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poetry, politics, and popular expression
Tuesday, 6 January 2009
Obama, JFK, and the rest

 

In the aftermath of the 60's, in the aftermath of Camelot, so many politicians attempted to wrap themselves in the mantle of JFK to tap into the hunger that the public displayed for the resurrection of our fallen Prince.  And no, not the purple guy from Minneapolis, but the real Prince, the one who we yearned to rescue us from an immoral war, Tricky Dick, and an inept Peanut Farmer turned President.  

This parade of imitators though proved unable to evoke the core of the Kennedy myth, unable to summon the idealism, passion, and grace that defined the fleeting first few years of the 60's.  Gary Hart, Joe Biden in the 80's, John Francis Kerry (JFK!!!), and even Bill Clinton to some extent all attempted to lay a surface claim to the throne.  

Ironically, the politician most like JFK on the national scene appears to be Obama, a man who has resolutely charted his own course, a man of mixed ethnic heritage raised by a single mother in conditions far away from the wealth and privilege of the Kennedy's.  For all the surface differences though only Obama in the aftermath of JFK has demonstrated the real power and magnetism to call us forth to our highest ideals and dare us to dream again.  Only Obama has dared us to see that poetry can be politics and politics poetry. 

I know--no pop culture connections on this little writing but oh well.  It's a blog after all; these things are supposed to be loose (at least I ordain it so).  Toodles. 

 

 

  


Posted by varbelenglish at 2:29 AM EST
Updated: Tuesday, 6 January 2009 2:48 AM EST
Sunday, 4 January 2009
2008 movies and the political scene
Mood:  a-ok

Hi again.   

2008 will likely be remembered as the beginning of the Age of Obama.  Despite the fact that Bush finished his term in office this year, he seemed not surprisingly eclipsed as the months went on by the attention lavished on the Presidential election and specifically on Barack Obama, the eventual victor.

Several early 2008 box-office successes like WALL-EE and The Dark Knight Returns can be interpreted as a reflection of the pessimism surrounding the Bush Years, portraying a humanity unwilling to engage in anything but the same sluggish routine in the former and in the latter a kind of nightmarish distopia. 

Obama's prominence is suggested in Milk, a film which portrays Harvey Milk not only as the first openly gay politician elected in America but as a community organizer who sought to build broad coalitions among seemingly disparate groups, all the while emphasizing the importance of hope. 

The influence of Obama is even subtly shown in movies that seemed openly critical of Republican Power like W and Frost/Nixon.  These films reflect Obama's emphasis on seeing the good in those we may deeply disagree with.  Both movies provided a sympathetic portrait of their ostensible targets; W's worst actions as President (Guatanamo Bay, Katrina, etc) were ignored by Oliver Stone; Bush instead came across as a kind of amiable dunce who had deep issues with his Dad; Nixon appeared ravaged by exile and lonely.       

That's it for now. 

   

 


Posted by varbelenglish at 9:53 PM EST
Welcome
Mood:  a-ok

Hi!  Welcome to my blog about poetry, politics, and popular expression.  Thank you for reading. 

It's fascinating for me to see the intersections between the above.  I've been intensely interested in these connections for years but until now have not actively sought out a way to explore how America's music and movies both shape and reflect its politics and broader culture.

More to come shortly. 

 

 


Posted by varbelenglish at 12:26 AM EST

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