The Future’s So Bright I Can’t Bear To Look
154 pages • Nation Books • October 2nd, 2008
The Future’s So Bright I Can’t Bear To Look is a collection of comic-strips published online between 2005 and 2008. Here is a world that wonders what would happen if Jeffrey Dahmer had been a right wing pundit and published a book called Liberals: Kill Them and Eat Them; that solves the problem of the Republican ticket by introducing the newcomer ‘guy in a Reagan mask’ and his running mate, ‘another guy in a Reagan mask’; and that boasts of a media who ignore the pressing issues to ask questions such as ‘Our top story tonight – is Barack Obama an elitist or what?’. In other words, it takes a hard satirical look at this modern world, which is the title of the comic-strip series from which the book is drawn.
This Modern World is a political satire on the Bush era that is as funny as it is unsettling. The first sketch in this collection, ‘Language is a Virus: An ongoing look at the myriad ways in which really, really stupid ideas infect the political mainstream’, sets the tone. The subject is “intelligent delivery”, the proponents of which believe that babies are delivered by a stork. “Don’t our children deserve to hear both sides of the controversy?” asks one of the proponents. And the result: “The line between education and ignorance grows ever more indistinct.” If creationism were dismissed as a subject that has no place in the classroom this would not be as unnerving as it is.
This Modern World is drawn as if the ‘00s were in fact the 1950s, which is a visually astute move. The paranoia of the 1950s, fuelled by the machinations of Truman and Eisenhower as the National Security State was being assembled, and propelled by the insanities of McCarthyism, founded the social and political identity of the US as a Super Power. The ‘50s prepared the way for an unjust war in Vietnam, and the current misadventure in Iraq, which, as This Modern World point out, is costing roughly $10 billion per month, and could total $3 trillion.
The deliberate turning away from fact is brought into sharp relief by Tom Tomorrow and shows a world in which spin is all there is, hence the popularity of people like Ann Coulter, or as she appears in This Modern World, “the scary blonde pundette” who pops up to say “Aren’t I just outrageous?” The real snake in the garden is not the political machinery that turns this apocalyptic wheel but a media machine that is incapable of addressing it. The talking heads of Action McNews Network in This Modern World are eerily familiar. It is what Tomorrow calls Journamalism.
The Bush era was a great time for satirists, as this collection skillfully demonstrates. But what will happen now? In the last of This Modern World sketches for 2008, ‘Thanks for the material, George W. Now get lost!’, Tom Tomorrow bids farewell to W. and the endless material he provided. No matter how the Obama presidency turns out, at least he still has Sarah Palin. And that Scary Blonde Pundette, along with her coevals, is not going to disappear.
“Some critics are expected to have a different opinion. Ahem!
As always, we’ll let our viewers decide for themselves.”