Remember You Are Dust

Ryan Seacrest and The Dictator on the Red Carpet

Cameron Diaz wore Gucci, Angelina Jolie wore Versace, Penelope Cruz wore Armani and Ryan Seacrest wore Kim Jong-il.

Thanks to the ridiculous antics of Sacha Baron Cohen, Mr. Seacrest had to pretend to look slightly amused as he had the alleged ashes of Kim Jong-il poured over his expensive tuxedo.  Donald Trump has suggested that if Mr. Seacrest had decent security Mr. Cohen would be watching the replays from a hospital bed.  Yipes, way to turn the other cheek, Mr. Trump!

Over the top? In poor taste? Disrespectful? Yes, yes, and yes — as with everything that Bruno … er … Borat … er … “Dictator Admiral General Aladeen” does, it takes aim at some of our culture’s sacred cows — from our sensitivity to political correctness to the ritual of the red carpet.  Oh the horror!  Oh the humanity! The pageantry of the Oscars was marred.   Excuse me while I wipe a fake tear from my eye!  We all knew he’d do something surprising.  After all, that’s what comedians do, blurring and crossing the line around what our culture treats as sacred.

But beware dear reader, you probably do it too! We play with that line so often in our culture, often through our dependence on sarcasm, that it’s hard to tell what counts as really sacred anymore — what we have left are the more-or-less predictable places where people remember to get offended, or to pretend not to. You’ve probably upset someone’s sense of the sacred; I bet I have  just by writing this post.

So how do we tell what’s truly sacred? Mr. Cohen, despite his penchant for irreverence, may have offered us a reminder with the ashes: we are dust. The dust doesn’t have any dignity of its own, but you, remembering that you are dust and to dust shall return, most certainly do.  We all need the dose of humility that comes with recognizing our own dustiness; just be happy that it’s usually not dished up along with six million views on YouTube.

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