Saturday, May 19, 2007

Republican the 13th, Part 2

This week's second Republican presidential debate brought to mind a 1980(?) "Sneak Previews" episode with movie reviewers Gene Siskel and Roger Ebert.

Their "Women in Danger" special attacked then-popular slasher films. Siskel and Ebert ended with an unusual appeal to moviegoers: stop going to see these movies "because if you stop going to see them, Hollywood will stop making them, and then we won't have to go see them." They decried the films for their disturbing misogyny and point-of-view murders in which the audience becomes the homicidal maniac.

The creepiest aspect of going to see such films, Ebert explained, wasn't what was on screen, but who was sitting next to you in the theater. He recalled one screening where (on screen) yet another attractive, independent-minded female tiptoed through yet another dark attic. But what really raised the hair on Ebert's arms was the male patron beside him muttering to himself darkly, "She's gonna get it now."

Flash forward.

Republican presidential candidates in Columbia, SC fell over themselves to endorse interrogating suspected terrorist prisoners using torture - I'm sorry, "enhanced interrogation techniques."

Their display was almost as creepy as the audience reaction as candidates tried to one-up each other in what moral depravities they would sink to in handling terrorist suspects. When Sen. John McCain - the only candidate with bona fides on the issue as both a former prisoner and torture victim - spoke out against torture as un-American, audience members sat on their hands in stony silence. Romney, Giuliani and others endorsed Jack Bauer 24-style rough handling of prisoners and pegged the applause-o-meter.

But talk is cheap, Comedy Central's Stephen Colbert offered, suggesting the next Republican debate feature a live suspected terrorist, properly hooded and wired, with each candidate given 30 seconds to make them talk, because "Actions scream louder than words."

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