Tuesday, November 10, 2020

Totally Under Control, COVID, and a big hard ball of shit

There is probably a term for it in psychiatric or psychological literature, but I don't know what it is: when you are beholden to an impossible situation that you can't change, and since you can't change it, have to simply accept it, compartmentalize it, and go about the business of survival, while the rage, horror, confusion, and fear of the impossible situation just sort of simmers and accumulates beneath the surface. When remaining a functional human being is predicated on a kind of denial, you simply can't afford to let your feelings out, can't do anything about them; there's no point even acknowledging them, since doing so will just lessen your ability to function. You can't do your dayjob when you're screaming and crying all the time, so you just hunker down and try to survive, self-medicate yourself as best you can, and hope that you will come to a day when the impossible situation changes and you can breathe a sigh of relief and maybe, I dunno, cry, or scream, or kill something in effigy, or whatever you need to do to release the feelings you've been stockpiling. It's kind of like not being able to go to the washroom, having a hard, gigantic lump building up in your bowels, carrying it around in there, uncomfortable and disgusting, hoping that someday, you will be able to sit down and strain and it will emerge from you at last - a giant hard ball of the shit that you've been carrying around - and that it won't tear open your asshole on the way out and leave you bleeding and damaged. 

For the record, I wrote that with the Trump administration in mind, not COVID-19, though if you want a chance to feel some of that rage and horror and confusion and fear at the current administration as it relates to COVID-19, I would recommend Alex Gibney's Totally Under Control, a documentary that is not just about the Trump administration's catastrophic mishandling of the COVID crisis - over 244 000 dead to date, and still counting - but about the roots of that mishandling in a swindler's version of free-market ideology: what does it look like when an administration that believes government is the enemy, that is determined to attack and dismantle it on every front (while padding its own nests wherever possible) attempts to govern at a time of crisis? You may think you already know the answers to that question, and indeed, there is much in the film that you will remember from the news - Trump's boasts about how COVID was totally under control, the scramble for PPE as hospitals got overwhelmed, the frustration of first responders - some of whom are interviewed - and of course the mounting death toll, but there is also stuff you probably don't know, like the story of a whistleblower on an improvised taskforce run by Jared Kushner to find sources for PPE; or stuff that you had to look away from at the time, like Bob Woodward having a recording of Trump, acknowledging flat-out just how bad COVID was, PRIOR to the disease's, uh, roll-out in North America. I was aware of that story, but really just didn't want to FEEL it, and certainly didn't hear the recordings of Trump at the time, since I really, really try not to listen to his voice where I can help it, or look at his image, or even think about him, because - see above about survival being predicated on denial. But if you feel now that things are back to what we might call "the old normal," like MAYBE it might be safe to engage again, and want to feel a bit of that stockpiled rage - to say nothing of the horror and confusion borne of knowing that OVER 70,000,000 AMERICANS who lived through the same four years as the rest of us still voted for Trump last week - this is an excellent, informative way of doing so. 

Don't take my word for it - read this article in The Atlantic, which describes the film as the COVID documentary that "all Americans need to see." It's available on Amazon Prime and perhaps elsewhere. Those of you who were left unimpressed (or disgusted?) with the new Borat film - which is only intermittently amusing and, for all its straining, achieves nothing more damning politically than entrapping Rudy Giuliani in a tawdry motel-room setup, with Sacha Baron Cohen in the (figurative) role of the photographer who bursts out of the closet with a camera at the last minute - Gibney's mature, informed, methodical, and damning j'accuse of Team Trump is a perfect antidote. 

Of course, we have two more months of Trump in office - two more months in which, in a deranged, angry fit, he might truly lash out and punish America for de-throning him. That asshole-ripping ball of hard shit is still inside us, and it may be a little too early for celebrations and cheers. It may not be too early to feel a little bit of the rage that has accumulated, however, because, who knows, we might actually need to mobilize it to get rid of the bastard once and for all. 

Congratulations to my American friends on electing Biden-Harris; they aren't exactly Green New Deal reformers, and the normal you're returning to is no great shakes - but they're a long shot better than what you've had. Be vigilant, though, folks. Trump now truly has nothing left to lose, and his anti-government administration will be bent on destroying whatever it can on the way out... 

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