I don’t know how many people actually watched the mere 11 minutes and 15 seconds of video of Clint Eastwood addressing the Republican convention that caused such a hullabaloo on Twitter and in newspapers but I just did now and it depressed the hell out of me.
Not because it was a bad performance, it wasn’t, indeed it was excellent. Laugh out loud funny at numerous occasions, comically irreverential to President Obama without going over the line, included a few decent points the speaker wanted to get across and got the crowd fired up and on its feet with a few one-liners. “I can’t do that to myself either” should be going down in GOP Convention’s Hall of Fame, not lampooned in a sea of boringer-than-thou derision.
Seriously, what else do you want from a celebrity interlude that’s basically buttering up the masses before the Candidate himself comes on?
No, the video depressed me because we don’t seem to have come very far since the ejection of Walter Wolfgang from the Labour Conference in 2005. Walter was 82 that day he was huckled out of the building for piping up while Jack Straw defended the Iraq invasions, the same age as Clint Eastwood is now, and the lesson still seems to be that if you don’t fit the modern political mould of shiny, polished, scriptless soundbites then there is no space for you and if you don’t like it, for goodness sake just shut up and get on with it.
Are people really so intrinsically resentful of the existence of the right of centre that they will exaggerate to the point of idiocy a speech by an otherwise non-political Hollywood legend dropping in to lend his support for ten minutes? Furthermore, as a knee-jerk reaction to needlessly negative headlines, even the Romney campaign distanced themselves from Clint, calling his performance “strange”, “weird” and “theatre of the absurd”.
I don’t know, all I hope is that the people from all corners joining in the cacophonic din of catcalling over this actually watched the video and it actually fell short of whatever standards they genuinely hold within themselves for such events.
For me, more ramshackle, genuine, funny and irreverent conference speeches going forwards please, and hecklers too. This stale, stolid party political grip that we’re in needs to be broken and replaced with something real but, well, if Clint Eastwood can’t break it, who the hell can?
(All that said, Jon Snow is very funny taking his opportunity on this: “I’ve not had this much joy from an old man since Dick Cheney non-fatally shot one”)