A bewildering hobbyhorse

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By EUGENIO BUCCI*

A James Bond movie villain debuts in politics

The magnetism of the James Bond films disappeared into the soot of the stars. 007's strides rest in the past. The type created by Ian Fleming, who asked for his Dry Martini aboard a tuxedo the color of the night or a summer of high whiteness, he lost his elegance.

Not that it wasn't good. The way he introduced himself to the fatal lady was amusing: “Bond, James Bond”. In two minutes, the two would kiss and then get lost between a parachute jump and a pistol shot with a silencer. Only after countless pirouettes on land, sea and air would the couple be entitled to a happy end. Hot.

It was during the Cold War and the spy who had a license to kill gave us sizzling love. The average spectator at that time was rooting for the maintenance of the establishment and it vibrated when James Bond and his girlfriend lay between the sheets after saving humanity, the planet, capitalism and the Windsor dynasty from complete destruction.

The villains, poor things, fell to pieces and no one felt sorry for their fate. Unprincipled billionaire super-entrepreneurs, the bandits mobilized science, brute force and endless resources to subject the entire world to their whims – and, in the end, died spectacularly in a sacrosanct atomic explosion. The satanic Dr. No, the no less satanic Auric Goldfinger and many others lost out. They bribed, blackmailed, extorted and lost. They recruited private armies, controlled governments and lost. They turned their money into power and their power into oppression – and lost again. The audiences rejoiced. They took the side of the good guy.

Today, public entertainment is different. The hurried masses changed the subject, left the cinema alone, prefer to numb themselves with synthetic substances to better shake to the rhythm of repetitive blows (their mantra has no words, just rhythmic bangs) and vote for crazy autocrats. As for the seventh art, it survives as the eccentricity of aging intellectuals.

However, despite the discredit of the old blockbusters from 007, something from that old script has once again made a presence among us: the model of the villains who served as the spy's antagonists has left the screen and is now appearing in so-called “real life”. This time, successfully. They win and reap all the golden laurels. The average viewer, who is the average voter, switched sides, in a bewildering hobby horse.

Today's audiences, filled with resentment because democracy has not delivered the promised delights, throw stones at what they believe to be official policy. They want to see the system burn down. They applaud on their knees the tycoons who sabotage public order. In his eyes, greed, arrogance and vanity are civic virtues. Sadistic fun is the criterion of legitimacy. Politics has been swallowed up by dark entertainment.

Do you want a symptom? Elon Musk. Much has been written in the newspapers to describe the psyche of the businessman who left South Africa to come to America. His commitment is to the performative show, not to coherence. Some say – correctly – that he does business in China and has never said a word about the dictatorship there. On the other hand, when it comes to Brazil, the same guy boasts that our democracy is a dictatorship (it is said that he has plans to do some weird business here). Act like this and get the best. And the an influencer of influencers.

Elon Musk seems like a character escaped from those old movies, but he goes beyond that. He is distantly reminiscent of the fictional Gustav Graves, from 007, a new day to die, who used the satellite business to scare countries resistant to his maniacal pretensions. Has the physique du role of a Sean Connery antagonist. His real actions, however, surpass Ian Fleming's imagination. Owner of extreme exhibitionism, he wants to have supremacy over the entire world and wants the glories of the spectacle.

Not satisfied, want to stay high. He takes narcissistic pleasures in having narcissistic powers and, in his consumerist hedonism, puts the counterculture at the service of capital. O Wall Street Journal recently reported that executives and advisors at Space It was with this corporate doping that the guy debuted in Brazilian politics.

Second-rate politicians, those who don't know the difference between fiction and reality (or between propaganda and information, or between lies and truth), dedicate shameless greed to Elon Musk. They loudly claim that the poor thing suffers unspeakable persecution from fearful public officials. They see him as the universal symbol of freedom.

But, people of heaven, freedom from what? To abuse his immeasurable economic power to interfere in the institutionality of a State that is not his? Of being childish and truculent in one fell swoop (of state)? Let there be a farce. James Bond, who was a lackey of the British empire, had more integrity.

* Eugene Bucci He is a professor at the School of Communications and Arts at USP. Author, among other books, of Uncertainty, an essay: how we think about the idea that disorients us (and orients the digital world) (authentic). https://amzn.to/3SytDKl

Originally published in the newspaper The State of S. Paul.


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