If you have not read my previous essay, “The Dot Principle”, you may not understand the reference, which is to those people who, education not withstanding, believe the most outlandish things and cannot be swayed by either logic or facts.
A decade or more ago, I mixed with a group of “New Age-y” friends. Some have now passed and the rest of us have moved on with our lives, losing touch, but I have fond memories (most of them, anyway) of those likeable if zany people. They were non-conforming idealists who sought spirituality in every aspect of their lives, but they also enjoyed getting together simply to have a good time. Wine and cheese parties were a favorite pastime, as were movie night get-togethers, attending festivals and lectures, and going to Renaissance fairs.
The movie nights were a favorite of mine. Sci-fi movies were often on the menu, but so were old, black and white shows or rarely-known gems and cult classics. Thus it was that I became acquainted, for the first time, with the original movie “The Wicker Man”.
I’d never seen or even heard of this 1973 horror film, and I found it fascinating and somewhat repellant. My friends, though, were simply mad for the show, and would gladly have watched it on our movie night get-togethers multiple times each year.
For me, however, the real revelation as to the group’s fascination with the movie came at the end of the film, when a credit rolls on the screen thanking Lord Summerisle and the people of his island for their cooperation in the making of the film. This credit was, of course, complete nonsense; the movie was fictional.
My friends, however, were absolutely gulled by that credit. They believed it. Totally. They eagerly discussed where the “real island” might be. Of course, the “real” Summerisle was cloaked in secrecy, they decided, but surely it could be located. They wanted to visit the island.
My loveable, likeable, fun friends were, I realized in that moment, Dots.
Just like my coworker Dot asking me about the “other two” states of the US, in addition to the actual 50, my crazy friends genuinely believed this completely fictional movie to be a depiction of a real place.
My mild suggestion that perhaps that credit was a gag (I didn’t say, “to trick gullible chumps”) was met with round-eyed stares of disbelief and incredulity. Protests arose quick and sharp. Of course it wasn’t a gag! Summerisle was an actual place. But the movie depicted human sacrifice, I objected. Well, it was unlikely (not impossible; just unlikely) that the inhabitants of the island still practiced human sacrifice, the Dots conceded. But all the other aspects of the movie were accurate depictions of their pagan cult.
Not wanting, at least not at that point in our relationship, to make myself persona non grata with my friends, I said nothing further. Demonstrating remarkable restraint, I didn’t even snicker.
I did, however, set out to convince this crew of amiable Dots that the credit at the movie’s end had been, indeed, just a gag. I decided that I would research the matter and find convincing proof. (Obviously, I had learned nothing from my encounter with the original “the U.S. has 52 states” Dot.)
In point of fact, it took me very little research to discover that “The Wicker Man”, although filmed in Scotland, had not been set on any one small island of strange, apple-growing, human-sacrificing pagan cultists. A single website listed at least a dozen different locations: hotels, estate offices, ruined churches, castles, manor rooms, gardens and caves, all used to create the fictional island of Summerisle. I printed a hard copy of the website info, complete with photos, and, armed with this definitive list, I approached the next gathering of the group.
I was met with horrified disbelief. I, it seemed, was the gullible one. Yes, these photos matched those seen in the movie, but it was the website that was false, not the movie’s final credit. Someone had just put this site together in order to keep the curious away from the true Summerisle.
I pointed out that most of the locations mentioned on the website were, in fact, tourist attractions and could be visited. Oh, no. Just try that, I was warned. You’ll find out that the attraction is mysteriously closed to visitors for the nonce.
I gave up. These were my friends, and I liked them, but I realized there was no point in continuing. By contradicting their odd version of reality with real, solid facts, I was only making them angry.
Since that first encounter with the 52-States-in-the-Union Dot, and my Angry Dot friends, I’ve expanded upon The Dot Principle thusly:
1. Dots are everywhere, to be found even among the people we most like;
2. You cannot alter their version of reality merely by confronting them with facts;
and, most importantly,
3. They walk among us, and they vote!
If this post gave you a chuckle, you might also enjoy reading, “The Dot Principle”, which you can find in the Archived posts from November 11, 2020.