Sunday, May 16, 2010

Soundpolitic Sundays: Look On The Bright Side Edition

This column has been nothing but doom and gloom and demanding apologies and giving them for the past couple of weeks. This is not at all what I intended...and subsequently readership has fallen.

Friends, it's time to rememdy this lot.

My most popular post was a look at how a certain British sketch comedy troupe of yore could still be relevant to politics as well as tickle your Sunday funny bones in between bouts of talking heads.

Dear readers, I may be slow, but by popular demand (and out of spiritual necessity), this week on Soundpolitic Sundays, I'm going get back to looking on the the bright side:

Below the fold, more Python videos than should probably be allowed, coupled with some tidbits on their relevance to satisfy the political junkie in us all...

(Cross-posted on DailyKos and The Albany Project)

As with my last Python themed post, I feel a bit of background information is an order for those poor souls not yet privy to the fully Monty. The last blog has a bit. Wikipedia has a smidge more with regard to today relevant film, Life of Brian:

Monty Python's Life of Brian, also known as Life of Brian, is a 1979 comedy film written, directed and largely performed by the Monty Python comedy team. It tells the story of Brian Cohen (played by Graham Chapman), a young Jewish man who is born on the same day as and next door to Jesus Christ, and is subsequently mistaken for the Messiah.
The film was a box-office success, grossing fourth-highest of any film in the UK in 1979 and highest of any British film in the United States that year. It has remained popular since then, receiving positive reviews and being named 'Greatest British comedy film of all time' by several magazines and television networks.

As you can guess, the film is soaked through with satire, both religious and political. Our last subject, Holy Grail is also the same, but is traditionally more popular here in the States. Brian, as you just read, is often cited as the best British comedy ever made. After another viewing, I've determined that we Americans may have things backwards...

...but that doesn't mean several of the best clips from Life of Brian can't be Americanized! Indeed, the best political satire is timeless precisely because political history often repeats itself, no matter what country you're in.

Take, for example, this country's recent dealings with Hot Beverage Parties: The Tea Party is now a force to be -reckoned- heckled with in conservative Republican circles, and the Coffee Party is it's progressive -counterpart- opposite. Both come under scrutiny from both sides for undermining the goals of the "real" parties, Republican or Democrat. But really, folks, have you not read the Federalist Number 10 and Madison's words of wisdom regarding factionalism? And wasn't there a Democratic-Republican party at one point in time? And what about...

...fiddlesticks. This bit explains it all so much more elquontely:


That's right! You're all splitters! Just like the only people the Tea Partiers hate more than us liberal communist socialis Democrats are the not-conservative-and-libertarian-and-fascist-enough Republicans they're splitting from. And just like some of us Kossacks hate the Republicans...but not as much as those Democrats in Name Only, that's for bleedin' sure!

That's not meant as criticism, of course. But it does go to show that such cinematic silliness can be quite thought provoking. If the Tea Partiers had any capacity for thought or reason, they >might realize that some of their revolutionary positions really don't make sense. Remember those "Keep Your Government Hands of My Medicare" signs at their rallies? Tell me that doesn't remind you of this meeting of the People's Front of Judea:


And that's the way it goes. All those women at the Tea Parties who plan to vote their representatives out of office might have been progressive suffragettes a century ago. And all those protesters who marched on Washington (all fifty million of them, or so they claim) had quite the easy time getting there thanks to all those interstate highways, didn't they? The list goes on and on...

Ah, but try talking reason to those types and your excercisng your futility muscles. Why is it we can't seem to get them behind the idea that collective government action is useful...especially when they're so excited about the fact that their own collective action can be used to "take back" their country? Maybe they need a leader for their "individual rights" movement. Maybe they should take a page from the man himself: Brian, mistaken for the Messiah:


Of course, in the interst of being "fair and balanced," a Tea Party fool might get just as much enjoyment by reading into that scene a little bit differently. Is this an allegory for Dems and progressive chanting "Yes We Can!" at another Barack Obama speech (as opposed to Repukes and 'baggers chanting "Drill Baby Drill" in front of a Sarah Palin New Orleans)?

No. It's exactly what it is. We are all individuals and we shouldn't allow ourselves to be lead as such, no matter what side of the aisle we are on. The difference that Obama brings to the table is that he, too, encouraged us to think for ourselves. Now if he could just get the rest of our leaders to think for themselves instead of just thinking about the next re-election battle, we might get somewhere. Of if we didn't have all sorts of whackjob conservative reactionism to his Presidency we might get somewhere.

Y'know, I feel sorry for those Tea Party types sometimes. For one thing, they happen to be stuck being compared to sweaty testicles being shoved in your face by your college roomate after a night of hard drinking. This is something that I don't approve of (but am tired of scolding y'all about, so carry on if you wish). They might have caught a lucky break if somebody might have warned them about the phrase, though. Brian got a little help from his enemies, and learned a little bit about Latin verb conjugation in the process:


Ahh, the powers and the pitfalls of civil disobedience. All of us might do well to study a non-English form of verb conjugation, by the way. With all the new Americans of Hispanic descent that came (have come? are coming?) to American by the day, we might do well to start thinking of ours as a bilingual nation. I'm told that Spanish might have a little bit to do with Latin...

Blasphemy! Says the neofascist nationalist Limbaugh-Hannity-Savage crowd! This is America! We speak American here, dammit! How soon until those Arizona folks declare English the official language of the state and makes any human being suspected of not being able to conjugate (or define) the word "is" to prove their American grammatical abilities?

I wonder what the penalty would be for such blasphemy? The Right would probably prefer the harshest punishment possible. In the interest of saving the best for last, here it is: by far the funniest clip from Life of Brian, the Stoning Scene!

Ouch. And they say Joe Biden is gaffe prone! See that? No matter what side your on, if you say the wrong thing at the wrong time in front of the wrong crowd, your entirel political career is on the rocks. But only because the rest of the country is completely off its...

Before I end up saying something I shouldn't have and paying the ultimate price for it, I'm going to have to wrap this up by encouraging you all to do a few things:

First, check out Life of Brian if you haven't already. There's plenty more in the film where all this came from, and much, if not all, of it relates to todays current political culture. Commenters, feel free to suggest snippets I may have overlooked.

Second, I'm hoping to lead by example here. I've been rather stressed out by both my joblessness and by the political dysfunction here in New York in the past couple weeks (months...years) and it's very easy to get cynical, angry, depressed, and you can get really close to just throwing your arms up and giving up the ghost sometimes.

But life's a piece of shit when you look at it, anyway, or so goes the wisdom of Python. So if that's all you've got to look forward to, then you might as well just jump back face-first into the manure and try to get something to grow out of it, right?

Right. Third: Always look on the bright side of life.

So concludes this weeks' edition of Soundpolitic Sundays. Thanks for reading and tune in next week for...erm...whatever strikes me as irreverant, musical, and political all at once next Saturday night.

By the way...I feel better already. So...may all beings be free from suffering, too.

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