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Ed Driscoll

Hollywood, Interrupted

Questions Nobody is Asking

July 26th, 2014 - 10:35 am

“What would it take to make you cut off your own leg? The most terrifying ethical dilemmas in torture porn horror movies,” asks Salon

Considering the terrifying lobotomy the once more-or-less respectable Salon chose to administer to itself at some point in the last decade, perhaps it’s a question the publication should kick around in its own offices to diagnose how things went so horribly wrong.

Update: Slate, which played Newsweek to Salon’s Time magazine in the early days of the World Wide Web (or was it the other way around?) has also self-lobotomized in recent years, with similarly painful results.

RIP, James Garner

July 21st, 2014 - 1:27 pm

As Mark Steyn writes, “James Garner was one of those actors who was watchable in almost anything, even commercials:”

He had great sexual chemistry, which is why his leading ladies loved working with him. For my money, when it comes to Sixties sex comedies, he was better with Doris Day than Rock Hudson was, and not just for the obvious reason. In Move Over, Darling, Doris and Polly Bergen crank it up a tad too much too soon, and it’s Garner dialing it back and reeling it in who keeps the picture’s contrivances from getting too much. Over a third of a century, he made three movies with Julie Andrews, and made her seem desirable, which is a trick not every leading man could pull off. And, of course, he and Mariette Hartley turned those Seventies/Eighties Polaroid commercials into such mini-masterpieces of effortless charm that most viewers assumed the relationship had to be real. The chemistry was so good Miss Hartley began going around in a T-shirt proclaiming “I am NOT Mrs James Garner.”

He was also one of the few Hollywood leading men of the 1960s to survive and prosper in the awful decade that followed, in which American coastal elites in New York, Washington, and Hollywood all lost their way, producing horrid results for the rest of us. (Talk about déjà vu.) Somehow though, with the Rockford Files, as John Nolte writes in “A Tribute to The Mighty James Garner” at Big Hollywood, Garner, producer Roy Huggins, writer Stephen J. Cannell. and Universal TV managed to capture “lightening in a bottle,” and in an odd way, the 1970s middle American zeitgeist as well.

While he had nothing in common with the character he played, my dad loved James Garner on Rockford, and it’s easy to see why. During that period, when Hollywood was still in its post-Easy Rider “youth phase,” the cool leading men of the 1950s and ‘60s were in short supply: Cary Grant had retired, Sean Connery seemed to vanish in his early post-Bond years, and Steve McQueen’s career was in that fallow period that had begun with the dark grotesqueries of Papillon, and arguably never recovered. You respected Charles Bronson’s characters for their macho toughness and steely brass balls, but no guy really wanted to be Charles Bronson. Which left Garner, who made looking cool easy, unlike McQueen and Paul Newman, each with an ice cold veneer which masked an venomous anger just under the surface. (Arguably in real life, as well.)

As John Nolte – who once featured Rockford’s business card  on his Twitter homepage — adds, “Amiable, broad-shouldered, and handsome, Garner spent a half-century easily moving back and forth between television and film roles, a feat very few lead actors have successfully pulled off. Garner was the rare leading man who could spend countless hours in our living rooms without losing the quality that made him a movie star.”

In a phrase that’s applicable less and less to those in show business, James Garner was truly a class act. RIP.

Update: In his obit for Garner, Andrew Klavan writes that no men like the beach bum private eye characters portrayed in the mid-’70s by both Garner and David Janssen in ABC’s then-concurrent Harry O series exist on TV these days. “I don’t say that out of nostalgic grumpiness but as a matter of fact. You cannot pitch a private eye show to the networks. I’ve tried it. You can’t even get in the door.”

“I began by saying that the Obama presidency is unraveling, and that it was a creation of the culture,” Drew adds. “Part of what the culture did to help create this disaster was to lose its faith in the man alone, and put its trust in princes and principalities.”

Offstage, Garner was a cast-in-the-mold Hollywood liberal seeking — whether he knew it consciously or not — authoritarianism, collectivism, and big government. But he was smart enough to portray characters who fought against that authoritarianism, sometimes won along the way, and retained their heart and individuality in the process. And compared to today’s smarmy and chestless Hollywood actors, that was more than enough.

“Good news. There’s no need to watch any more speeches made by President Obama,” David Rutz of the Washington Free Beacon writes:

When he starts to speak, you know in advance he’ll tell you it’s great to be back in whatever town he’s in.

He’ll advise you to have a seat (twice) and appreciate the introduction from his fellow Democrat.

He’ll certainly love you back.

Even the most formulaic rock stars and comedians know that they need to shake up the act every now and then and change the set list for their live gigs. As Mark Steyn wrote in Bob Hope’s 2003 obit, Hope was the first comedian to brag about using outside writers to keep his routines fresh and topical:

If Hope started out as the first modern comic, he quickly became the first post-modern one. Other comedians had writers, but they didn’t talk about them. Radio gobbled up your material so you needed fellows on hand to provide more. But Hope not only used writers, he made his dependence on them part of the act: “I have an earthquake emergency kit at my house. It’s got food, water and half-a-dozen writers.”

As the World’s Biggest Celebrity, Mr. Obama has access to even more show-biz writers than even Bob Hope could have dreamed of — and he dines with his fellow celebrities with increasing frequency. The New York Times, mining territory that Matthew Continetti of the Washington Free Beacon first explored a month and a half ago, breathlessly declared yesterday that “At Dinner Tables, a Restless Obama Finds an Intellectual Escape:”

Previous dinners at the White House have drawn varied celebrities, including Will Smith and Jada Pinkett Smith, Morgan Freeman and Bono. Many of the guests — including the Smiths and Mr. Freeman, as well as Anne Wojcicki — have been financial supporters of Mr. Obama’s campaigns.

Perhaps the acting president could ask Morgan Freeman or Will Smith who the hot writers in Hollywood are these days. Or Bono how to shake up a set list and reboot a dissipated live act that’s seen far too many encores and is now phoning it in:

The Mean Girls of Global Warming

July 8th, 2014 - 8:55 am

“Show business is high school with money,” comedian Martin Mull famously said. And the news media is ultimately a form of show business as well, particularly with its chromium or chroma-keyed virtual sets to create the proper theatrics and faux-gravitas around men reading from teleprompters, computer graphics, and reliance on prefab narratives in which the left are always the winners. Which is why, when it comes to the MSM’s attack on global warming skeptics, “You know what this is?”, Robert Tracinski asks at the Federalist, “This is high school:”

It’s not your high school science class, but the high school of cliques, snubbing, ostracism, and mockery as an all-powerful weapon.

Now we can fully understand the contemporary phenomenon of the satirical fake news show—Jon Stewart, John Oliver, and the rest—and why it’s so popular on the left. These shows are created by and for people who never really graduated from high school, the ones who wanted to be part of the clique and to ostracize those who didn’t fit in. These guys weren’t the kind of bullies who beat you up outside the girls’ locker room. (John Oliver looks more like the type who was beaten up.) Instead, they’re the kind who rose in the clique through mockery and humiliation directed at their rivals.

Think of them as the “mean girls” of global warming.

But notice that they’re not using mockery directly as a weapon against the skeptics. Remember back to high school, if you can. If you didn’t really care about being in the clique, they were pretty much irrelevant to you. It was only those who really wanted to fit in and be popular who got caught up in all of the manufactured drama. The mean girls are always meanest to each other.

So the real target on which our mean girls of global warming train the power of their mockery is not the general public, nor is it the ideological right. Their target is the mainstream media.

Read the whole thing. You sort of get the feeling that deep down inside, everyone on the left is terrified of letting his inner Sheldon Cooper emerge and risk an atomic wedgie in the locker room. No wonder “real” “journalists” on the left — aka Democrat operatives with bylines — have such admiration for the smug postmodern pantomime of Stewart, Colbert, and more recently John Oliver, whom Tracinski dubs Time-Warner-CNN-HBO’s “nebbishy British version of Jon Stewart” — their staff writers always ensure they win the argument.

And when they fail, their editors will always save them.

Happy Fourth of July!

July 4th, 2014 - 11:24 am
danger_explosive_vintage_girl_flag_fourth_7-4-13-1

Suicide Girls, the early years.

Pardon the hate speech in the above headline, but our surveys show that 99 percent of our core audience enjoys the Fourth of July; it is for that small majority that this post is written.

Roger L. Simon, our beneficent Maximum Pajamahadeen Emeritus wonders, “Is America in a Pre-Revolutionary State this July 4th?”

As we approach July 4, 2013, is America in a pre-revolutionary state? Are we headed for a Tahrir Square of our own with the attendant mammoth social turmoil, possibly even violence.

Could it happen here?

We are two-thirds of the way into the most incompetent presidency in our history. People everywhere are fed up. Even many of the so-called liberals who propelled Barack Obama into office have stopped defending him in the face of an unprecedented number of scandals coming at us one after the other like hideous monsters in some non-stop computer game.

And now looming is the monster of monsters, ObamaCare, the healthcare reform almost no one wanted and fewer understood.

It will be administered by the Internal Revenue Service, an organization that has been revealed to be a kind of post-modern American Gestapo, asking not just to examine our accounting books but the books we read. What could be more totalitarian than that?

Meanwhile, the Wall Street Journal warns the costs of ObamaCare are close to tripling what were promised, and the number of doctors in our country is rapidly diminishing. No more “My son, the doctor!” It doesn’t pay.

And young people most of all will not be able to afford escalating health insurance costs and will end up paying the fine to the IRS, simultaneously bankrupting the health system and enhancing the brutal power of the IRS — all this while unemployment numbers remain near historical highs.

No one knows how many have given up looking for work while crony capitalist friends of the administration enrich themselves on mythological clean-energy projects.

In fact, everywhere we look on this July Fourth sees a great civilization in decline. And much of that decline can be laid at the foot of the incumbent. Especially his own people, African Americans, have suffered. Their unemployment numbers are catastrophic, their real needs ignored while hustlers like Sharpton, Jackson, and, sadly, even the president fan the flames of non-existent racism.

Tahrir Square anyone?

Ironically, if our society enters a revolutionary phase, liberals will find themselves in the role of the Islamists, defending a shopworn and reactionary ideology on religious grounds, because it is only their faith that holds their ideas together at this point.

Hollywood actress and singer Bette Midler is so reactionary these days, she wishes she was a subject of the crown:

Many celebrities are celebrating the Fourth of July by wishing their country a very happy birthday. It’s a day where partisanship is pushed aside for good ol’ fashioned patriotism.

Bette Midler is taking a different approach.

The Parental Guidance star imagines a world in which the U.S. lost the war for its independence, but it’s not like that’s a bad thing. After all, she argues, that would mean we’d finally have socialized medicine.

bette_midler_socialized_medicine_7-4-13

Wow, who knew after making millions in Hollywood and as a recording artist, Bette Midler had no health insurance?

In contrast to those such as Bette who wish to go backwards; as Julia Shaw writes at NRO, “America’s birthday is also Calvin Coolidge’s. It’s a fitting coincidence, as the 30th president was one of the most eloquent defenders of America’s principles:”

Coolidge was for economic prosperity. His tax cuts and budgetary restraint enabled robust economic growth in America. “The chief business of the American people is business,” Coolidge said in an address to the American Society of Newspaper Editors. He understood, though, that material success wasn’t the most important goal for the American people. While we “make no concealment of the fact that we want wealth,” Coolidge explained, “there are many other things that we want very much more. We want peace and honor, and that charity which is so strong an element of all civilization.”

Coolidge encouraged Americans to prioritize the spiritual over the material, to “cultivate the reverence which they had for the things that are holy. We must follow the spiritual and moral leadership which [our Founders] showed.” This meant a reverence for America’s principles.

Coolidge said yes to America’s principles, and the Declaration of Independence is the clearest articulation of them — it’s the mission statement of America. One of Coolidge’s greatest speeches was on the occasion of the Declaration’s 150th anniversary (his 54th birthday). Silent about himself, Coolidge praised the Declaration’s words on human equality, natural rights, and consent of the governed. America was the first nation founded on those principles. July 4, 1776, the day when they were formally expressed, “has come to be regarded as one of the greatest days in history” and “an incomparable event in the history of government.”

For Coolidge, these principles spelled security. They were final. “No advance, no progress can be made beyond these propositions,” he said. To deny the self-evident truths of the Declaration would take America “backward toward the time when there was no equality, no rights of the individual, no rule of the people.”

These principles provided the foundation for all Americans, whatever their policy preferences or partisan alignments. “Amid all the clash of conflicting interests, amid all the welter of partisan politics,” Coolidge said, “every American can turn for solace and consolation to the Declaration of Independence and the Constitution of the United States with the assurance and confidence that those two great charters of freedom and justice remain firm and unshaken.”

I wish that last sentence was still true today.

Related: For my interview with Amity Shlaes on her recent biography of the great Silent Cal, click here.

(Originally posted last year; photo atop post by Shutterstock.com.)

Have You Seen This Man?

July 2nd, 2014 - 11:52 am


Curiously, searching on “Bruce Springsteen Iraq” in Google and setting the time parameter for the past month doesn’t bring up anything remotely relevant. But then, as Moe Lane writes, “I guess the Left is comfortable with our quiet troop buildup in Iraq:”

Refreshing: despite my earlier sardonic commentary about Democrats rolling over on this, I still wondered whether we’d have more progressives protesting over this. Or rioting.  Guess even the most hardcore Lefty can detect a brick wall after he’s run into it six or seven times.

The United States has sent Apache attack helicopters to Iraq as part of the buildup in U.S. military personnel, the Pentagon said Tuesday.

Officials would not say how many of the armed helicopters have been sent to the country, stating only that they will be based in Baghdad and could assist with evacuations of American personnel.

…Yes, I suppose that they could. Or they could be there for airstrikes against the terrorist army that Barack Obama unaccountably just let set up shop again in Iraq.

Of course, as long as Obama calls the troops “advisors,” perhaps anti-war celebrities think of them as managers and agents — they’ll get their 12 percent of the royalties from al-Maliki’s production company, but hopefully they want the points on the net, rather than the gross.

But in 1985, Springsteen was telling his listeners, “Blind faith in your leaders, or in anything, will get you killed,” before grunting his remake of Edwin Starr’s hoary-old 1969 Motown song “War, What Is it Good For.”* Last September though, Springsteen was cheerfully fundraising for Obama, even as Obama was saber-rattling in Syria. It got to the point where even left-leaning Buzzfeed created one of their patented listicles on “14 Principled Anti-War Celebrities We Fear May Have Been Kidnapped.” As I wrote back then, BuzzFeed, astonishingly enough, put out an All-Points Bulletin, along with some exceedingly precious quotes as part of each celebrity’s “Last-Known Pre-2009 Communication” before these otherwise perilously outspoken far left celebrities voluntarily started BenSmithing themselves into oblivion:

“I think war is based in greed and there are huge karmic retributions that will follow. I think war is never the answer to solving any problems. The best way to solve problems is to not have enemies.”
— Sheryl Crow

“I think we’re past that point in human evolution where there’s such a thing as winning wars.”
— Sean Penn

“It is very inspiring and amusing how many people have come out in this genuine and spontaneous way to embrace peace and reject war. It reminds us there is a human and gentle spirit out there in this world.”
— Tim Robbins

“American people always have to be tricked into going to war, they always have to be cajoled. I mean, there’s a long history of being lied to, of having things described in a particular way, in order to get them out of their sort of isolationist… prosperity mode and go to war.”
— Jackson Brown

“War is failure! When you are at war, you have failed!”
— Janeane Garofalo

And Janeane and failure are on exceedingly good terms. But she may have had the best explanation in 2003 as to why her fellow leftists gave Bill Clinton a pass during his myriad foreign adventures in the 1990s, and brought forward a decade to explain why Obama gets as a pass as well: “it wasn’t very hip.”

Last September, I did a few milk carton Photoshops of missing anti-war celebrities. Perhaps it’s time to crank out a few more. But then, as one of Moe’s commenters writes, “Don’t worry, antiwar protestors will become fashionable again as soon as the GOP wins the [White House].”

Hipness and ideological consistency are quite cyclical things for celebrity anti-war leftists, apparently.

* Apparently borrowed from the first draft title of Tolstoy’s War and Peace

Redskins on the Brain

July 1st, 2014 - 4:08 pm

For the first 13 or 14 years I had Yahoo’s NFL wire feed on my homepage, during the offseason, its headlines were devoted to head coach changes, player trades, and the occasional report of an athlete whose name appeared in his local police blotter, usually as a result of his overly-rambunctious late night activities.

Since last year however, Yahoo’s offseason NFL headlines revolve around two subjects seemingly to the exclusion of virtually all over NFL coverage — the players’ concussion lawsuit against the league (thus transforming highly-paid professional athletes into victims) and the name of Washington DC’s NFL franchise. As  Ben Domenech recently noted at the Federalist, sports radio, which until recent years was an apolitical broadcast repository for those who wished to take a timeout from the news of the day, has become equally politicized:

Of course, in the ESPN age, the realm of sports is often invaded by politics. This is typically in the form of mild irritants, and the more sports-minded hosts will back away slowly from guests who suddenly feel the need to expound on their deeply held and often clumsily constructed theories about politics to troll their listeners. Some guests are serial offenders in this regard: Kevin Blackistone, for instance, has decried the playing of the national anthem at ballgames as jingoistic warmongering, and said the U.S. should boycott the Olympic Games over Israel’s actions toward the Gaza Flotilla. So you learn to avoid those segments and head over to the ones talking about whether the Vernon Davis holdout is justified and what roster moves need to be made if LeBron is going to stay in Miami.

So it is with great irritation that I have experienced the invasion of sports radio over the past few months by a voice I am more familiar with for its meandering conspiracy-theorizing over the rampant influences of the Brothers Koch: Harry Reid, whose funereal nagging about the name of the Washington Redskins has elevated this battle over political correctness from a low simmer to a hot summer topic. No one particularly cared about this fight when the Redskins were horrid (which has been pretty much every year since I was ten), but since they looked like they were getting good again a year ago, the fight is back in a big way, with all Democratic Senators (save Virginia’s Mark Warner and Tim Kaine) endorsing a name change.

Mostly, this is a sideline issue, as Redskins owner Daniel Snyder has reiterated that the team’s name will never change as long as he owns them, and as the franchise is one of the NFL’s most valuable and a gigantic money-printing machine, there seems to be no possibility of a financial incentive from advertisers or the NFL to make a change. What’s more, the poll data on Native Americans across the country shows overwhelming support for the name. There has never been a poll showing even a plurality of Native Americans in favor of a name change. Were it 90-10 in the other direction, I think the NFL would be more interested in the issue.

At NRO today, Dennis Prager explores how the left have come to acquire “Redskins on the Brain:”

The Washington Redskins have been in existence for 82 years. For about 80 of those years, virtually no one, including the vast majority of American Indians, was troubled by the name. Yet it is now of such importance to the American Left that the majority leader of the United States Senate has repeatedly demanded, from the floor of the Senate, that the team drop its name; 50 U.S. senators, all of them Democrats, have signed an open letter demanding the same; Sports Illustrated’s Peter King no longer uses the name; other leading sportswriters have adopted the same practice; and the president of the United States has weighed in on the issue.

* * * * * * * *

First, there is a rule in life: Those who do not confront the greatest evils will confront much lesser evils or simply manufacture alleged evils that they then confront. [See also: left's obsession with global warming -- Ed] This has been a dominant characteristic of the Left for at least half a century.

The greatest evils since World War II have been communism and, since the demise of communism in the Soviet Union and in most other communist countries, violent Islam — or, as it often is called, Islamism. Islamism is the belief that sharia (Islamic law) must be imposed wherever possible on a society, beginning, of course, with Muslim-majority countries. These Islamists are, as the British historian Andrew Roberts has noted, the fourth incarnation of fascism — first there was fascism, then Nazism, then communism, and now Islamism.

For many years most of the Western Left was supportive of communism, and after the 1960s, it was simply hostile to anti-communists. The Left was far more concerned with attacking America than with attacking the Soviet Union. So, too, today, the Left is far more concerned with attacking America — its alleged racism, sexism, homophobia, Islamophobia, and economic inequality — than with fighting Islamism.

Second, the corollary to the above is that those who do not fight the greatest evils invariably loathe those who do. The Left hated American anti-communists much more than it hated communists. The Left today hates traditional America much more than it hates traditional Islamists. The Redskins name is a symbol of that hated America.

Sports isn’t immune to leftwing identity politics disguised as criticism; film and TV criticism got there first; in recent years, reading an assortment of newspaper film reviews would cause one to believe that Hollywood — a much more leftwing environment than the NFL — is a seething hotbed of racism, sexism, homophobia, and whatever other -isms and phobias are being imagined in the fever swamps of the left at given moment. (And yet curiously, few newspaper critics wish to cut themselves off from free screenings, free DVDs, celebrity interviews, and other media junkets when presented by the allegedly racist, sexist, and homophobic film and TV industry.)

As Sonny Bunch writes at the Washington Free Beacon, “There has been a movement in criticism in recent years to catalog the ways in which art fail certain classes:”

One shudders to think of the ways classic cinema would be critiqued today. Imagine our generation of critics being handed a gem like The Godfather. Oh, you’d see an initial wave of rapturous support. Our finest writers—our A.O. Scotts, our Anthony Lanes, our Seitzes—would undoubtedly recognize its genius. But then, after a week or two, the counterintuitive takes would start popping up. Slate‘s Double X would ask why there are no strong female characters: “All we have are an abused wife and an exploded wife and an ignored wife! What, there was no room for a lady-gangster? Has Francis Ford Coppola never heard of [incredibly minor figure who has been blown up to mythic stature in women's studies courses]?” Salon would denounce the five families for their plan to distribute drugs among “the coloreds” as well as critics across the land for failing to properly announce just how despicable they found the Corleones following that scene. Godfather Part II‘s release would see Jose Antonio Vargas given 5,000 words and the cover of Time to lament America’s abandonment of immigrants looking for a better life: “We used to be a nation that took in young Vitos, despite their disease, despite their lack of opportunities. Now we’re a nation that heartlessly turns its back on children.” Et cetera, ad nauseum.

Quoting from Andrew Ferguson’s review of Men on Strike by PJM’s own Dr. Helen, Bunch adds that the left just loves it when conservatives use the same sort of identity politics as pushback; but then, this is Pandora’s Box that the left has opened up by declaring that the personal is political and no form of grievance politics is off the table. (All the way down to names of paint colors!) And yet another reminder that “Inside Every Liberal is a Totalitarian Screaming to Get Out.”

Related: Fox News’ Jesse Watters “Gets Kicked Out of NOW Conference, Threatened With Arrest.” Hilarious video of Watters trolling the NAGs at link.

“In late 2009, Screenwriter Roger L. Simon and filmmaker Lionel Chetwynd sat down with legendary director Paul Mazursky to discuss Hollywood’s penchant for stereotyped portrayals of Jews,” as a segment on PJTV’s Poliwood.

RIP, Paul Mazursky, 84

July 1st, 2014 - 10:47 am

Roger L. Simon is reporting that legendary director Paul Mazursky, whose career stretches back to working with Stanley Kubrick on Kubrick’s earliest ultra-DIY productions, has passed away. Roger writes:

There are tears in my eyes as I write this because no man had as great a professional effect on me — a professional effect that was deeply personal as well, because collaborating with Paul, as I did on several screenplays, was always an adventure of the most intimate sort, sharing endless stories and emotions that would go into our scripts.

I had seen Paul only yesterday in his hospital bed at Cedars Sinai. (I am grateful to our mutual friend David Freeman for informing me he was there.) He did not look good and I wondered if he would ever get out. I tried to engage him in conversation. It was difficult. Paul, normally the most garrulous of men, could barely talk. But we chatted a bit about Enemies, A Love Story – the most successful movie we co-wrote and he directed — and he reminded me that Isaac Singer, the author of the novel, had liked the film. We also talked of the trip we took together with some friends, trekking in the Himalayas to get as far as we could from the premiere of Scenes from a Mall, a less successful effort.

Paul, of course, made over a dozen fine movies, including Next Stop Greenwich Village, Harry and Tonto, and Down and Out in Beverly Hills. We all have our favorites. But at a time like this I choose to remember Paul the man, not the auteur who has been called, reductively I think, the “West Coast Woody Allen.”

I remember especially the many breakfasts we all had together — writers, directors, what we used to call “visiting firemen” — at L.A.’s Farmers Market. “The table,” as it was also called, became something of minor legend, even making it into a BBC documentary on Hollywood in the 1990s. But it would have been nothing without Paul. He was the star attraction, the major domo. This was because of Paul’s fame but also because he was an all-time great storyteller, regaling us with tales of the comedy writers’ room in the early days of television, of great artists he had worked with like Stanley Kubrick and Peter Sellers.

Often he would repeat his stories — as the  best storytellers often do — and we would roll our eyes. But the truth is we wanted to hear them again. They became something of a ritual. I want to hear them again now, more than ever.

PJTV subscribers can watch Roger and his video sparring partner Lionel Chetwynd share some of the old stories with Mazursky in this 2009 edition of Poliwood.

Update: Mark Horowitz, of Medium tweets, “If you’re too young to know the films of Paul Mazursky, here’s a useful intro to his career” by John Podhoretz.

Life Imitates Night Shift

June 29th, 2014 - 9:15 pm

Now is the time when we juxtapose, Small Dead Animals-style:

Wanna know why I carry this tape recorder? To tape things. See, I’m an idea man, Chuck. I get ideas coming at me all day. I can’t control ‘em. I can’t even fight ‘em if I want to. You know, ‘AHHH!’ So I say ‘em in here, and that way I never forget ‘em. You see what I’m sayin’?

[speaking into tape recorder]

Stand back, this is Bill. Idea to eliminate garbage. Edible paper. You eat it, it’s gone! You eat it, it’s outta there! No more garbage!

—Michael Keaton as Manhattan morgue attendant turned would-be pimp “Bill Blazejowski” in the 1982 film Night Shift.

I’m a weirdo who eats her cupcakes with a fork, but thanks to these new edible cupcake wrappers, I guess I don’t have to anymore! I can bite right into the side of the thing without having to worry about peeling the paper back without dropping half the cupcake onto the sidewalk (okay, wait, the visual of haphazardly chomping into a delicate baked good doesn’t sound too dignified either).

The wrappers, made by Dr. Oetker, are wafer-like, gluten free*, and can survive being baked. They can even hold up in the oven without a cupcake tray — on what planet is that a reality!? The downside is that they’re pretty pricey. A pack of six is $4, which is a bit too steep to be worth it — unless, of course, they start turning up in Pinterest recipes. Then maybe I’ll consider the splurge.

“We Obviously All Need These Edible Cupcake Wrappers,” The Frisky, yesterday.

Found via Maetenloch at AoSHQ; truly, we live in an age of technological and gustatory miracles.

* What is Gluten?

No, This is the Endgame of the Left

June 27th, 2014 - 7:40 pm

The Hunger Games series as the endgame of the left? That’s the topic explored by David Bossie at Big Hollywood:

This week, the trailer for the latest installment in the Hunger Games series, Mockingjay, was released. As I was watching this trailer, something really struck me: the themes touched on in this film are essentially the endgame of today’s American liberalism.

An all-controlling Big Government that forces unity, prosperity; it’s government that calls on you to sacrifice for the greater good. I am not suggesting that today’s Democrat Party will lead us literally to the society depicted in the Hunger Games series, but there are some lessons we can learn when we watch these films based on the dystopian novels.

One of the first things we can learn is that in an attempt to create a utopia, liberal policies and ultimate government control has the opposite effect. Creating a centralized government that is too powerful and dictates what all citizens must do for what they deem as the “greater good” is what we conservatives have been fighting so hard against, especially these past several years.

The trailer that Bossie links to begins with a “Capitol TV” logo, which indicates that there’s still electricity around to power the monitors. That puts the Hunger Games’ futuristic American dystopia one up on today’s dystopian Venezuela where AP reports that “A power plant failure knocked out electricity across a big swath of Venezuela on Friday, darkening the lights at a nationally televised presidential ceremony and forcing a suspension of subway and train services around the country,” and North Korea, where it’s Earth Hour, every hour. Or as Virginia Postrel said in 1999:

The Khmer Rouge sought to start over at Year Zero, and to sort of create the kind of society that very civilized, humane greens write about as though it were an ideal. I mean, people who would never consider genocide. But I argue that if you want to know what that would take, look at Cambodia — to empty the cities and turn everyone into peasants again. Even in a less developed country, let alone in someplace like the United States, that these sort of static utopian fantasies are just that.

And speaking of dystopias, in “The Eternal Dictator,” NRO’s Kevin D. Williamson writes, “The ruthless exercise of power by strongmen and generalissimos is the natural state of human affairs:”

When I was visiting Madrid a few years back, I sat drinking coffee on one of that city’s beautiful public squares and watching the Spanish go about their business — walking to work, shopping, flirting, reading newspapers, enjoying the sun — and I wondered: How is it that these people — these civilized, elegant heirs to Cervantes, Velázquez, and Ignatius of Loyola — manage to inflict upon themselves a cartoonish dictator such as Francisco Franco? (The answer, of course, is: by narrowly avoiding inflicting on themselves a Russian dictator rather than a Spanish one.) I am not much of a multiculturalist; there are some societies that one expects to be governed under roughly the same principles around which a baboon troop or a cackle of hyenas is organized. But the Greeks? The Germans? The Italians? The Norwegians, for Pete’s sake? If it can happen to them — and it has — it can happen to anybody.

The worrisome lesson of history is that there is no shortage of strongmen and generalissimos, and their holding power and exercising it ruthlessly is the natural state of human affairs. Nobody has to do anything to make that happen; it’s making that not happen that requires our attention.

One of the worrisome lessons of 2008 and early 2009 is that, as in post-World War I Germany and Italy, there are also no shortage of leftwing media talking heads and intellectuals in America who believe that a dictatorship would be a really super cool and groovy thing — as long as they’re the ones running the Hunger Games.

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Sucking in the Seventies

June 27th, 2014 - 10:55 am

Yes kids, prior to Star Wars, these were the films we were forced to watch to document our hardscrabble existence during the horrific Nixonfordcarter years when America went to hell in a polyester hand-basket: lots of crime, lots of grime, lots of graffiti, lots of bell-bottoms — and at least until the very end of the decade, no Internet, no cable TV, or video games: Kathy Shaidle brings you the “10 Movies Millennials Must See to Understand the 1970s — The era of devils, divorces and disasters, captured on film.”

Looking for Comedy in the Muslim World

June 19th, 2014 - 2:51 pm

“Liberals Longing for Saddam” was the headline on a Commentary post by Tom Wilson, this past Friday:

When the invasion of Iraq took place, many left-liberal commentators—particularly those in Britain and Europe—had a curious response. Of course they detested Saddam, they assured us, but might it not be the case that Saddam—a strong man—was the only person who could govern “a place like that”? This stunning suggestion that human rights and basic freedom might not be for everyone, that some human beings are just better off under despotism, was shocking then and its shocking to consider now. But for the most part these arguments faded from discussion as a jittery democratic reality got off the ground in Iraq. What good liberal would want to consign the Iraqi people back to the dark days of Saddam? Besides, one got the impression that most of these voices weren’t actually that favorable toward the Baathist regime, they just hated the thought of the use of Western power far more.

Now, however, with Iraq descending into chaos once again—arguably as much the result of the strength of Islamism as the weakness of democracy—these “liberals” are dusting off those old arguments and wheeling them back out in another attempt to bamboozle a public they’ve already spent over a decade misleading. Yet, one voice has gone much further. Chris Maume, an editor at the UK Independent, who by all accounts spent much time in Iraq during the glory days of Saddam, not only takes this opportunity to sow doubts about the wisdom of the war in Iraq, but even does so by mounting the most astonishing defense of life under Saddam.

Whitewashing the poverty suffered by most Iraqis compared to the obscene wealth enjoyed by the Saddam’s ruling clan, Maume reflects, “Baghdad was noisy and mucky and full of building sites, but it was bustling and thriving. There wasn’t a huge amount in the shops, but people had all they needed to get by.” Perhaps they did, but you can’t imagine writers for the Independent ever insisting that the underprivileged in Western countries have long “had all they needed to get by.”

Chris Maume of the UK Independent is joined by another, much more famous voice today:

To paraphrase an old riff by James Lileks, perhaps Brooks admires Saddam because — at least until rival studio heads forced him out of production — the man had the final cut, and he knew what he wanted to do with it.

The leftwing desire to embrace murderous tyrants — if only there were books on that topic both relatively new, and long in print.

“The Problem With the Klinghoffer Opera” currently playing at New York’s Metropolitan Opera, is explored by Jonathan S. Tobin at Commentary. Kudos for using the singular version of the word “problem” in Tobin’s headline:

Defenders of Klinghoffer will claim, not without some justice, that many staples of the classic operatic repertory were once politically controversial and subjected to censorship. But comparisons with the operas of Giuseppe Verdi, to take just one prominent example, which were often rightly seen as subverting repressive monarchies or promoting the cause of Italian freedom, and Adams’ excursion into the Middle East conflict, are not apt. The libretto of “Klinghoffer” rationalizes terrorism, denigrates Jews and treats the plight of the Palestinians as morally equivalent to the Holocaust. Whether or not one accepts the notion that Adams’ creation is a musical masterpiece, as the Met insists, the point of the piece is one that is not merely offensive. It is, in its own way, a part of the global campaign of delegitimization of the Jewish state and the Jewish people. As such, the decision of one of the world’s leading arts organizations as well as one of the great cultural institutions of the city with the world’ largest Jewish populations, to produce this atrocity, even if won’t be shown around the world, is deeply troubling.

The problem with Klinghoffer is not, as some of its defenders have always claimed, that it humanizes the Palestinians. But by using the story of the hijacking of the Italian cruise ship, Achille Lauro as the setting for its attempt to juxtapose the Jews and the Palestinians, it creates a false moral equivalence thought ought to offend all decent persons, especially in the city where the 9/11 attacks occurred less than 13 years ago.

C’mon — if you’re going to craft a story of Jews being murdered to advance totalitarian political goals for the New York stage, why not think big?

(Additionally, perhaps Mel Brooks should slap a “don’t try this at home, kids” sticker on DVDs of The Producers. But as it always must, reality finally catches up to even the zaniest of satirists.)

Update: Target audience for opera discovered.

As Always, Life Imitates Monty Python

June 8th, 2014 - 11:01 am

Now is the time when we juxtapose, Small Dead Animals-style:

First up, Monty Python’s classic “Batley Townswomen’s Guild Presents the Battle of Pearl Harbor” sketch from December of 1969:

Flash-forward to another war-related moment that will live in infamy: Friday’s surreal interpretive dance routine to commemorate the 70th anniversary of D-Day, performed in front of a retinue of bewildered world leaders assembled at Normandy:

At first glance, this appears to be an example of Malcolm Muggeridge’s Law, which states that there’s no way for a satirist to improve upon real life for its pure absurdity, but this is one case where the satirists got there first — and provided a far more entertaining presentation than its real life follow-up nearly half a century later.

(Via Rick Moran.)

There Are No Socialists In Divorce Court

June 6th, 2014 - 4:39 pm

Michael Moore, who has spent his entire career attacking capitalism, wealth, and Wall Street, is suddenly very protective concerning the capital, wealth and investments he has amassed over the years. As Christian Toto writes at Big Hollywood, “Far-left filmmaker Michael Moore is divorcing his wife, and the looming court battle looks ugly already.” Christian links to this Smoking Gun report, which notes that “the couple’s combined assets are likely worth tens of millions of dollars,” including “multiple substantial residences and multiple companies:”

The couple’s real estate holdings include a total of nine properties in Michigan and New York. The duo co-owns a Manhattan condo that was created through the combination of three separate units.

But it is the northern Michigan mansion (seen above) that appears to be the couple’s most contentious asset, and bad press about the home has apparently rankled Moore.

Citing “massive cost overruns” on the home, which was completed a few years ago, Moore has accused Glynn of causing the pair significant financial setbacks. In fact, he refers to the extravagant residence as “her Torch Lake home” in court filings.

The Smoking Gun adds:

Moore has also demanded Glynn to disclose whether, during the course of their marriage, she had ever hired a private investigator to “follow, record, photograph” him. Court records do not include Glynn’s reply to that query, which has been made more than once.

Huh, why would Moore be concerned about that? His entire career was built on ambush interviews and longer forms of video surveillance, such as this immersive example from 1999:

In what he says is a technological tit-for-tat, filmmaker Michael Moore has trained a Webcam on the apartment of literary agent Lucianne Goldberg to “turn the tables on her” for instigating Linda Tripp’s secret taping of Monica Lewinsky.

Moore, the documentarian turned television personality, turned on the “I see Lucy cam,” last week, allowing Internet users around the world to participate in the 24-hour-a-day virtual stakeout of Goldberg’s New York City apartment.

So far, the attempt to invade Goldberg’s privacy – which apparently breaks no New York laws – has been interesting only in concept. The “highlights” so far, according to the hunter and the hunted: Evidence that Goldberg does not have central air conditioning and that her television was tuned to “Touched By An Angel” on Sunday night.

And thus Saul Alinsky’s Rule Four — “Make the enemy live up to its own book of rules” — exposes the hypocrisy of yet another Alinsky devotee; hypocrisy being the last remaining sin amongst leftist true believers.

Update: The Big Hollywood and Smoking Gun articles both ran this past Thursday, but Kathy Shaidle emails that she was writing about the Moores’ divorce when it was initially announced almost a year ago, in July of 2013. As she asked in her email, “Wow, how long do divorces take??”

Evidently, quite a long time when you breathe the rarefied air of the Elite One Percent. As a wise sage once said, “The rich are wallowing in the loot they’ve accumulated in the past two decades, and now they want to make sure you don’t come a-lookin’ for your piece of the pie.”

‘Disco Doesn’t Suck. Here’s Why.’

June 3rd, 2014 - 11:32 pm

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At Reason this month, Jesse Walker is tackling the important topics, reviewing “Jamie Kastner’s The Secret Disco Revolution, a documentary/mockumentary hybrid from 2012:”

The movie is happy to mock the musicians as well as the academics. In the film’s funniest sequence, the current members of the Village People brazenly assert that there was nothing gay about their material, claiming that “there was not one double entendre in any of the music” and that “In the Navy” was written as an earnest celebration of sea life. This is intercut with an interview with Henri Belolo, who wasn’t a member of the band but produced their records, co-wrote many of their songs, and played a major role in inventing their image. As the singers issue their denials, Belolo talks about “how we created a gay-positive message” and discusses the barely hidden gay-cruising subtext of “YMCA.” At that moment, the Village People become a different type of revisionists, rewriting their history with the self-confidence of a Soviet censor snipping Trotsky out of a photo. Or maybe they’re being poker-faced jokers, too. But I don’t think so: At the end of the movie, right before the credits roll, we see some post-interview footage of a Village Person pretending to throttle Kastner as he warns the filmmaker that he reads too many books.

Naturally the film mentions “the infamous Disco Demolition Night of 1979, when disco-hating rockers blew up a bunch of dance records in a baseball stadium,” dubbing it and other anti-disco rhetoric from the period an attack on disco’s “mass liberation of gays, blacks, and women from the clutches of a conservative, rock-dominated world.”

Because, racism. And homophobia. And fear of white polyester suits as well, I guess.

But in reality, 1979 was a unique quiet highpoint for rock. MTV was two years away, and dinosaurs still thundered the earth: all four Beatles were still alive and recording, Led Zeppelin was still around and released their underrated last album as an intact band, In Through the Out Door, Pink Floyd released The Wall, and Bill Wyman was the only member of the Rolling Stones over 40. While Keith Moon had recently gone off to The Great Practice Hall In The Sky, The Who were more visible than ever, with multiple albums, movies, tours, and the debut of Pete Townshend’s solo career. And while Punk Rock had been something of a bust in America, a group of New Wave artists with the same DIY ethos of punk, but with much better chops: Elvis Costello, The Pretenders, The Police, The Cars, Blondie – and even Tom Petty was shoved into the New Wave slot for his early albums (QED). On Saturday nights in South Jersey, I used to tune to the car radio to 91.3 FM WTSR, the College of New Jersey radio station, which when atmospheric conditions were right, could be heard pumping out these and more obscure artists, little knowing it would be my future alma mater.

So no wonder disco, with its constant four-on-the-floor drumming, limited dynamics, and ultra-slick production seemed like “plastic soul,” to coin a phrase, considering how vibrant rock was, before it eventually garnered a plastic sheen all its own:

However, as I said last year when I wrote a lengthy review titled, “Turn the Beat Around: A Reformed Disco Hater Looks Back at Whit Stillman’s The Last Days of Disco,” had I known what was coming for black music – the non-melodic dead-end of rap music – I would never been as dismissive about disco.

But then arguably, rock would exhaust itself by the end of the 1980s. You could probably make a case that both genres ended on similar notes: Disco was the last gasp of the pop-oriented R&B professionalism of Motown; the hair metal of the following decade was the last gasp of the genre of hard rock invented by Cream, Jimi Hendrix, the Yardbirds, and Led Zeppelin. Rap would replace disco, death metal would replace its more melodic predecessor, and both would quickly hit brick walls.

Today, as Mark Steyn recently noted, “A performance of the Village People’s disco classic “YMCA” by the Bennett Elementary School First Grade class has been canceled because …oh, go on, guess.”

“Wrong, it’s racist,” Mark added. A class of Fargo first graders can’t perform the song, not because of its camp gay single entendres, but because one of the kids’ mothers “said asking her daughter and her classmates to dress up like an Indian is offensive.”

However weird the 1970s were – and believe me, they were plenty weird – at least political correctness wasn’t yet an issue. These days, in sharp contrast, as the headline on Mark’s post notes, “Young Man, There’s Any Number of Needs to Feel Down.”  (And don’t let anybody hear you sing another disco-era hit, “Kung Fu Fighting,” whilst hitting the bars on the Isle of Wight, either.)

In other words, come back Deny Terrio – all is forgiven!

“Puritanism: The haunting fear that someone, somewhere, may be happy.”
– H.L. Mencken.

At Reuters, film critic and journalist Neal Gabler is unhappy with entertainment of a different sort, dubbing the NFL the “Last sports bastion of white, male conservatives”:

But football’s appeal is more than demographics. The numbers reflect the values of white conservative males. No professional sport looks more overtly macho than the NFL, and none appears to take greater delight in violence — not even the National Hockey League, which has gone to great lengths to curb fisticuffs. The Michael Sam draft story revealed that none may be more homophobic. Where the National Basketball Association enthusiastically embraced Jason Collins when he announced he was gay, former Vikings punter Chris Kluwe has claimed that that he was released for advocating gay marriage and that his position coach made homophobic slurs. Then are the numerous player tweets against gays, as well as Miami Dolphin lineman and team captain Richie Incognito’s gay taunts against former teammate Jonathan Martin.

But the league’s appeal to entrenched conservative values goes deeper still — to the heart of the relationship between labor and capital. No other professional league seems to exhibit the indifference, even contempt, to its own players that the NFL does to its athletes — which is why the former players have filed their suit. The record of concussions and the use of painkillers demonstrate that to the NFL — and many of its fans — players are essentially expendable, interchangeable, to be used up and then discarded. The fact that football players have never established a powerful union, as baseball and basketball players have, only shows how much those players have drunk the league’s Kool Aid. The career of the average NFL player lasts scarcely three years, yet it is the only professional league that doesn’t have guaranteed contracts.

Still, the game’s soaring popularity may actually signal the potential waning of those values rather than their power. Just as baseball embedded itself into the national psyche because it captured a sense of the country and then hung on because it represented a pastoral oasis in a frightening new industrializing world, football embedded itself into the national psyche because it captured Ronald Reagan’s America, and it may be thriving among its core fans because it is a last redoubt of white male values now being threatened by changing national demographics and a more tolerant mindset.

It is hard to call a league as popular as the NFL an anachronism. But it just may be a place where rich old angry white men can enjoy their world on Sunday — even if that world may be crumbling around them.

Gosh.

There’s really only one thing to do — and it must be done now: “I agree, shut the whole thing down,” Glenn Reynolds jokingly quips, adding that the NBA should be shut down as well, to comply with MSNBC’s Melissa Harris-Perry’s recent take that a professional sports league that routinely hands out seven and eight figure contracts to African Americans is a modern form of slavery.

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The ‘You Didn’t Do That’ Society

June 2nd, 2014 - 12:11 pm

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“Elliot Rodger was not a social problem. He was not a gun culture. He was not a national anything. He was an individual and individuals bear responsibility for their own actions,” Daniel Greenfield writes in his latest essay at his Sultan Knish blog:

The “You didn’t build that” society is also the “You didn’t do that” society. The flip side of Elizabeth Warren and Barack Obama’s collectivist rhetoric is that just as no one invents the airplane, creates a company or writes the Great American Novel on their own, no one kills six people on their own. If you killed six people, it’s because of the Second Amendment. If you wanted to kill sorority girls, it’s because of Seth Rogen movies. If you’re a half-Asian who beat and stabbed your Asian roommates to death, it’s because of white (or half-white) supremacism.

No one does anything good or bad on their own. The good that men do gets taxed away for the purported benefit of society and the evil that they do is blamed on society.

In a collectivist system, everyone is responsible for everything collectively and not responsible for anything individually. Everyone but the killer is responsible for his shooting spree. And that means no one is responsible. The problem is tackled with public awareness hashtags and legislation that hurts millions of people who didn’t do anything wrong.

America’s gun owners, like its machete and hammer owners, did not kill anyone. Every day the vast majority of gun owners somehow manage to get through the day without a killing spree. Their tools don’t have minds of their own. The gun culture that liberals talk about does not sneak in through their windows at night and urge them to shoot up the neighborhood.

Elliot Rodger did not kill because he had guns. He bought guns because he wanted to kill. And he wasn’t very good at it, wounding more people than he killed. Like many on the left he believed that guns would make him invincible. They didn’t. And it was the same good guys with guns the left sneers at who put a stop to his killing spree.

Meanwhile at NRO, Kathryn Jean Lopez describes Rodger as a victim of “Toxic ‘Loserdom:’”

In the writings he left behind, Rodger pointed to his parents’ divorce and his first viewing of pornography as perversely formative. “I was shocked beyond words,” he recalled about viewing pornographic images at age eleven. “[T]he sight filled me with strong and overwhelming emotions . . . I was traumatized. My childhood was fading away. Ominous fear swept over me. . . . Indeed, a whole new world had opened up before me, and I had no idea how to prevail in it.” About another incident, he said: “I walked home and cried by myself for a bit. I felt too guilty about what I saw to talk to my parents about it.”

Like most of us, he wanted something more. He wanted something good. A car, games, medicine didn’t help him. In a culture that doesn’t value men as protectors and fathers, all there really was to hope for was sex; this was his only idea of any semblance of pursuing happiness. “This makes perfect sense, because deep in even the most deluded and anesthetized heart, we cannot fail to know that sex is meant to connect us to an Other,” says Ed Mechmann, director of the Safe Environment Office at the Archdiocese of New York. When he couldn’t get what he wanted, there was an “existential anger” about him, “not just against his situation but even against who and what he is,” Mechmann comments. “And so he tried to destroy all that reminded him of the hurt he couldn’t get rid of or make sense of.”

There is a familiarity to this, another “lone shooter” story “which should trouble our consciences and give us pause,” says Hilary Towers, a developmental psychologist. “Our children are growing up in a split-personality culture. We tell them to be ‘good, kind people,’ but they see the adults in their lives — on TV, in movies, on their computers, in their own families — using and discarding people, moving seamlessly in and out of marriages and sexual relationships.”

This is the “throwaway culture” Pope Francis talks about. Why are boys and girls right now sitting in their bedrooms with computers their parents gave them looking at porn or sexting selfies to classmates and strangers? Because they “are searching desperately for intimacy — to learn about real-life relationships through and within their families,” Towers says. “They look to our example to affirm that real, lasting love is possible — that our worth as humans lies not in the quality and variety of our sex lives, but in our status as sons and daughters of a God who loves us unconditionally.”

As Charles Murray brilliantly put it, the left cannot preach what it practices — and thus instead of a normal childhood, “A family friend said Rodger had been seeing a therapist since the age of eight. Apparently he had visited a therapist ‘virtually every day’ during his high school years. By the time of the massacre and suicide at the University of Santa Barbara over the weekend, when he was 22, Rodger reportedly had ‘multiple therapists,’” Brendan O’Neill noted last week at Reason, as the worldview promulgated during the Me Decade implodes upon itself.

A Clockwork Killer

May 29th, 2014 - 2:26 pm

Two interesting theories about Elliot Rodger’s heinous last act are making the rounds on the starboard side of the Blogophere this week. First up, at Reason, Brendan O’Neill asks, “Could Therapy Culture Help Explain Elliot Rodger’s Rampage?”

Watch Rodger’s video. The most alarming thing is how cool and well-spoken he is. This is a man used to talking about himself, following years of practice in therapy sessions. Clearly having decided to have a love affair with himself, Rodger terrifyingly declares: “I am the closest thing there is to a living god… Magnificent, glorious, supreme, eminent, divine!”

This isn’t a religious thing. There’s no evidence that Rodger thought he was a messiah, as other nutjobs have. Rather, it’s a therapeutic thing. Therapy culture has created a new army of little gods made fearsomely angry by any perceived insult against their self-esteem. It has generated groups of people who, like something out of the Old Testament, think nothing of squishing things that offend them or hurt their sense of self-worth. It has made a whole new anti-social generation whose desire to protect themselves from emotional harm overrides the older human instinct to engage with other people and be tolerant of their differences. When Rodger says “I am a living god,” he is speaking, not from any kind of wacky religious script, but from the mainstream bible of therapy. The cult of therapy convinces individuals they are gods and that their self-esteem is a gospel that must not be blasphemed against. As the New York Times columnist David Brooks once said of a therapeutic self-help guide to life, death, and life after death, “In this heaven, God and his glory are not the center of attention. It’s all about you.” The self has elbowed aside God; the self is God, as Rodger seems to have realised.

“Perhaps we should see Rodger as a kind of therapeutic terrorist, using murder to gain recognition; his rampage can be seen as a very violent therapy session, a real primal scream in defense of his sacred self-esteem,” O’Neill writes.

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