Wednesday, November 22, 1995

Dangerous Liaisions ... Lesiaisions ... Lesions ... Ah, to hell with it.

I’m not suave. This is not to say I’m some Gary Cooper/John Wayne type who tells the blunt truth. Now listen to me ya no good sonofabitch. Nah. I prefer my drama on stage and restrict sparring to karate class. I hate conflict. I’m not trying to piss people off. But people have elaborate codes and it’s easy to get them wrong. 

This ain’t supposed to be the American way.

The cliché notion of an American used to be, well, the plain-spoken Gary Cooper/John Wayne type. In contrast to the typical European who spoke in elaborate circumlocutions. 

John Wayne: That’s a lousy idea.
European: It would be not unwise for you to reconsider this proposal.

You want a concrete example of European artificiality, watch Liaisons Dangereuses. This French movie, available on VHS at Video Renaissance. Watch it, then get back to me. If you hate subtitles, watch Dangerous Liaisons. Either way. Go. 

OK. I’m assuming you watched it. We’re on the honor system here …

I trust you.

Now you know what I’m talking about. 

To me, the world of Liaisons Dangereuses is a freaking nightmare. Or the world of Dangerous Liasons, for that matter. Christ, John Malkovich gives me nightmares. Where was I? Oh yeah. Elaborate social codes. Wheels within wheels. Every meaning has a double meaning and a double meaning behind it. I can’t stand subtext. I have a hard problem with text. When woman make hand gestures, I never know what they’re talking about. Uh, you want me to throw the dog over the roof? Stuff cheese down my pants? What? Shoot me.

But that’s France, you say. It can’t happen here, you say.


For experimental validation, go to an arty party in a certain arts community. Speak your mind. See what happens.

Oh, God. That’s CENSORED. CENSORED is the president of a certain CENSORED and his daughter is the CENSORED who’s angry at CENSORED because he got the grant for the CENSORED and she didn’t. Whatever you do, don’t mention Rosenquist or Rauschenberg and Roquefort cheese.

See, I can't even speak my mind on my own blog. The CENSORED might lose advertisers.

Watch what you say. Think twice. Consider your words wisely.

Americans weren’t supposed to worry about that.

Gary Cooper. John Wayne.

No way.

Americans spoke the plain truth. We didn’t walk around on cracked eggs.

Now we do.

For small fish like me, who cares? But the big fish are walking around on cracked eggs as well, if you stretch the metaphor.

We can’t be real anymore. Politicians especially.

It’s instant death. Consider ancient history …

In 1967, presidential hopeful George Romney talked about his 1965 tour of Vietman. Said the generals gave him the greatest brainwashing of all time,” or something like that. Rhetoric. Metaphor. Any idiot would know he wasn’t being literal. “Brainwashing” -- referring to the stage-managed control of his perceptions. The press seized on the word “brainwashing.” End of presidential hopes.

Back in 1972, Edmund Muskie was running for president. A reporter ambushed him with slurs about his wife. Muskie cried. His campaign crashed and burned.

In 1979, Jimmy Carter swam away from a killer rabbit. Wise move. The freaking thing could’ve had rabies. But goodbye White House. This probably hurt him more than the hostage crisis.

In 1980, America put an actor in the White House. Ronald Reagan wasn't John Wayne or Gary Cooper. But he knew how to act like it. 

It's been fakery, appearance, show, flash and filigree ever since. Please wake me when it's over.

I'll be in my room.

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