May 29/09: The upside of anger?

Hiya DNTO-ers,


Punk King Johnny Rotten's battle cry was, ANGER IS AN ENERGY! And even though most of us are peace-loving people who just want to get along, there's no denying the major role anger plays in our lives. Whether it's righteous anger or irrational anger, this week we wonder:

Is there an upside to anger?

Well, on the upside, anger can be a catalyst for creativity and it can also mobilize people to take action, but undeniably, anger can also be a frightening will to power. One of the scariest experiences I've seen was an air rage incident on a flight to Winnipeg.

It was on one of those small commercial planes, with just four seats across. For some reason, a belligerent drunk giant was allowed on the plane. In the middle of the flight, reeking of booze, he wandered up to the front and picked a fight with the one and only flight attendant who refused to serve him alcohol. She was a tough cookie herself and soon they were in a prolonged screaming match. Everyone on board fell silent, paralyzed by fear. We hit a bank of turbulence and the flight attendant got on the speaker and directed the pilot to lock the cockpit door. She barricaded the entrance, standing with her hands on her hips. The inebriated giant swung his massive arms threateningly. We were all thinking the same thing, dude man's gonna open the emergency doors and we're all getting sucked into the sky! It was a terrifying feeling of helplessness being trapped in a flying metal coffin with a very very angry man. I was wracking my brains wondering what to do. I remembered my step mom warning me never to stand between two people fighting. A friend of hers did and they were so blinded by rage, they couldn't even see him. One drew a knife and stabbed him. Weighing the options, I decided the best thing to do was to sit still and silent, and not contribute any more energy to the angry outburst.

The giant shouted one last expletive before turning around to go pee. Thank goodness for the call of nature! He lumbered to the back bathroom.This was my chance. I followed him, acting non-nonchalant and pretending to have to go to the bathroom myself. I thought of the old saying, that the loudest guy in the bar is often the most scared, meaning that inside every big bully is a terrified little person. As I stood behind him in the lineup for the toilet, I figured the best way to neutralize the anger was to show him a bit of compassion. I summoned as much positive, calm and empathetic energy as I could; I tapped him on the shoulder and asked him if he was okay. He seemed stunned by my question. After a few seconds he slurred, "Yeah. You?"

By the time I got out of the bathroom, I noticed he was passed out in his seat and snoring.

And with every irrational outburst comes an inevitable repercussion. 45 minutes later, when we landed on the tarmac in Winnipeg, a swat team swooped into the cabin and with loaded guns, surrounded the sleeping giant.

Be sure to tune in to the Anger episode DNTO this Saturday at 1PM.


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Previous Comments (5)

Your introduction to the topic of anger started with an interview of a woman who recounted her recent experience of anger. She had found out that her husband had cheated on her. When asked what she did with this anger she said that she "punched him repeatedly and broke his phone." She also said that it "felt good" and he deserved worse.

I'd like you to imagine how this would sound if the sex roles were reversed....a man admits to punching his wife repeatedly and breaking her phone when he finds that she has cheated and then comments that it felt good and he would have like to do more. Would you have aired this? Would you have included this in your analysis of the "up" side of anger?

Domestic violence against a man or woman is not right. By glossing over the admitted violence in your program you send the message that, while it is bad for a man to hit a woman, it is ok for a woman to be violet towards a man...if he 'deserves' it. No one deserves to be the subject of physical violence in a marital relationship.

Please don't turn a blind eye to this inequity in future programs.

Renee Phillips, May 30, 2009 6:30 PM

I agree that the reason we can enjoy watching a celebrity lose it has something to do with it elevating us through some kind of shadenfruede, but enjoyment and laughter are two different things.

A woman I knew wrote her thesis on humour. During it's writing, a discovery was made regarding the brain-science of humour. Apparently it is a reaction to absurdity. This makes sense to me because I recall reading in Beryl Markham's book West Into the Night, that when the African Tribesmen first saw an airplane, they laughed. They found the symmetry funny because something looking exactly the same from both sides was absurd in their life.

So in the case of Christian Bale, people would be laughing at the intersection between proper social decorum and his extremely public display of intense anger--two things that aren't supposed to go together.

Scott, May 30, 2009 8:37 PM

Loved this podcast! You always do an amazing job but especially loved this one on anger! Thank you for the life enrichment!

Shona, May 30, 2009 11:51 PM

I've just listened to a tittering woman describe how she repeatedly punched her spouse in the face, and the commentator described it as "how anger worked for her."

If the genders had been reversed, would you have treated it in the same way? Not quite so "cute" to hear a man say "I kept punching her in the face for cheating on me. It was just something I felt I had to do."

What is the matter with you people?

mel martin, June 1, 2009 1:28 PM

Just a small exercise in symmetry. Perhaps the CBC might consider using the principle. I regularly use the symmetry principle when deconstructing broadcast policy lingo surrounding first nations ethnic groups or insurgents.

It's really interesting (and disturbing) to see the effects of gender conditioning in print...

"He had found out that his wife had cheated on him. When asked what he did with this anger he said that he "punched her repeatedly and broke her phone." He also said that it "felt good" and she deserved worse.
"anger worked for him."..."

Thanks to the above posters for the quotes. Of course, the real problem is that out of the thousands that heard the broadcast, how many were aware of what they were hearing? Can this be considered a type of wounding, of our social structure and if so, what remedies are necessary? Do you read these posts? I'm not naming...

Ken Bell, June 4, 2009 11:39 AM
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