As a kid I watched science fiction movies with my eyes shut.
My older brother would force my my eyes open during the scariest moments of a film with threats of a noogie. For the uninitiated, a noogie is defined as a hard poke or grind with the knuckles, especially on a person’s head.
One of the scariest films in the 1950s was The Day The Earth Stood Still. More intellectually frightening than monster-frightening, the antagonist, Klaatu, lands his super-cool spacecraft in Washington, DC during the Cold War era. His message for the planet was simple: the people of Earth must live peacefully or be considered a danger to other planets and be destroyed.
Cue scary music.
In order to demonstrate his power – show that he means business – Klaatu neutralizes electricity everywhere on the planet at the same moment. Nothing moved. Ergo, the film’s title.
At this time I should mention the involvement of an eight foot tall robot named Gort, who can emit a laser beam that destroys stuff, from a slit in its head.
For a quick smile, take a minute seven seconds and watch the trailer for The Day The Earth Stood Still. Then come back here.
(I pause to wait for your return).
On January 20, 2016 another frightening piece of science fiction comes to a planet near you. The inauguration of Donald J. Trump.
I will not spend even a moment of time to discuss why this is wrong. The events of the last ten days are enough of a proof statement – as if we needed more proof.
During this scary transmission from our nation’s capital, I shall try to recall the warmth and cultural fulfillment of inaugurations past. The Seussical hat worn by the Queen of Soul, Aretha Franklin as she sang My Country Tis of Thee. The invocation delivered by the widow of slain civil-rights leader, Medgar Evers. The performance of America The Beautiful, by our American treasure, James Taylor. Poet Laureate Maya Angelou’s hope-inspired, On The Pulse of Morning. The commanding clarity of the statuesque Beyonce as she sang The Star Spangled Banner.
And, of course, the soaring words of Barack Obama’s first inaugural address, as he told us about choosing hope over fear.
This Friday, as I watch the frightening charade of vapidness and lack of character that will be paraded before us in a vain attempt at legitimacy, I will try to keep my eyes open.
I will remember more meaningful and resonant days from the past.
I will envision the reawakening of our nation after the impostor has been laughed off of the international stage, hopefully before his four-year term reaches its natural end.
One disputed point from The Day The Earth Stood Still was the meaning of Klaatu’s words toward the end of the film, as he attempts a getaway:
Klaatu barada nikto.
One common belief is that the words meant: save earth.