Tagged: The Handmaid’s Tale

Mindy Newell: All Come, Look For America!

 So exhausted last night. And aggravated. Got stuck in a major traffic jam on the New Jersey Turnpike that was so bad I finally said fuck this, made an illegal u-turn, backtracked and got off the turnpike, and drove through side streets in Newark and Jersey City until I finally got home 3½ hours after I had left my starting point. By that time I had to pee so badly I was actually in pain, and I was cursing as I parked the car because I knew that at any minute I was going to wet my pants, and then of course, the straps on one of my bags broke and the contents went spilling all over the street, so by the time I actually got into my apartment building’s elevator I knew it was a lost cause, despite the Kegel’s, and yes, ladies and gentlemen, I wet my pants. The stream of urine warmed my upper thighs and my tuchas, and I cursed and at the same time felt so much physical relief.

Anyway, like I said, I was exhausted. I dropped everything I held in my hands to the floor in the hallway, went to the bathroom, tiredly cleaned myself up, threw my jeans and everything else down below into the laundry basket, put on my bathrobe, lay down on the couch, turned on the TV, and fell asleep. Out like a light. TV – the perfect lullaby.

And I woke up to Neil Gaiman in my living room. No, no, no, not that way. Neil is a married man, to the wonderful and amazingly talented musician Amanda Palmer. The TV was still on and there on the screen was Neil in the eponymous documentary Neil Gaiman: Dream Dangerously. I lay on the couch and watched for a while, memories flooding my head, watching Neil (whom I haven’t seen in a gazillion years) and other friends like Karen Berger and Heidi MacDonald (I haven’t seen them in a gazillion years, either), and then I finally got up, made my tea, turned on the computer, and started to write today’s column.

On Saturday I watched the first three episodes of Hulu’s adaptation of The Handmaid’s Tale, which is based on Canadian author Margaret Atwood’s 1985 dystopian novel. Brilliant. Abso – fucking – lutely brilliant. And also horribly scary.

The scariest thing about it?  The destruction of the United States of America happened so slowly, it was so normalized, that it wasn’t noticed until it was too late. In the third episode, “Late,” Offred (Elizabeth Moss) realizes she has awoken to the world, that “she was asleep before… Nothing changes instantaneously. In a gradually heating bathtub, you’d be boiled to death before you knew it.”  We learn that the rights of citizens were suspended in the interests of national security – terrorism was blamed for the assassination of the President and the destruction of Congress, though the truth was far more ominous.  Each “sacrifice” that followed was an incremental one, one made for the “greater good.”  (The needs of the many outweigh the needs of the few… or the one?)  Until, finally, without realizing it, it was all gone. And it was too late.

Having been born in 1939 and come to consciousness during World War II, I knew that established orders could vanish overnight. Change could also be as fast as lightning. ‘It can’t happen here’ could not be depended on: Anything could happen anywhere, given the circumstances.”

Including a “Baby Man” in the White House.

My theory on Trump’s “policies” always boiled down to this: “I’ll show him!” Everything about Trump, even his decision to enter the Presidential campaign, is that most simple reasoning of any child – or immature adult – who has been teased, made fun of, or otherwise embarrassed. He is determined to undo anything and everything President Obama enacted. All because the former President made fun of him at that White House Correspondent’s Dinner.

From “Trump Discards Obama’s Legacy, One Rule at a Time” (New York Times, May 1, 2017, by Michael D. Shear): An obscure law known as the Congressional Review Act gives lawmakers 60 legislative days to overturn major new regulations issued by federal agencies. After that window closes, sometime in early May, the process gets much more difficult: Executive orders by the president can take years to unwind regulations – well beyond the important 100 – day yardstick for new administrations.

So in weekly meetings leading up to Jan. 20, the Trump aides and lawmakers worked from a shared Excel spreadsheet to develop a list of possible targets: rules enacted late in Barack Obama’s presidency that they viewed as a vast regulatory overreach that was stifling economic growth.

The result was a historic reversal of government rules in record time. Mr. Trump has used the review act as a regulatory wrecking ball, signing 13 bills that erased rules on the environment, labor, financial protections, internet privacy, abortion, education and gun rights. In the law’s 21-year history, it had been used successfully only once before, when President George W. Bush reversed a Clinton-era ergonomics rule.”

Hmm. My theory is proven.

Getting back to The Handmaid’s Tale and Margaret Atwood’s essay…

How responsible are we, all of us, for allowing Trump to sit in the big chair? How much did we normalize his campaign? Certainly the media didn’t help, covering every rally, every stupid fucking tweet, as if once again the burning bush was speaking to Moses on the slopes of Mt. Sinai. Ratings, baby, ratings. But ultimately, it was We, the People, who did it. I was talking to a Trump supporter during the campaign, someone in the health field, like me, and I asked him how he could support someone who made fun of a reporter with a physical disability? He answered, “Oh, he wasn’t making fun of that guy. Go online, watch him at other rallies. Trump always throws his arms around like that.”

Normalization. Seeing only what you want to see.

Are you fucking kidding me?


And now we, and the rest of the world, are in a “chicken fight” with North Korea. And we, and the rest of the world, are holding our collective breaths as two petulant children draw their lines in a sand and dare each other.

Mindy Newell Is Writing This During The Giants / Packers Game

The Crown Season 1

This is going to be a relatively unusual column today as I am frequently stopping to watch the New York Giants/Green Bay Packers wild card game. Right now there are 20 seconds left in the 1st quarter, the G’ints just punted, and Green Bay’s drive will start on the 45 yard line. The Giants should be up by at least one touchdown, but Beckham has dropped two perfect passes in the end zone – commentators Joe Buck and Troy Aikman are speculating that it’s because of the cold weather and although that’s possible, that’s not what I expect from a player of Beckham’s caliber. He made the All-Pro team this year. Anyway, the G’ints are up by a field goal (that’s three points for you non-football fans out there) and Green Bay has yet to put anything on the board.

I will say that New York’s defense in the 1st quarter has been terrific, but it’s a loooong game. Also, as I pointed to out to my daughter, son-in-law, and brother, the Packers have lost two previous play-off games to the Giants and they are as hungry as I would be. Eye of the Tiger, y’know?

Man, it’s hard not to write a running commentary on the game, but this is ComicMix, not NFL SuperPro (to mention the magazine I edited at Marvel in conjunction with NFL Properties), so I will digress from the pigskin.

To be honest, I haven’t ready any new comics that have impressed me enough to talk about – although I do love Adam Hughes’ Betty & Veronica – but I sure have been on the web a lot lately checking out “ComicMix-y” series, along with previews and trailers for what’s “coming soon.”

Constant readers will know that I have watched The Crown on Netflix (the geek connection is Matt Smith as Prince Phillip) and just finished the second season of The Man in the High Castle on Amazon. I’m currently looking forward to The Handmaid’s Tale, based on the 1985 speculative fiction, dystopian novel by the noted Canadian author Margaret Atwood, which will be premiering on Hulu in April. Set in a bleak future in which the United States has been become the theocratic Republic of Gilead, in which women have two functions: Madonna (wife and mother) and whore (the “Handmaids” of the title). While the novel primarily explores the themes of the roles of women in society, it also raises questions about the relationships between men and women, the purpose of class and caste, freedom of speech and thought, and the power of religion to subvert individualism.

The novel won the 1987 Arthur C. Clarke Award, and was nominated for the 1986 Nebula Award and Booker Prize; it was also nominated in 1987 for the Prometheus Award. It has already been adapted as a movie (which starred the late Natasha Richardson, and which, im-not-so-ho, did not do the book justice) and has also been translated to radio, opera, and stage. I’m really looking forward to it’s adaptation as a series so that the book has the chance to “stretch its legs.”

It’s the 2nd quarter, 3:60 left, and the G’ints are up by 6 – two field goals. Green Bay hasn’t yet scored…fuck! Green Bay just scored…and I must admit it was a daring pass by Green Bay quarterback Aaron Rodgers to the successful and talented wide receiver Davante Adams. With the extra point, the Packers are now up by 1 – the score is now 7 – 6.

Much closer – next Saturday (January 15) is the television premiere of the sixth season of Homeland, although Showtime is already streaming the first episode and has made it available on Showtime On Demand. Carrie Mathison (Claire Danes) is in New York City, specifically Brooklyn, disengaged from the CIA, and has started a foundation to help falsely accused Muslims. Saul Berenson (Mandy Pantikin) and Dar Adal (F. Murray Abraham) are back, as is…


…Rupert Friend as CIA “black ops” agent Peter Quinn. (To paraphrase Captain Kirk to Spock in The Wrath of Khan: “Isn’t he dead?”)

I check out the premiere of Emerald City (NBC, Fridays at 9 P.M.), which co-stars the indomitable and magnificent Vincent D’Onofrio (Wilson Fisk, a.k.a. the Kingpin, last seen on the whatever screen you use in second season of Netflix’s Daredevil) as the Wizard…

Double fuck!!!!! I missed the play (in fact, I don’t know how the Packers got the ball back because I was writing this), but the Packers have just scored again – and it’s an 8-point Green Bay lead. 14 – 6 going into halftime. What the hell happened to New York’s defense??

Okay. I’m calm. Depressed, but calm. As I was saying, I tried Emerald City, but it just didn’t work for me. It was too slow…or something. Not sure. I didn’t make it to the second half of the two-hour premiere – not actually a pilot, but two episodes run in sequence. But YMMV.

24 will be back, premiering on Fox after the Super Bowl (February 5), but without Jack Bauer (Kiefer Sutherland) and Chloe O’Brian (Mary Lyn Rajskub). Yep, Fox is doing a sequel, officially called 24: Legacy. Corey Hawkins is the “new Jack,” playing ex-Army Ranger and war hero Eric Carter. However, Carlos Bernard as agent-gone-bad Tony Almeida will be back. I don’t know about this one. Keifer and Chloe put such indelible marks on the show; it remains to be seen if lightning can strike twice.