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'”

To Post or Not To Post

screen-shot-2016-10-16-at-11-12-48-am

I can’t even…

This is millennial talk for phrases and feelings like:

  • If you talk about that one more time I’ll kill you or kill myself.
  • I can’t stand IT anymore. IT can refer to anything large or small you can’t deal with on a given day. For instance: Please stop talking about that cake! (Vintage Lily Tomlin – look it up – or better yet, click here)

And finally:

  • I WILL NOT deal with you, this situation or this subject one more time. And if YOU, or IT or the WORLD as it is right now persists in this way for one more second…

ill_kill_you_office

Well, that’s the point, isn’t it? In reality, what exactly are you, or I, or the collective WE going to do??? About reality???

I listened to a piece on NPR this week where a female journalist talked about the mass anxiety Americans are feeling about the upcoming presidential elections and how large a part social media is playing in exacerbating the symptoms.

Because it’s NPR and somewhat solution-oriented via an alternating avalanche of often times fascinating and sometimes overly dry information, much was discussed about what the average overwrought, overanxious and over stimulated citizen could do to counteract all the…tension.

Among the suggestions were:

1. Escape all wireless communication for at least an hour each day. For instance, said journalist related that at least four or five times a week she walked an hour on the beach alone with her dog and without her iPhone.

you know.. before I go for that walk.

you know.. before I go for that walk.

2. Before posting news stories or opinions or both about Donald Trump, Hillary Clinton or on any other political or social issue of the day on social media, stop yourself and ask –Is this absolutely necessary? Do I really need to say this? Perhaps I don’t want to go so far out of my way to fuel or start an argument.

RESIST!!!

RESIST!!!

3.  Consider the ways you can avoid listening to or engaging in political or social issue discourse with those whose views differ substantially from your own. For instance, it was offered that if you click on the right on your Facebook feed there is an option to unfollow someone. This means you will not see anything at all that your friend posts but that he or she (your friend) will never know you’ve chosen to ignore them. Thus the stress of an argument can be avoided and you’ve beaten the far more nuclear option of defriending unfriending – social media’s version of telling a person that yes, you and/or your views are just that odious and/or inconsequential to me that I just can’t with you anymore.

Get on this Zuckerberg. #hurry

Get on this Zuckerberg. #hurry

Much as I love and adore and respect journalists – both male and female – not to mention NPR – here’s the problem with their theories and suggestions.

The correct response to where the country and we as Americans are right now is not – I CAN’T ANYMORE.

The correct response to where we Americans and OUR country is now is – I MUST AS MUCH AS I CAN AND I WILL RIGHT NOW.

The time is.... well, you know!

The time is…. well, you know!

Is this ALL too upsetting and eating into your day? Wow. Imagine what it felt like in 1774, 5 and 6 if you lived in one of the original 13 colonies and were about to declare war on an empire as large as all of Europe in comparison to the land you owned at the time? Not to mention no electricity, running water or Beyonce. Or even the possibility of her. Yes, you know what I mean.

Anyone who reads notesfromachair or even vaguely knows me is very aware I’m a liberal Democrat and Hillary Clinton supporter. I make no effort to hide it and, in fact, am proudly vocal about it. But what you might not know is that I listen to Donald Trump and read what he says very carefully. I also listen to what his supporters and surrogates say on air and in print pretty consistently. Yes, sometimes I want to throw the TV over or burn the newspaper but I figure it’s my obligation to listen and read if I’m going to speak about these subjects. Even if I decide not to speak, it’s my responsibility as a voter.

Ok now he's just baiting me!

Ok now he’s just baiting me!

So here’s a snippet of what Donald Trump bellowed just a few days ago before a crowd in Ohio of thousands of supporters screaming lock her up, fists raised in the air. 

THIS IS A MOMENT OF RECKONING FOR OUR SOCIETY..AND OURSELVES. AND I’M THE ONLY ONE WHO CAN FIX IT.

Here’s a Trump supporter and his friend in Virginia this past week, firearms exposed at their hips, standing outside for 12 HOURS into the campaign headquarters of Jane Dittmar, the female Democratic candidate for Congress who supports Hillary Clinton, as they stared menacingly into the window inside.

Real winners these two. #godhelpus #god?

Real winners these two. #godhelpus #god?

And now look at the T-shirt worn by a family man at a Trump rally – on his feet in Pennsylvania cheering his choice for president right beside his wife and three kids.

@#)#$*%&@!!!

@#)#$*%&@!!!

These are three reasons among many I can’t stand in support of the current non-engagement meme. And no, these are not outliers. This is business as usual at his festivities. I’ve been listening. And watching. All along.

Though I agree with Trump and his followers on absolutely nothing perhaps the one area we are vaguely at least on the same planet is the idea that we, as a nation, have gotten a bit…well, soft. Because since when is an argument a bad thing when you’re fighting for your collective soul? How is it that intellectual engagement and criticism and facts have become the enemy? When did it become more than acceptable to degrade and insult people based on their sex, appearance, skin color or orientation without being called out for it? And in what reality did it become too “politically correct” to consistently and categorically challenge people on their rudeness and inhumanity? From either side?   Family, friends or even non-followers.

3uif0d

OK well I didn’t say I always do it in the most effective way

What country are we in, anyway? I don’t get it. When did we become so complacent in the eye of an Orange sh-t show. It’s exactly when the dung hits the fan that you need to step up and fight. Not wait until you’ve drowned in a cesspool of your own isolation and indifference. Just what IS more pressing for the future of the WORLD than the election of the next US president in the next 28 days? Your shopping list? Your dentist appointment? The 30,000 mile checkup on your car? Your kid’s Halloween costume? Sorry, sit this one out and every day could be Halloween. And you might be locked up for not celebrating it in exactly the way the Great Orange Pumpkin dictates. Daily. Do you really want to be required to have a six foot gold gilt Jack-O-Lantern in your window or suspended from the flagpole on the Capitol steps reading Drumpf? And no, I’m only HALF-kidding.

Of course, those are just my views. Feel free to disagree. Or unfriend/unfollow me. I’d rather be aware of what I’m up against than be killed with indifference or a faux phony kindness. Or just be killed. For speaking out. You think it can’t happen. Lie back, do nothing and just wait until they’re wearing T-shirts about you, armed to the teeth and staring into your collective windows. Yes, I’m using the collective you. But only just barely.