Sunday, March 09, 2008

Hillary v Britney v Obama

Crying for Comic Relief

No matter what the political interpretation, in comparison to a Greek play “Britney” is more likely a tragedy, “Hillary” more likely a comedy. Britney is a world-class performing athlete whose arrogance regarding her demonstrable and extraordinary dancing and singing abilities, her culture altering beauty and her unparalleled physical appeal has laid her low. Her will is Promethean, even if her judgment is not. And the consequences of her pride, melded with her stubbornness, will continue to spiral her into inevitable destruction. Driven by apparent divine insanity, what ancient Greeks called ATE, she has destroyed, to the limits of her Herculean strength, her children and her family and herself. If Britney were to die no one would be surprised and very few would laugh. Oedipus in a leather thong -- or not. Though she has cried, Britney has never publicly cried the helpless tears of pathos. And that is likely because she knows exactly what will happen if she ever does. She will be mocked beyond her wildest self-destructive fears. Were Britney to cry publicly the tears of “Oh my I try so hard to be good.” then certainly we would laugh at her. Then the inevitability of her horrible end would become comic rather than tragic. When the buffoon is hit by a rubber chicken we laugh. But Britney’s public tears have been tears of fury in league with action. She may be mad but she is no buffoon. “Kill those ***** reporters!” The pretentious tears of a petty tyrant are most always a bit comedic when followed by just deserts. But the tears of the great, even the great in perverse action, facing inevitable doom are more likely horrifying. Character and arrogance, followed by external retribution is tragedy.

Now Hillary, on the other hand, if she loses the primary to Obama, after her well mannered and entirely appropriate tear, that, I’m afraid, will simply be funny. All of her detractors will gloat over the irony. See? There they go again (echoing the words of Regan) -- a family tradition, the continuation of the ambiguity of “is.” (“President Clinton, is it true you had sexual relations in the Oval office with Miss Lewinsky?” “Well, investigator Starr, it all depends on the meaning of “is.” After all what is sex?”) Is a welling eye the same as crying? Did she cry or not? Once again, it all depends on the meaning of “is.” Though the sin repeats, the Clintons’ is certainly not the house of Atreus. The self-convinced slipping loose a strategic tear of self pity mixed with the arrogant expectation of deserved political victory, delivered to an audience of her Birkenstock baby boomer peers cheering her on -- that is comedy in the making. Yes, Hill we can cry on cue too. Yes, Hill you are one of us. Oh how authentic in your inauthenticity, oh how refreshing, how exhilarating that you will cry for us, for US. Oh we LOVE you for crying for us! But if Hillary’s strategic tear is followed by the reality of an Obama victory the rest of the world will roar at the comedy of it. Hillary’s ocular moment will then become grand vaudevillian buffoonery. Overtly crying for personal gain is unambiguously comic relief: Charlie Chaplin ringing buckets of self pitying tears from his hat. No Hillary, you don’t deserve to win, you just think you do. Of course, if she does win, well then the tear was unalloyed brilliance. In the words of another William, “So much depends on a red wheel barrow glazed with rain water beside white chickens.” So much depends on the meaning of “is.”


Anonymous roger nowowielski said...

Great article, Carmine.

I love the way you couched it in terms of Greek dramatic arts.

3:30 PM  

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