Friday, April 18, 2008

Tim Robbins is an activist god

Maybe it's the start of baseball season -- I'm watching the 22nd inning of the Rockies-Padres game! -- that has me remembering the first time I saw the movie Bull Durham. It was a movie that had everything I love -- sport (baseball), romance (Costner and Sarandon) and humor (in the form of an idiotic-yet-talented young pitcher). The imprint of Bull Durham remained on me for a long time. I pictured Crash Davis and Annie Savoy living in Happily Ever After, and hoped that someday I might be as lucky.

Imagine my horror when I heard that Susan Sarandon had taken up with, not Crash, but the nimrod pitcher Nuke LaLoosh. In real life! The guy was named Tim Robbins, he was twelve years her junior and, worst of all, he was a complete moron. Or so I thought,
and continued to stubbornly think, for many years.

Well, no more. Tim Robbins is now the object of my fantasies. He is a guy who is brilliant and passionate about not only sex and sport, but social issues as well. The thing that sets Tim Robbins apart more than anything is his ability to clearly articulate his positions, bravely defy social norms and niceties, cleverly connect historical dots, and positively SKEWER lesser mortals with their idiocy, hypocrisy, dishonesty, immorality and overall worthlessness, while making them laugh at the same time. He is so completely likeable that those who have been ripped to shreds by his razor wit invite him to have another go.

When social change is a goal, when mindsets must be shaped and molded, we need more activists like Tim Robbins. People who strike us as pompous and obnoxious, who are heavy-handed and unlikeable, are rarely successful change agents. To educate, to influence, to sway an opinion requires first to be heard. I know that I personally refuse to listen to anyone who browbeats me, provides no inspiration, and displays a complete lack of social awareness. I refuse to cooperate in any way, even if I agree with the vision. I doubt I'm the only one.

If you haven't already done so ten times, you should listen to (not read -- skip the first 4 1/2 minutes of banter) Tim Robbins' keynote address to the National Association of Broadcasters. He plays the audience in a masterful progression from inculpation to inspiration, while they cling to his every word. In the end he's left them feeling that he's an ally, that they can work together. The broadcasters are free to walk out the door feeling empowered, dignity intact, eyes opened, ready to go.




Tim Robbins possesses keen social intelligence. Unlike many activists, he isn't an obstacle to change.

2 comments:

T.R. said...

Wow. Thanks for the link. Have admired the man for a long time - that speech is brilliant. A must read.

Jay said...

I love Bull Durham, and I have a lot of respect for Tim Robbins who is as sharp as a razor. Great speech, though I fear it went over some of their heads.

Thanks for the link!