Did you know that the various advertising signs in (for instance) Metro-North commuter train cars are just thin cardboard things, at least some of which are blank on the back, which are sort of slid insecurely into little tabs in insecure metal frames?
So that for instance it’s entirely possible to:
- Slip a particularly repulsive one out of its frame and lay it down to one side where the occupants will no longer be subjected to it (at which some of said occupants might potentially express amused gratitude), and even to
- Slip one that is say urging people to gamble out of its frame, turn it around to the blank side, and slip it back in, and then draw say an abstract smiley face on it.
Of course one probably shouldn’t do these things, because the train line probably has regulations about interfering with the advertising of our Corporate Masters, and one wouldn’t want to get in trouble with the CorpCops…
The shooting-down of flight MH17 was horrible; people should stop doing this kind of thing. I blame it on sociopathic assholes who are willing to cause innumerable deaths for the sake of power; but probably I do this at least partly to find an easy target to blame, so I don’t have to think too hard about what it says about humanity in general, including me. So we won’t think about that now.
But we will think about why, when talking about the people living near where the plane went down, NPR this morning referred to them as “villagers” from a nearby “village”.
(See our earlier essay, Who’s the Chief of the BBC?)
It seemed odd to me. In my youth I lived near the Village of Spring Valley, but I would not have thought of the people who lived there as “villagers”.
The Wikipedia page on “Village (United States)” does not contain the string “villager”.
The page on “Village” in general contains “villager” twice: the contexts are:
Malay and Indonesian villagers practice the culture of helping one another as a community
Most Russian rural residents are involved in agricultural work, and it is very common for villagers to produce their own food.
So villagers can be Malay, Indonesian, or Russian (if rural).
The obvious Google search suggests that “villager” is usually the name of a local newspaper.
A quick search on the BBC suggests that villagers can be:
- In early 20th Century England,
- In India (and mostly illiterate),
- In China (and being hit by a flood),
- In a hamlet in Devon, England (coping with storms),
- On Komodo Island (killed by a local dragon),
- Somewhere in England (I guess), saving a shop.
The two English ones:
Hallsands villager Jonathan Hale said: “Until the storms we had no idea of the policy of no intervention.”
Reg Moule is in the studio taking your gardening questions plus we find out about a shop in the county that was saved by a villager and is now thriving
If we try CNN, we find that villagers are:
- In Africa (shunning a relief worker who survived Ebola),
- In “a tiny district” in Nepal (falling prey to organ traffickers),
- In Iraq (saving a contractor from ISIS),
- In Nigeria (fighting off Boko Haram).
which are all a bit Other, but maybe CNN just talks about foreigners alot.
Hm, maybe USA Today? There we have just a few villagers:
- In Indonesia in an earthquake,
- In Belgium in the 1990s, building a small memorial to some Tuskegee Airmen,
- In France in WWII, speaking broken English to some American soldiers,
- Nelson Mandela, in South African in his youth,
- In Africa, saving a Navy Seal,
- In Central China, buying a baby,
- In New Mexica, being a Latino using evil magic,
- and so on in foreign countries.
It may be telling here that even the USA Today site has mostly foreign villagers, and the one that is in the US is Latino, and so Other.
Not enough to draw any definite conclusions from, but I get the general impression that “villager” is, for the mainstream West, another word used when Othering people, like those living near where airplanes are shot down in foreign countries…