The Countermarch

Welcome Back, Potter

Several years ago, aided by the wonders of modern technology and the principle of fair use, a number of people independently produced remixes of It’s a Wonderful Life as a horror movie.  That this worked brilliantly is really no surprise, since the dystopian world of Pottersville in Frank Capra’s masterpiece foreshadowed such later classics of horror and suspense as Don Siegel’s original Invasion of the Body Snatchers.  Jack Finney, the author of Siegel’s source material, was as fascinated as Capra was with the breakdown of community in the United States in the 1940’s and 1950’s—decades that many of us now regard as a Golden Age from which we have since been engaged in a long, but accelerating, descent.

It has become commonplace to blame the destruction of community on the rise of technology, and even fast-food giant KFC jumped on the bandwagon during the most recent holiday shopping season with a clever viral marketing campaign for a KFC-branded “Internet Escape Pod”—a dome-shaped Faraday cage with a larger-than-life-sized Colonel Sanders draped over its apex and an Original Recipe drumstick serving as its door handle.  Gather the whole family (assuming it’s no larger than four people) inside to sit Indian-style on the floor around a bucket of Extra Crispy and a couple of sides, and the Colonel will take care of the rest, blocking all...

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