Sunday, October 19, 2008


The Cinema of Politics and the decline of American culture

Rarely do I make political commentaries unless in conversation with intelligible people. I don’t feel the need to beat anyone over the head with what I believe, but I will be happy to share if provoked.

And lately, I’m feeling pretty damn provoked.

The catalyst for this little rant is none other than Oliver Stone’s latest cinematic decline; W. From the trailers I thought that W might be a humorous and over-the-top satire from the left, something along the lines of Dr. Strangelove or even Dave.

Instead, what we have is a deranged director’s vision played out on screen, as if supplanting his living room rants about how much he hates Bush and what he has “done” to the Country by creating a movie out of them.

First off, this movie has no idea what it’s about. While trying to appear at first humorous, then satirical, then deeply serious, then suddenly surreal, this movie has no direction, no purpose. Perhaps, Stone felt that this was his perfect homage to the subject himself. Unfortunately, he forgot that the average moviegoer would be watching this drivel…and that likely all the real players involved would be avoiding it like the plague.

And so, like Alexander before it, I suffered heartily through W. Anyone that enjoys this movie and sees it to be brilliant is a complete and utter moron. It doesn’t matter what your politics are; there is nothing of value in this film. Everyone raves about Josh Brolin’s portrayal and he is a phenomenal actor, especially of late, and bears an uncanny resemblance to Bush in many scenes to be sure. However, all he really does in the movie is eat.

Apparently, that’s what President Bush does. He just eats and talks and swigs beer and puts his boots up on the desk, all while sending us to war because God told him to.

Every actor in this film plays it so obvious that they absolutely hate the person they are portraying that the whole thing seems like an SNL skit. Whereas most “historical” films inspire the actor, whether he’s playing Hitler or Jesus, to delve into the character and become that person both good, bad, etc., this is a one trick pony. (Don’t tell me it can’t be done…HBO’s “John Adams” and “Generation Kill” are excellent examples of well researched historical dramas from very different eras.)

It is a true shame as most of the actors in the film are some of the best. Unfortunately, they all let Stone talk them into what amounts to an underdeveloped and unfocused hack job, which comes off more as a failed Broadway play than a film “based on a true story.” And really, where’s the “true” come from, Mr. Stone?

Nearly every scene in the film is completely fabricated. With the exception of recreating some speeches, this film is a complete fairy tale. There were no journalists in the room, no flies on the wall, and no documented accounts of the “narrative” that takes place from scene to scene.

I’m sure there are plenty of people who think there should be. That the everyday American public should have a live feed into the war room, just like Big Brother, where they can vote online as to what the President and his cabinet should do in every instance. (See the film “Idiocracy” to see your future if you agree with this sentiment.)

Stone didn’t contact a single person, a single individual, involved in this story. But, don’t take my word for it. And if that’s not enough to convince you, then by all means, dig further. That’s something most Americans are failing to do every day; fact check. Too lazy to go beyond the headlines on MSNBC. Stone has been documented saying that he was going to have a website up by the time of the release, which would back up his “claims.” I have yet to find one, not that it would matter, seeing as the fact remains that he didn’t consult with ANY of the people he’s portraying.

The truth is that this movie is nearly all fiction. Based on anecdotes, tall tales, and every unconfirmed piece of “history” he could find; it’s a bloated mess. Oliver Stone has fallen from grace completely. His politics as a liberal Democrat, anti-war buffoon, and peyote smoking hippy have served him well. Sadly, I admired Stone’s career early on; Platoon, Born on the Fourth of July, JFK, Natural Born Killers, Any Given Sunday; all powerful and strong films. And yes, nearly all of those had a political message. But, at least they had some kind of direction, whether I agreed with it or not. W has none of that. Muted and distorted “history,” conversations and events made up out of thin air, and a cast that is merely venting instead of acting.

If Brolin’s portrayal isn’t enough to convince you, watch Thandie Newton as Condeleeza Rice. I have no doubt that every time Stone called cut for her scenes, the entire cast and crew burst into laughter as if just watching Jim Carrey nail a comedic scene.

The portrayal of Bush’s acceptance of Christ is handled in a very condescending and stereotypical way as well, again with no basis on fact (and yes, I am a Christian.). The very concept of prayer is handled in a way to associate it with every bad thing that came from the Bush administration. I’m surprised that such a liberal would be so quick to bash Christianity when people of his stock are usually so quick to defend any and all other religions.

Stone has the skills to pull off a film that could have been meditative, focused, smart, and maybe, just maybe, accurate. Well, actually, I take that back. He doesn’t. Like Spike Lee, Stone is an old dog, focused on one thing; his own personal conspiracy theories. If Stone really felt that this was going to be a smart way to contribute to Obama’s campaign then he should have just sent him the money (which he has done anyways). And, in all actuality, he waited too long. Did he forget that the election is in less than a month from the opening?

The politics behind the making of this film, let alone the fact that it was even made, is what truly depresses me. And it should depress you too. Some say it is a tribute to the Country itself that an inaccurate mess like this can be made about a nation’s leader while he still holds office. But, that’s the tricky thing; by celebrating the fact that you can make this farce isn’t a celebration of America, it’s a celebration of the decline of our ideology. And good filmmaking.

I noted earlier about being provoked. Take a look at this little video if you haven’t already been subjected to it.

So, did you feel inspired or insulted by that video? Did you get the warm tinglies because one of your favorite actors “spoke” to you? If you felt inspired then you should just stop reading this and go put your head in a blender and hit puree. It’s over for you.

If you felt insulted then you are in the clear. Because, and you don’t need me to tell you this, they are insulting you. Apparently, the American public is too God-damned stupid to figure out that they should vote, or how to vote, or why to vote. Apparently, because we are working class people that pay our hard-earned money to make these bloated actors become rich and “famous,” we need them to take us by the hand, to lead us, and show us the way.

Certainly, with Hayden Panettiere paddling out on her surfboard to save dolphins (great acting by the way) or Madonna and Angelina Jolie adopting Africans, they have the background and education to tell us what is good for us. And, while they’re at it, while they’re putting out this “bipartisan” message, we flip the channel to see these very same actors, ALL OF THEM in fact, are supporters of Barrack Obama.

Go to P.Diddy’s website, the Vote or Die (what the fuck does this mean, anyway, I still don’t get it) poster child and you will be inundated with his video blogs in support of Obama as he TIVO’s speeches by McCain and Palin and plays it back to you while pretending he is in a horror movie.

Bipartisan my fucking ass.

Do you honestly, truly believe that P. Diddy wants you to simply vote? Are you fucking kidding me? P. Diddy wants you to vote for HIS CANDIDATE. He does NOT want you to vote for the other guy. Is that basis enough for you? Is P. Diddy, and his ridiculous webisodes enough to convince you of who you should check off on that ballot?

South Park, my favorite of all social commentator’s, seems to be the only ones that can transcribe P. Diddy's stance on voting.

There is no doubt that this is an important election. Guess what? THEY ALL ARE! There is no election that’s just ho-hum. The election of a President is HUGE, no matter what state the Country is in. There is ZERO difference here.

The fact that I am being inundated with ACTORS, people that make a living PRETENDING to be someone else, telling me how, when, and why I should vote is a slap in the face. I want to look all of them in the face and say one thing: “Don’t I pay your salary? Now, shut the fuck up and go make a movie.”

The POP CULTURIZATION of America is the saddest and most lethal thing that has swept this Nation in a long time. Instead of wanting to be good Americans, seeking out being a vital part of this Country, contributing to the economy, working to make things better through service and support, the new generation has become a generation of selfish crybabies who would rather be plastered on a magazine cover or featured in a reality TV show than be a part of the Country they live in.

They are starting to become the very things they preach that they aren’t: robots.

Sadly, many Americans are looking to celebrities for their own voice. What happened? Did we forget to pick up a book? To research? To learn? To decide for ourselves? That is what our Country is founded on!

I attended a small business seminar last month and we were discussing how truly difficult it can be to run a small business and how hiring employees today from the most current generation has hurt these businesses. The reason is because this next generation, the Y generation, has become more like the Y-me? Generation. They are selfish, self-involved, lazy, and completely without any hard work ethic. They are part of an instant gratification generation, with point and click temporary solutions to permanent problems.

And before I pigeonhole an entire generation, let me say that I am deeply proud of those that fall in the category of those who do NOT act or conduct their lives in this manner. Fortunately, not all hope is lost and I am thankful to those who still believe in working hard and earning the things they want out of life rather than impatiently waiting for it to be downloaded into their lap.

Unfortunately, too many parents and teachers have neglected to teach this to their children. Someone has stopped paying attention, so the kids have turned to who does give them attention; such as Paris Hilton. Ah, yes, here we go again with her. I’m sure you’re so sick of her being compared to what’s wrong with America. Why, because you like making excuses for her? Is she really someone you want your child to look up to? Give me a fucking break. She should be banned from planet Earth.

And she is to blame. Along with all the rest of the “Hollywood elite,” the privileged few who make ten to twenty million dollars a movie and feel that that gives them the right to dictate your own thoughts and feelings to you.

Now, let’s be clear. I am a Republican. Plain and Simple. And I KNOW why I’m a Republican. I don’t simply say it to stir your blood or get attention. I am a member of that party because it is closer to my views on this Nation, on education, healthcare, economy, and foreign policy, etc., than any other party. Not to mention the fact that the majority of liberals can never seem to come up with a realistic solution. It’s always very broad and dramatic, like that little kid you humor in class who says ridiculous off the wall shit. We all stop, have a laugh, and then get back to grown up talk.

Years ago, before I had really developed what I felt or thought or why I leaned right or left, I simply regurgitated what I heard others say, namely my parents and friends. I was in a conversation with my Godfather and we were talking about President Reagan. I was nineteen and cocky and didn’t know jack shit about politics. I blurted out that I thought Reagan was a good president.

And I learned the most valuable lesson, not only about politics, but about knowledge, both of the facts and of oneself. My Godfather asked me the showstopper: WHY? Why did I think President Reagan was a good president? I had no answer. I shrugged my shoulders and said, “I don’t know, I just think he did a good job.”

His response? Bullshit. I had no idea what I was talking about. And my Godfather called me on it. He looked me in the eyes and explained that it’s okay to have an opinion, but make sure you know what you’re talking about. Don’t just blurt shit out if you don’t know what you’re saying. It makes you look stupid and rightly so.

I’m paraphrasing, but that’s the gist of it. And he was right. God bless him, he was right.

I have never forgotten that lesson. It has stuck with me every day of my life. It is imbedded in my subconscious.

This is a lesson that all nineteen year olds should learn. Especially in this Country, where the Hollywood elite are preaching down to us like we are moronic cattle. Use your own brain, learn the facts, learn to check the facts, and formulate your own opinion.

Did Leonardo DiCaprio’s performance in Titanic sway you enough to vote for his candidate? What about Jay-Z? Did Matt Damon kick enough ass in the Bourne movies to convince you that he has the knowledge and insight to get you to vote for his choice?

Then, there’s David Letterman, who blasted McCain every night on his show because he didn’t stop by (or cancelled his appearance, I can’t remember which.) Who gives a shit? Since when did appearing on a late night TV show have anything to do with what kind of President you will be? Now all candidates have to be good sports? I, for one, was proud of McCain for not showing. He didn’t owe David Fucking Letterman shit. Then he went and did it anyway and claimed that he (McCain) screwed up!

Suffice it to say, I am hugely disappointed in McCain for saying he screwed up. Bullshit. He should have come on the show and said, “Dave, listen, I’m not trying to be a late night celebrity guest…I’m trying to become President of the United States. I have shit to do, I’m sure you understand.”

Alas, I am not McCain’s advisor.

The focus for a candidate to appear on a talk show or entertainment program is just stupid. Debates, town hall meetings, or a news-style interview is where you can learn something about the person you may choose to run for President, and more importantly, what they are going to do for you if elected.

Instead, so many Americans are getting invested in a candidate because they play the fucking saxophone or cross country ski. What the fuck do any of those things have to do with how they will run the Country?!

And while we’re all congratulating Tina Fey on her impersonation of Sarah Palin, let’s not forget that she has openly been quoted as saying that if Palin wins then she (Fey) is going to leave the planet. I wonder who she wants you to vote for? The line between farce and satire in pop culture has clearly been crossed. No longer is it about entertainment…it’s now an all out media war to see how much they can sway you to their side.

(A side note on Palin and Alaska. I live in Alaska, which doesn’t make me an automatic supporter of hers, but the fact remains that Alaska is pretty well split on those for and against her. What really pisses me off is, once again, the uneducated “lower 48” who seem to think that Alaska is an insignificant group of 500 people, mostly Eskimos, who live in Igloos and eat seal pup for breakfast. Get the facts straight before you start shit-talking. I’m so sick of the elitist attitude that judges any state that isn’t blue. It is the United States of America, not the United Blue (or Red) States of America.

Put the gavel down and read a book.

Alaska is a smaller population than most, which is why I continue to live here, where I am not suffocated by overpopulation and excess taxes. Alaska is the best kept secret in the Union.)

Surprisingly, an unlikely celebrity to really get the picture on celebrity endorsements is none other than Kid Rock (who openly supports the military rather than any political party…and yes, the military is generally Republican). In a quote from CMT Insider, Rock said, "I truly believe that people like myself, who are in a position of entertainers in the limelight, should keep their mouth shut on politics.”

"Because at the end of the day," he goes on to say, "I'm good at writing songs and singing. What I'm not educated in is the field of political science. And so for me to be sharing my views and influencing people of who I think they should be voting for ... I think would be very irresponsible on my part."

Do you really believe that all the young kids out there who are waving the Obama signs are tried and true Democrats and know why? The first thing they will throw in your face is how we “need change.” No shit. Change is coming no matter what. What change are we talking about here? Explain the change he’s bringing…I have no doubt you will mostly be met with the sound of crickets chirping. And that certainly doesn’t excuse the McCain supporters who don’t have a response either.

Certainly, some of them may have a righteous and justified response; good for them. That’s how it should be. However, many are suffering from the same nineteen-year-old regurgitation syndrome. Go to You Tube and watch videos of supporters for both Obama and McCain. You will find moronic and stereotypical comments which will shame both political parties. Watch some of the yourmanonthestreet interviews and you will see my point.

This is why it is so important to get educated, get off the bandwagon, and really KNOW what you are saying, what you believe and why.

Even my beloved comic book medium has gotten into the bullshit. Fuck you Erik Larson. Go draw something.

I’m not writing this to convince you to vote for anyone. I’m writing this to shine the spotlight back on the actors, singers, comedians, and every other socio-political celebrity who is trying to brainwash you into their corner. This is your wake up call. Don’t hit the snooze button.

Put down the US Weekly and step away from the celebrity. I want to explain something to you, and I’m going to do it without trying to get you to vote for any one particular candidate. My bias is already clear. Plus, I don’t make more than ten million dollars a year and am not featured regularly on TMZ.

Let’s set the record straight on one thing; a candidate does NOT need to be regarded as a celebrity. There is a distinct difference, which is the root of the whole problem to begin with. A candidate needs to be versed on the issues that face the Nation and have a clear direction for how to handle those issues and steer the nation. They don’t have to sing, dance, act, play the sax, snowboard, or watch The Hills. If you think different about that, then please plug in your blender and get to work.

You do NOT need a celebrity to tell you who to vote for. They do not have your best interests in mind. Just because they support Barrack Obama or John McCain does not mean that you have to as well. What you, as a citizen of this great Country need to do, is get informed. I say the below without being condescending. I say it because I really care about this Nation, and I want you to know, if you don’t already, the truth.

First, you need to learn how to discern between fact and fiction. You need to learn about who has a bias to one side or the other. Yes, this is going to take some reading, some research, and some involvement. Believe it or not, every newspaper, every TV network, every media outlet has one bias or another, some stronger than others. Here’s a resource to get you started. Once you learn these, then you will be able to pull the facts and discard the bullshit from everything you read and hear, rather than taking it at face value.

And let’s not forget that you should have a working knowledge of the U.S. Constitution, the history of the United States as a whole, and how we instill that system into a working democracy. In order to become a citizen of this Nation if you weren’t born here you must be tested and pass. Here is a sample. See where you fall.

Now, once you are able to do that, you need to dive a little deeper. If you can’t decide which party you fall under, Democrat or Republican or, even worse, a green party or other, then it’s time to do even MORE research and learn how the parties were created, why they were created, which politicians have held office in those groups, what they have done, and ultimately, what they stand for.

You can even see who is endorsing who!

Based on your own situations, experiences, beliefs, and education, you will most likely be able to figure out which party suits your interests.

Once you are all caught up, you should begin to research what both Obama and McCain stand for. Look at the issues. More importantly, look at the issues that affect you. You don’t need me to explain the rest. Then, listen to the candidates, watch their debates, and soak in what they have to say. At that point you will decide for yourself.

Furthermore, you need to know how the election process works. You should have a good understanding of the Electoral College and how your vote counts. Here’s a great resource, where you can even look up how each state voted with the official documents. Most people have no fucking clue. I dare you to test me and ask five people you know to explain it to you.

That all sounds like a lot of work, doesn’t it? It is. But, it’s the price of freedom. And that freedom is being able to decide for yourself and not having Halle Berry decide for you.

However, as the ME Generation continues to grow and the reality TV show mindset flourishes, we lose sight more and more of what it means to be an American, of what our government is built upon, and how we can go about keeping it alive and well while keeping it fair and balanced.

For once, I will agree with that most annoying of slogans: Kill your TV. Shut it off and learn to decide for yourself.

If Oliver Stone, P. Diddy, and Hayden Panetierre are the inspiration for your check in the box on November 4th, then this Country is truly doomed. And it won’t be the loud-mouth celebrity to blame. It will be your fault for listening to them.

Here’s my “don’t vote” spiel. Don’t vote because a celebrity tells you to. Don’t vote for a certain candidate because a celebrity endorses him. Don’t vote because it’s your right as an American.

Get smart and vote as an informed voter, aware of the issues, the parties, the politics, the history and because you have a genuine, knowledgeable opinion on what you feel is best for you and for the Country. Vote for the candidate whom you feel has your best interests and the Nation’s in mind. Above all else, remember this:


Your vote will always count as long as you turn in a ballot, but you’re vote will never really count if you don’t know who you’re voting for and why. If that’s the case and you’re doing it for a celebrity, then by all means, take their advice from the first minute of their bullshit PSA…

…and for the love of God, don’t vote.

As for the movie grade for “W”; let’s switch the “W” for an “F” and call it a day.


Craig W. said...

Right on brother. I have punched out of the political debate after realizing that the content value has been zero since the conventions. Its all entertainment, which is why celebrities cannot resist the urge to get involved. They understand it so much better than the average person (entertainment, not politics). While I have an opinion on who is the better man, I'm no longer convinced it makes a difference. 10 to 1 the winner continues most policies in effect. The bailout, the wars, etc. etc. Its not like we are going to abdicate possession of first place or anything.

Scott said...

YES SIR Big Brother!!! Well put and I hung on every word you had to say, it couldn't be more true. I even find myself being an idiot and not knowing everything. Don't get me wrong, I would never vote based off of what Hollywood or whatever celeb had to say. I will spread the word my brother.

Zaki said...

Spell it out, man...what are you trying to say???


Alberto said...

Paulie . . you sound like you've allowed your emotions (anger) to cloud YOU'RE JUDGEMENT. The posting sounds like something I heard on Fox. I could give a shit about the movie . . but the politics of this election is overwhelmingly important.

We need to talk. You've confused too many overlapping issues, and unfortunately it's clouded your vision.

I don't disagree at all about influence of the "Entertainment" industry, but it's a sword that cuts both blue and red. However,entertainers also are allowed to be passionate about their beliefs, and if the lemmings follow them over the cliff. . then whose fault is it ?

And as much as you don't want to be pigeon holed . . you labelled yourself as a Republican. Talk about pigeon holed. I prefer to be labelled (if I must be) as an American. I have no party affiliation (which I think is dangerous). The only party I have is my personal principles.

And regardless of your party affiliation, you must question the judgement of anyone that would choose as VP, someone with so few credentials. Let me put it this way . . if you had to go to the doctor for serious surgery, would you want someone who is "just like you", "one of the guys", to do the surgery, or would you want one of the best, most credentialled, qualified individuals removing that brain tumor. That's not what you get with the current selection of Sarah Palin. And I don't want just "one of us" being a heartbeat away from the most powerful positions on this planet. I want someone that is skilled, solid, experienced and worthy of such responsibility. And her selection was driven by politics, not by what's best for the country. Pure Politics. THAT itself should give you pause. And I don't give a shit about which "party" she belongs to.

Failure to see that is evidence of emotional, cloudy thinking.

OK, I've have to get back to work . . but we should talk.

Later bro,


PSHI said...

From the Godfather himself...Great to hear your comments, as always.

However, if we are talking about experience (or lackthereof) then I find that Obama is in the same window as Palin.

Personally, I'm not excited about her. And I don't throw my vote out there just to run with the pack. However, I agree with McCain on way more issues than Obama (especially foreign policy and health care).

Truth be told, I'd be happier if it were McCain/Biden. But, that's just me.

My foreign policy is not that of Oliver Stone, who is very quick to remind you that he has been to "real" war and smelled the burning flesh, etc. and that has influenced him to view things (war, especially) in a certain light. (Let's not leave out the fact that his war experiences have made him a millionaire).

Not everyone that goes to war, or "real" war, as Stone calls it, comes back a broken and frightened individual. Many continue the fight and others continue their lives, even if with a few scars.

The point is, we don't all become anti-war crybabies like Stone. My politics didn't evolve to the left because I have seen war and its ugliness.

I have seen things very differently...and that is of what it takes to follow through, what it means to sacrifice.

Sure, my emotions are high. Aren't everyone's at this stage in the game? And that's a good thing, regardless of who you are rooting for.

And the further point, which is derived of being beaten over the head by the Hollywood elite, is that I don't need them to tell me what to do.

I need them to make better movies.

It is great to get people talking and thinking...but not when you're just trying to get them to sway to their side.

My point, which is hit multiple times throughout the blog, is that people need to think for themselves and figure out for themselves who they are voting for and why.

I'm tired of hearing people say they believe in one thing or another but can't justify why. Do you want lemmings deciding who your next President is? I don't.

They have to understand those issues, they have to understand what they are saying.

You should know this better than taught me the lesson...grasshopper.

I do declare myself a Republican, unapologetically. However, I do not view myself as an extreme in that case.

PSHI said...

Oh...and by all means...would love to talk in person. Shoot me an e-mail sometime and I'll ring ya.

judithestelle said...

Very thought provoking commentary. Sarah Palin is more experienced and better qualified than BO. As a woman, I know her strength. I'm weary of the media, political pundits, newspapers and the rest of those who have the privilege of providing us with their commentary bashing this amazingly bright, experienced and capable public servant. And shame on you women out there who are on that same train. Barack Obama and Joe Biden have just as much responsiblity to be fathers to their children as Sarah Palin to be a mother. It is not OK for them to be 'away' campaigning because they are men/candidates.

I watched the last debate between McCain and Obama and noticed immediately that once a question was asked, Obama began his answer, usually by saying "first of all, let me say this about...", and never answered the question asked of him. And he got away with it! And what could anyone have possibly gleaned from his oratory, except to say, 'Wow, I don't know what he said but he said it well'?

Yes, we all need to vote. Don't think for one minute that it doesn't matter. Do not believe the polls. Nobody ever called me or stopped me on the street to ask me which candidate I was going to vote for and why? I don't know anyone who has had that experience, either. I absolutely do not believe in the polls. They are fabricated numbers, designed to make us feel that it is pointless to cast our ballot.

Remember when the exit polls said John Kerry was beating W? Again, don't drive home on election day because the radio tells you your candidate is losing, or winning for that matter. Go to the real polling place. Cast your vote!!!

This response, I realize, is rather fragmented. I am sick of Hollywood changing their professions to politics. I want to see good movies, with great acting, and hilarious LOL humor, and tearjerking human moments of caring and love and compassion. I want to see heroes and heroines, good guys and bad guys. I want to see good triumph over evil, and I don't want to be clouded by any actor's politics. Right now, they all suck,including the directors and producers! Hollywood, America needs great entertainment. Please return to your sets and locations and learn your scripts and try to make a great movie!

Mr. Boy said...

"by celebrating the fact that you can make this farce isn’t a celebration of America, it’s a celebration of the decline of our ideology. And good filmmaking."

Great quote. Living in the thick of the thick of the Hollywood elitest, ill-informed tom-foolery, it saddens me how many people in and around my office have indeed celebrated Stone's lates atrocity as a "genius satire."

This coming from the very same people that support Obama because it's cool to do so.

Liberals stand up for freedom of speech, yet are the first to denounce and humiliate those who disagree with their agenda.

Not ALL liberals, but again, understand that I'm swimming in it out here in La La Land.

Fuck, I hate living out here sometimes.

I hate being lambasted and looked at like I'm a baby-killer whenever I announce that I'm a Republican.

I think the people's need to label something in order to associate with it is truly depressing.

"Oh, you're a Replublican? That means you must eat puppies and shoot tin cans off your back porch."

"Oh, you're a Democrat? That means you must hug trees and not know why you do it."

Just because I'm a Red Sox fan doesn't mean I wouldn't want Derek Jeter on my company softball team because he's a Yankee.

Good blog, my friend. As always, entertaining and thouroughly thought-provoking.

Zaki said...

Paul -

Having re-read your post just now, let me first say that I enjoyed it greatly. That said, I do have some thoughts...

Regarding celebrities, while I don't disagree in principle, we must also remember that celebrities are people too, and they don't stop having opinions just because they're in the public eye. The fact that people care who they support says more about those people than about those celebrities. Your implication is that they must, of necessity, be uninformed about what they're advocating for.

You point to "Vote or Die," which I agree is a stupid catchphrase, and you say Diddy is actually trying to get you to vote for HIS guy. I disagree. He's saying get out there and vote. Same with that (stupid) "Fine, Don't Vote" video. Does he have a horse in the race? Sure, but who doesn't? As a teacher, I say the same thing in my classes. Register. Get active. Get informed.

Does that not mean that I have a preference for how it turns out? Of course I do. I'd be lying if I said I didn't. But it's more important to me that people get out there and be a part of the process.

Say what you will about Matt Damon or DiCaprio, they've consistently shown themselves to articulate, and versed in the issues. That they happen to lean left shouldn't be used as reason to damn them.

Same with Erik Larsen on Dragon. He has a pulpit, he's using it. I fail to see the problem with that. You happen to disagree with the sentiment he's expressing, but say, for a second, that it was John McCain that the Savage Dragon was endorsing. Would you have the same reaction? Now if someone supports Obama based solely on an endorsement from a fictional superhero, then that says a whole lot (or not much) about them, but I don't see why Erik Larsen shouldn't feel free to say whatever he wants in the confines of his own comic, whether I agree with it or not.

You talk about Letterman and McCain, and Letterman ragging on him for cancelling. But it wasn't that. As he said right at the start, when McCain said "I've gotta fly back to Washington and take care of this," Dave said "Of course, go!" It was only when it turned out that McCain was still in New York, making nice with Katie Couric, that Letterman called him out and had some fun at his expense. This has nothing to do with partisanship and everything to do with comedy. Would he have done the same thing if it was Obama? Come on, do you really think he wouldn't have?

Anyway, just some random thoughts from my end of the pool. I'd love for you to stop by Zaki's Corner and leave your thoughts. We probably disagree on just about everything, but I enjoy our discussions, regardless.

paul said...

Good comments. Here are mine.
Yes, indeed celebrities are people, American citizens in many cases, who have the right to vote for whomever they choose.
However, to say that we are all on the same playing field as far as who we reach is beyond far-fetched.
I mean, honestly, how many people really trapse through our blogs? We are not famous celebrities and don't garner much more attention than word of mouth from our friends and or random myspace/facebook surfers.
To say that they don't use their status to garner attention for THEIR candidate is completely offbase.
Of course they do and they know it. It's a common understanding that's never addressed. The majority play it "safe" by doing obnoxious PSA's or ridiculous venues (vote or die) to show that they are just trying to get you to simply vote.
Come on. Seriously. Nobody wants you to just vote. If P. Diddy spent all his hours and goof ass webisodes trying to get you to just vote and McCain won the election he would be beyond pissed and very vocal about it.
And I don't believe for one second that anyone who is rooting for Obama would simply be happy that everyone took part in the process rather than their candidate winning out. Same for McCain.
My point is two-fold (or three fold if you want to include Stone's absurd film); My problem with celebrities is that the content of their messages, the gimmick, the "entertainment" in which they portray their message is demeaning to me.
I don't find myself to be the smartest man in the world. I'm about slightly above average on that one. However, I am smart enough to research the issues on my own and am very well versed on why I should take part in the voting process.
I absolutely do not need, want, or feel they have the right to inundate me with their bullshit messages about how important it is to vote, only to change the channel and see them at an Obama rally cheering for change.
It's manipulative to the highest degree and shows their true colors. At least be honest. I would respect all of them so much more if they just came out and said, "Look, I'm an actor, it's my job, it's how I contribute to society, and for my money, for my beliefs, and my peace of mind, I think Barrack Obama is the best candidate to run the U.S." The end.
Instead, they are disguising their intent with something else. It's insulting.
As for P. Diddy. Go to his homepage. Watch blog #26, entitled "Barrack Obama Could Lose This Election". Then, come back and tell me that he's only trying to get people to vote.
There is no dispute on this one.
Erik Larsen. Truth be told, I stopped reading Savage Dragon years ago. However, I think that when you take a medium that is supposed to be available to everyone and start throwing in your political, religious, etc., views that you alienate your reader.
Now, you can't please everyone all the time. That's just the way it is. And it is HIS book, so he can do what he wants. But, guess what, he just lost me as a reader (if I ever decided to start reading it again anyways).
I don't want to know who Iron Man or Captain America or The Hulk will vote for. Truth be told, I read those books as an escape from normalcy. That's what makes them fun.
But, as you say, it's his book and he can do what he wants. However, he's taking a risk and that risk could mean losing money and fans and at what price? I don't think it's worth it.
The Letterman/McCain thing is just plain silly. And I will digress, as I did in the original post, that I am not fully versed on the entire scenario as it is a bit confusing.
I'm sure he would have gotten Obama just the same, but it further delves into my point. Neither candidate should be at all concerned with catering to a late night talk show. Good manners? Sure. Understood. Professionalism? Absolutely. However, everyone makes mistakes and everyone misjudges at times. I think the whole thing was made way too big of a deal.
Honestly, I would be partial if Larsen endorsed McCain, but in my own selfish biased way. However, I would also feel that it's dangerous to do so in that medium and, ultimately, wrong to do so, the same as with a celebrity.

And the driving point of the entire post is that we, as Americans, have got to STOP listening to celebrities, who, while passionate about their candidate or maybe, just maybe, simply passionate about the voting process, are NOT the voice of the people.

The people ARE the voice. And the only way they will realize that is to learn to think for themselves and not be led by a biased actor.

Americans must get off their lazy asses and LEARN, the big ugly word that so many hate. Learn the process, the political system, and about the candidates, without an outright biased person with a personal agenda.

I am encouraging individuality, free-thinking, and education. I don't want to live in a country of lemmings (even though I pretty much already do).

I have the deepest respect for those who are informed and educated about what they believe and why, no matter what party they are in.

You, my friend, are one of those few. We disagree politically almost completely, and maybe closer than we think. However different though, based on your own blogs and thoughts (and bias), I know that you are informed and could probably tell me what "change" Obama is selling, whereas most man-on-the-street supporters couldn't tell you shit.

I stop by your corner regularly but usually don't get involved with your political blogs, honestly, out of respect. However, I will be sure to engage you professionally if it arises within me next time.

I love a good debate. I love hearing people talk about their candidates when they know what they're saying. What I don't love is someone other than the candidates themselves trying to convince me to vote for either.

I can do that myself, thankyouverymuch, Matt Damon.

There is more to be said and I'm glad it got you thinking and punching back. Good to hear from you Z, as always.

Mr. Boy said...

In this generation of TMZ, Pop Gossip websites, and "candid" photos of celebrities frollicking on the beach or squeezing out of limousines with their crotches exposed - - celebrities are VERY aware of how easily swayed and manipulated their audiences are.

Ashton Kutcher knows the kind of pull he has with the US Weekly-reading, People's Court-watching housewives of America.

Celebrities know.

And to use that knowledge to benefit their own causes and beliefs is irresponsible.

Just as McCain and Co. should take accountabilty for the actions of their more violently vocal supporters, the P Diddy's and DiCaprio's of the world should be accountable for playing puppet-master to the lazy, ill-informed, Ashton-worshiping zombies of the world.

It would be more "tolerable" would they just come out and say "hey we support Obama, but that's just us."

But they know what they're doing. I live in Hollywood, I've dealt with some of these people personally. I've worked with people who have shared horror stories.

I'm not saying that every movie and tv star is an evil, manipulative, SOB. But I can verify that many of them (more than there should be) are pompous, greedy, egomaniacs who love being popular, and are only looking out for number one.

It's their job to be famous. The more famous they are, the more money their movies make. It takes a certain personality to live that life.

With great power come great responsibility...and all that nonsense.

I agree with the Kid Rock quote. It's not up to Matt Damon and Courtney Cox to decide our futures for us. And I think it's irresponsible for them to chime in their two cents knowing that 9 out of 10 people will be effected by what they have to say.

Brian said...

Your journey to the dark side is complete, my son.

BTW, I'm suing you for copyright infringement, as this rant was clearly tape-recorded on an 11 hour convoy ride in the back of an LMTV through the mountains of Afghanistan in 2004. Updated for current events, mind you, but I can still tell.

I like the Don't Vote concept. Ideally, isn't that the best percentage? No one votes but me? Why would I want anyone else canceling me out?

Zaki said...

To say that they don't use their status to garner attention for THEIR candidate is completely offbase.


Just to be clear, I'm not saying that. The point I'm making is more, so what? Let 'em talk. Let 'em advocate. Let them be passionate. Some will sound like geniuses, some will sound like idiots. Some will sound like both to different people.

The bottom line for me is that I don't feel the need to get bothered when someone in the public eye feels the need to mouth off about whatever issue, be it elections or sweatshops or what have you. Either I'll agree with them and say right on, or I'll disagree with them and say "whatever." As an example, Jon Voight wrote a piece in, I wanna say, The Wall Street Journal, a few weeks back in which he made the case for John McCain. Now, it wasn't so much who he was backing, but what I felt was a totally batshit insane argument which I felt fell apart under the most basic scrutiny. Now, does that mean I don't think Jon should be out there fighting for his guy? Hell, whaddo I care. I know where he stands, so I know where to file his opinion.

And just to be fair, the same goes for the other side of the aisle when they make lunatic arguments that, though I may agree with the overall point, is not made intelligently. I know what to think of it.

That said, while I don't doubt that some celebs wear political views based on whatever happens to be fashionable at that moment, I also believe that many are knowledgeable, nuanced, and intelligent.

There's this notion that "liberal" equates to "naive" or even "stupid" that I take umbrage to, as I alluded to earlier elsewhere, and I say this as someone who doesn't even classify himself as such. Lord knows I have plenty of basic, foundational disagreements with people who classify themselves as conservatives, but that doesn't mean there aren't areas that I can find common ground with them on (and I mean classical conservatives in the William Buckley-George Will mold as opposed to ideological conservatives like Rush Limbaugh or Sean Hannity).

I guess, long and short, I feel like the onus of responsibility should be on the people who hear the various political messages put out, whether by celebs or pundits or surrogates, rather than the people speaking those messages. One of the trade-offs of living in a democracy (or, if you want to get technical, a representative republic) is that the populace has to be knowledgeable and engaged.

So I guess we kind of agree! Yay!

Anonymous said...

As someone who has lived without broadcast television going on three years now, all of America's ignorance and shallowness originates from that single contraption. Think about it. It's a passive experience, unlike the internet in which YOU seek out the information you want, not the other way around. Television "teaches" you everything you know about what to think, do, wear, eat, or purchase, whether you realize it or not. I never have to get caught up in the latest pop culture/celebrity whatever of the month because I'm never even aware of it to begin with.

People who let their kids watch it deserve what happens as a result.

Cancel your cable and subscribe to Netflix instead. Trust me, you'll have a lot more time to read.


Anonymous said...

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