Popular Culture Review 29.1 (Spring 2018) - Page 36

Interestingly, this use of “survival” as an uncontested “god” term has a literary history which is connected to themes of death and undeath as can be seen in Margaret Atwood’s seminal 1972 critical study of Canadian literature, Survival, in which Atwood identifies survival as the main theme of Canadian literature and the victim as the main protagonist. Two figures Atwood considers emblematic of this Canadian literary tradition of survival are female and like Sylvanas (a ranger) connected with wilderness, namely the sisters Susanna Moodie and Catharine Parr Traill, who respond to marginalization and hardship with stoicism and determination. Sylvanas shares with these sisters not just gender, victimhood, and survival but also what is, according to Atwood, another major preoccupation of Canadian literature, namely death: If the central European experience is sex and the central mystery ‘what goes on in the bedroom,’ and the central American experience is killing and the central mystery is ‘what goes on in the forest’ (or in the slum streets), surely the central Canadian experience is death and the central mystery is ‘what goes on in the coffin’ (1972, 222). Within Atwood’s framework, Garrosh Hellscream would be protypically American in his preoccupation with military conquest and triumphs in combat, a preoccupation paralleled in Trump’s concern with “winning”. Garrosh’s uncontested terms of “strength” and “honor” are deeply personal, grounded in his own need for saving face and not appearing weak and then generalized or extrapolated to the groups to which he belongs, orcs as a race and the Horde as a faction. Sylvanas’ sense of survival also has a personal sense, as she is a rape and torture survivor concerned with racial survival. Examining the pairing of Trump and Clinton, we find an opposition similar to that between Sylvanas and Garrosh. Trump’s uncontested term seems to be “winning.” This attitude is expressed in his iconic statement “We gonna [sic] win so much you may even get tired of winning” (Johnson and DelReal 2016). There appears to be little consideration of whether the fights themselves are worth winning or the possibility of a Pyrrhic victory. Clinton’s “god term” is “human rights”, as was most powerfully exhibited in her 1995 Beijing speech in which she eloquently emphasized “human rights are women’s rights and women’s rights are human rights” (Clinton 1995). In some ways, Clinton’s assumption of human rights as a self-evident ultimate good echoes the opening of the United States’ Declaration of Independence: 36