Morning Ed: Arts & Entertainment {2017.12.22.F}

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Will Truman

Will Truman is the Editor-in-Chief of Ordinary Times. He is also on Twitter.

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  1. Avatar LeeEsq
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    AE7: A friend of my brother’s posted on epic rant about the Christmas Prince on Facebook a few days ago. He said it was so bad that if a pacifistic alien culture ever encountered it, they would become war-mongers bent on conquering earth and they would be justified for doing so.

    Speaking of Christmas, although I guess it might really be more of an Easter movie thing, I’ve always wondered if some brave soul could get the money to make an epic production of the Toledot Yeshu This was a Jewish satire of the Gospels that existed in some form since Late Antiquity. It does not have many nice things to say about Jesus.Report

    • Avatar LeeEsq in reply to LeeEsq
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      These vaguely Christmas movies sound like utter drecht that I’d need to be heavily bribed, drunk, or both to watch. Even then, I’d probably could not resist making snarky comments.Report

  2. Avatar InMD
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    AE2 I know the art vs. the artist thing is an age old debate but I still find the handwringing odd. More often than not the qualities a person has to have to be a good or interesting artist are simply incompatible with being a nice, uncontroversial guest at a dinner party in the suburbs. No one owes anyone an apology over it nor does liking an artist’s work require someone to own everything the artist has said or done.

    AE5 I’d also lament a sale to Disney. It’s weird that, despite the internet theoretically leveling the playing field its hard to imagine something as disruptive on a large scale quite the way the Fox television network was in the late 80’s/early 90s. There’s an interesting history of it included at the Dead Homer Society, a site dedicated to arguing that the Simpsons should be taken off the air to stop ruining the legacy of the early seasons.Report

    • Avatar PD Shaw in reply to InMD
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      AE2: I think Will has linked to this article at least three times, but when I read it the reviewer comes across as someone who was shocked that what was promoted as an update of war propaganda comics contained war propaganda, that a hard-boiled detective story would be a hardboiled story, etc.Report

  3. Avatar bookdragon
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    AE2: I can enjoy an author and not care about his politics (see: Orson Scott Card’s Ender series), but when what’s grating or hateful in their politics is loudly broadcast in their work, like Miller’s Holy Terror, it’s not a matter of trying to reconciled anything; I’m just plain turned off that artist’s work. If they had some good stuff in the past, I’ll still appreciate it, but I won’t be picking up any new titles from them.

    AE5: The Orville and Lucifer are both on Fox network, and I hope they continue. Lucifer is starting to run out of plot maybe, but is an interesting take on the devil and one with more theological basis than most Christian stereotypes. After a couple rocky initial episodes, The Orville has done some seriously old school Star Trek-like episodes and I hope to see a lot more.Report

  4. Avatar pillsy
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    There are several things that are strange about [AE2], but the one that struck me is that a lot of the handwringing was over Miller’s earlier work, which, if it was informed by the idiotic jingoism that characterizes his later stuff, well, it was a very subtle influence. Yeah, he told nuanced stories about vigilantes, but… they’re nuanced stories about vigilantes, and often ones where the nuance came from taking the premises of long established superheroes seriously.

    And then he kind of went nuts with 9/11. And before that he turned his Martha Washington series into a godawful Objectivist tract. It wasn’t just awful because he was enamored of Ayn Rand’s terrible philosophy, either: he also thought her habit of having characters deliver interminable speeches was worthy of emulation.

    But anyway, Born Again or The Dark Knight Returns are… very jaundiced about America, but not in a consistently right- or left-wing way. His other Batman and Daredevil work from the period doesn’t have even that level of politics about it.

    Now, there’s nothing wrong with saying, “Well, now Frank Miller is a stupid jerkface, and if I go back to read his older work, no matter how good it is, I won’t appreciated it because I’ll be distracted by thinking about his stupid jerk face.”

    Other artists bring that out in me. Not Miller, but some. We consume this stuff because it provokes various emotions in us. I think the insistence that some reasons for having an emotional response to a work are legitimate, and others aren’t, is generally pretty toxic within fan communities, and causes people to get a lot more dug in then is healthy.Report

  5. Avatar PD Shaw
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    AE4: I probably come from a different place given that I have a cousin that works in movie/tv production and one of her worst professional experiences was a production with a prima dona a-list actress that made the experience nearly unbearable. I appreciate that a director might take into consideration whether a given actor is perceived as a cancer on the set, so I dislike the Guardian characterizing the director as blacklisting certain actors when he apparently was lied to.Report

  6. Avatar pillsy
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    Breitbart is unfathomably scummy, and while their conduct is particularly indefensible in this instance, it follows pretty logically from welcoming people like Roy Moore and Donald Trump onto the team. At least Moore lost, so they can dial back the apologism for him, but there are costs to tolerating malefactors, especially known malefactors, like this.[1]

    Marlow said one of the factors in Breitbart’s coverage of the allegations against Moore is that, he believes, the news media was trying to use them to set a bar on sexual misconduct “that President Trump cannot match.”
    “I think they want to create a standard where President Trump either from past or future accusations, will not be able to match whatever standard is now in place for who can be a United States senator,” he said. “Based off not any sort of conviction or any sort of admission of guilt, but based off of purely allegations.”
    “I think that’s the playbook here,” he added. “And I think it’s part of the reason why it was so important for Breitbart to continue our coverage of the way we covered it … and for Steve in particular to hold the line the way he did for — I think part of it is because it’s not just about Judge Moore, it is not even just about establishment, anti-establishment. It’s about what’s coming next for President Trump.”

    [1] I think these costs are exacerbated by the two-party system, but that is another comment.Report

  7. Avatar Oscar Gordon
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    Blacklisted parties: blacklists always rely on people not being willing to dig too deep into the why, and or the person doing the blacklisting is powerful enough to not be ignored.

    I mean, if Jackson had asked around instead of taking Weinstein at his word…Report

  8. Avatar Jaybird
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    AE2: The eternal issue of “what to do with an artist that you disagree with?” question.

    To what extent can we say “the author is dead”?

    The recent unpleasantness with all of the revelations from Hollywood have compounded the number of works of art that it’s now difficult to enjoy… but let’s stroll back in time to 2013 and look what we were saying about Orson Scott Card.

    And this gets into all sorts of questions everywhere at every turn.

    What are we allowed to find offensive but still enjoy so long as we give a speech about how offensive we find the artist first?

    What are we supposed to find offensive to the point where we don’t put a single cent into the artist’s pockets and make a big show telling our friends and family that they shouldn’t either? (E.g., I remember my grandfather pulling my mother aside back in 1981 and telling her that he didn’t think much of Jane Fonda and wouldn’t think much of the people who put money in her pocket by seeing On Golden Pond.)

    Where are the boundaries of where we’re allowed to freely shout “I disagree with the artist on multiple things but this is a dang fine piece of art!” and hear “shaddup about your internal states already!” rather than “how dare you enjoy art that is made by someone who is not Vegan?” (Or whatever?)Report

    • Avatar Jaybird in reply to Jaybird
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      Huh. Dabney Coleman was in On Golden Pond.Report

    • Avatar pillsy in reply to Jaybird
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      I’m really puzzled on the use of “allowed” in contexts like this one. Like, who’s doing the allowing?

      FWIW, my opinion on Card is not so different from my opinion on Miller. But there’s no particular calculation of Card’s “problematic”-ness that informs this in a conscious way. I just find that knowing about his gross politics doesn’t hinder my enjoyment of his better works.

      On the other hand, I basically can’t watch anything with Mel Gibson in it, even the stuff that was really good. It’s kind of a shame.Report

      • Avatar Jaybird in reply to pillsy
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        Yeah, that word isn’t precise at all.

        Were guys in the 90’s allowed to sexually harass their co-workers?

        Using the word one way the answer is “obviously not!”, using it another the answer is “dUh…”.

        “Socially permitted to the point where there is effectively no social sanction”?

        And there are weasel words in there too so that one isn’t a whole lot better.

        So to use the original word, I’m using it in the way that gives room for the answer to “Were guys in the 90’s allowed to sexually harass their co-workers?” to be “dUh” rather than “Of course not!”Report

        • Avatar pillsy in reply to Jaybird
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          Yeah. I mean, I read and appreciate tons of stuff where the authors are just awful. Sometimes I get challenged on it, but more rarely than you might think, and I’ll just say something along the lines of, “Oh he was awful, but I still enjoy his work,” and that ends that.

          I usually get it for being a Lovecraft fan, and that dude was super-racist and it filters through a lot of his work. And by “super-racist”, people in the 1920s were like, “Dude, you’re super-racist!” Even with him, I just explain what I like about At the Mountains of Madness, and acknowledge that I totally get why other people don’t like it.

          Perhaps I am uniquely blessed by a social media bubble made up of folk willing to accept that.

          Or perhaps some of the people walking on eggshells about this are uniquely cursed.

          I’m not sure. But I don’t think it’s quite what’s going on. I do think framing the reactions in terms of “should” is probably not helping though, in either the, “You shouldn’t like this stuff because the creator is terrible!” or the, “You should be able to separate the creator from the work!” formulations.

          Both feel judgmental in ways that align badly with the messy, idiosyncratic ways that people react to works of art.Report

  9. Avatar Chip Daniels
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    Related to AE2:
    Dilbert: A Reckoning.Report

    • Avatar Jaybird in reply to Chip Daniels
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      Suffers from “I don’t know anybody who would disagree with this!”-itis.Report

      • Avatar Chip Daniels in reply to Jaybird
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        What I thought was most interesting was how Alexander’s image of the boss changed over time, to where the point of view became the boss’s.

        I stopped reading the strip when I moved on from the paper version of the newspaper somewhere in the late 90s, and when I heard about Alexander just a few years ago, I couldn’t wrap my head around the idea that this guy was the same as the cartoonist.

        The few things I read now from him do sound like the sort of thing that a 1996 Dilbert strip would mercilessly mock.Report

        • Avatar greginak in reply to Chip Daniels
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          Any strip that goes on for as long as Dilbert gets stale after a decade or three. Even Peanuts did. So i stopped reading Dilbert much a while ago. But it was also clear years ago Adams likes to get people riled up for his own laffs and needs a private jet for his ego. Indeed his own ego and admiration of BS salesman speak would have been the stuff he would skewer in the 90’s. In the strip his authorial voice is Dogbert.Report

        • Avatar Jaybird in reply to Chip Daniels
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          That was an exceptionally good part of the essay.

          The part where the pointy haired boss was no longer fat? I thought “oh, my gosh! I never noticed that before!”

          And, yeah, it was examples of the workers being forces of friction in their own right.

          That said, a number of characters have been exceptionally anti-social in their behaviors (Wally, for example) and that has also been a huge source of humor since, oh, the second or third book.

          Off the top of my head, there were the series of strips mocking marketing, strips mocking consultants, strips mocking the engineers not doing any work and relying entirely on the interns, strips mocking the janitors and security guards stealing from the cubicles… way back when I remember reading an essay complaining about Dilbert because the comic was obviously Marxist propaganda (sadly, I can’t find it) and other ones (this one is from 2004, I think) discussing how Dilbert is an opiate.

          There are a *TON* of criticisms that are possible of Scott Adams.

          It’s just that when one opens with a paragraph like this one:

          If you frequent Twitter, which I absolutely cannot recommend that you do, you already know that things have gone terribly awry. Scott Adams, the creator of Dilbert, is a proud racist. Or, he earnestly, zealously supports Donald Trump, and if that isn’t being a proud racist, I don’t have a goddamn clue what the difference is anymore.

          One signals that this is an essay for people who share priors.Report

          • Avatar Chip Daniels in reply to Jaybird
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            Probably because I have priors (but no convictions hur hur), I’m honestly not sure what part of the blockquoted paragraph is debatable.

            Maybe an economically anxious person can explain it.Report

            • Avatar Jaybird in reply to Chip Daniels
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              I’m honestly not sure what part of the blockquoted paragraph is debatable.

              And that’s totally cool. I’ve no doubt that that is part of why you enjoyed the essay so much and I thought that it suffers from “I don’t know anybody who would disagree with this!”-itis.Report

      • Avatar Dark Matter in reply to Jaybird
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        I haven’t read Adam’s blog for a while but I remember him detailing exactly what Trump was doing, why, and how it would work out at various stages long before the nomination, much less the election. It was seriously insightful and enlightening, like someone explaining “inside baseball” rules and how the coach was thinking 3 moves ahead.

        I also remember him detailing the various screams of “Wolf” that Trump got after the Presidency and why they were wrong (notice the lack of nuclear war, the lack of his political enemies being rounded up at gunpoint, etc.)

        And yes, I can see why that sort of thing would deeply anger a “resist” type who is trying to paint Trump as the next Hitler. According to the author, Adams is a “proud racist” because he “supports Donald Trump”, and apparently that’s the only possible reason for anyone to do so.Report

        • Avatar Chip Daniels in reply to Dark Matter
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          like someone explaining “inside baseball” rules and how the coach was thinking 3 moves ahead

          Yes, that’s exactly what made it so creepy and awful.

          Throwing a hanging curveball, using emotion laden lies to terrify and enrage a populace…its all admirable in his book.Report

          • Avatar Dark Matter in reply to Chip Daniels
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            …using emotion laden lies to terrify and enrage a populace…its all admirable in his book.

            I have seen movies I’ve liked with terrible acting, and I’ve managed to not get annoyed at reviewers who point that out. I have seen movies I’ve strongly disliked, and I’ve managed to not get annoyed at reviewers who gush over the wonderful acting/etc.

            Adams considers himself a minor expert in “manipulation” (he’d call it “mind control”, but imho that’s too strong a term). He’s been pointing out Trump is really good at that.

            And apparently pointing that out is “racist” and “supporting” Trump. This attitude and reasoning would invite satire even if Adams weren’t a professional satirist.Report

      • Avatar Pinky in reply to Jaybird
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        This might be the first time I’ve seen an author explicitly say that he neither understands the subject of his piece nor cares to. At least it saved me the time of reading further.Report

  10. Avatar Christopher Carr
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    AE9 – See the east-west range the Uintas and the North-South range the Wasatch for an example of moutain ranges perpendicular to each other. Salt Lake CIty is Gondor, and Park City is Mordor.Report

  11. Avatar Dark Matter
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    AE9 –
    If memory serves one of the previous wars with Sauron (or his now gone boss) sank a continent or something. Tectonic plates may not be the source of any of those mountains.

    Token and/or LoR doesn’t go into much depth on just how far magical civilization has fallen. Sauron is MUCH weaker than he was the time before, and that was much weaker than the time before that and so forth. That demon under the mountain used to be a footsoldier in an army.

    The problem is that as weak as Sauron has gotten, the people who are supposed to deal with him have gotten weaker still. There’s very little magic left in the world, so humanity (and hobbits) just have to deal.Report

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