A question I keep coming back to: Does it really matter who's sitting in the Oval Office? Certainly, I think the answer is "yes" during times of crisis (the Cuban Missile Crisis, say), when tensions constrict the aperture of diplomacy to a degree where one man's decisions ramify immeasurably; but in the current arena, where Katherine Harris' toilette is a matter of national speculation, I'm inclined to view the Presidency as a somewhat more inert proposition. It's almost as if, in this increasingly corporate-ized society we live in, "the man upstairs" conforms to certain Office Space-esque stereotypes of clueless management . It's reassuring, in a way. I'd rather live in a country where we can afford to be glib, because a lot of things generally work, than one in which every political tremor rattles chandeliers and cradles throughout the land.
by Raza Syed on 12/14/2000 03:39:45 PM | bang on

I still believe that Bush is a moron, and that he will be bad for America. His plans to drill in Alaska and give tax relief to the wealthy make me a bit queasy. But he is a figurehead, and a confidently delivered speech sets a tone that people will respond to, whether we like it or not. I think many people who saw the speeches last night were glad to witness a moment of peace that provides some closure to a period of uncertainty. Washington will continue to be both driven and plagued by critical-thinking, lobbyists and disagreements, but a little fancy talk reminds us that this is more than a game. I'm just glad that for one night our government didn't look like a joke, (even if it was only pretend), because there are serious issues to be tackled in the near future.
by Ryan Gantz on 12/14/2000 02:57:33 PM | bang on

I almost wish their speeches had been more in character with the stereotypes we have come to associate with them. just because al gore says he is going to put aside partisan rancor doesn't mean he is actually going to do it, and I rather hope he doesn't stand behind bush to help bring americans together. that kind of philosophy is what leads to compromises that satisfy no one and destroy everything without an arguing voice. (the environment, for instance. I am a little hung up on the environment.)

by the same token, I am a little bothered by everyone's positive reactions to bush's newfound speaking abilities. his words aren't any truer just because he isn't stumbling over them. I fear that what bush is capable are exactly the sort of things he has promised: more military spending, renewed sdi efforts, relaxed standards for compliance with clean air acts, drilling in alaska. I won't deny him the opportunity to earn my respect, but neither will I give it away.

I am very immature. people think otherwise because I'm shy and I have a big vocabulary, but they're wrong.
by rabi on 12/14/2000 01:18:49 PM | bang on

I was pleased with Al Gore's gracious concession speech, regardless of its political intent, because I think it's going to provide much needed closure on the past absurd month of sensationalized uncertainty and apathetic turmoil. The real suprise for me was the success of Bush's speech, delivered with a sincere, confident (dare-I-say presidential) quality that I had never seen him pull off before. I expected both Bush and Gore to push the "let's put aside our partisan differences and get on with our country" theme, but I didn't expect them to convince me that they believed what they were saying. Thanks to these speeches, history just might look back on this whole mess less as a mess, and more as a careful examination of the law that resulted in an outcome we were ready to accept. I wish Bush hadn't won, but I'm ready to see what he's capable of. I'm certainly glad that my apathy and curiosity has been replaced with readiness.

The first episode of The Street was a masterpiece of network television. The character balance, humor and entwining plots grabbed me from the first scene. Now, naturally, the show has lost some of that fresh bull market energy, despite Jennie Garth's noble efforts to keep the spark alive. It seems that America has spoken: fast-thinking people who make mad bank are not very interesting.

Rabi, is it possible to act immature and major in astrophysics? If so, be our guest.
by Ryan Gantz on 12/14/2000 02:37:05 AM | bang on

Although I never patronized it in my sought-after 18-34 demographic way, I'm at least marginally bummed over The $treet's demise. Hotties like Jennifer Connelly should be gainfully employed at all times. After all, she contributed to The Rocketeer and Dark City -- two of the more tolerable comic book-ish movies of the nineties. That alone ought to secure her legacy. Maybe The West Wing* can take her under its ... um, wing? As a ripped-from-the-headlines intern-sexbomb?

As for Al Gore -- could a lucrative Viagra spokesmanship be far off?
by Raza Syed on 12/13/2000 11:42:19 PM | bang on

Al Gore astonished me tonight. Really.

All this time I thought he was a cardboard cut-out of aTerminator cyborg, but it turns out he actually has warmth-- nay, life, and not the slightest bit of nuance. His concession speech intringued me; the line between his inward smile on "I do not agree with the ruling, but I do accept it" being one of incredulous relief or deep-seated hatred. I was interested in Al Gore the human being for the first time since I first laid eyes on his sweet, sweet --

Ahem. In summary, did anyone catch tonight's The Street?
by andrew wollman on 12/13/2000 10:55:04 PM | bang on

so. do you suppose all the people who are declaring apathy about the election outcome would continue to insist that they just don't care anymore if they lived in florida? is this mess going to destroy voter turnout by convincing people that not only do their votes not count, they're not even counted?

I think I want to be apathetic, but I can't quite muster up enough disgust to counteract my fascination with our lovely twisted lump of a political car wreck. or maybe it's just a good excuse to peruse the web instead of doing schoolwork.

(am I the only person here who isn't twenty years old yet? does that mean I get to be immature?)
by rabi on 12/13/2000 02:57:38 PM | bang on

Oh, but can you imagine the possibilities if the show takes off? I envision a special celebrity edition for May sweeps: Angelina and Billy Bob, Antonio and Melanie, Tom and Nicole, Brad and Jennifer -- Who Wants To Fuck a Millionaire? The sixty singlets can be harvested from various failed Aaron Spelling series. (Yes, Yasmine Bleeth and Casper Van Dien, there is life after Titans.)

As for learning our lessons by proxy -- I don't buy it. We're generally programmed to profit or derive pleasure from other people's follies -- even if said pleasure manifests itself, perversely and disingenuously, as disgust or pity. If anything, crap like Temptation Island only serves to give people more ideas. Just like the Bible. Oops.

In days of yore, religion was the sole source of both smut and retribution, spliced together in a cautionary tradition. In the Common Era, entertainment and morality enjoy a duopolistic symbiosis, circling each other like perfect magnets in a perpetual motion device. Party on Saturday, repent on Sunday. Turn your head and scoff. Squat. Thrust. Parry.
by Raza Syed on 12/11/2000 07:50:14 AM | bang on

If I was lucky enough to be marooned on a vacant isle that featured both electricity and a VCR, my desert-island list would certainly include Robinson Crusoe, Swiss Family Robinson, Lord of The Flies, The Beach, and every episode of Gilligan's Island, because I think Maryann is the bomb.

However, Fox's latest reality-tv gem entitled Temptation Island wouldn't quite make the top five. I saw a preview for this series tonight and I actually felt sick to my stomach: they're sticking four seriously committed couples on an island with 30 single men and 30 single women, to see which couples can last. Naturally, all of the singles are atractive and out to get some.

We're all voyeurists, so I'm sure the show will get ratings. The idea disgusts me, but for the last few hours I've been wondering if there isn't some good in reality television that I never quite identified before.... Are viewers learning something by watching real people make real decisions that really affect their lives? Or are we only half paying attention, like it's all a dumb but entertaining movie of the week?
by Ryan Gantz on 12/11/2000 02:56:14 AM | bang on

really, the book wasn't any good? that's a shame, as i had intended to read it. but in that case, i'm glad i know not to, now. but, good lord, i don't think there's any way i could narrow a desert-island list down to three. election would in fact be on the list, most likely, but after that it gets all fuzzy.
by alison headley on 12/11/2000 12:47:40 AM | bang on

And behold, Election was adapted from a novel ... which I tried reading last summer, incidentally, and found generally unreadable. Sloppy prose, and the characters weren't as cleanly defined as in the movie.

In one of my film classes last year, our professor asked us to list three movies we'd want to be trapped on a desert island with (yes, groan). In addition to Aliens and Munchausen, I listed Fantasia. Watching it the very first time was a seminal experience.
by Raza Syed on 12/10/2000 08:49:57 AM | bang on

I think my reactions to election may have been at least partly circumstantial, but I think mostly I just found tracy flick thoroughly nauseating. I don't really know anything about movies, though; nearly all of the films I will voluntarily watch repeatedly are just books, condensed and vagueified. so either I am a snob or I'm just dense, but I don't really get cinema as a general rule. and then there's fantasia, but that's something else altogether.
by rabi on 12/10/2000 08:30:24 AM | bang on

Election definitely occupies an unassailable position in my conception of popular cinema, alongside Aliens and The Adventures of Baron Munchausen. It's very nearly flawless -- the rare comedy where the mise-en-scene, cinematography and music are as deliberate as the writing, and so pitch-perfectly in sync with the editing that the movie's grace notes start to cascade subliminally. It straddles sincerity and scorn with considerable precision. And the casting hurts, it's so right.

Incidentally, yeah, my /currently log is sleeping with the fishes. I decided contributing to three different sites was spreading myself a wee bit thin, so I made a (Sophie's) choice and eliminated the weak link. If I start posting anything solipsistic or rheumy in this forum, just beat me with a bag of oranges.

Strength in numbers! Respect the red fist. Viva la Revolution.

(Administrative note: please use two br tags instead of the p tag in your posts. Otherwise, weird whitespace calamities may occur.)
by Raza Syed on 12/10/2000 03:57:17 AM | bang on

I would say that Election does verge on cartoonish, which demeans its verisimilitude, but I also believe that Alexander Payne presented this dark comedy as a cautionary tale about the enthusiasm that we foster in the nefariously over-educated. The ultimate joke is that no one wants to discourage overachievers, but no one really wants to see them accomplish everything they attempt.

As for the film's production, I felt that MTV's ties were evident in the quality of film stock and footage, but that their association with such a smart script allowed an otherwise funny and biting film to be made, whereas many studios would shun it. After all, teen-oriented movies should include either a.) Freddie Prinze, Jr. and Julia Stiles as true lovers, or b.) a large number of beautiful girls and average-to-hunky guys trying to have sex with each other (while being chased by a killer, optional).

And I apologize for using the word "hunky."
by andrew wollman on 12/10/2000 02:47:12 AM | bang on

yes. even though i am drunken fuzzy at the moment, i will have to go along with raza's sentiment of "are you nuts?" how can you want to puke? i think election is beautifully crafted, not to mention brimming with hi-larity! i've seen it fifty-seven times, at least. which moments do you have trouble with?

wow, raza, did you know you just quit?
by alison headley on 12/10/2000 02:22:22 AM | bang on