POLITICS AIN’T SUCH A WONDERFUL LIFE

Going to the movies is a favorite pastime of millions of Americans, and has been for decades. During the Roaring Twenties Silent Movies peaked and quickly morphed into the “talkies”. Folks suffering the effects of the Depression welcomed the escape to the cinema. The flicks in the forties reflected the war and subsequent post war boom.

The fifties and sixties had their signature films as color became the norm. The seventies continued the trend of edgier films from the previous decade and took it to new heights—or depths.

During the past thirty years it seems the bulk of Hollywood output fits into one of five categories.

1. The blockbuster. If you don’t have geeky fans dressed like the film’s characters lined up around the block and willing to return time after time the first week the movie is out then you are an absolute failure as a movie producer. And it won’t matter how many explosions and car chases you included.

2. The raunchy comedy. 1978’s Animal House set the standard. There have been hundreds of attempts to match that standard. Few have truly succeeded. If this trend continues expect to see a ninety-three year old Robert DeNiro, having lost his Oscars like Reggie Bush lost his Heisman,  starring with the perennially fifteen year old Michael Cera in The Superbad Fockers.

3. The sequel. Harry Potter 7. Rocky 6. Sounds like a dull football game to me.

4. Slasher flicks. Hitchcock scared the hell out of us just anticipating the character was soon to die. Karloff and Chaney were more menacing than eviscerating. Today if no semi-naked sexually exploring teens have had their throats split in the first ten minutes, the audience will simply continue texting and yelling obscenities across the aisle.

5. Animation. Disney’s wonderful takes on the traditional fairy tales have been replaced by an army of computer nerds trying to impress each other with all the new groovy special effects they have created. That many of these films turn out to provide great, entertaining stories seems almost an accident.

Remakes are also popular. Everyone’s favorite Christmas movie, It’s A Wonderful Life will return to the screen for the 2012 holiday season, but titled It’s Still A Wonderful Life, part deux It will be a combined animated/live action flick.

In it George has retired and is traveling with Mary on his dream trip when he’s suddenly called home. Zuzu, left in charge of the Bailey Building and Loan comes home to that “old drafty house” and finds her teenagers have trashed the place with a huge booze and drug party replete with filthy lyric-spouting rappers, male AND female strippers, and two mules performing numerous sexual perversions with Shrek. And it’s funny as hell.

But also some of the teens are missing. Their bodies, minus some parts, begin showing up around town. It turns out their killings are the work of Mr. Potter. He now has a souped up powered wheelchair, “The Super Hoveround” (product placement is big, too) and dons a hockey mask as he wields his sling blade. He’s jealous of the sexually active teens since his nuts were chewed off by the pit bull he used to keep by his side to intimidate loan applicants.

When Potter’s not slashing he begins destroying the houses Bailey financed in a series of ever diabolical ways. His coup de gras is the destruction of Martini’s abode. Potter uses some of his billions (2011 taxes paid $12.98) to hire an alien behemoth spaceship that creates a forcefield around Martini’s house to prevent escape, tortures him and his family with repeated playing of YMCA and then disintegrates house, humans and all to the strains of You Light Up My Life.

George arrives back in town, learns of the havoc raised, and contrary to his normally congenial nature he becomes so enraged he turns into The Hulk, with the powers of Superman. He chases Potter through Bedford Falls with catastrophic results for the town’s infrastructure until, when cornered at the edge of the town’s namesake falls, Potter revs up his wheelchair and flies out over the raging waters and seemingly plunges to his death, a la Thelma And Louise.

George then flies backwards around the equator six times at the speed of light to return the date to just before the killing spree started.

Now movies are fantasy, not real, and often not even possible in real life. Yet watching our politicians at work you begin to wonder? is that live or is it Cinemax? If today’s movies have a large share of sequels, watching our pols at work can be quite reminiscent of that phenomenon or even the Saturday morning serials kids loved in the forties.

Observing our elected representatives entering the Capitol is similar to watching the dumb folks  in the movie enter the deserted house. You know what is about to happen inside won’t be pretty and the people going in will do something incredibly stupid to worsen the situation.

Many office-holders appear to have viewed the same cinematic masterpiece over and over.

During the recent debt limit fight, whenever John Boehner went to the White House to meet with the President, he’d bring an ax to crack the door open, stick his head in and announce “Here’s Johnny!”

In the weeks after 9/11 as Bush contemplated what act of revenge to undertake, he had a screening of Animal House. Thus he took to heart the words of Otter:

No, I think we have to go all out. I think that this situation absolutely requires a really futile and stupid gesture be done on somebody’s part!

and he invaded Afghanistan.

When John Kerry was beset in his 2004 campaign by the Swift Boaters and accusations of flip flopping, he did a Paul Crewe in The Longest Yard and quit on his team (the voters backing him). Unlike Crewe he did not put himself back in the game and rally his side to victory.

This applies to political pundits, too. When the idiots on Fox News are spouting off about the economy and taxes and class warfare they reject any evidence that the truth is quite different from their bald assertions. And the office campaigners have this blind spot also. Therefore one can yell at them “You can’t handle the truth!” A Few Good Men (and women) indeed. Far too few.

Politicians often fail to recognize and understand nuance, apparently adhering to this from that great movie hero John Wayne:

If everything isn’t black and white, I say, ‘Why the hell not?’

 Wayne must be the favorite cause a lot of pols live up—or down—to this.

Life is hard; it’s harder if you’re stupid.

But somehow seem to have ignored this one:

Tomorrow is the most important thing in life. Comes into us at midnight very clean. It’s perfect when it arrives and it puts itself in our hands. It hopes we’ve learned something from yesterday.

Most pols must have been Seinfeld TV fans, too, all too frequently conforming to George Costanza’s

… just remember, it’s not a lie if you believe it.

 And many would qualify to say this (are you listening Rick and Michelle?)

I lie every second of the day. My whole life is a sham.

Doesn’t the sorry ass state of American politics cause you to long for a Kirk Douglas admirer who’s not afraid to stand and proudly declare

I am Spartacus!

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