As anyone who has television or internet access is well aware, Clint Eastwood gave a speech at the Republican National Convention last week. While much of the initial commentary on the speech was pretty critical, Eastwood's speech has its defenders and not all of them are conservatives. Personally, I don't think it was a great way for the Republicans to spend prime television time on the last night of the Convention, but I also don't think it was the total disaster that some think it was. That's not the point of this article, however.
One of the people criticizing Eastwood's speech is Michael Moore. Moore is a well-known left-wing activist and a very successful filmmaker. Moore had this to say about Eastwood's speech:
The people of the future will know nothing about Dirty Harry or Josey Wales or Million Dollar Baby. They will know about the night a crazy old man hijacked a national party's most important gathering so he could literally tell the president to go do something to himself (i.e. fuck himself). In those few moments (and these days, it only takes a few moments--see Anthony Weiner), he completely upended and redefined how he'll be remembered by younger and future generations.
I wasn't a fan of the Eastwood speech and I plan on voting for President Obama, but this is an absurd comment. Let's do a thought experiment. It's 2032 and a group of film students are getting together to watch some important films from the history of American movies on whatever device (maybe a cool flat-screen hologram?) they will use, and they are looking up which films to see. Does anyone really think that Clint Eastwood's films are going to be dropped from that list? That films like The Outlaw Josey Wales or Million Dollar Baby are going to be unknown because of a speech he made at the 2012 GOP Convention?
I find that highly unlikely and I'm surprised a guy like Michael Moore, who obviously loves and cares about film, would say that. One need not support an artist's political positions to enjoy their art and speaking at a Republican convention in favor of the Romney/Ryan ticket, while it may not be the best example of political judgment, isn't the sort of act that should cause thinking people to reject the output of Eastwood's career. And I suspect it won't. The people of the future will know quite a bit about Dirty Harry, Josey Wales and a number of other roles Eastwood has played.
One last thing. Do liberals really want to emulate conservatives who do things like say "shut up and sing" to politically-minded entertainers? Or who shout at the TV screen like some conservatives do when Jane Fonda or Susan Sarandon are onscreen? One would hope not. Eastwood's speech wasn't a high point in his career, but to argue that future film lovers will ignore or forget his work (or worse, should do so) because of the speech he gave at this year's GOP Convention is even more absurd than the comments Eastwood made in his speech.