Every week, we’ll be posting a new illustration by David Lester. The Mecca Normal guitarist is visually documenting people, places and events from his band’s 39-year run, with text by vocalist Jean Smith.
David’s illustration utilizes a classic idiom to express a reaction to a previously held opinion or belief that could be as benign as a poor fashion choice or as relevant as realizing one has fallen prey to misinformation around COVID vaccines and mandates. Although, I don’t think the anti-science gangs are on track to snap out of it any time soon. The newly emboldened are enjoying community as they converge into a cult-like conglomeration driven by intentional misinformation. Those vulnerable to being swayed by free pancake breakfasts, bouncy castles and catch words like “freedom” are essentially being brainwashed.
I didn’t pay much attention to QAnon because it sounded silly. Flat earth? Gimme a break! When the trucker occupation of Ottawa sprang up, I started watching a lot of livestreaming by several characters trudging through snow between the trucks. I watched one livestreamer in particular become indoctrinated by his very attendance for hours every day. Offered friendship, recognition, food, kindness and a common goal (opposing a tyranny that didn’t exist) seemed to be enough to move him toward alignment with the truckers’ beliefs. I watched him wonder how there could be anything wrong with the great bunch who had befriended him. He wondered why more people weren’t reacting to the purported tyranny. It felt like the sense of community he had found was overriding external positions including the truth, yet even after the protest had ended, he still seemed to be on and off the fence about the whole thing. I wondered what it would take to reach the guy, to get him to … what? See reality?
I suppose a similar thing is happening in Russia, where the population is told whatever is necessary to make it easier for Putin to continue his war. Maybe you saw the Ukrainian hotline set up for Russians to call for information on their family members, soldiers sent to Ukraine. It also functions as an opportunity for Ukrainians to speak directly with individual Russians, to let them know what has happened with the invasion. Hopefully community can spring up in this way and news will spread, but I fear dislodging the initial sway is an uphill battle.
“More More More” from Jarred Up (K, 1995) (download):