On one level or another pretty much every guy would love to be Tim Robbins. And why wouldn’t we? Let’s take stock real quick: Tim is highly successful in his chosen field, well respected amongst his peers, famous all over the world, and he is free to pursue his own interests and ideals without fear of retribution or ruin. And on top of it, he got to squeeze Susan Sarandon for two decades. Any way you want to dice it, Tim is a big winner in the game of life.
But we are not all THAT Tim Robbins right now. We are all the character that Tim Robbins made famous in the cult classic film The Shawshank Redemption. We are actually Andy Dufresne. Surely you remember Andy Dufresne and if you do you are crystal clear on why we DON’T want to be him right now. Let’s take stock real quick: Andy made a few bad choices that landed him in prison for a crime he didn’t commit; he was used, abused, tortured and tormented for about twenty years; then he spent the rest of his life being grateful that he survived the ordeal and trying to forget it ever happened.
As much as we respected and admired Andy Dufresne at the end of Shawshank, none of us wanted to walk the path that he walked regardless of how amazing things ended up for him. But politically that pretty much sums up the plight of American men right now. And to be clear, I am singling out men because we (race notwithstanding) voted overwhelmingly for Donald Trump to serve as our 45th president. And what have we gotten in return? He has humiliated us with his abject ignorance of the office he holds. He has threatened us by attacking our free press, or the companies we work for, or the companies we patronize, or even the sports leagues we watch. He has degraded our institutions by waging a campaign of relentless lies and insults against those who lead them. He has betrayed us by siding with our greatest enemy. And last but by no means least, he has fucked us with that treasury busting tax cut while Paul Ryan, Mitch McConnell and their gang held us down.
And just like Andy’s lead tormentor, “Boggs”, there is no doubt that Trump enjoyed it all the more because some of us fought like hell to keep it from happening. On the day the tax cut bill was being voted on I could’ve sworn I heard a hot mic catch him saying “Yeah, you fight- it’s better that way.” If you think that imagery is gruesome, just wait until we discover that we traded away our social security retirement benefits for a goddamned 12 pack of Budweiser.
So despite the fact that many of us have lathered ourselves up to believe that all of these things are good we know deep down that we’ve broken something that is in desperate need of repair. Because you know how hard it is for men to admit when we’ve really screwed up some of the guys who claim they love what Trump is doing to us are actually just resigned to it. I can see it in their eyes when I talk to them. What kind of “rock-ribbed-Republican” cheer-leads broadside attacks on the CIA, FBI, DOJ and decorated war veterans? Is it THAT orgasmic when he calls black men “sons of bitches” and Mexican men “rapists”? Did some of his voters get a check in the mail when he said that shit or does it just make it hurt less when he’s screwing them over and over again?
But let’s remember how our main man Andy made his journey from hell to heaven on earth: his buddy Red told us that Andy “crawled through five hundred yards of shit-smelling foulness I can’t even imagine. . . and came out clean on the other side.” In the end, Andy had the guts and guile to pull himself out of the very worst circumstances and the endurance to keep moving forward until he was free.
One of the greatest shots in movie history is that skinny shirtless man reaching up to the sky with rain pouring into his eyes as he faced his maker. He knew what he’d been through and he understood what it had taken to make it to that moment of freedom and redemption.
Watching Trump debase our democracy and denigrate our highest office puts us in the darkest place that we’ve been in politically in at least five decades. And it is painful. But we don’t have to endure Andy’s 20 year-long nightmare or crawl through a river of shit to emerge from this. All we really have to do is vote with the commitment and conviction of principled men. Kicking this reprobate out of The People’s House and restoring dignity and order to our highest office in 2020 will be our redemption.
Very few of us will ever be as free as the real Tim Robbins, but we can at least be as free as Andy Dufresne. And considering where we are right now, I’ll happily take that ending.