Archive for the 'not comics' Category
I’ve been obsessing over the evils of 20th century Soviet Communism for the past year or so (maybe longer!), but have felt confusion about where my agitation was coming from. It can’t be at the impotent contemporary American Left, because they don’t represent a threat to anybody. More recently I thought perhaps it’s the American Far Right, the Tea Party, which closely parallels the Communist political mentality that makes me grind my teeth so very much.
Because I stink at writing essays (because I am not an essayist), I’ll just list things like bullet points:
The Tea Party is radicalized and energized, like the militant Bolsheviks in Russia. The Tea Party would object to the comparison obviously, they see themselves as Right-Wing Traditionalists, but extreme Traditionalism is the same as extreme Revolutionary fervor, whether it’s Left or Right. It’s a fixation on a mythical moment in past, “When Things Were Good”, a moment that would arrive again if only other people would stop getting in the way.
Like the Communists, the American Far Right promises “wealth” to the working classes, (a group whose interests are actually poorly served by the Party they support). They are promised a fictitious Utopian prosperity, which will never arrive in reality. I’ve heard many people speak of the way that working people in America prioritize protecting the wealth of the very-rich, because they themselves imagine that one day it will be they who are the millionaires.
The Utopia would arrive, if the Party could take and hold power.
Therefore, bringing the Party to power and advancement of the Party is the foremost goal of the Party, well ahead of governing or political compromise. The Republican Party makes a goal of sabotaging the Democratic Presidency by means of rigid obstructionism. The ends (Party advancement) justify the means (destructive governing).
Militant Messaging: members of the Party sticks to the script. Nobody is off-message. There’s no internal debate and no nuance. Those who veer off-message are denounced. (RINOS).
The Democrats do a poor job of sticking to their Party script, not because they are weaker or even more honest, but because they aren’t as good at behaving ideologically.
A couple others, possibly weaker:
Dialectical twisting of meaning. Orwell’s “War is Peace” “Freedom is Slavery”, etc. I’m not so sure about this one, but I think about the Modern Republican Party mastery at taking an opponents perceived strength and making it their weakness. That Karl Rove tactic. Universal Healthcare for all, twisted so the majority of people are suspicious that the government is trying to take away their healthcare. Progressive policies that would help advance disadvantaged minorities, labeled “racist”. Again, not sure about this one…
Also, thinking about parallels in the history of Communism and the History of Movement Republicanism. Who would the Karl Marx be? Someone like William F. Buckley Jr? (Or, more likely, an economic thinker from earlier in History, whose name I probably should know).
It’s easier to think who’d be the Lenin or the Stalin of the movement. I recently read this quote about Lenin: “[his] outstanding characteristic was freedom from doubt about his message of the moment, although the very next instant he might be saying the opposite with the same absolute certainty”.
This seems an accurate description for many so much of the Right Wing, judging by how often The Daily Show does bits contrasting someone’s statements with their earlier contradictory positions. But, I think of the Radio Show hosts like Rush Limbaugh, who really personify this absolute certainty about the correctness of whatever it is they may be saying at the moment.
Obviously so many of the similarities are cosmetic, and there are many differences. My personal opinion (and maybe it’s naively optimistic), is that unlike the Bolsheviks of 1918, a movement on the rise, the Tea Party of 2012 is a party in decline. The loud death rattles of movement conservatism, that peaked in the 1980’s, but was brought down by the George W. Bush presidency. I think it’s always worth remembering, for all of the air-time and media attention the Tea Party receives, they still ended up nominating a Massachusetts moderate with absolutely no ideological core as their next Presidential candidate. This does not seem to me like a group that has got it together.
Is there a contrast to the Bolsheviks there? Not sure… at first blush I’d say no, but on the other hand, Stalin just ended up being a Bolshevik version of the Tsars, rather than a man of the people. So… I don’t know.
If you want to see some more of the pages from the comic excerpted above, the rest of them are here. A version of my adaptation of this essay will be a part of my new book, which I’m in the midst of working out.1 comment
Introduced my 2-and-a-half year old to The Incredibles this weekend. I sort of stayed on the fence about her watching it the whole time, as I guess it’s kind of violent and scary, even though it’s so great. I decided we should watch it the whole way through, as it’s only fair that she get to see how it all works out OK in the end, and also she kept insisting she was enjoying it. She liked that Dash could run so fast, and also that his Mommy kept coming to save them.
A few thoughts:
Mr. Incredible has a moment when the whole family is all trussed up where he apologizes for being an absentee Dad, more preoccupied with the past, and oblivious to the present. I guess the point of the speech is that he was wrong to do what he did (lie to his family, put them in danger), but it all works out so that doing what he did was the best thing for him, because at the end of the movie they all get to be superheroes again, and he’s much happier. So, I’m not sure what the message there is.
I love the central theme of “when everybody’s special, nobody’s special”. I imagine every audience member sitting and solemnly nodding in agreement, certain of the fact they they were the special ones, and everyone sitting around them were the mediocrities.
Along these same lines, I’m taking Dash’s race at the end, where he can easily win but is encouraged to “make it look close” for the others, as some sort of metaphor for Pixar. Actually, I guess the whole movie is. But, it’s pretty obvious that Pixar is doing stuff with full-length animated cartoons that’s so far and away ahead of what anyone else is doing. Especially when I think about their amazing post-Incredibles films, such as Wall-E, UP, and Toy Story 3, which are all so daring and challenging, and way beyond junk like Shrek 4 and whatever else is out there.
It’s a bummer that most of the upcoming Pixar movies are going to be sequels (Cars 2, Monsters Inc 2), but presumably they can still be great movies, so I’ll keep an open mind about them.No comments
A few months back I came across a book called “Love You Forever” in the children’s section of Barnes & Noble. It’s about a mother and her little boy and the song she sings to him. I was thinking I should buy a copy of it, because it seemed so unusual, but luckily it’s on the internet in it’s entirety, so I don’t have to.
It starts off nice enough, with the Mom singing songs to her newborn:
She continues to sing to him as he gets older:
Eventually the boy grows into a man and leaves home:
But some nights the mom gets in the car and drives to his house:
And still sings to him:
Annd, it ends with the Mom growing so old she can no longer sing to her son, so instead:
She dies after that, and the book ends with the son singing to his own baby daughter.
Good night! Sleep tight!
UPDATE: I have been informed that this is actually an insanely popular children’s book – a Canadian bestseller, which of course makes me feel like a world-class jerk for poking fun at it. I wonder why I’ve never heard of it before, though. Is it the parenting circles I move in?No comments