“A Fist Full of Awesome!”

Jon Stewart on Clint Eastwood’s Republican National convention: “A fist full of awesome!”

We then see Eastwood, performing a monologue with an empty chair: “I’m not gonna shut up. It’s my turn.”

What Stewart is going to elucidate is the fundamental problem with our political situation; but specifically how this is revealed in an ideologically traumatic – but inevitable – moment for the Republican Party.

“…[The Republican National Convention] like all conventions is a scripted and rehearsed fantasy, and the display of Clint Eastwood’s Gran Torino Id is the very thing Republicans constructed this entire week to repress,” said Jon Stewart.

Before we continue, I want to bring our attention to Stewart’s language, which on the second round of listening, I see is explicitly psychoanalytic: the language of Freud. I do not want to go in psychoanalytic theory here, but the fact that Stewart is subtly referencing the Id and repression, appropriately and associatively, on cable television is significant; as Stewart is accurately reading into the Republican ideology.

“This convention was the vision of a perfect America… What this convention attempted to do is say that we could all live again in this nostalgic paradise if it wasn’t for this one f#$%*@ guy… This is the most incredible part of the entire fiction: while convincing us that Barack Obama has destroyed this country’s future, the Republicans have also invented a past where they were trying to help him succeed.”

Then we see Romney speaking during his nomination speech: “That choice was not the choice of our party, but Americans always come together after elections. … I wish President Obama had succeeded, because I want America to succeed!”

Stewart: “That’s where Clint Eastwood comes in. And this is when Clint Eastwood has done a huge favor to us all. Because the Republican’s irrationality that they’ve worked so hard at the convention to conceal was unleashed in one twelve minute improvised avant-garde performance of one angry man. Eastwood finally revealed the cognitive dissonance that is the beating heart, soul, and fiction of this party!”

Stewart is providing us semi-colloquially with an accurate psychoanalytic reading of the Republican ideology, and how it ruptured: which is witnessed when we see Eastwood at a loss for words for the empty chair aka Osamabama – with Clint Eastwood’s performance: and how appropriate that it explicitly was a performance.

There is not much more room to comment, but I hope Stewart’s words (as Clint and Mitt’s as well) show you something about our political situation, and what is on its/our ever-approaching horizon (November). This is not about being right or wrong, good or evil, liberal or conservative; it is about how together we need to turn around and see that what we are looking at are shadows of figures, like chairs, projected on a cave. We need to recognize the problem before we can think, see a solution.


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