In this week’s opening blog, I discussed the spiritual emptiness that allows ISIS to draw adherents from around the world. I didn’t want to end the week on that depressing note — so here’s the good news:
The first awards for conservatism in film. We couldn’t make them quite as narcissistic and dull as the Oscars. But we tried!
Like everyone else who cares more about the facts than his own opinions, I’ve recently read Graeme Wood’s excellent Atlantic article “What Isis Really Wants.” Those of you making do with excerpts and pull quotes, stop, and go read the whole thing. That it renders the president’s statements about ISIS absurd is the least of the article’s accomplishments. No one but a small coterie of leftist knuckleheads believes what Obama says on this subject anyway — though it’s unfortunate that the president himself is part of that coterie.
Among the many things in the piece that inspire thought is Wood’s reflection on the attractions of the ISIS ideology. The mass executions, the crucifixions, the enslavements, the oppressive religiosity and the war cry to a worldly disaster that will initiate the apocalypse — they are all drawing believers to the Islamic State from around the world. Wood himself felt the attraction, he says, while talking to ISIS supporters. He ends the article by quoting Orwell on the allure of Nazism:
Whereas Socialism, and even capitalism in a more grudging way, have said to people “I offer you a good time,” Hitler has said to them, “I offer you struggle, danger, and death,” and as a result a whole nation flings itself at his feet. … We ought not to underrate its emotional appeal.
We really ought not. Nor should we underestimate the need to offer young people especially something in its place. As much as I believe in capitalism as a method of economic development, a capitalist life is empty without spiritual content. Indeed, as much as I believe in individual freedom as the only worthwhile goal of any political system, individual freedom too is empty without spiritual content.
It is in that emptiness that militant Islam grows like the cancer it is.
Battered by the religious wars of the Reformation, making adjustments to a global economy and multi-cultured nations, the West has slowly become diffident in defense of its central faith. And there is some wisdom in that. Christianity is a religion, to paraphrase St. Paul, that frees us for freedom, and faith in Christ must be chosen freely to be fully realized. But to move from that position — which calls for intellectual rigor, unfettered debate and honest proselytism — to indiscriminate acceptance of all creeds as equally worthwhile is an error that does the world more harm than good.
Whenever I hear someone announce that “All religions are a path to God!” I wonder how it would work if you applied such “tolerance” to, say, medicine or science. “All medicines are a path to health! You take antibiotics, I cut the head off a chicken and dance under the full moon, really what’s the difference as long as we both believe it will make us well?” Or “All science is a path to progress! You invent an iPhone, I invent a weaponized disease, it’s all science, man, it’s all great!”
When you put it this way, it becomes clear that the idea that all religions are equally worthwhile is essentially an atheist creed. To say All religions are a path to God is really saying, No religion is a path to God. There is no God, so what difference does your religion make? When something is true, when it is factual, when it is real, it excludes other options. The world can’t be both flat and round. When you accept the roundness of it, you can no longer entertain its flatness. It’s one or the other.
If God is the Christian God of love, he is not the Allah of Isis.
The objection to this approach to religion — the generalization that says “religion” is responsible for the wars and atrocities committed in religion’s name — is absurd. People murder each other in the name of love, too, but that doesn’t mean love is murderous; it simply means there are wrong and right ways to love. There are wrong and right ways to worship too, and keeping silent about the right ways only lends credence to the wrong.
If there is a God — and, spoiler alert, there is — then like everything else that exists, there are things that are true about Him and things that are false. We who have voices better start telling the Truth without fear. Otherwise, our silence, and the emptiness that silence creates, will leave all the world to the likes of ISIS and their god — who is not God at all, by the way, but another fellow entirely.
I used to watch the Oscars because people wanted to interview me about them. Not anymore. I just don’t care enough even for that. The Oscars are like an Episcopalian church service: The rituals are still in place and the people in the audience want to believe, but those in charge have lost their faith and rendered the entire exercise meaningless. After all, the Oscars were about celebrating the great American form of mass entertainment, and while there are still plenty of good movies being made, they are no longer being made to entertain the American masses. American Sniper is an important exception… but Whiplash, Imitation Game, Boyhood, Birdman? I’m not saying these movies aren’t good, but who saw them? Elites. Why should the rest of us show up to watch elites celebrate themselves for entertaining each other? You might tune in for the ladies and their pretty dresses, I guess — perfectly good reason. It is right and fitting that the genetically blessed should make efforts to please the eyes of the rest of us.
Knock yourself out. I’ll be elsewhere.
Good question. And who better to answer it than me, Dinesh D’Souza, Bill Whittle, Alfonzo Rachel and Roger Simon?
Movieguide, Ted Baehr’s powerful Christian conservative movie site, says conservative movies made three times as much as leftist films last year — which doesn’t even include the 300-plus-million smackers domestic American Sniper has racked up. It’s good news, but not as clear as all that.
There’s a nice, smart piece by Matt Lewis over at The Daily Beast, asking what exactly the Movieguide report means by “conservative” in this context — an excellent question, well explored in the piece.
Make no mistake, the movies killing it at the box office aren’t generally wholesome tales about places like Mayberry, don’t hearken back to the Leave it to Beaver era, nor are they explicitly Christian (like Left Behind) or overtly political (like Atlas Shrugged, which was a box office disaster).
As defined above, many of these are movies with strong “patriotic and/or capitalist content.” As such, movies considered “conservative” include The Hunger Games: Mockingjay, Captain America: The Winter Soldier, The Lego Movie, and Godzilla. Meanwhile, movies deemed liberal included Boyhood, Maleficent, Nymphomaniac, and The Imitation Game.
If being conservative requires me to watch Jennifer Lawrence kick butt, then so be it. But the fact that Selma is considered by the group to be a conservative film demonstrates how arbitrary terms can be—and how difficult it is to create a truly objective standard for quantifying ideology in movies.
Well, right. My own sense is that the explosion in new media, the voices of protest from the right, and the money that rolls in every time a powerhouse like Clint Eastwood or Mel Gibson manages to break the blacklist have made serious inroads for the cause of pro-liberty entertainment. Plenty of great and successful movies — the Dark Knight trilogy, Lord of the Rings, Toy Story 3, The Giver, etc. — promote the best values imaginable.
But I’d like to see a lot more true stories like Sniper that tell history as it was instead of the way the left continually rewrites it. If you’ll notice, it’s the history films that drive the left crazy. Clintonites despicably but successfully blocked the release of Path to 9/11 on DVD because it honestly shows how Clinton’s cowardice and his preoccupation with sex compromised his dealing with Osama bin Laden (watch the scene above); and Kennedy-ites bullied the mini-series The Kennedys onto an obscure cable channel. Meanwhile, failed and dishonest garbage like Fair Game and Iron Lady circulate on late night cable endlessly, becoming what young people think history really was.
Leftists can deal with conservative principles — individual liberty, the rule of law, moral behavior — because they can always twist their ideology around so it seems to fulfill those principles. What they can’t deal with are the facts: history being told as it really was, with leftists increasing misery and decreasing liberty every single time.
We’re winning the culture wars. History is the next piece of ground we need to take.
Barack Obama’s history of the Crusades, Brian Williams’ war stories and the CBS Evening News are all well and good, but if you want REALLY gripping fiction, try the new Fox TV series Empire. I won’t tell you it’s Shakespeare — and I hate the phrase “guilty pleasure” (it’s not like I’ve got someone chained up in the basement!) — but let’s just call it an addictive entertainment.
How addictive? Consider this. I don’t really do binge watching. No time. I set this show on my DVR and it collected six episodes before I even had a chance to look at it. Since I didn’t seem to be interested, I decided to watch ten minutes of the pilot to get the feel of it and delete the rest. I ended up watching three episodes in a row — it was past midnight when I was done. Another day or two and there were none left. Watching this thing is like eating potato chips salted with crack cocaine.
It’s the story of Lucious Lyon — played by Terrence Howard — who parlayed a hip-hop recording career into a music empire. Lucious discovers he has ALS with only three years to live so he sets his three sons against each other to see who can take over the business. There’s Hakeem (Bryshere Y. Gray), the wannabe gangstah one; Andre (Trai Byers), the buttoned-down bi-polar one; and Jamal (Jussie Smollett), the high-minded gay one. Complicating the game is Lucious’s ex-wife, the boys’ mother, Cookie (Taraji P. Henson), who has just been sprung from prison and wants her cut of the business too.
So yeah, it’s Dallas with music and just about as much fun as it’s possible to have watching TV. The acting’s great (Howard has one of the best speaking voices in the business), the girls are beautiful (newcomers Grace Gealey and Serayah could cause a man to spontaneously combust), and the music is softened just enough to make it enjoyable even to an old Bach and Bing fan like myself — which, hey, I appreciate!
You can pick on the show for silliness at times. There are one too many scenes where Cookie sashays uninvited into a meal or meeting to disrupt things with her over-the-top street smarts. But there’s never a dull moment and, frankly, watching this kind of talent go all out to amuse the folks at home is a pleasure in and of itself. If you have a chance to catch this, I’d love to know what you think. Myself, I can’t stop, won’t stop, watching.
A PJTV Panel on #GamerGate. My favorite part is the shocked reaction I got when calling a feminist an idiot. I would have thought that was a redundancy.
Maureen Dowd — the queen of Knucklehead Row — has a column on the Brian Williams Lying Scandal this week. Dowd maintains that TV anchors don’t matter now anyway because we get our news online, so they’re no longer the trusted figures they once were. The column includes this gem: “One anchor exerted moral authority once and that was Walter Cronkite, because he risked his career to go on TV and tell the truth about the fact that we were losing the Vietnam War.”
What’s lovely about this sentence is that it is nearly as absent truth content as the sentence: “The helicopter we were traveling in was forced down after being hit by an RPG.”
The myth it refers to is that Walter Cronkite had some major effect on American opinion when he commented our forces were “mired in stalemate” in Vietnam in 1968. It is entirely a myth, thoroughly and reliably debunked by W. Joseph Campbell in his book Getting It Wrong. The word stalemate was being used about the Vietnam War a lot at that point, in major news sources, including the New York Times, which was, at the time, a newspaper. A plurality of Americans — 47% — had believed the war was a mistake for months by the time Cronkite said what he said. And no, Lyndon Johnson didn’t change his mind or policy one bit because of Cronkite’s remarks, and most likely didn’t even hear them. (Hit the link on myth above for more.)
I bring this up because it explains why Brian Williams’ trustworthiness doesn’t matter, why the trustworthiness of television (and newspaper) “journalists” no longer matters in general, and why the internet upended them and rendered them obsolete. It’s not merely one technology replacing another. Mainstream journalists could maintain their authority amidst the noise… if they just didn’t lie all the time. All. The. Time. It’s because they don’t tell the truth that we don’t trust them. They keep silent about what they don’t want us to know (say, the IRS scandal) and overplay what they want us to care about (the Valerie Plame non-scandal). And what Dowd’s column demonstrates is: They don’t even know what the truth is! They all live happily together in a foggy wonderland of left-wing mythology where its ALL Brian Williams under RPG fire all the time.
Cronkite “risked his career to go on TV and tell the truth,” and Edward R. Murrow toppled Joseph McCarthy and there was no stained Lewinsky dress and George W. Bush went AWOL and Obama called Benghazi a terrorist attack right away and the science is settled and Brian Williams took RPG fire. It’s all one thing, and only my polite upbringing keeps me from saying what that one thing is.
For a closer look at who Brian Williams is — who the entire mainstream media are — read this excellent piece from our friends at NewsBusters detailing RPG Man’s continual Obama kowtowing and distortions. And watch the unbelievable TV moment in the clip at the top.