Bloody Bar Fights and the Media’s Ratings

I have two hypothetical friends, Eric and Charlie. I only see Eric every few weeks, but I see Charlie every day, and when I don’t see him he texts me.

Charlie has been telling me every day that Eric is mad at me, that Eric wants to hit me, and that Eric hates me to my core. This makes me nervous to see Eric again. Charlie has been telling Eric the same thing, because Charlie loves him some freaking drama.

After hearing this for a couple of weeks, I finally see Eric at a bar and things are tense. I’m prepared for him to hit me and he’s prepared for me to hit him. Doesn’t take much for us to scuffle. I end up hitting him with a beer bottle.

After the cops come my friends tell them that this is so out of character, but I never hit anybody and it’s all because Eric was asking for it. Eric’s friends tell the cops the same thing. He’s just not the kind of guy who would hit somebody. He doesn’t hate Turner, it’s just that Turner pushed his buttons.

The police throw up their hands and say well, I guess this is what happens when you hang out around beer bottles.

Charlie meanwhile has the whole thing on cell phone video and his social media following explodes when he posts it. His account is called “Bloody_Bar_Fights.”

The media is manufacturing hate. They have created a race war. Sure, Obama has been playing tribal politics for years now, because politicians only have power when people are uncomfortable, afraid, and desperate, and Obama sees himself as a great leader of people who follow. He needs the country afraid enough to need that leader.

But the media has even more to gain in the manufactured division. Look, for example, at the explosion of Facebook Live’s popularity during the Dallas shooting. Look at how glued we are to the television when the riots break out. How closely we watch to see if we’re next.

Racial politics were not nearly so explosive, we as a people were not nearly so divided eight, 10 years ago. Under Bush, the Media had other straw men; they focused their production energy on Al Qaeda. Then when that got boring, they shifted to Bush. Then the economy dipped and we became less safe but those things don’t fuel the fire so the news Producers and Talking Heads needed new straw men.

The important point here is that despite what the media wants to tell us, most of us do not hate one another. I don’t feel an ounce of hate or just trust your word knows of a different race with whom I interact with on a daily basis. But the Charlie media keeps telling me that I should. Every morning I see the news talking about racial division and the brewing race war. There is no no war brewing except when the media wants there to be.

Eric and I may have some things to work out, and Eric may truly have reason to be angry at me — but we’re not going to hear it from Charlie, and we’re not going to deal with it in a bar. But we do not hate one another. Stop believing Charlie.

Especially because there is someone who hates us, all of us, and they are out to hit us, and not with a beer bottle. I can’t fight that enemy by myself and neither can Eric. We need one another.

A Lesson From The Man in the High Castle

In the 1930s, a tide of evil rose beneath the very noses of a complacent Europe.  

The Man In The High Castle, an Amazon original series based on the always-mind-bending writing of Philip K Dick, asks very unpleasant questions about what Americans can learn to live with.  It’s unnervingly prescient as a piece of historical fiction, and 

The premise is simple: what if the Nazis had won, the allies had lost?  What if Japan and the Reich shared the United States?  When the story opens, Americans have learned to live an occupied existence.  In a chilling moment early in the series when one of the lead characters is crossing Missouri, he meets a Nazi highway patrolman.  While they talk, white flakes fall from the sky.  Snow?  The lead asks.

“No,” explains the patrolman.  There’s a hospital nearby.   “On Tuesdays, they burn cripples, the terminally ill, the drag on the state.”  

What is most creepy about the scene is not that they burn the bodies; it’s not even the patrolman’s indifference to the act.  It’s how near that feels to reality. 

It is our moral duty to be on the lookout and on guard as watchmen against the next Reich, the next Evil Empire and the demon child that will lead it.  In civilized society, that moral duty is a pact that we share with one another.  That pact means that we look out for one another, that we keep an eye on our neighbor’s houses and that we run to help when there’s a car accident.  Beyond that, in more subtle ways, it means that we are all watchmen on guard against the incursions into our community by aberrations that might threaten our national community.  We see these aberrations because they are just that; they are at odds with what we know is normal. What is not normal is often a threat to our well being.  

Normalcy is vital to the preservation of any civilization.  When the body perceives something irregular in the sinuses, it sneezes.  When our immune system identifies an irregular agent like a virus, it causes a fever and flushes the bloodstream with white blood cells to eradicate the intruder with before it can do more harm.  

No system can sustain without the predication of normalcy.  

The left in America — and globally — is hellbent on eradicating normalcy and nullifying our right to react to what is not normal.  Progressives want to destroy our just, necessary and vital need to notice irregularities in our system.  

During the Bush years, the left engaged a brilliant strategy to push back against conservatism.  Gay Pride parades grew in popularity, as did the open discussion of abortion.  The left, after joining in the call to attack Iraq, eventually called the war “racist” and “imperialist.”  Bush didn’t argue, he allowed them their right to an opinion.  The left reacted against conservative policies as if their rights were being trampled, as if they were being oppressed — the strategy was push back, react, and then play the victim. 

Acting the proper conservative, the Bush administration didn’t seek to suppress the voices of the “offended,” because conservatism believes that anyone has a right to be offended by anything, and all also have the right to express their objection, no matter how misguided, no matter how illogical, no matter how maligned.  

When there was no longer a conservative authority to “oppress” them, the left switched strategies.  Then in the ultimate hypocritical swing of the century, any offense expressed by conservatives at anything — participating in a same-sex wedding, paying for medical procedures that violate your conscience, complaining that ideological warriors are oppressing homosexuals overseas — is not only wrong, it’s hateful and unacceptable.  Not only can the right not be offended, they don’t even have the right to react.  If a grown man walks into a restroom occupied by a young girl, it’s a hate crime to call foul, says the left.  

The show runner for the hit HBO series Game of Thrones remarked that the storytellers have an “unspoken pact with the audience” to “shock them” to new heights each season.  This is exactly the White House’s strategy when it comes to battling the social justice war.  

Gay marriage, transgender “rights,” park shutdowns, etc.  These are not a matter of policy for the Obama White House.  Each issue is a taunt, a weekly opportunity to get the GOP riled up and put conservatives on the defensive.   A friend within the White House laughed this off to me, saying “we love to troll Republicans.” Trolling.  The world is changing because the White House is practiced in trolling the rest of the country.  Issues to the Obama Administration are not important in an of themselves; they are ammunition and the goal is the lifeless, lead-riddled corpse of the American Right.  

What is most important is killing the Right; what is most important is winning at all costs.  

To deny someone else the right to an opinion, to suppress dissension from your viewpoint and to make illegal any activity that is divergent from your agenda is fascism, plain and simple.  The Bush years were a practice in plurality from the White House, but the Trojans walked through the wide open gates of the city and have taken over.

Any community, any society has both a codified and unspoken pact betweens its members.  This pact says that when I see someone breaking into my neighbor’s house, I phone the police.  when I see someone being accosted in public, I intervene.  When someone is acting strangely, I notify authorities.  Even deeper, though, the pact says that we must react when things are amiss.  Like a canary in a mineshaft, we signal alarm when there is something foul in the air.  It is our duty, our obligation to one another.  

We are the watchmen, the gatekeepers, all of us.  The Left doesn’t just want us, all of us, asleep at the gates, the Left wants it a crime to watch the city walls.  If no one disagrees with anything, no one will disagree with the Power of the Left, and its fascism will be complete — but of course, the joke will ultimately be on progressives when they watch the Trojans burn their newly conquered city to the ground. 

The Man In The High Castle is an excellent show, and an invaluable reminder of what we are meant to be on guard against.  Of the Nazis, and of the Japanese Empire, however, at least this much can be said: they kept watch at their own gates — and that is the lesson.  If we don’t react to the insanity of the Left’s demands with force and reason, then our home will become someone else’s, and fast.  

Star Wars: A Review

I’m sure some of you have heard that there was a new Star War. Below are my thoughts on the film retelling.

The film was fine. It was fun and funny and interesting with good pacing and exciting visuals and endearing characters.

JJ Abrams basically makes hugely-expensive fan films, but this was not nearly as insufferable as what he left at the Star Trek altar. As many have pointed out on twitter, the film could not decide whether to be a relaunch or a sequel; and indeed this is the heart of many of the problems—the filmmakers (whether by their fault or under the pressure of someone else) are so burdened with paying service to the original movies (oh yeah, if you weren’t aware there are other Star Wars movies, you should go see those first) that they lose the impetus to make the film a classic.

The Force Awakens lacks any real sense of awe. Some of that is due to the music, which seems to be leftover scraps from the previous films. We must at least grant Lucas that in the prequels there were truly iconic, awe-inspiring moments and set pieces and worlds that were far more immersive than any desert or island or cantina visited in TFA. Even the cameos and wink-and-nod moments felt better earned in the prequels (the cameo/fanservice juice clearly ran out when it came to R2D2, by the way).

The best original, iconic moment we have in TFA is a spot-lit American Idol stage where Han Solo shows up to collect his massive paycheck while a vague weapon somehow sucks a sun into a planet for the universe’s largest flame thrower (why don’t they call the new DEATH STAR “SUN SUCKER”?)

My So Called Sith is a whiny teenager (if you haven’t, find the Emo Kylo Ren twitter feed) which may make for interesting sequels as he progresses into darkness under the supervision of (spoiler) BIG CGI BAD GUY whose name rhymes with JOKE. Kylo’s journey may turn interesting especially if (SPOILER, MAYBE) Rey really turns out to be his sister, or his cousin, making the central family theme Sibling v Sibling or Sibling v Cousin rather than Father v Son (they were banging the Rey’s Father Is Hear Somewhere drum pretty loudly). Hey, maybe twins run in the family.

The Fresh Prince of Far Far Away was okay but the Finn-isms were a little over the top and his whole journey was damn near close to one of those Troops video spoofs.. Especially when his scary silver supervisor Captain Phasma’s best lines are essentially “Oooooh you’re going to be in so much troubleeeeee.” Finn is intentionally a Han Solo-like character, but Han’s journey from “do it for the girl” to “do it for the girl and for the good” was far more organic, more earned, and more believable. Finn’s dialogue and significant moments are overly exclamatory and quite paint-by-numbers.

Luke was pretty cool. We sure had a long time to sit and stare at how cool, and intense, and bearded he is. We spent almost as much time just staring at him as he spends staring at the rock on the edge of his island. I see people all over the internet asking “What was he eating there all alone?” but come on, people, obviously he uses the force to catch sea birds and pluck them, or he uses the force to command interstellar take out along with his copies of Coastal Living.

The film missed two opportunities which I believe would have thickened the Star Wars fabric: when The Fresh Apprentice lights up Luke’s Saber at the planet where the little woman from THE INCREDIBLES supplies her heroes, Kylo should have spun around mid-action as he felt his grandfather’s saber activated. That would have rocked.

And Luke should have yanked that saber from Rey’s hand. C’mon, he’s not going to stay on that rock and we all know it. Let’s see it fly out of her hand. I get it, she needs to talk to him. But we all wanted to see that.

Rey going toe-to-toe with a Sith when she’s holding a lightsaber for the first time is problematic. It took Luke 3 whole movies to be able to do that. The Force is so cool because it must be taught, controlled, and disciplined. A relationship must be forged between the Lightsaber and the Jedi. Not just rocked out by some bedouin on her first try. And against James Bond, nonetheless.

All that coincidence in the first act (just how small IS this galaxy, anyway?) could have been easily explained away with a line about the force bringing them all together. Instead we got some nonsense in Wookie. The plot so telegraphed, in fact, that the Deus Ex R2D2 moment is completely inexplicable; the droid activates only when it is exactly the point in the plot when we need its information. No character earned this moment, no one discovered it, it is the kind of pure coincidence best reserved for the hero’s call to action.

There story lacks originality in pretty overt ways. Luke did exactly what Yoda did after f***ing up the training of his star pupil, again, just as Yoda did (Luke opted for a pouty hideaway a bit more above the water than Yoda, of course). They blew up a giant death sphere in more or less exactly the same way after spies (again) acquire secret plans that they hid in a droid.

The cameos were distracting. Abrams giving every actor that’s ever winked at him a cameo ultimately took one out of the Galaxy Far Far away and straight to the pages of Variety. Samuel L Jackson in the prequels worked because he played the part so well, because the world was otherwise so detailed, and because most of the cast (for better or much, much worse) were relatively unknown.

Side note: I would watch an entire BB-8 movie, but I suppose that’s what WALL-E is, so never mind.

The opening crawl was exciting, it was a thrill to see on screen once again. That thrill will diminish with each new galactic installment (can anyone say Thor 3?) and ultimately Star Wars won’t be nearly as special as it once was. There’s something to be said for leaving well enough alone—before the prequels perhaps were the best time to consider this.

Ultimately all of these problems seem to be part of a larger troubling trend in big-budget film making: movies aren’t built around story, they’re built around the trailer. Abrams is the “top” director in this sense. Of course, it works. It sells. But the Force is strong with a strong story. All in all, The Force Awakens was hugely fun but not hugely memorable.