A strange thought occurred to me when watching Git Gone. A thought that has perhaps uncovered a theme of American Gods that didn’t occur to me when reading the novel it’s based on.
There is the chance that this theme was obvious to everyone else but me, of course. If the Reddit American Gods thread has taught me anything, it’s that other people are way better than me at picking up themes and subplots.
Our Worship of the New Gods Could be Harming us
Early on in the fourth episode of American Gods, Laura Moon is told she no longer needs to shuffle the cards at her table as they have an automatic card shuffler. Her reply that she enjoys shuffling falls on deaf ears. This reminded me of Czernobog, who found his ability to kill a cow with one blow was made obsolete by the introduction of the bolt gun. In both cases, we see workers with a skill being replaced by the march of mechanisation.
These aren’t the only characters in American Gods that live on the other side of the capitalist dream. Salim is an ignored salesman whose success relies on the whim of someone who won’t even take his meeting. The Jinn is a taxi driver shown no respect by his fares. In all of these cases, we see people being left behind, devalued or ignored by society.
But what does this have to do with the New Gods?
The nature of our relationship with the New Gods is fundamentally different from our relationship with the Old Gods. We gave the Old Gods belief and sacrifice and we hoped they gave us something in return. For example, the Vikings in the first episode dedicated a battle to Odin and he sent them a wind to sail home. Our relationship with the New Gods is much less transactional and much less in our favour.
We offer the new Gods our time and our devotion. As Media said about time it’s ‘better than lambs blood’. But what do we get in return? Nothing but more of that New God. Worship Media and we get more TV channels and a wider variety of shows. Worship at the altar of the internet and we get a more digital world in return.
While that sounds cool (who doesn’t want more TV shows like American Gods) there is a flipside to this equation. Our devotion to these New Gods is inextricably bound with the modernisation of society. The more obsessed we are with a new shiny digital toy or TV show, the more we drive society further into the arms of the New Gods.
Unfortunately, as society modernises it alienates many of the people in it. Workers like Laura and Czernobog suffer the indignity of seeing their skills become obsolete. American Gods is showing us a society that is fracturing between those that can thrive in a digital economy and those who can’t, and it’s not pretty.
Watching Git Gone made me wonder if this is something we will see more of as the first season of American Gods progresses. Will the Old Gods come to represent those who are not able to enjoy the modernisation of society and their fight to stay relevant or simply to be heard? Or is this all complete drivel? I’m entirely open to the possibility that it is the latter.
I’d love to hear your thoughts on this, even if you do think I’m an idiot. So feel free to leave a comment below or on whatever social media channel is your poison.
Top Three Quotes from Git Gone
“Get out of my house you zombie whore!”- Audrey
“You had a shitty obituary because you had a shitty life.”- Audrey
“When you are done, I will complete my task and deliver you into darkness.”- Anubis
You can read all of our American Gods stuff here.