Critics quickly pounced on Mitt Romney for comments made at his economic speech at Ford Field.
“I like the fact that most of the cars I see are Detroit-made automobiles. I drive a Mustang and a Chevy pick-up truck. Ann drives a couple of Cadillacs, actually. And I used to have a Dodge truck, so I used to have all three covered.”
The remark, in an unscripted moment, will add to the image of Romney as so wealthy he can talk casually about his wife having not one but two Cadillacs. Although two cars are not unusual in American homes, two luxury Cadillacs, which range in price from $35,000 upwards, are not.
I’m not sure why this statement is news. Romney has a lot of cars. Did the media not read the stories it’s published regarding his immense wealth?
Romney, the former governor of Massachusetts who before turning to politics helped found a private equity firm in Boston, estimated his wealth to be as much as $250 million on financial disclosure statements. He earned $21.6 million in 2010, mostly from investments, according to tax returns he released in late January after losing the South Carolina primary to former U.S. Speaker Newt Gingrich.
Shortly before the release, he had said he earned speaking fees, “but not very much.” His disclosure statements showed the fees totaled almost $375,000 between Feb. 26, 2010 and Feb. 20, 2011.
What do people expect Romney does with all this money? Store it in a money bin and swim around in it? That’s not good for the economy. It could also qualify him for an appearance on A&E’s Hoarders.
Romney earned roughly $57,000 a day in 2010. I wouldn’t be surprised if he owned one of those needlessly complicated breakfast machines that were popular in the mid-1980s.
Perhaps we should be concerned that he has a human chessboard at one of his country homes, but that’s what makes him a job creator.
The Romney campaign — always anxious to make its candidate’s verbal fumbles worse — pointed out that Mrs. Romney has two Cadillacs because she spends time in two different states — California and Massachusetts.
Many middle-class families have two cars. Some even have two homes. A man worth millions can afford to buy his wife a couple Cadillacs — though I don’t know how he got stuck with the pick-up truck. Why does he even need one? Does he do a lot of heavy lifting?
Invisible Men and Women…
Bim Adewunmi at The Guardian comments on Octavia Spencer’s Oscar win and asks why there is a relatively small range of roles for black actresses.
In 1940, Hattie McDaniel became the first black woman to be nominated for, and win, an Oscar. She got her best supporting actress award by playing Mammy, the jolly house slave in Gone With the Wind. At the ceremony, she was not seated with the rest of the cast; instead she and her guest sat at a segregated table.
The award was bittersweet for black audiences. The role required her to be spoken down to by a much younger southern woman (Vivien Leigh) and didn’t touch on her life beyond her white owner’s house. Since then, only five black women have gone on to win acting Oscars. That became six after Octavia Spencer won on Sunday. Her role? A maid in the 1960s.
It’s important not to confuse criticism of The Help with a belief that black actors shouldn’t play maids. It’s just a question of why only maids… or inner city child abusers (Precious) or entertainers (Dreamgirls). Excluding Whoopi Goldberg’s role in Ghost, those are the only roles for which black actresses have won Oscars.
White actresses who have won the same award have played a wide range of professions and backgrounds — queens (Shakespeare in Love), neurotic New Yorkers (Hannah and Her Sisters), quirky dog walkers (The Accidental Tourist), 1920s vaudevillians (Chicago), and non-abusive mothers (The Fighter). They represent the world — not just a servile and pathetic portion of it.
Thirty-five years after Diane Keaton won Best Actress for Annie Hall, there still aren’t similar roles for black women. Not a criminal. Not a maid. Just a middle-class woman living her life. Waiting to Exhale was a brief glimpse into this world but the Academy ignored it (rightly or wrongly — I’m not making an aesthetic judgment… though I’m not sure how it could have been worse than Bad Southern Accent Theatre).
Billy Crystal’s “joke” about The Help during the Oscars does a good job of perhaps unwittingly demonstrating the divide in Hollywood:
When Octavia Spencer won a best supporting actress Oscar for playing a maid in “The Help,” Mr. Crystal joked that after he saw the movie, he was so moved he wanted to hug the first black woman he saw, adding, “which in Beverly Hills is about a 45-minute drive.” It was a line that could have been used back when Hattie McDaniel, the first black actress to be honored with an Academy Award, won for playing a maid in “Gone With the Wind.”
Of course, a random black female lawyer would love being embraced by a strange white person who just wandered out of a movie about black maids. “Oh, what you people went through! I mean, it’s not anything I did personally or anyone I know… but other more cartoonly villainous people.” “Lady, get off me. I went to Georgetown.” Yeah, that’s not condescending at all. I know I’m compelled to french kiss the first Jewish person I run into after seeing a World War II film.
Posted by Stephen Robinson on February 27, 2012 in Pop Life, Social Commentary
Tags: Bim Adewunmi, The Help, the Oscars