Tuesday, January 31, 2017

Alternative Perspectives from the Twilight Zone

This is a cross-posting from the BBW Blog. I started writing it here, decided to publish it there, and then came back to tweak it a little more over here.

The Hub grew up watching the Twilight Zone, so every major holiday weekend when one of the cable stations runs a marathon, he half-watches every hour or so in order to guess the episode within the first few minutes. I begin with this seemingly random pop culture anecdote because life since the Trumpacalyspe has felt at times like one of those bizarre Twilight Zone episodes. For instance, there is the one when someone with a golden chip on her shoulder blasts a Hollywood icon for being too elitist...

Which is otherwise known as that time when Meghan McCain criticized Meryl Streep's Golden Globe speech. (I am a couple of weeks late, but I'm feeling a bit inspired by the Women's March to revisit this matter, especially since the Trumpet also made a point of lambasting celebrity activism).

The first irony, of course, is that Meghan McCain is herself an elite. She is the daughter of a U.S. Senator who happened to run for President. Twice. I'm not really sure what she does for a living, what she ever did for a living, but I know it currently involves working at FOX News. But even if she doesn't have any other real job, she is still the daughter of a U.S. Senator who ran for President, twice. Meryl Streep, on the other hand, is just the hardest working actress in showbiz (but let's not get it twisted as we all know that Streep is quite privileged herself, but go with me on this for a bit.)

I honestly would have overlooked this as white noise, but this weekend's juxtaposition of truth to alternative facts made me wonder. Why does an actor's statement at an awards show that only certain coastal elites bother to watch, and that would not have gotten much attention except for the fact that she took aim and fired a perfect shot at the then-President Elect without calling him out by name, matter to the conservative "activist" daughter of a U.S. Senator who ran for President, twice? Gee...

So my best guess is that as Meghan's Dad is still wondering why he is not vacationing with his lovely wife like the guy who beat him eight years ago, or painting lovely portraits like the guy who beat him 16 years ago, the family needs to find creative ways to stand up to the Trumpet. That guy who took the birther ball that McCain failed to deflate during his candidacy in 2008 and ran with it. The Trumpet. That guy who got endorsed by Sister Sarah, that chick McCain unfortunately tapped to be his running mate in 2008. The Trumpet. That guy who suggested that McCain was not much of an American war hero since he got captured and tortured. That guy.

So Miss Meghan seized the opportunity of the Golden Globes, the most self-congratulatory of the entertainment award season, to take a predictable swipe at Hollywood elitism and then quickly deny culpability since she and her family did not vote for That guy. That while she feels our pain, it is our "snowflake liberal" high-mindedness that enables folks like Meryl to dare speak out against him. I mean, what is she anyway, just some well-known blond with an opinion...

Perhaps it is the irony of Meghan's waning relevance as the conservative millennial who speaks for the little guy. Well, now that job now belongs to Lady Ivanka, but she still has a job at FOX, right? Oh wait, FOX just decided that Stacy Dash was redundant, so maybe they will be going in a different direction now that Rupert Murdoch is gone and the network is imploding. Can they fire the daughter of a U.S. Senator who ran for President twice?

Meghan, as the daughter of a U.S. Senator who ran for President twice, you could have used the opportunity to say a lot more about how Hollywood can facilitate building bridges to middle America without throwing bricks. How Hollywood has a responsibility to present diversity of opinion in such a way that demonstrates mutual respect rather than fomenting disunion. Instead, you emulated the Trumpet and deflected. If we really are on the same side in opposing the divisiveness that helped to elect him, then why perpetuate the narrative that certain Americans are somehow more authentically "American" than others?

What got the Trumpet elected was the unwillingness of men like your father, who ran for President twice, to do more than just not attend Trumpelthinskin's convention, not actively campaign for him, or maybe not vote for him. I remember how your father, who ran for President twice, politely corrected a woman at one of his rallies when she accused then-candidate Obama of not being an American. So having stood up and shown that type of character when it did not serve his interests back in 2008, it would have been just as courageous for your father to have denounced birtherism from the beginning. If he had, he could have saved us all from this American Horror Show.

Sorry Meghan, you do not get to blame liberals for the election of a reality TV star to the most important job on the planet. You do not get to tweet out nonsense and then assume that because you are the daughter of a U.S. Senator who ran for President twice, you bear no culpability. And it is not Meryl Streep's fault that your party got hijacked by its extreme fringe, nominated a demagogue, and is now stuck with him. Hollywood elites don't fan the flames of discord by embracing and promoting a narrow and opportunistic definition of patriotism. Tinseltown is far from perfect (having been shamed into making more efforts at diversity by a hashtag), but at least they try. The Hollywood version of America that Streep celebrated in her speech was an ideal, but it is far more reflective of what we are supposed to represent.

Week One

I have been inspired to write a lot lately. I have been posting a lot to the BBW blog, and this piece started there, but I am posting it here as I try to figure out a few things about my direction these next few years.

I feel like I am just spinning my wheels here--both on this blogging effort and at life. I wonder about life generally because the older I get, things just seem to get more complex. There is a lot of shit swirling around me and I feel utterly powerless in its midst. There is a lot of change going on in the world and you already know how I feel about much of that nonsense and fuckery (yeah, I am back to cursing). And as writing is my refuge in times like these, I am placing a lot of pressure on myself to increase my output even though it is not entirely clear that it matters...

So let me address that issue first. I started blogging more than 10 years ago just to have a means of expressing myself, but I have been writing like this for years. Before it was called blogging, I wrote pieces in a spiral bound notebook with a black Bic ballpoint pen. When I wrote out some of my thoughts on the computer, I called it computer journaling.

When I began this effort, my intention was to be discovered as a writer. I had written a few things that had generated some interest, and after having two jobs where I wrote to convey the positions of others, I thought I was ready for the next level. I think back in 2005 when this blog began, I had hoped that I would end up writing a column for some online ezine or maybe I would have written a book or two by now.

Well, I am still at it, writing in obscurity. I am a decent writer, but not a very good promoter of my writing. In fact, I am not good at all when it comes to self-promotion or taking credit for things. I am like those artists that only focuses on making art, but needs lots of help managing everything else in their lives because the art becomes all-consuming. Or perhaps I am a writer afraid of both success and failure because I have found failure is way too easy. It takes the same amount of effort as trying to achieve success; however, success requires more sustained effort. Failure can happen any number of times but success seems to be a one-time shot.You get plenty of opportunities to make the shot, but you only get that one chance to make that shot.

After blogging all these years, I believe that I want more, but I am afraid of what more means. Does it mean that I need to dedicate real time to writing and not just make the most of stolen moments? Does it mean that I need to prioritize my craft above the needs of everyone else, and at what cost?

Which is where I question how well I am doing at life beyond my writing. This month has already been a bitch and whenever I think things have calmed down, shit happens. Like yesterday, I was working on this piece when I got a call that fucked the rest of my day, my night and is still causing me agitation. So when I contemplate whether I should become one of those people whose every waking moment is spent honing her craft, it is never a realistic thought. Or in other words, I could never truly tell the rest of the world to go fuck off while I write since a good deal of what fuels my need to write is the shit that happens to me!

My most honest writing comes from the constant questioning and self-doubt: have I been a good enough daughter, am I a decent mother, how can I be a better wife, why don't I feel like I am enough? Why do I take so much to heart? Why do I keep getting in my own way? Who am I to think that my dreams are realistic? Would I have been better off if I had just been content to be a mediocre lawyer? What made me think I had what it took to be any kind of lawyer in the first place (remember how you nearly failed out of law school)? Why don't you just give up and admit that you are a failure?

Because even if I am unexceptional, mediocre, average or just ok, I am not a failure.

So I will continue. The world may never discover me, or it might. I will continue to write when I need to express how the world affects me. I will write when I have a lot to say but no one available to hear any of it. I write to leave a record of my opinions, my thoughts, my anxieties and also my hopes and dreams. I write because I am a writer.