Monday, October 23, 2006

Why I am a Wingnut

Perhaps my favourite TV programme of the past few years has been the American Presidential drama 'The West Wing', starring Martin Sheen as President Josiah (Jed) Barlet.

I've always been fascinated by the United States - a nation founded not on a common language or religion or culture, but an idea - and fascinated too by its office of President. I can only begin to imagine what it must be like being the leader of the free world: to make life-and-death decisions on a daily basis, be the subject of intense media attention and speculation and to be the human face of what it means to be American.

Unlike so much on television, the 'West Wing' wasn't afraid to address complex issues and contentious debates. It made room for multiple points of view and highlighted both the gifts and the flaws of President Bartlet and his administration. As a viewer, I respect and appreciate that very much.

19 comments:

Matt said...

I've never seen it- looks pretty neat though. Oh, and I'd just like to say- it's a pleasure finding, and reading your blog Daniel. You're truly an amazing person =D. Best of luck.

-Matt Nemecek

Anonymous said...

I've never watched The West Wing, but there was a new network drama this past year called Commander in Chief. It's about a female president. I liked it very much because there are people who think a woman would never make a good president, and would never want a woman president. And being female my self, I disagree.

I can't compare it to The West Wing since I've never seen it. But I thought it was quite spectacular.

YellowChopLucid said...

Television will make you crazy... there is no control over what you see and because it's bright and colourful it makes it hard to not watch while it's on... politics suck, I watched west wing once and it was terrible. Daniel, what do you make of the Madonna adoption of baby Banda?

Ric_30309 said...

Hey Daniel! I just saw Brainman and was blown away. I hope I get to meet you in person some day.

I read what anonymous wrote about the Commander in Chief. I enjoyed it very much and was really dissapointed when it was canceled. I watched west wing occasionally but I found Commander in Chief more provacative.
I think that not be so much the case in Britain because you all have the Queen and Margaret Thatcher.
I thought it was provocative not just because there was a woman in the White House but that she was also an independent.
America is very much polarized right now.
The Republicans are running scared right now and a lot of political pundits are saying the Republicans may loose both houses.
I doubt that will happen though because traditionally Republicans always vote and Democrats only vote when they are really mad or really excited by the candidate.
Democrats are not happy with Bush and havent been for a while. Most Americans are not happy about the war but the gas prices have gone down abit and most americans care a lot more about gas prices then they do about the war.

I hope I'm wrong though
Daniel I'm glad I found your blog and I look forward to reading more.

Rehan Qayoom said...

My brother recently brought to my attention (much to my dismay and atonishment) that out of the huge collection of films and DVDs that I have not a single one of them is American! Unless you count Ally Mcbeal - The complete set, which is the probably the only thing and perhaps ROSANNE which I only watched because an ex-girlfriend used 2 watch it. Almost all are either British (who I think make the best films) or French (French films are simply brilliant).

As a child however, I used to love 'Land of the Giants' 'The 'Incredible Hulk' and was a huge fan of 'The A-Team' SUPERMAN and the JAWS films and there is the odd Hollywood film that I like. After giving it much thought I have come to the conclusion that it is because of my taste in the kind of films I like, historical, biopic, period dramas - Which Hollywood is no good at. I was furious recently with the poorly received and craply produced flat Wicker Man (my favourite film) which simply cannot be Americanised.

American comedy is dull and verbose and doesn't make one laugh compared to classic British comedy - The list is endless.

I find the British monarchy and British history far more interesteing than the US presidency. Although I think the British public are one of the stupidist in the world but the most fascinating in every way.

Van Humphries said...

I've never seen West Wing, but if you want to see a good drama reflective of the issues present in the psyche of Western society, check out Battlestar Galactica. It's a great show!!

It has themes of xenophobia, terrorism, occupation, religion, insurgency, treason, and patriotism. Oh and hyper-intelligent machines created by man. Very relevant to Western society :).

jessica said...

west wing is my favorite tv show too! although it always gives me a bit of a sad feeling whenever i watch it. why are we (americans, as i am myself one.. or the rest of the world for that matter) so adverse to complexity? if it is presented on a tv show then we admire it, but when it comes down to matter of fact, a populous cannot stand anything but the concrete.

i was also always intrigued at how west wing could be one of the most popular shows in america, while at the same time most americans avidly supported bush. always seemed odd to me.

if martin sheen ran, i would vote for him.

Blue Smoke Coffee said...

I enjoyed hearing you on NPR today, just purchased the book and am looking forward to reading it and learning more about an amazing human-being. Love your website and am considering your Spanish course. Kevin bluesmokecoffee.com

mark freund said...

Daniel,
I can appreciate your fascination with the USA. I am American, living in the Midwest (Wisconsin, now). For a few years, tho, I traveled abroad, having left with a one-way ticket, never to return! Anyway, strange place, this USA. But to consider that folks came here from all over and there was room to move and breathe and grow and create and expand. A lady named Maridel LeSeur wrote a book, "Northstar Country", around 1945, about the settling of the midwest, and it's amazing how carried away with freedom and idealism and creativity people can get when they have the room to move. Now, tho, it often seems to me a lot like fermentation: The yeast devours the sweetness until the by-product, alchohol, kills it. Anyway, sure am glad to have become acquainted with you and your site. I thoroughly enjoyed your book and I'm sure it is most certainly bound to be a best-seller. Keep the faith, Bro, love, mark

Anonymous said...

If possible, would like to know if I do suffer from this disorder. Spent life hiding in my bedroom if not in school, including university. Both sides of the family suffer from different anxiety disorders. Psychiatrist says I suffer from mainly Avoidant Personality Disorder, along with agoraphobia, obsessive-compulsive disorder, generalized anxiety disorder , perfectionism and dependant personality disorder... Was born 9 weeks premature from anxious mother and spent first 2 months in incubator (in 1964) in critical state going from being born 3 pds and quickly going below that.

Anonymous said...

Pleas publish some brain exercises for elderly folks like me to help fight off forgetfulness and dementia.
Thank you

Anonymous said...

You are quite an amazing individual and very inspiring as well. Last night I had the honor of first learning about you on 60 Minutes here in the USA. I am quite fascinated by your complex ability to learn. You are truly a gift to this world.

In regards to the West Wing...yes, this is a brilliant show. One of the better ones on television these days.

Take care and I look forward to reading your blogs and learning more about you.

Lisa, 27
Michigan,USA
chris165@msu.edu

Mary said...

I'm a US citizen, living in Colorado. Have enjoyed 'West Wing', for its pithy writing and the rhythm of dialogue between the characters. Very pithy, though sadly often very glib and a bit pompous. In a way, it's like listening to Gilbert & Sullivan!

I look forward to reading your book, as is my 10-year old nephew (who very much enjoyed your interview on '60 Minutes')!

Anonymous said...

Hi Daniel, I was thrilled to view your segment on 60 Minutes which I recorded yesterday. I also love the West Wing and rented all seasons of it and watch the episodes two or three times. I never miss the shows if they are on - even the reruns. I also love the Stargate SG-1 series too. The West Wing was so interesting and fast paced. If you ever get to Hawaii PLEASE let me take you and your partner out to dinner. I would love to meet you so much. I live in Honolulu.

Maureen said...

My husband and I saw your interview with Morley Safer on "60 Minutes" last Sunday evening. So enlightening and enjoyable. I loved your soft-spoken voice. Thanks for sharing your story with the world. We have a young man with Asperger's Syndrome working as our file clerk at our law firm here in New Jersey. He is very bright - has a college degree and a paralegal certificate.

Kind regards,
Maureen

badroulbadour said...

I'll concede that West Wing is a fascinating account of what it could be like behind the scenes at Casa Blanca, but sadly I don't think it even faintly resembles what is happening to-day with the current crowd now climbing the walls and transmitting bad vibes across the hemispheres ...

Carina said...

A fantastic show indeed! I have always been fascinated by our Presidency, and all the traditions and respect it entails. For instance at an official Presidential event, when there are 2 speakers at 2 podiums which both display the Presidential seal, the guest's seal has a silver background. This is because only the President of the United States is allowed to have the original on his podium. Little details like that have always fascinated me about the Presidency.

As for West Wing, it was fabulous about addressing the big issues while giving us a glimpse of what White House workers' lives must be like on a trivial scale. I think of the episode where CJ was trying to get an egg to stand on its end during the equinox. :D

Frank said...

Yes, West Wing was a great show. Now that we have had Bush bringing forth to our nation and to the world one debacle after another, I wish we had President Bartlet in the WH.

Truth is stranger than fiction.

Frank

Anonymous said...

The president defintely serves as the prime figure that the world associates with America, but I do not feel that any of our presidents for quite a while have really represented "what it means to be American." You have to be a multimillionare to run for office because there is no limit as to how much political advertising you can put out there, so naturally the man or woman with the most money has a huge advantage. Also, many of the candidates care about their own gains first and foremost (I'm not saying all of them but the great majority of them). I don't think that a multimillionare who is out for his or her own political gain really represents the common man in America at all. Because of the class difference, the president and the people are naturally very different. It isn't like in the days of Andrew Jackson when a man without a college education could become president.