Saturday, October 04, 2008

When will they ever learn, when will they ever learn?

(Sarah Palin meets Fargo)

Roger Ebert, while still not back on his teevee show, has something to say about the Palin Show we watched last night:
So she was understandably nervous, and you could tell that by her rapid speech, faster than what we've heard from her before . Listening to her voice, you could also sense when she felt she'd survived the deep waters of improvisation and was climbing onto the shore of talking points. When she was on familiar ground, she perked up, winked at the audience two or three times, and settled with relief into the folksiness that reminds me strangely of the characters in "Fargo."

. . . One thing a critic of a live performance is sensitive to is any unanticipated moment. There was a famous moment at the National Theater in London when an actor pulled out an automatic pencil to make some notes. It contained no lead. He should have pretended it did. Instead, he said, "There is no lead in my pencil." Then, fatally, he paused to listen to what he had said, and the audience roared with laughter when they were certainly not intended to.

A very different sort of unanticipated moment took place during the debate. Biden said, "I know what it's like to be a single parent raising two children." He did not know if his sons would survive the auto accident that took his wife and daughter. For a moment, he lost his composure. Looking at the moment again, I believe, as I did at the time, that it was genuine emotion, and not stagecraft.

It could not have been anticipated by Palin. The next camera angle was above and behind her. She paused. The silence seemed to anticipate words of sympathy and identification from her. But Biden had ended in a sentence using the word "change," and her response, reflecting no emotion at all, cued off that word and became a talking point about McCain. This felt to me, at worst, insensitive and callous. At best, that she had not fully heard Biden. In either event, her response troubled me. If a man had responded in that way to such a statement from a women, he would be called a heartless brute. [See link below]

Sometimes during a live performance you can hear an actor "going up." That's actor-speak for forgetting the lines. Laurence Olivier went up on an Oscarcast, after he was awarded an honorary Oscar. Whatever he said (the transcript shows it made no sense), the speech made an enormous impression. In an audience reaction shot, you could lip-read Jon Voight: "Wow." The next morning I went to interview Michael Caine. "Larry called me last night," he said. "He asked what I thought of his speech. I said it was wonderful, but I didn't have the slightest idea what he had said. He said I was exactly right: 'It's like during Shakespeare, when you go up and start blathering about being off to Salisbury on the morn.'"

I sensed that happening during Palin's response to the question about same-sex marriage and civil contracts. She was clear that she opposed same-sex marriage. So was Biden. I have no idea what she said about civil contracts. Neither did Gwen Ifil, apparently, because she concluded that Biden and Palin were in agreement. I knew what McCain (and supposedly Palin) really thought about the subject. I sensed that Palin had gone off to Salisbury.
Indeed. This person is supposed to be ready to take command at a moment's notice. Total farce, total fraud.
Where have all the soldiers gone?
Long time passing.
Where have all the soldiers gone?
Long time ago.
Where have all the soldiers gone?
They've gone to graveyards, every one.
Oh, when will they ever learn?
Oh, when will they ever learn?