I believe I have figured out the disturbing disconnect which continues to rage after this last presidential campaign. You’re familiar with what I’m talking about, aren’t you? … Aren’t you?
You know: “Our president” versus “not my president”; “You voted for hate” versus “I didn’t trust Hillary”; “He is a nincompoop” versus “Make America Great Again.” The variations are multi-fold, driving fissures throughout the country, dividing America, causing confusion in the republic. Are you getting my point, as to why I muse? Are you?
Merriam Webster’s defines fissure “as a narrow opening or crack of considerable length and depth usually occurring from some breaking or parting.” My analysis has little or nothing to do with elections concepts we have all become familiar with: within the margin of error, suburban housewives, firewall states, battleground states, predictive analysis, working class-whites, blah, blah, blah.
Beware, mind’s eye differs, remaining slightly slanted, eschewed, after the fog and anger cleared, offering a different perspective. Are you there yet? Not yet? Let me continue. Please let me continue.
No matter what side of the theater you sit, you are familiar with the script. The predictable, reliable theme: an attractive couple living in Any Town, U.S.A., loving, caring, patriotic, believing in the America dream; existing in a dangerous, imperiled world. Profound evil existing, side-by-side with pure and utter goodness, who would ever believe, who would ever dream such? Perplexing evil so all-encompassing that law enforcement is befuddled, undermanned, and out-numbered; invoking the need of a higher power, a savior. Are you feeling me? Of course you are not. Please be patient. We are almost there. An unidentified Volvo is destroyed. A row of suburban homes are blown apart. At least ten police officers are killed within the first fifteen minutes of the movie. Flashback to our couple: Still loving, caring, dreaming the American dream; unwittingly going about their day-to-day routine, predictably marching into harm’s way; America imperiled; the world imperiled. Now look stage right – the savior, the hero!
Social scientists use to conduct word association tests to determine our views on race, sex, money. In such tests, the participants are given a word and asked to respond with one word to what they see, what they think. By way of example to simply the subject, I will use “race” as the identifying marker. The word “rapist” is given. The subject is requested to identify the image he/she sees, “the rapist’s race?” The writers and producers, of the genre of movies I discussed earlier, aptly apply social science; using knowledge from past studies, pulling us in, applying words to images. So it matters not where you are sitting in the theater, the city of your venue, the state you reside, the time the movie runs. None of us – hear me – none of us need any additional prompting during the movie. Seeing the image of the hero coming to save the day; a clear image, defined racial features, gender specific, embedded in the recesses of our brains; possessing the same neurons, as if we have all been cloned.
The problem is this – we are fracturing as a society, no longer seeing the same image. Words of starkness still bring forth images of James Bond, John McClane, Bruce Wayne, Clark Kent, Peter Parker, running, flying, soaring, shooting away – to save the day. No matter how belittling the words are to other groups – the rest of the world – the hero’s language, promise, and bold proclamations are designed to reassure. He did promise to save the day, didn’t. He did promise to make us great again, assuring the mythical (and real), attractive couples, living in Any Towns, U.S.A. their safety, their survival.
During the elections, some commentators who knew this Super Hero (Señor Trump) told us his was all an act and that his racists and sexist words didn’t mean what they meant. Assuring us that he was a good guy, like Bond. Telling us, “you just got to trust James Bond, get pass the sexism, the racism.” They invited us to share a good laugh as the camera continued to roll.
In November 2014, Newsweek published an article reminding us of a long standing finding, that we are no different biologically. “In 1950, the United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization (UNESCO) issued a statement asserting that all humans belong to the same species and that ‘race’ is not a biological reality but a myth.” I get that, I do. My point is different however.
We all possess the same memory neurons, the ability to retain information, symbols. I believe that history and time has now re-programmed the others. Of course, they still see Bond, McClane, Batman, Superman, and the other heroes. They are no longer convinced these characters are on their side. Seeing the same pattern, “they” (the hero) sleeping with the erotic woman before she dies (she always dies) (and then having their way with any other woman he wants). Okay, I will concede this is primarily the Bond plot-line and I digressed slightly. My point is the others now see differently, no longer believing the means justify the end.
The others still seeing the heroes ability to fight, maintaining super human abilities, in fact always winning, against the enemies, who happens to also be labeled others, who by chance, by happenstance, looks like them (Chinese, Africans, A-RABS, MESKINS, “the blacks”). Always winning, always winning – always winning. Hearing and seeing the hero’s message, making American white again, I mean great again, protecting others … but not them.
An election in which the participants (the audience), saw different movies. As if the movie theater was divided in half, straight down the middle. When the closing credits rolled, half of the audience cheered, crying with relief with their hero’s victory. Thanking God. Thanking only their God. Comforted by their hero’s words, not at all insulted, taking him at his word, accepting the promises. The other half secured in their seats, seeing the credits, seeing but not seeing, locked in place, as if lashed in place, crying in sheer disbelief, frightened by the hero’s words, pulling back, curling inward, taking him at his words, accepting his words, frightened with their prospects; seeing and remembering the words of another great white American hero, Jay Prichett, “How that work out for you the last time” (slightly paraphrased … you get my drift though).
See life is rather simple when you think about it. We forever remain participants in a social experiment. Seeing the same movie, hearing the same words, seeing the same characters – even crying at the same time – collectively moving uncomfortably in our seats during the show, all worried about the Attractive Couple, wanting the car, the house, the lifestyle, exiting the theater debating what we just saw, and the meaning of the hero’s words. Still a hero to some, no longer a hero to most, all wishing the mythical heroes would come, could come, appear magically to save us all. Unfortunately, they will not. They cannot.