Sunday, September 9, 2012

Eastwood, Party Conventions, and the Story of O

I did not watch either party's political convention, merely read the reports.  The general consensus on the Democratic Convention is that Michelle Obama gave an excellent speech, Bill Clinton gave an outstanding though overly long speech that managed to be simultaneously folksy and wonky, and Barack Obama gave an okay speech that just didn't measure up to the other two.

The general consensus on the Republican Convention is that Clint Eastwood ranted incoherently at an empty chair -- oh, yes, and some politicians gave politician speeches.

When started college, I had no idea that The Story of O was a notorious pornographic classic, so I missed the double entendre when we were shown a film by that name about racial/ethnic/gender/etc. discrimination.  It portrayed the discriminated against group generically as an O surrounded by X's.  The presentation was a generally trite and superficial warning about the evils of discrimination that is not worth remembering.  One part did stick out in my mind, though, as memorable and genuinely valuable.  First, the screen showed various pictures of a group of X's with one O, and showed them moving around and changing positions.  What I saw was a bunch of X's with one O.  The O stood out as conspicuous; the X's all looked the same.  Once they took the O out and showed only X's, things changed.  Suddenly, the individual differences between the X's became noticeable.  Some were larger and some smaller, some thicker and some thinner.  Some had one cross-bar thicker than the other, and others had the other cross-bar thicker, while some had cross bars of equal thickness.  Without an O, the X's stood out as individuals.  With an O present, the X's were just X's, their individual differences submerged in their obvious difference from the O.

When your convention consists entirely of politicians making politician speeches (political wives count as politicians when giving speeches on behalf of their husbands), then people retain some memory of who said what and who made what impression.  When your convention consists of politicians making politician speeches and an old man ranting at a chair, the differences and even content of the politician speeches tend to get overlooked.  They just seem like any old speech given by any old politician..  What really stands out is the old man ranting at a chair.  So I suppose the question is which image is you think is more useful to your party.

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