Really short movie reviews: Wolf of Wall Street and Noah

wolf-of-wall-streetLast night, I finally watched last year’s 3-hour-long The Wolf of Wall Street, which purports to tell the true story of Jordan Belfort, a guy who got rich beyond his wildest dreams of avarice thanks to the empire he built by fraudulently selling worthless penny stocks.  The film garnered a great deal of attention when it opened because it showed the debauchery of Jordan’s life, as well as the life his fellow get-rich-quick traders lived.  There were beaches full of cocaine (apparently the actors sniffed up powered Vitamin B), mountains of Quaaludes, oceans of alcohol, and swarms of naked prostitutes, as well as few tossed dwarfs.  It wasn’t titillating, it was mind-numbing.

As I commented to my husband, the movie was too much debauchery and too little plot.  By the beginning of the third hour, I was desperate for the FBI to move in and just arrest the guy so that we could all be put out of our misery.  Unless you are a glutton for punishment, I recommend that you skip the whole movie and just watch the first and last half hours, which will tell you everything you need to know about one crook’s rise and fall.

Noah-2014-Movie-Poster-650x962Also last night, my son saw Noah, a movie that has aroused the ire of traditional believers because of the way it turns God’s message and moral on its head.  While my son couldn’t care less about whether the movie twisted the Bible, he does care about good entertainment.  This was not, in his estimation, good entertainment.  Or as he said, and I quote, “Noah was a terrible movie.  It was really stupid and boring.  It was the worst movie I’ve ever seen.”

When I pressed him for details, I got a garbled recital about Noah’s stupid belief that he had to kill all of humankind, about his plan to murder his grandchildren, about unbelievable bad guys and animated rocks, and generally about a frenetic, yet boring, mess of a movie.  This was a two thumbs down and then some.

With “Non-Stop,” Hollywood doesn’t just jump the shark, it embraces it (BIG TIME SPOILER ALERT)

non_stop_poster-620x356Just yesterday, I pointed you to Roger L. Simon’s post arguing that conservatives are making a terrible mistake when they bail on the movie industry. Our intensely media-driven age, means that increasingly hard-left Hollywood is a superb propagandist that often provides the only information people get on a subject. The beauty of Hollywood propaganda (if you’re a Leftist) is that it’s so subtle. Hollywood doesn’t do clunky Soviet-era posters; instead, as Ben Smith ably demonstrated, it wraps core Leftist messages in rip-roaring good humor, gauzy tear-jerkers, or uplifting homilies. Polemics put people off; entertainment sucks them in.

We’ve gotten used to the Leftist tilt in entertainment over the years. We whine about it to each other (as I have here, here, here, and here), but that’s about all that we do. We accept it as not a necessary evil but an inevitable evil. That attitude encourages a certain passivity.

Sometimes, though, it’s worth making a loud noise, and that’s the case with Hollywood’s newest action flick, Non-Stop. The film has a high-profile star (Liam Neeson), lots of interesting cameos and co-stars, a big budget, and a clever plot about a well-disguised terrorist on a plane who is killing a new victim every twenty-minutes. (Thinking about it, for all it’s flash and newness, the plot is simply a re-hash of Agatha Christie’s And Then There Were None.)

Superficially, it sounds like a fun movie for those who, like me, enjoy a well-produced, fast-paced thriller/whodunnit. Indeed, John Boot, writing at the conservative PJ Media, says that it’s a fun movie, and enjoys the way the ending is unexpected. (He also noticed the Agatha Christie parallel.) It’s that surprise ending, though, that has stirred outrage across the conservative blogosphere. You see, it’s not merely a surprise, it’s a “jump the shark” kind of surprise.

(For the uninitiated, the phrase “jump the shark” originated with the last season of Happy Days, when the show had gotten irrevocably stale. In an effort to jazz things up, they put the Fonz on water skies and had him jump over a blatantly mechanical shark. If a show has to stoop so low, it should already have been put out to pasture. Since then, the phrase is used not only to describe shows that should long-since have been shark chum, but also to describe plot turns that are too stupid to exist even in the magical entertainment universe.)

SPOILER ALERT. NON-STOP’S PLOT DENOUEMENT WILL BE REVEALED BELOW. YOU HAVE BEEN WARNED.

Judging by the movie’s review at Breitbart, John Boot is correct that Non-Stop’s creators managed to avoid having a predictable ending.  They did so, however, only by pushing a hard-Left world view that is going to be swallowed whole by every uninformed adolescent and young person who sees the movie.  That is, while one can appreciate that the ending makes for a good movie, it is so unreal — such a high jump over a such a hideous, faked shark — that it should be soundly castigated, rejected, and ruined.

As I mentioned above, the plot device is Agatha Christie on steroids:  people trapped in an enclosed space with a hidden killer bumping them off.  Today’s headlines say it ought to have been a Muslim, since they’re the ones using terrorism against the rest of the world.  If you’re a filmmaker who wants to add a good twist to reality, you make sure your terrorist is a well-disguised Muslim, along the lines of the British, Christian-born Black Widow who headed the grotesquely violent attack against a Kenyan shopping mall.

Having that kind of ending, however, would have failed to advance the movie’s real purpose:  propaganda.  Breitbart explains precisely what agenda the movie is pushing (and this is your last warning that there are spoilers ahead that will make watching the movie forever unnecessary):

Counting pilots and crew, there are around 150 souls on board. Marks has 20 minutes to figure out which one is the bad guy. Red herrings abound. Is it one of the many actors whose faces we recognize but names we can’t remember? People start to die. Marks is fingered as the hijacker. Who’s doing this? Why are they doing this? What is their motive?

Here’s the answer:

It turns out that the villain is not a hijacker but a terrorist — someone who wants to murder everyone on the plane to further a political goal.

You ready…?

The terrorist is a 9/11 family member. Yes, you read that right; the terrorist is a 9/11 family-member who lost a loved-one in the World Trade Center on that terrible September morning.

It gets worse…

After 9/11,  this 9/11 family member-turned-terrorist then joined the military but found himself disillusioned by the pointless wars.

And now…

The 9/11 family member-turned-terrorist is upset because America hasn’t done enough to ensure there will never be another 9/11. And so he figures that if he can get an air marshal blamed for a terrorist attack, America will wake up and anally probe us before we’re allowed on a plane, or something.

It gets worse…

The villain’s sidekick is a member of the American military willing to murder 150 innocent people for a payday.

It gets worse…

The one passenger on the plane who is forever helpful, kind, reasonable, noble, and never under suspicion is a Muslim doctor dressed in traditional Muslim garb including a full beard.

Screw you, Hollywood.

Non-Stop didn’t stop at just jumping the shark.  Instead, it embraced it and then made mad, passionate love to it.  The filmmakers weren’t going for an element of surprise; they were sending a message to those credulous,  uninformed Americans churned out by America’s public school system:  Americans are bad; Muslims are good.  Ignore the headlines telling you otherwise.*  Hollywood knows better.

So what can you do?  Well, I don’t recommend giving out spoilers unless people ask for them.  Otherwise, you will be deservedly hated.  However, to the extent that word-of-mouth is the most powerful advertising any Hollywood movie has, start mouthing off.  If someone you know, in real conversation or on social media, expresses an interest in it, you can honestly state something along the lines of “I heard it was stupid” or “It’s supposed to be really bad.  I’d never pay $14 to see a really bad movie.”

As a sort of tag, given that the movie stars Liam Neeson, I can’t help but remember that in January 2012, Neeson expressed a serious interesting in converting to Islam.  Maybe he’s done it already and this movie marks his coming out.

______________________

*The usual disclaimer:  Not all Muslims are bad.  Most Muslims aren’t bad, but to the extent that almost none of them take a stand against the terrorists in their midst, the silent majority are complicit in the Muslim-inspired terrorism taking place in North America, South America, Europe, Africa, Australia, Eurasia, the Middle East, and Asia.

Friday afternoon round up (and Open Thread)

Victorian posy of pansiesLots of good stuff today, so I’m going to dive right in.  As always, these aren’t in any particular order, so you may find interesting things buried halfway down the list.

I’ve made the same point before, but I still like to see it come from Daniel Hannan and Jonah Goldberg:  Nazis came from the Left, not from the right.  Incidentally, I still like the way I phrased it, which was that we should get rid of the archaic Left/Right or Fascist/Communist/Capitalist language and, instead, look at political systems in terms of Statist versus Individualist forms of government.  The world’s most famous bad guys, no matter the name they gave themselves, land on the statist side.  America, before Obama, was more individualists, as she was when she went around the world freeing people from statists calling themselves Communists, Fascists, Nazis, Military Juntas, Muslim Fundamentalists, etc.

***

One of the things that distinguished George Bush was that he was a good manager — proving that he got something useful out of his stint in Harvard Business School. He surrounded himself by efficient, knowledgeable people who reflected well on this country’s competence, even if one didn’t agree with its policies. The opposite is true for Obama. He is a terrible manager who surrounds himself with people who know as little as he does.

Obama’s conduct is typical for an insecure person. He needs to surround himself with ineffective sycophants who say nice things to him and who don’t threaten him with their greater talents and skills. Obama gave the game away a long time ago when he announced, “I think that I’m a better speechwriter than my speechwriters. I know more about policies on any particular issue than my policy directors. And I’ll tell you right now that I’m gonna think I’m a better political director than my political director.” Genuinely smart — and mentally healthy — people don’t actually say things like that.

***

One of the things that drives me crazy about the Left’s insistence on bypassing parents to give young girls access to the birth control pill is the fact that it’s not just about sex (and the Left uses sex to bribe girls away from the nuclear family). It’s also about how high risk pills are. California kids can’t get their ears pierced without permission, but girls can easily get pills that are associated with strokes, blood clots, breast cancer and, now, multiple sclerosis. The Pill is a very dangerous medicine, but it’s so wrapped up in Leftist feminist politics, no one is willing to say “no” simply on safety grounds.  The fight about the Pill on moral grounds is a good fight.  The fight about the Pill on health grounds should be a winning fight — but nobody’s doing battle there.

***

Two excellent views about Putin’s escapades: Terresa, at Noisy Room, harks back to the Nazi notion of Lebensraum.  Paul Rahe, at Ricochet, thinks Putin is a fool, trying to relive the glory days of the Cold War but, in fact, reaching far beyond Russia’s actual, very limited, economic abilities, not to mention exposing Russia to the very real risk of a Chinese takeover. Fool or madman, the one thing we know with certainty is that Putin’s policies will destroy many lives, both inside and outside of Russia.

***

My sister lives in Oregon. After the millions it spent on its Obamacare exchange, she ended up signing up the old-fashioned way: by paper. The only question is how long the media can keep the prestidigitation going, so that people don’t realize that they’re on the losing end of a shell game.

***

Colleges across America: “Due process? We ain’t got no due process. We don’t need no due process! I don’t have to show you any stinkin’ due process!”

***

Jonah Goldberg nicely analyzes something that we’ve been talking about here, which is the speed with which the gay marriage debate has gone from the fringe to “you’d better accept it or else.” As many famous people have learned to their cost, one of the most effective techniques for moving the debate forward without regard to the merits is the GLAAD & Friends tactic of “nice little place/career/life you’ve got here. . . . Shame if something happened to it.”

***

Roger L. Simon issues a call to arms: Take back Hollywood. It drives culture and, to the extent conservatives jumped off the entertainment bus, we’ve left the lunatics in the driver’s seat.

***

The IRS scandal continues unabated. Those who think it’s been addressed and repaired have been flim-flammed yet again. Moreover, if you follow the money to public servant corruption, that may go a long way to explaining why our bureaucracy, which is supposed to be studiously apolitical, has thrown its immense power to the Democrats, the political party owned by the government workers’ unions.

***

I really, really like Allen West. Here he is with a vivid, but emotion-free, summation about both Common Core’s academic weaknesses and the madness of Obamacare mathematics.

***

My bet without doing any research is that, if you studied political identity in the military, you’d see that the military is still more conservative than the population as a whole. What you’d also see, though, is that every subsequent new batch of enlistees is more liberal than the one that came before. Remember, the new enlistees are young and Democrats have marketed themselves successfully to the young.

We know that young people in the general population are souring on Obama as job prospects dim.  Military enlistees have a job, but there’s still the possibility that they too will sour.  To the extent that Senate Democrats refused to increase veteran’s benefits, the very minimal chatter I’ve seen amongst the few young enlistees who are Facebook friends is that they are feeling hostile to the Dems right about now.

Man who lived under a rock for the past 50 years gives positive review to “12 Years A Slave”

The WaPo’s Richard Cohen wants you to know that 12 Years A Slave is an extremely important movie because it gives Americans a surprising new message that they need to hear:  Slavery is bad.

I don’t know under what rock Cohen has been living, but the last major American movie to suggest that slaves didn’t have it all bad was Gone With The Wind, which came out in 1939.  Cohen was born in 1948, nine years after Gone With The Wind hit movie theaters.  He presumably graduated from high school in about 1965, by which time the Civil Rights movement had changed America’s racial paradigm.  His education, moreover, didn’t take place in Ole Miss, or some other bastion of Southern-ness.  Instead, he was educated in New York all the way.

Since leaving college (Hunter College, New York University, and Columbia, none of which are known for their KKK sensibilities), Cohen has lived enveloped in a liberal bubble.  He first worked for UPI and has, for a long time, been affiliated with the Washington Post.

Somehow, though, up until he recently saw 12 Years A Slave, Cohen always believed that slavery was a good thing for American blacks.  No, I’m not kidding.  Yes, that’s what he really said:

I sometimes think I have spent years unlearning what I learned earlier in my life. For instance, it was not George A. Custer who was attacked at the Little Bighorn. It was Custer — in a bad career move — who attacked the Indians.

Much more importantly, slavery was not a benign institution in which mostly benevolent whites owned innocent and grateful blacks. Slavery was a lifetime’s condemnation to an often violent hell in which people were deprived of life, liberty and, too often, their own children. Happiness could not be pursued after that.

Steve McQueen’s stunning movie “12 Years a Slave” is one of those unlearning experiences. I had to wonder why I could not recall another time when I was so shockingly confronted by the sheer barbarity of American slavery.

Instead, beginning with school, I got a gauzy version. I learned that slavery was wrong, yes, that it was evil, no doubt, but really, that many blacks were sort of content.

Slave owners were mostly nice people — fellow Americans, after all — and the sadistic Simon Legree was the concoction of that demented propagandist, Harriet Beecher Stowe.

Her “Uncle Tom’s Cabin” was a lie and she never — and this I remember clearly being told — had ventured south to see slavery for herself. I felt some relief at that because it meant that Tom had not been flogged to death. But in the novel, he had.

I have no idea whether 12 Years A Slave is a good movie or a bad movie.  Aside from the fact that I almost never set foot in movie theaters, going only when I need to chaperone children or when friends want a Mom’s night out, I have sworn off most movies, especially Hollywood history movies.

Sure Hollywood occasionally gets history right.  Mostly, though, Hollywood gets it wrong, with the wrongness ranging from Oliver Stone’s delusional JFK, to the old-time biopics that had Cole Porter as a nice straight guy (Night and Day), to the saccharine anti-war stuff of Tom Hank’s war movie Band of Brothers.  Hollywood is never interested in truth and never has been.  It’s selling entertainment with an undercurrent of propaganda.  In the old days, it sold entertainment with a wholesome, moralistic twist.  Since the 1960s, Hollywood’s entertaining versions of history simply hate America, and that’s true whether Hollywood expresses that hatred in booming Technicolor or small nuances in Indy pictures.

Without having seen 12 Years A Slave, I willingly concede that slavery is a bad thing.  It was a bad thing when Pharaoh enslaved the Jews and it was a bad thing when the British and, later, the Americans enslaved the blacks.  It’s still a bad thing throughout the Muslim world where devout Qu’ran followers enslave Filipinos, Christians, blacks, and anyone else unlucky enough to end up in their clutches.

But unlike Cohen, I’ve actually paid attention, not just in school, but in subsequent years, so I don’t need to have Hollywood preach the obvious to me.

David Denby, a movie reviewer, argues that Ted Cruz is a villain right out of old-time Hollywood central casting

David Denby is a New Yorker movie critic.  He also fancies himself as a political commentator.  To him, Hollywood is the real world, the template against which everything else is compared.  Reading his reviews, it’s obvious that, like the yearning kid watching Fred & Ginger trip lightly across in the screen during the Depression-era 1930s, he wishes life could be like the movies.  His dream movies are the ones where Republicans and corporations are vanquished, and people live in harmony in the loving arms of a properly Progressive big government.

I stopped reading Denby aeons ago, because he is neither fish nor fowl — neither a good movie reviewer nor an intelligent political commentator.  I’ve always assumed that his sinecure at The New Yorker came about because he doesn’t show up Anthony Lane, who is a superb movie reviewer, and he makes the right political noises in his reviews.

So that you know I’m playing fair and not simply maligning Denby on principle, both because I dislike The New Yorker and because I dislike what he now has to say about Ted Cruz (more on that in a moment), here are excerpts from posts I wrote several years ago regarding Denby’s malicious politicism, which he worked into way too many movie reviews.  The first excerpt is from a post I wrote in 2006, when I was still agnostic about global warming, but I could tell even then that Denby wasn’t a movie reviewer but was, instead, a propagandist.  I’m quoting from the first post at length, both because it so perfectly exemplifies Denby’s world view and because, that, seven years after Al Gore’s movie thrilled the true believers, the facts on the ground (and in the ocean and in space and on the sun) prove how completely wrong he and the sycophantic Denby were:

Denby’s review of An Inconvenient Truth is even more political. Look at the very first paragraph:

Anyone in possession of a major truth that he can’t get others to accept begins to feel that he’s losing his mind. [That may explain so much about Al Gore's recent behavior. --ed.] The skepticism he meets turns him into a soreheaded obsessive. After a while, he becomes “pedantic,” and then, inevitably, “condescending” and “humorless.” [Thus, it's not that Gore is, in fact, pedantic, condescending and humorless. We, the skeptical public created this Frankenstein's monster. In the words of the old song, he's more to be pitied than censured." -- ed.] Al Gore has been in possession of a major truth about global warming for than than thirty years [Gore's prescience was impressive because the era more than 30 years ago was the global cooling fear phase, a phase that occurred when we didn't have the current measurements we do regarding global warming. -ed], and he has suffered the insults of political opponents, the boredom of ironists, and, perhaps, most grievously, the routine taunts of a media society which dictates that if you believe in anything too passionately there must be something wrong with you [The point being that there's obviously nothing wrong with Gore, it's just that the media doesn't understand him -- which really is strange, because I live with the idea that this same media has accepted entirely his view of global warming. --ed.]

Denby then goes on to describe a movie that, if it were about anything other than global warming, would get laughed off the screen. Even Denby acknowledges its faults:

[Gore] appears as the noble-browed warrior of englightenment, brooding over the ravaged earth and the weakness of man, once or twice too often. He mentions family tragedies, which were moving to me, but which strike some viewers as maudlin notes from a campaign biography.

Fear not, though, since “the faults of the movie, semi-excusable as self-vindicating ploys, are nothing compared with its strengths.” The strengths, though, make it sound like one of those appalling 8 mm films we slept through in high school in the 1970s:

For long stretches, Gore is photographed talking before an audience with the aid of slides and charts. There are side trips to fissured ice caps, disappearing glaciers — the snows of yesteryear — and expanses of newly parched and broken terrain. The science is detailed, deep-layered, vivid and terrifying. Every school, college, and church group, and everyone else beyond the sway of General Motors, ExxonMobil, and the White House should see this movie. [Get it? Evil corporations, evil oil, and the foul Texas Christian in the White House are incapable of understanding Gore's greatness or simple science. --ed.] [Bolded emphasis mine.]

Denby isn’t shy about calling the movie what it is: “It’s great propaganda.”

But in Denby’s mind, what’s really great about the movie is how it shows the human side of Al Gore (and you thought he didn’t have one). Thus, Gore “speaks in an intimate voice that we’ve never heard before.” When Gore talks about lying by a river, and keeps coming back to that image after global warming holocaust pictures, “it has a greater resonance.” Denby claims that Gore has learned to speak in a less annoying way. Listen to this and tell me whether you believe that. The rhythmic up and down of Gore’s speech — a rhythm that has nothing to do with emphasizing or deemphasizing actual content — is both soporific and bizarre.

But here’s the real kicker. Denby assures us that the movie demonstrates that Gore has been purified in the crucible of past experiences:

[O]ne has the impression of a complex personality that has gone through loss, humiliation, a cruel breaking down of the ego, and then has reintegrated itself at a higher level. In the movie he is merely excellent. But in person . . . he presents a combination of intellectual force, emotional vibrance, and moral urgency that has hardly been seen in American public life in recent years.

Watch out, Hillary. It’s Saint Al for President.

Every dog’s allowed one bite, and perhaps every movie critic should be allowed one polemic.  But Denby isn’t just any movie critic.  He’s a Progressive shill making sure that his movie reviews advance his political agenda.  Also in 2006, he open-mindedly praised Oliver Stone’s World Trade Center, despite the fact that conservatives liked it.  Honest.  Here’s what he wrote:

“World Trade Center” is about courage and endurance as a function of family strength; it’s about suburban and small-town America trying to save the big city. Those are conservative themes, much praised for their appearance in this movie by the kind of right-wingers who have long hated Oliver Stone. Some of the euphoria—Cal Thomas, a columnist and a commentator at Fox News, calls the movie “one of the greatest pro-American, pro-family, pro-faith, pro-male, flag-waving God Bless America films you will ever see”—is not only inane, it’s enough to turn you off moviegoing [sic] altogether. Can “World Trade Center” really be that bad? No, the ideologues laying hands on the movie won’t sink it.

The last David Denby movie review I read was his slobbering, wide-eyed take on Spike Lee’s When The Levee Broke, about Hurricane Katrina.  The view was less interesting for his boringly predictable Bush/conservative bashing, than it was for his starry-eyed fan-girl love for all of the most despicable characters on the Left.  In my post on the subject, I quoted Denby directly, but added in hyperlinks giving actual facts about the Leftist “luminaries” that left him quivering with excitement:

Keeping his own voice largely absent and his presence invisible, he [Lee] finds the city’s tattered survivors. He also consults a variety of lawyers and local politicians, and such luminaries as Harry Belafonte and Al Sharpton; the musicians and New Orleans natives Wynton Marsalis and Terence Blanchard (the latter wrote much of the beautiful music for the film); the historian Douglas Brinkley, who makes impassioned critiques of Bush Administration officials and the Federal Emergency Management Agency; and the Mississippi man (a doctor) who publicly advised the Vice-President, when he visited the area long after the storm, to go fuck himself.

My take on that review was that Denby has set a goal for himself:  He wanted to be the next Frank Rich.  Rich, as you may recall, was the theater critic for the New York Times who proved to be so adept at anti-conservative rhetoric that he was given a permanent gig as a political opinion writer.  His opinions were reliably fact-free, but Rich made up for that deficit with his splendid grasp of florid invective, all of it aimed at George Bush.

In his continued journey towards Frank Rich-ness, Denby has now penned an opinion piece that aims to be a dagger to Ted Cruz’s heart.  Because no one in his right mind could call Cruz stupid, Denby has opted for describing him as the ugliest person since the elephant man.  Moreover — and this is the important part — Cruz’s outer ugliness is the physical manifestation of his inner dishonesty.  In this bootstrap argument, Denby doesn’t bother to give actual examples of Cruz’s dishonesty (because he can’t).  For him, Cruz’s looks are proof enough:

When Ted Cruz lies, he appears to be praying. His lips narrow, almost disappearing into his face, and his eyebrows shift abruptly, rising like a drawbridge on his forehead into matching acute angles. He attains an appearance of supplication, an earnest desire that men and women need to listen, as God surely listens. Cruz has large ears; a straight nose with a fleshy tip, which shines in camera lights when he talks to reporters; straight black hair slicked back from his forehead like flattened licorice; thin lips; a long jaw with another knob of flesh at the base, also shiny in the lights. If, as Orwell said, everyone has the face he deserves at fifty, Cruz, who is only forty-two, has got a serious head start. For months, I sensed vaguely that he reminded me of someone but I couldn’t place who it was. Revelation has arrived: Ted Cruz resembles the Bill Murray of a quarter-century ago, when he played fishy, mock-sincere fakers. No one looked more untrustworthy than Bill Murray. The difference between the two men is that the actor was a satirist.

Not only is Cruz a liar, he’s also a demagogue, says Denby.  You have to be Denby-clever, though, to figure this one out, because Cruz is too ugly to be your traditional demagogue:

Cruz is not as iconographically satisfying as other American demagogues—Oliver North, say, whose square-jawed, unblinking evocation of James Stewart, John Wayne, and other Hollywood actors conveyed resolution. Or Ronald Reagan—Cruz’s reedy, unresonant voice lacks the husky timbre of Reagan’s emotion-clouded instrument, with its mixture of truculence and maudlin appeal.

Not convinced yet that Cruz, despite his evil looks is a lying demogogue?  Well, Denby has other arrows in his quiver.  Cruz is also smart.  He always has an answer.  That proves what a lying liar he is:

Yet Cruz is amazingly sure-footed verbally. When confronted with a hostile question, he has his answer prepared well before the questioner stops talking. There are no unguarded moments, no slips or inadvertent admissions. He speaks swiftly, in the tones of sweet, sincere reason. How could anyone possibly disagree with him? His father is a Baptist, and Cruz himself has an evangelical cast to his language, but he’s an evangelical without consciousness of his own sins or vulnerability. He is conscious only of other people’s sins, which are boundless, and a threat to the republic; and of other people’s vulnerabilities and wounds, which he salts. If they have a shortage of vulnerabilities, he might make some up.

I won’t quote any more, both because of Fair Use principles and because I feel as if I’m sullying my site by doing so.  (I’m sure it won’t surprise you that Denby drifts into comparing Cruz to Joe McCarthy.)  Moreover, I think I’ve made the point, which is that Denby is a political opinionator who runs everything through old-time Hollywood central casting.

In the old movies, especially the silent movies, Hollywood had to rely on visual cliches as a shorthand to character development.  The hero was square-jawed and often, in the Gary Cooper mode, silent (hence the “strong silent type” trope).  Meanwhile, the villain was greasy-haired, shifting eyed, and quick-witted in an evil way.  As The Incredibles proved to such wonderful comedic effect, villains “monologued.”

In Denby’s narrow, Progressive, Hollywood constrained world, Cruz is Snidely Whiplash brought to life, not because of anything specific that he says or does, but simply because, in Denby’s telling, Cruz fits the visual requirements for a stock Hollywood bad guy:

Cruz and Whiplash

To the Left, Obama’s political purity is made manifest because of his brown skin and white smile. It should therefore come as no surprise that, to the looks-obsessed Leftists, Cruz, who cannot be denigrated as a mental lightweight, must be painted in the most brutal physical terms. I expect that the Left’s next step will be some 21st-century version of phrenology, with Progressive hacks sagely opining that the shape of Cruz’s head, or the bumps upon it (especially the ones that the Left assumes are there, hidden under his hair), prove his mental deviancy and unfitness for office.

Well, two can play at the looks game, so I’ve got a little rogue’s gallery of Progressives.  While they’re not the stuff of nightmares, each could easily play a villain in old Hollywood’s central casting system.  (I don’t know why my Picasa chose to include Clinton twice in this collage.  I just rolled with it.):

Progressive rogues gallery

One last thing. If physical beauty is Denby’s standard for ideological purity, let’s just say that Denby falls quite short of his own standards. However, if you called Central Casting and asked them to send over a bombastic, narrow-minded, supercilious, faux-academic, you might just see David Denby show up on your movie set:

David Denby

Leftists don’t believe in the constitution and they’re pretty sure a Democrat-run federal government is the People’s master, not their servant

Here’s the thing that the progressives in media and government want to hide from you: The federal government is America’s servant, not its master. This means that the National Park Service is a caretaker, not an owner. To the extent it is denying people access to outdoor monuments (including blocking the roadside vista points from which drivers can see Mt. Rushmore), it is grossly overstepping its bounds.

Barrycades blocking roadside viewpoints of Mt. Rushmore

Barrycades blocking roadside viewpoints of Mt. Rushmore

While the Mt. Rushmore barrycades are the most graphic example of the federal government’s failure to understand that it is the American people’s employee, the most disgusting example is the way the National Park Service has spent tens of thousands of dollars (during a shutdown) to barricade the World War II Memorial, an open air park, in Washington, D.C. The purpose is to prevent members of the World War II generation, sometimes called “the Greatest Generation,” from having access to a memorial honoring their courage and their dead during the battles across Europe, the Pacific, and the Mediterranean during World War II.

Veterans ignoring the NPS power play and visiting WWII memorial

Veterans ignoring the NPS power play and visiting WWII memorial

Those men and women from the Greatest Generation who are still living have overcome enormous physical, financial, and emotional challenges to visit their monument – a monument built to honor them and their comrades, and that sits on public land that the American people have allowed the federal government to care for. And what does the caretaker do? In a grotesque example of spite, it uses its power – the power we gave it – to block the veterans. No wonder the men who stormed Iwo Jima and fought the Battle of the Bulge, even though they’re in their 80s and 90s, thought nothing of storming Obama’s barrycades.

And speaking of the World War II memorial serving as an example of the federal government’s arrogant overreach and cruelty, HBO’s Bill Maher is the poster child for the arrogant viciousness behind that attitude:

The other thing that apparently was so important for the Republicans to keep open was the World War II Memorial in Washington. That was closed, so a bunch of the World War II vets knocked down the barriers and stormed it.

And then I loved this, they posed for pictures with Michele Bachmann who showed up. Michele Bachmann, one of the people most responsible for shutting the fucking thing down. They’re the greatest generation – nobody said they were the brightest generation.

This is not only cruel, but it’s a gross misstatement of what’s going on: Republicans in the House, exercising their constitutionally granted “power of the purse,” have offered repeatedly to fund every aspect of the federal government except for Obamacare. (Incidentally, Obamacare’s opening days have proven that it is not ready for prime time and may never be.) Democrats from Obama on down have responded by refusing to fund the government and by trying to bludgeon the American people into thinking that the House’s constitutional conduct is somehow “illegal.”

In a perfect world, people all across America would engage in massive civil disobedience by doing such radical things as viewing Mt. Rushmore, standing at the stone-carved feet of Lincoln and Jefferson as they sit in stately dignity in their memorials, touching the names carved into the Vietnam Wall, and walking onto through, around, and over the outdoor World War II Memorial. The Democrats running the federal government need to be reminded that this land is our land, it is not their land.

(This post  first appeared in somewhat modifed form at Mr. Conservative.)

Maybe you’re just not as interesting as you think you are

The online magazine IndieWire has noted something interesting:  movies with gay leading characters aren’t doing big box office.  In the 90s, movies such as The Birdcage (based on the audience tested La Cage aux Folles), Philadelphia (about the still-headlining catching scourge AIDS), and In & Out (with a pleasing Kevin Kline as a gay teacher trying to hide in the closet) were big sellers.  In the first decade of the 21st century, the numbers went even higher with Brokeback Mountain (surely one of the most demoralizing movies about gays ever made), which grossed over $80 million in 2005.  Other gay-themed movies didn’t do as well in that decade (topping out in the $60 million range with Sacha Baron Cohen’s gross-out Bruno), but they were still bringing at least $30 million each.

In the last few years, though, gay themed movies (that is, movies with the main protagonists being gay), have failed to bring in the big money.  IndieWire assembles the numbers:

Top Grossing Films With Lead LGBT Character (2010-present)
1. The Kids Are All Right (2010) – $20,811,365
2. I Love You, Phillip Morris (2010) – $2,037,459
3. Farewell My Queen (2012) – $1,347,990
4. I’m So Excited (2013) – $1,216,168
5. La Mission (2010) – $1,062,941

Even the highest grossing of the bunch couldn’t match the lowest grossing gay-themed movie from a decade earlier, well the remaining ones couldn’t even get into the high single digits (when counting by millions).  So what happened?  IndieWire offers five theories, only the fifth of which I’ll quote in its entirety:

1. There’s just not as much of a need for these films anymore. [snip]

2. There are less LGBT films being made, so there will clearly be less of them grossing $1 million. [snip]

3. There are less marketable LGBT films being made. [snip]

4. All the good LGBT representation is on TV.  [snip]

5. The market has simply changed. Here’s where the most significant answer lies, and it very much encompasses the last 4 explanations as well.  The economic world of film is vastly different in 2013 than it was in 1993 or 2003.  Back in the 1990s, studios were making the kind of mid-budget films in which “Philadelphia,” “In & Out, “The Birdcage” and “To Wong Foo” encompass. Then in the 2000s when studios all had started specialty divisions (like Universal’s Focus Features and Fox’s Fox Searchlight), LGBT content seemed to be delegated there with smaller budgets (like with “Brokeback Mountain,” “Kinsey,” “Milk,” and “Capote”).  Nowadays, even those kind of $15-$20 million budgeted LGBT films are rare.

I think that the “market has changed” theory is on the right track, but it’s too narrow an analysis.  The problem for blockbuster gay-themed movies isn’t just the “type” of movies being made (i.e., big budget versus small, art film versus action, etc.).  It seems to me the audience just isn’t that interested anymore.  Depending on which statistics you believe, a generous count is that the entire LGBT spectrum, from “L” all the way through “T” makes up at most 10% of the population.  Straight women who want romances or rom-coms aren’t going to want to see gays or lesbians as the main characters.  Straight men who want action movies aren’t going to be interested in anything but a macho lead, because the little boy part of each men still thinks that, under the right circumstances, he too can be that hero.  Teen boys through to young men in their early 20s, who seem to be homophobic no matter how gay-friendly and supportive their community is, will watch gay stuff only in the context of gross-out sex and feces jokes, a la Bruno.

The gay-themed movies of the past had broad audience reach for reasons very specific to those movies:  Some, like Philadelphia spoke to very big issues with which society was struggling.  Others, like The Birdcage and In & Out, had brilliant (and, I might add, straight) comedic actors with great scripts that happened to tap into a time when audiences still got a sort of thrill from being hip enough to watch a gay-themed movie.  Brokeback Mountain?  Great acting and a serious plot about pathetic human beings.  That’s got to appeal to the nation’s “elite” movie-goers.  Also, it was a sufficiently serious movie that people who would normally only be willing to watch gays in a comedic context could contemplate the spectacle of watching R-rated gay sex in a movie theater without any laugh lines.  (Incidentally, effeminate comic figures have been in Hollywood movies since the dawn of talkies; other than that, they stayed discretely locked away, both on screen and off.)

But now, for the majority of straight Americans, the thrill is gone.  Gays are indeed ubiquitous on TV.  They’re also pushing to the forefront of the media everywhere, in numbers disproportionate to their representation in the American population.  The vast number of Americans are not homophobic, even if they don’t want the ancient institution of marriage extended to gays.  And as for gay marriage, increasing numbers of Americans support that too.

We no longer see gays as stock comic figures.  We no longer see gays as tragic martyrs to disease.  We no longer see gays as closeted victims.  We no longer see gay images in movies as titillating.  And, assuming we’re heterosexual, we don’t see them as acceptable lead characters in romances, rom-cons, action movies, or teen flicks.  That leaves a very, very small market for movies with gay leading characters.

In other words, now that straights have run out of reasons to see gay movies just because they’re gay, it turns out that gays might not be as interesting as they think they are.  A gay movie has to offer entertainment on its on terms without preaching at audiences.  And gays probably want to make movies that aren’t demeaning to them — which I think Bruno (staring the straight Baron Cohen) was, insofar as it presented gay sexual behaviors as grotesque, disgusting, and perverse.

Until a gay-charactered movie has crossover appeal, offering a solid product that appeals to Americans’ cravings for comedy, romance, action, or serious stuff (which, insofar as gays goes, has mostly been done), I supect gay-themed movies will continue to languish economically.

Why I don’t like today’s war movies — it’s not the plot, it’s the people behind the movie

Someone gave us tickets to see a play called Black Watch, about the famed Scottish regiment in the British Army.  The play premiered in 2006 in Edinburgh, at the height of anti-War fervor.  It tells the story of a regiment that goes back 300 years, that bore the brunt of a bad attack in Iraq, and that was later folded into another regiment, to the distress of its members and many in Scotland.  The genesis for the play was a series of news reports about returning vets getting into bar fights, etc.  (Of course, when I heard that, I immediately wondered if these guys would have gotten into bar fights regardless, consistent with their working class Scottish demographic, and then made news solely because of their Black Watch affiliation.)

Here’s a YouTube promo that gives you an idea about the play.  I got tired just watching it:

Although everybody on the Left who wrote it, produced it, acted in it, or reviewed it insists that it’s “even handed,” I have to admit to having my doubts.  I’ll try to keep an open mind, though.  It might indeed be a moving tribute to a long-standing regiment.  (My Dad — who was in the RAF, but ended up in ANZAC, and then somehow served as an infantryman — fought aside the Black Watch in El Alamein.  He carried with him memories of being piped into battle.)

The good thing is that the actors I’ll be watching are all actually Scottish, so they’ll have the accent right.  The bad news — and the reason I have an icky feeling about the play, even if it is well-done and is even-handed — is that I’m absolutely certain that the majority of them are anti-War.  I mean, think about it:  young, Scottish, in the Arts — they’ve got to be Leftists.  I certainly don’t have proof, but I have a reasonable hypothesis, right?

What this means is that those who are ostensibly paying respectful homage to generations of Black Watch soldiers in fact think of soldiers as sadistic baby killers.  For such actors, every depiction of a good soldier is a parody, because there’s no such thing.  And every depiction of a bad soldier — whether on the field or off — feels right because, after all, that’s what troops are . . . BAD.

This is why I hate modern war movies.  It’s not just because I’m squeamish.  It’s because I know that the actors, producers, and directors making those movies hate everything the troops stand for:  their masculine culture (which is why the huge push for homosexuals generally and women on the front lines), their religion (which is why Obama’s Pentagon has hired a rabid Christian hater to work with it on “tolerance”), and their belief that war is the only way to solve some problems (“War, for the times when a ‘Coexist’ bumper sticker just won’t get the job done.”).

To me, it’s a cruel travesty to watch poncy Hollywood (or Scottish) actors bound around pretending to be masculine and brave.  It’s not just that they’re scared little boys pretending; it’s that they’re scared little boys who despise the real thing.

All of this makes it very ironic that Steven Spielberg, he of the anti-War left, has signed on to make a Chris Kyle biopic.  Chris Kyle wasn’t politically correct.  He loved war when it was just, he loved fighting, he loved the manliness of his military environment, and he absolutely and completely hated the people against whom he fought:  the savage barbarians of Islam.  One can bet, though, that in Spielberg’s limp hands, Kyle will become an anguished figure, trying to come to terms with the havoc he’s wreaked upon the innocent people of Iraq.

Incidentally, one of the reasons WWII war films worked so well, and are still watchable, was because the people in them supported the war effort.  Some enlisted, some served, some were in the Army Reserve since 1937 but couldn’t serve because of bad vision (that would be Ronald Reagan), and all believed that America needed to beat the Axis.  Yes, a lot of the actors were scared little boys pretending, but they admired the real thing, rather than despising it.

After I’ve seen Black Watch, I’ll let you know what I think of it, and whether my fears were realized.

The Oscars — a fitting celebration for a vulgar culture

Oscar

Old Hollywood, which was owned and operated by foreign-born or first generation European Jews had aspirations. What may surprise some is that these aspirations did not usually include Art (note that capital “A”).

The aspirations — or the absence of low behavior — came about in part because of the Hayes Code and the Catholic League, both of which insisted that Hollywood movies refrain from sullying innocent youth and womanhood. This meant that movies were clean or, if they weren’t as clean as one would wish, the vulgarity was subtle or the bad girl either died or repented at the end.

Because Art since the beginning of the 20th century seems to require human degradation, it was hard for Code-bound Hollywood to head in that direction. These proscriptions, of course, were gone by the late 1960s, which meant that both middle-aged and modern Hollywood leapt upon the opportunity to plumb the depths of depravity.

But it’s too simplistic to say that Old Hollywood controlled itself solely because of the Codes. These newly wealthy immigrants also wanted to belong to the country clubs. They wanted to have social polish. They wanted people to admire how far they’d come and the best way to do that was to ape the classy, high-society manners they portrayed in their own films.

Being human, few of them could live up to their own standards, but they certainly tried. And when they or their stars deviated from these “classy” standards, they had legions of employees whose sole purpose was to keep these forays into vulgarity out of the public’s eye.

The Oscars used to reflect these aspirations. They weren’t interesting, but they were upright. Bob Hope made his clean jokes, the stars wore their fancy clothes (which used to be G-rated too), and the entertainment segments weren’t particularly entertaining, but they weren’t offensive either.

This year’s Oscar show would have appalled the Louis B. Mayers, Samuel Goldwyns, and Bob Hopes. Seth MacFarlane looked like a clean-cut, 1950s boy-next-door type, and his jokes (including the shtick with William Shatner) were as unfunny as Oscar jokes always are, but that’s the only thing the show had in common with the old days. This opened as a tawdry, vulgar, nasty, mean-spirited production (including a paean to various actresses “boobs”), made worse by being broadcast during the family hour throughout large parts of America.

I have to admit that I don’t know whether the show managed to rise up slightly after the first half-hour or if it sank even lower (assuming that was possible). I would have walked out in any event because I was bored. Instead, I double-timed out, because I was both bored and disgusted. Old Hollywood would have applauded me.

Dean Cain politely, even charmingly, keeps his gun

When my first was born, I had a lot of sleepless nights, not to mention a lot of sitting around during the day during feeding times.  It was during these first few months that I discovered Lois & Clark – The New Adventures of Superman.  Or more accurately, I discovered Dean Cain as Clark Kent.  He was just the right gorgeous, caring package to appeal to an overweight, under-slept, over-whelmed new mother.

Because of his superb portrayal of Superman as both an Alpha and a Beta male (gee, the guy really was super), I’ve always had a soft spot for Dean Cain.  Now that he’s politely, and charmingly, come out in support of the Second Amendment, my soft spot has escalated to admiration.  You go, guy!

Ben Shapiro just shot to the top of my reading list

One of the best non-fiction books I’ve read in I don’t know how long is Ben Shapiro’s Primetime Propaganda: The True Hollywood Story of How the Left Took Over Your TV.  The book’s beauty rests on two solid pillars.  The first is that Ben, who is so sweet-faced he looks as if he couldn’t hurt a fly, got liberal TV producers, writers, and directors to speak openly about the fact that they intended their TV shows — all of which were sold to the public as entertainment and all of which were, indeed, entertaining — to be propaganda vehicles for Leftist ideology.

By getting these detailed quotations, Shapiro ensures that his book cannot be dismissed as the ranting of a conspiracy theorist who sees Communism’s evil hand in Hollywood’s every move.  There’s no conspiracy here.  Instead, there’s a smiling confession from Hollywood power brokers who detail their goals and the way in which they used our television sets to achieve those goals.

Benjamin Shapiro, from his Facebook page

The second pillar on which the book rests is Shapiro’s own writing style:  he’s easy to read.  His writing style is utterly straight-forward, although never boring.  Reading the book, I had the sense that I was a participant in a delightful conversation with an informed, witty friend who was fleshing out for me something I’d only noted vaguely before.

My only problem with Shapiro’s writing — and this reflects badly on me, not on him — is that I’m incredibly jealous that someone so young has such a mature, informed world view, and that he is able to convey it so well to others.  Despite having a few decades on him, I’m still a work-in-progress, but he’s a precociously sophisticated, intelligent voice.

I just purchased Shapiro’s latest book, Bullies: How the Left’s Culture of Fear and Intimidation Silences Americans.  The title, of course, is self-explanatory.  I suspect that it will be a perfect companion piece to Jonah Goldberg’s The Tyranny of Cliches: How Liberals Cheat in the War of Ideas.  Intellectual bullying and cheating are, after all, the yin and yang of Leftist discourse.

I have some other books I’ve been meaning to read, so I’d originally put Bullies in the middle of my reading list.  I’ve shuffled my list around, though, thanks to Shapiro’s masterful engagement with CNN’s resident bully, Piers Morgan.  Currently, the video is one of those autoplay videos, so I won’t include it here.  However, now that you’re warned about that autoplay, you can go here to see Shapiro reduce a bully to a quivering mass of incoherence.

Shapiro facing down Morgan

Shapiro’s ability to reduce Morgan so completely matters, not just because it’s gratifying to see a bully beaten at his own game, but also because it helps shift the discourse.  At Shapiro’s own Breitbart, Joel Pollak articulates Shapiro’s significant victory:

Ben Shapiro’s confident, fact-packed demolition of CNN’s Piers Morgan last night marks the turning point in the gun control debate. Ben showed that when they cannot exploit the deaths of children, gun control advocates are forced to defend their views, which are based on faulty premises. That timely reminder has given new energy and enthusiasm to defenders of the Second Amendment, who are preparing for the mother of all battles.

[snip]

Ben put into practice something that Andrew Breitbart preached throughout his career of battling the mainstream media: Question the premise, whether it’s an assertion that you don’t care about the victims of Sandy Hook, or a faulty definition of Critical Race Theory, or that Barack Obama is a nice guy who only wants America to succeed. Ben destroyed the faulty premise of the gun control debate last night. And the debate is now changed.

Question the premise.  What a great idea.  I took that tack in an earlier post I did today challenging the phrase “gun control,” which presupposes that guns should be controlled, and leaves the scope of that control as the only question.  The correct premise after Sandy Hook is to examine what steps we can take to make our country safer — and the data shows that depriving law-abiding citizens of their constitutional access to arms not only doesn’t make our country safer, it makes it more dangerous.  If you operate from the correct premise, you are able to use the correct information, and reach an accurate conclusion.

Right now, the only problem is that the Left fully understands that Shapiro is a lethal weapon aimed at the heart of shoddy Leftist thinking.  They’ve responded in predictable fashion, by burying Shapiro’s appearance on Morgan’s show.  They might have celebrated Alex Jones (“Can you believe how unstable this gun advocate is?”), but Shapiro has achieved Voldemortian status, by becoming he who shall not be named.  As Rush Limbaugh said just today during the few minutes I was able to catch his show, the media’s overriding ethos is that it’s only news if it harms Republicans.  No other news is fit to print.

The fact that Shapiro is not only willing to take on a bully, but also perfectly equipped to do so means that, rather than merely looking forward to reading his book, I’m positively lusting after it (in a purely intellectual way, of course).  I suspect that, if it’s as easily accessible as Primetime Propaganda, I’ll be able to read it quickly and review it soon.

Know your political opponent

I am really becoming a fan of Kevin Williamson, over at National Review.  Today, he goes beyond Progressives’ superficial characteristics (wealth reallocation, gun fear, etc.), and digs deep into their values and their psyches.  It’s fascinating reading on its own terms.  It’s also extremely useful because, as Williamson himself says, you have to understand your enemy to defeat him.  Knowledge, of course, is power.

Conservatives are not positioned to engage in a full frontal attack against Progressive politics.  The two avenues open are stealth attacks, where we sneak up when they’re not looking (ideologically speaking) and judo-style attacks, where we use their own momentum to take them down.

The one thing we can’t allow ourselves to be is demoralized.  Dr. Helen notes that conservatives in 2012 are infinitely more depressed than liberals were in 2004.  My thinking has been that, while liberals didn’t like the Bush policies as they were playing out, conservatives are deeply worried about Obama’s “fundamental transformation” plans.  Once you start treating the Constitution like toilet paper, it’s hard to resurrect it as a binding agreement between government and people.  In other words, we have more to worry about than the liberals did.

Dr. Helen, though, has a simpler explanation, which is that the liberals are creating the Zeitgeist, and the Zeitgeist is that conservatives are deeply flawed, evil, and murderous:

The media and Obama blare the non-stop message that Republicans are no good, racist dogs and support fat cats. None of this is true, of course, but the media and Obama spin the message and Republicans get the blame for the majority of all that is wrong with America.

Oh, by the way, speaking of murderous, here is a great, gory mash-up (definite violence alert) showing Hollywood liberals in all their hypocritical glory:

Greg Gutfeld’s book about the “Tyranny of Cool.”

Thanks to a handy-dandy Amazon gift certificate, I just bought myself a Kindle copy of Greg Gutfeld’s The Joy of Hate: How to Triumph over Whiners in the Age of Phony Outrage.  It sounds like a book that is simultaneously important and enjoyable.  I’ll be reading it with a close eye, because his ideas about challenging Hollywood’s pop culture feed into the ideas that Lulu and I are playing with.

Practical suggestions for bypassing the media and getting the conservative message out

My forte is spotting problems, not finding solutions.  Thankfully, when I put out a call for suggestions, many of you responded.  This post sets out practical list ways to get conservative messaging past the media gatekeepers that so effectively insulted Romney, praised Obama, and squelched or promoted news stories depending upon whether they help or hurt Obama.  The media is a giant roadblock that we have to (a) plow through; (b) climb over; and (c) go around.  I’ll begin with multiple suggestions from my good friend Lulu, who is both fired-up and creative.  Then I’ll move on to all of your practical suggestions.

From Lulu:

Perhaps we can do a little community organizing ourselves.  There is no question that people like conservative ideas. I see them constantly in my (parenting) workshops with nodding heads all around when I make conservative points, regardless of ethnicity and, presumably, political affiliation. People agree because what I say is common sense and people don’t realize the ideas are conservative.

The following are my ideas but, as you read them, remember that the key thing with these, or any other ideas, is to act quickly.  We have very little time to educate Americans at the grass-roots level.  The Left patiently worked for 60 years to reeducate Americans.  We have to work faster.  This means that, if you know of a person or organization with money and an interest in conservative causes, we must move immediately to go beyond intellectual think tanks and blogs that preach mostly to the choir.

Step 1:  Rebrand ourselves.  Abandon the name Conservative and change it to something that correctly identifies our principles while defying Leftist insults.  Some suggestions are Realists, Common Sense Party, Constitution Party.  Let’s have a contest, with the winning name going to Reince Priebus.  More than that, starting immediately, we should identify ourselves with this new name and leave “Conservative” behind. By the way, my favorite is “Realist,” because it implies the other side is Utopian and fantasy based, which it is.

Step 2:  Take good ideas to people with deep pockets.  People like the Kochs and Sheldon Adelson are deeply committed to core conservative ideas.  Too often, though, they have a traditional approach to spending their money.  The Kochs, for example, keep supporting NPR shows.  Other rich conservatives endow universities that loath conservative ideas.  We need to contact wealthy conservatives and pitch them on ways to spend their money that will shift the paradigm.  No conservative should ever buy another wing for Harvard or Yale, or for any other organization that is antithetical to core constitutional, realistic, free-market values.

Step 3:  Create an all new cable channel, something that is best done with help from a wealthy conservative donor.  One of the things that would be a great gift to America from wealth conservatives would be a new cable channel that isn’t specifically identified as “conservative” or “Christian.”  Instead, it would just be a new entertainment channel with fun, funny, exciting programming that, merely coincidentally, entices people with core values and ideas.  Remember, the existing entertainment industry has done this on TV since the late 1950s when it started slipping Progressive ideas into shows that were ostensibly “mere” entertainment.

We need a new cable channel devoted all day to Realist principles.  Importantly, it cannot claim to be or call itself Christian or Conservative, since that will instantly drive away those we’re trying to educate. Instead, it’s got to be all about entertainment, with values slipped in like a bitter pill buried in a sweet.

A wonderful thing to do would be talk shows (a la Oprah or The View) with women, conservative gays, minorities, etc., as the hosts.  These shows would be all heart and deal with people’s day-to-day realities, just as Oprah did.  The difference would be that the lovingly-given solutions and messages would focus on individualism, personal responsibility and other tried-and-true core values, rather than on Big Government, finger-pointing, and identity politics.

The cable channel could also have reality shows.  One idea would be a show called “The American Immigrant,” which could have inspiring stories about people from all over the world who came to America and made it through their own efforts.  This type of show would emphasize a core American identity that rises above race, country of origin, religion, and sexual orientation, thereby fighting the diversity cascade that has left America so fragmented.

Another show, which would be a great daytime show, would be a parenting program with solutions that fall back on old-fashioned principles, such as personal responsibility, honor, hard work, etc.  No one involved in the show would breathe the word “conservative,” but traditional values would inform its parenting ideas and solutions.

Another reality show might focus on American philanthropy, at home and abroad.  Watching an hour about the good work of Operation Smile or Smile Train, both of which provide doctors around the world to help children born with cleft palates, would help remind us that we are a good, generous, and very fortunate nation.

And why in the world are we burying our humor at 3 a.m. (Greg Gutfield’s Red Eye) or leaving brilliant humorists like Steve Crowder to fight to be visible on the internet?  Why is Dennis Miller’s main platform the radio?  I love it that he’s there, but can’t his informed, lightly edgy, sardonic humor grace a TV show too?  Too often, we’re all talk and no entertainment.  People want to be entertained. Humor is a great medium for introducing new values.

The cable channel could also have history shows for children.  Again, they wouldn’t proselytize directly, but they’d offer a view of America that combats the Howard Zinn view that currently permeates their education from kindergarten through graduate school.  One of the main things to do would be to educate people beyond their simplistic, ill-informed belief that the Constitution is simply a slave document.  We should have a fun show (good graphics, interesting facts, humor) that puts the Constitution in context and, most importantly, explains how the Bill of Rights came about and why it matters.

We could also have documentaries with pro-Israel histories, honest stories about Communism (let’s talk Soviet gulags and Chinese re-education camps), and Fast and Furious exposes.  Another fruitful idea would be to team with F.I.R.E., a non-partisan organization, to create a show making people aware of free speech restrictions on campus.

Fox itself should be encouraged to offer daytime talk shows, or perhaps to create a new affiliate — something along the lines of “Fox Social.”  Again, this wouldn’t be “conservative TV.”  Instead, it would be fun, human, empathetic, and based upon conservative and realist values.  Indeed, it might be useful for the station to have a lot of entirely content-neutral shows, such as cooking or home decorating shows, just to drive up the audience.

Step 4:  Conservative movies.  This is a no-brainer.  I keep waiting for Declaration Entertainment to make something more than wonderful videos and, instead, to head for the big screen.  When it does, conservative bloggers should support it with everything they’ve got.  And speaking of support, conservatives who love movies need to go Cold Turkey and stop supporting Hollywood.  We give the Left a free pass when we whine about their movies but still pay money to see them.

Step 5:  Stop complaining about how Progressives use the courts to achieve their ends, and starting doing the same ourselves:  We have advocacy groups fighting for churches, for pro-Life causes, etc.  It’s time to get a legal advocacy group that fights for equal access to publicly funded institutions.  That group needs to (1) sue PBS and NPR to get 50% ideological diversity in every minute of their programming; (2) sue every publicly funded school in America (from kindergarten on up) to force ideological diversity in its faculty; (3) start having a say in local school boards.

This last is an important one.  To date, the only school board fights in America have been about evolution versus creationism (a fight that goes back to the 1920s), and about books that supposed advocate witchcraft.  We need to start making the school board and education department curriculum fights about conservative values and about equal presentation of those values.  The fight should focus on economics (free-market versus Big Government), American identity (get rid of Zinn or at least counterbalance him), and national security (we’re not evil when we protect ourselves).

From Lee:

If you’re a convert from liberalism, figure out what made you convert.  Maybe we should all just focus on converting one person a month, each of us. And for every ten of us, in one year, there will be 100 (figuring that some conversions won’t “take”) and in two years, 200 . . . and so on.  (I, Bookworm, will add that using the Leftist approach of personal attack and name-calling will not convert them.  They will just avoid you.  Entice them with ideas, common sense, empathy, and the Dennis Prager trick of creating clarity, which often leads to agreement.  Incidentally, my experience with the Dennis Prager approach is that people invariably end up agreeing with my realist ideas, rather than my agreeing with their Leftist ones.  I still haven’t gotten them to change their knee-jerk Democrat party affiliation, but I’m working on it.)

From jj:

Fight for it as if you want it.  jj’s right.  He’s not talking about mean fighting for a political office, because you want to win.  He’s talking about fighting for an ideological world view.  Romney’s goal was the presidency; our goal can’t be that limited.  We have to use enthusiasm, energy, and creativity to change the zeitgeist.  It’s not about winning elections; it’s about changing the paradigm.

From Bookworm:

Figure out a way to convince young people that there’s nothing cool, hip, and rebellious about embracing establishment politics, pushed by old guys and gals in Washington, on Madison Avenue, and in Hollywood.  What kids should view as cool, hip, and edgy, is to think for themselves and to reject the media sales pitch that inundates them.

All of us should put our money where our mouths are.  One easy thing to do is to supp0rt the band Madison Rising, rather than the dopes who use their music to preach racism, welfare, and violence.  If Madison Rising can making a living providing hard-driving conservative rock, other groups will get inspired.  Lee echoes my belief that we should use the marketplace to change the zeitgeist.

A lot of Monday-morning quarterbacking has been talking about, “Oooooh! We must find ways to broaden our appeal to women and to Hispanics.” I think WE don’t need to “broaden our appeal” (i.e., change to become Progressive? What else can that mean?) But what we need to do is to EFFECTIVELY COMMUNICATE WHAT IT IS WE ARE ABOUT. And such as it is, the route of effective communication is controlled by the “lame stream media.”

So, how do we get Rachel Maddow and Soledad O’Brien, and Chris Matthews OUT? And the voices of reason in? I say, put our money where our mouths are. STOP WATCHING ANY PBS AT ALL!!!! No more Big Bird! (Okay, so CNN’s rating are in the tank. And Jon Stewart doesn’t have a huge audience either, comparatively speaking.) Make demands of advertisers and sponsors: Stop supporting the lies propagated by the “Main Stream” Media, or we will stop buying Mr. Clean.

Someone else (here or at another blog) suggested an Oprah for the Conservatives. (I forget who they specifically mentioned.) I love that idea. Not an “Oprah FOR THE CONSERVATIVES” so much, and an Oprah who happens to be conservative. Because really, a lot of the Oprah fans are deep down inside conservative about a lot of things. Money matters to most people. And with a popular day time talk show personality making the info Keynes and Hayek and Bastiat accessible to the masses via mass media, well, we could educate oodles of concerned couch potatoes.

I learned a loooooooong time ago that it is virtually impossible to argue with liars. And I have never solved that problem, except LIE ONE’S SELF. If you don’t have the facst at hand, make some up. And if they challenge you, challenge them to prove it. That’s what they do. And that is what happened in this election and one four years ago… And the MEDIA HELPED WITH THE LYING!!!

From Don Quixote:

First, we must get over this notion that anyone who disagrees with us is ignorant and immoral.  Certainly, many on the left (especially in the leadership) are both of those things.  But there are millions upon millions of highly moral people who simply disagree with us.  Many of these people are open to being made less ignorant and persuaded to our cause.

Second, we must pay attention to the message and how we present it.  Obama’s ads were dishonest, but sharp and persuasive.  Romney’s ads were unfocused and ineffective.

For example, here in central Florida, with its many retirees, Obama ran weeks of ads saying that Romney would turn Medicare into a voucher program, basically telling seniors that their own Medicare was in peril.  Bookworm posted a reasonably effective (though too short) commercial featuring our own Senator Rubio.  So far as I saw, it never ran here.  Instead, Obama’s ad went unanswered for weeks.  Finally, in the last few days of the campaign, Romney ran ads clarifying that his plan would not change Medicare for anyone over 55 and would give a choice to anyone under 55, and even that ad didn’t say what the choice was.   That ad was far too little and far too late.

[snip]

Third, we must find ways to stand firm in our principles while being flexible in our positions.  For example, it would not violate our principles to support a path to citizenship for all immigrants who seek it.  America is a land of immigrants and it is, if anything, against conservative principles to close the borders to those who seek a better life here.  I believe that we could be more successful among Hispanic voters, and completely consistent with our principles, if we put forward a plan that (a) allowed a short path to citizenship for all who sought it, but (b) cut off benefits to all those who did not seek citizenship.  Immigrants who are now here illegally would be given the opportunity to choose which course they desired.  I believe a plan can be put together that would, at a minimum, not turn off Hispanic voters but still be true to conservative values.  If that much is accomplished, Hispanics will become Republicans in large numbers because they largely share conservative values, especially regarding family and religion.

Incidentally, regarding our ad communication failures, Don Quixote doesn’t just point out a problem with Romney ads, he offers solutions that could be used for all Realist (or Individualist or Free Market) ads.

Ultimately, we are helpless only if we are inert.  If we sit and spin ideas around in our heads and just talk to each other, reinforcing our own beliefs, we will lose.  We must sell our ideas outside of the usual circles.  Further we can win only if we find common ground with the identity groups Obama targeted (women, minorities, gays, etc.).  While we may have marginal disagreements with those groups, my suspicion is that there’s still time (but only just) to bring them together with us on core free-market, individualist, constitutional values.

Conservatives need a new ground game

Maybe I’m in denial, but I’m feeling less depressed than I felt last night and this morning.  Part of my more sanguine attitude is based upon a Taranto principle, which is that Obama now owns the events of the next four years:

Obama has spent the past four years explaining away his failings by essentially arguing he is the best of all possible presidents–that he has done as well as any man could given the “mess” he “inherited” from his predecessor. It is certainly true that he took office under adverse circumstances. But so will whoever takes office Jan. 20. In fact, things are about to get a lot worse because of decisions taken but deferred during the Obama years.

The mess today’s winner will inherit includes not only high unemployment and slow growth but impending policy changes that threaten to make those problems worse. On Jan. 1, unless Congress acts, the Bush tax cuts expire–or, to put it another way, “massive, job-killing tax increases” are about to take effect (that quote is from President Obama). If Obama gets his way–which he likely would if re-elected–Congress will forestall the hike only for taxpayers making under $200,000 or $250,000 a year. That would be good for those fortunate enough to have jobs, but it would not change the tax increase’s job-killing nature, as it would hit investors and small businesses hard.

Then there’s ObamaCare. Although enacted nearly three years ago, it was written so that most of its provisions would not take effect until the next presidential term. “The bottled-up rules to set up President Barack Obama’s health care reform law are going to start flowing quickly right after Election Day,” Politico reports. “As soon as Wednesday, the gears and levers of government bureaucracy are likely to start moving at full speed again.”

The scale of the messes Taranto describes makes it unlikely that Romney could have been a successful president.  At best, he might have stemmed an economic or national security collapse, but I doubt he could actually have improved things.  The systems for self-destruction — massive debt, vast entitlement expectations, ObamaCare beginning to weave into the warp and woof of our social and economic fabric, a dangerous world outside of America’s borders — are already deeply entrenched.  Four years won’t fix them.  (Which may be why voters ignored Obama’s empty 2008 promises and decided that he really need 8 years to fulfill the hope and change manifesto.)

But, but . . . what about Reagan?  He also inherited a dangerous world and an unhealthy economy.  That’s true — but he inherited a different ground game.  Political correctness didn’t exist then.  Skin color diversity (offset by ideological homogeneity) was at the beginning of its trajectory, not the peak.  People still viewed government aid as something one first earned or, if one didn’t earn it, as something one accepted with some degree of embarrassment.  Now, even with no pay-in, they view it as a right, with no shame attached.  In Reagan’s day, our troops hadn’t been fighting a blood-and-guts war for eight years (as opposed to a massive Cold War chess game) against an enemy that neither the Republican nor the Democrat President willingly named.  In Reagan’s day, the intelligentsia may have tried to downplay the Soviet Union, but ordinary people still knew that it was indeed the Evil Empire.  Israel was still loved, not hated, so Americans supported a president who supported Israel.

The ground game has changed.  As Roger Simon says,

So we have a problem with democracy. It’s not working or, more specifically, has been turned on its end, with the masses manipulated against their own self-interest, creating power elites similar to those described in Milovan Djilas’ The New Class.

How did that happen? I think many of us know there are three pillars of our own destruction: the educational system, the media and entertainment (the popular arts).

Those three areas are so corrupted those who legitimately are on the center-right (or anywhere close to it) will increasingly find themselves swimming upstream against a current so great who knows where it will take them. (Think Hayek, Orwell, etc.) We must address ourselves to these three immediately before it is too late. In many ways, it already is. Culture is the mother of politics and mother is turning into Medea.

Okay, fine.  We fight the wars we’re given, not the wars we want.  So here’s my thinking.

As I said, I’m less depressed than I was because I think our culture is such that, no matter who occupies the White House, bad things are going to happen.  Really bad things, both with our economy and our national security.  Seeing as I think the coming hurt is inevitable, I’d rather it happens on a Democrat’s than on a Republican’s watch.  If I’m wrong, I’ll eat crow and begin to consider whether my political leanings of the past eight years have been a temporary aberration, and I’ll even contemplate returning to my liberal roots.  (Unlikely, but if the next four years are an American boom time, we’ll all need to rethink our belief systems.)

Accepting the inevitable, how do we fight back?  As polite conservatives, we’ve always tried to work through the ballot box.  We’ve decried the bias in media (including PBS, which we pay for), academia, and education, but we really haven’t done anything about it.  We tried to vote for people who would stop funding PBS and we whined on websites about the indoctrination at our children’s schools.  We’ve still paid to watch movies and we tune in to TV.

We resent the system, but we work within in.  For all that we talk about the ageless wonders of our Constitution and free-market principles generally, we are short-term thinkers, who keep believing (all evidence to the contrary) that we can kill the Progressive tree, not by attacking the roots, but by taking an axe to the tip-top of the tree through honestly brokered elections.  The fact is that the cultural battle is so one-sided (against our side) that we’d probably lose even honestly brokered elections, ones that did not involve massive fraud and media malfeasance.

We keep doing trying the same failed tactic, even though we recognize that the strong Democrat victories resulted, not because the Left voted, but because they spent 60 years going after America’s social and intellectual infrastructure.  The numbers of actual Lefties are probably pretty small; the number of people who have been taught to vote Democrat without thinking what it really means, is huge.

William F. Buckley figured out the problem in the 1950s and started a cultural counter attack, which ended with the Reagan ascendency.  Whew!  That was it.  We won.  Yay.  We won forever.  NOT.  The Left never stopped its ground game.  Indeed, during and after the Reagan years (including during the Clinton years), the hard Left consolidated its hold over cultural institutions.  We just watched and whined.

We cannot do that anymore.  For the next four years, conservatives need to stop worrying about this candidate or that candidate (which is all we ever do) and we need to start wooing the masses.

My friend Lulu, who comments here and who has been an occasional guest poster, called me today with a wonderful idea:  Star Parker.  Okay, you’re right.  Star Parker is a wonderful person, not a wonderful idea, but she’s the symbol for my friend’s idea.  We don’t need to run Star Parker for office, we need to run her for talk show host, a la Oprah.  She’s engaging, approachable, intelligent, conservative and black.  I hate to add the last, because I don’t like to judge people by the color of their skin, but I’m in minority.  I live in my head, so I relate to people intellectually.  Most don’t.  They need other people to look like them in order to start feeling comfortable with their ideas.

The talk show idea, though is the right one.  We know that most people aren’t high-level thinkers when it comes to politics but are, instead, low-level, emotional reactors.  I do not mean that they are stupid.  I just mean that, when it comes to politics, they engage in a non-abstract, non-theoretical, non-intellectual level.  The old saying is that, if the mountain won’t come to Mohamed, than Mohamed must go to the mountain.  We need to reach out to non-engaged voters by meeting them at their level, rather than insisting that they meet us at ours.

Admittedly, our conservative social infrastructure is limited.  Liberals own the media and the entertainment world.  But how did they get there?  They pushed and pushed and pushed and pushed.  We need to start pushing too.  We need talk shows, even if they start on cable or internet.  We also need to take a page out of the Leftist handbook and start using the courts.  For example, Lulu suggested that, as taxpayers, we have standing to sue PBS to demand that, as long as public broadcasting gets public monies, it must devote 50% of its programming time to conservative programs.  After all, for decades, simply because they rented public airwaves, TV and radio were required to be  neutral.  Why isn’t PBS?

When it comes to Hollywood, we need to come together an create alternatives.  Stop spending your money on movies by people who hate us.  Why are we doing that?  And we should take the money we didn’t spend on the haters and invest it in movie makers (such as Declaration Entertainment) that will make entertaining movies that don’t hit us over the head with their message, but that feed it to us subliminally.  (When we do make movies we always go for the iron hand, rather than the velvet glove).  The Left figured this one out, as Ben Shapiro explains in Primetime Propaganda: The True Hollywood Story of How the Left Took Over Your TV.  We too can change the paradigm without being obvious.

And why are we, who pay most of the taxes, allowing publicly funded schools to discriminate against conservative teachers? We sit back and cheer when an individual conservative teacher sues after being denied tenure, but we’ve never had a taxpayer suit saying that, just as student body’s have to be diverse, so should faculty — and that this diversity includes not discriminating against belief systems.  In other words, we have to redefine diversity so that it encompasses ideology as well as (or instead of) skin color.

We also have to advertise ourselves better.  As Romney’s campaign (and McCain’s and Bush’s too) showed, Republican political “leaders” find our ideology embarrassing and seek to wrap it up in gauzy, often impenetrable, platitudes.  One of my readers, Fern, suggests that our campaigns have a musty, fuzzy look.  The Left identifies us as backwards, reactionary, etc., and we yield.  We’ve certainly given the Left linguistic control.  They’re “Progressive” and “Forward.”  We’re fuddy-duddy “conservatives.”

Obama, a child of the Left, understands that words matter, more than the fact that these so-called Progressives keep trying to recycle ideas that failed in all nations that have tried them.  They’ve got the glamor and the gloss, and those gimmicks sell in a superficial world.

One of the first and easiest things we can do is to start with re-branding.  Keep in mind that calling conservatives “right wing” harks back to the 18th century French parliament, when the non-revolutionaries sat on the right side of the hall.  Is that how we want to identify ourselves — as relics of the ancien regime?  “Conservative” too makes us sound like a bunch of reactionary codgers who can be painted as desirous of slavery (never mind that the Republicans freed the slaves), Jim Crow-lovers (never mind that Republicans opposed Jim Crow), and misogynists (never mind that Republicans are in the vanguard of fighting Muslims and Chinese Communists who treat women and girl babies like disposable property).

It turns out that, in a media rich world, Shakespeare was wrong.  That which we call rose, by any other name does not smell as sweet.  With that in mind, how about starting to call ourselves “Individualists” or “the Freedom Party” or something like that?  Liberals successfully (and mostly under the radar) rebranded themselves as Progressives, leaving behind the musty Victorian taint of “liberalism.”  If they can do it, why can’t we?

Truly, the wake-up call we received yesterday is not about 2012 or even about 2016.  It is about our finally understanding that the opposition has long had a better strategy and endless institutional patience.  We won only when there were still enough voters who hadn’t been indoctrinated.  In 2008, there weren’t enough of us remaining to tilt the scales.  The Left attacked America at the root, and we need to take it back at precisely the same level.

The battle is over.  The war has begun.  Consider this post Ground Zero.  If you have ideas — practical, non-whining ideas that ordinary people can put into effect — post them in the comments section, and we’ll see how far we can disseminate them.  For starters, I am no longer a conservative.  I am an “individualist” who supports a “Freedom Party,” as opposed to a “statist” who supports “Big Government.”

UPDATE:  Others thinking about a new ground game too –

The Colossus of Rhodey

Don Quixote (at our own Bookworm Room)

Ron Radosh

Michelle Horstman

What Occupy could have looked like — if Hollywood organized it in 1933

I am reading a delightful book about Fred and Adele Astaire, one that offers a little insight into a long-vanished world.  Along the way, the book mentions Eddie Cantor.  That reference reminded me of a song I always liked:  We Can Build A Little Home, from 1933′s Roman Scandals.  As was the case for all Eddie Cantor movies, it was a nice little bit of fluff, with silly songs, and pretty girls (including Lucille Ball, in her first film).  The premise is that Cantor is a sweet, naive young man who lives in a corrupt town, run by rich plutocrats.  The latter seek to evict the solid, working-class citizens, so as to profit from their properties.  Homeless, a whole neighborhood ends up camped out on the streets.

In other words, it’s a complete “Occupy” scenario.  But while Occupy quickly degenerated into a sleazy, disease-ridden, parasite-ridden, drunk-ridden, alcohol-ridden, violent street orgy, 1933 Hollywood envisioned a much sweeter way of protesting:

European Fairy Tales versus American Fairy Tales — and how they affect the American psyche and the school yard bully

I love fairy tales.  I’ve always loved fairy tales.  Growing up, I devoured fairy tale books, with special emphasis on the Disney movies, with their beautiful princesses.  My personal favorite was Disney’s Cinderella.  I saw it once when I was a child and then, in a pre-video era, all I could do was replay endlessly in my memory the wonderful scene when Cinderella’s rags are transformed into a princess’s ball gown.  When I saw the movie again as an adult, I was worried that it wouldn’t live up to my expectations, but I needn’t have feared.  The movie was as charming as I’d remembered, and the transformation scene was a perfect piece of animation (and, rumor has it, Walt Disney’s own favorite animation moment):

The message in Cinderella couldn’t be more clear.  First, be beautiful.  But if you can’t achieve beauty, at least be a patient Griselda, one who tirelessly toils for cruel tyrants, with the promise of future reward.

That’s the theme in the majority of fairy tales that originated in the old world:  be good, be passive, and some deus ex machina figure, usually magical, will come and rescue you.  Passivity is the name of the game.  In one fairy tale after another, the lead character, usually the youngest child of at least three siblings, prevails by virtue of being nice.

The other way to prevail in fairy tales that started life in the old world was to use guile.  My favorite in this genre is The Valiant Little Tailor:

A tailor is preparing to eat some jam, but when flies settle on it, he kills seven of them with one blow. He makes a belt describing the deed, “Seven at one blow”. Inspired, he sets out into the world to seek his fortune. The tailor meets a giant, who assumes that “Seven at one blow” refers to seven men. The giant challenges the tailor. When the giant squeezes water from a boulder, the tailor squeezes water (or whey) from cheese. The giant throws a rock far into the air, and it eventually lands. The tailor counters the feat by releasing a bird that flies away; the giant believes the small bird is a “rock” which is thrown so far that it never lands. The giant asks the tailor to help carry a tree. The tailor directs the giant to carry the trunk, while the tailor will carry the branches. Instead, the tailor climbs on, so the giant carries him as well.

The giant brings the tailor to the giant’s home, where other giants live as well. During the night, the giant attempts to kill the man. However, the tailor, having found the bed too large, sleeps in the corner. On seeing him still alive, the other giants flee, never to be seen again.

The tailor enters the royal service, but the other soldiers are afraid that he will lose his temper someday, and then seven of them might die with every blow. They tell the king that either the tailor leaves military service, or they will. Afraid of being killed for sending him away, the king instead sends the tailor to defeat two giants, offering him half his kingdom and his daughter’s hand in marriage. By throwing rocks at the two giants while they sleep, the tailor provokes the pair into fighting each other. The king then sends him after a unicorn, but the tailor traps it by standing before a tree, so that when the unicorn charges, he steps aside and it drives its horn into the trunk. The king subsequently sends him after a wild boar, but the tailor traps it in a chapel.

With that, the king marries him to his daughter. His wife hears him talking in his sleep and realizes that he is merely a tailor. Her father the king promises to have him carried off. A squire warns the tailor, who pretends to be asleep and calls out that he has done all these deeds and is not afraid of the men behind the door. Terrified, they leave, and the king does not try again.

Old world fairy tales do not feature epic battles of good against evil, or even minor battles of good against evil.  They abandon the heroic tradition of Greek dramas or even the mighty warriors of the Bible.  Instead, they present a world of little people who prevail because of good deeds or guile.

Different scholars have theorized that fairy tales originated to keep children in line (hence the emphasis on passivity and good house-cleaning skills as the way to achieve worldly success) or as fireside stories, often quite ribald, that peasants told each other during long, dark nights (explaining the tales that featured otherwise insignificant people prevailing through stealth and guile).  Regardless of origin, the net result is a genre that instructs children that assertiveness and self-reliance are much less important than submitting to tyranny with good grace and being sneaky when possible.

American-born fairy tales are vastly different.  Of course, I use the phrase “American-born” advisedly.  Because America is a nation of immigrants, we imported our fairy tales too, which explains why every American child is conversant with Cinderella, Snow White, and Aladdin.  Nevertheless, Americans did create their own canon.

To begin with, American children dined on political hagiographies of our first leaders, with Parson Weems’ delightful, and untrue, stories about Washington leading the pack.  These tales focused on distinctly American virtues:  being honest, straightforward, and physically brave, virtues that are the antithesis of the trickery or downtrodden apathy in European tales.

American tales also dreamed big.  We had the imaginary Paul Bunyan, John Henry, and Pecos Bill, whose size or energy literally changed the landscape in which they lived.  Real figures, such as Johnny Appleseed or Davy Crockett had their actual exploits mixed with a large dollop of artistic license, and these tales opened up the West for Americans.  Popular literature imagined dynamic, self-confident young people who made their own way in the world.  They had help, but it wasn’t magical.  Instead, it came from people who were attracted to the hero or heroines can-do spirit and gave them a helping hand.  (Louisa May Alcott and Horatio Alger were masters of this genre.)

That notion of the pushing, striving, dynamic American hero got a spectacular boost when Hollywood came into being.  Old Hollywood quickly discovered that American audiences craved big stories, with big heroes.  Western movies impressed upon Americans that America’s fictional heroes didn’t succeed because they sat around waiting for magic to appear; they succeeded because they blazed trails, fought battles, civilized the wilderness, and generally took control of their own destinies.

World War II movies also emphasized Americans’ fighting spirit.  We didn’t have endless movies about our victimization at Pearl Harbor.  Instead, movie after movie celebrated America’s fighting spirit, both at home and on the battlefield.  We had an enemy, said Hollywood, and we valiantly met in on the field of battle.

In the 1970s, Hollywood started feeling terribly guilty about the cultural imperialism in these tales and came up with the anti-hero.  That played well to a guilty middle class, but was never a dramatic trope that had legs.  The anti-hero works only if he acts . . . heroically.  Americans want the little guy to win because he’s got guts.  The artsy crowd may enjoy a Dog Day Afternoon, but ordinary Americans want to see little ole Luke Skywalker take on the empire, intrepid Indiana Jones fight bad guys the world over, or (with a big thank you to the British woman who dreamed him up) Harry Potter and Co. face off squarely against evil, and win through a combination of virtue and martial skills (all nicely packaged in some sparkly magic gimmicks).

The recent staggering success of The Avengers is just one more indication that Americans want their fairy tales to be proactive.  The characters in The Avengers are pretty (it is Hollywood after all), but their attractiveness — an attractiveness that has generated a staggering $1 billion in ticket sales — comes about because they are strong and aggressive.  They defeat the evil alien force by rock ‘em, sock ‘em, beat ‘em up action.  There is no room for negotiation, house cleaning, or even guile here.  The only “goodness” that counts is one that is folded tightly into loyalty, patriotism, and physical bravery.

The Left is busily trying to chip away at these classic American virtues.  Leftist movies have failed at the box office, but the Leftist challenge to the American virtues of physical bravery can be seen in the Left’s wholeheartedly embrace of the anti-bullying campaign.  Many have asked why bullying has seemed to be on the rise in recent years.  I think I figured out the answer when, in a casual conversation with my kids, I mentioned “school-yard fights.”

I got a surprising response to that throw-away line:  “What’s a school-yard fight, Mom?”

“In the old days,” I said (just like a fairy tale), “when kids, especially boys, would get into fights, they started hitting each other.”

“Did they get suspended?”

“Maybe.  But what usually happened was that they’d start swinging at each other.  Everyone in the school yard would instantly circle them and start hollering ‘Fight!  Fight!’  Then, a teacher would wade through the crowd, saying ‘Come on, everyone, break it up.  Break it up now.’  The teacher would then wade into the fight, separate the two kids, shake ‘em out and, more often than not, tell them to stop fighting.  And that would be the end of it.”

“That would never happen today.”

(Incidentally, I am not talking about gang fights, which are a form of urban warfare.  I’m talking about the old-fashioned elementary school playground battle, where two little kids settled the matter with some kicks and punches.)

No, it certainly wouldn’t.  The focus today is on the bully.  The bully gets suspended and the bully gets counseling.  Kids are told that, if they get bullied, they should immediately get teachers involved.  Good kids know that any type of self-defense is dangerous, as it could lead to suspension.

I hate bullying.  I was bullied when I was a child and, I’m sad to say, when I had the opportunity, I immediately turned around and bullied others (verbally).  I had a sharp tongue and wasn’t afraid to use it.  But that sharp tongue was my self-defense.  A well-timed insult, especially one that raised a laugh from the audience, deflected the bully and kept me safe.  I never ran to the teacher.  I got a reputation for being somewhat mean (which was partially deserved), but people left me alone.  Had I been a boy, I might have punched someone and been left alone.

My point is that the best way to deal with bullying is two-pronged:  First, create an environment in which bullying is frowned upon and mutual respect is the order of the day.  This starts at the top, with teachers and administrators.  In too many schools, however, teachers and administrations treat students with condescension, disdain, arrogance, or fear.  Second, teach the victims how not to be victims.  If you take away the targets, you take away a lot of the bullying.  If students see themselves as warriors, not victims, bullying will become a much less enticing activity for those who are naturally inclined to dominate cruelly those around them.

I can already hear people saying that, if you emphasize the warrior spirit, our schools will start looking like a gladiator camp.  Au contraire.  If you emphasize brutality, that’s true.  But if you emphasize the honorable side of the warrior, one that sees him respecting widows and orphans (so to speak), our schools will actually be much more civil than they are now.  I’ve never known nicer kids than those who are martial arts black belts.  They have a quiet self-confidence about them, that makes it unnecessary for them to lash out.  Moreover, their peers respect them, and feel no need to test them.

It times to take the European Leftism out of our fairy tales, and reinstate an American ideal that involves honor, strength, and the willingness to fight for what’s right.

Is Jon Lovitz for real or is he drawing out Hollywood’s closet conservatives?

Here’s an old, bad (really bad) joke:

During the 1973 war, the Israeli Army determined that at least one third of all Arab forces arrayed against them were named Mohammed.  They quickly developed a new tactic.  The IDF troops would take cover and holler out, “Mohammed!”  In response to the call, one third of the Arab troops would jump out of their cover, and the Israeli forces would pick them off.

You couldn’t fool the Arabs for long.  They figured out that at least one third of all IDF troops arrayed against them were named David.  They too quickly developed a new tactic.  From cover, they would holler out “David!”

They tried it in the field of battle.  “David!” they’d holler.  The Israeli troops would answer back, “Mohammed, is that you?”  At which point one third of all Arab fighters would jump out of their cover, and the Israeli forces would pick them off.

I did say it was a bad joke, didn’t I?

There’s nothing new about using whatever means possible to flush someone or something out from cover in order to shoot it down.  This is a duck call:

And here’s the product description for this little doo-dad:

This is the ultimate one call that will do it all. From loud ringing hail calls, raw, hang-it-all-out duck, to super sexy, soft, up close, “put your landing gear down” calling. This call was designed to be easy for the average caller to operate.

Put more simply, blow on that little sucker, and the ducks will come flocking towards you, putting themselves in easy gun range.

Here’s my question for you.  Is this guy also a duck call?

Why do I ask?  Because of this:

My first thought was “I hope Lovitz inspires Hollywood’s conservatives to come out of the closet.” And then, paranoid being that I am, my second was, “I wonder if he’s not a stalking horse (or duck call), who is trying to entice Hollywood’s currently invisible conservatives out into the open, the better to black ball them professionally.

As both the George Clooney dinner last night and the rapturous responses to Obama’s cynical gay marriage announcement proved, Hollywood may be playing a bit coy now, but it’s still in Obama’s pocket.  To switch metaphors yet again, that coyness allows the Hollywood liberals to pretend an injury in order to deceive its prey (i.e., Hollywood conservatives), thereby flushing that prey out from its cover.

Am I paranoid?  I don’t know.  I do know that, after I did my write-up about Andrew Breitbart’s appearance in Mill Valley, Andrew called and asked me to edit it slightly to provide more cover for Hollywood’s conservatives.  It’s dangerous out there for them.  If I’m paranoid, I’m not the only one.

“The Help” — could there be more cliches in one movie? *UPDATED*

Subject to a very few exceptions, I don’t see movies during their first runs in movie theaters.  Instead, I see them when they’re released on DVD.  That’s why I’m only watching The Help now. (The Help is a movie about black maids in the early 1960s in Jackson, Mississippi.)

Before I go any further with this post, I have to tell you that I was predisposed to dislike it.  To begin with, I think most of what comes out of Hollywood nowadays is poorly done, insofar as movies are charmless and heavy-handed.  I also looked at the few big names in the cast (Allison Janney, Sissy Spacek, Cicely Tyson, and Mary Steenburgen) and assumed that the movie’s viewpoint would be hostile to some aspect of America.  Lastly, I knew that a movie about black and white relations in the 1950s would be in its approach . . . well . . . black and white.

So far, I’ve struggled through the first half of The Help and am bored out of my mind.  It’s like being buried knee deep in cliches.  In a way, the movie is hampered by a historical truth, which is that the Jim Crow South, especially deep in Mississippi, was a miserable hellhole for blacks.  Southern whites had a single-minded focus, which was to maintain a status quo that saw blacks at the bottom of the pecking order.  Blacks were dehumanized, physically abused, legally insulted, and whatever else the Dixie-crats could think of to ensure that they didn’t have to look black people in the eye and see their common humanity.

These historic truisms handicap the movie, because the only way it can deal with them is to make the whites horrifically bad and the blacks angelically good.  In other words, the characters are one-dimensional and quite boring.  The lead “good” white girl is blandly good; while the lead “bad” white girl is a caricature of evil, with a touch of Hannah Arendt-style banality thrown in.  The black women are plaster saints, whether heroically working to send their kids to college, heroically suffering after a child dies, or heroically using an indoor bathroom. The single “outsider” is a New York Jewish female editor, who sees the Civil Rights movement as something akin to a fashion trend.  (In that, the movie does a disservice to the many Northern Jews who were fanatic in their devotion to the Civil Rights cause.  Just as the blacks did, they believed defeating Jim Crow was akin to the Jews’ struggle to escape Pharaoh’s clutches, and that belief added a spiritual element to their approach that overrode mere faddism.)

There’s no room for nuance in this movie.  It’s a polemic, pure and simple and, as such, artistically dull.  That could change in the movie’s second half, which I’ll watch tonight, but I’m not optimistic.

There is one thing about the movie that does stand out — there are no men.  So far, one black man has appeared off screen (we hear only his voice) to beat his wife; while another black man has given a short sermon about Moses’ courage.  The white men are equally invisible and ineffectual.  They are either hen-pecked or absent altogether.  I’ve just reached the point in the movie where the lead white girl (whose name I can’t remember because she’s such a nonentity) charms a blind date by being rude to him.  Or at least, I think that’s what she did.  One other problem I have with the movie is that the actors got a little carried away with their down-home Southern accents.  As often as not, they’re unintelligible.  It may add an air of authenticity to the movie, but it makes it hard to follow.

I’ll get back to you tomorrow about part 2 of the movie.  So far, I’m not impressed.

UPDATE:  Last night turned into homework central, so my TV watching was limited to catching up with Jay Leno doing “Headlines.”  Part II of The Help will have to wait another day.

Why was Chris Brown invited to the Grammys? I think I know.

I was surprised at how many of my “real me” Facebook friends watched the Grammys.  (One of them was even in the audience.)  Even in my younger days, when pop music mattered more to me, I wouldn’t have watched the Grammys.  In past years, though, as I’ve become increasingly aware of the moral decay lurking behind the entertainment world’s self-congratulatory festivities, I just don’t have the stomach for those narcissistic love fests.

And speaking of the moral decay, Sasha Pasulka writes an impassioned post asking why Chris Brown, famed Rihanna-assaulter, was welcomed with loving arms at the Grammys.  Indeed, according to Pasulka, who followed the story more closely than I, even at the height of the beating story, Hollywood never released Brown from the tight grip of its hugs and kisses.

Pasulka sees the whole story (the reaction to Brown’s original assault as well as the enthusiastic support for his Grammy appearance, despite the fact that he pled guilty to felony assault and is now on probation) as evidence that, in Hollywood, women have no worth.  I would amend that a little.

In Hollywood, women have great worth if they’re bringing in the profits.  They are commodities.  Hollywood sells one thing and one thing only:  women’s sexuality.  The notion of women as morally worthy people started vanishing with the sexual revolution in the 1960s and now doesn’t exist anymore.

Before the sexual revolution, Hollywood’s women were certainly sex symbols (think of every screen goddess from Hollywood’s Golden Age), but Hollywood understood that a still-young, moral America wanted its sex symbols to have a moral dimension.  They were either good women worthy of love, or morally depraved creatures who got their comeuppance at film’s end.  Their beauty kept the eye engaged, but it was important that they be women of worth.

Ironically, in the past 40 years, as women’s voices have gotten louder and louder (“I am woman, hear me roar”), those female voices in Hollywood have been increasingly dedicated to one thing:  sex.  Hollywood women view “empowerment” as the right to take off their clothes without getting criticized for doing so.  No wonder that Hollywood as a collective entity doesn’t take them very seriously.  They don’t take themselves very seriously.  This doesn’t excuse the Hollywood collective’s gross, immoral, unprincipled behavior, both on-screen and off, but it does suggest that the women in Hollywood aren’t doing anything to counter the moral implosion that daily plays out there.

One more point about Hollywood’s willingness to forgive a manifestly unrepentant singer, and them I’m done.  Rihanna did a song called S&M that was, as the name suggests, about sexual sadomasochism.  I have often wondered if Rhianna’s decision to sing that song represented merely an artistic choice or if it was a stealth way to promote a (her?) lifestyle choice.  If the latter, the Hollywood types who immediately forgave Chris Brown may have known a bit more about the back story there, making Rihanna as complicit in her injuries as Brown himself.  Certainly the song taints her reliability on the issue of physical violence.  It doesn’t excuse what Brown did, but it does make one wonder what part Rihanna played in the whole thing.

When stars were stars

I watched a dreadful movie last night, really dreadful.  But here’s the interesting thing:  even though it was a terrible movie, with a creepy plot, I didn’t turn it off and walk away.  Instead, I watched it from beginning to end.  Why?  Star power.

The movie was a Rock Hudson/Doris Day classic from 1961 called Lover Come Back.  Rock and Doris play feuding Madison Avenue ad executives.  Although billed as a romantic comedy (it is Rock and Doris, after all), Rock’s character can best be described as sociopathic.  In order to win clients, he’s willing to pour alcohol into people, pimp women, lie, cheat, steal, and manipulate.  As one of his lies, he pretends to Doris to be a naive scientist, and she falls in love with him.  When the truth is revealed — when she learns that Rock has lied to her and has confirmed the fact that, in his real identity, he’s a terrible human being — she still loves him.

If this was a modern movie, I would have walked out in the first half hour, with my husband calling after me, “You hate everything.”  I’m not sure I hate everything, but I definitely hate watching creepy, whiny, modern Hollywood actors play distasteful roles.  I have better things to do with my time.

Why, then, did I stick around for this movie?  Star power.  Rock Hudson is wonderful.  Even though I know he was gay and that the macho man thing was an act, what an act.  Every time he was on the screen, all I could think of was how gorgeous he was.  He epitomized tall, dark and handsome, with his towering height, perfect face, deep voice, and, despite all that manliness, a warm, puppy-dog charm.  He took a despicable character, and through the force of his own personality, made him lovable.

Doris Day was no slouch either.  She looks exactly like a beautiful petit four, with her platinum hair, blue eyes, pink cheeks and, most importantly of all, that radiant, sunny smile.  She spends a large part of the movie huffing and mincing, but it doesn’t matter.  Get her together with Rock, and after about five minutes, that husky voice relaxes, the radiant smile bursts out, and Rock smiles at her in return.  Sigh….

I can’t think of any modern actor who is so delightful to spend time with that I’d stick around for what is otherwise a boring movie.  There are some actors I like more than others, but if the movie is bad, they don’t have enough charm to hold me to my chair.  Take Anne Hathaway, for example.  She’s a very talented young woman, who can appear delightful, sing and even do splits.  When she’s in a good movie, I enjoy watching her.  But when she’s in a bad movie, one that sees her emoting and posing and baring her breasts . . . I am gone.  Despite her many talents, she is only as good as her roles.

The same is true for Meryl Streep.  For years, I’ve really thought that there must be something wrong with me, because I do not like Meryl Streep.  I readily concede that she’s hugely talented in a technical way as an actress, but I find her boring.  Once I’ve finished admiring how beautiful she imitates someone, such as Julia Child or Margaret Thatcher, there’s not usually that much left to enjoy.  She’s like a high-end, carefully scripted Rich Little or a not-very-funny Frank Caliendo.  It was such a relief, the other day, to read Steve Dowty’s post positing that Streep is, in fact, a very talented mimic who brings little warmth or charisma to a role.  She’s workmanlike, but no star:

Streep is perhaps the exemplar of the modern Hollywood theory of acting, which holds that the perfection of the craft lies in the total immersion of the actor in the character. This is “The Method,” which began to take over Hollywood in the late 40s, and really hit its stride when Marlon Brando burst onto the scene, alternately mumbling and screaming, in 1951. Since then actors have competed to become as invisible as possible, hiding behind accents, tics, quirks, foibles, or disabilities, or simply mimicking the voice and mannerisms of a real person.

[snip]

When Streep acts, no matter the role, every single word and gesture looks perfectly studied, considered, and prepared, as though she’s trying to give the story a manicure. She hasn’t the knack of convincing the audience that what they’re watching is actually happening. We can’t believe that what we’re seeing is real, and often it’s precisely because the excellence of the mimicry calls attention to the essential falsity of the situation.

By way of contrast, Jimmy Stewart never completely left himself out of his characters (which was okay, because we liked him).  He was always, in his voice and mannerisms, Jimmy Stewart, even when he was called George Bailey or Rance Stoddard or Elwood P. Dowd.  But Stewart had the ability to make any film seem like a hidden-camera documentary, capturing events as they happened. Even if the characters never rise much beyond the level of Archetype or Everyman (and here’s another interesting question: what’s wrong with that?), it’s the ability to achieve the impression of spontaneous action that made great actors of Stewart and others like Lionel Barrymore.

Without a good script, Streep offers nothing worth sticking around for.  There is no there there.

John Nolte has latched onto the same problem with his suggestion that Hollywood can cure its woes and become a money-making machine again.  Aside from such obvious points as making movies people want to see, and telling stars to stop insulting their audiences, Nolte tells Hollywood to bring back the star:

You can trace most of Hollywood’s problems back to the death of the movie star. At first, the industry was thrilled with this development. No movie star meant no big payday, no ego, and none of the baggage too many stahs carry with them. The industry also found that, at least for a while, they could get away with this. Audiences were still packing theatres to see pre-packaged brands developed from high concepts, comic books, novels, and television shows. Sequels, remakes, and prequels were still sure-fire. Who needs to pay Tom Cruise $30 million to run around with CGI’d dinosaurs when just as many people will pay to see Jeff Goldblum do the same?

This was all well and good until the “brands” ran out. Now Hollywood is down to “The Green Lantern” and board games like “Battleship.”

Movie stars, on the other hand, are the most reliable brands out there. People come to see them and if you have enough of them and if you keep developing them, the inventory is limitless. From the 1920s straight through to right around 1990, if you built it with movie stars, audiences would come. Hollywood didn’t need to rely on “brands” because they built pictures around their stars.

Having been charmed by Rock, I’ve now told TiVo to look for his films.  No matter how bad they are, I’ll probably stick through to the end, just to see him.  After all, I do the same thing with films starring Jimmy Stewart, Clark Gable, Jean Arthur, Joel McCrea, Fred & Ginger, and myriad other class acts from the old days.  Watching all of them was sheer pleasure, no matter the usually foolish scripts.

 

Hollywood once again shows its callous disregard for America’s military *UPDATED*

Back in 2004, entirely coincidentally, I ended up at the WWII Memorial in Washington, D.C., on the same morning that veterans of the Battle of the Bulge had gathered for a reunion. Some got there under their own steam. Many, though, were on walkers or in wheelchairs. They were so frail. And so many were weeping. It was that weeping that did me in. I seldom cry on my own behalf, but I’m a sympathy weeper. Watching these old, fragile warriors break down under the weight of their memories got my tear ducts working overtime.  I still get watery thinking of those men who not only fought one of the most important battles of the war, but who then came home and honored the dead by living.  They had families, held jobs, and generally gave meaning to the freedom for which they fought.

I mention this little story because there are people out there, especially in the entertainment world, and more specifically on the set of Hawaii Five-O, who do not share my reverence for these aged warriors (free registration required):

Last week, a special group of Americans made a trip to Hawaii. This was not their first trip to Hawaii. In fact, the first time all of these men were together in Hawaii was on December 7th, 1941.

Last week, these men and some of their families were back in Hawaii again for the 70th anniversary of the Pearl Harbor attack. Today, less than ten percent of those who served during World War II are still alive.

For the men who made this trip, there was also another tacit acknowledgement. This would be their last trip. The average age of a Pearl Harbor [veteran] is in the early nineties. In fact, there are now so few Pearl Harbor survivors left that the Pearl Harbor Survivors Association is disbanding at the end of the month.

On December 9th, 24 Pacific veterans, including 23 Pearl Harbor survivors were taken to the National Cemetery of the Pacific for a memorial ceremony honoring those who fell during the attack on Pearl Harbor and those who fell during the Pacific campaign.

While the men were at the cemetery, the TV show Hawaii Five-O was filming at the cemetery. As the National Anthem was played and the ceremony went on, the CBS production crew was filming. At first they told the veterans and their families to hush, then repeatedly pushed them back and finally told them to hurry up. As the veterans were laying roses on the graves of their fallen comrades, a production employee walked through the middle of the ceremony telling them to hurry up.

Perhaps the ultimate insult came at the end, when someone with the veterans group asked if one of the cast members of Hawaii Five-O could come over and say hello to the group. The production crew refused.

These World War II vets are a tough bunch. They went through the first depression and then the Second World War. I can guarantee you they did not let this incident ruin their trip, though some of their family members might feel differently.

[snip]

CBS has issued a carefully nuanced statement claiming they would look into the incident and throwing out some boilerplate language about how they respect the veterans of World War II.

Stefffan Tubbs, who was there, provides more details about the Hollywood thought process on display:

I decided to take a closer look at the production area from the public thoroughfare and walked closer to see catering trucks, grips, associate directors, production assistants, lighting workers, countless minions and the lead director – a Hollywood-looking middle-aged man wearing a black “AD/HD” t-shirt, a play off the rock band “AC/DC.” I stopped well behind the cameras and out of view when a local production assistant politely told me to keep moving. I was not happy and told her we had WWII vets who would likely be in the area. I was told, “Sorry, sir. We rented this part of the cemetery today.” My blood started to boil, but I remained calm and moved on. As I stood behind the tent, the director yelled at everyone to: “Get out of the line of sight! If you don’t belong here, clear out!”

I made sure to go where I was basically invisible, 40 yards from the nearest camera when the director heatedly walked to me. He was not happy.

“Can you please move?” he said sternly.

“OK,” I said. “Where would you like me to go? I have Pearl survivors who are here visiting their fallen comrades at a public cemetery.”

He couldn’t have cared less and told me that if we stood behind a tent, that would be fine. He walked away completely frustrated and yelled at a local assistant: “I am doing YOUR job! You wanna come back here again? Do your job!” I felt sorry for her. It wasn’t her fault a group of vets actually came back for a realreason to this cemetery. Having been around a few movie sets, I knew this was how they were especially if the scene was behind schedule, etc. Keep in mind at this point I was alone. It wasn’t as if our entire entourage was milling about. There was only one veteran anywhere near me and was walking toward me from up the road.

Walter Maciejowski, 90, from Massachusetts soon caught up and I quickly tried to run interference so he wouldn’t get yelled at as he stood there in his cream-colored Pearl Harbor Survivors cap. Walter was clueless and was just amazed at the technology. He whispered in my ear as the scene was about to begin 75 yards away. We both stood exactly where the director had told me to stand.

[snip]

I told Walter we had to go, and we started to walk away as lead actor Alex O’Laughlin and Terry O’Quinn from Lost did their scene. As we moved out, yet another woman came up to us and with a fake smile told us Walter couldn’t take any pictures.

“Our actors get very skiddish [sic] around still cameras, sir.”

“Funny, and yet they act in front of them,” I said, ticked off because we were already leaving.

I wish he hadn’t done it, but Walter asked if they by chance had a hat for him. To his face, she said, “I doubt it but I will try.” She never did.

You can read the rest of this eyewitness narrative here.

This whole thing falls into the category of I see it, but I don’t believe it.  It’s impossible for me to understand the mindset of louts who are either so callously self-involved or so Progressively propagandized (or both) that they are unable to support old men on a last pilgrimage to a defining moment in their youth — a defining moment, moreover, that was not only one of the more savage acts in a savage century, but that also paved the way for a freedom that blessed Europe (until it squandered that gift) and was the making of a very successful modern Japan (which then decided to stop having babies).

Pearl Harbor Survivor David Shoup at the 70th anniversary commemoration at Pearl Harbor (U.S. Navy photo by Mass Communication Specialist 2nd Class Mark Logico)

UPDATE: In the first comment to this post, Don Quixote points out that Hawaii Five-O is fairly military-friendly in content, something that I respect and appreciate.  I can’t figure out if that fact makes the cast’s and crew’s behavior at Pearl Harbor more or less unpleasant.  It’s like discovering the worms under a rock (with all due respect to bookworms, of course).  I guess I shouldn’t be surprised.  Back in Hollywood’s golden days, the studios employed vast numbers of publicity people to make sure that people didn’t learn that the stars of wholesome, family friendly movies lived somewhat debauched lifestyles.

UPDATE II:  JJ offered so much good information, I’m copying his comment here:

A little information from the world of TV.  Whether it mitigates or not is up to you, but here’s what happened.

1) Whoever – in Hawaii – it is who schedules events at the cemetery is a retard.  (Dear Editor: I don’t actually care about the political incorrectness of using that word, it’s apposite, it stays.)  Or, perhaps it was a screw-up on the part of the scheduler for the vets.  Either way, some dingbat somewhere dropped the ball and allowed the two groups to be occupying the same space at the same time.  This unfortunate confluence was the fault of neither group – blame whoever has the appointment books.

2) CBS has no idea what the complaints they’re suddenly receiving are about, so idiot boilerplate is their best – maybe only – response.  They don’t actually have a production company in Hawaii – or much of anywhere else these days.  I would be astounded if it was an actual CBS production company.  The people who own, produce, and deliver that show to CBS for air do not work for CBS.  They are an outside, independent production company that exists as an entity for the purpose of making episodes of the show – most of them have never been within a thousand miles of Black Rock.  That production company hired that director – and everybody else on set – to make that episode.  The director is a production company employee – for that episode – and he may make all the episodes, (a probability rare to the point of vanishing), many of them, some, few – or this may be his only one.  He’s a jobber.  When you complain to CBS about him, they’re going to say, “huh?  Wha…?”  They didn’t hire him, probably don’t know him, may never have heard of him, and he ain’t their problem.  (The network doesn’t know or care about the labor, they only want to see the baby – in time for it to go out when it’s scheduled to.)

3) The production company got seriously shafted on the cost to film in the cemetery that day.  How do I know?  All production companies always get shafted on fees for the use of locations, because everybody in the world – including people who should know better – begin having visions beyond the dreams of avarice when they see Hollywood coming.  And the biggest shafting is the make-it-up-on-the-spot insurance premiums for filming on location.  If there’s a blade of grass out of place, or a broken twig on a tree after the production company wraps and leaves, you cannot fathom the megillah this is.  (Which is why they film in studios and on lots, and in Canada.  It’s why studios and back lots came into being in the first place: to avoid the never-ending problems of locations.)  The PAs all knew that if anything remotely definable as “damage” happened to any part of the cemetery or its grounds – even if committed by a Pearl Harbor veteran or somebody else – they would be the ones turning on a spit over a hot fire,

None of which excuses the shitty attitude of these overpaid, well-tanned, tower of ignorance trolls, but it may make it a bit – a microscopic bit – understandable, or maybe explicable.  The fact is most of them, being products of American education, never heard of Pearl Harbor.  Factor in the self-centeredness engendered by hanging around Hollywood, and you have a group that’s only rarely in touch with where they are.  The director, probably the senior guy present (at least on the on-the-spot management ladder, could have been gracious and understanding.  The actors as well – neither of whom I know – could also have brought matters to a halt for a respectful pause.  (Tom Selleck or John Hillerman, speaking of people who filmed in Hawaii for CBS, would have.  [Selleck would have stopped the scene, and worked out a way to get the Pearl Harbor vets into it, as objects of deep respect and honor.]   I wouldn’t know either of the two clowns mentioned above if I fell over them.

Hat tip:  America’s First Sergeant

An article for those of us who are not physically perfect

In my younger days, if buxom wasn’t your thing, I had a figure to die for.  Two children and a few years later and . . . well, I’m trim, but it takes a lot of work.  Given the realities of child bearing, age and gravity, there’s nothing more irksome to me than a picture of some Hollywood woman, slim and smooth in a bikini, boasting about how she went back to her original figure within just three months of having a baby because she did intense workouts and ate a bizarre diet.

The good news is that those ladies can’t lie with impunity anymore.  Two scientists have created a computer program that measures the amount of photoshopping involved in any given image.  I think every single woman and teenager in the land should read this article.  It wouldn’t hurt to have the guys read it either, just so that they too can know how the media manipulates them.