The Capitol Raid Being Adapted for Television Is Capitalism at Its Ugliest
Showtime turning the siege into a show tells us everything we already knew about this country
Within just two months, the attempted fascist coup by White nationalists caught its first Hollywood green light. Last Thursday, Showtime announced that the network has ordered three scripts about the Trump-incited riot on Capitol Hill for a series to be helmed by Billy Ray, director of political drama The Comey Rule. The three-part act has been made plain: the waning days of the pumpkin presidency, the insurrection, and its aftermath.
The speed with which this happened was as predictable as tax season. Twitter saw it coming from a mile away: A conspiratorial assault called forth by fascist animus and a celebrity president just screams ratings. Bloodshed and White nationalism sell like toilet paper in a pandemic, apparently — with no shortages in sight.
In the Content Era, every event — especially one with Whiteness at its center — is subject to ravaging by the TV and film industry. Yet Showtime’s rush to dramatize the Capitol raid disregards both reality (how can a script be written before the fallout is complete?) and trauma (we literally watched this happen on live TV). Sure, art can help us cope with and remember tragedy in keen ways. But considering how Ray’s past work has trivialized mass death, it’s unlikely that this project will have much to say about fascism that makes us better able to resist its hold on American culture.
We don’t yet know how the scripted version of the insurrection will look. But images of that fateful day are still fresh in the collective memory: the utter glee on the faces of insurgents; Capitol Police Officer Eugene Goodman putting his life on the line to protect members of Congress barricaded in offices; feces-stained portraits, walls, and floors. The Comey Rule dropped in December 2019, one year after former FBI director James Comey — who had publicly inserted himself into the investigations of Hillary Clinton’s emails and Russian political interference in the run-up to Trump’s election — was acquitted…