The most distinctly American fact you will ever learn is that the piercing cry you associate with the bald eagle is actually a Hollywood invention.
Imagine the sound a bald eagle makes. Got it? Good.
Unless you’re really into birds, you probably got it wrong. The long, powerful cry you likely heard in your mind’s ear when asked to imagine the call of a bald eagle is actually the call of a red-tailed hawk, whose voice Hollywood studios have been dubbing over footage of bald eagles for generations.
You can immediately understand why that is when you hear the actual call of a bald eagle. There’s nothing wrong with it; it’s just not particularly… powerful. It’s a series of high-pitched squeaks that sound kind of like a seagull on helium. To the bald eagle I’m sure it sounds like a sexy serenade or a fearsome demand for respect, but if you’re a human Hollywood filmmaker trying to convey strength and nobility in the symbol of your nation, it’s not quite what you’re going for.
So the red-tailed hawk gets pulled in for an uncredited Singin’ in the Rain-style vocal overdub.
This fact is the single most American thing in the known universe. It’s more American than talking loudly at tourist attractions. It’s more American than a Bible covered in ranch dressing fingerprints. It’s more American than a Marvel movie about superheroes drinking Mountain Dew in monster trucks. It’s more American than a deep-fried aircraft carrier.
You simply cannot fit more America into a unit of information than this. The symbol of the nation which sits atop a globe-spanning empire held together by mass-scale propaganda, and the sound of its voice is itself a complete construct of propaganda.
Hollywood overdubs the bald eagle with the red-tailed hawk in precisely the same way it paints over the United States with a fictional land in which capitalism is working perfectly, and the cities aren’t full of homeless people, and the citizens aren’t stressed out of their minds working multiple jobs and freaking out on TikTok all the time asking how anyone is getting by in this environment (spoiler alert: they’re not; Hollywood is just telling you they are).
Hollywood overdubs the bald eagle with the red-tailed hawk in precisely the same way it depicts police officers as spending their time fighting crime, and depicts news reporters as brave muckrakers digging for the truth to expose the wicked and corrupt, and depicts soldiers as heroic defenders of the American people.
Hollywood overdubs the bald eagle with the red-tailed hawk in precisely the same way it portrays the United States as a normal country with a normal government that functions exactly the way the teachers and news reporters told you it does, with democratically elected officials making decisions that they think are in the interests of the American people, instead of the hub of a murderous empire bent on global domination run by unelected oligarchs and operatives who remain in power regardless of the comings and goings of the official elected government.
The call of the red-tailed hawk is freedom, democracy, truth and justice. The call of the bald eagle is empire building, mass military slaughter, propaganda brainwashing, omnicidal nuclear brinkmanship, capitalist exploitation and extraction, surging inequality and injustice, police militarization, censorship, surveillance and oppression. They hide the latter with the former to keep people from knowing the truth about the real United States of America.
But they can only hide the truth for so long. Someday someone sees a bald eagle for themselves and notices they’re not hearing what they were told they’d hear. Someday someone gets the distinct impression that the talking heads on the screen are lying to them, and starts doing a little digging on their own. Someday somebody snaps out of the spellbinding trance of the movie, and realizes they’re just watching actors on a screen.
Truth will come out eventually. It can only be so long before people start hearing the real bird.
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Categories: Anti-Imperialism/Foreign Policy