By Ken Krayeske • 3:06 PM EST
Visual juxtaposition: a Gremlins movie trading card and a fireworks box from Nebraska, where my former neighbors Ben and Annie hail from. One night in July we popped off some fireworks that happened to look like public enemies numbers 1 through 4.
A few weeks back I was at Chillwill's house and leafing through a box of trading cards, and I stumbled across the Gremlins movie trading card, illustrating the feeling that these four Middle Eastern political figures are supposed to strike in our hearts and minds.
Run, run for your lives! Or light a match and explode these effigies of our enemies. Boom! Fireworks are entertaining, like Shockingly awesome displays of modern weaponry falling on Baghdad.
The two images seemed to belong together in a web post: the racist, xenophobic design from a profit-mongering fireworks company (the package of which was printed in China) and the caption and expression of an actor from in a 1980s horror film.
The back of the Gremlins card #48, from Warner Brothers, Inc., copyright 1984, reads "Mr. and Mrs. Futterman, their home invaded, run into the living room. The plow runs after them, devastating anything that stands in its way. The terrified couple are backed up against a wall...trapped!"
Change a few words, and the narrative could apply to Mr. and Mrs. America, cerca 2008. Only change the villains from little gremlins to Islamic political figures.
Did Saddam and his looming mushroom cloud make you feel trapped in a corner of your living room, unable to go anywhere but to the arms of a Bush dictatorship, which answered your call for security by blowing up Sadly Insane Hussein?
Each firework spewed a conical spray of colored sparks, and terminated in a finale where the cartoon heads exploded. They didn't rocket or spin or shoot projectiles. Perhaps it is a harmless way to eliminate American angst, but I find it a bit more insidious, and worth writing about because it is so grossly prejudicial in its cartoon portrayal.
The funny thing about Ain't Been Laden Awhile is that Osama apparently kept or keeps (if he is indeed still alive) a harem or sex slaves. There have been books written about his sexual proclivities.
As for Libya's Kaddafi, in 1984 his dictatorship was subjected to Reaganesque showers of sparks from F-16s, and was even mocked in the silly pro-American Hollywood blockbust "Iron Eagle."
But recently, Kaddafi has been rehabilitated in the West's eyes, with his giving up nuclear ambitions. He recently sat at a military parade with the French president Nicolas Sarkozy.
Former gun runner and leader of the Palestinian Liberation Organization, Yasser Arafat is long dead. But for cultivating hatred and a good Independence Day gunpowder display, Arafat is an all-purpose creature of treachery and un-Americanism, someone we can attach fear to.
Sadly Insane Hussein is long dead, too. What has become of his villanous, murderous horrible regime of weapons of mass destruction that sends pangs of death convulsions into the hearts of his enemies?
"Warning: Explosive. Emits showers of sparks." Pretty much sums it up for me.
The sum of these four men, so demonized, is designed to make us feel like the man in the trading card - afraid of the gremlins in Muslim garb: are we properly playing the part of terrified victim?
Are we supposed to feel like we have vanquished our enemies after watching these fireworks explode on the driveway pavement? Even though three out of four of them no longer allegedly pose any harm to American global cultural and economic dominance?