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National Review Online has named Red Dawn—a 1984 Patrick Swayze flick for those of you that don't know—the #15 "best conservative movie." I believe it plays a defining role in the teabagger subconscious and their meta-language.

In a nutshell, the plot of the movie the United States is invaded by the Soviets and a band of teenagers from white Happy Days utopia—get this—become terrorists (the "Wolverines" after their high school mascot) and harass the Soviet occupation forces, earning them the admiration of a Cuban commander who remembers the good ole' days of being a guerilla instead of part of a huge army. Everyone except Jennifer Grey and one other person die and escape to=—the free United States which is in—again, get this—California.

In the end a war monument is erected and the Americans win.

Much more than the actual American Revolution, I believe the teabaggers see themselves as acting out the plot of this film. I invite you to do a Google search for "Red Dawn Obama" to see the variety of examples.

There is no theory of a Soviet occupation in the movie. The aww shucks cowboy answer given by Powers Boothe's air force pilot character is that the "two biggest kids on the block" eventually have to fight. In the beginning we are treated to an explanation that NATO fell apart. There is also no explanation of what the strategic goal of such an occupation is or how it could possibly occur without a massive nuclear exchange. (A limited one is hinted at, which I don't ever recall reading about in anything other than a European frontal war between NATO and the Soviets).

The movie is right-wing porn on many levels. First of all, the beginning is an idyllic small town full of white people with common sense 'Murican values and Mr. Swayze is the captain of the football team. The Soviets land from parachutes (on commercial flights which apparently we are fools to let overfly us or something) and start shooting up the school (I know—wtf?). Then they round up everyone with a registered gun into a prison camp in the middle of town. So, just remember in the event of a Soviet occupation, gun registrations are a problem.

The cast of teenagers escapes into the woods where good country folk give them camping supplies and guns and shit and then they decide to start killing the Russians.

All of the right wing values that are bound up in this otherwise mediocre flick offer a method of funneling the powerlessness in political expression combined with entitlement for those who "want their country back." Libruls are proxies (obviously) both for those who setup the good folks of the US for this occupation through military laxity and gun owner registration requirements and the Communist occupiers themselves.

The American resistance is justified in murder in one scene where a Soviet is begging for his life only to be shot, because, Swayze's character explains "we live here." In other words, they are justified because it's their country and they want it back.

The entitlement to the land by the teabaggers is couched in their purporting to uphold the Constitution through various trivial clauses like the natural birth clause and so forth even though they never seemed to mind the Constitutional illegitimacy of Bush's first election or a very long list of his other actions, but, more critically, feeling justified in entertaining extra-Constitutional measures—burning the village to save it—up to and including coup d'etat.. Cloaking themselves in the guise of Constitutionalism and patriotism is where the "tea party" name comes from, but these folks are not trying to uphold any Founding values and eloquent speeches and liberation politics are not included.

No, they want to fight a guerilla war—as terrorists—against "Communists" who are "occupying" "their" country.

Except, here's the thing. It all has the actual reality of a movie, measured in results.

Sometimes violent movies, video games, and music are blamed for hate crimes. I think their being totally blamed for it is ridiculous, but for some people it's enough to send them over the top. But most people do not go out and sacrifice virgins after listening to a Slayer album. Just a few nuts are shaken lose. We have seen that. We have seen shootings at Unitarian Churches and of Democratic Party leaders.

But what we've seen a lot more of is fantasy. Things like Tweets soliciting assassinations, spitting, and hate speech.  But we haven't seen much action. It's almost exactly parallel to the Iraq war, where the Keyboard Kommandos rabidly attacked everyone who tried to stop other people from going to fight a war. People like Air Guard George and Deferment Rush calling out people like John Kerry even for being critical of the war.

Please, do not take this as a "dare." I want this people to chill the fuck out and go away, but I think the actual lack of action betrays the sort of cinematic fantasy metaphor that they are using, even though they think they are being totally literal. Here's why.

Let's imagine that Red Dawn was real. Or something like it. Some occupying force comes into the United States. Is there even any doubt in your mind that there would be extensive bands of actual partisans? If a Communist power really were occupying this county is there any doubt in your mind that there would be constant conflict? Of course there would.

Just like the hyperbolic Hitler/Stalin etc. language, it can only conjure up images put forth in cinematic fantasy, not actual reality.

In short, much teabagger talk is derived from the fantasy of movies, novels, and other conspiracy theories and these people don't even realize themselves that this is what they are saying. Just as David Frum (no link for him) pointed out in his "Waterloo" piece, the GOP is being led by it's "entertainment" faction. Limbaugh, Beck, Palin et al. are entertainment just like a movie, except their followers take them seriously.

This is the byproduct of living in a society where people's actual experience of most things in the world is almost infinitesimal compared with their entertainment-based "knowledge" of things. It's scary; it's dangerous; and I can only pray that these folks remain pussies in actual life.

Originally posted to Attorney at Arms on Tue Mar 23, 2010 at 08:30 AM PDT.

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