I was browsing blogs, putting off working on taxes and the evil treadmill and I came across this phrase: “Michael Vick and the hideous dog fighting scandal” and thought, great word! Hideous. You don’t hear that word so much anymore. The irony here is that there’s so much that is hideous in this world. But then the word implies feeling — and aren’t we beyond all that?
Special effects in horror movies have caused many to build up an immunity to blood and gore, maybe we don’t need the word anymore. A head explodes, a hand’s cut off, skin melts and the audience isn’t even supposed to flinch. If we don’t feel revulsion, what’s the use in a word like hideous except to inject it into something relatively benign? Say, Cher’s face.
So along comes real blood and gore. What’s more hideous than war? I watched a clip from The Guardian about Iraq — the U.S. soldiers are clearly being driven mad by their deployment, shooting at everyone/thing that moves. I would, too if snipers were shooting at me. There was a shot of an Iraqi man who’d had his feet blown off, sitting and screaming, frantically looking around for help, his feet, a hand out of the mess. Not reality T.V., but reality. It was too gruesome for the U.S. news. I put in a link to the video above, but brace yourself, it is indeed hideous. Are we too conditioned to horror to flinch, weep, scream?
Hideous: the word itself works on the psyche like a flesh eating disease, ripping away the protective layer to reveal raw emotion. It provokes bad images, but it is a good word. One we need to have in the pocket to pass around to remind us that somethings are beyond acceptable and refuse to be satisfied by a simple shrug.
To quote that AV sage Dr. Phil, you can’t change what you don’t acknowledge. Hideous is a word of acknowledgment, a feeling word not only standing up to the un-feeling, but backhanding it across its botoxed face.