Today is the fifteenth of August and the seventeenth anniversary of the theatrical release of Freddy vs. Jason. To my disappointment, the film and its title have not become a popular metaphor for the grim dichotomy of American presidential elections, even though the parallels could not be easier to draw. However, there was a moment in time when Alien vs. Predator, a film that debuted sixteen years ago this past Thursday, did become just such a byword. “Kerry vs. Bush: whoever wins, we lose.” So muttered many a political critic in the march to November 2004, but four years later, in a world already exposed to Aliens vs. Predator: Requiem, few said the same of Obama vs. McCain. By that time, nonpartisanship—a concept we now dishonestly refer to as “cynicism”—was passing rapidly out of fashion, and with it the notion of a difference without a distinction, especially across party lines. In the furious present, an age of relentless proselytization, only we who are continually freeing ourselves from the Matrix cannot find a difference between Democrats, Republicans, and the bogeymen of slasher cinema.
“Well, yes, I’ll admit that Trump has an awful lot in common with Jason, but Hillary Clinton is a really good person. How can you compare her to Freddy Krueger? At the absolute minimum, you have to admit she would have been a lot better than Trump.” We can already hear the neoliberals’ feeble rebuttal, the only protest that they are capable of. Now is not the time to engage them in an ineffectual debate, not when we have spent the last several years explaining to them the same basic point: “The Democrats and the Republicans differ only in style and never in substance.” To put it another way—and this observation I wouldn’t have made without my latest viewing of Freddy vs. Jason—they exploit different psychological techniques to beguile the susceptible public. There is a popular meme that depicts sheep voting between a lion and a wolf, but perhaps it would be more accurate to ask: “Which predator do you fear the most?”
Of course, their greatest fear is neither the lion nor the wolf, but the unseen alternative—even, and especially, if that third choice is the best choice. The neoliberals do not despise Trump above all; if they did, then they wouldn’t have tried to impeach him and hand the reins to Pence, who is much more Trumpish than Trump could ever hope to be. They contemplate Trump more frequently than they do any other political figure, and they pelt him more often with insults, as well, but he seldom arouses their sincerest spite. They reserve their most acid and acidic bile for third-party presidential nominees, past and present. Compare the joyous, energetic, and often creative mockery that floods Trump’s Twitter feed with the bitter, indignant, and repetitious scorn that Ralph Nader inspired on this most recent Thursday.
Continue reading “Slasher Movies, Ralph Nader, and WikiLeaks”