Commenting on the Critics with Simon Columb…
Mary McNamara writes for The LA Times about Clint Eastwood’s shocking speech during the National Republican Convention in Tampa, Florida…
“The fact that the day after Romney’s big night, many more people appear concerned about Eastwood’s mental state than Romney’s political health says much about our obsession with sizzle over substance, but more about the iconic status of Clint Eastwood. Presidents come and go, but Dirty Harry, we believed, remains ever the same.“
Read the full article here.
McNamara points out how Eastwood, a director and actor who is respected and placed on a pedestal for his American-ness, is someone who is quietly confident. A man who is calm, collected and measured. This one speech may have destroyed this image.
He spoke to a chair. He implied Obama ‘swears’ at Eastwood and Romney, despite Obama gaining a reputation for not swearing. He talks about Obama’s gas-guzzling car whilst the audience cheer, despite their lack of interest in the issue. It seemed strange that Eastwood gained such support for his speech in the room – but it was hardly a difficult crowd. They were all in agreement. Eastwood even noted how Jon Voight is one of ‘many’ conservative members of Hollywood who “by definition… play their cards close to their chest”. Voight must be horrified that, indirectly, he has been brought into this mess.
But this is nothing new. Political parties always use entertainers to drum up support. I’m a U2 fan so am well aware of the hypocrisy of the entertainment industry. George Clooney hosts a fundraiser for Obama. Zach Braff, Donald Faison, Eve Longoria, Sarah Jessica Parker, Don Cheadle, Ryan Phillippe and Justin Long all campaigning and supporting Obama. On the flipside, Kid Rock and Donald Trump cheer on Mitt Romney.
This becomes a popularity contest. The assumption is that a large enough group of voters will simply support the respective party on the basis that their favourite film star endorses it. Maybe you didn’t care much about the Health Care Bill – but hell, Donald Trump always talks sense on The Apprentice doesn’t he? It does grate me that the coverage of Eastwood rambling on in a convention will potentially swing voters – some old-guy speaking at a conference without planning it at all is hardly a political issue. They wanted a good face to represent the party and he screwed it up. It doesn’t change Romney’s political plans and it doesn’t somehow prove Obama is where the US needs to go – it is an example of celebrity endorsements going wrong.
My argument is how, if an endorsement goes ‘right’, what a shocking state of affair politics are in. A situation whereby a sitcom star somehow helps to dictate the future of the US.
Ironically, there are ways to utilise your skills to support a cause. A way that Eastwood knows exceptionally well: create. These are apparently artists who are supporting the politicians – rather than simply turning up and flexing their fame-muscles, why not create something that personally says something about what you believe. Gran Torino has fascinating themes about old-age, immigration and accepting change. Don Cheadle and Ryan Phillippe both appeared in the Oscar-Winning Crash in 2005 – a film which highlights huge issues within society that need to tackled: access to firearms, poverty, immigration and racism. Why not present screenings of films with a short introduction as to why it is important to you and let the art speak for itself… because anyone, standing on a stage and insulting others is hardly the intelligent manner to support a candidate. Let the politicians do their thing, and the artists should create art.