Watching a Turner Classic Movie (a Hitchcock flick about Cold War intrigue), reminds me that there is little to trust on the tube, especially the tsunami of talking heads with agendas. You name it, whatever your political slant, someone is out there yapping and cheering, either in agreement or disagreement. Talking “columnists” on various channels no longer report, instead they editorialize, dousing the viewers with warmed-over crud. Imagine having to dish drek while worrying about keeping ratings intact.
I almost wept yesterday when Chris Matthews (MSNBC) teared-up while defending Obama, then shortly after, pumped his (Matthews) new book about Jack Kennedy, calling him a hero. Kennedy was no hero, but Matthews’ audience loves a good Irish tale, and Matthews knows how to work a crowd. So does the Rev. Al Sharpton. When I learned he was going to have his own show, I thought “oh no, not that blowhard!” The physical opposite of Matthews, the Rev. is black and Brooklyn born, but the two are matching bookends when it comes to defending minorities and Civil Rights. In another life, Sharpton could have been a standup comic. He uses his big smile to entrap the unwary he’s interviewing…. then he lowers his deadly serious side. I’ve become a fan.
The Hitchcock flick rolls on. Cary Grant clings to a cliff on Mount Rushmore. Eva Marie Saint clings to Cary, not at first, but the final scene takes place in a railroad sleeper, with the two in sync, lips synched. What’s not to believe? It’s pure gorgeous filmmaking, a relief from those who roam Talking Head Land. As the year drones on into 2012, and the pols ratchet up the bile meter, I’ll tune to ever more movies. Art imitating life is so much better than life imitating life.
Dare I admit that I’m a big fan of Looney Tunes, Wily Coyote and Tom & Jerry? Wily is so like Rick Perry (check out his hair and ferret face), and in a peculiar way Roadrunner reminds me of slick George Romney, running for his political life. I’ve yet to categorize the Chicago guy (Rod B. of the big hair) who was recently sentenced to the Hotel Federal, a pretty stiff 14-year sentence. I mean, no one was murdered, and face it Bogart did it better. As a kid in small town Iowa, I watched every movie at our Rialto Theater (we only got B flicks). They defined my life. Up there on the screen, with the blue light streaming down from the projection booth above, anything might happen: dames wearing berets packed heat, gangsters got their due and the good cowboys wore white. Rita nailed Gilda to the hilt and handsome Holden ended up facedown in a swimming pool.
The image above? It was inspired by my Rialto experience, and until the New Wave movies (Breathless!) washed onto our shores in the 50s, it was clear what was right and what was wrong. Or almost. Around age 16 I began to question the grey areas.
I haven’t a clue about what to do in the next Presidential election. Maybe I’ll forgo my vote and watch Singing in the Rain one more time. It’s infinitely better than slogging through sludge.