Analysis of media issues, politics and current events.
In a town 20 miles from Waco, Texas, reports say a fire near ammonia tanks reached the tanks and exploded. The explosion killing firefighters and a policeman on scene as part of an effort of trying to evacuate people living nearby. This phone video caught of the fire that became an explosion seems shocking, even though the dad and son in the car at first seem to be a safe distance. The sound of the blast shakes the car and the frightened son yells that he can no longer hear.
Whether it’s by a group, or one person, the act of Terrorism is about trying to destroy a person’s will and spirit by destroying the physical things around them. The destruction is the message.
In the case of the Boston Marathon bombing, the dagger that stabs the spirit and will is the gruesome video of the violence. Something in less than 24 hours, the American public has seen again, and again and again. I must have seen it 8-9 times just while working out the gym last night. Even ESPN, the channel I expected to give me sanctuary from the video loop, was also replaying the explosion over and over. Sigh.
Besides already suffering fatigue, I deplore the media putting the Boston Marathon explosion scene on a continuous loop for two more reasons. First, why is it that only two weeks ago, Louisville’s Kevin Ware’s video clip of breaking his leg was so gross and disturbing most professional media refused to show it on TV again, but people dying from a bomb blast is fine to run incessantly?
The news media have every right to do it. But ultimately, the frantic repetition does more harm than good.
This may sound clinical, but Terrorism is essentially a PR stunt. A violent PR stunt that promotes the cause or to generate awareness. In that context of the desired to be promoted, a corporation staging a PR video or event for their product would shriek with delight in having their event or viral video played over and over by a network. Why? Because they know the exposure will create greater awareness of their product and boost their brand.
It’s like the purposely risqué or offensive ads released before the Superbowl. Ads done with the knowledge that if the they can’t run during the Superbowl, they’re salacious or shocking enough that news media will air them–all while talking about how the ad can’t get airtime. Intentionally or not, the media plays into a media manipulator’s hands.
It’s likely this one or grouped nut case who did the bombing at the Boston Marathon know this as all too well. And for that, they thank you media.
This infographic : Complete Series: The Lifespan of a TV Show depicts the rise of fall of just about every successful TV show you’ve seen. And the stages of a TV show creative growth and decline. From wobbly start (Star Trek, Lost, Friends) to the Zombie years (Murphy Brown, The Simpsons).
When did simply a bad or clumsy conversation about race become a crime?
A mini tempest in a teapot brewed this week when country artist Brad Paisley released his song Accidental Racist. A song about an encounter between a man wearing a Confederate Flag on his T-shirt and a black man looking at him with suspicion at a Starbucks. Paisley’s song expresses how he feels wearing the flag may be offensive to the black man but, to him, the Confederate Flag is not about race but about pride.
The song lyrics between Brad Paisley and guest singer as the voice of the black man, LL Cool J, suggests you can equate perceptions of black men and gold chains for the issue of slavery and chains. No. No you can’t. It’s a wrong statement.
But whoa, it’s not automatically a RACIST statement. Same thing with Brad Paisley saying he’s wearing the Confederate Flag because “I’m a Skynyrd fan” as well saying the flag represents where he comes from.
That COULD be racist. That (Skynyrd fan and pride) COULD also be true. It could be both at the same time. Perhaps, clumsily, Paisley is trying to get across the idea that racial identity and symbols around race are more complex than they seem.
Clumsy is not the best presenter. Clumsy can be awkward. It can unknowingly use the inflammatory words in a delicate matter (like no, no, no your not THAT fat). But it also can be an idea haphazardly feeling its way to the light of understanding by sharing its thinking process out loud.
That’s what I think those reflexively condemning Accidental Racist miss. By simply policing all the lines in the song for being wrong, I feel those critics are missing the bigger opportunity. A discussion or teachable moment rather than a politically correct lynching.
This idea of any productive discussion is to let people throw ideas out in the public square to be exposed. And through exposure and debate, they are mixed with other ideas, information and points to view to be digested and possibly evolve into a bigger truth or understanding. Hey, even change minds. Or help that clumsy expression finally find light and clarity.
The problem with the Accidental Racist uproar is the expectation among critics is that ideas that dropped into the debate about race and identity will be spoken out of the gate, pre-perfect, flawlessly intelligent, politically correct or completely self-aware of their own flaws. Quite frankly if that was really the case in any debate, there would be no need for a debate. We’d all start on the same side.
In the case of the Confederate flag wearing character in Accidental Racist, it’s possible he doesn’t see the flag as evil. That it is a symbol of where he’s from. That he (as one man) can’t see the fear and tyrannical legacy that others see in it the same way that teens can see the prison and crime inspiration for wearing baggy pants they wear proudly and think are cool. That instead of intentionally supporting crime.
Doesn’t make his view right, but it can help one understand how he got there. And perhaps start or build on the debate are argument there instead of shutting down discussion by declaring statements off limits.
And black people, especially song wise, you’ve been in the same boat as Brad Paisley.
Remember “Fuck the Police” by NWA and Fight the Power by Public Enemy? They were criticized out of gate as anti-police, lack of respect for authority, terroristic and crime glamorizing. But most African-Americans who understood the black experience (like Paisley said he comes from the South) didn’t see the songs that way.
Most understood and gave these songs leeway as broad, sometimes in artful (but great sounding) strokes used by hip hop artists to explain the tense and sometimes unjust experience inner city black youth have with the police. An expression to start a conversation that did open up a national conversation about police and black youth.
What if those songs were summarily shut down because it’s politically incorrect or considered offensive to all police officers to say, “fuck the police?”
Within broad stokes, clumsy or offensive phrases sometimes is the heart of a real and productive conversation waiting to get out. But a quick rush to judgment or failure to look at where the song is trying to get to can kills a teachable moment.
This issue and knee-jerk outrage of this song is one of the reason race doesn’t become a conversation in America in general. The Accidental Racist by Brad Paisley is another example of how we are a world that says we want a dialogue about race, however you’re expected to speak only when you know enough to already have the right answer.
You may not like the song as song. That’s one thing. As far a making an attempt to talk about race, cut him some slack. And while your at it critics, loosen that sphincter a little and think bigger.
This video of a Battlestar Galactica recut makes the dark sci-fi show have the happy-go-lucky feel of the show opening of the 90s sitcom Friends. Complete with the Replacements “I’ll Be There (for you).”
When I was a kid, there was a joke I heard from classmates. It went something like this:
A white guy and polish guy and a black guy confronted a gatekeeper. He would not let any of them pass to safety unless each of them answered a question.
He asked the white guy. What famous cruise liner ran into ice and was sunk?
“The Titanic” replied, the man.
“Correct!” The gatekeeper said, “You can pass.”
The Gatekeeper then asked the Polish man, “How many people died?”
“Umm…1502,”said the Polish man.
“Correct!” The gatekeeper said, “You can pass.”
The black man comes up ready for this question. And the gatekeeper says…
Ok nigger, name them.
They say kids learn racism from their parents. Within the joke that they learned from adults is the heart of the idea that lives today between many whites and blacks. An invisible message, mostly from whites, but it can also apply to anyone that is a member of any group in power: We invite you to follow the rules and take your chance to success. But if your chances start to look too good or threaten the status quo, we reserve the right to change the rules, decorum or process. And whattaya know? The new rules just happen to work in our favor! Imagine that.
What infuriates so many blacks about the Republican Party is that blacks don’t get credit they deserve from the party for traits the GOP says it believes in and supports. African-Americans, a majority of which are highly law abiding, socially conservative believe in the idea of hard work and self-reliance. Don’t let the welfare queen stories and rap music fool you. Charts consistently show that whites, particularly Appalachian whites, are by far the biggest users of the welfare state. Yet blacks are the most visible and talked about. For blacks (among the people who actually built this country, for free) idea or rules laid out for success are ones that many blacks are willing to follow.
What many blacks find is that those rules seem to change or become more difficult when blacks get close to real points of achievement or can wield true power. That’s what was infuriating for blacks about the recent crisis with Voter ID laws. Increasing the level of difficulty under the banner of law and order and protecting the sanctity of the voter. Funny, that wasn’t an issue until the minority vote started making a difference in elections. Voter ID and closing early voting in urban areas was “changing the rules” to make it harder for groups like blacks to vote.
The GOP attacks on president Obama have also served as the rallying point for black people. Most are sophisticated enough to understand that the attitudes towards the president is really not about honest differences in policy but an attempt to change the rules now that a black man has assumed the highest office.
The GOP and conservatives, the same people who, just in the previous administration spoke of the president and the presidency as immutably deserving of the highest honor and respect, now freely and openly denigrate it and its office holder breaking long standing rules of political and professional decorum. The rules change.
The Birther Issue. No one asked Mitt Romney for his birth certificate. Though his father came from Mexico. John McCain was born in Panama. No one is concerned either. But a black man is elected who mother is clearly an American citizen (that alone makes him an American citizen under The Constitution)? Even presenting the short form of a real birth certificate is not enough for some. The rules change
From the Governor of Arizona finger wagging at the president to Neil Munro of the website Daily Caller interrupting and heckling the president at a press conference to “You Lie” shouted by Joe Wilson during a state of the union address, the rules of respect and decorum for the office of the president changed overnight.
Black people watched the actions and thought to themselves “see the rules have changed.” To many blacks, many who are hardworking law-abiding, the GOP still looks like Lucy Van Winkle holding the football to success. And black people are Charlie Brown. And too many times they watch the football yanked away as they were on the verge of kicking it. The hatred of the many blacks toward the GOP is their way of saying “FU, Lucy.”
Conservative (black) rising star Dr. Ben Carson was asked by radio show host Mark Levin. “And what about white liberals — how do they treat you?” Dr. Carson said:
“They’re the most racist people there are because they put you in a little category, a box,” Carson said. “How could you dare come off the plantation?”
So white liberals are the most racist by relegating and pigeonholing black people into categories! OMG! Dr. Ben Carson is right!
Help us GOP! Save us from the white liberals (a.k.a racists) that, in the last 50 years, have worked along side black people to win voting rights, marched along side black people, fought to end segregation and anti-discrimination laws, some died (see Mississippi) and don’t run ads every election season using black people as symbols of undeserving people taking things others feel belong to them. No, you’re right, Dr. Carson, The people that opposed those achievments over the last 40 years (primarily conservative whites, many in your party) are our true non-racist savors who want to help us.
How could I not see Dr. Ben Carson undeniable insight? White conservatives were doing us a favor and not boxing us in using guns, dogs, fire hose and threats and intimdiation to stiffle blacks’ ability to vote and participate in government. They weren’t putting black people in a box when they used the famous “they had to give your job to a minority” line in stanch segregationist Jesse Helms’s “Hands” ad to keep his senate seat against his black challenger Harvey Gant. No that was to give black people wide open freedom to be regarded as a stereotypical undeserving leeches! And of course the “lynching” as Clarence Thomas called it at his own Supreme Court confirmation hearings was really about how white liberals acted out of racism for his being uppity and not about having another black woman testify of being sexually harassed by him. You know, something if true would be a crime. And we all know crime isn’t relevant to being an official of justice. Racist.
Wow. Any more freedom and being let out of the box from some of your fellow conservatives, Dr. Carson, and black people might be in chains again. And as far white liberals wanting blacks back in plantations (Odd because plantations were all in the conservative south), I think white conservatives don’t really have a problem with that because they just use a new words for plantations: the prison system. And they’ve passed lots of laws to make sure black people don’t leave there.
This messaging, reiterated by GOP black friend Ben Carson, seems to be a message offensive. Flipping the script of racism, by arguing that Democrats are the actual racists. It’s not completely absurd. Just 90% absurd.
There are Democrats and “white liberals” that are racist to be sure. Almost the whole state of West Virginia comes to mind. A solidly Democratic Party state that can’t bring itself to vote for a Democratic presidential candidate, twice, mostly likely because resentment or uncomfortableness that he is black. But I do think, in the Democratic Party, it’s the tail on the dog. You see it once in a while when it wiggles. In the conservative realm, the tail is wagging the dog. The strand and legacy of racism has an oversized influence over the Republican Party to the point of muzzling the leadership. Racist ideas aren’t shouted down or by those who know better. In fact they’re even used as a political weapons by people who do know better when a political race is tight. The result is a party that almost can’t help itself.
For that it gets called racist. Problem is, though it may be comfortable using race as a weapon or dividing tool using code and inferences, the GOP, Tea Party and even white supremacy groups that tangently touch the party still HATE to be called racist. How do they deal with the cognitive dissonance? Answer: flip the script. “I know you are but what am I.”
Like a good lie, there is a grain of truth that supports it.
Yes, the GOP is the party of Lincoln and Lincoln freed the slaves. And the Republican Party came about and drove the Whig party into extinction over its support and the Whig’s resistance to abolish slavery. That’s an extremely good point – in 1877. And you can’t coast off that accomplishment for 134 years. Especially if you racked up a history of doing things against that legacy.
The other argument used by “white liberal Democrats the real racists” mostly comes from a very loose interpretation of the effects of the Southern Strategy in the 60s. Where civil rights legislation enacted by Democratic leaders angered many racist Democrats. So yes, many Democrats in southern states (at that time and after The Civil War) were racist or supported segregation. But this argument conveniently forgets where those angry Democrats took their anger and racial hatred once Democrats like Kennedy and LBJ passed civil rights laws – to the Republican Party. So the parties are kind of like the movie Face Off. John Travolta the cop now looks like the crazed criminal played by Nic Cage and Nic Cage now looks like the trusted cop. Democrats are not the party they used to be. Nor are Republicans.
But the Freaky Friday switch doesn’t fool blacks. Because even though may blacks are compatible with many conservative values, the conservative part of the Republican Party since the 60s is a party that has done exactly what Dr. Carson claims “white liberals” have done; tried to box them in in terms of voting, political power and stereotypes as welfare queens and lazy. In last year, voting ID laws. And, least right now, it seems to have no problem returning to those racial chestnuts anytime it’s politically expedient.
If you haven’t sniffed through all the sarcasm, I think Ben Carson is delusional. Intoxicated somehow in his own deserved success. Despite his claims, he’s clearly not being kept down. And white liberals aren’t trying to put him back on a plantation. How can they? He’s too busy having is voice silenced by speaking on every cable channel he has time to be on like Fox and CNN. Herman Cain and Clarence Thomas gave the same cry of oppression for expressing their views claiming victimization. When really they just confused, ridicule or rejection of their ideas with being lynched or forced by on a plantation. The conservative version of the victim card. If you don’t accept my version, you’re not just opposed to my idea, you are attacking me.
No Mr. Carson, as I said before, you’re not an Uncle Tom, but you are a tool. And that’s what blacks see in you – a tool. Ironically the GOP and conservatives will give you all the room you need to speak – as long as you “stay in the box” of their ideology. Once you try to step out of that box with a position your white conservative friends don’t agree with, see how long freedom rings. And you’ll likely find the walls of the box you’re in real quick.
This line about Dr. Ben Carson in The Atlantic by a black writer Ta-Nehisi Coates caught my attention as it addresses Carson’s use of the phrase “back to the plantation” he used to defend himself:
“The corollary of that last metaphor — the idea of liberalism as a plantation — is especially noxious and deeply racist. It holds that black people are not really like other adult humans in America — people capable of discerning their interest and voting accordingly — but mental slaves too stupid to know what’s good for them.
When Ben Carson uses this language he is promoting himself at the expense of the community from which he hails. More, he is promoting himself at the expense of the community in which I once saw him labor. That is tragic.”
You know about that powerful being. The one that knows us. Watches what we do. That’s supposed to listen to our pleas for help. A being who can punish us. Or make our lives better.
Now is that Government or God?
As our relationship with both are very similar, why isn’t it hypocritical for some religious or fiscally conservative people to chastise others about having a dependency on government while ignoring their own dependency and entitled petitioning of the exact same benefits from another outside source: God?
Either way, government-dependent liberal or miracle-grace-dependent conservative, it’s dependency. A man in the sky or a people-created organization that you pay money into to represent you and make decisions on how goods and services to be provided on your behalf.
Conservatives or religious people (not always the same) rail on those who seem to ask government for help, money or to heal. Yet these are the same people who will turn to God and asked to be healed (God’s Miraclecare. vs. ObamaCare). Deliver the money they want or desperately need in crisis (God-fare vs. Welfare). Give them tools to make them successful. Smite enemies (Plagues, bolts of lighting vs. the military) and take care of their retirement (Social security vs. Heaven and the afterlife). And like the complaints against liberals and big government (making housing or healthcare a right), there’s even an over use of this dependency on Big God (Praying for Football teams, pleas to pass tests, winning the lottery) for things most would consider mission creep.
So again, what’s the difference?
Both are abdicating personal responsibility and asking someone else beyond themselves to give them things-and expecting to be answered. And if that’s the case, then both sides are caught in the “cycle of dependency” and entitlement) as anti-government people decry. They’re just looking for different people to satisfy that dependency.
Perhaps there is one difference. You don’t have a group like the Tea Party claiming that Big God has grown too big. Or that God’s supply of prayers and miracles are being wasted on illegals and the lazy or entitlements. Why? Because Big God, like the stereotypical mindset about liberals will simply spend what it needs to. Liberals may expect that in the form of taxes and may spend beyond their means, but religious conservatives seem to also believe that Big God is theoretically infinite and can dole out all the miracles and blessings money people need. Who needs the Fed? When you’re God, made the earth, you can certainly make money.
Like claims against government dependency pointed at liberals, too much reliance on God to solve problems has created a dependency and sense of entitlement among many Christians. You don’t have to do the work (actually read the Bible, be like Christ, follow ALL his commands), but you can still expect the Big God benefits.
I imagine a revised version of the “Footsteps” poem for the new generation of the “miracle welfare” Christian…
…So I said to the Lord, “You promised me, Lord,
That if I followed you, you would walk with me always.
But I noticed that during the most trying periods of my life
There have only been one set of prints in the sand.
The Lord replied,
“Yes, lazy ass. The times when you have seen only one set of footprints is when I carried you.” And lately, I had to do all the work. Instead of gaining empirical knowledge for an informed faith, you simply relied on willful ignorance and feel good symbols. So I had to carry you. Instead of putting in the time to be ready to win the big game-you just prayed to me, so I had to carry you. Instead of reading my book for personal understanding, you simply took what people said was in it on faith, so again, I had to carry you. Would it hurt you not to leave everything up to your intellectual laziness thinly masquerading as faith? Crack open a few books and take steps on your own power with the tools I gave you to walk with me?” Jesus! I mean…me.”
If you are going to remake a movie, you must meet at least one of these requirements:
1. Technology used in the existing film substantially interferes with the enjoyment or believability of the film. If people are in the future using shoe-sized cell phones will metal antennas, Okay, green light the remake.
A good example for me: Escape from New York. The President of the United States has the secrets of nuclear fusion on a cassette tape? It’s time.
2. Time or geopolitical circumstances no longer apply. Red Dawn, the version with Patrick Swayze, could be remade because we are no longer in a cold war standoff with Russia and Cuba. By the same token, Red Dawn with Chris Hemsworth shouldn’t have been remade because it defies believability that North Korea could launch a land-based threat to America. We’re currently laughing at them for threatening a preemptive strike on America because we know it’s ludicrous.
3. You can bring a perspective that takes the older version of the movie to a whole new level. One of the first movies to do this successfully: Battlestar Galactica. The updated version by Ron Moore took a cheesy story about running from robotic toasters in space and turned it into an engaging show about personalities and thought-provoking issues around religion, terrorism and class. A whole new level. This opposed to Gus Van Sant’s 1998 Pyscho remake that methodically re-created the original movie scene for scene. It’s trying so hard to be the first Psycho, why not simply watch the Hitchcock original?
4. Special effects take the movie to a whole new level. Some movies in the past were ambitious and innovative with special-effect supported stories but still fell short. Like Superman with Christopher Reeves. Superman 1 and 2 are still great movies but the limits of the special effects in the 70s and 80s now make the movies feel a little geriatric in comparison to today’s films. You can’t actually see the strings on Reeves that made him fly but you can guess where they are. The technology was close. But not enough for believability today. That’s why the upcoming summer Superman blockbuster is welcomed.
5. The movie franchise is bigger than the director-or the film. Batman and Robin (or as a friend used to call it “Gay Ice Capades”) was a horrible film. But Batman is bigger than a horrible film. So the Christopher Nolan’s version of Batman The Dark Knight had to happen. Same goes for George Lucas and Star Wars. George Lucas made three(more like 2 1/2) great movies. Then three not-so-great movies. But the universe of the Star Wars has so much room to be explored–so may the force be with you J.J. Abrahms.
Follow these rules…go make a new movie!
In other words, if justice is about fairness, but the Supreme Court tends to rule on narrow matters often far removed from bigger ideas of fairness or equality, why do we call members of The Supreme Court “justices?
The general definition of justice is the punishment, compensation or protection given for actions that take life, liberty or property. To deliver justice is to rebalance. If you commit a crime, you go to jail to repay the burden you’ve placed in order to make things right.
So what is the “justice” the Supreme Court Justices do? It may be as Chief Justice Roberts said in his nomination hearings about being a ref to “call balls and strikes,” but from rulings over the last decade, it’s certainly not about restoring justice.
Bush v. Gore, the Supreme Court fight in the end wasn’t about who could be president of the United States in terms of fairness, it was about supporting the Florida time window for counting ballots, even though those there was substantial evidence the ballots might not accurately reflect the will of Florida voters. Is that justice? Or “calling balls and strikes?”
The 2011 Supreme Court ruling that kept Obamacare intact and angered conservatives wasn’t really about an evaluation if The Affordable Care Act was just. Or if the enactment of Obamacare would take life, liberty or property from citizens. Or if the act was in defiance of what The Constitution believes is just and right. The ruling that saved it was over whether some of the money it collected from people without health insurance to fund the program was defined as a tax…or a penalty.
The whole rise of the abortion movement is from people who feel The Supreme Court made a rule that, though affected a nation, didn’t implement justice. As you can see, both right and left have been stung by rulings served that don’t always feel like justice served.
Now, this week, The Supreme Court listened to arguments about gay marriage. The first day of arguments, California’s Prop 8. The hearing over Prop 8 is not about if the measure’s intent of preventing gays from marrying is an injustice to some. Instead it’s become an argument whether the supporters of Prop 8 have the right to plead their case hear since their own state government isn’t officially supporting the measure anymore.
Meanwhile, in the next day’s Defense of Marriage Act hearing (DOMA), the focus evolved into the infringement of states rights. Essentially does a state or the federal government get to define marriage. This whole debate sides steps the real justice question: Is it an injustice for a certain group of people to be excluded or not recognized for name and benefits that are afforded to others because of who they choose to fall in love with?
If the state wins, they may make the right call on the power of the states, but at the same time, the court will affirm a states right to tell one group they can’t have the benefits of another group. That’s happened before (see slavery).
So rulings aren’t necessarily about justice. And depending on those rules you can actually create a situation that affects and takes people’s life, liberty and property. It’s injustice. For example:
With tax and financial implications, like losing 300K in estate taxes for not being considered married because a gay union is not recognized. That’s losing assets, money you own because of a decision possible from of an institution of justice.
The state or federal government gets a say in who you can associate with or marry. Sounds like a restriction on liberty to me.
If either case on gay marriage is upheld, the government gets to say to some that your life, as you live it, isn’t as important or valuable. And we can restrict is even though there is no provable harm you are doing to others.
So if the Supreme Court is merely defining rules. And rules aren’t always just. Why do we call the members of the Supreme Court “justices?” Like Roberts mentioned, isn’t better to call them refs?