I’m taking a vacation week this week. It wasn’t supposed to be a stay-cation, but it turned out that way. I had planned (along with the other Vikings) on being at the Tall Ships Festival in Duluth, as part of the penumbra surrounding the visit of the Draken Harald Fairhair replica Viking ship. But the Norns had other plans. So I’m hanging around the house, catching up with maintenance stuff, working (in a preliminary way) on my next novel, reading, and watching Stranger Things on Netflix.
I was reluctant to try Stranger Things. It’s basically horror, a genre that does not entertain me (I was a traumatized child. There’s no thrill for me in fear). But descriptions made it sound interesting. I gave it a shot. So far, so good. There are plot weaknesses, but the characters are good and the writers keep it interesting.
It got me thinking about the whole phenomenon of the Evil Government Conspiracy in fiction and entertainment. It seems to me strange that so many Hollywood productions, created by confirmed liberals who theoretically love government, are based on the idea that the government is secretly running massive projects aimed at enslaving us all and destroying the very fabric of the universe, unleashing unspeakable horrors. Offhand, you’d think that people who believe government can never be too big or too powerful would be incapable of imagining such a thing.
Part of it might be an impoverishment of the imagination. The liberal writer looks for some great force that might be capable of doing really cosmic evil. And the only great force he/she can imagine is the government, because he/she believes in nothing higher.
But perhaps it’s also a question of comfort. The liberal writer imagines a huge government conspiracy because he/she considers the very idea fantasy. Everyone knows the government is good, so an evil government is pure fantasy. Willing suspension of disbelief. There’s no existential dread for them in the mix.
I, on the other hand, consider big government a very real threat in the world. For that reason such a conspiracy is threatening to me. I prefer not to think about it. And so I avoid such stories most of the time.
These are preliminary thoughts. And probably wrong in large part.