Wednesday, April 26, 2017

Trump's America a Dead Ringer for "The Handmaid's Tale"? Not So Much, Really

Whatever else Trump may be, he is not a puritanical, evangelical Christian who is into publicly executing gays and who wants everyone to have sex with their clothes on. Not that that matters to those with literary pretentions who are determined to conflate Trump's term in office with Margaret Atwood's grim dystopian novel (and now a HULU sensation). With that in mind, Kyle Smith takes a tongue in cheek look at the, er, commonalities between reality and fiction:
As I look out my window in Manhattan, the only women I see are wearing monk’s robes colored scarlet, to emphasize their sin, and topped by nun-like white bonnets. Oranges are scarce in our part of the country due to our ongoing wars with Florida, and since January 20 it has become a regular occurrence to see gay men, priests, and abortionists publicly hanged, their lifeless bodies left black and bruised as a warning to us all. Prophetic? The story is downright unerring. 
Just as Margaret Atwood foretold in the 1985 novel from which The Handmaid’s Tale is adapted, all fertile women are being held in prison camps run by domineering Mother Superior types armed with tasers, while men of sufficient rank are simply assigned women to be their sex slaves and helpmeets. Sex these days takes place with both parties almost completely clothed, the women silent and unmoving, the men muttering ritualistic Bible references. 
And hey, who hasn’t noticed all the protest marches that ended with government troops opening fire? Or the regime-ordered group executions (partici-cutions, in Handmaid-speak) whereby accused people were beaten to death at the hands of vicious mobs? Or the many brave martyrs shot trying to cross the border from Maine into Canada? Or the Stalinist-style surveillance system tracking our every move? Or the way you can be Tasered for referring to people as “gay” rather than “gender traitors”? Of course, you’re aware that the Northeastern U.S. is now a breakaway Bible-based state called “Gilead,” that all college professors have forcibly been sent out to “the colonies,” and that Anchorage is now the capital of what remains of the United States. It’s a grim fact of life that all women in these parts have been forced to abandon their given names and renamed with Cotton-Mather-meets-J.R.R.-Tolkien handles such as “Offred,” the bewildered lead character portrayed in the show by Mad Men star Elisabeth Moss. Really, not since the nuclear-meltdown thriller The China Syndrome hit theaters two weeks before the 1979 Three Mile Island disaster has a piece of Hollywood entertainment arrived with such grimly apropos timing...
FYI, Elisabeth Moss is a member of the "Church" of Scientology. Which is rigid, authoritarian, puritanical, anti-gay, and which posits back-breaking servitude (in the Sea Org) as the most virtuous and estimable of human pursuits.

Now, that's a dystopia--a real one.

Not that the likes of Margaret Atwood would ever be brave enough to write a book about it.

Update: Hey, who wouldn't want to see this?
One day, the Handmaids are brought to a “salvaging,” a ritual public execution where they are to told to encircle a man accused of rape and literally take him apart. “What you do is up to you,” says Aunt Lydia, as if that were empowering somehow, as if anything like that could possibly be true in the psychotic emotional prison where they live. Offred lands the first blow, a kick that sends blood spurting from his mouth, and continues until he’s dead. Is it catharsis, a way of lashing out at the only thing she’s allowed to hurt? When it is all over, Offred stand stunned, as though she does not quite know what she has done or why. “Are you alright?” Ofglen asks, as Offred stares in space with the same dead-eyed gaze she has when the Commander fucks her. As if anything like that could be possible.
Now, that's entertainment!

BTW, the names "Offred" and "Ofglen" may sound Mather/Tolkeinesque (and that may well be the author's intention). However, this being a dystopia in which young, fertile women are slaves who are the property of men, the names betoken ownership. Hence, they are "of Fred", "of Glen," "of Tom, Dick or Harry."

Dystopian? For sure. But there's no doubt that that idea of ownership sounds a lot more Wahhabi than Trumpian.

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