The Cheeseball Hope of Supergirl


I just saw the two-part season finale of Supergirl last night. It’s amazing how cheesy it is. But maybe that’s a good thing. I’m going to post spoilers, so if you haven’t seen it yet, you may not want to read this.

In the first part, National City gets taken over by Supergirl’s uncle Nod, who uses a mind control ray thingy to zap everyone into zombies who will do his bidding. One of the sort-of-not-a-villain’s ideas to fight Nod is to use a bomb to irradiate the city and break the hold of the mind control ray.

The problem is, it would kill 8% of the population. Supergirl is out of options, until she hits upon the brilliant notion: Give a rousing speech inspiring hope, and that will magically destroy the powers of Nod and restore National City’s citizens to their rightful state of mind. Needless to say she succeeds.

I can hear the trumpet fanfare playing. I can see the building-sized American flag billowing in the background, as Supergirl strikes a pose and looks inspirationally upward and to the left of camera at something we, the beleaguered viewers torn asunder with the worries and trials of our daily lives, cannot see.

The cheeseball factor of this show is just off the charts.

But that’s a good thing. Look, I get it. It’s not realistic. But that’s actually the charm of a lot of these DC comic book shows. Look at the state of the world today. Heck, even just the United States. We’re not doing too good. We need shows that are cheeseball if they also inspire hope.

The hope of Supergirl is amazingly unrealistic. And yet, we need to see universes where that is possible, and where that does happen as a regular occurrence.

The reason being is because it doesn’t happen here. What these kinds of shows do is inspire our moral imaginations to believe that such a world could exist. I have imagined giving a passionate speech that stirs the hearts of men, that persuades them to do something that is reasonable, just, and good. It is in part what inspired me to start this blog. This show makes me want to do that for others.

What is more conservative than the conservation of hope that things could get better? That not just our country, but our families and friends can survive the moral collapse of both major political parties, wars, economic strife, and social chaos? We need more shows and other media like Supergirl, because they’re what help keep our own hope alive and inspire us to carry on when things get bad.

And that’s the genius of this show, really. Because when Supergirl is talking to that TV camera, giving her speech of hope to wake the citizens of National City out of their trance, she’s not talking to fictional zombie people. She’s talking to us, who are in many respects in the same state of mind. It’s so meta. And that’s what makes it awesome.




No Longer Republican

This week there was a sea change in American politics.

And it is a sea change. Indiana going to Trump is as good a dividing line as any, since it pushes him from “unlikely frontrunner” to “presumptive Republican nominee” status. And in American party politics, the leader of the party is always the man most recently nominated for President, win or lose.

So I will just say it. The Republican Party has changed this week from one dedicated to Burkean small-government conservatism that seeks ordered liberty for all to one defined by nationalism, big-government protectionism, and populism. There are many reasons this has happened, and few are blameless. But it has happened. So what is the crux of the matter?

Nationalist Populism is a rebuke of conservatism. It seeks raw power for power’s sake, and in order to gain it, it sacrifices principle to popular whim and will tolerate and promote anything that will enable it to achieve power–from racism to fear of “the other” to moral anarchy. It is not the only ideology popular today that does so, but it is currently the one held by the presumptive leader of the Republicans.

Most people were raised to see politics as a war of “sides”, and I’m no exception. So it is tempting to think we (that is, those of you who are similarly inclined) can deal with four years of this. But principles apply to everything. They must apply to how I respond to Donald Trump’s rise. And so what else can I do? This election from the Republican side has become a line-in-the-sand moment between Party and Principle. Because Trump’s ideology is so at odds with what Republicans have to-date said they stood for, there is no way to reconcile both. Either way, we lose the battle. We either lose by rejecting Trump and enabling the Democrats to win, or we lose by supporting Trump and sacrificing our principles in order to “save” them. The only choice that remains is how we resolve our private war.

And so, until the party is reformed, it is no longer my party. I counsel anyone who considered voting for any of the other Republican nominees to consider the same. This moment too is a line-in-the-sand moment for you. And because politics has become so pervasive in our society, it will affect how you live the rest of your life.

#NeverTrump #NeverHillary