Fizzled Fourth

I don’t know about you but I was dreading this Fourth of July holiday weekend, and not only because my dog and pretty much every dog hates fireworks.

At this point, each dog owner has figured out ways to comfort their pooches, whether it’s with love, food, drugs or a very thick blanket.

Are these humans serious?

And when that doesn’t work, you just hold them and pray, even if you’re an atheist.

No, instead, it was the American culture wars I was dreading and all the talk about and around it.  The endless rhetoric of left vs. right, patriotism vs. treason, all spewed through or at the lens of the pancake made-up person with the loudest bully pulpit in America – our current and very bloated POTUS.

Frankly, he and it has just given me a headache and caused me for the first time in my life to wish illness, death pestilence and/or a bad cause of piles on another human being.

Population: Me

And despite what it might seem like I truly don’t wish bad things on other people.  Ever.

Not only is it not good karma, it’s simply toxic and immature to do so.  To pollute your life with thoughts of destruction and suffering for another life is to deny yourself the pleasures of existing at all.  Our time here is short and there’s loads of crap to deal with.  SO much crap these days and SO much time to deal with it.  Why waste precious moments on HIM or THAT?

Evaluating what constitutes as a “waste” is really difficult

Don’t take this to mean I’m not speaking out, not voting, not doing everything but handing my house over to Joe Biden in the next four months in the spirit of Independence Day.  Or, that I am advising any of you to not to do all of the above.

It’s just too much to go on and on AND ON about this or it right about now.

That is because it’s not the SYMBOLS of America that make it great.  It’s only the progressive actions of truly patriotic Americans that allow us to approach, or get anywhere near the vicinity of greatness.

OK, this might be a bit much #imisshim

Incidentally, the term progressive is not meant to be political here but to merely express the concept of being forward thinking i.e. regarding the future.   The word is literally defined in our dictionaries as proceeding step by step to our greatness.

The way to honor our very American and admittedly very flawed Founding Fathers is not to symbolically clench and squeeze the flag or an eagle or any of our fellow citizens in deference until they break or are torn apart, much as we might enjoy doing so.  It is instead to embrace the legacy of freedom and liberty and justice for all articulated by our 18th century leaders and try to actually make them happen – and grow it.

… and I don’t mean this kind of patriotism

More simply put, the question to really ask on the Fourth of July, and every day, is how do we take what they gave us and do better?  How do we run with those ideas and expand them into the 21st, 22nd and every other upcoming century in a way that meets the needs and the population of the moment?

As we look out through our windows and talk through our masks (Note: If we’re smart) this July think of one way to help make freedom, liberty or justice happen for one cause, one group or one person and take some small step to do so.

This can literally be ANYTHING – a spirited discussion, a cash contribution, a demonstration, a comment or even, perish the thought, a tweet (Note: Try not to rely too heavily on the latter for obvious reasons).

… and absolutely not this nonsense #no

If all else fails, watch Hamilton on Disney Plus.  It encapsulates the ideals and intent of what our framers started while pushing that rock just a little farther up the hill.  Not to mention, it’s chock full of old, new and re-appropriated ideas alike.

Even if it’s not to your taste it will get you thinking, and isn’t THAT what this is all about?

If not, it should be.

Cast of Hamilton – “Who Lives, Who Dies, Who Tells Your Story” 

Writing with an Expiration Date

The FUTURE JEOPARDY! CATEGORY is:  Great subjects for American movies in the 2020s.

Well, you’d think ONE OF THE ANSWERS would be: U.S. electoral politics.

I mean, in just the first half year of this decade the majority of us Americans are continuing to live through new, repeated and seemingly never-ending traumas resulting from the surprise 2016 Russian influenced installation of our first reality star president.

This feels right

True, on paper that might not SEEM like the most crowd-pleasing blockbuster of subjects.  But neither was the chronicle of the now second most traumatic electoral aftermath in the last 50 years, All the President’s Men.

And today that film is an Oscar winning classic that cleaned up at the box office.

This was in great part due to the perseverance at the time of producer-star Robert Redford and the great filmmaking team he assembled.

“Devastating” almost seems quaint

But it is pretty much universally acknowledged it was also because of the brilliant yet cheeky thriller screenplay written by the late William Goldman, which he adapted from the best-selling book by the now iconic Washington Post reporters Bob Woodward and Carl Bernstein.

Well, politics and our times have changed quite a lot in the last half a century.  Yet in many ways we’d still all love a good story about the failings of our government and the American underdogs among us who can rise up and at least attempt to make things right once again.

Especially in the era of Trum….okay, you know who and what I mean.  (Note: Don’t make me write IT). 

AHHHH!

So much material.  So, so SO much material.

It’s the unwanted gift that keeps on giving.   Kind of like the equivalent of receiving 32,358 fruitcakes over the last three Christmases that now somehow need to be purged from our systems.

So, how to proceed and eliminate?

Well, if you’re a moviegoer and an industrious studio head who do YOU think would be the perfect person to guide us through this particular type of morass  and expulsion?

Who could come up with a great story about how and why this could have happened to us and in what way we could possibly make things right again?

Who is it in popular culture that has always massively entertained us, made money for the suits AND provided us invaluable insight into understanding politics on a grand scale without, well, talking down to us???

Well don’t take too long

The ONE person synonymous with smarts and originality, the political satirist of our times with the cross generational super power pull that any doubting studio head could feel comfortable with entrusting to tackle the impossible subject of our 2016 electoral aftermath.

You knew/know him – you LOVE him Certainly, I do.

Yes – it’s The Daily Show’s own incomparable:

JON STEWART!!!!

Our favorite goat farmer, Mr. Jon Stewart

…….You’d think.

But wait!!!!

Before anyone goes and thinks the disappointment over Mr. Stewart’s new Amazon film “Irresistible” is entirely or, really, even partly his fault, let’s be clear.

Doing this kind of movie amid the cosmic shifts we’re currently enduring in our pandemically challenged world is a SHEER thankless and IMPOSSIBLE TASK.

You’d have better luck trying to digest those 32,358 fruitcakes in one sitting.

… and now I think I understand the title

Events have been moving at the speed of light and sound since the first of this year (Note: Though not in a good way) and Mr. Stewart’s new film gets caught up in the sheer cyclone of newsiness (Note: And also not in a good way) as it tries to slice and dice the political process with what amounts to a butter knife.

Granted, that butter knife probably felt like the most efficient version of some top chef’s sharpest meat clever when Mr. Stewart first sat down to tackle this story.

But once you’ve experienced a failed impeachment trial for clear high crimes and misdemeanors and a month of street protests demanding racial justice after we Americans watched a Black Man literally asphyxiated to death murdered by two policeman on video over almost nine minutes – during a global pandemic – well, all bets are off.

This is not to even mention immigrant kids locked up in cages, the shutdown and crashing of our economy and an all-time record 16-20% of Americans unemployed (Note: That’s 26-30 million of us).

and then you wonder.. what’s next?

Yeah, it’s a sh-t show out there and even a movie written and directed by our patron saint of political humor couldn’t possibly conquer it.  No movie could, given the one-two year lag time (and that’s being generous) between conception, filming and release.

So what we’re then left with is the story of a jaded Democratic political consultant to Hillary Clinton (Steve Carrell), barely recovered from 2016, who sees a viral video of a middle-aged farmer/military vet (aka Chris Cooper as The Colonel) defending the rights of immigrants to his local mayor and selected members of his small town.

Seeing a chance to once and for all prove to the country that semi-liberal politics are not solely the prevue of big city cultural elites and that exclusionary, far right thinking is, well, small-minded, Mr. Carrell’s character, the consultant, quickly hatches a scheme to run The Colonel for Mayor in the upcoming local election.

Hardest workin’ man in showbiz #hesineverything

The reasoning is that if he makes a big enough deal about this candidate in Deerlaken, Wisconsin it will become national fodder and show the country that progressive policies simply amount to doing what is right and what is human rather than what is hateful and what is most expedient.

In other words, the only reason small town America didn’t buy what the Dems were selling was that it came in the wrong package.  Had the same points been raised by one of their own, well, 2016 would have NEVER turned out the way that it had.

Oh… was that it?

Sure, there’s more to it than that, including a major twist later in the story (Note: No Spoilers here!).  But all the twists and turns on the planet couldn’t possibly make a smart, light, gauzy but only slightly edgy story like this resonate very deeply given what’s presently at stake electorally for all of us.

This is a representation of small town America where their worst problem is that their local economy is failing.  (Note:  Remember when THAT, and that alone, was a BIG problem?).  It is NOT a world where friends and relatives are dying in overcrowded hospitals, supermarket cashiers deserve hazard pay, law enforcement can kill you at any time, and you rightly worry that the Russians, the Chinese and god knows who else might permanently place an aspiring American dictator into the White House.

This all really does seem like part of a Dr. Evil style plot

This is what’s really on the minds of the majority of Americans in 2020 (Note: Certainly the filmgoers) when they think about who and what they’re voting for in 2020 America.  And not even Jon Stewart could possibly know that would be relevant or on our brains in this presidential election year.

This is not to say his new film Irresistible doesn’t have its charms.  But any of us looking for something truly relevant from now till Nov. 5th should merely turn on the TV to MSNBC, CNN, FOX (lol no) or PBS.  It’s there that they’ll find programming far, far more risky and much, much more perversely entertaining.

Sadly.

Bob Dylan – “The Times They Are A-Changin'”