Oregon writer, Rain Trueax, and Oregon painter, Diane Widler Wenzel co-author Rainy Day Thought. Diane generally posts on Wednesdays and Rain on Saturdays. There may be extra days or changes as situations warrant. Comments are always welcome and appreciated as it turns an article into a discussion.

Wednesday, March 14, 2012

Reality Driven or a Great Ride?

One of the things that I think Americans need to get straight in their heads-- and really from any country where it comes to their leaders-- what is truth and what is hyperbole? Are they out for excitement or do they want a solid leader? Leaders have always used fantasy and mythology to control a population. It is not, despite what some would like to say, unique to today. Read the mythologies of any ancient people, and you can see how the stories were used.

The night after I had watched Game Change, I had a dream with my family where we were at the ocean with some big waves, homes on the edge of cliffs mixed in with the usual stuff families are talking about. We were somewhere that is vague to me. I was reading a book, as was my son-in-law but different ones. I knew he wouldn't think much of the quality of my choice. Not sure what it was, but it seemed like some sort of adventure story.  I asked him-- well what do you want in a book? Something totally realistic or a great ride? I woke up thinking of that where it comes to our political choices and campaigns.

We run into that choice a lot with the books or films we choose. Sometimes either can seem to be very realistic-- like they are about events that could happen. Sometimes we are along for the ride where the only thing that matters is that the story stay consistent within its own world-- like say Harry Potter. Our entertainment and fiction choices are rife with these options. Do they eventually confuse people with mixing up reality with these imaginary scenarios?

You know, in fiction, it is all fiction even when it seems realistic. It seems like between the books we read, the films we watch and all the games out there that people can get caught up in the ride and try to take it along when they choose a leader. I believe that happened with Sarah Palin and Barack Obama, both very charismatic people. To see and hear them is to like them-- or hate them. That's the price of charisma.

The problem is people want leaders to be like characters in those books-- handling everything, making it all work out right, exciting them, solving their problems. But the leaders aren't those heroes or heroines. They are just people with charisma. That charisma is a tool in their arsenal and it can be used for good or bad.

We, as ordinary people, need to be discerning except too often we have been caught up in the ride. You can see it in history and today. We have been raised and trained to think heroes can do things they never can. In life often the same hero will be a villain. Humans aren't trained to think that is possible.

Good fiction can make you suspend all disbelief as you go along for that great ride. You begin to think it could happen or did happen even if it's a Harry Potter. The only thing that this kind of fiction has to do is stay consistent within its world. If it creates a fantasy world, everything within it has to mesh. The writer cannot forget that or they lose the audience.

Before Game Change came on, I watched a bit of the prior film-- A-Team starring Liam Neeson-- one of those actors I like in anything. That was a movie that was a quite a ride but so confusing that I couldn't keep track of any consistency. You not only had to suspend your belief in logic, but in cause and effect. I guess it didn't do well when it was out which makes total sense to me as it was not the great ride that say the first two Jurassic Parks were.

What I think more Americans need to do, and the film Game Change was a good reminder-- is not confuse what they wish was true with what is-- and be sure the truth stays consistent with their own world. This confusion between reality and fiction happened to the left and the right in 2008. People got excited and some of it was for a miracle worker who would fix it all. To a lot of those who voted for McCain, it was all about Palin. They really wanted her to be at the head of the ticket. When she wanted to talk at the concession speech, I think she saw that it was really her who had been the one running for President. (Something a lot of us on the left also thought)

We voted for Obama. We donated pretty heavily (for us) to his campaign, but we never once expected he would be some savior. We listened to his words and believed him when he said it would take us working together to do it. A lot of lefties did not and have ended up furious with him. Some of them so angry that they won't vote for him in 2012 because he let them down. No, he didn't. They let themselves down by their turning him into the hero he was not. Maybe he profited from that and who knows got caught up in it himself (I think that happened to Palin), and maybe he didn't-- but people with charisma like say Bill Clinton,  it is a tool they use. It can turn on them.

When we let ourselves become confused with believing what is in a book or film is what life is about (and that includes those leaders), then we are open to being manipulated-- manipulating ourselves. We want the instant answer, the excitement of the ride, but also real results. Fiction benefits from that. We do not when we confuse it with reality. It is going to end up without that consistency that we also want.

You can see it in the news programs how they want that exciting ride. I listened to Chris Matthews saying it the other day how he wanted there to be someone really strong on the right, something he feared wouldn't happen. He wanted an exciting campaign. For some it's all about the ride-- and when that one fails them, the next ride. The sad thing is that loses all touch with reality and the issues. A great leader without charisma doesn't have a shot at it. It's to the point that the belief is they must have charisma as part of leadership. The great ride is all that matters.

In Game Change they said how they had to settle for running the candidates they had as they didn't have a Lincoln or Washington. Well who knows how charismatic those men were. Washington clearly was a leader; so he likely had charisma. He could take men into battle and make them follow him but beauty? Did he have that? Today the scrutiny is intense. It's all about image and maybe theirs wouldn't have stood up to that.

There are those questioning what happened to Palin. Suppose they had had longer to give her the lines, to understand her weaknesses, they could have put out a more perfect product. And exactly how would that have really made her able to lead, to put together facts? It would not have but as one character said in the film-- we'd have won and winning was all he cared about-- not what came after.

An interesting look at what this book and film might mean for future politics in our country: Game Change and Loyalty.  It is a good question to ask but who can honestly believe the first loyalty should be to the candidate and not the country? Well I know who but is that wise? Has it become so much about the candidates that it is not as us as a people. When playing a game, some people get to thinking all that matters is winning and will cheat to win. Politics should not be just a game but to some it is. Is that likely to improve or grow worse?


Harold/AQ said...

You make a good point. In 2012, can simple truth and wisdom compete with clever packaging and marketing? If it isn't fun, will we watch it?

Anonymous said...

Hi Rain, Very well put. It is also about recognizing the hype and thinking for ourselves. - Julie

Paul said...

Hype and hyperbole are used by both sides. I do not like it either but that is the way the political game is played. When I vote, I try to vet the candidates and make my decision. This year none of these candidates excite me. The average American has wisdom and knows the truth, but sometimes with all of the hype and hyperbole the issues are clouded or charged with an agenda.

Rain Trueax said...

The problem that we have is what you said, who is the average American and do they have wisdom? I suspect the answer to that question is why the right wing is trying to block a lot of voters for the next election by demanding Voter ID cards which may or may not be easy for many voters, elderly and minority in particular to get. If the right wing thought these people would vote wisely, would they be doing this? They expect them to vote Democrat and to them that is not wise; so they are doing all they can to stop people who have been voting all their life. Now they'll have to have birth certificates and maybe wedding licenses for women who married or divorce certificates and anything they can do to block voters based on their not trusting their wisdom.

As for me when I saw the audiences cheering Sarah Palin in 2008, I wondered about wisdom also. When you see them still answering polls that Obama is a Muslim, you wonder not only about their wisdom but that of the pollsters to ask such a question because this isn't about opinion, it's about people ignoring facts because they are being fed an agenda by Republicans who won't quite say it but leave it open for others to think they do believe it. That kind of playing up to ignorance is not on just one side. I already said that in the blog. It doesn't benefit us whichever side it's on. And I think it's getting worse, not better.