I started writing PopCult in August, 2005. That means I was not putting this blog together when 9 11 happened. I did not have to force myself into “PopCult” mode the day after a national tragedy–a terror attack by radicalized lunatics under the direction of a madman.
So, this is my first time faced with that particular problem.
What happened yesterday was an assault on Democracy by radicalized terrorists who adhere to an insane ethos that has no basis in reality.
How am I supposed to write about comics books, toys, music or movies when this actually happened in my country?
I suppose I can try to filter my understanding of this through the filter of pop culture. What we saw yesterday was the end result of more than a century of anti-Democracy forces warping the minds of impressionable Americans through the use of popular culture. The 2020 election was not stolen, and only idiots are convinced that it was. However, there is a whole multi-billion dollar industry devoted to convincing idiots of stuff like that. It’s been around for a long time.
The American Civil War was fought over the issue of slavery. Very clearly and objectively, the North was the good side, and the South was evil. Evil was soundly defeated, or so we thought, and the country was supposed to heal.
However, popular culture was used to subvert the public perception of that attack on America. In the decades that followed the North’s victory, books and movies romanticized the “lost cause” and portrayed the Southerners as poor victims of a tyrannical North. The term “The War of Northern Aggression,” which was originally mocking sarcasm of the “lost cause” mythos became a phrase that was seriously employed without any sense of sarcasm or irony.
There have been forces in this country that have always resented Democracy. Groups of power-hungry despots who hate the idea of all men being created equal, and think that they should be above the law. They have used pop culture to brainwash the masses into voting certain ways to block ideas and concepts that these forces find offensive, like equality, freedom, fairness and worker’s rights.
Culture has always been used to shape public opinion. It’s why the Egyptian Pharaohs built giant statues of themselves, why kings commissioned portraits, why countries have national anthems and why some books and plays have altered our perception of reality.
Shakespeare’s Richard III is basically propaganda designed to pump up the legacy of the Tudors. That’s just one example.
What we saw yesterday was the result of decades of anti-American propaganda which has taken root in this country by proclaiming itself to be “patriotic.” You can draw a straight line from The John Birch Society, which arose from the ashes of McCarthyism, to Nixon’s “Southern Strategy” through to Reaganism’s deregulation of broadcasting, and the subsequent rise of Rush Limbaugh’s daily hate-speech program to FOX News and to Donald Trump.
Combine that with a cult base of sick human beings who think the wrong side won the Civil War, and you have a dangerous recipe for disaster.
The end result is a mob of thousands of people, claiming to support “law and order” and to respect the police and our country, manipulated by a con man into attacking the US Capitol Building, assaulting police officers and delaying the peaceful transfer of power.
It was like watching “Attack of the 200-pound Lemmings,” and it was a horror show.
A lot of folks in this country derisively use the term “woke” to denote wimpy political correctness. It actually means that you become enlightened, and begin to try to be a better person. It’s an admission that you were wrong or mislead and now you know better. “Woke” is pretty much what Jesus wanted us to be. That the term is spat out as an insult by folks who have somehow convinced themselves that they’re true Christians is almost comedically hypocritical.
I would imagine that yesterday, a lot of Trump’s base “woke up” to the fact that they have been lied to, and have placed their faith in the wrong person. I know that many of them are too stubborn to ever admit that they are gullible idiots who got fleeced by a con man, but I also know that the sight of thugs looting the US Capitol ought to be enough to shake a good number of them out of their fog.
At least I hope so. At the moment, the idea of radical terrorists dedicated to destroying the very basis of our Democracy is more than a little terrifying.
I have a stack of cool books, music, comics and toys to write about, but at the moment, I just can’t get into the mood. Apologies for that. I will try to PopCult again tomorrow.
Before anybody points it out, yes, I realize that I just wrote an 800-word essay called “At A Loss For Words.”