Things to Come

The Second Civil War and Beyond

UNLESS YOU'VE BEEN LIVING IN MONASTICseclusion in recent weeks, you've surely heard all about Red vs. Blue, the mega-budget sci-fi spectacular that's sweeping the nation. You can rush out to see it or stay where you are and wait for it to find you, but this blockbuster is seemingly inescapable.

The story begins in the year 2012, as a bitterly polarized America is asked to choose between two presidential candidates: the stolid Massachusetts progressive Senator Gentry Blandings (Tim Robbins) and the wild-eyed televangelist Reverend Bud Klench (Mel Gibson, in a performance of eerie conviction). During a televised debate, Klench is describing the special camps he's planning to set up for queers and other undesirables when smoke begins to pour from his ears and his face falls off, revealing him to be an animatronic creation controlled by a sinister, X-Files-like cabal. But when the election is held a few days later, using the voting machines supplied by KlenchCo, registered Democrats who show up at the polls are shot on sight and the Klench-bot goes on to an easy victory with the enthusiastic support of the red states. As one unemployed Ohioan (Drew Carey) explains as he leaves the polls, "Sure, Klench is an automaton, but my Fox News cortical implant told me that Blandings guy speaks French!"

Klench's election sets off a bloody civil war between the red and blue states, pitting brother against brother and big-city yuppie against trailer-dwelling hillbilly, culminating years later with America splitting into two very different nations: AmeriRed and AmeriBlue. Under Blandings' pragmatic and compassionate leadership, AmeriBlue enjoys an era of unprecedented peace and prosperity, as it forms an international and highly effective coalition dedicated to combating terrorism, feeding the world's poor and undoing decades of environmental damage. AmeriRed, cut off from the people who once supplied most of the nation's taxes, innovation, entertainment and rational thought, plunges into a new dark age. The terrorists (led by Ben Kingsley) are now focusing their attacks on AmeriRed's few remaining urban centers, and when a desperate AmeriRed demands assistance from their former ally nations, they are told to "eat it raw" in a dozen different languages. The AmeriRedians, of course, blame the whole mess on the AmeriBlueys and throw an impotent tantrum lasting the remainder of the 21st Century.

At this point, we flash forward hundreds of years. The Blue-ites, as they are now known, live far above the Earth's surface in floating cities governed by two enormous, benevolent brains (voices of Al Franken and Janeane Garofalo). The Blue-ites enjoy lives of quiet serenity and truly insufferable smugness, floating through the sparkling-clean skies in little air-cars powered by mineral water. But then Toby (Ben Affleck), one of the brains' low-level assistants, becomes aware that trouble is brewing on the ground below: a furry warlord (Ted Nugent, in the role he was born to play) is uniting all the surviving Redneck tribes in one last, brutal attack against the Blue-ites, and it falls to Toby to convince his complacent people the Rednecks are still a threat. Unfortunately, he fails, and in a scene unfit for children or sensitive viewers, the halls of the Blue-ite cities overflow with blood and spilled lattes.

The concluding segment is truly disturbing, as we journey into the distant future and witness humankind's ultimate fate, split into the hulking, crimson-skinned RedLoks and the tiny, Smurf-like BlueLoi. On the planet's surface, the simple BlueLoi frolic away their lives, eating raw vegetables, sleeping in the tall grass and singing folk songs. But deep beneath the ground, the RedLok live a cursed existence in a vast honeycomb of caves, venturing out by night to snatch up unsuspecting BlueLoi, carry them underground and devour them with a side order of Freedom Fries. One unusually intelligent, neurotic BlueLoi named BlueBerg (Woody Allen, under some prosthetics that make him even more Smurf-like than usual) stumbles across a prototype time machine his ancient Blue-ite ancestors left behind, and he uses it to travel back to October 2004. He materializes in Washington, D.C., goes on television and desperately warns the nation that our only hope of preventing centuries of misery is to vote the Republicans out of office. His chilling words strike terror in the hearts of reasonable Americans everywhere. Of course, Bush wins anyway.

The film ends with little BlueBerg stranded in our time, playing a sad song on his clarinet in a New York coffeehouse, his only audience an anonymous MIT grad busy cleaning the counter. And then the houselights come up and we leave the theater, back to our real lives and away from this ridiculous, science-fiction nightmare.

Well, that's the idea, anyway.

 
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