Klavan On The Culture

Klavan On The Culture

‘Mad Max’ Redux: I Respond to My Critics!

May 19th, 2015 - 8:28 pm

Conservative Culture At Work!

It was my understanding when I agreed to do a blog that all the commenters would agree with me and all the female commenters would be beautiful. Sadly, only the second of these has turned out to be the case. When, a day or so ago, I put up a post explaining that Mad Max: Fury Road was a not-very-good movie and had been greeted with ecstasy by critics because of its feminist bent, several benighted and also misguided souls took it upon themselves to contradict me. I know, right? Crazy! But there it is. So with the kindly thought that it might be instructive and improving to these lost lambs to learn how they are mistaken, I offer a few responses.

First, to those who made comments to the effect that I was “thinking too much” and “politicizing everything,” let me assure you that I was thinking only exactly as much as necessary and, in fact, politicizing nothing at all. My point was not that Mad Max was not very good because it was feminist. I enjoy fantasy pictures! My point was that the story was poorly constructed, the central character ill-drawn, the action repetitive and the resolution absurd — and that the critics have overlooked this for political reasons. It was they who were being political, not I.

Second, several commenters rejected my idea that outlooks that are dishonest in general may produce honest stories because stories are individual and specific. My point was that while it’s absurd to say, for instance, “American women are oppressed,” a specific American woman may well be oppressed (just ask my wife!), and if you told a good story about her your stupid feminist philosophy might produce something worthwhile in spite of itself. Socialism is despicable nonsense but Germinal is a great novel — and indeed, its searing honesty ends by exposing the horror of its socialist philosophy, for which Zola was roundly criticized by the left despite his socialist credentials.

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Mad Max: Fury Road is not a good movie and the ecstasy with which the critics received it was dishonest. Tastes differ, of course, but I think in this case the critics are just lying for political reasons.

“It’s enough to renew your faith in the movies,” said Ty Burr of the Boston Globe. Peter Travers at Rolling Stone urged us to overlook the fact the picture doesn’t make sense and “Just go with it.” He praised director George Miller (who also directed the terrific original Mad Max and its sequel) as an “indisputable visionary genius.” A.O. Scott of the New York Times said this: “It’s all great fun, and quite rousing as well — a large-scale genre movie that is at once unpretentious and unafraid to bring home a message…. It’s about revolution.”

I believe they said these untrue things because this not-very-good movie is feminist.

Now, I’m not a feminist. I’m an individualist who believes each person should do what he or she wants to do and is able to do without fear or favor. I believe that, in such a free world, more men will choose to do manly things and more women womanly things but that strikes me as a feature not a bug, since gender differences seem to me among the great beauties of life. Identity politics, on the other hand, is a misery imposed on us by the powerful in order to divide us so they can consolidate their power.

But while I consider feminism a dishonest and oppressive philosophy, I believe good feminist stories can be told. This is because even a philosophy that is a lie in general may be the truth in a specific, individual case and stories are individual and specific. Dishonest outlooks can produce honest stories. The left has been living off this fact for decades.

So while ideologically corrupt critics are going wild over Fury Road because it’s feminist, I’m not criticizing it because I’m anti-feminist. I’m criticizing it because it’s not very good. Its title character is ill-defined. His mission is emotionally muddy. The non-stop car chase action becomes tiresome about 45 minutes in (though I did find myself wondering wistfully if there was a video game to go with it!). The finale is unbelievable even in context. The color palette, I admit, is beautiful but if you’re watching an enormous action sequence and thinking about the color palette…  well, you get the idea.

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Brilliant! If John Boehner were always this honest and direct, he’d be Ted Cruz. But then he’d hate himself!

Still, I love this. Shameless, heartless, soulless Democrats use the deaths of those killed in this week’s Amtrak crash to score political points — really, how do they sleep at night? Then, a “journalist” dutifully megaphones the nonsense — and really, how do they sleep at night? And for once, instead of cringing and shuffling and shutting down, a Republican gives the minions of corruption exactly what they deserve. More! More!

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Werewolf Cop is “Awesome”

May 13th, 2015 - 7:03 am

An American literature teacher from Wheaton College delivered an excellent review to my new novel Werewolf Cop in the Providence Journal this week. Urging readers to ignore the “terrible” title (where is the irony???), Sam Coale wrote:

Forget the terrible generic title of this horrific, hallucinatory, haunting and harrowing tale by the author who’s won the Edgar Award twice. This “police procedural” suddenly turns toward the supernatural in such a suspenseful yarn I couldn’t put it down, mesmerized, horrified and actually frightened…

Klavan’s novel is so taut and tense, and he grounds the supernatural goings-on so carefully in a cop’s investigations, that you’re seductively led into the Black Forest of the soul and beyond… This horror story is awesome.

You can read the whole review here. And you can get your copy of the novel here.

Pamela Geller Acted Morally

May 10th, 2015 - 9:53 am

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Pundits from the editors of the New York Times to Bill O’Reilly have denounced anti-Islam activist Pamela Geller for her Garland, Texas, Draw Mohammed cartoon contest. The contest, as everyone knows, was attacked by two Islamic terrorists who could have murdered many, including friends of mine, if they had not been shot dead by a heroic Texas lawman.

“Jesus would not have sponsored that event,” said O’Reilly, perhaps forgetting that Jesus was himself murdered for his harsh, public criticism of a religion. (He ought to read Killing Jesus!) ”The goal of every decent person in the world should be to defeat the jihad. And in order to do that you have to rally the world to the side of good — our side. The emotional displays, like insulting the Prophet Muhammad, make it more difficult to rally law-abiding Muslims.”

I am well convinced of O’Reilly’s full, honest and courageous commitment to American liberty but I think it should give him pause to find himself in agreement with the New York Times editors, who have no such commitment. The editors said of the jihadis, “Their thwarted attack, or the murderous rampage of the Charlie Hebdo killers, or even the greater threat posed by the barbaric killers of the Islamic State or Al Qaeda, cannot justify blatantly Islamophobic provocations like the Garland event. These can serve only to exacerbate tensions and to give extremists more fuel.”

Now the argument that Geller’s event was mean and therefore a poor anti-jihad strategy is at least somewhat better than blaming Geller for the attempted violence. When I hear an editor or headline writer or commentator suggest that Geller somehow caused the attacks, I simply shoot him dead and then have him arrested for provoking me.

But the Times-O’Reilly argument is flawed because it effectively privileges violent Islam and dismisses Islamists as mindless beasts who can only react to provocation with murder. The Times, whose reviewer gave an absolutely ecstatic review to the Mormon-mocking musical “Book of Mormon,” routinely celebrates those artists who insult Christianity and even supports their receiving government funds for their attacks. They have also repeatedly called for Christians to be forced to participate in gay weddings which violate their religious consciences. They are no friend to religion, only enemies of the west and its belief in individual freedom for the common man.

I would never lump O’Reilly with tyrannical leftist knuckleheads like the Times editors. But I didn’t. O’Reilly did and, as a good and honest guy, he ought to think about that.

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Cartoon by Bosche Fawstin.

Had a good talk with John Gambling at 970 the Answer in New York about the Garland, Texas jihadi attack in response to Pamela Geller’s Mohammed cartoon contest. A lot of people, even on the right, have blamed Geller for what could have been disastrous violence. I don’t see it that way at all. It has nothing to do with whether I agree with Geller or not or whether I think she was being polite or kind or wise. I just don’t believe there’s a “but” after the first amendment. The idea that her Mohammed cartoon contest caused the violence is a logical nonsense, like saying a girl’s short skirt caused a rape. The cause was the will of the violent men who tried to attack her and, beyond that, their ideology.

The interview is here. My talk with John begins around 15:50.

Evan Sayet is Mean to Dead Jihadis

May 6th, 2015 - 10:01 am

Nothing spells laughter like a dead terrorist, and leave it to my buddy comedian Evan Sayet to milk the hilarity for all it’s worth. You remember of course how on Sunday two Islamic bad guys attacked Pamela Geller’s defiant free speech event featuring cartoons of Muhammed; and how the two jihadis, dressed in body armor and carrying semi-automatic rifles, were gunned down by a Garland, Texas traffic cop with a pistol. Because… Texas. Well, The Daily Caller reports that Evan responded to the brutal police killing of these fine upstanding Mohammedan citizens with the following Tweet:

“My favorite drawings at the Muhammad cartoon festival in Texas were the two chalk outlines out front.”

Which, if nothing else, proves Evan is almost as good a shot as the cop – in his fashion.

There followed the usual sententious response from our friends — and the jihadis’ friends — on the left:

“Death is never funny.  Even when it’s necessary.”

Wait, who made up that rule? And how come no one told me about it?

Evan, of course, immediately apologized. No, I’m joking. He told the clowns to get lost.

All of which earns the man a plug for his upcoming comedy tour. Click on the poster above for tickets and information. And then go. Also follow the man at @EvanSayet.

It Doesn’t Have To Be This Way

May 3rd, 2015 - 1:51 pm

I lived in Manhattan in 1977, during the “Summer of Sam.” After decades of leftist governance, the city was a cesspool. The Son of Sam serial killer, who terrorized the boroughs, caught the public imagination, at least in part, because he was emblematic of a metropolis awash in crime. You were wary leaving your home at night. You did not go into the parks after dark; they belonged to the bad guys. The FALN — Puerto Rican terrorists whom Bill Clinton would later scurrilously pardon — were bringing business to a halt with bombs and bomb threats. And when, on my birthday, the city suffered a blackout, people — mostly black people — seized the moment to burn and loot their neighborhoods.

Conservative Mayor Rudy Giuliani transformed that city in the ’90s. It was Giuliani’s policies — including the policy called “broken window policing” enforced by commissioner William Bratton — that turned the cesspool into something very like America the Beautiful’s ”alabaster cities… undimmed by human tears.” The young professionals and artists who enjoy the town today don’t appreciate the change. At the time, it seemed a miracle of nearly Biblical proportions. 

It was not only New York that nearly died in the seventies. In the wider world, too, the thugs were on the march. The fall of the Communist slave state called the Soviet Union may seem inevitable now, but in that decade its imperialistic Brezhnev Doctrine was in the ascendant. A massive Soviet naval buildup. The invasion of Czechoslovakia in 1968. Soviet coups in Yemen and Nicaragua. A Vietnamese incursion into Thailand. Barack Obama’s pals the Cubans acting as Soviet proxies in Angola, Ethiopia, Central and East Africa. And of course the Soviet invasion of Afghanistan. All while the U.S. president, Jimmy Carter, lectured Americans about our “inordinate fear of Communism.”

Carter’s prideful sanctimony also helped free the bottled demon of Islamism in the Middle East. When Carter withdrew U.S. support for the sometimes brutal but pro-American shah of Iran, the result was an Islamic revolution followed by a hostage crisis that humiliated America for 444 days. It was just the beginning of Islam’s awful rise.

Conservative President Ronald Reagan turned back that rising tide of tyranny. His aggressive stance against the Soviet Union and his willingness to use the profits of capitalism to outspend ever-stagnant socialism brought the evil Soviet empire to its knees. His patriotic optimism trumped the seventies’ leftist breast-beating. And his tax cuts set a broken American economy into motion again. All of which led to an American quarter century of unprecedented prosperity and peace, including that Reagan-created triumph that the media like to call “The Clinton Years.”

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The Iran Deal Explained

May 1st, 2015 - 4:21 pm

What could be funnier than an arrangement to give nuclear weapons to Islamic madmen who want to wipe out Israel and bring about the apocalypse? Take a look and it will all be clear to you:

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Nolte: “Baltimore is a Democrat Problem”

April 29th, 2015 - 11:24 am

The mighty Noltenator — John Nolte of the Breitbart sites — has a wonderful piece on the Baltimore riots over at Big Government, well worth reading in full:

Contrary to the emotional blackmail some leftists are attempting to peddle, Baltimore is not America’s problem or shame. That failed city is solely and completely a Democrat problem…

Liberalism and all the toxic government dependence and cronyism and union corruption and failed schools that comes along with it, has run amok in Baltimore for a half-century, and that is Baltimore’s problem. It is the free people of Baltimore who elect and then re-elect those who institute policies that have so spectacularly failed that once-great city. It is the free people of Baltimore who elected Mayor Room-To-Destroy.

You can call the arson and looting and violence we are seeing on our television screens, rioting. That’s one way to describe the chaos. Another way to describe it is Democrat infighting. This is blue-on-blue violence. The thugs using the suspicious death of Freddie Gray (at the hands of a Democrat-led police department) to justify the looting that updates their home entertainment systems, are Democrats protesting Democrat leaders and Democrat policies in a Democrat-run city.

That’s what the truth sounds like when it’s spoke.

I can only add this excellent passage from a wonderful book I just read. I’ll have more to say on Theodore Dalrymple’s Admirable Evasions soon, but for now, here’s just a relevant taste:

Seeing victims everywhere you look is the zeitgeist, it is what gives people license to behave as they like while feeling virtuous. Virtue is not manifested in one’s behavior, always so difficult and tedious to control, but in one’s attitudes towards victims. This view of virtue is both sentimental and unfeeling, cloying and brutal: for it implies that those who are not victims are unworthy of our sympathy or understanding, only of our denunciation. Thus a dialectic is set up between libertinism on the one hand and censoriousness on the other, the latter being precisely the characteristic that seeing victims everywhere, and disguising from them the degree of their own responsibility for their situation, was designed to avoid.

Don’t think for a minute, though, that these brilliant diagnoses constitute a cure. The problem with democracy is that we get what they deserve. The democrat victim machine may have created the problem of Baltimore, but it’s the rest of us who are going to have to solve it.