Ethics

Armie Hammer Does Not Owe You an Active Twitter Account

Hammer.jpg

I agree that it is insane, but it is also a symbol of how we expect people to make themselves available and turn themselves inside out for entertainment purposes. Each and every person is entitled to their own version of privacy. You ought to be allowed to choose what you want people to see and to know and to read from you. 

If Armie Hammer doesn't want to be on Twitter, go pound sand.


Liberals Haven't Lost Their Virtues

I'm not going to be lectured to by some Republican Senator about virtue. I voted against Donald Trump. I pay taxes, I raise my kids like I am supposed to, and I believe that the best gauge of society's morality is how we treat those with the very least. I don't believe in waving religion in anyone's face. And I damned sure don't go around hating people who are different from me.

So, on behalf of liberals everywhere, fuck this noise:

In just two short years, Senator Ben Sasse has gone from Capitol Hill newbie to digital president puncher, tweeting about Donald Trump’s affairs and the Midwestern dumpster fires he found more appealing than 2016’s Oval Office contenders.

Yet, on his breaks from Twitter, Sasse managed to craft a serious new book, The Vanishing American Adult. It advances a thesis that’s at once out of place at this political moment and almost too on-the-nose for the Trump years: He believes Americans have lost their sense of personal integrity and discipline. For the country to deal with the troubles ahead—including automation, political disengagement, and the rise of nativist, huckster politicians, he says—people must recover their sense of virtue. The republic depends on it.

Earnest talk of virtue is uncommon in American politics. Forget the low lows of 2016, a year defined by political cynicism and brutish behavior, or even these first months of 2017, which have been swallowed by dramatic revelations and relentless Washington in-fighting. At this point, the idea of a shared culture is almost unimaginable: America has been carved up into mutually exclusive spheres bounded by religion, race, income, and city-limit signs. Sasse is taking on a problem more challenging than getting legislation through Congress, courting disgruntled voters, or even figuring out what to do about America’s haphazard president. He’s trying to articulate a language of shared culture and values in a country that has been rocked by technological, cultural, and demographic change. It may be an imperfect attempt. But at least Sasse has identified the right project.

The Vanishing American Adult is written as a reflection on the purpose and nature of education, which, Sasses argues, should extend beyond schooling and classrooms. “Everywhere I go across the country, I hear from people who share an ominous sense that something is very wrong with our kids,” he writes. “We’ve lost something from our older ways of coming of age.” Instead of relying on “institutionalized school-centric childhood[s],” Sasse says, families should develop practices that will prepare their kids to become “fully formed, vivacious, appealing, resilient, self-reliant, problem-solving souls who see themselves … called to love and serve their neighbors.” This is the future he wants for his kids.

Tell you what, Ben. Quit voting to help Trump, Paul Ryan, and Mitch McConnell destroy America and get back to me on this whole virtue thing. 

Senator Ben Sasse is here to lecture everyone about how they've lost their virtues and how they aren't adults anymore while he votes, again and again, to take health care away from the American people.

Really, fuck these people and their concerns for our morality.

Whoring at the Smithsonian


Yeah, I hate this kind of thing:

I don't have a problem with catering to kids. I don't have a problem exposing kids to food-based exhibits and things that are purely for fun or entertainment. You don't have to learn all the time. But I am rather surprised that the Smithsonian is the go-to place for corporate whores and overpriced supermarket chains that cater to the wealthy. If you want to do a mutually beneficial exhibit, why target kids? Sounds vaguely evil to me.

Does Wegman's do good in your community? I hope so. And I'm probably just cranky today. But who the hell thought sticking an advertisement for Wegman's in the middle of the Smithsonian was a good idea?

Hating Zooey Deschanel


With Gawker seeming to dominate the news this week, I thought I would dig up this rusty, worn-out old post about how they have relentlessly targeted Zooey Deschanel and serve it up like something I just found.
Even today, whenever Gawker posts about Deschanel, I usually just ignore it. However, in the comments, people are basically calling out the site and pointing out that bands like the Yeah Yeah Yeahs have similar bans on the use of phones. So, you know, blog fail or whatever.
This is the 'mean girls' aspect of Gawker that doesn't get enough attention. Why do they go after people like Deschanel and why is it newsworthy? She's a celebrity, she can probably handle a fair amount of attention, but Gawker usually goes above and beyond normal decency. We saw that last week and I think we'll see it again unless someone dismantles Gawker and fires everyone.
The gist of my original post centered around trying to get people to watch the show instead of taping it on their phones. Artists have begun trying to separate fans from their phones and from the practice of holding this rectangular plastic thing in front of them so that they can claim to have watched the show in person. How that translates into an experience is beyond my grasp. Why not enjoy what you are seeing without worrying about your phone?
If you have to record something just to remember it, your mind is already gone.

Women on The Tonight Show



Sometimes, the best bits of cultural relevancyend up appearing in places where you would never expect to find them:

There's an interesting point to which she refused to appear on the Johnny Carson show because of how women were portrayed on his show. Ride explained to NASA that she wasn't interested, then took off for California to lie low. She didn't explain herself; she just acted.

Women were treated horribly on the Tonight Show; if you were beautiful or old enough to be Johnny Carson's grandmother, you could expect to get on. And even when you did get on, there would be no chance for anything reasonable or enlightened to happen.

The fact that Sally Ride turned down Carson is significant because she was part of a very vocal minority that complained about how women were depicted and treated on the show.

Ignoring the Debacle of the Iran Contra Affair



I took notice of a small bit of intellectual dishonesty wedged into a review of a new hagiography of Ronald Reagan.

Similarly, Federal Reserve chairman Paul Volcker was a “gift” from his predecessor, Jimmy Carter. Volcker curbed inflation, leading to economic growth at “just the right time for Reagan.” Reagan’s overall economic policy and its ongoing impact merit more examination, as do the intricacies of the disastrous Iran-Contra affair.
Fewer than ten words for the single defining scandal of the Reagan era? Really? And how many words did Brands waste on Ollie North, he of the shredder and the office hottie? The fact that Oliver North still appears on television in anything but a prison jumpsuit is proof no one remembers what actually happened and that there has never been a real accountability moment for the Morning in America crowd.

This is quite relevant. In our modern political discourse, Reagan is accorded virtual sainthood and his conservative bonafides will be cited relentlessly in the 2016 election cycle.

What this amounts to is a virtual whitewashing of history. Reagan traded arms for hostages, and the arms went to the regime in Iran. He ignored the will of Congress. He was never held accountable for it, and President Bush pardoned nearly everyone who should have gone to jail.

Change Obama with Reagan, and he would have already been impeached. I laugh when they call Obama a tyrant because, brother, the real tyranny has been right under your nose for decades and no one has done a proper accounting for what went on.

This is an icon worth celebrating? Did any of these people actually live through the 1980s?

All of the Charlie Brown Animated Specials Suck


No surprises here:
The most ominous aspect of the forthcoming Peanuts 3-D Blue Sky Studio movie is not the artwork. Though, don't get me wrong, the artwork looks dreadful. Charles Schulz's cartoons varied over the years from deceptively sleek pen lines in his early days to pleasingly shaky dumpiness after his stroke, but flatness and minimalism was always central to his aesthetic—even in the animated features.
Blue Sky dispenses with that, choosing instead to turn Charlie Brown and the gang into bloated, uncanny-valley inflatables. The teaser trailer released earlier this year, in which the grandiose earth turns into Charlie Brown's head to John Williams-esque fanfare, seems nauseatingly apropos. A world so small that the grass had to be drawn in side-view and adults couldn't fit in the frame has been blown up to Hollywood proportions. It reminds me of that terrifying (NSFW) Charles Ray sculpture, where the nude toddlers are scaled up to adult size—hulking and oh-so-wrong.
So, yes, the art is irredeemably ugly and callow. But that's not the worst part. The worst part is that, in these just-released stills, everyone is smiling.
What you see above is about what you expect. The animated specials, rendered decades ago and lamented by Schultz with one hand while scooping up wads of cash with the other, have plenty of smiling and laughing in them:



Noah Berlatsky can't quite grasp the fact that the new Charlie Brown animated special wasn't intended for him--it is intended for an audience that no longer reads comic strips. Aside from collectors and a few strays, who even reads comic strips anymore? Let alone the original Charles Schultz strips?

The animated specials have always been dreadfully done. The illustration work was cheap, poorly planned and rushed. Schultz himself hated the way his work was butchered. That's how you end up with this abomination of color and slapdash arrangement:


Here, at random, is an actual comic strip. I know, I know. What the hell is this thing? Why is so good but so wrong?


The strip you see above is a casual masterpiece of planning and layout, inking and lettering, and it works because it follows basic storytelling techniques. Two pointed questions, a moment of contemplation, and a result that renders the rhetorical questions as exclamations of doubt and misery. It is the strip as it was meant to be--sullen, pissed off, and darkly philosophical. It was a fuck you to everything sunny and warm. It was as if a misanthrope with too much time on his hands decided to shit on someone's porch and set it on fire, along with the Cathy and Garfield strips that accompanied the gift.

Whatever they're doing to destroy the legacy of Peanuts is fine by me. There are no sacred cows and Schultz was about making money, hand over fist. His heirs are going to cash in on whatever they can cash in on, no matter what. We may someday see a Southpark crossover movie with the Peanuts characters done out in construction paper and felt.

If you want the joy of reading the actual work, get those damned expensive coffee table books and shut the hell up. Complaining about the greed of cheap animation is like getting mad because that Transformers movie looks fakey.

Anthony Cumia Wanted to Get Fired


This really doesn't change anything because Anthony Cumia (and Opie & Anthony as a whole) thrives on the notoriety and shock of being fired from their gigs.  Someone somewhere is dying to hire him and pay him more money than he was making because people want to hear what he does. Apparently, the Sirius XM gig wasn't working out. Something else will.

On satellite radio, they're allowed to say whatever they want and that's okay. The culture has accepted what they do and they have been given a platform to do it. There's money in it, so someone is always going to give Cumia a job.

When the audience for this kind of thing dries up, then we'll have a news story.

Let Someone With a Real Life Write About Being on Drugs


The failure here is not that Maureen Dowd cannot write; the failure is that, when Maureen Dowd writes, her ridiculously privileged life as a working member of the punditry gets in the way of common sense.

If you go to Colorado and do drugs, you will not come up with anything worth writing about it you've already made up your mind to warn kids of the dangers. Real people with a real life can tell you what drugs do and they don't need an old media bag of nuts to tell them otherwise. Ask a grandma on meth in rural West Virginia if she thinks being on a little weed in a hotel room is a bad thing and you might not like the answer. Kids don't care, kids don't follow, kids just wanna get high.

Idiot.