On a rooftop overlooking a section of the city, Jessica stands with Killgrave, her captor/rapist/archenemy, in what Killgrave recalls as being a moment of not only choice, but genuine, true intimacy between the two of them. “You know”, Killgrave challenges, “that by then my effect had worn off, and by my count, you had 18 seconds of free will to leave and you chose to stay.”
Killgrave, a murderous man incapable of owning his responsibility for other people’s actions that he’s driven them to do just by literally the power of his voice is slimy and charismatic in a way that repulses you (your stomach clinches at every implied and stated rape and murder he’s forced others to commit) but at the same time, compels you to follow him around every corner he turns.
It’s a testament to a powerful performance by actor David Tennant as the series could easily stall at only the revulsion of his character alone, and the many times he eludes getting caught or comeuppance or more plainly put justice, is as tantalizing as it is frustrating.
Each villainous act and evasion employed by Killgrave prompts the same question over the course of the season’s 12 episodes: What will he do next?
Killgrave’s story isn’t just one of privilege, the word threatening to become Time Magazine’s “Person of the Year” but more poignantly its also about the danger of unchecked privilege and power.
Time after time, as Killgrave recounts his rise and maintenance of power; his ill-gotten and unclear amount of wealth; his seductive ability to court, command and control chaos, there becomes a more and more checkered story of not only his motives, but what, exactly, might winning actually mean for him.
As destructive as Killgrave undoubtedly is, I found it lucky that even in a fictionalized Marvel NYC, his ambitions are relatively small. I couldn’t help wonder at several points what if this guy decided he wanted to become president?
This actually isn’t as hard to imagine as one might think: this is a country currently under the vocal sway of GOP POTUS candidate Donald Trump. With the similar powers to court, command and control chaos. I can’t imagine a more fitting villain to be watching right now on TV.
A man with his own ill-gotten (or rather at times “ethically gray”) wealth and bearing a history of brutish behavior, Donald Trump has also forcibly coerced his way into our homes ages ago now, rooting himself right inside our own nest of values.
His voice, a combination of Perry White-flavored newsroom editor bullhorn and the bombastic flair of spoiled prince, has always had a Killgrave-effect; his reality show The Apprentice (complete with episodic omniscient Trump voice overs every week) was all about compelling desperate, unaware people to make bad, calculated choices that seemed more about Trump’s amusement than actually creating a viable business.
Each week he invariably created contrived situations to contort and control chaos for the would-be contestants; each week people invariably failed despite trying to perform to his directions and demands. Even his “trademark” phrase, You’re fired, was a Killgrave-like command, compelling people to walk out of rooms dazed and confused in their confessional rides afterwards.
His act, where he presided as judge, jury and executioner with the advantage of owning credit for eventual winners but distancing himself from the broken trail of “losers” became the universal template for every reality show competition from Americas Next Top Model to Top Chef and Project Runway.
“Maybe he should have been roughed up, because it was absolutely disgusting what he was doing….I have a lot of fans, and they were not happy about it.”
Two days ago, black activist Mercurio Hall walks into an Alabama rally in support of Donald Trump. Hall, a black man who describes Trump’s comments about minorities–everyone ranging from Latinos, to blacks to Muslims– as being “disrespectful” and attended the rally with the intention of voicing his displeasure. Within minutes though, Hall found himself being pummeled by a throng of attendees, throwing punches, kicks and slurs at him while derisively chanting “black lives matter” and “all lives matter”.
It’s not the first time that violent acts have been attributed to the power of Trump’s voice.
” . . . I will say that people who are following me are very passionate. They love this country and they want this country to be great again. They are passionate.”
A popular refrain about Trump from non-supporters and supporters alike is the varied argument that essentially boils down to “….well he speaks his mind”. It’s a dangerous dismissal that should fall dead on the ears of all marginalized groups. As everyone from the families of LaQuan McDonald to Sandra Bland to the Muslim college community infiltrated by the NYPD, there are scores of people who understand that the danger is often already out there and the greater danger is letting voices like Trump go unfettered.
There isn’t an “either or” at play with racial violence and hate crime; implicit and explicit messages of hate galvanize people prone to acting on it regardless of how stated or understated it may be. Therefore, we have an obligation to stand for a moral and legislative right to rise up against and decry his political presence. At one point in Jessica Jones we learn the dangeous fact that Killgrave’s power has the potential to increase in scope and length. And the same is seemingly happening with Trump; the longer he’s in play, the more emboldened his actions and the more fiery his following. Each week that his gaffes, his voice, seemingly garners more support we should be horrified and incensed enough to act more and act now.
It’s a reminder of our collective need to do our duty to demolish campaigns like Trump’s.We shouldn’t condone or give Trump leeway on the things that we feel he’s capable of potentially doing as POTUS; we should stamp out hate speech and rhetoric like his every step of the way.
Back to that rooftop scene that I opened with. At some point you have to decide what to do. History will record not only the victor but his march to victory. If the supposed unthinkable happens–if Trump winds–what will it say about either your advocacy or your resistance to his hate campaign? Killgrave’s recollection of that day asserts that he’d already won, that he was right and knew ultimately what she wanted all along: him.
Jessica says “I remember it differently”.
It matters. It definitely matters because of the point later on Jessica states about her arch enemy could be applied to Trump as well: “he doesn’t do his own dirty work; he controls minds.”