I have been hearing about the vitriol coming from people like movie critic Roger Ebert ("it's unworthy of him") or Mia Farrow ("how could they let it happen?"). Interestingly, much of the insults focus on Eastwood's age (he is 82 years old) and the GOP for "exploiting" him - the same people remaining quiet earlier this summer when there was evidence of Angelina Jolie exploiting Parkinson's disease sufferer, Muhammad Ali.
No matter, because I sat and carefully watched Eastwood's speech and saw what the Hollywood intelligensia failed to grasp - he was not giving a political speech for Romney, he was not addressing the gathered GOPers - no, Eastwood was playing a role on that stage, and that role was the American Citizen . . . every American citizen for whom Eastwood has a deep affection. That is who he meant when he said, "You're the best."
Let's look at what he said. I like the turn of phrase he used - he started the speech by calling himself a "movie tradesman." Yesterday, I posted on the Facebook page that you do not see the non-celebrity person being hospitalized for "exhaustion" from their everyday lives, unless they happen to be trying to summit Mt. Everest. But Hollywood celebrities use Cedars-Sinai Hospital in Los Angeles - and the myriad of pricey rehab facilities - like a Motel 6. By calling himself a "movie tradesman," Eastwood sets himself as really what he is - a business owner, trying to make a profitable movie just like the CEO of a widget company wants to beat last year's sales. There is nothing "magic" about what he does; he works like the rest of us.
Did the critics not like him saying that unlike other celebrities, he does "go around hotdogging" his politics? Well, he doesn't. Nor do guys like Gary Sinise and his Lt. Dan Band. or Patricia Heaton with Feminists for Life. They just go and do what they feel needs to be done. To be fair, they will never get the same publicity as Cher when she "advocates" for her causes by tweeting, "Fuck these old white men!." I think Eastwood would commend someone like George Clooney for working to change the situation in Darfur; I think his criticism is more for the Angelina Jolie/Brad Pitt types who initially vowed not to marry until all gay couples could, but decided to do so anyway because their children wanted them to do so.
No, Eastwood was playing the role of our father, or our grandfather. He is our neighbor, he is the usher at church passing the basket at the Collection. Eastwood is the Walmart greeter or the guy in line at the bank with whom we get into conversation on a busy first-of-the-month at the branch. He is our high school math teacher. He is the average citizen who is inundated with information from the mainstream media, but is just trying to get some questions answered. Why aren't there any jobs? Never mind that, did you know Paul Ryan exaggerated his time for a marathon he ran in 1990 when asked about it in an interview?!?!
So why shouldn't Eastwood talk to an empty chair? It is the same metaphor as a wall, or "talk to the hand," meaning questions arise but no on listens. The media does not ask the questions he wants to ask - instead, they want to know if Obama likes the song "Call Me, Maybe" and no one asks why his last press conference on August 20, 2012 was the first he had since June 8th, but has had the time to give interviews to People and Entertainment Tonight. So, how much different is an empty chair? And it is an apt metaphor - what Eastwood was showing was that the chair, the positon of the President of the United States was there - but it is empty, devoid of substance, much like he feels Obama's governance has been. This imagery is appropriate and will be used by Americans who heard Eastwood.
Was there some shtick? Sure - like your jokester old Uncle Bob in a family dinner table discussion of politics, Eastwood allowed some levity, which frankly is a refreshing change from the ad hominem attacks from the Left (Jason Biggs tweeted remarks about Janna Ryan's bleached asshole - which have been subsequently scrubbed since Nickelodeon is promoting his work for them to entertain children). What, were people offended by Eastwood pretending that Obama-In-a-Chair told him to "go fuck himself?" Well . . .
The message that Eastwood was simple: "We own this country . . . politicians are employees of ours. When somebody does not do the job, we've got to let him go." He was talking to "the best" - the American citizenry. He wants us to know, we are smarter than political ads or smiling Joe Biden suddenly referring to himself as "Bidenopoulos" to pander to voters of Greek ancestry. The questions we have are serious ones and Eastwood asked them for us - and getting no answers for the past four years from someone who should have them, it is time for a change.
And it occurs to me - many of the people saying that Eastwood's speech was silly have no problem listening to a vagina's monologue.