Wednesday, July 27, 2011

Maybe Mel Brooks........

Like many others, dare I say most Americans, I've spent the last few weeks watching the discussion debate arguing posturing sound-biting stupidity regarding extending the debt ceiling.  Many times I've tried to identify some sort of analogy that might better explain the situation.

Several have come to mind, but they all seem to be either too lame or too convoluted.  None actually seem to include everything that's happening.  However, earlier today, as I was working on a piece of art in my shop, I think I might have stumbled across a comparison that people might understand.  What we've been witnessing is actually a Mel Brooks movie.

As most readers probably know, Mel Brooks makes comedies.  Often they're slapstick, occasionally iconic, and invariably funny.  They include high-brow humor and toilet humor, and they come in almost all genres.  His Young Frankenstein has become the standard against which all comedies are measured, and virtually everything else comes up short in that comparison.  In Spaceballs, he took on the whole space adventure world.  The Twelve Chairs, probably one of his least known films, he sends a collection of misfits and criminal wanna-be's after a royalty of jewels.  He made Silent Movie, in a time when such a thing was unheard of, and, of course, he made Blazing Saddles, the ultimate western send-up.

However, the movie I considered was a modest little film aptly titled History of the World, Part 1.  Here's why.

If you've seen the movie, you already know that it's a series of short vignettes, each from a particular period of time.  The same cast of players assume new roles, and some of the humor is continued from one era to the next.  In fact, Miracle, the wonder horse, manages to stay around for more than a thousand years.  However, most important, is that several characters from that historical tour-de-force have made new appearances in Washington during the past few weeks.

There's Marcus Vindictus, a Roman General who needs to constantly be reminded "Remember, though are mortal."  He is so self-centered that those words fail to impress him.  Yeah, we've seen that guy, haven't we?  He can stand in front of the cameras over and over again and lie, speaking words like "The President needs to understand that he needs to...." or "I won't give the President a blank check."  Humble he ain't, until today, when he found he couldn't control his own caucus.  Now, he's got a new line, warning Republicans that they need to "get your ass in line."  Now, THAT is leadership.

From the Inquisition, there's Torquemada.  For those who might not know, it's pronounced "Talk him outta," and the ultimate gag in the movie is when the narrator observes "Let's face it.  You can't talk him outta anything." Yeah, we've seen those folks too.  Lots of them.  The whole "my-way-or-the-highway" Tea Party caucus has filled that role admirably.  They would prefer to take down the whole economy and punish everyone for the spending that Congress has already approved.

Who else?  Well, in the period that covers the French Revolution, Brooks introduces us to Count de Monet, also known as Count the Money.  All those politicians who are voting solely to keep their campaign donators happy can fill this role.  Just like those times in France, they're scared that they'll lose their heads (jobs) if they don't do the bidding of the lobbyists who fuel their campaigns.  They certainly don't represent the people any more than the nobles of France did in late 1700's.

There are also the usual supporting characters too, including an unemployed comedian.  Of course, today we have near-record unemployment...but it's not funny.  There's also an unemployed gladiator, who is told that if he doesn't kill somebody next week, his unemployment insurance will be gone.  Yeah, that sounds like something we could hear today.

Finally, in the last scene of the movie, the heroes, riding in a cart drawn by Miracle, ride down the road to a huge sign advertising THE BIG ENDING!  Just like the movie, only a miracle is going to get America to a big ending this time, and I'm just not sure I want to place my bet on that horse. 


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