Pitching a Metafictional Planetary Rescue Squad

Like many people I recently binge watched House of Cards. For me that meant the show in its entirety, because I’d quickly dismissed the remake as being far inferior to the supremely Machiavellian original series. But I was convinced to revisit it in light of the second series being dropped, and much recommendation of the first.

What hooked me early on was the backdrop of Energy Politics. Underwood trying to free himself from grip of the Big Oil lobbyists. Scheming to get renewable energy seriously deployed.

Playing chess with the evil billionaire, being a personification of the corrupt nature of Nuclear Power. And the complications involved in securing the rare earth minerals on which solar power, not to mention laptops and smart phones, depend.

Here, I thought, is a show that’s not just about power and politics, but seriously examining a civilisation in phase shift. Moving towards becoming a Type 1 Civilisation. Showing how the fingers of the energy cartels grip the corridors of power, and how that grip might be slipped and a new future born. A bright green future.

Here, I thought, just might be a mundane, contemporary set counterpart to Dracula. While the immediate fantastic comparison was Game of Thrones, just maybe the Fincher led remake was attempting to do more than portray primate politics, but also examine the nature of change on a global scale. Its price; its bloody at all costs, whatever it takes, do not back down, we are hijacking this reality and taking it to its scheduled destination, because we are beyond good and evil actors so don’t mind the ledger.

Nope, that’s just Dracula.

Spoiler: Underwood becomes President at the end of season 2.

The image above is the end moment of the current continuity. Newly minted President Underwood, who’s completed his move from House Whip, through Vice President to now Leader of the Free World TM, without a single vote from Amerika’s citizens. Punching the desk. Keeping his knuckles hard. Ready to defend his place at the top of the primate tree against any attackers.

No closer to overcoming Type 0 Civilisation problems. In fact, he’s the chief cause.

And how did the most weighty of recommendations describe this show? “Because primates.”

(Welcome to 2014: Obama loved this show.)

Because this is #Multiverse TV we turn to considering an expanded metafictional universe. Made all the more possible because if his lawyers are any good, Fincher should have to the rights to make this real (having directed The Girl With The Dragon Tattoo and presumably optioned the rest, and healming the (completely unnecessary) Utopia remake).

This was my immediate reaction:

Upon further reflection, in composing this entry, it seems even better to go completely nuts and pitch a 21st Century Planetary Rescue Squad.

The ultimate team up of Nietzschean, ubermensch characters to face off against the biggest, baddest, schemiest primate… a man that shits on the future, and holds all the cards.

The President of the US is something to be overcome.

  • we start with Lisbeth Salander joining Gavin Orsay, his furry familiar, Cashew, gnawing on the bleeding face of that FBI agent that had him literally, and his guardian, underfoot.
  • Salander reaches out to newly styled, no longer woolly jumper wearing, Sarah Lund of Forbrydelsen (The Killing), last seen boarding a plane to bring a billionaire to justice.
  • she in turn reaches out to her compatriot Scandinavian detective of Bron|Broen (The Bridge) fame, Saga Norén.
  • Luther and his gas masking wearing companion, Dr. Alice Morgan, were already hanging out at the Salander Icelandic base, so they’re in.
  • and it just happens that Alice started up a correspondence with a certain reformed serial killer that’s wandering around Alaska, looking for a mission beyond not ruining his family’s life; one Dexter Morgan.
  • And just as their introduction meeting is concluding, through a flash of arc lightening, John Connor and liquid metal Shirley Manson drop back through time, to destroy the past and save the future… again.
  • and lastly, Tesla Boy Gangster himself, Alexander Grayson III (aka Dracula), steps out of the shadows.

[Pose like a Team graphic PENDING]

And the plot computes itself…

…but if you wanna pay me Fincher, call me baby!

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They’d reached the diner. Emma followed Ghada to a corner booth, and they ordered coffee and cake.

“Every profession has a nick-name,” Emma argued.

“Maybe, but no one calls the Surgeon General here the ‘Quack-in-Chief’, or the Attorney General the ‘Shyster-in-Chief’. So why does your President refer to her Nobel-prize-winning Energy Secretary as ‘Poopy-head-in-Chief’?”

“If that’s too undignified for you,” Emma asked irritably, “what do they call people who do science in Egypt? ‘Masters of the Universe’? ‘Philosopher Kings’?”

“‘Scientists’,” Ghada replied. “Literally. We’ve taken to using the English word, since it seems to have dropped out of favour in the West. ‘Geek’, ‘nerd’, ‘poopy-head’, ‘snot-face’ … these aren’t words in any adult’s vocabulary. To use them at all is a concise confession by the speaker that, linguistically, they’ve never left kindergarten — but it’s only in the most damaged cultures that people are required to pretend that they’re anything other than infantile jibes. Every time you answer to a label like that, you’re just normalising and internalising your society’s pathological anti-intellectualism.”

Emma bristled. “So now the country you claim to be indebted to is ‘pathological’?”

“It wasn’t always this way,” Ghada stressed. “But it’s a long, sad fall from The Feminine Mystique and The Pleasure of Finding Things Out to The Poopy-head Manifesto and Yes, I Have Girl Cooties, You Wanna Make Something Of It?”

Emma hadn’t heard of the first two books, but Google knew her well enough to track down the authors and then send her to SmugClub.com. “Richard Feynman spent time in topless bars. Betty Friedan never acknowledged her white, middle-class heterosexual privilege. Some heroes you’ve got.”

“I have no heroes,” Ghada said flatly. “But I can recognise a culture in decline when I see it. America is now what anthropologists call a Kardashian Type Three civilisation: more than fifty percent of GDP is in the attention economy.”

“And it’s ‘Grrl Cooties’, not ‘Girl Cooties’. G-double-R-L. When we spell it that way it makes us powerful.”

Ghada seemed to be struggling not to burst out laughing. “God help us all. So why did you apply for the scholarship, if you’re so deliriously happy here?”

Emma had no answer. “You just hate our freedoms,” she said. “That’s why you’re here, spreading hate.”

Ghada no longer looked amused. “It’s your friends who are lamenting your decline. Your enemies are the ones standing back in silence, waiting for you to choke to death on your own vomit.”

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“Anyone wanting to know why the United States is hated across much of the world need look no farther than this book. The Brothers is a riveting chronicle of government-sanctioned murder, casual elimination of ‘inconvenient’ regimes, relentless prioritization of American corporate interests and cynical arrogance on the part of two men who were once among the most powerful in the world.”

Both brothers, Kinzer tells us, were law partners in the New York firm of Sullivan & Cromwell, a firm that, in the 1930s, worked for I.G. Farben, the chemicals conglomerate that eventually manufactured Zyklon B (the gas used to murder the Jews). Allen Dulles, at least, finally began to have qualms about doing business in Nazi Germany, and pushed through the closure of the S&C office there, over John Foster’s objections. The latter, as Secretary of State under Eisenhower, worked with his brother (by now head of the CIA) to destroy Mohammad Mossadegh in Iran, Jacobo Arbenz in Guatemala, and Patrice Lumumba in the Congo, among others. The two of them pursued a Manichaean world view that was endemic to American ideology and government, which included the notion that threats to corporate interests were identical to support for communism. As John Foster once explained it: “For us there are two kinds of people in the world. There are those who are Christians and support free enterprise, and there are the others.” It was not for nothing that President Johnson, much to his credit, privately complained that the CIA had been running “a goddamn Murder Inc. in the Caribbean,” the beneficiaries of which were American corporate interests.

But the most trenchant comment made by Kinzer reflects an argument I have repeatedly made, namely the relationship between the macrocosm and the microcosm. “They are us. We are them,” says Kinzer, and this is the God-awful truth: that it is a rotten culture that produces rotten representatives. Americans benefited, materially speaking, from the corporate profits generated by the violence fostered by the CIA and the State Department, and didn’t say boo. They mindlessly got on the anti-Communist bandwagon, never questioning what we were doing around the world in the name of it. Their focus was on the tail fins of their new cars, and the new, exciting world of refrigerators and frozen foods, not on the torture regime we installed in Iran, or the genocide we made possible in Guatemala. By the latest count, 86% of them can’t locate Iran on a world map, and it’s a good bet that less than 0.5% can say who John Foster Dulles even was. When Mandela says that “they don’t care for human beings,” we have to remember that the “they” is not just the U.S. government; it also consists of millions of individual Americans whose idea of life is little more than “what’s in it for me?”—the national mantra, when you get right down to it. The protesters who marched in the streets against our involvement in Vietnam, after all, amounted to only a tiny fraction of the overall American population, and it’s not clear that things have changed all that much: 62% of Americans are in favor of the predator drone strikes in the Middle East that murder civilians on a weekly basis. You don’t get the Dulleses rising to the top without Mr. John Q. Public, and he is as appalling as they. Like the Dulleses, he typically believes in a Christian world of free enterprise vs. the evil others who do not, “thinks” in terms of Manichaean slogans, and is not terribly concerned about anyone outside his immediate family—if that. America didn’t get to be what it is by accident; this much should be clear.

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