Balloons Of Sad — Ben Affleck Muses

February 6, 2023

Sunshine and chilly this late afternoon Monday here in California’s Central Valley –we had some rain last night and a bit this morning, but the day turned out beautiful, though, a bit on the cold side.
Supposedly, we’re forecast for much of the same the next few days with a smattering of our seasonal shitty ‘tule fog’ for good measure to keep the early hours in bleak times.

I haven’t been posting much the last couple of weeks, first with COVID — feeling nearly back to ‘normal’ (whatever passes for ‘normal’ nowadays) — and lately, I feel like I’ve been saddled with just a grim, sad mental attitude for all the shit going on, and there’s some shit. Add natural, old-age laziness and you have a blank page staring at you. It’s not like there’s nothing happening, the news cycle is overripe, boiling over with shit.
Just today, there’s that horrific series of earthquakes in Turkey and Syria with maybe more than 4,000 killed already (the death toll is climbing), plus happening in the dead of winter in spaces across warfare zones, which will make it harder for a lot of people in the quake zone to get help. As someone who lives in earthquake country, there’s a horror beyond horror. Especially in those Turkish concrete multi-story apartment buildings with old, and not-up-to-earthquake-proof standards, all collapsing with people trapped inside seemingly forever.
Although earthquakes are horrible just being earthquakes, Turkey is unique (The Washington Post):

The grim death toll is a result of several factors: the sheer size of the quake; the fact that it struck relatively close to the surface; and its proximity to where people live. Monday’s quake originated just about 11 miles below the surfac That means the seismic waves did not have to travel far before they reached buildings and people on the surface, leading to more intense shaking.

The aftershocks from this quake have also been large — and are expected to continue, Altaweel (Yaareb Altaweel, a seismologist at the National Earthquake Information Center in Colorado) said.
“So far, we’ve got about 40 aftershocks,” Altaweel said. “What caught the attention of the media is the big ones,” but the aftershocks can also be destructive.

And yet before those shakers, there was the china balloon fiasco — Republicans once again showed their whining, ignorant side along with the ‘normal’ bat-shit crazy.
Days of being assholes — best summed up by Richard Haas, president of the Council of Foreign Affairs, on “Morning Joe” this morning (The Wrap): ‘“If they (China) wanted to cause a crisis in the United States, trust me, they got a lot of ways to do it … The Republican hyperventilating here, it seems to me, goes against crisis management. The whole idea is to slow things down, to calm things down, not to overreact.”

Yet ‘overreact‘ to anything/everything is a Republican first impulse/reaction. That’s a horror take for another time. If I can overcome the doomscrolling, sadness and misery our news cycles are presenting every few minutes. Why all the shit and how are we reacting to it?
As I contemplated all this bullshit/mess and working mind-like in putting together a whatever post earlier this afternoon, I came across the Ben Affleck ‘sadness’ in the glory of Hollywood streaming across the Twitter world and in news stories. WTF!
Despite not really liking the guy (I came out of “Pearl Harbor” wanting to fight the guy) — though, I really enjoy his partner, Matt Damon, a lot — the theme of Affleck as ‘meme’ struck me right on:

Stuart Heritage at the Guardian this afternoon was the best of the reaction lot and hit the nail square — a facial-facade of the times:

Ben Affleck has a life that many of us would kill for. He is rich. He is handsome. He has reached the peak of his career behind the camera (winning two Oscars as a writer and director) and in front of it (the guy was literally Batman). He has been romantically involved with some of the most beautiful women on the planet, and is currently married to Jennifer Lopez. Whichever way you look at it, everything about Affleck’s life is wildly aspirational in almost every single way.

And yet, look at him at this weekend’s Grammys. In picture after picture, Affleck seems utterly dejected. He is staring off into space, unmoved by his proximity to glamour. He doesn’t smile; he doesn’t even try. He looks like someone who has successfully disassociated from everything surrounding him, like someone who would rather retreat to the comforting vortex of his own mind than indulge in any of the revelry.


Because aren’t we all, deep down, looking for someone who looks how we feel? Don’t we all want to see ourselves within the deep, miserable crags of a superstar’s face? Don’t we want someone to come along, hold our hand and say: “Hey, me too”? That is the service that Affleck provides. Don’t mistake that face for boredom. For a man of his stature to simply be bored with the spoils that surround him would be plainly obnoxious. No, instead Affleck looks exhausted and overwhelmed. His life is asking too much of him, and it is taking a heavy toll. Now answer me this: isn’t that exactly how you feel all the time?

Of course, it helps that all of the Affleck memes are, situationally speaking, absolutely correct. It makes perfect sense that he looked miserable at the Batman junket. Junkets are unspeakably miserable for every single person who takes part in them, from star to journalist to press person. They are torture. Similarly, although I have never smoked, that picture of Affleck smoking – just taking a moment for himself away from all the crap – has somehow tapped into the darkest recesses of my spirit.

And, of course, Affleck looked like that at the Grammys. The Grammys seem like a terrible way to spend an evening. They are bad enough to watch on TV. But imagine being there, surrounded by those crowds of preening, self-absorbed celebrities. If you went to the Grammys, you would 100% look like Affleck did this weekend, silently counting down the clock until you were finally allowed to go home.

Affleck is a fine actor and wonderful screenwriter whose work deserves to be remembered for generations to come. But all that fades to nothing next to his work as a meme. Nobody alive can touch Affleck for his meme work. It is everything: touching, hilarious and relatable. Whenever Affleck becomes a meme, he temporarily becomes all of us and we should cherish him for that.

Although shit is glorious, life sucks.

And he’s always been in the zone:

Sad or not, once again here we are…

(Illustration out front: New Yorker cartoon by Bruce Eric Kaplan, found here.)

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