Pole Axed

Rarely has the gulf in belief between the US and Europe been more clearly illustrated than by the recent, utterly inane, pseudo-controversy about a wax model of former US president George W. Bush‘s head appearing on a pole in an episode of HBO’s “A Game of Thrones.

TL;DR version for the Redditors?  Politicians are human, inherently untrustworthy and deserve scorn.  Move on with your lives.


Putting aside the obvious fact that nobody would be any the wiser about this inconsequential, throwaway gag had the DVD commentary for season one’s box set not pointed it out, the resultant furore suggests quite worryingly that many Americans believe that their politicians (and, particularly, their presidents) are somehow utterly beyond reproach and deserving of a level of life-long respect which borders on blind idolatry and child-like worship.

Check out this take on the issue by Craig Eaton, Chairman of the Brooklyn Republican Party in noted UK tabloid beloved of nitwits, the Daily Mail – ‘I think that it’s despicable. As a country, Democrats, Republicans, we have to have respect for the office and the individuals. Once we lose that respect, the United States looks weak.’

Yes, an entirely reasonable sense of proportion there.  It’s not as if the American president, senators, congressmen and the like are elected officials who work for constituencies – i.e., the general public.  They are, of course, veritable Titans who walk amongst us and we should all be wearing knee pads on the off-chance that we might need to abruptly genuflect in their presence.

Give any politician an inch and they’ll never stop the ensuing power grab until their avarice and arrogance trips them up or very human hubris results in death on a massive scale.  Politicians, I feel strongly, should live daily in the mortal and justified fear that their electorate will yank them from office and replace them equally swiftly with somebody hopefully competent and not quite as self-serving – they are rarely, if ever, people who deserve anything more than suspicion and contempt.

And Mr Eaton, by the way, I’m pretty sure that Bush’s tenure as president did more to hurt his image and the world’s image of America than a blink-and-you miss it shot of a mannequin in profile head ever will.

In Europe, I like to think that we treat politicians with just the right amount of withering mistrust and quiet disdain – experience has taught us that such individuals are rarely public servants in the truest sense of the phrase and have the moral and ethical core of a sneak thief – that any American citizen goes to their grave believing that politicians are any better than the rest of us is a sign that the biggest con job of all time has been well and truly perpetrated on a sleeping electorate.

Besides, this B.S. non-controversy has clearly only been stirred up by the kind of vocal, cynical, right-of-centre bullies on the blogosphere and in American talk radio who get to place issues of no-importance in the public consciousness and then scream like spoilt children until they get what they want – witness HBO’s deplorably cowardly and censorial decision to remove the shot from future broadcasts of the season one “A Game of Thrones” finale and DVD releases.

So, broadly fascistic rewriting/erasing of something which barely matters to appease lardy, Red State cry babies on the basis that they might cancel their HBO subscription or not buy future season DVD sets.  Great. That’s progress for you.

I also love the false equivalence being thrown around by some of these Conservative blow hards on the issue – would we be as slow to offensive were the head being used Barack Obama?  Any politician is fair game for this kind of treatment – and the “Game of Thrones” shot wasn’t even intended as satire, if you believe the DVD commentary.  I dread to think what many Americans would make of the lack of esteem we Europeans hold our politicians in.  If they ever saw an episode of “Spitting Image” or “Have I Got News For You?” your average Mid-Western Republican would implode in red-cheeked, puffed-out outrage before prompt self-immolation on the spot.

So, not entirely a bad idea, then.


Filed under Geekery, Random Notes

5 responses to “Pole Axed

  1. I think you have your false equivalence backwards. Within the realm of US mass media, it’s perfectly acceptable to have Bush’s head on a pike; just a little harmless fun eh? But if Obama’s head was there, all hell would break loose. Having a Republican’s head on a pike is pretty much old news. George Bush had both a movie and stage play about his hoped for assassination. You would never see the same thing for a Democratic President. There isn’t any equivalence.

    • I take your point – it’s more likely for Republicans to be skewered in the media as a larger majority of film makers and tv producers skew towards the Democratic side of US politics (at least in public – when their wallets are being hit, I suspect that many public liberals become abruptly conservative).

      Do you suspect that liberal guilt plays a part in this or is just the fact that Obama doesn’t yet have the personality that Bush quickly made evident in his tenure? As a Brit, in Europe, I’d be hard-pushed to point to much of an Obama personality other than a slight predisposition toward geekiness…

  2. It’s less liberal guilt than the Mass Media in the US; TV & movies mostly,are so uniformly liberal that they can’t see that they are on a side. From their perspective, they are being fair and objective since everyone they know thinks like them. So they don’t notice that Obama has conducted a national security policy that is about 90% of what Bush’s policy was, but there is no real outrage. With Obama, it’s all about image. He’s become the assassin in chief, picking and choosing targets for kill lists, but still smoozes with Hollywood types and collects a great deal of money from them.

    • And Clinton did more or less the same as Obama – appear liberal and progressive in public whilst doing fairly heinous things in the name of maintaining the US’ status as a global power.

      The idea that US media is uniformly liberal is kind of funny, though. Fox News, the Rush Limbaugh-type shock jocks, movie stars like Bruce Willis and Adam Sandler or TV actors like Gary Sinise or Angie Harmon, musicians from Metallica to Alan Jackson – not exactly yucking it up with Obama at a Democratic fundraiser

      Is an American Liberal that far removed from a Conservative party voter in the UK? I seriously doubt it.

      • But Clinton didn’t run and campaign against policies he ended up embracing, like Obama did.

        You mentioned a couple of Hollywood people who are on the right, but there are so few, that you probably jotted down half of them! Add Adam Baldwin (Firefly) and Kelsey Grammer and that probably makes up the majority of the Hollywood right. Virtually everyone else is to the left.

        I will grant that in the US country music is primary made by people who lean right, but that’s the only genre of music that I can think of that it would apply to. The vast majority of all other genres of music would lean left.

        I think an American liberal would in general cut a middle ground between the Liberal Democrats and Labor, but I don’t think the Conservative Party is a real match to Republicans, except for maybe a few individuals. The Tories are far more Statist than Republicans tend to be, at least presently. The current Republican party is leaning more libertarian and small government than a run of the mill Tory. Although for a brief moment in the 80’s I think the New Right Tories and Republicans were pretty well aligned.

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