theatres of the Second World War, caught in still frames,
depict a colossal spectacle. Roosevelt and Churchill are portrayed
in epic struggle against the most advanced, efficient, and
evil war machine ever unleashed. Exemplars of heroism and
determination, from Britain to Bataan, are brought to life
in gray and faded brown. Evil is utterly cast down, and amid
bells and cheers, the final V for Victory fades from the screen.
The scope and sweep of this narrative are such that a Homeric
age, an era of lays and sagas, is brought to mind, and old
poems assume new meaning and life. Nevertheless, the stills
are the swan song of a passing age. Churchill sees it, the
protagonists see it, and the players move on to create the
modern age of ambiguity, nuance, and shades of gray.
Neo-conservatives do not wear shades, as they are not cool,
but cold. For them, the world is still locked in Ragnarok
battles, on a Manichean plane of shining good and murky evil.
While the neo-cons hold forth in symbolic verse, literally
rendered, their plot line again sets Good against Evil, a
proven formula for their target audience.
The evil genius has different guises. Terrorist. Dictator.
Mullah. The name and face of the avatar change, but his role
remains the same: he alone is the most dangerous threat to
peace, freedom, and American values. Oddly enough, an unknown
actor, a bit player, most often lands this marquee role.
But what of the hero, the one who preserves the cornucopia
of coveted American blessings? This hero also has different
guises, but the all-knowing father/protector/savior icon now
depicts a Texas cowboy with an English sidekick.
The curtain rises. A man in a white Stetson calls out a
skulking varmint in a black beret. They square off on a dusty
road near a Basra waterhole, and draw. The bad guy topples,
the locals cheer, and the man in the Stetson vanishes into
an aircraft carrier, mission accomplished. The curtain falls.
This morality play presents the law of the West for all
the world to see. The law is simple in its execution. Ride
in, shake things up, straighten things out, set things right.
Yes, it involves violence and killing. But recall how evil
the villain is, with those newfangled shooting irons, cowpox,
and sheik oil. Virtuous ends justify violent means.
But in this power play, high epic becomes spaghetti western.
What's wrong with the plot? The hero is never attacked by
the evil villain, never even threatened. He undergoes no trials,
recognizes no flaws, and realizes no guilt. With no inner
or outer conflict, the whole production looks phony, cheap,
and wooden. Thus, the high lines of epic become buffoonery
and farce when recited by a puppet.
While this stagecraft does not uplift, it does entertain.
The audience, as its heart of darkness is portrayed as righteousness,
gives the thumbs up, as the polls attest.
Wait, you say. The play's not over. There have been casualties
after the finale. Bombings and assassination are rampant.
Desert mirages evoke southeast Asian swamps, teeming with
lies. The hero can't just walk away. This is war, a real war,
with no end in sight, no trophy to hoist, and no pictures
to show, aside from souvenirs from a prison party. What's
next? What is he going to do?
These questions reflect the confusion and blindness which
make for great tragedy.
Roosevelt and Churchill conducted a war. Bush and Blair
played out a farce. Until we understand the difference, we
will stare with gaping mouths at an empty stage, waiting for
a scene which was never scripted.
grl2watch thinks the ticket price was too high, and wants
her $50B back, with an apology.