December 26, 2010

The Comeback Kid, Redux

If you're looking for a creative outlet during this slow time of year, you might want to sign up at and begin making your own cartoons, using such characters as displayed in the linked cartoon or the familiar bears at right. I've written a couple of screenplays myself, collaborating with a buddy of mine who holds an MFA from the UCLA Film School, and thus has serious chops. One of these screenplays (based on my novel) went so far as to be read (and rejected) by a script editor at Lion's Gate. This is considered street cred in the amorphous world of movie making. Anyway, I pass along a couple of screenwriting tips for your use as you put together your YouTube viral instant classic:

As you write your script, remember the basic improv formula: build, don't refute. A character says one thing, and the other character says something which extends that comment or leads to a new turn. For example, if one character says, "Do you want to go with me?" the other character can't simply say, "No," or the skit is over. Instead, character 2 should say something like, "I'd like to, but I'm blowing up the Chinese Embassy." Then character 1 can say, "Well, how about Tuesday," or "Did you get a bad pot sticker?"

Keep the statements of the characters short. It doesn't have to get mannered in the style of David Mamet, but soliloquies are boring unless you can write like the Bard himself. Rapid interchange of dialogue is more interesting than two characters weighing each other down with speeches.

I'm working on a cartoon with two ready-made characters, Obama and George W. Bush, from the It's getting pretty obvious that the two are far more alike than different, and not just in the sense that they are both Harvard grads. Neither of them is (was) really up to the job of being President and Obama relies, and Bush relied, completely on a group of advisors to tell them what to do. Indeed, the three main advisors, David Petraeus, Robert Gates and Ben Bernanke, are the same for both of them. When you've accounted for the military-industrial-financial complex, there really isn't much left to talk about as far as American policy is concerned, and the same people call the shots now as did during Bush's reign. Obama kept Bush's desk, his Oval Office rug and his government, so it isn't really surprising that things don't seem very different. The fact that Obama would choose to copy George W. Bush in making most of his calls tells you probably everything you need to know about Obama's insecurities and internal resources.

In retrospect, it was Bush's unfortunate fate to fall under the insidious sway of Dick Cheney, and Bush the Elder was probably responsible for that, knowing, as he did, that his eldest son was a consummate lightweight and needed heavy guidance from a D.C. insider. But Pappy Bush misunderestimated just how radical Cheney was (I can't figure out why Blogger is underlining in wavy red a perfectly good verb form like "misunderestimated"). Thus, our Constitutional form of government went down the toilet during the Bush years and is probably not coming back.

I note that the MSM has lightened up on the O-Man recently, right about the time I decided to terminate Obama-bashing. Positing a causal connection between my decision and this more general trend, however, would amount to megalomania bordering on solipsism, so I will search for a different explanation. And it's this: the MSM and their corporate owners have decided to Manufacture Consent (thank you again, Noam, for this useful analytical tool) around the idea that Obama's list of trivial "victories" on DADT and Reagan's START negotiations (Obama being one of Ron's major Groupies) should kickstart the Barack's comeback. I believe that this decision (reflected in many opinion pieces from David Brooks at the NY Times to Howard Fineman) was in turn a result of these learned opinion-makers staring into the yawning abyss of a Palin Presidency and not liking at all what they were seeing. Obama, meanwhile, had given the rich a huge tax break in his "deal" with the Republicans (I hope he checked for his wallet as he left the room), and furthermore kicked the stool out from underneath Social Security with his really idiotic "tax holiday," which will cause the "trust fund" to bleed from every orifice over the next year and set it up for sacrificial slaughter. That really was the most evil ploy I've ever seen a Democratic President fall for.

Nevertheless, the MSM, and their dwindling band of mega-owners (Rupert Murdoch, Comcast, General Electric, a few others), must have asked themselves: what's not to like about Barry? He's given us trillions in tax breaks, he's gutted Social Security, he's agreed to leave Guantanamo open in perpetuity, he's "surged" the war in Afghanistan - what does he have to do for us? Why are we giving this guy a hard time? Meanwhile, Sarah Palin is a step into the great unknown. Some of the things she did during her brief reign as Governor of Alaska were scarily populist, such as dividing up oil revenues with common people. She's not controllable and malleable in the same way Obama is. Thus, the trick must be to maneuver the 2012 election toward an outcome where either the proto-Republican Obama is reelected, or (worst case) Jeb Bush is the Third Bush to ascend to the Kennebunkport Throne.

We should all take a great deal of comfort in that. The Powers That Be, while looking primarily to their own interest, of course, accidentally may look out for ours. I guess.

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