Wednesday, July 20, 2011

He Surprised my Achy Breaky Heart

I forgave Billy Ray Cyrus for 1993’s “Achy Breaky Heart.”

I even forgave him for foisting Hannah Montana on the world, as ugly as that whole thing was. (Disney, which has hypnotized all of my children at one time or another, isn’t off the hook yet.) It’s not his fault that in this country one can make millions by promoting one’s saccharine daughter, Miley, and her hackneyed sitcom to indiscriminate preteens who have yet to develop a sense of taste or the ability to recognize a laugh track when they hear it.

But I just watched an episode of “Surprise Homecoming” on TLC and I think Mr. Mullet Mr. Soul Patch has finally gone too far.

I was taking a break from mowing my lawn in 90 degree heat, which taught me, incidentally, that I need a) my youth back, b) a smaller lawn, and c) a MedicAlert bracelet so the paramedics who are hopefully able to resuscitate me will know that I’m just overweight, not swollen from a fall off my roof or allergic to their medication. Anita had the television tuned to TLC although she was supervising our new puppies in another room when I wandered in, sat down and was hooked. Otherwise I’m sure she would have warned me.

I’m not ashamed to shed a tear or two when I’m moved by something. I just resent being moved by something as crass, manipulative and maudlin as the filmed, staged reunions of returning soldiers and their families.

I felt like a voyeur, like I was intruding on what should have been private moments. Some of the children clearly looked uncomfortable, if not taken-aback, by the onlookers. One dad reunited with his wife but waited 24 hours before reconnecting with his three- and six-year old children because he wanted to surprise the unsuspecting tots by revealing himself in front of hundreds at Disney World.

I would have insisted on seeing my kids within an hour of my plane touching down at the latest.

I kept thinking, too, about all the families who would be robbed of these joyful reunions, the more than 6,000 soldiers who weren’t so lucky. And I couldn’t stop thinking about the fact that there’s really no reason why these people have to endure being separated in the first place.

I respect Billy Ray Cyrus for traveling to both Iraq and Afghanistan to entertain the troops.

And I respect every soldier who’s ever risked or sacrificed his or her life so that I can be free to say or do or write whatever I want.

I just don’t think these two latest military escapades fall in that category, so the reunions hosted by the “Achy Breaky Heart” dude seem hollow and exploitive and cloying.

I don’t want to be the crabby, jaded old guy who discounts displays of genuine emotion and refuses for political reasons to appreciate beauty when it’s right on his TV. But I’m afraid it’s too late.

1 comment:

  1. "...he wanted to surprise the unsuspecting tots by revealing himself in front of hundreds at Disney World."

    It's early, and somehow I read this "relieving himself."

    Coffee, please.