Throughout my life, I’ve lagged at least a year behind popular trends.
Before the mullet became unfathomably stylish again, I had one about a year past its expiration date. When most of my peers figured out that lopping off that monstrosity was in their best interest if they sought any kind of female affection, I let my backyard freak flag fly for another rotation around the sun.
The same thing holds when it comes to popular art—albums, television shows or films. About a year after the buzz dies, I’ll hop on board. This happened with Pearl Jam’s “Ten” in the ’90s then again with the television series “Breaking Bad.” A year after their popularity peaked, I caught on.
And the same thing recently happened with Hulu’s dark dystopian adaptation of Margaret Atwood’s 1985 novel “The Handmaid’s Tale,” which my wife and I recently finished watching.
In the first few episodes, it became clear why the writers waited for 30 years and the election of Misogynist-in-Chief Donald Trump in 2016 to bring it to the screen. If the goal of the show was to make any person with a Y-chromosome and a modicum of a moral compass feel entitled and ashamed, the mission was deftly accomplished.
In fact, at least five times during each episode, my wife—sitting on a couch across the room from me—would shout, “Fucking men!” as if I weren’t 10 feet away.
For those who may not be familiar with the premise of “The Handmaid’s Tale,” it is set sometime in the not-so-distant future, following a violent civil war in the United States fought over ideological differences. Birth rates have plummeted due to environmental indifference and increased rates of STDs, and the far-right religious fanatics—many of whom posture as Christians—have established their own country named Gilead.
In Gilead, men control everything, and women are subjugated and forced into roles of servitude. The fertile females—who are not part of the ruling class men—are ordered to become handmaids, who are ritualistically raped by their wealthy “Commanders” while their infertile wives hold them down at the head of the bed.
If the handmaid is impregnated, then blessed be the fruit. The handmaid has performed God’s will. Praise be. And if they refuse to comply with being ritualistically raped, they’re sent to prison camps where they will die slow, tortuous deaths. Under His Eye.
When Atwood wrote the novel in 1985, this dark dystopian future may have served as a warning, a satire of what might happen if religious zealots and the wealthy faux-believers took totalitarian control of the United States.
Now, Atwood’s novel and the show feel frighteningly prescient. Since the show started airing in 2017, we have seen Roe v. Wade overturned by an ideological Supreme Court where three of the members were appointed by a narcissistic sociopath trying to tongue-bathe the fanatical Christian base that continues to be a formidable voting force for his party.
Not that Trump cares about anything other than their votes, as the hypocrisy abounds.
And even with 91 felony indictments, Donald Trump is currently the forerunner—by a lot— for the GOP’s nomination in 2024, while threatening to shred our Constitution if re-elected and exact his retribution on everyone who has slighted him in the past.
With the Democrats insisting on running a tired and unpopular octogenarian, Trump’s re-election is not outside of the realm of possibility.
Meaning, many of us who oppose Trump—particularly teachers, writers, artists, and leftist politicians—may find ourselves, figuratively or literally, “on the wall” where heretics are hanged.
While the series’s final season remains on hold due to Screen Actors Guild and Writers Guild of America respective strikes, we also await the conclusion of the eight-year nightmare that has included Donald Trump’s presence at the center of American politics.
If Trump is re-elected, the United States could be a small skip away from becoming a real-life Gilead.
I think my wife has it right: Fucking men.