28th July, 2008
I hear the Pope has paid a visit to your neck of the woods since last we talked. I hope you enjoyed him as much as we did. The papal trip here was nothing short of spectacular.
ELECTION '08: America goes to the polls in November but Micah Tillman asks whether they're looking for a president or a superhero? PICTURE: Cosmonaut Creative Media LLC (www.iStockphoto.com)
"When he returns home, Obama will encounter not only a fawning press and a worshipful Hollywood (the propaganda game is so much fun, isn’t it?) but an entire country of “in the tank” evangelicals. Or at least that’s what some people think."
You should have seen the reporters and pundits on TV news programs - news programs, mind you - going on about what a kind and wise man His Holiness had turned out to be.
I did a little blogging on the phenomenon at the time. I’ll leave it to you to read my post if you want to know why Americans were so shocked.
But I don’t want y’all Down Under (do you call it “Down Under,” or is that just us Amer’cans?) feeling too good about yourselves - what with your papal visit and our American naivety and all: We in America have the messiah, you see. I even had an article featured on his official blog! And he’s been making trips too.
He’s currently in the Middle East (as of the time of my writing this), doing what politicians do when they’re trying to do what politicians do. But then it’s off to Europe for him, and then hopefully we can have him back. Things aren’t quite as bright when he’s gone.
It’s like that Buffy the Vampire Slayer episode where Jonathan magically changes the world so that he becomes an impossible hero, and - upon being confronted with the possibility of a world without Hero Jonathan - Xander exclaims: "No! No! No! World without sunshine! World without joy!"
When he returns home, Obama will encounter not only a fawning press and a worshipful Hollywood (the propaganda game is so much fun, isn’t it?) but an entire country of “in the tank” evangelicals. Or at least that’s what some people think.
If Obama and the Democrats can win over the evangelicals of America, it would be a huge story. We (if I’m even one of “them” - does an “(ana)baptismatic” count as an evangelical?) tend to vote Republican. At least, that’s what I hear.
If you want to find out how things got to be this way, you can start by reading Frank Schaeffer’s sad attempt at taking responsibility for it. I call it “sad” not as an insult but because the tale is dolorous: he is deeply troubled by how he (purportedly) turned evangelical America over to the Republican Party.
So, Mr. Schaeffer (Jr.) and his fellows on the American Christian Left (for example, those involved in the exciting - and that’s not a criticism either - Emergent movement) must be happy about the reports that evangelicals may be finally swinging away from the Republicans.
But Mollie Hemingway’s analysis of the situation gives us reason to doubt. In her in-depth summary she reports that Obama isn’t even doing as well as John Kerry - the Democrats’ last attempt at President - did with evangelicals.
So have all the previous reports/rumors been lies? Is it that the Media find it impossible to be objective when it comes to a messiah? Who can we trust anymore?
The answer: Superheroes.
The Dark Knight just set a box office record for opening weekends. Hell Boy 2 was doing great before Batman showed up. And Hancock had the top spot the week before that. If I’m remembering correctly.
And then there was The Incredible Hulk, Ironman, X-Men, Superman, Spider-Man...and Indiana Jones. (Not a superhero, but close enough. Batman doesn’t need any special powers, but he counts!)
We’re scared, here in the States. About terrorists, about Iran, about North Korea and China, about immigration and losing our nation’s language and identity, about the economy. And about what you and the rest of the world think of us.
So it feels good to watch people protect us on screen. And it feels good to think we have a real-life superhero/messiah running for President who will fix all our problems.
Perhaps you can sympathise with us, even if we’re idolaters?
Micah Tillman is a lecturer in the School of Philosophy at The Catholic University of America, and the curator of the WEeding Awards.
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