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Klavan On The Culture

Monthly Archives: December 2011

Tis the Season of Christ-o-phobia

December 12th, 2011 - 12:55 am

[I will continue to blog regularly through the holidays, but it'll be mostly cultural commentary and reviews.  This will be my last full-blown column until next year.]

"For I am not ashamed of the gospel of Christ..."

About this time last year, Sports Illustrated — one of any number of magazines to alienate readers like myself by inserting ill-informed left-wing political attitudes where they don’t belong — named Drew Brees its Sportsman of the Year. The New Orleans Saints quarterback had certainly earned the prestigious designation, leading his team and his city to an inspiring Super Bowl victory that seemed to hurl defiance at the devastation left by Hurricane Katrina a few years earlier.

The SI article by senior writer Tim Layden that accompanied the award opened with Brees addressing 400 adoring elementary school students.

“What is your empowering word?” asks one little girl.

And Brees responds:  ”Faith.”

What follows in the article is a journalistic embarrassment. Layden proceeds to beclown himself by spending the next three long paragraphs attempting to obscure, rather than elucidate, what Brees is talking about. “[Faith] is a word that… can polarize — or politicize — an audience,” Layden informs us — though he’s honest enough to note that no one in this particular audience was polarized or politicized so we may assume he’s only reporting on his own imagination. Faith, he drones on, is the essence of sport:  ”A player’s faith in the workaday value of practice….  A Team’s faith that its members can do more together…”  And, unbelievably, on and on.

But let’s, as it were, go to the video tape. What does Brees himself — the presumptive subject of the article — mean by faith?

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That’s right. When Brees talks about faith, he is talking about faith in Jesus Christ. J for J, esus for esus, Jesus. Was that so hard for Layden to say out loud? The answer, apparently, is yes. He reminds me of no one so much as the reporter anti-hero of my novel True Crime, who says, “Whenever someone…  says Jesus as if they really mean it… it makes my skin crawl, as if they’d said squid or intestine…”

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You’re Welcome, Tebow!

December 9th, 2011 - 7:05 am

Those of you who carefully memorize this blog will remember how back in early November, after Denver man of God and quarterback Tim Tebow got himself crushed repeatedly by the Detroit defensive line, I offered the rookie a bit of advice from a seasoned veteran (of, like, life I mean). I acknowledged that Tebow was an inspiring person of awesome-is-itude derided by our corrupt media only for the purity of his faith, but I pointed out that, in professional sports, faith is not enough.  ”If Tebow is going to continue to inspire,” I wrote in those mellifluous tones for which I’m justly admired, “he’s got to win, like Kurt Warner and Drew Brees.”

Well, as we see, Tebow has taken my advice, winning every game he’s played in the weeks since, and pushing the once-forsaken Broncos to a tie with Oakland atop the AFC West. And look, he doesn’t have to thank me, I’m just gratified to know my advice worked out for him. You’re welcome, Tim.

Barring a breaking story that diverts my attention, I’ll have more to say about Tebow, God and sports in my Monday column right here next week.


New Video: Wall Street On Trial

December 5th, 2011 - 6:23 pm

Some of you may feel that Occupy Wall Street protestors treat capitalists as evil cartoon caricatures.  Well, I actually am a cartoon caricature, and I have a different take on the subject.  Here’s my new video for the Manhattan Institute, “Wall Street on Trial.”  It was the doughty Justin Folk who transformed me into an animated figure.  And I’ll get him for it if it’s the last thing I do.

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Hoover Caught in a Moment of Blatant Bestiality

O’Sullivan’s Law says, in effect, that any organization that is not expressly right wing will become left wing over time. So it is with cultures too, I believe. And how could it be otherwise? All leftism is, really, is a form of decay, and all things made by man decay as time goes by. But if you ever wanted a glimpse of the mechanism by which that decay operates in our particular culture, the critical reception of Clint Eastwood’s latest film J. Edgar provides an invaluable insight.

A Hollywood icon, Eastwood has earned the right to make a bad film now and then and with J. Edgar he has exercised that right. The bio-pic of founder and long time head of the FBI J. Edgar Hoover is a mess. The narrative’s garbled timeline is purposeless and confusing; the characters’ motivations are unrealistic and programmatic; even the make-up is terrible.

But most noticeably, the script by gay activist Dustin Lance Black — author of the hagiography Milk — opts to serve the gay cause rather than the truth of its subject and thus produces perhaps the one version of Hoover’s life least likely to have happened. Here is one already notorious example. After his death, Hoover, a lifelong bachelor, was accused by a very unreliable source of attending gay orgies in drag. This is almost surely a slander, but there’s one thing we can say with certainty: either it’s true or it isn’t. Rather than taking a stand one way or the other, Black’s script has Hoover dressing in his dead mother’s gown only once as a token of grief — as if to say, “Well, we’ll only repeat the slanderous lie a little bit, and give it a compassionate setting, so as to be fair.” Add to that a wholly fantasized punch-me-kiss-me scene between Hoover and long time friend Clyde Tolson that could have come out of some 60′s vision of screaming queenery like The Boys in the Band or The Detective, and the movie’s version of the man’s life — not to mention human life in general — becomes absurd.

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DVD: Season of the Witch

December 1st, 2011 - 7:00 am

Well, it’s screener season when we in the movie business receive DVD’s of all the movies we didn’t bother to see during the year. And I’ve been watching some very serious and well-reviewed and impressive films. So why am I blogging about Season of the Witch? After all, this thing went absolutely septic at the box office, and only received a 4% rating from the critics at Rotten Tomatoes where they said it “failed even as unintentional comedy.”

But actually, that’s the reason I’m blogging about it. Because it was more of a surprise than the other movies I’ve watched. I won’t say it was good exactly, but late at night with the wife asleep and a glass of wine in hand, I found it entertaining, different and sort of suspenseful. I can explain why by giving away the opening scene. So here’s a small spoiler:

It’s the middle ages, about three in the afternoon.  A sobbing woman is brought before a grim priest. He denounces her as a witch. She begs pitifully for mercy. Merciless, the priest has her hanged and drowned in a river. Oh, those God people! They’re the worst, aren’t they? That night, the rotten priest comes back to the scene of the execution and pulls the woman’s body out of the water to say some church mumbo-jumbo over her. You know how these faith-based morons are. And what happens? The poor pitiful dead innocent woman…  comes back to life and murders him. Because she’s evil! The priest was right all along!

Well, I don’t think I ever saw that before. Where the church is grim and terrible…  and turns out to be right!  Usually, these medieval pictures depict the church as a hotbed of superstition and slaughter. But this movie keeps twisting and turning against those expectations. In fact, if the screenwriter or director had had any idea what the film was saying, they would have made the dialogue and themes and issues much smarter and sharper and the whole thing might have been a slam-bang actioner complete with things to think about. Unfortunately, that doesn’t happen and by the last scene, the picture has gone pretty much blooey.

Still, it’s fun for most of its viewing time and Ron Perlman’s very good and Nicholas Cage isn’t horrible and Claire Foy’s adorable. So if you like these sword and sorcery things, this one’s a little different and worth a look.