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Why Clint Eastwood's 'Empty Chair' Skit Was Not Funny

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by Tanya Steele
September 3, 2012 4:53 PM
84 Comments
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Clint Chair

The inevitable apology happens before weighing in on race, this time: "I love Clint Eastwood." "I love his movies." "He's a good guy." You won't hear me say that. I dug 'Mystic River'. His Westerns are etched into my memory (to the point where I would like to make a Western, one day). I defer to my Jazz heads on 'Bird' and many weren't pleased. 'Straight No Chaser' was interesting mainly because Thelonious Monk is interesting, most geniuses are.

Yes, Clint Eastwood has an affinity for black people, perhaps, Black people who entertain him. None of his achievements make me want to fawn over him. Nor do they shade my ability to see racism enacted. Is he an American icon? Yes. Is he an accomplished film legend in front of and behind the camera? Yes. Did he perform a 'skit' that was, essentially, an attempt to put President Barack Obama in his place? A resounding, yes.

Charlton Heston. John Wayne. White men with guns are America's darlings. As we sit idly by and watch gun violence saturate this country's soil with varied shades of blood, we had to suffer through the arrogance of a doddering elderly white man who believes the mythology that surrounds him. There is nothing as foul as arrogance laced with fame.

Clint Eastwood is a master of the visual. The chair placed beneath him. The talking down to it. The dismissive style. Ad libbing which was stream of consciousness (thoughts coming directly from head to mouth, uncensored). If you don't believe that that entire episode was about 'putting Obama in his place', just look at the visual. Many people have referenced Ralph Ellison's 'Invisible Man' as a way of explaining Clint's antics. I can appreciate the association, however, I disagree. President Obama's issue is that he is too visible. He is highly visible. No Black man has ever been that visible and powerful in the history of this country. Was Clint trying to render him invisible? Well, he can't. So, he was trying to demean and bring him down to size.

One of the most helpful things about the Obama presidency is it is showing us that the enactment of racism is not just someone calling you N**er. Most times, it isn't about being tied to the back of a truck and dragged until your head comes off or being lynched and having your body parts removed as souvenirs. The enactment of racism is complicated, sinister, crazy and as varied as the bodies it emanates from. And, that's the rub. The culture likes to appear startled and completely undone when someone is blatantly racist. As a result, we have a difficult time recognizing racism when it's in front of our eyes.

In High School, I learned that there were consequences to being Black and exceptional. I loved Shakespeare. I devoured him. Would show up to English class ready and excited to discuss what I read the night before. I was always answering the questions. To the point where my teacher would look past me or say, "let someone else answer", when I flung my hand in the air. Well, on this day, I couldn't wait. She asked the question, I flung my hand up, no other students did. I, proudly and enthusiastically, answered the question. My Teacher acknowledged how correct I was. The next thing I hear…"Why don't you go back to Africa?"

The innocence of my 15 year old self was gone. It had been stripped away in other forms of racism up to that point. After all, I grew up on the very wealthy New Jersey Shore. But, this moment was different. This was a challenge to my intellect, my gifts, my right to be where and who I was. I was daring to be something other than what this girl had in her imagination. I understood, in that moment, that being Black and exceptional made people uncomfortable, it would come with a tax. And, I've paid that tax many times since.

Racism is about people trying to fit you into their idea of who you are. It doesn't matter what you've accomplished, how kind you are to them, what thoughts or feeling you might possess. It's about what they think about you. And, those thoughts can result in everything from murder to chastising an imaginary you in an empty chair.

So, Clint, you can attempt to lower someone as graceful and elegant as President Obama to the idea that he can utter the words, "go f*** yourself." (Funny, Clint was doing the thing that many of wish Obama would do. Say, "go f*** yourself" to these clowns.) But, President Obama doesn't have to do that. He's already won. And, hopefully, will win again. Clint Eastwood is the John Wayne of our day; invincible, arrogant, feebly erect, talking down to a chair and ready for the dustbin of history. He represents an America that was and never will be again. It's over, we've won. And, we are going to continue our march-FORWARD.

As I watched others dance and justify Clint's actions as "absurd", "funny", "odd", I realized how numb we have become to racism. Nowadays, we try and figure it out. If someone doesn't say "Ni**er", we scratch our heads. Emotionally, it feels wrong but we can't say, definitively, what it is. It takes a minute for us to recognize racism because we don't want to believe that it's true. We qualify it; "Oh, well, the person isn't racist but his actions were racist." I don't accept that qualification. It's an excuse, another "apology". If you act or speak racism, you are racist.

I will concede that there is conscious racism and unconscious racism. Conscious racism being overt, explicit, direct; a lynching, for example. Unconscious racism is embedded into the psyche and slips out in odd ways. I, usually, note it in liberals, folks who believe themselves to be free of racism. Folks who have never confronted the racism within themselves other than by surrounding themselves with Black friends or hiring a Black person or two. Undoing the racism that America has implanted, in all of us, takes work. And, we have all become too lazy to do the heavy lifting required to undo it. We would rather indulge it as it builds, festers and strips Black children of their lives.

President Obama said that he is not offended by Clint's 'skit'. At the end of the day, he remains the President. So, these antics do not disturb his position. It's Eastwood's problem, not his. And, it's true. I don't believe that President Obama should be bothered by this. But, it hints at a larger issue. We keep giving racism a pass. There is a price when we deny racism. There is a cost to these years during President Obama's tenure when he doesn't speak about racism, the impact of racism on blacks and people of color. We participate in the mythology (and pathology) of an America that wants to believe that racism does not exist. By not speaking about the fact that it does, we hurt, not them. And, that's how America wants to keep it. It's okay for Black people to suffer but white people cannot be disturbed.

I will cast my vote for President Obama, while, on my shoulder, my reluctant voice will nag at me. I will be casting a vote for someone who does not speak to, what I consider to be, one of the most important issues since America's birth. In casting the vote, I will pause for a moment to acknowledge that this is not a vote for the part of me that is a Black woman trying to live with some degree of sanity by not denying racism. I am casting the vote for the policies that President Obama is enacting. Policies that assist the disadvantaged, single mothers, women who can get political asylum in the U.S. because they are victims of domestic violence in their own country, etc. However, I am waiting for the President who can speak, boldly, about the inequities in America and enact policies to combat them. In the meantime, I will cast my vote for this great first step that is President Barack Obama.

With high unemployment comes increased gun violence. With high unemployment, violence against women and children increases. America wants to believe that young Black men are so genetically sick that they can't help but kill each other. When the fact is, there is a legacy, there is a connection to be made between the enactment of racism in the culture and the loss of Black life. It's easier to believe we are all destined to be on Welfare or in a grave than to understand that your actions and the actions of your ancestors, the manifestation of 'white is right' in every segment of the culture (economic, education, entertainment, etc.) has poisoned all of us. There is a legacy of violence, inequity and a notion of white superiority that we have to undo.

Clint Eastwood and his kind can continue to wrestle with the fact that a black man is sitting in the highest seat of power, arguably, in the world. The rest of us have other things to do. We've got an election to win. We've got lives to save. We don't have time for this. So, to you and your kind, Dirty Harry, I say, as one of my favorite poems declares, "The Bridge Poem" by Donna Kate Rushin, "Evolve or die."

Follow Tanya Steele on Twitter at @digtanya. Or visit digtanya.com.

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84 Comments

  • Corey | March 26, 2013 3:46 PMReply

    Perhaps, because you are in such a rush to blame racism for the problems of your people, no real progress has been made in your culture. People are still dying in the streets of Chicago, and people are still selling drugs to the young children who don't know any better. While I'm sure that you are pretty locked in to your way of thinking, I think it is important for you to realize why you are wrong.
    Clint Eastwood's skit was funny. Did you expect him to go up there and talk policy? I certainly did not. What he did may not have the most drastic affect on the election, but it did provide the point of view of a large portion of America. From a limited knowledge standpoint, the national debt is now at 16 trillion, which has come mostly from the Barrack Obama presidency. In the meantime, the unemployment rate has not dropped like it was supposed to. While we bailout all the big corporations that are too big to fail, the have nothing to show for it. Barrack says that he is for the people, but rather than take serious steps at getting us employed, he is putting our hard earned tax dollars into spendthrift programs such as Solindra. During his presidency, he has done very few of the things that he set out to do, such as close Gitmo.
    I think practcally all of us want equality, the difference between us is how we get there. Personally, I think we should fend for ourselves. It is no one's right to force the masses to take care of those that should be perfectly capable of helping themselves. It makes no sense to me why someone who is unemployed doing drugs should be getting welfare. If we want to have equality, maybe we should stop treating black people differently.
    Why is it required that a certain amount of minority students be admitted to public colleges and universities? Why do we even have to put our race on our application. If this world wasn't based off of what someone may have went through, or what kind of opportunities were put out in front of them at a young age, then we would have a much stronger workforce and a much more peaceful relationship with one another. Personally, when I hire people, I want to hire the best applicant, not the best minority applicant. None of us are different from one another, so why should our government treat us differently? Although charity is good, it should be required under no circumstances.

  • Corey | March 26, 2013 11:21 PM

    Nun- he has far more economic and public policy experience than someone like Obama
    .....His long career of making movies absolutely qualifies him to tell us how to run this country
    Me:---------You guys use actors to get out the message out about how unborn children have no rights
    .....And his choice of an empty chair as a prop was a masterful use of minimalist set design that only speaks to his skill as an artist
    Me:-----------Barrack says that his administration is transparent, so all Clint did was point out the falcity.
    .....White "American settlers" had no right to build this country on the backs of hundreds of years of free labor via chattel slavery
    Me:------------Slavery has not been around for more than 100 years. No one can be blamed, but many african-americans still use it as a crutch to blame people for their current circumstances. Step up, and see people'es character instead of skin tone
    ......what a fantastic argument for why the wealthy should pay their fair share
    Me:----------what classifies their fair share? From the numbers that I have seen, the 1% is already paying more than 60% of the taxes.

  • Nun | March 26, 2013 5:27 PM

    Corey, you've really opened my eyes man. Clint Eastwood's skit was brilliant - after all, he has far more economic and public policy experience than someone like Obama. His long career of making movies absolutely qualifies him to tell us how to run this country. And his choice of an empty chair as a prop was a masterful use of minimalist set design that only speaks to his skill as an artist. I can't see it any other way.

    And you're absolutely correct - people should pull themselves up by their bootstraps. White "American settlers" had no right to build this country on the backs of hundreds of years of free labor via chattel slavery. They should have gotten up off their lazy asses and done it themselves rather than depend on those slaves, or indentured servants, or minimum-wage workers who don't have access to education or opportunity.

    We should definitely take a lesson from the past and stop giving out so many handouts. In your words, "no one's right to force the masses to take care of those that should be perfectly capable of helping themselves" - what a fantastic argument for why the wealthy should pay their fair share in taxes! Why should the masses of middle class people keep supporting them with our hard-earned dollars? Corey, you're a brilliant strategist.

    You're right about Chicago - why won't those Chi-town drug dealers just do the right thing with all the boats and planes they own, and the gun plants they run, and the many groves of coca plants they own in Colombia? You're right about education too - Nobody should get preferential treatment in the college application process. G.W. Bush never should have been let into Yale.

    We're so lucky to have people like you, Corey, to enlighten us via online message boards. This post has truly brightened my day. Thank you, and in closing, Solindra, Solindra, Solindra, bootstraps, God bless America.

  • Corey | March 26, 2013 3:31 PMReply

    While I'm sure that you are pretty locked in to your way of thinking, I know that you are looking at this whole thing wrong.

  • multi-ethnic | March 19, 2013 6:37 AMReply

    Obama is bi-racial, why can't you people get that through your thick skulls?

  • OP IP | February 5, 2013 7:51 AMReply

    NOT and NEVER was an Eastwood fan.
    NOT a fan of 'EYE----CONS' generally
    NOT impressed with Eastwood's BALK of
    some 4 decades of anniversaries for the
    ------------awesomely relevant-------------
    --------------KOREAN War----------------

    BUT ---STILL, must admit, his turn was the
    least FAKE moment in 2012 FAKE 'campaign' season.

    ---PS ---we did NOT vote. . .

  • KC | February 4, 2013 6:40 PMReply

    white people.

    They all look the same.

    buncha racist koo kuu klansmen...

    look at that lil white boy over there.

    hey gonna be a white supremacist one day.

    he prolly already is.

    Does it make black people in the year 2013 feel better, to mindlessly hate people of "white" complexion for no reason other than that they can? Does it make them feel like they gittin' theirs to hate someone just as innocent as the blacks of 100 years ago were in their time?

    Does it make black people feel better... nyah nyah nee boo boo! I'ma be an a55hole to you cause there was once a bunch of white people that treated a bunch of black people like crap.

    You know what, I don't see Irish-American walkin' round hatin' on English people. Now why is that?

    I don't see French people lookin' to get even with Spanish people... oh but you know... couple hundred years ago they was at war. you know. Some French guy once killed some Spanish guy. Dem stupid Spanish dudes need ta be gittin their hate on... there's a whole barrel o' French dudes out there... they hate Spanish dudes... why don't the Spanish dudes complain about gittin' theirs?

    On the other hand... how can I turn this around? I am of lower middle class. we have food and we have a TV and cable and such. But if one of us lost our job we'd be begging family for a room or a roommate. So...if Tanya Steele's angle is correct, I deserve to despise people from 100 years ago who have money, and I should expect to hold people of this day and age culturally hostage while making daily demands for equal gold in my pocket...

    Oh racism.

    It's so funny.

    I've seen a room full of whites devolve into a pecking order of those who treat their "lessers" like crap.

    I've seen a group of black playin ball at the park treat those with less trendy clothes or a weaker three-point like crap.

    I've seen asians beat the crap out of asians.

    I've seen hispanics who've been killed by hispanics...

    but only white people hate.

    It's all ok, cause only white people hate.

    And it's easy to pick out the haters... cause their skin is white...

    those stupid white people...

    picking on people for the color of their skin.

    - White Guy

  • KC | February 4, 2013 6:38 PMReply

    Wow, am I supposed to come away from this article feeling hopelessly like the author is racist...?

    Cause it's this feeling of doom that I have right now.

    Oh wait...! Maybe that's her point. Maybe I'm just supposed to feel like people are racist against me and there is nothing I can do about it and it is (really and truly) terrible and oh cry out to the world!

    But two wrongs don't make a right...

    ...and I've never held anyone back because they were black...

    ...and I've known the types of white people who'd do such a thing... and they treated me like sh!t, too...

    ...who's going to stand up for me already?

    ...who's gonna stand up for the white people who've never been racist a day in their lives?

    ...it shouldn't matter the color of my skin... only the content of my character.

    Who said that? Oh, a white guy is using it to rebutt a black accusation of white racism against blacks... that quote must be from a white supremacist somewhere... cause you know... they all look the same...

  • Adam | October 6, 2012 5:07 AMReply

    "that America has implanted, in all of us, takes work. And, we have all become too lazy to do the heavy lifting required to undo it. We would rather indulge it as it builds, festers and strips Black children of their lives."

    A generalized assumption to fit an entire country into your idea of what it is. Impressively hypocritcal.

    The other 310 million Americans you haven't met will thank you to not pass judgement on them until you at least know their names.

  • Donella | September 25, 2012 6:23 PMReply

    Returned to this thread and collapsed into laughter again. "Empty chairs in the movie theater, saying redrum, and chairs with needles. Ha! You guys are great!

  • Walt Coogan | September 21, 2012 12:42 PMReply

    I don't think that there was anything racist about Eastwood's shenanigan. He was using a device (talking to an empty chair or an invisible person) that is familiar in branches of psychology and drama and one that he'd probably encountered in acting classes decades ago. Apparently, Eastwood has been using something similar at funerals where he's been speaking and he says that he'd proved inspired by the old comedic routines of Bob Newhart and Shelley Berman. Let me also note that Eastwood's current wife is part-black, part-Japanese, and part-Hawaiian, their daughter together is thus multi-racial, and Eastwood received an NAACP Image Award in 1988 for positively portraying African-Americans in films. In talking about "Bird," which is a brilliant (and brilliantly dark) film, Eastwood has even said that in adolescence, he felt that he was "really a black guy in a white body," because he identified so heavily with bebop jazz and its iconoclasm.

    So, no, Eastwood's routine was not racist at all; he only thought of using the chair because he saw it just a couple minutes before he was about to go on stage and some Romney staffer was bugging him by continually asking him if he wanted to sit down. So Eastwood probably flashed back, consciously or subconsciously, to his student days as an actor or to the acts of Newhart and Berman and he just went for it. He was not thinking in racial terms, but in his old age, he obviously proved oblivious to the way that some people might misinterpret matters, a sense of obliviousness that he probably would not have shown a few years ago.

    So while I think that your critique is ultimately barking up the wrong tree, I do respect your outage and sensitivity and it shows that Eastwood may not be thinking some matters through as well as he did in the past. I just wouldn't mistake that faltering on his part for any sort of racial animus. Indeed, Eastwood told the UK's "Daily Mail" in January 2011 that "I loved the fact that Obama is multi-racial. I thought that was terrific." And a few days ago, he stated in reference to Obama, "I thought the multiculturalism, multiracialism was great, all that kind of stuff.” So, no, Eastwood was not intending to make any sort of racial comment; he was just "winging" matters and not recognizing the potential ramifications.

  • Helluva | September 25, 2012 8:08 PM

    Wow, you are making A LOT of assumptions. It's clear you're an Eastwood fan who can't accept the premise that this icon could possibly possess any racial animus 'cause, after all, he thought he was a black guy (as a kid) 'cause he loved jazz music so much. Very deep, very revealing post...

  • Reba Kizzie | September 19, 2012 1:52 PMReply

    Make a copy

  • Mike | September 17, 2012 9:09 PMReply

    If the only reason your "voice on your shoulder" will nag at you for voting for Obama is that he doesn't talk about racism enough.............you are just as inflexible as those who truly are racist.

    Are you not concerned about the 6 trillion dollars Obama has added to our deficit? Are you not concerned that his economic policies don't work?

    Was Clint Eastwood's comment that a business man might be better at running the country than a lawyer racist?

    Lastly.........if you had $50,000, who would you rather have invest it? If you chose Romney, would your voice on your shoulder nag you then?

    You are obviously very intelligent, but also clueless at the same time. And no.........that was not a racist comment.

  • Walt Coogan | September 21, 2012 1:19 PM

    And of course, Obama wants the Bush tax cuts to expire for the wealthy.

  • Walt Coogan | September 21, 2012 12:47 PM

    Mike, do you realize that most of the debt accrued under Obama stems from the spending policies and recession that he inherited from Bush, especially when you consider that the government needed to spend money to avert a greater catastrophe? In effect, Obama inherited enormous structural deficits from Bush and those deficits have actually been coming down ($1.413 trillion for Fiscal Year 2009, which of course began in October 2008 under Bush, to a projected $913 billion for Fiscal Year 2013) and would come down more if he allowed the Bush tax cuts to expire for the wealthy. Romney, on the other hand, would make the deficits worse through his planned combination of tax cuts for the wealthy and increases in military spending. Don't be naive.

  • Ron Crowley | September 16, 2012 2:09 AMReply

    You remember how your mother used to tell you to stop making that funny face because it would stay that way. Well, Clint has used that gravelly voice for too long and can't talk in a normal voice anymore.
    That said, he is like any other older person, they get more conservative as they get older. I bet if the younger Clint were asked what he thought of the current one, he would say that guy is someone he would not recognize. Alot of Clint's earlier movies championed the individual versus the establishment and now he seems to want to embedded within it. I can't imagine why he would want to be associated with people who would want to control how you live your life. Can you say "SHOW ME THE MONEY".
    I know I'm kind of off the point of the racism thing, but I just wanted to offer my opinion on how people can change. I know because I saw my mother go from someone with an open mind to someone who wouldn't even listen to a different point of view. She became intransigent because it was constantly repeated to her in a religious setting. It's sad when people aren't open to change and even sadder when they don't realize they need to change

  • Walt Coogan | September 21, 2012 1:21 PM

    I understand the theory, but Eastwood supports gay marriage, so his policy positions (if you will) still seem consistent with his instincts. The problem is that Mitt Romney doesn't support those positions, quite the opposite, and endorsing him certainly doesn't fit with his anti-establishment nature.

  • clive holland | September 14, 2012 12:48 PMReply

    Now, as a white, originally working class guy from England, this may be difficult for some Americans to understand my perspective. However, ever since I was a little kid I have been told to be nice to Black people. If not I am a despicable human being and worse still a racist. Bearing in mind as a child there were very few black people in my City, let alone none in my schools until I became a teenager and three arrived! These Kids we treated with curiousness and absolute respect. We dare not even question the fact that we could not treat them as equals...in other words we could not bully them like many other white kids were bullied as a norm. To be fair it may have been difficult as these kids were athletic and very tough...remember we're talking the toughest white area of my City. Now my Grandma was the salt of the Earth, a lovely tough English working class woman and when she was born in 1899 she worked as effectively a bonded servant, a little like Downton Abbey, but without the sugar. The reality is that she was a slave. She worked from morning to night every day for a pittance, and a hundred years before that her Grandfather was effectively a serf, a bonded man to his master. Now please tell me if you can where the ideology of racism became so corrupt that White people effectively became controlled by it. We cannot speak with openness or integrity. We have become through one single process the lepers of the world. You tell me who are really the racists?

  • Richard Prince | September 19, 2012 11:33 AM

    Racism, slavery, and imperialism subjugated all races and ethnicities around the world Clive. Ask the Irish. Ask the Scottish. Ask the Indians. And certainly you know first hand the subjugation of the working class and poor in England to both a Feudal and modern day enslavement that we should all fight activity to put down. This world view exists in the mind, not in the color of a person's skin and it definitely runs rampant in the mind of Clint Eastwood as he fantasized speaking to Barack Obama with such contemptible condescension that a person should not let their children see it or probably even their pets. I completely understand and sympathize with the plight of your Grandmother and her Grandfather and they absolutely deserved dignity and basic human respect. In no way does their treatment at the hands of oppressors, excuse Clint Eastwood and his gross vulgarity before millions and all of the Universe.

  • Helluva | September 16, 2012 10:07 AM

    WTF does that have to do what Clint Eastwood did at the RNC? See, here's the problem...OVER-GENERALIZATION. You are trying to tie your upbringing in England to a very specific act perpetrated by an American icon upon the first black US President and his supporters. Shit don't work. But that's likely the result of you and many whites (in general) being unable or unwilling to address racism, the fallacy of racial hierarchy, and white privilege honestly and openly. In both this country AND Europe, the duel ideologies of racism and imperialism have been utilized to justify the subjugation of non-whites for HUNDREDS of years. With that being the case, I think it's foolish for anyone to expect those who've suffered from the effects of racism to just "get over it" as your post implies. Get real.

  • A | September 12, 2012 10:29 PMReply

    Boycott his movie!!!! There will be empty chairs in every movie theater! Here is an empty chair for you - AH!!!!!!

  • girl looking for a better world | September 11, 2012 3:28 PMReply

    Love this!

  • Rantheman | September 10, 2012 3:47 PMReply

    Wow, and here i thought it was just a way to say to to a Socialistic arrogant person who we all now call President. I agree there are racists in the world, of ALL colors but c'mon, really?? Talking down to the Black man, give me a break.......

  • Richard Prince | September 19, 2012 11:42 AM

    Socialist? Apparently you cannot tell socialism from rheumatism. Get and education. Talk to a real socialist and they'll tell you why Obama is NOT a socialist. Obama is a main stream centrist Democrat. Moderate even. Look at Obamacare just to take an example. It's not a nationalized health care system run by the government as in Britain. It's not a single-payer government run insurance pool like in Canada. Obamacare even mandates citizen to buy PRIVATE health care insurance under a capitalist for-profit system. The stupidity of modern political discussion is unbelievable. It is truly beyond the pale of the imaginable.

  • Mark & Darla | September 9, 2012 1:51 PMReply

    Clint needs to go to the frig get a cold can of ensure and sit down somewhere, preferably a chair with needles.

  • Priss | September 9, 2012 11:30 AMReply

    "There is nothing as foul as arrogance laced with fame." You'd better WRITE this essay! Terrific work. Thank you!

  • James G. Borden | September 8, 2012 5:03 AMReply

    AMERICAN PATRIOTS' MOVEMENT OF AMERICA
    I thought Clint Eastwood was right on the money and very funny.
    Furthermore:
    The Kenyan born Muslim is of the antichrist and anyone who has been given spritual sight by the Holy Spirit can easily see evil in Obama and his wife.
    Only people who have been blessed with spirtual sight of recognizing evil will know what I'm talking about - the other people will have no clue and will criticize me.

  • bondgirl | September 14, 2012 10:19 AM

    Hyper religiosity+xenophobia=symptoms of bipolar disorder. You don't have to live like this, you can actually get medication these days.

  • Miles Ellison | September 7, 2012 10:20 PMReply

    Some of these posts are proof that the lid to Hell is not screwed on tight enough.

  • LOL!! | September 7, 2012 11:43 PM

    VVVVVV

  • BluTopaz | September 7, 2012 10:42 PM

    This is nothing. They will be speaking in tongues beginning Nov. 7th. Saying words backwards redrum style, and eating their hair.

  • James G. Borden | September 7, 2012 10:11 PMReply

    AMERICAN PATRIOTS' MOVEMENT OF AMERICA
    The Kenyan born Muslim is of the antichrist and anyone who has been given spritual sight by the Holy Spirit can easily see evil in Obama and his wife.
    Only people who have been blessed with spirtual sight of recognizing evil will know what I'm talking about - the other people will have no clue and will criticize me.

  • Steve | September 7, 2012 10:41 AMReply

    Thats right TTTH-denial has worked well for many in the past. The real truth is that the great pretenders use race to support their own agenda and do nothing significant to help those that supported them under the guide of hope.

  • Talk To The Hand | September 7, 2012 9:20 AMReply

    Can I suggest that NO ONE play Steve's (below) game. Do not address him. He is what he is and we can't change that. Leave him to his own demise! Thanks. We can do what he cannot

  • Steve | September 7, 2012 9:16 AMReply

    Racism should not be tolerated. Fighting racism when racism exists is virtuous. Using racism as an excuse when racism is not the issue is a means of enslaving people by making them believe that their problems are caused by others rather than making them confront the real source of their circumstances which is so often the result of their own deeds. Just ask the President and many other so-called "leaders" of the Black community, he and they have mastered this technique and as a result, millions of black Americans will vote for him and them and when it all settles out, they will be no better off-just as many are no better off today after nearly four years of Mr. Obama's policies and hate-mongering. Of course Bill Cosby expressed similar views about the sources of problems within the black community and look where that got him.

  • Steve | September 7, 2012 9:01 AMReply

    Thats Right Carl, Censor those with whom you disagree. That is the Marxist way. Very good comrade

  • Richard Prince | September 19, 2012 11:46 AM

    OMG, the fanatic weirdos are out flaming on this board aren't they... phew, the brown shirts are out in force.

  • Carl | September 7, 2012 8:56 AMReply

    Can I suggest that NO ONE play Steve's (below) game. Do not address him. He is what he is and we can't change that. Leave him to his own demise! Thanks. We can do what he cannot.

  • Steve | September 7, 2012 9:19 AM

    Carl, It is quite obvious that you believe in racism when it flows from black to non-black. Funny thing isn't it that it is okay for you to be a racist but at the mere suggestion that someone does not like the President, you believe he must be a racist. Ironic

  • Steve | September 7, 2012 8:46 AMReply

    Oh Look, Another nearly 370,000 Americans have stopped looking for work under this President's watch. I guess this fact makes me a racist too.

  • Steve | September 7, 2012 7:50 AMReply

    What has the President done for the black community in this country besides give hope?
    Unemployment among blacks has skyrocketed
    Black on black violent crime has increased in several large cities
    More blacks have become enslaved by government programs such as food stamps/welfare
    He has fueled the evil of racism by dividing Americans by race and socioeconomic status.

    Oh yes, this President has just done so many wonderful things for his brothers and sisters!

  • Steve | September 7, 2012 7:44 AMReply

    Is one who votes for someone soley on the basis of skin color not a racist?

  • Steve | September 7, 2012 7:41 AMReply

    If a black person disagrees with a white president, is it racism? Im sure most people here will say no. But if a white person diagrees with a half white half black president, then he is labeled a racist. I sympathize with victims of racism but im sick and tired of the accusation of racism being thrown at people who disagree with President Obama. Too often some use racism as an excuse fir their circumstances. In my part of the world, more than 70% of black children are born to unwed mothers. Many of these children remain fatherless because their fathers "cum and go". These children become victims of their own circumstances. They are more likely to live in poverty and in a black coomunity that willl blame nonblacks for their problems rather than blame the real cause of their situation which was the irresponsible act of the men who fathered them. But of course i will be labeled a racist. By the way, the same argument holds true for born out of wedlock white children with the exception that they cant blame their circumstances on race.

  • Mark Green | September 7, 2012 12:48 PM

    Did you read the article man? Did you miss the essential idea of it?

    "Clint Eastwood is a master of the visual. The chair placed beneath him. The talking down to it. The dismissive style. Ad libbing which was stream of consciousness (thoughts coming directly from head to mouth, uncensored). If you don't believe that that entire episode was about 'putting Obama in his place', just look at the visual."

    Can you please focus on the premise of the article and not your political rantings?

  • Kimji | September 6, 2012 5:19 PMReply

    Racial awareness is good, and sometimes a necessity but not all dismissive acts are racially motivated. Clint Eastwood's age and race target him from a perspective that is assuming his. I think what we have here ("is a failure to communicate...") is the arrogant stance he is taking of many Republicans that support Big Business as God itself, and treat Democrats as leftist, good feeling but no good doing fools. I believe if he were imagining Clinton in that chair it would be with the same dismissive attitude. Really. It just stings a little more because Obama is Black and with our history in America, we cannot help but feel the weight of that talking down to a chair, in a more personal way.

  • Helluva | September 7, 2012 1:42 PM

    @Kimji, good point. IF Eastwood had done the same while imagining Clinton in the chair, there might be a debate. But he, nor Chuck Norris, Donald Trump or any other celebrity Tea-Bagger did ANYTHING LIKE THIS when Clinton was in office. That's the point. Why now, with THIS President? I don't even remember this many people referring to a sitting President by his first name as much as they do now. Shit's weird how this dismissive, racial behavior is boiling over.

  • CareyCarey | September 4, 2012 9:43 PMReply

    Hi Tanya, I've heard that if a person wishes to find themselves in a real wang dang doodle of controversy, they should embark on a journey of talking about racism, religion, politics or another man's wife. Well dear, you're holding the trick bag :-). But see, in my eye's you've done nothing wrong. This post was apropos in so many ways. A person, any person who's connected to a form of entertainment (in this case films) that's viewed by millions, and that connection can effluence social and racial relationships, the actor's values, character and political views should be examined. No, check that, they must be examined. Clint Eastwood, like John Wayne, for the most part, are endeared by millions solely because of the characters they portrayed on the screen. Consequently, unlike the average black man who causes many to pause solely because of the color of their skin, Clint Eastwood is invited "in" without hesitation from blacks and whites. But who is the man behind the mask of Dirty Harry and the outlaw Josey Wells? What is he on? Well, if one looks at the black characters and films that Eastwood had a hand in writing/directing, we might get a peek at the sole of the man. In Unforgiven, Morgan Freeman was essentially a lackey coward. In Gran Torino, many of the people of color were not honorable nor respectable citizens, esp the black characters. I am not saying Clint is a racist (how does one define that?) but from his disrespectful attitude/actions directed at the present President of The United States of America ( who happens to be a black man) I question his views on blacks in general. Was the skit funny? Well, I refused to watch his entire speech ( and no more than 1 minute of any speech) because I could not find a purpose to do so. The Republican party has an agenda which does not include me, so why bother? I know what they are going to say because they've been saying "it" for the last umpteenth years. What's new? But was the skit funny? Well, if I am able to somehow remove the disrespect and the negative message it sent... it had it's moment.

  • rennie_davis | September 4, 2012 1:24 PMReply

    “Clint Eastwood is the John Wayne of our day; invincible, arrogant, feebly erect”—ouch.

    This is a very good psychoanalytic reading of Clint’s performance. Not only does Obama’s race play a part; but also his youth, virility and through extension of his position--his power. No wonder so many white men seem to have a problem with President Obama; his election has probably done a lot to soften their enthusiasm.

  • Donella | September 4, 2012 1:20 PMReply

    President Obama has shrugged, brushed off his shoulders, then thrown his head back and laughed out loud at less than what Clint Eastwood considered performance art. In fact, his team answered with a photo of President Obama in his President's chair with the caption, "This seat is taken." I continue to be amazed at Obama's ability to befriend his doubters, shrug off his haters, and end-run his blockers. He continues to play chess. His opponents play checkers. I'll be honest, in our house, we laughed our heads off at Eastwood for about three minutes. Then we wandered around looking for other things to do until he stopped rambling like a senior off his medication. At least one of us thought the handlers backstage should have been fired for sending Eastwood out without brushing his hair or vetting his "routine." Romney/Ryan thought they would get Dirty Harry or The Man With No Name. Instead they got forgetful Grandpa who needs to be gently coaxed back into the easy chair. Score team Obama/Biden without even trying. Still LOLing.

  • pol | September 4, 2012 12:12 PMReply

    Was it unfunny purely because of race? I don't think so. The gag was unfunny because it was so clearly another one sided rant of cherry picked complaints, with no fairness. Like most right winger propaganda, it was framed by them as straw men to be attacked by them. Eastwood showed his dishonest side. He blathered on about vague "campaign promises" allegedly broken by Obama. But, Obama's promises were the types of things that no Rethug would promise in the first place. So, how does that work? The things the republicans opposed are something Eastwood wants to complain about Obama not accomplishing? Clearly dishonest in so many ways. Ergo, not funny. -- http://politicalfilm.wordpress.com/

  • Pol | September 4, 2012 12:17 PM

    Cont'd: CONVERSELY, the reason Jon Stewart and Steven Colbert ARE funny is directly related to this framing. They allow the target to frame the issue themselves, by using video evidence prior to skewering them. They hoist them by their own petards, over and over again. Not only funny, but exposes the lying scum for the dishonest shills they are. Often brilliant, as opposed to ridiculous (as in the case of Clint).

  • B | September 4, 2012 12:05 AMReply

    Good article. You wrote: "Nowadays, we try and figure it out. If someone doesn't say "Ni**er", we scratch our heads. Emotionally, it feels wrong but we can't say, definitively, what it is. It takes a minute for us to recognize racism because we don't want to believe that it's true. " This makes me glad that I grew up in the "good old boy overtly racist American south" where one literally does not have the privilege of being "unsure" about whether some racist person is racist. Sometimes I look at the confusion on the faces of my black friends who grew up in the "North" as they try to work out the racist shit that recently happened to them, and I just shake my head because I feel sorry for them at such moments. It's bad enough to have to experience racism but to have to question your own perceptions and sanity when you do experience it (just to be sure that you are interpreting it correctly) is tragedy on top of tragedy. Anyway, as someone who currently lives outside the South now, I have to say that my upbringing in a land of overt racism greatly prepared me for the subtle insidious materializations of racism outside the South (the type of racism directed towards Obama that we have seen ever since he began running for office). I appreciate this writer for pointing out the truly racist nature of Eastwood's speech and for using her own experience as a black teenager in New Jersey to contextualize it. Thank you!

  • DinIndy | September 3, 2012 11:58 PMReply

    I do not think we need to parse subtext to find the racism in the tea party. It is shocking to find Clint being their buffoon as he is only conservative fiscally. Its disappointing in that his persona has always been on of living by his own code and despising corporate toadies. I do find it ironic that the most openly fundamentalist GOP convention in memory went gaga over a man with one ex wife four girlfRiends, a current nutty wife and seven kids among them. Maybe they thought he was Mormon?

  • Helluva | September 3, 2012 9:59 PMReply

    I remember when it was posted that Eastwood would be directing Beyonce in "A Star Is Born," and I wrote that he was the wrong choice for several reasons. One being that he seems to have JUMPED THE SHARK as a director with his last really great work having been "Mystic River" imo. Well, maybe he's getting a little senile as well, 'cause he definitely seemed a bit off the other night. I'm glad someone finally addressed this on S&A, although I wish this had posted last week immediately after the incident. But I'm grateful nonetheless. Dude showed his ass in disrespecting a sitting President on a prime-time convention stage. Shit's unprecendented, yet folks still want to give him a pass mainly 'cause they love his movies. Bullshit. Call it what it is. You can still appreciate "Unforgiven" or the Spaghetti Westerns (as I do), just know who you're dealing with. In fact, AMC is running a marathon all day to capitalize on the matter. Personally, I hope his latest movie tanks and he's slowly put out to pasture...

  • Klipsee | September 3, 2012 7:59 PMReply

    Boo, should have never clicked on this nonsense. Race had never come up in any of Clint's speech, only what all of these self entitled asses wanted to interpret it to be. Would it been better to you spoiled brats if it were Biden's empty chair, or hey what about the devil himself, George W.
    In case you didn't know, Mr. Eastwood is not running for president, only an actor expressing his opinion with most I believe ad-lib'd. Very sorry Tanya you ran into a stupid person when you were 15. Stay inside, there are so many more out running around believing they deserve more than the next person. People's thoughts. And morals have changed so fast, and in so short of time, things won't be anything resembling what lives used to be. Sticks and stones don't bother me. Go ahead, call me names or blather how you deserve more than others. One day you'll realize it never makes any difference to those ignorants with their mind made up.

  • Klipsee | September 3, 2012 8:14 PM

    Maybe Obama was the only one who got it and presence of himself to admit it was really nothing that needed attention, just his only stab back letting it be known that it was heard and not worth the time

  • Bohemian princess | September 3, 2012 7:54 PMReply

    Aside from the fact that Clint is an actor/director this post has absolutely zero to do with film. It's probably best to stay away from religion/politics because these kinds of discussions get people riled up. Articles of the sort are best left for Huffington Post and the like.

  • Neil | September 3, 2012 11:30 PM

    Actually I think this is the perfect place for this commentary. I am pro Obama and though I didn't watch old Clint do his thing up there I had heard a lot about it (who hasn't). Then I heard Ben Affleck comment about it and now with this column I realize this is all about theater and whilst Ben was talking the mechanics of theatre Tanya Steele is talking the actual art of the piece and therefore she has every right to comment on what the images and props, symbols and metaphors represent in relation to their author. Bravo. And in a way bravo to Clint for reminding us about the power of theater

  • Helluva | September 3, 2012 9:46 PM

    I disagree. As you wrote, Clint is A FILMMAKER thus it is extremely relevant. Many of his later films have exhibited a compassionate worldview when interacting with "the other," yet I think it's appropriate to question whether his actions last week have undone that cinematic good will, so to speak. Do we separate the artist (and his politics) from his art? Is it really that easy? I think this is exactly the forum to discuss such issues...

  • JesusX | September 3, 2012 7:11 PMReply

    We should be able to criticize Obama without being called racists. I am Latino and know that Obama is a terrible president. I'm not liking 8.3% unemployment, $1.5 TRILLION YEARLY deficits and an America that is listless. Obama is a media creation. He's a lightweight, a left-wing version of George W Bush -- two guys in way over their heads. Poor America...

  • sigh | September 4, 2012 11:16 PM

    you should at least have some sense and facts when you criticize

  • LeonRaymond | September 3, 2012 6:34 PMReply

    BOYCOTT SAL'S PIZZA , BOYCOTT CLINT EASTWOOD , But in reality, I paid that dumb ass skit no mind, I would have really been focused had he put on a White Hood and cloak

  • Helluva | September 3, 2012 9:40 PM

    He pretty much did remove his hood & cloak from what I can tell. As the author suggested, "unconscious" racism slips out in very odd ways, like rambling on in prime-time while talking down to an EMPTY chair. Yeah, real tough there Mr. Gran Torino...

  • D.A. | September 3, 2012 6:09 PMReply

    I thought your response was a bit ridiculous to the whole Clint Eastwood fiasco. While I agree that we have gone numb to those actions that are subtle racism, I don't think that we should respond to it on a social level. The reason I say that is because in a business setting it is unacceptable and should never be used whatsoever when finding a job, finding a home, owning a business and etc. but in situations like what happened at the RNC (where the Tea Party reared it's ugly head IMHO) we can only let the ignorance and stupidity speak for itself. If anything, you should laugh it and keep it moving becuase that is exactly what Obama did. Clint did belittle a figurative man in an empty chair, but Obama responded with a simple "This seat is taken." Do you know what happened after that? it grew legs and became the most buzzed about thing on the net (50,000+ retweets for the day in question) overshadowing the convention itself. I logged onto facebook the day it happened and that was all I heard about. Forget the Romney speech, Obama gave the most simplest of responses and did it with so much finesse that you really have no need to be mad about anything. You actually should have laughed along with everyone else. It's no different than Trump getting the proverbial 'dunce cap' after Obama showed his birth certificate and then made the call to have Osama Bin Laden assassinated. Obama was not belittled, he did not feel downgraded, he wasn't even offended. He knows who he is and he knows where he comes from and he knows what he's about, so trust, he's well aware that two can play that game.

    Just like Trump, the joke was on Clint Eastwood.

    note: Life is nothing more than obstacles and challenges, it's how you overcome those obstacles and challenges that determine your success.

  • D.A. | September 4, 2012 5:56 PM

    @HELLUVA, I don't have the right to tell you or this author what to do just as much as you don't have to listen to it or act on it, we live in a free country (at least that's what it is supposed to be). However, I do have the right to encourage you to think a certain way, no different than Romney selling you his idea on what you as the American citizen (I'm assuming you are) should do for a certain cause.

    With that being said, I am standing by my belief that we should not get upset or frustrated with how immature and disrespectful people act in social settings. My thoughts aren't only based off of a personal opinion, but from the perspective that if the person on the receiving end of it hasn't responded negatively, then we shouldn't either. Whether you are for or against him, we can agree that Obama kept it classy with his response. We need to approach this the same way. Remember these attacks at Obama are attacks at Obama and those who still support him, and I know he would want his supporters to share his sentiment on the matter, i.e.: Don't sweat the small stuff.

  • Helluva | September 3, 2012 9:36 PM

    With all due respect D.A., who are you to advise ANYONE (other than your kids, if you have any) how they should respond to Eastwood's Tea-Party coming out speech? Reads a little presumptuous imo, although you make some solid points. Personally, I don't find the author's response to be "ridiculous" at all; in fact, her description of Clint's subtext seems spot on. To each his own I suppose...

  • serpico | September 3, 2012 6:24 PM

    Thank you.

  • Mark & Darla | September 3, 2012 5:56 PMReply

    Don't see how any black would want to work with him, with all them icky brown spots on his hands.

  • BILL | September 3, 2012 7:33 PM

    Morgan Freeman HAS PLAYED IN SEVERAL MOVIES WITH Clint Eastwood. Ask him what he thinks!

  • Miles Ellison | September 3, 2012 5:47 PMReply

    The Republicans have been campaigning against a Barack Obama that they've imagined for the last 3 plus years.

  • serpico | September 3, 2012 5:47 PMReply

    God forbid you disagree with Barack Obama's politics or else you'll be called a racist. I would love to hear Morgan Freeman's comments on an article like this. How about Condy Rice's?

  • serpico | September 3, 2012 6:22 PM

    The thing is I voted for Obama. And I might again, but waiting for the debates in the coming months. Nothing about it is race related to me. And it shouldn't be for anyone. Not even the African Americans. But yet people choose to right articles and draw attention to the race issue. Just stop. Eastwood flat out disagrees with Obama's handling of the country the last four years. That's it. Stop trying to write in controversy.

  • Miles Ellison | September 3, 2012 6:05 PM

    Not everyone who disagrees with Obama's politics is a racist. Just like not everyone who agrees with his politics is a Muslim/socialist/radical/terrorist. I suspect that you have more of a problem with being called a racist than actually being one. Much like many of Obama's Republican critics.

  • Archangel2020 | September 3, 2012 5:56 PM

    I'm not calling anyone a racist who disagrees with President Obama's politics, not everything he's done I agree with. I felt he's gone far too easy on Wall Street but when you have the amount of money that have in politics at the present time, what can you expect? But if anyone, Black or White feels that Republicans have their best interests at heart are sadly mistaken, unless they happen to be a millionaire or billionaire.

  • Archangel2020 | September 3, 2012 5:46 PMReply

    Tanya, your article was very insightful regarding the matter. I feel there are those who don't get it. I felt that Clint Eastwood little bit of improvisation was highly disrespectful of President Obama but what should I expect from a party whose representatives shouted at the President that he was lying during the State of the Union address and who can forget the famous remark by Mitch McConnell soon after President Obama was elected that they would spend their energies to deny him a second term.

    All of this in light of the serious problems facing the nation that were caused by the previous President, who along with his Vice-President were not invited to their own party's recent convention. I enjoyed Clint Eastwood's works, but in light of his recent behavior, I'm beginning to wonder if the sun isn't setting on was once an amazing creative career.

  • neil | September 3, 2012 11:45 PM

    The beautiful thing about it all is the big bad liberal media will never forget these years and like Jackie Robinson in the 50's history will remind the Americans decades later what went on during the term of the first black presidency. I can almost imagine the rationalizing that will be going on then along with all the children of these "great patriots" doing there best to distance themselves from granny and grandad.

  • BluTopaz | September 3, 2012 5:37 PMReply

    Tanya, the main thing about eastwood's monologue is that it represent the New Racism. These people have done everything except shout the word nigger in public, because 1) they are descendants of the same terrorists from the civil rights movement and 2) they are cowards. Your story re: that insecure female making that comment to you is so indicative of how educated, intelligent Black people terrify these demons 1000x more than a thug with a gun. Thank you for writing this, and as I'm sure you already know, only hit, rabid dogs holler. When you anger them (which does not take much doing), it means you are doing something right.

  • No | September 3, 2012 7:10 PM

    Blutopaz: you're right. The new racism is called neo-racism in which the word nigger is never mentioned but acted upon.

  • Shelley Thunder | September 3, 2012 5:31 PMReply

    Thank you, Tanya! I could go into detail why your article is spot on and relevant, but I'm not going to give the deniers and apologists the time of day! I love what you had to say and agree with every word!

  • serpico | September 3, 2012 5:16 PMReply

    I would love to go into detail about how absurd this whole article is, but I'm not going to waste my time. There was a lot of thought put into it, and there is something to say for that, but really, Tanya? Do you find ways to be offended? It's already annoying enough that people get offended so easily in this country (no backbone whatsoever). But it sounds like you were trying very hard.

  • CareyCarey | September 4, 2012 10:12 PM

    @Nadia, I love your response. You gave me an image of a white guy (I'm assuming SERPICO is white) in two separate frames. In the first one we see him throwing a hand full of rocks at a crowd of black citizens. In the second one he's seen with a sheepish look on his face with his dirty fingers crossed behind his back. In the bubble above his head he says "I didn't do nothing".

  • serpico | September 3, 2012 5:43 PM

    You people are ridiculous. God help you.

  • Nadia | September 3, 2012 5:29 PM

    Oh shut up Serpico! Either address the article or don't. It's really annoying when people start off with "I would love to go into detail about how absurd this is, but I'm not going to waste my time." If you'd love to go into detail, then go into detail. Don't make some weak-ass pass at an argument that's really a non-argument. Jezus.

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