When I was a little girl I sincerely hated being made fun of, but my parents never seemed to catch on. I thought if I threw more tantrums, they would stop making fun of me for peeing my pants on that camping trip or throwing an Olsen twin-themed birthday party. But they never did.
On my fourth birthday, my dad sat on the couch poking fun at my bowl cut while I played with the new porcelain doll I’d received from my grandmother. I looked at my dad, desperately wanting him to shut up, then looked back to the doll and realized I would probably have no use playing with this thing, and it would sit on display in my room until I went to college, and, by that time, it would have racked up enough sentimental value not to be thrown away. I decided that shutting my dad up would be a better use for the doll, so I smashed the doe-eyed baby over his head.
I know it shattered into a million pieces, but the rest is blurry. It was my first and only rage blackout.
My mom told me the doll went to the doll hospital but didn’t make it out alive. I suggested a burial, but didn’t push it when my mom said no. I felt awful and apologized to my dad, and I have never struck him with any blunt instruments since. The doll-smashing incident had a significant effect on both my behavior and the way others in my family treated me. They were literally shocked that I had such rage, but I know that I never had to throw any more tantrums because no one ever tried to get in my way.
I thought of this incident when Russell Crowe threw a phone at a hotel worker. I thought of it again when Alec Baldwin’s daughter recorded an angry voice message he had left on her phone. I thought of it most recently when Christian Bale snapped on the set of the new ‘Terminator’ movie and all the world was forced to listen to his rambling rage.
Anger is something we all crave to witness, but I don’t think it was always this way. The most popular form of television is reality TV, but no one wants to watch people with manners or stifled emotions. Reality show casting directors look for people on the brink of explosion, people who will take out their anger by smashing a beer can to various foreheads. Even President Barack Obama, the leader of the free world, expresses his rage at the deficit he has to fix.
It occurred to me that rage is the new black, and rage blackouts are the new little black dress. We say we like it when celebrities, news anchors, political icons and cooking show hosts throw temper tantrums because it makes them look bad, but I beg to differ. We crave the moments in which they snap because they are just making it that much more acceptable for us to snap. Every human loses it once in a while – yes, even you. You might not have broken a porcelain doll on your dad’s head, but your moment is coming, and I know you can feel it.
However, Chris Brown took the fashion trend too far when he pulled an Ike and Tina on Rihanna. Rage is what’s in – a little foul language, maybe some minor vandalism, but not domestic abuse. It’s sort of the equivalent of taking a job as a lumberjack when flannel shirts are what’s in fashion.’
What Chris Brown did was obviously wrong on many different levels, and in no way do I consider that to be a healthy rage blackout, but Christian I can relate to. The world was not ready to see this side of him, the side he desperately needed to show if he was going to get anything done the way he wanted it done. No one was ready for my rage blackout either, probably because it occurred before the trend was sweeping the nation.
Sure, we both feel bad, but people will, out of fear, treat us differently for the rest of our lives, and that’s good. Alec Baldwin went on to win two Emmys after his rage blackout, and Tyra Banks went on to have her own talk show after she broke down on the set of ‘America’s Next Top Model.’ I went on to convince my frightened dad to pay for a Boston University college tuition, and I’m currently working on getting a new Xbox. The outlook is good.
Pretty soon, people in the public eye will be able to act like normal humans and have rage attacks whenever they need to have them. Olympians will no longer have to stifle their anger with hallucinogenic drugs, and Naomi Campbell will get hired again. This is a new era: where people get angry, and then get stuff done.