not in our stars, but in ourselves
1. The tagline on the posters for the new season of True Detective was “We get the world we deserve.” Well, maybe. I watched on Sunday, by the way. I’m not going to do a weekly review (obviously) – but I will say that I’m not nearly as personally betrayed as some TV critics seemed to be. (Notable exception: Grantland, which is, as usual, far more measured and thoughtful – and interesting – than most other hack critics out there in the blogosphere. Myself included, of course.) “The Western Book of the Dead” was fine, and I like the new opening credits, and I’ll watch next week, and we’ll just see how we go. If it succeeds in the aims it sets for itself, season two will be okay.
P.S. If anyone makes a porn parody, I thought of the name True Dick already, and I expect to be paid royalties for it.
2. The world we deserve is crazily racist. I guess. That would seem to be the consensus, based on mainstream media’s response to President Obama using the n-word on Marc Maron’s WTF podcast. Sure, get all upset about a black man using that word to make a point about how upset you all get about that word – but don’t say or do shit about the black people who are killed and incarcerated every day. (Also part of Obama’s point.)
3. On the subject of race relations in America, in the year 2015, please read Ta-Nehisi Coates’s thorough rebuke in The Atlantic of any argument in favor of keeping the confederate flag flying anywhere, for any reason – unless you really do want to be blatantly racist. Coates doesn’t even do much editorializing in his essay: he damns the flag with its own supporters’ statements, from the antebellum period to the Civil War and right through to the twenty-first century. One example of many, from Mississippi’s declaration in favor of seceding from the Union:
Our position is thoroughly identified with the institution of slavery—the greatest material interest of the world. Its labor supplies the product which constitutes by far the largest and most important portions of commerce of the earth. These products are peculiar to the climate verging on the tropical regions, and by an imperious law of nature, none but the black race can bear exposure to the tropical sun. These products have become necessities of the world, and a blow at slavery is a blow at commerce and civilization. That blow has been long aimed at the institution, and was at the point of reaching its consummation. There was no choice left us but submission to the mandates of abolition, or a dissolution of the Union, whose principles had been subverted to work out our ruin…
It has never not been racist. If you need more proof, look no further than Neo-Nazi groups in Germany – where the swastika has been banned – who use the confederate flag as their substitute symbol of hatred and racism.
Speaking of Nazism, by the way, the comparisons between the confederacy and Nazi Germany have been flying around, fast and furious, and I think there’s one especially interesting/important point of comparison. Germany has been brutally honest with itself about what happened, leading up to and including World War II – all in an effort to prevent anything like Nazism from happening ever again. White Southerners, on the other hand, have been permitted to nurse a romantic illusion of “the Old South”: one that was literally built on the broken backs of millions of people, but that had “grace” and “charm” and “gentility.” They’ve been permitted to cling to the Confederate flag as a symbol of the good old days – when they stood up to those mean old Yankees and stuck to their guns, literally. I really hope this national uproar leads, among other things, to a more honest self-appraisal among white Southerners who still cling to this absurd Gone With the Wind fantasy – because that’s all it is: fantasy. Nothing more.
4. Matt Barone wrote a nice piece about Selma and its lesson (if it bears any lessons; I don’t think it aims to be a didactic movie, but I think it’s full of truth) about what to do when a hateful person (or group) brutalizes peaceful members of a community: honor the dead by trying to change the world for the better. Wouldn’t it be nice?
5. The New York Times put two and two and two and two and two and two and – well, you get the idea – together, and offered the shocking conclusion: racist, anti-government, right-wing, non-Jihadist terrorists attack and kill more often than Jihadist terrorists here in the U.S. Some of the tea spilled in the article:
Some Muslim advocates complain that when the perpetrator of an attack is not Muslim, media commentators quickly focus on the question of mental illness.
“With non-Muslims, the media bends over backward to identify some psychological traits that may have pushed them over the edge,” said Abdul Cader Asmal, a retired physician and a longtime spokesman for Boston’s Muslim community. “Whereas if it’s a Muslim, the assumption is that they must have done it because of their religion.”
On several occasions since President Obama took office, efforts by government agencies to conduct research on right-wing extremism have run into resistance from Republicans, who suspected an attempt to smear conservatives.
A 2009 report by the Department of Homeland Security, which warned that an ailing economy and the election of the first black president might prompt a violent reaction from white supremacists, was withdrawn in the face of conservative criticism. Its main author, Daryl Johnson, later accused the department of “gutting” its staffing for such research.
A few people in my Facebook feed (they’re family, I can’t really shame them publicly, and they wouldn’t understand it if I tried) are drinking the Kool Aid proffered by some Tea Party groups, and it’s exactly the kind of vicious propaganda you’d expect to see pumped out by ISIS – or, indeed, by the Nazis. And yet, we let that fester and eat away at our collective soul. We let that dictate public policy. We ignore the cancers in our own midst. It’s enough to make you despair, I tell you – or, at the very least, drink heavily.
6. Tsarnaev was officially sentenced today. He apologized to the victims and their families. I don’t know. I feel sad about all of it.
7. Shifting gears to two Hannibal things in advance of tomorrow’s episode: you can sign a petition (you can probably sign a lot of petitions) to renew the show, and save it from dying before its time. Sounds like there might be something in place with Netflix…but no one has confirmed anything, so you’d better just let the powers-that-be (i.e., the NSA) know that you would really like Hannibal to keep going.
And secondly – a trans Clarice Starling? Maybe. I realize it’s not my place to make this judgment, and I welcome corrections, but I do not take The Silence of the Lambs to be transphobic. Buffalo Bill is clearly presented as a disturbed cis male, and he butchers women due to misogyny and rage and a twisted sewing project – not because he’s a woman who feels trapped in a man’s body. It’s there in the text. I don’t, therefore, agree with the idea that Clarice should be trans just to “offset” Bill’s ickiness. I do, however, think it could be an interesting way (if done right – and I trust Bryan Fuller to do it right) to illustrate her “otherness.” In both the book and the film, she’s nearly the only woman in the boys’ club that was the FBI in the early 1980s. That wouldn’t really work now, not with a cis female, but it might effectively conjure up that “otherness” if everyone is leering at her with the kind of curiosity and invasive questions that the average person lobbies at trans people. Maybe. I wouldn’t want a token anything on Hannibal, but I think it’s an interesting idea, at the very least.
8. Nice bitchy read from Cinema Scope about Cannes, comparing it to FIFA. If you want something deliciously catty, look no further.
9. We got some apocalyptic-looking skies last night – albeit none of the forecast thunderstorms. Not bad. Not bad at all.