My Winter Of Discontent*
Sometimes it only takes a word to inspire the inclination to comment. One manipulatively reengineered utterance to awaken slumbering perplexity. Considering it in retrospect now, it’s a word that seems as if it was tailor made for political stonewalling. The word in question: misspoke!
Examples? President Obama claims he misspoke about people being able to keep their health insurance plans under the Affordable Care Act (they can’t) and Hillary Clinton misspoke when she was met with a hail of bullets on her arrival in Sarajevo (she wasn’t.)
Misspoke. A government approved word to obtain absolution as in, “I misspoke when I issued that order for a nuclear strike.” We’re used to elected officials never giving a straight answer (an attribute I grudgingly have great admiration for considering the difficulty in convincing a nation that your thoughtful and nuanced reply is actually nothing more than smoke and mirrors with a side of flim-flam) but with misspoke they have created just another weapon in their arsenal of BS to Teflon coat their ever increasing inadequacies.
It’s easy to blame yourselves as the key word in “elected officials” is “elected” so I guess we get what we vote for, right? But it trickles down to a lesser degree when you consider the bureaucratic make-up of our nation. I don’t want to say that as the moral fiber of our country disintegrates etc. because I’d be opening a can of worms that is difficult to dissect into personal points of view. And besides, I’d be sure to offend someone - and believe me we’re all so easily offended these days.
Anyway - one thing at a time. Yes, we elect, but these days it seems that what we are promised is increasingly non apparent on every level imaginable. Lying has become a national past time and, to a certain extent, totally acceptable. The fact that campaign spending is relentlessly out of control can give you some indication of what we’re dealing with. That any two politicians up for the presidency can imagine (with a straight face and no sense of irony attached) that their sense of entitlement is worth $2 billion is not only surreal but also humanely obscene, it not only fails democratically speaking but fails a nation that was built on the principle of taking care of its own.
While we as a people become lesser in the equation and our incentive to further ourselves is stifled by government (why follow your dreams when they just chop you off at the knees?) they as a collective become examples by which we can gauge obscenity and incompetence, their financial rewards are bountiful when ours are gutted.
How many more ass-grabbing, crack-smoking mayors and toilet-trading, sexting, penis taking congressmen selfies must we indulge before we realize that something is awfully wrong here? The traditional image of the straight talking stump speaker has been vaporized. It’s just lie after lie and denial, denial, no remorse, no sense of human failure and no belief that anything they’ve done is wrong. In a word, so contemporary!
I’m not assuming that everyone has to be Jimmy Stewart, and sure the image of politicians has always been slightly shady, but there have been a few good apples on either side of the political divide. Now sadly it seems we’ve traded in apples for nuts and raisins.
On a lesser level, city councils are infiltrated by thieves and carpet baggers while our courts are overseen by judges whose decisions depend on how their eggs were cooked for breakfast that morning. Lawyers hover like predatory birds circling the carcasses of the unfortunate, building mountains from grains of sand, padding bills and sucking clients dry. Government services want to neuter education and tell us how to raise our children, invade our space and presume to know better than us. Possibly among the red tape the good eggs exist, but the cream seems to have curdled on the top, and job qualifications appear to have sunk to the Mo, Larry and Curly level.
Hardly surprising then that this would have an abject affect on our culture, a culture where we’ve elevated the lowest common denominator to the status of cultural icon. Witness the rise of hillbilly chic. The red neck is in vogue and the trailer park is prime real estate. TV channels that once brought us educational documentaries and natural history shows are now fighting to see who can attain maximum exposure for the basest human flotsam. Toothless gator hunters and greasy pawnbrokers along with deranged families and freakish children battle for ratings along with the old standby of vacuous IQ deprived housewives and B list celebrities.
Incidentally note one ongoing theme, they're all white heterosexual bozos. Apparently, it’s perfectly acceptable in modern society to humiliate and lampoon this demographic, yet if the networks were to feature a rural black or a low income Latino family in the same stereotypical style they’d be handed their heads on a plate. Funny that!
What can we expect next? “Porn Stars of Studio City” a fun romp with the girls who make the San Fernando Valley sizzle. Or perhaps Bill Maher presents “Return to Rome” a laugh a minute chuckle as real Christians are thrown to the lions.
By the way, I love satirists. I don’t care which way they lean as long as it’s done with a deft touch and a sense of humor that’s original and intelligent. I happen to think Jon Stewart, Stephen Colbert and Dennis Miller have exceptional minds where as Bill Maher, who I dislike intensely, is simply smug, mean-spirited and wears more make-up than Bill O’Reilly or as a letter in “Vanity Fair” succinctly states:
No, we may no longer be the greatest country in the world, and to some degree it is because of self-righteous, pompous, and callous individuals like Maher, who somehow judge themselves to be superior human beings...
Oh, just one quick question in regards to television, commercials?! When did fast food commercials start catering to stoner/gamers, and for that matter slackers in general? It seems that the social media has created not only a generation addicted to instant gratification, bad diction and indecipherable spelling, but one that is now being courted as a bona fide social group…very inspiring.
Having said this, the above might not be quite as terrifying as this moment, every parents’ worst nightmare. The moment your growing child turns to you during a game day commercial, and utters those four words that can turn a grown man’s blood to ice water “Daddy, what’s erectile dysfunction?”
And seeing that I’ve nothing to lose here, let me weigh in on one more issue that has a high visibility rating of late, the 50th anniversary of the assignation of JFK and the myth of Camelot. Now before everybody starts going “Whoa, don’t go there,” just bear with me as I think there’s a relative thread here to some of my earlier observations.
Don’t get me wrong, Kennedy came along at the right time, revitalized a nation, made some groovy speeches and did some cool stuff. Can’t argue with the handling of the Cuban missile crisis and “Ask not what your country can do for you.” War hero, too, and a pretty nifty writer in the Churchill style, but saint and savior of the nation? Not really.
The Kennedy legacy has been coated with such a veneer of positive propaganda that the dark underbelly of Camelot has been emulsified. If Kennedy were in office today he’d either be one of two things: impeached or fitting right in with the current climate. After all he was a serial adulterer, profane and bought into office by his father Joe Kennedy one of the most despicable and corrupt men in American history. However JFK wasn’t the only tarnished Kennedy, the entire sanctified clan was and have been a Shakespearean consortium of reckless and tainted hellions.
According to Gore Vidal who wrote speeches for him, RFK couldn’t string two words together without an expletive in-between, and as for Edward, well he got into office and got away with murder. As for the rest, take your pick of all the above and add some, they were a bonnie lot mark my words. Rose must have been proud.
Obviously I’ll have many of you shaking your heads and I’m sure I’ll get the usual emails agreeing, disagreeing, chastising and chiding. Many will surely chalk it up to my curmudgeonly nature or try to piece the individual here with the individual they know as the artist in residence. Still, I write it as it comes to me, it’s what I perceive in my everyday life, it’s what I view through the telescope, up ahead and heading towards us fast.
By the way, a continued thanks for the emails. I read them all. Every one. There are many that are quirky, some that are simply complementary and those that touch me deeply, especially some of the more recent ones concerning “The Diving Board” and in particular the song “Oceans Away.”
Stay true to what you believe in and avoid any film advertised as “The feel good movie of the year.”
*I remain as always politically neutral.