Clint Eastwood is not a movie star, Clint Eastwood is movies. There are not many people in the film industry right now who can claim such a commanding role on Hollywood history as Clint Eastwood can. Not only has he starred in some of the most iconic films to grace the silver screen, he’s also, as a true polymath, been involved in almost every aspect of film production: He directed, wrote, and even composed his own soundtracks. If Clint Eastwood is not the Greek god of movies, he certainly is the highest priest.
I say all that because, to a man so involved with the craft of cinema, life looks a little bit different than it does to all of us. Heck, I’m an amateur screenwriter and I already see everything divided in a three-act-structure, with events constantly jumping across the 12 steps of the Hero’s Journey according to Christopher Vogler, and sometimes I even ponder what was the value charge of a certain moment that just passed (Even though I don’t think anyone should listen too much to Robert McKee).
Taking that into consideration, I fully believe that what Eastwood did at the RNC was all on purpose, carefully planned and crafted to the very end.
See, Clint Eastwood has for a long time described himself as an “Eisenhower Republican” and “Libertarian.” He is in favor of gay rights, non-interventionism, individualism; there aren’t many points of convergence between those philosophies and what Mitt Romney stands for. In fact, there are none. That’s why I thought it was so odd that Eastwood decided to endorse Romney and speak for him at the warmongering-NeoCon-meeting function par excellence.
My second thought upon hearing the news, however, came immediately afterwards, and was something to the tune of “I bet he’s only doing this so he can get a few minutes on the spotlight to speak truth to power on Mitt Romney and his several stances against liberty and the constitution.”
Not very likely, many would say, but, to someone who’s been involved with storytelling for so long, it sort of comes automatically, if you know the context. How many movies have we seen where the main guy is set to do a cookie-cutter speech on a certain topic only to reach an epiphany midway through and start spilling his guts to a flabbergasted audience before someone comes and hauls them away?
That situation is so stock that it probably even has its own page at TVtropes.com!
I’m reminded of the scene in White Hunter, Black Heart where the character John Wilson (played by Eastwood, channeling John Huston), an American director in Africa to shoot on location, discovers during a dinner date that the female lead for the film he’ll be directing is an air-headed anti-semite and goes off on a soft-spoken but harsh diatribe about how she’s the ugliest person he’s ever seen, all the while flashing a gentle smile to her like he’s giving her the most romantic of compliments.
And while the prospect that Eastwood may have pulled that in real life may sound too cinematic to some, it’s exactly for that reason that I think he did it. His life, at least in his head, is a movie, and that sort of plot-twist isn’t beyond the realm of possibility for someone in that condition.
As circumstantial evidence of that theory I bring up the fact that, first, he’s obviously not senile. As much as Hollywood executives are all warm-hearted samaritans bent on altruism, they still like to make money and wouldn’t give millions of dollars to a man so he could direct a film without knowing first that he would be capable of doing it well enough to provide them with a return of investment – and Clint directs, like, one movie every year.
If Eastwood were senile, he’d already have been dumped from the industry without so much as a retiring party and a gold watch.
Second, at various moments in his speech — moments which went ignored by the likes of Rush Limbaugh, eager to bask in their projection bias — Eastwood rags on Obama for failing to come through on his promise of being a peace president and bringing the troops home, and also for failing to close Gitmo. If Clint Eastwood is not senile and doesn’t live in a cave, he knows for a fact that Mitt Romney’s position on the wars is pretty much the same as Obama’s, and that, if it were up to Romney, he’d probably expand the Gitmo base to engulf the entire Caribbean.
Also, a lot of his criticisms toward Obama (his background as a lawyer, for instance), are very much applicable to Mitt Romney himself.
And finally, if Clint’s objective was to draw attention to himself and shine a light on the ridiculousness of the entire convention and the pretense that Mitt Romney is any different from Obama, he largely succeeded. The internet-world is abuzz with his speech and mum on Romney's, which was delivered right after it and was far more crucial to the momentum of his presidential campaign.
For those reasons, I’m firmly convinced that Eastwood was, in internet parlance, “trolling” the convention.
And what a trolling it was!