Saturday, September 13, 2008

W. or when I learned to stop laughing and hate American politics

Oliver Stone is completely insane. On October 17, the controversial director’s latest movie will open in theaters. Entitled simply, W., the movie is another Hollywood dramatization of actual events, like The Texas Chainsaw Massacre, or Stone’s 1991 conspiracy theory thrill ride, JFK. The film's title, “W.” is in reference to Walker, as in George Walker Bush. The film is about our yee-hawing cowboy president and his family’s dynasty, which stretches across nearly three decades of American politics.

When I first saw the trailer, my sense of patriotism was sort of confused. As the trailer begins, George Thorogood’s song “One Bourbon, One Scotch, One Beer” starts to play, and a younger, sexier, Hollywood version of our president is depicted gambling, taking beer bongs, and driving under the influence. He is yelled at by his father for his shenanigans. The elder Bush says to his son, “Who do you think you are? A Kennedy? You are a Bush! Act like one!” Watch the trailer on YouTube; you’ll see what I mean. Ridiculous! This movie will come out while Bush is still in office. It boggles my mind. It seems like “politician” and “celebrity” are becoming synonymous.

In the race to become the next president, both Republicans and Democrats have celebrity candidates who are more desperate for attention than a knocked up Miley Cyrus. Democratic presidential candidate Barack Obama has often been compared to John F. Kennedy, the sacrificed king of celebrity politicians, and recently, The Los Angles Times ran an editorial comparing Republican vice-presidential candidate Sarah Palin to Princess Diana, another political celebrity.

Oliver Stone’s movie will only give added weight to a candidate’s celebrity status. The fact that this movie was made exposes the pettiness of national politics and the ways in which real issues are kept hidden behind a facade of personality cults. Be honest, you have always wanted to have a drink and shoot pool with George W. Bush. It’s impossible to resist his mischievous grin and unpretentious Texas accent. I just hope that is not why you voted for him, if in fact you did.

Bush may not be a great leader, but he is a great politician, because he can get votes. He is likable and appears to be a genuine good hearted American. He is the friendly face that Dick Cheney, who is often compared to Darth Vader, and the Bush family’s other allies can hide behind. Take political mastermind Karl Rove, for instance. He is no less diabolical than a used car salesmen. Rove has sold the American people a lemon that has caused the deaths of thousands of Iraqi civilians and American soldiers.

I have to agree with author Douglas Adams who once wrote, “Anyone who is capable of getting themselves made President should on no account be allowed to do the job.” Politics is a dirty, dirty game, and there may not be any room at the top for an honest candidate while there are so many good looking puppets around.

Let’s not let American politics become like countless grade school student council elections. An election is not a popularity contest, nor is it a beauty pageant. Don’t let the glare shining off of Sarah Palin’s designer eye glasses blind you to the fact that she is in bed with big oil (literally, her husband has worked for BP in Alaska and now operates oil field production there). Palin is also a dangerous Fundamentalist Christian who would have us all learning creationism in public schools, fearing the rapture, and condemning condoms as an instrument of Satan.

If you vote in November, make an informed decision. Sarah Palin is a smooth talking hockey mom, and Barack Obama could talk circles around the Dos Equis mascot “The Most Interesting Man in the World”, but these factors alone should not earn them your vote. Entertainment Weekly is no place for politics. So, stay thirsty my friends. Stay thirsty for the real issues.

Wednesday, September 3, 2008

Levon Helms For a New Generation

This video is awesome. Levon Helms is the former drummer of The Band. His voice is an icon of American music. When he sings, I am reminded of the American Heartland. This short film features songs from Helms' 2007 comeback album, Dirt Farmer. Helms battled and beat throat cancer in the 90's. His vocal chords were severely damaged during that time, and his once chilling voice was replaced by a quiet rasp. Helms began singing again in 2004 at "The Midnight Ramble Sessions," concerts featuring a variety of guest musicians held regularly at Helms' home and studio in Woodstock, New York. In February 2008, Dirt Farmer won the Grammy for Best Traditional Folk Album, showing that nothing short of death will keep Helms from singing and playing the drums, and thank god. May he continue to get the respect he deserves.