I can claim a certain “insider knowledge” where movie monsters are concerned. I’m no expert in them but I have put words in the mouths of a few name brand movie monsters: Freddy Krueger, He Who Walks Behind The Rows and the Crypt Keeper. In order to do that, I’ve had to get “intimate” with them. I’ve had to know these monsters from the inside out. In that sense, I know movie monsters. And the entire Republican Party are movie monsters, but more evil.
But, even movie monsters have their limits beyond which they stop being believable. No movie or TV writer I know – no novelist or journalist – no poet – no greeting card writer – could write a character like the current Republican Party and get away with it. They’re simply too off-the-charts evil. FFS, even Bond Villains have their limits – and the GOP keeps blasting past them.
Movie Monsters I Have Known…
While I didn’t invent any of those horror franchises, I was entrusted with developing them from what they were into what they became – especially where the Crypt Keeper is concerned. The fact that anyone even remembers that the Crypt Keeper even exists is because I turned him from an amusing but dour puppet into “The Crypt Keeper”. Investing monsters with branded dynamism is one of my skill sets.
In the Freddy Krueger mythology, Freddy’s mom was a nurse in an insane asylum who got locked into the asylum over a long weekend and raped by the inmates, making Freddy “the son of a hundred homicidal maniacs”. Over subsequent installments, Freddy’s backstory humanized Freddy and made his extreme villainy understandable and – within the context of its own world – entirely believable. He’s no less a villain for being “relatable”.
Real World Monsters
Let’s pluck a Republican movie monster from the crowd – Wayne LaPierre, say! Wayne is Evil (with a capital “E”) personified. Not only does he run the despicable NRA like a Banana Republic dictator, he does it while being entirely bananas! And a dick. No writer could imagine a character so chillingly cold that he gets even louder, more obnoxious and more determined to hold onto his guns and rage every time a school shooting breaks the news. I once had a show in development at Syfy Channel about the devil being actively engaged in a town’s politics (in the Witches Of Eastwick vein but with tentacles reaching to the world beyond the town). I couldn’t make the Devil as evil as Wayne LaPierre and get away with it!
But then, a Wayne LaPierre is really just your garden variety Republican producing garden variety Republican evil. Current GOP Leader Kevin McCarthy knew “Putin pays Trump” a month before the GOP nominated Trump in 2016 but went along with then Speaker Of The House Paul Ryan’s admonition that the entire Republican leadership keep the fact that their about-to-be presidential nominee posed a grave security risk a secret between them.
The Republican “Bench”
Can movie monsters have a bench? Lauren Boebert couldn’t pass a background check to be your babysitter. Jim Jordan never said a word while the wrestling coach he worked with molested the teenage wrestlers they were coaching. Marge Greene was lucky to fight off a challenge to her right to run for office despite being such an obvious insurrectionist. Even the “good Republicans” are good only in the context of Republicans. In the context of “good”, “Good Republicans” aren’t even remotely good as humans or citizens or members of a community. Mitt Romney may have been one of the few Republicans to vote for Trump’s (second!) impeachment, but he’s been with Trump the entire rest of the “but-I-like-his-economic-policies” way. And, of course, Mitt did pose for this picture —
It’s great that Liz Cheney and Adam Kinzinger chose to stand on the right side of history and justice in response to Donald Trump’s planned and played insurrection attempt. But how many of their votes prior to that day helped contribute to the delusion that fed Trump’s belief that he could get away with this? Thanks for helping clean up this mess on aisles six, seven, eight, nine and ten, but you helped make this damned mess!
Don’t Forget Libertarians!
Think of the worst version of “Frankenstein” ever. That’s a Libertarian. They’re a whole other kind of Republican movie monster: a slapdash of poorly fitting parts all bent on justifying their greed and emotional immaturity. Libertarians think freedom is a ten year old boy howling “you’re not the boss of me!” across a schoolyard. They want every last benefit freedom can provide but want nothing to do with the awesome responsibilities those freedoms demand. And freedom does demand that we accept the responsibilities that come with being free.
If we don’t accept the responsibilities, in time, we will lose our freedoms. That is the entire point of one of the most impossible to imagine villains, Moscow Mitch McConnell.
Maybe The Evil-est Monster Of All
If one set out to invent a Southern Gothic villain, sweaty with Evil, one couldn’t create a character as debased and deplorable, as soulless, as hyper-hypocritical, as bigoted and racist, as comic book obvious as Mitch McConnell. I bet, as Mitch stands in the well of the Senate droning on in that drawl of his, he cackles to himself as Treason Turtles do. Oh, what he is getting away with! Oh, how happy that makes him! The thought of losing all that filthy lucre terrifies Mitch. He worked so hard to get it all.
The storyteller in me sees plenty of cause and effect in Mitch’s past. Whatever genetics Mitch hit the ground with – whatever personality traits and native skill sets he had – life experience colored them: Mitch contracted polio when he was two. From Wikipedia: “He received treatment at the Roosevelt Warm Springs Institute for Rehabilitation. The treatment potentially saved him from being disabled for the rest of his life. McConnell said his family “almost went broke” because of costs related to his illness.”
You would think a guy who benefited from public assistance would want other people to get the same help. Yet, Mitch has never been public assistance’s friend. Rather, Mitch has behaved like a snapping turtle toward the hands that fed him.
Polio And My Dad
My dad had polio. He didn’t “catch it”, rather a doctor gave it to him. True story – in the early 1930’s (the Salk vaccine arrived in 1952), two schools of thought dominated the “how to deal with polio” panic. One focused on using dead virus in the vaccine, the other focused on using live polio virus.
The race to eradicate polio, while noble, encouraged some pretty terrible science. Again from Wikipedia: the “live virus” team “…distributed 12,000 doses of vaccine to some 700 physicians across the United States and Canada. Kolmer did not describe any monitoring of this experimental vaccination program nor did he provide these physicians with instructions in how to administer the vaccine or how to report side effects. Kolmer dedicated the bulk of his publications thereafter to explaining what he believed to be the cause of the 10+ reported cases of paralytic polio following vaccination, in many cases in towns where no polio outbreak had occurred.”
One of the physicians who received live virus doses for using on their patients – and family – was my grandfather. A dermatologist practicing in Philadelphia in the 1920’s. Believing he was doing what was best for his two sons, my grandfather inoculated my dad and my uncle. Both contracted polio because they were deliberately infected with it.
My dad was a healer by nature. He became a surgeon. He was genuinely empathetic and rather than be victimized by the disease, my dad lived with it. Not an instant of “woe is me” despite the intense pain the polio caused him. My dad’s left leg was considerably shrunken. His entire life, it looked like a concentration camp survivor’s leg and my dad walked with a very noticeable limp. Standing on one good leg his whole professional life ultimately destroyed my dad’s good leg (and it’s hip). He had to quit medicine early because he could no longer stand at an operating table. A little later on, post polio syndrome kicked in with a whole new set of painful reminders of what he’d been given as a boy.
A Helpful Suggestion For Mitch
When I contemplate the pain he absorbed on a daily basis, my mind boggles. In spite of it, my dad was generous of spirit until the end. Mitch, on the other hand, seems to have a broad streak of “wanting payback for life’s injustices” stamped on his thinking. Screw the world, Mitch seems to say with his actions, I deserve whatever I can get from Life because Life gave me polio!
I never got polio. I can’t judge Mitch over his reaction. Where I can and do judge Mitch is when he goes and makes his reaction to Life’s less happy vicissitudes my problem – and my family’s problem and my tribe’s problem and my community’s problem and on and on.
Dude, get some therapy. It’s something my dad never got to have and I bet it would have been a revelation to him. It certainly wouldn’t do you any harm, Mitch. But, I digress…
Back when Obama was POTUS, Charles and David Koch anointed Mitch as their “bitch in DC”, tasked with capturing the judiciary and turning it from a co-equal branch of government into a Republican fiefdom. The Louisville Courier-Journal newspaper used the word “generous” to describe the flow of Koch Dollars to Mitch back then (and it came through a surprising number of Koch-related sources – like it knew it had to disburse the money just “so” to stay within the letter of the law while violating the crap out of the law’s spirit).
Worse Than Movie Monsters!
Calling the Kochs “generous” toward Mitch is like calling Sauron “malevolent” toward Middle Earth. Yeah, you could say that. And you could say it again. Which you should. What makes Republicans far, far worse than movie monsters is their quiet insidiousness. Republicans and Republicanism spread like the most horrifying kind of monster, the kind that infects from within like a virus.
Fighting a movie monster that’s chasing you is terrifying. Fighting one that’s inside you? Hey – “Aliens”, anyone?
Hey, John Hurt (RIP dude!) – America knows exactly how ya feel!