I’m gonna hazard a guess about you dearest readers: Are you all sick of reading about politics? Well GOOD! Because I’m sick of writing about politics too, so we’re all in the same miserable boat up kaka creek! It feels like it’s been nothing but politics, politics, politics since 2016. Remember, guys, you wanted the controversial politician, you wanted to shake up the status quo – at least that’s the argument I heard four years ago. Get used to disappointments.
With Renaissance Faires in peak season and cosplay time just around the corner, I was all set to talk about The Princess Bride (1987), and why it’s such a universally beloved classic through the years. And then Ted the Cruz had to blow off his big bazoo and spoil all the fun.
What is Ted Cruz doing in The Princess Bride fandom?
Long story short, the cast of the 1987 movie are all planning some whing-ding for a Democrat fundraiser in Wisconsin. That’s all this story would have been about to begin with, more about the cast getting together as something the fans can celebrate in itself.
#Inconceivable! I’m excited to announce a virtual #PrincessBrideReunion! Chip in any amount at the link & get an invite to this special event on Sun. Sept. 13th with myself, @RealRobinWright, @PatinkinMandy, @robreiner & many more! #DumpTrumperdinck https://t.co/NTXPMpRiLk
— Cary Elwes (@Cary_Elwes) September 4, 2020
But Texas Republican Ted Cruz had to clear his throat about it on Twitter. Hypocritically, he whines about how the movie is now forever sullied by “Hollywood politics.” Princess Bride fans to Ted Cruz:
Alright, but let’s back up here, because there are a few fun toys to unpack in this story:
- Why do I call Ted Cruz hypocritical?
- Why is Ted Cruz, at all? Like, how do you start with protein molecules and arrive at that?
- Why is it always about “Hollywood politics™️”?
Easy one first: Ted Cruz is hypocritical because he, himself, has politicized the movie by bringing it up during a campaign event back when he was running for president. By mixing the movie in with his campaign narrative, he provoked exactly the memes you’d expect in response. Somehow, without anyone sitting down to explain why, we all just came to the mutual agreement that somebody like Ted Cruz shouldn’t like The Princess Bride.
I’ll explain more in this line later. Don’t rush me. Rush a miracle man; get rotten miracles.
Why is Ted Cruz?
That’s a tougher question. Start with the famous Al Franken quote about him:
So yes, Ted Cruz has a reputation as being both the class clown of Capitol Hill, and so repulsive that even the other Senators in his own party don’t like him.
I’m going to waste all of our time by making some boldly unsupported assumptions about Ted Cruz. He is well-known as a family man. The Princess Bride, on its surface, is a charming children’s faerie tale. That’s one of the reasons it works so well. It’s one of those movie that is kid-sized when you’re a kid, and then when you see it again as a grown-up, the movie grows up with you and you see all the subtexts you missed before.
Before we go further, let me get this out of the way: The Princess Bride is ultimately a movie about critical thinking skills. No one and nothing is as it seems in the beginning. Over and over again, characters challenge each others’ assumptions and catch each other in foils. I’m not left-handed, and you’re not left-handed either. You didn’t actually get married. “As you wish.” The whole story revolves around characters learning (or fatally failing to learn) to look again at the surface information, and to look under it to see the deeper meaning. You couldn’t ask for a less Conservative story.
Here’s the assumption: I don’t think Ted Cruz understands The Princess Bride, not on the subtext side. Yes, I keep my gates very well, thanks for asking.
After all, he has cluelessly referenced Star Wars while comparing his own party to the Empire saying they’d “strike back,” read out loud from Dr. Seuss’ Green Eggs and Ham in the context of reading his kids their bedtime story from the Senate floor on live TV, and invoked references to Nazis bad enough to upset the late veteran Senator John McCain. And that was all in one amazing night while he filibustered to stop a health care package.
I don’t think Ted Cruz understands Star Wars, either, and don’t think he knows that Dr. Seuss AKA Theodor Seuss Geisel made a considerable volume of political cartoons during WWII calling for Hitler’s head before the US ever counted its first casualty at Pearl Harbor, else Cruz would not have invoked Nazis with Green Eggs and Ham still on the lectern in front of him.
I mean Green Eggs and Ham is literally about the progressive Sam-I-Am convincing his conservative friend to try something new. It might be conceivable, boggling as the proposition is, that Ted Cruz doesn’t understand Green Eggs and Ham either.
I’m more likely to conclude that Cruz, class clown as he is, is a man without charisma who desperately wants to be liked and is clever enough to seize the surface level of passing memes which he picks up from his kids. That’s what he’s doing in The Princess Bride fandom and with Dr. Seuss. He loves his kids. Let us hope he at least understands them.
Now for that last question, which is a monolith to address:
Why are “Hollywood politics” so often Liberal?
Over and over again, within geek fandom and without, even into plain old mainstream entertainment, entertainers seem to line up on the Liberal side of the aisle. I’ve pointed out before that many of the pillars of geek fandom were sympathetic to civil rights, if not die-hard Libs.
It’s not just Hollywood either. As regularly as election season, the scenario plays out where a Republican rally plays a song, and that band objects the next day to being culturally appropriated by the party they don’t like. Here is a list just from the last four years.
When you look at just plain artists, there’s the Democrat factor again. Psychologists have been interested enough to look into the phenomenon and draw some conclusions. By and large, creative people tend to lean left. Isn’t that interesting?
The New York Times has asked just this question: Why is Hollywood so bleeding Liberal? Their answers dovetail into a common narrative we see over and over: The doers and thinkers of this world need a Liberal atmosphere in which to flourish. Being in a creative field tends to push you towards Liberalism, and born Liberals naturally seek out careers where their big ideas are an asset, hence, the arts. That’s one story, but not the one you came for.
Well, of course I have my theories…
You think I’m just stalling now, don’t you?
See, the word “progressive,” itself, is defined as “advocating or implementing new ideas.” To create, any act of creation at all, is to implement a new idea. You only create when you breathe life into a new idea that nobody has had before. The opposite of progressive, conservative, means to be “averse to change and holding to traditional values and attitudes.” In this black-and-white sphere of opposed definitions, it seems impossible that anybody could simultaneously be creative and conservative.
But that’s ridiculous, isn’t it? It should be, but maybe that assumption is so rooted that it becomes a self-fulfilling prophecy. After all, there’s professions which lean to the Republican side just as often.
I could offer a simple side effect nobody is considering: Liberals make better audiences. Say you’re in a rock band about to go on stage, but you have a choice of venues: You can play for a Liberal crowd or a Conservative crowd. Which one would you prefer? Unless you’re a stereotypical country & western act, you want the Liberal crowd where you can let your hair down and be your hedonistic self.
But there are those country & western bands, aren’t there? There are Conservative artists, musicians, authors, actors, and, one presumes, sculptors and chefs, too. That’s because not everybody in the world drops themselves through a politically polarized pigeon hole while picking their career choice. But they seem to be an exception to the rule.
Bottom line: Never should anyone be shocked when the whole cast of a movie, a whole band, all the artists at a comics studio, come out as Librul Dems. The Princess Bride is a work of love and warmth, how bad for their PR would it be if the cast came out in MAGA hats?
Standard Disclaimer: this whole “Democrat vs Republican” narrative is bunk!
Let me explain, except there is too much, so I will sum up…
People always expect me to launch into this kind of post and come out Blue-State Dem. I do, but that’s just by default. A lot of the other Democrats are also just “Democrats by default.” The media plays up this big ol’ fallacy over and over: “The country is evenly split between Democrat and Republican!”
Here’s what’s really going on: ONLY 57% OF AMERICANS IDENTIFY AS DEMOCRAT OR REPUBLICAN! The biggest US political party is actually Independent, at 41%!
Democrats? They only represent one-third of the US. Republicans? They have less than a quarter of the US in their corner right now. Think about that when you’re shaking your head over political news: All this “us vs. them” business is actually about a minority of the country. There is nobody to represent the rest of us. Which explains why voter turnout is so consistently dismal.
People don’t vote because they don’t get a choice. They don’t want option A or B, they want C, but no ballot near them has what they want. Even in the hotly contested 2016 election, only a little past half the citizens voted in that primary.
Here’s the true US political parties:
Anybody who says differently is selling something.