<acronym id="e6ItXj1"></acronym>
<tr id="e6ItXj1"><optgroup id="e6ItXj1"></optgroup></tr>
<acronym id="e6ItXj1"></acronym>
<rt id="e6ItXj1"></rt>
<acronym id="e6ItXj1"><small id="e6ItXj1"></small></acronym>

I really have to wonder if they’ve thought it through. Maybe they’re angling for future media gigs, but the next time they’re running for something, they’re going to be asked why they endorsed Mayor Stop-And-Frisk, and what are they going to say? I thought he was electable? It takes an accused sexual assaulter to beat an accused sexual assaulter? I stand with the hedge funds? It’s not a choice that is going to make much sense once removed from the context of 2020, and frankly it doesn’t make much sense within that context either because he’s not going to be the nominee. There’s not even a strong trend to it: on the one hand you have people in legitimately non-blue districts like Rep. Max Rose, and on the other, the Mayor of San Francisco? Just seems like cowardice to me in not selecting one of the candidates that actually stands a chance of winning. Useless!

Share
Lev filed this under:  

So I was kind of ambivalent on watching Star Trek: Picard, but RedLetterMedia has kindly produced a video that confirmed all my worst fears for the show:

The basic issue with all Star Trek made after 2009 is that its resurrection was due not to somebody caring about it and wanting to do it right, but rather to current trends in the entertainment industry of dusting off all existing IP and making new content with it that fit the parameters of what is currently popular. That Star Trek still has a following after 50 years is pretty amazing and a wise corporation might figure that if people keep coming back to this thing after so many years there has to be something real there, so let’s make sure we preserve what’s vital and interesting about it while updating it for the current era. Instead, they basically just slapped the name on generic action-adventure product and threw in ample fan service, hoping that nobody would notice (only they did). It’s short-term corporate thinking at its stupidest, slaughtering the goose that lays the golden eggs just because you want to make a sandwich. I’ll admit to quite liking Star Trek Beyond as well as parts of the first season of?Discovery, which in spite of never really landing on a concept still managed a few glimmers of greatness before an abysmal season finale that scared me off of watching any more of it. But I’m afraid that the Picard series is a non-starter for me. The idea that the Federation should be a mirror of present-day America is frankly just a fundamental misunderstanding of the essence of Star Trek, which is that the Federation is what America would be if it lived up to its stated values. And sure, I have no doubt that the journey of Picard will involve the titular character in some sense bringing back the spirit of the Federation, but between this and?Discovery you really get the sense that the people behind the shows can’t sell the pre-2009 concept of the Federation as anything other than an aspirational, abstract ideal. That isn’t, and never has been, the point. The funny thing is that Picard isn’t the spiritual descendant of Star Trek, it’s the spiritual descendant of Babylon 5, the anti-Star Trek space opera from the ’90s which posited that humans will be dealing with exactly the same problems several hundred years from now. Babylon 5 is at this point almost entirely forgotten and rightfully so: who really wants to be told, ultimately, that this is the best that humanity can do?

The sad thing is that actual Star Trek is a thing we could really use right about now, but we’re not going to get it, and trading away the long-term fan base for people who just want something with punching and explosions that they’re going to forget an hour after watching it is what’s going to kill off the franchise for good.

Share
Lev filed this under:  

After you’ve been watching this party of ours for long enough, you start to realize what it really is. This country has a lot of problems and pretty much all of them could be fixed, but the Democratic Party doesn’t really want to fix a lot of them. Sometimes this is because of donors/corruption, sometimes this is because of fear, and no doubt there are other motivations you could put in here. But at the end of the day, the party is mainly about giving you ways to cope instead of fixing your problems, which typically doesn’t even work. Can’t find a job in your area? How about you learn to code and get a tech job that’s also probably not in your area! Can’t afford college? We’ll let you borrow from us, you’ll never be free of that debt until you pay it all off, but at least mom and dad can deduct some of that tuition (if they don’t earn too much money). And as for healthcare…we want to improve on the ACA instead of having single payer, but even the slightest improvements on the ACA seem to not be able to get through the House, so I’m not sure what improvements Nancy really wants to implement.

Obviously novocaine is better than no novocaine, but the notion that absent an evil Republican president that busy people with jobs and lives are going to work their hearts out for this sort of stuff remains highly dubious.

Share
{ 1 comment }
Lev filed this under:  

Look, I’m openly supporting her, but this is not a plan:

Passing a constitutional amendment at this point of time is pretty much impossible, at least one that would make any meaningful difference in peoples’ lives. Too many small red states that would never consider it. When a politician says, “We need a constitutional amendment for X,” what they’re saying is that I’m not going to do anything on X. It’s pretty simple. I get that the polls show huge majorities in favor of doing this but few people really care about campaign finance, so there’s no leverage here. It makes sense for Bernie to stay on this kick because Bernie is all about events causing a revolution that will require no structural reforms to accomplish, but Warren is all about concrete plans so her echoing him on this is not so good. And there are things that Democrats could do on this with just bare control of Congress, but attacking the idea of judicial review–which famously is not in the constitution, and kind of evolved on its own–is evidently verboten so here we are.

Also, the pre-Citizens United system, like, wasn’t very good? Why waste all the time and effort to pass a constitutional amendment to restore a bad system when you could work on one for publicly financed elections, if we’re just going with this premise? I guess it’s the same thinking as impeachment, just keep it limited and narrow because that’s what captures the imagination.

Share
Lev filed this under:  

Peaked too soon:

“Pete Buttigieg elicited a moment of awkward silence during a campaign event in Iowa that’s sparking comparisons to?another viral moment?during the 2016 election cycle,” the?New York Post?reports.

Said Buttigieg: “By having better hands guided by better values on those pulleys and levers of American government. So I’m going to look to you to spread that sense of hope to those that you know.”

The candidate took a brief pause,?which was met with complete silence?by attendees.

“Come on!” Buttigieg exclaimed and awkwardly chuckled, to which the crowd applauded.

Mayor Peter has been falling quite rapidly in both Iowa and New Hampshire. Interestingly, Warren is climbing back in the former state, which is good to see, and the timing is right. Iowa is all about expectations and a steady rise right before it…well, it’s interesting. I’m not going to make any predictions on the Iowa Caucuses but a Warren comeback strikes me as a reasonable expectation, as being everybody’s second choice is hugely important there. But poor Peter. I wish I could say that he’s being rejected because he represents everything that people hate about our government and our society but in all likelihood it’s just because he’s too green. I’ll take it though.

The question is: is this guy a continuing threat or a curiosity, the mid-sized city mayor who had a real shot at the nomination for a minute? Admittedly the guy knows how to get on the teevee a lot and has plenty of rich friends, so he will be “viable” in that sense, but as I’ve argued before he’s thrown in so aggressively with the “I know your kids are dumb because I’m their age” shtick as his brand and good lord isn’t making any more Boomers so the people who remember him probably won’t do it fondly. And there’s also the little problem that “Mayor of South Bend eight years ago” isn’t all that impressive a credential, and he’s already failed to win statewide. It’s supremely easy to see Biden giving him a major Cabinet berth and tapping him as the heir apparent (though certainly not as his veep), which is a good enough reason to oppose Biden in and of itself.

And now a ballad for Peter:

Share
Lev filed this under:  

I don’t really have it in me to work myself into a lather about Hillary Clinton anymore but it really is stunning just how clumsy she is and always has been at any sort of politics that isn’t fundraising or televised debating, and it’s also stunning how people who idolize her will ignore the latest snafu the way they ignored back when Clinton said that the alt-right is correct on immigration, the way they ignored the story of how she protected her gross spiritual adviser, etc. The unfortunate thing is that her fan base isn’t satisfied with giving us a nominee that couldn’t win in 2016, now they want to give us a president who can’t govern, and they’re replicating the exact same pattern with Biden’s record and statements that they did with hers, because there’s no peril in just hoping that the negative things go away and attacking anybody bringing them up.

This party sucks.

Share
Lev filed this under:  

The joke I sometimes make is that there are people out there who one day realize, “Wait,?Idiocracy was a movie? I thought it was just a meme!” I’m not sure just how many people are actually watching it at this point in time, certainly not more than there are people who are writing something with the words “We’re Living In” placed right in front of the movie title. But folks, I regret to tell you that Idiocracy is not good. It’s not that there aren’t some good parts to it: Terry Crews is fucking hilarious in it (natch) and some of the gags are pretty funny. I’m partial to Dax Shepard’s T-shirt dispenser that’s basically just a toilet seat protector dispenser, it’s such a quick throwaway but I definitely know guys who would love to have one of those, and it ties in with the whole “piles of garbage everywhere” concept (Mike Judge was right about that, just wrong about them being on the land and not in the ocean). But facts must be faced, principally that the movie is shockingly classist. It explicitly associates stupidity with the lower class and intelligence with the upper-middle class. This is made clear in the opening sequence and it’s basically the key assumption of the movie, which is that the smarter (and richer) people were suffered a sort of (if you will) great replacement,? with dumber (and poorer) people becoming completely ascendant, which resulted in a world in which the cultural forms and artifacts of poor people are dominant but nobody knows how to do anything and the world is dying.

I’m not really sure that I grant that premise. The notion that a society dominated by the working poor would not know that plants need to be watered is…strange. Who do we think is watering them now? Elon Musk? And I’d like to think that the idea that intelligence and social class are unrelated is something that people would automatically reject but these days I don’t make such assumptions so let’s just cite Jared Kushner and call it a day. In a very real sense, Idiocracy aspires to be satire but what it’s accomplishing is the opposite of what satire is supposed to do. Satire is all about posing the questions that can’t be asked, it’s all about finding ways to express the truths that society finds uncomfortable to talk about, ideally in outrageous ways that shake up the comfortable. It’s suggesting that perhaps we deal with the problem of Irish babies that nobody is able to care for by frying them up with a stick of butter. Idiocracy does not do that. Instead,?Idiocracy is a movie that seeks to flatter its audience of college-educated white folks and assure them that they’re right to have the biases they have, that poor peoples’ choices of entertainment and cuisine mean that they’re hopelessly stupid and that they will drag the rest of us down with them unless…what? Unless we take action? What do you think we should do about this situation, Mike? It’s a testament to how gutless the movie is that it doesn’t even come out for the class-based sterilization procedures that it is implicitly but obviously begging for. After all, the poor are so hopeless that the world is virtually dead until a wholly unremarkable middle-class man can save the entire world with just plain old common sense!* Evidently one single middle-class man is worth, like, five billion poor people, not one of whom ever accidentally dropped some water on plants and thought, huh? This is, frankly, a profoundly reactionary film. Admittedly the movie was a bit ahead of the curve in its tying together of wrestling and politics, which might be why it remains so relevant as a reference right now. But of all the sins of Donald Trump and his enablers, that politics has taken on a few of the aesthetics of professional wrestling is quite low indeed on the list. President Marco Rubio would not have introduced those wrestling tropes into the political arena but he would have done almost all the same shit as Trump so, ultimately, who cares?

Perhaps also relevant to the discussion is that the movie is…not that funny? I’ll credit some of the jokes, like a movie named “Ass” that’s nothing but farts winning the Oscar for Best Screenplay. But at its core, the idea of humanity falling back to a new Dark Age because we just became stupid just isn’t funny. It’s not even darkly humorous. It’s tragic. And this is just an upper-middle class eugenicist’s fever dream, nothing more and nothing less. It should be treated as such. So let’s get that hashtag going people! #IdiocracySucks all the way!

* For those who might be tempted to argue with me on this point…the argument that the movie ends up with is that eventually things will get so bad that people will eventually re-embrace reason and the scientific method, and it doesn’t really square with the rest of the film. The new Dark Age is not brought about by, say, a Taliban-esque religious fervor wanting to reset things back to an earlier time or by some sort of war or disaster that devastates the ability to rebuild, but basically through complacency. To spend hundreds of years watching things get worse and to do nothing about it because of mere complacency…that’s a really fucking dark vision of humanity there. Why would Luke Wilson be successful against inertia that strong? And look, I get the context of this. It’s pretty easy to see this movie as a reaction to Bush-era America, with the embrace of proud ignorance and consumerism (recall Bush’s quote about helping the war by shopping more) while the infrastructure crumbled, and that has the same resonances today. But the movie is dealing with mere symptoms of the disease instead of the causes (again, gutless) and it really seems to think that poor people are more susceptible to these pitfalls than are rich people, so we’re back to the original assertion: this movie supports eugenics.

Share
{ 1 comment }
Lev filed this under: ,  

Look, I haven’t been around much this week because I’ve been busy, but also I’ve not had that much to say. So why not do a movie recommendation? It’s been a long time since I’ve done one of those. And why not have it be something totally obscure that I recently watched and have wanted to write about for a while now? Since nobody can stop me, here I go:

The Pumpkin Eater is a British movie from 1964 that stars Anne Bancroft and Peter Finch, the latter of whom is known for?Network and not much else. That he’s not known for this movie is only because nobody knows this movie, but what he does here is to me much more impressive than his work in?Network. Not to get too far into that movie but Howard Beale pretty much ceases to be an interesting character after the “mad as hell” speech, but his character work here is deep, compelling, and frequently repugnant in the most amazing ways, though Bancroft’s work is every bit as good.?Technically, The Pumpkin Eater is a domestic drama but that label just seems so limiting and inexact for a film that often seems like a horror film without the violence. The tenor of it really comes across in this scene, which doesn’t really have anything to do with the plot or to establish Bancroft’s character really, but it certainly gives you a good sense of what the movie is like right off the bat:

The basic idea is that Jo, Bancroft’s character, is a warm and loving woman who cares most about family and loves to have children, while Finch’s character is a highly ambitious screenwriter who mainly seeks success. The conflict between the two is inevitable, as Bancroft is lifted up in the world because of Finch’s career but becomes increasingly more miserable in the process. The brilliant conceit of this movie is just how overtly feminist the film is (particularly one released in 1964!) while having a main character who would not call herself a feminist and almost certainly doesn’t see herself as one, but the movie shows exactly how her autonomy, up to and including her control over her own body, is steadily chipped away by the men in her life, namely Finch and her own father. The two men ship off Jo’s two older boys to boarding school as a condition of paying for the wedding (which is a setup for one of the many gut punches the film has to offer: Jo sees them again many months later, during which time private school has transformed them into little versions of her father who have nothing to say to her), but this is just the beginning of a gauntlet of torment for Jo, which includes isolation, abortion, and even a hysterectomy (!) as she gives up everything she values in the vain hopes of getting back from Finch what she so freely gives to him: love and acceptance. So there’s a strong feminist bent to the film, but there’s also some sharp class commentary because we are introduced to Jo in an obviously lower-middle class milieu but when we meet her father, he’s a super-rich dude, so it immediately suggests a backstory of estrangement and sacrifice without saying even a single word about it. Jo clearly left a richer and more comfortable life because she couldn’t be happy within its value structure, but the tragedy of her relationship with Finch is that she gets pulled right back into that sort of life, with all of those same expectations and judgments. She can’t avoid it because she truly does love Peter Finch. For all the times we’ve heard about how romantic love is a curse or a disease, this movie might make the best case for that idea of any that I’ve seen.

It might be easy to get the impression that this movie is a woman good/man evil story, but the movie actually goes to some lengths to avoid making it that simple. Finch’s character is the antagonist of the film but in all fairness he does try to involve Bancroft in his world, invites her to come by the set and meet his coworkers, with whom she does not get along at all. And it’s pretty clear that his frustration with the marriage is that his wife doesn’t care about his success or the things that it’s bought them: there’s a pretty clear streak of “Why aren’t you appreciative?” that clearly baffles him. Finch is a pretty common sort, a man who sees himself as important and impressive and whose frustration with his wife for (in his mind) not appreciating him properly leads him to step out with women who do find him impressive. These details aren’t by any means redemptive of a character who is quite callous and selfish throughout the film, but they do give the character depth and a great degree of plausibility. Another interesting detail is that the Bancroft character doesn’t seem to have any religious faith: there’s no quiverfull type of motivation behind having a lot of children, she just likes having them. It makes sense given her own class origin, and it keeps the feminist and class critiques clear. Extremely large families used to occur due to various circumstances but maybe the biggest one was the lack of female autonomy: things like birth control and abortion gave women more control over their bodies, and when they were introduced, women typically decided to use them to have fewer children. The Pumpkin Eater has these tools used against one specific woman in a way that takes that control away, which could have been an offensive disaster if handled poorly. Thankfully it’s handled extremely well here, and the notion that the things that liberate us can frequently be turned against us is something that we need to be constantly reminded of.

There’s so much more to say about this film. The acting is on point, both Bancroft and Finch know every inch of these characters and play them beautifully, and the supporting turn by James Mason is satisfyingly crazy. Mason played a seemingly endless string of controlled and dignified men, so seeing him get unwound when Finch starts sleeping with his wife really just fits the movie and makes his part in it all the more electrifying. The technical aspects are also incredible: the visual style reminded me of Kubrick at many points, and the sound design is so goddamn good, such as the scene where Bancroft is flicking through a catalog (remember those?) with Peter Finch in the room and just the snapping of the pages makes the scene, gets across perfectly her anger at him all on its own. There are also some nice stylistic touches too, like the reversed film after the seeming final break between Bancroft and Finch. Seeing the smoke going back into the cigarette is a nice little image to show just how nonsensical and wrong things are in this little world. This movie is a continual reminder at how good British cinema was during the ’60s, a greatness that like much else in that nation would soon be on the decline as that industry quickly transformed into a distribution system for prestige historical dramas and literary adaptations, to the exclusion of everything else. The primalness of something like The Pumpkin Eater and many of the other classics of that decade were unfortunately forgotten in the process. Anyway, go do yourself a favor and watch it. It just got taken off of Amazon Prime but you can buy/rent it on YouTube, among other places.

Share
Lev filed this under: ,