A mericans are facing a multitude of crises. The most crucial crisis is climate change, that is, the elimination of most life on this planet. Terr a forming of Mars has yet to begin, and the one-way trip won't be affordable for everyone.
In the meanwhile, catastrophic change, already underway, in part, thanks to the powerful forces of corporations that spend days and nights peddling a business model of operations, is deadly for life on this planet.
There are climate migrants, for exampleover a million and a half people, according to the UN High Commission for Refugees (UNHCR). Severe weather is one of the forces driving people away from their homes and homelands, and we should expect the severity and frequency of hurricanes and tropical cyclones to increase in the coming years. Along with homelessness facing the displaced, rising sea levels effect food production. As if we don't have one too many people suffering from hunger or from the lack of a nutritious diet.
Most of this year, I spent time working as senior volunteer for a non-profit organization and was struck by the way those I encountered perceived thinking about the world beyond family to be futile. Outside of the proverbial four walls of home, the powerful and indecipherable exist. Best to stay focused, therefore, on the family, that is, the safety net that will keep thought about the outside in its place. F ence yourself in the me-and-mine box.
And there are the believers in the divine plan. Climate change is part of that divine plan. Climate change, therefore, is insurmountable. It's blasphemous even to consider action to prevent the worse. Silly for activists protesting the inevitable plan being scripted from above.
In the US, where fires caused by drought has yet to destroy homes, schools, neighborhoods, or displace so large a number of people as to disturb the fairly comfortable existence of householdsin certain parts of the US, citizens have spent billions of dollars to sit in the dark and fantasize about powerful superheroes who defend the powerless, them, that is, the movie goer, from powerful elitists, otherwise referred to as the 1%.
According to one film critic, it's class warfare they are going to see, presented to them on the big screen. Class warfare, writes the critic, is driving the masses to the movies.
In response to Trumpism, white supremacy, capitalist greed, to the meanness of spirit exhibited in policies such as the one proposed to strip some 700,000 citizens from food stamps, Americans are turning to the movies, to Hollywood. In the dark of a theater, Americans, the critic surmises, some Americans believe their interests, their concerns about racial injustice, economic disparities, and climate change are finally being heard. Represented! Finally! Others appear to be waking up to the articulation, so it seems, of whispered thoughts.
Are the superheroes fighting a class war for us?
According to the critic, these films unravel the American myth: the dream resides with the billionaires! Case in pointthe one billionaire, allegedly, voted by the American public to sit at the seat of the most powerful, floats, in fact, on the backs of those sitting in the movie theater, awaiting the arrival of a superhero. At the White House, behind that Presidential seal, the most powerful assures the continuation of capitalism. Greed. His own financial interests.
In the meantime, with incomes rising to overflow, right along with sea levels, the capitalists want to assure the American public that they are not heartless as Trump. But don't examine too closely the conditions of workers on the floor of an Amazon warehouse.
The billionaires, as the film critic notes, "protect themselves." In other words, capitalists look out for their own interests.
Our film critic names the 2019 films Americans are spending cash to see. He mentions the Korean film, Para site , an up the downstairs drama, the horror film, Us , a critique of the privileged class, by the incredible Jordan Peele, and, of course, Joker.
Arthur Fleck, played by Joaquin Phoenix, suffers from a mental illness. B arely receiv ing adequate help, he's informed about budget cut s: Services to the most vulnerable , always precarious, you know. P rofits, profits, profits! Your much needed medical care will be cut! Sorry!
P rofits destroy, totally. Fleck in his home dances to the tune heard outside his home. Nothing is private and safe; everything is public and insecure.
One day, while listening to the radio, Fleck hears the voice of Thomas Wayne, inheritor of family wealth and Bruce's father. Wayne' s thoughts enter Fleck's home: T he poor are nothing but a bunch of clowns! Clowns! Fleck's occupation is that of a clown.
Someone is going to get their comeuppance, huh? The wealthy, when not creating fantasizes for consumers, build s prisons fo r anyone deemed valuelessat least on the outside.
And it's the Joker that has exceeded the one billion dollar mark in sales.
Yeah, but, says the host, those not wealthy want to be wealthy. And isn't ironic that Hollywood is raking in all this money as it represents this class warfare in the cinema?
In other words, the bottom 50% views what the top percent produce s to represent class warfare. Are we to watch it safely in a dark theater or in our living rooms, among family? Is that how the top percent in terms of wealth expect the bottom 50% to wage class warfare in the US, in this most critical time?
It's the system! We used to say that back in the day, and it's still true. It's the system. The economic system. But we'll not have the discussion turn to point out the contradictions of capitalism. And a primary one is this: the people in the middle and at the bottom, most of the 99%, want to be rich, regardless of the harm economic disparity is heaping on the planet.
It's what the 99% have been encouraged to think, and under a dictatorship of the mind , to think otherwise is to be denounced as naive clowns, idealists, leftists. S ocialists. Instead of thinking about joining others to affect change for the good of all, Americans, if obedient consumers, are encouraged to spend money cheering fantastical superheroes.
Superheroes do ing all the heavy lifting while the viewer dream s on.
P aramount to any other form of business in this country is that of capitalists tending to their own interests. So, of course, in the long run, capitalism is good for the capitalists. F or Bill Gates, Jeff Bezos, Warren Buffet.
According to a Stanford University study published in the Washington Post , th is top tier hold s more wealth than "160 million people," that is, the bottom 50%.
W riting for Truthdig, Jim Hightower argues that the "new" underclass consists of a good many Americans now. Those receiving a paycheck of at least $515,000 could hang out with the near wealthy, he writes. However, t he real wealthy are members of "an exclusive club with only 1,433 members." And in this club, the capitalists income is above $63 million a year. Would-be-capitalists with only paychecks of $515,000 might not make it into that exclusive club.
And the irony, again, the irony: In some parts of the US, not owning the latest gadget from Apple or Google is tantamount to not owning a pair of shoes. And there are human beings on this planet who DO NOT own a pair of shoes. But let's NOT think about those people. There's a stigma if you don't own a home or a car. Never mind that in this world with a few humans living with billions, there are many living without homes or cars. No clean water or uncontaminated food!
Family and friends of the billionaires living in high places. Secluded and gated. They don't loss nearly as much sleep as do the working poor and the middle class who united in the dream of one day winning a lottery, fear the system's collapse before reaching that glorious summit. W alking on white sands with an everlasting blue sky above.
So what does this say about the hard working, working hard American, economically poor or "middle class," whatever that class might be these days?
What does this say about people who relinquish their interests to a fantasy that some entity with power will save them?
Whole families can be swept up by a raging river or consumed in a blazing wildfire. Inequities fuels capitalism, which can never be democratic.
Now is no time for fantasies. Superheroes for real-life crises are not to be found in the cinema. Class warfare is best waged in broad daylight among fellow concerned citizens. Common sense is where our well of power resides.
Constant is the struggle for a world that is just and a humanity that is free of the tyranny of capitalism.