Yesterday I watched the first three episodes of the tv-adaption of “The Handmaid’s Tale”. It was surprisingly well made. I’ve written about it in an earlier blogpost found here. Usually tv or movie adaptations of books are not as good as the source material. The limitations of the medium is an obvious reason. A book can be hundreds of pages long, while a tv-show usually has episodes shorter than an hour, and movies generally don’t exceed two and a half hours. That being said, I think that the scriptwriters managed to include elements not found in the book without breaking immersion. In my post from last month I predicted that comparisons between the world of Gilead and the current Trump administration in the US would arise. I haven’t seen any yet, but I haven’t been looking for them either. They will come.
Since we’re already making comparisons, why not compare the theocratic world in The Handmaid’s Tale with radical Islamism/Sharia? (Spoilers ahead) The scene where a woman is hanged by a crane for being gay is ripped straight from the headlines regarding Iran. You can find many pictures online of such hangings. The protesters being gunned down by the authorities also happens in the Middle East. The scene where a woman wakes up after being forcibly subjected to a clitoridectomy reminds us that female genital mutilation in a all too common occurrence in “certain” parts of our world. Surely these comparisons are more accurate and relevant than those referencing Trump and Mike Pence.
The most emotionally powerful scene is the forced surgery scene at the end of the third episode. There is a special calculated evil being portrayed that provokes a much stronger reaction than scenes of people being killed brutally in the streets. Machine gunning down people is a raw and naked form of violence, the cold, sterile and deliberate removal of the means for sexual pleasure is the authorities saying “we could kill you, but we choose to harm you in a different more sinister way”. It speaks to their enormous and unchallenged power. I was immediately reminded of the movie “One Flew Over The Cuckoo’s Nest”. That movie as well has very powerful imagery of medical abuse of power. The lobotomy scene and the electroshock scene are very powerful reminders of the evil that lurks in bad intention. Lobotomies and forced sterilizations are unfortunate parts of our history. They happened, all too often. Even in the wake of the Second World War and knowledge about the crimes of the Nazis, such things happened in the West.
We imagine history as progress. We no longer subject innocent people to such barbaric practices. Or do we? The drugging of children is the modern equivalent of shoving an ice-pick up into someone’s brain. The label “ADHD” is being applied to youngsters that fail to conform to the rules of educational institutions. Step out of line and you will be made to take these pills with serious side effects. Is it really the children that are in the wrong? Isn’t it natural to have a desire for running around outside shouting and being rambunctious? Isn’t it rather the schools which demand that the children sit still for hours that are in discordance with nature? A more fundamental question would be to ask if ADHD is a real malady at all. Cancer, infections and other illnesses can be measured through objective tests. Lack of treatment results in observable negative impact on the patient. ADHD, depression and other such “mental illnesses” lack such objective criteria. Through the years I was very surprised to learn that the science backing the multi-billion dollar anti-depressant industry is extremely shaky at best.
Where does this leave us today?