Given the various recent quotes I'd read attributed to Clint Eastwood, which suggested he was emphatically not in support of various key planks of the GOP platform (e.g., automotive industry bailout, marriage equality, etc., etc.) and the overall tone and direction of the current party, I was a bit surprised and dismayed to learn a few days ago that he was to be the much-hyped secret speaker at the climax night of the GOP convention.
But after I heard this morning of his "bizarre", "strange", "weird", "Theater Of The Absurd" prime-time performance, I began to get suspicious. Really, really suspicious...
I had never felt impressed by Eastwood's early acting roles as enigmatic tough-guy, but my opinion of him began to shift when I saw his directorial work, beginning with the Academy Award-winning "Mystic River", with its highly compelling depiction of a man tormented by his childhood-era abduction by sexual criminals. My admiration grew as I viewed his subsequent directorial works, among them empathetic portrayals of: women protagonists in demanding unconventional cultural roles ("Million-Dollar Baby" and "Changeling"); the soldiers on BOTH sides of the battle of Iwo Jima (the twin movies "Flags of Our Fathers" and "Letters From Iwo Jima"); and Nelson Mandela's high-profile struggle to heal the post-apartheid cultural divide of South Africa ("Invictus").
But the Clint Eastwood movie that sprang to mind this morning was his 2008 work "Gran Torino", which Eastwood starred in as well as produced and directed. He portrays Walt, a recently-widowed retired Ford assembly-line worker who learns midway through the plot that he has a terminal lung disease, a fact he keeps secret. In the dramatic climax of the film, Walt confronts the group of gangbangers who shot up his next-door neighbor's house (wounding the son) and gang-raped the daughter. Unarmed, he nonetheless cleverly tricks the gangbangers into shooting him down in a very public setting with numerous witnesses, thus in his own unique way securing justice for his neighbors.
For the last several years, Clint Eastwood has cultivated a broad-based reputation as someone who feels so secure in his artistic legacy that he has no fear to do whatever he chooses.
Today, I find myself wondering: Did Clint Eastwood, legendary Hollywood actor, producer, and director, bungle a well-intentioned attempt to support the GOP, rambling ad-lib for an excruciating 12 minutes? Or did he in fact pull off a daring and well-rehearsed prank? Were the convention's planners so blind-sided by Eastwood's star power that they failed to recognize where his real loyalties are? How much (or little) did it take for him to win their trust?
We may never know. Or, we find out some time after November 6th.
Sat Sep 01, 2012 at 9:47 AM PT: It's been an esp busy last several days for me personally, so I just found out this morning that another diarist beat me to publication of the same theory by nearly 15 hours: