Early on in a life spent studying the art of storytelling, I came upon an interesting example of narrative power. In his encyclopedic study of mythology, The Masks of God, Joseph Campbell quotes an essay by German ethnologist Leo Frobenius. Frobenius tells of a little girl who plays with three matchsticks, pretending they are Hansel, Gretel and the witch. After a time, she lets out a shriek of terror. When her father asks her what’s the matter, she replies, “Daddy! Daddy! Take the witch away!” In her imagination, the matchstick has become the witch she pretended it was.
Something similar has happened to the Democratic Party and its communications arm, by which I mean so-called journalists and Hollywood entertainers. They have convinced themselves that their duty to defeat the demonic evil of Donald Trump overrides their obligations to do their various jobs. Instead of governing, informing and entertaining us, they have spun out a fairy tale of heroic resistance against authoritarian wickedness, conspiracy and corruption. And now, like the little girl in the anecdote, they are shrieking in terror because they believe Donald Trump is what they pretended he is instead of what he is in fact.
What is the president, in fact? Well, without dabbling in psychology or mind-reading — that is, judging only by what we know of his presidential record so far — he seems to be a run-of-the mill conservative Republican who is getting quite a lot done. Oh, and he has an obstreperous personality and a big mouth.
Because most people live in something vaguely resembling the real world, the disparity between the left’s hysteria — their imaginings of Russian conspiracy, of Gestapo governance, of abusive power — and the facts of Trump’s actual presidency — tax cuts, regulation rollbacks, Constitutional judges and the occasional unruly tweet — makes the self-serious emergency activism of the “resistance” seem like a child’s game, a silly fantasy.
And so, instead of the hero’s welcome the left always seems to be expecting, the people keep giving them the bum’s rush.
Weepy former man Jimmy Kimmel acknowledged as much in his opening monologue at the Oscars, “Of the nine best picture nominees only two of them made more than a hundred million dollars. But that’s not the point. We don’t make films like Call me By Your Name for money. We make them to upset Mike Pence.”
In Kimmel’s imagination, of course, the vice president, being a Christian, cooks and eats homosexuals in his secret lair deep within the bowels of his subterranean church. In real life, however, I doubt Pence gives a rat’s covfefe what gay dreams Hollywood dreams, and most people understand he’s just a typical religious man with conservative political leanings, not a dragon worth battling at the expense of profit and entertainment.
Thus, not only did Hollywood’s political movies do poorly at the box office, the self-righteously politicized Oscar’s ratings hit an all-time low.
Likewise, in the Texas primaries, the media expected a motivated left to show up in force to fight the horrors of the Trumpian White House. As Karl Rove reported in the Wall Street Journal, biased reporters saw “rising Democratic enthusiasm,” “surging Democratic tallies,” and “a massive surge in [Democrat] voter enthusiasm” that might even “make Texas blue.”
In the event, high Democrat turnout was outmatched by the equally enthusiastic Republicans.
And then, there’s CNN. The cable news outlet has spent the last fourteen months and more giving 24/7 coverage to a Russia-Trump conspiracy for which there is zero evidence, an epidemic of gun violence that does not exist, and what Brian Stelter, in a panic attack reminiscent of the little girl in Frobenius’s anecdote, recently called “a rolling, ongoing, crisis” at the White House.
The result? Like the Oscars, CNN’s ratings have tanked. They are now running well below the loons at MSNBC, who at least have the common decency to admit they’re left-wing crackpots, and so far beneath Fox News that Sean Hannity can no longer even hear himself being demonized.
Why won’t Americans watch Hollywood heroes fight the good fight at the movies and the Oscars? Why aren’t they turning up at voting booths to answer tyranny with the oft-promised blue wave? Why aren’t they tuning in to hear about the latest conspiracy and crisis?
Because none of it’s real, that’s why. There are no conspiracies. No crises. No tyranny. No Hollywood heroes.
The left may have begun to believe its own fantasies. Not so the rest of us.
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