I used to be a black and white thinker who found it hard to compromise. Now I just find it hard to compromise. The world and its issues no longer exist on a clear us vs. them color spectrum for me. Rather they waft across my mind in all sorts of shades, rainbow waves of color. (Note: Okay, sometimes flags). I suppose that’s progress. More probably, age.
Still, some things are still clear to me as I reflect this week on the passing of Nancy Reagan, the opening of Zootopia, and the outbreaks of vitriol and violence surrounding Donald Trump events.
- Ronald and Nancy Reagan’s willful ignorance/refusal to lead on the ADIS epidemic in the eighties, while they were co-leaders of the free world, cost the lives of tens of thousands of Americans (approximately 100 of whom were close friends and acquaintances of mine) and I loathe and detest them. No amount of revisionist history on the part of their acolytes or society at large will change that. Or the facts. (Note: For more on this read Randy Shilts’ And The Band Played On – or at very least its Wikipedia summary). (Note #2: I do wish Randy, a great guy I met several times, was here to explain it to you but he died some years later after his exhaustively researched book came out – from AIDS).
- Animated films that are well done create undeniable connections to our real, imagined or idealized childhoods that most everyone can agree on. Even those of us who don’t rush out to see them can’t deny these facts – a 99% rating on Rotten Tomatoes and an opening 3-day weekend of $75 million domestically for a movie that metaphorically, via our beloved animal kingdom, advocates equal opportunity for all and thus shows us there is still an ever-so-slight glimmer of hope that our future existence is not doomed. (Note: Yes, that’s just a glimmer, but still…).
- Donald Trump has gone from at best an oddly amusing and crude drunk uncle to at worst a neo-Hitler presence of sociopathic id on the world stage who will use any means necessary, and without apology, to get what he wants. (Note: I’m not sure if that’s the presidency or attention, probably both). But more to the point — even though he denies his words are responsible for the near race riot that broke out in Chicago on Saturday at one of his rallies, the fact that he lied about the Chicago police advising him to cancel it should tell us all he is clearly headed far, far off the cliff into uncharted waters on the right side (Note: Not to be confused with correct side – and certainly not left side) of history.
What’s a blogger to do?
I am willing to compromise on some things but the truth is not one of them. And the truth is a 94 year-old woman who was someone’s mother, wife, friend, and icon, (whether I find the latter misguided or not) died this week and a segment of the world are sad and upset. This, in turn, perhaps ushers in a moment or two when those of us who still feel not much except difference and disdain, can give them some room to grieve.
But not if they don’t tell truth.
When I read social media posts proclaiming the Reagans heroes who were only a bit late in speaking on a worldwide pandemic and that I should get over it already I remember the skin and bones face of a dying friend whose life might have been prolonged or saved had the disease primarily affected doe-eyed, blonde 5-year olds rather than gay men. I also recall Mrs. Reagan whispering what she thought was a clandestine off-mic prompt of we’re doing everything we can for her dithering husband to say when a reporter dared ask him about AIDS at a time when clearly, in the scheme of things, Pres. Reagan was doing absolutely nothing.
And when hearing political pundits bloviate on this week about the former First Lady’s great loyalty to her friends what comes to mind for me is this well-researched article detailing Mrs. Reagan’s refusal to intercede on behalf on her AIDS-ravaged good friend Rock Hudson when in the mid-eighties his loved ones begged her, near the end of his life, to help get him into a Paris hospital doing cutting edge research on an ever unfolding plague. On a more personal basis, what also didn’t help me at all was when another Facebook friend posted the real villain in this piece was Rock Hudson for not coming out as gay publicly some years before. Really?
As for Hillary Clinton momentarily touting, then quickly apologizing, for her statement that Mrs. Reagan did subtly start a conversation on AIDS at the time, I can’t even…
As I stated, I’m not very good at compromise. But at least I’m trying.
Speaking of trying, it’s difficult to continue wasting ink, not to mention brain cells, on The Republican Apprentice when at the very least one could be attending an afternoon or evening showing of Zootopia. Though I venture to say many of the people in Europe had similar thoughts about Adolph Hitler in the 1930s.
For the record, I despise serious Hitler metaphors to pop culture events. But #Drumpf is no longer mere pop culture. My beloved Sarah Silverman tried to make him so when she dressed up as the Great Dictator, swastika and all, on a recent episode of Conan where she had her version of the Nazi leader complaining about the public comparing him to Trump but for the most part it fell flat. Too soon? I’m not sure. Still, “A” for effort. At least she was trying something.
It’s one thing to disagree with our current president’s foreign policy, a dearth of enough jobs, a slow economic recovery or the ever-present threats of terrorism. It’s another to ask supporters to raise their hands in a faux Nazi salute and pledge loyalty to you as you belittle protestors (Note: a great American tradition) and bellow at security guards to ‘GET ‘EM OUT!’ Especially when the majority of those protestors are Black or Brown and the bulk of your supporters are Uber-Lily White.
There is no road to compromise on this issue when the subject you speak of (that’s the guy who owns those hideous-looking hotels, and yeah, that’s my b & w opinion) is not only unwilling to but is a master of denial of intention on anything he publicly states at any given moment. Your only weapon is the truth on the subject – which in any rational argument IS BLACK AND WHITE. Meaning despite their extremes these two colors do certainly exist and on certain pieces of clothing – and in certain arguments – are a more than adequate first choice of color for any occasion if considered carefully and used wisely and judiciously.
Which brings us to Zootopia. I haven’t seen it yet but I love the description of the plot on RottenTomatoes:
The modern mammal metropolis of Zootopia is a city like no other. Comprised of habitat neighborhoods like ritzy Sahara Square and frigid Tundratown, it’s a melting pot where animals from every environment live together – a place where no matter what you are, from the biggest elephant to the smallest shrew, you can be anything. But when rookie Officer Judy Hopps (voice of Ginnifer Goodwin) arrives, she discovers that being the first bunny on a police force of big, tough animals isn’t so easy. Determined to prove herself, she jumps at the opportunity to crack a case, even if it means partnering with a fast-talking, scam-artist fox, Nick Wilde (voice of Jason Bateman), to solve the mystery.
We could do a lot worse than use the theme of a 2016 Disney film as a primer for contemporary living and coexistence these days. Well, I suppose we could also do a lot better, though I’m not sure how at this moment in time. And if last week’s events are any indication, neither do you or anyone else – left, right, center or off the cliff on either side.
I hesitate to argue in favor of a corporate message – or even that life can best be lived as any Disney film – but compared to what I’m really thinking…well, it’s the best I can do for any sort of compromise. At the moment, anyway.