Tuesday, February 26, 2013

Handling the Truth

One of those movie quotes that may well long outlive not only the actor who spoke the lines but those who saw the movie when it was first released, is Jack Nicholson's "You can't handle the truth."  As a general statement about Americans, it may well be true and we don't really need to in many cases since media corporations from Hollywood to Newscorp are there to give us tuned up, revised, redacted and sanitized version with beautifully produced happy endings. Take Argo, for instance.  Will history reflect tendentious interpretations of what happened during the Iran Hostage crisis the way Happy Days or those Austin Powers flicks reflected the 50's and 60's -- in a fun house mirror? People who remember the times clearly and as adults may not think those days were so happy and the buck toothed Powers dressed up as Friedrich Schiller may seem bewilderingly irrelevant.

It's hard -- hell it's impossible to imagine how the early years of our new century will be portrayed whether in thriller or sit-com form in 20 or 30 years.  I'm almost glad I won't be around to see it for fear of some George Bush as the Fonz with his flight suit and aircraft carrier musical.  Heyyyyy.  Or perhaps George and Cheney and their adventures in saving the world from Liberals and terrorists.  But if my worst fears come true, if we descend into what I hope is only a nightmare from which one awakes to the smell of coffee and the morning paper,  how will today's crazies look on tomorrow's TV?  Will we even acknowledge the Survivalists and Preppers stockpiling weapons for an apocalypse that still hasn't happened, the revolution they still dream of. The Tea Party, the Homophobes, the Fundamentalists, the immigrant haters, the white supremacists. . . 

 Will we watch Springtime for Limbaugh on Broadway or will he just fade away like Father Coughlin? Will Osama have been caught through the use of torture and by George Bush while the Recession was caused by the president who inherited it?   Ask some scriptwriter and director yet unborn.

Who knows, but I doubt we'll have ceased to be a war worshiping nation of swaggering Chauvinists and self styled saviors of "freedom,"  So maybe we will have saved freedom at least in the movies and won't notice that we have a government that knows every breath you've taken and every thought you've had and doesn't trust you with cash or nail clippers of liquids in more than 3 Oz containers and tracks you with GPS and micro-drones and will arrest you for having bad thoughts.

I hate to sound like one of those "everything is getting worse," wolf crying, Chicken Little types you find on the Right and the Left.  I'm not, but I think it's always been bad and we just hide it and explain it away and paint it over with murals.  It's human nature and it's the nature of nations and creeds.  The only truth we can handle is the stuff we make up.

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