The Excellent Foppery of the World: Clint Eastwood in Tampa
This is the excellent foppery of the world, that, when we are sick in fortune, often the surfeit of our own behaviour, we make guilty of our disasters the sun, the moon, and the stars; as if we were villains by necessity, fools by heavenly compulsion, knaves, thieves, and treachers by spherical predominance, drunkards, liars, and adulterers by an enforced obedience of planetary influence; and all that we are evil in, by a divine thrusting on: an admirable evasion of whore-master man, to lay his goatish disposition to the charge of a star!
Clint Eastwood’s goatish disposition was on display under the big tent in Tampa. Laid to the charge of a star, his troubling, maundering speech veered off into the weeds within the first few seconds, a disastrous surfeit of bad behaviour.
While Clint Eastwood’s movie dialogue was confined to a few terse apothegms, his public persona could overcome his compulsive foolishness in real time. Clint Eastwood’s made some good movies over time and quite a few were excellent. Roger Ebert grabbed his Tweeter to say “Clint, my hero, is coming across as sad and pathetic. He didn’t need to do this to himself. It’s unworthy of him.”
I don’t have the heart to beat him up. Clint Eastwood’s an old man who should have stuck to his script. He’s got a good heart, I believe. Something just went horribly wrong and I am much inclined to attribute his foolishness to heavenly compulsion. It’s tragic, that’s what it is. Clint Eastwood, one of Hollywood’s subtlest and recondite actors, a great friend of jazz, a man who’s proven he’s capable of seeing both sides of many issues, to the point where he can see the Battle of Iwo Jima through the eyes of the hapless Japanese defenders – words fail me.
Talking to shadows, to an Invisible President. The Romney campaign staffers, taken hugely aback, were reduced to restatements of the obvious. Can you imagine being Gail Gitcho, the Romney spokesperson, having to explain this catastrophic misfire?
“He’s an American icon,” Romney spokeswoman Gail Gitcho told CNN’s Piers Morgan. “You can’t look at him at through the same political lens that you would other politicians. He’s Clint Eastwood.”
Well, yes he is Clint Eastwood. And that’s the problem with a stage persona: we don’t look through the same lens to see him. The lens looks at him and another lens projects his image on the screen. It’s the same problem Mitt Romney has, and for that matter, Barack Obama. We see what we want to see in these men. And we’re always so surprised when they don’t turn out to be what we expect.
Yeah, Clint Eastwood has stepped on his wrinkled old male appendage. Done more than just step on it, he was tap-dancing on it, embarrassing everyone who saw it. King Lear put it fairly well:
I am a very foolish fond old man,
Fourscore and upward, not an hour more or less;
And, to deal plainly,
I fear I am not in my perfect mind.
God bless you, Clint Eastwood. I hope you can live down this episode. Though others will mock you, I’m just puzzled and saddened.