Thursday, September 13, 2018

The Reality Star

The Reality Star
By Michael Cannata

            They called him, "The Survivor." He was the latest and greatest reality TV star in America. As he was driven through the crowd into the spotlights, his fans had to be restrained in their rush to be near him. The hugely vocal crowd roared in support and acclimation. Their thunderous ovation washed over him. Approval! Applause! He lived for it. He soaked in the crowd's unfettered expression of admiration.

            The monster had become a celebrity. His legacy of murderous insanity was a wildly popular headline story that wouldn’t die… so to speak. Anyone with a semblance of sanity would recognize him for what he was; a madman that murdered for delusional causes. .The mass murderer had an adoring public. Fervent fans with a penchant for worshiping evil.

            To a small but passionate organization of lunatics that had tracked his rise to infamy, obsessed fans of his reputation for carnage, he was a freedom fighter. A survivalist who declared war against a government he believed was set on taking away his rights and liberties. He had considered himself a soldier ready to fight for his cause. Yet, to inspire the army he needed to fight with him, the battle had to start somewhere. He had decided it would start with him.

            On a beautiful spring day he walked into a post office and killed everyone inside. He lined them up and shot each one while declaring them enemies of the union.  He killed them in a demented effort to interrupt government communications and disrupt troop deployment. He considered the innocent civilian victims collateral casualties in a war he had personally declared.

            He slaughtered over two hundred people in government offices in a cross country spree of senseless hate and violence. He waged a personal war that lasted almost two years. He managed to avoid capture by using the survival skills he learned as a soldier. Living in the mountains and wilderness was something he did all his life. Using those skills he managed to avoid capture by the authorities desperately trying to apprehend him. His close calls and daring escapes gained national attention.

            Soon he became a prominent figure on the evening news broadcasts. As the media attention grew, the public couldn’t get enough. Debating whether he was a martyr or murderer was a media theme played out in every detail and from every point of view on the daily talk shows.

            His reign of carnage spawned several major news series and late night news specials devoted to the search to capture him. Local officers, sheriffs, state police, federal and military officials and government spokesman became recognized faces as they appeared in the nightly news wrap-ups. The nationwide effort by law enforcement to apprehend him was subjected to daily scrutiny on every news program on the air and in print. The manhunt was going nowhere.  Something that was bad for the general public, but great for ratings.

            A number of news anchors, rally organizers, fund raisers and promoters owed their living to him. He was a freedom fighter set against preventing the government from destroying his country from the inside.

            In the end, he never did get caught. Rather, in a last ditch attempt to become the hero he longed to be, he surrendered. He had grown tired of having others tell his story. It was time he spoke directly to the people about the dangers that the deep state posed.

            Once he had the chance to talk with the people, to warn them with his own words, he would be able to bask in their praise and take solace in their judgment. They would revere him as a true hero. But reality often changes in ways we never fantasize  

            Rather than have his name immortalized, once he was a prisoner, no longer the outlaw that made him the focus of the media, people quickly forgot his name. There were plenty of other madmen willing to keep killing for their entertainment. All the public had to do was change the channel.

            On the day he was executed only a handful of his followers' were there to send him off to hell. His crimes would be revisited on crime shows regularly. He would live on as an infamous celebrity serial killer in TV specials that are run in an almost annual rewrite of his bloody trail.

             On the occasion of these media specials the murderer’s devotees would gather to sing his praises. They held rallies and sold trinkets, bumper stickers, T-shirts and such. The insanity of his actions helped his followers profit from his notoriety while waiting for the next madman to call to them.

            In the beginning, he was an unreal American reality figure. In the end, he was as real as any American hero ever got to be.

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