TB&CASS-w '07: My Hyperreality can beat up your Hyperreality
I'll get to Captain America in a second, but first: Newt Fucking Gingrich. Apart from having a truly excruciating name, it has now come to light that he is also a massive hypocrite. You see, while Newt was busy impeaching President Clinton he was also having an extra-marital affair. Once again: while he was impeaching a sitting President for lying about something absolutely of no interest to anyone he was fucking another woman behind his wife's back. Pretty much everything about Clinton's impeachment makes me sick: that a talented and charismatic President who oversaw a period of sustained prosperity could be impeached for nothing while a President who entered office in dubious circumstances, turned a five-trillion dollar budget surplus into a deficit in a matter of months, started one war to smash a terrorist network before ever-so-quietly deciding it wasn't worth the effort, bullshitted his way into a war that has had absolutely no benefit to anyone anywhere (even the shadowy cabal of oil executives who secretly run the world lost out on Iraq), didn't care about black people enough to assign anyone more qualified than the Judges and Stewards Commissioner for the International Arabian Horse Association to handle the deadliest storm in his country's history, a President who did all this and more will leave office with his reputation more or less intact.
Okay, rant over: Captain America.
Whilst doing a little research on Cap' for The Baudrillard and Captain America Simulated Super-week '07 I stumbled across an article written by film critic and talk radio host Michael Medved. I've linked to it below, but here it is again.
The title: Is Captain America a traitor? The jist: Yes.
You see, by acknowledging that fire-bombing the civilian population of Dresden wasn't very kind, that not everybody can enjoy U.S-armed militias slaughtering their family and the Tuskegee Syphilis Study (which inspired the Captain America story Truth: Red, White and Black) wasn't an awfully nice thing to do Captain America, the fictional character, has betrayed his country. He concludes the article with this startlingly retarded paragraph:
We might expect such blame-America logic from Hollywood activists, academic apologists, or the angry protesters who regularly fill the streets of European capitals (and many major American cities). When such sentiments turn up, however, hidden within star-spangled, nostalgic packaging of comic books aimed at kids, we need to confront the deep cultural malaise afflicting the nation on the eve of war.
Blame-America logic? I'm no Spock, but isn't there a difference between blaming heartless military tacticians, shady black-ops guys and racist medical experimenters for the shitty, shitty things they do and blaming an entire country? Doesn't the Sentinel of Liberty kinda, sorta exist to challenge Americans to live up to their ideals? Doesn't the America in Captain America refer to a fictional America in which the government okays a bill to build giant robots to beat up minorities?
Cap's not the only one living in a fictional America. There's a simulation of America between the ears of every human being in the world, myself included. It can be a bastion of freedom or an oppressor, it can be run by the will of the people or a illiterate with a messiah complex or a cabal of shadowy oil executives or shape-shifting alien reptons. There's one America that infected black men with syphilis for no particular reason and one that didn't. The writer of Truth: Red, White and Black lives in the former, Michael Medved would prefer comic-book readers lived in the latter whilst smart, objective guys like him guard the 'controversial' aspects of America's history. That's what an argument is: two almost completely spurious world-views rubbing up against each other.
It's painfully obvious that different people see the world in dramatically different ways, but most people are still hung up on the idea that there's a core reality that, if we all had equal access to the same information, we could all agree on. Baudrillard charmingly terms these folks 'Reality Fundamentalists'. Now, there is a physical objective reality, trees that fall in the woods make sound even if nobody's around to hear it, it's just that the human capacity for self-delusion trumps it time and time again. Reality hasn't disappeared, we've just found something better: Hyperreality.
In our current hyperreal condition it doesn't matter that the Allies dropped firebombs on Dresden or that the CIA funds terrorists or scientists infected black men with syphilis- we have flags and bald eagles and a white hand shaking a black hand. What's more: we're right. Right about everything. So right it hurts. The fundamental correctness of America has been stated so many times that it no longer matters what it is to be right or good. It does matter, however, when Captain America says that his country may have the odd skeleton in its national closet. Now that it doesn't matter whether something is fact or fiction and when most people get their opinions on the matters of the day from celebrities the politics opinions of a spandex-clad super-soldier have become much more important than those of a real person.
To play us out sit back and relax to the smooth Canadian indie-rock stylings of Broken Social Scene's Anthems for a Seventeen-year-old Girl.