Sunday, September 2, 2012

This Open Letter to Clint Eastwood's Chair

Dear Clint Eastwood's Chair,

I hope you're proud of yourself. You are all anyone wants to talk about. You're trending on Twitter, you're an internet meme, and even President Obama referenced you. Clearly you are the only thing anyone is going to remember from the RNC, and we might be referring to the infamous "Chair Speech" for years to come.

Don't act all innocent. You know what you did!

You've really got a lot of nerve, do you know that? Do you not understand that you do not upstage Clint Eastwood? He's a legendary actor who is a Hollywood icon. Many remember him as his most iconic role, Dirty Harry, while recent audiences loved him in Gran Torino. Even when he's not dominating the silver screen in front of the camera, he's still large and in charge behind it. He's an Oscar Winning director, responsible for many fantastic films.

This man deserves to be remembered for his lifetime body of incredible work. But thanks to you, he's going to be known as the guy who had an argument with a chair.

What were you thinking? Why were you up there in the first place? Did you not know the purpose of the Republican National Convention? The RNC is where the party gets together and not only nominates their Presidential candidate, but also decides on an official party platform. It's their chance to make their appeal directly to the American people and a proud tradition in our democracy.

If you weren't so self-involved, you'd already know that things did not get off to a good start for them. Hurricane Isaac disrupted their first day, reducing what should have been a four-day convention to three. Fortunately for them, the hurricane didn't hit Tampa, but it did go on to cause a lot of trouble for Louisiana and other states. A lot of people weren't really paying attention to the RNC because they were focused on Isaac.

It wasn't just the hurricane that marred the RNC. There was the incident when people threw peanuts at a black CNN camerawoman. Paul Ryan's speech was ripped apart by fact-checkers, and even Fox News joined that dogpile. There were plenty of other issues as well. But you see, despite all these setbacks, they still had a chance to pull it out. Their hope rested on Mitt Romney's grand speech Thursday night, in which he would lay out his vision for America and make his appeal to the American people. But before Romney would take the stage, there would be an impressive guest speaker: Clint Eastwood.

Clint Eastwood makes perfect sense for a speaker. An iconic Hollywood tough guy, he's perfect for interjecting some energy and excitement into a party not exactly enthusiastic with their nominee. Not to mention, he would be a high point of a convention marred by disaster. It was perfect stunt-casting, to use a Hollywood term, and had his speech gone well, it would have overshadowed everything else, letting the convention end on a high note.

Then you just had to insert yourself. You saw your opportunity to insinuate yourself into Clint's speech and damn the consequences. Was it your idea? Did you talk him into it last minute, tell him that it would be a great bit and everyone would love it? Maybe you lied to him and said the Romney people wanted it. Perhaps that's even the story you're going with, but forget it; they were just as shocked as everyone else by this.

Even if this was Clint's idea, you are still responsible for how badly it went. The thing it, it could have worked had a more talented chair been a part of it. A better chair wouldn't have tried to hog the spotlight, it would have been there to compliment the featured speaker, like Ed McMahon to Johnny Carson. A better chair would have known when to step back and let most of the attention rest on Clint.

Instead, you were a constant distraction, turning the speech into a rambling mess as Clint had to deal with your constant interruptions and appeals for attention. You made it all about you, sabotaging Clint's speech and stealing Mitt Romney's thunder. This was Romney's big night, and you ruined it for him.

There's an old adage in Hollywood: never work with children or animals. Perhaps they should add a third category: chairs.

I suppose, though, that Hollywood is to blame for your behavior. You saw your moment in the spotlight and you wanted to make it last, forever imprinting yourself in pop culture. No doubt you took inspiration from the animated series The Tick. Don't try to deny it, I know that the episode The Tick vs. Chairface Chippendale is where you got your idea.

No matter how dapper, this is not a role model.

You know exactly what I'm talking about. In that episode, the villainous Chairface decides to use a powerful laser to write his name on the moon. Even though he only got the first three letters up there, CHA, the damage was done. He had forever made his mark and everyone knew it was him. For the rest of the series, every shot of the moon had the letters CHA emblazoned on them, the ultimate act of tagging.

Like all young chairs, you no doubt saw that episode and thought to yourself, "If I had that kind of opportunity, I would go for it. I'd make myself remembered forever." Congratulations, now you are remembered, not only for derailing the RNC, but harming the reputation of a beloved actor. I just hope you're prepared to deal with the fallout.

Do you think this is going to help other aspiring chairs out there? Do you think speakers are going to include chairs in their keynotes any time soon? If they do, it will only be to make them the butt of jokes and objects of scorn. Is that what you want chairs reduced to, comedy props? You just made it that much harder for aspiring chairs to break into the business.

Even the more well-established chairs are going to have trouble. Do you think the Iron Throne from Game of Thrones isn't going to suffer? What about Captain Kirk's famous chair from the bridge of the USS Enterprise? Or Martin Crane's chair in Frasier. You've made every chair, past and present, a target of ridicule, retroactively ruining a lot of reputations.

I hope you're happy with yourself, because after this no one is ever going to work with you again. You are about to learn about short-term gains versus long-term consequences. When the media attention fades and everyone turns their attention to something else, the stain on your reputation will remain. Be prepared for a hard road from here on out, and don't expect any other chairs to stick up for you, either. You burned a lot of bridges, and any reputable chair is already distancing itself from you.

So good job on completely hijacking the spotlight. You've done a lot of damage, and you owe a lot of people an apology. If it's sincere enough, you might be able to salvage your career. If not, then prepare to be relegated to a junior-high classroom and have gum stuck to your underside for the rest of your existence.

I'm so very disappointed in you,

Charles B. French

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