Tuesday, January 10, 2012

Fringe, Political Kabuki and the Suspension of Belief

I was just reading that Fringe is not only in danger of not being renewed for a fifth season, but there is serious concern that Fox might cut its losses and cancel it before it ends its fourth. This doesn't surprise me.

  As I wrote here recently, Fringe has a lot of built-in challenges, but it also struggles under the headwinds of the zeitgeist. Fringe was intended to recapture some the old X-Files thunder, but with an obvious upstairs directive to avoid the anti-government and anti-establishment vitriol that Chris Carter packed into his storylines to the very end. 

 But therein lies the rub- The X-Files was about its time and Fringe is about The X-Files. Only minus the anger, the sexual chemistry and most importantly, minus the zeitgeist. The X-Files was as much about Waco and Ruby Ridge and Heaven's Gate and SWAT teams getting addresses wrong and gunning down elderly couples enjoying their tea while the crack dealers next door piss their pants laughing, as it was about UFOs or mutants.

And so, Chris Carter made sure his unsuspecting viewers were confronted head-on with terrifying scenes of stormtroopers storming through their idyllic suburban neighborhoods, as well as an army of anonymous enforcers who existed in a near-future world in which the Constitution is just an old rag. 

Carter took all these guys out of the headlines and told his audience, "what makes you think it can't happen to you?" The X-Files also existed in a television landscape that was blissfully pre-postmodern. In its Vancouver heyday the series was gloriously un-self-conscious, and was playing to a TV audience in which suspension of disbelief was a given. That audience is a thing of the past. 

And so we have a Republican primary that is being conducted like a reality TV series. Most people believe the "challenge" here is a charade, a race to replace a Wall Street puppet king (Tut was a puppet-king, too) who plays golf and shrugs off the abuse from Fox News and the mythical Tea Party, while the GOP leadership wields the true lobbyist-fueled power. 

The "Republicans"-- who are simply the old Dixiecrats trading under a brand-name they seized by hostile takeover-- have held the upper hand in the US Gov't since that fateful night of November 22, 1963. 

Sure, the "Democrats" rush in whenever the ruling party oversteps its bounds, but they're always neutralized as soon as the corporate policies that are unpopular with the GOP's base are passed. I've seen it all time and again, since the old Carter days, to be exact. 

But as usually happens when two ideological armies battle to the death, a third, theretofore unseen power tends to emerge from their ashes. The only problem is that the smoke still hasn't cleared and we don't know who those shadowy figures are, marching towards us. 

The Liberal project collapsed during the Sixties riots, and the Conservative project was liquidated during Bush Jr's administration and Goldman Sachs brokered off its assets in a fire sale to the Chinese, the Saudis and the Germans. 

Which is all a very pretentious way of saying that whatever the rhetoric leads you to believe, no one believes in the old answers anymore. 

You're not hearing about it in the media but the Republican Party is under enormous pressure from a resurgent white nationalism/tribalism (which the Paul dynasty may well find a way to capitalize on), and the Democrats are faced with a restive base of increasingly apathetic black voters and younger voters of all persuasions who think they are cowards and sellouts.

Just like with sci-fi and fantasy on TV, American politics lives and dies on the suspension of disbelief. We have to believe these idiots are going to solve our problems for us but clearly no one does. The Republican reality series has done nothing but make its stars look no different than the cast of Survivor or Project Runway. Maybe much worse. And the Damoclean sword of the zeitgeist looms overhead, looking to lay waste to both parties. 

What will emerge from all of this? I think the real answers will come from true democracy-- people getting together and fighting their corners. 

None of these clowns- Republocrat or Demopublican-- gives a rat's ass about you. That message finally seems to have sunk in. 

 SYNC LOG UPDATE: The night I posted this an incident occurred in Chris Carter's hometown of Bellflower, CA:

A Los Angeles County Sheriff's deputy is under investigation after amatuer video was released showing him punch a special-needs woman in the face on a Bellflower bus.

Jermaine Green, the man who recorded the video, has also told NBC LA, that the cop also threatened him with arrest if he didn't hand over the cell phone that contained the incriminating video.

It appears that a fight broke out between the cop and the woman, after he boarded the bus with another deputy. The woman is reported to have been argumentative with the deputies, including cursing at them, before she was assaulted.