Pointing Fingers

“All I did was what any of us are ever supposed to do. I chased my dream, and I got my slice. You wanna blame someone, blame whoever first called it rabies, or who knew it wasn’t rabies and gave us the green light anyway. Shit, you wanna blame someone, why not start with all the sheep who forked over their greenbacks without bothering to do a little responsible research. I never held a gun to their heads. They made the choice themselves. They’re the bad guys, not me. I never directly hurt anybody, and if anybody was too stupid to get themselves hurt, boo-fuckin-hoo.” (Brooks 58)

In this section, the interviewer interviews Breckinridge Scott, who owns a bio-dome and is filthy rich after selling a vaccine that he claimed would prevent against zombification. Scott primarily uses logos in his argument to convince the interviewer that he doesn’t need to assume any personal responsibility or feel any guilt about this placebo vaccine.

When confronted with the question of whether he takes personal responsibility in creating this elaborate ruse, Scott denies doing anything immoral. He tries to make the readers empathize with his point of view by understating his actions as something that “any of us” are “supposed” to do, as if acting for the purpose of personal gain is always the right thing to do. The phrase “chase your dreams” is one often said to motivate people to pursue great things and is connoted with positive inspirational motives, but here Scott uses this phrase to describe his fake vaccine, which in turn lessens the severity of the consequences of the fake vaccine because, after all, this was his dream, and he should be encouraged to pursue it.

Following that, Scott elaborates on who actually should take personal responsibility, if not himself. He repeats the word “blame” three times, emphasizing his attempts to shift his guilt onto someone else, anyone but him. He refuses to admit that he did anything wrong and even goes so far as to say that it was the consumers’ own fault they were misled. This ties into our discussion of who really are the perpetrators of the War, and who are the victims. The victims are those who “forked over their greenbacks” because they feared the zombie threat, and Scott took advantage of this fear and now is victim blaming. He lists all the faults of the victims while completely disregarding his own errors. When Scott uses the phrase “forked over” to describe the panicked people buying his vaccine, he portrays the people as mindless consumers throwing money at him for the vaccine, and they deserve any detrimental consequences of the vaccine because they were too ignorant to check the validity of them themselves. Scott also uses the word “sheep” to describe the consumers, symbolizing the peoples’ vulnerable and uninformed nature causing them to follow others without taking initiative to question the validity of something themselves.

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Image depicting mindless consumers. Taken from mindauthor.com

Throughout this passage, Scott takes on a very defensive tone by continuously citing instances of whom the blame should be placed for the panic about the zombie war. Though these cases should take some of the responsibility, it is wrong for Scott to assume none. His inclination to get very aggressive when pointing fingers is referred to as the blame game, and there is psychological evidence on why we tend to do this in this article, the most prominent reason being that “it’s easier to blame someone else than accept responsibility”.

This paragraph, and whole interview in general, is included in the collection of interviews most likely to display this sort of shifting the blame during a worldwide panic, where no one assumes responsibility, and shows how this negatively affects the spread of the disease.

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2 thoughts on “Pointing Fingers

  1. Hi Erica,

    When I was reading through this excerpt, I was thinking because everyone is shifting the blame to everyone else, who is actually going to take the daring step forward and claim to have some fault in this situation (or as the war as a whole)?
    Also, regarding the description of the consumers as “sheep”, I, in a way, also view Scott as a sheep of sorts. He, along with many others, wants to place the blame amongst others as he does not want to claim any responsibility. Scott, himself, follows the herd of the other sheep.

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  2. I really liked your focus on his economic diction, such as describing the consumers as “sheep” who simply “forked over their greenbacks.” I agree that Breckinridge Scott attempts to use these statements to shift blame about who are the perpetrators and who are the victims of this war. However, I also believe that in doing so, the author might be trying to make a statement about the dehumanization of consumerism and/or capitalism. In trying to protect themselves from becoming infected, the consumers become mindless zombies themselves, refusing to do their own research about the effectiveness of the drug. Just like sheep, they are herded together by their own culture and government to buy this drug just because others say they should.

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