Category Archives: Pop-Culture

Fight Classroom Idiocracy With The Literary Canon

Economy, Education, English, Literature, Objectivism, Political Correctness, Pop-Culture

“Fight Classroom Idiocracy With The Literary Canon” is the current column, now on WND. The WND version has been scrubbed of the “salacious sex scene,” excerpted below, which happens to be required reading in some kids’ English class:

The fraught relationship between state and society carries over into classroom and town hall. Something of a commonplace in police state USA is the scene in which a citizen is arrested for speaking his mind to a public official, pedagogue or politician.

Our story begins with a dad, William Baer, a lawyer, I believe, who resides in New Hampshire, the state whose motto is “Live Free or Die.” For speaking out of turn at a school board meeting, Baer was cuffed and carted out of a forum of educrats and obedient parents, herded together at the Gilford high school. An arrest and a charge of disorderly conduct followed—Baer, after all, had exceeded the talk time allotted to him.

“It was basically, you make a statement, say what you want and sit down,” the dad told a local television station. “‘Sit down and shut up’ … [is] not how you interact with adults.”

In the background to the online YouTube clip of the event one can hear the dulcet voice of a female emcee, delighting in the petty abuse of power over a powerless parent.

Mr. Baer was protesting a novel which was required reading in his 14-year-old daughter’s English class: “Nineteen Minutes” by home girl Jodi Picoult. (One of Australia’s finest writers, also the copy editor of this writer’s last book, relates that every time he gets on a train or a bus, there seems to be some female or three reading a Jodi P. “masterpiece.”)

Easily more offensive than the salacious sex scene on page 313 of Picoult’s novel is the rotten writing throughout:

“‘Relax,’ Matt murmured, and then he sank his teeth into her shoulder. He pinned her hands over her head and ground his hips against hers. She could feel his erection, hot against her stomach. ”
… She couldn’t remember ever feeling so heavy, as if her heart were beating between her legs. She clawed at Matt’s back to bring him closer. “‘Yeah,’ he groaned, and he pushed her thighs apart. And then suddenly Matt was inside her, pumping so hard that she scooted backward on the carpet, burning the backs of her legs.
… (H)e clamped his hand over her mouth and drove harder and harder until Josie felt him come.
“Semen, sticky and hot, pooled on the carpet beneath her.”

The book’s titillating topics—bullying, school shootings, teen sex and pregnancy—verge on the political. Inculcating kids early on with these cumbersome, constricted constructs serves to stunt young minds. The young reader is intellectually disemboweled, as he is steered into thinking along certain narrow, politically pleasing lines. …

… Without the literary canon, young minds are doomed to become as dim and sclerotic as those of the educators who assign them the piss-poor reading material aforementioned

Read the rest. “Fight Classroom Idiocracy With The Literary Canon” is the current column, now on WND.


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Underpinnings of Murderous Rage In The Age of Entitlement

Ethics, Morality, Pop-Culture, Pop-Psychology, Pseudoscience, The Zeitgeist

It’s time for the pop-psychology explanations of how an essentially tender soul, Jaylen Fryberg, was pushed to murder classmates at Washington State’s Marysville-Pilchuck High School. First, the carnage, via CNN:

Two girls are in the intensive care unit at Providence Regional Medical Center in Everett, and two boys are in ICU at Harborview Medical Center in Seattle, Providence spokeswoman Erin Al-Wazan said.
Three are “very critically ill” with “very serious” injuries, she said. One is in serious condition. One of the boys, age 14, suffered a jaw injury. The other, age 15, was critically injured in the head.

“When the mental health mavens appear on the scene, the narrative expands some, but generally retains its idiotic thrust. Having been played for all it’s worth, the-culture-of-violence causal factor has given way to the more in-vogue bullying theory.

Skin-deep qualities have always determined the pecking order in schools. Still, Janis Ian’s haunting 1975 song, “Seventeen,” would not have been written today. Angry teenagers nowadays are simply less inclined to ruminate about their angst, and more likely to act on it. Social justice, they are taught, pivots on redistribution. And redistribution is achieved by making some pay for the lesser fortunes of others. When taught to reject the harsh reality of inequality, of not having everything one covets—the anger of entitlement easily bubbles to the fore. Be it popularity or pulchritude, there is a sense that someone ought to pay for the pain of being without.

Furthermore, where once kids might have seen dignity in a brave and stoic face, now, the cultural cognoscenti have declared these to be pathologies, symptoms of repression and denial. Is it any wonder that some kids—the bad ones, at least—feel that the culture of share-your-feelings-with-the-group gives them permission to take the rage of entitlement to its deadly conclusion?”

From “Three-Step Program To Moral Unaccountability” ©2000 By Ilana Mercer

Some of this creature’s tweets:


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Monica’s Back. In time for Halloween.

English, Gender, Hillary Clinton, History, Ilana Mercer, Pop-Culture

Talk about a throwback culture. The bullying lobby has made whining a national pastime. This group has some cheek calling out Monica Lewinsky for setting back their cause. What cause? Thou Shalt Not Offend? Here are some bully headlines from Drudge:

BULLY GROUP TO LEWINSKY: TAKE YOUR STAINED DRESS HOME!
‘She’s setting us back years’…
‘She doesn’t know what she’s talking about’…

Nothing could make this scribe listen to what Monica has to say today. However, here’s the column written in March of 1999 for Canada’s North Shore News. It probably appeared in the Calgary Herald as well, but I cannot quite recall. It seems a lifetime away. Have I been in the trenches that long? The insights are still good, the writing overwrought (being brutally self-critical is the first rule of writing).

MONICA THE MENACE
©By Ilana Mercer

After watching Monica Lewinsky’s TV debut, I realized who in all this was the real hero. The man who stood bravely between the public and this caricature of a woman is no other than finger-in-the-dyke, Kenneth Starr. It is the independent counsel we must thank for delaying the unleashing of the histrionic Monica.

Menaces like Monica are a product of the times, as is the TV-pimp, Bawbawa Walters. These sorry prototypes are carefully nurtured by the education system. Girls are raised to believe that “like” they deserve everything “and stuff.” That empowerment means they can abandon reason and realistic self-appraisal because they are “totally great.” Feelings rule. Venting and pouting are the only ways of being, and if a guy doesn’t return your calls, President or “whatever,” he’s a jerk. Above all, your sexuality, the true meaning of which evades these shallow sisters, is your shrine second only to your self-esteem.

Monica, of course, blames her woes on a “low self-esteem.” What else? Her demeanor, however, was anything but demure. Her admirers chose “self-possessed” to describe her brazen countenance, although “arrogant” is more apt. If anything, this girl suffers inflated self-importance with a dose of grandeur. Monica threw tantrums when the president of the United States shied away from blowing his sax over the phone for her. And the “pres.,” says Monica, should have broadcast their “relationship” to the world had he any decency. From where Monica is perched, the president’s men had no right to come between her and her lover. This is a woman whose chunky self-esteem is a match only to her keister.

Next, Monica says “sorry.” Fully 66 percent of those polled thought Monica’s apology to the First Wife and daughter was a sincere one. What the public now accepts as an apology is another sick sign of the times. Monica said she was contrite yet proceeded to peel-off layer by layer every scab that ever formed over the sorry affair. This exercise in expiation she carried out in view of millions of people. Apologies have, indeed, become nothing but Oprah-moments, where victims and perpetrators collaborate, under the media’s gaze, to belittle the meaning of loss and injustice.

The reactions in the media to Monica are a useful litmus test for the quality of commentary in the press. The Canadian National Post came tops, consistently assigning wry descriptions to the “bubble head.” Second was the New York Times, referring to the interview as “… a giddy Cosmo version of self-realization, a tale told in the psychosexual language of magazine covers that urge their readers to own their sexuality.”

The Globe and Mail, and the Vancouver Sun vied for a position on the lowest of rungs. Gaseously effervescent was the Globe and Mail’s John Allemang’s string of superlatives: “all-consumingly sensuous, frank, lucid, articulate, focused,” blah, blah, blah. Even her voice, “High, gentle and firm,” gave this man the hots. The Vancouver Sun upped the ante by dignifying Monica’s book with a review.

The reviewer called the book “delicious,” and offered a sample of Andrew Morton’s lumpen prose, showcasing these linguistic vacuities: Monica is analytical, sharp, brilliant, with a photographic memory … ad nauseum. Morton, who told Princess Diana’s “story,” is popping up under every rock with details about the genesis of Monica’s “pain,” which all lead to no other than Torry Spelling’s birthday party snubs. Spelling has a lot more to atone for than a bunch of dreadful films.

Monica’s heft is no longer upon us, although others will step forward to fill the only impression she ever left on the cultural stage, to paraphrase Sir William Shwenck Gillbert’s witticism. When they do, be mindful that girls like Monica don’t get betrayed; they simply star (no pun intended) in their own destructive passion plays. Monica shared her stain-filled affair with anyone who would stand still long enough to listen. And Monica selected her cast, including the sneering Linda Tripp and “Bomber Bill.”

©Ilana Mercer
A version of this article appeared in The North Shore News
March 9, 1999


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Tasteful Vs. Teletart

Aesthetics, Gender, Pop-Culture

When everywhere, on TV and in real life, badly dressed, over-exposed women and girls assault the eye—it doesn’t hurt to be reminded what class looks like. Fifty three seconds into this touching interview conducted with Kim Campbell, wife of Alzheimer’s-stricken musician Glenn Cambell, the camera pans out to reveal Mrs. Campbell’s elegant attire. She is wearing black, knee-high boots, and a long, grey, well-tailored skirt nipped in high at the waist.

Opposite Mrs. Campbell sits Fox News’ coarse-looking Gretchen Carlson. She is dressed in a cheap-looking turquoise slip hitched almost as high as her thighs. This is the standard-issue outfit (and behavior) on Fox News. Too awful.

On BBC News and RT one can still find the odd intellectual, who knows a thing or two about a topic. But in markets catering to American tastes—that includes Al Jazeera America—it’s teletarts all the way.


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The Genius of Joan

Human Accomplishment, Left-Liberalism, Political Correctness, Pop-Culture, The Zeitgeist

Granted, they aren’t all lousy comedians, but they have ultimately devolved into consummate, banal leftists. Roseanne Barr[f], Sarah Silverman, Kathy Griffin, Chelsea Handler: why are these women and their fare being likened to the genius of Joan Rivers?

Via The New York Times:

On Nancy Reagan’s hairdo: “Bulletproof. If they ever combed it, they’d find Jimmy Hoffa.”

On Charlton Heston: “He told us, ‘I got Alzheimer’s.’ Surprise! He’s been wearing his wig sideways for 19 years.”

On Donatella Versace: “That skin! She looks like something you’d hang off your door in Africa.”

On Sandra Bullock’s Bottega Veneta gown at the Golden Globes: “It looked like Prince’s old prom dress.” (And Tina Fey’s Zac Posen: “A decorative toilet seat cover.”)

On Queen Elizabeth II: “Gowns by Helen Keller.” “Nice looking. Not at all like her stamp. Wears her watch over the glove, though — tacky.”

On herself, desperate for a man: “My parents had a sign, ‘Last girl before thruway.’ I’d get an obscene phone call. I’d say, ‘Hold on a minute, let me get a cigarette.’ ”
Continue reading the main story

Nothing was sacred.

On her husband’s suicide: “After Edgar killed himself, I went out to dinner with Melissa. I looked at the menu and said, ‘If Daddy were here to see these prices, he’d kill himself all over again.’ ”

“Joan Rivers: Antidote to PC Totalitarianism.”


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UPDATE II: Joan Rivers: Antidote to PC Totalitarianism (‘PC Demands Deadly Seriousness’)

Celebrity, Communism, Political Correctness, Pop-Culture, Propaganda, The Zeitgeist

“Joan Rivers: Antidote to PC Totalitarianism” is now on WND. An excerpt:

WARNING: If you suffer from spineless conformity; a deformation of the personality often euphemized as political correctness—quit reading this column, NOW!

If you don’t quite know whether you are thus afflicted, ask yourself this: “Do I police what people say for political propriety? To the extent that I seek it out, do I scrutinize great literature, music, art, television or comedy for signs of so-called sexism, racism, elitism, homophobia, antisemitism and meanness? Am I incapable of appreciating a superbly written script or book; a sublime painting or symphony; a smart stand-up routine, if only because the material and its creator violate the received laws of political correctness?

Still unsure if you belong to the tyrannical, joyless tradition of cultural Marxism, read on. In the event that you convulse with laughter, give yourself a clean bill of health. If you foam at the mouth, fit to be tied, go away. And stay away.

Women who should make themselves scarce but won’t are the prototypical, inquisitor-cum-anchors plaguing leftist “news” networks. Acting anchor-enforcer for Fourth of July was CNN’s unremarkable Fredricka Whitfield. Fredricka What’sHerName’s would have left behind a sustained program of non-achievement. No longer. Henceforth, her claim to fame is that she attempted to re-educate an iconic comedienne, Joan Rivers.

Since cultural Marxists police speech for propriety, if not consciously, then reflexively, they will take pains to stigmatize and isolate those who violate standards set by the PC set. The term re-education is associated with this totalitarianism. It has been used in the context of both brainwashing as well as “reformation” induced in labor camps.

Through a series of loaded, snide taunts, coupled with unhinged body language, the prissy preachy Fredricka set about reeducating her featured guest about the rules of conduct in the post-personality era. “You shall not be mean” (*except to all men and all conservatives and authentic contrarians) is the latest monomania to grip the politically correct.

Alas, as the object of her pelting, Fredricka the fundamentalist was foolish enough to target the wrong funny lady. Rivers is too old and too independent for “rehabilitation.” …

Read the complete column. “Joan Rivers: Antidote to PC Totalitarianism” is now on WND.

Our German readers can now follow this column and other worthy writers in the JUNGE FREIHEIT, a weekly newspaper of excellence.

Editors wishing to feature the “Return to Reason” column in their publications, pixel or paper, please contact Bookings@ilanamercer.com. Or, ilana@ilanamercer.com

UPDATE I (7/13): Writes my mom:

“I so enjoyed your article defending that great American satirist: in bone and blood Joan Rivers is a satirist. In intelligence and wit and comedy she’s far above others, she is a great. Outrageous, I love her.

UPDATE II (7/14): Jack Kerwick has a lovely column on same topic. A quote: “For certain, much of life demands seriousness, but our culture’s prevailing zeitgeist—what we commonly refer to as ‘Political Correctness’ (PC)—demands not seriousness, but deadly seriousness. … Contrary to the conventional wisdom, racial, ethnic, and religious ‘stereotypes’ are most decidedly not fictions sprung from thin air. They reflect enduring patterns among a significant number of a group’s members—even if (as is almost always the case) it is only a significant minority. When these stereotypes reflect positively on a group, all is good. When they are negative, though, there is no end to the inter-group conflict that they can so easily fuel. …”


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