Sunday, November 6, 2016

Election Edition: I'm the Movie Activist, and I....oh, YOU know.

Just taking a break from Movie Activism to encourage the rest of the activists out there:

Get out and vote.  
Nobody--I repeat, NOBODY--will give rattus tucchus uno if you try to show off your Righteous Anger With the System by saying "I don't like either of them, I'm staying home, so there!"  That's like protesting the Atlantic Ocean by refusing to drink a glass of water.  
Seriously, grab a twelve-foot Olympic vaulting pole and get over yourself:  If you're going to be a smug self-righteous jerk, at least be a jerk and do something that will have some actual effect.
(Like the days of folksy, outhouse-nutty ol' Ross Perot, many people right now are making big shows of singing the praises of Libertarian Gary Johnson or the Green Party's Jill Stein without really having a clear idea of their respective political platforms, just to express their own tantrum at having to choose between Clinton and Trump.  Regardless of their relative chances, voting Third-Party without knowing the platforms, for no other reason than to thumb rebel-patriot noses back at the established Two-Party candidates, is a bit like the high-school girl who dates the class nerd just to get back at her boyfriend:  It doesn't improve the relationship, it gives the wrong guy a lot of false attention she'll regret later, and it's just not worth the date itself simply to prove some point.)

There's a reason it was called a Secret Ballot when it was written into our system, and why they put dividers and curtains up at polling stations:  
Nobody is going to think badly of you whoever you vote for, because nobody is going to KNOW who you voted for.  Nobody can tell you before you do, nobody's in there with you while you do, and nobody cares after you do.  Trump aside, you're not staking your immortal soul for now and all time on a stand for Good vs. Evil, or Patriarchy vs. Feminism, or Team Iron Man vs. Team Cap, you're just participating in a democratic political rotation that takes place every four years.  
And we've had Family Guy on TV for seventeen years and survived, you'll live through four.

We've got it easy in our country.  Our politicians aren't like Hollywood studio executives, in that we can vote them out of office as easily as we can put them in:  
No politician brags about being a "shark", or that they live by the laws of their own "jungle".  
No politician is so dismissive of domestic trade that he shrugs "Hey, if US customers won't buy our goods, just make all our industries to sell to China, they'll buy anything."  
Our politicians are not self-styled gangster-boss dictators who set themselves up in private dominions answerable to no one, free to use as much propaganda and cooked numbers as they can spin to convince the people of what they "should" think, and who gloat over their elite status far above us poor five-figure-salaried peasants, and their ability--their traditional pride and duty, in fact--to lie, cheat and hustle their rivals for personal marketplace gain as they kill-or-be-killed to keep their jobs.  Okay, Donald Trump, maybe, but that's because he has the same corporate business-CEO background as said studio execs, and doesn't know how our little "democracy" thing works...Where those in charge don't get to indulge themselves, and do have two-hundred-year-old higher political authority to answer their actions to.
And in politics as well as business, what you don't know can hurt you:  In the end, democracy gives everyone a voice, and either way, someone's going to get a rude awakening in their ear.  All it takes is for one person to speak up, and enough One Persons to be a People.
If we can stop one politician's dream of building a wall, we can stop a studio's dream of building one movie into an eight-film "Franchise".  If we can stop a war from killing innocent people overseas, we can stop the war Warner is waging to kill innocent Blu-ray disks. If we can change the problems in our country, we can change the problems in our movies and TV shows...How hard could it be?

But while we're here, in the interest of TV/movie/sitcom cliche's, I also put that cartoon at the top for a reason--
There are three widespread mainstream pop-culture annoyances that will make me froth at the mouth...Okay, FOUR, if you count people who spell "Santa Clause" like he was the title of a Tim Allen Disney comedy (it was a clause in a contract, people, rent it!):  
One are kids who still confuse "Loose/Lose" into adulthood, the second are people who put a comma in Shakespeare's "Wherefore art thou Romeo?"  (Hint:  Look up "wherefore" in Webster's.)  
And the third are would-be current-ref comics and hootsters who try to joke about quoting "...And I approve this message" from political ads in everyday conversation.  Nothing creeps up my spine like a much needed Cliche'-Buster.

Think we've got the "Ugliest presidential campaign in American history" right now with Trump v. Clinton?  Well, we'll probably make the top three in the next historical revision.
At the moment, the top prize is hotly debated between John Adams v. Thomas Jefferson, 1800, which basically caused the first US two-party political split when a debate over a central Federalist Constitution versus the earlier Democratic-Republican idea for states to mind their own businesses turned too personal and made the two lifelong friends mortal political enemies...And in the other corner, George HW Bush v. Michael Dukakis, 1988, when nervous Republicans, about to lose eight years of Ronald Reagan to the two-term rule, refused to give up their "Republican Camelot" without one ugly schoolyard fight, and were determined to grind the intellectual Democratic Massachusetts governor into paste under their heel.
That was the election that created more slang terms in our campaign culture than any other (quick, who said "Senator, you're no Jack Kennedy"?), most of them referring to aired attack ads, and all aimed by Republican strategist Lee Atwater towards "that little midget":  "Willie Horton".  "Revolving door".  "Boston harbor".  "Vacuum cleaner".  Bring back memories for some of those older folks out there?  For those who weren't there, ask your parents for definition.  I could explain them for the young folks, but the tastelessness and implied racism of some of them might be unsuitable for this blog.
And, okay, "Vacuum cleaner" wasn't one of theirs--That was the election we saw the rise of the Third-Party Attack Ad, which could be produced by private organizations, like a PAC support group or the Religious Right, and express a little more personally questionable anger than the candidate himself would want his committee to be associated with, but which the candidate could still stay above and say "Not mine, folks, don't look at me."  It started to become just a little too convenient an excuse, particularly when it was hard to determine whether those "crazy loose-cannons" had been acting on under-the-table orders or not.
The use of nameless drive-by attack ads with or without the sponsoring candidate's name, face or participation had reached such proportions in state and federal elections that by 2002, the Bipartisan Campaign Reform Act, designed to close loopholes in campaign funding, also created the Stand By Your Ad provision, which required the candidate to appear, onscreen, in any TV, radio or print ad produced by his own campaign committee, and say so.  (Internet is still exempt from the rule, and frequently exploited.)  The idea was not only to help identify the "real" attack ads from the "fake" ones, but also that no image-conscious candidate would want to be seen next to his own genuine schoolyard attack ad, and thus make fewer of them, or at least keep the tone a little more civil--And if they did personally "approve" (= authorize) their own attack ad against their opponent, that told you everything you needed to know.

Ever wondered?  That's why.
When a candidate in a political ad says "I approve this message", he is not--now, let's repeat that very slowly and clearly so everyone can understand it, he is NOT--trying to annoy you by chirping "I liked it!", nor is he some vain idiot saying "Dang, I'm good!...See how good it makes me look?"
He is complying with the election law and validating his own campaign comittee's ad with his legally-required disclaimer stamp of APPROVAL.  Get it?
Adam?  Jamie?  I'd call this cliche' "Busted".

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