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How I Ended Up Living In Brazil

Topics: Politics | Add A CommentBy admin | January 14, 2011

The thing I love most about America’s slow slide into a totalitarian police state is that it means I get to live in one of my favorite 80′s movies.

Do you hear that subdued but incessant crumbling sound? That’s the sound of your constitutional rights slowly being chipped away from the groaning structure of the American way of life. But of course you don’t hear it. It’s being drowned out by the sound of jackbooted thugs marching in unison just ahead. Which all of course sounds a bit melodramatic, except that like frogs in water slowly rising to a boil, you and I simply haven’t noticed how bad it really has become. This was highlighted for me recently when I re-watched the 1985 Terry Gilliam film Brazil. Many of the key elements of the film – which seemed utterly absurd at the time of its release – have now become in one way or another realities of everyday life. One of the main plot elements revolves around an average family man who is taken from his family for failure to pay a bill because of a simple clerical error. This is echoed routinely due to failed banks’ desperate cash grabs in the form of widespread foreclosure errors in which perfectly upright citizens have their doors bashed in while they’re in the shower. Having the police breaking into your home on a regular basis is probably not far off, given the disturbing opinions of the current supreme court justices, who believe that a cop thinking they smell marijuana, and then hearing a toilet flush, are legitimate cause for warrant-less break-in searches. The film’s ever-present checkpoints and government posters with slogans like “Mind that parcel. Eagle eyes can save a life” and “Don’t suspect a friend, report him” would barely raise an eyebrow today. And the comical security theater of the powerful government agencies in the film – the “Ministry of Information” and its “Bureau of Information Retrieval” – would also still be funny today, if it weren’t for the fact that the comically banal acceptance of torture in the film is now a reality, except for the part where its banal acceptance is comical. The Ministry of Information is so frighteningly reflected in the hodgepodge of mismanaged and inept agencies under the umbrella of the Department of Homeland Security that it seems gratuitous to point this out, except to point out that you probably didn’t even notice the fact that the Patriot Act was extended last year with the perhaps slightly misleading name Medicare Physician Payment Reform Act, and is likely to be extended again in a few weeks. Personally, I’m not too worried about the boot soon to be on my neck. I’m just going to make some popcorn and enjoy the show.

A few of the more relevant posters in the film:

“Mind that parcel. Eagle eyes can save a life.”

“Don’t suspect a friend, report him.”

“Trust in haste, Regret at leisure”

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I love that the kids are playing “TSA” in front of an ad for terror-free holidays:

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“Power today. Pleasure tomorrow.”

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