20 May 2008

Living in America

It was Aristotle, who is by most accounts - discounting the views of Monty Python - considered to be pretty clever, who famously opined:

"Man is by nature a political animal."

With this in mind, I was inspired to write my first piece of serious political commentary...

I have developed quite a fondness for Alec Baldwin after enjoying NBC's 30 Rock. On this Emmy Award-winning sitcom Baldwin plays the executive Jack Donaghy. Jack is an uber-Republican, he is devoted to immaculate hair and a founding member of The Committee to Reinvade Vietnam. Sure, it is a parody, but art as they say, is fond of imitating life.

Outside of television, Alec Baldwin’s sympathies lie with the Democrats. Nearing his 50th birthday, he has given an interview proclaiming his interest in becoming an elected official. Mr Baldwin is preeminently qualified for politics having spent a lifetime devoted to the performing arts. He has also demonstrated an acerbic wit in his relationship building. When asked to comment on the description of his ex-wife's lawyer as a, "300-pound homunculus with a face like a clenched fist," he advised, "I was being kind." Yes, Paul Keating might well be impressed. It brings a sentimental tear to the eye.

Also working for him is society's unabashed obsession with celebrity and its intravenous celebration of reality television. As has been pointed out, there remain two major entry routes to a shot at election. The old-fashioned way involves working your way up from the very bottom of a party: "Nice biscuit, dearie?" The other way requires you to excel in any field whatsoever and when the time comes, simply wave a flag and wait for the offers to come in. Either way, you need to stand out from the pack, and Alec has done that.

Of course, if you are rich, you needn’t start at the bottom or sell a few million rock albums and wait for a major party to approach you. No, you just need the right slogan and a ready made media empire. If you don’t happen to own a football team in the most corrupt league on the earth, then perhaps you could start a religion to boost your finances. If your religion happens to cater for celebrities, all the better. Can you see the potential in today’s world? Gratuitous wealth and celebrity could produce the perfect candidate! Like Tom Cruise. Oh. Forget that idea.

What actually concerns me is the stump speech made by Arnold Schwarzenegger prior to him seizing the garland of gubernatorial victory in California. (Luckily I saw it on SBS - the subtitles were an invaluable aid to comprehension.) Speaking of his opponent, Arnie yelled with his uniquely ebullient sangfroid: “Gray Davis has terminated hope. He has terminated opportunity. He has terminated education and he has terminated jobs. Now it's time to terminate him!” Get it? The Terminator. It’s very subtle, so I though I would point it out.

You see, as a reformed actor, what Alec will really need to make it in American politics is the right catch phrase. It must already be ingrained in his nation’s collective psyche, but nothing comes to mind. His stint as the narrator of Thomas the Tank Engine & Friends for American audiences may not be very useful in this regard. Perhaps I am just not familiar enough with his oeuvre.

Can anyone help Alec?

Check out 30 Rock

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