WARNING: Possible spoilers ahead.
Do progressives have nothing better to do than to aimlessly wander the Earth, searching for things that everybody loves in order to drag them through the muddy thinking of Marxist critical theory and lecture the rest of us about it?
Published under NBCNews.com’s new “Think” vertical — the sites’s “home for fresh opinion, sharp analysis and powerful essays” — is “The problematic political subtext of ‘Stranger Things’” from writer Noah Berlatsky.
Berlatsky applies his progressive worldview to the hit Netflix show and delivers a simultaneously hilarious-yet-sad “that thing you like is actually racist” hot take.
“Stranger Things” – a show about a group of kids dealing with paranormal threats from a different dimension after the U.S. government screws things up with science – apparently has a racist subtext that supports colonialism.
“This narrative — which presents the people ‘over there’ as some combination of monstrous, dangerous and seductive — is a staple of colonial storytelling,” Berlatsky writes.
In both of its seasons, “Stranger Things” centers around the danger created when military personnel at a base in Hawkins, Indiana open an inter-dimensional gate into a dark, twilit shadow realm called the Upside Down. The sole inhabitant of the Upside Down, in the first season, is a humanoid monster dubbed the Demogorgon who feeds on flesh. It is animalistic, violent, and hungry. The Demogorgon, in short, could be a frightening “native” in a Tarzan serial.
The colonial parallels are accentuated in the second season, in which the Upside Down turns out to have additional inhabitants and more consciousness. It begins to reach into the real world with a series of quickly growing, thick, vine-like tendrils.
Jungles have long been used to evoke uncivilized, creeping barbarism, whether in Africa in the late 19th century or in Southeast Asia in the mid-20th. In “Stranger Things,” the military makes short expeditions into the Upside Down to burn back the untamed foliage — a detail that seems especially telling given the series’ occasional references to Vietnam. The Cold War itself becomes an excuse for invading and controlling the Upside Down, just as it has historically been used as an excuse for invading and controlling other nations. In the television series, scientists worry that if word of the Upside Down gets out, the Russians will try to use it as a weapon.
Did you get all that? The monster from Season 1 is a stereotype of minorities; the exploration of this alternate dimension is a parallel to European and American imperialism; and the U.S. was the bad guy in the Cold War, so fighting creatures from an alternate dimension hell-bent on destroying humanity is … wrong?
What’s next? Is the bigger monster from Season 2, the world-destroying “Mind Flayer,” misunderstood?
This explanation of the Mind Flayer’s motives, however, neatly erases the fact that it was humans who went into the Upside Down first, looking for power and glory. We never actually hear from the Mind Flayer itself; we don’t know what it wants. The humans simply project human motivations onto it, without ever quite acknowledging how human those motivations are.
This gobbledygook, from the guy who wrote a book called “Wonder Woman: Bondage and Feminism in the Marston/Peter Comics,” is laughable until you realize this way of thinking is now very much the norm across America’s universities.
Everything must be viewed and understood through the lens of race, colonialism, and oppression. The history of the world is the history of an underclass of racial minorities abused and exploited at the hands of straight white males (i.e. “privileged”). Multiculturalism and social justice demand that we treat our dimension as no better than the Mind Flayer’s!
Progressivism takes you to strange and scary places. Happy Halloween, folks.
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Author: Chris Pandolfo
Chris Pandolfo is a staff writer and type-shouter for Conservative Review. He holds a B.A. in politics and economics from Hillsdale College. His interests are conservative political philosophy, the American founding, and progressive rock. Follow him on Twitter for doom-saying and great album recommendations @ChrisCPandolfo.