Thursday, February 11, 2016

Chris Christie's Mae West routine

The governor as scene-stealer

Chris Christie's Mae West routine


"She stole everything but the camera" the actor George Raft once said of Mae West, who famously upstaged him (and pretty much everyone else) in her 1932 screen debut. 

West was short, plump and pushing 40, but she became a cinematic sex goddess anyway, due in part to a  stupendous self-confidence that reminds me of Chris Christie's. Particularly when it comes to the art of scene-stealing.

Desperately fighting for screen time in New Jersey's gubernatorial race, Democrat Barbara Buono is accusing the Republican incumbent of hijacking publicly funded TV spots, which ostensibly promote post-Sandy Shore tourism, and transforming them into campaign commercials.

Buono, a state Senator from Middlesex County upon whose hopes the latest poll must be taking a toll, wants the governor's campaign to underwrite some of the cost of those "Stronger Than the Storm" spots. A progressive organization called New Jersey Working Families is running an online petition drive to that end as well.

The calls for reparations are inspired by a recent Asbury Park Press story that highlights the Christie administration's role in selecting the ad agency, whose sleek spots surely do burnish the governor's glow. A viewer is left with the impression Christie might singlehandedly repel a storm surge; the guy seems mighty enough to part the Red Sea, a la Charlton Heston.

Which brings us back to Mae West, who in her (brief) Hollywood prime ignited the screen simply by being on it.

Her larger-than-life persona was genuine, yet carefully crafted for maximum appeal to an audience she deeply understood. She made every scene be all about her.  And then she walked off with the movie.

UPDATED: 11: 45 AM

Inquirer Columnist
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Blinq is a news commentary blog featuring contributions from Inquirer Metro columnists Kevin Riordan and Daniel Rubin.

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