The King of Ashes

What do you see?

The first thing you’ll notice is a great preponderance of sweaty men standing around looking nervous and adjusting their ties. You might also notice the not-so-subtle imagery that indicates that Frank and Claire’s relationship is going to deteriorate this season. Try to look deeper.

What is House of Cards? It is a pop culture phenomenon. Frank Underwood is everyone’s favorite politician. He was in the latest “Call of Duty” game. We have real politicians trying to conflate themselves with him to better their image. Frank Underwood is exactly the politician we think we want, and we want him to be guiding us wherever we go.

One of the reasons that House of Cards is so popular is that there is nothing a weak, womanly society desires more than strong man to come in and take charge, and Frank Underwood is exactly the kind of power-hungry psychopath that makes our panties drop. How fitting it is that this new season is coming out so soon after the premiere of the “50 Shades of Grey” movie. If that isn’t some kind of divine portent, what is?

What type of feeling does this trailer try to instill in you? Let me tell you. It wants you to feel the thrill of the hunt and the rush of battle. The air starts to buzz and you can feel the metallic taste of blood on your tongue. Your hair stands on end and lightning starts to hum through your veins. Your eyes being to tingle and you feel an ocean of savagery begin to rise within you while all measure of compassion, empathy, or conscience fades away.

Let the butchery begin. A fitting catchphrase for a show that so revels in it.

Is is any wonder that power hungry schmucks and status-whoring young women love this show? Every intern and low-level wannabe big-shot in DC touches themselves at night at the thought of one day becoming Frank Underwood.

For all those familiar with the Gervais Principle, I ask you, which group of people is most likely to enjoy this show: clueless, losers, or sociopaths? If you guessed that this is a show that placates the clueless who want to be sociopaths, you guessed correctly.

Well, and the losers too. The more the merrier, and there’s really no lack of suckers who will try to internalize this show in a buffoonish quest to become some kind of sociopolitical ubermensch.

The kind of people who can actually learn a thing or two from shows like this are the kind of people who would have learned those things sooner or later. They may not be wired to be wolves, but at least they’ll have sharper teeth than the plodding herd animals who comprise most of humanity. Better to be a fox than a sheep, if nothing else.

Mitchell has rightly pointed out that if you’re being triggered, you’re being played. I will go one step further and say that any time you’re experiencing an externally-imposed emotion, you’re being set up for something.

“We’re murderers, Francis.”
“We’re survivors.”

This is a show that wants you to ask whether there is even a difference between these two things. It wants you to ask this so that you can feel like a badass while being a cog in the machine. It will keep you docile. It will keep you complacent.

Look how edgy I am. I’m a hardcore killer. Fuckin’ yeah I’ll keep working this shitty, underpaid job. I’m a fucking nightmare for wimpy little pussies like Cecil over in accounting. I’m going to do the best fucking job ever on this make-work my boss assigned me while he gives me a pay cut.

Shows like this are brilliant., This is part of the reason why they set us up so well to accept whatever it is they are trying to say. This is a pretty raw deal on our part.

Open mind. Insert programming here.

There is no better way to shut down critical thinking than to tell someone a good story.

I may lie, cheat, and intimidate to get what I want, but at least I get the job done, so I hope some of you were taking notes.

That’s got to be one of the most transparent pleas for blind eyes and excessive power that I’ve ever seen. It is no sin to enjoy this show, but to accept it is to submit to a wolf that declares itself to be your shepherd. People who are willing to accept any and all actions by their elite are being set up to get slaughtered like sheep.

If you’re reading this now, I have bad news for you. You are not a noble white knight. You are not a wolf. You’re a speck in the pile of ashes. Don’t get swept up in the narrative. Keep your wits about you. Avoid getting caught in the currents that are stirred up to keep the fish swimming in the right direction.

It’s the only chance you have.

It would be a great bit of rhetoric to end this post by saying that Frank Underwood is exactly the kind of politician we deserve. I wish we had that much going for us.



5 thoughts on “The King of Ashes

  1. Holmgang 01/16/2015 / 2:17 AM

    Submit this to Radix. They love pop culture articles.

  2. NZT 01/21/2015 / 1:39 PM

    You make such a huge deal out of it, but come on. The show doesn’t really have any thematic depth, it’s just a wish-fulfillment fantasy about being the smartest guy in the room who’s always 1 step ahead and doesn’t give a damn about right and wrong (basically the SWPL equivalent of ghetto hoods wanting to be Scarface). Its success is due to the glossy production values and fairly snappy dialogue. It has no value as political commentary as everyone already knows politics and media are corrupt and rife with insider dealing. I suppose you could make the point that it has a morality-play element, where Frank has basically solid his soul to Satan for worldly success, at the price of a hollow, decadent, spiritually empty and ultimately pointless existence, but I doubt most people are willing or able to watch it that way.

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