Who’s got the damned scissors???
A throng of highly paid yuppie journalists who live in gated communities to protect them from unpleasant masses interview each other to find out what’s going on as they await instructions from the anointed one, presently on a book tour for a book she didn’t quite write although her name appears on the cover and the quotes and views are hers. In the distance a tall and conservatively handsome man of mixed racial ancestry, eloquent and seemingly clam, appears to look on but the remote control in his right hand prods the crowd when it threatens to becalm.
The theme appears to involve an imminent Russian invasion, or perhaps it’s left over Nazis, definitely white supremacists. Definitely Despicables. In the background an army of British zombies plays the revolutionary war ditty, “The World Turned Upside Down”. Donald John Trump has come to town having abandoned the sights and sounds of the Big Apple for the swamps of Washington, DC. Uncontainable anger fills the airwaves, panic fuels the fire; the status quo seems threatened but of course that’s an illusion.
The stage is set, the play begins. Sound effects roar. The puppeteers take their place but the puppets seem to have cut themselves loose. Where the Hell are they! There’s no business like show business and the show must go on. The curtain rises. The play’s the thing.
The protagonist enters, seemingly abundant hair carefully coiffed, long red tie hanging below his belt, a stunningly beautiful woman holds his hand or he hers. The would-be protagonist, a somewhat overstuffed elderly blond woman seethes in a pink pantsuit in the balcony while her cronies, the evil twins, shriveled Nancy of the West and sneering Chucky of the East, take their places. The audience’s shocked hush is interrupted by strident shouts from a mainstream media chorus.
An excerpt from a Playbill on the floor, for some reason stomped on repeatedly:
Donald Trump has seemingly always been bellicose and obnoxious, mildly entertaining in a New York City fashion, albeit more Brooklyn – Queens – Bronx than Manhattan; in your face pugnacious and prone to exaggerated bluffs. A bit too flashy for some, a bit too tainted with nouveau riche for others, not our cup of tea.
In another spot on the floor, a crumpled sheet from a notebook sits, evidently fallen from an overflowing trash bin. It smells of urine and reads:
…. But the caricature Clinton – Obama Democrats have painted with their subservient mainstream media brush writ in their own mirror is not only absurd, it is dangerously counterproductive, as is their maniacal quest to destroy the American tradition of peaceful transfers of power to reflect electoral results. They have succeeded in ironing out the few benign wrinkles in his policies, those that differed from theirs, turning him into a Clintonesque globalist neoliberal, warmongering neoconservative, but other than with respect to style and an inability to better orchestrate hypocritical duplicity, he’s the image Clinton – Obama Democrats would see if they looked in their scrapbooks ….
Obviously a rejected piece of dribble written by one of those alternative media cranks, you know, “fake news”.
The critic’s congregating at the pre-play Critic’s Ball crowd together to review an article entitled “It’s Time for Everyone — Left, Right and Center — To Admit They Were Lied To About Trump” written by that upstart Caitlin Johnstone. They seem quite nervous and gather up spare change so that they can scatter to buy up copies of that dastardly review. They plan, as is their custom, to urinate on them, then crumble them up, then throw them in the trash.
But it’s too late. It’s gotten out. People are talking. After all, it was on the Internet and how do you gather up damned virtual news posts. “Algorithms, what about those algorithms, aren’t they in play yet” someone screams. “Someone get Zuckerberg, and Page and Brin too, and might as well bring along Bezos for damage control” shouts another!
On a street corner outside the playhouse a provocateur declaims. He is shabbily dressed, at least according to the critic’s standards, but his voice seems clear and earnest. In fact, he seems awake, as if he’d somehow broken out of the opiate induced trance (a metaphor) by which the vast unwashed throngs are kept at bay (at least unwashed in the perfumed waters and very expensive organic soaps favored by critics and would be journalists alike, the ones the Hollywood crowd adores).
“What if he is awake?” a frightened voice asks. “What’s he saying” asks another? They tune in to the broadcast from one of the many microphones their friends at the NSA have planted amidst the FBI plants in the crowd. He appears to be concluding his monologue:
…. Those of us who oppose the terrible twins of modern United States politics, neoliberalism and neo-conservatism, and their incarnations in the Democratic Party and the GOP must not join the debacle being orchestrated by the mainstream media at the Clintons’ instructions and regardless of the cost. Rather, we must reject the Democrats, reject the GOP and reject Trumpism in favor of a coherent progressive agenda, domestic as well as international, an agenda calling for policy reforms as well as constitutional reformation; an agenda calling for at least a ninety degree turn in our apparent destiny, an agenda returning us towards political sanity, good will and decency, back towards equity and justice and common welfare, back towards real equality rather than divisive Identity Politics.
The problem of course is that such a drastic revision of current trends and evolving traditions requires totally different leaders and totally different political vehicles and we’ve been made desperately afraid to abandon the rickety old wagons we ride for fear of greater evils and change. We’ve been convinced that it’s safer to buckle up and endure the maelstrom and trust to luck with our eyes tightly shut and our hands over our ears while we watch television pabulum assuring us we’re exceptional. We’ve been addicted to subservient acceptance of evil as surely as are battered wives and battered children.
But perhaps the law of unintended consequences will come to our rescue, perhaps in the virulent campaign to discredit everything Trump, energy will be released that will inadvertently lift the veil with which the mainstream media hides truth in the purported name of social justice, and perhaps the ties that bind us can be loosened just enough to set us free, to find the paths we really seek.
The elections of 2016 surprised the hell out of the oligarchic pundits, those bags of hot air and hubris whose main armor is disdain and whose sword is the ability to artfully dissimulate; they surprised the hell out of those puppeteers so used to pulling our strings they’d forgotten we were real. Perhaps we have an even greater surprise in store as they try and scare us back in the box.
“Throw the bums out, all of them!”
What if this time that becomes more than an empty slogan?
The critics frown, the throng of highly paid yuppie journalists who live in gated communities to protect them from the masses stop interviewing each other, shocked and a bit frightened. Obviously that Johnstone drivel is having an effect.
“What hysterical hyperbole” someone is heard to observe. But then, almost as one, they open their cell phones and iPads and, having received their instructions, some begin to write variants of the planted stories they’ve received while others, already on air, begin to interview each other anew. The theme seems universal.
“Wasn’t Hillary’s new book insightful?” “Brilliant someone answers” “… and so true replies another.”
From somewhere in the throng angry rumblings are heard: “Damned misogynist Russian neo-Nazi white supremacists!” Somewhere else someone yells, “Let’s get Bernie and those damned Sandaristas!”
From a control booth deep in the bowls of Langley in Fairfax County, Virginia, someone issues terse instructions: “turn the volume up and broadcast”.
A curtain falls. An assistant producer behind a screen softly shouts (he’s an expert at oxymoronic pronouncements), “… places everyone, prepare for Act Two”.
© Guillermo Calvo Mahé; Manizales, 2017; all rights reserved. Please feel free to share with appropriate attribution.
Guillermo Calvo Mahé (a sometime poet) is a writer, political commentator and academic currently residing in the Republic of Colombia although he has primarily lived in the United States of America (of which he is a citizen). Until recently he chaired the political science, government and international relations programs at the Universidad Autónoma de Manizales. He has academic degrees in political science (the Citadel), law (St. John’s University), international legal studies (New York University) and translation studies (the University of Florida’s Center for Latin American Studies). He can be contacted at firstname.lastname@example.org or email@example.com and much of his writing is available through his blog at http://www.guillermocalvo.com.