After ending season four of House Of Cards - - I don't binge - - I'm as conflicted as post season one, when we saw a murderer ascend to the vice-presidency. I came close to quitting the series at that point, the politics wonk in me feeling cheated that the show wasn’t going to be all about the Amendment in the Nature of a Substitute Rule. As for throwing reporters under trains, I thought, “That can’t happen here unless we repeat often enough how amusing it might be if it did.” Regardless, over the last two seasons, I’ve crept back in slowly, watching between my fingers.
Back in the Golden Age of Cinema, an extraterrestrial ice-ball named Paddy Chayefsky (Marty) passed Earth close enough to pick up a few Oscars, then headed back to the Kuiper Belt for another 75 years. In his last years of luminescence, Chayefsky went from brilliant chronicler of the underclass to the angry old man in the window, the character of Dr. Herbert Bock, scrawled below ‘Hello! My Name is Badass Jew Lefty.’ In The Hospital, Cheyefsky gave us the horror of corporate health care, the American pharmographic engine rolling out both the cause and cure of snuff culture. And in Network, he scripted “ . . . the story of Howard Beale: The first known instance of a man who was killed because he had lousy ratings.”
The awful truth about these final two movies was that they actually were entertaining. Understand, no poor folk trapped in the horror of the modern public health system ever watched them. It was us Media Elites that chuckled over Chayefsky's gallows humor, just like days past at real hangings. And once is never enough, is never long enough, never awful enough and since the preview of Network (1976), the real life horror comedy became more and more popular.
But running alongside - - in the years since - - we the people elected to the presidency a pre-Alzheimer, B-movie actor, an upper-class twit and the half-wit, coke-header son of the twit . . . most by rather large majorities. We were treated to a deposed description of the First Penis. We flirted first with an empty-headed, preening rogue peahen and now the male version - - a true Fascist psychopath - - sits ready to gobble down the whole executive corn dog. Could that happen here? Gosh and golly, you betcha! Is it amusing to anyone how a large group of voters have accepted so quickly the idea of electing a monster?
People mocked Tipper Gore and her allies, the Parents Music Resource Center for thinking that violence in rock and roll videos could actual drill evil into teenage brains. But there’s a more subtle earwig at play here. Has the tRump’s ascendancy been also enabled by all these dystopic visions, running from Network to Netflix? Actually when I saw Frank (Kevin Spacey) and Claire (Robin Wright) Underwood seated on their Medician chairs - - crushing the third wall with their inhuman, doll’s-eye gaze - - my first reaction was: not . . . real . . . enough. Maybe the feedback of life and art is more complex, more symbiotic than Tipper imagined. In any case, in this season . . . reality has become more terrifying than horror.