The Boring Preaching of the Left

Joel Kotkin wrote recently in City Journal on Today’s Cultural Engineers. It’s pretty interesting.

Soviet dictator Joseph Stalin once labeled writers and other creative people “engineers of the soul.” In his passion to control what people saw and read, Stalin both coddled artists and enforced unanimity through the instruments of a police state. Today, fortunately, we don’t face such overt forms of cultural control, but the trends in American and to some extent European mass culture are beginning to look almost Stalinesque in their uniformity. This becomes painfully obvious during awards season, when the tastes and political exigencies of the entertainment industry frequently overpower any sense of popular preferences, or even artistic merit.

Our cultural climate has become depressingly monochromatic. Award ceremonies, once a largely nonpolitical experience, have become reflecting pools for preening progressive artistes. Those emceeing the awards must be as politically pure as possible—sorry, Kevin Hart—and those winning acclaim get the best press if, besides thanking their producers and agents, they take a shot at Donald Trump.

This dynamic is not exactly the byproduct of popular demand. In recent years, ratings for the Oscars have fallen to the lowest levels since the awards were televised, down from over 40 million to fewer than 30 million. The ratings decline tracks the fall in movie attendance, which has sunk to a 25-year low. We’re a long way from a time when awards nights were dominated by popular mainstream winners such as West Side StoryThe Sound of Music, or even the original Lord of the Rings. The movie industry makes money now by producing sequels of movies based on comic books, with relentless action and violence but little character development.

As movies and television shows in both the United States and Britaintoday increasingly adopt the feminist, gay, and racial obsessions of their makers, they have written off a large portion of the less politically “woke” audience. Many of these shows, such as Britain’s venerable Doctor Whohave hemorrhaged viewers since taking on a more preachy, PC aspect. “It’s supposed to be entertainment,” one disgruntled viewer complained. Late-night television, now dominated by stridently anti-Trump comedians, also has seen ratings drop in recent years; no show has close to the number of viewers, let alone the iconic status, enjoyed by the late—and largely apolitical—Johnny Carson.

That’s certainly true for me. We turned off the TV portion of the cable (it’s the best value on high-speed internet) years ago. I have the stuff to watch most anything on my computer – but I don’t. I don’t think I’ve turned a TV broadcast on yet this year and don’t foresee doing so. Just not interested in anything they’re selling. I used to love Dr. Who, I didn’t make it 5 minutes with the new one.

The problem is they (pretty much every TV program, including the news) have become that preacher that always put you to sleep when you were a kid. They won’t shut up and they won’t change the subject, and so we’re tuning out, shutting it off. Who was it that said a fanatic is someone who won’t shut up and won’t change the subject? That’s US and UK news and entertainment media.

Welp, know what? That same software that lets me watch the current swill they call TV, lets me watch the old stuff. Not uncommon at all to sit back here and enjoy a John Wayne movie, hopefully with Maureen O’Hara, or at least Kate Hepburn, where men were men, bad guys wore black hats, the women were gorgeous and powerful in their own right, but still liked guys. You know kind of like the world most of us still live in. It’s better outside the left’s hothouse. I’m staying out, you’re welcome to join me. The whisky and cigars are on the bar.

“Endless, Bitter Rancor Lies Ahead”

If you were to search this site for Camille Paglia, you would find eleven articles, most of them about something she has written. It is surprising how often I find myself agreeing with her, given how different in so many ways we are. Perhaps it has to do with that we actually think, and not just feel.

In any case, here is another article where I agree with much if not all. Via Joshuapundit at WatcherofWeasels.

It’s open sex war — a grisly death match that neither men nor women will win.

Ever since The New York Times opened the floodgates last October with its report about producer Harvey Weinstein’s atrocious history of sexual harassment, there has been a torrent of accusations, ranging from the trivial to the criminal, against powerful men in all walks of life.

But no profession has been more shockingly exposed and damaged than the entertainment industry, which has posed for so long as a bastion of enlightened liberalism. Despite years of pious lip service to feminism at award shows, the fabled “casting couch” of studio-era Hollywood clearly remains stubbornly in place.

The big question is whether the present wave of revelations, often consisting of unsubstantiated allegations from decades ago, will aid women’s ambitions in the long run or whether it is already creating further problems by reviving ancient stereotypes of women as hysterical, volatile and vindictive.

Complaints to the Human Resources department after the fact are no substitute for women themselves drawing the line against offensive behavior — on the spot and in the moment. Working-class women are often so dependent on their jobs that they cannot fight back, but there is no excuse for well-educated, middle-class women to elevate career advantage or fear of social embarrassment over their own dignity and self-respect as human beings. Speak up now, or shut up later! Modern democracy is predicated on principles of due process and the presumption of innocence. […]

It was overwhelmingly men who created the machines and ultra-efficient systems of the industrial revolution, which in turn emancipated women. For the first time in history, women have gained economic independence and no longer must depend on fathers or husbands for survival. But many women seem surprised and unnerved by the competitive, pitiless forces that drive the modern professions, which were shaped by entrepreneurial male bonding. It remains to be seen whether those deep patterns of mutually bruising male teamwork, which may date from the Stone Age, can be altered to accommodate female sensitivities without reducing productivity and progress.

Women’s discontent and confusion are being worsened by the postmodernist rhetoric of academe, which asserts that gender is a social construct and that biological sex differences don’t exist or don’t matter. Speaking from my lifelong transgender perspective, I find such claims absurd. That most men and women on the planet experience and process sexuality differently, in both mind and body, is blatantly obvious to any sensible person.

The modern sexual revolution began in the Jazz Age of the 1920s, when African-American dance liberated the body and when scandalous Hollywood movies glorified illicit romance. For all its idealistic good intentions, today’s #MeToo movement, with its indiscriminate catalog of victims, is taking us back to the Victorian archetypes of early silent film, where mustache-twirling villains tied damsels in distress to railroad tracks.

A Catholic backlash to Norma Shearer’s free love frolics and Mae West’s wicked double entendres finally forced strict compliance with the infamous studio production code in 1934. But ironically, those censorious rules launched Hollywood’s supreme era, when sex had to be conveyed by suggestion and innuendo, swept by thrilling surges of romantic music.

The witty, stylish, emancipated women of 1930s and ’40s movies liked and admired men and did not denigrate them. Carole Lombard, Myrna Loy, Lena Horne, Rosalind Russell and Ingrid Bergman had it all together onscreen in ways that make today’s sermonizing women stars seem taut and strident. In the 1950s and ’60s, austere European art films attained a stunning sexual sophistication via magnetic stars like Jeanne Moreau, Delphine Seyrig and Catherine Deneuve.

The movies have always shown how elemental passions boil beneath the thin veneer of civilization. By their power of intimate close-up, movies reveal the subtleties of facial expression and the ambiguities of mood and motivation that inform the alluring rituals of sexual attraction.

Read the rest here, do it now, I’ll wait for you.

There’s not a lot to add, she is simply correct, I think, and not just in the entertainment industry. The #MeToo hysteria has gone far enough that it will hurt women’s careers for years. Why exactly, would anybody with an ounce of sanity, hire somebody that experience indicates will involve your company (and likely you) in lawsuits and blatant blackmail. Just no sense in it.

The other thing she is right about is that movies, back in the day of the obscenity code, were a lot sexier, because it was something beyond lust, and if we are honest, nobody looks as good in reality as they do in our fantasies. So they broke the taboos, they made it realistic (this all goes for violence too, by the way) and they made it uninteresting, even boring. Because what we went to the movies for was a story. What we got was soft (mostly) porn.

Just the other night, I thought it might be fun to watch a movie, and I have thousands available, just as we all do online these days. I dug around here and there for about an hour and said the heck with it. The only ones that looked interesting, I’d seen many times, because they said something to me. Be nice if they’d make movies with a story again. Yes, Dunkirk was pretty good, as was Darkest Hour, but two movies out of the US/UK movie industries in a year, or is it a decade, what a waste.

 

Hang in There

I’ve got quite a lot coming up but, none of it is going to make it today. So enjoy a film, that will make you think a bit as well.

Happy Birthday, Dad.

Saturday, again, huh? Well we all know what that means here, don’t we? Time to unwind a bit, it’s been a stressful week.

But it’s also the 1st of December, an that’s an important day for me. My Dad would have been 105 today. He’s been gone for over 25 years now but, every time I have a problem one of my key questions is, “What would Dad do (or say)?. If I listen closely, he often tells me, still.

“I cannot trust a man to control others who cannot control himself.”
― Robert E. Lee

The last couple weeks he has seemed especially close, reminding me of a man’s duty. So, I thought maybe we should look at some of the things he loved.

One thing he dearly loved was music, his father did two things: ran the town light plant, and directed the town band, in truth it was the family band practically, of the 10 of them 6 of them were my uncles plus Dad. In his opinion, this was the last great American composer.

I have some problem disagreeing!

I can’t remembering him ever going to a movie, I suspect he got it out of his system when he moonlighted as a projectionist. He’d watch on TV though, usually something like this.

He liked technology a lot too, he had the first TV in town, and when color TV’s started coming out, he didn’t think he could afford one, so he bought a kit and built one. What was on? Good shows, like these.

And for all his insistence that their were no composers after Sousa, he never seemed to have much trouble watching this.

or this

In fact, even the commercials were neat.

But for all that he was a serious man, devoted to keeping the lights on, while keeping his people safe, and he would brook no compromise. He was one of the people who made our lives in the field both easier and safer

Dan Miller ran this song this week, in another context, and in truth he and I both saw it over at the Mad Jewess’es shortly after the election as well. It’s considerably too new a song for Dad to have heard but, it’s a pretty good summary of this article.

It seems a sad song on first listening doesn’t it? But, it’s not really, it speaks to us of the eternal dreams and battles we fight for what we believe in. And those dreams live as long as we are remembered.

A perfect man? Nope, he surely wasn’t, but he was the best I’ve ever known.

“Duty is the sublimest word in our language. Do your duty in all things. You cannot do more. You should never wish to do less.”
― Robert E. Lee

That would have made a good epithet for him

Happy Birthday, Dad, and Thanks.

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