Wednesday, December 10, 2008

Don't Read This If You've Already Showered

How many times have you sat and watched a movie where the antagonist was a power-mad megalomaniac, brazenly flouting the law while doing power-mad megalomaniacal things, and you said to yourself, "That could never happen"?

Power-mad megalomaniacs (I love saying that) are the meat and potatoes of thriller movies and have been for decades. The James Bond franchise has earned millions, maybe billions, of dollars over nearly a half-century by having the super-spy beat back threats from one power-mad megalomaniac after another, every two years without fail since the early 1960's.

The one thing you know about these bad guys as you're watching the movie is that they are caricatures - guys so cartoonishly awful that they could never happen in real life. Until now.

Until off the silver screen steps a bad guy so unbelievable that even movie-goers might have a hard time swallowing his antics. A sitting state governor who attempts to extort upwards of a million dollars from potential candidates for the vacated U.S. Senate seat of the man who has moved onward and upward to the presidency. A guy whose every sentence uttered, at least privately, seems to be peppered with the sorts of expletives that would make Richard Nixon blush.

A guy like Illionois Governor Rod Blagojevich. A guy so brazen in his corrupt machinations that he is facing almost certain jail time. A guy who promised change to the state he governs and has delivered, well, more of the same in what is widely believed to be the most corrupt state in the union.

I grew up in Massachusetts and it's hard for me to imagine a more corrupt state than that, so Blagojevich has apparently been working overtime or something. Although, to be fair, Massachusetts is still in the running for the hotly-contested title of Most Corrupt, as only recently State Senator Dianne Wilkerson reluctantly resigned after being videotaped stuffing thousands in bribe money under her shirt and into her bra. And if you think that might be a sensual sight, you've never seen Wilkerson.

Anyway, my point is this: As a novelist and short story writer who is trying to get my books published, I would never dare write a character like Rod Blagojevich for fear that no one would buy such a cookie-cutter bad guy; that nobody could suspend disbelief to the point where they wouldn't just mutter, "That could never happen," and slam my book closed, never to open its pages again.

It's hard enough trying to get published without competing with these loonies in real life. Politicians like Blagojevich and Wilkerson should have a little compassion for people like me if they're not going to be concerned with their constituents or their integrity. They make a hard job even tougher. Jerks.

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