…it’s the 5th of November. It’s Guy Fawkes Day. The Gunpowder Plot. Not a huge deal here in America and, well, actually not a deal of any size here in America, but I forgot about it and then was reminded of it by the internet today, thanks to several individuals’ mini salute to the V For Vendetta film adaptation from a few years ago.
What a strange time we are in currently in this country. Everything is emotions. There’s a phrase I keep hearing bandied about: “post-fact America.” Scary true. Most people get their dish on politicians from stupid email forwards than they do from the honest, serious media, and it’s all bullshit. Of course, there is no such thing as the honest, serious media anymore, is there? You can say anything and it gets reported, which is great, but does it get checked for a basis in reality? No. And why should it? Reality has no basis in our lives anymore, does it?
People are frustrated and upset and with good reason, especially given the precarious financial woe we’ve been in for the past two years. We want someone to blame and most folks don’t even care if if they’re upset at the right person. Tell them anything. Lie to them! Just turn their anger and their fear and heir sadness into something that’ll keep them warm: Hot, irrational anger. They want a rebellion. They don’t know what that means and they don’t care. Just articulate their feelings of uselessness into something that’ll fit onto a sign that they can hold up in public and we’ll worry about the damage we’re allowing to continue to be done in the morning after. And who cares? That’s a million years from now.
Our former president says that Kanye West calling him a racist on TV was the low point of his presidency. Not 9/11, not the lying about WMDs, not Iraq or Afghanistan, and not allowing our economy to slowly fade into shit. Not even the fiddling around and poor management post-Katrina, not even that was the low point of his years in the highest office in the land. No, it was when a rapper said what so many of us were already thinking.
Benjie Light were talking the other day, having a post-election pow wow and just sighing in exasperation at this place we now all inhabit together here in this age of conflict vs. compromise. “Probably less than a thousand people in this country really understand what went wrong with the economy,” he said to me and while I question the exact percentage he uses, I fear that he’s right. Hell, I don’t even fully understand the full intricacies of it – but reading The Big Short is on my to do list! – but I do know that we are better now than we were two years ago.
Not terribly better, no, but we’re on the right track and it’ll be a slow one, and a hard one. Now is the time for serious people to take serious action and leave some of the rhetoric behind. The Tea Party had some amazing victories this past Tuesday, regardless of the facts behind so many of their claims, but it’s fascinating how the real winners within that collective were the ones who went back to the center at the last moment, leaving the nutjobs like Sharron Angle and Christine O’Donnell flapping in the wind. And that’s a good sign though. America can only handle morons to a certain degree and I’m thankful for that. Obviously I don’t agree with something like 95% of the beliefs of your average Republican, though I certainly understand where a lot of their feelings and overreactions come from, but my hope is that if they’re going to control something as goofy as the House of Representatives, then, please let’s have the serious people step up to the plate. The Democrats were lucky to retain the Senate, and guys like Harry Reid should be getting down on their knees and thanking his lucky fucking stars for having not lost (or having had such a ridiculous opponent), but what I’d like to see next is some understanding of how important it is that he actually does something with this second chance.
I’m not sure that syncretic politics is exactly the ideal or should be the goal, not always, but it’s what (and not the “noble idea” of anarchy [in the UK]) I think about when I think back on V For Vendetta. The film was one of the few examples of taking original source material, in this case the graphic novel by Alan Moore and David Lloyd, and taking the elements that worked from it and crafting a slightly different story from it. Or just telling the same story, but much better. The original graphic novel is a bit on the immature side, but I think that’s how reactions to the politics of the 80s feel to us now, despite the similarities to the world then and now.
And granted, the movie features Natalie Portman, whom I always like, for a lot of reasons, but part of that is because she has an eye for good films to appear in. And V For Vendetta is an ambitious tale, and kind of a poetic one, an action movie about this romantic idea about the vox populi, and the gentle tether that connects people with ideas and governments and control. “We the people” aren’t always right, I don’t believe, and more often then not the vox populi is woefully misinformed and complacent and lazy.And it’s not always about the level of control you maintain or that you manage to avoid succumbing to. Isn’t part of the point of Jonathan Franzen’s Freedom that you sometimes have to give up the idea of freedom to instead find happiness? Either way, it’s about a balance, one that you can flourish under, and that others can as well, one that people can live with.
The other thing that Commander Light said the other day that was incredibly interesting to me was that this election just a few days ago could be about anything you wanted it to be about. Whatever your point is, whatever your thesis statement is, you’ll find something in your analysis to back it up. It’s a multi-layered thing and whatever is being said about America in those polls and votes and turnouts and wins and losses and bullet points from the mouths of babes and talking heads is whatever you want to be said. But what really matters now, the thing that we really need to find some kind of meaning and purpose in is what happens next.