Christie Pretends to Govern While Running for President

Chris Christie: No Pain, No GainThe Chris Christie administration has put out a fake movie trailer for, No Pain, No Gain. It apparently has to do with a tour Christie will be doing this summer to push for ever more cuts from public employee benefits. Ed Kilgore says that he considers himself too out of it regarding pop culture to know if “this looks as stupid to other people as it does to me.” Well, as you all know, I’m not much up on pop culture either, but this doesn’t exactly count. It’s really very simple: movie trailers for the kind of film this would be really don’t look this way anymore. So I would say that as a parody, it’s about ten years out of date.

But that doesn’t mean it doesn’t work. The problem is who exactly it is going to work for. Take a look yourself:

Before I get to my analysis, however, I want to point out something that is kind of funny. When I went to the page to get the embed code, YouTube alerted me, “This video is unlisted. Be considerate and think twice before sharing.” I understand this. Sometimes, I put up work-in-progress that I only want a couple of friends to look at. But this clearly doesn’t fall into that category. What’s more, I’m generally a nice guy. I don’t go out of my way to hurt people. But Chris Christie does. He’s the last person who would be considerate to some poor guy who is trying to create a video and doesn’t want it to go public. So I found the warning ironic.

The whole trailer is made to sound powerful and important. It is not actually an ad about public pensions, it’s yet another ad for Chris Christie and his hope that come 2017, he will be President of the United States. And as such, it is the kind of thing that will appeal to people who already like him. I think it is a major mistake for Christie to pound away on how “powerful” he is, because it brings up three things about him that most people don’t like:

First, and most problematic, it highlights the fact that he’s really fat. The man has now lost so much weight that I would be dead if I had lost that much weight, and I consider myself somewhat overweight. Yet he is still morbidly obese. And everyone knows he’s lost this weight because of a surgery and not because he turned into Richard Simmons. That’s not to put him down. In my experience, the body wants to be the weight the body wants to be. But the lap-band surgery was clearly only done for political purposes. When most people hear the pounding subwoofers, they don’t really think “power,” they think “fat man walking down the stairs.”

Second, Christie’s entire political career has been defined as his using his power in unpleasant ways. The most obvious expression of this is a term I believe Paul Krugman coined, “Governor Yells At People.” And it is only the weak who he yells at. When he was in the middle of his little scandal, he was much nicer to reporters and regular citizens. When they asked him why he didn’t know what was going on, he said things like, “I should have. I guess I’m just too trusting.” Normally, he would have said, “I’m not going to answer stupid questions.” He rather reminds me of King Joffrey in Game of Thrones: mean and infintile, but a coward when facing anyone of equal power.

Third, Christie’s “power” is combined in this ad with his “bipartisanship.” Well, we all know what that was. That puts him in the same category with J Edgar Hoover and Richard Nixon. Except that in public, both of these men were more likeable. So the trailer is really saying, “Give me the compromises I want or I’ll shut down the George Washington Bridge again—or worse.”

I assume that Christie used state money to produce this trailer too. So in addition to everything else, he continues to be the fiscal hypocrite he always was. He’s going to milk this governorship as much as he can in order to fulfill his dream of becoming president. But obviously, Christie’s people aren’t idiots. This trailer is not meant to appeal to me, much less the young people for whom it would seem dated. It is aimed at his base of support in the donor class. It is also a preemptive strike against Scott Walker in the “who hates unions more” contest.

They also put out a fake movie poster, which you can see above. It’s funny, because they couldn’t even get that right. Movie posters are always presented with an aspect ratio of 3:2. But this one is almost square, with an aspect ratio of 6:5. But maybe they felt they had to make it short so as to cut off the worst part of Christie’s gut. It’s also poorly written and the design looks distinctly inferior to things Andrea grinds out for me in about an hour.

So Ed Kilgore is right that the trailer and the poster look stupid. But they aren’t meant for us. And it isn’t meant for anyone who would know any better.

Update (16 July 2014 11:38 am)

I see that the video has been removed. How pathetic!

Update (16 July 2014 1:57 pm)

Found replacement, at least for now.

Rembrandt Over Time

Rembrandt was born 408 years ago today. Of course, we never really know about people born around that time unless they were royalty. But you know how it goes, he was born a long time ago, we pick a date and go with it because it gives us an excuse for talking about the man. But I don’t really want to talk about the man. When I was researching the birthday post today, I noticed that he painted a lot of self-portraits. So you actually get to see him age over time. I want to talk about that.

Rembrandt at 22Here is the great artist at the age of just 22. It seems a bit insecure in the sense that almost his whole face is out of the light. He’s certainly not an ugly man, but I’m sure he didn’t drive the girls wild either.

Rembrandt at 24Just two years later, he looks quite the artist. A big difference is that at this point, he had been “discovered” and was getting real work to do with the good feelings and cash that it brings. If you ask me, he looks a bit smug, but I can hardly blame him.

Rembrandt at 34At 34, Rembrandt was firmly established as a painter. He was rich too, having just purchased an expensive house. Still, like Mozart at this time of his life, he managed to spend at least as much money as he brought in. When this painting was made, he and his wife Saskia had had three children, all of them dying within about a month of their births.

Rembrandt at 46As far as I can tell, Rembrandt didn’t paint himself for over a decade. Here he is at 46. Ten years earlier, Saskia gave birth to a boy, Titus, who managed to live to adulthood. But soon after giving birth, Saskia died.

Rembrandt at 54At 54, I think Rembrandt looks sadder but wiser. He had continued to spend beyond his considerable means—mostly on works of art. He was forced to sell pretty much all of it and move into a much more modest home to avoid bankruptcy, shortly before he painted this self-portrait.

Rembrandt at 54Finally, we see Rembrandt at 63—the year he died. This was one year after the death of his one surviving son, who died at 27. There is speculation that Rembrandt made himself look better—more healthy—than he was, because earlier self-portraits looked worse. I don’t find that a very compelling argument, since I have looked much worse than I do today. Anyway, he looks his age.

What I think is interesting in this series of paintings is the process of life. Rembrandt was hugely successful—creatively and commercially—at what he loved to do. But we all have tragedies. We all get worn down over time. There is an arc to life. And it is the same for us all, be we as great as Rembrandt or as insignificant as an unpaid blogger. I don’t find that sad though. It is, what it is.

Sweet Dorothy Fields

Dorothy FieldsToday is unusual, because I’m kind of going to write two birthday posts. But this is the real one. Or the regular one.

On this day in 1905, the great American lyricist Dorothy Fields was born. In her one way, she was as great as my favorite lyricist Lorenz Hart. And she wrote the lyrics to one of my all time favorite songs, “The Way You Look Tonight.” The music to that song is very simple: I-vi-ii-V. That’s even true of the bridge. (Those are the essentials, most people throw in other stuff.) But what makes it work are the “tenderness” of the lyrics. And it’s the ultimate “man” song. In my experience, women you love never age: you always remember them as they were when you first met them.

She was also a playwright, working with her brother Herbert Fields, on a number of successful plays, most notably the book for the Irving Berlin musical, Annie Get Your Gun. They also wrote the book for Redhead, which Dorothy also wrote the lyrics for. She seems to have had no problem working with any composer. She worked with such notables as Jimmy McHugh, Jerome Kern, and Cy Coleman.

With the last composer, she probably had her greatest success with the musical Sweet Charity. The big hit from that show was “If My Friends Could See Me Now.” But I can never really resist listening to “Big Spender”:

Happy birthday Dorothy Fields!