This friend of mine, Victor, is both cool and fucked-up simultaneously. Once upon a time, he was suicidal, and now I think he’s using societal involvement and mainstream media as a sort of outlet for old, buried feelings. I don’t blame him.
Victor advocate for the same violence the movies do, the same explosions the posters display, the same downfall people smile when imagining, but in reality fear, because what if everything just turns into shit and blood and fire and you lose control over all bodily fluids? Not pretty.
These days, movies and TV-series are a bit ridiculous, in a strange way. At least 50% of mainstream entertainments are Star Warsian—honorable rebels fight the evil empire. Mr. Robot is about hackers taking down the huge conglomerate Evil corp—no subtlety in who’s the villain, there. The Rule of the Bandana is a crappy comedy about insurgents doing a half-assed job at just about everything, but having fun in the process. And the latest movie I saw—”Aristokratin – Fallet”—is literally about fighting the SSS, Samhällets Säkerhetsstyrka, Sweden’s dominating private security force.
Victor watch all of it. Every series, every new movie: he’s seen it. And he knows every detail about the economical climate—who owns what and whom, which city is dominated by which cooperation, and so on. Society is mapped out in his mind.
And he’s one of those people who bring their anger to the streets. If I allow myself to be cynical: I think the overall subject matter of today’s entertainments purposely give people an outlet for their dissatisfaction. But it doesn’t work for everyone. Last week, Victor left for Stockholm, to participate in a protest against the “militarisation” of neighbourhoods—SSS, patrolling the streets, especially targeting minorities, as is custom…
The so called buy-ups around here involve the streets too. If a corporation owns most of a block, they like to enable their security force, almost always SSS, to patrol the streets, too. And I will not lie, seeing these corporate money-cysts spill their puss all over the streets makes me feel sick.
But seeing Victor return home with red eyes and with clothes drenched in pepparspray and lungs filled with tear gas doesn’t make me feel better. I’m exaggerating, but you get the picture.
When younger, Victor and I used to build forts by the closest tree-line or some great oak or birch tree. We gleaned planks and old scaffolding from construction sites, liberated some trees of their less sturdy branches, and found plywood and plastic sheets and barrels by the dump. Rope and cables prevented the thing from falling apart. One of those forts still stand, in a grove behind an apartment complex a few blocks from where I live. The fort looks a little like a miniature radio tower, with it’s old antenna attached to the top, and broken LED-lights like christmas decoration, gleaming red in the sun.
Victor tend to use me to vent. He’s a talker, I’m a listener. And I like him, even though he somehow makes me… mean. Whenever we spend time together, I start throwing extra cynical shit around me, all the time. Yesterday, we met up again, and went back to the old radio tower fort. Two kids were there, climbing the tree and doing whatever kids do. I roared at them. Told them to screw. Get lost. Fuck off.
I rarely enjoy movies or TV-series. I don’t watch Mr. Robot or similar shit. But I enjoy spending time with Victor. Like, really enjoy it.
He climbed the tree and sat on the branch from which he used to sustain his endless monologue, while I worked on the fort. From there, Victor said, “Sure, protect property all you want, but don’t waltz around our streets beating up everyone who looks fishy. And even when you’ve managed to do what you are supposed to do, catching burglars and robbers and shit, I’ve heard about you immobilizing them and beating them with batons, and pepper spraying their genitals and shit. SSS, you treat people like animals, like something sub-human.”
I peeked inside our fort. It stank like it did under the sink when no one has taken out the trash for weeks. I could make out the contours of an old bioputer in the dark, which made me not enter. What the kids were doing with that, I don’t want to know.
“And now, SSS, they rule every single street in all of Stockholm. Basically. There’s some free zones. Not that SSS cares about that. The protest was all about the streets. Sure, rule your buildings and stores and whatever, but the streets, they belong to me. I walk them every single day. That, if something, is public property.”
Victor laughed, and stared up the apartment complex in front of us, towering far up into the low white sky.
“Maybe two hundred people there, and we instantly got pepper sprayed and gassed with something that wasn’t tear gas. I passed out on the sidewalk before I crushed my first window. SSS must have taken me for a bum and left me there, when everything went on. Afterwards, I saw footage of maybe fifty people caught between two security lines. I saw them take rubber bullets and charge the security line. I saw a fucking tank-like vehicle slowly pushing people back, like cattle. Almost glad I passed out. And, never did it feel so good returning home.”
We used to say we would live here, in the fort. We said we would catch hares with traps, and steal apples from adjacent gardens, and find mattresses by some dumpsters somewhere, to sleep on. We actually found two once, several blocks away. We dragged them almost halfway here, saying, “This is the night, this is the night”, but it got dark and we got cold and scared, and ran home. In reality, the idea of living here terrified us. Still, every other day we spoke about sleeping here—going back and dragging the mattresses the last of the way—but we never did.
I think those protests are a bit pointless. People protest the SSS, the security force which occupy our streets, instead of the people who hire them. People protest pepper spray and rubber bullets and tear gas, but not what SSS protects. The movies and TV-series are no different. Evil Corp is the villain in Mr. Robot, but only Evil Corp, not the system. There’s no mention of capitalism. The Rule of the Bandana is nothing more than slapstick comedy. And “Aristokratin – Fallet” (Aristocracy – Downfall), which title suggest more, only disapprove of SSS—if only they used friendlier tactics, everything would be alright…
There’s nothing more behind the “movement” than having another outlet for frustration. Victor is renewed, back home. Instead of roaring at the movies or playing video games, he takes it to the street. And the worst thing is, I think it’s by design, us getting mad at SSS, to prevent us from seeing past them.
I told you Victor made me more cynical.
Usually, I don’t think much about all this. I find it pointless, especially since there’s more people living under Stockholm’s naked sky than people participating in the protests. Most people condemn violent protests. It’s only okay to stand in a line, holding hands, or whatever, to get your point across.
And, anyway, unless the experience is too horrible, people return empowered—they’ve done something to further good cause. That’s what keeps Victor going, at least. I’m glad he has this.
One more thing: The Man with the Pig’s Heart and his twins are coming early next week. They are coming.