Category Archives: politics and film

If We Could Change The World (Again)

I’m sorry. I’ve neglected you.

Part of it is being busy with work, but let’s be honest: most of it is heartbreak, disillusionment, worry and fear. I don’t know where we’re headed but all signs point to nothing good. The level of foreign interference in this election is beyond alarming (here and here, for starters). I just don’t have the stomach to worry about trivial stuff like little kids getting their hands on unsecured guns when the entire country is going down a very dark, authoritarian path.

What this means for me and this blog, I don’t know. While I try to figure things out, I wanted to re-post this item from January 2010. I’ve come out of this election feeling like what I wrote back then is more relevant than ever. Without further ado:

————————————-

There’s been a lot of talk around the internets about the state of the national Democratic Party, the future of the Tennessee Democratic Party, yada yada. Clearly progressives are disappointed that nationally we’ve received very little for all we did to bring Democrats the majority in 2006 and the White House in 2008. Meanwhile, our state party is filled with “Democrats” like Doug Jackson of Dickson, known for his rabidly pro-life, pro-gun, anti-gay positions, including a bill that would ban gays from being foster parents. And really, TNDP: was Ty Cobb, someone quite possibly more conservative than the Republican who ultimately won the seat, the best we could do?

We are not happy, and now we even have liberal activists from Berkeley and L.A. wanting to primary some of our least heinous Congress Critters. The irony is, the Republican Party is facing the same problem: its rabble-rousing Tea Party base is threatening to purge the GOP of its moderate members, sending folks like Arlen Specter over to my side of the aisle, which frankly doesn’t please me one bit. I get the concept of the “big tent” but when that tent grows so large as to encompass members of the opposite party, something’s wrong. Meanwhile, conservative Dems like Parker Griffith of Alabama have jumped ship to the Republican Party.

So what the heck is going on here?

It all looks like so much shuffling of deck chairs on the Titanic to me. While it’s endless fodder for the Sunday morning gasbag shows and folks like Chris Matthews and Politico, if there’s one thing we’ve learned from the past decade it’s that ultimately, it’s all meaningless. I hate to get all super-cynical here but let’s face it: in terms of really addressing the problems people face–lack of jobs, lack of access to things like a college education for their kids, affordable healthcare, etc.–politics amounts to very little.

The bottom line is, politics won’t fix our country’s problems. We’ve been told by both political parties that politics can change things, and maybe we bought that line for a while, but ultimately regardless of your political persuasion, you must have emerged from the Oughts realizing that’s a BS line peddled by people trying to raise money. The Bush years were a big fail for conservatives, who didn’t get the small government and fiscal restraint they wanted. On the left, Clinton gave us NAFTA, Don’t Ask Don’t Tell and welfare “reform,” while Obama, though in office just a year, has already escalated a war and failed to deliver the healthcare reform we need. Yes there have been a few, modest little blips of positive news here and there (mostly on the environment), but our country is sinking faster into the abyss, and it’s members of both parties who are responsible.

So, for people who really want to change things, make them better, who still idealistically believe in changing the world, what do you do? It seems our votes are meaningless. Our government is too broken, the system too corrupted to be fixed the old fashioned way. Our media no longer informs, and now we can no longer even agree on the basic facts of an issue like climate change or healthcare. Everything is just a mass of white noise, with people hollering about “socialism” and “fascism” and “government-run healthcare” and “liberal scientists” and stuff that’s so far removed from reality so as to make the debate meaningless.

I have friends who still believe in the old-fashioned boycott, who are calling on people to do things like dump their health insurance in the hopes of bringing about reform. But I’ve questioned the efficacy of boycotts for years now. We’re just too splintered as a society now.

I have my personal boycotts, I don’t shop at WalMart or any of Lee Beaman’s businesses, or any of Dale Inc.’s businesses. They’re all major contributors to Republican Party candidates and PACs and, in Beaman’s case, wingnutty groups like the Club For Growth, English First and the Swift Boat smearmongers. I don’t want to support that so I don’t do business with those folks but calling for a boycott is going to be as effective as the religious right’s failed boycott of Disney. All it did was make the AFA and Southern Baptist Convention look foolish.

Nothing is black and white anymore (if it ever was); everything is shades of gray. I remember shopping at Whole Foods the day after progressives called for a boycott because of CEO John Mackey’s Wall Street Journal op-ed. The store was as packed as ever. I didn’t join the calls for a boycott because frankly I thought it was stupid to punish a company that supports organic farming, fair trade, local agriculture, etc. because you disagree with the CEO’s position on health reform. But if that’s a boycott you personally want to support, more power to you. We all have our own personal standards, we have to wake up and look at ourselves in the mirror in the morning, so do what you’ve got to do. But making someone feel like a dick because they won’t put their family at risk by dumping their health insurance? Nah, I’m not going to sign up for that.

If voting doesn’t work, and boycotts don’t work, what will? Increasingly I’m convinced that the only thing that will change the world, indeed the only thing that ever has, is the creative arts. Music, literature, art, film: these things hit people on an emotional level, they can transform one’s view of the world and engage people in a way that politics does not.

(To the conservatives rolling their eyes at me right now, let me remind you: Ayn Rand still has a movement today because of her books.)

So I’m going to challenge all of my liberal friends to get creative this year. Now is the time to take an idea and put it to music, movement, poetry or canvass. Take your view of the world and write a short story about it and put it out there. The mass media has changed, the gatekeepers are gone. Anyone can put their work on the internet, on a blog, on YouTube or iTunes. Now is the time to express yourself. Enough with the electioneering and fundraising and petitioning. Now is the time to touch people where it will do the most good: in their hearts.

And to my creative women friends, I’d like to call your attention to the Tennessee Women’s Theater Project’s 2010 call for entries for its spring Women’s Work showcase. All sorts of creative arts are represented, not just dramatic works. Check it out!

So my liberal progressive friends: Your assignment, should you choose to accept it, is simple. Express yourselves.

Now get busy.

20 Comments

Filed under art, politics, politics and film, rants

At Least We Didn’t Start A War This Time

So, it’s starting to look like North Korea was not responsible for the Sony hack after all. Hilarious:

The FBI was briefed Monday by a security firm who believe the signs point to former Sony employees as responsible for the hacking. The briefing was first reported by Politico and later confirmed by CBS News MondayNight.

Researchers with Norse, a cybersecurity firm say their information points to both hackers working with a piracy group and a laid-off, disgruntled worker.

That’s the same version that Norse gave CBS News’ Ben Tracy in a story reported Dec. 23.

Oh, you silly fools. Yes, this story speaks to the difficulty of navigating the brave new world of cybersecurity. But the knee-jerk response by millions of Americans and our sensationalistic news media speaks to something far worse.

That millions of Americans would flock to a sophomoric movie as a sign of “patriotism” shows how shallow American civic sentiment is today. I’m also appalled at how easily a media firestorm can spread through every corner of this country, devoid of any rational thought. Have we not learned any lessons from the past 15 years? Look how quickly it was simply taken on faith that North Korea was responsible for the hacking of Sony Pictures because hey, that’s what they said on the TeeVee! An irresponsible news media picked up the narrative, tweaked the American amygdala, and manipulated the emotions of millions of people — driving them to see a film most of them in all likelihood would have had no interest in seeing. But they did it because, “America, fuck yeah!” Well, at least we didn’t start a war this time.

Let’s turn this one over to Albert Brooks:

AlbertBrooks

Ha! This is without a doubt the most brain-dead population in human history, and the most completely useless news media in the free world.

Here in Tennessee, movie marquees blared “Freedom prevails” and people showed up to screenings waving American flags and expressing their dislike of the North Korean dictator:

It was Linda Ranz’s idea to see “The Interview” at the Belcourt Theatre. It was husband David Ranz’s idea to bring the outfit.

Decked out in American flag colors while wearing a blue Santa hat with an American flag and a photo of North Korean leader Kim Jong Un’s face pinned to it, David said Thursday he was fulfilling his patriotic duty. About this time last year, the couple were on vacation standing outside the North Korean border.

The experience opened their eyes to how great America’s freedoms are, they said. And like many of the hundreds there for the sold-out 1:30 p.m. showing, they arrived to make a statement that art will prevail.

“They think they can change how we live our lives, but we can’t let that happen,” said David Ranz, 62, a Murfreesboro resident. “I have grandchildren now, and we have to set an example for them to hold on to the things that are so special to us.”

If the best way you can set an example is to see a movie filled with foul language and sophomoric frat boy jokes, then you, Mr. Ranz, are an idiot. I despair for this country and our world.

4 Comments

Filed under politics and film, pop culture

Happy To Let The Terrorists Win This One

God, all of this hand-wringing about “censorship” since Sony Pictures announced it was pulling the release of “The Interview!” Smart people, people I respect, are all decrying the decision, but this is one time where I’m gonna say: y’all asked for it. Who thought a comedy showing the U.S. government assassinating an actual, real head of state in an extremely grotesque and graphic fashion was a good idea? It was poor taste all the way around. Maybe a little self-censorship next time, guys?

This wasn’t satire a la Trey Parker and Matt Stone of “Team America World Police.” It was an ill-conceived and un-funny idea from the get-go. Someone should have stepped in long before now; the fact that they didn’t shows how few grown-ups there are in “young Hollywood.”

I’m no fan of the North Korean regime by any means, but I don’t think murder is funny (hey maybe it’s just me!) and I sure don’t think assassinating leaders of foreign countries is funny (sorry, not even Kim Jong Un). When the United States’ international reputation is getting hammered for the CIA’s use of torture, trying to get yuks out of the North Korean leader’s exploding head is in really poor taste. It would be different if they had used a fictitious leader of a fictitious country, but no. They had to push the envelope. Well, sometimes when you push the envelope, the envelope pushes back. Lesson learned.

There’s a lot of nuance to this story that’s being overlooked: the fears of theater chain owners who didn’t want to scare moviegoers away from the multiplex, for one thing, or the fact that Sony’s Japanese owners are far more impacted by North Korea than is America. But the hubris of Hollywood players claiming the moral high ground and crying “censorship” over a puerile buddy comedy filled with butt jokes that was already getting bad reviews is pretty silly. This ain’t “Citizen Kane,” and I’m not sure it’s the best place to be planting your free speech flag.

Movie studios pull the plug on projects all the damn time. I don’t recall anyone crying “censorship” the last time a movie went straight to video, do you?

10 Comments

Filed under movies, politics and film, pop culture

Murica Murica Murica

Do you love Murica? Do you love it as much as right-wing propagandist/author/filmmaker/criminal/adulterer D’Nesh D’Souza does? Probably not! D’Nesh D’Souza has named so many of his little propaganda tomes “America” that he has confused the Great Gazoogle, and now if you are an America-lover like D’Nesh D’Souza and want to see his latest Murica-loving flick, named “America” (of course! Not to be confused with his last flick,
“Obama’s America,” though!), you had better not use the Google and maybe should try Fandango because Google’s algorithms say “that’s too much America, D’Nesh D’Souza!” What do you expect from a person whose first and last names begin with D-apostrophe? Really, people!

D’Souza’s camp is pretty sure this is all one big conspiracy from Liebrul-Obama-lovin’ Hollyweird, though:

“This is merely a reiteration of what we heard nearly a week ago, and yet the problem has persisted and potential moviegoers are still confused,” D’Souza told THR. “The American people need to know if Google is going to be a trustworthy source of news and information that doesn’t tilt in one political direction or another.”

Simultaneously to the Google controversy, Costco has been under fire for issuing an edict that all of its stores stop selling D’Souza’s latest book, America: Imagine a World Without Her, which is the source material for the movie.

Costco reportedly says its decision is based on lackluster sales, not politics, though critics point out that the book is poised to appear July 13 on the New York Times best sellers list. On Tuesday, the book was No. 3 at Amazon.com. Costco did not respond to a request for comment.

Poor little D’Nesh! He’s sooooooo oppressssssed, you guys! D’Nesh D’Souza is not having a good year, and it’s all Obama’s fault!

7 Comments

Filed under conservatives, politics and film, pop culture

IOKIYAR, Nudie Pitchers Edition

Since we’re picking on The Daily Failure today, I’ve just got this one extra thing to add:

It's Okay If You're A Republican!

It’s Okay If You’re A Republican!

Yes, Tucker Carlson, do tell me how Ashley Judd’s film nudity disqualifies her from the U.S. Senate. I’m all ears.

I really hope she runs, I do. The way Republicans are going apeshit over even the suggestion tells me she scares the bejeezus out of them.

My in-laws all live in Kentucky and I asked my mother-in-law if she thought Judd had a chance. She said yes, because Judd is more associated with Kentucky Wildcats basketball than Hollywood. And people in Kentucky take their college basketball very, very seriously. I’m not sure how you can go from years of cheering your team’s most renowned superfan to seeing her as the devil incarnate without something else to bridge the gap. And “Hollywood” ain’t gonna cut it, not when Republicans have lionized Ronald Reagan, Clint Eastwood, and Arnold Schwarzenegger. Hell, they even sent Gopher from the Love Boat to Congress. If Republicans can make the leap from the screen to Washington, D.C., so can Democrats.

How Kentuckians Know Ashley Judd

How Kentuckians Know Ashley Judd

Suckit, Republicans. Ashley Judd is smart, articulate, educated, and she scares the shit out of you. Bwaahaaa.

6 Comments

Filed under politics, politics and film, pop culture

Complain

In honor of President’s Day, a video clip of our best never-gonna-be president, the satirical Bob Roberts. (Okay, the film was about a Senate campaign, but I seem to recall Roberts being presented as presidential material). Anyway, enjoy this clip from Tim Robbins’ 1992 film and just remind yourself that 20 years ago, this was cutting-edge satire. Today these things Roberts spouts are standard conservative talking points:

Two years ago I stumbled across the film, which I’d long since forgotten, and posted the Bob Roberts trailer and some old reviews. It goes without saying that Tim Robbins was extraordinarily prescient when he wrote and directed it. As I wrote at the time, I remembered seeing the film in the theater and thinking, “Nah, too over the top! Too out there! Revolutionary War costumes? Hilarious!” And hello modern-day Tea Party.

This year marks the film’s 20th anniversary. I would hope it would be re-released on DVD with a little bit of hoo-hah, though I don’t know if there are any plans to do so. But there should be. It really shows how extreme the modern day Republican Party has become.

4 Comments

Filed under politics and film

There’s No Getting Over Some Things

Hey right-wingers: please stop telling us lefties to “get over” the stolen 2000 election that installed George W. Bush in the White House and set America on its disastrous path to Crazy Town where we find ourselves today. Not when some of you still aren’t over Jane Fonda’s anti-war activism from 40 years ago:

I was to have been on QVC today to introduce my book, “Prime Time,” about aging and the life cycle. The network said they got a lot of calls yesterday criticizing me for my opposition to the Vietnam War and threatening to boycott the show if I was allowed to appear. I am, to say the least, deeply disappointed that QVC caved to this kind of insane pressure by some well funded and organized political extremist groups. And that they did it without talking to me first. I have never shied away from talking about this as I have nothing to hide. I could have pointed out that threats of boycotts are nothing new for me and have never prevented me from having best selling books and exercise DVDs, films, and a Broadway play. Most people don’t buy into the far right lies. Many people have reached out to express how excited they were about my going onto QVC and hearing about my book.

Jane Fonda has been a target of the far-right fringe for decades. Remember in the 2004 election when wingnuts photoshopped photos of John Kerry and Jane Fonda to make it seem like the two appeared together at anti-war rallies?

They still aren’t over her, after all these years. “Jane Fonda” has become wingnuttese
for “dirty fucking hippie Commie America-hater.” They still refer to her as “Hanoi Jane,” believe it or not.

This form of identity politics resonates with a very small crowd; for most people, Jane Fonda is an actress and exercise fanatic. But whatever.

I’m really sick of the hating on Jane Fonda. She long ago made amends for whatever hurt she caused those in uniform, while staunchly defending her right to protest the Vietnam War — something which thousands of other Americans did as well, I may add. And how appalling that QVC would cave to the lunatic fringe and keyboard kommandos of the right.

So no, if your side is going to hold a grudge over the political activism of a Hollywood actress from 40 years ago, I think I’m entitled to still be pissed that a national election was stolen 11 years ago and the worst regime in American history was inflicted on the world.

2 Comments

Filed under boycotts, Housekeeping, Jane Fonda, politics and film

NOW Will The Media Get Over Its Palin Infatuation?

Um, news media? If it wasn’t abundantly clear before that you clowns are the only ones who care about Sarah Palin, it should be now. Apparently the ridiculously-titled Sarah Palin fan flick “The Undefeated” opened last night in ultra-conservative Orange County, and no one showed up — and it was one of the only 10 screens nationwide bothering to show the film!

No one, of course, save the same clueless media types who have always been sniffing at her heels. I’m sorry but how ridiculous did The Atlantic’s Conor Friedersdorf feel sitting entirely alone in a movie theater watching a Palin fluffer? Pretty ridiculous, by the sound of it:

I hurried through the teenage hordes, bypassed a concession stand that sold 1,020 calories of soda for $5.25, and entered theater number 30, hoping I’d have ample time before the previews to talk to some people. But inside, the theater was empty. I sat there alone for 20 minutes, at which point an usher stuck his head in the door, gave me a quizzical smile, and said, “How come you’re not watching Harry Potter?” Then he left me by myself again, and without any good answer.

Look, most Americans don’t care about Sarah Palin. We don’t. The only reason she’s in the news is because you assclowns keep foisting her on us, and then you whine and cwy and tamp your widdew feet when she disses you and calls you “lame.” Hey, she’s right, you are lame!

Look, you want to cover Sarah Palin? Here’s an idea: Why don’t you cover the fact that SarahPAC spent tens of thousands of dollars on what she repeatedly described as her “family vacation”?

Meanwhile, the treasurer of SarahPAC gloats that they “received more than 36,700 contributions from over 24,000 contributors.” Um.. okay, and that money went to pay for the Palin family vacation? Are these people fools? Is Palin lying? How is this not the absolute definition of a con job? Start a PAC, collect money from idiots, spend money on yourself. Hello? Hey, Mr. Beale and I would love to go back to Italy next year. Maybe I can get some fools to pay for it with my PAC!

Maybe Stephen Colbert is on to something here.

And yes, I’m being a little unfair, there’s been some mention of this in the media as my links attest. But nothing has reached the fever pitch of the “will she or won’t she” question, which is about all the news media seems to care about, though no one else gives a shit.

Just yesterday our local NewsChannel5 morning newsbot Steve Hayslip teased a “big announcement from Sarah Palin, details after the break!” You know what the big announcement was? That she may (or may not) announce whether she’s running for president in August. Or maybe September.

Or maybe not!

I mean seriously, it’s reached a stage where I’m starting to wonder if Sarah Palin isn’t a satirical character created for the sole purpose of poking fun at our news media. Yes, exactly like Stephen Colbert.

(h/t, ThinkProgress)

6 Comments

Filed under 2012 presidential election, media, politics and film, Sarah Palin

Political Correctness Is Just Good Manners, Politicized

This morning I talked to my Wingnut Acquaintance, who calls himself a conservative but always ends up taking liberal positions when we drill down to the actual issue. He mentioned the brouhaha over Lars Von Trier — something I hadn’t heard about, so I had no idea what he was talking about when he mentioned some “German director” who did a movie with Kirsten Dunst who won’t get “the big prize” at Cannes because of “political correctness,” which he added he is “so damn sick of.”

Okay, so when I got home I asked the Great Gazoogle and learned the “German director” is actually Danish director Lars Von Trier. Trier apparently had some kind of meltdown in a press conference where he admitted to having Nazi relatives or something of the sort. Honestly I’m not sure exactly what it is, though I have to say watching Kirsten Dunst’s reaction to his blathering in this video clip is truly priceless.

Anyway, what I told my Wingnut Acquaintance is this: I have no problem with “political correctness,” zero. This is something folks like Rush Limbaugh, Michael Savage and Glenn Beck like to rail against as liberal oppression, but that’s because classic “political correctness” is a construct of the political message machine. It does not exist; it’s just a tool used by people with a partisan agenda to foster division and anger among the populace. Who thinks that 99% of the stuff people have hissy fits about are anything anyone would ordinarily give a shit about if political partisans weren’t shoving it in their faces?

It’s all so obviously orchestrated — the latest Newt Gingrich “food stamp president” nonsense is the latest example. And you can tell it’s orchestrated political theater because now Sarah Palin has weighed in on it.

Political correctness doesn’t exist in the real world, it’s something people in power use to score points when trying to make the opposition look bad.

What is political correctness but good manners and being polite and basically not being an asshole? You don’t walk into someone’s dinner party and proclaim that you hate the Ragheads, or wasn’t life better when women knew their place, and don’t we all know the n**CLANG** are just a bunch of welfare-sucking leaches who never contribute anything good to society? Because even if these are things you secretly think, people don’t come out and say it, because it’s rude. It’s like when Aunt Edna announces at Thanksgiving that little Timmy is really your brother not your nephew, and pass the mashed potatoes please? People just don’t do  that.

But apparently a certain segment of society wants to uphold the right to be rude, they want to be assholes and on top of that, they don’t want people to call them on it.

And so I told my Wingnut Acquaintance this: look, if people want to be rude you have that right, but don’t for a second think that absolves you from criticism for being rude. Because that’s really what people bitching about political correctness are saying. They want to be rude and they want people to not call them on it. If you’re going to say something offensive about a particular group of people, don’t go crying for your mommie when people invariably get upset. Stand by your words! And if you can’t do that, apologize. It’s just really that simple.

And as usual, the Wingnut Acquaintance agreed with me.

6 Comments

Filed under politics and film

>Yet Another Conservative Hollywood Fail

>There’s a lot to poke fun at regarding the new “Atlas Shrugged” movie: the trailer is mind-numbingly dull; the cast lacks any big names (sorry fanboys, Angelina Jolie is not in the picture); it’s in three parts, when clearly one would more than suffice; it maintains the book’s steel-mills-and-railroads setting, two industries basically obliterated from the American manufacturing landscape (indeed, railroads are paragons of socialism these days); or the fact that the movie lacks a distributor and will most likely end up in permanent limbo like the remake of “Red Dawn.”

But to me the best part about “Atlas Shrugged” is that in an act of marketing genius {/sarcasm} the producers slated the film for release on April 15 — tax day. Perfect except for one thing: tax day is April 18 this year.

They couldn’t even get that right.

2 Comments

Filed under Atlas Shrugged, CPAC, politics and film