not in our stars, but in ourselves
1. Before I delve into the shitty stuff, here’s something fun: the Nitrate Diva (who rules, and who’s worth following) has been showcasing sparkly movie costumes on her Twitter feed. Today, she included this absolute doozy:
Yes, folks, that is Jimmy Stewart and Lew Ayres, in costume for a movie called Ice Follies of 1939, a movie that I think we all can agree is a must-see. Look at those toothpick legs. You know what nearly every figure skater has? Visibly muscular legs. I can’t believe this shit. I love it.
2. Speaking of Jimmy, today is Cormac McCarthy’s birthday, so you are legally required to retweet this if you have a Twitter.
Sorry, it’s just the rules.
3. Okay, into the shit. Here’s the thing that I think made me angriest this week: Rachel Maddow, professional interviewer and analyst and opinion-haver, says she’s “studying Hitler to prepare for Trump.” I am no expert. I am no paid thinkfluencer. I am no historian. And yet, I damn near punched a hole in the wall when I heard about this, because it’s an inexcusably lazy and stupid comparison – particularly for someone as idolized by neoliberals as Maddow to make. I’m not surprised, mind you, but I’m angry about it. First of all, Trump is no Hitler. He lacks the planning, the discipline, and the organization. Say what you will about the tenets of National Socialism, dude, but they worked diligently and efficiently to build more and more power until they were able to dissolve anything in their way, legislatively speaking. We know what happened after that. Do I think that Trump has started a dangerous nativist movement with white nationalist overtones? Yes. Is that the same thing as what Hitler did? Not even remotely. Hitler had plans and carried them out. Trump gets on stage and starts barking like a racist seal. There is a difference.
Second of all, what the fuck is Maddow thinking, telling Trump supporters that the guy they intend to vote for is exactly as bad as one of the twentieth century’s worst monsters? What does that do to the likelihood that they’ll ever change their minds and come over to your side? I will tell you what it does: it obliterates any chance of getting any of those voters to switch sides, you dumb fucking asshole. It calcifies their resolve against you, your candidate, and anything you might have to say, smart or stupid. Do you not want their votes? Do you not want them to abandon their anger and try to work towards a better future? No, of course not. You just want to stay smug and cozy and insulated on your shitty 24-hour cable news channel, where the closest you’ll ever feel to genuine anger is the righteous, tweet-able performance of rage when John Oliver does one of his “investigative” rants on his comedy show. Fuck you. It is your job to analyze news and current events, and you clearly lack the intellectual rigor to do so. I don’t wish for anyone to get fired, but you don’t deserve to be on TV.
4. This is a very good thread about liberal comedians’ “eviscerations” of Trump and other far-right buffoons. Read the whole thing – they’re just tweets, they’re not that long – but here’s the crux of it, I think:
5. On the subject of the election: 85 civilians killed by U.S. air strikes in Syria. That’s just today. That’s just one military fuck-up. If you think that kind of inexcusable tragedy will diminish with either Clinton or Trump in the White House, I’ve got a bridge to sell you.
6. I haven’t been watching the RNC, because my alcoholism is already getting dangerously out of hand, but this whole plagiarism thing is not a real issue. It’s funny. It’s amazingly stupid. It’s not real, though. The fact that one of the two major parties in this awful country is blatantly holding a white nationalist rally for its convention is, I should think, a pretty troubling sign. It would be cool if that got some attention in the press. But, well. Can’t ruffle any feathers, I guess.
7. Before I finish banging the lefty drum: another very good thread about how horribly damaging the Cold War was. Imagine if we’d nipped the worst of end-stage capitalism in the bud, and were now 40-50 years into a beautiful socialist world order. God, if only.
8. Ty Burr came through with a good, cranky hot take about Woody Allen – namely, that he is vastly overrated as a filmmaker. He doesn’t deny that Allen has had some great movies, but he lays a pretty damning accusation at Allen’s feet, one that I tend to think is undeniably true:
More damaging over the long haul are those scripts in which everybody talks like Woody Allen except for the secondary characters, who are cartoons. (Think of the France-hating parents in “Midnight in Paris” or the two-dimensional working-class lummoxes of “Blue Jasmine.”)That’s an indication of a much larger failing. Allen seems fundamentally incurious about himself and other people, and the proof of artistic sensibility (in the narrative arts, at least) is an engagement with the human dilemma in all its absurdity and sadness. “Crimes and Misdemeanors” gets there. But aside from “Deconstructing Harry,” there is little self-examination or sustained inquiry in his work.
Example: It’s well known that Allen has a thing for very young women; “Manhattan” (1979) featured an affair between his character and a high school girl played by Mariel Hemingway, and the director’s current predilection for the latest Hollywood ingénue has a rancid air to it precisely because he has never consciously addressed the issue as a storyteller. But, then, he never reads what people say about his movies.
What seems pretty clear, actually, is that Allen doesn’t like people, period. The old-timey jazz and Windsor font of his title sequences, the neurotic jokes that get a quick laugh and move on, the roteness of the filmmaking, the adoration of women that masks a deeper contempt — all bespeak a bubble of self-absorption and disinterest.
If there’s a greater sin for an artist, I don’t know what it could be. You don’t have to love your fellow man, but you have to understand people other than yourself. (By the way, it will surprise no one that, the moment I posted this article on Facebook, I was #actually’d by a lifetime Allen fan, who mostly quibbled with how lazy the writing is in this piece. Sure thing, man. Woody Allen is still a creep who doesn’t give a shit about anyone except himself. I was also #actually’d by a Clinton/Maddow fan for my “Trump Is Dangerous In His Own Way But Not Like Hitler” rant. Love online, baby!!!!!!)
9. Let’s end on a lighter note: ranking the screen portrayals of Jane Austen’s men. #1 is definitely the right call. #2 shouldn’t be on the list, but what are you gonna do. I’m very pleased that she included both Josh from Clueless and Colonel Brandon from Sense and Sensibility, may he rest in sonorous peace.