Shaheen, Hassan, and Hollywood follies

Last week we were blessed with two seemingly different events, the Oscars telecast and the so-called town hall sponsored by NH Senators Jeanne Shaheen and Maggie Hassan. In reality, each was merely a showpiece for their respective bases. Both events were disappointing for their scripted themes, lack of substance, and disappointing lack of neutrality.

You might be asking yourself: “What do the Oscars and political town halls have in common?” No it is not the over inflated egos or the inessential prolonged monologues. The answer of course is the melodrama, lots of melodrama. There was so much melodrama at the Oscars that the Emmys may want to consider adding a new category to their awards show. I would love to see Susan Lucci announce the winner for the “Most Overly Dramatic Acceptance Speech at the Oscars.” One can only dream.

The over dramatization of our current political predicament was on full display at both events. This is not to say that people do not have a right to their concerns and a venue in which to express those concerns, but this constant barrage is growing weary, and lacks any sense of temperance. I get it, people are mad, the certainty of inevitability has slipped through their fingers; however, not every event should serve as your own personal forum of discontent.

I realized a long time ago that theatrics is no longer reserved just for the showbiz stage, celluloid, or spoiled brats. We have been told that “all the world is a stage.” Sadly, our current playhouse is filled with overacting, poor dialogue, and too few intermissions.

The 2017 Oscars had the second lowest ratings in modern history. As someone who used to love watching the Oscars, even hosting a few Oscars parties in the past, I long abandoned watching the awards show. I guess you might say that in one regard I outgrew the spectacle. The other reason that most Americans tuned out this year’s Oscars was simple. Very few people wanted to spend four hours watching a bunch of self-aggrandizing, overpaid actors regurgitating, ad nauseam, poorly thought out drivel regarding the current occupant of the White House.

One truth shared by showbiz and politics is you have to know your audience, or in this case, the audience you disenfranchised. They don’t want to hear your belly arching. Do you realize how petty you look? Here’s a suggestion: next time you have an opportunity to watch one of America’s finest receive the Medal of Honor, take notice. You are getting an award for remembering your lines, while that Medal of Honor recipient only demonstrated heroism you could never imagine. Perspective.

Just another suggestion for Hollywood. If you are going to spend the entire night attacking a person’s competence, and suggesting he may be a bigot, you may want to make sure you announce the correct Best Picture, especially when the academy is trying to put “#OscarsSoWhite” in their rear view mirror. For a group of people so concerned about the optics of so many situations, some might consider trying to overlook a film that has a prominently African-American cast as, well, bigoted. Particularly since the film you tried to give the Oscar to featured an almost entirely white cast. When you live by the “optics,” you die by the “optics.”

A few days before the Oscars, New Hampshire had its own staged folly, the town hall for the DC duo of Senators Shaheen and Hassan, which was far less entertaining than the end of this year’s Oscars telecast, but just as predictable.

Like the Oscars, the Shaheen-Hassan town hall forgot one very important fact: the best town halls are designed to respect all your constituents, not just your base. Granted, most of the melodrama came from depressed Democrats who still cannot believe Hillary lost, but as someone once told me, “there is a time for campaigning, and a time for governing.”

Some would suggest that the senators had no control over the audiences or the questions, but this is just not true. First, the event was held on a Friday morning, the week before February school vacation. This timing is not conducive to attracting a broad constituent attendance. Former Congressman Frank Guinta routinely held his town halls on Saturdays, or during the early evening hours on a weeknight. Town halls are not about what is convenient for the elected-official, it is what best serves the entirety of their constituents. It’s fine to talk about topics that may be counter to that which is being offered by the Trump administration, but this town hall was in many ways a precursor to the Trump bashing that happened at the Academy Awards ceremony. This was not lost on some attendees, who either became agitated or just left because their senators confused what should have been a constructive conversation with people of differing views with a Democratic Party pep-rally.

What Shaheen, Hassan, and Hollywood seem to forget is that not everyone thinks like them, and are therefore alienated. Mathematically, it is highly probable that there were a few people in attendance at the town hall who may have voted for Shaheen and/or Hassan, but who also voted for Trump. Also, contrary to what some believe, Trump supporters (as well as non-voters) like movies and want to watch the Oscars without being lectured. Granted, the numbers would probably be low, but still deserving of respect.

All the world is a stage, but it does not mean we have to watch. Something Hollywood, Shaheen, and Hassan would be wise to remember.

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