Blade and its sequel Blade II are incredibly enjoyable films. I can’t acknowledge the abomination that was the third movie. I’m mad that I’ve given it this much of a sentence. Anyway, the first two films are great, setting up intriguing characters and a rich mythology that I’ll use to illustrate how those movies and our particular political climate lineup. I hope that by comparing the coincidences and overlaps, we’ll get a much better understanding of our manic political process and perhaps better ideas of what to do about it.
Blade is about a half-man, half-vampire with extraordinary abilities who fights an ongoing war with vampires to protect mankind. Blade (played with masterful aplomb by Wesley Snipes) is joined in his fight by his old, wise cracking vampire hunting friend and mentor Abraham Whistler (played by Kris Kristofferson) and badass hematologist Dr. Karen Jensen (played by the tragically underused N’Bushe Wright). Together they fight back the forces of evil using martial arts, science, silver stakes! I love Blade. I remember seeing the film in theaters and my jaw dropped. A huge comic book fan, I never expected cinema to take an obscure character, least of all an obscure Black superhero who crossed over into the horror genre and make him into one of the dopest film heroes ever! Blade surprised the hell out of me! I couldn’t believe a Black hero was a mainstream lead in a movie, so imagine my surprise when six years later, a Black man would become the leader of the free world. Now that our President is stepping down and transitioning back to being a normal citizen, I started realizing the eerie similarities between the real life political characters in Washington and the fictional characters from the Blade movies. I didn’t just see similarities with the characters in the movies; I also saw how the films’ narratives and themes overlapped with our reality. I mean the first Blade film ends with him in Russia of all places!
For most African Americans, white people exist either as a direct or an indirect force for bad in their lives. Biraciality is no shield against this; often it just intensifies the problem. What proved key for Barack Obama was not that he was born to a black man and a white woman, but that his white family approved of the union, and approved of the child who came from it. They did this in 1961—a time when sex between black men and white women, in large swaths of the country, was not just illegal but fraught with mortal danger. But that danger is not part of Obama’s story. The first white people he ever knew, the ones who raised him, were decent in a way that very few black people of that era experienced.
That lens, born of literally relating to whites, allowed Obama to imagine that he could be the country’s first black president. “If I walked into a room and it’s a bunch of white farmers, trade unionists, middle age—I’m not walking in thinking, Man, I’ve got to show them that I’m normal,” Obama explained. “I walk in there, I think, with a set of assumptions: like, these people look just like my grandparents. And I see the same Jell-O mold that my grandmother served, and they’ve got the same, you know, little stuff on their mantelpieces. And so I am maybe disarming them by just assuming that we’re okay.
What Obama was able to offer white America is something very few African Americans could—trust. The vast majority of us are, necessarily, too crippled by our defenses to ever consider such a proposition. But Obama, through a mixture of ancestral connections and distance from the poisons of Jim Crow, can credibly and sincerely trust the majority population of this country. That trust is reinforced, not contradicted, by his blackness. Obama isn’t shuffling before white power (Herman Cain’s “shucky ducky” act) or flattering white ego (O. J. Simpson’s listing not being seen as black as a great accomplishment). That, too, is defensive, and deep down, I suspect, white people know it. He stands firm in his own cultural traditions and says to the country something virtually no black person can, but every president must: “I believe you.”
This unique circumstance allowed President Obama to connect with White voters in a way most Black Americans never can. This was like Blade’s/President Obama’s superpower. However, as much as I love and respect our exiting president, he had considerable weaknesses and blind spots. A lot of them it could be argued are due to the fact that even though President Obama knows how to connect to White folks 1.) because he was raised by White people and 2.) because he never had to personally experience the horror and trauma of being a Black villager in Dracula’s domain and therefore appeared to hold no personal resentment or anger, he could never connect the immediate racial threat to the system he serves. President Obama is eternally optimistic about the inherent goodness in not just our government but its people, all people, especially White people. I must admit I too really wanted to be (hopeful? optimistic?) but no matter how positive or elevated I felt after his election, I remembered those ugly violent truths. Those truths came roaring back on November 8th, 2016.
President Obama was in an unwinnable situation. How was he supposed to guide a country that was originally built only for the advancement of vampire supremacy? A human, bi-racial, president with a beautiful, intelligent, Black family, the son of a Muslim immigrant from Kenya and a White mother? Who would America subjugate? Feed on? Punish? Kill? President Obama’s ascendancy to the White House was a terrifying reality for vampire supremacists.
One outsider in particular couldn’t stand all the power and admiration that Obama was able to achieve. He craved that power for himself, he craved the prestige and respect. If Trump couldn’t have Obama’s admiration he could at least take him down a peg by lying to the country about his birth, insinuating that President Obama was born in Kenya. Trump, like the antagonist Deacon Frost (played by Stephen Dorff) character in the movie is ultimately jealous of the hero: bitter and insecure about his own status in the vampire hierarchy.
|Deacon Frost (Stephen Dorff)|
Vampires are either born by vampire parents or are bitten and turned. Sometimes biting and turning a human into a vampire can have a negative effect. A character in the beginning of the film, an unassuming coroner named Curtis Webb (played by Tim Guinee), is autopsying a burned vampire corpse that revives and bites him. Curtis shows up much later in the film but something is wrong with him. He’s not a vampire in the traditional sense, he’s on a lower “untouchable” caste than even Deacon Frost. Curtis is decomposing and dwelling in a pit of sorts, placed there by the vampire that turned him. He’s not in his right mind and all he wants to do is feed. The vampire that bit Curtis calls him a defect, he calls him a “ghoul.” Trump was given loads of airtime to sling racist insults and lies at President Obama without any consequence. The continued questioning of President Obama’s executive standing began not only to gain traction, but -- though baseless and false – began to be treated as legitimate criticism. Trump was the vampire that bit and turned some Americans into something worse. In particular, the members of White nationalist militias who already have perverted ideas about race and violence, have their beliefs intensified when they are validated on a national level. Trump was the vampire that bit them and gave them a false sense of power.
Dylann Roof, who walked into an African Methodist Episcopal Church in Charleston, South Carolina and murdered 9 innocent parishioners is the natural end result of the vampire supremacist conditioning. Dylann Roof not only felt justified in his terrible murderous act, he thought it was necessary. Dylann Roof, already monstrous, became even more so because of the lies he absorbed. These lies, half truths and hateful propaganda mutated Mr. Roof into a radicalized vampire. A ghoul is more zombie than vampire. It’s not as intelligent, it’s decaying, and other vampires are ashamed and grossed out by it...even though they made it. Many vampires were quick to disavow and disown Dylann Roof, but he didn’t become a ghoul on his own. Many are responsible for his radicalization.
Hillary Clinton Is Buffy The Vampire Slayer
To affirm, Obama is Blade, Trump is Deacon Frost, The GOP is the doomed vampire council and radicalized racists are Ghouls, but what about Hillary? Who is Hillary Clinton in this game of Blade recast? I’d like to argue that Hillary Clinton isn’t in the movie Blade, but that Hillary is Buffy. Not the televised series Buffy (played by Sarah Michelle Gellar). Nope. Hillary is Buffy from the 1992 movie Buffy The Vampire Slayer starring Kristy Swanson. Why, Tarik? Why is Hillary Clinton Buffy from the 90’s movie no one talks about? Exactly!
For many of the vampires and ghouls, a woman attaining the highest office in the land, especially a woman with the last name of Clinton, was the last straw. They endured eight years of Obama but they would not under any circumstances live through four or eight with Hillary. These monsters decided to not let her win at any cost. The solidification of Republicans against Hillary Clinton alone wouldn’t have secured them victory because the demographics of this country were on her side. However a lot of men and a LOT of White women who voted for Obama in the previous elections voted against Hillary all while the threat of a fascist blood god loomed imminent. Why? The infection of sexism and misogyny, like racism, had deeply rooted itself into our psyches. We grew up being taught and fed the lies that women were lesser as well as less deserving. While many of us spewed this crap out and rejected it, many, many others didn’t and they voted against their own interests because Hillary wasn’t a man. Hillary Clinton was called and dragged on the mat for everything while her opponent was given a pass on things that no other candidate in history was able to -- like rape and treason. That’s how deep and bad the infected scar of sexism runs through this country. Now we have Deacon Frost - Blood God as our next president. Fuck.
Television Buffy is more polished and able to connect to a real supportive and energized fan base. Hillary, like the film Buffy, just didn’t excite the fans. Hillary Clinton always had a hard time connecting and energizing. Blade was exciting and new, film Buffy was enjoyable but nobody was necessarily “caping” hard for it. People on both sides of the political divide wanted the television “Whedonesque” Buffy to be excited about, one with witty banter, ironic quips, and fierce flare. But consider this: anything Whedonesque is ultimately tragic. And we’re definitely feeling the tragedy of a Buffy episode and not the fun happy ending of the movie. Having said that, Hillary Clinton still won the popular vote by 3 million votes despite character assassination, lies, cheating, voter suppression the FBI and Putin. So let me say it here: Buffy the movie is pretty great and Hillary Clinton won the presidency.
How did we get so lost and turned around? How could we elect a gross and offensive demagogue over Hillary Clinton? How could we vote for someone who’ll do his damndest to erase Blade’s legacy? There are many reasons, but I’m going to put the primary blame in one place; the media.
Media Ain't Nothing But A Bunch of Vampire Familiars
Since we're casting the movie Blade, let’s cast "the media" as fiendish vampire personal assistants called familiars. If you know vampire lore at all, you’re familiar with “familiars.” These are usually human beings who have willingly chosen to aid, assist and guard a powerful vampire in his/her attempt to feed and subjugate the human race. Familiars protect their undead pimps from attack when they are at their weakest and they keep the light of day from burning their masters into dust. These weak-ass, spineless, two-faced sons-of-bitches kowtow and normalize the vampires’ cannibalism hoping they’ll eventually be turned and allowed to share in the power hierarchy. I hate vampires, but I really, really hate familiars. And our current media is filled with them.
The media is like the Renfield character in the novel Dracula, a once respected business professional who became Dracula’s sycophant flunky. Renfield was corrupted and twisted by Dracula and the character gets a buzz eating bugs, rats and other small distracting vermin thinking the little souls are making him immortal like his master. They aren’t; instead Renfield is going insane from a lack of nutrition. Renfield probably couldn’t even tell the difference between a healthy, well cooked meal and a bunch of flies zipping around dirty clothes. Unfortunately, it’s too late when Renfield realizes Dracula will never make him an equal. This sad and doomed realization reminds me of the state of our current media. The New York Times released a piece recently entitled "The Perfect Weapon: How Russian Cyber Power Invaded U.S." The article written by Eric Lipton, David E. Sanger and Scott Shane admits that the Times became a De facto agent of the Russian government by publishing emails stolen by Wikileaks. The Times, like the great majority of other news organizations ignored numerous outcries and warnings about publishing stolen information. Sadly, the news couldn’t tell or didn’t care that the stolen Wikileaks emails were tainted flies and not nutritional news. They were too thirsty for the sugar rush to care. Now that the vampires won, and the Times is all like, “Oops, my stupid. Derp, derp, derp.”
A large portion of the media/propaganda we as a country have digested since its inception has been formulated by the vampire ruling class and familiars. The vampiric diet wasn’t just blood, it was also a steady flow of lies, sugary misconceptions, and myths about founding honorable fathers who never told lies and believed that every man was created equal. There was no room in our history books, movies and TV shows -- celebrating tea partying patriots and manifesting pioneers -- for the grim realities of slavery and the Trail of Tears. Those stories, our stories, our faces, our bodies were pushed again to the side like scraps from a meal.
If our country is a body and democracy, our life blood, the media is our immune system. The press, the fourth estate, the watchdogs of democracy should behave like white cells attacking harmful toxins, protecting us from harmful ideologies and demagogues. But if as a country we only eat the fake sugar coated history cereal, it’s only a matter of time until our body becomes diabetic. A 24 hour news cycle feeding on itself, always sensationalizing. Facts, truth, context, history? Irrelevant. All that matters is the feeding frenzy.
The greatest failure of the media was to be a mirror that refused to show America it's true reflection. It fed us sugar when we needed nutrients and truth; now we’re sick and confused. If Saturday morning cartoon bumpers in the eighties taught me anything, it was that a body can’t grow without proper nutrition. America is currently stunted in its growth and still denies its horrific past as monster. The country can’t grow until it comes to terms with the fact that it’s infected with a plague.
Why? How? What happened to our watchdog press and our moral media? I think the best answer is to go back to not Blade but its sequel, Blade II released in 2002. Before he was the zombie slaying hero in The Walking Dead, Norman Reedus played Scud, Blade’s vampire slaying buddy. Scud watches Blade’s back and creates cool new vampire hunting gadgets for him. That is until it’s revealed that Scud is actually a familiar loyal to Blade’s vampire enemies. He had relationships with the vampires before Blade came along, Scud and vampires are pals. The name of the game in media it seems is access, being as close to power as possible. Scud can’t actually go out and hunt, challenge and expose vampires himself, if he did that he’d lose his position and access to vampire power. Instead he plays both sides until ultimately, he picks the one that he believes will benefit him the most. It was never about a moral obligation, never about justice or democracy. It was about power. Our media is like Scud, a familiar that loves to play every side but ours.
|Scud (Norman Reedus)|
A new breed of vampires called “Reapers” are essentially super vampires that eat other vampires and are immune to all things that normally kill vampires like silver and garlic. Their hearts are covered with a hard bone casing making it almost impossible to stake them. They’re infecting other vampires with their virus making vampires even worse. The Reapers are led by a main reaper called Jared Nomak (Luke Goss). For the purpose of argument, let’s recast: the Reapers are representatives of fake news and internet trollege. And just like in the movie, traditional means of law enforcement or warfare don’t particularly work when trying to fight them. And let’s recast Nomak as Julian Assange, the founder and mouthpiece of Wikileaks. Nomak wants to destroy both the human and vampire societies. He’s elusive and impossible to deal with and he knows Damaskinos and the vampire hierarchy intimately.
Damaskinos sends a truce to Blade in order to help fight a common enemy. He asks Blade to team up with members of his Bloodpack, a group of vampires put together for the express purpose of hunting and defeating Blade. The Bloodpack are loyal to Damaskinos and they hate Blade with a passion, but for the sake of defeating Nomak, they team up with him. The Bloodpack is lead by Reinhart (played wonderfully by Ron Perlman) a purebred vampire who throws thinly veiled racial insults at Blade only to get humbled by Blade. If I was going to recast Reinhart and his Bloodpack I’d say it’s a three way tie between Paul Ryan, Mitch McConnell and Reince Pribus. But in fiction, the Bloodpack actually fare better because some of them actually do try to fight the Reapers. However, a double cross reveals itself and Damaskinos along with the Bloodpack betray their alliance and try to capture Blade in the hopes that they can dissect Blade and retain his abilities to walk in the sun. Blade also finds out that Damaskinos created and is responsible for Nomak and the Reaper virus. He created it like the Bloodpack to defeat Blade.
Okay, that’s a lot of convoluted paralells and vampire malarky, and not all of it fits perfectly into my comparison to our political climate but there are some serious overlaps I’d like to highlight. The recent intelligence hearings point out that not only was Putin responsible for tampering in our election, it seems a lot of the online trolls and the feverish Trump supporters are actually Russian agents on Putin’s payroll. Like the Reapers, these agents -- infecting progressive and conservative websites alike -- cause mass chaos and undermine our ability to tell what’s real and what isn’t. Plus, the fishy coincidence that the DNC was hacked and only the DNC’s information was leaked but not the RNC’s makes for an odd situation. Julian Assange and Wikileaks claims neutrality, but only DNC hacks and podesta emails became public. The leaked information only affected the democratic presidential candidate Hillary Clinton. Now Wikileaks are accusing President Obama and his administration of wrongly leaking information (irony?), which paints Putin as a criminal and makes them look more and more suspicious. I’ll borrow a line from Shakespeare’s Hamlet to sum up my current feelings about Julian Assange and Wikileaks, “The Lady doth protest too much, methinks.” Many in the intelligence community conclude that, like the elusive army of hackers and fake news trolls, Julian Assange too is aligned with Putin. What about the Bloodpack? Are Paul Ryan, Mitch McConnell and Reince Pribus really in league with Putin?
I said I wasn’t going to get conspiratorial and I really tried not to but I have to balance the ledge right now because I can’t see any other conclusion. If there is one, and I’m proven wrong, I’ll gladly retract but yes I believe the high ranking members of the GOP; Trump, Pence, Ryan, McConnell, Pribus are all compromised and treasonous politicians. I don’t think Putin meets with these men in a dark room to laugh and scheme and drink blood, but I do think the RNC was hacked and possible information was obtained by Putin’s Reapers to use against and blackmail the GOP.
Even if the RNC wasn’t hacked, Trump’s many shady business conflicts and interests probably make him a compromised tool of Putin’s will and there’s been no internal push back by Paul Ryan or Mitch McConnell. They’re all “nothing to see here” and “everything is normal.” Why? Well I think this all points to the illegitimate way in which the GOP was able to win the White House, House, and the Senate. The ideals of the GOP and the demographics that were used to champion them (white working class, Christian, conservatives) are shrinking. They would not have been able to win without shameless voter suppression, redistricting, 24 hour fake news machines like Fox News and the eleventh hour October surprise of FBI director James Comey’s letter. Then on top of all of that, Putin sees the opportunity to shake things up and the GOP, instead of demanding recounts and investigations put party over country and let it slide. Because all the cheating let their party win. That is treason with a capital “T”. Whether an official handshake happened or not, the highest ranking members of the GOP are Damaskinos’ Bloodpack. And they want to dissolve Obamacare, other parts of our democracy and sell them off to the highest bidder. If I’m wrong and these men are not traitors, they have to prove it. Until then:
As I write this, two things have already transpired. The first, Republican Alabama Senator Jeff Sessions went before the Senate for confirmation for Attorney General. Jeff Sessions is a dude so racist he was too racist for republicans in the eighties. I won’t get into the circus that was the confirmation hearing or the vampiric piece of shit that Sessions is. All I’ll say is, it feels like all of America is Barrow, Alaska and the month long polar night is upon us. 30 Days Of Night is a terrifying graphic novel and movie where vampires knowing there will be 30 days of uninterrupted darkness descend upon Barrow and wreak havoc. Unfortunately, there’s no Blade in 30 Days Of Night to protect Barrow, the townsfolk have to fend for themselves and survive the darkness. That bring me to the second thing that transpired today, President Obama’s farewell address.
Man it really sucked seeing him say goodbye. President Obama and Michelle Obama made me feel unworthy of their leadership. Sometimes I think they were too good for this country. The president was meant to lead a better America, not the real one we are. Unlike Blade, the reality of President Obama is he’s eternally optimistic about the exceptionalism of America. President Obama truly believes in the notion that “we’re all in this together.” If President Obama really was Blade the Daywalker, he wouldn’t be laying waste to vampires, instead he’d be pleading to cross the divide with them. Asking them to form a more perfect union with us. This optimism honestly is a major part of the reason I love our president. He’s like Superman or Santa but real. A real boy scout. But If I’m being honest I don’t know how effective a boy scout’s outlook is against dark, parasitic, sociopathic ambitions. The barbarians are at the gates and they want to feed and it’s looking increasingly like our institutions won’t stop them. Is it our fate to try our best to survive the 30 days of night?
I watched President Obama’s speech and despite my frustrations and sadness of seeing him leave, despite my anger of knowing what’s coming, I felt something else. Hope. Damn Obama, you got me again. The President is not naive. President Obama absolutely believes in institutions this is clear, but the president has greater belief in something else: us. And I admit I lost that faith after the election, I lost the hope. I believed there were more Scud's in the world then there are Whistler’s and Karen Jensen’s or me’s. It’s important for us to remember that despite the familiar spin there are more of us and film Buffy won the popular vote! Watching President Obama speak, I realized that Blade can’t fight alone. We have to have his back and not depend on Scud to have his back or Ryan Reynolds and Jennifer Bills. We must be as the President said, “anxious jealous guardians of this democracy.” We must be “vigilant, but not afraid.”
Before Blade dispatches Deacon Frost he says the famous line, “Some motherfuckers are always trying to ice-skate uphill.” I love this line. That line perfectly encapsulated what I believed was wrong with Trump and his vampire flunkies. The social and economic mobility mountain is currently covered in ice and instead of linking together with others struggling, instead of grabbing ice picks to climb the mountain, some dumb motherfuckers put on ice-skates. These people not only fail, they take us down too.
Trump’s voters chose their Whiteness/vampireness over the well-being of the country. The promise of supremacy convinced them stepping on others that they see as “beneath them” was the better path on their doomed uphill skate. If only those more concerned with the diminishing power of Whiteness than dismantling the unfair systems put in place to oppress us all could see we have the same common enemy. If only they could see the reason the mountain is covered in slippery ice is because they’re blasting freezing cold water from the top of the mountain down (Standing Rock). Those at the top lie about White superiority to keep us separated. They lie through their familiars who are closer to the top than we are. They’re shrouded in darkness and mist at the top of the mountain, it seems like an impossible climb, the ice is so thick and hard to grasp, but the sun, the truth will melt it. We have to stay linked together, cause like the President said, "Understand, democracy does not require uniformity. Our founders quarreled and compromised, and expected us to do the same. But they knew that democracy does require a basic sense of solidarity—the idea that for all our outward differences, we are all in this together; that we rise or fall as one.”
The sorrow of getting exactly what you want, but in such a way that it shatters your soul beyond imagining.
That opera was unbelievably tragic. The ending was particularly Whedonesque.
When you blindly defend someone, no matter how wrong they are.
In his argument with Vetta, Larry kept saying, "Don't be mean to Susan."
"Why are you caping so hard for Susan, when you know she slapped my mom?" Vetta asks angrily.
"Because she's my friend." Larry said.
Obama = Blade
Trump = Deacon Frost
Hillary = Buffy (from the movie)
Biden = Whistler
Michelle = Dr. Karen Jenson
Putin = Damaskinos
GOP = Vampire council/Reinhart and the Blade hunters
Julian Assange = Nomak
Dylann Roof = Curtis Webb/Ghoul
Media = Vampire familiars
About The Author
Tarik Davis has a long history performing and writing comedy. He strives to cross-pollinate performance styles and audiences in all his work. Past experience includes performing for The Upright Citizens Brigade in NY, Boom Chicago in Amsterdam and The Second City in Chicago. Now based in NYC, Tarik currently teaches improv to children & adults. He writes and self-produces his own video projects, appears in commercial spots, and occasionally doodles. He can currently be seen on the hit BRIC TV web series Brooklynification and on recent sketches on Late Night with Seth Meyers (@tarikrdavis)