Tuesday, September 07, 2010

I don't like air shows. It's a problematic view to hold, for really no reason other than it's socially unpopular. Say you don't find special enjoyment in roaring planes and supersonic booms and you'll be accused of being a fun-hating, soldier-loathing, unpatriotic, soulless bore.

I don't see the point of air shows. They don't do a better job of honouring our servicemen and women than the memorial ceremonies we already have, and frankly, that clearly isn't the point anyway. People enjoy air shows for the gee-whiz-bangness of technology (a "sense of wonder" not found in everyday life, as one person publicly put it). There is no effort to communicate the inevitable sacrifice made by many soldiers -- a great majority of which do or did not fly planes  -- nor to characterize war as the necessary evil.

Like how modern aerial warfare has allowed a greater and greater sense of removal from physical combat, we seem to suffer from the same artificial distance. A jet -- though technically, yes, a conveyance, a means of transport -- is still an instrument of war, much like a tank or a bomb or a gun (though we see no "fun" displays of those). They exist for that singular purpose. A contemporary fighter jet has no civilian counterpart; there are no amateur historical enthusiasts who just want to show off their flying skills. When a jet is displayed, it doesn't possess the same heritage or traditional impetus as a biplane; it's about war, today. I fully trust veterans and servicepeople to view these shows with a particular internal reserve, understanding them as real machines of war, but when I see urban civilians whooping it up because the CF-18 looks like something out of a movie, it feels ... dangerous. 

So, air shows -- don't like 'em, don't go, won't miss them the day they're finally retired for good.

posted at 1:51:08 pm

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Glo'ri'a'na, noun:
1. An alternative form of "Gloria."
2. As "Americana" defines itself as artefacts of American culture, "Gloriana" consists of the artefacts of my culture.


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