Wednesday, March 04, 2009

A Little Of The Old In And Out

In: "Smart Power." There are almost as many variations of Power nowadays as there are practitioners of that Dark Art. There is "hard power," "soft power" and "dark power." Near as we can tell, "smart power," which was famously advocated by former Senator Hillary Clinton in her Senate confirmation hearing for Secretary of State, is an amalgam of all the best aspects of hard and soft power -- i.e, military might and cultural influence. That alliterative Cold War couple Jack and Jackie Kennedy are probably the perfect examples of hard and soft power done right. From Politico via Drudgie-Poo:

"Former Secretary of State Colin Powell urged President Barack Obama and Congress not to allow U.S. diplomatic efforts and 'smart power' to suffer at the hands of a sinking economy that is consuming the nation's attention.

"Speaking Wednesday morning at a roundtable discussion sponsored by the Center for U.S. Global Engagement, Powell conceded that the nation's economic woes were a justifiable priority for politicians and citizens. But he said that a budget emphasizing smart power — a term in international relations that involves a balanced projection of power, influence and diplomacy — 'is in our interest and will help us economically.'

"'If we can do this right, we can spend less on defense,' said Powell, adding that both Obama and Congress will have to wrestle with pressing foreign policy challenges. 'No one ever knew what war they were going to face' coming into office, said Powell, 'and the administration and Congress has to be very sensitive to the fact that many more resources will be needed in Afghanistan. ... We're going to have to be able to put more money in Pakistan, which is related to Afghanistan.'"

Out: Sundance Buzz. Where's the buzz, Pappa Sundance? Is Swagdance in freefall? Did Sundance Jump the Shark and cease to be the standardbearer for American bohemianism in film when it invited Paris Hilton and internet remora Perez Hilton? Theatrical distribution of films on display at this year's festival have had what can only be properly construed as: no buzz. From TheWrap:

"'The prospect of Jim Carrey making out with Ewan McGregor was just the kind of thing that got the media buzzing during the Sundance Film Festival.

"But four weeks later, 'I Love You Philip Morris,' a dark comedy featuring Carrey as a gay con man and McGregor as his prison lover, is still not sold, and the producer says it has been taken off the market.

"Other star-laden vehicles from this year’s independent film festival remain in limbo, despite the fact that plenty of other films – mainly without stars – were bought for distribution.

"'Paper Heart,' a quirky, low budget mockumentary starring recent Hollywood 'It' kid Michael Cera, attracted buyer attention at Sundance but left the festival without a sale.

"'Brief Interviews with Hideous Men,' an adaptation of the late writer David Foster Wallace's work and the directorial debut of John Krasinski, remains the strangest of the Sundance star vehicles -- continues to reside in distribution limbo."

This must hurt Festival founder Robert Redford more than his alleged "scrotal lift (ouch)."

(image via salon)

In: Celebrity Poltics. We identified the trend of celebrity poltics in 2003 (before it came into common political usage), after Steven Soderberg's K-Street literally made DC into a ghost town on Sunday nights when it ran on HBO and anyone who was anyone in that town sat by the TV hoping they would get mentioned. Then came Obama, the first Presidential candidate ever photographed, lascivously, without his shirt. And the rest is history. According to the manly Phil Bronstein -- formerly Mr. Sharon Stone, btw -- Mayor Gavin Newsom, fresh from an appearance on the seriously buzzy "Real Time with Bill Maher," might be the next Governor of California, propelled by the Uranian force of our depraved tabloid culture. From SFGate:

"Breathless, glam-heavy MSM stories and just by themselves could help propel Gavin Newsom all the way into the governor's chair.

"How? It's not as if the worldwide economic crash suddenly extracted us from celebrity worship or the 800 pound ubiquity of fame in our culture. (Less, if you're successful on 'Biggest Loser.') 'We're in a reality TV series now in politics, 24/7,' Gavin told Chronicle reporter Carla Marinucci. And he knows how to pose. As Carla pointed out, he was 'nabbed on video last year in a hush-hush Malibu tete-a-tete with a political consultant,' looking as casual and fabulous as Matthew McConaughey on the beach, and that report 'tipped off Newsom's run for governor.'

"The guy who's in that Sacramento seat now started off as a big star and Mr. Newsom is doing his best to make himself one, with the help of the sudden paparazzi interest in shiny politicians, Bill Maher, and even a new movie that the Mayor had nothing to do with but which stars his lovely wife."

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