The people who will make Beverly Hills Chihuahua (Disney, 10.3) a hit when it opens are are not “bad,” but their support of this film, which I see as a metaphor for the shopping-mall plasticity and icky phoniness that has taken over this country’s middle-class culture, will signify a kind of spiritual tragedy in this country. Just as you can look at, say, Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs and say, yup, on some level that was America in 1937, Beverly Hills Chihuahua is a kind of reflection of us.
Because the indications are that this movie is the worst. The trailers are giving me a kind of celluloid Cancun vibe, and I’ve been to Cancun and seen the dead expressions in the faces of the people staying in those awful swanky hotels, so don’t tell me.
I used to take my young boys to every crappy kiddie movie that came along back in the ’90s, and so I obviously get why today’s parents will be doing the same with Chihuahua. It’s just a movie and who cares…right? But the grotesque attitude and sensibility behind this film, to judge by the trailers, is wretched and stupefying. A spiritually healthy country — one with its head and heart in the right place, and its communal soul connected to something other than the latest cheap consumer high — would pay it little mind. And here I am sounding like a grouch for saying this.
But there’s another grouch who will benefit, I strongly suspect, from the people who will love this film, and I mean John McCain. Fairly or unfairly, delusional or dead-on, I have come to believe that the mentality that supports McCain draws water from the same well that will “heart” Beverly Hills Chihuahua. You have to be a little bit dumb and lame of spirit to not be appalled by the Chihuahua trailers, just as I believe that a significant slice of McCain’s support (though obviously not all of it) is coming from the easygoing, sandals-and-white-socks-wearing clueless class.
The racial-minded, low-information, 55-and-over whites who react to media-cycle spasms and shift allegiances at the drop of a hat are moving away from the skinny mulatto guy and shifting towards the old white guy. It may as well be faced. The election could go the wrong way, and the wrong people — led by a curmudgeonly old coot who doesn’t know from computers and gets details wrong left and right and who will surely bog us down in the muck of the Middle East and add an attitude of smug belligerence to foreign policy, and who will surely allow the climate-change situation to worsen, and who will almost certainly serve only one term — could take hold of the reins next January.
The latest Zogby-Reuters poll suggests it could happen. The last best chance this country has to turn things around could be lost, and the sentiments of the dug-in rural dumb-asses could indeed turn the tide. Barack Obama has the older women and men against him and isn’t making the headway that he should, and people like me are seriously scared. It could even be over as we speak, as N.Y. Times columnist Maureen Dowd has sardonically suggested. I feel grim as hell. Especially if the feared Bradley Effect means than Obama may lose 5% of his lead in the polls (if he has such a lead come Election Day) when people actually go into the voting booths.
If I were Obama I would swallow my pride and self-emasculate by choosing the hateful, hollow and thoroughly demonic Hillary Clinton as his vice-president. Then, at least, he’d have a real scrapper on his team, and he’d pull in a good portion of the resentful Hillary hold-outs, and his numbers would kick up. It’s hard to suggest this with a straight face, but at least, then, he’d have a decent shot at winning. And isn’t that better than losing to the white-haired guy and ushering in the same old instincts and syndromes that have taken this country down?
A major turning of the page — an historic cultural turnover, a generational changing of the guard — would happen with an Obama victory. I wish there was some way to analogize this without comparing Team Obama — a fairly unradical bunch with moderately progressive ideas and intentions — to 20th Century communists, but the fact is that the “reds” in this country — dominated by the insufficiently educated rurals over 55 — are opposed to Obama in much the same way that the counter-revolutionary “white” Russians were opposed to the Bolsheviks, the conservative, plantation-owning Cubans were opposed to Castro, and the friends and allies of Chang Kai Shek were opposed to and tried to undermine the Chinese Communists after they took over in 1949.
In each case the Russian, Cuban and Chinese socialists went after the counter-revolutionaries like gardeners go after crab grass and dandelions, and it wasn’t pretty. Acts of political vengeance never are. All I can say is that as horrible as any act of political repression is and always will be, there’s a part of me that at least understands why the Russians, Cubans and Communists Chinese acted as they did. Because I despise the American “reds” as a cultural pestilence. They stand for and support everything that is regressive, selfish, racist, shallow, corpulent and hee-hawish in this country. They are the Chihuahua-embracers, the WALL*E tele-tubbies — and God save us if their boy wins.