The Alternate Reality of the Capitol Crowd
They thought they were heroes; it’s obvious. Animal furs and war paint, utility banners and vests, slogan out and wall escalation: Wednesday’s attack on the U.S. Capitol looked like fiction to watch, and no doubt many pro-Trump insurgents had Hollywood in mind as they looted and took selfies. . Some participants wore the logo the Punisher, the Marvel Comics character who stabs attackers in Central Park. Others flaunted shirts that said CIVIL WAR in a font reminiscent of Avengers continuation of the same name. These shirts were printed with the date January 6, 2021, which helps determine if the chaos was spontaneous.
But wait, ain’t it Avengers saga about the struggle to stop a big-chinned narcissist from consolidating unchecked power and disintegrating a great civilization? Destroying the Capitol, a long-standing monument of human compromise, isn’t Thanos’ total behavior? If the Trump crowd contained cosplayers inspired by popular entertainment, they seemed to have missed some key thematic points of that entertainment. Earlier today, at the rally that sent Trump supporters to rage on Capitol Hill, Rudy Giuliani called for “combat trialTo settle electoral disputes. Combat test is a term used everywhere Game of thrones, a famous fantasy series about the horrors of a pre-democratic society in which power does good.
In the world of rioters, of course, to the right and wrong have custom definitions. Their insurrection was against reality itself. Every day the “stop the theft” cause grew more and more outlandish: state and national lawmakers, courts at all levels, foreign observers, media watchdogs, and Donald’s own Justice Department. Trump all determined that Joe Biden won the presidency in millions of voices. Many of those who have lost manage by costumes, for trivial reasons. Sometimes the truth hurts so much that it can confuse and undock a person. Denial is part of mourning; fiction, fantasy and assumptions are part of the adaptation; escape is alluring even at the best of times. Trump’s screams about a rigged election provided a heartwarming imagery like any evangelist or hack artist.
Trump has also peddled a seductive idea deep in American myths. “You are very special,” he said in a video addressing the rioters as they revolted. Very special: What a funny and childish sentence. But emphasizing its uniqueness – the feeling of standing out and above – is exactly what underlies vigilantism. This is what fuels the superhero stories. It also cuts across nationalism and white supremacy, ideologies based on the hope that all humans are not in fact equal. the special which we are talking about here is not achieved but conferred, whether by a radioactive spider bite or divine anointing or birth circumstances. “This is our country; this is our home ”, an invader, his face covered with Watchmen-evoking the gaiter, told a reporter at the Capitol. He didn’t need to explain why he thought his “our” outweighed the constituencies whose congressional representatives were about to certify Biden’s election.
Some people, seeing the Comic-Con aesthetic of Wednesday’s mess, might be tempted to blame superhero culture for inspiring seditionists. But don’t we live in an age of self-aware, morally sophisticated fantasy? The most obvious touchstones in the Trump crowd: Christopher Nolan’s flint Batman movies, Marvel’s loyalty drama Civil war, and the dense layout of Game of thrones-are acclaimed for questioning the vigilante impulse. Inevitably, however, they end up making the things they criticize pretty cool as well. Director François Truffaut once argued that there is no real anti-war film: no matter how ethical a storyline is, no matter how much a director emphasizes the hell of violence, the bloody conflict is so theatrical let him boast in all cases. When the so-called fascists worship the death star and take benchmarks from The matrix, they show the disturbing capacity of action cinema.
Really, however, the Insurgents envision an even simpler world than those depicted by the films they seem to be fans of. Trump spoke of a singular ‘they’ working against him, which is amorphous enough to include anyone who stray one foot out of his way, such as Vice President Mike Pence learns. The account of the coup attempt can be rewritten at any time, as is currently the case with the inconsistent claims this antifa effectively invaded the Capitol. Trump’s narrative of the elections has been so crude it rejects internal consistency. Its crowd role play is more reminiscent of kids playing action figures than Robert Downey Jr. dressing up to shoot a scene, though any comparison to toys is gruesome when real death, destruction, and erosion of the land. democracy are involved.
There is more play when it comes to the Punisher logo, but there is something to be said about the MAGA Civil War shirt being a crude version of a Marvel movie. pic.twitter.com/bWchVsCux6
– colette arrand (@colettearrand) January 7, 2021
Given the backdrop to the fake news and conspiracy theory mania, the almost literal militarization of Hollywood fictions is just one symptom of a larger crisis in truth. People who aspire to enter another world will do so with little incentive, and the particular outfits they wear may not matter much. Bringing such people back to the real world, when prominent people and online crooks offer them fake ones, is one of the big jobs of our time. The difficulty became evident when the gears of government started to creak again on Wednesday night.
When Congress resumed, the cheesy and repetitive speeches by lawmakers on both sides of the aisle brought to mind another kind of fiction: the gaze of Aaron Sorkin and other political playwrights who imagine special figures with special rhetoric can counteract incrementalist structures and historical forces. The politicians’ remarks were a decoration on the essential and boring process of a legislature enacting the will of the people. This boring job dragged on into the early hours of yesterday morning as televisions winked across America. The country woke up not only to the certification of the president it had elected, it woke up to an accounting with reality.
Later that day, Trump, banned from social media and threatened with impeachment, berated the crowd who had taken up arms on his behalf as “odious.” Following Trump’s video message acknowledging an impending power transition, many of his supporters express pure confusion: “Weird and really sad,” wrote a poster on Reddit’s pro-Trump forum. Cognitive dissonance will worsen as fans of the President realize that five people have just died amid an abuse of the imagination, humanity’s only superpower.