Clint Eastwood and “The Invisible Man”

Cover of "Invisible Man (Modern Library)&...

Cover of Invisible Man (Modern Library)

Not that Mitt Romney’s support among African-Americans could go any lower — it’s at zero percent in a recent NBC News/Wall Street Journal poll – but that doesn’t make Clint Eastwood’s rant against invisible Barack Obama on Thursday night any less insulting and possibly racist.

I’m certain that Eastwood didn’t set out to send a message that some black people might regard as racist. But it shouldn’t be difficult to understand how they might be offended by the way GOP delegates laughed raucously as Eastwood talked down, in sometimes-vulgar ways, to the chair where invisible Obama was “seated.”

Consider the open paragraph of Ralph Ellison’s The Invisible Man. While it was published in 1952, I think it’s safe to say that it still captures the sentiment of millions of black Americans who find themselves, too often, invisible, to white society.

I am an invisible man. No, I am not a spook like those who haunted Edgar Allan Poe; nor am I one of your Hollywood-movie ectoplasms. I am a man of substance, of flesh and bone, fiber and liquids—and I might even be said to possess a mind. I am invisible, understand, simply because people refuse to see me. Like the bodiless heads you see sometimes in circus sideshows, it is as thought I have been surrounded by mirrors of hard, distorting glass. When they approach me they see only my surroundings, themselves, or figments of their imagination—indeed, everything and anything except me.

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5 Responses to Clint Eastwood and “The Invisible Man”

  1. Peter says:

    I don’t think Clint was in any way being racist but I agree with you bob that that kind of depiction of him talking to an invisible Obama was a turn off. I’m not being uptight to something that many would consider funny. But his message did turn off black voters. He had a good message but his choice of delivery wasn’t the most ideal. I’ll still watch his movies though.

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  2. Matthew says:

    This is exactly why I found the Eastwood moment horrifying as well as just laughable. The crowd’s disdain for Obama wasn’t based on facts or policies, but on their hatred of the invisible (black) man.

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  3. Dianne Hanley says:

    Profound perspective, Bob. Thanks. Dianne

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  4. Ken Burk says:

    I was relating this (and some of your other) blog(s) to Lucia yesterday afternoon. That evening we ended up going to Barnes and Noble. I wondered off into the music and movies and when I wandered back to find her she was standing at the end of a row of books. i showed her what I had purchased and then looked down to see “the Invisible Man” on the bottom shelf. We bought it. I’ve enjoyed your writing, Bob, keep up the great work.

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