So. As you all know, it's an election year. And lots of people have opinions. Including me.
But I'm not going to tell you today what those opinions are. In fact, I'm about to tell you exactly why I'm not going to tell you what my opinions are. (The Smart Bitches did a great post about this the other day, and that's what's inspired me to rant to you all.)
See, here's the thing. How you vote? It's none of my goddamn business. Just like how I vote is none of your goddamn business. No offense meant; I have great friendships with some of you, and I have only fond thoughts for all of you. But my vote is private. That's one of the hallmarks of our system; nobody has the right to know how you voted.
And going along with that is another, deeper truth about me. Not only is your vote none of my business, but quite frankly--and I mean this in the spirit of deepest friendship--I don't give a fuck how you vote. (You, the individual--obviously the outcome of elections is of some importance to me, but perhaps not as much as you might think.) For that matter, I honestly don't give a fuck if you vote. Do it or don't; I'm not bothered either way.
I don't care. No, really. I don't. I don't care what you think about Obama or McCain. I don't care what you think about Joe Biden or Sarah Palin. I know what I think of these people, sure. And guess what? My opinion is the only opinion I care about!
And it's not just you, whose political opinions means nothing to me. It's any actor or actress. It's any other writer. It is, in fact, anyone other than the candidates themselves. Their opinions I care about. Anyone else? No, not really. When I want Matt Damon or Cameron Diaz or Bruce Willis or Tom Selleck's advice about who to vote for, I will call them up and ask them. Until then? I don't care.
More than not caring, I am actually offended that they feel the need to educate me. Do they think I'm stupid? That I am incapable of making voting decisions without their expert help? Gee, I was going to start writing letters to the President urging him to just nuke all the other countries in the world, until Susan Sarandon told me that would be a bad thing. I sure am glad she stopped me from making that mistake, ho-ho-ho! I do NOT like being told what to do. I do NOT like being told how to think. I certainly do not need advice on what to do and how to think from people whose major accomplishment in life is they're very good at playing make-believe.
That's not a dig at actors; I'm well aware that I earn my money by also playing a sort of make-believe. But guess what? I acknowledge that freely, and because of that, I would never in my life have the arrogance to tell you I know more about how you should vote than you do. What am I, fucking Underdog? Here I come to save the daaay! You were about to make a terrible voting mistake, dumbass, let ME tell you the right thing for you! That's bullshit. Who the fuck am I to tell you how to vote? Who the fuck is Martin Sheen to tell me how to vote? (For the record, I actually have quite a bit of respect for Martin Sheen--he certainly puts his money where his mouth is, and has done some things I admire [in addition to some things I think are batshit crazy]. He was just an example.) Does Martin Sheen live my life? Does Martin Sheen have my problems? No, he doesn't, so his advice is useless to me and I don't care to hear it.
I've seen this attitude mentioned in other places as being a sort of censorship. That it's like saying actors/whomever don't have the right to talk about politics. The logical leap there astounds me. How do we get from "I don't care about your opinion" to "You don't have the right to an opinion"? Because it seems to me the two are very clearly separate. Everyone is free to discuss politics to whatever extent they desire; I consider it boorish and rude, generally (and there are exceptions) but they have a right to think and say what they want. Just as I have the right to extend my middle finger and tell them I don't care. Their opinions bore me. I am not interested in them. Just because they have a right to an opinion, and a right to express it, does not mean I'm obligated in any way, shape, or form to listen to and care about that opinion. I don't. (In fact, I grow increasingly weary of political sidcussion by and from anyone; when did that sort of joking become okay? Why, within five minutes of meeting someone, are they talking about politics? Even off-the-cuff jokes. When did that become appropriate? It's akin to meeting someone and within five minutes saying, "So, the other night my husband was taking me doggie-style, and..." No, seriously. For me, it is. Don't assume I think the way you do, and don't assume I want to hear what you think about the issues. I don't. I'm asking you where you got those shoes or if you'll bring a dish to the school fete; that's not an invitation to your thoughts on the President, or oil companies, or gay marriage, or any other issue you can think of. Honest, it's not. See the above, where I tell you I on't care, and you are a boor who obviously has nothing of interest to say and so much start spewing platitudes at me. Way to have a personality.)
But here's the thing. As I said in the comments thread of that SB post, if I wanted to know about acting, I would be very interested in the input of Matt Damon or Susan Sarandon (although Cameron Diaz would still be useless in that arena, frankly.) I would be front-and-center there. And it's not because I think their jobs are simply to entertain us and shut up, like they're some sorts of puppets who should go back in their boxes when they're not filming.
It's because their political opinions are no better informed than mine, no more important or interesting or special than mine, whereas their opinions on acting are considerably better informed than mine (or yours). Acting is their business, and I would be interested in their thoughts on it. Should a bill come up in the legislature that impacts their profession, I would wonder what their thoughts might be. Other than that? I am no more interested in their thoughts on my vote than I would be about how my mailman believes I should raise my children. Someone else telling me how to vote offends me, plain and simple. I don't want to be told what to do, remember?
I don't want to be treated as if, or spoken about as if, I am some gibbering goon, either, if my opinion on a particular topic happens not to coincide with someone else's. I would like the respect I try to give everyone else, which is A)Not to go blaring my politics everywhere, as if people will be interested; and B)To assume that if they disagree with me on any particular topic, they have their own reasons, and those reasons are sound. They are not evil, they are not stupid. They are simply human beings whose experiences and beliefs do not coincide completely with mine--as no one else's in this world's do--and because of that, they see things differently than I do.
I find it incredibly depressing that, in an election in which all four candidates appear to be keeping things on a delightfully polite and even keel, the level of dscourse among the citizenry seems unable to move above playground taunting. "Republicans are mean dirty-butts who are racist and sexist and homophobic and hate everyone!" "Democrats are wimpy dirty-butts who want to steal our money and our free speech, and bend over and let Al-Quada fuck us in the ass!" "Nyah!" "Nyah!" Are we fucking adults or what? Isn't it just possible that Republicans are NOT all racist and sexist and homophobic, but instead simply disbelieve in, I don't know, quotas and infantilizing an entire segment of society or teaching them they will never have a chance to get ahead, or are uncomfortable with allowing certain things they feel are morally wrong (but still believe everyone is human and deserves respect for that) and think parents should raise their own children? Isn't it possible that Democrats are NOT trying to steal our money, but are in fact trying to make sure everyone is fed and clothed and taken care of because the US is a rich nation of plenty and it's shameful that we have hungry children and homeless people, and trying to make the world a better place where people don't feel like shit for being different or lose their rights for arbitrary reasons, and would like to try diplomacy first? Aren't those things just fucking possible? (Throwing out the crazies at the very ends of both spectrums, okay; if you think all Republicans are secret KKK sympathizers who murder gay people for fun and/or all Democrats are crazy Castro-loving Commies who want to turn all children gay I can't help you).
When did we get so fucking vicious? When did we stop seeing people who disagree with us as good people who simply disagree with us, and start seeing them as slavering man-beasts who wanted to kill us all? When did we stop seeing them as humans, as people, as people we might be able to find some common ground with? When did we close our minds? When did that shit become funny? When did it become funny to imply people with different beliefs and ideas are worthless and stupid? When did that become accepted thinking?
I apologize for this post, I really do. It bothers me to do it. Quite frankly, I avoid politics not necessarily because I'm afraid of losing readers (I might gain as many as I would lose; who knows?) but because I do not want the buying of my books to become a political act.
My blog is part of my job. My job is to entertain. That's all. I take that job very seriously; I don't think there's anything wrong with that. I'm quite proud of it, in fact. I don't mean my job is to be completely inoffensive or simply to do goofy dances for all of you; but my job is to entertain you. It is not to undertake the broadening of your political minds; quite frankly, I'd rather believe you're here because you are intelligent, and thus capable of making your own decisions.
I would normally no sooner blog about politics here than I would invite you all to a party in my home and then subject you to an hour-long Amway sales presentation. I believe it's rude. I believe that by using my blog (and whatever recognition or whatever I've acheived through it and/or through my books) to presume to educate you on the Big Issues, I am performing some sort of bait-and-switch with you. I am failing to give you the respect you deserve as adults, as readers, as citizens.
If living in the UK for almost three years has taught me anything--and I mean absolutely no disrespect here to England or the English, of whom I am fond--it has taught me that in my opinion the United States is the greatest country in the world, filled with what I firmly believe are, despite their foibles, great and amazing people. Intelligent people. Welcoming people. Kind people. The kind of people who stop to help each other when someone falls down, who cheer each others's triumphs and hug each other when we fail. The kind of people who pitch in and help their elderly neighbors put up shutters when a hurricane is coming and share electricity when it's over (as we used to do on our street in FL). The kind of people who still believe anything is possible, despite the best efforts of some to make us all as cynical and miserable as they are. I believe that. I believe in that dream. Hell, look at me; I have a GED, no college, and major publishing houses are paying me money for books I wrote. I dreamed, and I worked hard, and I acheived something, and nobody sneers at me or thinks I'm overstepping myself, that it's wrong to want to acheive more, to be more.
And quite frankly, I think that's all you need to know about my political views.
I debated turning comments off. I'm leaving them on, though, because I trust you.
Sunday, October 05, 2008
So. As you all know, it's an election year. And lots of people have opinions. Including me.
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