We should be thankful that even though the theaters are closed we still have an alternative opportunity for “the willing suspension of disbelief.”
But what kind of alternative is it? Is it traditional tragedy? Is it comedy? Is it maybe the return of the satyr play — the last play in a Greek tragic cycle that featured all forms of bestiaries like farting and gross sex jokes to send the crowd off to the exits laughing?
This new form of theater doesn’t need a gathered audience. It can be dispensed through the endless dark web, Twitter and other social media, supplemented by Fox and MSNBC.
It’s brilliant. We all watch it. We can’t take our eyes off of it. It has merged “reality TV” with “enlightened self-interest,” but it doesn’t quite work.
It’s not Oedipus Rex: A former president meets democracy at the cross roads and brags the Statue of Liberty loves to be goosed.
It certainly is not like Julius Caesar either, where the Senate rises up to save the republic from a tyrant.
Wait one minute — what if it’s for a new kind of audience?
What does this new kind of theater provide?
It’s not just surround sound, it’s surround reality. Can’t get much better than that. Who needs those big crowded noisy theaters when you can keep your headset on and go to your own bathroom?
Regrettably, this new kind of theater may not be good for traditional theater. In traditional theater, the producers fight for money to put up their shows and maybe one out of five return a profit to investors. But with the recent “Trump Bump,” polarization is making everybody money, including MSNBC and Fox News.
This new audience is happiest when it is angry at somebody else because that’s what keeps the political parties flush with money and the audience shoveling more and more into campaigns, congressional healthcare, and retirement.
If you don’t know who is running the Republican Party, don’t ask — just watch the impeachment proceedings. But please don’t expect an answer, because right now I’m not sure if the Republican Party knows.
The only thing for sure is that the audience will be “hangry” — hungry for anger — the perfect couch potato entertainment.
After the Super Bowl and maybe “60 Minutes,” I’m sure they will let the lions out of the Colosseum and we can watch Rome burn.
It is a satyr play and we may be the actors, not the audience, but we are still free… to leave laughing.
Almost 50 years ago Guinness decided to sell alcohol in the American market. It put up billboards with the slogan: “Guinness is good for you.“
That was OK in Ireland but not necessarily in the United States. Guinness couldn’t really prove that it was the truth.
So in fear of being sued in American courts for “misrepresentation,” they changed it to ”Guinness is for you.”
For the last four years, President Trump has used Fox and social media to build his base with willful misinformation. And after he lost the last election, he claimed the election stolen was from him, a claim repeated endlessly by him and others on Fox and social media.
He could not prove it was the truth, because it is not, but maybe he doesn’t have to.
The question is: was Trump’s misinformation worse than a Guinness hangover?
Trump used this misinformation to encourage his supporters to come to Washington on January 6th to disrupt the Electoral College certification of our election.
The House of Representatives and the Senate were attacked and our elected officials were put at risk. Five people died.
American courts recognize and award damages for the dissemination of misinformation in commercial maters in the form of false advertising and in personal matters as defamation (formally libel and slanderer). But when it comes to misinformation delivered as political speech, it gets more difficult. The 1st Amendment largely protects that speech because it is political, but let’s follow the money.
Is free speech political? Or is it property, which can be sold to make money even if it is misinformation?
On October 12, Fox paid millions to the family of Seth Rich for repeatedly publishing the lie that he had been involved in leaking the DNC emails during the 2016 presidential election when in fact a Russian intelligence officer had hacked and leaked the emails. There was no truth or factual basis for the Fox story. Fox continued to broadcast it anyway. Fox settled the case before Lou Dobbs and Sean Hannity were set to testify under oath.
What makes this interesting is that part of the settlement required that it could not be disclosed until after the election in November.
Doesn’t this Fox settlement requirement both confirm that their reporting was political and acknowledge that it was false all along?
If you can afford to pay for the lie and even profit from it, it’s OK? Is the difference between the settlement and the profits generated for Fox from the marketing of misinformation the fair market value of propaganda in America?
It is business. It is politics. The business of American politics. But what is for sale?
The influence over the American voter is for sale, but is the country at stake? Is the price tag for our country the cost of the propaganda it would take to buy it?
Can this really be what the framers intended? The revolution? The Constitution? The freedom of the people from King George? And then give King George complete immunity and absolute power if he becomes the president?
It is amazing how we rationalize the truth. Over the last four years, maybe Guinness has been good for me.
You don’t really know what’s going on unless you have the courage to read the tweets and live in the misinformation of his campaign. If you really think that this all will go away with an inauguration of a Democratic president, you’re crazy!
The Biden victory did not affect most of the embedded state and local Republicans candidates who rallied around and were supported by Trump. That divisive campaigning has not stopped.
It has increased with an attack on the legitimacy of the election and certification, which has been supported by Republicans who are still afraid to challenge the president.
As reported in The New Yorker, Stuart Stevens, a Republican strategist who advised Mitt Romney in 2012, tweeted: “The bottom line is that the @GOP has become a threat to democracy…it’s a clear and present danger and should be treated as such.” (Emphasis added.)
Steve Schmidt, a Republican campaign strategist for John McCain in 2008, called Trump Republicans “an American autocratic movement with Fascistic markers.” (Emphasis added.)
Below is a video that was posted on Twitter by President Trump 12/23. It’s a 17-minute video split into two parts. I wouldn’t want you to have to watch the whole thing but check out the second half. This tweet multiplied with 111k retweets, and 10.4K quote tweets and received 265K likes.
Since the election, Trump’s efforts to take over the country have gotten more extreme, culminating in efforts to overturn the vote of the people.
Abraham Lincoln, also a Republican, has been quoted as saying “You can fool all the people some of the time and some of the people all of the time, but you cannot fool all of the people all of the time.”
Actually, Abe, all you need is 49% of the vote and the Electoral College.
A child’s memory of Christmas viewed through a grandfather’s eyes
Like a massive multicolored parachute
His boxers have collapsed upon the floor
Slightly south of a wrinkled Santa Suit
That was left just outside the bathroom door.
A bunch of imagined elves in repose,
Smoke’n cigarettes, feet on the table,
Hang’n out and laugh’n ’bout Rudolf ‘s nose
Are love’n life as only elves are able.
Another Christmas, is at long last, past
As the fat man shampoos in the shower
And thinks of golf and summer thoughts at last.
Who’s this metaphor for redemptive power?
An old fat guy driving a sled with gifts?
A father at midnight is what it is.
What is the matter with me? Is this pandemic changing my DNA?
What could be worse is that I am afraid that my house has become a COVID Cocoon but I sure as hell don’t feel like a butterfly in the making.
The only thing that might be worse is when you can’t get a song out of your head or… you start your own song and it rhymes and you can’t stop thinking you are… becoming a bug.
“So what did I do to get rid of this?
I went to the bookshelf but what did I see?
The first thing I saw was Kafka’s Metamorphosis
And I knew this was getting much bigger than me.”
It is true. The only thing worse than when you can’t get a song out of your head is when you know you’re becoming an insect.
My entire life, up to this point, all I knew was slap, squash, or use the fly swatter. I had never really paid attention to bugs. I just killed them.
Bugs clearly have individual intelligence and different IQs. Ants are organized, bees, and hornets are organized and mean, houseflies are existential daredevils, moths get suicidal, and stink bugs are just plain stupid.
Have you ever seen an ant make a decision? They are clearly deliberative and change their minds. I recently observed a particular ant for 15 minutes or so as it stopped, changed direction, exercised preferences, and hunted and gathered in my kitchen. It was just like me at the grocery store when I don’t have a shopping cart.
I clearly had to get out of the cocoon fast and go grocery shopping.
I got in the car, but imagined that there would be a sign on the grocery store door that said “No Bugs Allowed.”
I became frightened.
What scared me was the logic in that. The store obviously did not want bugs inside, but what about me? Don’t I have feelings too?
Once inside everyone was wearing masks and picking through the vegetables. They all look like unique little bugs with different IQs and shopping carts.
What does it mean that during winter they don’t sell fly swatters?
Then things got messy:
Maybe it’s all reverse reincarnation and the bugs were just waiting because they don’t want to become humans in a pandemic? Of course, that meant we had a lot in common, the bugs and I. Maybe Darwin was right. Maybe I’m not a caterpillar yet because I hate salads?
Maybe we — I mean all of us — wonder if we are being insensitive as we share the same universe?
Or maybe it might be nice if, one bright morning next spring, if I left my damn house after this whole thing is over… as a butterfly?