Suppose tomorrow the Bush administration announces plans to deploy thousands of Homeland Security Troops to American cities, to walk the streets armed in the search for un-American, possibly terrorist activities (such as taking photos where there isn’t anything obviously pretty to be taking a photo of, being overly swarthy, videotaping cops and Homeland Security Troops, etc). These guys would only be answerable to the DHS, and they would be recruited from the likes of Blackwater, Wackenhut, and so forth.
Obviously there would be some outrage, yeah? I mean, not as much as there should be, but a lot of folks wouldn’t care for this at all.
Now imagine that these troops are outfitted exactly like Stormtroopers from Star Wars.
What percentage of geeks would declare that this was awesome?
What percentage of non geeks?
Photo by Keelia Liptak
What is it with Stormtroopers? How have we, as a culture, come to love the faceless face of oppression? Sure, in the movies they bump their heads and can’t hit a sidewalk with a can of paint and talk about that new BT-16 and do the Wilhelm scream and all, but it’s still pretty clear who they are and what they represent.
But people can’t get enough of them. Go to any sci-fi or comic convention and you’ll see several people in meticulously crafted Stormtrooper armor. In fact, there’s a group devoted to this, which is now also marching in things like Fourth of July parades (which is where the first image was taken). Seriously, someone thought Stormtroopers in a Fourth of July parade was a good idea.
This summer there’s a CGI “Clone Wars” movie coming out.
The guy on the left is Anakin Skywalker, who will become Darth Vader, right hand man to the evil Emperor. The troops in the background are the guys who will eventually become the Stormtroopers. Hopefully Anakin and the Clonetroopers can use all their cool ships and weapons and stuff to defeat…the bad guys? As with Attack of the Clones, are we really going to once again be expected to root for the people that we already know are going to enslave the galaxy?
But fascism isn’t just wicked awesome, it can also be dead sexy.
Once the helmet is on you won’t see the face of your oppressor but you’ll see her hot hot midriff and her thermal detonators. This is female empowerment.
It can also be fun! Here are some of the folks who kill for the Empire having a little downtime!
(Picture by waihey on Flickr)
In that last photo, an argument can obviously be made for satire, for letting the context play against the characters as a way to defang and ridicule totalitarianism. It’s also kind of funny!
Still, here’s the 118th Rose Parade. What’s the satirical message here? These guys were trained by a colonel in the real Army.
I’m not suggesting there’s some kind of conspiracy afoot to make us more tolerant of (and, in fact, enthusiastic about) a fascist society.
I’m suggesting that such a conspiracy probably wouldn’t be necessary.