TV, Literature and Society

unnamedIn a popular episode of American TV show Game of Thrones, millions of viewers witnessed one of the main villains of the story walking naked through town and being publicly humiliated. “Shame. Shame. Shame.” was what the priestesses chanted behind her. Perhaps that scene was inspired by a passage from the American classic – One Flew over the Cuckoo’s Nest, a character (Harding) refers to social condemnation towards those who act or think differently: “society pointing at me — and the great voice of millions chanting, ‘Shame. Shame. Shame.’ It’s the society’s way of dealing with someone different.”

This type of social disapproval that Harding alludes to greatly resembles those crucial times in history that this essay makes references to, in which religious dissenters were banished or attacked, morally and/or physically. Not much seems to have changed since that bygone era. Let us remember that the characters in Kesey’s novel also suffer physical as well as psychological torture, at the hands of the Big Nurse and her orderlies.

McMurphy, the main character himself is executed for being a dissenter and his unwillingness to submit to the authority of the dominant culture, represented by Big Nurse. Here, no hanging occurred, as was the case of the aforementioned events that took place in Boston. Instead, the method of execution of choice was electroshock, which would render him brain-dead; thus forever silencing his laughter that symbolized empowerment of the subdued and inspired them to stand up and embrace their almost extinct identity.

It is as though there is something in American heritage, perhaps deeply encoded in the genetic material, passed down generation after generation, which seems to carry a set of separatist ideologies, or perhaps a certain tendency to fear and seek to eradicate dissent and ethnic, cultural or social differences. Is this something instilled in the collective mind of millions of Americans throughout history?