Rulon also carefully listens to how candidates mix religion into their message. If the candidate uses specific religious doctrines as a way to attract voters (I believe in God the same way you do, therefore I’m a good guy and you should vote for me), this raises a big red flag. Also, Rulon likes to note how a politician will characterize his opponent – does he demonize the opposition. One of Hitler’s most effective strategies was to demonize the Jews, Jewish businessmen, and Jewish bankers – blaming them as the root of all of Germany’s problems, including unemployment, inflation, poverty, prostitution, divorce, birth defects, and so on. When Rulon sees candidates doing this to the opposition, he gets very nervous. In fact, he sees a lot of that going on at the moment.
To Rulon’s way of thinking, the most important issue in America right now is fixing the campaign finance laws and to somehow overturn the Supreme Court’s Citizen’s United decision allowing corporations to give unlimited money to SuperPACs because “corporations are people.” Rulon believes if you fix the campaign finance laws then politicians will be free to fix the country’s problems without worrying about offending their corporate donors.
Towards the end of the second season of PB, a new villain emerges, an old, well-dressed man who doesn’t communicate verbally with his minions except via short notes on little pieces of paper. What a great device for a villain! – he behaves according to the rules of an unseen world – a world of Big Brother electronic eavesdropping which he probably helped to create.
My theory is that thrillers – both books and movies – in a Darwinian way, are a reflection of society’s current attitudes towards categories of people. I say Darwinian because a book that chose, let’s say, the Royal Canadian Mounties, as the diabolical bad guys, no matter how well written, would most likely so confuse people that no self-respecting agent would represent it – and therefore never get published. So Islamic terrorists, crooked politicians, mad scientists, Nazis, eco-terrorists, super criminals, secret government agencies, and drug-kingpins – they’ve all had their day in the sun in post WW2 thrillers and have all been richly accepted as villains. And probably in their heyday all reflected a deap-seated societal fear.
Today, I’m seeing Islamic terrorists dwindle as the thriller villains dejour and the invisible super-rich rise to take their place – and I wonder if that is saying something significant about American society. When the culture chooses as its villain a shadowy, amorphous enemy with tentacles everywhere manipulating world events, does that imply that society feels pummeled by forces it can’t see, fight, or comprehend – and that the citizens see themselves as confused and manipulated. Hmmm…sobering if true.
My next posting will be on ‘bad language’ and why you won’t find any in Einstein’s Trunk.
Zurich, June 8, 2011