Saturday, September 8, 2012

The Old Man and The Seat

Laughed at or with? Clint Eastwood at RNC in Tampa

I've always pretty much appreciated most of Clint Eastwood's early works but it wasn't until Gran Torino that I found him both inspired and inspiring. Then came his "Morning in America" ad, which spoke to an ailing nation looking for a ray of hope and he knocked it out of the park.

I don't much idolize actors or actresses, whether they politically agree with me or not. I recognized the absolute star power Oprah brought to a young senator's campaign in 2008 and I was excited that she lent her gravitas to the affair. I was similarly impressed to see the Hollywood lineup that stood in support of Barack Obama. Not that they swayed my thinking on the politician, it just made the campaign more fun and I do tend to gravitate toward and support like-minded individuals. Sue me, I'm human.

On the other hand, I still watch re-runs of Frasier, howbeit with fewer personal laugh lines after learning of Kelsey Grammer's support for the Tea Party. Frankly, I more hold him in contempt for being a manwhore and stinking up my TV than for his political views. He's comported himself as a relatively sane Tea Party supporter, unlike the few third string losers such as Nugent, Norris and Voight with little else to lose, and have hitched their fading stars to that mob.

So now we return to Eastwood standing on stage talking to a chair. Despite Bill Maher's  full-throated defense (which seems so desperate, one wonders where his defense of Clint's comedic efforts ends and his own begins) of the roundly mocked schtick, it did "kill," as Maher contends -- just not in the way Bill thinks.

The other attempted defense is that of "senior abuse." Read how The Examiner valiantly works to distort Rachel Maddow's critique of the farce into some horrifying form of attack on seniors:

[Maddow] I don’t – I don’t – I don’t know what was going on there. Clint Eastwood is 82 years old and I think that – I don’t know if that’s what was going on there.
Rachel Maddow actually believes that the reason that Clint Eastwood delivered a babbling, oft-times incoherent, 12-minute speech at the Republican National Convention was because he’s old - 82 years old.

After the inexcusable insult to seniors everywhere, the over-opinionated talk show host continued:
[Maddow] It started off with him clearly off-prompter talking, rambling, about conservatives in Hollywood. He did make one point about the end of the war in Afghanistan and fake interviewed an empty chair as if it was Barack Obama, the President of the United States, swearing at him.
Not knowing when to stop, Maddow continued her vindication [?] towards the elderly Eastwood even after the Oscar award winner had left the stage and the next speaker had taken the stage. As Marco Rubio took the stage, Rachel Maddow still went on about Clint Eastwood by saying:
[Maddow] That was the weirdest thing I’ve ever seen at a political convention in my entire life, and it will be the weirdest thing I’ve ever seen if I live to be 100.
Now, I've got a mom who's lapped the century mark, lives on her own and manages the bulk of her affairs, so Examiner staffer Scott Paulson, let me tell you I'm quite familiar with age discrimination and that wasn't it despite your desire it be so. One doesn't get to claim the mental capacity to control his decision-making, perform on the public stage then suddenly proclaim criticism of that art is off limits. Or if mentioning age is in itself a sin, why would you do so with Todd Akin here or with Cher and her mother here or with Joan Rivers here?

Let's call it what it was: a stupid, frat boy prank, trying to one-up a convention hall of crazy, gone horribly awry. Attempts to rehabilitate the foolhardy act by allies, and even the actor himself, are much like waking up after an embarrassing bender. Your choices boil down to: live for what seems like ever in humiliating regret or pretend you meant that shit and laugh along with the tales of your drunken debauchery.

Clint has chosen the latter, opting for the "I really meant that shit" defense, as he told the Carmel Pine Cone (an interview with a live person, not an inanimate seed-bearing structure). Which is cool. It has little impact on my future interactions with Eastwood productions: I wasn't planning to spend money to see him before and I won't in the aftermath. If he's on the tube doing some show I otherwise enjoy, I'll tolerate him.

After all, he chose to diminish his own star. He's got to live with it ... not me.

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