dimanche 26 octobre 2008

La Mort de Gipper

October 26: Arlington, Virginia. Appearing on Meet the Press McCain was asked by Tom Brokaw to script his candidacy into one of two American films, either as Kevin Costner in the baseball fantasy Field of Dreams or as George Clooney in the seafaring disaster The Perfect Storm. McCain doesn't realize, of course that his own life has already been rendered in Hollywood's miserable, literally tortured epics, from the grotesquely imagined prison camps of Vietnam (The Deer Hunter) to the nightmare of the neglected and wounded returning veteran (Coming Home) to the plight of the helpless American imprisoned overseas (Midnight Express).McCain's strange, flippant response scripted himself as the Gipper: Ronald Reagan's character (in "Knute Rockne, All American"), the football player George Gipp, who dies of strep throat but inspires the movie's "win one for the Gipper" battle cry. Thus McCain predicts his own campaign's demise.

The difference between Ronald Reagan (whose coattails McCain rode into political life in the 1980s) and John McCain could not be more glaring than it was on Meet the Press: Reagan had a perfect pitch for the call of the studied seduction, the luscious lure of the surface and the inherent child-like longing for the simple answer and he rode these Gipper-motifs into unparalleled electoral success. His distant, charismatic ease of the body and soft, eloquent disguise of his horrible shallowness made for a sugary middlebrow acting which would never win an Oscar but which always won the day. McCain, on the other hand, with his halting and defensive answers to Brokaw's movie question, found himself wrestling with the air, caught in a poorly scripted web of neo-realism: he grimaced at his own failure to act. He gropes for a prickly heroism, rails as his own disastrous campaign fails to make him a Star: his scripting of Palin has the film's GOP=producers enraged; his stump speeches are reduced to a strained Method acting that allows no space for playful pleasure, no room for visual relaxation, no thrills of a rapt audience passivity. He assaults his auditors rather than caresses them (qua Reagan, Clinton and Obama): the finesse of the matinee idol will permanently elude McCain. Increasingly he voices Robert DeNiro's bitter rendition of the "fighter" Jake Lamotta.

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