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Klavan On The Culture

Thousands Protest Anti-Racist Casting

March 23rd, 2014 - 8:09 am

No one to my knowledge raised a fuss when the terrific actor Idris Elba, a black guy, was cast as the Norse god Heimdall in the 2011 movie Thor. No one said a word when the delightful Will Smith starred as the once-white cowboy Jim West in Wild Wild West. And, of course, we Shakespeare fans were only too delighted to have the mighty Denzel Washington portray Don Pedro in the genius 1993 film Much Ado About Nothing, even though Pedro’s half brother Don John was played by Keanu Reeves.

On occasion what is called color-blind casting can be a little distracting, but for the most part, we’re so thrilled to be entertained by talent like Elba, Smith and Washington that we couldn’t care less.

Why then have the folks at Warner Bros been hit with a petition signed by 4,000 people protesting the casting of the powerhouse white actress Rooney Mara as Tiger Lily in the origin story of Peter Pan titled Pan?

“The casting choice is particularly shameful for a children’s movie. Telling children their role models must all be white is unacceptable,” the petition reads, according to the show biz trade paper Hollywood Reporter. “Tell Warner Bros. to stop casting white actors to play characters originally written as people of color!”

Really??? Is casting top talent like Rooney Mara to play a Native American “telling children their role models must all be white?” Isn’t it telling them that ANY performer of talent can play a part, no matter what color he or she is? Should we stop casting black actors to play characters originally written as white?

Seems to me the lesson of color-blind casting is: the movie or play is about the characters not the actors so — assuming the casting doesn’t distract too much from the story — let the best actor win the part.

Or is this just color-blindness for me but not for thee?

Excellent editorial in the Wall Street Journal this morning, defending Congressman Paul Ryan from the usual dishonest charges of racism from the left.

The Wisconsin Congressman has been looking into the problem of upward economic mobility and how effective federal programs are in combatting poverty. Appearing on Bill Bennett’s radio program, Mr. Ryan observed that antipoverty assistance can often create “incentives not to work and to stay where you are, that’s not what we want in society. . . . There are a lot of people slipping through the cracks in America that are not reaching their potential and we as conservatives should have something to say about that.”

He also mused: “We have got this tailspin of culture, in our inner cities in particular, of men not working and just generations of men not even thinking about working or learning the value and the culture of work, so there’s a cultural problem that has to be dealt with.”

Beginning with Think Progress, the left immediately jumped on this, accusing Ryan of speaking in code, using “inner city” to mean black. But that’s not code, friends. That’s short-hand. And “inner city” doesn’t mean black, it means only those blacks who have bought into the lies and been seduced by the tax-funded bribes of the left and so been trapped in a self-destructive culture of illegitimacy, belligerent victimhood and financial irresponsibility.

In order to create a world in which powerful elites (them) can steal the money of hard-working Americans (us) in order to buy votes by flinging coins from their limousines at the poor (often in the inner city), the left has created a perpetual motion machine of black self-destruction. Convince black people they are helpless victims, give them free stuff that discourages work, sell them feminist and anti-religious social policies that destroy families, infiltrate their churches so that they cease to preach moral and ethical behavior and instead preach “social justice,” that pernicious phrase…  and then, when someone like Ryan has the testicular fortitude to point to the problems created by all this leftism, call him the racist. As bloody if.

The left has developed a wonderfully self-sustaining system. It works great — if, that is, you don’t like your fellow Americans whose skin happens to be dark. But the truth is: there is not one single thing inherent in being black that causes generational poverty and violence. It’s the leftism, stupid. It’s the policies.

It’s you, Think Progress, and the rest of the left — you people calling Paul Ryan racist…  you’re the ones to blame.

For more, check out this radical film, Runaway Slave.

300 Sequel: The Bush-Era Thrill Is Gone

March 19th, 2014 - 8:10 am

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I think 300 is easily one of the best movies of the last twenty years, the only movie I’ve seen twice in a week since Hitchcock died, a film that will be re-watched and remembered long after most if not all of the prestige art films of our day are forgotten.

The tale of the Spartan battle against the Persians at Thermopylae was released in 2006, when Hollywood, entering its most shameful days, was beginning to churn out despicable anti-war on terror and anti-military propaganda even while American sons were actually on the battlefield in harm’s way. 300 was instead a stirring W-style call to defend the age-old values of the west against an oppressive and ignorant foreign invader.

But what made the film special — even brilliant — was the wild, confident imagination it brought to the screen from Frank Miller’s graphic novel. Though the story stayed very faithful to the history in Herodotus, it introduced fantastical beasts, over-the-top video game violence, outsized characters and even bulked-up muscle suits to give the story a larger-than-life feel. It was as if the movie was saying to the Islamic-fascists who had attacked us: “You think we’re decadent because we sit around and play video games? Let us show you the sort of western courage that inspired those games, Islamo-schmuck!”

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Find the pretty sister.

One of the sillier effusions of pop political correctness is the attempt to bully the idea of female beauty out of the culture. Ceaseless attacks on Barbie dolls for giving girls unrealistic expectations (though, strange to say, Superman doesn’t do that to boys), or virtuous but likely ineffective campaigns to sell underwear with overweight models, not to mention the endless feminist maundering on the subject — it all seems part of yet another wearisome leftist attempt to change basic reality through thuggery, censorship and noisy protest. Good luck with that.

Listen, I don’t complain that Ryan Gosling stole my part in The Notebook — I could’ve killed in that! I don’t waste a lot of bitterness on the fact that Kobe Bryant took my spot on the Lakers. Some people are born with natural gifts that others don’t have. Some girls are knockouts. Some are not. Why, I wonder, shouldn’t women have to live with the basic unfairness of life same as dudes?

I first noticed that this silliness was infecting show biz while watching the absolutely superb 1995 BBC adaptation of Pride and PrejudiceMan, that was good. But I found it very annoying and distracting to see that the older sister, Jane (played by the quirkily appealing Susannah Harker), was nowhere near as beautiful as Lizzie, played by the then-stunning Jennifer Ehle (still attractive 20 years later and an excellent actress).

Readers of the great Jane Austen novel will know that sister Jane’s beauty and sweetness are an important part of the plot as they contrast with Lizzie’s wit and fire. And the show treated the Jane character as if she were as beautiful as the character in the book. It was confusing and didn’t make sense. I’m told that when questioned about this, a BBC executive replied defensively and pompously that, well, there are other kinds of beauty besides physical beauty, you know. And yes, there are. But Jane’s beauty happens to be physical. Why not play it that way? The answer, of course, is that the Beeb is a leftist organization and thus must kowtow to the whims of bossy feminists who don’t like the idea that female physical beauty has a power and social worth that are both real and non-negotiable.

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Podcast for Writer-Types

March 14th, 2014 - 10:59 am

For those interested in the craft and business of writing, here’s a podcast I did on those subjects with the boys at Writer’s Bone.

And speaking of writing, if you haven’t read my novel Empire of Lies, you’re just existing, not living. I’m serious. Okay, not serious-serious. But still. It’s really good.

McConnell Gives His Side of the Story

March 10th, 2014 - 3:16 pm

It seems only fair to post Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell’s response to the foofaraw started by the quote I posted about below. McConnell tells my friends over at Truth Revolt that he is not attacking the Tea Party at all. Rather he feels that the Senate Conservatives Fund is a fake, pretending to support conservatism while undermining it. Here’s the quote:

I’ve always been and continue to be a big supporter of the Tea Party and the conservative change it’s bringing to Washington. One of the biggest obstacles to that change, however, is the Senate Conservatives Fund, a rogue political operation that has co-opted the Liberty movement for its own enrichment to the detriment of the conservative cause. This is a point that I have been making repeatedly and energetically over the past several months, because in my view this group has deceived a lot of good people. They claim to share our goals but undermine them at every turn. I think they should be stopped, and I don’t mind saying so.

This needs to be taken seriously because A) Ann Coulter suggested as much in the talk with Sean Hannity I posted about earlier and B) it’s plausible someone would do that for any number of reasons.

The original New York Times story in which McConnell said he was going to crush the opposition made it seem the senator was making a “move to stamp out challenges from the right,” as the headline said. But McConnell’s argument is instead that these challenges are fakes. That doesn’t necessarily mean the primary candidate himself is fake, but it could mean he’s been put in play for reasons of pure profit or even to aid the Democrats. As I mentioned, McConnell has a fight on his hands in the main election.

There are things that McConnell has done that I disagree with strongly, but he is definitely NOT a RINO — that’s just unfair. The American Conservative Union routinely ranks him near the top but, if that’s too swishy for you, the Heritage Action for America scorecard gives him an 80 percent, which may not be Ivory Conservative Soap, but it’s pretty good, especially from HAA. I mean, again as I said in my first post, no one should be primarying the guy. If you’re really going to be messing with Republicans at this crisis moment, primary someone in the John McCain (43%) range. Better yet, save your fire for the party that single-handedly brought you ObamaCare.

Anyway, McConnell should’ve been clearer in his original statement, but perhaps I should blame the way the Times played it. In any case, we really do have to try not to be stupid. There are two halves to the circle in a circular firing squad. One half is made of politicians without principle, the other is made of voters without good sense. Leftists claim their good intentions justify their crappy results. Republican voters don’t have that luxury.

Mitch McConnell BeClowns Himself

March 9th, 2014 - 5:37 pm
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Politics requires a sense of humor. On the one hand you have your sacred principles. On the other hand, you have the legion of Bozos, criminals, dirtbags and lowlifes whom you expect to enact those principles into law. If that’s not a recipe for comedy, I don’t know what is.

So we conservatives stand for liberty, the inalienable rights of man, the equality of all people in the eyes of their Creator. And to realize these principles we have the Republicans. If you’re not laughing by now, you’re probably rocketing off the padded walls of your cell. Trust me on this: laugh — you’ll live longer.

Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell of Kentucky, under apparently zero real threat from primary challenger businessman Matt Bevin, has boldly announced to the New York Times that Tea Party candidates don’t stand a chance in the upcoming midterms.  I think we are going to crush them everywhere,” McConnell blithered to his Timesian pals.  ”I don’t think they are going to have a single nominee anywhere in the country.”

What a jerk.

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Is House of Cards Conservative?

March 6th, 2014 - 7:02 am

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I have (if I do say so myself) a rather amusing piece on House of Cards up at the wonderful City Journal magazine. You should read it if for no other reason than to discover what is one of the best conservative outlets anywhere. It begins:

House of Cards, the Netflix series about a lethally unscrupulous Washington politician, is a wonderful show, but it does sometimes stretch the limits of credulity. I have no trouble believing that a Democratic congressman would push a reporter in front of a train, but the idea that anyone in the press would try to expose him for it is flat-out ridiculous. After all, Barack Obama has been pushing reporters under the bus for six years and nobody’s said a word. Ah, well. If the show gives leftist politicos nightmares about being held accountable for their actions by American journalists, they can simply keep repeating, “It’s only a movie, it’s only a movie.”

House of Cards does pose a more realistic threat to leftists, however: their 40-year monopoly on artistic political statements—and their tacit blacklist of anyone who tries to make opposing statements—may finally be coming to an end. House of Cards is not, as left-wing activist Randy Shaw wrote in a blithering and inattentive pieceon Huffington Post, a “Republican fantasy world,” but it is not pure leftist cant, either. And that in itself makes it something of a New Thing on the show-business landscape.

You can experience the wonder of the whole thing here.

The Homelanders Hits The Mark

March 3rd, 2014 - 4:33 pm

I can’t help but brag at this exceptionally nice post from an exceptionally good source. ChildrensBookStore.com is — as you might be able to guess — an online source of books for young people. Last week, they put up a post publicizing their support for my Homelanders series. These four books are now out in a single volume. They tell the tale of  a patriotic teenager who goes to sleep in his own bed one night and wakes up in the clutches of murderous jihadis. The series has remained popular since it began publication in 2009. ChildrensBookStore.com has this to say:

If Alfred Hitchcock had ever done a young adult story, it might well look like THE HOMELANDERS a four novel series by Andrew Klavan now published in a single volume. The story has elements of “North by Northwest” and “The Fugitive,” but its central character is a typical high school student named Charlie West. 

We recognize that it is often difficult to find past-paced fiction that is appropriate for a younger audience.  Klavan’s books are very well-written and do not lack in the excitement department.  All this while keeping the content and the subject matter suited to a teen and pre-teen audience.

If you have a chance to visit the site, please do. And their Facebook page, which is here.  And, of course, if you or your young person haven’t read the books…  just saying.

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If there’s one thing the left and right should be able to agree on, it’s the need to put an end to the so-called War on Drugs. Conservatives should oppose the War on Drugs because it empowers the government to restrict your private behavior, and we are for liberty; it unfairly targets the poor and black, and we are for justice; and it puts an undue burden on the police and we are for law and order. Leftists should oppose the War on Drugs because it throws so many of their voters in the slammer. Instead of giving dangerous felons the right to vote, as our venal hack Attorney General Eric Holder would do, we could just stop arresting people who don’t really need arresting in the first place. Presto, everyone’s happy: right wing freedom fighters, and corrupt “progressive” creeps as well.

So in theory, a well-made pro-legalization documentary like Matthew Cooke’s How to Make Money Selling Drugs should be able to appeal to right and left alike. And it would, if it were not full of unnecessary anti-Republican misinformation and propaganda.

Which, really, is a shame. It’s a clever and appealing film. It’s designed like a video game, in which you move from level to level: street dealer to supplier to drug lord to cartel king. There are some very good interviews with people who worked at most of these levels. And the film largely tells the truth about not only the uselessness, unfairness and abusiveness of the anti-drug laws but also the misery that drugs cause for so many of the people who use them. That is, it doesn’t romanticize the drug life; it just demonstrates convincingly that the laws don’t work to stem it.

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