…are planning a huge Thanksgiving celebration with all the family members and in-laws gathering under one big happy roof? All together now, family is forever, pass the squash, stuffing and creamed onions, etc. Talk about an historic super-spreader event, from sea to shining sea.
“People know this…there’s like five stages of grief after a loss. Everyone knows this. Denial, anger, bargaining, depression, acceptance. I don’t wanna name names but somebody seems stuck on the first two.
“The President is making an interesting case for himself. He’s saying he’s uncovered a conspiracy…a widespread conspiracy involving tens of millions of Americans voting for his opponent.”
“This guy reminds me The Sixth Sense. Remember that movie? The main character doesn’t know he’s dead?”
10 or 15 years ago I was fencing my way through an annoying discussion. It was for a film-related story about something or other, and the guy I was talking to was being “evasive” — sidestepping, playing dumb, pretending he didn’t know or understand, etc.
At one point the evasive guy said he needed to put me on hold or pause the conversation for half a minute, and I said “sure.” A nearby colleague, sensing my frustration, asked what was up. I rolled my eyes, pressed the phone against my chest and softly muttered that the evasive guy was a “moron.”
Right away Evasive Guy (i.e., EG) was back on the line: “You just called me a moron.”
EG: “I heard you. You said ‘he’s a moron.'”
HE: “I didn’t mean you. A friend asked me something. Unrelated.”
EG: “I heard you!”
I didn’t have the courage to admit the truth, but my real point was that it was an off-the-record aside and therefore not pertinent. I didn’t call him a moron to his face. He overheard me calling him that, okay, but I denied it — insisting I was speaking about someone else. That should have been the end of it because it wasn’t put face-up on the table. If I had been that guy I would’ve let it go because the remark wasn’t intended for his consumption or interpretation. It was an accident so it didn’t count.
I really believe that if someone says something confidentially to someone else — in a private email, say, or during a phone call — that it shouldn’t be grist for public discussion. I’m not talking about the Nixon tapes, which were meant to be eventually heard and transcribed for history’s sake. I’m talking about words spoken on the fly or the down low, shared on a totally private basis.
HE to readership: Have you ever muttered something to a friend or colleague after a couple of glasses of wine that you would never be dumb enough to share in a public forum? Have you ever tapped out an email that contained an extremely clumsy sentiment or an unfortunate choice of words or something bitter or despondent…some kind of stupid brain fart that escaped during a vulnerable moment, one that came and went and evaporated forever?
Now imagine someone getting hold of a surreptitious recording of you sounding like an idiot or a similar-type copy of an email, and using this to write a gotcha piece about what a clueless douchebag you are. Would you regard that as a fair thing? Life in the big city, roll with the punches, etc.?
What if a hidden video camera recorded your facial expressions while you’re attending to business in a bathroom? How would you feel about that?
Let’s imagine that Reese Witherspoon or Angelina Jolie were overheard saying something that might be regarded in mixed company as ignorant or insensitive or idiotic. Let’s say someone somehow overheard or hacked one of their cell phones and recorded an offensive remark or two. If I was an editor and a reporter came to me with a transcription of said discussion, I would say “wait a minute…they were speaking privately…it was an unguarded moment…I don’t think it’s fair to use it.”
I would suspend this reservation if a private conversation involved something politically heinous or world-order-threatening. A surreptitious recording of Donald Trump telling Ukraine president Volodymyr Zelensky that he wants dirt on Joe and Hunter Biden in exchange for US aid. Or telling Amy Coney Barrett that he expects her loyalty if and when an election issue comes before the Supreme Court. That kind of thing would be okay to use. Because a greater good would be served.
But private chats between Hollywood types talking shit about whatever…no. Different set of rules.
I posted my review Thomas Bezucha‘s Let Him Go (Focus Features, 11.6) on election day. I said I’d wait a week or so before discussing it in greater detail so here goes. Understand that three or four fairly significant SPOILERS follow so please stop reading if you haven’t yet had the pleasure.
To make it easy I’m just going to copy and paste a discussion I had with a colleague…
HE: “Loving Let Him Go — so well composed, exacting, nicely honed. But the bad guys just [performed a violent act upon a major presence] and I really, REALLY didn’t like that. You don’t do that to the laconic, tough-as-nails hero — you just don’t.”
Friendo: “That violent shock scene is one of my favorite things in the film. You’re right — you don’t do that. It’s not done. And that ‘rule’ makes our hero feel implicitly protected.
“That rule-breaking moment raised the stakes. It said: These people are THAT dangerous –— the hero isn’t going to be protected by the usual hero mythology. I thought the horror of that event made what followed more suspenseful, as well as placing [a significant character] on a path toward martyrdom, although we don’t know that yet.
HE: “If you ask me, Kayli Carter is the villain of the piece. She had a good gentle husband (the son of Kevin Costner and Diane Lane) and then, with a young son, she married a violent sociopath (Will Britain). She couldn’t sniff a whiff of trouble from that guy? Any half-intelligent adult could have. Especially with a three-year old to think about.
“Lane, we’re told, was less than supportive after her son died and so Kayli…what, had no choice but to marry the first available psycho who came along?
After all is said and done, that kid is going to be seriously traumatized, probably for the rest of his life. Decades of therapy.
“And of course Lesley Manville and her scurvy, white-trash, seed-of-Satan sons are cut from the same cloth that Trump supporters will come from 50 years hence. OF COURSE they are. Trump yokels + Deliverance + Animal Kingdom (David Michod‘s Australian crime family, released in 2010).
“And why did Kayli rat them out by telling Manville & Sons that Costner/Lane wanted her to move back with them? She knows that awful family is violent and territorial and yet she ratted out Kevin and Diane?
Friendo: “That plotting with the daughter is a weakness; it’s fuzzy. But I don’t think she’s villainous. The implication is that Donnie kept his true nature mostly hidden. (That can happen with abusers.)
“If you want to run with the Trump metaphor, then do — I think it’s interesting, and I don’t think it’s ‘wrong.’ I’m just saying that as someone disposed to hate rural Trumpers, it never occurred to me.”
As far as connecting and forging bonds with mainstream, grass-roots voters is concerned, that is. Not everyone in flyover country despises brainy, well-spoken urban elites and their corresponding talking points, and yet many millions obviously do.
Because with so many millions of people strapped and the pandemic spiking all over place, Average Joe voters don’t wanna know from wokester razmatazz, elite cultural issues, the “Defund the Police” slogan (as opposed to “Re-Think The Police”), the obviously necessary struggle to fight systemic racism, the support of LGBTQ issues or even (despite the critical importance) climate change.
In a chat right after Dubya beat John Kerry in ’04, a colleague said more or less the same as above. So to really connect with proles the left needs to “bubba up,” I kiddingly replied. Not so funny any more.
Average voters aren’t necessarily dismissive of these concerns, but right now they need help with bread-and-butter, kitchen-table stuff. And one reason that a lot of Middle American fence-sitters voted against Democratic progressives in the House, is that they don’t sense a lot of ground-level empathy from them.
Excerpts from “Elissa Slotkin Braces for a Democratic Civil War,” a 11.13 article by Politico‘s Tim Alberta:
Everyone knew Georgia would eventually be called for Joe Biden, and now it has been on an “apparent” basis. (A manual hand recount is currently underway.) And Donald Trump has won North Carolina. These calls follow last night’s declaration that Biden has won Arizona. And so Biden has ended up with the same electoral count — 306 — that Trump accumulated in 2016 in his victory over Hillary Clinton.