Shepard Fairey, the creator of the famous Obama “Hope” poster, made news recently with another piece of bizarre visual propaganda, this time denouncing America’s habit of clinging to guns and religion.
He produced the poster last month in support of the failing anti-gun legislation, and most recently had it printed on hundreds of protest signs in anticipation of a massive anti-gun rally in Washington. From sympathetic Buzzfeed.com: “Artist Shepard Fairey will paper downtown D.C. Thursday with copies of a new work aimed at reigniting the push for gun control.” Reality check: the advertised Occupy The NRA rally attracted only about 60 participants.
That the anti-NRA poster looks Orwellian is not a coincidence. Fairey probably believes he has a spiritual channel directly to George Orwell: after all, he had designed book covers for Penguin’s Animal Farm and 1984, in addition to a series of nightmarish posters collectively titled Nineteeneightyfouria. His Orwellian connection, however, is very unflattering. Lacking the depth and, apparently, the slightest understanding of Orwell’s actual message, Fairey rather channels some mind-numb Party functionary out of George Orwell’s novel as he manufactures establishment propaganda that facilitates the takeover of the individual by the all-powerful state.
The gallery page gives this blurb about Nineteeneightyfouria, likely written from the artist’s own words:
Shepard’s artwork both scrutinizes and distorts the narrative of the modern American Dream. Commenting on underpinnings of what Shepard terms the ‘capitalist machine’, it aims to critique those who support blind nationalism and war. Fairey addresses monolithic institutional authority, the role of counter culture, and independent individuals who question the cultural paradigm.
So, you want to pitch a TV show — a sitcom no less! Or maybe you’re just an armchair TV enthusiast, a mental writer playing out episodes of the ideal sitcom in your head. Whether your concept is ideal or idyllic, if you want to get it off the ground, you need to get your head out of the clouds and start viewing your human reality in terms of numbers — good numbers. Take a tip from Seth MacFarlane: Be sure to include an African American, a disabled character, and an Asian reporter if you want to stand a chance in TV land.
In other words, start counting your minorities.
It’s all in the spirit of being fair that we view people based on their color, class, gender, or physical ability. Not only is it fair, it is super easy to follow the 4-step program for crafting your perfectly pitch-able TV sitcom.
So, get out your calculators and get ready for a math lesson in how to write a situation comedy for television!
Part 1 of a 4 Part series Deconstructing Family Guy
When Seth MacFarlane sang about boobs at the Oscars, I’m pretty sure he was referring to his own fans.
Most of the time it is taken for granted that we recognize the latent moronic nature of most television programming today.
Then again, do we?
If we agreed as a culture that television programming like Family Guy is so moronic, why would a collective cheer rise up at the sight of another Emmy win? Would we be told by media commentary royalty to worship Seth MacFarlane, the show’s creator, as fascinating? Not only does the guy have mega street cred in the pop culture universe, the primetime structure he’s so wholeheartedly mocked is singing his praises. In fact, it could be said that Family Guy’s seemingly counterculture humor has been legalized by the mainstream.
What’s more, like a bad addiction, Family Guy is the drug that has turned a generation of Boob-Tube addicts into junkies. So, what are the signs, Doctor? How do you know when a co-worker, a friend, even a loved one has become a total Boob? Let’s play MediaMD as we examine the 5 most common side effects of watching Family Guy.
Freelance writing is a financially precarious career – you’ve always got to be on the lookout for new opportunities, or you’re screwed. So when I found out recently about a relatively new online magazine called Inspire, my first thought was: hmm, what can I come up with that they might want to use?
Now – and hey, here’s a tip for you kids looking to move into the fast lane of the media game – the first thing you do in situations like this is to study the publication in question and try to determine its worldview, its style, its tone, its intended audience, and so on. Inspire, as it happens, is published by an organization called al-Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsula. Not al-Qaeda itself, mind you, but a branch of al-Qaeda with a similar but longer and more geographically specific name. It’s published in English and is apparently aimed at jihadist fanatics and aspiring jihadist fanatics.
A Fox News writer helpfully noted in 2010 that the magazine is “designed to encourage would-be terrorists into acts of violence,” and quoted Bruce Riedel of the Brookings Institution as saying that it’s “clearly intended for the aspiring jihadist in the U.S. or U.K. who may be the next Fort Hood murderer or Times Square bomber.” Useful info for an aspiring contributor! A while back Inspire ran an article titled “I Am Proud to be a Traitor to America” by an author who, not long afterward, was taken out by a U.S. drone in Yemen. For a freelancer, this sort of thing is great news: when a publication’s regular contributors are being systematically decimated in anti-terrorist strikes, it’s more likely that there’s always going to be room for fresh blood.
Nightly news show, February 28, 2014.
The anchorman intones: “And now what you’ve all been waiting for. Trish, sum up the evening for us and especially for those who didn’t watch the event.”
The view shifts to a reporter is standing outside in Los Angeles as a host of well-dressed, glamorous people move past getting into big limousines.
“Thanks, Bret. Well many think that this has been the most exciting Academy Awards in history. And a lot of that is due to the whole new category of awards given tonight. The big news, of course, is the Oscar for President Barack Obama as best political leader. The best supporting male politician award went to Joe Biden; and the best supporting female politician Oscar was gleaned by Nancy Pelosi. And the best foreign politician Oscar went to Fidel Castro with a posthumous lifetime achievement award for the late Venezuelan President Hugo Chavez. There wasn’t a dry eye in the place.”
“And what about the controversies?”
“Right. Well as many of you already know there was some controversy over Vice-President Joe Biden’s thank-you speech in which he urged young people to go to college as long as they could on publicly financed loans, then not repay them, live at their parents’ until they were at least 28 to get free health care, and then help the economy by never getting a job.”
“And what was the controversy?”
“That he didn’t go far enough.”
“What else was notable about this star-filled evening?”
“Certainly, the academy’s decision not to give awards for films anymore was widely discussed. But most of those I spoke to in the audience seemed okay with it. Back to you, Bret!”
On the road to the Republican presidential nomination, Mitt Romney ran up quite a body count, from Rick Perry and Michele Bachmann to Ron Paul and Rick Santorum. Now as the former Massachusetts governor gears up for his first debate with President Obama, Slate V is rolling out Political Kombat ’12, which recounts the story of the campaign as a series of video game fights.
Those growing up in the ’90s remember Mortal Kombat — the game in which you would pummel people to the sound of an epic yet cheesy soundtrack. It was violent. It was bloody — but cartoonishly so. Thus, it’s not hard to see what Slate is upto here. They — as many have throughout this election cycle — are making a comment on the supposed brutality of the Republican primary.
Well, yeah — but, let’s be honest. Politics has always been like that. What we’re seeing now is nothing different from the past. In fact, as Reason points out in the video at the bottom of the page, attacks of history were sometimes worse than what we’re seeing today.
Which is why any student of history or politics should laugh at the language in the above quote: “Mitt Romney ran up quite a body count.” (Emphasis added.)
The establishment media — even when joking, as Slate is here — never stops decrying the supposed “lack of civility” present in today’s politics. Oh, those SuperPACs! They’re frightening! And those mean, vicious ads — how dare they!
Their whining reminds me of the controversy that arose when Mortal Kombat first arrived. Worried parents refused to buy it for their children. It led to careerist lawyers filing lawsuits against game companies. They feared the violence it depicted.
But the game was substantive. It had a story and memorable characters. Each of them had something to gain or nothing to lose. Some were good, others were evil, and they all fought for a reason. By today’s standards the graphics are primitive, but at the time they dazzled. Overall, it was a well-done game that still holds up today. And its impact cannot be denied.
We should be thankful that Slate is comparing the primary to Mortal Kombat. It shows that our politics is still at least somewhat robust.
If the media and the civility police had their way, then political life would be nothing more than Pong.
Maybe, maybe not, but if you’re going to be honest with yourself and those around you, you’d admit that you hate people too. With the loss of common sense, politeness, and consideration by most, how could you not? It seems that “kindness to others” has been placed on a shelf next to the good china to be taken out and “used” only on special occasions. Let’s face it, people wander through life taking care of their daily business oblivious to those around them unless of course they may somehow be affected by an encounter with another.
I can see that you don’t believe me. You are either not paying attention, which launches you right into the middle of the oblivious, or you are surrounded by a much better breed of people than I. Since I don’t know your situation, I can only share a few of my daily experiences so you don’t think I’m lying.
Often times my daily chores take me to the grocery store. Honest to goodness, I have never asked anyone to allow me to go in front of them, but somehow my time is rarely considered as valuable as the person behind me. On one particular day, I was in line in, my cart moderately full. I had been waiting my turn patiently for about ten minutes when I was approached from behind by a lady (I use that term loosely).
“‘Scuse me, ‘scuse me lady…let me go in front of you. I have only this, I’m in a hurry.”
Granted, she was polite, she did say “‘Scuse me” as she held up her item. I was annoyed. Aren’t patrons like her the reason there are lines for those with “15 items or less”? As I said, I had been waiting my turn and had other things I needed to do. Reluctantly, I allowed the woman with the one item to go in front of me. As she maneuvered past me, she looked back, waving her hand yelling, “Over here!” I turned to look in the same direction as the lady who had just moved to the front of the line, in front of me. With G-d as my witness, I was nearly knocked down by another woman barreling towards me with a grocery cart so full the wheels were about to click off.
As this woman pushed past me running over my toes, she looked over her shoulder and spat out “Watch it lady, I’m with her….” In that one quick minute, these two women accomplished a feat those who know me thought impossible: they made me speechless. I think I was in shock until after the checker began ringing their order, and then it was too late. With my jaw still hanging open ten minutes later when my order was finally being checked, I was asked if I required medical attention or perhaps a chair on which to sit since I didn’t look well.
Still don’t believe me? Okay, let’s go to the movies. If you want to see a movie without the probability of being hit in the head with flying objects, it is suggested that adults go to evening movies. It’s a great suggestion, even if you take into account that the person in front of you may be hard of hearing, and his partner may repeat the entire dialogue of the movie at the top of her lungs, don’t you think? (Yes, it really happened!) Probably less noise, chances of crying infants should be way down, flying objects should not be a worry. Huh, ya think? My girlfriend and I one day decided to take in a “chick flick” choosing an evening show. It was a seven o’clock movie; we figured that would work.
We bought our tickets, loaded up on the popcorn and drinks, and in we went to a half filled theater. Perfect.
We picked our seats and settled in for a hopefully enjoyable two hours. No sooner than the lights dimmed and the previews started, a phone rang. At first I thought it was one of those clever movie commercials reminding viewers to be polite and turn off their phones. Unfortunately, I was wrong. A person a mere four rows back answered her phone, speaking as if she were enjoying a cup of coffee at her kitchen table with a couple of friends. I’d like to report that she immediately told the caller that she was in a movie theater and she’ll return the call later, but that was not in the cards.
Note: The following is my daydream of a New York Times editorial a few weeks hence, after the craziness regarding the hurricane and the Republican convention. It is intended to be over-the-top satire that might make you laugh. The point is, though, that things have become so totally bizarre that I wouldn’t rule out something like this happening. [By the way, doesn't it seem as if Obama is running for national student body president, as if all the voters are on campuses? In a sense, I think that reflects a very real belief of him and his cohort.]
Under any circumstances, the appearance of an alien attack fleet would seem to be a cause for alarm. Of course, we are not referring to good “aliens,” the people sneaking across our borders in the hope of getting citizenship and the ability to vote in elections—not necessarily in that order. No, we are referring to the aliens from the star system of Alpha Orionis whose space ships are even now circling our planet.
As everyone knows by now, the aliens have broadcast a threat that unless their demands are met within 24 hours they will start destroying one American state a day, killing all forms of life within its borders. There are those who have wrongly concluded, however, that the president should immediately cease his fundraising activities and that the schedule of the Democratic Convention be altered.
We view this as short sighted, mainly pushed by the far-right faction that has taken over the Republican Party. There is a big difference between an alien attack that bodes ill for the survival of all Americans and a hurricane hitting the Gulf Coast. No one would suggest that the president prefers to be partying while Americans were dying horribly. It’s just that doing so is his personal duty, made perhaps less onerous by the fact that some of the specific states that might be wiped out, say Arizona or Utah for example.