TF: LaHaye World

TF: LaHaye World January 8, 2010

Tribulation Force, pp. 126-128

Nicolae Carpathia is explaining to Buck how he plans to purchase every major newspaper, newsmagazine, radio and TV station in the world. He can do this, he explains, because he is the sole heir of Jonathan Stonagal's fortune. And he is motivated to do this, he says, because of peace on earth and wanting to teach the world to sing in perfect harmony.

And none of this makes sense.

The sort of sappy, vapid idealist that Nicolae is pretending to be wouldn't see any need for such a global media monopoly. That sort of guy would just gather all the reporters and editors together, sing a few verses of "Kumbaya," and send 'em all back to work fired up to share the Good News of the bountiful and benevolent OWG. Instead here he is on the one hand pretending he's ushering in the Age of Aquarius while on the other hand acting like Richard Nixon.

And in much of the world there are laws against monopoly ownership of the media in particular, as well as laws against monopoly ownership in general. Just trying to corner the market in a single American city would get Nicolae in trouble with the Federal Communications Commission and the Federal Trade Commission while at the same time getting sued by Rupert Murdoch.

And Murdoch wouldn't be the only holdout. A great many media outlets simply aren't for sale. Imagine Nicolae's surprise when, after sending a check for the purchase of WGBH in Boston, he receives back a form letter thanking him for his generous support of public radio and informing him that, since his pledge was greater than $120, he may choose between the Best of Car Talk CD set or the coveted golf umbrella.

The authors seem to think that any such obstacles to Nicolae's One World Media plan could be easily fixed with brute force of either the political or the financial sort, and they assure us that the Antichrist — thanks to the U.N. and to Stonagal — has an unlimited supply of both.

This is, again, how former John Birch Society lecturer Tim LaHaye views the world. He believes the United Nations is some kind of hierarchical federation that can overrule the sovereignty of all of its member nations. And he believes that the world's financial system is secretly run by a nefarious cabal of spectacularly wealthy international bankers, represented in this story first by Jonathan Stonagal and now by his heir, Nicolae.

I have no problem enjoying a work of fiction that has a character like Stonagal in it. It's like the movie trailers all say, "Imagine a world …"

I can imagine such a world. But it's not this world. It doesn't look anything like this world.

It's very odd to run into an old Bircher like LaHaye or others with a parallel paranoia, like the LaRouchies who sometimes lurk outside our post office. There's a quaint anachronism to their conspiracies. Listening to them go on about the Rothschilds and Rockefellers makes one wonder how they've managed to go for so long without ever hearing those ubiquitous reports of the 10 Richest or 100 Richest or 468 Richest People in the World.

The Top 10 is always some mix of Bill Gates, Warren Buffett, that Mexican cell-phone guy and Sam Walton's kids. The old-money families from the old-school Illuminati conspiracy theories are still on the list, but they're pretty far down. I suppose Tim LaHaye would argue that Forbes is in on the conspiracy, helping to hide the true wealth of the cabal. In LaHaye World, the richest people on earth must be nefarious Jews international bankers of indeterminate ethnic/religion origin. That a software magnate or a cagey old investor or a bunch of Arkansas discounters could have more wealth than the Stone-a-gals and Rock-a-fellers is simply impossible in LaHaye World.

So this latest plot development here of Nicolae inheriting Stonagal's fortune is yet more evidence that we are reading a story set in LaHaye World and not in the actual world of reality — not in this world here in which we actually live and in which LaHaye keeps insisting a series of supposedly prophesied events are fated to actually occur.

And that's probably the biggest failure of these epic-fail-on-every-level books.

LaHaye & Jenkins show that the allegedly biblical prophecies they insist will be fulfilled any day now require as a condition of that fulfillment that the United Nations be something radically different from what the United Nations actually is. And those prophecies require that the Rockefellers and Rothschilds be something radically different from what they actually are. What these books show, in other words, is that LaHaye's alleged Bible prophecies can only come true in LaHaye world. They will not and cannot come true in this world.

This is precisely the opposite of what the authors set out to demonstrate. They have, despite themselves, written a premillennial dispensationalist prophecy novel that disproves premillennial dispensationalist prophecy.

Anyway, while Nicolae Carpathia explains his diabolical scheme for the global media domination that will enable him to become Ruler of LaHaye World, Buck Williams finds his mind drifting.

"I am not interested in personal wealth," Nicolae continued. "My history proves that. I know the value of money. I do not mind using it as a form of persuasion, if it is what motivates a person. But all I care about is mankind." …

Buck's mind flew to Chicago, and he suddenly missed Chloe. …

There follows here a strange passage mixing Buck's cringe-inducing pining for Chloe with an unexpected fundamentalist spin on the redemptive potential of romantic love.

* * * * * * * * *

We'll get to that. But for now I want to take advantage of Buck's abrupt change of the subject to abruptly switch gears myself and deal with a bit of housekeeping.

Fridays have gotten trickier for me, work-schedule-wise, in part because Thursdays have gotten trickier too. I used to have those two days off and that made Left Behind Fridays a sensible arrangement. Working Thursday nights and Friday evenings now makes the day a bit squeezed.

So what I'd like to do is pick up the rest of this post on Monday. See how that works for a bit.

"Left Behind Mondays" doesn't quite have the same ring to it, but perhaps it will grow on us.

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  • Ginsu Shark

    “Actually, Sakura Taisen IV is getting released here on the PS2/Wii in a few months. I know, mind boggling.”
    Sakura Wars V, actually, and I already knew that. I just want to play I-IV as well.

  • According to the Harlan Ellison story “Laugh Track”, even if a show is filmed in front of a live audience, most if not all of the laughter you hear is Foleyed in.
    By ghosts, even. (@sylocat – imagine a sitcom filmed in the Twilight Zone. It’s Harlan Ellison; it’s not related to reality.)
    The great thing about SpikeLife – if one of their shows aimed at men (because it’s got a male lead who’s a spy like James Bond or a wizard like Harry Dresden) becomes a bit hit with women (because it’s got a male lead like James Bond or Harry Dresden) they *won’t cancel it*. In fact, they will realise that women actually are capable of spending money just as much as men are so they are just as attractive a demographic to advertisers.
    Along the same lines – there will be no more “They shopped at Jared” ads (a cut-rate jewelry store with *astoundingly* annoying sexist ads, for those of you fortunate enough not to have them), and *especially* not on MythBusters. Advertisers will target based on the actual interests of the viewing demographics (techy men *and* women for Mythbusters) not some antiquated idea of gender-based interests.

  • Fraser

    I’ve read in other places than Ellison short stories that studio-audience laughter gets “sweetened.”I would guess (but don’t know) that it’s when the expected laugh lines don’t get much laughs (happens quite a bit in live theater–audiences are hard to predict).

  • Amaryllis

    I’d like to propose a rule that no commercial, not matter what the content, can be shown more than once during the same program. With extra fines for showing the same ad during the same program break. Ads for the same product or company, sure, but not the identical inane skit or annoying pitchman that I just saw not two minutes ago.

  • Cat Meadors

    When WCW was imploding, they used to sweeten the crowd noise at live events. (I mean, I assume that everyone does that, but it at that point it was really obvious – huge chants would be going on, but (according to my friends who were there) nobody would be moving their lips…)
    @Lori – I know, I love the Discovery Channel! We don’t have cable, but I tend to gorge on it when I visit my mom. (I realized we might have let my daughter watch a wee bit too much Mythbusters when she renamed her Polly Pocket “Buster” and spent half of Christmas morning figuring out the exact configuration and timing of the roller coaster set that would drop off the luggage in Polly’s (er, Buster’s) room, causing it to knock her from her bed and onto the lower set of tracks, then run her over as the rollercoaster continued its journey.)
    @hapax – ZOMG! Despite myself, I am excited. (Even though I suspect in my heart of hearts that in the best tradition of “Ruining Everything From My Childhood”, it will only end in tears.) Speaking of which, Voltron is on Hulu now – it holds up surprisingly well. (GI Joe… not so much.)

  • Raj

    @jamoche, ShifterCat, Fraser, and anyone else who has commented about canned laughter:
    Here you go.

  • Raj

    @jamoche:
    Just for you.

  • Raj

    Lori: @lonspark: Picnic blanket + ground nesting stinging things is pretty lousy.
    So is Pick-uh-nic Basket + Smarter-Than-the-Average-Ranger Bear

  • Lori

    Along the same lines – there will be no more “They shopped at Jared” ads (a cut-rate jewelry store with *astoundingly* annoying sexist ads, for those of you fortunate enough not to have them)

    I can never decide which jewelry store ads are worse. “He went to Jared” or the one for rival K Jewelers–“Every kiss begins with K”. The Jared ads imply that the strength of the guy’s commitment is measured by which store he goes to for the ring. The K ads imply that jewelry is needed to buy affection. Both campaigns make me instantly reach for the remote.

  • Thrifty

    Just about every ad in existence makes me instantly reach for the remote. I’ve pretty much abandoned regular TV in favor of video on demand, Hulu, and DVDs.

  • Cat Meadors

    @Lori – which one of those is the creepy one with the kids trying to get their dad hooked up? ‘Cause that one ain’t right.
    Me, I have commercial-ignoring superpowers – I don’t even notice them unless my husband points them out. (Which he does, because they upset him – like that creepy one I mentioned above.) When I do notice them, they tend to be for… well, reasons that the advertisers probably would rather I didn’t.
    For example, I won’t eat at Quiznos because a few years ago they had an ad with a couple of nicely dressed people walking down the sidewalk, when one realizes the other has stopped; he turns to see what she’s doing, and she’s pulled a half-eaten sub out of the trash and is blissfully devouring it. The tagline was “Quiznos: It’s that good.” To which my immediate reaction was, “If it’s that good, WHY WAS IT IN THE TRASH IN THE FIRST PLACE???” So whenever I see Quiznos, I think, “Quiznos: Subs for Crazy Trash-Pickers” and that’s just not that appetizing.

  • Lori

    @Cat: I don’t remember which store had the dad hook-up ad. Thankfully I’ve blocked it out.
    In general I have the same reaction to ads that you do–I tend to see an underlying message that isn’t what the advertisers intended. Usually it amounts to “people who like our product are stupid”.
    Of course, sometimes the issue is the opposite–the ad says that the company is stupid. The ones that are currently bugging me are the Windows ads. “I said I wanted Windows to be easier/faster/not crash all the time and they did it.” WTH? The ad implies that Microsoft is so dense they needed to be told that people prefer things that are easier/faster/don’t crash all the time. That would explain some things about Windows, but it doesn’t exactly inspire faith in the brand.

  • Cat Meadors

    I think those MS ads are the equivalent of the new Domino’s ads with all the “man-on-the-street” interviews with people saying Domino’s crust tastes like cardboard, their sauce is like ketchup, etc. But now that they’ve realized that people don’t want to eat ketchup-smeared cardboard, they’re going to change to tasty pizza!
    At least they’re more honest than “our product was TOTALLY PERFECT and now we’ve made it EVEN BETTER!” That’s how you wind up with New Coke.

  • Small correction, Cat: Patenting food recipes and then having the patent expire is how you get New Coke. The phenomenon you describe is caused by New Coke, not the cause of it.

  • lonespark

    Cat, those ads just inspire people who like the original product to become enraged. Lipton and Hungry Howie’s and numerous other companies are in the habit of discontinuing the only products of theirs I enjoy.

  • lonespark

    Domino’s too, cuz I liked the brownie bites.

  • Cat Meadors

    Oh, I get that – I still mourn the loss of Tom’s of Maine’s Gingermint toothpaste. (Every day, at least twice. It’s a wonder I have time to do anything else.) But the changing or not changing isn’t based on their advertising, and if they’re going to change, they might as well admit that they’re doing it because most people didn’t like their old product, not because they’ve found some revolutionary new way to improve on perfection.

  • Raj

    If “Every kiss begins with K”, then it’s a good thing there’s no business called Bea Jewellers.

  • hapax, modelling purity and freshness

    @ Raj: “Every buss begins with B”?

  • lonespark

    It’s Kay Jewellers, which somehow makes it even more stupid.

  • Ursula L

    Fraser wrote: I’ve read in other places than Ellison short stories that studio-audience laughter gets “sweetened.”I would guess (but don’t know) that it’s when the expected laugh lines don’t get much laughs (happens quite a bit in live theater–audiences are hard to predict).
    It probably has something to do with timing, as well.
    When you’re performing for a live audience, you can guess when they’ll laugh, but it is harder to judge for how long the laugh will last. Not a problem, because the actors wait for the laugh to fade, and know how to time the next line to the point in the laugh where it is faded enough for the line to be heard, but you haven’t had an awkward silence.
    But TV, with its strict scheduling, requires that you fit the script into half and hour or an hour, with breaks. Plus, it is boring to listen to the audience laugh for too long, and awkward to listen to short bits of laughter that aren’t enough to pace around but enough to break up the sound of the show.
    So if a laugh goes too long, you cut the “live laugh” and fit in a timed amount of recorded laugh, going back to the live laugh just before the next line. Same if the laugh is too short, but can’t be cut completely, you put in just enough so that it has a pleasing timing and volume, and isn’t a few stray giggles.

  • Jeff

    [[It’s Kay Jewellers, which somehow makes it even more stupid.]]
    It’s more “Every Kiss begins with Kay”, so I think it’s more clever than stupid. Also, from the ads I’ve seen, the couple is already in a loving relationship — he’s giving her jewelery because he loves her, she likes sparklies, and they think “Blood Diamonds” is the latest James Bond flick. It would be nice if she baught him a sparkly, but that doesn’t happen much, so why would they pitch that?
    Hardly the worst ads I’ve seen. (Certainly better than the “Jarrad” ads, or the “Open Heart” glops.)

  • lonespark

    “Every Kiss begins with Kay”, so I think it’s more clever than stupid.
    Well, I admit I might feel differently if I were not a woman in a culture that reinforces that my love and/or body can be purchased with particular minerals. Jarred ads are definitely worse, though.

  • hapax

    It would be nice if she baught him a sparkly, but that doesn’t happen much, so why would they pitch that?

    Well, because they might find a a couple like my husband and I. I prefer semi-precious stones like pearls and opals and tiger eye; he loves sparklies, the harder the better. So I’ve bought him a fair dragon’s hoard of diamonds and sapphires and rubies. (Not from Kay, though. Jeez, you might as well buy your jewelry from a gumball machine).
    Historically, I believe, and in many non-European cultures, it’s the male of the species who decks himself in the shiny shiny eye-catching stuff. Now that women more closely approximate the purchasing power of men, it’ll be a savvy marketer who picks up on that.

  • lonespark

    So far manly men are mostly only allowed to have bling? But no sparklies? Or minimal sparklies?

  • Indigo

    But no sparklies? Or minimal sparklies?
    The following seem to be acceptable sparklies for men: watches, rings, and cufflinks. If he’s already got a watch then that’s out, and cufflinks only work insofar as he wears shirts with French cuffs. Rings suffer less from the “you only need one” problem, but it still seems like you hit an upper limit – a class ring, a wedding ring and maybe one more seems to about do it for the average guy. I will note that I have given men necklaces and bracelets – one friend wore a woven bracelet I made for him until it fell apart – but they were of the hemp or glass bead variety, and thus not really sparklies.

  • Technomad: I’ve seen Jack Chick tracts where Jews are not mentioned, even by the most indirect implication, called “anti-Semitic” because the cartoonishly-drawn characters have large noses.
    I remember a discussion on Lewis’s “The Last Battle” in which someone said his portrayal of the dwarfs was anti-Semitic because The Dwarfs Love Gold.
    There are so many levels of wrongness there I don’t know where to start…. but considering the book in question leaves you with the image of the dwarfs saying “no more Aslan, no more kings” it’s just really odd.

  • Sagra

    If they’d only have used the SciFi solution — set it 100 years in the future. But then again, so much depends on that constant sense of impending rapture. They certainly do want to be the generation that gets vindication.

  • Pius Thicknesse

    If I were in charge of banning stuff in the media, I’d require journalists to be scientifically literate before trying to muddy the waters of scientific controversy and make it like a political one-up game show.
    Oh, yes, and I’d ban that ridiculous Bounty Hunter TV show.

  • Probably worth stating some facts here: GRRM actually has done a bunch of writing for TV; but I haven’t seen any of it so I can’t speak regarding its quality.
    Wrote some 15 eps for Beauty and the Beast and produced a whole bunch more. EXCELLENT stuff.
    Some months ago I got all nostalgic and torrented the “Arabesque” episode so I could watch it and cry my eyes out in private over the ending dialogue* all over again. (Teenage girls today have Edward. I had Vincent. I think my generation got the better deal, personally.) Imagine my total squee upon seeing GRRM’s name in the credits while I was still quietly soaking my way through a box of Kleenex. Soon as I could see straight, I pulled up IMDB to confirm the connection. Lo, there it was.
    Thus I justify bumping a week old thread.
    *Kinda appropriate to the “declarations of love” show-and-tell, whichever thread that was in, so I’ll try to quote it from memory.
    Vincent: “And that’s when I knew that these hands were not meant to love.”
    Catherine: [takes his hands in hers, kisses them] “These hands are beautiful. These hands are my hands.”
    [Fade to ending credits]
    Me: *sob*

  • Blanko

    “See, all of this again sounds like he’s more acting out the fans’ reactions than acting like than an actual character. You might feel your body to see what it’s like – though like I said, I think you’d feel all of it, not just the polite areas, and probably take your clothes off to get a proper look – but as that’s less allowable in a family show, a) it would make much more sense to go find a mirror, and b) why on earth would you run a commentary on it? Who’s there to listen? The only reason to talk would be to see how your voice sounded, and if you were doing that you’d be much more likely to say something along the lines of ‘One two three, is this my voice? Peter piper picked a peck of pickled peppers…'”
    I saw his feeling around as simply checking to see if everything’s there. His first line was “Legs! I’ve still got legs! Good!” But of course he also commented on the size of his chin, his nose and his hair colour, so I guess that doesn’t really hold up.
    I’m sure he would have liked a mirror, but he didn’t really have access one in the situation he was in. He didn’t really have time to go over everything on his body either because of all the stuff happening around him. In fact, he probably should have been taking care of his situation immediately instead of dillydallying, but I chalked that up to post-regeneration disorientation.
    As for the talking to himself bit…um, am I the only one who does that? I mean, I often talk to myself out loud when I’m alone…a running commentary actually.
    But my insanity (which I was previously unaware of) aside, the speaking out loud thing is a benefit for the audience. The show doesn’t usually do internal monologues, so having him speak out loud conveys the necessary information and introduces us to the new Doctor. It’s just a little vignette at the end of the episode, it helps to get across as much as possible, even if it’s one of those cinematic breaks from reality.
    I don’t know. The whole monologue lasts less than a minute before he starts actually talking care of the pretty major problem he’s dealing with. It worked for me. But I’ll fully admit that I’m easy to please (and apparently a crazy person…I’ll have to see someone about that).

  • Blanko

    Oh, and I’d love to see the Doctor as a woman. I definitely think they at least branch out into another race. I’ll give Matt Smith the benefit of the doubt, but I hope they avoid the standard white dude when they choose the next actor in a couple years.
    The only thing I’d have trouble accepting is an actor who’s not from the UK. That would just seem weird to me.