During my weekly visit to the movies, I saw Deliver Us From Evil. It was a movie with great potential (the connection to PTSD and the “demons” that our veterans carry home with them from war could have been more thoroughly developed) that needed a thorough rewrite and editing. I am a sucker for movies about the supernatural and occult. Therefore, I felt obligated to see Deliver Us From Evil.
Dinesh D’Souza’s new “documentary” “America” was also playing at the same movie theater (I had already suffered through a viewing of that Right-wing tract). Thus, I decided to do some reconnaissance/observational research on the attendees of D’Souza’s newest fairy tale propaganda hit piece.
The actual members of the Right-wing public who are high on the political meth of the Fox News echo chamber are more fascinating to me than the media which is used to create and propagandize them.
While listening to the impromptu debriefing and cult meeting in the lobby that followed a viewing of America: Imagine the World Without Her, I realized that 1) Deliver Us From Evil is far less frightening than D’Souza’s newest creation and 2) “America’s” view of empirical reality and history is also supernatural, existing outside of the realm of normal logic and reality.
Talking in the abstract about the dangerous and noxious civic culture which has been created by the Right-wing media is one thing; actually listening to and observing this public in person is an altogether different experience. There is nothing harmless about the impact of the Right-wing propaganda machine on the thinking and reasoning processes of conservatives in the Age of Obama.
As I learned earlier this week, their warped logic and skewed perception of social and political reality is extremely dangerous and can/will lead to more incidents of Right-wing domestic violence, because how else would a reasonable person deal with a government that is led by “traitors” and under the control of Satan?
What did I observe while listening to the people who went to see America: Imagine the World Without Her?
1. The small group of people who attended America: Imagine the World Without Her here in Chicago skewed older (50s to 70s). It was, surprisingly, a racially integrated group with several black and brown folks mixing in comfortably with the white viewers.
2. “America” seemed like a reverential and defiant experience for the viewers. Interpreting their chatter, it seemed that they were excited to stick it to Obama by seeing America: Imagine the World Without Her in his home town. The Right-wing troglodytes were also worked up about the fact that their–and America: Imagine the World Without Her’s real nemesis–Saul Alinsky, is also a Chicago native.
3. An African-American man, a black conservative, led the sermon/cult meeting in the lobby of the movie theater. Playing the standard role of black conservative in contemporary movement conservatism, his presence gave permission to the other members of the group to talk freely about Barack Obama without the fear of being labeled as “racists”.
4. America: Imagine the World Without Her is a cinematic conduit for standard Right-wing talking points. The power of “America” is rooted in the shared group experience that comes with going to the cinema. The Right-wing echo chamber is a fantastical and bizarre world where the paranoid style and conspiranoid thinking is the norm. This effect is amplified by the face-to-face communal experience of attending the same propaganda film. The insider and special knowledge given to them by “America” can then be disseminated by the “elect” to the “non-believers”.
The idea that D’Souza’s movie has special knowledge–that the viewer is now obligated to share in order to counter “liberal lies” and “bias”–was repeated by several of the people leaving the theater.
5. America: Imagine the World Without Her should be taught in public schools as a corrective to the “indoctrination” of the state and liberal teachers. One viewer enthusiastically suggested to another member of the tribe that “kids” should be given a choice between America: Imagine the World Without Her and their standard history textbook–the latter is supposedly full of lies that will be exposed by D’Souza’s “truths”.
6. The black conservative suggested to his congregation that Obama is the devil and a tool of Satan. I was unsure how those two figures are related to one another in his cognitive schema. He also said that the movie was powerful for showing in clear terms how Saul Alinsky–a “communist America hating traitor”–met with Hillary Clinton at some point decades ago and has been orchestrating the destruction of America from behind the scenes.
In playing his role as black gatekeeper who grants permission to his fellow conservatives to be racists, the black conservative cult leader used the rhetorical strategy of “code switching” where he adopted “black” affected speech to talk about how he works “in the ‘hood” and that black Americans–unlike him–are brainwashed and controlled by Obama and the Democratic Party.
Of course, the obligatory talking point, that the Democratic Party is the party of Jim and Jane Crow was referenced as part of his performance.
7. I also learned that Margaret Sanger was in cahoots with Charles Darwin’s brother, and that they were all eugenicists who pioneered abortion in America as a “racist” tool for “liberals” to kill black babies.
8. America was apparently a “Christian Nation” at the Founding and the United States has been ruined by godless liberals led by Barack Obama. The United States will apparently be destroyed unless the Bible and “biblical values” are renewed and made the center of public and private life.
9. There were white indentured servants in the American colonies. This is an important part of “America’s” narrative as that fact somehow makes chattel slavery a less unique and less vicious social institution as practiced for centuries in the United States.
10. What did the lone white conservative do during this cult meeting/debriefing? He was quiet. He nodded enthusiastically when the black conservative would speak. The lone white conservative also smiled and seemed very pleased when his black conservative pet said that “black people have been tricked and brainwashed” by Obama and the Democratic Party.
America: Imagine the World Without Her‘s oeuvre is not new. It is a cinematic version of the Right-wing talking points and lies that are circulated on a daily basis throughout the Fox News echo chamber.
Epistemic closure is a real phenomenon. America: Imagine the World Without Her is a helpful reminder of how the use of technical and social scientific language often masks the real human experiences that underlie and are spoken to by theory and research.
To point. The audience members who I observed after their viewing of “America” were enjoying the sense of community that comes with encountering like-minded people…a feeling that is amplified if you have been told that you are somehow “oppressed” or “marginalized” by “the system”, “liberals”, “big government”, “atheists”, etc..
America: Imagine the World Without Her‘s lies and disinformation are poisons to our civic culture. However, I was most disturbed by seeing living and breathing examples of the people who have been brainwashed by the Right-wing media. Interacting with online trolls is tedious. Seeing online trolls made real, in person, alive, and not as ephemeral digital representations, is a reminder of how serious these political matters actually are.
Contemporary movement conservatism is a cult and religion. Its believers are immune to normal appeals to logic and fact. America: Imagine the World Without Her is a crystallization of Right-wing fantasies and distortions presented through the cinematic imagination. It is an artifact of the Tea Party GOP’s madness. Consequently, the movie’s real social value is how it serves as an insight into the paranoid style and conspiranoid fantasies that have possessed the Right-wing’s foot soldiers and public–and which are a threat to all Americans’ safety, security, and prosperity.
Chauncey DeVega is the editor and founder of We Are Respectable Negroes. DeVega has appeared on the BBC, Ed Schultz, and here on Ring of Fire, with his written work appearing on AlterNet, Daily Kos, and Salon.