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Beverly Hillbillies, Updated

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So, it turns out that it really is possible to strike black gold in your own backyard, but instead of getting rich from the experience, now the oil belongs to someone else and you end up in an ExxonMobil-controlled no-fly zone where the foul black goop that swept away your petunias is now on its way to your drinking water supply.  The comedic possibilities of such a turn of events seem limited, especially when Keystone XL is barreling ahead unimpeded.

Meanwhile, over in Texas and Colorado, frontier justice is flowing like sweet crude, but this isn’t plucky Jed Clampett on the porch with his varmint rifle, but rather grimly determined white supremacist prison gangs systematically mowing down lawmen hither and yon.  Having given up on a sitcom, this wouldn’t even make a good cop show, since the bad guys are, uh, winning.  Yee haw.

And up in Wisconsin, a new mining law takes an almost cheery approach to the mercury poisoning that all agree will be its result, because, after all, the Badger State, after three years of astonishing misgovernance, needs JOBS. In health care, presumably. This episode might have at least had some melodramatic potential, if only when the villains tie the damsel to the railroad tracks, anyone bothered to try and rescue her.

In Michigan and Illinois, unaccountable “reformers’ are brought in to decimate the schools that once educated all children, in flat defiance of the affected parents, teachers, and students.  Protesters, like  those from the Iraq war and Occupy before them,  end up in paddy wagons.  Yawn.

With each day, as the utter collapse of democracy the rule of law in favor of a cash-and carry system in these United States becomes more glaringly evident, life has become so drearily predictable that art no longer bothers to imitate it, for good reason.  It’s a losing proposition to sell all dystopia, all the time.

Instead, we are treated to jingoistic, revisionist fantasies like Zero Dark Thirty and Argo while we glumly endure working conditions, environmental depredations, and crony capitalism that would be entirely familiar to, say, the Chinese.  Who, incidentally, live under a Communist dictatorship; no wonder the righties always get everything turned around.

While it’s increasingly possible these days to find oil (or worse) in your backyard, the end result is unlikely to go too well with a laugh track.  We’re all hillbillies now, but we can forget the Beverly part; it’s no longer plausible enough, even for a sitcom.

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