August finally redeemed itself from shark-jumping hysteria with an original, spontaneous, transcendent event -- the accidental intersection of one Antoine Dodson, his sister, her would-be rapist, and some musical magicians who tapped into that uniquely American reservoir of salvation -- irreverence.
Voila, we have a new American idol, a fresh icon to distract us from the drudgery of madness and remind us that humor is the best weapon against anger or angst.
For those who live in the alternate universe known as Planet Earth, where life is a process of tangible interactions and time is measured by the rotation of planets, the name Antoine Dodson may not ring a bell. A month ago, few beyond his Huntsville, Ala., housing project knew who he was.
But today, he is a phenom -- the kind that can occur only in the world of Internet viruses and social media. Google produces more than 7 million links. YouTube offers a universe of newscasts and musical remixes featuring everybody's New Favorite Person Ever.
At least for a while, to know Dodson is to love him.
His stratospheric rise to celebrity began with an unfunny incident; a man climbed into a bedroom window, then the bed, of Dodson's sister, Kelly, 22, and tried to assault her. Dodson heard her scream, ran to her room and wrestled her assailant, who escaped.
Next came the police, the cameras -- and Dodson's now-famous performance.
Sometimes we don't know quite who we are or what we're made of until forced into action by circumstances. Tsunamis and hurricanes reveal heroes and expose monsters. A would-be rapist and a TV crew bring out the beautiful and, yes, hilarious fury of a brother in the throes of his own Howard Beale moment.
Words can't do justice. You simply have to watch it. Then you have to watch the remix by the Gregory Brothers, famous for creating videos that go viral.
In spite of the seriousness of the event, it is impossible to keep a straight face as Dodson rails against the assailant, red bandana and passions ablaze. An excerpt: "Obviously, we have a rapist in Lincoln Park. He's climbing in your windows, he's snatching your people up, trying to rape them; so y'all need to hide your kids, hide your wife and hide your husband, because they're raping everybody out here. ... We're looking for you. We gonna find you. I'm letting you know that. So you can run and tell that, homeboy!"
Nobody's laughing about what happened, least of all Dodson and his sister. But both admit to laughing -- to the bank -- about what has transpired. With the help of the Gregory Brothers and that indefinable something that makes a moment a movement, Dodson's taken a lemon and made a lemonade franchise.
Through Facebook, Twitter and a PayPal button, the proceeds from which he splits with the musicians, Dodson has made enough money to move his family out of the projects. So you can run and tell that, homeboy!
Dodson displayed courage when he saved his sister, but his stage moment was just that. A moment, random and uninvited.
Such is the new mechanism for the American Dream. Wealth and fame are valued over hard work. In a related fantasy come true, social media has made 20-somethings into billionaires.
Dodson's fortunes, though modest, still are gratifying. We don't begrudge him his moment because, among other things, he made us laugh. He also expressed a rage that most feel but don't express. Finally, on some level, we all recognize that luck has much to do with anyone's claiming the dream.
Dodson and his family weren't enjoying much luck when some idiot climbed through that window. Their story is a high-tech fairy tale where the bad guy is a national joke; the brother who saves his sister is a hero and gets rich; and the Gregory Brothers are a merry band of musical pranksters who made us all laugh.
Only in America.
THE WASHINGTON POST