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Walter Hudson

Walter Hudson advocates for individual rights, serving on the board of the Republican Liberty Caucus of Minnesota, and as president of the Minority Liberty Alliance. He hosts a daily podcast entitled Fightin Words, proudly hosted on Twin Cities Newstalk Podcast Network. Walter is a city council member in Albertville, MN. Follow his work via Twitter and Facebook.
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Mitt Romney as Mitt Romney in New Colbert Spot

Monday, August 3rd, 2015 - by Walter Hudson

Stephen Colbert will be taking over the Late Show for CBS in September after the retirement of David Letterman. Promotion has begun in earnest with an already active YouTube channel and some new television spots.

One features former Republican presidential candidate Mitt Romney. Colbert tells us he expects to interview all kinds of public figures, including politicians. Confronted by Mitt Romney, he offers a compliment. “Wow, you do a great Mitt Romney.”

“I am Mitt Romney.”

“That’s it,” Colbert encourages him. “Stay in character.”

The spot ends with another joke tagged on the end. Something about pancakes. Probably should have quit while they were ahead.

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Cecil the Lion: Idol for a Child-Killing Culture

Friday, July 31st, 2015 - by Walter Hudson

We’re better than the people who came before us. That’s the built-in claim embraced by the evolutionary paradigm. We’re more evolved. We’re more developed. We’re more sophisticated. We’re smarter and more capable. We would never suffer atrocities like slavery or human sacrifice. Such horrors are relics of the past, or at least tucked away in the darkest corners of the third world.

The formal term for such assumptions is “the historian’s fallacy,” defined as “when one assumes that decision makers of the past viewed events from the same perspective and having the same information as those subsequently analyzing the decision.” The worst application of the historian’s fallacy occurs when people judge the actions of God recorded in the Old Testament.

Commonly, whenever a debate regarding religion lasts beyond a certain point, someone will point to the violence commanded by the biblical God. He sent the Israelites to wipe out entire nations. How could such a God be good?

The question is asked from a presumption about the circumstances. These nations whom God wished destroyed were upright, peaceful people, we’re to assume. They minded their own business until this vicious Old Testament God came along and unjustly destroyed them.

In truth, however, the nations which God used the Israelites to destroy were the Nazis of their day. The Canaanites were a vile culture that threw their own children into pits of fire as sacrifice to nature and fertility gods, such as Baal or Moloch. They were irredeemable. Their destruction was essential to the survival of God’s people, not just physically, but culturally. If the influence of these heathens survived (as it did due to Israelite disobedience), then it would corrupt the Israelite culture (as it did, again due to Israelite disobedience).

Fast-forward to today. We’re so much better than the Canaanites, right? We don’t cast our children into pits of fire as sacrifice to pagan gods. Right? Consider some evidence on the next page…

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What’s Driving the Outrage Over Cecil the Lion?

Thursday, July 30th, 2015 - by Walter Hudson

Federal regulators are now saying they will investigate the shooting of Cecil the Lion in Zimbabwe. From the gravity of the rhetoric, you’d think they were responding to a political assassination.

Many observers have noted the vast disparity in concern over Cecil’s death as opposed to concern over issues of human rights. Perhaps the most obvious comparison is the ongoing controversy over Planned Parenthood selling baby parts for profit.

It’s hard to believe that all this outrage is really about Cecil the Lion. Emotional responses emerge from preconceived values which make up our worldview. What kind of worldview leads one to rend their robes over the shooting of a lion?

It’s one thing to express some concern and support legal repercussions for poaching, if the hunt was indeed illegal. It’s quite another to take the time to picket the hunter’s business office, litter the premises with signs and stuffed animals, and — in some cases — level death threats. What kind of worldview gets someone that worked up?

A superficial look at the situation reveals much. Walter Palmer, the accused hunter, is a wealthy heterosexual white male who utilizes the fruit of his labor to exert dominance over nature — with guns. In that way, he is the personification of everything the so-called progressive movement hates. The revelation that he took a beloved lion from Zimbabwe provides a pretext for destroying him, which is the literal goal of many protestors.

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The Benghazi Movie 13 Hours Looks Incredible

Thursday, July 30th, 2015 - by Walter Hudson

A theatrical depiction of the September 11th attack in Benghazi will land in January. The month doesn’t typically see a lot of competition, which contributed to the commercial success of American Sniper.

Watching the trailer, it’s hard to believe this is helmed by Michael Bay. The Transfomers director appears to have muted his trademark bombastic style, toning it down to pay reverence to the true events drwan from.

13 Hours: The Secret Solders of Benghazi may reinvigorate a national conversation about our government’s handling of the attack. Opining on the trailer, the crew over at Collider Movie Talk confessed to not knowing much about Benghazi. After seeing the trailer, they’re interested. That may be the experience of many who weren’t plugged into the news coverage but pay attention to pop culture.

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Transparent Creator Calls Male Stories ‘Immoral’

Wednesday, July 29th, 2015 - by Walter Hudson

Transparent, a drama featuring a transgender father who comes out to his family, can be seen exclusively on Amazon Instant Video. The show has attracted acclaim for pushing the LGBT social agenda. Its creator, Jill Soloway, recently told Variety that Hollywood needs to become more diverse. Her rhetoric was pointed:

“I think, as the ACLU is investigating the illegality of keeping women from directing positions, male creators, showrunners, producers and directors have to really face the immorality, their own immorality, of hiring their friends, of telling male stories, of perpetuating male privilege through protagonism,” said Soloway, clad in electric pink as an extra show of feminism. “So that means the male gaze — men as subject, women as object — is business as usual for men to be able to keep telling their stories from their point of view. … (They need to) really offer women the chance to write, to direct, and then to empower them once they are writing and directing, and say, ‘tell your story, tell your story!’”

Soloway’s comments emerge from a broader rejection of free association. The concept of “privilege” references the natural human tendency to act in service of chosen values. Of course you’re going to favor your friends and family over complete strangers. Why wouldn’t you? Of course a storyteller is going to tell stories which she relates to.

In truth, no moral obligation exists to provide women with greater opportunity in Hollywood. Indeed, suggesting otherwise cheapens the accomplishments of someone like Amy Schumer. Does Soloway really want the commercial success of Schumer’s new film Trainwreck to go down in history with an asterisk? Would she truly prefer that Schumer be credited, not as a meritorious talent, but as the fulfillment of a quota?

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Conan O’Brien Sued for Stealing Jokes from Blogger

Tuesday, July 28th, 2015 - by Walter Hudson

Late night television host Conan O’Brien finds himself on the wrong end of a lawsuit, targeted by a blogger for alleged copyright violations. From The Hollywood Reporter:

According to a complaint filed on July 22 in California federal court by Robert Kaseberg, the [four allegedly stolen] jokes were posted on a personal blog and on Twitter before making it into O’Brien’s late night show monologue.

Kaseberg says he published the first joke in January 14, writing, “A Delta flight this week took off from Cleveland to New York with just two passengers. And they fought over control of the armrest the entire flight.”

That same day, O’Brien made a similar joke on his show.

Chances are, even if the jokes were appropriated, O’Brien was not personally involved. A whole team of writers come up with such shows’ schtick each day. The pressure to develop new material could conceivably drive some to “research” ideas on the internet.

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P.C. Police Go After Mel Brooks’ The Producers

Monday, July 27th, 2015 - by Walter Hudson

The murder of nine black people in a South Carolina church by a man who flaunted the Confederate battle flag spawned a campaign against Confederate symbolism and historical monuments. Now, the recent mass shooting at a Louisiana movie theater by a man who liked Hitler has prompted a campaign against Nazi symbolism, even when used as satire. From the Washingtonian:

Olney Theatre’s production of Mel Brooks’s 2001 musical The Producers only has three more performances, but it’s not going to close without a bit of manufactured controversy. Audience members at Montgomery County playhouse are going to have to walk past a small coterie protesting the show’s play-within-the-play, because, the demonstrators say, it makes light of Adolf Hitler and the atrocities committed by Nazi Germany.

“I understand the intent is satire,” says Jeffrey Imm, who is organizing the demonstration through his anti-discrimination group, Responsible for Equality And Liberty. “This is the point of morality: some things we have to recognize as absolute evil. When 6 million people are murdered, we don’t view it with knee-slapping, we view it with reverence.”

Imm went on to declare, “We cannot laugh about that.” The irony of protesting fascism with a blanket declaration of what can’t be laughed at appears to be lost on Mr. Imm.

The intent behind The Producers can be easily discerned, if not from the material itself, then from the man who wrote it. Mel Brook’s is a Jew. So there’s that. Were that somehow not enough, Brooks has been explicit regarding his feelings toward Hitler, the Nazis, and the Holocaust. Spoiler alert: he’s against them.

This protest points to a larger crisis of intellect in modern society. We’re losing the capacity to combat bad ideas with humor and mockery. Apparently, you can’t make fun of a thing without being accused of endorsing it. Amy Schumer’s a racist because she makes fun of racism. Mel Brooks is a Nazi because he mocked Nazism. God forbid this Imm see Blazing Saddles.

H/T Steven Crowder

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Get Government Out of Marriage: How Would It Work?

Friday, July 24th, 2015 - by Walter Hudson

Now that the Supreme Court has ruled that states must issue marriage licenses to gay couples, the notion of “privatizing marriage” or “getting government out of marriage” has gained popularity. But how would that actually work?

Writing for The Week, author Shikha Dalmia suggests that “privatizing marriage would be a disaster“:

At the most basic level, even if we can get government out of the business of issuing marriage licenses, it still has to register these partnerships (and/or authorize the entities that perform them) before these unions can have any legal validity, just as it registers property and issues titles and deeds. Therefore, government would need to set rules and regulations as to what counts as a legitimate marriage “deed.” It won’t — and can’t — simply accept any marriage performed in any church — or any domestic partnership written by anyone.

Why not? Why can’t government accept any contract entered into by consenting adults? Further, why would government necessarily need to “authorize the entities that perform” ceremonies coinciding with such contracts?

Dalmia operates from the presumption that there is something unique to marriage which requires it to be treated differently than any other type of human relationship. But no rationale is offered giving that presumption substance.

She continues:

Suppose that Osho, the Rolls Royce guru who encouraged free sex before getting chased out of Oregon, performed a group wedding uniting 19 people. Would that be acceptable? How about a church wedding — or a civil union — between a consenting mother and her adult son? And so on — there are innumerable outlandish examples that make it plain that government would have to at least set the outside parameters of marriage, even if it wasn’t directly sanctioning them.

This is interesting coming from an apparent gay marriage proponent. How can you in one breath insist that government allow “the freedom to marry” for gay couples, and in the next breath insist that government “set the outside parameters of marriage”? If government holds some compelling interest in defining marriage, then the gay marriage argument loses its core merit.

Dalmia doesn’t appear to understand what separates government from private entities. She paints a picture of marriage privatization where couples are somehow enslaved to community norms:

… true privatization would require more than just getting the government out of the marriage licensing and registration business. It would mean giving communities the authority to write their own marriage rules and enforce them on couples. This would mean letting Mormon marriages be governed by the Church of the Latter Day Saints codebook, Muslims by Koranic sharia, Hassids by the Old Testament, and gays by their own church or non-religious equivalent. Inter-faith couples could choose one of their communities — but only if it allowed interfaith marriages.

From where would this supposed “authority” arise? How would relegating civil marriage to a contract between individuals place you, me, or anyone under the “authority” of a religious institution?

Next: Government’s proper role in marriage…

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Drag Queens Not Welcome at This Pride Parade

Thursday, July 23rd, 2015 - by Walter Hudson

Try to unwind the political correctness in this headline — “Pride Parade Bans Drag Queens Because They Offend Transgendered.” It’s the kind of thing that prompts you to fold up the paper, fling it into the trash, and condemn society as irrevocably lost.

A group of — honestly, I don’t know how I’m supposed to describe them — some people who put on a gay pride parade in Scotland decided to not allow “cis” drag queens because some transsexuals feel it makes a mockery of their gender identity. “Cis,” if you didn’t know, means non-transgendered. Think of it as short for “normal.”

The organization that came up with this, Free Pride Glasgow, was formed as “an ‘anti-commercialist’ alternative to the main Pride Glasgow event.” That gives you an idea of how seriously these people take themselves.

Honestly, I give up. I can’t follow this shell game anymore. If anybody needs me, I’ll be on Xbox.

Caitlyn Jenner and the Respect That Trans Deserve

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Xena Rumored to Return to Television

Wednesday, July 22nd, 2015 - by Walter Hudson

Rumors suggest early development of a Xena: Warrior Princess reboot at NBC Universal. In an era where old franchises like Jurassic Park and Star Wars are returning to the big screen, television is poised to deliver its own set of reworked classics. Variety reports:

Also at NBC are the “Coach” sequel and “Heroes Reborn,” which bows this fall. Other shows coming back to the smallscreen are “The X-Files” on Fox, Showtime’s “Twin Peaks” and Netflix’s “Fuller House.”

Nostalgia sells, it would seem.

The Xena reboot would reportedly recast the title role:

The “modern reboot,” first reported by the Hollywood Reporter, may bring back [original actress Lucy] Lawless, though those involved with the series reportedly would like for her to have roles both in front of and behind the camera. However, she would not appear in her original role.

For her part, Lawless denies the rumor.

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Mom Arrested for ‘Abandonment’ of Kids 30 Feet Away

Wednesday, July 22nd, 2015 - by Walter Hudson

Apparently, my parents were criminals. Yours probably were too. In my day, I would hop on my bike (without a helmet) and ride off into the neighborhood with no guidance beyond “be home when the street lights come on.”

Fast-forward 25 years. A mom in Houston was arrested last week after taking her two young children to a mall food court where she interviewed for a job. KHOU reports:

Browder sat her children down inside the food court near a McDonald’s and went to her interview, she said. The interview wasn’t for a job at the mall, but the food court was a meeting ground for each party.

Browder said she wasn’t more than 30 feet away from her children at any point and they were always in her line of sight. After Browder returned to her children, a police officer was on scene and arrested her.

The charge was “child abandonment.” How can you abandon your children when they remain in sight?

If this lady deserves to be arrested, I guess all my neighbors do too. Their children play in the street without any supervision at all, another thing I used to do when I was young. We’re all criminals now.

More: 

You Can’t Tell Me How I’m ‘Allowed’ to Raise My Child

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Bill Cosby: Separating the Message from the Man

Tuesday, July 21st, 2015 - by Walter Hudson

Television columnist Brian Lowry has a great piece over at Variety articulating the complicated emotional response fans of Bill Cosby are having to “snowballing” accusations of sexual assault. He writes:

Beyond working clean, Cosby tapped into these universal themes in a way that almost literally guided young men from seeing through the lens of a child to early (and eventually, older) adulthood. His transition to television, moreover, yielded a historic breakthrough with his three consecutive Emmy wins, the first for an African-American lead actor, for the 1960s series “I Spy.” If “The Cosby Show” broke across lines of race in spectacular fashion two decades later, Cosby’s ability to do that as a performer had long been established on stage, screen and vinyl.

Stripped of any context, the comedy routines still hold up, but there’s no way now to separate them from their author. As new details emerge from his extended deposition, the charges of hypocrisy alone would be damning – given his Jell-O-pitching image and lectures about personal responsibility – even without the alleged criminality, rendered moot only by the statute of limitations…

In theory, it should be possible to separate who people are from what they do – but not unconditionally, especially when victims are involved. What those who once embraced Bill Cosby’s work should be allowed is grief – not for him, but for themselves, since they have experienced a kind of loss.

The Cosby scandal reveals a truth about humanity which proves uncomfortable for many of us. While it may be tempting to believe that good people do bad things, the truth is that bad people do good things.

Cosby presents a particularly stunning example. However, none of us live up to the principles we espouse, and we should not abandon principles on account of flawed spokesmen.

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Here’s Why You Should Be Watching Amy Schumer

Monday, July 20th, 2015 - by Walter Hudson

Amy Schumer’s debut film Trainwreck opened in theaters this past Friday. As the weekend drew to a close, Variety made the bold declaration that Schumer has catapulted onto “Hollywood’s A-list:”

“This is the birth of a new film star,” said Phil Contrino, vice president and chief analyst at BoxOffice.com. “She’s going to get tons of offers. This puts her in the same realm as Melissa McCarthy and Kristen Wiig.”

The film exceeded box office expectations, pulling in $30.2 million. Roughly one-quarter of moviegoers cited Schumer as their reason for buying a ticket.

My wife and I went to see the film on Friday. As the raunch dialed up, we noted an older couple leave the theater.

It’s easy to understand why some people dislike Schumer’s brand of comedy. On the surface, she comes across as a flighty and hedonistic… well… slut.

It takes some time with her to realize that’s just an act. Had that older couple remained, they would have seen that Trainwreck actually argues against the vices which Schumer plays for laughs. It ultimately presents a strong argument for the emptiness of promiscuity and the value in approaching relationships with grace and a predisposition toward forgiveness.

Schumer’s sketch comedy show Inside Amy Schumer also hints at her substance. Anyone who writes satire based on 12 Angry Men or Schindler’s List requires a minimal level of intellect and insight, especially to make it work as well as it does.

If you haven’t checked out Inside Amy Schumer or Trainwreck, give it a chance. You may find her an acquired taste.

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After Ten Years of Marriage: An Open Letter to My Younger Self

Friday, July 17th, 2015 - by Walter Hudson

Dear 2005 Walter,

This is your 2015 self, transmitting back ten years from the day you take your vows and wed Carrie.

I know exactly what you’re thinking. I know what questions and doubts tug at the fringes of your mind. I know what self-assurances counteract those doubts. I know, because I was there.

While I don’t want to give away too many spoilers regarding the decade before you, I would like to share some words of encouragement which will come in handy throughout the years to come.

First, here’s the bad news. Right now, you think that today won’t change anything. You think that shacking up with Carrie these past few years has been essentially no different than being married. You think that, once all the pomp and circumstance has subsided, the two of you will settle back into your comfortable routines as if nothing of significance has happened. You are wrong.

Sure, in the short term, there will be little circumstantial difference between your day-to-day last week and your day-to-day after the honeymoon. But outward circumstance isn’t the first or most important thing that changes.

Up until now, whether you’ve been keen to acknowledge it or not, there has always been an escape hatch in your relationship. You haven’t wanted to go. You’ve never even entertained the possibility. That surety is a big part of why you are wearing a tux today. However, after today, you will become keenly aware that the escape hatch has shut. The finality of it, the permanence, will begin to loom on the horizon of your consciousness.

The effect will be an enhancement of your annoyance. Things which didn’t bother you before, or at least didn’t bother you enough to warrant reaction, will suddenly bother you a lot. In the back of your mind, you will know that you can’t get away. Before, there was an option. You didn’t seriously consider that option. But it was there. It’s being there provided some distant comfort. Everything was chosen, and you renewed your consent each day. But from now on, the choice will have been made once and for all, and you have to deal with it or break a sacred vow.

That’s not even the bad news. That’s just the prologue to the bad news. Here’s the actual bad news.

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Urban Chicken Coops: Should They Be Banned?

Thursday, July 16th, 2015 - by Walter Hudson

As a newly elected city council member, one thing that has stood out during my first months in office has been the inherent nosiness of municipal politics. When someone comes before us or one of our committees with a project they would like to pursue, the questions they face aren’t always germane. Too often, a chief consideration seems to be whether people like whatever is being proposed.

“Does this fit with the character and nature of the neighborhood?” That’s a nice way of asking whether the neighbors will like it. My question has always been, why does the neighbor’s opinion matter?

An example of an issue which may come before our council in the near future is urban chicken coops. Our city of Albertville lays on the outskirts of the Twin Cities metro area in Minnesota. It’s a bedroom community surrounded by agricultural land, but close enough to “town” to be considered suburban. Our neighboring city of St. Michael will reportedly be asked to consider allowing chicken coops on residential lots. We may be next on the list. A local paper, North Wright County Today, opines:

“Well, I don’t want to be woken up at 5 a.m. sunrise by my neighbor’s backyard chicken,” you might say.

Well, don’t worry. Most ordinances already on the books – including those in Otsego and Minneapolis, for example – do not allow roosters. Only hens. And the most you’ll hear out of a hen is a startled cluck when your neighbor’s reaching in for the four eggs needed for his morning omelet.

“What about the smell from the chicken poo? Won’t that get bad?”

Probably not. The coops do need to be cleaned out, but local chicken owners can get a lot of help with some sawdust and a shovel. The rest is up to said chicken coop owner.

The principle I bring to bear in this and all issues is individual rights. To the extent we restrict any activity, whether the posting of signs, the playing of music, or the owning of chickens, we should do so only when it presents a clear violation of a neighbor’s right.

The difficulty comes in setting objective criteria by which to judge when a right would be violated. Am I entitled to live without certain sights and smells? Should my desire to not see or smell chickens overrule my neighbor’s desire to raise them? Either way, someone’s not going to get what they want.

Generally speaking, in my role on council, I favor the right of people to use their own property above neighbor’s objections to that use. A restriction should be based on a uniformly predictable scenario where a particular use will result in a quantifiable harm to others. “I don’t like that” doesn’t qualify as being harmed in my book.

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Caitlyn Jenner’s ESPY Speech and the Respect That Trans People Deserve

Thursday, July 16th, 2015 - by Walter Hudson

Caitlyn Jenner, formerly Bruce, accepted the Arthur Ashe Courage Award during Wednesday’s ESPY Awards. Variety notes it was her “first formal award… since announcing her transition [from man to woman].”

In her acceptance speech, Jenner called upon society to treat transgendered people with respect. From Variety:

“Trans people deserve something vital,” she said. “They deserve your respect. And from that respect, comes a more compassionate community, a more empathetic society and a better world for all of us.”

“If you want to call me names, make jokes, doubt my intentions, go ahead. I can take it. But for the thousands of kids coming to terms with who they are, they shouldn’t have to take it.”

Jenner’s call for respect should be heeded to the extent that all human beings deserve to be treated with a certain level of dignity. Calling people names and making jokes at their expense is generally disrespectful regardless of their status.

“They’re getting bullied,” Jenner said of trans youth. “They’re getting beaten up. They’re getting murdered. And they’re committing suicide.”

No one should get bullied. No one should get beat up. No one should get murdered. These aren’t statements exclusive to transgendered people. Few rotten souls object to the notion that transgendered people should have their individual rights recognized.

However, a crucial distinction should be made between the respect that all people are due and an expectation of acceptance and approval. Jenner expounded:

“With attention, comes responsibility. As a group, as athletes, how you conduct your lives, what you say, what you do, is absorbed and observed by millions of people, especially young people,” she told the room. “I know I’m clear with my responsibility.”

She went on to tout a simple goal: “Accepting people for who they are.”

Respect and acceptance are neither mutually exclusive nor tied at the hip. I can respect someone and uphold their rights without approving of them or what they represent.

Through the ongoing LGBT movement in our culture, this distinction continues to be clouded or disregarded. We’re expected to accept and approve of alternative lifestyles. If we don’t, then we’re somehow disrespectful.

Of course, that’s a two-way street. If it’s disrespectful for a Christian to disapprove of homosexuality, then it’s likewise disrespectful for a homosexual to disapprove of Christianity. That is if we have any real interest in fairness and equity.

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Amanda Seyfried Claims She’s Underpaid for Films

Wednesday, July 15th, 2015 - by Walter Hudson

In an interview with the Sunday Times, actress Amanda Seyfried took aim at so-called wage inequality between men and women. By way of example, she cited her own experience. Variety reports:

“A few years ago, on one of my big-budget films, I found I was being paid 10% of what my male co-star was getting, and we were pretty even in status,” the actress told the newspaper. “I think people think that just because I’m easy-going and game to do things I’ll just take as little as they offer… It’s not about how much you get, it’s about how fair it is.”

In any given market transaction, each party always offers as little as possible. If you want more, you say no. Pretty simple. Perhaps, if Seyfried wants to be paid more, she should communicate that she’s less “game to do things.”

As Variety goes on to demonstrate, Seyfried’s claim that women are specifically underpaid doesn’t mesh with reality:

More recently, the flip-side of wage inequality was brought to the fore this past weekend during San Diego Comic-Con when it was reported that Jennifer Lawrence would make $20 million in her upcoming flick “Passengers,” while her co-star Chris Pratt will make much less.

Such disparities in actor pay are normal. Certain stars command more compensation than others for a variety of reasons. To re-purpose Seyfried’s sentiment, it’s not about how much you get, it’s about how much you’re worth.

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Cop Teaches Peers to Deal with Autistic Suspects

Tuesday, July 14th, 2015 - by Walter Hudson

As a father to a son on the autism spectrum, I learned early on that traditional forms of discipline don’t always have the desired effect. A child with autism does not respond in expected ways. The ways in which they do respond can seem like defiant tantrums.

When the confrontation takes place between parent and child or teacher and child, that’s one thing. When the confrontation takes place between the child and law enforcement, things can get dangerous very quickly.

St. Paul police officer Rob Zink understands that. As the father of two sons on the spectrum, Zink has worked to bring awareness of autism and its behavioral manifestations to his fellow law enforcement officers. He has formed the Cop Autism Response Education (CARE) Project to advance the cause. From the Minneapolis Star Tribune:

“I understand them,” Zink said. “A regular cop is not going to understand it when someone on the spectrum doesn’t do what they are told. Lights, sirens, yelling — those things can make them go into panic mode.”

Cmdr. John Bandemer, the head of patrol for the Western District where Zink works, said it can be hard for officers to tell the difference between someone with autism and someone who just doesn’t want to do what police are telling them to do. Zink’s efforts might keep incidents from escalating, Bandemer said. There now is talk in the St. Paul Police Department about including training for autism calls with other mental health training efforts.

Such training could save lives. Officers are typically trained to meet apparent threats with escalating force. The problem with folks on the autism spectrum is that they respond to escalation with escalation. That leads in a dangerous direction. Officers who learn to recognize autistic behavior may be able to deescalate situations by employing alternative methods.

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Latest Batman v Superman Trailer Promises Big

Monday, July 13th, 2015 - by Walter Hudson

The last week saw this year’s annual San Diego Comic Con, typically a huge event for the unveiling of movie news. There, Warner Bros. dropped a new trailer for Batman v Superman: Dawn of Justice. Zack Synder, who previously helmed Man of Steel, returns to direct this follow-up.

Trailers don’t always present an accurate portrayal of the final film. That said, if this one does, we’re in for a far superior experience than Synder gave us his first time out.

One criticism of Man of Steel focused on its exhaustive action in the third act. Lots of buildings blew up and fell over, but we never saw the personal impact of that devastation.

Batman v Superman appears to fill those emotional gaps. It turns out that Ben Affleck’s Bruce Wayne was present in Metropolis on the day Superman’s fight with Zod destroyed a significant portion of the city. Among the buildings demolished was one owned by Wayne and staffed by people he considered family. Wayne’s experience gives weight to what was in Man of Steel little more than popcorn entertainment.

The new film seems poised to run with the themes only hinted at previously, particularly Pa Kent’s apprehension at how the world would react to an alien among us. Indeed, if Holly Hunter’s senator and Jesse Eisenberg’s Lex Luthor are any indication, there are plenty of people displeased with the Man of Steel.

Other imagery in the trailer suggests that we will get a glimpse of the Joker, at least a reference if not in the flesh. It appears as though the clown is aware of the Dark Knight’s true identity and actively trolling him.

Another cool bit, Synder appears to be borrowing liberally from the “Injustice: Gods Among Us” storyline where a rogue Superman raises an army and ascends to global dictatorship. While that turn of events seems unlikely in this film, the visual comparisons are undeniable. Just look at those soldiers with Superman’s emblem sewn on their shoulders. Perhaps they are some kind of misguided militants acting in his name. Perhaps Lex Luthor is working to undermine Superman’s public image. Either way, that scene with Batman taking on a squad of these super-troopers looks unlike anything we’ve seen before.

We won’t have to wait too long. Batman v Superman: Dawn of Justice hits theaters on March 25th next year.

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Are You Ready for a Christian Streaming Service?

Friday, July 10th, 2015 - by Walter Hudson

If the name Pure Flix rings a bell, it may be in connection with the Christian production company’s standout commercial hit God Is Not Dead. They also have a film in theaters right now, Faith of Our Fathers.

Pure Flix has recently jumped into the streaming entertainment space, creating a Netflix-style service featuring “faith and family movies, TV shows, and educational programs.” They charge $7.99 per month, which is the same that Netflix charges for their streaming service.

Of course, with Netflix, you’re getting a significantly larger library of titles with presumably higher production values. So why would you want to pay for this other service on top of it?

No doubt, a market exists for programming that has been pre-screened to meet religious standards. Perhaps, if this catches on and takes off, the success might motivate higher-quality Christian productions in the same way Netflix’s success has fostered original programming.

Hmm. What would a Christian “House of Cards” look like?

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Should We Tear Down the Pyramids?

Thursday, July 9th, 2015 - by Walter Hudson

pyramids

The above photo comes courtesy of Chicks on the Right, who posted it to social media. Extrapolating from the ongoing controversy over Confederate symbolism in the wake of nine racially motivated murders in a South Carolina church, the meme asks when we will tear down the slave-built Egyptian pyramids.

It would be interesting to hear from opponents of Confederate symbolism on this comparison. Is it possible for a thing to retain some cultural value despite its association with atrocity?

Should we clear out the Holocaust Museum in Washington, D.C., and destroy its contents? There’s all sorts of references to the Nazis in there. Surely those have triggered someone.

Image via Shutterstock

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Jared the Subway Guy Under Scrutiny, Linked to Child Porn Investigation

Wednesday, July 8th, 2015 - by Walter Hudson

Once a spokesman for the Subway chain of restaurants, Jared Fogle gained a new and less welcome notoriety Tuesday as his home was raided by the FBI. NBC News reports:

For much of the day, Fogle’s Zionsville house was surrounded by police cars and officers as agents hauled electronic equipment, including a computer, to an evidence truck parked in the driveway. At one point, Fogle, 37, stepped from his home and entered the truck. He later got into a car with his lawyer and was driven away…

The search came more than two months after the arrest of Russell Taylor, who served as executive director of the Jared Foundation, which works to prevent childhood obesity. Taylor, 43, was charged with multiple counts of producing and possessing child pornography following a raid of his Indianapolis home, where investigators said they found a cache of sexually explicit photos and videos of children allegedly filmed by Taylor.

Subway and Fogle have “mutually agreed to suspend their relationship” while the investigation continues. A statement from Fogle’s lawyer indicates that he is cooperating, has not been arrested, and expects no subsequent action against him.

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Christian Pastor: ‘We Have Reached the Limits of Democracy’

Tuesday, July 7th, 2015 - by Walter Hudson

Responding to the recent Supreme Court ruling mandating that marriage licenses in all 50 states be issued to same-sex couples, Christian pastor Jesse Johnson warns that the American church will soon be confronted by persecution. It may not entail the sort of physical danger faced by many believers in other parts of the world. But it will encroach upon believers’ freedom of expression.

Johnson sees a silver lining, however, that believers will place their hope in God rather than the political system. Writing at Worldview Weekend, he observes:

For too long I’ve heard “if you don’t get out there and vote, the trajectory of our country is going to lead to gay marriage!” Well, that happened, and there is not another vote to undo it (and as California’s Prop 8 showed, even if there was a vote to undo it, it wouldn’t count anyway). We have reached the limits of democracy, and there is no democratic way back.

Instead we put our hope in Christ as the one who reigns over judges and kings.

Johnson clarifies the nature of that hope, as detailed in scripture:

Do you realize that the Bible does not promise you that your church will have a tax-exempt status, that your college will be accredited, or that the government will pay young pastors to preach the gospel to her soldiers. But the Bible does promise us that God is sovereign, and that the nation’s raging will not overthrow him.

As the personal and legal cost of adhering to Christian doctrine rises, will encouragement be found in political victories? Or, is Johnson right? Have we reached the limits of democracy?

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Judgment Day Arrives for Terminator Genisys

Monday, July 6th, 2015 - by Walter Hudson

Anticipating the latest installment of the Terminator franchise, I again watched the original. Born from a fever induced nightmare suffered by writer/director James Cameron, the 1984 film follows a machine sent from a dystopian future to murder the mother of an unborn resistance leader. It’s a simple and well-executed concept that plays out like a horror film. Despite its much-imitated conventions and dated style, The Terminator endures as essential viewing for any film fan.

Terminator Genisys, which opened number three at the box office behind two films which have been in theaters for weeks, goes to great lengths to recreate iconic imagery from the original. A handful of scenes are recreated shot for shot, and the portrayal of a young Arnold Schwarzenegger works far better here than it did inTerminator Salvation. That said, as the film continues, it proceeds to obliterate the continuity and tone of its progenitor, leaving us to wonder whether the recreated scenes were sincere homage or twisted mockery.

Genisys is an infuriatingly horrible film. I walked away angry at those who made it, disgusted at those who marketed it, and dismayed by the apparent demise of the franchise.

To start, if you’ve seen the trailers, you’ve seen the movie. Every major plot point is given away in the marketing, blunting any impact those moments may have otherwise had. I’m not sure I would have liked Genisys if it wasn’t spoiled by its own trailers. But I may have at least been distracted from the overall mess.

The franchise has always suffered from continuity issues. The narrative paradoxes inherent to time travel require a greater than average suspension of disbelief.  Even so, Genisys seems to shrug off any responsibility to set or abide by plausible rules. It offers no coherent story, shoehorning a preconceived set of action beats into a hodgepodge of poorly executed fan service.

To call Genisys a retread would be too complimentary. Had it merely done what previous installments did, it would have worked on some level. Instead, Genisys views like a $155 million fan film written by a Fifty Shades of Grey caliber hack.

As a fan of the earlier films, the most disappointing aspect of Genisys is its failure to deliver on any of its potential. The film teases several intriguing concepts and evokes some titillating ideas. I found myself holding out hope that some twist might eventually bring everything together. Alas, the trajectory I imagined proved more entertaining than the actual film.

Final thoughts and score on next page…

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