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Who You Lookin’ At?

July 27, 2010

I think I know what the next big Chinese export is going to be. 

I read this article about a new shop in China where only women can go.  On paying the equivalent of $8 NZ, they are admitted into a mock up of a house, complete with functioning appliances such as televisions and computers.  They are given a baseball bat and a helmet and for one minute, are allowed to take out their frustrations by smashing things with ruthless abandon.  The appliances actually work but are second hand.

The idea is that the woman can pretend that it’s her house and do what she wishes she really could at home.  Right now the only rooms available to trash are a living room and bedroom, but they are planning to add a kitchen.  In addition to appliances, you can throw plates, rip up paper and slash bean bags. 

Business is booming, according to the article.

The reason I think that this idea is going to catch on in the West is because it looks like we are doing everything we can to engineer ‘reacting’ out of our society.  I saw another article that talked about the city council of Elmhurst, Illinois, a suburb of Chicago, planning to make it illegal to roll your eyes when someone says something stupid, or you object to what they are saying or doing.

Yes, you read that right.

The whole thing came about when a city councillor was ‘ejected’ from a meeting for “rolling her eyes” at something one of her colleagues said.  Now, in order to preserve “decorum,” the city council is asking the city attorney to look at ways to make eye rolling illegal as a “disturbance and disorderly conduct violation.” 

According to the article, under Illinois law, disorderly conduct means behaving “in an unreasonable manner as to alarm or disturb another, or to provoke a breach of the peace.”

What they are saying is that showing disagreement by rolling your eyes is unreasonable behaviour that might alarm or disturb someone.

If this sort of thing catches on, I’m getting a “Smash-Things-With-a-Baseball-Bat-Shop” franchise.  It will be a gold mine.  Imagine spending a whole day having to suppress natural reactions to the stupidity, thoughtlessness and general annoyingness of the people around you.  Wouldn’t it make you want to pick up a baseball bat and smash something?

I don’t know about you but I grew up in a world in which people were fairly quick to let you know where you stood.  Teachers used red ink and corrected our work with gentle observations like “WRONG!!!” And we survived.

When I was an agent of global capitalism, I met my share of people who made eye rolling look like a loving caress.  I once had a boss who was, to put it mildly, a maniac.  One time we had to present a report to him.  We worked diligently and polished the finished product.  After the presentation, which he did sit through without interruption, he picked up the report, tore it up, threw it in the wastebasket and then expectorated into the waste basket to show his displeasure.  Rich verbal feedback about our performance and quality as employees and human beings followed.

I wonder what the eyeball police would say about that.

In fact, the more I think about it, I’m a little worried about a post eyeball rolling world.  For one thing, walking down the street would be like a scene from Children of the Corn or Village of the Damned.  And that would be scary.

But it would also be confusing.  Because people would walk around like zombies and not be able to intimidate each other by eye rolling, but presumably they would still be able to give each other the finger while driving.  Or, given that this is Chicago, pull a gun on each other. 

The law of unintended consequences might end up engineering emotional nuance out of human interaction.

Where in the past other people could give you clues that you are getting on their nerves, e.g., by rolling their eyes, now they would be legally required to go to more extreme forms of showing displeasure. 

Theoretically, I supposed, if there were enough “Smash-Things-With-a-Baseball-Bat-Stores” it wouldn’t be so bad.  But if people couldn’t go work out their frustrations on inanimate objects, they very well may start doing it on each other. 

All because it would be illegal to show displeasure by eye rolling.

21 Comments leave one →
  1. July 28, 2010 12:57 am

    Oh good lord. I would grind my teeth down to the gums if that law were enacted here.

  2. July 28, 2010 1:54 am

    One of my favorite pictures from me wedding is with me, standing next to me dad, he has a huge smile on his face, and I have my eyes mid roll! It is classic.

    This is just the sort of ridiculousness that I can see being passed. The ones that agree will come out and vote it in, the ones who think it is so stupid that it could never get passed will sit at home. Let’s hope it never reaches that stage. Otherwise all the teens will be serving life sentences. On second thought…..

  3. July 28, 2010 3:34 am

    We’re all rolling our eyes as we read this.

    As ever, my mind goes off on a tangent: Where did eye-rolling come from? Did they roll eyes in the Middle Ages? Do chimps and bonobos also roll eyes (since we’re the only species with a white sclera (to make it possible to see which way the iris is turned), perhaps not.

    If eye-rolling becomes illegal, perhaps we could wiggle our butts, or pump our arm pits, or ….

    • July 28, 2010 7:53 am

      I never thought about the origin of eye rolling. It may be as recent as teen angst movies of the 80s. Molly Ringwald may have a lot to answer for.

  4. July 28, 2010 3:38 am

    What a concept…writing “Wrong” on a paper instead of the meaningless “Good Job.”

  5. July 28, 2010 3:41 am

    Sounds like Elmhurst may need a shop where people can go and roll their eyes for a minute.

  6. July 28, 2010 3:50 am

    I remember my mother saying to me often, “Don’t roll those eyes at me, either!” This may sound like consternation, but with my mother it was merely acknowledgement of my disagreement, which was the point of rolling my eyes in the first place. I expressed my disagreement. She had parental authority, but she never exercised it inappropriately. I was allowed to roll my eyes. I was even allowed to respectfully rebut her argument. Seldom did I change her mind, but she respected me as a person by allowing me to express my opinion. Home is the first place we all learn what is expected of us in the realm of respect for authority. I hate to think of being restrained from or punished for rolling my eyes. Yes, it is a little aggressive, but it’s not violent. It is a silent but strong expression of disapproval.

  7. July 29, 2010 5:25 am

    When eye-rolling is illegal, only the illegal will roll their eyes.

  8. July 29, 2010 7:13 am

    I always thought bowling was a great idea for taking out frustrations. Growing up, I would pretend that the white pins lined up in a row were the teeth of Miss Easley, my hated health teacher, or Mrs. Donovan, the principal. Many sports involve smashing, smacking, and destroying. Great stuff!

  9. July 29, 2010 7:35 pm

    This is the stupidest, most fascist (and I’m not one to throw around the word) most ridiculous things I have ever heard in my entire life. This is like The Stepford Wives meets Village of the Damned meets some fundamentalist…Christian or Muslim’s (is there really a difference?) Ambien fueled, wet dream.

  10. July 30, 2010 2:44 am

    The operative word in society today is CONTROL. Control at all costs. No longer are we allowed to disagree or give honest feedback. I recently attended a writing workshop and the moderator informed us that our feedback could only be “nice and constructive”. Honesty has long gone out the window.

  11. July 30, 2010 2:47 am

    Oh man, I actually heard about these places years ago, except I think it was in Japan. They had glass vases, plates, dishes, and any and everything breakable. You paid so much to go in and just smash the shit out of everything!

  12. July 30, 2010 2:48 am

    Oh, and I sometimes still use a red pen….take that comma splice!

  13. July 30, 2010 8:49 am

    I’ll be the guy who never ever takes his sunglasses off. According to my wife, I can eye roll without even knowing I’m doing it.

    But that’s her opinion (eye roll)

  14. July 31, 2010 7:46 am

    🙂 hahaha! LOL, what a brilliant post as always Thomas. I am not sure what I enjoyed more; your post or the comments!! LOL. thanks I have been having a really grim day and this has cheered me up no end. my reply to the eye-rolling stuff = WT…? seriously this politically-correct stuff is going too far…this is why we have so many delinquents roaming the streets and people going nuts. Unreal. Love the idea of the object-bashing, think I will set up a shop here…we have lots of non-eye-rolling-very-frustrated-too-scared-to-voice-their-opinion-in-case-they-get-sued people living here too!! time to get back to reality. Shall we all set up a chain of these shops? I will be my first customer 🙂

  15. July 31, 2010 5:35 pm

    Wow. We, Illannoyins, give the world Blagojevich and then ban eye rolling?

    • July 31, 2010 5:49 pm

      What’s the latest on the Elmhurst story? Are you anywhere near there?

      • August 4, 2010 11:46 pm

        I am not far from Elmhurst, actually. Your story makes me want to head over there to see what the local residents are thinking. My daughter is a youtuber and this would make a great little video. Lots of eye rolling!

  16. August 17, 2010 1:28 pm

    Priceless! You sure you’re not Jerry Seinfeld reincarnated and transplanted? I used to have a boss (from Texas) who didn’t like me staring out the window.

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