MINDY NEWELL: A Face In The Crowd
Outside my window it’s January in October; the snow is falling in thick full flakes, the wind is howling, and the steam radiator is hissing and spitting heat while I write this. I just finished watching Captain America: The First Avenger. The perfect movie for a day like a day like this, when I’m all warm and cozy inside while a little Ice Age is raging on the other side of my window.
It’s a really great movie, totally true to its comic book roots, and yet with just enough of an underpinning of truth that enables – for me, at least – a total suspension of disbelief. I haven’t felt this way about a super-hero movie since I first saw Superman. Yeah, I dug Batman Begins and Dark Knight and I’m looking forward to The Dark Knight Rises. And I liked the X-Men movies, even though they were all about Wolverine – hell, the guy even makes a quick cameo (brilliantly done and totally in character) in X-Men: First Class; but Superman and Captain America are movies that leave me walking on air and just full of joi de vivre.
So much of the credit, like 99% of it, goes to Christopher Reeve’s portrayal of Superman, and I think, in the same way, 99% of the credit for the success of Captain America goes to Chris Evans. They both really get it. They get that these characters are representations of, characterizations of – no, the embodiment of the American dream, the American ideal, the “gee whiz, this is the best country in the whole world, and I am one damn lucky fellow to be living in it” experience.
When suits at Marvel made the decision a few years ago to kill Captain America, I was so upset. Honestly – and I mean this in the best possible way – it was for me as if Christopher Reeve had just died all over again. Reeves had proved himself a true Superman, a true American hero, in so many ways; and his death was, for me, an end of an era. And then, a few years later, and all for the sake of $$$, for publicity, Cap is dead. And I felt like – well, let me put it as succinctly as I can:
This country is fucked.
In 1957, Elia Kazan directed A Face In The Crowd. Starring Andy Griffith in his film debut, it’s the story of Lonesome Rhodes, a hard-drinking country-western singer pulled out of obscurity and given his own radio show by talent scout Patricia Neal. His “down-home” philosophical spiels soon lead to his own television show, leading to worshipful fans, drooling sponsors with money, and political influence. Now drunk on power instead of alcohol, Rhodes is a manipulator of Machiavellian proportion. And although A Face In The Crowd was not considered a success during its theatre run, it has proven to be, as so many of Kazan’s movies were – prescient in its depiction of the overtaking by pop culture and big business of the American political system.
And now we have Herman Cain. Everybody knows him as “The Pizza King,” and who hasn’t seen his “Imagine There’s No Pizza” performance? (John Lennon must be rolling over in his grave. Yoko, can’t you sue him or something?) But did you know that he’s also a gospel singer, and performed on the 13-track album Sunday Morning released by Selah Sound Production & Melodic Praise Records in 1996? Did you know that he writes an op-ed column that is syndicated by the North Star Writers Group to over 50 newspapers? Did you know that he has written numerous books – Leadership is Common Sense; Speak as a Leader; CEO of SELF; They Think You’re Stupid – and that the latest, This is Herman Cain: My Journey to the White House, is on the bookshelves now, and that he is not only campaigning, but on a national book tour as we speak? And did you know that, until he formally announced his candidacy, he hosted The Herman Cain Show on WSB-AM in Atlanta? Lonesome Rhodes, you’ve met your match!
So is he just a huckster peddling his wares? Well, let’s see. Did you know that Cain was on the board of directors of the Federal Reserve in Kansas City? And that he was the chairman of the Omaha branch? (It’s not surprising that Fox News never reports on that, since the Fed is one of the big bad bogeymen under attack by the Repugnanticans.) And that he sat on the boards of some of America’s biggest corporations, including Nabisco and Whirlpool?
So he ain’t just a huckster, he’s a corporate toady and a bankster too! (Occupy Wall Street, Occupy Together, are you listening?)
And since 2005, and ending when he announced his candidacy, Herman Cain worked for Americans for Prosperity (AFP), a right-wing political action committee (PAC). You know who funds AFP? The Koch brothers!!!! You know who’s Cain’s campaign manager? Mark Block, his co-worker at AFP. You know Cain’s senior economic adviser, Richard Lowrie, he of the totally huckster 9-9-9 tax plan? Guess where he met Cain? Yep. Lowrie sat on the AFP board of directors until Cain announced his candidacy.
Yeah, good ol’ Herman Cain. He’s just a regular old joe. A face in the crowd.
Watching Shane now.
Come back, Cap. Cap. Cap, come back. Come back, Cap! Caaaaaaap!!!!!!!
TUESDAY: Michael Davis