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Klavan On The Culture

Monthly Archives: May 2012

The Avengers Stands Up for America

May 31st, 2012 - 3:08 pm

A scene from "The Avengers," as superheroes Hamlet Guy and Skeleton Man team up to save the world.

The Avengers is a film of shattering emotional impact that will make you rethink the way you view the world and keep you pondering and discussing its insights for days. Oh, all right, I’m joking.  But after the first kind of boring ten minutes or so, it was plenty of fun. Best part: the bickering among superheroes with egos as big as their musk-els, culminating in a hilariously random bit of physical business between the Hulk and Thor.

But just because the picture is dopey fun doesn’t mean it’s dopey altogether. In fact, it’s one of the most purposely pro-American, pro-liberty and pro-market films to have come down the pike in years. The villain Loki has come to Earth to enslave humanity, and goes about telling people that slavery is natural and that they will live more happily on their knees. In a clear reversal of the famous paraphrase of Galatians (A book of the Bible. A special Book. Where Jesus lives.), he tells them they will be “freed from freedom.”

When Loki launches an attack on Stuttgart, Germany, the comparison to Hitler is made obvious. “The last time I was in Germany and saw a man standing above everybody else, we ended up disagreeing,” says Captain America, the reawakened throwback to American ideals of the forties. When a female officer tells Captain A that Thor and Loki are gods, he responds, “There’s only one God, ma’am, and I’m pretty sure he doesn’t dress like that.”

But Captain America needs some help from Iron Man, the delightfully cynical and ironic representative of free market capitalism. Iron Man is selfish and egotistical but also brilliant and ultimately good-hearted. The tension between him (the free market) and the Captain (American ideals) and the resolution of that tension in self-sacrifice and heroism are the emotional heart of the picture and constitute whatever message it has.

Add to that the fact that the representatives of government are idiots and their decisions have to be countermanded at every turn and, yeah, it’s good liberty-loving stuff.  And of course, it ends with the earth being destroyed, all the super heroes being wiped out, and no possibility of a sequel ever. Right, right: joking.

Cross-posted at PJ Lifestyle.

The Bernie Madoff of Information

May 29th, 2012 - 4:13 pm
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I’ve been traveling for two weeks — a statement which at this point should be accompanied by the shrieking violins from Psycho. What with expired passports, delayed planes, canceled planes and just plain planes, the experience reminded me of that time I was sent to Hell for all eternity. (Records mix-up — long story — happy ending.) In what felt like brief but beautiful waking moments between nightmares, I did get to visit the amazing set of a project I’m on, attend the Manhattan Institute’s terrific Hamilton Dinner featuring Cardinal Timothy Dolan, drop in on the great Greg Gutfeld at Red Eye, and then on the likewise great (or maybe I should say great-great-great) Sean Hannity — and slap my jaded peepers on some friends and family I don’t get to see often enough.

Part of this time, as those of you who were reading carefully may have deduced, I was in New York City — where I discovered something you may find shocking. There are still people who read the New York Times…  okay, yes, that is shocking, but that’s not what I meant. Stop interrupting. There are still people who read the New York Times and believe they are getting the news.

I am not making this up. I talked to them myself. I met them in the city everywhere I went. They get their “news” from the New York Times and think they have a clear picture of the world.

For me, the New York Times has now become an organ of leftist disinformation. It scrambles teams of reporters at any trace of scandal on the right, and ignores solid evidence of scandal on the left. It races to cover any sign of global warming, but drags its feet when warming alarmists are revealed to have fudged the facts. It plays down acts of violence and incivility by leftists while allowing columnists to imagine them in rightists. It assigns left-wing reviewers to review conservative books and movies — and assigns left-wing reviewers to review left-wing books and movies as well. It publishes Paul Krugman, who admits he has a lousy record of predicting economic outcomes but never ceases to be certain his exploded theories are correct, who blames violence on right-wing incivility without proof and indulges in left wing incivility also without proof, who claims Europe’s economy is doing great except that it’s failing because of “austerity” (there’s a laugh!), and who all in all will say anything whether it makes sense or not in order to support the death-dealing dead letter of socialism. (To give him his due, he did write a book called The Conscience of a Liberal, which sits next to Intelligent French Theories and Feminist Humor on my shelf of books so thin you can’t see them.)

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Facebook Party for “Crazy Dangerous”

May 25th, 2012 - 7:40 am

I’ve been traveling and unable to blog, but if you get a chance, please join me for an author chat on Facebook this coming Tuesday, May 29th, 5:00 PM Pacific time (8:00 PM Eastern). We’ll be talking about my new adventure novel Crazy Dangerous and giving away prizes every ten minutes or so. I would love to talk to you about the book, and anything else, so drop by. You can hit the link or search for Klavan’s Adventure Novels on Facebook and find the event.

Meanwhile, have a wonderful Memorial Day weekend!

Mr. Obama, Build Up That Wall!

May 18th, 2012 - 11:37 am

In order to avoid throwing his money into the maw of an increasingly oppressive and spendthrift government, Facebook co-founder and about-to-be gazillionaire Eduardo Saverin has renounced his U.S. citizenship in favor of Singapore. To put an end to such sensible behavior, Democratic Senators Chuck Schumer and Bob Casey have proposed a punitive tax on any wealthy Americans who try to escape the clutches of Democratic Senators Chuck Schumer and Bob Casey by leaving the country.

But I have a much better idea, a much simpler and more effective idea. Why not just build a wall? Come on, this is a great, creative approach! How could it not work? We build a wall around the country and anyone trying to escape with his money or his brain power or his hard work, we capture him and bring him back. Or shoot him, if we have to.

This wonderful solution to the Saverin problem is not just perfect for the United States in general — it’d work in individual states as well.  Take California — please!  As City Journal’s Steven Malanga reports, businesses are leaving the golden state in droves.

As California has transformed into a relentlessly antibusiness state, [its] redeeming characteristics haven’t been enough to keep firms from leaving. Relocation experts say that the number of companies exiting the state for greener pastures has exploded. In surveys, executives regularly call California one of the country’s most toxic business environments and one of the least likely places to open or expand a new company. Many firms still headquartered in California have forsaken expansion there.

This shouldn’t be. Not when the answer is right there in front of us! Just build a wall along the border of the state and anyone who tries to get out gets the old bang-bang-you’re-dead treatment!

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I was going to write a satire of the mainstream news media this week but the Washington Post beat me to it. Proving that they are spiraling toward irrelevance and bankruptcy the old fashioned way — by earning it! — the Post ran a hit piece on presumptive Republican presidential nominee Mitt Romney that managed to be both irrelevant and suspect, if not altogether untrue. The Post reported that Romney, as a teenager, bullied a classmate. The newspaper also implied Romney’s motive was homophobia. Romney admits he was a prankster as a kid, which he regrets, but says that homophobia had nothing to do with it. The family of the alleged bullying victim John Lauber says WaPo‘s ”portrayal of John is factually incorrect and we are aggrieved that he would be used to further a political agenda.”

The politically meaningless and factually dubious story was timed for release in the immediate wake of Barack Obama’s “evolution” on gay marriage. In an incredibly gutsy call, Obama was forced to abandon his make-believe opposition to the controversial issue when his blithering vice president’s open support for guy-on-guy action humiliated the president to the point where he stopped lying about being against gay marriage and lied instead about feeling it was a matter that should be left to the states.

Obama’s new position caused chills to run up and down the body of CBS News-leftist Robin Roberts, who did the interview. It also moved Newsweek to run a cover featuring Obama with a rainbow halo. This seems like a lot of excitement for a president who is now echoing the views of Vice President Dick Cheney… but, of course, the MSM doesn’t really think Obama wants the states (or churches) to be able to reject gay marriage. They only support him in his Cheneyesque stance because they — and everyone else — know it’s a lie. As with the abandonment of our missile defenses at the whims of our enemies, Obama will no doubt have “more flexibility” about telling the truth after he wins re-election.

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Me Among The Lefties

May 10th, 2012 - 10:29 am

Recently, PJMedia’s Poohbah Roger Simon (not everyone knows that his first name is Poohbah by the way) wrote an excellent post called “Preaching to the Choir,” about how difficult it is to reach the opposing side with reasoned argument. The recent shock and awe expressed on the left by the serious challenge to Obamacare in the Supreme Court shows how true that is, how deaf the left is to conservative opinion. Lefties were seriously taken aback by jurist questions that would have been commonplace to them if they’d only listened to responsible voices on the right.

Recently, I was interviewed, as I occasionally am, by my friends at WorldStreams radio (you can listen at the link). WorldStreams’ Dari and Said strike me as charming and delightful people of good will, but if they were any further to the left they’d be in orbit. Most of my conversation with Said dealt with novel writing and other non-political matters this time out, but toward the end there were some telling exchanges. At one point, for instance, I mentioned that I had done some videos for Glenn Beck’s GBTV. Said started storming about Glenn — how horrible he was; a poison on the airwaves. I immediately started storming back, saying, “You’ve never seen Glenn Beck! You liberals know who you hate, but you don’t actually know what they believe!” Or words to that effect — I don’t remember exactly. In any case, the exchange proved Roger’s point: how you gonna reach the opposition if they’ve convinced themselves you’re evil without even listening to you?

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That said, Said also asked me how I would build compromises between liberals and conservatives. I told him I would first ask: “What are the major problems we’re facing?” I believe many of them would agree about that. Then I would ask: “How can we fix those problems without jeopardizing individual liberty? What creative solutions can we come up with that don’t involve expanding the government?” I’ll bet I could get somewhere — assuming none of the people in the room was a politician!

My Golden Apple

May 9th, 2012 - 7:27 am

Thought you might like to see the Golden Apple that arrived yesterday — my prize for winning the Iowa Teen Reader Award. Iowa teen readers voted my novel The Last Thing I Remember their favorite. I put the apple on my mantlepiece between my new novel Crazy Dangerous and the new issue of City Journal which contains an article I wrote about my favorite joke. Hit the links and buy everything. I mean it. Do it right now.

One kind of interesting thing about this golden apple is if you look closely you’ll see it actually contains a reflection of me. I thought that was cool. My wife says the reflection is not there all the time, but it’s been there every time I looked so I think she is just messing with my head hoping to drive me insane so that I’ll let her use the remote.

When homosexual bully Dan Savage unleashed a foul-mouthed tirade against the religious beliefs of a group of teenagers at the National High School Journalism Convention in Seattle last month, he exposed the lie behind the Left’s idea of tolerance. Savage used obscenities to describe passages in the Bible he disliked and displayed either ignorance or dishonesty in talking about the role of Christianity in advancing the cause of freedom. Then, with what would be creepy bad manners in any adult talking to young people, he called students “pansy-assed” for walking out on him. The so-called anti-bullying activist’s use of such sexually loaded language, and his frequent accusations that his opponents are secretly gay, bespeaks a deep level of self-hatred (why else would he think calling someone gay is an insult?); and the fact that he venomously attacks Christians and is never seen standing up in front of Muslims to curse out the Koran suggests that, like most bullies, he’s a coward as well.

And yet, as Ben Shapiro expertly illustrated at Breitbart.com, the Left’s mainstream media mouthpieces quickly went to work recasting Savage’s disgusting and childish performance as somehow justifiable while making those who protested against it seem thin-skinned.

Why? In what world — in what cause — is it even vaguely acceptable for a grown man to bully teenagers for their spiritual beliefs in that manner? We need only imagine Rush Limbaugh making his points in such terms and in such a place to know the reaction from the Left would have been much different.

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Here’s a new Ricochet podcast in which I chat with my friends and colleagues James Lileks and CJ Box about novel writing.

Which brings me to the fact that my new novel is now out from Thomas Nelson. Crazy Dangerous tells the story of a kid named Sam Hopkins. After he befriends a girl who is spiraling into the first stages of schizophrenia, he begins to believe her hallucinations are in fact prophecies, predicting a terrible evil that only he can prevent.

This is a story about kids so I guess technically it’s a young adult novel, but I’m getting some very good reactions from the older set as well. So give it a try. It’s a cool story and different. And if you do read it, drop a line or comment to let me know what you think.

DVD: The Innkeepers

May 2nd, 2012 - 8:37 am

One of the many things my long-suffering wife has long been suffering is my fascination with ghost stories and suspense movies that don’t quite work. I take a professional interest in figuring out what went wrong with a near-miss in the genres and can, I fear, go on and on about it, sometimes greeting the poor woman the moment the alarm goes off with something like, “The quality level of a ghost story is in inverse proportion to the number of its boo-scares.”

Last weekend, I watched The Inkeepers and, I’m not sure, but I think my wife may have moved out.

I so wanted to like this — even after I watched it and didn’t like it, I still wanted to like it. An old-fashioned ghost story set in an all-but-empty inn: exactly my idea of a good time. And there is more talent on display in this little picture than in half a dozen bigger and better ones. Ti West, who wrote and directed, is clearly bubbling over with natural ability. He has a delightful sense of character and sense of humor and a strong instinct for what is now called the “slow burn,” but was once called “storytelling.” Sara Paxton — who seems to only take parts in which she gets brutally raped, killed, eaten or all of the above — is not only incredibly adorable but a charming actress. And Pat Healy is terrific.

But the film just doesn’t work. I love a slow build-up — but it’s gotta be there for a reason. There’s not enough story here to justify the time taken to tell it. And those cheap boo-scares that turn out to be nothing — they’ve gotta go, each and every single one of them. And when the real scares do come, they’re only okay. Creepy enough to watch, but we’ve seen em before. And a real scare should be scary in conception so that it lasts after the movie is over. After this was over, I forgot it entirely.

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