Thursday, July 14, 2016

Poke-munity


I am a 34 year old adult and I play Pokemon
It occurred to me Tuesday night as my boyfriend and I -- along with a group of 18 or 19 year old boys on skateboards and bikes--chased a Koffing through the parking lot of an assisted living facility, that this whole Pokemon GO thing was rather odd.  As I threw digital balls at a grinning purple smoke bomb which appeared to hover in front of a stucco wall in a handicapped parking spot, I knew that this was not the way I was typically engaged at 9:30 at night, but that I rather liked it quite a bit.  After we walked back to the park at the end of the street, a major meeting place in the area for other players (about 25-30 people were out that particular evening), I looked around at the faces of my erstwhile compatriots: teens, 20-somethings, a few 30-somethings like me, a handful of children who should
The aforementioned Koffing, seen here
extruding some kind of noxious gas
probably have been in bed, an older couple in their 50s who may have been supervising the children or
just hunting on their own.  Here we all were at 9:30pm standing in a park, chasing after digital phantoms, helping each other, walking our neighborhood, a neighborhood we may have never walked before.  Why were we here?  Why were we all here?  What about this particular game, this time and place, created this moment?  
Is it nostalgia?  Certainly this is a factor.  From Jurassic World, Star Wars, and Ghostbusters in the theaters to the fashions on the rack and a Clinton in the news it definitely appears that the old is new again.  But does this explain the phenomenon entirely?  I was a little old for Pokemon when it came around the first time back in the mid 90s.  A teen at the time, it seemed a thing for children.  My brother on the other hand, 8 years my junior, was the prime age for all things Pokemon.  Because of him I watched the show, the movies, knew the names of the Pokemon far better than any of my peers. But Pokemon was never really my "thing," I never considered myself to be a Pokemon fan. Besides I didn't even know how to play the actual game.   My brother, perhaps uninterested in this facet of play, or perhaps wary of losing any of his precious cards, very rarely played with his friends, and so I never really saw a game in action.  Instead his cards were held in plastic sheets inside a binder which he lovingly flipped through at every opportunity.  For him the joy was in the collecting; not for the supposed monetary value of the cards like my mother--she spent hundreds on what she viewed was a potential investment--but rather the simple pleasure of spotting the glimmer of a “holographic” card beneath a torn blue card wrapper, the excitement of the new.  Gotta catch ‘em all.  Catch them.  The catching was key.  The play?  Well the play was secondary.  He didn’t play the Game Boy games, in fact the only Pokemon
game we owned was Pokemon Snap for N64.  Pokemon Snap was an odd little game.  The entire gameplay consisted of trying to take pictures of various Pokemon, in the silliest poses possible ideally.  It is funny that this was the only Pokemon game with which I had any experience then because the collecting and photographing various Pokemon is what enticed me to play Pokemon GO in the first place.  Here was a game that had very few rules, no complex game mechanics, special moves or abilities to remember.  It was simply about walking around and taking pictures of Pokemon and adding them to your collection.  Who knew that an 18 year old N64 game would be so prescient?

So Pokemon GO is easy.  That may be why so many people play it.  Or if not easy, fairly simple to understand.   There are players that are higher leveled and players that lower leveled, but truly this has more to do with how much time you have to invest in walking around collecting Pokemon and money to spend on items than it does actual skill in gameplay.  Anybody can join a gym, anybody can be a gym leader with a powerful enough Pokemon.  The game is very democratic that way.  So perhaps it was the democracy, the ease, the simplicity of the game that has drawn so many people to it.  And yet, there are many simple iphone games on the app store that could have attracted our attention.  Why this?  Why now?
 
We have had a rough couple of months, a rough couple of years.  Between the ongoing political conflicts, terror attacks, celebrity deaths, instances of police brutality, sexism, racism, transphobia, that permeate our culture we have become perpetually bombarded by negativity.  This isn’t a bad thing, per se.  Police brutality has always gone on, sexism has always existed in various industries, our social media culture just makes these things more prevalent and knowable. Knowing things is good, knowledge is empowering and necessary for us to grow as a society. But the knowledge, the weight, the fear and anger and pain can be overwhelming.  Perhaps Pokemon GO is so popular because all of us, our entire nation, just needed a collective break.  We just needed something silly and dumb that simultaneously reminded us of our pasts and utilized newer technologies.  We needed a rest.

What we also needed was community.  According to some reports somewhere in the neighborhood of 21 million people in the US play Pokemon GO.  That’s more than people who watched the premiere of Game of Thrones, more than people who watched the finale of Dancing with the Stars.  Pokemon GO has more daily users than Twitter, a site that has been around for years.  It has become a phenomenon.  What it has also done is build a community.  Pokemon Go requires you to go outside, it forces you to engage in the real world, it forces you to walk if you want to hatch those eggs, it forces you to go to different places to acquire different kinds of Pokemon.  It is, by its very nature and game play, a more social game than, say, CandyCrush, a game it toppled in downloads.  On top of this, is the added benefit that while you can play Pokemon GO on your own, and many people do, you can also play together.  There are spots where each night lures are dropped by some friendly player and spontaneous crowds are drawn.  There are people who walk the same paths every day, or venture out in their communities searching for new and different places to find things and are joined by others.  Even if you go out on a walk by yourself you are guaranteed to spot at least a handful of other people playing the game you might give a friendly smile or nod to or point in the direction of something new.

In Robert Putnam’s book Bowling Alone he examines the changing social landscape in America, revealing a nation that is more disconnected from each other than ever, disconnected from community. Things have changed in our society since the book was written over 15 years ago, but there is a degree to which disconnect, social isolation, and lack of community is still prevalent.   Ask an average apartment dweller who their neighbors are and very few will be able to tell you.  There are STILL fewer people active in social groups and clubs than in the 1950s and 60s, as Putnam touched upon in his book.  This is not to say that Pokemon solves these issues, nor am I suggesting that Pokemon is the means by which our society learns to engage with its community, though I will say that putting pokestops at frequent polling places (libraries, churches, community centers, city halls) has most certainly made the public AWARE of these places, though whether this awareness will extend to November’s election remains to be seen.  Whether PokemonGO lasts another year or even another week as a phenomenon, what I do believe is that the fact that it has caught on so virally says a great deal about both our desire to feel a part of something greater and a have means of connection.

Getting outside is also good for us, something I have been told for years but don’t always listen to. There have been stories of people with depression who have found that the fact that PokemonGO forces them to go outside every day has been extremely beneficial to their mood.  I told my boyfriend the other day that there was something about the combination of Pokemon and the 4th of July holiday and my birthday last Saturday that made me feel, for the first time in a very long time, like it was summer vacation.  I felt like a kid.  When was the last time I did something silly like run around a park without having my daughter in tow?   I couldn’t remember.  The last time I remember having this kind of fun was when I was in college and a group of us from the LGBT club went to the St. Louis City Museum, a vast network of climbing structures and slides that is open for all ages.  I have read about other playgrounds for adults in the past, places where grown ups can go on swings and slides, and marveled that there weren’t more places like that near by.  Perhaps Pokemon GO is that for us then, a way for us to play, to have fun that doesn’t feel like exercise or work, that isn’t a chore.  Pokemon has gamified exercise.  Most assuredly I would not have walked the 5K I did last Tuesday evening had I not been so desperate to hatch that newly acquired egg.  Is that all it takes to get me to work out?  Virtual eggs?  No wonder children will do chores for stickers.  A sticker!  Is that all it takes?! All it takes for me to exercise is a digital sticker in the form of a hatched Pokemon?  It seems incomprehensible and yet… and yet.  

Pokemon Go seems to have come out at the perfect time: it is summer, people are restless, angry, bored, sad, out of shape, lacking community, miserable looking at the news.  We long for a past we have left behind, and we crave acknowledgement and recognition, validation of self and a feeling of accomplishment.  It is not simply one thing but all of them together that has sparked such a zeitgeist.  When it goes away, and the “moment” will most assuredly go away before long, we are so very fickle with what is new and popular, I hope people remember that the things that Pokemon has done: brought them outside, introduced them to new people and areas in their community, encouraged them to be more adventurous, given them a sense of relaxation and connectedness, are things that can exist outside the game if we allow them to.  Maybe this is just the first step.  I am reminded every time I go out looking for Pokemon of the episode of the Simpsons “Itchy & Scratchy & Marge.”  In it, Marge decides to clean up the Itchy and Scratchy Show and the children of Springfield, in rejection of the bastardization of their beloved television show, rub their bleary eyes, step out of their homes, and actually start playing.  Sure we Pokemon Go players are still on our phones, still glued to screens even as we enjoy the fresh air, but it is something isn't it. It certainly is something.


Tuesday, June 14, 2016

The Thing - Imaginary Conversations

This is kind of a follow up to the last Imaginary Conversation  called "The Apocalypse."  It is a reaction to the horrific events in Orlando, but more broadly a response to all similar acts of violence.  



The Thing

“I’m so fucking pissed off right now”

“About the thing?”

“Fuck yeah about the thing.  I’m just so tired of these things happening.”

“I always cry when I see the faces.”

“So do I.  I am almost numb to perpetual violence, but I always cry when I see the faces. I broke down on my way to work.”

“So young”

“Always so young.  Even if they are 80, still young.  Everyone is too young to die like that.”

“I always wonder what I would do in that situation”

“So do I and that is fucked up.  We shouldn’t have to think about that”

“Yeah”

“I’m so fucking pissed off”

“Pissed off and not sad?”

“Pissed off and sad.  A feeling that is both pissed off and sad.  I feel like the Germans would have a word for that.  Other languages always have better words.”

“Yeah the English language is kind of limited when it comes to expressing certain feelings.”

“Pissad”

“That sounds like Passat. That was my first car”

“Ok fine, shit. I’m bad at portmanteaus.”

“I could Google it and see if there is an actual word”

“No, don’t bother.  Whatever.  I don’t need a word.  I feel it, I don’t need a fucking word.”

“Ok”

“People keep saying that they care, but what good is caring.  It just keeps happening again and again and we do nothing”

“I mean you can always do that whole Mr. Rogers thing and look for the helpers, the people helping.  There are people donating money and blood and all that”

“I know.  Shit, I know.  But the people helping aren’t really helping, are they?  They are helping maybe one person but not the system.”

“So one person doesn’t matter?  The world is made up of individuals”

“I’m not saying that one person doesn’t matter just… I dunno everything seems rigged.  The system.  The system is just so broken.  The system needs to come toppling down.”

“Are we talking about the apocalypse again?”

“No.. I mean, yeah… I dunno.  I’m mad at Star Trek.”

“Mad?”

“Mad that it promised me a future that was hopeful”

“We aren’t at the hopeful part yet”

“What do you mean we aren’t at the hopeful part yet?”

“I mean we are like in the time before Zephram Cochran developed warp drive.  We are in the shitty times.”

“Zephram Cochran lived during World War III or whatever.”

“So there ya go”

“So now YOU are saying that the apocalypse is going to happen”

“Not necessarily”

“Not necessarily, just probably, right?  Not necessarily but that seems to be the direction this shit world is going in”

“Not everything in the world is shitty”

“I know that.  I know.  I’m not such a pessimist.  But ok, so you are saying we are in Star Trek right now.  Well then don’t we need to have World War III in order for us to come out the other side all shiny?  Are you saying that the apocalypse is a good thing?”

“No.  I mean.. I dunno.  You were the one who was complaining about Star Trek, and I’m just saying that even if we are living in the Star Trek universe the cool stuff hasn’t happened yet and won’t  happen for another hundred years.”  

“So a hundred years from now you think we are going to have interstellar travel?”

“No, I think the scientific limitations would be difficult to overcome. But I think a hundred years from now we will have a viable colonies on the Moon and Mars”

“Seriously?  You really think that is actually going to happen?”

“Sure.  I mean they are working on that stuff now.  Maybe 15-20 years from now we will get the first person on Mars and then once we have a few people there maybe 70 years after that we could have a small colony.  Seems reasonable”

“Unless World War III or the apocalypse happens”

“Well yeah, unless that happens.  In which case we are back to the other scenario of generally shittiness for about a hundred years and then we kind of reboot everything and start the whole society over or whatever in a better way”

“And you think that’s likely”

“Not really”

“So why did you say it?!”

“Because I think the Martian colonies are more likely”

“But our government hasn’t devoted enough resources to space exploration”

“Who said anything about our government?”

“So you’re riding Elon Musk’s dick now”

“No, I’m not riding Elon Musk’s dick.  I’m just saying that the private sector is probably more likely”

“So are we talking an Elysium scenario is that what you are saying?”

“I didn’t see that movie”

“Well neither did I but as I understand it all the rich people live in space and all the poor people live on Earth in shitsville”

“Oh well then yeah, yeah pretty much that is what I think will probably happen”

“Seriously?”

“Yeah I mean the whole thing we were talking about with everything kind of generally sucking and the rich getting richer and the poor getting poorer.  Eventually the rich are just going to fuck off, aren’t they?  Leave the rest of us behind.”

“That’s depressing.  I thought you were the optimistic one.”

“I’m having a hard time being optimistic today, maybe”

“Dammit, you were supposed to cheer me up”

“Would you like more useless platitudes about togetherness and overcoming obstacles?”

“Point taken”

“So I finally watched The Purge

“Oh yeah? And?”

“It made no sense.  I mean some of it I got as social commentary, and I do definitely see your point about it having a finger on the pulse of the anger in our nation and whatnot.  But the whole idea that crime would go down because on one day people can do everything they want just makes no sense.  Most crimes are crimes of passion.  You can’t tell me if the same guy who was going to murder his wife after catching her in bed with another dude would wait a whole year just to off her when he could.”  

“Ah yeah I get your point”

“And I don’t think that you can really just say oh ok well we are all just going to stop right when the siren rings like oh ok all this adrenaline is all out of my system now, I can just turn it off.  Makes no sense”

“Hm”

“And of course, speaking of the elephant in the room.  It doesn’t take into consideration acts of terrorism.  I mean will the threat of public execution really deter people who plan on killing themselves after killing a bunch of people?  Suicide bombers or whatever. I just don’t get the whole only one one day thing.”  

“So is it worth seeing?”

“Meh”

“I’m thinking about The Thing again. All those people dead I just can’t even process it.  I am just sick”

“You aren’t meant to be able to process it.  This isn’t the kind of thing that people are supposed to be able to process.”

“I mean, they say stuff like car crashes kill so many more people a day than things like this.  Why is it that this hurts so much more?”

“Yeah so it’s sort of a false equivalency.  Yes, more than 100 people die each day in car accidents, but the 100 people aren’t all in the same place at the same time or hit by the same driver.  If some person like drove their car into a farmers market like that old dude a while back and just ran over 50 people that would be more equivalent, but even then the old dude was just kind of senile right?  I mean there are very few car accidents that are caused by genuine malice, like somebody intentionally running somebody over or causing them to crash.  More often than not they are, just that, accidents.  Some person is texting or not paying attention or tired or in a hurry or kind of a lousy driver but not a bad person.  You don’t really have anybody to blame.  Even if they were drunk it’s like you blame them but also you recognize that they are probably alcoholics so you sort of dismiss it somewhat?  It is different than just killing people.”

“Yeah, you are right.  It isn’t necessarily the fact that people died because people die every day.  I don’t cry about every person that dies, even every fatal car crash victim or young person who dies of cancer or whatever.”  

“No, of course not.  Something like 6000 people die a day I think?  Death waits for us all.  We are upset by the suddenness, by the reasons, the hatred, the loss all at once, murder…”

“It’s the being scared too.  The fear makes me sad.  I am sad that I feel fear.  In a car at least I know that there are airbags, seatbelts.  What am I supposed to do just walking into a bar or a school wear a bulletproof vest?  I know that people die in accidents even with seatbelts and airbags but at least… I dunno… at least when I am in a car I feel like ok I am observant of my environment, I am not texting, I’m being present, I am doing what I can.  But this shit is just so random.”

“That’s terrorism for you.  That is the purpose of terrorism, no matter who is committing it.”

“I know that just makes me more pissed off.  It could be no organization at all just some fucking loser asshole dude pissed off at his wife, or angry at something. It is just a symptom of our society being fucking broken.  It is homophobia and racism and religious fundamentalism, it is all these shitty things”

“Have you ever thought of buying a gun?”

“I mean I’ve gone shooting a few times, but no”

“Why not?”

“I don’t want to go into it.  Besides it wouldn’t matter.  What, we are just going to all start to walk around with guns now?  Everybody is going to have a gun wherever they go?  That’s going to make everyone safer?  Now we are talking about the fucking Wild West again.  We might as well be in Mad Max now if everybody is just walking around open carrying a gun. That isn’t fucking normal.”

“No, I guess you are right.  In Israel the Army people are always just walking around with their guns it is weird as hell”

“Yeah I don’t want to live like that.  I don’t want to live in a world like that.”

“But that’s kind of the world now isn’t it?”

“I know and that’s why I am pissad.  It shouldn’t be like that”

“It shouldn’t but it is”

“Have you seen Mr Robot?”

“No, is it good?”

“It’s kind of like Person of Interest, V for Vendetta, and Fight Club had a baby”

“That’s a weird baby”

“It’s a weird freaking show.  But yeah it’s like they are trying to bring about the revolution or whatever.  It sort of made sense in a weird way.  It reminded me of what we were talking about before”

“So are you saying you want to bring about the revolution”

“Don’t be shocked when your history book mentions me.  I will lay down my life if it sets us free.”

“Did you just fucking quote Hamilton at me right now?”

“Oh am I talking to loud? Sometimes I get over excited, shoot off at the mouth…”

“Fucking don’t”

“Hahaha. Ok ok I’m done.  But I dunno.  Maybe. I guess it is just the idea of revolution more than the reality. I just get this feeling...and I’ve been feeling it for a few years now… that something is going to happen.”

“What?”

“I don’t know what.  I just feel like all this anger and this shittiness… I don’t know if it will be the apocalypse or just a political revolution or a civil war or I dunno… just something. It just doesn’t feel like we can continue to carry on this way for very much longer.  Eventually something is going to break, something is going to happen”

“I don’t”

“You don’t?”

“No, I think people are too comfortable.  They would rather just maintain their comfortability.  People are also preoccupied with their own work and lives.  There are so many people who are just moving along with their lives.  They aren’t going to do anything unless something really major happens to everybody, not just some people in a place they’ve never been.”

“So that’s what I was saying last time.  All it will take is one major thing and everything will come crumbling down”

“Define everything”

“I don’t know.  I don’t even know.  I just hate this fucking world sometimes.”

“I hear Mars is nice this time of year”

“It is looking better and better every damn day”

Tuesday, June 07, 2016

The Apocalypse - Imaginary Conversations

      Here is another installment of Imaginary Conversations.  I liked writing the last one so much, I did it again.  Enjoy


The Apocalypse


“I think I get why The Purge is popular.”

“Never saw it”

“Well neither did I, but I get the general idea”

“People just run around killing people for a day or something, right?”

“Yeah pretty much.”

“Yeah that sounds pretty dumb from a logistical standpoint.  Like what is to stop people for continuing to murder people when it isn’t this special Purge day”

“Maybe that’s explained in the movie?”

“I dunno they would have to do a lot of mental gymnastics to explain the insanity of that concept”

“I mean I’m pretty sure it is just like a metaphor for our society, like a Twilight Zone episode that you aren’t supposed to actually think that hard about from a realistic standpoint but reflect on its meaning in your life.”

“Gotcha”

“So yeah it’s like The Purge and Hunger Games and even stuff like Mad Max and The Walking Dead… They are all about these societies that have become fundamentally broken in some way and revealing mankind’s true nature when all these societal strictures are removed.”

“So you are saying that without rule of law or government or after an apocalypse that everyone will straight up become murderers?”

“I mean kind of, yeah”

“Isn’t that pretty misanthropic?  You really think that there isn’t some semblance of morality that will remain even when there are no rules in place?”

“Isn’t that the problem in places like Saharan Africa and Afghanistan, though?  That in nations without strong rule of law, government, money, or resources that people are drawn to things like terrorism and criminality?”

“That feels like a fairly oversimplified view of foreign affairs.  It completely ignores the impact of colonial rule and Western foreign policies that have been the causes of many of these people to become radicalized.”

“I mean granted, I’m not trying to get into a huge debate about foreign policy.  I’m just trying to say that in societies where people feel marginalized, regardless of how that happened, when you are in isolated environments, limited resources that there is something that just breaks down.”

“But there have been nomadic peoples throughout the centuries and only some have become involved in terrorism.”  

“I mean I’m not saying that all nomadic people are terrorists and killers.”

“Aren’t you though?”

“No I’m just saying that like… I dunno… that like the Wild West.  The Wild West is a perfect example.  I think people are drawn to the Wild West, the notion of the Wild West, because in the West there was this remove from government, from those strictures that forced people to behave in a certain way, the rule of law was more lax.  There is a freedom to that and also an essential violence.”

“Ok but I feel like fundamentally you are operating on the assumption that if there was some disaster that broke down our government that automatically it would turn into this shitty Mad Max world instead of people maybe organizing in a different way.  You are saying that constant warfare and murder would be the default.”

“Wouldn’t it be though?  Wouldn’t there always be areas that have more resources, people that have more resources, and other people who are stronger who want to take those resources?  Wouldn’t there always be people who have beliefs that differ from others who would persecute those who disagree?”

“I sort of see your point, but I don’t think that our future looks like The Purge.

“No see you are missing my point.  I’m not saying that our future WILL necessarily look like these post apocalyptic movies, I’m just saying that I think they are so popular because we THINK it will, that a part of us WANTS it to be that way.”

“We want to become murderers running around the desert in linen?”

“I mean, yeah kind of.  Listen, look at Star Trek.  Star Trek came on the air a time when there was great racial conflict, when there were real problems in the world, and it imagined a future where some of those problems went away.  Where money went away and racism went away, and we all just travelled the galaxy looking for aliens and everything was chill. Same deal with Next Gen”

“I think this is kind of ignoring major conflicts within the shows: Klingons, Romulans, The Borg”

“Ok ok I’m not saying that things were perfect, but like the society was fundamentally hopeful you know what I mean?  It imagined a future where we had these technologies, where these problems we have went away.  It was aspirational.”

“Ok that much I do agree with.  There have been a lot of things that came out of those shows too like technology that was developed because somebody saw it on Star Trek.”

“Exactly.  What I’m saying is, that those shows aren’t popular any more, those movies aren’t popular.  I can’t think of a single science fiction movie or show released in the past 15 years where the future was nice, even marginally nice, even the Star Trek reboots.  Everything is always shitty.  We imagine our future as being shitty.  Even in our imaginations, even in our fiction, we can’t imagine a utopia anymore.  It is like as a society we have seen that utopias are bullshit, utopias are lies.  Hunger Games, Divergent, all of that is about revealing the lie of the “utopian” futuristic society. Oh and before you go and mention it, Star Wars takes place a long TIME ago in a galaxy far far away and so can’t properly be considered futuristic.”

“I mean I guess this notion of a pan-national organisation existing on earth let alone among a federation of planets seems kind of absurd when you think about the kinds of rhetoric being leveled toward minorities, immigrants, and refugees that are human.”    

“See!  We fundamentally don’t have hope anymore.  There is something fundamentally broken in our society.  We see it now, the truth is revealed to us now in ways that it wasn’t in the past.  We aren’t as blind to racial discrimination, patriarchy, heteronormativity as we were even 10 years ago.  We see now that as much as we move “forward,” as many rights that are won by people: gay marriage, etc, that ultimately our society isn’t fair, that it is bullshit.  It used to be that people worked toward specific goals: voting rights act, end of segregation, specific things that were measurable and demonstrable.  Now we see these rich white assholes get a slap on the wrist for raping somebody and we know it is horrible and we know it is terrible, and a part of us, a deep and essential part of ourselves knows that even if one police officer is finally convicted of shooting an unarmed black kid or one rich white guy gets a full sentence, that this shittiness JUST IS and it will never go away.”

“That’s fucking depressing.”

“It is majorly depressing!  You can change laws but you can’t change attitudes, you can’t change people from being horrible.  People are voting for Donald fucking Trump. There are people who actually think this horrible fucking shit for brains dickbag is the best and brightest to lead our nation.  We are never going to travel the stars.  If an alien race comes down and tests us all Day the Earth Stood Still style we would never fucking pass.  We are horrible.  I’m not saying that everybody in the world is horrible, but when this is our society, when these are people who lead us saying horrible shit, when our newspapers side with rapists and killers as long as they are white when our society makes it so difficult for people of color to make it, when people are dying from lack of food in our own country during an upturn in the economy, don’t you think that all it would take would be one major drought and food shortage to turn Trump into Immortan Joe and have roving bands of war boys riding around the streets with “Make America Great Again” emblazoned on the side of their shiny and chrome Jeeps as they shoot people?”

“Yikes, I think you are kind of being reductionist again.  Not everybody who votes for Trump would roam around the streets shooting people from the top of Jeeps.”

“Hashtag not all warboys”

“Har Har, but no I mean that is never going to happen.”

“It doesn’t have to happen, aren’t you thinking about it?”

“Sure I’m thinking about it now you mentioned it.”

“And sometimes when you are watching TV, when you are watching about all this horrible bullshit going on, when you see the rich get richer and the poor get poorer and our society getting less equal instead of more, doesn’t a little part of yourself imagine a day when people finally break out the pitchforks and the guillotine and you go all Madame DeFarge on Donald Trump.”

“No, I can honestly say that I have never thought about going Madame DeFarge on Donald Trump.”

“Really, you have NEVER thought about going Madame DeFarge on Donald Trump, not once?”

“I am not a violent person, that is not in my nature, I don’t automatically think of freaking beheading people that I disagree with.

“So you can’t imagine a world where Donald Trump becomes president and rounds up people and gets rid of all the hard fought for liberties we have gained and puts himself on all of our money.  You can’t imagine a world where schools have pictures of Donald Trump in every classroom and little kids have to say the pledge to a picture of Donald Trump and the White House is painted gold to be more classy?”

“No I can’t imagine Donald Trump winning the presidency at all given the demographics of our nation, I don’t think it would ever happen.”

“Ah see so now you are just being naive.  So imagine it.  Imagine President Trump.  Imagine that Donald Trump is your president and he is horrible.  He is worse than George W Bush.  He is the next Hitler.”

“I really hate this oversimplification that Trump is Hitler 2.0”

“I’m not saying he necessarily is only that he has the potential.  Can’t you imagine that future?  Can you honestly tell me if that is the future that you wouldn’t be a part of the secret underground resistance movement that carries out clandestine raids on Trump SS and work with your fellow freedom fighters to liberate wrongfully imprisoned Muslims who have been rounded up?  Even to plot his assassination?”

“Fine fine, if Trump becomes Hitler 2.0 I would become a freedom fighter or whatever.”

“Congrats you are now on the no fly list.”

“God dammit”

“Ok but real talk.  What can you imagine being the more likely scenario now that this is all laid out on the table?  Can you imagine a bright and shiny sci fi future from Star Trek or can you imagine Mad Max?  What seems the more likely prospect?”

“Fine I guess the Mad Max.  But I still don’t think Mad Max is our future.  I still don’t think the apocalypse is coming.  I still fundamentally believe that while we bitch and moan about things that there will never actually be this big violent revolution or upheaval that you are talking about.  We aren’t going to have some kind of coup and the government isn’t going to come falling down.”

“I never said it was GOING to happen necessarily only that's all we can see right now.  Right now it is very hard for us to see hope.”

“But going back to what you were saying, I mean that is the same kind of reasoning that is telling actual liberals that they should hope for a Trump victory so that the revolution actually comes.”

“That is exactly what I am saying.  Exactly.  There is this part of people, in some people stronger than others, that does fundamentally want violent upheaval.  Things like The Hunger Games and The Purge play on our fears of the future, but simultaneously our desires.  No rules, no repercussions. Everyone is a hero in their imagination.  I would never hope for a Trump presidency because I don’t want to live in that shitty world, but you have to admit that the same impetus to give Trump the presidency on purpose to take down the system is deeply rooted in our feeling of hopelessness and anger at a status quo that will never be changed.  We see our climate being destroyed, we see assholes remain in power, we see things staying the same and we are pissed off.  We feel like there is nothing we can do. So we imagine this future where a ragtag group of scrappy freedom fighters, ourselves included, runs around saving the day and killing the bad rich people and gaining control over our lives again.”

“So what is the solution then?  What can we do to have a more hopeful future?”

“Shit I don’t know.  I just said I get why The Purge is popular.  I’m not a fucking politician I don’t have the slightest idea what we are supposed to do.”

“How can you say that you have no ideas after laying out this future that is so miserable?”

“Like I said, I just see it.  I get it.  I don’t know what to do.  If I knew what to do I would be in politics.”

“Shit, now I’m just depressed thinking about a crappy future”

“Yep”

“Dammit”

“Yep”

“Have you seen X-Men: Apocalypse yet?”

“Nope.”

“You wanna watch?”

“Neh.  I heard it was pretty lousy.”

“You wanna watch Force Awakens on Blu Ray again”

“Kinda, yeah.”

“We could make it a drinking game.  Take a shot every time BB-8 bloops”

“I’m pretty sure we would get alcohol poisoning”

“We can figure something else out.”

“Let’s do it”

“Of course there is the counter to the whole post Apocalyptic movie thing.”

“Hm?”

“Escapism”

“Oh yeah escapism is the best.  Escapism is pretty much the only way I can make it through the day.”

"I hear ya"