Washington, D.C. (API) In a time of national turmoil, economic uncertainty and geopolitical anxiety, Americans have been seeking new ways to feel good again and it's only natural that they'd look to a new diversion, not unlike the arrival of the Beatles or the invention of the television. And increasingly, say pundits, the trend that's got all the teenyboppers screaming is bloody, cold-hearted revenge. "Whether it's public executions or watching Richard Heene get tossed in the slammer, people are out for blood," said New York Times culture writer Mimi Heisenbaum. "Revenge feels good. It tastes great and you don't put on weight. I myself have found that grudge is my color."
Call it payback, retribution, vengeance, reprisal or redress, Americans want to see the pendulum swing, literally and figuratively, on all dopes, antagonists, bumpkins, trolls, blatherskites, psycho bitches, no-goodniks, malefactors, miscreants, reprobates and fuckwads, whether they be criminals or just somebody stupid on TV.
"When I heard that Keeping Up With the Kardashians beat out Mad Men's season finale in the ratings, I just wanted to shoot up a building," said kindergarten teacher Rachel S. Warren. "But then I when I saw Khloe Kardashian get called fat in a recent episode, I've got to say, it brought out the color in my cheeks again. I've found myself watching all the Kardashian reruns now, just to enjoy the sublime feelings of watching that fat bitch hurt a little more every time."
A new Gallup poll finds that 37% of Americans now enjoy the sight of watching somebody injure themselves in a violent fall on YouTube every week, up from 15% last spring. And a full 67% say that idee fixe revenge fantasies feel better than simple meditation by the fire on a winter evening while wrapped up with a book.
"My mother invited me to go to a knitting class with her last week," said Brenda Champlain, a lawyer from Harrisburg, Pa. "She said it would calm my nerves and keep me from hating other people so much. But in the end, we decided to call the police on the guy next door when his car alarm went off for the 18th time."
Indeed, Americans prefer revenge 10 to 1 over redemption and 5 to 1 over the concept of simple justice. However, 70% said they didn't know the difference between revenge and justice, and 40% said they didn't know that revenge was the subject of the proverb "Two wrongs don't make a right." A full 90% of Americans enjoy watching the YouTube video where the catwalk model falls through the floor.
When asked their opinions about capital punishment, most respondents gave a variety of qualitative answers ranging from "An eye for an eye," to "Why not do it if it feels good at the time?"
"Revenge is shown to activate intense feeling in the reward centers of the brain," said researchers at the University of Zurich. "Positron-emission technology scans show us that revenge excites certain areas of the basal ganglia, allowing the brain to deviate momentarily from rational thought. This serves an evolutionary impulse to punish those who have wronged us so that they don't do it again. In layman's terms, it means opening up a tasty, tasty can of whup-ass."
Reality show hoaxer Richard Heene was asked if he was aware exactly how much people's basal ganglia became excited when police placed him under arrest and prosecutors threatened him with years in jail and the loss of his family. He responded again that he was sorry he had misled so many people with his balloon stunt and begged Americans for clemency and mercy.
"Americans are angry at me," he said. "I can smell it on them. They want my blood. That evolutionary need to destroy anybody, even a stranger, is very strong in the American spirit. It's been in our heritage since the Puritan days. There's no getting around it. They're coming to destroy me. ... You hear that? Blood, I tell you! They want my blood!"