How is the pre-Holiday season going for you, up there in the Northern Hemisphere? Cold? Stressful? Dreading Christmas dinner with your family? Well, at least you didn’t have yet another history-shaping election between progress and fascism at the same time! That’s sooooo 2020.
So, just like Logan Roy says, or like our great-grandchildren in the future will do anytime they find a bug, let’s get to the protein: Remember when I told you it seemed like Democracy Was Coming to the Chilean State? Well, this happened earlier on November’s General Election: A nerve-wracking Presidential second round on December 19th where we have:
On one corner, basically the Nice Guy version of Trump and Bolsonaro. Sure, some people might have been suspicious of him considering his father joined the NSDAP at age 18, fought in the cruel Eastern Front and came to Chile pretending to be a Red Cross worker, or because then his father helped the dictatorship round up and disappear dozens of peasants in the rural district of Paine. Tthat doesn’t make him a nazi or a fascist, no, everything else he has ever said and done does.
On the other hand, democratic left-winger Gabriel Boric, former Student leader. Two-term representative for the Region of Magallanes. Just 35 years old, but having worked as a politician his entire adult life. Key in enabling the agreement that led to the Constitutional process burning his political capital. A man that has grown up time and time again, acknowledging and making amends for his sexist dipshitery in his twenties. The one person now who can articulate our next step as a better nation.
So what do you do? You do the thing the other side can’t: hit the streets, go door-to-door convincing people, getting out the vote, keeping the spirits of younger campaign mates when anxiety hits them (even though you have OCD and suffer from all types of anxieties), talking to dozens and dozens of unknowns, assuaging doubts and fears, getting emotional, being energized by eager youths and senior people. This is the condition of my beloved Chelsea Boots after three weeks:
It worked, too! On Sunday, Gabriel Boric was elected Chile’s youngest President in a decisive victory. Thank you Chelsea boots!
Now, I need a bloody break. A break from politics. It’s the holiday season, after all, add the Summer on top of that if you live under the Equator. It’s been a year which is hard to tell apart from the madness of last year, so I decided to make a recommendation list of all the escapist Film & TV that could help you and I reboot our mental health. We deserve tt:
Money Heist: The Second Part of the Final Season.
Yes, it’s still on. Yes, they’re still stuck in the Bank of Spain. Yes, they’re milking this for all it’s worth, they are spinning off a new series focusing on Berlin. Yes, the last few seasons is basically what happens when you give a Hollywood budget to filmmakers who always dreamt of doing Hollywood spectacle but thought they would be confined to European sensibilities. And yes, the heart of La Casa de Papel beats firmly on the Left, but where does its brain think? Because sure, you can try and paint these hot and rogue robbers as antisystem folk heroes, cling onto leftist imagery and songs all you want … but they are still making themselves wealthy, and f—king with the State, not with the private investors and bankers who led Spain, Europe and most of the World to our current shitshow. Does this make La Casa de Papel the same kind of empty populism without class consciousness that led to the 5 Star Movement in Italy and how they ended up feeding the far-right?
NO, nope, I’m overthinking things. This list is about escapism. What more escapism do you want than seeing sexy robbers in a stylized, high-stakes heist full of twist and turns and…?
Or you could try the alternative: Watching the Ocean’s Eleven franchise on repeat, a series that doesn’t need to cling onto a supposed revolution, just the beauty and fun of seeing underdogs outsmarting the powerful. Doesn’t get more perfect than that.
And Just Like That…
Another way to escape is to watch idealized versions of things. What better than watching, just for a little while, beautiful people that are too well-off to have normal problems, looking their best in the glitzier parts of New York City?
Cynthia Nixon’s kickass silver bob and actually interesting storyline will carry this entire thing on her shoulders. Well, at one time, Sex and the City provided this guy with a window into a more progressive and more interesting society than the greyness of my country back then, at the very least. It could be the over-sweet Cosmopolitan in which you drown the worries, the worries of a future that will be complicated if the good guy wins, and the one you try not to think about if the other one does.
Plus, AJLT isn’t the only Darren Star joint this December.
Emily in Paris Season 2:
Is Emily in Paris destined to become a camp classic by way of hate-watching alone? It is kind of unique in that everyone agrees that it is terrible, unrealistic, whitewashed and that the fashion itself isn’t anything you’d want to shoplift. Also, I’ve never been a fan of Lily Collins, to say the least, which goes against my entire nature of being very much into porcelain-skin brunettes. But Paris is well worth seeing Emily making an American ass of herself, even when she and the showrunners are unable to notice. To be fair, I can’t fault US people for romanticizing the French capital if you’re used to living around unwalkable roads lined by Applebee’s, unending parking lots, and pick-up trucks, then yeah, even the most decadent street in Paris with its poop-smeared pavement will look like the Champs Élysées.
Bridgerton Season 2
YES. This is what I’m talking about: Period piece, high-budget production design, high-society intrigue. This is what good escapism is all about. This is the season where we have that dingdong of Anthony Bridgerton pursuing the one person who can obliterate him with a few quips. GIVE ME MORE OF THAT. That’s proper Jane Austen material.
Now, it isn’t up to me to say how Bridgerton’s colorblind casting reflects on the fact this series is set while the UK was firing on all its colonizer cylinders and when slavery was very much legal in the Old World. The showrunners already got themselves caught in an alternative-reality plothole with the whole “power of love” speech thing. Regardless, the one thing I can say is that this looks much more interesting than anything Julian Fellowes has in the pipeline right now.
Endless Historical Documentaries About Periods that ARE NOT the 20th Century
Perhaps part of the 19th Century as well… Or any period where European colonialism was a thing. Maybe start with the late Crusades… which were kind of a proto-colonialism? Or maybe Ancient History? Or cultures and civilizations you know little about … that were ravaged by colonialism? Or any time period where you won’t notice creeping similarities, so that’d rule out the Bronze Age Collapse. And the Roman Empire too.
Or perhaps the problem is trying to find escapism by focusing on the past through our colored lenses. Same thing with period pieces. We shouldn’t be trying to find in the past a more civilized, classier, or more gracious period, because that’s fascism’s playhouse. But also, we can start applying critical theories to something you just watch to be swooned by and for the fancy dresses, right?
Maybe we should go into time’s other direction:
Lost in Space, Final Season
Can you believe this premiered two weeks ago? For those of us who love space sci-fi, this is kind of a golden age. After the success of Gravity and with the announcement of the new Star Wars trilogy, I really thought we would get a wave of big-budget sci-fi movies to counter everything being about superheroes. We didn’t get the former, but we did get stuff like Lost in Space, which is everything a four-quadrant adventure series should be with actually interesting CGI to boot. But things get better.
The Book of Boba Fett
This is the closest we’ll get to seeing the Stars Wars universe expanded beyond the Skywalkers, but even without that, I’ll take all the LucasFilms’ series I can get. They are probably not much cheaper than the movies, but they have been largely free of anxious Disney committees.
But hey, who said Star Wars is really escapism when the main series is literally about a hodgepodge of downtrodden species teaming up against literal, fascist-inspired imperialism? Maybe, worse case scenario (ANTIJINX), it’s also a good time to rewatch Empire Strikes Back and The Last Jedi. And the prequels, who would’ve thought they were the right kind of movies in times where democracies are at risk.
Hear me out on this one: The Expanse, Final Season.
I’ve written about this one before, and the thing is, this is not at all what you might think as escapism. Not that sci-fi or fantasy have ever been just that, on the contrary, but The Expanse might as well be an accurate projection of our future: On the one hand, it’s clearly a post-racial, post-sexist society. On the other, exploitative capitalism and colonialism is still the rule. We also have militarized societies, charismatic nationalist terror, and incompetent bureaucrats making everything worse.
But what makes The Expanse so compelling in today’s world, as with all great sci-fi or fantasy, is that by developing a different world from the foundation of our own, it cancels out all the din of your particular context, leaving the structural fundamentals and exposing the root of the problem.
There can be escapism that is just the form and not the function. There’s nothing wrong with the one that is both form and function, sure. The problem is that … well, sometimes we have too much escapism. When things are good, we are fed sunny escapism. When things are bad, we are fed edgier escapism. It is, after all, another form of propaganda, not driven by a central committee, but by execs who are convinced they know what the audience wants. Or needs.
I couldn’t help wonder… can there be times that are so dreadful, so anxiety-inducing that escapism can’t just crack it? I remember I couldn’t connect with La La Land back in late 2016 because I couldn’t stop thinking, “What do I care about these stupid hot people being melancholy in Los Angeles? F—kin (the former guy) got elected!” Despite Damien Chazelle’s obvious talent and despite the movie being actually pretty great. What do you do when you can’t enjoy the things you know you are only enjoying for a little while? Is it a matter of me being unable to just loosen up? Or is it the high of months of intense elections? I truly don’t know how some people can live ignoring the specter of politics and reality, and I envy them.
Maybe this is what leads so many creatives and intellectuals to become absorbed in their fields of specialty to the detriment of reality: Fear of the present, the comfort of knowing your area of knowledge is manageable, a circuit you can close from the outside world.
See, when I was younger, my way of magical thinking was to project and imagine the exact opposite outcome of what I wanted. Like a reverse The Secret. Imagining it to the point of heightening my heart rate. Undiagnosed OCD, but it’s not like I have fully overcome it. I try to picture the worst scenario, the heartbroken tweets, the fear in my LGTBI+ friends and connections, the threat looming over each and every one of us Left-wing militants, the social strife and economic mismanagement, the contempt for science and culture … to prepare myself for any eventuality, but I can’t project further into the next week, something blocks it like Dr. Manhattan and the tachyons traveling back in time. There is still a good chance.
There’s one more suggestion I have:
Finnish Watching Hilda in preparation for Hilda and the Mountain King
It will make you better.
Image sources (in order of posting): Disney, LucasFilms