A movie log formerly known as Bookishness / By Charles Matthews

"Dazzled by so many and such marvelous inventions, the people of Macondo ... became indignant over the living images that the prosperous merchant Bruno Crespi projected in the theater with the lion-head ticket windows, for a character who had died and was buried in one film and for whose misfortune tears had been shed would reappear alive and transformed into an Arab in the next one. The audience, who had paid two cents apiece to share the difficulties of the actors, would not tolerate that outlandish fraud and they broke up the seats. The mayor, at the urging of Bruno Crespi, explained in a proclamation that the cinema was a machine of illusions that did not merit the emotional outbursts of the audience. With that discouraging explanation many ... decided not to return to the movies, considering that they already had too many troubles of their own to weep over the acted-out misfortunes of imaginary beings."
--Gabriel García Márquez, One Hundred Years of Solitude

Monday, March 10, 2008

Eliot Mess

Another pol with his pants down. Of course, this time it's a Democrat, and a once-promising one (though I gather that his tenure as governor of New York hasn't much pleased anyone), so we can't feel the Schadenfreude that we enjoyed so much when it happened to Larry Craig or David Vitter or Mark Foley. Still, the hypocrisy and the hubris are the same.

The question lingers: Why do these guys think they can get away with it? Politicians must suffer all the time from cognitive dissonance, from the knowledge that their flawed private selves are so very different from the tough and virtuous public image they have to project. They're like movie stars who know that they're not really as strong and as handsome and as virile -- or as glamorous and beautiful and sexy -- as the characters they play. As Cary Grant said, "Everybody wants to be Cary Grant. Even I do."

But movie stars can get away with all kinds of scandalous behavior. Maybe we should let politicians do that, too. As long as they do their jobs -- create and enforce laws -- to our liking, who cares if they cat around? When Bill Clinton was caught getting blown by an intern, I thought he should resign. But he went on to be one of our most popular public figures, and his wife may be our next president.

Lord Acton got it right: Power tends to corrupt. The question is, who's being corrupted? The powerful, or those of us who elect them?