Are we one social networking app away from sliding into complete dystopia?
Is the structure of polite society just waiting for the right digital excuse to crumble? Will refusing someone's Goodreads friend request today come to haunt us tomorrow, when we're living in a retro-futuristic hellscape ruin, going all Hunger Games on each other and stuff?
Community Season 5 Episode 8 argues: yes!
In one of the season's most delightful fits of whimsy, a social networking app transformed Greendale into...wait...okay, there was definitely a lot of Logan's Run in there, but then there was also a reference to the Outlands, which is from D & D, and, that dance was from...what is it...dammit, it is on the tip of my tongue...what is it?!!! Aggggh. Fine. You'll just have to tell me in the comments.
Anyway, we're all one "poke" away from a fascist nightmare state. Or are we? Community has been on an even-handedness streak lately, weighing both sides of arguments with a composure and degree of level-headedness that must come with age. No longer the young buck desperate to make a point, Community can now weigh in as the wise elder--well, the wise elder who made Starburns run around dressed like Zardoz, but still, wise enough!
Although it certainly didn't compare to Abed and Hickey's knock-down fight about the meaning of emotions and selfishness in Community Season 5 Episode 7, Abed's argument--in favor of social networking's capacity to carefully quantify social interaction for the socially maladjusted--was one of the more persuasive explanations in favor of social networking that I've heard.
But it was more than just a smart and little-heard social critique. Abed's argument, wrapped into an episode that appeared on the surface to be an epic take-down of social networking, proves that the episode was actually a takedown of that evergreen topic, human vanity and greed.
And using 1970s retro-futuristic sci-fi style is a great way to make that point! After all, no one had smartphones back then, but somehow everyone still managed to find ways to be self-involved assholes.
I feel like I say "Community is really at its peak" every week, but so what: Community really IS at its peak. The playfulness of this half hour, the Community quotes, the social commentary, the part where Britta becomes a socialist revolutionary-cum-warlord--I feel like we're finally seeing this show bloom into the complicated, deranged flower that we planted five seasons ago.
Of course, it's not all just sunshine and deranged flowers. In fact, if Community Season 5 has a theme, it's about how we can all become villains without realizing it, even as we see ourselves as victims in our own stories.
The removal of Pierce and the reformation of Chang has left a villainy vacancy at Greendale, and this season, everyone - Shirley is this episode, Abed and Hickey last week, Britta in Community Season 5 Episode 5 - seems to be trying on the crown...and everyone is finding that it fits.
But all villains are not evenly matched. So tell me:
Who's the best at being a villain?