Creature Feature Future By Adam Felber There's no sense arguing about it any more. We Americans - conservative or liberal, atheist or religious, black or white - live inside our own movies. Everything in our lives, from the teen sex romps of our youths to the romantic comedies of our courtships to the searing dramas of our eventual terminal illnesses, is shaped by our unshakeable conviction that we are the stars of our own Hollywood features. So when it comes to shared experiences, events bigger than our own lives, the only real question up for debate is, "What kind of movie is this, anyway?" [To argue that this is, in fact, reality and not actually a movie - that movies are supposed to reflect reality and not vice versa - is to fundamentally misunderstand the American experience. Go back to France.] To our Administration, the War in Iraq was quite obviously a war movie or a western, and we've just come to the end of it. The marines or cavalry have come storming in, the final duel's been fought in the town square, and the good guys have won the day. Old Glory is flying proudly, the sexy heroine embraces our hero, the wounded-but-miraculously-alive Lt. Riggs gives a thumbs-up from his stretcher, and ol' Pops jumps up and down and hugs his burro in a silly but touching bit of comic relief. Roll the credits and be sure to come back next week for our new feature, "The Road to Damascus." Unfortunately, we anti-war-in-Iraq folks see it differently. We're no less guilty of Hollywoodization, of course. But we're living a different sort of movie, and one that may be sadly closer to reality. It's a monster movie. And we're only at the end of the second act. The heart and soul of a creature feature is the idea that the authorities just don't get it. They don't really understand the nature of the threat we're facing, and their knee-jerk use of force is only going to make things worse. We're the white-jacketed, studious, but undeniably handsome scientists who find themselves pushed to the sidelines halfway through, as the military or police force pump round after round into the horrifying creature from outer space/ underground/ beneath the ocean/ the heart of the reactor. In vain we stand there and scream, "No! Don't! You don't understand! Electricity makes him stronger! Bullets only make him angry! It feeds on that stuff! No, you fools, it's an egg sac!!" Oddly, though, the creature does fall. And the sergeant blows on his smoking pistol, pats us patronizingly on the back, the townsfolk cheer, and the tanks roll off to their next mission. Even the heaving-bosomed young lab assistant thinks we're just jealous of the real men who saved the city. But we're only at the end of Act 2. You know what's coming. It's practically coded into your American DNA. Slowly, largely unseen by the celebrating masses, the creature slowly pulls itself to its feet. Reconstitutes itself. Its shattered pieces begin to pulse and grow, each one a rapidly-expanding perfect replica of the original... Suddenly, a small boy points and screams... ["Dear god, it's back! And stronger than ever!"] This is what us white-coated heroes were trying to tell everybody back during the last reel. The real nature of the enemy, the true threat, has been misidentified. And now we're really in for it. Fundamentalism may now take hold in Iraq, and Sharia law will reign. Hezbollah, long largely concerned with Israel, is now howling for American blood via suicide bombings. The ignored idea that Saddam's regime was as hateful to Islamists as it was to us is now proving to be at least partly true. These developments do not constitute a victory. At best it's a sad vindication of the world-view of the Creaturists over that of the Westernists. And there's some essential and sobering traits of the creature feature that we have to keep in mind: Now it's up to us to come up with some kind of brilliant, last-ditch solution. The sheriffs and generals may never acknowledge that much of this was caused by their own reckless militaristic overkill, and the work of the real heroes often goes unnoticed by the larger population. Most alarmingly, though, there's the simple fact that in these types of movies, us heroic nerds don't always succeed. Sometimes the creature wins. A desperate citizen runs towards the camera and screams "Run for your lives!" Even if we do triumph, in our cinematic world there's always a late-appearing question mark after "The End" is splashed upon the screen. But that doesn't mean it's not worth a try. I don't know what the right solution is going to be, but as a loyal Cinematic American I know this about the Plan: We've got nothing to lose! It's so crazy it just might work! And it's our only hope! Start thinking, Creaturists. We may never win the love of a grateful public, we won't ride a tank triumphantly down Main Street, and saving the world will have to be our sole reward. That and the buxom lab assistant. And that's not so bad.