From the Publisher
In the 1950s the popular belief was that communists were lurking around every corner. They looked just like us. They acted just like us. They wanted to assimilate us into their collective communist horde. This prevailing paranoia led to the House Un-American Activities Committee and subsequent investigations by Senator Joe McCarthy. This paranoia seeped into the general consciousness of the nation. It found its way into our lives, our culture, and our art.
The best examples of this paranoia are found in the science-fiction movies of the era.
The aliens looked like us. The acted like us. They wanted to assimilate us into their collective alien horde. If you haven’t seen the original version of Invasion of the Body Snatchers, you really should. It is a perfect example of how propaganda affects a nation’s psyche. Propaganda may seep into a nation’s collective consciousness but blunt trauma scars a nation’s soul. This nation suffered such a trauma on September 11th, 2001.
We are now permanently scarred.
The aliens in our sci-fi stories no longer want to assimilate us.
They want to kill us. They want to exterminate us.
The new aliens represent the way most Americans see the Islamic terrorists who carried out the attacks of 9/11. In the minds of most Americans these people have no rational reasons to hate America. They just hate us. They just hate freedom. They want us dead.
No thought is ever given as to why they hate us. They just do.
I’m not saying that we have to fully empathize with the terrorists, but if we don’t understand a problem we can never solve it.
Now you might be saying to yourself, “Didn’t Independence Day come out before 2001?” Yes it did, and so have many other movies with killer aliens. It just seems like there is an inordinate amount of talk about the end of civilization lately. The end of civilization entails a war between civilizations.
Last year the Sci-Fi Channel remade Battlestar Galactica into a mini-series.
That tagline for the series was: “The world is over. The fight has just begun.”
The trailer is a perfect example of end-of-civilization hysteria, complete with multiple mushroom clouds.
This summer we will see the release of Spielberg’s remake of H.G. Wells’s classic, War of the Worlds. Its trailer speaks of a complacent world that is about to be attacked by a force out to destroy it. It’s so 9/11 you expect to see the World Trade Center towers.
Also, this spring Disney is coming out with a CGI animation adaptation of The Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy. Its trailer features the earth exploding. Then the adventure begins when the world ends. The original book has nothing to do with the themes I’m writing about here. I’m explaining how they are selling the movie.
These taglines and trailers are there to grab us. They force us to pay attention. Movie taglines are one of the lowest-common-denominator forms of writing. They sell a movie in one short sentence that everybody will remember. The trailers give us an image to take home with us. They play on our most primal emotions and fears. The makers of such taglines and trailers do not have political agendas. They just want us to remember their products. The entertainment industry is not out to change the world. They are out to make money and the lowest common denominator makes money. It’s the main reason why our culture is so coarse. Money is also the reason why we should expect to see more allusions to 9/11 in our popular culture. People always remember how they got scars. The current administration rode those scars to victory last November.
It’s about time that somebody should be able to use those scars to sell us something.
In a world that keeps exploding, one man confronts his most painful memories…
…and learns to love again.
Copyright 2005, Geary Yonker
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