My mother once complained about a TV show that featured too much “full frontal crying.”
Crying is not pretty. Even the most attractive folks don’t look good with their faces scrunched up, and a swollen red nose, and tiny slits where eyes used to be. Ugh.
I’ve watched the footage: John Boehner Gets Weepy, Frequently. What’s the big deal? I don’t care a thing for the Iron John defense of male crying. I just think some people live in a cornball universe.
Take James Stewart. Politically he was so conservative that he and his former roommate Henry Fonda had to stop talking politics in order to continue their long friendship.
Stewart was a highly skilled actor, but you can’t help but think he injected a bit of his own politics in the libertarian-leaning “Shenandoah,” the populist “It’s a Wonderful Life” and the democratic idealist “Mr. Smith Goes to Washington.”
Stewart shed few (if any) tears in those movies, but his passion was unmistakable. Such a sentimental view of the world would never have appealed to audiences without the balance of Stewart’s intelligence and steely-eyed realism.
Prior to Boehner, I guess the most famous open-spigots character around was Tammy Faye (Bakker) Messner. I first began to watch Tammy Faye when cable was new — a whopping 24 channels — and one of them the PTL (Praise the Lord) network.
From her cooking show (one day she couldn’t find the scissors, and so she tore open a bag with her teeth) to her incoherent monologues to her mascara trails streaming down her face, Tammy Faye was the most entertaining train wreck on television. If I recall correctly, I once saw her pause and wave to her brother. He’s in prison, she explained.
Holy moley! I’d found someone with roots even trashier than my own.
When asked how she felt when she learned of her husband’s affair with the church secretary, Tammy Faye showed an uncommon grace and humanity in her reply. She said that like many wives, she blamed herself, for not being pretty enough or sexy enough to keep her husband from straying.
She may have begun as a joke (Catherine O’Hara parodied Tammy Faye on SCTV) as well as a drug addict, but she ended up a celebrity who was admired and loved. When someone criticized her friendships with gay men, Tammy replied that her experience with scandal and media had changed her, and she was fed up with judgmental Christians.
You go, Tammy.
Well, she can’t go, anymore. In 2007 she lost her battle with cancer. But she appeared on TV the night before she died. She was down to 65 pounds, but she wanted to say goodbye to her fans and friends. One tough lady.
As for John Boehner, my colleague Matt Lewis reports that Washington is rife with speculation on possible causes of his crying jags. But no matter what, I’m holding Boehner to those tears. He can cry about the American Dream and his long-ago janitor job, but these days, as we enter our third year of record unemployment, a job sweeping floors sounds pretty good.
[originally published by Politics Daily in 2010]