Archive for the ‘WWNPHD?’ Category
Bruce Carroll has a piece up today at Big Hollywood that’s a nice twofer of hilarious right-blog fake-controversy tactics. First, he get all red-in-the-face over how YOU LIBERALS! might overreact given certain circumstances that don’t actually exist. Maybe one day right-bloggers will stop arguing with the LIBERALS in their heads, and start talking to actual liberals, and we can begin to move forward as a political culture, but, hey, in the meantime at least I have this bitchy blog. In the second part of Carroll’s outrage-over-meaningless-shit doubleheader, he sees an affront to his values in something completely innocuous. You may wonder how, rhetorically, it’s possible for Carroll to take LIBERALS to task for being easily offended and himself become offended over something minor in the same piece, but oh, he manages it. Part one:
This article is nearly three months in the making. For the second year in a row, my partner John and I attended the Country Music Association (CMA) Music Fest in Nashville, TN in early June. As a side note, if you ever get the opportunity – GO! It is a weeklong celebration of great country music and the great American city of Nashville.
But this isn’t a tourist agency pimping of Music City. Nope, it is a damning indictment of Hollywood’s natural, auto-immune liberal bias. Let me explain.
I wish Carroll would actually explain that metaphor, because I’m pretty sure he doesn’t know what “auto-immune” means. I’m unsure as to how an ideological bias could be “auto-immune” or “natural,” but I’m pretty sure by “auto-immune” he means “defensive” and by “natural” he means something like “inherent” or “ingrained.” If it were “auto-immune” (ie, attacking its own host), you would think Carroll would like that. Similarly, if it were “natural,” I’m not sure what Carroll would have to complain about. Would he prefer an unnatural conservative bias? Oh, whatever, I’ll just move on.
Carroll spends some time lovingly describing CMA Fest for uninitiated, and randomly complaining about Twitter, before finally getting to outrage number 1:
When viewers saw Tim McGraw sing “Southern Voice” last night on ABC, there was an important moment that the network cleverly edited out and actively hid from America. Why? Because it was inflammatory and would have exposed McGraw, a passionate Democrat activist, to extreme ridicule today.
In what looked like a throwback to the Black Power days of the 1960s, but in reverse, McGraw raised his fist during the chorus of “Southern Voice.” The first time he did it, I was surprised. The second time I was prepared.
[Youtube video uploaded by Carroll, titled “White Power fist – Tim McGraw]
Not that I would make a big deal out of it, but imagine, if you will, if this was a known conservative singer who had raised his or her fist in the air while singing a song called “Southern Voice.” But where’s the outrage? Nowhere. McGraw actively campaigned for Barack Obama in 2008 (which makes the “white power” fist action even more surreal). In fact, McGraw lent his vocal talents in January 2010 to a soundtrack compilation, ‘By the People: For the People,’ inspired by the film, ‘By the People: The Election of Barack Obama.’ McGraw joined other notable left-wing artists such as Bruce Springsteen, Dave Matthews, the Dixie Chicks and Sheryl Crow on the album paying homage to President Obama.
I’d like to ask the ABC producers of the CMA broadcast last night why they chose to do a tight shot of McGraw during the white power fist move. And if he thought it was an okay move to make, why they felt they had to shelter him with their clever close-up and editing job.
I actually have two responses to this argument, which is two more than something this patently absurd deserves. First of all, if, say, Toby Keith raised his fist in the air during a CMA performance, I promise you that no one would be outraged. Not a single person. No one would care. No one. Seriously, no one. There’s nothing remotely racially charged about the move McGraw pulls in the video Carroll posts, except in the fevered mind of someone who sees Black Panthers everywhere. I’ve seen probably a dozen or more musicians do the exact same thing on stage. It’s a very, very common rockstar pose. And Carroll’s argument is weirdly circular. Is he angry at McGraw because he’s a liberal who did something Carroll believes is racist? Or is he just angry because he thinks a conservative couldn’t get away with the same thing? If he thinks it’s racially-charged, why would he want a conservative to be able to get away with the same thing? Zah?
But that’s the common sense response, and since common sense is unlikely to appeal to Carroll, I’ll meet him on his level: Here is the official video for “Southern Voice.” In it, at the same point in the song, McGraw does the “white power fist,” and the video moves in to the same close-up that ABC’s editors chose. McGraw likely raises his fist in the air every single time he performs this song, and ABC’s editors were likely just mimicking the style of his own music video.
But on to part two. I’ve already quoted Carroll’s piece extensively, so I’ll just recap his second argument; feel free to read his piece in full if you feel I might be mischaracterizing it. Carroll is upset that ABC chose to air two Carrie Underwood performances (“Cowboy Casanova” and “Undo It”) and not a third (a medley of “Jesus, Take the Wheel” and “How Great Thou Art”) and cites this decision as evidence of an ABC agenda that “actively and aggressively demotes the importance of Christianity – and God – in American society and pop culture.”
It’s a weird accusation to level at ABC, the major network most dedicated to traditional family programming, and even aggressively Christian programming (The 700 Club runs in syndication on ABC Family). Setting aside Carroll’s fantastic claim of systemic anti-Christian program editing, tt’s far, far more likely that ABC chose to air “Undo It” and “Cowboy Casanova” because they are Underwood’s most recent #1 hits (reaching #1 on the country charts August 7th, 2010, and November 21st, 2009, respectively; “Jesus, Take the Wheel” was last at #1 in 2005). Furthermore, ABC did air Underwood’s performance of “Jesus, Take the Wheel” during its 2006 CMA Fest special. I guess the idea is that if they don’t air it every year, it’s an affront to Christians? Maybe Carroll’s beef is really with Underwood herself; lady needs to write some new Jesus-ey songs.
And of course, how else would a Big Hollywood piece close, but with a random dig at Obama:
Not incidentally there was a third performance missing from the ABC broadcast. And it was missing from the entire week at CMA Music Fest in June. And it was not seen in Nashville at all since that city was devastated by a thousand-year flood this past May.
What would that be, you naturally ask? The fact is that President Obama has never visited Middle Tennessee and never properly acknowledged the devastation faced by its residents.
Obama did declare a disaster in Tennessee. Here’s TN Governor Phil Bredesen on the White House response to the disaster:
I have to say that FEMA and the White House have been absolutely supportive. Very quickly FEMA was on the ground here before the raindrops started falling. … The President was on the phone to me before the sun came up practically on Monday morning. Slightly after it came up, other people from the White House had called and checked in with us and helped. … I’ve never seen this kind of a response to things that have happened. We’ve had our share of tornadoes and those kinds of things. … I’m very, very pleased with the response we’ve gotten from the administration.
Carroll has me a little exhausted, so I’ll just leave him with one final link that may help him with future pieces: http://www.google.com
Yep, that’s Big Hollywood‘s Steven Crowder throwin’ up the air quotes for
If you believe in the modern concept of “peace,” you might be an idiot.
Definitely one of the more lazy and ridiculous examples of BH’s reliance on putting scare quotes around benign words and phrases to make them sound bad (though not as awesome as the time Crowder put scare quotes around the Virginia Tech shooter’s name).
When you strip away the crazy (and there’s a lot of it this time), the main thrust of Crowder’s argument–that war is sometimes necessary–is one that few people, even on the far left, would disagree with. I’m so old, in fact, I can remember when Republicans were largely isolationists. Liberals have spent years advocating for military intervention in a host of troubled regions: Sudan, Liberia, Rwanda, the Balkans, Somalia, etc. Not that I personally agree that military intervention would be/would have been/was the right call in all those situations, I’m just sayin’.
But it’s possible, I suppose, that Crowder’s not making his customary strawmanish “YOU LIBERALS…” argument, and that he’s narrowly criticizing the hardcore peace movement that opposes any military action.
If that’s what he wants to do, he goes about it in a bizarre way. First he does a couple so-bad-they-go-past-good-and-back-to-bad bits lampooning John Lennon (ooooo, burn, guy-who’s-been-dead-for-29-years) and reeling off some quick ad hominem attacks relating to Lennon’s personal life. That’s weird enough, but then he goes into the tired old John Birch Society conspiracy theory about the origins of the peace symbol. Next he’ll be freaking out about the pyramid on the $1 bill. National Treasure 3: Rise of the Lispy Canadian.
Now, if you want to criticize the peace movement, calling them crypto-anti-Christians is a pretty weird tactic, given the modern peace movement’s Christian roots. Apparently some people take that “love your enemies, do good to those who hate you” thing literally.
Since screwing his fellow conservatives over by wresting Roger L. Simon’s money from them (I know that’s two in a row, but I never get sick of linking to that one!), Alfonso Rachel has actually been very judicious with his use of air-scare-quotes, though you can tell in this clip that he’s just dying to use them during his TOTALLY FAIR paraphrasing of an abortion-rights advocate.
I must say though, Rachel gets points for honesty, with his admission that the only actual basis for his opposition to abortion rights is religious in nature. His argument for outlawing abortion rests on his claim that America has been, since its founding, a religious nation (Rachel alternates between describing it as “Judeo-Christian” and just straight-up “Christian”). So yay theocracy! I guess?
Since I am too tired to re-hash the history of the establishment clause and early establishment clause jurisprudence (I mean, it’s 2009. The least you can do is read the Wikipedia article about something before you start running your mouth, dude), I’ll take a different angle.
I’d be interested to hear Rachel’s thoughts on the broader implications of this argument. We’re a Christian nation! The founders were Christian! Should divorce be illegal? What should the prison sentence be for adultery? How often should people like Rachel be forced to re-read the various bits in Matthew condemning the hypocrisy of the Pharisees? Discuss!
Yeah, yeah, I know I haven’t been updating. And at the worst possible time, what with the whole absurd ACORN pimp story going down, and Andrew Breitbart launching himself into the mainstream political discourse (or, rather, the mainstream political discourse lowering itself to the level of Andrew Breitbart). If I’d been doing the blow-by-blow on that, it coulda been my ticket to INTERWEB STARDOM.
But really, I haven’t been posting much because, after a long break for some summer traveling, I returned to find Big Hollywood devoted almost entirely to the NEA thing, the ACORN thing, and the singing children thing. Like, 5 pieces a day on each. I just did not have the energy, y’all. Those are three such lame stories. I’m trying to be a polemicist here! Give me something more to work with, BH! Compare Obama to Hitler again! Rep for Miley Cyrus and Twilight as our cultural saviors like you used to! Go back to Comparing third tier GOP pols to sci-fi characters! Something! Anything!
Luckily, Doug Giles, a BH n00b late of, lulz, NRA News is here with his list of Doug Giles’ Top Ten Pastoral Strawmen. Giles, you see, is upset that some pastors and priests are “avoiding the culture war.” He doesn’t name any specific person, locale, congregation, denomination, or style, and he doesn’t explain what issues are encompassed by this “culture war” he thinks the clergy ought to be engaging in. His wording is so weird and broad that I can only assume he’s pissed at any man of the cloth who doesn’t yell “FEEEEEEEETUUUUUUSSSSSS” at the top of his lungs every time someone uses the letter “O.”
As far as I’m concerned, a silent or waffling pastor in today’s paranormal climate is unnecessary. I don’t care how much the minister likes kitty cats, candy canes, and if he cries at Celine Dion concerts. Look, Voiceless Vicar, if you’re not currently in the middle of this crucial cultural squabble, pointing out what’s putrid and cheering on what’s proper, then you’re Dr. Evil in my book.
I don’t think “paranormal” means what he thinks it means. And “Voiceless Vicar”? Did I get sucked in to a 13th Century miracle play or something? And why is liking candy canes a sign of weakness on par with Celine Dion fandom? Candy canes are delicious! I guess enjoying seasonal confections makes me the biggest fag in fagtown.
But let’s go through the Reasons Some Pastors Don’t Have Big Jangly Balls Like Doug Giles one-by-one:
1. Fear of Man: If you purport to be a man of God then your regard for God and His opinion must trump the trepidation of the creature God created from spit and mud. Come on, man of God, don’t fear the crowd . . . we’re peons with cell phones who’ll shoot Botox into our foreheads. We’re weird and fickle weather vanes of what’s en vogue. You’ve got to lead us. Therefore, move into the Moses mode and command us to be and do what is holy, just and good. The grinning, mild, subtle Oprah approach doesn’t seem to be stemming the current flood of cultural filth.
I’m not sure where homeboy is getting the “spit and mud” thing. Maybe he should be more angry at his local pastor for not explaining Genesis 1-2 better. And maybe Giles and I just go to different services, but “DRINK THE BLOOD OF YOUR GOD” doesn’t sound like something Oprah would say.
2. Ignorance: Most people are not bold in areas in which they are ignorant . . . always excepting Janeane Garofalo, of course. I know keeping up with all the pressing political issues is maddening, but that’s life, brother, and if you want to be a voice in society and not just an echo, you have got to be in the know. Staying briefed is par for the course for the hardy world changer.
This one is most confusing to me. What issues does Giles think churches ought to be concerned with? The particular hobbyhorses of the religious right (abortion, gay rights, etc) haven’t changed in a generation. Does he think pastors should be up there yakking about whatever bullshit story cable news is fabricating that day? “My children, please bow as I COME TO YOU LIVE WITH EXCLUSIVE BREAKING NEWS ON THE LACI PETERSON STORY.”
3. Division: Y’know, I hate the current non-essential divisions in the church as much as the next acerbic Christian columnist. Squabbling over the color of the carpet, who’ll play the organ next Sunday or who is the Beast of Revelation, is stupidity squared. That being said, there’s a time and place for a holy throw-down and an ecclesiastical split from political policies and parties. For a minister to seek unity with secularists when they are trashing and rewriting Scripture with impunity is to side with vice and to allow darkness to succeed.
4. Last Days Madness: Many ministers do not get involved in political issues because they believe that “it simply doesn’t matter” since “the end has come.” These defeatists believe that any change in the jet stream, war, earthquakes, a warming globe, the success of a corrupt politician—or even a new Shakira video—are “proof” that God is getting really, really ticked off and that His only recourse is to have Christ physically return and kick some major butt. Attempting to right culture is, in the defeatists’ eyes, equivalent to polishing brass on a sinking ship; therefore, they are content to simply pass out gospel tracts, tramp from Christian rock concert to Christian rock concert, eat fatty foods and stare at Christian TV.
WTF crazy-ass church is Giles attending where they talk about Shakira videos as signs of the End Times? Because I want to go there.
5. Sloth: Classically defined, sloth is lethargy stemming from a sense of hopelessness. Viewing our nation and the world as an irreparable disaster, where our exhortations, prayers, votes and labors will not produce any temporal fruit, leaves one with all the fervor of a normal guy who’s forced to French kiss his sister. If you’re wondering why your flock is so apathetic, Pastor Eeyore, ask yourself if you have stolen the earthly hope that their valiant efforts can actually prevail in time and not just in eternity.
OK, I guess laziness is bad. But like… was Doug Giles “forced to French kiss his sister” once? That’s an oddly specific example.
6. They don’t want to lose their tax-exempt status: Many pastors, priests and parishioners have been cowed into inactivity by the threatened loss of their tax-exempt status if they say anything remotely political. This can make pastors who don’t, or won’t, get good legal advice about as politically active as Howard Hughes was during the flu season.
As long as they aren’t endorsing specific candidates, this will not happen. Even if they do, it probably won’t happen.
7. They bathe in paltry pietism: Pastors avoid politics because such concerns are “unspiritual,” and their focus is on the “spirit world.” Yes, to such imbalanced ministers, political affairs are seen as “temporal and carnal,” and since they trade in the “eternal and spiritual,” such “worldly” issues get nada.
This bunch is primarily into heavenly emotions and personal Bible study, and they stay safely tucked away from society and its complicated issues. How sweet. They forget that they are commanded to be seriously engaged with our culture or fall into the worthless manure category Christ warned them of (Mt. 5.13). Snap.
Unless Giles has some sort of New Translation for Manly Badass Cultural Warriors edition of the Bible that I don’t, Matthew 5:13 doesn’t say anything about “manure,” unsurprisingly. And again, Giles doesn’t explain what being “seriously engaged with the culture” would look like. Because if complaining about Shakira videos isn’t up-to-the-minute enough for two millenia-old religion, I’m at a loss.
8. They have bought into the Taliban comparison: Pastors have muffled their political/cultural voices because they fear being lumped in with Islam by the politically-correct thought police. The correlation made between Christians’ non-violent attempts at policy persuasion and the Taliban’s kill-you-in-your-sleep campaigns is nothing more than pure, uncut crapola.
That’s a neat rhetorical trick there. I’m engaging in a “non-violent policy persuasion” to convince people that we ought to bomb Iraq, Afghanistan, and probably Iran until there’s nothing left. But see, see, my call to do that is non-violent. I’m just like Jesus!
9. They can’t say “no” to minutiae: Some ministers can’t get involved in studying or speaking out regarding pressing issues simply because of the ten tons of junk they are forced to field within their congregations. Spending time wet nursing 30-year-olds without a life and being bogged down in committee meetings over which shade of pink paint should be used for the women’s ministerial wing of their church, ministers are lucky if they get to study the Bible nowadays—much less anything else.
Pastors aren’t supposed to be part of their community! They’re supposed to be spending their time shouting at their community!
10. They like the money: The creepy thing about a lot of ministers is their unwillingness to give political or cultural offense when offense is needed, simply because taking a biblical stand on a political issue might cost them their mega-church, which means their seven homes, their Bentley and their private jet. Oh well, what do you expect? Christ had His Judas, and evangelicalism has its money loving hookers.
Again, I’m confused here, since, as a group, mega-church pastors tend to be the more political than their Catholic or mainline Protestant counterparts, with their hippie-ass lives of modest, local service to their communities. Don’t they know about ACORN? Don’t they know about Van Jones? Don’t waste your time taking Communion to that bed-ridden old lady, padre. Read the Washington Times instead!
Hey there, party people! I’ve been remiss in updating this blog, largely thanks to a bunch of traveling I’ve done over the last month or so. I am, after all, but one man again the ever-growing legions of unpaid Big Hollywood contributors. So I’ll be spending the next couple of days going over some of BH’s Greatest Hits from the last month or so, in order to catch you up on What a Bunch of Idiots Did on My Summer Vacation.
First up is this surprisingly even-toned piece about Brad Pitt’s atheism by Jason Killian Meath. After praising Pitt’s post-Katrina charity work
Look, I don’t have an ax to grind with Brad Pitt — I enjoy many of his films — and I’ve just written a book singing praises of his extensive charitable work with Jolie. My only point is this: it’s a curious case indeed when one can’t find a little spirituality in leading such a charitable life.
Hilariously, Meath seems genuinely surprised that an atheist/agnostic (Pitt self-identifies as “20 percent atheist and 80 percent agnostic,” whatever the fuck that means) would actually be interested in helping people, instead of like, luring naive schoolchildren into the forest and devouring them whole or something. It’s pretty great that the response this elicits in Meath isn’t the usual bulging-forehead-vein Big Hollywood bluster, but utter confusion.
Can’t he find a spark of spirituality in the innocent eyes of one of his six children — adopted or biological? As a parent, the purity of mind, body and spirit of a child is often miraculous and can move the soul quite unexpectedly. Pitt, and his wife Angelina Jolie, have traveled the world finding children — scooping them from war zones, disease and poverty — giving them opportunities in life they never would have dreamed possible. Still running on empty Brad?
An atheist who doesn’t hate children? Now I’ve seen everything!
Jeffrey Jena is dropping Lit101 knowledge on us today, in service of a strained analogy that, while not quite as hilariously nonsensical as the stuff Skip Press comes up with, still makes a good effort. Before we get into why Obama is just like Oedipus though, let me address this:
I was watching the President at Notre Dame a few weeks ago and hoping that one good Catholic student would rise in defense of the church and the unborn and do what the Jesuits teach best, question authority. I wanted just one strong Catholic woman to respectfully express her disappointment with the school’s decision to invite a man so at odds with many of the teachings of the church. It didn’t happen, or if it did I didn’t see it reported.
A few things:
1) No one staged a protest during the Notre Dame commencement because conservative (or otherwise vehemently pro-life) students held an alternative ceremony, which was widely covered by AP, the cable nets, etc. I even saw students from that ceremony interviewed on my own local Fox news.
2) “Good Catholic.” Fuck yourself, Jeffrey Jena. In ’99 or so, when George Bush started copping John Paul II’s “culture of life” line, he convientiently made it all about abortion. The Pope’s call for a “culture of life” was also, clearly, a call for an end to the death penalty and euthanasia. We all know George Bush’s record on the death penalty, and yet there was no national coverage of the (modest) protests staged by the Progressive Student Alliance, Pax Christi, and others when Bush delivered the 2002 commencement at Notre Dame. There was no hand-wringing over the state of ND’s “Catholic character.”
3) Obama’s never personally overseen an abortion. Can’t say the same of George Bush with regard to executions.
But enough of me nerding out over Catholicism (though I’d be happy to continue in the comments!) Let’s get to the meat of Jena’s argument:
As I watched the address, and many of the events since, I realized that what we are all watching is the unfolding of a classical Greek drama. It is interesting to note that the early Greek tragedies started with a song of praise to the god Dionysus who was known to inspire ecstasy and madness. Perhaps our unfolding modern drama was begun by the mainstream media’s song of praise for Mr. Obama. Aristotle thought a good tragedy should arouse both fear and pity … anybody with me yet?
No, no one is with you. Because you sound like a crazy person. Not every goddamn thing in human culture is directly relatable to the narrow world of American electoral politics. I don’t know when Big Hollywood contributors are going to realize that offering up an analogy between Obama and whatever random Wikipedia pages they opened that day doesn’t serve to illuminate anything other than their own wackness.
The first element in a classical tragedy is the noble hero or protagonist. The hero must appear at first to be perfect though he has a fatal flaw. The hero is driven to accomplish some great task but his flaw will make this go horribly awry. The protagonist in our tragedy is Mr. Obama. He is the modern Oedipus tortured by his abandonment as a child by his mother. He craves the love she showed for causes and others but not him. Rejection by his mother caused him to doubt his worthiness to be loved and develop low self esteem. I know that might sound a little nutty — how can someone who has risen so far have low self esteem? Many overachievers are driven by that same flaw. This character fault also may have led him to experiment with drugs and alcohol in his early years.
I’d love to know the basis for this bit of pop psychoanalysis. Random pull-quotes from The Audacity of Hope that Jena got from an e-mail forward? I always squirmed during the Bush years, whenever a fellow LIBTARD would try to tell me that Iraq was all about Bush’s daddy issues. I’m pretty disappointed (though not entirely surprised) to see conservative commentators start in with the same bullshit. I wonder how Jena would explain Bush’s experimentation with drugs and alcohol? For SHAME, Bar, we never knew what an absentee mother you were.
At the same time he seeks the approval and love of that dead parent, Mr. Obama tries to prove that she was wrong to reject him. His desire to achieve has brought him to see his destiny as being a leader and a man that commands respect. He first tried to find this in community organizing and then in politics. His rise will prove his mother’s rejection of him to have been a mistake. His drive to achieve and win love and affection from a distant and cold mother is also what keeps him from denouncing his old friends like Bill Ayers and Jeremiah Wright. If he rejects those who have accepted him he will be exactly like his mother when his whole life is a struggle to prove he is not.
The next element of tragedy is hubris. The hero feels entitled, that his abilities will allow him to overcome fate and to violate moral law without consequence. Mr. Obama, also like Oedipus, is afflicted by the sin of hubris. In Ancient Greece that overwhelming sense of pride and entitlement was considered not only a character flaw but was a crime. The Greeks felt that pride often led to poor judgment and unnecessary acts of violence against ones enemies. Acts of hubris were often hypocritical and would, in Greek drama, eventually lead to the protagonist’s downfall. We see this in Mr. Obama recent “date night” in New York City.
This bit is fantastic. Yes, Jena. Taking your wife for a weekend in New York is an affront to fate and gods! Never has a world leader been so consumed by the sin of pride as to take his wife on a date. Cover your children’s eyes! Quelle horror!