"What's the world for you if you can't make it up the way you want."

-Jazz, Toni Morrison

The Industry Is

The Industry Is

The industry is a factory. Think of The Jungle. Shit shoveled in sausage and you can’t get enough of the flavor. Exploited workers and tickets to watch. There’s screaming. My God, there’s screaming and we love it.

The industry is colonialism. It is white men claiming nations not their own, making slaves of any person not white and phallic, and denying culpability until decades after the rape.

The industry is a fable. It starts en medias res: the kingdom is fallen, the dragon hungry, and the maiden bound. The hero is coming to save her. The hero is coming to save her. The hero is the dragon.

The industry is fear. It is a mouthful of the bloody kill. It is cowering shadows in cave stone as lightening crops. It wants always more because less is less.

The industry is cable news. It’s always there, both the noise and in the noise. There is no truth to it. It is whatever it takes to bring comments and little blue thumbs aloft.

The industry is addiction. It is loneliness ignored by illusion and an acidic grip on your tongue that after released leaves you wiser and lonelier. And over time you forget the illusion is illusion, and it becomes almost palpable, and you need it in your veins.

The industry is prostitution. But if you film it, it’s legal.

The industry is whiskey. It goes down smooth, even smoother when you’ve had too much.

The industry is idolatry. A vaunted totem and a priestess. She worships. She wails. She doesn’t mean a word of it.

The industry is fan fiction. Anemic plots brimming with vapid characters with impossible curves. There is no art to it.

The industry is disease. It sidles through your meat until it’s the size of a softball fastened to your heart, becoming your heart, and killing you both.

The industry is Miami. It is Hollywood with a condom. It’s young kids from Texas. It’s a Wisconsin basement. It’s a Nebraska dorm room.

The industry is mothers, daughters, sisters, fathers, sons, brothers, friends.

The industry is slavery, and slavery is rape. It’s children snatched in the aching dark, anesthetized souls allaying themselves with fetid needles in the weeping sunrise.

It is twenty-two years past and that child snatched from that dirty but warm apartment twenty-two years ago and raped for twenty-two years at lens point now hammers the barrel of a twenty-two in the captor’s eye, and as the captor screams the child fires, and as that twenty-two caliber ricochets off-white bone and grey matter, the child presses the twenty-two’s burning barrel under their own chin, and when the burning becomes comforting, the child throws the pistol down and runs through the door.

The industry is a cattle show. The cattleman parades the heifer in. Look at her. Right amount of fat in the flanks. Right amount of fear in the eye. Sometimes there are judges. Maybe they’re young like 4H boys circled around, unknowing in their eyes. They point. They make show. But the other judges are older, fellow cattlemen or overweight vaqueros. There is no pity in their eyes but only a knowing that is hate. 

Murphy Little is a writer who does not settle on present conventions but reinterprets past American authors to inform him (and others) what literary fiction should be. He survived adolescence in a trailer amongst Alabama pines and a later stint in a Texas seminary. Twitter: @Murph_Little

Cover photo by Kristina Flour on Unsplash

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