>> Wednesday, November 04, 2009
It must have been difficult to be a conservative last night. On the one hand, you threw your muscle behind your perfect candidate and he lost a district which last went Democratic back before the Half-Breeds and the Stalwarts fought for control of the GOP; on the other, you got a television show made especially for you! The remake of V is an exercise in allegorical drift-correction: the original series was supposed to be based on Sinclair Lewis's novel about creeping government fascism, which was itself an allegory about demagogic dangers posed by the likes of Huey Long and Father Coughlin, who were themselves perceived to be homegrown Hitlers, but then Star Wars happened and the network demanded Space Nazis, so the fascists became lizards and, instead of wanting to rule America, they wanted to eat Americans, meaning they cured diseases for the same altruistic reasons we pump cattle full of antibiotics. That, as they say in the business, is some mighty powerful drift, and it requires some equally unsubtle mastery to correct course.
In the original series, the Nazi parallel was made palpable via regalia and youth groups; in the remake, they do so via a Maddow-esque Scott Wolf asking the leader of the Visitors if they offer universal health care. Note the slight shift in the assumption required to move from alien to fascist? The expert in fictional fascisms did:
I simultaneously loved the "universal health care" line and thought it was a bit hamfisted. I do like that it all bothers Jonathan Chait so much, but I think they could have been a bit more subtle. However, it's worth recalling that the visitors in the original series promised to cure diseases as well. I think Chait goes overboard too when he says the show is a loveletter to the Tea Party movement.Jonah Goldberg is, it goes without saying, wrong, but in this case his error is understandable because he was instrumental in creating the conditions that made it possible. The only people for whom universal health care signals a creeping fascism are 1) people who were convinced by the "arguments" proffered in Liberal Fascism, and 2) people who believe Glenn Beck and Sarah Palin are the future of the Republican Party. Granted, there is a substantial overlap between those camps, but my point is that unless you share core beliefs with, broadly speaking, the Tea Party movement, that reference fails to refer. The allegory only works if universal health care is a link in the chain that secures space lizards to fascism.
UPDATE: Over at my place, todd. makes a suggestion and (with one minor revision) I heartily agree. From now on, "JGIGWOSIW" it is. (If only because that's the noise my brain makes when I read something he's written.)