The whole population protecting against a virus. An official Dutch couple is presenting this message for the umpteenth time in a press conference on television in the Netherlands. I cannot look at it anymore. I have to think about three one-act plays in 1963. The staging took place under the overall title Hurray America in De Brakke Grond, in that time a laboratorium of experimental drama. Jean-Claude van Italië, the writer lived in New York. It was satirical about American circumstances. Born just after D-day I still had a positive image of the USA. Later settled by lighthearted songs, swinging rock and roll and love no war in the flower power movement. Casual, relaxing, no worries.

The masks in the first act is something I still remember very well. The same fixed expression on all faces: a glamour smile. Situated in an employment exchange, the interviews got an alienating working. Behind the shiny plastic covers the writer suggested a different, lonely world. The second act handled about television, the incoming rating. We saw how tv watchers were used and mislead because of all sort of profits which had to do with power and money. A hilarious spectacle was the last play: people appeared as huge puppets and they had anonymous sex in a motel.

In the start of my twenties I lived in Amsterdam. Every now and than information came with western winds from the other side of the ocean. Not always funny. Like the endless during war in Vietnam with chemicals bombs on innocent citizen. During a demonstration one day against these crimes I was shocked and run away into a portico, for police on motors and horses. The sharp contrast in that new world was difficult to combine. Behind the smiling masks, a different an inhumanity behavior existed? And if so, how should the picture look like? I decided one day to make a short trip.

The Big Apple. Enormous energy overwhelmed me. I met nice and friendly people. Daily life was fast, light and above all very direct. In this world which I called the wild west, everything seemed to be possible. People stimulated each other in the smallest initiative. I enjoyed daily life. Remarkable: film and reality seem to be interweaved. In this Hollywood culture people applauded after a movie with great enthusiasm, shouted loud: ‘Boeoeoeh’ or just walked out of the cinema because they did not like the film. A war? Far away. The giant military industry was business as usual. The American dream, that was important.

Back in Holland I did my best to bring the positive side into my life, special the mentality, that released energy. But without succes. Our culture was during these days not a show. But that should change. Step by step money and commerce became more important and the acceleration of film productions enclosed seamless. News changed to newsshow and on all channels talkshows appeared. Information on television was suddenly called infotainment. Daily life? Airy, light! Dirt as soon as possible under the carpet. On the tv more and more corny and smooth programs appeared. Experts made themselves important, they were using simple oneliners. Short and funny. No critics. Hurray!

Why do I think suddenly about Hurray America when looking at a umpteenth performance during a press conference? Because it shows tragedy as well as comedy? The acceleration of the disaffection? The dislike of the view of convulsive masks with complete support of the media and the ratings? The false hope and measures which are out of proportion? Maybe they speak with invisible strings and directed by American bosses. Suddenly I know: every new appearance of the two men looks like the laboratory plays of the past. They are acting relish in the puppet show of The Hague, far from the real people.

Of course there are more differences. In this time spindoctors are writing the script: much words without saying something. They inject every time more fear into the audience. People had to listen righteous and stay behind everything with even more fear. Instead of a free feeling when you leave the theater you are stronger locked in jail. Plastic convulsive smiling to cover the truth plus big eyes which warn you absolutely not to see the reality. No own research please! They speak as if all people are children; everybody and believe all the time in their fairy tales. Follow the orders at the end. Control will follow. Something like in the war I was born?

Our liberators came also from America, the country that is more and more divided at the moment. On a distance I can see that a part daily consume the horror film in which they also play an act. They rattle and maybe feel that something is not entirely right. Another part of the population is walking into the fresh air, this people do not like anymore the brute movie after such a long time. They celebrate the free space, literal and figurative, the right of each spectator after a performance.

The local authorities in Florida and Texas transfix the destructive script which the world faces yet; they seem to see whats behind the global power show. They get rid of the masks, they run out of the prison film and return to their normal life. Europeans are more civilized as they say, not walking so quick away. Hooked and pulpy they seem to eat everything as cake and do not want to think. With water in the mouth before the screen. What next? Waiting for a new liberation from the wild west? Or much compatriots will sit behind a screen as tremble junkies looking at a new episode of the continuous lies?

Joop Brussee

July 2021