"Cowardice asks the question...is it safe? Expediency asks the question...is it politic? Vanity asks the question...is it popular? But conscience asks the question...is it right? And there comes a time when one must take a position that is neither safe, nor politic, nor popular but one must take it because it is right." ~Dr. Martin Luther King

Friday, 30 May 2008

Mush Mush

Sidney Pollock died this week. He was seventy-three years old. He directed many Oscar winning unforgettable movies. Charlie Rose, my favourite PBS host devoted almost his hour long to recorded talks he had with Mr. Pollock over the past thirty years.

The substance of their chat was as follows; The best decade for movies was the seventies. They came on the heels of the revolutions and turmoils of the sixties. They were about relationships. The measure of success is when a movie gets inside a person's head and stays for at least a week.

Are good movies being made today? Nothing is as good as it could and should be. Box office returns for the first three days after release are all that matters. What happens afterwards is of no consequence. Sidney included books, T.V. programs, plays, journalism, in his judgement. He could have included politics and the lack of depth and substance that exists there as well.

From my perspective, Barak Obama is a classic example. A suit repeating an empty slogan, the icon hungry media echoing each other's vacuous observations over and over. The U.S. is well on its way to electing another media-created character to the White House.

Charlie had an interview with Tom Brokaw, another journalist, a few weeks ago. He said the hair stood up on the back of his neck the first time he heard Obama. He found his speech electrifying. I had a similarly powerful reaction. My skin crawled when I first heard him speak on the hustings. For a different reason; I heard him echo the voice of Martin Luther King Jr. He was using the cadence of King's speech, right down to the quaver in his voice when he coined the phrase "I have a dream."
I was horrified by the cynicism, the blatant calculation of that act and the exploitation of his audience. He never repeated it. My guess is someone with better judgement than himself advised against using such clearly reprehensible tactics.

The media's comments on the gaffe were conspicuous by their absence.

Days later, Obama vehemently denied rumours he is a Muslim. He claimed he had attended the same Christian church for twenty years. Striding across the platform he declared, "I talk to Jesus!"

The crowd roared their approval. Apparently they are hoping for another President with a direct line to Jesus. One who clearly believes being a Muslim is a definite negative. Not much inclusiveness there I thought.

Again the media were strangely silent.

I pondered how much courage it must have taken for Hilary Clinton to put herself out before her fellow Americans as a candidate for the most important and difficult job in the world. No-one could have a better understanding of the brutality she would encounter in the campaign. How often she re-iterates her profound belief she is living in a great country at a time of terrible problems and whatever happens, whoever becomes the democratic candidate, she will still consider herself to have been privileged to have had the opportunity.

Hilary Clinton is clearly a person of tremendous strength, stamina, intelligence and integrity. She has worked for years to prepare herself to be accepted as a serious candidate for the full weight of the presidency.

She stands fast against thrusting members of her own party who are eager to exploit the wave to elect a star and want her to throw in the towel before the fight is over "for the good of the party". Don't worry about the country, just let's focus on the party. They are surf-boarding like the media , hoping no doubt to find a place in the firmament, following a will o' the wisp, a phenomena with no more substance than a Second Coming of Elvis Presley.

I have tried to no avail, not to be drawn into the American political scene. I thought Al Gore had a strange demeanour. John Kerry looked and sounded slight, a bit like Stockwell Day. Bill Clinton did have the elusive quality of leadership.How else could he have survived that scandal of his own making? By all accounts John F. Kennedy's private behavior was no better but he did and still does to some extent escape the scrutiny of the media. George Bush is the most catastrophic historical event in living history.

If what is between the ears is more important than what is between the legs, Hilary on the other hand has everything to offer. Watching her continued denigration by America's media is exactly as Sidney Pollock described. Like myna birds they repeat each other's mindless babble. Their criticism of Hilary is without doubt the most brutal I have observed in the past forty years and it came from both sexes.

At one debate, the moderator a familiar and respected national journalist informed her how much she is hated and asked her to respond. No such question was posed to Barak Obama.

Hilary garners enthusiastic support all across the land but the fact escapes the attention of the media. Not all of them of course. It's never all of them. But the people making thoughtful and reasoned comments are drowned out by the cacophony of the talking heads of the chattering classes.

Nothing is as good as it could and should be. It is a triumph of mediocrity. Everything mulched to a tasteless, odourless, colourless mush. "All the easier to feed you with my dear", as the Big Bad Wolf said to Little Red Riding Hood.

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