We often hear people refer to entertainment as threat-less, as in "It's just a movie," or "It's only a story." The bullets shot in blockbuster action movies are blanks, falls from buildings are all staged, and White House-destroying explosions are created only with pixels. Fantasy, not reality. On the other side of fictional narrative is its credibility—stories are supposed to "suspend disbelief" so that audiences can journey along with the tale presented. When it comes to portraying real people, many directors and writers will give interviews in which they insist the historical characters were researched down to the last eye blink and pinky movement. But for a writer, director, and actor to carve out the personality in question, they make a series of choices: which scenes in this person's life to present? Which known statements to recreate? Which relationships to highlight and which to leave absent from the screen? Even if the people in question were consulted for a particular retelling—which is not usually the case—there must remain a gap between the whole of their lives and the film version. In this case then, these films may say something about the era in which they were produced, as well as our cultural need for a particular representation.
Maybe you've been seeing Sarah Palin in the news "news" recently? She's touring American landmarks with her family in a big ugly bus to "promote the Fundamental Restoration of America." Should you be scared that those words are capitalized? I am. One of Palin's recent stops was New York City, where in addition to dining with Donald Trump, she visited the Statue of Liberty and Ellis Island. What better place to appreciate the work and impact of immigrants in the United States! Oh wait, she decided this would be a good place to trash the DREAM Act.
Since the violence that took place in Arizona over the weekend goes beyond the term "douche-y", and since it would be much too obvious to award the Decree to Sarah Palin for her crosshairs graphic and "blood libel" comment (let's just call her an honorary Douchebag for life), I thought I'd do a roundup of some of the most interesting and the douchiest discussions of violence, rhetoric, and totally inappropriate anti-semitic references that have come up over the last few days.
After the 2008 election, one of the first books that made the rounds of the daytime news shows came from none other than John McCain's daughter, Meghan. Of particular interest to the talking heads in the wake of Barack Obama's win was the enigmatic, rogue-designee Sarah Palin. Meghan had some choice words for her father's running mate, saying:
I was waiting for her to explode. There was a fine line between genius and insanity, they say, and choosing her as the running mate was starting to seem like the definition of that line.
Many pundits soon followed, casting doubt on Palin's ability to manage her own campaign, assailing her readiness for leadership, and questioning her competence—the same general terrain taken up by Democrats in the election itself. Fast forward to 2010, after the midterm elections. Politico ran an article recently about Sharron Angle's Senate campaign in Nevada, and it is a more than a little déjà vu in tone. I started wondering if there were any real similarities, and figured that for good measure, I'd take a look at what the political pundits are also saying about Christine O'Donnell, failed GOP contender for the junior Senator seat from Delaware. Was I just having a psychic whiplash, or were there any patterns in these three different races?
There is the subject of politics and then there is entertainment. And never the twain shall meet, right? Wrong. So unbelievably wrong. In news of the "please don't record this," it leaked today that TLC—that's The Learning Channel, for those who are television newbies—is doing some crossover Kate Gosselin and Sarah Palin shows. This is not your mother's Law & Order and Homicide: Life on the Street mash up. This is full on, polarizing mothers run in/rendezvous in the wild frontier of Alaska.