In the wake of the arrest of director/rapist Roman Polanski comes the sex-with-subordinates scandal of David Letterman. The timing was a blessing for Letterman, since his aggressive excuse-makers now could quickly assert that the female employees he exploited were all adults and all gave their consent.
Letterman’s habit of engaging in sex with women who are his employees only emerged because of an ugly extortion threat from a longtime CBS News producer who lived with one of Letterman’s conquests. That’s doubly embarrassing for CBS, which has character problems coming and going. Letterman added to the embarrassment by revealing the extortion and his behavior in a jokey manner on his show. CBS had enough distaste for the explanation to have it pulled off YouTube and try to keep people from seeing it. (Wouldn’t it be nice if CBS had similar standards for its other programming, like, oh, most everything on MTV?)
In a second attempt at an apology, Letterman was more sincere. But in the morality-challenged entertainment community, Letterman knew he could surround himself with friends who found nothing to condemn, or even question.
In the category of "intentional misunderstandings" about the political fiasco over the 2016 Summer Olympics, liberals win the gold medal. Cheers and laughs broke out in conservative offices and radio studios on the morning of October 2 when Chicago’s bid came in dead last. This was not an exercise in behavior so flagrantly unpatriotic that it’s almost like a flag-burning indoors. It was rejoicing over a come-uppance for the massive, media-enabled egomania of the Obamas and their team of so-called political geniuses inside the White House.
As the Drudge Report and Rush Limbaugh put it: "The Ego Has Landed."
Let’s not kid ourselves: The embarrassment over Chicago finishing dead last in Copenhagen was also felt by the multitude of Obama promoters in the media that almost unanimously jumped to the supine conclusion that victory for Chicago was assured once the president announced his plan to bless the International Olympic Committee with his presence.
Something wildly unexpected happened the other day: film director Roman Polanski was taken into custody in Switzerland for his rape of a 13-year-old girl at Jack Nicholson’s house in 1977. The grand jury transcript is stomach-turning. His victim, Samantha Gailey, said the director plied her with champagne and drugs and asked her to remove her clothes for pictures in a hot tub. Polanski then had sex with her despite her resistance and requests to be taken home. He pleaded guilty to the lesser offense of sex with a minor, but fearing a prison term, he fled the country.
Now something utterly expected is happening: morally bankrupt libertines in Hollywood and other artistic banana republics are rushing to Polanski’s defense.
Welcome to the world of Roman Polanski, Child Rapist/Victim.
Has-been actress Debra Winger joined the first line of ludicrous defense, since she was president of the jury of the Zurich Film Festival, where Polanski was headed to receive a lifetime achievement award when he was apprehended. Let’s hope Winger is never allowed to serve on a real jury. She simply doesn’t care about Polanski’s guilt. He is a filmmaker and an artist, and for this crowd anything and everything goes.
Radical-left protesters outside the G-20 summit meeting in Pittsburgh last week underlined once again that our friends in the news media see no real enemy or extremist to their left. But conservative protests against Team Obama are an ugly sign of incivility, and according to House Speaker Nancy Pelosi, even impending violence.
HBO talk show host Bill Maher exemplified the liberal-media atttitude on his Twitter page on September 24: "Even with a face full of tear gas, these G-20 protesters [are] better looking than the teabaggers."
But there’s a big difference between the sea of tens of thousands of conservative protesters in Washington on September 12 and the three thousand anti-capitalist radicals in Pittsburgh. The tone from the podium in Washington was happy and patriotic, which meant nothing to The Washington Post, which covered it as an outpouring of a "spectrum of conservative anger."
During his 20-year reign at Disney, Michael Eisner’s commitment to family values was viewed with suspicion by many. The worries apparently were well-founded. His animation studio, Tornante, has a new clay-animated cartoon on Nick at Nite called "Glenn Martin, DDS." Eisner and Nick at Nite executive Cyra Zarghami claim it’s a show for the entire family.
Even TV critics – the crowd always wanting to applaud anything pushing the cultural envelope – think it’s outrageous to make that claim. "You know you’re in for a bumpy ride when the first joke has to do with killing prostitutes," wrote Mike Hale of the New York Times. He wanted out of the dental chair when a tasteless joke about a "blood bath" of a circumcision by a "rabbi with Parkinson’s" arrived.
Yes, this is the same Nick at Nite whose original 1985 lineup included Donna Reed and Dennis the Menace reruns.
Following his usual mantra that "to watch me is to love me," Barack Obama appeared on five Sunday interview shows and since that wasn’t enough, then the David Letterman show on Monday night. He remains convinced that the more he plays dust speck in the national eye, the further he’ll get in passing his leftist agenda. He’s also confident our media won’t hold him accountable. They just hold him.
"I can't tell you how satisfying it is to watch you work!," a beaming Letterman gushed to Obama. Even during that show, Letterman was still whacking away at George W. Bush as an idiot, unctuously currying favor with the new president. Letterman doesn’t pretend to be an objective journalist, of course. But can you recall him ever voicing his satisfaction with conservatives?
Perhaps the most amazing thing Obama did – over and over – on Sunday was to scold the media for making the national dialogue coarser by allowing his critics to have a voice on the networks. "Let's face it, the easiest way to get on television right now is to be really rude," he said.
Those attempting to equate Congressman Joe Wilson’s "You lie!" outburst to the outrages of Serena Williams and Kanye West are missing the mark. He was rude, and no, he oughtn’t have done it – there. Let us understand clearly the distinction. Wilson may be rude, but Williams and West (especially) are pigs.
At the semifinals of the U.S. Open tennis tournament in New York, Serena Williams drew nearly universal condemnation for screaming profanities at a line judge who (wrongly) ruled her foot was over the line on a serve. It wasn’t just obscenities, it was threats of physical violence, with Williams suggesting she would shove a tennis ball down "your f—ing throat" to the referee. Her performance was so vile that even historic tennis bad boy John McEnroe called it beyond the pale.
Had Wilson yelled that he was going to shove something down President Obama’s blankety-blank throat, then we’d have a similarity. But why did Williams feel free to uncork a massive fit? Maybe because there are no consequences. She was assessed a $10,000 fine, less than a slap on the wrist. She won more than half a million dollars at that tournament alone.
It’s very easy to be outraged by the way our "objective" media greeted the massive September 12 rally against Big Government in Washington and across the country. They treated it as a menacing surge of white anger, meanness, and racism. But all the media bias against this rally clearly illustrates one nagging truth for media liberals: they really don’t think conservatives should be allowed to protest. It’s somehow like a copyright violation.
On Monday night’s "Countdown," MSNBC’s David Shuster found the protest united "in apparent hatred of the current president, Barack Obama." It was undemocratic, a sign of people not accepting election results, and Shuster even suggested Sen. Jim DeMint’s speech at the rally signaled he favored a "military coup." The unglued anchorman also dismissed the crowd as "white, whiter, and whitest," all attending an "intolerance festival."
Cable television is a minefield of unspeakable raunch for children, who, like it or not, freely roam the hallways of this medium at night. The Parents Television Council has issued its list of the Top 10 Worst Cable TV Shows for Kids. One hopes that someone out there is shocked.
Leading the list is Comedy Central and its vile celebrity roasts. These mean-spirited and vile knockoffs are nothing like the side-splitting, kid-because-we-love Dean Martin roasts of the Seventies.
August’s roast of Joan Rivers was the ugliest yet. Rivers came out on stage holding hands with six little kids of different nationalities and joked that Brad Pitt and Angelina Jolie were having a yard sale. She shoved the kids and snapped: "All right, kids, go make jewelry!" Behind the kids' backs, she flipped a middle finger and said: "I hate children."
Is President Obama getting overexposed? This we know: a firm believer in all his fawning media clips, Obama thinks there is no political problem he cannot overcome with yet another nationally televised address. Not only has he scheduled an umpteenth appearance in prime time, he now insists on addressing the nation’s schoolchildren.
Why is this controversial? What is more American than having her president addressing the young? Reagan did it. So did Bush. The problem is Obama and his administration. There is – always is – a political agenda.
The mission was not to educate, it was to indoctrinate. The public learned the Department of Education sent out guidelines to principals urging that children "write letters to themselves about what they can do to help the president." Older students were urged to answer the question: "What is President Obama inspiring you to do? What is he challenging you to do?"
I was stunned to read on Life Site News that a new movie is being planned about Our Lady of Guadalupe, so-named for an appearance of the Virgin Mary near Mexico City in 1531 that’s credited with converting nine million indigenous Mexicans to Christianity. The film, still untitled, will be produced by Mpower Pictures, the company that was launched with the pro-life movie "Bella" in 2006 and founded by "The Passion of the Christ" producer Steve McEveety.
That a movie would be made about Our Lady of Guadalupe is amazing, but that wasn’t half the surprise. The movie is being written by Joe Eszterhas. Yes, the same Joe Eszterhas responsible for screenwriting filthy movies like "Basic Instinct" and most infamously, "Showgirls," a movie so pornographic even the late Jack Valenti condemned it.
What I didn’t know until now is the story of the conversion of Joe Eszterhas in 2001, powerfully captured in his 2008 memoir entitled "Crossbearer: A Memoir of Faith."
Four years have elapsed since one of the most amazing cases of Republican-bashing media bias in the television era began. The media elites laugh when preachers say immorality causes God to send hurricanes, but they suggested with straight faces that Hurricane Katrina was a death sentence President Bush and his cronies brought to the less fortunate.
In the early spin, race-baiting rapper Kanye West and "objective" anchors like Brian Williams were in rhetorical sync: George Bush didn’t care about black people. On "The Daily Show," Williams said "everyone" knew Bush would have done better if white people were endangered: "Everyone watching the coverage all week, that kind of reached its peak last weekend, kept saying the same refrain: ‘How is this happening in the United States?’ And the other refrain was, ‘Had this been Nantucket, had this been Boston, Cleveland, Chicago, Miami, Los Angeles, how many choppers would have –’"
Williams couldn’t finish. The liberal audience drowned him in applause.
Our national media are treating the passing of Sen. Edward Kennedy as an historic event, more historic even than the deaths of presidents like Gerald Ford. Is this level of attention warranted?
We can all grant that Ted Kennedy was a major legislator with his hands in a lot of historic government action. He was at times a very eloquent speaker and was always a passionate fighter. To his side of the aisle, he was their inspirational leader.
Now add the personal story: Two of his brothers were mercilessly assassinated. He was the final Kennedy from that generation. Clearly, when the media spent countless hours mourning the death of John F. Kennedy Jr., a man who never had a political career, the death of an actual Senator of 46 years should be a greater event.
It is not the amount of coverage that bothers, it is the quality of reporting. "[The Kennedys] are the closest thing we have in this country to royalty, the clan's iconic images engraved on our national consciousness." That's how ABC's Claire Shipman put it on the August 26 Good Morning America, echoing what others have been saying across the dial. CBS anchor Harry Smith began this way: "He bore the unspeakable grief and overwhelming hopes of a nation."
The death of columnist and reporter Bob Novak was a sad occasion for conservatives who voraciously read his columns and cheered his verbal punches on cable television for decades. On TV, Novak’s passing was treated with respect, but only briefly: ABC, CBS, and NBC all noted it on their evening news on August 18, but by the next morning, NBC offered only a sentence or two. ABC and CBS had nothing at all. (All three squeezed in the mandatory daily update on Michael Jackson.)
Perhaps this wouldn’t be surprising for a newspaper columnist, since it’s unrealistic to expect self-adoring TV people to think a mere national print journalist would be worth much air time. After all, who even knows what these newspaper people look like? But Novak wasn’t just a newspaper man, but he was a TV personality as well – starting with almost 250 appearances on NBC’s "Meet the Press," many of them well before he became known as a cable gladiator for conservative principles. (This makes is stranger for "NBC Nightly News" to offer him a mere 67 words on the night of his death.)
The baby boomers are trotting out the celebrations for the 40th anniversary of the "Summer of Love," complete with all that soggy and groggy Woodstock nostalgia. Perhaps the singular statement of that summer was the music and the open celebration of "free love."
All of which, believe it or not, is preferable to what is on the air this summer.
Start with the big hit "Birthday Sex," which brought quick fame (which is to say, infamy) to a singer named Jeremih. (Why must these people always celebrate illiteracy?) His basic lyric is "Don’t need candles and cake / Just need your body to make / Birthday sex." But Jeremih also elaborates about how he wants sex in the kitchen, on a waterbed, and so on. It’s an audio porn movie.
Interestingly, and sadly, few can be found to disapprove of foisting these "adult situations" lyrics on children. Radio station managers are, as a group, completely apathetic. But school administrators? The Chicago Public Schools enlisted their newly famous alumnus Jeremih in an online Twitter campaign to urge Chicago teens to go back to school this fall.
There are an awful lot of people I know in the world of public policy, many of whom I respect and admire. But beyond respecting his wisdom and admiring his courage, I just plain like Bill Donohue, president of the Catholic League. I like his Irish feistiness. I like his sense of loyalty. I like his sense of humor. Most of all, I like how he drives his opponents mad. And with his new book, "Secular Sabotage: How Liberals are Destroying Religion and Culture in America." he could be expected to be stricken from all manner of Christmas card lists -- except the people he skewers don’t believe in Christmas.
Disclaimer: I’m on the Board of Advisors of the Catholic League. I’ve been involved with this terrific organization for many years because Bill Donohue invited me, and I’ve never been able to refuse Bill Donohue anything.
"Secular Sabotage" is serious business. Donohue insists the United States should be considered unequivocally a Christian country. Eight out of ten Americans consider themselves as such. Indeed – and I didn’t realize this – the United States is the most Christian country, in quantitative terms, in the world.
There have been a couple of constants where Iraq War cinematography is concerned. One, movie makers ignore the public appetite for movies supporting the anti-terror war message in favor of drab, depressing, preachy anti-war politicking featuring marquee names and little else.
Two, those movies, which predictably bomb at the box office, are the rage of the film critics who levitate in ecstasy at the opportunity to praise that which trashes Bush, the war on terror and the military all at once.
So how to explain “The Hurt Locker” and the critical rapture that surrounds it? Here’s a new offering that has none of the political messaging of Hollywood, doesn’t contain a single marquee name, and the critics are cheering.
New York Times tastemaker A.O. Scott bluntly proclaimed it "The best nondocumentary American feature made yet about the war in Iraq." Joe Morgenstern of the Wall Street Journal also raved: "A first-rate action thriller, a vivid evocation of urban warfare in Iraq, a penetrating study of heroism and a showcase for austere technique, terse writing and a trio of brilliant performances."
The plot is disarmingly simple, if I can use that pun. The film follows a team of U.S. Army technicians in Baghdad disarming IEDs (improvised explosive devices). The audience shares the unnerving tension, even paranoia of the soldiers, feeling the prospect of death lurking around every corner, hidden behind every wall, and in the slightest of movements of every Iraqi stranger.
Morgenstern is not kidding about "austere technique." This has to be the quietest war movie ever made, and it’s a quiet movie about… bombs? Outside of a few breaks of inside-the-movie music (rock music from boom-boxes or video games), there is no mood-establishing music until the 1:02 mark – a sensual eternity.
Director Kathryn Bigelow never provides the viewer with the audio cues warning of impending crisis, leaving the viewer conditioned to expect disaster constantly. There is no Dolby-Stereo wizardry or enormous special-effects monsters in "The Hurt Locker." This film operates on a maddeningly vulnerable, heart-pounding human scale.
This is not a pro-war movie; it is a movie about war, period. It is certainly the first Iraq War movie that drains all of the political rhetoric out, offering instead just the microcosm of American troops in a theatre where terrorists really are blowing people up with a quick dial on their cell phones.
Some leftist critics have found that lack of politicking to be political. Tara McKelvey of the American Prospect complained that the movie was "propaganda," an "effective recruiting tool" for the Army. Yet McKelvey can't even seem to convince herself. In another passage, she stated the movie "shows the paranoia, rage, and brutal recklessness of soldiers trapped in the downward death spiral of the Iraq war."
The soldiers here are not bigoted monsters. In New York magazine, critic David Edelstein suggested "The Hurt Locker might be the first Iraq-set film to break through to a mass audience because it doesn't lead with the paralysis of the guilt-ridden Yank."
The central character of the movie, Staff Sgt. Will James, is not guilt-ridden, but he's also not your standard G.I. Joe action hero. The soldiers under his command are so unnerved at his reckless bomb-disabling antics that they briefly consider taking him out with friendly fire to keep him from getting them killed.
Ice seems to flow through Will's veins as he takes apart bombs that could blow up a city block. And yet when he returns home to his wife and infant son, he's clearly unnerved by the tedium of rolling through a supermarket deciding which cereal to buy, as the syrupy sounds of Muzak suggest a stark contrast with the exploding ordinance of a war zone. While his squad dreams of going home in one piece, he's clearly much happier hovering over a bomb fuse. There is no dramatic "Top Gun" hero ending, where he's applauded by a cast of hundreds. In the end he’s as conflicted as when he was first introduced.
Some Iraq veterans have complained the movie isn't militarily realistic about what Army bomb squads actually do, but that reminds us of the D-Day vets who said the opening act of “Saving Private Ryan” wasn’t realistic enough. The viewer certainly feels he is trudging along with the troops on very perilous ground.
It’s a good movie to see, if only to remember the next time you come across a veteran deserving a nation’s gratitude.
Darlene Haynes was only 23 years old when another woman brutally slashed her open and removed her eight-month-old baby girl from her womb. Her decomposing body was found on July 27, wrapped in a blanket and dumped in a closet inside her apartment in Worcester, Massachusetts. The body was so mutilated that when they found it, the police said they couldn't immediately determine its gender.
The suspected murderer, 35-year-old Julie Corey, lived in the same apartment building and was found soon after the crime in Plymouth, New Hampshire, claiming the baby was her own.
This heart-rending story is also notorious for how the "pro-choice" media sputter and struggle to deny the humanity of a baby, even as the child is slashed away and stolen by a psychopath. I would highly doubt Corey said to bewildered onlookers, "Look at my new fetus."
And yet journalists insult this motherless baby as merely a "fetus," this their dismissive blob-of-tissue word suggesting an unborn baby is subhuman until birth, no matter how many months along in the pregnancy, and no matter how physically able it is to survive outside the womb.
MTV specializes in the kind of "reality show" that would have you believe all young Americans are spoiled, profane, and crazed about alcohol and sex. From its raunchy spring-break coverage to its "Real World" and "Tila Tequila" reality shows, MTV is constantly sending a message to young people that absolutely everyone is enjoying or seeking casual sex, and never are there negative consequences beyond the occasional break-up.
So it was shocking this summer for MTV to air a reality show called "16 and Pregnant." MTV, airing a show on the very real-world consequences of the hook-up culture? Jaws dropped across the spectrum of MTV critics, from the moralists who decry the promotion of premarital sex to the health experts and "safe sex" promoters who want every sex scene to come with a contraceptive message.
The six-part "16 and Pregnant" series examined the hardships undergone by six impregnated teenage girls. It illustrated how childbirth and motherhood radically changes a young girl’s life, and explained what Barack Obama meant when he clumsily said he wouldn’t want his daughters to be "punished with a baby."
Martha Joynt Kumar, a scholar of presidential communications strategies at Towson University, reports that President Obama is almost everywhere in the media. In their first four months, Bill Clinton gave 11 interviews and George W. Bush gave 18, compared with 43 from Obama. He has offered his eloquence to ABC News at least six times, seven times on CBS and nine times on NBC.
That large number doesn't count his latest TV interview blitz, or the four prime-time press conferences. But all this access to the media – based on the strategy that Obama's charisma can overcome all objections to his policy nostrums – isn't stopping the collapse of his attempts to rush the country into massive new spending and regulation schemes.
When it comes to awful movies, Pat Buchanan once quipped he didn’t have to look underneath a manhole cover to know there’s a sewer down below. The smutty new movie "Bruno" can be read by its cover. In the midst of a barrage of crude sexual humor, master satirist Sacha Baron Cohen is once again exposing Americans for what Time magazine calls their "ignorance and prejudice, hypocrisy and primitive rage."
Yes, I’m sure it has its funny moments, and some are laugh-out-loud hilarious. I say I’m sure because I really don’t know. I was on my way to the theater when I reversed course. I’m not going to give these slimy people $9.50, or $1.50. Besides, it’s all there on the Internet.
In his last film, "Borat," Cohen played an idiotic journalist from Kazakhstan who attempted to expose unsuspecting people as misogynistic, racist, and anti-Semitic. The new title character of "Bruno" is a flamboyantly gay Austrian fashion reporter who is going to expose the raging "homophobia" in America, especially the South (also targeted in the last film).
It’s a consistent line from the left: conservative talk radio is a cauldron of hate. In the Clinton years, a CBS News promo set out to warn the public about the dangers of Gordon Liddy: "The words are shocking... What he says may not be illegal, but is it dangerous? Has free speech gone too far? Hate radio under fire, and firing back."
It is an unmistakable, unquestionable, resoundingly unequivocal exercise in liberal hypocrisy. The airwaves are now filled with the meanest, most insulting, most dishonest ad hominems in history. They are coming from left-wing talk show hosts.
And from CBS & Co.? Dead silence.
Take Ed Schultz, the closest thing the liberals have to a talk-radio star. He comes unglued when he talks of Rush. On July 15, he uncorked this rant: "Apparently the drug-ridden loser Rush Limbaugh, he thinks because he’s got a lot of money and a lot of stations that he's a success in life, the guy that can't hear because he did so many drugs and had no self-discipline and character has now taken his first shot at me on ‘The Ed Show’ on MSNBC. I love it!"
On society’s list of most shameful professions, the pornographer would be near the top. What must pornographers think of themselves? They would argue that their industry has joined the mainstream, yet for porn performers, it’s a sordid career fraught with perils of drugs, disease, and in the darker corners of porn, exploitation and abuse.
Take the case of a true pervert, Paul Little, who calls himself "Max Hardcore." The British author Martin Amis submerged himself in the sleaziest subcultures of sex on film for the British newspaper The Guardian a few years ago. He recalled the making of Little’s "Hollywood Hardcore 13." The film included a series of...excretory humiliations.
Struggling to sell a "public option" of socialized medicine on America, the left needs demons. So here comes, right on time, the focus on all the "lies" that free-market "front groups" are pushing on the failures of nationalized health care in countries like Canada and Great Britain.
These leftists are shameless. Their intellectual dishonesty is boundless. One wonders if socialized medicine might include treatment for this condition.
A man named Wendell Potter was the star of the hour on PBS’s "Bill Moyers Journal" on July 10. Potter used to be a spokesman for the insurance giant Cigna. He painted a picture of gilded excess. "I was served my lunch by a flight attendant who brought my lunch on a gold-rimmed plate. And she handed me gold-plated silverware to eat it with." Sitting in a spacious corporate jet, he said he was overcome by guilt at the gap between his creature comforts and the health struggles of the poor and uninsured.
The Washington Post called it an "orgy of praise" and an "exercise in excess." They were referring to the star-studded, mega-televised Michael Jackson memorial service in Los Angeles. It just as accurately described the supposedly serious national media’s weeks of outsized hyperbole concerning the life and death of a man who was a pop sensation, to be sure, but also highly controversial, even scandalous.
There certainly was the exercise in excess on the "news" programs. On the night of July 6, ABC, CBS, and NBC, paid twenty times more attention to Jackson (more than a week after his death) than to the deaths of seven brave soldiers in Afghanistan.
They were only tip of the excess iceberg. Jackson dominated every "Access Hollywood" and "Entertainment Tonight" show for two weeks. The memorial service aired on 19 different networks, drawing 31 million viewers. At least that exposed one piece of hype from the Jackson camp: that "a billion" global villagers would tune in.
The network news divisions are enjoying the unprecedented coverage they're providing President Obama, not just because they support him, but because White House specials are cheap and do well in the ratings. "Obama should change his middle name from Hussein to Nielsen," quipped longtime TV reporter Gail Shister in a story by David Bauder of the Associated Press. It seems like a never-ending spin cycle: laudatory coverage leads to popularity, which leads to higher TV ratings, which leads to more laudatory coverage.
But it's not working any more. Behind the glittery curtains, Obama's polls are falling. Worse, some ink-stained wretches are getting a little sick of the propaganda merry-go-round. Helen Thomas and CBS reporter Chip Reid both slammed press secretary Robert Gibbs on the hermetically sealed "town hall" meeting on health care in Annandale, Virginia, where all the questions and questioners (and president-huggers) were carefully screened to make sure no one burst the bubble of Barack's astonishing cool.
But the network chieftains continue to be unapologetic, even insulting when questioned about their laudatory coverage of the White House.
Many years ago, when Bill Maher’s comedy show was hosted by Comedy Central and he was funny, his formula for success was truly unique. Every week two sets of political and/or cultural opposites were pitted against each other, and he refereed with humor. It was all designed for a good laugh and succeeded because once upon a time Bill Maher was truly funny.
Some producer really thought in extremes when they pitted Oliver Stone and Brent Bozell for one episode. I have to say that you were gracious, charming, engaging, and we enjoyed ourselves – except for that moment when I chastised you for claiming you’re an historian. You bristled and denied ever claming that moniker. I cited the source, an interview in some West Coast paper (I can’t recall which one now). “I’m a filmmaker, that’s all,” you told me.
The surrealism of celebrity pop culture erupts when a major celebrity dies. The sudden, mysterious death of Michael Jackson caused a near-total eclipse of the real news. The cable-news channels blurred into 24-7 wailing walls for the so-called "King of Pop." Television ratings surged with a big ka-ching.
So much for the "news" business. On Friday, for example, just 24 hours after the death news broke, anchors like NBC’s Brian Williams fit the "news" of Congress and recession and Iran into a neat thimble of snippets so they could devote most of the newscast to continued mourning of the man with the glittery glove.
But what, exactly, is it that Michael Jackson brought to America that was so essential? An alien arriving from space would find him celebrated for dressing in shiny socks and dancing the "moonwalk." His music broke sales records and sets dance floors hopping, and his videos made people say "I want my MTV." But all this happened a long time ago, when MTV was a music channel.
Twisted Hollywood and its twisted parade of tastemakers known as television critics are forever in search of another "black comedy," and if audiences don’t embrace one, then they can always make another one. Showtime didn’t succeed with "Secret Diary of a Call Girl," so now they’re trying a different brand of prostitute. "Nurse Jackie" is an addict who has daily sex at noon with her hospital pharmacist in exchange for Oxycontin and other drugs. She’s married and a mother of two little girls. She is a filthy degenerate.
And the critics love it. Matt Roush of TV Guide calls it "a perfect companion piece to the increasingly twisted ‘Weeds,’" as it "straddles the worlds of drama and comedy with confidence and gutsy gusto." For those who don’t waste their money on Showtime, "Weeds" is a "comedy" where a suburban housewife is a drug dealer pushing marijuana instead of Avon.
There is no doubt these two shows are a match in blackness.
The Public Broadcasting Service recently announced it will not allow new religious programming on their taxpayer-subsidized airwaves. The handful of stations that have shown a Catholic Mass or Mormon devotions will be allowed to continue, but the other 300-plus stations have been instructed to avoid any kind of evangelism.
Welcome to Barack Obama’s new world order.
News reports explained that the PBS station services committee insisted on applying a 1985 rule that all PBS shows must be "noncommercial, nonpartisan and nonsectarian."
To everyone who’s watched a pledge drive or contemplated a toy store stuffed with "Sesame Street" toys, the idea that PBS is following any "noncommercial" policy is absurd.
To everyone who’s watched two minutes of "Bill Moyers Journal," with its panels unanimously screaming for Bush’s impeachment, or more recently, for a single-payer socialist health-care system, the idea of PBS being devoted to a "nonpartisan" stance is several miles removed from ridiculous.