History repeats itself, but doesn’t rewrite itself


May 24, 2020 by readlisaread

During the Pandemic, I’ve had a lot of time to think.  Doesn’t that sound bizarre: I say “during the pandemic” and there is no misinterpreting what I mean.  I’ve been home now for 2.5 months.  Oh sure, I get groceries once a week, which is combined with an outside/distance visit with my kids. But otherwise it’s been SAH. S….at home. S is for shelter? Stay? Or is it Safe? And that brings me to today’s little message.

Safety vs all the things that are not safe. Let’s start with pop culture.

What is it about choosing a movie, TV show or book that we, some of us, some of the time, like to be scared? Oh sure, there is a place for fantasy and romance and stark realism.  But it’s our nightmares we want to experience being fictionalized. And sensationalized.  In just the past few years, the biggest trends have been Vampires (sparkly or otherwise), and werewolves, Zombies, the near-dystopian future where humanity (that quality of being humane) is all but extinguished.

One of the elements the Vampires and Zombies also share (not sure about werewolves, they might too) is immortality. So not only were they to be feared for their strength and sharp claws and teeth and also brain-eating, but they can’t be killed, either. It can kill us, but we can’t kill it.  And all of that constrained to the world of fiction made it frightening to think of, but easily pushed aside.

Then, something real came along, something with sharp claws and teeth and a taste for internal organs in the form of a Virus.  We humans, being the spectacularly diverse and complex creatures we are, attached our own values to this menace. “It only kills the weak and sick”; “It’s the same as the common cold”; “Yes, but if the economy fails, it won’t matter” (this one is perhaps my favourite, the ‘you must not kill the host’ argument); “it’s all a hoax”.  And everything in between.  But behind each of those statements lives Fear.

And that got me to thinking, I have noticed a new trend emerging from the rubble of vampire estates (I mean, think about it logically, if you had eternity to amass wealth, compound interest alone would see you right in just a few hundred years), the putrid pits of dissolved zombies,  massive fur rugs marred by a single silver shot.

Enter the Revisionist.  I thought this was a skill contained to the sanitizing of history, the making palatable the success record of a regime, a drug, a social construct. But lately I see it emerge as a form of entertainment. Quentin Tarantino’s “Once upon a Time in Hollywood”, which took a mere 2 hours and change to foil the efforts of the Manson cult.  Interestingly, my other example is also situated in southern California, the Netflix in-house production of “Hollywood.”  Now certainly, since it’s inception, Hollywood (sorry, the REAL Hollywood) has been in the business of telling stories, and if a non-fiction story needs a little embellishment to boost the box office, well, so be it– that’s Hollywood (business)! But what I notice, and share, is the new genre of purposeful revision, choosing your own adventure, despite the true facts. Rewriting History not to sanitize it, but to ask the question “What if?” Much like question Tarantino’s earlier film “Inglourious Basterds” asked. Though classified as a War Film, I’d place it, bloody rather than dreamy and hopeful, in this Revisionist category too.

All of this makes me as the question of you today, gentle reader, What is it we fear now? Is it reality we are now the most afraid of?

I was pretty glad to see the end of Vampires and friends, but I’ve gotta say…. escaping into a scary world that is not going on outside my window is welcome.


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