Wednesday, November 7, 2007

To Be Or Not To Be: Actors/ Politicians—Friends or Foes?

I don’t deny getting most (ok, all) of my political information from late night TV. There’s nothing more infuriating to me than reaching the pinnacle of an article only to be told to find the remainder on page 26D. I mean who has time to navigate those unkempt, colorless pages when they’re falling out of place? Not to mention, that yucky black residue stains my alabaster fingers.

When watching the Colbert Report the other night, I found myself wondering, is he serious about running for President? Or is this a parody, a farce? Is he making a mockery of the American public? Or does he just like Doritos? Does Stephen Colbert truly want to be the leader of the Free World?

I pondered some more and asked myself, does Colbert have a shot at this? Could he actually win this “race”? I thought about the Robin Williams’ movie “Man of the Year” where the host of a late night political talk show becomes President. Would life imitate art? (Though, I don’t know if you can call a Williams’ movie art these days—long gone is Mork’s staggering genius).

Then I got to really thinking—brooding, if you will—are politicians just actors filling political roles and characters? They have speechwriters, campaign managers, even make-up and hair people; their lives parallel those of actors, as they are handed a script and directed accordingly.
(Act I; scene 2: Interview with Oprah; Act II; scene 4: New Hampshire Primaries; Act III, scene 7: The Convention; Act IV: scene 5: Election night; Act V; scene 3: Inauguration; Act V; scene 5: The First Couple’s first dance; fade to black. Fin.)

It’s no wonder actors find the metamorphosis to politics painless and almost seamless. After years of silver screen success, Ronald Reagan jettisoned himself into the Presidency. Sonny Bono found himself a seat in the House of Representatives. And Shirley Temple became a U.S diplomat. Even the former WWF wrestler Jesse Ventura governed Minnesota.

Currently, California harbors two of the most famous actor/ politicians of them all: Clint Eastwood (Mayor of Carmel) and Arnold Schwarzenegger (Governor). But my favorite is Law and Order star/ former U.S Senator Fred Thompson who is making a bid for 2008. I am a little concerned, however, that some Americans may mistake Senator Thompson for his character Arthur Branch. It’s easy to get to know Branch as the southern, ball- busting DA. But who is Thompson?

It seems that Americans naturally pigeonhole people. We check boxes to discern identities, ethnicity, and income. We don’t like flip-floppers. We want our candidates to fit a mold and stay there. We use political parties to draw imaginary lines while political figures have become simple caricatures.

This is easily seen in the common depiction of Bush as the Texas Cowboy. And those running have already been branded: Edwards is the pretty boy, Romney the rich kid, Hillary the (dare I say?) bitch, and Obama the token non-white guy. What is this? A Presidential race or The Breakfast Club?



C. P. Coleta said...

...I said Ali's in da HOUSE!

Stevekrik said...

To Fred's defense, he was involved in politics long before he became an actor...

but good post there Power.

Stevekrik said...

Also, what does the picture of Bush with money in his pockets have to do with your article?

Allison E. Power said...

Steven, it's a caricature of Bush as a cowboy. (I was saying that politicians are depicted as caricatures...)

Find me a better picture, and we'll replace it.

Thanks for the love though

Stevekrik said...

I still don't get it....