Watching this old wartime sitcom, during what remains, or will become
of Enduring Freedom, makes one realize how unbelievably contrite
our current US Foreign Policy is, how empty and vapid our armchair politicizing
has become, and the frightening proportions of our National media reportage.
Here was this Prime Time TV show that aired from '72 to '83, but was based
around a Medical Unit serving during the Korean War. It was completely
new in its ability to laugh, proselytize, comment, and even judge the
National arguments, policies, morals, and fever/temperament.
I never much watched M*A*S*H when it was a current TV series. I didn't
really like the subject matter, or rather what I thought was the subject
matter (War), and found that I couldn't really find a sympathetic female
character (let's face it, Hot Lips, especially later Hot Lips, is irksome
by any standards). But I always liked the theme song, and always made
it through the opening credits, so that I could hear the sad sonorous
soliloquy, before flipping the channel. The tune is titled, Suicide is
Painless. I was unclear with what Suicide was, as far as the
verse was concerned, but for a television show, the melody was not necessarily
so catchy, but something more: maybe because the song was imported from
M*A*S*H the movie. I don't know, but those bars of music are really all
I recall from the series.
And it's funny, despite all the TV I watch, I tried to resist the digitally
re-mastered and re-released M*A*S*H currently playing on, of all channels,
the Hallmark Channel, notorious, or rather distinguished for its Family
Programming. And yet, Suicide drew me in, again. And now, I watch four
times a day. I get the comedy, the inevitable clown, the ability to face
the farce in the space of dire sadness.
I was speaking to someone whose son would be soon leaving to Iraq:-for
a tour of duty, which would last a year. As we spoke, certain things,
very unpleasant were revealed. Since Mission Accomplished,
soldiers who have been injured in Iraq now receive half the disability
compensation per month, as those injured during Shock and Awe.
So for example, for a mere $1600.00 per month, these injured troops will
now receive $800.00. Not only that, but all troops' wages have been cut
(this friend's particular son's decrease amounted to a pay cut of 20%,
since the Accomplished status). Considering that more troops
have been injured since Flight Suit Day (close to 3400 in
total as of printing), and casualties since then are outnumbering those
fallen during Wartime, the troops who are sacrificing most
for supposed freedom, are being the least compensated. Quite unlike the
large conglomerates-such as Halliburton and VP Cheney's energy consortiums,
much less the Texas chums of W-all of whom are gaining the
fruits, and they truly are Fruits of War.
Speak to these discrepancies, these tragedies, Democrats.
For all of it is really hardly a comedy. And yet, we know from our Day
to Day Shakespeare Calendar, we as an audience have honed in on
the concept that everything is either tragedy or comedy.
Tomorrow, Dad, I will have black rings painted round my eyes, and the
chalk white cheeks of a corpse. I will try to be all those whose laughter
ended in the beech forest, in the birch copses far away, just before dawn-those
whom you tried to bring back to life. And I shall try to be you, too,
you who never forgot.
As best I can. I'll play the clown the best I can. And maybe, in the name
of you all, I'll manage to play the man too.
-Michel Quint, In Our Strange Gardens
Perhaps Suicide is Painless. And the face of death, not just
of individuals, but ideals, governments, people, is the visage of the
clown, because that of man is too painful to bear.
The game of life is hard to play
Gonna lose it anyway
The losing card I'll someday lay
So this is all I have to say
-Suicide is Painless, M*A*S*H theme song