Friday, October 6, 2017
Two scenes from the 1982 Blade Runner.
Dystopias in movies, games, and literature are so grandly poetic and melancholy in their decay.
Our real dystopia is the American Empire in its final decadence. Instead of grandly poetic and melancholy, it is trashy and horribly ridiculous. Nazis in polo shirts carry tiki torches. Neo-Confederates in pickup trucks rear end each other. A self-absorbed New York real estate grifter is now President. A horde of opportunists, thieves, fanatics, and lunatics in government offices trashes venerable traditions and institutions of the United States more thoroughly than any flag-burning anarchist ever dreamed.
Members of the former Master Race wake up from their deluded slumber to find themselves discarded by the plutocrats who have always owned and run everything. The oligarchs exploited them and their fear and bitterness; sold them on the idea that whiteness made them chosen and holy. The owners promised that good white folk would never be on the bottom, that there would always be someone else darker under them. Then their owners threw those white folk away when they were no longer useful. And now those cast away cope by taking a permanent vacation in rampant heroin and opioid addiction.
Those who are not white or Christian or heterosexual find themselves at the same time pushed down the ladder they've been climbing for generations. The boot that was in the faces of their parents and grandparents now looms above them too. The police that are supposed to serve and protect act like an occupying army, there to keep them quiet and submissive. The non-white see themselves over-populating the prison state. Gun laws, Stand Your Ground laws, and most laws are designed to protect and pardon white folk defending themselves against the Swarthy Menace, even if it means taking out a teenager armed with a can of iced tea and a bag of Skittles.
And dystopia it is. The vision in the novels and movies of a radically unequal world with a spoiled ruling class and a brutalized servant class seems to unfold in front of us in rapidly gentrifying cities. There, most of the inhabitants must cope with rising housing costs and declining wages. International investors buy up hundreds of homes as investment bullion; homes never intended to be inhabited. Meanwhile, homeless populations are at an all time high, and those who still have homes struggle to keep them. There are large parts of the country that never recovered from the economic crash of 2008, and never will. Beneath the horribly ridiculous public show, large forces of supremacism -- racial, sectarian, and economic -- are out to subvert and destroy the liberal democratic identity of the USA. Talking about climate change may make the Baby Jesus cry (along with His Holy Fossil Fuel Industry), but it is here, and even governors and mayors who tow the party line and deny its existence still must make policies and plans to cope with rising sea levels, worse and more frequent storms, and rising temperatures. The other dystopian vision of hopelessly spoiled nature and an earth rendered uninhabitable by exploitation may be coming true.
Posted by Counterlight at Friday, October 06, 2017