July 28, 2004

Wavering efforts at watching the Convention.

I was watching the convention on MSNBC and CNN for a change, and I got tired of the way all the talking heads were only predicting what would happen later in the night. Why aren't they covering the convention now? So I decide to go back to a channel that fixates on the podium. I choose PBS.

Instant rebellion: Go to C-Span! The reception is better!

Really? Oh, okay, I'll go from PBS to C-Span ... but, hey! What is this?

It's "Amish in the City"! The kids are arriving at the house. Hilarious! The non-Amish kids completely embarrass themselves, showing no end of prejudice. Who's unsophisticated here? Clearly, the non-Amish kids. Great scene.

Rebellion in the TV room. Go back to the convention!

Okay. I pick up my wineglass and head upstairs to another TV, so I can watch "Amish in the City."

On a commercial, I go back to C-Span long enough to hear Al Sharpton claim that if Bush had been President in 1954, Clarence Thomas would never have had the chance to go to law school. I guess the tight scripting is loosening up. It's Bush-bashing time. Can't script Al. Bush is just a complete racist! Now Sharpton is repeating himself stumbling through some business about keeping government out of our bedroom and getting government into the kitchen. Apparently, in a Kerry administration, the federal government is going to come over and cook dinner for me. Cool!

I go back to "Amish in the City." It's seeming a bit like an ordinary episode of "The Real World." My attention is flagging.

Suddenly, I hear footsteps on the stairs: "Put on channel 64!"

I quickly punch 64 into the remote. It's Steve Buscemi!

"Steve Buscemi! Hey, he looks good. But he's wearing a ton of makeup. You know, he's a good example of a guy who's really ugly but somehow ends up being quite attractive."

Buscemi: "... I don't feel safer after 9/11." [Long pause.]


Flip back to "Amish in the City" for a while. Commercial.

Back to C-Span. It's Governor Ed Rundell. He's come to speak about energy independence. I'm asked if I noticed the noise from the crowd after Gov. Ed said he was going to talk about energy independence. I hadn't -- because I was writing this post -- so I guess: a mass sigh of disappointment? No, I'm told. A big cheer. Crazy!

I flip back to "Amish in the City." They are shopping in L.A. One of the Amish boys really appreciates the help the gay guy is giving him in picking out good clothes.

Aw, Miriam's amazed by a parking meter. "I've never seen one of these things."

They go into an art gallery, and Ruth says "I've never seen art before. ... The Amish don't study art because they don't feel art is important. " She seems to have a real feeling of love for art, and I find this very touching. I get all misty.

Mose goes in the ocean for the first time and almost drowns. In the car ride home, the non-Amish kids lampoon him. That night, Mose has a nightmare and gets up in the middle of the night. He gets out his Bible -- in German -- and reads it aloud to calm himself. In the voiceover, he says that he believes that if he does not remain Amish, he will go to Hell when he dies, and he realizes he could have died that very day. It is exceedingly rare to see religion like that on television.

Now the non-Amish kids have to dress in Amish clothes. They do decently well. One non-Amish girl says, "I look good in black." The gay guy, dressed in Amish clothes, curls his eyelashes. The black girl says, "This looks like a slave get-up." They go to an amusement park, with the Amish kids in ordinary L.A. clothes, and the city kids in Amish clothes. Amish boy: "Now they know how I felt when I was standing on the doorstep in Amish clothes."

The Amish boys leave their dishes lying around. They are used to having women clean up after them. Ruth speaks with some passion about the way the Amish boys take advantage of the women. I adore Ruth. She loves art, and she's experiencing dawning feminism on camera. You don't get to see that on TV very often either.

Conclusion: "Amish in the City" was much more real and human and compelling than the Democratic Convention. But now, "Amish in the City" is over, so I'll head back downstairs to watch the prime hour of the convention with the rest of the household.

Hmmm... they're watching C-Span 2, which is showing Walter Mondale and Geraldine Ferraro's acceptance speeches from 1984. John says: the rhetoric is the same as now. Ferraro was saying that the Republicans will put people on the Supreme Court who would move us back to the nineteenth century. (Sounds like Sharpton.) Same buzzwords: faith, hope, values, family, strength. What's strikingly different though is the strangely sad, downbeat, stern tone. No wonder people preferred Reagan.

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