In the groves of academe, studying popular culture is often the preserve of nutty left-wing professors performing exotic Marxist autopsies on the imperialist dynamics of Donald Duck comic books. Academic conservatives are teaching and writing about Homer the Greek poet, not the cartoon, which is important but oftentimes leaves their audience without a learned guide to analyze the themes of our modern culture.
Fortunately, there is Thomas Hibbs, a professor of ethics and culture at Baylor University – and a film critic for National Review Online. Earlier this year, the Spence Publishing folks in Dallas published a valuable and fascinating book by the professor called "Arts of Darkness: American Noir and the Quest for Redemption."
Andrew Breitbart, CEO of Breitbart.com, had a great op ed in the Washington Times yesterday about how Hollywood oppresses Republicans and conservatives in La La Land. Detailing the travails of Republicans in Hollywood -- including destruction by Hollywood's liberals of personal property owned by identified Republicans -- Breitbart laments the "bullying" the self-proclaimed tolerant lefties mete out to those who walk the Republican side of the street.
You'd think Chris Matthews might wish Howard Wolfson well on the news that the former top aide to Hillary Clinton has joined Fox News as a Dem analyst. Think again. The Hardball host has ungraciously predicted that the move to Fox could spell the end of Wolfson—and in doing so revealed his own pop-culture roots.
Here was Matthews on this evening's Hardball:
CHRIS MATTHEWS: Fox News loves presenting itself as the alternative to the other news networks. Roger Ailes, the guy behind the network, figures that the Hillary campaign needs a new home, now that she's out of the race for president. So, abracadabra, Howard Wolfson, the voice of the Hillary campaign, has just been hired by—you guessed it—Fox News. Wolfson has just signed a contract as a regular contributor. He told the New York Times, quote, "it is important to have a strong progressive voice on the network." Well I think it's the beginning of a beautiful relationship. Reminds me of a movie: it's called Howards End.
Mass murder in real concentration camps in the Soviet Union are ancient history to National Public Radio, but the cause of poor, blacklisted communists in Hollywood charging America was a concentration camp is still a fresh and poignant soundbite. On the June 17 edition of All Things Considered, anchor Melissa Block championed a forthcoming new documentary about communist screenwriter Dalton Trumbo, made by Peter Askin and Trumbo’s son Christopher and featuring big celebrities like Michael Douglas. Block made no mention of Trumbo’s actual Communist Party membership in the age of Stalin, and nowhere in the interview was there even a whisper of an alternative historical point of view, from Ronald Radosh to Kenneth Billingsley.
Block could only lament once again this alleged persecution of communists, once again utterly free of the irony that communists specialized in persecution everywhere they came to power:
Time magazine is taking the lead on the Gloucester, Massachusetts "pregnancy pact" story, but its story is actually quite brief. Even so, Time is attempting to blame movies that didn’t tout abortion. On its home page for this week's magazine, Time’s blurb reads: "Postcard Gloucester: A Massachusetts fishing town tries to understand why so many of its teenagers made a pact to get pregnant. How one school is grappling with the Juno effect".
As summer vacation begins, 17 girls at Gloucester High School are expecting babies -- more than four times the number of pregnancies the 1,200-student school had last year. Some adults dismissed the statistic as a blip. Others blamed hit movies like Juno and Knocked Up for glamorizing young unwed mothers.
On Thursday’s CBS "Early Show," co-host Maggie Rodriguez described the Catholic Church’s refusal to allow filming on Church property of a movie prequel to "The DaVinci Code," starring Tom Hanks, this way: "...the battle between Tom Hanks and the Vatican. You know he's in Rome filming the prequel to 'The Da Vinci Code,' 'Angels and Demons,' and the Church there is up in arms, they're barring them from filming in churches. They believe the film, like the book, is sacrilegious."
On Wednesday, ABC’s "Good Morning America" featured a story on the controversy in which correspondent Nick Watt declared: "When the might of Rome clashes with a literary behemoth, expect some colorful language. 'An offense against God,' is what a diocese of Rome spokesman just called this book." Watt then later proclaimed: "The Dan Brown express will not be stopped," to which GMA co-host Diane Sawyer replied: "Yes, Nick, I mean that's the irony, isn't it? The more the Church complains, probably the better it is for the business."
Meanwhile, on Thursday’s "Early Show," correspondent Allen Pizzey explained: "Fans of the book, 'Angels and Demons,' keep streaming into the churches in Rome where the plot unfolds. But the film crew turning it into a movie has been banned from them and any other Church property. The plot is not overly anti-Church, but some of the most graphic scenes are not something with which the Church wants to be associated."
What's history for if Hollywood and our other entertainment industries can't take it and warp it to fit a current, partisan political agenda? In yet another example of Hollyweird’s foolishness, we have a new Robert Downey, Jr. vehicle that casts the American Cowboy as an "imperialist". Of course, they will dress it up and try to hide this absurd message by having an alien invasion occur during a skirmish between Cowboys and Indians in the late 1800's, forcing the two human enemies to unite to fight the aliens. This is supposed to be an "allegory." Yes, with this "pulpy mix of the sci-fi and Western genres," we have "allegory" in the fact that the space aliens are trying to invade and conquer the Earth just like the cowboys were doing to the poor, benighted natives. Just once I’d like to see a movie present Indians as real, three dimensional people instead of infantilized, victims.
"I'm not fit to be a Senator. I'm not fit to live. Expel me! Expel me! Not him. Every word that boy said is the truth! Every word about Taylor and me and graft and the rotten political corruption of our state. Every word of it is true. I'm not fit for office! I'm not fit for any place of honor or trust. Expel me!"—Claude Rains as the corrupt Sen. Joseph Paine in "Mr. Smith Goes to Washington"
Chris Matthews has broken out a Jimmy Stewart/Mr. Smith Goes to Washington analogy to assess Scott McClellan's book. Here's how the Hardball host put it on this afternoon's show:
CHRIS MATTHEWS: When you read the book, it reads like Claude Rains in Mr. Smith Goes to Washington. You know: "everything the guy says is true." I mean, he's admitting that the other guy–the good guy's–right. I mean, if that's your perspective.
Zbigniew Brzezinski says that since we talked to Likud, we should talk to Hamas. And Kevin Spacey, who has trouble keeping his disputed primary states straight, suggests that his "Recount" plays it straight, despite evidence to the contrary. All that and more on today's Morning Joe. In reverse order, let's begin with Zbig's appearance, and consider this statement.
ZBIGNIEW BRZEZINSKI: I have joined a bi-partisan group of some prominent Americans including Paul Volcker, Brent Scowcroft, Lee Hamilton, and some others, in saying that talking to Hamas is a necessary course of action. You know, we talked to Likud when Likud was advocating the total incorporation of the West Bank into Israel. And today Likud accepts a two-state solution. Hamas will evolve, but it will not evolve if it is continuously ostracized and threatened.
The second film based on the Narnia books, "Prince Caspian," roared like Aslan the lion at the box office in its first weekend, grossing an impressive $56 million in theaters, and supplanting "Iron Man" as the most successful movie in America.
Why the continued success of the "Chronicles of Narnia" films? Time movie reviewer Richard Corliss takes a stab at that question, with a unique angle, comparing "Caspian" to "The Golden Compass," the first movie installment of Philip Pullman’s dark atheist trilogy which viciously attacked God, Christianity, and the Catholic Church in particular.
"Narnia" author C. S. Lewis was a fervent Christian theologian. "Compass" creator Pullman proclaimed his books were about "killing God."
They make anti-American films that bomb at the box office and lose money. Then they make more films that make fun of the conservative base of the country, they lose more money. They make films that attack, belittle and infantalize our men and women at arms -- all as we are in a war, adding insult to injury -- and they lose still more money. So what do they do? They make yet more films like these previous lemons. Any guesses what will happen next? That's right, box office poison.
There is a whole raft of new projects that are sure to become box office stinkers that make Americans rather want to stay home instead of stream to the movies. There's Bush Derangement Syndrome (BDS) extravaganzas, anti-capitalist potboilers and global warming scaremongering galore all coming to a theater near you!
While he told EW “he had to speculate” about dialogue, “Stone insist[ed] that every scene in 'W' will be rooted in truth.” Instead, the movie is a hodge podge of supposed eyewitness accounts, third-hand gossip and fantastical guesswork mixed with “awkward and goofy” caricatures. EW pointed out that “some accounts” “may have come from disgruntled former staffers.”
If the left frothed over ABC's “Path to 9/11” and the media criticized “its invented scenes, fabricated dialogue and unsubstantiated accounts,” then surely they'll immediately knock Stone for these scenes that could come directly from Will Farrell's old “Saturday Night Live” Bush skits (all bold mine):
There's a scene of 26-year-old Bush peeling his car to a stop on his parents' front lawn and drunkenly hurling insults at his father (''Thank you, Mr. Perfect. Mr. War Hero. Mr. F---ing-God-Almighty!''), while another scene set a few years later finds Bush nearly crashing a small plane while flying under the influence.
Imagine that a "documentary" film-maker—whose most notable former credit was a work advancing the notion that extra-terrestrials did indeed visit Area 51—brought forth a new work suggesting that key elements of the Prophet Mohammed's story had been fabricated. What are the odds ABC would devote a segment of Good Morning America to a respectful interview of the filmmaker and discussion of his work?
But that's exactly what ABC did regarding someone who has produced a documentary ["Bloodline"] calling into question key aspects of the story of Jesus Christ. Here's how GMA weekend co-anchor Bill Weir introduced the segment this morning:
Well, here's a question, was Jesus married with children? Was the Resurrection a trick pulled off by his widow? The possibility, the world's greatest cover-up, was the basis of the smash novel and movie The Da Vinci Code. And though those ideas have been largely dismissed by academics as fiction, documentary film-maker Bruce Burgess believes he has now found evidence to advance that theory. Here's a clip from his new film.
The obsession continues. Yet another Hollywood leftist is coming out with an anti-Iraq war movie. This time, it's "Sixteen Candles" star John Cusack who is begging us to take his political views seriously with his new film, "War, Inc," styled as a "dark, political satire," which seems basically to mean ham-fisted film à clef set around the fictional country of Turaqistan.
Making her debut in liberal wrist-slitting films is Hillary Duff, one of the many teen princesses manufactured by the Disney empire, who seems to be trying to earn some sort of credibility by screeching about politics.
"We're trying to raise awareness with it. It is funny and it is bizarre and a little disturbing," the former Lizzie McGuire told Reuters. "But really at the end of the day it's looking at what (our country is) doing, and it's not right."
How perfect. The director of some of Hollywood's most revoltingly violent, sexually explicit, culturally corrosive movies has an even more destructive hobby on the side: iconoclasm.
Paul Verhoeven, director of "Basic Instinct," "Robocop" and "Showgirls," turns out to be a member of the academically suspect Jesus Seminar, and in September he will publish a book attacking the foundational Christian doctrine that Jesus was conceived by the Holy Spirit.
For the past twenty years, the Dutch filmmaker has reportedly been attending meetings of the Jesus Seminar and researching his biography, "Jesus of Nazareth: A Realistic Portrait." Fox News quotes a spokesman for Amsterdam publishing house J.M. Meulenhoff saying Verhoeven "hopes it will be a springboard" for making a movie about Jesus' life.
So much for camaraderie. New York Times movie reviewer Jeannette Catsoulis found fellow Times writer Ben Stein's "Expelled," his new documentary on evolution and how the concept of Intelligent Design is being stifled in academic circles, "an unprincipled propaganda piece."
(Catsoulis's politics are pretty easy to peg; witness her simplistic left-wing raves over the 2005 documentary "Waging a Living," based on a book by socialist writer Barbara Ehrenreich.)
Catsoulis not only doesn't buy "Expelled"'s premise that scientific debate is being squelched in academia in favor of Darwin-worship, she calls the movie names:
One of the sleaziest documentaries to arrive in a very long time, "Expelled: No Intelligence Allowed" is a conspiracy-theory rant masquerading as investigative inquiry.
Tuesday's New York Times obituary on the life and work of American director Jules Dassin, "filmaker on blacklist," shows that anti-anti-Communism will never die. Times writer Richard Severo unfurls the usual flag in paragraph nine:
By the time he wrote and directed "Never on Sunday," a comedy about a good-hearted prostitute (Ms. Mercouri), the anti-Communist witch hunt in the United States had been discredited, and he had been accepted again.
This "witch hunt" language is offered despite the first paragraph acknowleged Dassin's membership in the Communist Party in the 1930s, as filmmaker Edward Dmytryk testified to Congress. The "witch hunt" found witches, but it was still "discredited."
Clearly, to the liberal media elite, Communist Party members are in no way witchy or evil. They may have bigger hearts and deeper consciences. As Dassin explained his Communist period:
The latest round of war-movie failures, explained and discussed in more detail by Mark at Weapons of Mass Discussion this past Saturday, is just another episode in a five-year horror story at the box office for the US movie business. Despite the growth of DVD sales during most of that time and the potential for gold in downloads, the ongoing dismal results at the box office have to be causing headaches in Hollywood's executive suites.
Box office receipts have never really recovered from a disastrous 2005, barely beating inflation since then, while per-capita ticket purchases have stagnated:
These people never learn. Other than some diehard BDS sufferers, who in their right mind is going to pay to see an Oliver Stone depiction of George W. Bush? Fair or not, the president suffers from low poll numbers and we've heard for some time that America suffers from Bush fatigue, so it's curious why any studio would greenlight such a project and begin filming while he's still in office.
Hollywood apparently has learned nothing with the seemingly endless string of antiwar flicks bombing, so now we'll get the moonbat look at Bush. One can only imagine how Dick Cheney, Donaly Rumsfeld and the nefarious cabal of neocons will be portrayed.
Bush has been the most scrutinized president in modern times thanks to the explosion of the blogosphere, so it's not as if Stone would be able to shed any new light on his life or presidency. You can be sure, however, he will be taking creative license.
Iraq’s Anbar Province has awakened, the U.S. military is on the offensive, and Al Qaeda and is on the run but it is a mistake to assume this dramatic turnaround is exclusively the result of additional troops, J.D. Johannes, a former Marine and television news producer explained in an interview.
Johannes traveled to Iraq with the Marine Corps unit he previously served with in 2005 with the intention of pursuing syndicated television reports. This project grew into a documentary called “Outside the Wire: Call Sign Vengeance” that told the story of a Marine platoon on deployment in Fallujah.
Three additional documentaries followed from a subsequent trip in 2007 as part of “Outside the Wire.” The film, "Anbar Awakens," was screened during the Conservative Political Action Conference (CPAC) in Washignton D.C. last month. It highlights the partnership between coalition forces and Sunni tribes. The film points out that in 2006 a classified report had declared the province to be lost.
In their post-Oscar coverage on Monday, Washington Post writers suggested that Hollywood's celebration of dark movies with dark characters has a political genesis, that it came from moviemakers depressed over the Bush re-election, Iraq, and global warming. In his front-page piece, reporter Hank Stuever theorized:
But these were dark movies -- the feel-bad films of the year -- conjured up in what movie people seem to collectively sense as grave times, hatched in producers' offices and on writers' laptops not long after the 2004 election and amid increasing setbacks in the Iraq war and gloomy environmental warnings. Some of the filmmakers and actors wore orange ribbons or rubber bracelets to protest alleged incidents of torture by the United States at its prison in Guantanamo Bay, and in Afghanistan and Iraq -- the subject of "Taxi to the Dark Side," which won Best Documentary Feature.
When not offering a surfeit of death and gloom, Academy nominees this year focused, in at least some metaphorical way, on all the looming issues:
Left-wing blowhard Michael Moore didn't win an Oscar last night but the Academy of Motion Pictures didn't dissappoint the PC crowd, giving its award for best documentary to "Taxi to the Dark Side," a film by Alex Gibney and Eva Orner which accuses the U.S. military of engaging in torture around the globe:
The harrowing film throws the spotlight on US interrogation techniques at military facilities and investigates the death in custody of a Afghan taxi driver - Dilawar - at Bagram Air Base in Afghanistan in 2002. [...] Gibney, who also produced hit documentary "Enron: The Smartest Guys in the Room," said in his acceptance speech that his wife had wanted him to make a romantic comedy.
"But honestly after Guantanamo, Abu Ghraib and extraordinary rendition that simply wasn't possible," the film-maker said, before dedicating the film to Dilawar and his own father.
In his culture column this week, Brent Bozell explored how the Academy Awards have trended dramatically toward nasty art films that are not embraced by the masses. This is quite a contrast to a new anti-Oscar of sorts: the Dove Crystal Seal, issued by the Dove Foundation, which awards movies for being family-friendly. Brent notes that the standards are different, that a film can be a great artistic achievement and not be good for children, but the Oscars used to go to family films at times, and that's not so true now.
The first Dove Crystal Seals were awarded to hit movies like Disney's "Ratatouille," "National Treasure: Book of Secrets," and "The Game Plan" with the Rock, as well as Walden's religious picture "Amazing Grace." Brent found that inspirational subject matter makes the nation's film-critic tastemakers choke and say "ugh, Hallmark." For example:
Christian Toto, Washington Times entertainment reporter, dropped us a note about the upcoming release of a direct to DVD movie called, "I Could Never Be Your Woman." This flick that wasn't ranked high enough by the studio to get a theatrical release stars Michelle Pfeiffer, Paul Rudd, and Saoirse Ronan. It's supposed to be a love triangle comedy flick, but close to the end of the thing is included a slam on President Bush that has nothing at all to do with the rest of the movie and is blatant for its gratuitous nature.
As Mr. Toto has it this "nasty bit of Bush bashing" is at about 98 percent through the film and occurs during a scene where young Miss Ronan is playing the part of a teenaged talent show contestant.
Ronan's character takes the stage for a student talent show and starts strumming a song to the tune of Alanis Morissette's "Ironic."
Then Mr. Toto gives us the faux lyrics of this Bush bashing tune...
The writers' strike is giving conservative fans of "24" a temporary reprieve from a maddening, preachy plots planned in the new season. So argues Bryan Preston at Hot Air, noting that Hollywood praises liberal anti-military, anti-war on terror fare like "Redacted," while it can't abide a pro-American, pro-war on terror far like "24," despite the latter being vastly more successful as a commercial enterprise than the former.
Preston notes that Day 7 of "24" opens by featuring lead character Jack Bauer (Kiefer Sutherland) defending his actions before a congressional committee that will doubtless rail against his methods in obtaining intelligence from terrorists. He notes this merely gives fictional liberal senators air time to echo arguments "24" fans here time and again from real life liberal politicians and the mainstream media (emphasis mine):
As its Hollywood-borrowed headline There Will Be Blood suggests, the gist of Maureen Dowd's column today is that appearances of that icky post-debate clinch notwithstanding, there is no love lost between Hillary and Obama. The junior senator from Illinois won't agree to run as Hillary's vice-presidential candidate. Or as Maureen metaphorically puts it:
Why would Obama want to follow in the frustrated footsteps of Al Gore . . . being third banana to Billary?
Along the way, Dowd appears to break some news of a confrontation between the two that one camp views as having been physical . . .
American freedom is under assault within the scientific establishment and the academic community where the proponents of Intelligent Design (ID) theory are being silenced and marginalized at the expense of research that could potentially expand human knowledge and boost medical research, according to a new documentary that raises questions about Darwinian assumptions.
A growing number of scientists with expertise in biology, chemistry, physics and astronomy have encountered a level of complexity in the observable universe that in their estimation cannot be sufficiently explained by a random, directionless process. For this reason, they are compelled to offer up alternative theories for biological and astronomical objects that appear to be carefully calibrated and finely tuned by way of an intelligent agent.
Unfortunately, scientists in the United States who offer up Intelligent Design as a possible alternative to Charles Darwin’s 150 year old theories about the origins of life and the evolutionary process often find they cannot speak out without jeopardizing their careers and professional reputations.
“Expelled: No Intelligence Allowed” calls attention to the plight of highly credentialed researchers and scholars who have been forced out of prestigious positions. Instead of entertaining a free, unrestrained open debate on the merits of competing theories, the scientific establishment has instead moved to suppress the Intelligent Design movement in a “systematic and ruthless” fashion at odds with America’s founding principles, the film asserts.
Mark Moring has an interesting read at Christianity Today's Web site. He recalls all the popular movies in 2007 that feature life-affirming responses to unexpected pregnancy in films such as "Knocked Up," "Waitress," "Juno," "Bella," and "August Rush.":
To some, it was a year of war movies and "statement" flicks—including In the Valley of Elah, Lions for Lambs, and Rendition. Meanwhile, David Poland of Movie City News declared 2007 "Oscar's Year of the Man," noting that of the top sixteen contenders for best picture, only three were headlined by women.
But others noticed a different trend: In some ways, 2007 was the Year of Pro-Life Cinema.