In the interests of "Node your homework" an assignment comparing Bush and Medea.
Thousands of Americans watch weekly as clay celebrity figures come to blows in faux-sadistic MTV Deathmatches. Last week’s match: Bill Murray vs. Chris Kattan. And for next week? With the current global crisis, what CNN calls the “Showdown with Iraq,” G.W. Bush may soon be featured as a contestant. Yet, what other political celebrity rivals Bush in his international influence, outspokenness, and unpopularity? The obvious solution for those versed in the literature of Euripides: Medea. “Scorned and shamed” wife, witch, and child-murderer condemned by Greek society, Medea acts as a role model, a “mouthpiece of potential” even in her terrible moments, because of her position on the pedestal of the famous.
What would make the “bloody round” between Medea and Bush interesting is the widespread impact both have and their parallel agendas. The Greek chorus criticizes Medea, causing her to defend herself: “I would not have you censure me.” Bush, as president of the world’s only major power, similarly comes under constant scrutiny, forcing him to justify his actions. Medea and Bush have the same goals. They seek for war and revenge. Medea has enmity towards Jason, her husband, “the most contemptible of men.” Iraq is Bush’s Jason, his father’s nemesis, a nation he labeled part of the “Axis of Evil.” Medea and Bush’s speech writers follow similar patterns defending their aggressiveness. Medea’s “I will begin at the beginning” initiates a litany of endless complaints and grievances, as does Bush’s “Twelve years ago, Saddam Hussein…” Both contexts seem receptive to this whiny kindergarten tattletale approach, this, “It’s really not my fault mommy,” as vocalized when Bush cries, “If war is forced upon us,” and when Medea simpers, “If Fate banishes me without resource.” Although celebrity violence and revenge is frowned upon, it is culturally accepted when the claim is made that the blame lies elsewhere.
Their headstrong quests for revenge put both Medea and Bush in the limelight. Through forthright accusations they gain the reproach of their respective Greek choruses. In the beginning of Euripides’ play the Greek chorus, the Women of Corinth, side with Medea. They promise to keep Medea’s secret and allow her to pursue revenge upon Jason, for “to punish Jason will be just.” But when the moment of truth arrives, they cannot support her actions. They plead with her, “By every pledge or appeal we beseech you, do not slaughter your children!” Her moment of true fame has arrived, the eyes of all wait upon her, because of the potential power she holds, even as a foreigner. Bush has two choruses, the first being the American public, and the second being the United Nations. Directly following September 11th, the UN, and Americans in general, strongly supported Bush’s “War on Terror” and went to great lengths to help satiate his vampire-like need for blood and revenge. The unanimous signing of the now infamous Resolution 1441 was such an appeasement. Yet now, when he is about to wage a war on Iraq, at the climax of this international soap opera starring Bush, the UN will not agree with a war on Iraq. But alas and alack for the Greeks and the Americans, Medea and Bush are headstrong and will listen to no reason once they have constructed a case. Medea moves forward to revenge; Bush will move forward to war. The ancient phrase, “Let no one think of me as humble or weak or passive,” is echoed in the modern, “Perseverance is power…whatever the duration of this struggle, and whatever the difficulties, we will not permit the opposition’s triumph.”
The contrived paths of fame, created by opposition to the standards and expectations of society, lead one to believe that Bush and Medea would be cast down from the pedestal of fame because of their “bad examples” and unpopularity. Yet the reverse is true. They become role models for realizing their potential in their worst moments. Medea represents and directs the role of women, showing what they can become in an oppressive patriarchal society. True that Medea shows that women can develop into friendless, bloodthirsty child-slaughterers, but it does show a potential for the goal of the Chorus to be met, that “the female sex be honoured.” Medea is famous because of her triumph over the male figure, her victorious crown, and it does not matter to her mosquito-like crowd that thrives on blood if the crown is made of thorns. Although many throughout the world frown on Bush’s vengeful strikes, Bush represents the idealized, silver-plated American role in the world: rich, controlling, powerful, and able to do anything regardless of the needs or concerns of others. True, this requires the death of “suspected terrorists,” destroying and rebuilding countries, and wasting American resources for the repetitious cause, “He hasn’t accounted for that material. He’s given no evidence that he has destroyed it.” Yet Bush is showing American supremacy, so he is a role model for American society, in the same way that Medea is a role model for the Greek woman.
So why do we idolize Bush and Medea, make them our role models? Why do we support them in exacting violent revenge and murder by placing them on pedestals for the world to admire? They are two typical celebrities, and consequently perfect for the fascinating MTV Deathmatches, in which they can rip each other apart from limb to limb. One would want to believe we’ve progressed over time, and made our idols idealistic and worthwhile. The scary thing is little has changed throughout the past few millennia. For both the Greeks and us today, we only want our celebrities if they are bad, vengeful, headstrong, bloodthirsty, and can create a soap opera story of sex, scandal, and shame. Where do our true values lie?