Tuesday, February 17, 2009

Rightard America

Not sure if it was Alexandra Pelosi's goal in her most recent HBO doc to give camera time to every flaming dipshit she could find, but it might as well have been. Unlike her Ted Haggard doc that premiered last month, there is no one in Right America with anything resembling a redeeming value.

(Indeed, Haggard is hardly a sympathetic character in his portrayal, especially in the large-living habits of his family. He made decent money pastoring his own megachurch, and they gave him a severance package substantially more than a lot of hard-working people earn in a year -- or several. It's never exactly clear why they're so broke, living in hotels and scrounging for door-to-door insurance gigs. But the needy self-loathing and puling suckuppery he exhibits, his insatiable urge to sublimate his emotional demons and ingratiate himself back with those who kicked him to the curb, those things do elicit the small hope that Haggard can get his head out of his ass at some point.)

Pelosi has made a career of chronicling the travels of her ideological opponents, supposedly revealing other sides to these people we see in the media. All I got from Journeys with George is that the guy with his finger on the button was a presumably grown man who still enjoyed peebee-n-jays and carried a pillow with him everywhere for nappy time, yet there wasn't a book to be found within a hundred yards of him, nor an actual policy or opinion that didn't sound like it had passed through Karl Rove's capacious cloaca first.

And you get even less than that from Right America. The people Pelosi chooses to profile are, to put it very charitably, bugfuck insane, and stupid to boot. Their Pavlovian repetitions of "Hitler" and "socialism" in comparisons to Obama, while never being able to explain how any of those things are remotely comparable, juxtapose neatly with their rallies and conventions where they simply nod in affirmation of each other's stupidity and trade new buzzwords to misapprehend.

One highlight comes about halfway through, outside a convention hall, where some ofay punk poseur is about to enter the hall, wearing a shirt that says "Say No to Socilism[sic]", written in Sharpie with what must have been his foot. First Pelosi informs the tool that "socialism" is misspelled. The moron asks her if she has a pen so he can correct it, as if the missing "a" were the biggest problem here. Pelosi says no, then asks him to define this word he cannot even spell, at which the moron actually tries to pull up a dictionary app on his PDA so's he can look it up. Pressed for, you know, his own understanding of what this word means, the moron spins an incoherent word salad that would do Sarah Palin proud.

It gets worse, as Pelosi talks to NASCAR tailgaters, some weirdo god-botherer convention where one guy insists that he saw "666" on Obama's forehead, and a couple of Mississippi bruthas, one of whom is indignant at Pelosi for talking about Mississippi crackers, since there are plenty of people in New York and California who say "nigger" too. (Hint: the difference is that in NY and CA, most of the people who use that word are black.)

It's an anthropological expedition gone horribly awry, and perhaps that was Pelosi's ultimate point, which wouldn't quite jibe with her usual tack of insouciant, if respectful, disagreement. It's as if she ventured through a series of villages where everyone takes turns being the idiot. You halfway wonder if Pelosi's NASCAR excursion will end with her simmering in a cauldron, surrounded by Larry the Cable Guy lookalikes, chop-sleeved flannel shirts and mesh caps dipping and rising in peculiar cracker rhythm, addled by sacraments of cheap beer and bathtub crank, chanting "Socialism! Nigger! Jeebus!" as if they knew what any of those things actually meant.

I admit that in reading Tony Horwitz' Confederates in the Attic recently, I found some small measure of sympathy for some of these revanchist characters, surrounded by monuments and reminders of their fallen heroes and lost causes, stuck in low-wage hell, nothing to do, nowhere to turn. Ignorance on the hoof.

But Horwitz' journey was well over a decade ago, and with what's happened since then, there's no excuse for this shit, for these people. Whether or not it's Pelosi's intent, you come away from this thing thinking "fuck 'em", consoled only by the fact that their miserable lives will statistically catch up with them sooner than most. Just one person providing a single logical reason to vote for McCain would have changed that impression, but as even high-level lifelong Republicans defected en masse this time around, there weren't any available.

Hopefully Obama appoints Chuck D for Secretary of Commerce next, just to watch these assholes' heads explode.

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