|Poster From John Carpenter's The Thing|
Because despite all the suspense and the horror and the shape-shifting and the gaslighting, our current crew of political actors are discovering to their great chagrin that there is a limit to the times that you can remake a smash hit and create a franchise, and still expect people to show up at the box office to gawk and tremble and purchase the merch.
Joe Biden, plain-speaking actor that he fancies himself to be, had already addressed the reality of the elites' declining ratings a few years ago during his campaign for the White House. He acknowledged the truth of The Thing to be self-evidently apparent.
But despite that brief moment of candor, he still made a great big show this week of marching to the Capitol to pretend to be "fighting for" the right of every American to score food and water from their fellow citizens while standing in long lines to vote. Arizona Senator Kyrsten Sinema managed to steal top cinematic billing from his latest role, as she histrionically pretended to hate the same filibuster reform that Biden now pretends to love Not even his shout-out to dead racist Senator Strom Thurmond at his Georgia performance earlier in the week swayed Sinema to change her mind or her script. And why would it, when even the supporting cast and crew of what the late Glen Ford dubbed the Black Misleadership Class boycotted Biden's performance?
Striving mightily nonetheless to perform his trademark down-home candor while admitting that mail-in ballots and food and water for waiting voters are GOP mountains far too high for him and the Democrats to climb, Biden plaintively remarked at the end of his truncated Capitol cameo part that "the honest to God answer is I don’t know whether we can get this done."
But actors must do what actors must do, and summoning up his very best Jimmy Stewart Mr. Smith Goes to Washington impression, Biden raised it to the next decibel and growled “As long as I’m in the White House, as long as I’m engaged at all, I’m going to be fighting.”
Are the Oscar nominations already a done deal, and I'm too late to register to vote? Oh, wait... mere audience members are not allowed to vote in the Oscar elections. Elites not only have weighted votes in "democratic" elections, they also have exclusive votes when it comes to nominating one another's theatrical performances. That goes not only for people employed in the movie business, but for the financiers of the movie business. Here's looking at you, Jeff Bezos, who pays no personal income tax but just donated a hefty sum to help construct the Chicago shrine of that consummate political actor, Barack Obama.
But all hope should not be abandoned. Because it is the Republicans, of all the villains in the annals of performative villainy, that just announced that they will no longer participate in the quadrennial spectacular known as the Presidential Debates. Of course, they are probably planning a whole series of alternate entertainments in the slasher genre that promise to be a lot more horrific and profitable than those boring affairs we're so tired of sitting through. Whatever the form of Campaign 2024, it will be a real Thing, what late critic Roger Ebert called "a great barf bag of a movie."
Speaking of ennui and nausea, Bill and Hillary Clinton reportedly are not only bored with being pariahs, but they smell the anemic Biden blood in the water and are planning a comeback. According to Politico, they are especially heartened that the latest "American Crime Story" season, depicting the Lewinsky scandal, did not get big ratings. Perhaps it was because the series was aired on a subscription channel, and the proles are already maxed out on inflated rent and food bills?
But here's The Thing, or as Joe Biden riffs on and on about it ad infinitum, Here's The Deal, Folks. The horror show will end only when we stop buying tickets for the privilege of helplessly gawking at whatever capitalistic life-forms that The Thing is currently mutating into and at the same time to resist being assimilated into its maw. The Thing that the political-media-military-carceral-surveillance complex is selling is nothing more and nothing less than fear itself.
We just have to stop being awed by political performers and their stale narratives. Instead, we might take a tip from the simultaneously cruel and egalitarian Aztec civilization and, as recounted by the late David Graeber and David Wengrow in their riveting new book "The Dawn of Everything," we should subject all aspiring and de facto elected officials to an acid test involving "fasting, sleep deprivation, blood-letting and a strict regime of moral instruction."
We should implement a Dick Cheney reverse torture regimen on their sorry selves. Psychological, of course. Maybe do a little enhanced interrogation at least.
"Clearly, taking up office in this indigenous democracy required personality traits very different to those we take for granted in modern electoral politics," the "Dawn" authors observe in dry understatement about the Aztec proles.
Just imagine Joe Biden, Donald Trump and Nancy Pelosi being forced to relinquish their faltering theatrical careers for a long stint in political rehab and public self-abnegation as the only way to prove to the audience just how sincere they really are, and how much they truly feel our pain. Actually doing the right thing as opposed to being seen as doing the right thing should be a requirement for everyone entering public service, and a litmus test for staying in their positions once chosen. The goal should not be the acquisition of power, but rather the privilege of representation. No wonder the corporate press hates this book.
The mere thought of these miscreants having to publicly flagellate themselves in front of the cameras in order to prove their bona fides makes me feel better already. It makes me feel like torturing them, if only rhetorically, for yet another day.