Robert Altman’s “Nashville” is a microcosm of the New America. Immigrants from different states arrive at the airport and are  trapped in a freeway pile-up.  At least two dozen characters, their lives reduced to strips of film set end to end, a reptilian montage of bicentennial promise.  This New America is shutting its borders against those who do not embrace its values, the perpetual smile of hypocrisy  cast  like a blanket of snow across the pockmarked highway.  “Get your haircut; you don’t belong in Nashville,” the studio pianist named Frog is told by the anthem singer who may rise to governorship in this New America, once the Replacement Party has  secured its position.   Movie stars are treated like visiting dignitaries while the long-time residents watch the remnants of their families die in hospitals as busy as cafeterias.  The whole world is no longer watching, only Opal from the BBC, translating images into journalistic doggerel.  There is music everywhere, mostly bad, that which was once a fine art now a folk art, the servants as proficient at the masters, but they will never get a chance to prove it, so rigid have class distinctions become.  As a waitress performs a humiliating striptease, four women come to hear the narcissist sing, each one believing the song is for her. The soldier and the assassin are both in thrall to the New Kennedy, a  martyred nightingale eyed by  the vultures of commerce even as her  blood still flows.  “Nashville,’ a K-Tel advertisement for a  country that performs like a vaudeville troupe, fortune-cookie slogans put to music and hidden inside hypo-allergenic candy bars. “We must be doing something right to last 200 years.” “For the sake of the children, we must say goodbye.” The Narcissist is the New Christ, the groupie the New Magdalene, the songbird the Holy Mother of God, crucified with her son in the chaos of the  Parthenon.  This new America is not the one we had in mind when we were clubbed by the police in Chicago, not the one we had in mind when we brought the troops home, and not the one we had in mind when we brought down the great Nixon Sphinx.  This is the America of the Yankee Calvary, now wearing Indian love beans and listening to country western music while making sure that the Federal Bank remains high above the Mason-Dixon line, and  promising never to reveal the secret  that it was the trade unions that abolished slavery, not the cannons of Northern genocide, and that every time a black gospel choir is heard by the white masses, it is the lugubrious voice of the white woman that prevails. 

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