Thursday, October 20, 2011

who's next?

with reports of qadhafi's death, i wonder who the next big mean bogeyman in the american media will be. qadhafi became our #1 bogeyman in the 1980s (supplanting ayatollah khomeini the reigning bogeyman before him), but then faded from view as he was overshadowed by saddam hussein. saddam had a long reign as #1 through almost the entire 1990s, before he was supplanted by osama bin laden in late 2001. but only briefly before the saddam hussein bogeyman revival in late 2002 as part of the propaganda campaign to drum up support for the iraq war.

meanwhile, qadhafi looked like he might escape the bogeyman list completely when americans were focused on those other boogies and muammar was trying to cozy up to the west to get in on some of that foreign investment action. that worked until this year, when he cracked down on protesters and the rest of the world jumped at the chance to get rid of that asshole.

so now where are we? saddam hussein and osama bin laden are dead. and if this morning's reports are true, so is muammar qadhafi. the usual cast of characters for bogeyman is running dry. it's time for new blood. mahmoud ahmedinajad is still around. he has never quite made #1 before, but over the last few years there have been moments that he has hovered around #2 or 3. the problem is that ahmedinajad just lost a power struggle with ayatollah khamenei and does have all that much authority right now. (not that facts like that have ever gotten in the way of a good bogeyman theory.)

i suppose ayatollah khamenei could assume the #1 bogeyman mantle. but i think his chances are hurt because his name is too similar to a previous bogeyman : khomei-khamenei, how are people supposed to keep those ayatollah's straight? name confusion has been dealt with before in the bogeyman process. the whole reason i can say "saddam" and you all know who i am talking about is because during the gulf war the first bush administration had to find a way to demonize the president of iraq without tarring the name of the american friend and ally king hussein of jordan. but it's hard to do that in retrospect. if we start referring to the current ayatollah by his first name, seyyed ali, to distinguish him from his hostage-era predecessor, ruhollah, all that will do is prompt a lot of people to ask "who the fuck is ruhollah?"

so maybe it's time to really think outside the box and to find a number 1 bogeyman who is neither arab nor persian. maybe we can even move away from the muslim world entirely! but who would that be? hugo chavez? (possibly not a long shelf life on that one), kim jung il? (there are health questions there too) surely there is a relatively healthy conveniently demonized world leader out there!