There’s a moment in the just released duo of episodes from the second season of Hulu’s The Handmaid’s Tale where Elisabeth Moss’ title character finds a way to mourn the many dead in her dystopian world.
It’s a rare moment of grace in one of the most depressingly riveting series to ever be on television, yet it doesn’t tip the scales towards hope. More tellingly, it simply provides a road map by which she can go on.
These days I so get it.
I’d so like to see Donald Trump as a handmaid. Mostly because it would mean I wouldn’t ever have to see or hear from him again. (Note: Handmaids don’t get to back talk and if they do they get beaten to a pulp). Plus, he’d look so god damn awful in one of those god damn red robes and god damn white bonnets.
Yeah, this is what I’ve come to. Wishing very bad things – and worse – on other people. I don’t ever do that sort of thing. Except, well, I guess now I do.
Oh, and while we’re on the subject, I’d like to see Kellyanne Conway, Sarah Huckabee Sanders, his entire meat and potatoes Cabinet and each member of his immediate, extended profiteering family wearing the uniform too. Including Melania. Let’s see if she can silently style her way out of that one while the rest of them long for their halcyon days while chowing down on virtual pieces of their Marie Antoinette-styled tea cakes.
There is nothing in film, television or, frankly, any other art form at the moment that captures the Trump era in America better than The Handmaid’s Tale. This was clearly not novelist Margaret Atwood’s intention when she wrote it 30 plus years ago since back then the occupier in chief at the White House was merely a New York tabloid punch line – the ultimate representation of the nouveau riche 1980s, with all of the tackiness, tastelessness and déclassé that represents.
But that was then and this is now – as the before and after narratives in Hulu’s small screen series so relentlessly point out. What was once a paranoid delusion (ICE agents in the street ripping apart families) can become as serious as a heart attack (women seen merely as sexual objects who double as baby making machines) in what feels like the blink of an eye (National security risks) in the world of dystopian fiction as adapted for television.
Or is that mostly real life mirroring television as adapted from dystopian fiction.
Beats me if I know the difference anymore. In many ways, it’s merely a matter of degree and where you sit when you’re looking at it.
Ask the overwhelming majority of us native New Yorkers who spent any time there in the eighties. Every day these days we rue any other day in the past when we dismissed Donnie, our loathsome homeboy, as nothing more than a corrupt, racist carnival barker.
That is because we know that we treated him as merely a delicious target of amusement – someone we allowed to skate through our headlines fueled by the disgrace of his Daddy’s money, an immoral streak as unrelenting as his motor mouth and as wide as the obviously receding hairline he was even then so desperately trying to hide during a decade where looks, money, and power, as typified by lots of gold gild, somehow became the ideal.
As Barack Obama once so eloquently told us: It is time to own their (nee OUR) failure.
I’ll tell you what brought me back here – to that place of rage I was at right after the 2016 election.
— It wasn’t his continuing campaign against Muslims and other non-Whites from entering our country to stoke fear and division.
– It wasn’t his restrictions against transgender people in the military out of sheer ignorance or his order to not include gay families in the US Census out of purposeful spite.
– It wasn’t his constant rolling back of Obama era environmental regulations out of greed, anger and a powerfully personal, neurotic antipathy towards his predecessor.
— Nor was it his relentless totalitarian attacks towards what are now Pulitzer Prize winning members of the free press or his own unapologetic compulsion to pass off brazen lies as truth and cold, hard inarguable facts as fake news.
– It wasn’t even the constant lying about his ties to Russia, even by the standards of Alice In Wonderland-type logic (Note: How many of his “people” in the campaign and/or administration now have confirmed ties to the Russian rabbit hole and their various other regional oligarchs – a dozen, two dozen, three thousand?)
In truth, it happened with his remarks this week when he was hosting this year’s medal-winning Olympic and Paralympic athletes and their families at the White House.
Specifically speaking to the Paralympians – those being top tier athletes with a wide range of disabilities, including quadriplegia and intellectual impairment – the sitting U.S. president stated:
“And what happened with the Paralympics was so incredible and so inspiring to me…. And I watched — it’s a little tough to watch too much, but I watched as much as I could. It was really fantastic, and I want to thank you.
Imagine, you have a disability you were born with or arbitrarily acquired and yet manage to train to the point where you are an international competitor, in games commensurate to the Olympics every four years, and a guy born into privilege who lives on a diet of junk food and undisciplined rage, stands up and says to you from the loudest bully pulpit in the world that it’s:
a little tough to watch you compete too much but (mea culpa) he watched you as much as I could.
How do you feel about that – you living a daily life of unbridled discipline in order to survive?
And what do you think, or feel, if you’re a friend of such a person, or a member of their family?
Moreover, what is your reaction as another human being to an off the cuff statement like that by some currently serving as you own…president?
Reminder to a large swath (though not majority) of the American people who chose such an individual to be their leader:
Having one or two Black friends doesn’t mean you’re not a racist.
Attending a gay wedding or inviting a gay celebrity over for dinner doesn’t disqualify you from being a homophobe.
Nor does voting for or continuing to support one disqualify YOU from either label.
It is time YOU own our failures and for the rest of US who let you off the hook to give you HELL daily. Especially if you continue to support such nonsense for your own personal convenience, peace of mind or greed. You don’t like it – tough. You think it’s the wrong strategy? Bite me.
From now on, every day is the day after Election Day. Or else #WeAreAllHandmaids.
Unless, of course, we already are but just haven’t been given the outfit or streamed till the end of the season.
Grace – “You Don’t Own Me”
Nice piece, I was chuckling, while swallowing back tears. I have to honest, I don’t have hulu so I have not seen the series. However, I made it slightly past halfway through the book. I started seeing the connections, how the “religious” zealots mirror the evangelicals & all of their hypocrisy. I want to finish it… On a better note, I have been releasing the pressure valve on any inner rage via blogging directly toward him & his “very fine deplorables”. Because f**k that, been there, done that, I’m NOT becoming a handmaiden! Now that I’ve read your piece, I’ll go finish the book. Thank you for writing this. God* bless you!
[*Real God Almighty, not the fake mascot these deplorables call “god” (money)]