“Eyes Wide Open”, Blog by Kristin Matheny- #3 “MacGuffin: An Unlikely Relationship Between Politics and Alfred Hitchcock” 1/28/2012
“Eyes Wide Open” by Kristin Matheny
“MacGuffin: An Unlikely Relationship Between Politics and Alfred Hitchcock”
Barack Obama is a master of the “MacGuffin”. He could put Alfred Hitchcock to shame, I swear…and Hitchcock essentially coined the term.
I think it’s time that Obama fans, ambivalents, and “he seems like a cool guy” liberal voters dust off their college Film Studies textbooks and research this wonderful little term. They could also just Google it, but I’ll save them the extra effort right now (Heaven knows that they don’t like to bother themselves doing actual research- isn’t that obvious?). In fact, I’ll quote Alfred Hitchcock himself: “[We] have a name in the studio, and we call it the ‘MacGuffin’. It is the mechanical element that usually crops up in any story.”
The MacGuffin drives the plot, but it almost never has any intrinsic value. Sometimes you don’t even see the MacGuffin, and it might even be something completely made-up. It doesn’t even matter what the MacGuffin is, it simply creates action and suspense. In spy movies, it’s the “papers” the gumshoes are hot on the trail for- but who really cares what information is contained in the papers? In “North By Northwest”, the MacGuffin was the mysterious “microfilm” containing government secrets (that never seemed to exist anyway). It was all about the chase. In “Pulp Fiction”, it was the briefcase that John Travolta and Samuel L. Jackson were after (though we never saw what was actually in the briefcase). The MacGuffin is a type of “red herring”, a fun distraction with no significance whatsoever. You find yourself getting all wrapped up in the meaning of said “distraction”, only to realize at the end of the movie that you had been lured away from important clues and actions all along. Duped! Hoodwinked!
You’re not supposed to fall for the MacGuffin!
To make the connection of a “Political MacGuffin” is natural. Politicos do it all the time. They promise vague concepts and propose seemingly sensible plans that promote an overall sense of well-being and confidence…and idealism. I recently heard a very famous conservative radio pundit (who shall remain nameless, only because I usually respect him immensely) go completely bananas over this whole debate between Mitt Romney and Newt Gingrich about tax records, Freddie Mac, and “historian” shenanigans. PLEASE! You’d think someone with a nationally-syndicated radio show would realize that the mainstream media has completely “MacGuffin-ed” Americans…even conservatives like you, me, and this guy…into believing that this garbage really matters! Like it has anything to do with economic policy and tax solutions. I am by no means a Mitt Romney fan, but I’m still wondering what in the world his tax records have to do with his ability to govern…if anything, these records are quite the statement on the insanity that is the Capital Gains tax.
Oh, believe me, I had to ask my liberal friends, who simply insisted that releasing the records was of some sort of vital importance (call me stupid, I didn’t see the point). They couldn’t really make much of a case for it. It reminded me of the so-called “Birthers”…it almost didn’t matter what they simply had to see, as long as they saw it. No value whatsoever. MacGuffins, all!
I wouldn’t call liberals MacGuffin masters by any means (heck, I wouldn’t call the “masters” of much), but I do think Obama has become an expert on Red Herrings and MacGuffins. Take his 2008 campaign for example. He never actually had an express plan for anything, he never elaborated on solutions. Didn’t it just make you want to scream?! He won debates because he simply glossed over facts and important issues by using big words and vague concepts, including the biggest, most vague concepts of all, “Hope” and “Change”. Shoot, it was the guy’s campaign slogan. We all questioned the meanings of the words. How can anyone (especially a president) provide “hope” to millions of people, and what on earth does that mean? Who’s even to say that we’ve lost “hope” in anything? “Hope” for what kind of “change”? It’s like the phrase “politics as usual”…specify, please!
It was the biggest MacGuffin of 2008 (and every years he’s been in office since) because it was a seemingly important concept that, in actuality, provided no meaning and had absolutely no intrinsic value. Three years later, it astounds me that people still repeat this “Hope and Change” phrase like the catchy chorus to some song you can’t get out of your head. What a phenomenal distraction, that whole “Hope and Change” crap was! Of all of those people that stood in line to cast their votes for Barack Obama, not ONE of them bothered to consider the fact that these words, like the man’s expanse of political knowledge itself, was completely hollow and void of substance.
With a hot-and-heavy election approaching, Obama and his team of spinsters and media cronies are MacGuffin-ing all over the place, not to be outdone by their previous accomplishments…and too many people are falling for this. Have we learned nothing from the King of Suspense?! If “Hope and Change” were the pointless “microfilm” and irrelevant “briefcase” of the Barack Obama legacy, then everything going on now is the “Rosebud”, the ultimate MacGuffin (for those of you who are familiar with the masterpiece that is “Citizen Kane”). Here are a few examples of recent MacGuffins I’ve spotted:
MacGuffin #1: These Romney tax records. And all of this Gingrich “Freddie Mac” crap. Distractions. (I don’t care who you want to win this thing, I have to ask who is behind the publicity of these stories. I admit that I was curious to see Romney’s tax record…until I asked myself why. Then I realized that my mouth tasted strangely of Kool Aid.)
MacGuffin #2: This “Conservatives as intolerant bigots” business. Oh, the liberals just LOVE to pull this one out of their proverbial hat, don’t they? Today, I read a news story that discussed a “heartfelt apology” that Barack Obama delivered…delivered, of course, with the self-righteous chastising/smugness that he seems to constantly revel in using…with regards to the alleged “booing” of a gay soldier at a G.O.P. debate a while back. The nerve of those “several audience members”, as he put it! The nerve indeed! (Nevermind the fact that, according to witnesses, it had only been a few audience members who were actually booing the question the soldier presented, not the soldier himself.) I’m even hearing die-hard conservatives backpedaling and defending our stance on things like “family values”. Why should we have to defend that? I’m not homophobic, Lord knows, and neither are the candidates. So, then, why are these G.O.P. candidates issuing apologies and going out of their way to defend themselves against these attacks?
Argh. Even they are starting to get Kool Aid mustaches!
MacGuffin #3: Drawing attention to the personal (sometimes exaggerated) flaws of the candidates. Okay, now I fully recognize that many conservatives are “values voters” (I am no exception), but I will not let these trifling details stand in the way of logic. Now I know some will disagree with me here, but the big issue…the only issue…is, simply, WHO is the best person to fix the mess we’re in and get us back on track. WHY are we letting airheads like John King distract us with petty details? My mother, a stalwart conservative (and Santorum supporter) told me yesterday that she just couldn’t get past Newt’s affairs, “it’s just been in the media so much”. A close friend of mine recently admitted that, even though he really liked Ron Paul’s platform, he just “doesn’t want to hear his annoying voice and cringe at his theatrical gestures he sees on the news” for four years. A Democratic Strategist on Fox News two nights ago flat-out called Rick Santorum a “bigot” for his family values…somehow making an invisible “homophobic” connection (and not able to cite any specific homophobic reference or remark)! Of course, let’s not forget Wagner over on MSNBC calling Santorum a bigot. Unfortunately, many conservatives are falling for this type of MacGuffin, too. My main man, Herman Cain…the man who I wanted to be president…was MacGuffin-ed right into dropping out of the race. Proof…pudding. These eye-catching phrases, words, and news stories (“Newt is a cheater, he might cheat our country!” “Santorum is a bigot!” “Romney is a fatcat!” “Paul is crazy!”) are full of 100% empty logic in most cases…and it’s working.
The liberals have fallen for it. Many independent voters have fallen for it. And now WE are starting to fall for it, turning against ourselves and attacking like-minded friends and fellow patriots! This is exactly what “they” want.
I could go on and on, but these are just a few examples. I’m proud to say that, after much contemplation and prayer (and attending events for all four remaining candidates) I finally decided on a candidate, and I finally voted today. Now, the man I voted for is who I believe can fix our nation and restore our economy, but I have spent the last several months trying not to fall for the MacGuffins. I can’t say I’ve been any better than you, or anyone else, but I see seemingly rational fellow conservatives, tea partiers, and patriots getting all wrapped up in these “Rosebud”-style distracters, and I foresee disaster if we continue to do this. We can’t assault each other for supporting or not supporting a candidate, we can’t fall for these petty tricks and red herrings.
At the end of the movie, it’s never the MacGuffin that was important, what was critical was the plot itself, and the resolution of the story. Alfred Hitchcock warned us all not to fall for these, to remain fixated on the story…and the end result.
Too many people have failed in this mission. We should’ve learned our lesson three years ago. Let’s focus on the end goals: to restore Conservativism and to get rid of this president.
Let’s make Alfred proud.