My, that was quite a Superbowl yesterday, wasn't it? The "wife" and I saddled up to the television last night for the festivities we like to think of as the Oscars for straight people, armed with two large pizzas and a twelve-pack of Diet Coke. It's the first time in five years that Mary was able to watch the game in such comfort; in London the tradition is for expatriates to go down to a bar Leicester Square at some ungodly hour in the morning to watch the game. I have to admit I was rooting for the Patriots. I did live in New England for five years, after all, and plus Bill Belichick was a classmate of mine. You should have seen Billy B. doing a keg stand back in the day.
Speaking of the Oscars, cross your fingers for a resolution to the writer's strike this week! As a member in good standing of the United Auto Workers (Local 2865) I am duty-bound to support the Writer's Guild, east and west. But I need my glitz and glamour! I haven't seen enough of the movies, as usual, although my sense is that it is a slim crop this year. I haven't even seen No Country for Old Men yet, although I did see There Will be Blood, which was excellent. The soundtrack was spectacular and thoughtful. No surprise there, as P.T. Anderson is a musicologically-inclined man. The Penderecki-style theatrics were particularly apt, I thought, connecting the elemental force of oil with other elemental forces yet to come. There's an argument in this movie that violence and energy are one and the same, a thought I find both true and frightening.
But to end more positively, I hope those of you voting tomorrow go out and cast your votes for Barack Obama. I've been a fan since I saw him speak at a rally a year ago in Los Angeles. With Obama, as for so many presidential candidates, you have to make a calculated guess as to the gap between performance and policy. As a left-winger, I never trusted that John Edwards's own personal beliefs matched his lovely rhetoric. And with Hilary Clinton, we know from past experience that whatever promises she makes now are contingent upon maintaining the power of the centrist, DLC wing of the party. Part of my decision to support Obama was trusting that no matter what he might say to get elected, his own personal beliefs were most like mine. As Christopher Hayes argued in The Nation, he's one of us. I recognize the danger in relying upon that kind of mystification, in hoping that this category of "us" that Obama and I might share is all that I hope it is.
But as a scholar of performance, and political performances in particular, I also support Obama because of the quality of that performance. I mean that literally: Obama wears great clothes, picks great tunes, runs well-produced commercials. I like that he speaks in paragraphs, listens closely, and gives the appearance of some sort of interior life. Clinton has some of these abilities as well, but for my aesthetic taste, Obmama's performance is vastly superior. Aesthetics matter, and when good taste collides with a progressive past and sufficient hope for a progressive future, I'm sold.
3 days ago