Republicans Can Turn Literary Heartbreak into Positive Pablum

Trump supporters scaling the Capitol wall on January 6. (Photo by Jose Luis Magana, Associated Press.)

This summer’s congressional hearings on the Trump-incited Capitol Riot of January 6 remind us once again that most Republicans have tried to minimize how awful things were that day. The far-right white mob was violent and racist as they parroted Trump’s “Stop the Steal” lie that he won the 2020 presidential election, yet most Republicans have since made it seem like those January 6 actions were mostly benign. They know in their heart of hearts that there was no excuse for what was done in the Capitol building that day, but those spineless/unprincipled GOP politicians are more concerned about staying in office by not angering the vile Trump and his base.

Anyway, what would happen if Republicans tried to revise some famous novels as much as they’ve tried to revise the history of January 6 in an effort to make villainous characters and negative scenes seem more positive?

Let’s start with an early segment of Jane Eyre. The “pious” hypocrite Mr. Brocklehurst nearly starves Jane and the other hungry, freezing girls in his Lowood institution, even as he and his family live the wealthy high life. But in a 2021 Republican retelling of Charlotte Bronte’s 1847 novel, Mr. B would be a hero — keeping the orphan girls fashionably slim and creating jobs (for undertakers).

In The Grapes of Wrath, the Joads are evicted from their farm in drought-stricken Oklahoma by heartless bankers and then try for a better life in 1930s California — only to face one daunting ordeal after another. In a 2021 Republican retelling of John Steinbeck’s novel, the eviction-happy bankers would be lauded for maximizing profits, for further enriching real-estate interests by buying themselves more vacation homes, and for helping oil companies become even more profitable as ousted farm families buy lots of gas to drive their jalopies to the West Coast. There, California employers pay the Joads and other new arrivals such low wages for arduous work (if they find work) that those beleaguered employees can’t afford to see The Grapes of Wrath movie and get populist ideas.

The Handmaid’s Tale depicts a patriarchal society in which women are brutalized and discriminated against in all kinds of appalling ways. But the Republican spin on Margaret Atwood’s novel would be that women are still in the top two when it comes to how the two genders are treated. Better than the top three, no?

Speaking of dystopian novels, Republicans could also soften 1984 by saying the book’s evil totalitarian government makes a reader think of Total cereal — which has all kinds of vitamins and minerals. And they’d add that it’s only fair for the rat to get a star turn near the end of George Orwell’s novel after Winston Smith was featured so much in the book. Who said most Republicans oppose animal rights?

A major character in Mikhail Bulgakov’s The Master and Margarita is Professor Woland, who also happens to be Satan. Republicans usually hate profs — they’re liberal academics, after all — but Woland is THE DEVIL. So, to the GOP, he’s more beloved than Anne Shirley, Jo March, Dorothy Gale, Madeline, and Bilbo Baggins combined. And why read six books (including those with all the aforementioned characters) when one book will do? Leaves more time to destroy democracy.

Moving on to Kurt Vonnegut’s most-famous novel, Republicans would simply change the name of Slaughterhouse-Five to Slaughter House Six to reference the House of Representatives and January 6. And they’d say the book was mostly a comedy, a la The House of Mirth. (Of course, Edith Wharton’s novel was far from funny.)

Most readers know that the abusive Bob Ewell is a virulent racist who ruins the life of Black man Tom Robinson in Harper Lee’s 1930s-set To Kill a Mockingbird. But to Republicans, Ewell is “good people” and “our base.” Sure, they’re disappointed that he didn’t participate in the January 6 riot, but, then again, Ewell would be over 130 years old if he lived until 2021. Not an ideal age for scaling a Capitol wall.

Any other novels with heartbreaking moments you’d like to mention that Republicans could cynically make more benign?

My literary-trivia book is described and can be purchased here: Fascinating Facts About Famous Fiction Authors and the Greatest Novels of All Time.

In addition to this weekly blog, I write the 2003-started/award-winning “Montclairvoyant” local topical-humor column for Baristanet.com. The latest weekly piece — about an election controversy, required COVID vaccinations, and more — is here.

48 thoughts on “Republicans Can Turn Literary Heartbreak into Positive Pablum

  1. For Steinbeck’s “The Grapes of Wrath”, the Republican Reader could always just follow the plot from back to front, and suddenly the book becomes a tale of hopeful farm folk, after much travail lately involving unions and breast-feeding beyond the usual age range, at long last pulling themselves up by their bootstraps and out of a Deep State Internment Camp, then onto and into a rattletrap that repairs itself as they go ever Eastward, stopping occasionally at the highway’s edge to gather revived dead old folks, till at last they have their own farm in OK, where they are happy, if a bit underwater with the bank, because they are free (from the intrusion and control of big gubmint bureaucracy) to scratch whatever living they can out of the accommodating dust.

    Liked by 3 people

    • Thank you, jhNY! That is absolutely brilliant! The Joads’ jalopy repairing itself, Grandma and Grandpa coming alive…genius! Far-right Republicans finally get their own Steinbeck…

      Like

  2. Hey, I love the Donald. He’s the only politician I’ve ever heard of who I’d vote for. His successes with women alone are enough to put him above the pack. And how many politicians owned their own modeling agency and universal beauty pageant? The man is slick to the nth power. It was the Democrats who pinned him down with their false Russia collusion hoax. They KNEW it was B.S. but they pressed forward anyway, trying to force the lion into a corner … and you know what? It worked. But sooner or later there’ll be another Trump who’ll stampede over the Dem faces and then we’ll see who has the last laugh.

    — Catxman

    http://www.catxman.wordpress.com

    PS. At my blog I’m usually more objective but I decided to indulge myself with this kind of comment. Ciao!

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  3. I shudder to think how Repugs would malign Atticus Finch, esp. Tom Robinson, in To Kill A Mockingbird,,, I’ll jes leave it to the imagination. Yet I must say that The Omen by David Seltzer is pretty much a Republican primer — Damien Trump, ha! Hiding the mark of the beast under that rat’s nest of hair. And, of course, they’d say “there’s good people on both sides” re: all the vampires in every book ever written about a vampire. Most of the GOP look rather Nosferatu-ish as it is. Except Matt Gaetz looks like a werewolf, McCarthy looks like a smirking Judas, Marjorie Taylor Greene has got to be one of the ugliest men I’ve ever seen and Stefanik looks like that haunted doll in the movie Charlotte. Well, back on topic: Repugs would say Dorian Gray, in Oscar Wilde’s, The Portrait of… that the portrait was actually photoshopped by the liberals in an effort to smear him because he was part of the elite, and the artist Basil deserved to be killed since he was breaking and entering when he discovered Gray’s portrait hidden in the attic. I guess we’re fortunate the Repugs are more authoritarians than authors, but meh — rather cold comfort,. Great post Dave, and funny as well. Sorry if my comments offend anyone, I jes’ hate the GOP with the heat of a thousand suns, but unlike the GOP I’m working on my anger issues, Susi

    Liked by 1 person

    • Thank you, Susi! πŸ™‚

      Yes, Republicans would be no friends of Atticus Finch. They’d consider him “a traitor to his race.” 😦

      Funny, scathing references to “The Omen,” vampires, “The Picture of Dorian Gray,” etc.! And the GOP wouldn’t like that “Dorian Gray” author Oscar Wilde was gay.

      “I guess we’re fortunate the Repugs are more authoritarians than authors” — fantastic line! “I jes’ hate the GOP with the heat of a thousand suns, but unlike the GOP I’m working on my anger issues” — another fantastic line!

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        • Thank you, Susi! This is absolutely HILARIOUS! πŸ˜‚ I’ve seen this clip before with other words put over it, but never “The Turn of the Screw” version. Trump would be a prime candidate for The Dictators Book Lovers Club…if he read books.

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  4. Hi Dave, a most interesting post. One could say that rain, even indoors, wasn’t so bad as it would encourage the growth of indoor plants. I am sure CS Lewis wouldn’t mind this sanitisation of The Great Divorce. The state-run television station that hosted The Running Man by Stephen King was actually entertaining the population and ensure the masses understood the concept of consequences for belligerent behaviour. The Major in The Long Walk by Stephen King allowed his own son to participate so it couldn’t be that bad, right? World Council of Scholars were correct in their treatment of Equality 7-2521 from Anthem by Ayn Rand because, after all, electricity is not really as very useful invention and people got by without it for centuries.

    Liked by 2 people

  5. As Shehanne and Martina have already stated, this week might be a little tricky for us over the pond….but I like a challenge and I’m taking my inspiration from he who shall not be named (which may not fit the brief entirely).
    So, I thought about the Queen of Hearts in ‘Alice in Wonderland’. The chaos and fear around her is just a smoke screen for all the good/great/best work going on and is also a sign of a powerful leader. A great leader. The best.
    And then there’s ‘The Strange Case of Dr Jekyll and Mr Hyde’. Very strange indeed, as it didn’t happen. The science isn’t there to back it up. It was just a rumour that came out of England to make the US look bad.
    You’d think the grown ups would take some responsibility, but clearly not! Do hope some good sense prevails with the hearings!!

    Liked by 3 people

  6. I am not American and come just from a far away very small country, but as I have been reading “I am Pilgrim” by Terry Hayes, there came up questions about 9/11, which made me aware that, in fact, I have now idea of the real reasons why that disaster could happen!
    It was a real pleasure for me, Dave, to read about your proposals and of those from your readers. Thanks:)

    Liked by 2 people

  7. Boom! Direct hit!! Or should I say, carpet bombing!!! How about the lads’ descent into savagery in Lord of the Flies being good preparation for frat boy life in college, a career in corporate finance, and running for public office?

    Liked by 5 people

    • Thank you, Shehanne! Yes, many countries have their own dystopian situations and leaders. 😦 And I agree that the photo is striking — with the very relevant combination of the rioters and that Trump sign with the name of their instigator.

      Liked by 3 people

  8. You had fun with this post, didn’t you David? I have never thought about rewriting books from a different perspective, so you have given me much to think about this coming week. You have the best ideas! Here I will degree…as always because you have prompted me to think about books with subtle and not so subtle political themes. The question I ask myself is – did these books change my beliefs and values. If they did, was it to enhance my thinking or solidify my original beliefs? I never believed in the future presented by 1984 by George Orwell. He simply didn’t factor in the resilience and individuality of humanity. Aldous Huxley’s Brave New World couldn’t exist because they were making too many babies in their baby factory. The world could not sustain the increase in population, especially when everyone had no ailments. Fahrenheit 451 by Ray Bradbury was brilliant but there would be too many people who loved books, who wrote books, who read books to allow this outcome. But believing in the story does not negate that they are unable to change my beliefs and values, for it is in the connection with words and ideas that we evolve and transform. These books challenged me to think differently, to act in ways that fostered well-being and a sense of belonging. Thank you for another wonderful conversation, David. I’m now ready for the week ahead.

    Liked by 6 people

    • Thank you, Rebecca! πŸ™‚

      I did have fun with the post, and it also gave me a chance to vent (in vain) against the Republicans’ outrageous whitewashing of recent history — history so many saw with their own eyes on TV and social media.

      And I appreciate your very thoughtful/thought-provoking comment! Yes, dystopian novels such as “1984,” “Brave New World,” and “Fahrenheit 451” seem to be offering worst-case scenarios. Perhaps partly as warnings so things hopefully never get that bad. Of course, there have been some real-life governments — such as the genocidal Nazi regime — that were as awful as anything dystopian fiction could envision.

      Liked by 4 people

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