Under the Eye: “June”

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In light of recent events, I’ve changed my thinking with regard to how people can be manipulated to dangerous extremes and inflict violence upon their fellow man. I used to believe the “inner life” of The Handmaid’s Tale was simply a set of speculative fictions designed to provoke thought in the body politic. When the series premiered, it became more than that. It was a conscious meta-event brought on by the election of a President, though there was nothing to indicate Gilead was on its way to becoming reality. Now that we’ve witnessed unbottled rage, “new normals,” hatred, and violence run rampant across our shores, I’m convinced The Handmaid’s Tale is a work of prophecy and eventuality. I’ve seen more hatred for this country, my country — The United States of America than any dramatized hatred for Gilead. Why? The sensible voices out there are powerless to stop this, and the sleep of reason breeds monsters. We get two-and-a-half minutes of recaps to sum up the first season of the show before we launch into season two. June has been put into the back of a caged paddy-wagon, clustered together with other handmaids and herded into Fenway Park. No, the Red Sox have not returned to ruin another night of baseball for me, but there is a production of sorts under way. The assortment of frightened girls are gagged and fast-walked to the tidy gallows set up in centerfield. This goes on way too long before we’re privy to the practical joke of the scene (and the show). The inappropriate strains of Kate Bush’s “Woman’s Work” play as the nooses are fitted, and we’re treated to fear and terror. This is a terrible idea running through my head, but I thought a more appropriate musical choice would have been John Fogerty’s 1984 opus, and I heard the lyrics in my head: “Put me in coach! I’m ready to play today! Look at me, I can be centerfield!” Okay, that’s wrong. I know it, and now you know it.

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Except, like I said, the whole thing’s a sick joke. No, the ladies are not killed. Just when you think the trap door is going to be released, nothing happens. The opening scenes of this episode were some of the most disgusting, repulsive, manipulative, and cloying I had ever witnessed (and I’ve seen Bloodsucking Freaks, mind you). There was such a lack of logic (i.e. Why go to all the trouble of setting up a mock-execution just to frighten a bunch of handmaidens?) that it puts into question all of Gilead’s motivations. Doesn’t the esteemed Republic of Gilead have better things to do? It goes on; such unimaginable (yet imagined up by an otherwise talented group of writers and producers) cruelty inflicted to such flagellant depths, and a breakaway crucifixion that will only create martyrs and resistance. You have signaled to the handmaids (and to any factors of resistance) that they are beneath worthless, that they can be excised and brushed aside. Am I to understand that the handmaids are a precious commodity until they resist? Next, we get a flashback (almost as if we’re to supposed to forget what happened) of happier times between Luke and June. June contemplates going off the pill for good. She wants to make more babies. That’s an odd choice for a woman in the current climate. In the present, the next day, the handmaids are forced to hold heavy stones in the rain while being kicked and shoved by Aunt Lydia. As the season progresses, we will see that Gilead continues to step-up their game of torture, inventing newer, more creative ways to make life miserable for these young women. This is the new normal, isn’t it? Lydia announces to the assembled torture victims that Offred is pregnant. She’s been filled with God’s light, also a generous portion of Nick. Heh. An overjoyed Aunt Lydia rings a big bell to signal to their private little slice of the world June’s impending motherhood.

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Lydia wants to keep June fed and fat. June tries to practice passive resistance which, knowing what I know of Lydia, will have no effect (at least no good effect). When the discussion inevitably turns to one-eyed batshit-crazy Janine, Lydia informs her she could have gone to God peacefully, under a hailstorm of stones, mind you, but peacefully. June tells her friends don’t stone each other. Also friends don’t let friends drive drunk, but that’s another problem. When June refuses to eat, Lydia takes her for a walk to see another handmaid who refuses to eat. Ofwyatt is being restrained for her own protection, you see, but she’s gone a little loopy in her confinement. I guess this scares June because she starts eating. While she eats, her fellow handmaids are subjected to various tortures (cattle-prods, hands on hot plates, the whole mess). I wonder if the irony isn’t lost on the viewer; these are women torturing other women while June sips her soup in silence. Sometimes I wonder if the show hates men, and sometimes I wonder if the show hates women. In a flashback, June gets a call that Hannah’s sick with a fever and she’s been taken to a hospital. That’s a little unusual, but I suppose in this alternate universe with a lack of living children, the schools and institutions don’t want to take any unnecessary risks, so I’ll go with it. The Nurse (or whoever that is) takes on a lecturing tone with June, assuming that because she has a job, she’s too distracted to be a decent mother. What is this, 1950? She quizzes her about what she does when Hannah gets sick, as though June were a mental defective. Are we at the beginning of Gilead, and the stragglers sympathetic to the cause? The Nurse’s behavior is strange and interrogatory. In the present, June goes for a check-up at the hospital. Serena and Fred look at her sonogram, and they hold hands. Oh, aren’t they such a sweet couple!

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After the check-up, an Orderly refers to her as “June,” meaning something’s up. She finds a key in her boot. The key is marked with a black square. The key leads her to a marked door she unlocks. The door leads to a stairwell that takes her down to a shipping/receiving area where she boards the back of a meat truck that spirits her away from the hospital. This appears to have been arranged well in advance by boyfriend-Nick. He’s resourceful! How did he manage this? When everybody’s watching everybody, how does he acquire a meat truck to take his baby-mama to comparative safety? While she waits in the back of the truck, she flashes back to taking Hannah home from the hospital. In the apartment, Luke is watching a news broadcast about terrorist attacks on Capitol Hill and the White House. Apparently, Canadian writer Margaret Atwood (along with the show’s writers) believes our Nation can be held hostage and deposed by blowing up the White House. It doesn’t work that way here. It might work that way in Canada (with its tightly-knit tapestry of socialism), but not here. Our system is way too complicated with checks and balances to be taken down by bombs and machine guns. In the present, June is delivered (I can’t think of a better word) to Nick. He tells her to put on some new clothes and cut her hair. She burns her old clothes and removes the painful “tag” from her ear with a pair of scissors. I would’ve passed out from the sheer pain of it, but I guess June is stronger than me. Much stronger. She stands up, her face half-doused in fresh blood, reborn. A baptism of blood. Her inner monologue tells us she’s “free.” No, she’s not. In fact, she’s more a prisoner than ever, but we’ll get to that when we get to that. If nothing else, “June” serves as an interesting dissection of the bizarre, disturbed minds who create the show.

BONUS PODCAST! “Dance Your Cares Away!”

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Everybody’s scared. I pretend to be brave, but I’m scared as Hell. I do not want the Eagles of Death Metal to perform in these continental United States, at least the lower 48, the contiguous States. I don’t mind if they perform in Hawaii, or Alaska, or all of our subjects, The Virgin Islands, Samoa, Puerto Rico.

Rudy Giuliani recently blamed the creation of Isis, or ISIL, on Barack Obama. His logic is that because, this is his words: “If we had not taken our troops out of Iraq and Afghanistan, ISIS never would have emerged,” Giuliani said Monday during an appearance on Fox News.

Americans seem to be extremely confused and don’t know how to handle their anger at these latest tragedies. I went to the good ole Wikipedia and looked up a list of terrorist attacks in the year 2015, and the list was quite extensive, from January 2nd up to now – the day before the attacks in Paris, 43 people died and 240 people were injured in Beirut, and Wikipedia is referring to the aggressors as “Islamic State” (which sounds somewhat generic) or ISIL. There are other terrorist groups, such as Boko Haram, something called Al-Shabaab, Ansar Al-Islam, and many more.

I made a joke the other day on a friend’s post where I said, basically – “Well, if we really wanted to feel safe, we should set up these Syrian refugees in “camps” of a sort … oh … never mind.” People liked the joke, actually, because I was making a point that, perhaps 40 or 50 years ago, our government would’ve had no compunction about taking people we deemed to be enemies, such as the Japanese, relocate them and put them into Interment Camps, right? I don’t care that they’re American citizens when I’m talking about safety and security, okay? If we’re at war, we have to get serious – when the war is over, we’ll buy you a brand new house and a brand new car, but for right now – you’re an enemy by proxy – this is the logic. Enemies-by-proxy. I know you’re good people. I know you wouldn’t kick puppies in the street. I know you don’t beat your children. For years, we heard the stories about how horrible it was, people, wholesale up-ended and taken to places with barbed-wire. Yes, I know it was a tragedy, but now in the wake of these terrorist attacks and what appears to be an influx of Syrian refugees, displaced, looking for greener pastures, I’m not saying I condone the practice, but I understand the logic. People like to lie to themselves and say, “oh our Country would never do that.” Surprise, we did! Look at how we treated alleged Communist sympathizers for 40 years. Not even card-carrying Commies, just people interested in the ideas. Look at what we did to them.

If it gets terrible enough, for this country – we are another 9/11 away from becoming complete out-and-out Nazis, I believe this.

Audio clips:

Dana Andrews from “Twilight Zone” season 4, episode 10, “No Time Like The Past”

Dennis Hopper from “Twilight Zone” season 4, episode 4, “He’s Alive”

Brigitte Gabriel CNS News

 

“More Clues In The Clock”

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In light of the recent shootings at Umpqua Community College in Oregon, Andrew and I recorded an addendum to discuss this recent trend of violence.

There are a couple of theories here.

1. This was a clock. The kid is innocent.
2. This was a bomb. Good timing, and we’re all safe.
3. This was a dry-run for a probable terrorist attack. In the months leading up to 9/11, eyewitnesses recounted the terrorists “practicing” on planes. Actor James Wood being one of them.
4. This was a set-up planned by the kid’s parents to dredge up anti-Muslim sentiment to make them into cultural victims. It did turn into kind of a Facebook-rage, didn’t it? This kid is extremely popular. He now has his choice of schools. He is being offered internships and grants and visits to the White House.

New information keeps coming out. First, this is unusual – people like Richard Dawkins and Bill Maher come out and say that it was a wise choice to arrest the kid, I was surprised to hear this coming from both of them, one a respected scientist, the other a liberal blowhard, but somebody had pointed out that this kid might not even be a scientist, or at least a “fake” scientist, because they ripped the guts out of an electronic clock, put it in a suitcase and it looked identical to what the kid brought in. This almost seems like a performance now. I’m serious – I don’t know what to think. I’m so confused and infuriated by this! Maybe you can put it into perspective for us. I’m thinking this kid is a phony, and I feel bad about that.

NEW PODCAST: “The Clue In The Clock”

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This is from Reason, an article written by Robby Soave:

“To the extent that Maher implied Ahmed’s treatment was ever-so-slightly justified because of his Muslim faith, he’s wrong. But liberals who claim Ahmed’s treatment is solely the result of his Muslim faith are also wrong. As should be perfectly clear from the myriad examples I cited, Ahmed’s religion may have impacted the flavor and overall likelihood of his arrest, but it’s not remotely true that ethnic minorities are the only victims of zero tolerance-style school disciplinary measures.”

This confuses and worries me because, initially, I was of the mind that the kid was being mistreated. I saw nothing of the emergency procedures in place if a bomb is suspected. We have bomb drills and emergency drills at my daughter’s school. This was after Newtown, they started pushing for more of these disaster drills. Basically what happens is, you evacuate the school, you call the bomb squad, cops, EMT, you put the suspected device in a safe room, some place near the back and you get out of there. The faculty and administration didn’t do this.

The kid shows up with his “clock” or whatever it was (it was in a suitcase, which is unwise, if intended to be that way – you’d have to be a moron to build a homemade clock and put it in a suitcase, and this kid is supposedly some kind of scientific genius-engineer-type), he takes this clock to a few classes, shows it off to teachers. One teacher finally has the bright idea he should go around showing the thing, and then somebody calls the Principal. They take the kid with his clock to another room and they detain him until they arrest him. So, initially, I thought they were just picking on a Muslim kid for being Muslim. I’m not so sure now.

Ahmed Muhamed’s Arrest: Clock Kid Truthers Miss the Point by Robby Soave