Story and Illustration by Russ Gottwaldt
So you’ve had a bad day. ûYou’re angry. ûYou come home from your last exhausting critique with flies hovering over the dirty dishes and a solitary box of baking soda in your refrigerator. ûYou’re extremely hungry, it’s 12:30 in the morning and you can’t remember the last time you talked to your friends and family. What you would really like is for a classmate to find his way over to your apartment and exclaim, “Boy, you sure are wretched–the most I’ve ever seen!” Then pat you on the back and leave.
It’s unfortunate that your loneliness, hunger pains, and crooked disposition are only enough to qualify you as a pensive oddity.
Had something substantially tragic happened to you, you’d have a valid reason to commit suicide.ûAs it stands, slitting your wrists next to a note that reads, “Trader Joe’s was out of pizza dough and my teacher didn’t like my fabric project. Goodbye world,” would seem foolish.
You need to vindicate your depression. Concentrate heavily on all the deprivation in the world. Recall footage of little children with eye infections and bloated stomachs wearing faded t-shirts with Mickey Mouse’s feverish smile screen-printed on them. A speech balloon above Mickey’s head reads, “I spent my summer in the happiest place on earth!”
Meanwhile, you spend your student life in a comfortable, art-oriented non-profit corporation. You pay roughly $200 for every time you go to class and somehow you have the nerve to think to yourself, “Man, I know how those starving kids feel.”
In your pitiful state you go online. You pick out a picture of a few slain children in front of a mosque off an Arabic news site and print it out as a reference. You make a vivid, ten by ten foot enlargement of the image in oil paints and then, in all seriousness, title it, “The Na«vet¹ of Senseless Violence.” ûOf course, you don’t really know why the children in the photo were killed and frankly, you’re not really concerned about that.ûYou don’t really have anything to say about the spot in the Gaza Strip where the photograph was taken and, come to think of it, you’re not even sure if you’d be able to locate the Gaza Strip on a map. You merely wanted to express your own flimsy frustration and loneliness by unsympathetically hijacking actual horrors for your pathetic wallowing (but it is an oil painting, which is classy).
You smugly congratulate yourself on the success of your piece and prepare a new canvas so as to bastardize the holocaust. After all, that’s where the real money is–and you wouldn’t be the first to make genocide anecdotal. Plenty of video games and Hollywood movies have already made WWII really entertaining, so painting a screaming Jew in a gas chamber because you’re sore about getting dumped by your boyfriend is perfectly justifiable. You deserve to leach off cultural atrocities for personal gain.
In fact, by making a franchise out of disparity, you could become one of the most overpaid people on the planet. Take an example from a self-righteous death metal head and commodify homicide and dismemberment. Look to the Church of Mel Gibson to make martyrdom pornographic.
You make a career change and drop out of art school altogether, as you’ve found a bankable hook.