Some of America’s ugliest antisemitism comes from young Hollywood Jews (language warning)

James Franco Comedy Central RoastI recently found myself watching 2013’s “Comedy Central Roast of James Franco.” It was a deeply disturbing experience.

The last time I watched a roast was sometime in the 1970s. My father loved those old Dean Martin celebrity roasts.  They were intended to be PG, which meant that the insults were pretty gentle and none were obscene. The celebrities were ribbed about such things as peculiar mannerisms, spending habits, silly clothes, and G-Rated womanizing.

Racism or crude sexual uniform were never part of these roasts.  Instead, the roasts relied on the same ecumenical comedy that characterized most of television from I Love Lucy through to the Archie Bunker sea-change in the early 1970s: the humor was intended to apply in some way to all Americans. Even ethnic humor — Jewish or African-American or Asian — was homogenized and made into universal truisms about human nature.

The James Franco roast was something altogether different. For one thing, it was incredibly obscene (which is pretty much to be expected of anything shown on premium cable channels). Practically every other word seemed to be an expletive related to scatology or sex. As for the sexual references, in the first 30 minutes (after which I felt so slimed I checked out), all were directed at Franco’s allegedly homosexual habits. (Film clips show Franco enthusiastically french-kissing men; Wikipedia indicates that his private life is heterosexual.) You can see examples here, here, here, and here.

To the extent that these comments about homosexuality were all meant to insult Franco, it surprised me a lot that the roast wasn’t roundly castigated as homophobic. It was after all the adult version of that middle school insult “You’re gay!” That statement, of course, is deemed “bullying” and “homophobic” and apt to get the youthful transgressor who hurled such an insult instantly incarcerated in the Dan Savage Re-education Academy.

Admittedly, this kind of crude sexual joking is a staple in films (leaving one to wonder why Leftists are always “shocked! shocked!” when it shows up in schools).  What isn’t a film staple, however, is the oozing, rank antisemitism the roasters displayed. It’s important to understand the context for these jokes: most of the people on the stage, and most (although not all) of the people making these antisemitic jokes, are Jewish. Franco himself is Jewish, but so are Sarah Silverman, Jonah Hill, Seth Rogen, Andy Samberg, and Nick Kroll, among others.

Of course, Jews have always been famous for aiming jokes at themselves. Just as Yiddish is a language awash in unique words describing the human condition, so too are Jewish jokes heavy on describing the various types you’ll find in closely confined communities, whether in the shtetl or the ghetto.

A few things characterize the classic Jewish jokes. First, as originally told, they were by Jews, about Jews, and for Jews. Second, they have a gentle quality. They recognize the humanity of their subjects, even if the subject is the over-selling matchmaker, the con artist, or the loser. Third — and this flows directly from the humanity in the jokes — is that many of them have an underlying admiration for the man who can make money despite crippling prejudice; the matchmaker who never loses faith in the importance of the covenant between man and woman; the con man who lives on his wits, rather than being a crude, strong-arm crook; and the nebbish, who is, in so many ways, every man.

To illustrate my point, here are just a few jokes from that marvelous compendium, Leo Rosten’s The Joys of Yiddish:

The pedestrian said to the schnorrer (“an impudent indigent,” among other meanings): “Give you a nickel? Why? Why don’t you go to work? You’ve got the arms and legs of a horse!”

“Ha!” cried the schnorrer. “For one lousy nickel, am I supposed to cut off my limbs?”

***

A nebech (or nebbish, the everyman who makes his own misery) pulled into a parking place on a busy street in Tel Aviv. Along came a policeman.

“Is it all right to park here?” asked the nebech.

“No,” said the cop.

No? But look at all those other parked cars! How come?”

“They didn’t ask.”

***

And the nebech’s partner in crime, the shlemiel; or, as the saying goes, “A shlemiel is always knocking things off a table; the nebech always picks them up.”

A shlemiel came to his rabbi, distraught. “Rabbi, you’ve got to advise me. Every year my wife brings forth a baby. I have nine children already, and barely enough money to feed them — Rabbi, what can I do?”

The sage thought not a moment. “Do nothing.”

***

The shadchen (matchmaker) was impressing the young man with the boundless virtues of a female, and ended: “And to look at, she’s a regular picture.”

The young man could not wait for his blind date.

But when he accosted the shadchen the next day, his voice was frosty: “Her eyes are crossed, her nose is crooked, and when she smiles one side of her mouth goes down….”

“Just a minute,” interrupted the shadchen. “Is it my fault you don’t like Picasso?”

Those Jewish jokes — told by Jews and about Jews — are not vicious. They speak to universal archetypes, and they do so with fondness, even love. Contrast them with just a few of the jokes told at the James Franco roast, one that saw Hollywood Jews perform for all of America. I’ve copied these jokes verbatim from sites celebrating how “funny” they are, so my apologies for their awful language and crude antisemitism:

King of Hollywood: [about The Guilt Trip] Listen, if I wanted to watch two ugly Jews weaving through traffic, I’d watch Seinfeld’s web series.

***

Nick Kroll: Many of you might not know that Seth has a writing and directing partner named Evan Goldberg. What does this other guy look like that you’re the face of the operation? I assume he’s like a sweaty Orthodox Jew eating a pastrami sandwich, and he said [scrunching up his face and using a thick Yiddish accent] “I did nine dick jokes on page four, and I was thinking that the guys are friends, and then they’re not friends, and at the end of the movie, they’re friends again.”

***

Sarah Silverman: I can’t tell if this is the dais or the line to suck Judd Apatow’s balls. This dais is so Jewey. What is this, the Comedy Central audit of James Franco?

***

Sarah Silverman: Jonah is such a Jewy dick, you have to watch his movies through a hole in a sheet.

***

Nick Kroll: “James Franco is truly our generation’s James Dean. So handsome that you forget he’s only been in two good movies. Dean, of course, died at the tender age of 24 sparing himself the embarrassment of writing self-indulgent short stories and getting roasted by a bunch of jealous Jew monsters.

***

Nick Kroll: “Seth Rogen is so Jewish.”
Crowd: “How Jewish is he?”
Nick Kroll: “Seth Rogen is so f***ing Jewish… Anyway, it’s great to be here.”

These awful “jokes” are just the ones that internet publications deemed amongst the funniest things the assembled “comedians” said. There were more, and they were all in the same vein, saying horrible things about Jews. None of them gently laugh at the human condition. None offer insight into human foibles or human decency. All play into the most vile stereotypes about Jews: Jews are ugly, Jews sweat and stink, Jews are obsessed with sex, Jews are eaten by jealousy, and Jews are simply “f***ing.”

These jokes are a primer in self-loathing.  They perfectly reflect the Stockholm Syndrome that has overtaken America’s Progressives Jews.  These young Jews — who are amongst the most recognizable people in America, and have become power brokers in Hollywood — have internalized all of the worst stereotypes about Jews.  They believe this of themselves.

Moreover, as is often the case with people who perceive themselves as defective, they’re trying desperately to be the first to insult themselves, relieving the “normal” person with nothing left to say.  (Sarah Silverman’s stories of her horrific childhood bear out this theory about beating yourself first, before someone else does it.)

This technique is useful insofar as it means that you — the “defective” one — don’t have to hear someone else say something loathsome about you.  It fails utterly, however, when it comes to defusing or destroying the prejudice and hatred.  Those are still out there, hanging in the air, only you’ve become your own executioner.  The hater, by leading you to internalize the hate and then voice your self-hatred, has made you complicit in your own destruction.

I mentioned at the beginning of this post that I felt slimed listening to the grotesque, obscene, scatological, salacious and antisemitic effluvia that flowed from these young “entertainers.”  I was also deeply, deeply saddened.  This is where 50 years of the Leftists’ grand march through American culture has left us.  Jews once thought they were special.  They were God’s chosen people and the people of the Book, bringing justice and morality to the world.  They may have been in the ghetto, but they were not of the ghetto.

Today, America’s most fortunate young Jews lack this cultural confidence.  They find themselves disgusting.  They ‘re not just of the ghetto.  They are the miserable filth lying in the ghetto’s gutters. To cleanse themselves of that stain, they commit ritual seppuku on TV and movie screens across America and across the world.

(NOTE:  I know that some of these Jews, such as Sarah Silverman and Seth Rogen, support Israel, and for that I am grateful.  Having said that, you don’t support the pro-Israel cause by constantly demeaning and stereotyping the Jewish people.)

 

A belated Dancing With The Stars wrap-up (including some surprising facts)

DancingRegular readers know that I’m quite fond of Dancing With The Stars.  I like it on several levels.  First, it’s what I call a “getting it right” show.  The stars begin as neophytes, and through a lot of hard work, all get better and some get totally wonderful.  Second, I love watching dancing and the pros on this show are really good.  Third, I like the camaraderie that develops on the show.  It most certainly could be faked, but I actually don’t think so.  These people are living in each other’s back pockets for weeks at a time, and they seem to enjoy each other’s company.  Given how much I liked the show, I thought I’d share a season wrap-up with you, including a few facts and tidbits that aren’t so obvious.

This season, after a lackluster start, proved to be one of the most exciting Dancing With The Stars seasons I’ve watched.  While those who dropped out early were an unimpressive bunch (although I think Randy Couture should have lasted much longer than he did), the four stars going into the finals proved to be really exciting dancers who matured beautifully during the short season.  Here’s a bit about each of those four:

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[VIDEO] “Animal House” seemed to have something to say in the wake of Obama’s amnesty “legislation”

John Belushi togaWe watched Animal House last night.  Are there any among you who haven’t seen it?  It’s as anarchically funny as ever, although parts didn’t wear well, both because of my years (I’m not a college student anymore and my humor’s matured a little bit) and because of the years I’ve spent marinating in political correctness.  Still, I laughed.

Indeed, when John Belushi gave his famous rousing-the-troops speech, I laughed extra hard, because it reminded me of conservatives struggling to figure out how to respond to Obama’s amnesty “executive order.”  If you’re not offended by foul language, you might enjoy revisiting this scene:

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Deep thoughts about a salacious book — Scotty Bowers’ “Full Service”

Scotty Bowers in 1944I’ve been working out on a stationary bike lately, because of ongoing sports injuries.  I find this dull.  I also find that I can alleviate the boredom by listening to books on my iPod.  I’m working my way through some of the books that are available for free from my local library.

When I listen to audiobooks while biking– heck, whenever I listen to books — I have to make certain that the book is simple in both substantive content and written style.  Otherwise, if I get distracted, I lose track of where I am.

Sadly, I get distracted a lot.  While I have almost unbreakable focus when reading a book, listening to books seems to go through a different part of my brain, one with a pretty short attention span.  Because I can’t just page back in an audiobook to find what I missed, it can take me forever to retrace my steps.  The end product of this issue is that I go for simplistic audiobooks.

Last week, I found a doozy of a simplistic book:  Scotty Bowers’ Full Service: My Adventures in Hollywood and the Secret Sex Lives of the Stars. The book’s basic outline is that Bowers was a simple Illinois farm boy who came to Hollywood after WWII and quickly became the town’s best-known bisexual prostitute, as well as an even better known procurer who would happily (and for no fee) bring people together for sexual hi-jinx. The lure of reading the book, of course, is to discover which classic Hollywood stars were gay or bisexual (and according to Bowers, that was just about everybody), and what kind of bizarre sexual practices some stars enjoyed (you really don’t want to know about Charles Laughton’s alleged fetish).

I found the book surprisingly interesting, although not for the obvious reasons. Bowers certainly isn’t shy about describing various sexual encounters (and he seems to have had thousands, with both women and men, famous and unknown), but he does so in such an upbeat, yet clinical, way that it has all the sexual thrills of listening to one of those loud, cheerful gym teachers we used to have in the 70s describing the facts of life to a room full of bored teenage girls. If you’re looking to be titillated, this book isn’t for you.  (But if you’re under 18, or prefer to keep your mind out of the gutter, this book isn’t for you either.  It’s too graphic.)

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Jane Fonda and the pathologies of the Left

Hating Jane FondaIn connection with my post my post about War, Disease, and Malthusian Leftists, Kathy from Kansas wrote something very interesting (and, when my comments are restored, you can see it for yourself).  She said “I noticed a long time ago that most of the little foot-soldiers in groups such as PETA are mentally disturbed: self-hating and humanity-hating. I actually pity most of these unhappy souls.”

Aside from being an excellent statement on its own merits, Kathy’s comment reminded me of something that’s been swirling around in my brain today, and that’s Jane Fonda.  You see, in the course of the past two days, I’ve read two things about Jane Fonda.  The first is an apocryphal tale about Fonda visiting American POWs and, upon receiving messages from them, turning those messages over to their North Vietnamese captors. While Fonda didn’t do anything quite that bad, her behavior during the Vietnam War was appalling, insofar as she gave aid, comfort and propaganda chops to the enemy:

Hanoi Jane

Jane Fonda in North Vietnam

The second thing I read about Fonda was a Daily Mail story reporting on her utterly appalling parents and the abusive marriages into which she entered. Her mother, a survivor of childhood sexual abuse, was a manic-depressive nymphomaniac who eventually committed suicide by slitting her own throat, while her father, famed actor Peter Henry Fonda, was as mean and cold a son of a bitch as you’d ever hope to find. Fonda’s first husband forced her into sexual debauchery and her second husband, rather typically for a hard Leftist, treated her like a slave.

As I read about the horrors — the very real horrors — of Fonda’s young life, what I thought was “And this is the kind of person who takes that anger and despair and trauma and abuse . . . and becomes a Leftist.

Help support an effort to undermine the hard-Left “comics” who dominate the MSM

I got an email from the Media Research Center that I’d like to pass on to you.  I don’t usually pass these things on, but this harmonizes closely with what my sister-in-law and I have been saying for years:  Conservatives need to entertained people into supporting conservative values, just as Leftists successfully entertained people into supporting Leftist values.  (Ben Shapiro ably describes how this has worked in television from the 1960s through to the present day.)

Media Research </p><br />
<p>Center. America's Media Watchdog
Dear Supporter,,

I want to thank you for supporting the Media Research Center and our mission of exposing and neutralizing liberal bias in the so-called “news” media. 

But liberal bias also runs unchecked and unbalanced in the ENTERTAINMENT media. 

Specifically, in the world of TV comedy and satire.

I am asking all our supporters to invest in the MRC’s efforts to shatter the left’s monopoly on the entertainment media.

Humor and satire are integral to American popular culture. But all the late night comedians and their TV shows satirize our culture exclusively from the left!  

Comedians Bill Maher, Jon Stewart, David Letterman, Jimmy Fallon, Craig Ferguson, Jimmy Kimmel, and the whole crew of SaturdayNight Live advance a leftist agenda under the guise of comedy and brainwash America’s young people each and every dayIs it any wonder that the youth of America are turning into leftist Obama zombies? 

And David Letterman’s replacement next year — Stephen Colbert –- is even more liberal than Dave! He is a diehard, hardcore leftist activist.  This left-wing comedy/satire monopoly must be challenged and dismantled!

Mockery and ridicule are common and effective ways of marginalizing political opponents, and the left is great at it.  But liberals absolutely hate being mocked. They love to ridicule and deride people who think differently from them but they can’t stand it when they are the target.

When we started NewsBusted, we wanted to change that by creating at least one comedy show where socialism isn’t worshiped and where American values aren’t derided.

NewsBusted is the one comedy show where joke writers aren’t afraid to serve up the ridicule that Barack Obama, Joe Biden, Harry Reid, and Nancy Pelosi so richly deserve.

We have a specific goal for 2015 – to raise enough money to upgrade all aspects of the audio and video production of NewsBusted… it’s time for a major, high tech upgrade—in High Definition!

Quality television audio & video production doesn’t come cheap. For nearly seven years, our production team has been using the SAME standard definition camera, the SAME microphones, the SAME lighting system, the SAME editing bay, the SAME graphics package, and the SAME sound mixing board… NewsBusted is long overdue for a high tech upgrade and 2015 is the year to do it!

I need you to donate today so that we can start producing better sounding and better looking episodes of NewsBusted – in high definition!We need your generous contribution to keep the laughs coming!

NewsBusted is produced by the Media Research Center (an IRS-certified 501(c)(3) non-profit) which means that your donation will be fully tax-deductible under the law.

To help upgrade NewsBusted, please click here where you can donate via our secure form.

I hope I can count on your support as we challenge leftist orthodoxy in the world of comedy and satire.

Sincerely,


L. Brent Bozell III
Founder and President
Media Research Center

 

A delight from Dancing With The Stars

Those of you who don’t watch Dancing With The Stars might not know this, but one of the contestants is 17-year-old Sadie Robertson, of the Duck Dynasty family.  She is an absolute delight as a dancer.  Although she’s never danced before, she turns out to be a natural, from the tips of her fingers to her always well-placed toes.  Although the judges didn’t agree, I thought she turned in the best performance last night:

And I was sad to see ” target=”_blank”>Randy Couture get sent home. I knew he wasn’t going to last, because he’s not a good dancer, but there was something appealing about him. In addition to his good looks, I like that he served his country for six years (retiring with the rank of sergeant) and that he’s a kick-ass fighter.

“Captain Phillips”: The most pro-Second Amendment movie I’ve ever seen

Captain-Phillips-poster-26Jul2013_02I finally got around to watching Captain Phillips. The move is ripped from headlines in 2009, when a Maersk captain got kidnapped by Somalia pirates, and was then rescued when Navy SEALS managed to kill the kidnappers in a sniper tour de force — perched on a rocking boat, the SEAL snipers took out three pirates who were standing within the confines of a closed — and also rocking — life boat. The movie didn’t do much for me as entertainment (more on that later), but I thought it was a splendid argument supporting the right to bear arms.

Since we’re all familiar with the actual kidnapping story, which we watched play out in real time, I’m not giving anything away when I say that the movie’s plot begins when four Somali pirates, traveling in a small, open skiff and armed with semi-automatic rifles and pistols, board a giant Maersk cargo ship. Their goal is to hold the ship’s crew hostage until Maersk’s insurance meets their ransom demand. Things go awry, though, when the ship’s crew fights back and manages to kidnap the leader of the pirate band. When the Maersk crew returns the pirate to his own crew, now ensconced in the Maersk’s fully enclosed life boat, the pirates successfully turn the tables, grab Captain Phillips, and take off.

The musical score indicated that the scenes in which the pirates stalk and eventually board the Maersk ship were meant to be gripping. Certainly, you could see the crew getting nervous. There they were, helpless, as these cruel predators stalked them. The only thing they could do was to turn on their ship’s water cannons in an effort to make boarding difficult. Here’s a nice picture showing the teeny skiff working its way up to the giant cargo ship with all its cannon going full force:

Water cannons in Captain Phillips

The image reminds of nothing so much as a feisty little mouse stalking a terrified, moribund, drooling elephant. Watching this scene, therefore, my dominant emotion wasn’t fear or anxiety, it was exasperated anger. If the Maersk had been armed with a few semi-automatic weapons or a mortar launcher or two, it could have blown that little skiff out of the water in an instant.

A small skiff would never have dared approach a boat it knew was armed. The only reason the pirates could act with such impunity was because they had the weapons and they knew that the only thing that the cargo ship could do was to spit at them.

At movie’s end, Phillips wasn’t rescued because of his ingenuity or courage (although the script works hard to give him both).  Instead, he was rescued because the U.S. Navy out-manned and out-gunned the rag-tag band of pirates.

To me, the movie’s overwhelming message was that, if the outlaws are the only ones with guns, you’re helpless. However, if the good guys also have guns, the outlaws are mincemeat. This is as true within a country as it is on international waters. The Maersk ship was a metaphor for every law-abiding American who is denied the right to bear arms, and who then finds himself staring into the barrel of a bad guy’s gun, aimed right at him.

Thankfully, the Captain Phillips incident helped some of the shipping companies see the light. Rather than viewing ransom payments as a cost of doing business, thereby incentivizing piracy, some of the companies now hire armed guards who can, presumably, knock off a pirate skiff even before it gets within range of water cannons. You won’t be surprised to learn that the pirates, who are now greeted with the business end of a gun rather than the promise of cash, have pretty much gone out of business.  Again, this is a perfect metaphor for the Second Amendment, which posits that there are more good guys in America than bad ones and, from that, extrapolates that, if the good guys are armed, the bad guys will retreat.

Aside from that powerful Second Amendment message (which I suspect was inadvertent), the movie left me pretty cold:

It failed as a suspense movie, because I already knew how it ended.

It failed as a hagiography of Captain Phillips, because I had already read months ago that the crew vehemently disputes Phillips’ heroic version of events. One could say that this is just sour grapes on the crews’ part, because they missed out on the money (and because the movie painted them as sniveling union cowards), but the facts bear out one important piece of information: given the prevalence of pirates in the region, ships were told to stay 600 miles off shore, well out of pirate range. Phillips kept his ship within 300 miles of shore, a fact even he concedes. If the crew is right about that incredibly salient point, it may well be right about all the other stuff.

It failed stylistically, because the director, Paul Greengrass, tried to shoot it as if it was a documentary happening in real time. This stylistic choice had two byproducts: First, it gave the movie that jerky, handheld quality you see when documentary filmmakers are running after a subject. I find this irritating. I tolerate it for real documentaries, but find it unnecessary and unpleasant in faux documentaries. Second, the actors weren’t acting, they were mimicking. You could see them sweat (and then inwardly congratulate themselves) as they tried to copy the speech and mannerisms of a real person. They therefore never fully inhabited their characters, leaving them one-dimensional. This made the movie lifeless.

It failed morally to the extent it seemed to say that the pirates were also innocent victims, more to be pitied than censured. Certainly, it’s true that Somalia is a country of abysmal poverty and disarray, made worse by its citizens’ addiction to khat. The pirates are shown chewing khat to get themselves excited for the hunt, and then becoming increasingly paranoid and desperate as their khat supply runs out. When one looks at the dreadful country, all of Somalia’s citizens are much to be pitied. Still, that’s not a license to engage in crime on a mass scale. Moreover, it was clear from the movie that the real malfeasors are the shipping and insurance companies that saw ransom as a cost of doing business, giving the Somalis a rational incentive to engage in piracy. As noted above, without this incentive, the Somali pirate trade pretty much ended.

And finally, the movie failed for a reason unique to me: I don’t like Tom Hanks. I’ve been dragged to see all of his movies over the years, and I’ve never like him. He runs the gamut from maudlin to overacting, a range that doesn’t just leave me cold, but leaves me with a vague, shuddering revulsion.

The way “Saving Mr. Banks” ought to have gone

I didn’t like Saving Mr. Banks, which I thought could more accurately have been called “Walt Disney’s Revenge.”  It’s obvious that, by the early 1960s, P.L. Travers was a deeply disturbed woman.  Contemporaneous records (including the tapes that Travers insisted be made of her talks with the Disney people) reveal that Walt Disney showed great charm and kindness in dealing with her, so that reflects well on Walt.  However, a movie that has Emma Thompson, a talented mimic, portraying the damaged Travers wasn’t my cup of tea.  I think I would have liked this version better:

The Brendan Eich witch hunt makes HBO’s Silicon Valley must-see TV

Silicon Valley HBOOne of the most awful defenses the usual suspects offered on behalf of Mozilla came (natch) from the New York Times, which opined that Mozilla is “special” and therefore cannot be held to ordinary corporate standards:

Mozilla is not a normal company. It is an activist organization. Mozilla’s primary mission isn’t to make money but to spread open-source code across the globe in the eventual hope ofpromoting “the development of the Internet as a public resource.”

As such, Mozilla operates according to a different calculus from most of the rest of corporate America.

Like all software companies, Mozilla competes in two markets. First, obviously, it wants people to use its products instead of its rivals’ stuff. But its second market is arguably more challenging — the tight labor pool of engineers, designers, and other tech workers who make software.

When you consider the importance of that market, Mr. Eich’s position on gay marriage wasn’t some outré personal stance unrelated to his job; it was a potentially hazardous bit of negative branding in the labor pool, one that was making life difficult for current employees and plausibly reducing Mozilla’s draw to prospective workers.

Short version:  Silicon Valley is a unique outpost of Progressive corporate responsibility and no tech company can afford to offend the delicate sensibilities within that small, unique world.

That sounded nonsensical, but it may well be that Silicon Valley denizens really do like to think of themselves as special in unique and Progressive ways.  Indeed, we have proof of that, and in a pretty funny form that was created and finalized long before anyone thought of anything other than JavaScript in connection with Brendan Eich.

Last night, HBO debuted a new half hour show called Silicon Valleywhich HBO promises will be the Entourage of California’s high-tech world:  five young men will become very, very rich, and then navigate their way through the perils and pleasures of wealth and insincerity in a uniquely rich and powerful environment.  Because I’m not a fan of HBO’s leftist sensibilities, I yielded only reluctantly to my husband’s importuning that I give it a try.  From the first minute, though, I was hooked.

I don’t think I would have been quite so hooked if it hadn’t been for the Brendan Eich witch hunt.  Without that context, the show really is just another Entourage, meaning that you can only remain interested for so long in foul-mouthed, stereotypical young men (computer geeks, as opposed to Hollywood geeks) living the lush life.  But what the show did wonderfully, really wonderfully, was to satirize the banal Progressivism that those who have struck it rich in Silicon Valley believe that they must bring to bear on every facet of life.

When the episode opens, the main protagonist is working as a low-level drone at “Hooli,” a company that’s clearly modeled on Google/Facebook/YouTube/Yahoo or any other Silicon Valley company that seeks to think “out of the box,” by turning the workplace into a playground and the world into a Progressive paradise.  In fact, Hooli’s real goal is to keep its isolated, banal, self-involved founder very, very rich, which various corporate sycophants and tech geeks along for the monied ride.

One of the more interesting characters, and one that the hero opts to work with, is a weird guy who is fanatically opposed to college, which he believes stifles creativity and initiative.  As he points out, most of the tech world’s great ideas came from college drop-outs.  To him, college is a place where the top-heavy administration’s entire goal is to churn out people who are burdened with debt, can’t get jobs, and have had their creative abilities sucked out of them.  When this guy gives a well-attended talk to that effect, the only opposition he gets is from an old hippie who hurls content-free insults.

It was both a surprise to me and not a surprise at all to learn that Mike Judge is the show’s creator.  Judge denies having any political leanings.  That may be true.  He may just be an iconoclast who’s willing to take on the Leftist shibboleths that completely dominant Hollywood and the professional class.  Whatever his motivations and beliefs, his product is refreshing.  

For all that Silicon Valley  satirizes the brainless, corporate Progressivism that oozes out of Silicon Valley, I doubt that even Judge could have envisioned either the fascist attack on Eich for his personal beliefs or the “we’re special” defense that the New York Times offered up on Mozilla’s behalf.  In a world run by Leftists, reality routinely outruns satire.  Nevertheless, if you have access to HBO, and if you are willing to tolerate HBO’s endless obsession with sex and foul language, check out its premiere episode (which you can see online).  In the unlikely event that it manages to maintain its satirical tone for even a few episodes before sinking into the usual Hollywood quicksand of mushy feel-good Leftism, it’s probably a show you’ll enjoy and one that, moreover, deserves support.

(Should I throw in a few typical review points here?  Yes, I shall.  Production values are expensive; acting is workmanlike; obscenity is rife.  That’s pretty much all you need to know.)

I totally agree with Ben Shapiro and Andrew Klavan about movies that pervert the original author’s intent

winona_ryder_little_women_us_dvdThis is me, writing back in 2008 about Winona Ryder’s adaptation of Little Women:

Two of my favorite 19th Century books have very pronounced moral lessons indeed, and they remain enormously popular despite (or maybe because of — but more of that later) those lessons.  The first is Jane Austen’s Pride and Prejudice, and the second is Louisa May Alcott’s Little Women.  Both of them, no doubt, are familiar to you too, although the latter is likely more familiar to the girls than the boys reading this.

[snip]

In Little Women, Jo March is a wonderful, enthusiastic, energetic girl (and, eventually, woman) who gets into a lot of trouble because she runs off half-cocked all the time.  Indeed, her impetuosity results in her being denied her heart’s desire:  an all-expenses paid trip to Europe.  However, she learns that life has consolations and that they may be much better than merely getting what one wishes.  By subordinating her own uncontrolled desires to the demands of hearth and home, she enriches her own character, learns better to appreciate those around her and, of course, is entitled to her reward — marrying a good man.

The lessons in both books are pretty clear to anyone who bothers to read them.  You don’t need an advanced English degree, and hours spent analyzing symbolism and myth, or even more hours deconstructing whatever is written, to figure out the moral lessons Alcott and March were making.  Those lessons lie at the core of each book, with the stories around them intended both to entertain and to accentuate the moral the reader takes away.

If Elizabeth just had a frivolous romance with Wickham, and disliked Darcy to the end, the story would be morally stagnant, and would fall in the category of junk romance, rather than great literature.  Austen’s charming writing is made worthwhile only because of the moral steel that underlies it.  Likewise, if Jo simply frolicked from one misadventure to another, Little Women would probably remain an unknown, shallow work of 19th Century children’s fiction.  What makes it interesting are Jo’s epic struggles to subdue her immature self to realize a truly fulfilled adult life.

What irks me is that so many remakes of these two books work assiduously to hide from the reader or viewer these core moral lessons — lessons that have kept these books vital for centuries. I’ve grumbled for years about Winona Ryder’s adaption of Little Women, which is a visually beautiful movie but which completely reverses the story’s moral underpinnings.  Jo goes through the movie just trying to do what she wants, and the viewer is given to understand that it’s just so unfair when events stop her.  At one point, she explains to Professor Baehr that her father’s philosophy was something along the lines of “if it feels good do it” (and I’m quoting liberally here, because I can’t remember the actual line in the movie, just the sense of it).  At that moment in the movie, I simply shut down.  No beautiful costumes or charming scenes could make up for the fact that Winona Ryder had turned on its head the book’s actual message, which is that, if it feels dutiful, morally appropriate and mature, do it.

Yeah!  What I said way back when.  There are few things more offensive than a movie that, rather than exercising artistic license on a book to adapt it to a visual medium, turns the author’s core lesson on its head.

Noah-2014-Movie-Poster-650x962And this is Andrew Klavan, writing about Noah:

Ben Shapiro is a devout Jew, and I’ve heard him speak with real and revealing insight into Torah — something that’s not all that common. In a genuinely sharp essay at Truth Revolt, he took the film apart as a “perversely pagan mess” that replaced God with Gaia to deliver a muddled environmentalist message. You can read the whole excellent thing here, but one point struck me particularly:

It is one thing for a movie adaptation to stray from the source material. Adding characters or scenes, crafting details that vary from the strict text – all of it is in bounds when it comes to adaptations. Critics of Noah who have focused on the extra-Biblical magic of Methuselah or the lack of textual support for instantaneously-growing forests are off-base.

The far deeper problem is when an adaptation perverts the message of the source material. If the movie version of To Kill A Mockingbird had turned Tom Robinson into a villain and Mr. Ewell into a hero, that would rightly have been seen as an undermining of the original work. The same is true of the Biblical story of Noah and the movie version of that same story. It isn’t merely that Aronofsky gets the story wrong. That would be forgiveable. It’s that Aronofsky deliberately destroys the foundational principles undergirding the Bible, and uses Biblically-inspired story to do it.

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Now all three of these guys are friends of mine, true men of faith, and big brains — and Nolte’ll let the air out of your tires if you even look at him sideways — but I have to admit, without having seen the film, without being able to judge of its quality, it’s Shapiro’s point that sticks with me. If, as I say, Aronofsky is a declared atheist, if he intended to deliver “the least biblical film ever made,” I can’t help but wonder: why make a biblical film at all? No? I mean, the Bible is the sacred book of gazillions of people. If you disagree with it, if you have a different message than, you know, God’s, well, fine, but then why not make up your own story, why twist and gut and dishonor this one?

It can’t be because Aronofsky is a radically courageous teller of truths. Attacking the Bible doesn’t require any courage in America and certainly no radicalism. Read those comments above. Is Shapiro going to hunt Aronofsky down and behead him? Sure, Nolte might (the man’s a savage), but he’ll probably think better of it in the end. And hell, Moeller’s practically inviting the guy to tea.

What do you think the reactions would have been if Aronofsky’s film had been called “Mohammed?” If Aronofsky had said, “This is going to be the least Koranic movie ever made?” Do you think the reactions would be so civilized, so thoughtful, so interested in “facilitating important conversations.” Now there’s a film that would take courage. There’s a film that would be radical. And there’s a film that Aronofsky is never going to make!

The idea of using the Bible to make a non-biblical film just seems wrong in and of itself — mean and small-hearted and bullying, and cowardly too when you consider he could’ve taken on the Koran. Regardless of the movie’s quality, it just seems like the wrong thing to do per se. Unneighborly you might call it. UnChristian.

But then, maybe that’s the whole problem.

Yeah. What he said!