Monday, February 13, 2012

Why I love Downton Abbey - Jumping on the Bandwagon

I had bronchitis in January, and I went through a bout of insomnia born of sleeping at odd times during the day. Every time I was up at 2am, there was this lovely show about these British people from another time and I was completely enthralled. I'm glad it comes on at 9pm on Sundays because I was able to stop setting my alarm at 2am just to watch.

I love it because the costumes, accents and sets are rich and lovely.
The other actors hold their own and the cast is stellar but I love Maggie Smith. Well before my world became immersed in all things Potter-related, our household loved Maggie Smith. She is older now and has wrinkles and showing her age - and it doesn't matter. She is simply beautiful. Glowingly, achingly, brilliantly beautiful. She is such a refined actress that every word she utters steals the scene. Every move she makes, every turn of her had, flip her wrist weilding her walking stick. She is incredible. It's worth watching the show just to watch her. She gives the younger acresses a run for their money just sitting in a chair. It's incredible to behold.

I love it because it's so heavenly dramatic.

It starts off with the sinking of the Titanic, delves quickly into war time and just as quickly jerks us back out of it. World War I "tis but a handbreath, but a tale" in this series.

Everyone is falling in love all over the place but always keeping the traditional British "stiff upper lip" while trying to hold it all in.

The Lords and Ladies constantly cross lines with the servants in the most unrealistic ways.

The outcome of the drama is nearly always predictable and yet watching it unfold is satisfying.

But most of all: I love watching these deliriously rich white people try to hold onto a way of life that we know went the way of the buttonhook and the phonograph. This world, quite frankly, is so classist that there is no room for racism. Oh, it's there, but you just can't see it because people of color simply do not exist in this world.

Yet, I still like Downton Abbey and I will continue to watch it, despite the fact that I can't help but feel it's like those dreadful 50's, 60's nostalgia shows about "a kinder, gentler time" that never really existed.

Downton Abbey is, and only ever was, real on TV.

And that's the way it should be, Thank God.

Friday, February 10, 2012

The Elephant in the Room

I don't like any of the Republican Candidates. I don't trust them, I don't like their rhetoric. I hate their narrow-minded view of what America should be: a rewind to an America that is for rich, white only and anyone else who isn't fortunate enough to be on the rich white end of the stick - well you're just out of luck buddy.

And then there's President Barack Obama. Despite the media coverage of anything and everything that comes out of Republicans head or hindquarters 24/7, the GOP has managed to make themselves into the party of hate, death, destruction and just plain all around assholery that has simply guaranteed President Obama another four years.

I just had yet another argument with my mother that ended up with my slamming out of her room and kicking things as if I were a teenager all over again and she had just told me I was grounded. It's odd that sometimes, in our disagreements, I can regress so far as to say things like, "Fine, nobody cares and nobody ever listens to me anyway." It's funny now, but it wasn't five minutes ago.

I was really pissed.

Make no mistake, considering the field of Republican candidates of which Rick Santorum is clearly the best of the worst, you can see why I'm firmly Team Barack. But the same issue I'm having with my mother is the same problem that I'm having with all Barack Obama supporters.

The elephant in the room is that Barack Obama, from here to November 2012, is beyond criticism to those who support him.

Despite having been writing this blog for six years - or hell, maybe because I've been writing a blog for six years, I am not as eloquent at expressing my ideas as I should be so I'm going to try and keep this simple.

I don't completely trust Barack Obama.

When I say this to Barack Obama supporters you would think that my already fairly light skin had suddenly lost the rest of it's melanin and that I joined the Klan or something.

"What do you mean you don't trust Barack Obama?"

"He's doing the best he can, look at everything he's done for the country."

"How can you say that? It's bad enough the Republicans are on his case so hard and all they do is obstruct everything he tries to accomplish. We need to get behind him."

And I am.

To a point.

But I don't think he's perfect and I don't think his presidency is at a point where he defies reasoned, logical and fair-minded criticism.

Please understand that I don't mean the dog-whistle to blatant racist cruelty that the Republicans insist on subjecting this country to.

I also don't mean the constant obstruction and just plain "Party of No" idiocy that has deadlocked Congress to the point where we're quibbling over pennies and tripe instead of solving real problems.

But what I am referring to is how all the noise, arguing and howling over trifles is letting a lot of things that Barack Obama has done and is currently doing slide under the radar unchallenged.

Barack Obama's stance on Civil Liberties, and by correlation, Human Rights, is appalling.

Not one piece of the Patriot Act put into place by Bush and a "please don't call us terrorist-sympathizers" Congress has been repealed. Bush's Warrantles Wiretapping program has been expanded under Barack Obama. We are no closer to closing Gitmo than we were when Obama took office and the other secret prisons aren't even mentioned anymore.

Julian Assange sits on house arrest in another country, pretty much at the whim of our President and Bradley Manning sits in a military prison for providing Julian Assange with information for WikiLeaks that revolutionized the world. Publicly and out of one side of his mouth, Barack Obama praises the liberation movements that have happened in London, Paris,Greece, Egypt, Lybia, Syria. Privately he is persecuting the two men who actually spurred these revolutions along.

Barack Obama has finally sealed the deal with Wall Street and Big Banks that will allow them to escape pretty much untouched from the Robo-Signing scandal. And in what is yet another slap to the face of the Occupy movement, he has allowed the Department of Homeland Security to co-ordinate attacks on encampments across this country. The Arab Spring, The Riots against Austerity in Europe and The Occupy Wall Street movement that started in New York and spread around the globe are all bound together. Barack Obama says he supports the rights of those to protest, but ensures that encampments in his own country are bulldozed, the people arrested and tear-gassed.

Barack Obama also gets a lot of credit for being the first black President. Yet and still things are not better for minorities "Stop and Frisk" has become the tool of gentrification everywhere. The deportation of Latinos is at an all time high. And while whites are enjoying an enjoying an unemployment that hovers around 6-7%, black unemployment is still nearly than double that at 13%, and that's despite the good news that black unemployment is dropping.

Depending on who you talk to, Barack Obama's committment has been tenacious or foolhardy. After three years of watching him get called everything but a child of god to where even he complained, "They talk about me like a dog." And yes, by "They" he mean white folks in the plural and in general.

What was even worse was watching him attempt to put into place the policies he platformed on and to walk back each of those policies, in a spirit of claimed bipartisanship, that was really letting the Republicans piss on each and every last one of his ideas. And it was disheartening to watch him as Charlie Brown run and kick, while the Republicans as Lucy yanked the ball away every time.

After nearly four years of this and we're headed into an election year, I can't help but wonder if the right hand really knows what the left hand is doing.

While the Republicans go chasing after all the usual targets: women's rights, abortion, be afraid of "illegals" and scary black guys (not the president though, despite Jan Brewere feeling 'threatened' by him); I can't help but wonder if this is all a show being put on for our benefit.

Watch the right hand! Watch the hoopla! Watch the noise! Watch the show.

Meanwhile, the left is hand is quietly erroding our rights, handing them over to bankers and large corporations, along with our resources, our dignity and our ability to fight back.

I'm not so sure that this is all a ploy by the GOP. I can't help but wonder just how much the Democrats and the Obama administration play along and then shrug: Well, we tried, but those pesky Republicans foiled us again.

I'm not convinced that, this isn't a problem with the Left and the Right, with the corporate owned media cheerleading whoever gives the biggest paycheck, access and market share for mere bragging rights.

I know this is a very cynical view.

I honestly think that's the way it should be. No one should be required to unthinkingly throw their support behind a candidate. No one should be blind to that candidate's faults.

No one should be asked to sit down and shut up when their sunshiny view is obstructed by a small dose of reality. (that's for you mom)

No one should be asked to ignore the Elephant in the room.