Friday, October 26, 2018

The Decline and Fall of the American Republic - Actors and Political Power

The first actor activist to appear in a starring role in American history was John Wilkes Booth.  He was the Resistance after Little Mac lost 1864 election to the Donald Trump of 19th Century divided America.  The man was an activist and shot Lincoln, stabbed Major Henry Rathbone when he attempted to stop the assassination, leaped to the stage of the Ford Theatre and shouted " Sic Semper Tyrannis!"  Michael Moore could not have staged it better.

Actors were considered social pariahs generally in the mid-19th Century: drunks, sexual predators, lay-abouts and spongers.  With exceptions of the few matinee idols, like Edwin and his brother Jogn Wilkes Booth.  Actors were treated much like Mark Twain's rascals the King and the Duke in Huckleberry Finn ridden out of town on a rail after a judicious tar and feathering.

John Wilkes Booth adapted the Byronic attitude toward the southern states succession as an act of heroic Republicanism and labeled Lincoln as an ape man intent on destroying the white race. John Wilkes Booth was not alone in his contempt for Abraham Lincoln.

Lincoln got the Trump treatment from both sides of the Mason Dixon line and from Boys in Blue as well as Rebs in butternut grey. The Irish Democrats voted against Lincoln, because they wanted a swift end to the draft and hated the Emancipation Proclamation which put them in hard competition with American blacks.

The majority of the northern Irish-American community were loyal Democrats, supporting the party that had accepted them in the face of widespread discrimination during the 1850s. Short shrift was given to any former community leader, such as Thomas Francis Meagher, who advocated Lincoln’s re-election. Issues such as emancipation and the enforcement of the draft remained emotive for many in November of 1864, particularly in New York. Election day finally arrived on 8th November, with Abraham Lincoln sweeping to a second term in office. The majority of Irish-Americans in the north had voted for what proved to be the losing side, a fact not easily forgotten by many of their fellow citizens in the years that followed Lincoln’s assassination and the successful conclusion of the war.

All that subsequent Rum Romanism and Rebellion that still tweaks Democrats of Irish origin stayed with Paddy and Bridey for generations.  George M. Cohan notwithstanding.

The first Hollywood star to become a political power in American government was dancer/actor George Murphy and Irish American - who ran as a Republican.  Murphy became a United States Congressman and was fierce anti-Communist from California.  Another actor followed his lead into the Party of Lincoln, Ronald "Dutch" Reagan.  Jimmy Cagney and other left leaning Democrats crowded around FDR and Harry Truman.

Hollywood loved mixing it up with political power.  Frank Sinatra reached out to Sam "Mo-Mo" Giancanna for help in getting Jack Kennedy in the White House.

Our Republic, like the Roman Republic of Shakespeare's cycle-dramas which the Booth Brothers starred throughout the late 1850's to the Civil War, was a proud tradition of manly individualists, until it was beset by a string of patrician demogogues ( The Gracchi, Marius, Sulla, Cataline and Caesar) all intent on one man rule to maintain the oligarchy. They succeeded - the jury is still out on the American - and the Empire took over with actors playing their parts.
Performers were among the infamis, and couldn’t call themselves citizens of Rome or get any of the associated benefits, like the limited form of political representation others enjoyed. This meant that most comedians who acted were former slaves or people who didn’t have any citizenship to lose.

For the rare comedian who worked their way out of acting into writing, there was no promise of keeping that higher social status. In 46 B.C.E., Julius Caesar demanded that one of the great mime writers of the time, Decimus Laberius, perform in a sort of stand-up battle of mimes. Laberius would face off against a Syrian ex-slave called Pubilius. Laberius wasn’t overly eager to forfeit his rank, but how could he say no to Caesar? So Laberius appeared, dressed in the outfit of a Syrian slave to mock his competitor, and said “Citizens, we are losing our freedom,” as well as, “He who many fear must fear many.” While Laberius lost the competition, he was actually rewarded by Caesar so that he could buy back his citizenship.

Early 21st Century Americans have witnessed the power of celebrity and rise of the actor, clown, mime and player as political arbitrator and moral censor.  B-List thespians like Martin Sheen lectured the nation on the dangers of the Elector College after the 2016 Presidential Election hurt the feelings of Hollywood. President Obama gave the Presidential Medal of Freedom to friendly Hollywood Stars : Sidney Poitier, Robert DiNero, Robert Redford, Meryl Streep, Ciciley Tyson, Tom Hanks and Director Steven Spielberg. Roman Emperors made Senators of actors when the real rot took hold.

Today,  Mega-stars threaten Americans who support Trump even tepidly in the wake of  The Caravan, Kavanaugh and Comic Opera bomb deliveries of the 'taint' of Trump.

Rome went its way, because everyone sold out.  Actors helped make that purchase.


Monday, October 15, 2018

It Was My Pleasure, Ladies!!!!!! Think Nothing Of It! Oh, I see you have already.

This handwritten missive came through my transom this morning.  I must reply.

Dear Girls, Madams, Damsels, Sheilas, Skirts, Twists, Broads, Babes, Ladies, Trollops, Doxies, Shrills, Xanthipes and Harridans,

I was only too happy not to force myself upon any woman - 6 to to 60; blind, crippled or crazy.  It is the very least thing that I can do.

For Sixty-Six years, it has been my policy to regard women with awe, wonder and healthy dose of fear.

Girls, you ain't got nothing to worry from old Patrick Francis.  Unless, of course, I become a movie mogul, a Democratic Senator, GOP Spin Doctor, Fox News Blow-hard, or Left Wing Academic.
You gals send me!

Your Devoted Slave,

Pat Hickey