So I just finished touring with a show, MAKING A KILLING. Another laugh-filled musical comedy from the San Francisco Mime Troupe -- this time about government propaganda, self-censoring reporters, the ongoing scam that has always been the rebuilding of Iraq, cancer in epidemic proportions caused by our uranium tipped bombs and bullets, and the general fucked-uped-ness of having a gaggle of soulless plutocrats put corporate profits before humanity. Add to that the concept of a frightened and stupefied citizenry who have traded class conscienceness for lottery tickets, civil rights for sham elections, and who have taken any real possibility of overthrowing the freedom crushing Dictatorial Dickheads and exchanged it for some high definition masturbatory iPhone dreams - and you have musical theatre at it's finest!
(Three things: First - If you are one of the Dickheads, and you take offense at my characterizing you as an parasite on Freedom, a maggot feeding off our still breathing body politic, a Capitalist bloodworms sucking away our hard-earned public wealth to fatten your own useless ass, good! At least you're paying attention.
Second - I really want an iPhone. Remember friends- KwanzHanuaChristmaYuleadan is just around the corner!)
Back to my point.
So, we took our show about corporate government and war profiteering all over California...
Now at this point some large browed fellow in a t-shirt that proudly proclaims "I didn't evolve -- God made me like this" usually stabs his hind leg into the air and shouts:
"Aren't you just preaching to the choir?"
Sit down there, Child of the Corn.
Nobody preaches to the choir -- you preach to the congregation! Maybe if you actually went to church instead of just using it as a bat to beat the less fortunate you'd know that.
"But - "
And the congregation is comprised of whoever shows up! Right, Left, or Center, you can only talk to the people who listen. That's why the mime troupe does free theater, to get the broadest possible audience. Give people a good song and dance, and you can tell them stuff they don't want to hear - and you usually can get away before they realize what you were saying and shoot you.
And California is a diverse State! Some parts of this place make Kansas look like Cape Cod. And in some towns there are more Confederate flags than at the 142th Annual Cousin Marrying Convention.
But, again, I digress.
We were doing the show in Chico, California. For those who don't know, Chico is not exactly a hotbed of Leftists. Not even a lukewarm bed. But last year we did a show about the dangers of impending Theocratic Fascism, and it went over very well. (Though the plot dealt with the threat of dogma on both the Left and Right one of my favorite lines was the oft repeated "God can kiss my Black heiney!" Hilarious!) Anyway, GODFELLAS was a big hit in Chico. We even got this very nice review from a truckers magazine - take that stereotypers!
So we decided to come back with our newest show. But this year the audience was smaller than we expected. We were used to playing for big crowds, even in places like Fresno and Sacramento, so this was a surprise when we had such a small showing.
Was this a sign that, perhaps, our show was not, to use a colloquialism of my people "all that?" Were we suddenly less than "jiggy?" Was our message of wrestling our Democratic Republic back from our would-be feudal overlords, hounding them screaming naked into the night, while righteously putting the terror of an angry Citizenry into the withered hearts of our fecally-minded elected employees...was this not as "bootylishess" as we had thought?
Nope. Turns out it was just Fear.
Not the fear you may be thinking of right now. Two differences:
A: Mine was Capitalized!
B: You may be thinking I'm going to say something pompous like fear of the truth - as if I would do that! Sure, I wrote the show, but If there's one thing I am, it's modest. That's what everyone, in one of what I'm sure are numerous meetings behind my back about my many wonderful traits, puts at the top of a long, long, long list.
No, this Fear was very specific. Turned out people were not afraid to see the show... they were afraid to be seen at the show.
Several people who saw the show last year had told us they couldn't be seen at this year's production out of Fear that it would impact their businesses, and their opportunities. "Saw you at that show that said the vice president doesn't really care about the troops... so I'll be picketing your t-shirt store!" "I'd hire you, but you hate America!"
Sad, isn't it? This is what our citizens have been reduced to. Afraid to be seen at a show that questions this administration and the corporatocracy, fearful the people they know will turn against them for being exposed to something besides Fox News, scared their neighbors will see them as traitors for watching a play about governmental corruption.
This is the real effect of six years of the Patriot Act, and seven years of paranoid ineptitude at the highest levels. Fear of your fellow citizen. Fear of being identified as less than mindlessly loyal, fear of being identified by your friends as an Enemy of the State, a traitor, because you question authority. By even listening to someone point out the lies and transgressions of those who are undermining the very Constitution they swore to uphold you are somehow the renegade, and have changed from one of "us" to one of "them."
Centuries of struggling for civil rights, and we live in a country where people are scared to see a mime troupe.
Ladies and gentlemen, the terrorists have won.
Follow Michael Gene Sullivan on Twitter: www.twitter.com/Michaeloutloud