American Terror: An unfinished opera
Act 1: Exposition
In this act, the three main characters are introduced and described.
1. Unhappy people: Mostly rural population that is unhappy because of a variety of reasons. One is the changing character of the country; it is not mostly white Christian country any more. The other is disappearing jobs. Manufacturing is moving to China; coal is not in demand any more, the Mexicans are taking over menial jobs. The old life is disappearing, and they desperately yearn for good old America.
2. Social Media: A new way of communicating has emerged. There are multiple platforms that comprise Social Media: FaceBook, Twitter, YouTube, and so on. They provide a legitimate service by connecting billions of people worldwide, and bringing them news and entertainment However, they are also misused by those with malice in mind or have an alternate view of reality. These are addictive platforms, and what gets posted is quite believable.
3. Donald Trump: A low life narcissist who has mastered the skill of sounding very believable. He has inherited money and run several businesses with utter ruthlessness.
Act 2: Development
In this act, the three characters interact among themselves, forming alliances and creating conflicts.
Donald Trump finds out that there are a large number of Unhappy People. He crafts a message that offers them salvation. Using his oratory skills, he convinces sufficient number of Unhappy People that he should be President of United States. He wins.
Donald Trump discovers the power of Social Media. He uses one form of Social Media, Twitter, as his megaphone and uses it to reach Unhappy People. He could say whatever he feels like, truth be damned. Since whatever comes through on these Social Media channels is believable, the Unhappy People lap it up.
Several Unhappy People start creating an alternate universe that would explain to them and their cohorts why they are failing in spite of their birth right to succeed. They create conspiracy theories and put them on Social Media. Since anything on Social Media is believable, Unhappy People lap up these theories.
Donald Trump discovers the power of alternate universe and conspiracy theories. Now he does not have to work hard to keep Unhappy People in his fold. He can find scapegoats for anything that does not work. Any negative reporting is attributed to horribly biased media. Every pain that Unhappy People are feeling can be blamed on Democrats, social liberals, Chinese or Mexicans. Almost all of the communication is done using Social Media. How convenient?
The conspiracy theorists use Social Media to weave theories on how Donald Trump is the savior that is god sent to save the Unhappy People from the others. Since everything on Social Media is believable, Unhappy People lap it up.
Unfortunately, reality intervenes. The savior is soundly defeated in elections. How can that be, ask Unhappy People? Donald Trump is supposed to rule for ever. Donald Trump uses Social Media to confirm their suspicion. His defeat cannot be true. The election was stolen by Democrats, social liberals, and helped by media (and black and brown people).
Unhappy People become even more unhappy. The get angry. They want to do something about it. Donald Trump uses Social Media to foment anger. Things come to head on January 6th when the US Congress convenes to officially deliver their savior, Donald Trump, a defeat.
This cannot be allowed to happen, say Unhappy People. They storm the Capitol where the dastardly act was happening, Bastille style. After many hours, they are turned back, but not before they have caused damage, terrorized elected representatives, and infuriated the rest of the population.
Act 3: Recapitulation
In this act, the conflicts start resolving but are not resolved.
Donald Trump’s defeat is confirmed and certified. He is out of office and impeached. His access to Social Media is cut off. The Social Media also takes steps to contain conspiracy theorists. However, the Unhappy People remain unhappy. They remain defiant and have promised a continuation of their movement.
The opera is unfinished.
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Note: A common structure for a movement in symphony is called “Sonata Form.” It has four parts. In the first part, exposition, two themes are presented, followed by the development part in which themes interact with each other causing conflicts. These conflicts are resolved in the recapitulation part, and finally a coda closes off the movement. I have taken liberty to use this as a way of explaining what is happening in America at the moment. I have called it an opera instead of a movement in symphony, so themes become characters. Also, instead of four movements, this one has three…the closing has not happened. It is an unfinished opera.
It is hard to predict how this opera will end. Like a scene from Romeo and Juliette, when the two feuding families Montague and Capulets reconcile after death of the lovers, the crisis has prompted some form of reconciliation among Democrats and Republicans. Will that be enough?