The Invisible Man and Clint Eastwood

Ok…as someone who really likes Clint Eastwood, I don’t think I can truly express my concern that a black man was rendered invisible in such a public way.

Don’t get me wrong, I find it funny that Clint Eastwood was talking to an empty chair…and if it were just that then I would say that there is nothing to this, even though it did happen at a MAJOR political event. But that’s not all this is.

This country has a long history of rendering black people invisible on one hand and using them into oblivion on the other. And at this point in time—with 1-in-3 black men either on probation/on parole/in jail or in prison (which renders black men invisible in a different way), black children being shuttled into special education at the drop-of-a-hat, and the black unemployment rate being at least twice that of the national number—to have an 82-year-old white man pointing his finger at and having an imaginary conversation with an invisible black man disturbs me.

Talk amongst yourselves.

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8 thoughts on “The Invisible Man and Clint Eastwood

  1. Oh, for the sake of all the Gods… Are you pretending you’ve never seen an empty-chair debate before? They’re a fixture every election year- I can’t even remember the first time I saw one. Credit for the modern usage of this rhetorical device goes to the 1924 presidential race, but there are similar gestures dating back to the Roman Senate. Hell, the last such empty-chair debate (that I know of) was just last week, Democrat Senate candidate Scott Howell debating an empty chair representing Orrin Hatch. But because a Republican did it, THIS time it’s about rendering the black man invisible.

    http://hotlineoncall.nationaljournal.com/archives/2012/08/howell-debates.php

    • Don’t presume to know my politics because of this one post. You would probably be wrong. If I were going to be partisan one way or the other I would have written about it Friday instead of waiting until Sunday night.

      Anyway…I have used the empty chair. It is a staple in debate prep. I used it in Model UN prep. My lawyer friends talk about using it in trial prep.

      My problem with this one is not the use of the empty chair, it’s the optics of it…in this circumstance.

      There are ways that the empty chair could have been used in that public forum that would have been very effective. And as I said at the beginning, I actually found it funny in a number of ways.

      I wasn’t being partisan. What I was being I don’t think I can put into words, so I won’t even try.

  2. I reposted another person’s pithy Twitter comment about this on Facebook that fits in nicely with your article:

    “This is a perfect representation of the campaign: an old white man arguing with an imaginary Barack Obama.” — Jamelle Bouie (@jbouie)

  3. I am NOT a fan of Clint Eastwood, but the conversation with an empty chair is an old cliche, like dancing with a broom. Lets assume that Obama would not have played straight man in person for that ugly game, so an empty chair was all that was possible. Nevertheless, “conversing” with an invisible man creates a stereotype. Nasty one. Having, been treated as a stereotype myself, specifically as one too old to be “relevant” in what was suddenly being described as a youthful institution, I have finally lifted myself out of depression and into anger. I have always known that the dignity of the individual was important, but now have a new experience with the pain of being seen as a “class”. Yes, yes, naive white woman. I’m powering up my objections to sterotypes, and sweeping generalizations, and especially ageism. Clint was acting drunk, vulgar, and hostile, and I don’t really think it’s because he’s 82 and white. Someone should have pulled him out of there.

  4. The way I see it Kim, the empty chair represents the POTUS, regardless of his (or indeed her) race or ethnicity. Yes, Barack Obama happens to be the first *partly* African POTUS but does that mean that he deserves special treatment? I mean I doubt you would have raised this issue if the current POTUS happened to be white. Right? And let’s not forget that Barack Obama is at least half white.

    Yes, I certainly understand your point about how black people are rendered invisible in the other ways that you have pointed out here, but does that mean that people have to be extra “politically correct” when criticizing the U.S.A.’ first President Of Color as it were?

    Are Unitarian Univesalists supposed to pussy foot around when criticizing UUA President Peter Morales just because he happens to be the first Latino president of the UUA?

  5. “Clint was acting drunk, vulgar, and hostile, and I don’t really think it’s because he’s 82 and white. Someone should have pulled him out of there.”

    Bunny’s comment was not posted when I began to write my response. I have not seen the actual video of Clint’s “performance” during the GOP Convention. My response is based solely upon the issues Kim raised and NOT on what Clint actually said during his monologue.

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