Archive for Popular Culture

She Won’t Walk on By

Roger Waters is all wet:

After entertainer Lauryn Hill cancelled her show in Israel for political reasons, American diva Dionne Warwick said Wednesday that she has no plans to cancel her upcoming Tel Aviv performance, saying that “art has no boundaries.”

A statement released to the press read that Ms. Warwick “would never fall victim to the hard pressures of Roger Waters, from Pink Floyd, or other political people who have their views on politics in Israel.”

“Waters’ political views are of no concern to Ms. Warwick, as she holds her own unique views on world matters. Art has no boundaries. Ms. Warwick will always honor her contracts,” the statement read.

Answering questions from The Jerusalem Post via email ahead of her show in Tel Aviv at the Menorah Mivtachim Arena on May 19, Warwick said she was no stranger to Israel, and has visited the country several times. “I always enjoy the wonderful audiences that Israel brings out! I think of the colorful people and the beautiful scenery.”

Are you as tired as I am of old white guys telling black people where they may or may not work? I thought that went out fifty yeas ago. Yet here this old sh*t with yellow teeth and hair sprouting out of his ears like alfalfa has the nerve to tell Dionne Warwick, Lauryn Hill, Alicia Keys, Beyoncé, not to ply their trade in Israel. What next, you want Rihanna to draw your bath? Who doesn’t?

Roger Waters is just James Earl Ray with a better haircut. Barely.

What else should we expect from someone who would splatter the Star of David across a pig?

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Griswold Family Values

A lovely tribute to director John Hughes from P.J. O’Rourke on the 30th anniversary of The Breakfast Club. Not my favorite John Hughes film—how could it be with Ferris Bueller and Uncle Buck in consideration?—but a good stepping-off point for O’Rourke:

John said, “You remember the line in The Graduate where the party guest tells the Dustin Hoffman character, ‘I just want to say one word to you. Just one word. Plastics.’ That was 1967. If the Dustin Hoffman character had gotten into plastics he’d be a millionaire by now, instead of riding on a city bus with a crazy girl in a wedding dress.”

We were becoming conservatives—in the most conservational sense. There were things that others before us had achieved and these were worth conserving.

“I couldn’t go looking for a job wearing what people were wearing in 1970,” he said. “But I didn’t really know where to buy clothes that people weren’t wearing in 1970. I remembered that before I became hip my mother used to take me to Brooks Brothers in the Loop. So I went there. Behind the shirt counter was the same sales lady who’d been behind the shirt counter when I was a kid. She looked at me for a moment and said, ‘I knew you’d be back.’”

In 1976 John and Nancy had a son, John Hughes III, and in 1979 they’d have another, James. Family was the most conservative thing about John. Walking across the family room in your stocking feet and stepping on a Lego (ouch!) was the fundamental building block of society.

Before you object, I will stipulate that liberals can have family values too. But when I think about Hughes’ films, beneath the debauchery, there is a conservative core. Check that: the debauchery is the conservative core.

Like all of John’s movies, The Breakfast Club is conservative. Note that the first thing the disgruntled kids in detention do is not organize a protest, not express “class (of 1985) solidarity,” not chant “Students of the world unite, you have nothing to lose but your locker combinations” and not claim it takes a Shermer to raise them.

They present themselves, like good conservatives do, as individuals and place the highest value, like this conservative does, on goofing off. Otherwise known as individual liberty.

That’s even more true of Ferris Bueller! What authority does Ferris respect? What authority is deserving of respect? None and none. Teenage impulsivity is the hero of the movie. Our founders called it the “pursuit of happiness”. In other movies, goofing off is only the starting point. Uncle Buck and Mr. Mom shows John Candy and Michael Keaton learning to put family responsibilities above mindless hedonism. Not fully in place of it, heavens no, just slightly above.

And who is more self-reliant than Macauley Culkin’s character in Home Alone? But even then, his happiness is complete only with the restoration of the family. Family (home) is also the driving force behind Planes, Trains, and Automobiles. Family was even ripe for parody in National Lampoon’s Vacation.

O’Rourke’s tribute reminds me how good many of Hughes’ films were and still are. Ferris Bueller is my son’s favorite comedy not titled Groundhog Day. Some of the more angst-ridden pictures don’t age as well with me, though that may have more to do with the hair styles. O’Rourke also prompted me to consider how grounded these comic masterpieces are in old-fashioned midwestern values.

John and I never bothered to talk much about our politics. What we did talk about was the 20th century’s dominant scrambled egghead bien pensant buttinski parlor pinko righty-tighty lefty-loosey nutfudge notion that middle-class American culture was junk, that middle-class Americans were passive dimbulbs, that America itself was a flop and that America’s suburbs were a living hell almost beyond the power of John Cheever’s words to describe.

That’s the way it appeared to the Left. To Hughes, suburban Chicago was his Forest of Arden, a land of make-believe, magic, and imagination. No wonder his movies have become classics.

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Free Tunisia

I see from Mark Steyn that the world has reacted as one would expect after the latest slaughter perpetrated by the Islamic State: with vanity.

A campaign is spreading online in support of the Tunisian tourism industry following the massacre at Tunis’s Bardo Museum yesterday (18 March) which killed 19 people and injured 50.

The death toll includes 17 tourists, with visitors from Japan, Italy, Colombia, Australia, France, Poland and Spain among the victims.

In response to the attack, internet users from all over the world have posted pictures of themselves holding signs bearing the legend ‘I will go to Tunisia this summer’.

In reference to January’s campaign of support for the victims of the Charlie Hebdo attacks in France, the slogans “Je suis Bardo” (I am Bardo) and “Je suis Tunis” (I am Tunis) have flooded social network platforms.

Moi, je suis going nowhere near Tunisia this summer. But then, I wasn’t going there before the massacre either. If you really want to stick it to ISIS, go to Israel. And stick it to Obama, too, at no extra charge.

Okay, fine, there’s nothing wrong with going to Tunisia, or at least tweeting a selfie saying you will. I’m just way past tired of lame social media campaigns that don’t bring back our girls or do anything else constructive other than advertise one’s best intentions. We used to do it with bumper stickers, but Tibet still ain’t free. Now we do it with blurry self-portraits, and the Chibok girls still ain’t home.

I’m serious: go to Israel instead. Tunisia may be a hell of a place, but they have to sort their sh*t out. Besides, they gave aid and succor to Yasser Arafat for over a decade. Sorry about the terrorism, but most of the victims were tourists, not Tunisians. Eff Tunisia, go to Israel.

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What to Talk About at Starbucks

You may have heard the management at Starbucks is going to encourage conversations about race at their various establishments. I’m going to run right out and get me a macchiato so I can say this:

Ahem.

I hate everything about this country. Like, I hate fat [African] Americans. All the people who are crunched into the [inner-cities] of America, the real fat and meat of America, are these racist [liberal] [black] people who live [i]n their [ghettos]. Those little teenage girls who work at Kmart and have a racist grandma — that’s really America.

Okay, I don’t make a lot of sense, but neither does Azealia Banks

If Azealia Banks is asked to leave the United States, that will probably be OK with her.

“I hate everything about this country,” the rapper told Playboy interviewer Rob Tannenbaum. “Like, I hate fat white Americans. All the people who are crunched into the middle of America, the real fat and meat of America, are these racist conservative white people who live on their farms. Those little teenage girls who work at Kmart and have a racist grandma — that’s really America.”

A girl who looks like that can say a lot of [bleep]. But I’m going to have to see more skin if I’m going to keep listening.

Yes darling? You were saying?

“Really, the generational effects of Jim Crow and poverty linger on. As long as I have my money, I’m getting the f**k out of here and I’m gonna leave y’all to your own devices.”

I might have to buy the magazine—strictly for the interviews, you understand:

Can’t wait to see the Dick Cheney centerfold!

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Will She Sing the Israeli National Anthem?

“I Will Survive”?

Disco queen Gloria Gaynor is set to give a performance in Israel at the end of July in a show marking 40 years of musical activity.

Gaynor, known for her massive hit “I will Survive,” will perform at the Charles Bronfman Auditorium in Tel Aviv on July 29. Tickets are expected to range from NIS 190-1,005 (about $50-255). Gaynor will perform in Lebanon before.

“I Will Survive” topped world charts when it came out in 1978 and even took home a Grammy for the singer.

Roger Waters just snapped his copy of the Love Tracks LP in two.

PS: Just kidding about the Israeli national anthem. As everyone knows, it’s “Stayin’ Alive”.

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Joe Biden Crashes the Oscars

I didn’t watch, but social media is agog:

The 61-year-old actor arrived to present at the 87th Academy Awards and saw his old Love Song for Bobby Long co-star Scarlett Johansson on the pre-Oscars red carpet. He wasn’t the only one; everyone spotted ScarJo as she and her plunging neckline posed for photos rocking a pompadour undercut, all but poured into a stunning forest-green Versace gown.

Travolta, who’s on the early promo trail for his April opener The Forger, moseyed on over. He approached the unwitting Johansson from behind and planted an unsolicited smooch on her cheek, sliding a hand upon her tiny, unprepared waist.

Johansson, consummate red-carpet pro that she is, never flinched. She barely registered the intrusion, although paparazzi lenses would capture a brief grimace in her smile in those few unforeseen seconds.

Of course she grimaced at being pawed by this louche lout. She’s a nice Jewish girl.

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Shame on You

That was then:

This is now:

In Hollywood:

“It’s a white industry. Just as the NBA is a black industry. I’m not even saying it’s a bad thing. It just is,” Chris Rock wrote last year in a thoughtful op-ed for The Hollywood Reporter. Rock’s piece went viral because of how clearly he laid out the problems in Hollywood: It’s a place where at every level, from the top on down, diversity is lagging behind society.

Except here’s where Rock was wrong: It is a “bad thing.”

But it’s the title that gets me the most:

Why It Should Bother Everyone That The Oscars Are So White

That’s right, you. I’m talking to you. You better be bothered.

But maybe Denzel and Halle made s**t movies this year. Or no movies at all.

But someone did:

[T]he way the nomination process works is still a problem for people like Ava DuVernay, who did not receive a Best Director nomination this year for “Selma.” Many consider DuVernay’s exclusion one of the year’s most egregious snubs.

Of course it is, and I haven’t seen the movie. But the way Hollywood works, a movie about Martin Luther King, Jr.—more to the point, a movie about bad white people—should be an Oscar shoo-in.

What happened?

“Here’s the deal: Most of us in the film community, across the board, work with people who we know, who we consider friends and family. If you use that as a barometer to look at the film world, it just shows you how segregated, xenophobic, sexist, racist and backwards we are as Americans in terms of how we deal with one another,” cinematographer Bradford Young, another snubbed member of Team “Selma,” told The Huffington Post in an interview earlier this year.

Speak for yourself. I am not sexist.

And this is Hollywood he’s talking about! It only sounds like high school.

At least there’s one adult in the room:

“You know what? Fuck ’em. You made a very good film, so feel good about that and start working on the next one,” director Spike Lee said last month during a candid interview with The Daily Beast in response to DuVernay’s omission from the Best Director category.

Lee’s own unfavorable experience with the organization’s voting body appears to have bolstered his cynicism about the Oscars, at least where black films and their casts are concerned.

“Anyone who thinks this year was gonna be like last year is retarded,” Lee told The Daily Beast. “There were a lot of black folks up there with ‘12 Years a Slave,’ Steve [McQueen], Lupita [Nyong’o], Pharrell. It’s in cycles of every 10 years. Once every 10 years or so I get calls from journalists about how people are finally accepting black films.”

As though to illustrate Lee’s point, 2015 marks 10 years since the Oscars held a record-setting five out of 20 nominations for black actors. That was the year Jamie Foxx took home the Best Actor award for his performance in “Ray,” and Morgan Freeman won Best Supporting Actor for his role in “Million Dollar Baby.”

This year, by contrast, all 20 people nominated in the four acting categories are white.

This is where we came in. And this is why you should be bothered. I’ll just leave you with your thoughts. Your very guilty thoughts.

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He Had a Dream—and He Had a .300 Win Mag

I can’t think of a better way to honor Dr. King than to attend a movie about justice, USA style—and I don’t mean Selma:

Clint Eastwood’s R-rated Iraq War drama “American Sniper” opened in January like a superhero movie in July, taking in a record $105.3 million over the Martin Luther King Jr. four-day weekend.

“It’s become a cultural phenomenon,” said Dan Fellman, head of domestic distribution for Warner Bros. “The movie reached an audience that’s very hard to tap into. In both red and blue states, small and large cities, tiny towns — everywhere we went — it broke records.”

Going into the weekend, optimistic predictions for “American Sniper” were closer to $50 million, which still would have been an enormous success, particularly considering how little appetite audiences have had for movies about the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan.

“This was maybe the most underestimated film of all time, considering that it did about twice what estimates predicted,” said Paul Dergarabedian, senior media analyst for box-office firm Rentrak. “This just doesn’t happen.”

It’s not movies about the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan for which audiences have little appetite. It’s bad, anti-US movies about the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan from which people stay away in droves:

The science is now settled: Anti-American films are costly box office bombs at a rate of nothing less than 100%. On the flip-side, pro-American films make money. Many are outright blockblusters. Moreover, almost every the anti-American film produced over the last decade has also been an artistic failure, while many pro-American films have garnered positive reviews.

Let me boil this down for the leftwing-impaired: Lies make for lousy art and can’t be sold to the public.

And here’s another lie Hollywood was spreading a few years back — the lie that in an international film market, Americanism doesn’t sell. Below is the science; an apples-to-apples domestic box office comparison of narrative films (not documentaries) with major stars produced over the last decade about the War On Terror.

Read the lists. It’s hysterical how many forgettable movies (not least because they’re forgotten) Hollywood has turned out with the message war is bad, US wars are worse, Bush’s wars are the worst. For every American Sniper and Lone Survivor (each well over $100 million), there were dozens of Syrianas and Munichs (perhaps the most despicable film I’ve never seen) that lose their shirts.

I wish Dr. King had lived, but, as I say, I can’t think of a better way to honor the memory of one American hero than by confounding those racists in Hollywood with box office boffo for a Clint Eastwood movie about another American hero.

PS: And the Left can’t stand it!

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Hollywood and Whine

I can’t comment on everything, and the spectacle of Al Sharpton going after Hollywood for shutting out black faces from Oscar consideration falls under the heading of letting your adversaries attack each other while you enjoy from the sidelines (with popcorn, appropriately enough).

But I like this comment:

DEROY MURDOCK, NATIONAL REVIEW: I heard Al Sharpton’s organizing an emergency meeting. This is great news. Finally we’ll have an emergency meeting on the black unemployment rate which is about 10.4% versus about 5.6 overall, or that maybe it’s an emergency meeting on the fact that 32% of black kids never get out of high school, never graduate high school? Or maybe an emergency meeting over the fact that in 2013 about 5,600 black people were murdered by other black people, but it turns out to be about the Academy Awards. Given all the problems facing black Americans today, it seems like Al Sharpton ought to organize a whole bunch of other emergency meetings on real emergencies before he has a total freakout about how the Academy Awards are playing themselves out…

Look, these statistics are interesting that the Academy’s 93% white, 76% male. Presumably, this is some kind of white male anti-black conspiracy. These same alleged racists just last year — last year, Hollywood didn’t look like the Rocky Mountains, it looked more like Mount Kilimanjaro. 12 Years A Slave won Best Picture, Best Supporting Actress, Best Score, Best Adapted Screenplay.

So just a year ago it was a huge pageant of black cinematic achievement.

Never let the facts get in the way of a good shakedown, as the saying goes.

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Elly May Clampett is Dead!

If her blue jeans ever come up for auction, I’m raiding the old Bailey Savings and Loan to snag those suckers.

RIP, Elly May:

Donna Douglas — who famously portrayed Elly May Clampett on the legendary 60s TV series “The Beverly Hillbillies” — passed away Thursday at her home in Louisiana with friends and family by her side.

Douglas’ granddaughter confirmed the death to TMZ.

Donna starred on “The Beverly Hillbillies” for all nine seasons and even returned for the 1981 reunion TV movie.

Douglas also appeared in several other iconic TV series, including “Mister Ed,” “The Twilight Zone,” “The Adventures of Ozzie and Harriet,” “Adam 12,” and “Route 66.”

She also co-starred with Elvis Presley in “Frankie and Johnny.”

Louise Rainer? Who she?

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Good Luck, What’s-Your-Name

The Grand Duchy of Bloodthirstan wishes to join the throngs, the multitudes, lining the streets to wish Stephen Colbert well.

Maybe we’ll finally watch him for once:

Stephen Colbert’s ratings might have been half those of late-night cable reruns of the “The Family Guy,” but he was adored by our objective, unbiased, not-at-all-liberal media for being a leftist who protected Central Government and savaged anyone who disagreed. And now the media is in universal mourning over the loss of one of their most powerful weapons.

After nine years of protecting The State, the final episode of “The Colbert Report” aired last night, and it should come as no surprise that the media coverage has not only been excessive but a sad spectacle of monolithic gushing.

Time Magazine: The Colbert Report Is Dead. Long Live Stephen Colbert!

Washington Post: The show was so good and so meticulously performed that you could, in fact, not watch it.

Time Magazine (again): Stephen Colbert: A Great Talk-Show Host? No, the Greatest!

You get the idea.

Despite the fact that fewer than 1% of the American people ever watched “The Colbert Report,” because he made himself a useful tool against the political right, the mainstream media artificially inflated his influence (Jon Stewart, Lena Dunham, and Tina Fey are fellow travelers in this regard), and in turn used his clips during “objective” newscasts to undermine the GOP with ridicule.

Not “despite the fact”—due to the fact. Who wrote this, Fox Butterfield?

For not only did Colbert finish behind re-runs of The Family Guy, he finished behind four different re-runs of The Big Bang Theory. Scads more people know Sheldon Cooper than know Stephen Colbert, to the relief of a great republic.

I would also point out that in total numbers (not just 18-49 yos), Robot Chicken, iCarly, Sponge Bob (3 episodes), something called Down East Dickering, and WWE’s Tribute to the Troops all kicked Colbert’s bony ass—the last by about a 50% margin.

I missed the Washington Post’s tribute to Down East Dickering.

The next time we watch Colbert will be the first, so we are no expert. But his shtick reminds us of a typical SNL skit: clever in concept; shaky in execution; clueless on how and when to end. His appeal ran the gamut from A to B: if you hated George Bush and Dick Cheney, you loved Stephen Colbert. We’re sorry for your loss.

PS: It should be noted that he picked up his game as he left it:

“The Colbert Report” signed off on Comedy Central with series-high ratings on Thursday night, roughly doubling its recent averages.

According to Nielsen estimates, the half-hour finale of the long-running fake-news program averaged 2.48 million viewers overall and a 1.0 rating in adults 18-49 — building on its “Daily Show With Jon Stewart” lead-in (2.03 million, 0.8) by more than 20% in both categories.

The only cable program to rate higher than “Colbert Report” on Thursday was an NFL game on NFL Network.

Of course, that NFL game was an epic battle between two 2-11 teams, Tennessee and Jacksonville. And in total numbers, Pawn Stars beat Colbert Thursday night—twice.

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The Real Tinsel Underneath

If I’m ever in trouble with the law, remind me never to engage Juan Williams as my defense attorney:

White liberal hypocrisy on race is so delightful for conservatives.

White conservatives are always on defense against charges of hating President Obama because he is black; suppressing minority voters and indifference to the difficulty minorities have living everyday with the legacy of slavery and a culture filled with stereotypes of black inferiority.

We are? Says who and since when? To the debatable extent we hate at all, we hate President Obama for the same reasons independents and liberals hate him: because he’s a lying weenie. Race has nothing to do with it, at least not for us. (As conservatives, we have the least reason to resort to racial animosity: we hate his policies for the content of their character, not the color of his skin.)

And find me one charge of suppressing minority voters that is not laughable on its face.

As for “indifference to the difficulty minorities have living everyday with the legacy of slavery and a culture filled with stereotypes of black inferiority,” I plead guilty to confusion, not indifference. Most conservatives I know would love nothing more than for black people to overcome “the legacy of slavery”, abolished more than 150 years ago by a Republican. We have done everything we can think of to help, from congressional acts to affirmative action to cultural and individual education—to electing a son of Africa to president. I think it’s no longer up to us. If there is a legacy of slavery, we’re not indifferent to it, we’re ignorant of it. Might this conservative suggest it’s in the heads of those who perceive it?

I don’t know what he means by “a culture filled with stereotypes of black inferiority”, and I won’t even try to guess.

But his piece started so promisingly!

This week white conservatives can take a break, step out of the dock and make way for white liberals.

Hacked emails from Hollywood’s white, liberal elite show them belittling the president by assuming his taste in movies is confined to racial stereotypes fitting just another black guy.

“Should I ask him if he likes’ DJANGO?’” asked Amy Pascal, a Sony Pictures’ co-chair. Scott Rudin, a movie producer, responds: “Or ‘The Butler’… or ‘Ride-Along. ‘ I bet he likes Kevin Hart.”

Where to begin unpacking that powder keg of race and class bigotry?

I’ve already come to the defense of my white liberal elite friends. This is immature banter, not racism. (Classist, on the other hand—they’ll need different counsel to defend that charge.) The president, any president, is the last person to be shielded from ridicule. Just ask all the living ex-presidents. We teased Bush 41 about “read my lips”, Clinton about weight and waitresses, Bush 43 about being a war criminal—what else are we going to rib Obama about, his ears? That would make him really mad.

If a conservative had written it, however, we’d need 40 days and 40 nights of rain to put out the fires of indignation (which might explain the deluges in California).

Pascal and Rudin have both apologized for the content of their private emails. “The content of my e-mails to Scott were insensitive and inappropriate but are not an accurate reflection of who I am. Although this was a private communication that was stolen, I accept full responsibility for what I wrote and apologize to everyone who was offended.”

Rudin gave a statement to Deadline.com, explaining that his emails were “written in haste and without much thought or sensitivity,” he understood the notes were out of line. “I made a series of remarks that were meant only to be funny, but in the cold light of day, they are in fact thoughtless and insensitive,” he said.

Isn’t that enough? Private notes, stolen and exposed, lead to humiliation and apology. That’s a closed circle as far as I’m concerned.

But let Juan Williams make his point:

Pascal and Rudin, on their way to meet the president at a Democratic fundraiser, have no hesitation about painting Obama into this limited, one-dimensional personality. What they have revealed is how demeaning and patronizing their liberal minds can be even when the man is the leader of the nation.

Chris Rock, the comedian and actor, recently said Hollywood is a “white industry… it just is.” He added they don’t hire black men.

I imagine they do hire some black people. But those black people have to color inside the lines of what white liberals think is the right kind of black person. Black conservatives have no chance in that world.

Black intellectuals and even black left wingers have no chance either. But that is a different story. In the restrictive confines of the white liberal world they would be seen as threatening black people.

Jamie Foxx, Denzel Washington, Samuel L. Jackson, Don Cheadle, Halle Berry, Angela Bassett, and Kerry Washington come to mind as obvious refutations, but let’s assume Rock and William mean more than just beautiful actors and actresses.

But while we’re on that point:

But one aspect of the film that shouldn’t have made folks count No Good Deed out of the running for box office glory? Its cast of black stars. In fact, it is the latest in a string of movies led by black actors that have “overperformed” at the box office, any number of which should have put to rest the still-prevailing notion that films with all or primarily black casts don’t do well at the box office.

[M]ovie studios should take a page from their television counterparts and recognize that audiences are hungry for more diversity on the big screen.

After these emails, I think you can take that to the bank.

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