Category Archives: Pop-Culture

UPDATED: A Shrub Between Two Ferns (Galifianakis: A Good Kind Of Goofy)

Barack Obama, Bush, Healthcare, Pop-Culture

The Shrub, aka George Bush, stool apart. Plant life, however, frames Barack Obama just as well. Zach Galifianakis is host of “Funny Or Die” and “Between Two Ferns.” Here Galifianakis lets Barack Obama drone on, “Between Two Ferns,” about “that thing that doesn’t work.”

Facebook Friends didn’t. They do not appreciate off-beat, “awkward humor.”


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Confused About The Subjective Theory Of Value Vs. Objective Standards (+ Some Laughs)

libertarianism, Music, Objectivism, Political Economy, Pop-Culture

At last. Someone with a funny bone (and a healthy IQ). “Best laughs of the month,” writes Jim Ostrowski about “Hollywood: The No-Good, The Bad And The Beastly.” It was also nice to hear from Jim that “CPUKE” made him pack-up laughing—this long time activist, lawyer and author for liberty deserves a good laugh.

On the other hand, on EPJ, “Hollywood: The No-Good, The Bad And The Beastly” has stimulated an interesting, if distressing, thread. Increasingly, I get why my pal Vox Day quit (and he was way more sombre than I; my writing is consistently funny.)

No cause for laughter is this to-and-fro:

Anonymous March 7, 2014 at 12:51 PM:

Sometimes a person can be too critical when giving a negative opinion it comes off as just an irritating screed. A screed that longs for the past that’s not coming back – it’s over, gone, no more – so get over it. Today’s art may not be what it should be, but I bet if and once deflation kicks in art will return to what it ought to be.

The reason why kids now days don’t read certain books but the Hunger Games is because those books (ie. Chekhov) are boring and don’t really line up with today’s issues. Well, they are. And, the author of Hunger Games is a she.

Reply
ILANA MERCER March 7, 2014 at 3:40 PM
:

I should have guessed “Hungers Games” was “written” by a girl (although, don’t discriminate, carriers of the Y Chromosome can too be girls if they want to). Could Anon’s impoverished imagination (Chekhov is not for kids and was referenced as “heavy,” not necessarily enjoyable) be a consequence of utter lack of familiarity with the greatest, most exciting books ever? Classics for kids and young adults? Are you kidding me? “Hunger Games” or “Harry Potter” will never match gripping, culturally and historically richly textured, well-written stuff (so good for real boys) like: Ivanhoe, The Count of Monte Cristo, Treasure Island, Arabian Nights, A Tale of Two Cities, Oliver Twist, The Adventures of Tom Sawyer, Adventures of Huckleberry Finn, Tom’s Midnight Garden, The Lion, the Witch, and the Wardrobe, Last of the Mohicans, Les Misérables, Around the World in Eighty Days, Black Stallion, Wuthering Heights, Kiss Kiss, and even The Secret Diary of Adrian Mole. Problem is Anon has been brought up to revel in ignorance. You are perfect just they way you are. Kids nowadays don’t read b/c they’ve been told, like Anon, that they don’t need to—nothing much to learn from the great masters.

Reply
Tony March 7, 2014 at 4:56 PM
:

What i liked as a child was considered mostly crap by the elderly. And what the youths of today like i consider to be mostly crap. 30 years from now the youths will wonder how anyone other than geriatrics could possibly like Beyonce, Pharrell Williams or Rihanna.
Tastes generally remain stagnant on what we’re used to. Because of this subjective opinion and feelings of nostalgia i don’t really think it is possible to judge which is “better”.

Having said that, i am getting borderline depressed about what goes for “great movies” or “good music” these days. I don’t bother watching the Academy Awards anymore, since it has turned into a liberal self-congratulatory smugfest (with matching “best movie” nominees) so thick it raises ocean levels a yard ever year.

Reply
ILANA MERCER March 7, 2014
:

Actually, Tony, the value each consumer places on consumer goods in the marketplace is subject. But the Subjective Theory of Value should not be confused with objective standards that determine the quality of cultural products. It’s pretty distressing to realize that libertarians confuse the two concepts and that cultural, intellectual and moral equivalence pervades our thinking as much as it does that of mainstream. To wit, applying objective, universal criteria (complexity, skill, mastery, intricacy, etc.), as the column states, it is objectively and immutably true that “B.B. King is no match for Johann Sebastian Bach.” I’m sure you can think of hundreds of similar examples: You might prefer to purchase one of Toni Morrison’s God-awful tomes, but the objective fact is that she’s no match for Shakespeare.


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Late Night Loser

Celebrity, Gender, Media, Pop-Culture

As you enjoy the musings of Kerry Crowel, do consider a one-time contribution or a regular monthly contribution to Barely A Blog, where we nurture like-minded young talent. (The PayPal buttons are to your right). Posting pieces by new writers means editorial WORK for yours truly. Show your love.

Late Night Loser
By Kerry Crowel

Sadly, late night talker Jimmy Fallon is the perfect specimen of modern Western man: emasculated, silly and willing to break into an embarrassing jig at a moment’s notice.

Since his Tonight-Show takeover, in Feb., this year, Fallon has stuck to the script with his ultra-safe and unfunny monologues; has danced his way through the history of Hip-Hop “music,” and, as if further proof of his buffoonery was needed, waged a lip-sync battle with actor Paul Rudd, covering Tina Turner, Queen and Foreigner.

Apparently this is high humor! Cutting-edge stuff.

But really, what would you expect from the guy who secured his spot as a Saturday Night Live cast member with an impersonation of his idol Adam Sandler? Yes, the same stupid Adam Sandler who at one time commanded $20 million a picture. The same Adam Sandler whose success is not a testimony to his talent, but rather an indictment of society.

Grimacing and making goofy sounds will get you far in show business.

Western culture was dealt a blow in the fifties when kids everywhere were exposed to that lunatic in war paint, Little Richard. How we went from the subtle charm of The Glenn Miller Orchestra to the tribal screams of “Wop bop a loo bop a lop bam boom” is one for the ages.

Soon, the supposed enforcer of past oppressions, the most evil entity to walk the planet, the dreaded white man, most often of the W.A.S.P persuasion, had to atone. When livelihoods are at stake and, more importantly to some, the threat of being labeled an old-fashioned outcast—artistic principles tend to crumble. For proof, all one has to do is tune into a red-carpet event, where, for a living, grown men, giddy as schoolgirls, quiz J-Lo or some other Low, as to which designer she’s wearing .

Perhaps I should clarify my opening statement. Jimmy Fallon represents perfectly the prototypical man of the West whom media like to promote. Nonthreatening, neutered, eager to please all people, and obsequious—as if to acknowledge, if not by his words then by actions, his own deficient coolness quotient (which explains the all-black band, the Legendary Roots Crew).

Like his predecessor, and, hopefully, his replacement Jay Leno, the presence of an all-black band gives the show, in Jay’s own words, a “more urban feel,” never mind that a typical Tonight Show audience is whiter than a farmer’s market in Vermont.

As when a new James Bond movie is released, any talk of The Tonight Show will ultimately revert back to reminiscing about past glories. Over the last twenty years, baby boomers, the most self-important generation ever, have elevated Johnny Carson to near-deity status. Exhibiting no sign of real talent, Carson was nothing more than a failed magician, who morphed into a late-night court jester, often donning drag as Aunt Blabby, and on more than one occasion taking a pie in the face. So, when you think about it, Fallon fits the mold perfectly.

I’m sure he’ll make it in spite of himself; he knows all the right people, kisses all the right rings and says all the right things, which is nothing much at all.

That’s entertainment!

*****

Kerry Crowel is as of yet an unsigned screenwriter with an interest in political and social satire. And will probably get a guest spot on the Tonight Show.


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Jimmy Fallon’s Tomfoolery

America, Celebrity, Pop-Culture, The Zeitgeist

I don’t follow the late-night show intrigue that grips this deeply silly country of ours. I used to enjoy the ousted Jay Leno’s jokes. He seemed good at political satire. But the tomfoolery that has replaced the Leno schtick is something to behold. What does the popularity of this dancing, prancing, giggling metrosexul clown, Jimmy Fallon, say about the stuff that entertains America?

Other than Jerry Seinfeld’s brilliant riff on the child-obsessed grownups of his generation—what unfolded was the equivalent of a whiteface minstrel show, if there is such a thing.

“Jerry Seinfeld Analyzes Modern-Day Parenting,” 4:12 minutes into the exchange:

I am not, you know, a great believer in our style of parenting. … Anybody that has kids now, I just think we’re too into it.
When we were kids, our parents didn’t give a damn about us. They didn’t even know our names.
The bedtime routine for my kids is like this Royal Coronation Jubilee Centennial of rinsing and plaque and dental appliances and the stuffed animal semi-circle of emotional support. And I’ve gotta read eight different moron books. You know what my bedtime story was when I was a kid? Darkness!

Fallon giggles non-stop like a star-struck girl.


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UPDATED: Camelot Culture Vs. Pimp Culture (Categorical Confusion)

Aesthetics, America, Art, libertarianism, Music, Pop-Culture

The truth is that Camelot in the title stands for the West; for high-culture compared to low-culture. The great music of the West vs. the sewer of sound that has replaced it and which is second nature to this president.

In any event, the leader of the country whose press snickered at Russia for its enduring affection for classical music is offering up Mary J. Blige as entertainment, at a state dinner for the French President Francois Hollande.

Being a classless act in his own right, Hollande will probably dig it.

Oh, what would Jackie O say! That most cultured, knowledgeable and bright First lady was in the habit of seeking out the likes of cellist Pablo Casals for her state dinners.

Here are some of the cultural highlights from the Camelot years. The White House might have been occupied by a statist, but by one who loved high Western culture:

1961

January 20 ”Camelot” opens in Washington as John Kennedy is sworn in as president, instructing Americans to ”ask what you can do for your country.”

January 21 Bernstein’s “Fanfare for JFK,” written for the new President, premieres at the inaugural gala with the composer conducting. Pianist Earl Wild, currently a Columbus resident, performs Gershwin’s “Rhapsody in Blue.”

March 9 President Kennedy sends a letter to the President of the Senate and to the Speaker of House urging early enactment of legislation on the proposed National Cultural Center.

May 3 The Air Force Pipers and the Drum and Bugle Corps perform on the South Lawn after the first state dinner for President Habib Bourguiba of Tunisia.

July 11 The Kennedys hold the first White House state dinner away from the White House, at Mt. Vernon, to honor the Pakistani President, complete with the National Symphony Orchestra playing Mozart, Debussy, Gershwin, and Morton Gould.

August 22 Jackie Kennedy sponsors the first “Concert for Young People by Young People,” performed by the Transylvania Youth Orchestra from the Brevard Music Center on the White House South Lawn.

November 13 Pablo Casals plays for a state dinner honoring Governor Luis Munoz-Marin of Puerto Rico. Broadcast nationally by NBC and ABC radio, a recording was distributed commercially by Columbia.

1962
January 19 The Kennedys fete the 80-year-old Russian-born composer Igor Stravinsky, who calls the two “Nice kids.”

February 20 25-year-old black mezzo-soprano Grace Bumbry makes her American debut at the White House after a state dinner.

April 29 The White House honors 49 Nobel Prize winners, prompting JFK to comment upon the “most extraordinary collection of talent, of human knowledge that has ever been gathered together at the White House with the possible exception of when Thomas Jefferson dined alone.”

May 11 André Malraux, the French Minister of Cultural Affairs, is honored at a White House dinner with entertainment by the famous Stern/Rose/Istomin Trio performing the complete 45-minute Schubert Trio in B Flat.

September 11 Mrs. Kennedy unveils Edward Durell Stone’s model for the National Cultural Center.

October 16 The President proclaims November 26 through December 2, 1962, National Cultural Center Week.

November 19 Following a tour of Latin America under President Kennedy’s Cultural Exchange Program, The Paul Winter Jazz Sextet gives the first jazz concert in the White House.

November 29 During Kennedy’s “National Culture Center Week,” a closed-circuit television broadcast airs to raise funds on behalf of the National Cultural Center.

1963
February 21 JFK broadens the scope of the Presidential Medal of Freedom to include persons who had made especially meritorious contributions from just “(1) the security or national interests of the United States or (2) world peace, to (3) cultural or other significant public or private endeavors.”

June 4 The Opera Society of Washington, with Columbus’ own Clara O’Dette in the chorus, performs for the President of India.

June 12 Kennedy issues a statement establishing the Advisory Council on the Arts.

October 26 President Kennedy remarks on the importance of the arts at Amherst College.

November 13 President and Mrs. Kennedy join 1,700 children on the South Lawn for a performance by the Pipes and Drums of the Black Watch of the British Army.

November 25 At the request of Mrs. Kennedy, the Marine Band led the funeral procession of President John F. Kennedy.

December 6 Cellist Pablo Casals, contralto Marian Anderson, and pianist Rudolf Serkin are given Kennedy’s Presidential Medal of Freedom, the first musicians ever recognized for this award. John and Jackie Kennedy had studied, revised, and approved the design submitted for the medal which was handed out to all 31 recipients.

UPDATE (2/12): On Categorical Confusion. I never pollute and muddy a discussion of culture with politics. That is positively postmodern. An error. (And so lite libertarian). Some readers are in the habit of causing this categorical confusion among my readers. If only they’d learn. Jackie was the quintessential Renaissance Woman. She cultivated great culture—and knew this “culture” well; she was no culture vulture. This is the focus here. This is ALL that is relevant to the discussion here.

From “Will The Real Slim Shady Please Stand Up?”:

Rev. Jeremiah Wright’s envy of what he labels “’European’ achievements is palpable. Why else would he have devoted an hour to listing ‘European’ accomplishments, mocking them, and defining as difference the failure to emulate them?”

“To illustrate how African music differs from ‘European’ music, this so-and-so emitted a caterwauling which was supposed to come-off as a cantata. To emphasize the pomposity of the cantata, Wright launched into Brother musical mode, jovial and jolly. Black music was different, not deficient, to white music, said he. But Wright’s contemptuous tone and mimicry implied that the former was filled with joie de vivre, the latter just jejune.”

MORE.


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UPDATE III: ‘Duck Dynasty’: A Decoy For Dummies (Robertson’s Fans Not Working With Much)

Celebrity, Christianity, Homosexuality, libertarianism, Morality, Pop-Culture, Religion

“‘Duck Dynasty’: A Decoy For Dummies” is the current column, now on WND. An excerpt:

“… there is nothing wrong with making a good living catering to the base, voyeuristic demand created by many millions of Americans, as do the Ducksters. But are capitalists compelled to like their product because it makes money? No. It is perfectly productive, if far from lucrative, for me to criticize all aspects of the puerile Duck production.

The Ducksters are part of a debased culture—the right-wing answer to Kim Kardashian, whose deformed figure and ass elephantiasis you can ogle online and on late-night Leno (1.21 minutes in).

Then there is the matter of Duck-Dynasty religiosity.

“I think you’re missing an important point, Ilana,” said one perceptive Facebook Friend. “The [Ducksters] were selected for the show because they are how you describe them. Duck Dynasty was meant to be a redneck minstrel show. They were supposed to be objects of ridicule for cosmopolitan America. They are what blue-state America imagines religiosity to be.”

Arguably, this is precisely what being devout looks like in the USA.

Delve more deeply, and you’ll discover that Christianity in our country is a lot like what the Ducksters profess. No longer doctrinaire or demanding, the mishmash of pop-religion practiced in churches across America is an extension of the therapeutic culture: festooned with feelings, mostly misdirected. Untempered by intelligent interpretation of scripture.

As for the Ducksters’ occupation. I’ll leave you with Proverbs 12:10:

Whoever is righteous has regard for the life of his beast, but the mercy of the wicked is cruel. …

The complete column is “‘Duck Dynasty’: A Decoy For Dummies.” Read it on WND.

JOIN THE CONVERSATION:

At the WND Comments Section. Scroll down and “Say it.”

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By clicking to “Like,” “Tweet” and “Share” this week’s “Return To Reason” column.

If you’d like to feature this column, WND’s longest-standing, exclusive paleolibertarian column, in or on your publication (paper or pixels), contact ilana@ilanamercer.com.

UPDATED I (12/27): It should be mandatory for Myron my man to strike out for sanity and intelligence at WND Comments, when mouth-breathers get out of hand. Here he does it superbly:

Myron Pauli
• 4 hours ago

I have very little use for the 21st Century KulturKreig where every utterance has to be on one ‘side’ or other in some Culture-War conducted by people on both sides who are so insecure in their own beliefs that they apparently need to have everyone think exactly like they do. Additionally, I can’t be too optimistic for a country where Phil Robertson is elevated to our Thomas Aquinas and Sarah Palin is our Edmund Burke. Not surprisingly, those who do the elevation consider Ilana to be a “liberal … communist …” until, of course, the opposite side weighs in when she utters a criticism of Nelson Mandela and then she is magically transformed into a “racist-genocidal … Nazi” since in the dualistic Manichean world of 2013, thinking is an inconvenient freakish diversion from knee-jerk feelings.

Where are all the other brilliant pals and patrons of this site?

UPDATE II (12/27): ROBERTSON’S FANS NOT WORKING WITH MUCH. Wow. Not since I came out, on 9/19/2002, against Bush’s invasion of Iraq have I received so much hate mail. The country is in serious trouble if this is Red-State America. These people are not working with much. Their Hosannas belong not with Robertson—who, understandably, protects them from the gays who’re clearly gunning for them in a big way—but to Jehovah for seeing to it that breathing is involuntary, governed by the autonomic nervous system.

If not for G-d, they’d forget to breathe. Here’s Letter of the Week.

From: Lostboys Son [mailto:moveoutdrawfire@yahoo.com]
Sent: Friday, December 27, 2013 8:57 AM
To: imercer@wnd.com
Subject: Hey dumb bitch!!!

Are you mad because you are a half breed with no values or heritage? Are you pissed because you idol kim CRACKHOEAGAIN, got knocked up by your ex boyfriend? I bet your mad because any decent white man wouldn’t even touch you with a 10 foot poll. I wouldn’t even hit you with my car, I wouldn’t have sex with you with someone else’s dick!! You look like a troll. Go back to your lame overcrowded smog invested, std having, gang filled, slum hood, and don’t worry about duck dynasty or its viewers. You are not at all a trustworthy person, thats why you go from man to man your whole life, all while talking about other peoples lives, where in fact you should only worry about yourself!!
DUMB BITCH!!

Write to Lostboys Son (email: moveoutdrawfire@yahoo.com), to let him know you appreciate his contribution to civilization.

Gorgeous. Poetry. As for grammar and syntax: I’m ready to hang up my hat as a writer.

UPDATE III: To look on the bright side, quite a number of letters from high-IQ Christians have been received and were appreciated. Many thanks to those who’ve defended sanity, and chimed in @ Comments on WND.

Writes a lady editor:

The BEST of the Duck Dynasty articles that we read yet! I am really glad now that I haven’t wasted a second of my time watching it.

Another man of letters said:

A great column!

This really needed to be said.

My guess, though, is that columns like this will not be popular at WND!

And here’s another nice note:

I loved your column in regard to ‘Duck Dynasty’ and religiosity. And you are correct in your assessment that it is all for entertainment value and appeal to the “blue-American”. I used to watch A&E for concerts and performances; as it was known as Arts & Entertainment Network. Now, it is just an embarrass- ment. Keep up the good work.


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