Lauren Mayer: Politics as Performance Art

Politics and show business make interesting but strange bedfellows – and one could say that’s both a metaphor and a literal statement (Jerry Brown & Linda Ronstadt, anyone?)  For starters, there is substantial cross-over betwee the two fields – elections often seem more about show-biz glitz than issues, while actors complain about the ‘politics’ of casting. Plus celebrities frequently endorse candidates, who in turn may solicit those endorsements, or quote from plays and songs (or in the case of Herman Cain, lyrics from a Pokemon movie).

My career has been a hybrid of both, starting when I was a child trying to decide if my goal was to be a concert classical pianist or the first female president.  (Yeah, I was an unambitious kid.)  I wavered between going to law school or becoming a starving artist, and while I settled on the latter, I never lost my interest in politics.  So it’s been great fun to combine both issues in these weekly videos, which has let me weigh in on current issues without having to mount a campaign.  (I opted out of politics because of my thin skin and propensity to burst into tears at everything from Kodak commercials to being put on hold, not because of any skeletons in my closet – I have an embarrassingly unembarrasing past!)

But every now and then, a politician comes along whose entire career seems too theatrical to take seriously – sort of like the presidential campaigns of either Pat Paulsen (if you’re old enough to remember him) or Stephen Colbert (for everyone else).   And we’ve had some doozies in this country – I’ve particularly enjoyed the hypocrites like Larry Craig, with his ‘I wasn’t playing footsie in an airport bathroom, I just have a really wide stance,’ or anti-gay activist George Rekers with his ‘rent-a-boy’ travel companion.  However, nothing compares to Toronto’s Rob Ford – from denying he smoked crack to claiming he didn’t lie because reporters didn’t ask the right questions, to insisting that if bike riders get killed by cars, it’s their fault.  In fact, more than a few people have wondered if his antics are just a giant performance art piece. – and I’m sure Anthony Weiner is wishing he’d run for mayor in Toronto, where his measly texted crotch shots would be child’s play.  Meanwhile, Ford is defiantly staying in the public eye, despite being stripped of most of his authority and despite the additional allegations that come forward daily (from arrests for domestic violence to the checkered records of his driver and gym trainer).  (And yes, “Rob Ford’s Gym Trainer” does seem like an incredible oxymoron.)

Rob Ford is larger than life, both literally and figuratively, and someone really should write a song about him.  So I did.

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