgment. There's some interesting ideas in it, but it's a visually-driven book clearly. Wood's black and white design-oriented art was (and is) the appeal. His writing and the content try to work with it. It does get better as it goes with the final couple of issues working pretty well. The story about the Cleaner is good.
What I found myself attracted to was the final issue where Wood manages to bring a maturity to the book that you wouldn't expect from the rest of it. For those unaware, Channel Zero is about an America where Christian interests have resulted in government censorship of the media (and a fascist government basically) and the fight against that, mostly through Jennie 2.5 who hacks into broadcasts to spread disinformation until she's caught. In there, she finds herself basically turned into what she was fighting against -- another tool for the government and media to use to their advantage.
At the end of the book, she's returned to New York after a year of exile and she just can't fight anymore:
I'M TOO OLD AND TOO WELL KNOWN. I DON'T HAVE THE ENERGY TO FIGHT BOTH THE GOVERNMENT AND MY OWN HORRIBLY TWISTED PUBLIC IMAGE AT THE SAME TIME. MY TIME IS DONE AND IT'S BEST I LEAVE IT FOR THE KIDS, THE YOUNG AND STUPID ONES, THE ONE WHO WERE JUST LIKE I USED TO BE.
It doesn't really match up with me, but I can't but feel that way. I raged against the fucking machine for a while and, now, I'm just tired and I am the fucking machine. In the end, Channel Zero turns into a weirdly pragmatic and cynical book where Wood acknowledges that most people just get tired and want to not think about this shit and just watch some TV at the end of the day. Horrible, isn't it? I remember when I actually did things while watching TV, even if it was just writing dumb columns and bad comics scripts.
Whatever, I have to get up and go to work tomorrow.
Listening to Matthew Good
July 5, 2011