By A. G. Moore 9/1/2012
There was a time when political conventions were raucous affairs. Business was negotiated and the outcome was far from certain. Those contentious times, when a political convention was truly a show, with suspense and unscripted moments, have long passed. Now the electorate is offered a non-event, a preordained coronation. There is no drama, no conflict, no reason to watch.
This year the possibility of drama was dangled before us as the Ron Paul contingent prepared to inject some contention on the convention floor. But the Romney behemoth derailed the little engine that could and the electorate was confronted with pastiche that lacked nuance and depth.
Nature did her best to help out. But the deus ex-machina of a Gulf Coast hurricane was no match for the dynamo of a national political apparatus. The show–dull, methodical, meticulously manufactured–went on.
Then Clint Eastwood talked to a chair.
Eastwood’s cameo was the only watchable part of the convention. It was the only part of the show that was true theater (this is television, isn’t it?). The rest was pantomime, Kabuki. Everything was so highly ritualized that there was no content, no there there.
Theater implies some kind of character arc—tension. There’s suspense, expectation, disappointment and surprise. At the end of the exercise truth is revealed, one hopes. In the best of circumstances, we learn something; we learn about ourselves and others through the creative exercise. That’s what makes theater worth watching. That’s what happened on Thursday night.
Clint Eastwood walked down a path less traveled; he did not robotically mouth prepackaged sentiments.
Is the ability to be honest age-dependent? Maybe it does help to have lived through so much that you feel immune to slings and arrows. It certainly helps to be rich enough and powerful enough that actual repercussions are not a consideration.
If there were more Clint Eastwood moments, if we, the electorate saw more emperors without their clothes, maybe the contest in November would be one we would approach with more passion.
As it is now, disingenuous political automatons, going through the motions, have lulled us into a resigned, disillusioned stupor.
I say, bring on the unpredictability, the awkward pauses, the search for expression. Maybe in that rough form we’ll catch a glimpse of the real person within the politician and thereby learn their true intent.