All the dirt, news, culture and commentary for Oklahoma's second century.

Devil inside

Wikimedia Commons
Fertile Ground Compost Service
Help support Red Dirt Report

OKLAHOMA CITY – Recently, I wrote an article about the death of INXS frontman Michael Hutchence, which happened 16 years ago this past November. While said to be a suicide, it is shrouded in mystery – “makes you wonder,” as Hutchence sang on his band’s 1987 hit “Devil Inside,” featured on their smash album Kick.

That song has been resonating with me lately (check out my piece on mercurial 1970’s baseball star Alex Johnson here). The song is definitely one of Hutchence’s more sultry performances with the Australian rock band.

But those lyrics: “The devil inside, the devil inside / Every single one of us, the devil inside.”

Devil or angel. Republican or Democrat. Coke or Pepsi. Good or bad. Atheist or Bible thumper. Life's not that simple, despite the average human being's desire to box a person into a category to be later filed away in some dusty corner of the mind.

And while “Devil Inside” could be interpreted in a number of different ways, at the core, what INXS is trying to essentially say is that human beings are complex with all sorts of “sides.” Do we have those “inner demons” we often hear about? I expect so.

Remember the scene in Stanley Kubrick’s complex film Full Metal Jacket (released the same year INXS’s Kick album came out) where Private Joker (Matthew Modine) is being grilled by an Army colonel, asking him why he had a peace symbol on his uniform while also sporting the words “Born to kill” on his battle helmet.

“You write ‘born to kill’ on your helmet, and you wear a peace button. What’s that supposed to be, some kind of sick joke?” the Colonel demands.

Private Joker eventually responds: “I think I was trying to suggest something about the duality of man, sir!”

“The what?” the Colonel asks with a tone of incredulity.

“The duality of man. The Jungian thing, sir!”

The “Jungian thing.” Indeed. I bet Pete Seeger would agree, he, the songwriter behind The Byrds' 1965 hit "Turn! Turn! Turn!" "A time to love, and a time to hate; a time of war, and a time of peace." And that's straight from the Book of Ecclesiastes.

Nearly three years ago, The Huffington Post interviewed Jungian analyst James Hillman, considered one of America’s most brilliant thinkers on the human and collective psyche.

Hillman was interviewed by writer Pythia Peay and she asked about the current and ongoing polarization of the political right and political left, particularly in regards to gun control, following the shootings in Tucson, Arizona.

It’s a great article and Peay and Hillman go back and forth addressing how a person “doesn’t have to cling to certain ideas because they’re on the left or right.”

Hillman continues, saying: “Chinese culture has the Yin Yang symbol, with its interwoven extremes. It seems to me that we lack this kind of complex imagery in the media. Television foments this by bringing two people together from opposing positions – as if every situation has just two sides.”

And where human beings always seem to trip themselves up is when they are shocked – shocked! – when they learn people, are, well, human. They have some good, some bad and some in between. Michael Hutchence, on “Devil Inside,” talks of “Words as weapons, sharper than knives.”

"The opposition is organizing to destroy our city's renaissance," thunders former mayor and one-time Cornett enemy Ron Norick, his ugly statement aimed at Shadid and the "rabble" supporting him. I smell fear in Norick's statement. 

I note that in that we are seeing a very public drama unfolding here in Oklahoma City with the mayoral race between Mick Cornett and Ed Shadid. Both men are complex individuals. Neither is all good nor all bad. They are both human beings with the complexities that are hardwired into us from the day we are born. Some keep their darker side more in check than others. Did Ed Shadid “hit rock bottom” nearly a decade ago and do things he now regrets? Sure. But we all have. Could Shadid have avoided this current smear campaign if he had politely dropped out of the race and let the plutocrats have their way? Sure. But now that I have spent time with Dr. Shadid, interviewing him, I sense he is made of sterner stuff.

And all he wanted to do was protect his kids from some of the dark and personal things in those documents The Fat City Times was seeking to splash on their front page. Brings to mind the line from "Devil Inside" - "It's hard to believe we need a place called hell," as Michael Hutchence sang all those years ago. I imagine Ed Shadid and Dina Hammam are going through their own version of hell right now, thinking of how the hometown paper is hellbent on destroying a good man, a complex man. A man who only has the best intentions and wants a city that embraces all of its citizens. And then there is how this will affect the children ...

I’m sure in the coming weeks and months, as the mayoral race progresses and those flyers start showing up in our mailboxes, some of the rumors and stories we have heard about “Candidate A” will be examined in a more public way, although likely not in the local metro daily. Should they go there? That is for others to decide, I expect. But once the proverbial genie is out of the bottle, all sorts of unexpected things are likely to happen. Issues? What issues? We love distractions!

So, noting the “growing weariness” in American life of the “ideological boxing matches” taking place where one is right or good and another is left and wrong. Or vice versa.

“For example, most people think that the opposite of white is black. But there are shades of black – from blackberries, to black coal or blackbirds – that have nothing to do with white,” Hillman told Peay in 2011. “The point is to learn how to evaluate each issue on its own merits without having to bring up the opposition’s point of view.”

“In therapy, when you have a dream of your mother, for example, you don’t necessarily have to talk about your father as a supposed opposite.”

Enough of the psychological mumbo jumbo. The bottom line is that people are rarely, if ever, one thing or the other. We have public sides and private sides. Why conservatives are so concerned about what someone does in the privacy of their bedroom is beyond me. So, when we learn a conservative leader has cheated on his wife (Oklahoma City ranks sixth in the country in terms of large cities that have high levels of adultery), and yet he preached against infidelity time and again, should we really be surprised?

And when we learn a purportedly straight, virulently anti-gay Republican man is, in fact, sleeping with men on a regular basis, are we really all that shocked? Or that a law-abiding family man had a destructive cocaine habit? Most of us have read or seen a performance of Shakespeare’s Hamlet. In Act III, Scene II, when Queen Gertrude says, “The lady doth protest too much, methinks,” she is saying when that sometimes, when you say something a bit too passionately; the thought is that you may have the opposite thing in mind. This happens all too often in politics. Remember Larry Craig?

Recall back in 2006, when The Journal Record reported how Mick Cornett, then running to fill the 5th Congressional District seat vacated by Ernest Istook, featured a campaign ad that caused quite a stir amongst his competitors, include Mary Fallin and Kevin Calvey.

Wrote The Journal Record at the time: “Cornett’s ad, featuring the voice of former KTOK radio newsman Mike McCarville, highlights Cornett’s conservative, Christian values. ‘Last year he took on the liberals and made sure that our libraries would not allow children to have access to books that promote the gay agenda,’ McCarville says in the ad."

Cornett, taking a firm anti-gay stance at the time stood his ground againt the protestations of the opposition and the ad was left up. Cornett would later lose that race and go back to being mayor. 

Said Cornett’s campaign manager at the time: “When it comes to exaggerating, these four could write the book on the topic. Mary Fallin and family values. Denise Bode and conservative values. Kevin Calvey and his voting record. These folks ought to worry more about their own problems and less about what Mick Cornett is or is not doing.”

Indeed. And I’m sure as the coming New Year is six-to-eight weeks old we will learn more about the complexities of the men seeking to lead our “Big League City.” Hang on.

Enjoy this? Please share it!

About the Author

Andrew W. Griffin

Editor & Owner.

Andrew W. Griffin received his Bachelor of Science in Journalism from...

read more

Enjoy this? Please share it!

About Red Dirt Report

Red Dirt Report was launched July 4, 2007 as an independent news website covering all manner of news, culture, entertainment and lifestyle stories that affect and interest Oklahoma readers and readers outside of our state. Our mission is to educate, promote civic engagement and discourse on public policy, government and politics. Our experienced journalists provided balanced in-depth coverage of news stories that affect Oklahomans. Our opinion/editorial stories come from a wide range of political view points. We carry out our mission by reporting, writing, and posting news and information. read more

Member of the Oklahoma Press Association
Member of Investigative Reporters & Editors
Member of Diversity Business Association
Member of Uptown 23rd
Rotary Club of Bricktown OKC
Keep it Local OK