Category Archives: Hollywood

The Paltrow Of Politics (Minus Looks & Ethics)

Capitalism, Elections, Foreign Policy, Free Markets, Healthcare, Hillary Clinton, Hollywood, Military, Uncategorized, War

“The Paltrow Of Politics (Minus Looks & Ethics)” is the current column, now on WND. An excerpt:

Hillary Rodham Clinton has done some “conscious uncoupling” from reality. The term was disgorged by a celebrity, Gwyneth Paltrow, to announce a separation from her spouse. In the same breath, the actress bemoaned her gilded, glamorous life, and offended America’s military sacred cow by comparing the cyber-attacks she endures to the experience of war.

As heir to a political dynasty founded by a powerful man, Hillary has received millions of dollars to write books. Over the years, she and husband Bill Clinton have made hundreds of millions from both book deals and speaking engagements. Yet in a recent ABC interview, the former “First Housewife” complained about emerging from the White House not only “dead broke, but in debt”: “We had no money when we got there and we struggled to … piece together the resources for mortgages, for houses, for Chelsea’s education. You know, it was not easy.” …

… But on CNN, love is in the air. Viewers have expressed a belief that Hillary would restore the country to the Clinton years of peace and prosperity. Bill Clinton bombed Iraq in 1998, as well as a Sudanese pharmaceutical company that turned out to be the main manufacturer of medicines and vaccinations in Sudan. And he strafed the Serbs in 1999. Stateside, Bill butchered 76 men, women and children in Texas. Alas, so long as Hillary steers clear of another Waco, and confines her murderous sprees to killing far-away people from high above—few boots on the ground—her countrymen will consider her a peace-maker.

While prosperity during the Clinton years was due less to Clinton-economics than to Reaganomics and a Republican Congress not yet completely comatose—in fairness, Bill does grasp something about prosperity. “This is good work,” he famously said about Mitt Romney’s much-maligned work at Bain Capital. Hillary, conversely, has no economic acumen. “There are rich people everywhere, and yet they do not contribute to the growth of their own countries,” she grumbled at the Clinton Global Initiative, in 2012. According to economist George Reisman’s cogent analysis—and contra Mrs. Clinton’s crushing ignorance—“a highly productive and provident one percent provides the standard of living of a largely ignorant and ungrateful ninety-nine percent.” As for Obama’s putsch for a North-Korean style health care: Instead of aborting it, Hillary will guarantee that Obamacare reaches full-term gestation.

Another wily fox called Bill (O’Reilly) has defended Mrs. Clinton’s riches as capitalism’s reward for hard work. Not quite. Hillary has accrued wealth by using the predatory political process to wield power over others. Although she has pudding for brains, Gwyneth Paltrow, on the other hand, has made a living in the honest, productive, non-predatory and salutary ways of the free-market. Paltrow’s affluence, unlike Hillary’s, is a reward for assets she peddles to people who choose to purchase them. …

Read the complete column. “The Paltrow Of Politics (Minus Looks & Ethics)” is now on WND.

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UPDATE IV: Latest Anti-Man Moaning From Menstruation Lobby (‘The Americans’)

Capitalism, Celebrity, Feminism, Film, Gender, Government, Hollywood, Political Correctness

Just for a change, the menstruation lobby is moaning about the movies and its members’ representation therein: “The latest study on women in front of the camera finds that female characters are still significantly under-represented on the big screen. … The numbers for minority females are even lower. African-American female representation on screen climbed to 14%, from 8% in 2011, but down from 15% in 2012.”

Despite the same lobby’s attempt to ban the word, we women are “bossy.”

I control the remote in the house. My husband, however, is happy to allow it, because we like viewing the same things—except that he is more patient and prone to watch foolish female heroes strut their stuff in stilettos and plunging cleavages while chasing the bad guys. He’s been softened. He believes the schtick.

Other than “Olivia” in “Law and Order”—she’s the only believable woman in a tough-cop routine—I can’t watch females as action heroes because it doesn’t make sense. I’m way too wedded to reality to find women believable in these roles.

As for the presence of minorities in movies: it usually signals a two-hour long, oppressive racial lecture. And “I’m no more inclined to turn to ’12 Years A Slave’ for entertainment, than I am to subject myself to Oprah Winfrey and her M.O.P.E. (Most Oppressed Person Ever) ‘Butler.’”

Maybe other viewers are on to this and agree, because it is quite clear that Hollywood is giving viewers what they want to see: men in lead roles. If film executives listened to loathsome Lena Dunham, instead of to the demands of consumers—the industry would go bankrupt.

In any event, Sean and I both like the Metal and Military Channels, “Investigation Discovery” for the gory real-life murder cases, “Law and Order” (Olivia’s awesome), “The Following,” “Criminal Minds” (the horror compensates for the hens), “Justified,” and, I know the category is wrong, but the Oscars belongs to ….

The Americans.

It is simply superb; TV at its best: no politics, surprisingly, no mega movie stars (who usually can’t act); real foreigners playing foreigners (no fake foreign accent, courtesy of Angelina Jolie), and a great script.

Enjoy tonight’s episode.

UPDATE I (3/13): The Following” is ad hoc, make-it-up-as-you-go garbage. But it’s done well-enough to entertain.

UPDATE II: “THE AMERICANS.” The script and story are so good in The Americans, that you don’t root for a political side—the story is remarkably apolitical, given how political is should be, the halmark of good storytelling—you simply get absorbed in the plot. It’s a great spook story. That’s the experience the movies should deliver. Good narrative, good acting, no wagging finger. However, it is pro-American in the subtle, good, non-rah-rah way, as it shows how the couple is living the life while going through the spook motions. It is wonderful TV.

UPDATE III: The script and story are so good in “The Americans,” that you don’t root for a political side—the story is remarkably apolitical, given how political is should be, the hallmark of good storytelling—you simply get absorbed in the plot. It’s a great spook story. That’s the experience the movies should deliver. Good narrative, good acting, no wagging finger. However, it is pro-American in the subtle, good, non rah-rah way, as it shows how the couple is living The Life while going through the spook motions. It is wonderful TV.

House of Cards: I do not like a lecture: not from the Right, the Left, or from the libertarians (my crowd). And I do not watch any program about politicians, CIA, FBI, NSA. I want to excise these cancers from my life.

UPDATE IV: Some seek an ideology in a story, I seek a good narrative. Not sure what it is about my explanation on Facebook that Friends have failed to get about excising all gov. from my life. CIA, FBI, NSA, D.C.: “Good” or bad, it’s all bad, because it should be abolished. I don’t watch it for “fun.” I write about it.


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UPDATED: Hollywood: The No-Good, The Bad & The Beastly

Celebrity, China, Film, Hollywood, Human Accomplishment, Intelligence, Sex, Technology

“Hollywood: The No-Good, The Bad & The Beastly” is the current column, now on WND. An excerpt:

“Glenn Close’s remarks, In Memoriam, at the 86th Academy Awards ceremony, captured the delusions of grandeur held by the “tarts and tards of Hollywood,” and helped by their fans.

The actress (or is it “actor”?) did not thank the dearly departed for merely entertaining the masses, which is all actors and directors are capable of doing. Oh no. Her deities were, instead, acknowledged for “mentoring us, challenging us, elevating us”; “they made us want to be better, and gave us a greater understanding of the human condition and the human heart,” language that should be reserved for the likes of Ayn Rand and Aristotle.

Where a motion picture has indeed transported anyone—it is because it cleaved to a decent script, usually a good book. “Gone With the Wind,” “Doctor Zhivago,” “Midnight Express,” and “Papillon,” are examples.

Still, Hollywood is quite capable of reducing great literature to schmaltzy jingles, belted out by shrill starlets. This was the fate of “Les Misérables,” last year. Lost in the din were a lot of lessons about “the human condition.” The Victor-Hugo masterpiece I read as a kid was about France’s unfathomably cruel and unjust penal system, and the prototypical obedient functionary who worked a lifetime to enforce the system’s depredations—a lot like the powers that hounded Aaron Swartz, the co-founder of Reddit.com, to death, in 2013, and are intent on doing the same to the heroic Edward Snowden.

The dead were deified, but what of the walking dead?

To the Chinese, who appreciate the value of experience, the greater the ratio in a team of “grey hairs and no-hairs” to “black hairs”—the faster and better a task will be completed. The opposite assumption obtains in the youth-obsessed U.S.

On the old, Hollywood performs professional geronticide.

Aging actors are put out to pasture, retired into buffoonish, badly scripted roles (“Nebraska”). The annual Oscar Awards will see at least one old actor trotted out (in 2011, the “distinction” went to Kirk Douglas) from retirement. From the sympathetic thunder clap received by Harrison Ford, 71, this year, I’d say he’s ready to be retired.

Yes, a silly society is a youth-obsessed society. Duly, a precocious kid actor will typically cameo. This year, viewers were spared the spectacle. Tykes did, however, twerk and twirl with the adults in a Pharrell Williams routine, conjuring the current crop of Walt Disney cartoon characters (“Rio 1″). Once-upon-a-time, our beloved cartoons were cute, innocent and mischievous. Think Disney’s Donald Duck, Warner Brothers’ Bugs-Bunny and Amblimation’s Fievel of “An American Tail” fame.

Alas, like The Kids, the animated characters that festoon film nowadays sound and act as if created by another Victor (Frankenstein), combining pixelated bits of the putrefying Bethenny Frankel, and some “Mob Wives,” “Real Housewives,” and “Dance Moms,” for good measure. …

Read on. The complete column is “Hollywood: The No-Good, The Bad & The Beastly”now on WND.

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* For his help, I thank my young friend, movie maven Kerry Crowel.

UPDATED (3/7): Anyone who praises the Titanic idiocy as a “classic” is lacking critical faculties (see Facebook thread). The scenes of the ship going down are fun and well done. But as to the “story”: It includes the use of “Freudian slip,” before the term was known, among other Americanized inaccuracies, and the upstairs-downstairs dynamic and proletarian insurrection: Whence does that rot come? But then, if you read the comments @ WND Comments (http://www.wnd.com/…/hollywood-the-no-good-the-bad-and…/), you get that our readers are more comfortable with Bill O’Reilly’s “output” or that of Maureen Dowd at the NYT.


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If Made To Choose, My Favorite Celebrities Would Be …

Celebrity, Gender, Hollywood, Pop-Culture

MIKE TYSON. I’ve always thought he sounded interesting in interviews, but I lacked the interest and time to pursue further. Today, while reading the Wall Street Journal, I stumbled upon this by Mr. Tyson (I can identify with Tyson’s motivation for reading-material choice):

I love reading philosophy. … Nietzsche’s my favorite. He’s just insane. You have to have an IQ of at least 300 to truly understand him. Apart from philosophy, I’m always reading about history. Someone very wise once said the past is just the present in funny clothes. I read everything about Alexander, so I downloaded “Alexander the Great: The Macedonian Who Conquered the World” by Sean Patrick. Everyone thinks Alexander was this giant, but he was really a runt. “I would rather live a short life of glory than a long one of obscurity,” he said. I so related to that, coming from Brownsville, Brooklyn.
What did I have to look forward to—going in and out of prison, maybe getting shot and killed, or just a life of scuffling around like a common thief? Alexander, Napoleon, Genghis Khan, even a cold pimp like Iceberg Slim—they were all mama’s boys. That’s why Alexander kept pushing forward. He didn’t want to have to go home and be dominated by his mother. In general, I’m a sucker for collections of letters. You think you’ve got deep feelings? Read Napoleon’s love letters to Josephine. It’ll make you think that love is a form of insanity. Or read Virginia Woolf’s last letter to her husband before she loaded her coat up with stones and drowned herself in a river. I don’t really do any light reading, just deep, deep stuff. I’m not a light kind of guy.

So Tyson slapped a woman. Shut up! Who hasn’t felt like doing that! (This is my version of a Jeselnik-style Joke.)

If forced to choose someone other than Anthony-Jeselnik, another favorite celebrity would be … DENNIS RODMAN.

Dennis Rodman has a road-map to peace: “building trust and understanding through sport and cultural exchanges,” as he put it. It’s slow, laborious and precludes lobbing bombs at North Korea or depriving its poor, long-suffering people of contact with the world.
Rodman says this about his frequent visits to Pyongyang: “I know in time Americans will see I’m just trying to help us all get along and see eye to eye through basketball and with my friendship with Kim I know this will happen.”
These are baby steps, but it’s one man’s way of opening up a closed and cloistered society to outside influence: through positive, voluntary exchanges and interactions.

Fortunately, I don’t have to choose.


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UPDATE II: ‘The New Hunger Games: Empty Calories’

Film, Hollywood, Intelligence, Pop-Culture

I was unable to endure more than 15 minutes of the first, much-ballyhooed Hunger Games. Much to the consternation of the company present, I muttered about obedient America in-thrall to DC warfare propaganda. Writes Steve Sailer about the next installment: “Like the Twilight series, Suzanne Collins’s The Hunger Games young-adult novels are aimed at 12-year-old female readers. This puts the movies squarely in the intellectual wheelhouse of average Americans, a sizable fraction of whom don’t read much at all”:

… Perhaps we might eventually see a smile from Jennifer Lawrence (no relation to Francis), the Oscar-winning (Silver Linings Playbook) actress who plays the PTSD-addled heroine Katniss Everdeen.

Much of Lawrence’s star appeal to teenagers comes from being a normal-looking pretty American girl, a Homecoming-Queen-second-runner-up type. Her apple-cheeked face is distinctive mostly for her wide, well-padded cheekbones.

Since she’s only 23, everybody predicts a great career for her. But she strikes me as a girl built more for comfort than for speed, one whom Hollywood will hound to keep her weight down, with unpredictable consequences. Already, they seem to be doing something strange with her face. Lighting? Makeup? Digital manipulation in postproduction? Collagen injections? Beats me, but ever since X-Men: First Class she hasn’t looked the same as she did in her early low-budget films Winter’s Bone and The Beaver.

… Perhaps The Hunger Games works best as an allegorical critique of poor dumb Red State Americans volunteering to serve in the Capitol’s wars without even getting a cut of the Beltway’s black-budget contracts.

Thus the heroine is never tempted to side with the rich and powerful, although you can’t really credit her for that considering their taste in couture. The Capitol denizens are addicted to godawful conspicuous consumption rather than to the current status system in which you show off what esoterica you notice (how much carbon was emitted bringing your carrots to market, for instance) and all the massive facts you ostentatiously fail to notice.

Conversely, the movie’s portrayal of West Virginians is straight out of a Works Progress Administration writers’ project. The mountaineers are all hardworking coal miners. Nobody is on disability due to morbid obesity. The working class isn’t trapped in a web of invisible debt, they aren’t having their heavy industry jobs outsourced, nor are they having new populations insourced. In other words, there’s little to unsettle contemporary viewers in The Hunger Games. …

MORE.

UPDATE I (11/29): Facebook thread. I hate allegories; libertarian, left or right. They’re cumbersome, inorganic, artificial—all the more so when done by dumb Hollywood types. A movie has to present a good script and story and be well acted and well-put together. I don’t want symbolism. Stay away from politics, Hollywood. Above all, to please my tastes, it has to resemble reality. That’s the general rule, although I have been known to lose myself in “Avatar” lately. Never watched it when it came out. I think it’s b/c the actual scenario is a possibility; man destroying other civilizations and animals has happened—still does. Kerry: You are right. I deserve a medal for watching the bit of Hunger foolishness I watched.

UPDATE II: Kerry Crowel, I was a kid when Ingmar Bergman was popular in Israel. I recall trying to read subtitles and figure out the agonized themes and plots. (And fiddle the bunny rabbit TV antenna to get a picture.) A lot like a Nordic Chekhov he was. Actually, whatever he did, Bergman was way too sophisticated to compare to “Hunger Games.” More in the league of Fellini, who also delivered plots that made you forget the symbolism behind it. It wasn’t labored. You could still get absorbed in the plot. The reason I like a straightforward plot these days (then I was able to watch Bergman starring Liv Ullmann) was b/c simple is all the current crop can manage. I do like thrillers. I confess.


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Overall, Tom Cruise Is Better Than A Soldier

Celebrity, Hollywood, Military, Psychiatry, War

There, I’ve said It: Tom Cruise is selling himself short by jokingly comparing his action-hero movie stunts to being “deployed overseas in Afghanistan.” The moron media is hyperventilating over Cruise’s alleged sacrilegious comment.

I’ve been meaning to come to the defense of the iconoclastic, embattled actor yet again.

Fact: Tom Cruise has created real value for all those hundreds of millions of film fans who’ve consumed his products over the decades. He makes movies people enjoy and want to see. He’s an industry unto himself.

Cruise makes peace, not war. He generates wealth; he doesn’t consume the wealth of taxpayers. He creates a product, rather than wreck property not his.

Enough aid.

American masses and media can’t stand a non-conformist. The actor’s heroic stand against the “psychiatric peanut gallery” drew vitriol, but failed to dampen America’s enthusiasm for Cruise’s product.

Cruise, you should know, is a principled devotee of the late (great) anti-psychiatry thinker, Thomas S. Szasz.


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