I’ve had many nightmares, and I’m sure this is probably a common thing, where I need to scream or saying something, but when I open my mouth, I have no voice. It’s a similar anxiety that runs through many horror films, where the protagonist tries to warn others of an imminent threat, but can’t get anyone to believe them, whether it’s Kevin McCarthy running through the streets at the end of the original Invasion of the Body Snatchers, or little Andy trying to convince the adults that his doll is a killer in Child’s Play.
This feeling has been especially acute during the Trump era, where we know we’re being lied to- we’re not even being lied to very well- and we know bad decisions are being made, both morality and common sense have been cast aside in favor of an agenda of profiteering and ego gratification for a small but powerful group of people.
Watching the Kavanugh hearing last week felt like a horror movie. The moral and common sense solutions are clear- this is not someone who is fit to serve on the Supreme Court, if not for his alleged sexual assault (and I believe Christine Blasey Ford), then for his partisan rage, paranoia and numerous instances of lying under oath. From the outside, it seems so simple, and yet, like the slasher movie victim who goes to investigate a noise when you’re screaming at the screen to run like hell, the people making the decisions can’t seem to get it right- or in this case, refuse to get it right. (And, as an aside, wasn’t it surreal to see Alyssa Milano sitting behind him the whole time, during his ridiculously entitled and self-indulgent tirade and subsequent testimony. I’ve always liked her and I’m glad she turned out to be one of the good guys.)
We saw the same thing in the 2016 election. There was no way Trump could be elected- until he was. And since then, many of us- perhaps most of us- have felt like varying degrees of Kevin McCarthy at the end of Invasion of the Body Snatchers (or perhaps Veronica Cartwright at the end of the 1970s remake- looking for signs of recognizable humanity, only to find herself staring into the dead eyes of betrayal). It just feels like the truth is obvious and the lies so transparent, but reality never seems to take hold, the consequences of greed and ignorance and dishonesty never seem to come. It’s the true definition of evil, yet everyone seems to be acting like everything is normal, even when when say, again and again and again, “This is not normal.” It’s the banality of evil- we don’t get the obvious menace of a Dr. Doom (though to be fair, Trump and some of his lackeys are cartoonishly grotesque), but the misplaced righteousness of Lindsay Graham, using his powers, which could be used for so much good, to defend privilege and mediocrity.
It’s not a great movie (it’s actually a pretty bad movie), but I often think of a line in one of the later Hellraiser sequels, Hellseeker, where Pinhead confronts his victim, saying, in that deliciously evil way Doug Bradley has of saying his Cenobite-isms, “Welcome to the worst nightmare of all…reality.”