News, culture, and politics. Not necessarily in that order.

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Roundup: Maracas and Purple Pants Edition

June 24th, 2008 · 5 Comments · Chicago, Comedy, Culture, Doctor Who, Fantasy, Grammar, LGBT, News, Politics, Science Fiction, Terrorism, TV

Just a few things that are on my radar at the moment …

purple pants

• First up, I just found this interview with Gore Vidal from May, in which he gives his current takes on Obama and McCain.

Vidal says he’s a fan of Obama now, but it took him a while to get there (hey, kinda like me):

As for Obama, Vidal has taken time to warm to him. “I liked the idea of him, but he never managed to get my interest. I was brought around by his overall intelligence – specifically when he did his speech on race and religion.”

In Vidal’s opinion, “he’s our best demagogue since Huey Long or Martin Luther King”.

And as for his views on McCain, when asked if Obama can beat him, Vidal says:

You could beat McCain! I’ve never met anyone in America who has the slightest respect for him. He went to a private school and came bottom of his class. He smashed up his aeroplane and became a prisoner of war, which he is trying to parlay into ‘war hero’.”

In his view, McCain is “a goddamned fool. He was on television talking about mortgages, and it was quite clear he does not know what a mortgage is. His head rattles as he walks”.

Ah! That’s what that sound was. I thought McCain had hired a personal maraca player to accompany him on the campaign trail …

However, in Vidal’s eyes, McCain is just a symptom of the real malaise affecting America today: the cynical subversion of the US constitution. “The Bush people”, he says, “have virtually got rid of Magna Carta and habeas corpus. In a normal republic I would probably have raised an army and overthrown them. It will take a hundred years to put it all back.”

• Meanwhile, today we have this:

Charlie Black, a top adviser to Republican John McCain, apologized yesterday for suggesting that another terrorist attack on US soil would help McCain’s prospects.

He can apologize all he wants (or all the the McCain campaign wants him to), but it’s how the upper levels of the Republican party think. It’s how they’ve always thought. Remember, this is the party that used pictures of Bush on 9/11 as a fundraising premium. Turning tragedy into political and financial capital is their specialty.

• Excellent profile in the NYT of Russell T. Davies, the man who regenerated Doctor Who, as he gets ready to step down from the show after next year and hand the reins over to Steven Moffat.

I love this quote:

“He takes ‘Doctor Who’ and pushes the envelope the whole time, not in terms of taste and decency but in terms of ideas and emotional intelligence, the size of feeling and epic stroke of narrative breadth,” said Jane Tranter, the BBC’s head of fiction. She said that no one at the BBC had ever had a problem with Captain Jack or with any of Mr. Davies’s plotlines. “How ridiculous would it be that you would travel through time and space and only ever find heterosexual men?” Ms. Tranter said.

• And speaking of heterosexual men, who are everywhere (did you know?), here’s a poignant Pride Month column by a straight guy and self-identified former “homophobic idiot” who was also a huge Monty Python fan, and who suddenly grew up the day he found out Graham Chapman was gay. I doubt this guy was ever really an idiot — just took him a while to overcome received prejudices, like most of us. But I appreciate his honesty and the point he makes here is well-taken.

Every now and then I hear people arguing that it doesn’t matter whether gay celebrities come out or not, or that if they do it’s not news and no big deal (kinda like the whole gay Dumbledore flap). This piece is a perfect argument for why it does matter.

• Ever wonder why the Hulk TV series in the 70s changed Bruce Banner’s name to David Banner? As a little Marvel comics freak, that used to bug the heck out of me.

Well, according to Lou Ferrigno, it’s because CBS thought the name Bruce was “too gayish.” Seriously.

… and hey, what about those purple pants, anyway? I mean, how Tinky-Winky is that?

• Is the English sentence an endangered species? (h/t Norm Sloan)

• Chicago is cracking down on drivers who don’t give pedestrians right of way. About time. Power to the Pedestrians, that’s what I say.


5 Comments so far ↓

  • Steve Sturm

    While I must agree what McCain apparently knows about the mortgage industry could be fit in a thimble, where does Gore Vidal get off questioning McCain’s history as a prisoner of war? I think that goes firmly into the camp of “If you haven’t been there, you can’t fully appreciate it.”

  • Steve Sturm

    And while I’m at it, why is McCain trying to be the “cool” grandpa? Whatever happened to just being old? I like him much better when he sounds like he’s about to tell you to turn your radio down.

  • Ocelopotamus

    I don’t think he’s questioning McCain’s history as a prisoner of war. (Certainly not the way the Republican conventioneers who wore purple-heart bandaids in 2006 felt free to question Kerry’s war injuries.)

    Vidal is asking whether a former prisoner of war should automatically be considered a “war hero” simply by virtue of their imprisonment. This is a fair question. It’s not a refusal of sympathy or a denial of suffering.

    And for me, Vidal’s status as a historian gives him more than enough right to meditate on how history defines the nature of heroism. (And keep in mind that Vidal is a World War II veteran who came from a military family, so he does not raise these questions without context.)

    Also, arguing that nobody who hasn’t personally experienced a given thing has a right to form an opinion about it puts one on a fairly slippery slope, I think.

  • Aaron

    “He went to a private school and came bottom of his class. ”

    On the other hand, that’s one ingredient for the PERFECT Republican candidate–it’s worked so well for the last 9 years, no?

  • Steve Sturm

    Actually, I do believe that being tortured while imprisoned for military service is a much better definition of a “war hero” than the way that term is being applied today to members of the armed service returning home after service outside of combat zones driving trucks or filing papers (not to diminish their contribution, but I hate to see “war hero” used lightly.) After all, are you now going to discount the popular liberal account that Guantanamo is creating “war heroes” of its inmates?

    I fail to see anything Vidal has done in his life to entitle him to sneer at McCain being a “war hero.” I do not believe one has to be a POW to evaluate a POW, but Vidal has no basis to criticize McCain’s military service. YES, there were much better reasons to criticize Kerry’s military service than McCain’s. There are so many other potential criticisms of McCain, Vidal loses credibility, the moral high ground, and what little respect I had for him by speaking lightly of McCain’s experiences as a POW.