You take the red pill, you stay in Wonderland, and I show you how deep the rabbit hole goes.” ―Morpheus, to Neo, in The Matrix.
I read an article this morning that was probably meant to be dark humor but is also an interesting thought-experiment. Here it is, for your pleasure (or horror):
What If There Is No Reality — and This is Just a Bad Netflix Series?
Laugh if you want, but listen up: we don’t even know what reality is in these United States anymore, so can we say for certain that we aren’t actually trapped in some computer simulation, movie, or TV show intended for a superior race of aliens’ or future humans’ entertainment?
So, what if we’re really just extras trapped in a future race’s bad TV series or computer simulation?
I mean, nothing about our “new reality” seems real. Reality itself (at least as most of us define it) is even called fiction…by some. In fact, when you think about it, this — TV series (or whatever it is) isn’t even particularly well written. In some ways, it’s downright laughable and would probably never win the superaliens’ version of an Emmy. It would probably rate a zero on a futuristic Rotten Tomatoes. It’s got everything a bad (but nevertheless insanely popular with the masses) TV series could ever hope for:
It’s got one-dimensional (thoroughly evil: no humanizing qualities) cartoon villains and Central Casting heroes.
Roy Moore and his little silver pistol.
The Main Characters: a shady, bald, glinty-eyed, mysterious Russian dictator (“Vlad”) with a six-pack; an orange skinned toupee-wearing golf-cart-riding not-too-bright Mafia-connected ex-reality show star POTUS named “Trump” (look up the definition of the words “trump” and “trumpery” — no way can he be real!) who runs the country through his Twitter account (and was even gifted a gold toilet to tweet from); the unkempt and unbathed Lenin-loving, racist, anarchist (antichrist?), alcoholic failed filmmaker Steve Bannon; the smug and smackable Atlas Shrugged-toting Paul Ryan with his deceptively innocent-looking baby blue orbs and Eddie Munster widow’s peak; the Bible thumping nutcase Pence who calls his wife “Mother” and secretly harbors a mancrush on Trump; a couple of sycophantic constantly lying female supporting characters, whose facial features become ever more twisted and unattractive the more they lie; the villainous Fred Flintstone-looking fake-news peddling Trump mouthpiece Sean Hannity; Trump’s idiotic and arrogant sons who are always unintentionally throwing Daddy under the bus with their own boneheaded tweets; Trump’s simpering but glamorous daughter and her rich Jewish corporate-elite slumlord husband; an actual Nazi (Stephen Miller) who looks like the undead and is really a self-hating Jew; and finally, a minor character (Devin Nunes) from the middle of Season One known only for his Three Stooges-like stupidity, who suddenly becomes a major character early in Season Two (Plot Twist!) with his much-anticipated and feared “!The Memo!” which turns out to be not just underwhelming, but a four-page hastily-written nothingburger. The bad guys, like the Keystone Kops, never stop sabotaging themselves with their desperate and bone-headed attempts to obstruct justice and escape the law. The good guys (Mueller, Comey, a few others) are ridiculously good — and good looking. And tall. They also apparently don’t talk.
Plenty of other cartoonish characters have come and gone and sometimes have been featured in special starring cameo roles: the bumbling would-be villain Sean Spicer, mostly remembered for his panicked dive into the White House bushes to hide from the media and later on (after he bailed out) proved refreshingly able to poke fun at himself as a guest on Saturday Night Live; the weak-willed enabler/boot-licker and favorite Trump punching bag Reince Preibus (I gotta give the writers kudos on his name), who is mostly remembered for being the Official Oval Office Fly Swatter; a sleazy mall-stalking Bible-thumping cartoon cowboy pedophile from ‘Bama with a cartoon cowboy name (Roy Moore, really?) and the horse (“Sassy”) he rode in on; and of course, how can we ever forget The Mooch’s starring role on his own single episode — a TV trope obviously borrowed from The Sopranos.
It’s got a hackneyed theme/plot too unbelievable to be real.
Vlad knows the joke’s on you.
The writers of this show must have known how popular James Bond like-characters and Russian espionage capers have always been with modern Americans, so they dreamed up a TV series that had those elements and so many more that we know and love. And then they gave us an unexpected goodie: they put us in the show! They dropped us right there in the middle of the action, as the confused, overwhelmed, and terrified “American people.” How sweet of them! I’m still waiting for my paycheck.
Basic plotline: The United States Government is covertly attacked and all its institutions dismantled and destroyed by Russian oligarchs (who better than the Russians for covert operations?), led by a power-hungry ex-KGB agent still mad about the Cold War and intent on revenge. Vlad is as smart as he is wicked though, and he knows how gullible the American people can be, and how desperate they are for “change.” He realizes the best way to wage war against the United States is not to nuke it from without (like Reagan feared), but to divide and then destroy it from within — by hacking into its presidential election and rigging things (using a flood of propaganda-spewing social media bots and Eastern European fake news mills) to ensure the new president is the dumbest, most embarrassing, most vile, most morally bankrupt — and also the most butt-licking and obedient — character he could possibly install for his coup to be successful. The GOP enablers look away as if none of this is happening or it’s just business as usual. None dare call it treason.
It’s got TV tropes and stereotypes galore.
Anthony “The Mooch” Scaramucci: Trump staffer or cast member of Godfather Part IV?
The way this all plays out is a disorienting cascade of increasingly surreal and sometimes unintentionally hilarious episodes and vignettes worthy of David Lynch at his weirdest, complete with insane and incomprehensible plot twists completely lacking in credibility or realism; and a crazily revolving door of cast members constantly jumping ship or getting fired.
Almost every overused stereotype and TV trope is here: torch-bearing Nazis, slippery jet-setting crooks and traitors (Manafort and Flynn), actual Russian spies; the beautiful but unhappy foreign-born First Lady who never smiles and apparently hates her husband; dumb-as-a-brick Southern yahoos straight out of Deliverance, an Attorney General with a name from the 1850s South and values from the same time and place; silent — and did I say tall — White Knights who stand for Truth and Justice; a simpering and spineless assortment of enablers and sycophants who come and go like flies on a pile of drying dog turds; a low level “Coffee Boy” who turns out to be a key player in the Russian caper (Plot Twist!); an inept and bumbling Congress populated by glowering old white rich guys who would be the first to kick your kids off their lawn (and toss Grandma off her Medicare); backstabbing and stupid minor villains who keep turning on each other; and more chaos and drama than a Kardashian can shake a well-manicured index finger at. There are shady Mafia-esque characters who would put Don Corleone to shame.
Far in the background — really part of the scenery — is the presence of something called The Resistance: an amorphous motley crew of racially integrated pink pussy hat wearing folks of all ages who stand behind the tall, silent, and moose-jawed lead Good Guy Bob Mueller who is trying to take down our lead villain (and maybe the whole cabal). There is also “The Base” — a virtual cult of thug-like Trump worshippers all wearing identical red MAGA baseball caps, waving Confederate (and sometimes American) flags, singing God Bless America, and who go home to watch Fox News every night after a long day at the plant or clerking at the Piggly Wiggly, attending a family barbecue, or rooting for Heather and Gracelynne at the cheerleading tryouts.
It’s got lots of unintentional humor.
A Spicer in the Bushes is worth 2 gallows humor jokes.
There is plenty of comedy to be had, though most of it is unintentionally funny (and in some cases, not really funny but horrifying in a “this cannot be real” way, so you have no choice but to laugh because otherwise you’d shoot yourself in the head): Sean Spicer hiding in the bushes from the media, James Comey (who turns out to be a good guy after starting out early in Season One as a possibly-bad guy) hiding in the navy blue curtains in the Oval Office in his navy blue suit; Trump handing Reince Preibus a flyswatter during an important meeting and ordering him to kill a fly that’s been annoying him; Trump “I’m a high energy person” riding his golf cart in Brussels while other world leaders walked; Trump curtsying before the Saudi Arabian king and rubbing a mysterious glowing Orb with the Saudi leaders (what was that all about?); Steve Bannon looking as terrified as if he’s just seen the face of Satan while surrounded by the Saudi elite during the Ceremonial Sword Dance they put on to honor Trump; the “secret meeting” in the Oval Office with the Russians where no American media was allowed (but Russian media was); the ongoing game of “Nuclear Chicken” Trump and the equally unhinged grinning “Little Rocket Man” keep playing on Twitter; Trump sulking and pouting after having been politely snubbed by the leaders of all our former ally nations because of his tackiness, lack of couth, and complete lack of a moral compass.
Bannon’s worst nightmare comes true.
Recently, I watched a black comedy called “Idiocracy.” This administration reminds me of that movie, which although made in 2005, was eerily prescient. It was also uproariously funny. If you want to howl until you can’t breathe, watch the “Docter Lexus” scene. That may be our future. You have to laugh or you’d never stop crying. But I digress.
I’m more than ready for this TV series from hell to be cancelled. Give me the damn blue pill. I never wanted the red one.
But did we really?
There’s another explanation for all the weirdness. Maybe we aren’t actually living in a Matrix simulation or as extras in a TV show from a superalien culture at all. Maybe it was Y2K. Maybe it really did happen and we never knew it. You have to admit, things did start to get weird after 2000. Maybe when all the computers in the world were set back to “Year One” we never observed that happening because our timeline got crossed with one from a parallel Earth that looks exactly like this one, except that Earth defines reality differently than us captives from the Original Earth do, logic as we know it does not apply, and it’s populated with cartoon villains and lots of other things that seem incongruous, surreal, ludicrous, or impossible to the rest of us.
Maybe TV series and pulp fiction writers have always been able to tap into that other earth’s reality, and now we are all living in it and can see exactly where their ideas came from. The tell-all book writer Michael Wolff is able to make sense of it in a way the rest of us rubes from pre-Y2K reality cannot. He can explain it to us and it starts to make a sort of horrifying sense. He’s a kind of “rabbit hole whisperer” to the rest of us and that’s why his book is one of the bestselling books of all time.