THE BLOG

Sequester: The Prisoners Have Become the Guards

03/14/2013 05:34 pm ET | Updated May 14, 2013

There's a moment in the movie My Dinner With Andre where the director, Andre Gregory, is telling of how New York City of the '80s had become the perfect prison, where the prisoners have become their own guards. "I think that New York is the new ... prison ... where they are both guards and prisoners. And as a result they no longer have ... the capacity to leave the prison they've made, or to even see it as a prison."

The newly activated sequester feels very much like the perfect prison. We could walk out of this situation if we wanted to with a friendly handshake or a conciliatory reaching-out, but the prisoners are guarding themselves and only allowing inaction. We've elected our guards who've become prisoners themselves.

We could patiently wait for realization to step in or do as Andre Gregory said: "Escape, before it's too late."

In the same movie Andre Gregory tells us that a famous director gave up the theater:

He just felt that people in their lives now were performing so well that performance in the theater was sort of superfluous. I mean, isn't it amazing how often a doctor will live up to our expectation of how a doctor should look? I mean, you see a terrorist on television: he looks just like a terrorist. I mean, we live in a world in which fathers, or single people, or artists, are all trying to live up to someone's fantasy of how a father, or a single person, or an artist, should look and behave!

I've often thought of this as I observe someone on their first day on the job, they look around them and take in the scene in front of them; who the major players are, the minor players, what's the text (spoken) and the subtext (unspoken). And then they commence playing the part. They begin dressing, speaking and acting the role they've chosen or been given.

Our politicians are playing the roles scripted for them. The Republicans are told to go stand on that side of the stage and no matter what, resist approving any spending bills while keeping tax incentives alive. The Democrats are told to go on the other side of the stage and, no matter what, cut tax incentives while increasing spending. It's as if the director of this political farce says "action" and everyone plays their role to the hilt, with a bit of scenery chewing thrown in by a few of the key "actors."

That's why the Mr. Smith Goes to Washington scenario is so romanticized. When a politician enters the political scene and remain themselves, it means that they don't conform to scripted expectations. They do their job while remaining themselves.

We've often heard that we get the government we deserve, And so, fellow casting directors, we are the populous that voted these fine men and women into their roles. Let's watch this play closely and consider how seriously we need to recast the major roles or even reconsider our own expectations of how this piece of theater should play out.