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'”

Hello Lady G

There is only so much a white guy like me should weigh in on in regards to Black Lives Matter and the coast–to-coast protests regarding the very recent public execution of George Floyd via the knee of a white Minneapolis police officer.

Us white people could say a lot, and many of us have as we’ve lent our support and voices to nationwide (and international) street protests, but even more important is LISTENING and really HEARING.

However, if you happen to be a white GAY guy like me, there is something you most certainly can and should weigh in on.  And that’s the outing of Lady G.

No not LADY GAGA, who happens to have a new album (Chromatica) out now, but LADY G.

Make that a HELL NO

Who is Lady G?

Well, pretty much the opposite of Lady Gaga.

Lady G is a pseudonym for a longtime U.S. senator from South Carolina at the top echelons of power in this country (Note:  Chair of the Judiciary Committee and a frequent golfing companion to Electoral College President Donald J. Trump. And no, it’s not Tim Scott, South Carolina’s junior, and only OTHER, senator).

Oh no.. I’m shocked.. can’t believe it…

Lady G is also, more importantly, someone who has consistently and vociferously publicly denied being homosexual while very consistently and very vociferously voting and advocating AGAINST every major piece of legislation/law in support of the LGBTQ community for the last two decades.

Lady G voted:

  • Against same sex marriage, compared it to polygamy, said changing marriage would be only to suit the gay agenda and that, most importantly, it was against the national interest.
  • For the Federal Marriage Amendment (Note: To enshrine in the US Constitution that marriage be between a man and a woman) because a handful of liberal judges in Massachusetts should not be able to change the definition of marriage for the rest of the country.
  • Against including LGBT people in the Employment Non-Discrimination Act, claiming it was unnecessary.
  • Against same-sex couple adoptions, because to change the adoption laws to recognize same-sex couples, would be not consistent with our state (South Carolina).
  • Against including LGBTQ people in the federal hate crimes bill, proclaiming there was no need and it would ultimately divide America.
  • Against the repeal of Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell because there was no groundswell of opposition to it within the military. (Note: And later criticized its repeal, arguing it would cause an increased risk of casualties).

We could go on and on and on but click here for more info.

Yep, we are with you Gaga

Some of the above is what spurred a gay adult film actor and sex worker (nee escort for hire) named Sean Harding to several days ago post the following on Twitter:

There is a homophobic republican senator who is no better than Trump who keeps passing legislation that is damaging to the lgbt and minority communities. Every sex worker I know has been hired by this man. Wondering if enough of us spoke out if that could get him out of office?

Since then at least two other sex workers have personally come forward to Mr. Harding with corroborating stories about the senator that go back for years.   Not to mention Mr. Harding and the Lady G moniker began trending on Twitter.

Cue Pence clutching his pearls…

Many more sex workers have also posted online about similar encounters with Lady G but, like Mr. Harding, they are a bit frightened to come forward because they all signed NDAs (non-disclosure agreements) about their encounters since the Lady is a very experienced attorney.

Yet in the truth telling age of sex workers like Stormy Daniels, Mr. Harding and his colleagues are in the process of hiring legal representation in order to unmuzzle themselves and speak their truths.  The latter would presumably include giving specific and indisputable details of their encounters with their said client.

So — what is their end game?

To expose this senator for the hypocrite that he is and get him voted out of office.

Time’s up… for both of you

See, if Lady G were not in such a public and powerful position to continue to do so much damage to a community he claims to NOT be a part of but clearly IS a part of, there could be a debate about things like a right to privacy.

But when a person of power is instrumental in passing and arm-twisting for legislation that publicly criticizes, condemns and denies rights most specifically TO that community, all bets are off.

Unlike people of color, there are those in the gay community who can hide their identities, publicly blend in and actively participate in the repression of that which they would ideally choose not to be in the name of career or some twisted sense of self-loathing morality.

Certainly they have a right to do this.

In the same way that those in that repressed community have the right to speak out and fight back against that said repression.

This is not to equate this fight to what is currently going on in our streets in the name of Black Lives Matter.  It is simply to point out that nothing will change if we continue to sweep hypocrisy under the rug and fail to speak truth to power.

Lady G was once far ahead in the polls for reelection in 2020 and is now polling dead even (Note: Even pre Mr. Harding’s tweet) with the competing candidate from the Democratic Party.

Take down time (amazing photo from Mother Jones)

Ironically this person is a Black man who has never held public office but has an impeccable and extensive resume in both the private and public sector.  He is the current associate chairman and counselor to the DNC and his name Jaime Harrison.

Mr. Harrison is the former head of the South Carolina Democratic Party, a political science graduate from Yale University who went on to receive a law degree from Georgetown University, a former high school teacher, a former leader of a non-profit (College Summit) that helps low income youth find a path to college and a career, and former director of floor operations for Rep. Jim Clyburn (D-SC)  (Note: A longtime Joe Biden confidante) when he was Minority Whip of the House.

In addition to his current duties at the Democratic National Committee, Mr. Harrison has in his more recent past even co-taught a course at the University of South Carolina with Matt Moore, a political rival but also his very good friend who happens to be the chairman of South Carolina’s Republican Party.

Go Jaime Go!

Prior to and all during his campaign Mr. Harrison has consistently stated that he doesn’t see his message to voters in the traditional progressive vs. conservative/ Democratic vs. Republican mindset but instead notes it’s really going to boil down to right vs. wrong.

Of course in the long run, that’s what it always boils down to – whether you’re a sex worker, politician or voter.

Lady Gaga (ft. Ariana Grande) – “Rain on Me”