Mary Gaitskill

Sarah Palin At The Republican Convention

Fritz Lang, “Metropolis” (1927)

Round shapes, luscious curves and cylinders, bright wires, halos, rippling streams of light, dark churning liquid, white bubble-lace, rough, glowing stone in glowing darkness; refined faces, bulging eyes, limbs and bones emerge from this mass of textures to tell the story of the beast and the harlot so compellingly it doesn’t matter if you like such fundamental stories or not. 

I saw “Metropolis” a long time ago, but my husband reminded me of it during the 2008 election, when Hillary Clinton and Barack Obama were still fighting for the nomination. In the movie, the real Maria is a working-class girl trying to help her fellows by pure-hearted means. The rulers then build a false Maria to sow division and hatred. It doesn’t quite work as a comparison; Palin is more a combination of what the real Maria claims to be (evangelical) and what the false one is (proud and violent).

But the film’s logic is visual, and visually, it pictures America now as it once pictured Weimar Germany. The false Maria’s dance is one of gluttony and power, and it has a demonic force that awakens ancient archetypes of chaos and destruction.

Of course, the election is long over. McCain/Palin lost. But the false Maria is still there and always will be, waiting for someone else to embody her.

Note: the damn thing even winks.

– Mary Gaitskill

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Mary Gaitskill is the author of the novels: "Veronica," "Two Girls, Fat and Thin," "The Mare," and "This is Pleasure." She has also written books of stories: "Bad Behavior," "Because They Wanted To," and "Don't Cry," and books of essays: "Somebody with a Little Hammer" and "The Devil's Treasure." More Mary Gaitskill here.