This started out as a way to try to justify the way that Max was completely disserved during the latest season of Stranger Things.
For those of you scarred by crappy English teachers, this is my reading of the series. What you get out of it may be very different. But this just … clicked … for me today.
There are MASSIVE spoilers ahead for the whole series so far. You’re welcome.
I was dissatisfied with the ending of Season four.
The powerful messages of surviving abuse and narcissism are not resolved…satisfactorily. Definitely not healthily.
And then I realized there’s a possible reason why.
Maybe this metaphor is intentional on the part of the Duffer Brothers. Maybe I’m giving them too much credit. I have no idea.
But once you start looking, it’s hard to not see it.
Vecna is a metaphor for Trump and every horrid bit of the right-wing extremism that is (once again) sweeping our country.
It’s really "Master of Puppets" that made this clear for me. Yes, the song is about addiction, but even that’s covered (Don Jr).
Vecna is a bully, preying on those who are weak and hurt, pretending this gives him power. Check. ("Own the libs", anyone?)
Blatant hypocrisy to serve his own ends? Check.
Justice for Barb? No, we elected him after "grab em by the pussy" and knowing about all his sexual assaults?. No justice there. Check.
Thought he was defeated but he’s coming back? Check.
Vecna targets the strange, unusual, and "different" people throughout. Literally the first victim in the series is revealed to be gay, and Max is in an interracial relationship. Check.
Already traumatized people hurt further simply by the existence of Vecna? Sadly, check.
Misguided or flat out wrong "moral" crusades manipulated to target those who stand against him? Check.
Wants to rule, no matter how much damage it will cause to the world? Check.
Supporters demanding loyalty above all else, rejecting anything else even if it harms them? Check. (anti-maskers == football team)
Russian involvement originally propping up his power? Check.
People thinking they can control or use him, only to be shocked when he turns on them? Check.
Starts off only hurting a few people but progressively gets more and more damaging as he’s left unchecked? Check.
Privileged white boy who gets pissed and petulant when he can’t get everything he wants and a woman is the new favorite and tells him no? Check.
And, for me, the tint of Upside Down itself is the final thing that ties this reading together.
Wait, you might say. The Upside Down is tinted blue, not exactly the color of 45 or his minions.
Well, yes, but it’s upside down.
It’s not real life. It’s inverted. The opposite.
Want to guess what the opposite color of blue is on a color wheel?
But given all this, there’s one other thing that the Duffer Brothers gave us.
In a mix of the metaphorical and the literal, our protagonists, bloodied and hurt, are prepared to fight back.
Gen X icons stand side by side with new Gen Z heroes. United. Determined.
And, chronologically, the next Metallica album after Master of Puppets?
It’s …and Justice For All.
Let’s make it happen.
Photo by Nguyen Dang Hoang Nhu on Unsplash