That's a Big Stick
Callie: You got a warrant?
Buford: Yeah, I keep it in my shoe!
Walking Tall (1973)
These boots are made for walking, and that's just what they'll do
One of these days these boots are gonna walk all over you
With shows like "Heroes" and "24," and cartoonish movies like "Unbreakable," media maintains the vision of tidy episodes featuring people invested with superpowers who will mop things up for us.
"24" reminds one of Dale Carnegie's "daytight boxes"--neat packages for life bookended by two sunrises. Life becomes much easier when we can call it a day and have something to show for it (a bad guy in a cell.) And because our nemeses are super villains, we need the likes of them, those who will contain the encroaching toxic threats with a little moxie.
I realize "Unbreakable" predated 9-11 (2000), but the trend toward such magical protection was already well-emplaced. The only problem is, as Pogo said, we have met the enemy, and he is us.
I blame the guy with the boots, L. Paul Bremer--the guy who as head of the CPA gave away 360 tons of shrink-wrapped $100 bills--for a lot of this
It was life imitating art, straight out of Wag the Dog, a film about another presidency fomenting a war to distract the public from discovering crushing internal corruption, and another pair of shoes. In that movie, "Old Brown Shoe" became the motto and the symbol for the war. It was a brilliant marketing construction.
A pair of old boots, supposedly belonging to a soldier, became the war's rallying cry. Willie Nelson was hired to do the soundtrack of an ersatz "long lost recorded version" which never was, complete with a "discovered" scratched up 78 cut which dovetailed nicely with the visual, paying homage to old brown shoes. In a New York minute, people began displaying their old brown shoes everywhere, collecting them at rallying points to show solidarity with the media-created soldier and the cause.
Dedication to symbolism--the kind that necessitates allegiance lest you be branded traitor--is the New Patriotism. Much easier than the old thinking version, and more lethal. For once you abjure the voice of dissent, you give your leaders free rein, thereby removing one of the most important checks in a democracy on runaway power.
We now have the Homeland, which we are protecting from some unseen menace whose passions we are nonetheless assiduously stoking. It is not far removed from Hitler's Fatherland in its sense of uniqueness and pride, necessitating preemptive strikes upon vulgar and unsophisticated enemies.