July 14, 2008

“When Fascism Comes to America it Will be Wrapped in White Plastic Armor and Carrying a BlasTech E-11 Blaster Rifle” — Sinclair Lucas

Someone in my garrison posted a link up to this:

Suppose tomorrow the Bush administration announces plans to deploy thousands of Homeland Security Troops to American cities, to walk the streets armed in the search for un-American, possibly terrorist activities (such as taking photos where there isn’t anything obviously pretty to be taking a photo of, being overly swarthy, videotaping cops and Homeland Security Troops, etc). These guys would only be answerable to the DHS, and they would be recruited from the likes of Blackwater, Wackenhut, and so forth.

Obviously there would be some outrage, yeah? I mean, not as much as there should be, but a lot of folks wouldn’t care for this at all.

Now imagine that these troops are outfitted exactly like Stormtroopers from Star Wars.

What percentage of geeks would declare that this was awesome?

What percentage of non geeks?

What is it with Stormtroopers? How have we, as a culture, come to love the faceless face of oppression? Sure, in the movies they bump their heads and can’t hit a sidewalk with a can of paint and talk about that new BT-16 and do the Wilhelm scream and all, but it’s still pretty clear who they are and what they represent.

But people can’t get enough of them. Go to any sci-fi or comic convention and you’ll see several people in meticulously crafted Stormtrooper armor. In fact, there’s a group devoted to this, which is now also marching in things like Fourth of July parades (which is where the first image was taken). Seriously, someone thought Stormtroopers in a Fourth of July parade was a good idea.

This summer there’s a CGI “Clone Wars” movie coming out.

The guy on the left is Anakin Skywalker, who will become Darth Vader, right hand man to the evil Emperor. The troops in the background are the guys who will eventually become the Stormtroopers. Hopefully Anakin and the Clonetroopers can use all their cool ships and weapons and stuff to defeat…the bad guys? As with Attack of the Clones, are we really going to once again be expected to root for the people that we already know are going to enslave the galaxy?

But fascism isn’t just wicked awesome, it can also be dead sexy.

Once the helmet is on you won’t see the face of your oppressor but you’ll see her hot hot midriff and her thermal detonators. This is female empowerment.

It can also be fun! Here are some of the folks who kill for the Empire having a little downtime!

In that last photo, an argument can obviously be made for satire, for letting the context play against the characters as a way to defang and ridicule totalitarianism. It’s also kind of funny!

Still, here’s the 118th Rose Parade. What’s the satirical message here? These guys were trained by a colonel in the real Army.

I’m not suggesting there’s some kind of conspiracy afoot to make us more tolerant of (and, in fact, enthusiastic about) a fascist society.

I’m suggesting that such a conspiracy probably wouldn’t be necessary.

I disagree with most of the entry, and posted up the following comment:

I’m going to jump in very quickly - the troopers at the Montpelier Parade (pictured in the first image - BTW, can you please credit us with the picture? Either 501neg or Keelia Liptak, the photographer) was my idea.

As has been mentioned, the 501st does a lot of charity work all over the world. On that day, the annual July 3rd Parade, we were helping out the Kellogg Hubbard Library’s children library - they had a walker puppet and a batman float, as well as some other things. That’s the sort of thing that we do.

True, the storm troopers from the movies do represent a faceless army of a somewhat oppressive government(keep in mind, all you see is in the movies), but 99% of everyone we come into contact with doesn’t make that distinction that Storm Troopers = Fascism. We represent, especially to children/teens, Star Wars. All the ideas, experiences, images and emotions connected to those movies, wrapped up in a person. Not only us - there are people who do this for the rebels as well. Storm Troopers, however, seem to be the most popular, probably because of how they look, but they’re very recognizable as well.

I’ve heard of people expressing concern over the fact that we do portray bad guys. Getting out on the street in the midst of people, for parades, events or anything else like that, people see us and think: Holy $4!t, a storm trooper!

You do bring up some interesting points - there is a cultural fascination with the ‘bad guys’. I personally chalk it up to them having the cooler uniforms, but I think that it’s a big stretch to extend a cultural interest such as this and extend that into a supposition that we are existing in a fascist culture - as far as things are? Politically, we could be, and have been, far worse off in our history. Some of our founding fathers introduced the Alien and Sedition act, which cramped free speech. Abraham Lincoln declared martial law, for example. I doubt that (and I don’t think that you are suggesting, at least too much) that the 501st parading around is the precursor to a political revolution…

I don't think that there's a whole lot more to add, but this is one reason why I hate political extremes. A number of the comments are incredibly close minded and pretty ignorant. It's a shame that some people can't see that we as a group can distinguish between reality and fiction, rejecting some of the connotations that the armor has.

The blogger does have some interesting points to raise, which is why I'm not advocating for his being raked over the coals by our members - there is an odd cultural fascination with the bad guys.

As I said in my comment, I think it's because we dress better.

1 comment:

Adamgv said...
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