Monday, January 30, 2017

The Man in the High Castle (and Us)

Unlike my daughter, I'm not prone to binge watching TV shows. But upon seeing ads for season 2 of The Man in the High Castle I felt it my duty to check out season one. I have no idea why. But once I started, I couldn't stop watching. in fact I resented having to go to work because it was interfering with my viewing priorities.

The series imagines that America had lost the war against Germany and Japan, and that the US had been apportioned between them, with a neutral zone in the middle. Evidently the neutral zone is a place where people hang out in bars and listen to country music. It sounds like a better place than the rest, even if country music is not your thing.

The east coast is the property of the Nazis, who have heartwarming family get-togethers like the one pictured above before tossing their guests in prisons or threatening their lives. The west is under Japanese rule, and we see the revised America through the eyes of Juliana, an everywoman who happens to have convenient skills in martial arts.

I guess the reason it grabs me so much is I'm having a lot of trouble distinguishing from the fictitious American leaders and the real ones. You know Donald Trump wants a compliant media, one that will tell the country how wonderful and handsome and smart he is, and refrain from criticizing him when he spouts outrageous lies. You know he hates it when those troublesome courts reverse his selective travel bans. He was just being celebrated by his voters for keeping out, you know, those people, and if he broke up families and left green card holders in the lurch, well, too bad for them.

It's interesting to see how the Japanese on one side have disdain for the Caucasians, while the Nazis on the other side see the Japanese as savages. It's interesting how they kind of play against each other and plot against each other. Evidently once insane bigots mostly wipe out the one group they need to hate, they easily find another. It's always easier to get through life when you have one particular group you can blame for all your issues, and when you need not take responsibility for anything whatsoever.

When you're a despot, though, and you still have a free press, that's pretty discouraging.

Doubtless Hitler and Stalin didn't have those worries. Truth means nothing to Donald Trump, or Adolf Hitler, or any power-mad lunatic. No doubt Trump would be delighted to establish a state-run press and dispense with all those inconvenient folks who report the truth. The thing is, though, it's kind of on us. We need to keep standing up to him and his thugs. Because in Trumptopia, the truth is just an inconvenience, and Donald J. Trump can tweet petty nonsense to the cheers of his potential brownshirts. Make no mistake, that's what it's about. Just saying this stuff is false is not enough.

I'm happy to see Americans rising up against the nonsense in major cities across the country. I was proud to participate in the Women's March, and I'll be proud to continue to stand up against Donald J. Trump anywhere and everywhere I can. I hope you'll join me.

The thing about  The Man in the High Castle is it's  frighteningly real. You watch the show, you read the news, and it's hard to tell where the show ends and reality begins. I haven't found a TV show so compelling since The Wire. If you can find time to watch only one show this year, make it this one. If you haven't yet determined why it's so absolutely urgent to take a stand against Trump and his goons, a few hours of this will lead you to the answer.

We have to be really careful how we approach this. Trump doesn't love it when we ridicule him or call him stupid, because he's got a 7th grade mentality. But to his supporters, when we call them stupid we become the enemy. One of Hillary's worst errors, aside from running in the first place, was labeling voters "deplorables." This gave them a rallying cry, and I saw, "I'm a deplorable" posted on lawns of Trump supporters.

Hopefully the press will stand tall and do their job. If not, our job is going to be a whole lot harder in the weeks, months, and years to come. 
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