November 2009

I have been asked a few times by friends and acquaintances from nations with a more civilized form of health care funding the following question:

“Why the hell are so many Americans mad about getting something that will only benefit them?”

Easy enough to answer. The Conservatives, especially the Neo-Conservatives, with the philosophical guidance of people like Leo Strauss and his “Noble Lie” have been functioning with the understanding that in order to perpetuate their agenda, they would need to convince the nation’s poor to vote against their own economic and social interests. The most effective way to do this has proven to be with a carefully cultivated, constant and largely directionless state of fear. The upshot of this is that the fear can be directed toward almost any issue with the use of a few key words like “socialism” or “terrorism”. This technique is being actively applied toward a tax payer funded health care system. As a result the people who have been told to be afraid of a public option for health care are angry at the people who are supporting it, effectively seeing them as the people responsible for scaring them.

It occurs to me as I write this that we have a word for using a state of constant fear to advance a political agenda. The irony of the fact that I am loath to apply this label to the Neo Con movement that would not hesitate to do the same to someone like me is not lost.

The Beginning of this Post is About Movies

Last night I watched Breakfast at Tiffany’s for the first time. It was pretty good actually, but they really should have called it Breakfast at Tiffany’s and then a Bunch of Other Stuff, because the breakfast part only happens at the very beginning, during the opening credits. At it’s only like a croissant out of a paper bag. At it’s just OUTSIDE Tiffany’s, not inside.

Aside from that though, the movie was pretty good. Oh, there’s also all that racism.

The Next Part of this Post is About Insensitive Racial Stereotypes in the Media

In Breakfast at Tiffany’s Mickey Rooney, who normally looks like this
This guy fucked Judy Garland.
looks like this
Missing from this picture: Coke bottle glasses.
The character is really out of place, existing primarily for broad physical comedy and slapstick in a movie that is otherwise largely dry wordplay and mild whimsy. In almost every scene he appears in, he’s in his apartment soaking in steam, or sitting on the floor, or meditating, or eating rice out of weird containers. You know, Japanese Guy Stuff.

Honestly, I don’t have a problem with Product of Their Time Caricatures. I’m of the opinion that Disney should re-release Song of the South on DVD. Just drag out Leonard Maltin, give him a gold Mickey Mouse pin to wear, and have him explain that these depictions, while we now understand them to be condescending and offensive, actually come from a sense of affection. Affection twisted by racism and a desire to make the Other weak and passive so that it can be tolerated, sure, but still affection. Ignoring this behavior, refusing to acknowledge it, is far more dangerous. It’s a lot healthy to say “yeah, we were racist, and yeah, it manifested in a lot of different ways. Pay attention.”