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The Enemy

9 December 2013

So, in the course of my daily internet wanderings, this gem came to my attention:

Don’t get me wrong, I laugh like an idiot whenever I see it. And I can’t blame Tim Curry for this — video game acting is hard. You’re essentially in a little room, alone, acting against nothing. It’s probably not too difficult to go way too big with a character under those circumstances.

But it did get me thinking about something — how we are taught to see “the enemy,” whoever that is at the time. (The above video game, Command and Conquer: Red Faction 3, came out in 2008, so I really can’t write it off as some Cold-War era cartoonish portrayal of Russians.) In our popular media, enemies of America come off as one of two things, generally: cartoonishly evil, or cartoonishly inept. See either version of the documentary Red Dawn for illustrations of both.

We’re not taught to dehumanize the enemy the way our soldiers are — pilots are often taught to think that they bomb tanks or bridges, not people. But we are encouraged to look at them as less human than we are, even though that’s not the case.

Let’s take North Korea as an example. We’re told that the soldiers are fanatical, and that their leader is twisted and evil. But all of them — even Kim Jong Un — are still people. They might be proceeding from what we would see as a false or damaging edict, but still… they’re humans, not so different from me or you or anyone we’d run into on the streets.

It’s not just government who uses this tactic, though. Really, it’s any group with an agenda. Homophobes present gays as somehow “less” than straight people, mostly using the same cartoonish stereotypes as governments do with their enemies. Racists do the same thing. So do political parties, activist groups, and almost any other agenda-ed group you can name.

The truth? Much more boring. We’re all pretty much the same, just living in different circumstances.

Point of this entry: huh. I don’t know, really. Maybe this is just how my brain works when I’ve been iced into the house for four days.

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