In his culture column this week, Brent Bozell takes apart a Wall Street Journal op-ed by NBC chieftain Robert Wright, entitled "Federal Censorship Commission," warning that the threat of fines from the FCC has created a “climate of self-censorship,” an unmistakable “chill in the airwaves,” in which “the viewing public is the biggest loser.” In reality, the FCC moves extremely slowly (it's still puzzling over scenes on "NYPD Blue"), and the networks see them as a nuisance for their lawyers to bore to death with motions. Bozell writes of Wright:
He lauds his own talent at prediction, and how he warned in the same newspaper in 2004 that the titans of “creative integrity” in Hollywood would look less obscene than those who would urge the government to punish the broadcasting of obscenity. (How Orwellian: freedom is slavery, and opposing obscenity is obscene.)
In his culture column earlier in the week, Brent Bozell looked at the new NBC hit "Heroes" and how it draws in youngsters, but might carry a few too many sleazy adult twists for a young-skewing superhero series:
People who do a lot of business travel find themselves killing time by watching a lot of airline movies. Since the flying public includes a lot of children, the movie studios courteously provide the airlines with the movies edited for sex, language, ultra violence, and the like. And here’s the curious thing: I’ve never watched one of these movies and concluded at the end that it was cheapened by a lack of “gritty” (and I’m being kind here) material. Never in my life have I met a fellow passenger who suggested as much.
As the media crow about Democrats taking the reins of power on Capitol Hill, if you need a giggle, it's worth a rewind to the "Saturday Night Live" satire of MSNBC's "Hardball" on the October 28 show -- the same one with the fake Halloween GOP ads with Witchy Hillary and Count Obama. Chris Matthews (played as usual by Darrell Hammond) and Howard Dean (played by Jason Sudeikis) are expressing amazement at how pro-Democrat the polls are turning out:
Matthews: “Alright, I assume you've seen the latest poll, which has your party with an astonishing 55-point lead over the Republicans.”
Dean: “Life is good, Chris.”
Matthews: “But what amazes me is the internal numbers. I mean, the public now favors the Democrats in every issue. Even national defense.”
Dean: “I know, Chris. It's crazy. We can't be trusted on national defense.”
In his culture column this week, Brent Bozell wonders why on Earth the GOP doesn't have the wherewithal to attack the sleaze in Hollywood entertainment? Polls show a sizable majority are disgusted. But maybe it's because Hollywood is the big Democratic beehive you don't want to disturb. Or maybe by picking on TV network entertainment divisions, you're also picking on TV network news divisions. Or fussing about indecency makes you look square to independents? Whatever the reason, it's another season of never mind:
Looking back at the fall campaign, it’s yet another cycle in which the Republican political brain trust sidestepped the issue of America’s growing concern for indecency oozing out of almost every perfumed pore of Hollywood. This time it may have been the fatal mistake.
The gossip site Gawker reports CBS is trolling on Craigslist for that reliable species of American weirdo, the traditional family-values Christians who have Islamophobia:
Do you get nervous when you see a Muslim on an airplane? Have your opinions about Muslims changed since September 11? Do you have family or friends that get nervous around Muslims?
A NEW CBS SHOW SEEKS New York families who have traditional family values but are uneasy around Muslims.
The show will profile families in different communities across the country. This one hour documentary-style series from the producers of "Extreme Makeover: Home Edition" and "Deal or No Deal" will take a look at the people and cultures that make up America.
NBC's "Saturday Night Live" featured some fake Republican ads that were either intended as a) a dead-serious mockery of the GOP exploiting the terror threat and socially liberal causes or b) something so over the top it was just funny to everyone -- or maybe a little gross. About 18 minutes into the show came Robert Smigel's "TV Funhouse" cartoon feature, with President Bush discussing GOP ads. First, Smigel had his Bush introduce the authentic RNC Osama-"real stakes" commercial. Then, he had Bush say that if anyone was offended, the new ads were more festive and fun.
The first one had a Ted Kennedy photo mocked up as a vampire, saying with a Transylvania accent "I vant to cut and run!" Then bin Laden came into the picture and Kennedy was tongue-kissing him. Then "Count Obama" rose up (like Kennedy, an Obama pic mocked up with pointy ears and fangs) and said like the Count on Sesame Street, "One gay marriage... two gay marriages...three gay marriages..." Then it had real audio of Ken Mehlman saying this message paid for by the RNC, with his little picture on the bottom, just like the real ad shown first. Video (1:15): Real (2.04 MB) or Windows Media (2.33 MB ), plus MP3 audio (356 KB)
Sometimes, leftists make arguments that are just too odd to take seriously. On the blog News Corpse (an appropriate location to discuss whack-Bush movies, perhaps), there's great gnashing of teeth over CNN and NPR deciding not to air commercials (oops, that would be "enhanced underwriting" at NPR) for the Bush-assassination film "Death of a President."
CNN issued a brief statement that virtually admits its intention to censor, saying that…
“CNN has decided not to take the ad because of the extreme nature of the movie’s subject matter.”
By basing their decision on the movie’s “subject matter”, they have installed themselves as the public’s nanny. They believe that they are in the best position to decide for us which subjects matter. While they are a couple of yards further over the line than NPR, the public radio network’s excuse is not much better:
Hollywood has always been run by those on the left, but before the 60's and 70's, executives knew that their films had to appeal to mainstream America. That all changed when Hollywood decided to no longer censor itself, and directors got a free reign to turn movies into left-wing advocacy films. As a result, Hollywood has suffered ever since, with more empty theater seats every year.
It's gotten so bad that famed director George Lucas no longer thinks that making big-budget movies is even a viable business model.
As a company town, Hollywood has always tilted to some extent or another to the left, but the studio heads who ran it from the 1930s through the 1950s understood that its product must resonate with the American public as a whole to make money, regardless of their filmmakers' personal politics. Or as Sam Goldwyn is frequently attributed as saying, "Pictures are for entertainment, messages should be delivered by Western Union".
For Hollywood, the late 1960s began to mark a retreat from that philosophy. In a Wall Street Journal piece a few years ago, Michael Medved used the mid-1960s transition from the Hays Office, which acted as an industry-wide censor, to the G/PG/R/X ratings system we now take for granted, as being, effectively, the end of the golden age of movies. And, as Medved notes, that change influenced not just Hollywood's content, but its box office returns as well. Medved writes that in 1965, "44 million Americans went out to the movies every week. A mere four years later, that number had collapsed to 17.5 million":
Brent Bozell's culture column this week focused on two Washington Post articles from black staff writers who were moms horrified by the current state of hip-hop music and its effect on their children. Lonnae O'Neal Parker wrote broadly in "Why I Gave Up On Hip-Hop," but the other seemed very narrow-minded:
Natalie Hopkinson saw it in a different, more racially conspiratorial light. She wrote about how she reacted in horror when a middle-aged white female professor of hers said her five-year-old son Maverick was a fine boy and added, "I just can’t wait to watch him grow up and see his wonderful career as a rap star."
The horror was understandable, but the edge of paranoia creeped into the article. Hopkinson didn’t think the remark was innocent, but "confirmation" of a "conspiracy to destroy black boys," citing an author named Jawanza Kunjufu. (His book by that title is harsher. He calls it "genocide.")
The Disney movie ‘102 Dalmatians’ should be R-rated instead of G, two anti-smoking activists insist. Not because they antagonist was a demented woman bent on turning cute puppies into a fur coat. Nope. Cruella De Vil’s real crime was smoking.
“Movies that depict smoking are the single greatest media threat to children say two prominent doctors,” ABC’s Heather Nauert warned her “Good Morning America” audience.
Nauert’s October 10 story focused on two activists who call for the Motion Picture Association of America to automatically assign an R-rating to movies with any smoking in it. Yet in her story, Nauert left out how biased her sources were as well as failed to balance her story with any criticism of the doctors’ claims.
With the Phil Angelides California gubernatorial campaign fizzling out, it now sounds like Alec Baldwin is casting himself for that role. Baldwin's not so subtle auditioning pitch to become the Democrat gubernatorial candidate in California comes at the tail end of a typically rabid anti-Republican rant in his Huffingon Post blog:
Sad to think that it took the Foley situation to get the "Embarrassed Republicans" to start voicing their embarrassment. Nearly six years of lies, incompetence, lies, hate, lies, corruption, lies and war. Misguided, meaningless war that has destroyed the landscape of Iraq and the souls of the Iraqi people. And what has the war done for us, other than line the pockets of Bush, and his father's friends?
Liberal comedian Jon Stewart regularly analyzes and criticizes the cable and broadcast news programs. When someone tries to do the same to his "Daily Show," however, the Stewart says he's just a comedian doing "fake news."
That used to be true back in the day when "Daily" was primarily comprised of spoof reports and fake interviews. But since Iraq war started, "Daily" has largely turned into a nightly bash-Republicans program, with the news of the day as the cudgel. In so doing, Stewart has evolved his show into a news program, despite his protestations to the contrary.
Here at NB, we've long thought that "Daily" should be treated as a news show, even if its host is too timorous to want that kind of scrutiny. Now, a new study has come out confirming our point of view:
On a relatively slow news Sunday, perusing Google News in search of some morsel of MSM bias with which whip up NewsBusters readers, I came across these two stories, the first from CTV.ca, the second from the Hindustan Times:
"Jadakiss arrested for alleged weapon possession"
"Chikungunya visits Kerala after 30 years"
Both headlines left me baffled. Who is Jadakiss? UN diplomat? Star striker for Manchester United? Second cousin to Gene Simmons? Congressional staffer angry he didn't get an IM from Mark Foley?
And who or what is Chikungaya, and why is he/it visiting Kerala? For that matter, is Kerala a person or a place?
In his column on the decline and fall of morality on television this week, Brent Bozell applies scrutiny to the TV critics, a group of people often pushing and shoving the networks to shatter every moral barrier, break through every standard of taste. Showtime has a new series titled "Dexter," featuring actor Michael C. Hall in the title role, slobbered over by the critics for his role as the repressed gay funeral director in HBO's "Six Feet Under." This new show makes a hero out of a sadistic serial killer, because his insatiable desire to kill is channeled into killing other bad guys. During the day, he helps the cops catch other killers by assessing blood spatter patterns. Brent writes "He’s a sociopathic killer-slash-hero, with the emphasis on the slash – he carves his victims up to fit into Hefty bags." Here's more:
As pay-cable pioneers, always pushing the newest disgusting "edge" with an eye on extremely jaded TV critics, Showtime executives feel warm that they have brought more understanding to the world on behalf of the much-maligned serial killer. Said Showtime boss Robert Greenblatt: "This is a complex and fascinating look at serial killers, which, up to this point, have been marginalized and made two-dimensional."
Society has "marginalized" serial killers? Silly me. Here, all along, I thought those folks had done that to themselves.
Talk about a double standard. On the one hand, ABC News breaks stories pushing disgust at Mark Foley's "X-rated emails" with teenagers, and suggests Dennis Hastert should resign for being unable to stop them. But wait: ABC Entertainment rolls out the adult-on-teen gay sex scenes on ABC's smutty "Desperate Housewives" for fun and profit. It wins awards for ABC as "Best Comedy." How serious is ABC and Disney about the sexual exploitation of teens by adults? Doesn't it make money presenting it as saucy?
Did Aaron Sorkin finally realize that singling out Christians for mockery on his new show wasn't fair (or particularly brave)? We did criticize him pretty severely for his two-dimensional stereotyping of Christians in the opening show, and again, when he expanded on the slurs in "Studio 60"'s second week.
This time, "Studio 60" featured a skit on this show about a show that mocked not only Christians, but also "Meir Kahane" Jews, the Taliban, Tom Cruise the Scientologist, and a witch. They were all contestants in a skit about a show that denies science. This is certainly an improvement compared to singling out one religion. But does it mean that Sorkin and his writers are responding to critics?
Brent Bozell's entertainment column this week chronicled an especially sad decline of a one-time child star of "Little House on the Prairie" raging against her wholesome reputation in an attempt to keep snagging roles in the land of polymorphous perversity. Say it ain't so, Laura Ingalls!
Perhaps this is a classic example of how pathetically low our society’s morals have fallen in 25 years: Melissa Gilbert just guest-starred on the FX cable network’s grotesque show "Nip/Tuck." Are you ready for this? As a woman needing to have a nipple replaced....because her dog bit it off....during sex.
On CBS's racially-segregated "Survivor" reality show Thursday night, an Asian man named "Cao Boi" (pronounced Cowboy) went on a rant against the Iraq war and insisted American teenagers are going to be drafted and sent to Iraq en masse -- unless you're privileged, "unless you're Mr. Bush children." He was telling a story about a conversation he had at a restaurant:
“This old man he said, 'I come to United States, I’m so lonely, all my friends are in Vietnam.' He’s like fifty-something. And he just missed the old days. 'But I come to United States for my children’s future.' I go, ‘how old are your children?’ 'Fifteen and sixteen.' HA HA HA HA! Fifteen and sixteen! They trick you. They trick you. He go ‘what’? Fifteen and sixteen, you think in a couple of more years they’ll be in Iraq? ‘I’m sorry. For what?’ You’re Vietnamese. You should know better about war. You should know all about war.”
Here's a shocker: Oliver Stone doesn't like President Bush or the Iraq war. More of a shock is his remark: "Terrorism is a manageable action. It can be
Is it just me or does that seem surprisingly honest for a media liberal to admit he feels this way?
Filmmaker Oliver Stone blasted President Bush Thursday, saying he
has "set America back 10 years." Stone added that he is "ashamed for my
country" over the war in Iraq and the U.S. policies in response to the
attacks of Sept. 11.
"We have destroyed the world in the name of security. [...] From Sept. 12 on, the incident (the attacks) was politicized and it
has polarized the entire world," said Stone. "It is a shame because it
is a waste of energy to see that the entire world five years later is
still convulsed in the grip of 9/11.
Michael Moore, darling of the American left, is also a big hit in Islamic fundamentalist quarters. We already knew that Osama likes him, now, we learn that Iranian president Mahmoud Ahmadinejad is also a big fan.
Following his infamous speech to the United Nations, Ahmadinejad held a few receptions for Iranians and Iranian-Americans as well as the media. His translator while he was in this country wrote an account of Ahmadinejad's itinerary:
The following morning, Mr. Ahmadinejad held a 7:30 a.m. breakfast meeting, again at his hotel, with American academics and journalists. Earlier, he had expressed some interest in having Michael Moore attend, and although attempts were made to reach him (even by myself, since I was asked), they were unsuccessful. I was seated between Gary Sick (of Columbia University) and Jon Lee Anderson (of The New Yorker), and three hot issues were covered: nuclear power, Israel and the Holocaust.
Aaron Sorkin upped the stakes this week in "Studio 60"'s jihad against non-casual Christians. And sadly, it's probably very realistic in its portrayal of how Hollywood views large segments of the American public.
In the premiere of this show about a show, the head of "Studio 60", played by Judd Hirsch, had an "I'm mad as hell" moment on the air and was canned, because the network standards guy wouldn't let him run a skit that mocked Christians. Even though television is rife with shows that mock Christians, and has been at least since the Church Lady first appeared on "Saturday Night Live".
Why can't you conservatives be more like this, unelectable? That is the message of HBO's documentary, "Mr. Conservative," profiling the life of Barry Goldwater. Many Democrats are quoted praising Goldwater, which should set off alarm bells that the purpose of this seemingly congratulatory 90-minute film has ulterior motives.
One major quibble: William F. Buckley Jr. is quoted nowhere in this program, which is such a ridiculous omission that viewers, particularly conservatives, will be agape at the oversight. What's the answer? Who knows, although a legion of Democratic admirers - Al Franken, Hillary Rodham Clinton (who campaigned as a "Goldwater Girl" in '64), Sen. Edward Kennedy (his brother John F. Kennedy and Goldwater were close friends, as well as potential presidential rivals) - are quoted. At least George F. Will is his usual eloquent self.
Al Franken's praising Goldwater? Does Franken admire Goldwater's racial policies, or does he admire Goldwater's embarassing defeat at the hands of Lyndon Johnson?
The essence of the documentary: longing for that old-style conservative who would readily wear a target for liberal potshots.
Breaking in a parallel universe somewhere: NBC is set to air live footage of actor Jean Reno portraying the Islamic prophet Mohammed engaging in sex acts with another man.
In our real world, according to Matt Drudge, the network is going to be airing a "special" concert featuring over-the-hill singer Madonna Louise Veronica Ciccone (aka Madonna) singing her song "Live to Tell" while standing on a disco-style crucifix and sporting a glittery pretend crown of thorns. It's a repeat of shows she's done in Europe.
Frankly, I have to yawn at this point. There's nothing new here. If these Hollywood types had any real guts or edge, they'd do PR stunts in the style of Trey Parker and Matt Stone's "Team America." But since they and Ciccone are pseudo artists, that's not likely to happen.
Note to the professionally offended: I am not advocating ridiculing any particular religion here. Just saying what Ciccone et al. would do if they ever thought about living up their supposed ideals.
"Studio 60 on the Sunset Strip" premiered on NBC tonight, and it looks like more of the same old, same old. Judd Hirsch's character, in charge of the Saturday Night Live-like show flew into a snit when the network standards and practices exec forced him to pull a skit called "Crazy Christians".
In his culture column this week, Brent Bozell offers a preview of Monday's premiere of NBC's "Studio 60 on the Sunset Strip." (The premiere, on DVD, was available from Netflix.) Why critique it? The first plot of this "Saturday Night Live"-derived show from "West Wing" producer-writer Aaron Sorkin centers around a canceled skit entitled "Crazy Christians," which apparently was a laugh riot:
When his skit is axed, the outraged fictional "SNL" producer [played by Judd Hirsch] bounds onto the stage and unleashes a lecture on live television. It’s what Sorkin has probably wanted to say about network executives (and their alleged overreaction to those crazy Christians) many times. "The two things that make them scared gutless are the FCC and every psycho religious cult that gets positively horny at the very mention of a boycott." Sorkin was so impressed with his own insult that it reruns later in the show in fictional news clips.
British comedian Sacha Baron Cohen's comic creation Borat Sagdiyev has caused so much outrage in Kazakhstan with his new movie, President George W. Bush will address the issue when he meets the Kazakh leader.
Bush is set to hold talks with Nursultan Nazarbayev over oil supply--and disgusted Kazakhs have demanded action over Borat: Cultural Learnings of America for Make Benefit Glorious Nation of Kazakhstan.
Foreign Ministry spokesperson Roman Vassilenko says, "We have made it clear that we are unhappy with the character's representation. He does not represent the true people of Kazakhstan."
It was stunning, and yet it was eerily reminiscent of the extraordinary discipline of Team Clinton. Days before the ABC miniseries "The Path to 9/11" was to air, they determined the network fudged in its commitment to follow faithfully the facts in the 9/11 Commission report. A scene or two in the otherwise remarkable presentation was false.
And this was the angle Team Clinton needed in order to pounce. The Clinton campaign kicked into high gear in the days before it aired, with the ex-president and his lawyering aides and Democrats in Congress all pressuring ABC to dump the film.
It’s important to understand that Team Clinton didn’t demand the film be edited for accuracy. They wanted everything -- including all the accurate criticisms and findings – thrown in the garbage. Clinton had his usual cleanup squad write letters to ABC chief Bob Iger demanding the $40 million movie be deep-sixed: "We expect that you will make the responsible decision to not air this film."
From the start, Wyatt adopts the POV of the Clintonians that tried to stop ABC from airing the miniseries:
"The first half of ABC’s dramatic mini-series 'The Path to 9/11,' which drew fierce advance partisan reaction last week over its portrayal of Clinton administration officials, drew an estimated 13 million viewers Sunday night, several million more than a rebroadcast of a CBS documentary about Sept. 11 but far fewer than NBC’s opening-week National Football League game.
In 2003, the New York Times editorialized against the CBS decision to yank its personal-attack film "The Reagans" and said conservatives "helped create the Soviet-style chill embedded in the idea that we, as a nation, will not allow critical portrayals of one of our own recent leaders."
But Tuesday's Times carries an editorial that never mentioned a "Soviet-style chill" in the attempts of Clinton and his staffers to kill ABC's "The Path to 9/11." Instead of decrying "fierce" ideological assault on the media, the Times again finds its villains on the right, attacking Rush Limbaugh and moderate Republican Thomas Kean. It makes "One suggestion: when attempting to recreate real events on screen, you do not show real people doing things they never did." (Like Jayson Blair claiming to report for the Times from West Virginia when he was in New York City?)
The New York Times' reliably liberal television-beat reporter Alessandra Stanley offered up a surprising assessment in her mostly favorable review of “The Path to 9-11," a review which ran on Friday when there was still some doubt as to whether or not ABC would cave in to the Clintonistas and various left-wing bloggers furious at the network. The first part of the miniseries ran last night with some selective edits but with the essence of the story intact, further infuriating the left with its picture of a Clinton administration unwilling to take terrorism seriously.