One of the biggest reasons that I tend to hate it when athletes, actors, singers and other entertainers stick their beaks into politics isn’t just that I almost always tend to disagree with them, but their activism well outside their professional lane tends to color my enjoyment of their work. (I really try to ignore it and not let it bother me, but in some cases it’s hard.) The latest example on the list is Mandy Patinkin. I first got to know him from his timeless work in The Princess Bride (not coincidentally one of Ted Cruz’s all time favorite films) but I also really liked him in the short running series, Dead Like Me. (Absolutely worth binge watching if you’ve never seen it.) Unfortunately, the crossover between Patinkin and Cruz cropped up this week in a decidedly unentertaining way.
Patinkin caught wind of the fact that Cruz has been quoting his character from the classic film while having some fun on the campaign trail and he’s apparently not very happy about it. (NY Times)
“I would like to be with Senator Cruz for a moment and I would like to respectfully ask him, since he quotes all the lines from ‘The Princess Bride’ and certainly all of my character, Inigo Montoya’s, lines, I would like to know why he doesn’t quote my favorite line?” That line, Mr. Patinkin said, was among the last his character utters in a movie that essentially taught that love conquers all…
“After the princess flies out the window and falls into Andre the Giant’s arms,” Mr. Patinkin said, “Inigo says to the Man in Black, ‘I have been in the revenge business so long, now that it’s over, I don’t know what to do with the rest of my life.’”
Mr. Cruz, in Mr. Patinkin’s heavily left-leaning worldview, is trafficking in the revenge business, appealing to anxious voters by saying of the Islamic State, “We will carpet-bomb them into oblivion,” and by exploiting fears about immigrants and Muslims.
I don’t know much about Mandy Patinkin’s politics and frankly I wish I didn’t know anything about them at all. I’d be much happier watching his movies and television shows and not needing to think about politics at all. But since he feels the need to make a point of it in the press, now we all get to be annoyed. This is much the same as when Bruce Springsteen begins carping about Republicans legally using his licensed music at their events even though he gets paid royalties on it. You put it out there for the world and people will each take something from it.
In Patinkin’s case, however, I’m not sure he’s really all that in tune with his character to begin with. My wife and I are both huge fans of Princess Bride and have burned through copies on both videotape and DVD. I’ve lost track of how many times I’ve watched it, but if Mandy is like most actors I’d be willing to wager I’ve seen it more times than he has. The fact is that you’d be hard pressed to argue that Inigo Montoya underwent any sort of transformational moment of epiphany and determined that love conquers all. In fact, it’s nearly the opposite. Inigo never gives up on his quest for revenge. He kills the six fingered man and his only real regret is that he no longer has a target to pursue. As for “learning” about the value of true love, he’s on board with the concept for the entire film. He’s the ultimate romantic and even tells Miracle Max that you could not ask for a more noble cause than that after the Man in Black exhales the words “true love.”
At another point he describes the suffering of the Man in Black. “His true love is marrying another tonight, so who else has the cause for ultimate suffering?”
In all ways, that final line to the film doesn’t define forgiveness or epiphany. The character barely transforms at all throughout the film. Preaching to Ted Cruz about his lack of understanding of the character would be a lot more effective if he understood Inigo himself.