That narrative seeks to examine the socio-political makeup of America through its political icons - the presidential figures that mark the most notable and controversial chapters in American history. Each tableau features a President portrayed through the prism of their politics, popularity and/or notoriety, further contextualized by a contemporary backdrop, and assigned one of the moral and ethical postulates of the Ten Commandments. These, often humorous, narrative juxtapositions deconstruct the layers of political deceit, exposing latent hypocrisies and challenging the integrity of a system that is supposed to be a model of democracy and social progress. In the context of the series, Lincoln reaffirms the gravitas that lightness and humour in other pieces may inadvertently obscure.
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"You shall have no other gods before Me.”
Money and Celebrity is God in today’s America. The culture of narcissism and commercialism consumes Americans. President Donald Trump, the businessman and former reality TV star, is demeaning the nation’s status on the world stage with his hubristic and childish tweets, as well as his uninformed and often volatile decision-making. Propaganda that denigrates the free press is boosted by the ideology of populism, which underpinned Trump’s 2016 election campaign.
John F. Kennedy
“You shall not commit adultery.”
The institution of marriage has been the cornerstone of the American middle class. Recently the Country opened itself up to same-sex marriage with some States rejecting the notion. Social and religious stigma rejects divorce and leaves couples frustrated within their marriage. The stray is common with those who follow their natural human desire. Throughout history, we find that even a President, sitting in the White House, could not abstain.
In 1962, the United States and the Soviet Union hovered on the brink of nuclear war during the Cuban Missile Crisis. Kennedy eventually forced the Soviets to back down. He was assassinated in the third year of his term. Kennedy is the only Roman Catholic to become President.
George W. Bush
“You shall not bear false witness."
President George W. Bush, like his father, George H.W. Bush led the United States into war against Iraq. The main premise for the war was that Saddam had weapons of mass destruction (WMDs) and that these were at risk of falling into the hands of terrorists. In the end, however, there were no such weapons, and Saddam’s links to al Qaeda were unproven.
“You shall not make for yourself a carved image or any likeness."
This is the era of the SELFIE. Access to social communication and the mobile phone camera has opened up a new genre of self-identity. How do Americans portray themselves on social media? It’s all wrapped up in a desire to document while living, and to appear happy every moment.
"Honor your father and your mother."
The value of ‘the wise elder’ archetype has diminished. We often see seniors abandoned in rest homes and left without proper care. Those affected by mental illness suffer the most.
George and his mother Mary Ball Washington infrequently exchanged letters and Washington’s other correspondence contains very few references to her. While some historians present George Washington as a dutiful son who fulfilled societal expectations, others claim that he lacked the warmth and kindness of a loving son.
“You shall not murder.”
The second amendment to the constitution allows access to guns in America and has placed weapons into the hands of the disgruntled and mentally ill. Children and innocents are regularly targeted in mass shootings such as the Sandy Hook Elementary shooting in 2012. Lincoln led the Union into the Civil War to preserve the nation and end slavery. He was assassinated just five days after the Confederate armies surrendered.
“You shall not take the name of the Lord your God in vain."
Big Brother is a reality now. Censoring is pervasive and privacy is subjective. Facebook or Gmail can track the other sites we visit elsewhere on the web, so long as we're still logged in to their service in a different browser tab. Gmail even admits to scanning our emails for keywords and content it can use to target ads. It’s not anonymous anymore they know your name, your birthday, they know you're going to this site, staying for that long, and so on.
"Remember the Sabbath day, to keep it holy."
The weekend is when extravagant sports games are aired; activities are schedules, shopping, and virtually everything else but quiet and rest. At the turn of the century there was much debate about the dangers of Football, at that time players wore little protective equipment, and sustained gruesome injuries. Newspaper editorials called on colleges and high schools to banish football outright.
Roosevelt acknowledged that the sport required reforms and moved to facilitate legalization of the forward pass, abolished the dangerous mass formations, created a neutral zone between offense and defense and doubled the first-down distance to 10 yards, to be gained in three downs. These important changes reduced fatalities and became the foundation of the now beloved modern sport of American football.
Roosevelt was one of the most activist Presidents. His many accomplishments included the building of the Panama Canal, cracking down on business monopolies, and creating many national parks.
Harry S. Truman
“You shall not covet your neighbor's house."
The American Dream was once in the reach of the middle class. While “don’t spend above your means” will always be sound advice, keeping up with the Jones’s has become endemic within many households. This aspirational materialism, along with rapid growth of medical and housing costs, and dwarfing incomes, makes it challenging for many families to sustain a desired lifestyle without leaning on credit cards and loans.
Suburbia developed and blossomed towards the end of Harry S. Truman’s Presidency. After the war ended the GI bill was introduced with subsidized low cost mortgages for returning soldiers. Purchasing a home away from the city was often more affordable than renting a city apartment.
As President it was Harry S. Truman’s decision to drop the experimental atomic bomb on Japan, and although this action ended the war, the result was unprecedented devastation in Hiroshima and Nagasaki. Approximately 80,000 people were killed as a direct result of the blast, and another 35,000 were injured. 60,000 died, by the end of the year, from the effects of the atomic fallout.
Almost a third of the US presidents, including Harry Truman, have been Freemasons. Truman was Grand Master of Missouri, an enthusiastic Masonic ritualist, and Master of lodges while an active politician. He attended Masonic lodge meetings while campaigning, and while he was President of the U.S.
“You shall not steal.”
Theft comes in many forms. The pure greed displayed by Wall Street during the Great Recession 2008 was blatant and distressing. As people lost their homes and were left homeless, Wall Street was bailed out rejoiced.
Barack Obama is the first African American president of the United States.Under his Presidency not a single Wall Street billionaire was convicted for the sub prime housing scandal that cost millions of Americans their homes.