Sunday, March 2, 2008

A Message to My Fellow Liberals This Holiday Season

Tuesday morning I get to head up to the community center and cast my vote in the primary. This is an exhilarating prequel to the almost mystical experience of full-fledged democracy that will take place in November. I am being facetious, but it’s the only way I am able to deal with the onslaught of election coverage that is now picking up a full head of steam nine months before anything remotely important happens. As an act of fellowship with my liberal brothers and sisters, I would like to suggest an alternative to agonizing over the choice to vote for Clinton or Obama.
The political problems in this country are but a small manifestation of our cultural immaturity. If you want to work from the ground up you must realize that who you vote for is not the ground. The change that will occur in your day-to-day life as a result of voting Republican or Democrat are miniscule enough; I cannot fathom the delicacy of the instrument that would be required to measure the difference between Clinton and Obama. I know they each promise different things, thus giving the impression that you are choosing between two distinctly different countries, but the reality is that very little will change when the new administration takes over for Bush. I know this is true because I was there to see nothing happen when Reagan/Bush gave way Clinton Gore. And as much as Bush has made himself into the worst president in the history of the US, it would be hard for me to quantify or qualify the ways in which my life has been worse under his tenure than under Clinton/Gore.
So I say take some of the energy you devote to weighing the pros and cons of Clinton and Obama, and use it instead to measure the relative values of watching some Oscar fodder like Paul Thomas Anderson’s new movie or 3:10 to Yuma vs. a recent film by Jafar Panahi, Abbas Kiarostami or Mohsen Makhmalbaf. Spend some serious time with yourself, and find out why you would rather watch Hollywood storytelling dressed up as “serious filmmaking” over a film by any one of the three truly unique artistic voices on the planet. The effort involved in watching a great art film is taxing, but it is also more rewarding than watching actors you know play dress-up and pretend to be serious.
So watch a good movie for a change. Someone new will be president next year, and your life will be no different. Watching a real work of art, on the other hand, might change you in ways you never thought possible.