No blog about horror in daily life would be complete without at least one discussion of politics, and that’s especially true this election cycle. Not only do both candidates have historically low scores of trustworthiness, the lunatic fringes of society tend to endorse violence as a solution to real or perceived government corruption. This isn’t unique to this election. In 2010, the Tea Party movement received negative coverage for rallies in which at least one protestor carried a sign captioned, “we vote with bullets.” Also consider the screenshot below, posted by a gun-rights extremist:
This is the stuff that pushes the limits of free speech and causes headaches for threat management professionals.
What seems unique in this election cycle is that one candidate seems to be openly courting extremists and promoting violent rhetoric. Of course, I am referring to Donald Trump’s tacit encouragement of violence against protestors at his rallies, and ominous suggestions that perhaps “2nd Amendment people” could “take care of” Hillary if she wins the presidential election. I suspect that Trump’s rhetoric that the election process itself is rigged would play into extremist ideology supporting domestic terrorism and assassination of political candidates and leaders.
This brings me to The Dead Zone, an early Stephen King novel that, well, kind of does promote the assassination of candidates, if only under the rare circumstances that one has infallible psychic abilities and knows that said candidate will start a nuclear war if elected. The Dead Zone was one of very few Stephen King novels to languish for decades without an audiobook edition. But seemingly in keeping with the zeitgeist of this election season, the folks at Simon and Schuster finally recorded an audio edition, originally to be released on October 25, 2016. Just early enough to complete a listen of the recording before Election Day. Hrmmm…
Some executive must have realized the faux pas just in time, or felt that the current political rhetoric was too heated, because the audiobook release has now been rescheduled for April 4, 2017.
This new release schedule is certainly less controversial and in better taste, and I respect the publisher’s decision to not feed into the current election craziness, but I admit that I’m a bit disappointed in the delay. I was eager to revisit The Dead Zone not because of the assassination subplot, but because the novel’s portrayal of politics was so prescient and appropriate given current events. The Dead Zone‘s villainous candidate, Greg Stillson, is a rather Trumpian character, and even Stephen King himself has acknowledged the similarities via his Twitter. Stillson is a brash, larger-than-life, yet charismatic populist candidate who relies heavily on fear-based rhetoric. He’s also an emotionally unstable narcissist who is destined to obliterate a large part of the human race in a nuclear war. Given Donald Trump’s cavalier remarks about the use of nuclear weapons, it’s easy to make comparisons to King’s character.
In the novel and the film adaptation, there ultimately is no assassination, because Stillson creates his own demise through actions so terrible that he cannot recover as a viable candidate. Only time will tell, but perhaps Trump has finally created his own “Dead Zone Moment” though his “pussygate” remarks to Billy Bush and any number of other offensive televised comments.
Despite the delay in the release, you can still pre-order a copy of The Dead Zone through Audible or Amazon.