The Home of Steven Barnes
Author, Teacher, Screenwriter

Wednesday, May 21, 2008

Redbelt (2008)

Why Clinton Fights

I think that at the core of it, the reason that makes the most sense is (pretty much a superset of all the theories bouncing around) is that she fights because she is a fighter. I mean this in a very positive way. A champion boxer doesn't quit--he fights until the judges or cornermen throw in the towel. A marathoner doesn't quit because someone else is closer to the finish line. And the annals of sport are filled with last-minute victories, come-from-behind kids and unlikely heroes. The "a quitter never wins, and a winner never quits" thing. Yeah, it upsets the party. Yes, there is legitimate debate over whether what she is doing is for herself, her legacy, her supporters, women in general, or whatever.

My tendency is to give people the benefit of the doubt, right down to the last second. Yes, I've been wrong, but I notice that I seem to be wrong a lot less often than people who assume others have worse intentions than themselves.

On the less complementary side, I would have more respect for her if she took a look at the 20% of voters in Kentucky who said they would never vote for a black man, and said that racism has no place in her America, and she doesn't want their vote. Much more respect. Ah well--if she gets elected, Bill's presidency is a mere footnote to hers, which settles a lot of ugly debts, I suppose.

In my book she's 2/3 balanced, so I keep a careful eye there. The fact that so many women say that they understand her marriage is sad. Consider that her staying in that marriage has NOTHING to do with survival. When do you think she missed her last meal, or worried about a roof over her head? So if so many women empathize, clearly the real motivations for staying in bad marriages don't have as much to do with raw finances, survival, etc. as some would like us to think. There are other issues: power, for instance. And while hers may be a valid choice, it is certainly not one I would want for my daughter. And while Obama has been extremely genteel in not bringing up the pale side of the Clinton years, we can be damned sure that McCain would mention that her spouse was disbarred for lying...and drag all of that nastiness back into the public light. I don't want that. And I REALLY don't want thirty-two years of either a Bush or Clinton in the White House. That feels like a democracy reduced to a dual Monarchy. We need a change...

But yesterday, Tananarive said she got a twinge as she realized that the first viable female candidate was about to lose. Dammit, I really wish that it hadn't happened like this. Clearly, racial and gender rights are tightly intertwined. It is too damned easy to see how emotions can run away with supporters on either side. Especially women who see, in Hillary Clinton, a reflection of their own lives and choices.

As, of course, I see myself in Obama. This is hard stuff.


I did my Bruiser Century yesterday in eight sets of twelve. Dear God. Starting one set every two minutes means that as the number of reps climbs, the amount of recovery time diminishes. You can actually FEEL your body dealing with a different energy system. Strength and power are the 1-5 range. Hypertrophy at the 6-15 range. I'm in the middle of that now, and my body is saying evil things.

One of the advantages of this approach is that the workout is actually rather brief. Another is that you are stressing the energy systems rather than maxing out the tendons and ligaments. Using the Gama Cast, it becomes a matter of trying to get more and more perfect with every rep, maintaining breath, motion, and structure...


Saw Mamet's "Red Belt" last night, and thought it was a good, but not great, film. Chiwetel Ejiofor plays Mike Terry, a jiu-jitsu instructor who lives his life by a code so strict he can barely make a living. His in-laws would like him to fight in a MMA event that promises to make a ton of money for the family. He refuses, on ethical grounds. Then one day he accidentally saves an action star (Tim Allen) from a beat-down in a local bar, and Terry's star begins to rise...

Of course, this being Mamet, you can expect that no road will run straight. And you'd be right. I kept hoping it might soar all the way to greatness. Instead, I got a solid, emotional movie with its heart on its sleeve, superbly performed (especially by Ejiofor, who seems to be as close to a perfect actor as he can be), with a sprinkling of tightly-edited grappling fight scenes, and lotsa interesting philosophy. Not an "A", but a solid "B", especially for those of us who care about martial arts as a life path.



suzanne said...

I was sure I posted this thought last night
but today could find nary a sign of it
so I'll try again___

those Kentucky figures upset me too, Steve
and here's what I have experiienced and observed
scratch a racist; find a sexist
and vice versa
the men who voted for Hillary in KY
who wouldn't vote for a black man
would also not vote for her
against McCain

and my objection to Hillary
was as you stated
not believing familial dynasties
in the Presidency are a good thing
and since that time I have been unimpressed with how her campaign has been run
and that she really hasn;t spoken up about issues that are important to women
excepting health care

why didn't she make a speech akin to Obama's on race, about gender?

It seemed to me that all she thoght she had to do
for the women's votes was be a woman
that's not enough

I do think a Supreme Court appointment
would be appropriate
and a good use of her intelligence
and she can scrap with Scalia and Alito and Clarence Thomas

now that I could get behind!

suzanne said...

heads up
on this fantastic interview
with James Webb, Senator from Virginia, author, and I do think
he'd make a fine Vice-President

Steve Perry said...

So, does the Terry character get laid?

Sean said...

As a british actor Ejiofor has been in lots of things i havent seen, but he is really good in this. He is amazing in Dirty Pretty Things

I enjoyed the movie for what it was - Mamet's Martial Arts movie (say that 3x fast). A lot of Mamet's regulars were there (Ricky Jay is awesome), you knew the twist was coming but had no idea where the betrayal would be.

The best part was Dan Inosanto as The Professor

No Steve, Terry didn't get some, but his wife was hawt :)

Steve Perry said...

Mamet's book, "Bambi vs Godzilla" should be required reading for anybody who wants to work in Hollywood. Clever, funny, insightful. Guy has writing chops out the wazoo.

Mike Ralls said...

On Clinton's marriage here is a thought; If Bill were to get caught cheating on her again, I think she would stay with him. If Bill were to become a Republican, I think they would get a divorce. Anyone think either of those statements isn't true?

Dan Moran said...

I suspect the Clintons love each other -- and in the universe of why some women think there's outrageous sexism in this election, I'd list discussions like this as an example. If Obama turned out to have been playing on the side, there wouldn't be one tenth this degree of discussion. But because Hillary's the candidate, somehow it's all appropriate.

As to Bill Clinton becoming a Republican, yeah, I imagine she'd divorce him. She was asked on the Letterman show once what she'd say to Chelsea if Chelsea came home and announced she'd become a Republican:

"Honey, we're sure going to miss you."

It was funny, but there was some real truth to it as well.

Mike Ralls said...

>If Obama turned out to have been playing on the side, there wouldn't be one tenth this degree of discussion.<

I disagree completely with that. Such a situation would severely tarnish his image and would get talked about far more than events that were already talked about ad naseum ten years ago.

Lynn Gazis-Sax said...

I think politics probably is a lot of why the Clintons fell in love in the first place; I don't see it so much as Sen. Clinton sacrificing love for ambition as that the shared ambition (or, framed from their point of view, shared passion for public service) is what attracts them to each other to begin with. And I can relate to that; in college, when I was more politically active than I am now, I often found myself attracted to people who shared my political endeavors.

I don't think it's a cold and calculated staying in the marriage for power, any more than a guy staying with a woman who fails him in some way, but is really gorgeous and good in bed, would be cold and calculating. Might not, in either case, be my ideal of marriage, but either way I can understand the wronged party not only staying, but still being in love.

Dan Moran said...


Shrug. Who's talking about McCain's infidelities?

Lynn Gazis-Sax said...

Given that Obama's black, he'd probably get more flack for infidelity than McCain has, but, yeah, I do think Hillary Clinton's gotten a lot more flack for staying with an unfaithful husband than her male counterparts have for actually being unfaithful husbands.

Infidelity can screw up a man's political career if he's sufficiently stupid about it, and if he doesn't have Bill Clinton's impressive political survival skills. But if he gets through the momentary crisis, people don't tend to dog him about it years after the fact.

Josh Jasper said...

I agree with Webb for VP. Secretary Of The Navy trumps McCain's experience as a pilot.

Anonymous said...

The issue of love is a very complex one.I love my kids, grandkids and my sisters, but its a somewhat different sort of love than that I have for my wife. I also have a niece whom I love, but do not like. If she were not my niece and if I didn't know the childhood that made her who she is I wouldn't associate with her at all. So I think its possible that infidelities aside, in at least some sense the Clintons may indeed love each other.

Marty S

Steven Barnes said...


Clinton's infidelities were front-page news the world over. Of COURSE it will be talked about. What issue has Hillary had to deal with that is related to her gender on the level of what Obama has had to deal with about his pastor, which is clearly related to race? I don't deny that Hillary (and I use her first name to differentiate her from her husband) has dealt with sexism. Of course she has. My only objection is to the notion that one can somehow quantify her obstacles to be greater than his.

Steven Barnes said...

I agree about racism and sexism paralleling each other. There is an important difference, however: racism is generally a sense that one group is below another. Sexism is often the belief that the different groups have different but complementary functions. They may be equally egregious, but in my opinion women aren't punished more for aggression than men are for passivity.

Dan Moran said...

"Of COURSE it will be talked about"

Thus relieving people any responsibility in choosing to dwell on it?

C'mon -- don't you have the least bit of suspicion when people dwell obsessively on Wright, while giving the likes of Hagee, Robertson, et al., a complete pass?

Steven Barnes said...

Umm...Dan, have you seen the news in the last few days? Hagee is prominently featured. Now...yes, I think there is more made of Wright, but it makes sense: Obama painted him as a mentor, and was a member of his church for twenty years. In addition, frankly, if I was white, I would want to know EXACTLY where Obama was coming from, and that he wasn't some kind of closet Reparations guy. Why? Because in my heart I'd know that it is almost beyond belief that black people don't want to get even. Revenge is coded into the human DNA, I suspect. So there is real fear: what if they do to us what we did to them? So Wright's words are dissected...for good reason. Not sane, spiritual reasons, but certainly good ones.

Dan Moran said...

Go to and type in:

mccain hagee

2700 hits

obama wright

26000 hits

Not that I was talking about what the news media chooses to cover, but about what individuals choose to dwell on.

Steven Barnes said...

Actually, the Wright situation is worse in two ways which feed into those numbers:
1) Obama was a member of his church for 20 years, and therefore it is REALLY important to lots of people to know their relationship

2) Obama and Wright are black. 85% of the population might be negatively impacted if it turned out Obama is a secret Afrocentrist. About 10% of the population is Jewish or Catholic (I think) therefore there are fewer people who care from personal interest.

Ugly, but logical.