Morning Ed: Sports {2018.04.09.M}

[S1] How the baseball teams got their names. Can you imagine how much a corporation would pay to get what the Colt gun company shunned?

[S2] This is an unrealistic feel-good plot.

[S3] Sister Jean is problematic, y’all.

[S4] “Stop trying to save the mayor’s life and get out of the sumo ring, lady.”

[S5] HBO has a movie about Joe Paterno out. I’ve been noticing lately that the Sandusky Truthers are making a disturbing amount of headway in some respectable quarters of public opinion. Unfortunately, the motivations of Penn State fans to believe the accusations are not true are probably a lot more intense than the motivation for us to believe that they are, and evidence doesn’t always matter.

[S6] Sandlot, a story about boys playing baseball in the 60’s, is problematic in its treatment of girls.

[S7] Kareem Abdul Jammar resents the NFL’s desire to banish the witches.

[S8] A look at the relationship between college basketball and the Catholic Church.

[S9] Johnny Manziel appears poised to get a second chance. Good thing he didn’t kneel during the national anthem or anything really problematic.

[S0] Fight! Fight! Fight!


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Will Truman is the pseudonym of a former para-IT professional who is presently a stay-at-home father in the Mountain East. He has moved around frequently, having lived in six places since 2003, ranging from rural outposts to major metropolitan areas. He is also on Twitter. ...more →

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155 thoughts on “Morning Ed: Sports {2018.04.09.M}

    • Eh, no matter how you slice it, that’s the sort of thing that can be really glaring and throw one for the loop while watching and enjoying (or trying to enjoy) a movie. Snarky Internet dragging may not always be the best way to express this sort of observation, but hey, it’s Deadspin.

      Molly Ringwald wrote a much better and more thoughtful article about “The Breakfast Club” and other John Hughes movies retrospectively that touched on similar themes. Link’s a rerun; I posted it last week too.

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      • Someone I know shared the Molly Ringwald article on Facebook and, without endorsing it in full, I agree that its a more interesting take. The internet and clickbait seems to impose a very vicious presentism on everything. Obviously all this stuff is fair game for cultural critique but I feel like I’ve seen the same article a hundred times. Babies are thrown out with bathwater, aspects that were progressive at the time are derided as precious, we are all assured of how much more moral we are now by becoming woke to the failings of some barely remembered movie/book/song, rinse, repeat.

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        • Yeah. There’s a lot of, well, policing the way other people enjoy things that seems really pointless for any reason other than starting fights. Sometimes this stuff can be discussed in a useful and thought-provoking way [1], but most of it is junk.

          And then there’s sort of counter-policing, where people make statements that amount to, “You really shouldn’t be bugged by this thing that actually bugs you.” Which is, if anything, even more useless than saying, “Oh, this movie is irredeemably and objectively bad because it has some stuff that bugs me.”

          This is all stuff we do recreationally. With the exception of small numbers of academics and professionals and critics, none of us watch movies for our job. Spending a lot of time watching something you aren’t getting anything out of is absurdly pointless, and that’s true whether it’s because you don’t like embarrassment humor [2] or because the star’s political opinions are just so bad you can’t help but remember them every time you see their stupid face.

          Watch what you like. Don’t watch what you don’t like. It’s all optional.

          And that goes at least as strongly for talking, reading, and arguing about this stuff. If the discourse about how something is “problematic” is getting you down, walk the hell away. The alternative is that you end up feeling guilty about watching a sitcom [3], which, why?

          [1] I’m not sure I endorse the Ringwald article in full, either, but I thought it was a good article. If S6 had been more than a couple hundred words, I would have been irked at it for wasting my time, as well as for being tiresome clickbait-y snark.

          [2] I hate it so much. Ugh.

          [3] H/t to because where do you think I get any of my links?

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          • That’s kind of the point of saying this are “problematic” though.

            You’re not saying it’s bad – forcing the discussion into either full-throated condemnation or absolute defence of every aspect of the movie.

            You’re saying that it has some problems. That is entirely consistent with its also being enjoyable, well made, well acted, influential, beautiful, etc.

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            • Yeah exactly. People enjoy all sorts of older stuff that rings poorly now. But they still enjoy it. It is also not in anyway new to take a current eye to older art and find it deeply wanting. It’s not like people haven’t looked at Gone with the Wind in a very different way in the last couple decades.

              Things like Song of the South is, rightly, viewed poorly these days. Birth of a Nation is still a seminal piece of movie making and correctly condemned for it’s racism. But it’s still taught in film schools.

              If there is a presentism going in, it’s more that people think nobody looked back at art, and sometimes found problems with it, before the internet.

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              • ” people think nobody looked back at art, and sometimes found problems with it, before the internet.”

                Just noting that this phrase made me smile in recognition. Happens in both the case of the people who are finding problems and the people who have problems with them finding problems (and further iterations thereby), I think?

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                • I think if there’s a difference today, it’s that clickbait and social mediative just really increased the volume of stuff that people are exposed to. I just know enough people who’ve been made miserable enough by it to wish it were less vituperative, and less focused on insisting that other people are enjoying things wrong (which I really see on both sides of any particular “problematic”-ness debate).

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                  • The Internet increased the broadcast power of groups that previously were limited to alt-weeklies and poorly made zines. Far Left and Far Right criticism of Disney movies like the Sandlot existed before the Internet. Most people were blissfully unaware of it though.

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              • greginak: it’s more that people think nobody looked back at art, and sometimes found problems with it, before the internet.

                Yikes! is this true? I’m having trouble understanding how someone draws this conclusion. Just steam of consciousness list: Marcel Duchamp’s Fountain, Rite of Spring, Wharhol’s Tomato Soup, I Am Curious Yellow, All In the Family, just a guess here but I’m betting the paintings in Chauvet Cave.

                I know the assertion is about what “people think”, but I’m curious what leads you to the conclusion. How does someone know about art but not about the controversies surrounding it? Some examples might help me understand better.

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                • Maybe i wasn’t’ clear. People have always revised their opinions of art and history based on the times they live. There is nothing new today with people finding art from the 80’s or 90’s having problems.

                  One example, which i noted above, is The Birth of a Nation. Groundbreaking in terms of cinematic techniques and skills. It spread various racist lies about reconstruction, african americans and made the KKK out to be heros. BofaN became toxic by the 80’s at least though it was popular at the time.

                  In the conversations about problematic art many people keep saying that young people or feminists or whoever won’t stop judging art by the present time or cant’ just let us appreciate older art. But there is nothing new in any of that. It’s not just “art”, all of popular culture gets seen through new lens. Maybe the key difference is that people think pop culture shouldn’t be taken seriously while art lovers are very happy to take it very seriously.

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                  • Maybe the key difference is that people think pop culture shouldn’t be taken seriously while art lovers are very happy to take it very seriously.

                    This seems to miscalibrate the complaint.

                    If I wanted to argue that The Brady Bunch was unIslamic because the girls showed too much skin and they let a dog live in the house and that that was why people shouldn’t watch it and then other people started arguing against me…

                    I’m not necessarily the guy who is taking The Brady Bunch seriously while my interlocutors are the ones failing to take pop culture seriously. It’s very possible for people telling me to lighten up to take pop culture just as seriously as I do.

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        • The worst thing about internet presentism is that its relentless. It offers no peace and demands total conformity. Anybody who likes the wrong thing is to be damned as evil. Anybody who disagrees about the most minor point doctrine in the most moderate tones is to have their polluted contagion exiled. There is an absolute refusal to bend over everything.

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          • See my comment above about calling things “problematic”.

            You’re allowed to enjoy stuff that’s problematic. You also exist in the present, so you’re inevitably going to think about things from a “presentist” perspective.

            That’s the whole point. It’s not a “refusal to bend” – it’s a framing specifically designed to avoid throwing out babies with bathwater.

            See for example Cory Doctorow’s introduction of Molly Ringwald’s essay – I think this captures it really well https://boingboing.net/2018/04/07/the-worlds-an-imperfect-place.html

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            • That might be the intent of some people but I don’t think this is how you it plays out in reality. The author of the piece on the Sandlot definitely seems to believe that her interpretation is the only true and acceptable one. Internet threads about these types of movies end up as screaming matches. One person presents an argument on why Some Kind of Wonderful is problematic, other people present a defense on why they like the movie or why the critic is wrong, and everything devolves from there.

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              • Every argument a religious argument.

                Does the movie bring glory to God?
                Does the movie have a moral world view when it comes to sex?
                Does the movie have themes that are appropriate for children or teenagers?

                I’ve seen this movie.

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              • Yeah, that Deadspin essay was odd – it read like one of those stories in bottom-of-the-barrel free daily newspapers, where a newswire article is just truncated at a random point so it consumes the number of column inches left over by the car dealership ad.

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            • Cory Doctorow’s definition is correct but words have multiple meanings. They also come in weak and strong versions. For every person using problematic the way Cory Doctorow uses it, there are two or three bloggers who mean you shouldn’t like this thing at all because it is problematic.

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              • “For every person using problematic the way Cory Doctorow uses it, there are two or three bloggers who mean you shouldn’t like this thing at all because it is problematic.”

                Isn’t that its own form of presentism, though, leaning toward one way of using a useful word because there are a bunch of dumb bloggers who have come to use it in a dumb way?

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                    • But also somewhat of a comfort level with presentism *as* a form of descriptivism, also.

                      I mean, as unappealing as that essay was, the kid didn’t watch Sandlot setting out to hate on it, or see somebody enjoying it and decide to upbraid them. She was inundated with nostalgic media blitz – need I point out, a blitz that had a lot of funding behind it from the IP holders? – urging her to appreciate its wonderfulness.

                      I think “actually, your nostalgic media blitz is stupid because this movie is stupid” is a pretty reasonable reaction to that… at least from what I remember thinking about the movie (decidedly mixed) 25 years ago.

                      In general, I think presentism is a somewhat reasonable reaction to an excess of nostalgia.

                      That said, “reasonable reaction” and “article-worthy” are two entirely different things.

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                • It is. You can’t entirely avoid presentism. People are always going to impose current moral standards on the past. There are times when presentism becomes very weird though. My go to example of weird presentism is how many people on the Left are angry at the Europeans for the colonization of the Americas as an act of imperialist genocide. Yet, they don’t get really riled up about the vast Ottoman expansion into South East Europe, North Africa, or the Middle East that happened at the same time because wars of conquest were a thing back than. So Hernan Cortez is evil but Suleiman the Magnificent is just a product of the times.

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                  • So now a 20-something with an axe to grind against the people who want her to love something as much as they do is doing the equivalent of ignoring the Ottoman expansion?

                    I’m having trouble following the line of complaint….

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                    • It wasn’t genocidal but it was bad enough to lead to memories that linger to the present. People in the Balkans and Caucasians still have memories of Christian boys being taken as slaves so they could be janissaries to the Sultan. Greeks never liked being dominated by Turkey.

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                    • …..genocidal in the way that European expansion (especially the Spanish and Anglo-Dutch variants) into the Americas was?

                      I know it’s ancillary to the point you are trying to make, but you are stepping into one of my pet peeves, and I cannot brush it off.

                      The Spanish expansion, or Conquest, I’m fine calling it that, was not genocidal except in the trivial sense that Spaniards brought with them germs that killed over two thirds of the indigenous population. The proof is that, those regions with the largest demographic concentration at the end of the XV century still have a significant proportion of pure or quasi pure native populations.

                      From the very beginning, the Spanish Crown declared that American Natives were subjects of the Crown, similar -not identical- to those in the Iberian peninsula. Through the following decades, much legal thought was given to their specific rights, obligations, and position within the legal/social hierarchy.

                      It is true that, being months away from the King, the natives’ rights were violated more often than not, but that doesn’t mean that this was not deemed a violation of the law, and that, when detected, was not punished by the Authorities.

                      Let’s not forget that the importation of African slaves (who were definitely not subjects) was a decision of the Spanish Crown taken, in part, to protect the natives from illegal exploitation by providing an alternative supply of manpower.

                      Initially, it was determined that, in payment for the benefits of Christianization and civilization, natives should have the obligation to provide labor to the Crown, directly, like in the mines, or indirectly, by being assigned to work at farms and plantations. But it was clear that this was to be a part time obligation, and that the worker was to return to his village at the end of his allotted work period.

                      By the end of the XVI century, with the Colonial regime fully established, the most excessive abuses were eradicated and the native population settled into their place, more or less equivalent to that of European serfs (serfdom did no longer exist in Spain by that time).

                      By the time of the Independence, at the beginning of the XIX Century, most natives and mixed race populations were strong supporters of the Spanish Crown against the Independence movement lead by the local white elites. They were (rightly) worried that they could lose the legal protections they had enjoyed for 200 years and become open again to exploitation. Many joined the Spanish forces in the subsequent wars.

                      This state driven Top to Bottom process stands is in opposition to the English settler pattern, in which individual families came to establish new communities, free of the interference of the European authorities, and with no concern about the original inhabitants, nor any intention of integrating them into their communities.

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                      • @j_a

                        That’s actually a very good point. I almost didn’t include Spain, for the reasons you mentioned*, but then I keep thinking of the Taino and the fact that there was a lag period between initial Spanish settlement and the decision to treat the Indians less poorly.

                        Again, though, you’re right, and I shouldn’t Black Legend the Spanish.

                        *I’m not as well versed on it as you, but I know the broad outlines of what you describe)

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        • “Glaring” is in the eye of the beholder. Context can help you understand what you see, maybe even enjoy it more, and think about what the author thought and was trying to accomplish (if you care about such things or think they can be meaningfully deduced from the text).

          But it may not help you enjoy it any more.

          Just using that as a basis to say, “And so the movie made decades ago is glaringly out of sync with contemporary thoughts on sexism, so it’s shit!” is generally not likely to be helpful. Unless you want to draw clicks by pissing people off [1], which, again, Deadspin.

          [1] Or you’re talking to folks you know will commiserate which is cool but not relevant here.

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        • — I haven’t seen this particular movie, but I’ve seen plenty others that have this same problem. The point is, sexual assault was always sexual assault, and the fact that so many 90’s films age poorly on the account says a lot about 90’s films.

          It isn’t mere “presentism” to notice this. We grew up on these movies. Grown men today were teenagers when these films came out. At the time they (many of them, most?) thought this stuff was “just fine,” which how many still do?

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        • Note: I haven’t read the article, but thinking about the likely scenes in question, I imagine we can say, “Well, that is how things were back then,” about the boy tricking the girl into kissing him and being hailed a hero for it afterward. I have no doubt boys pulled that shit then (hell, they still do) and that other boys celebrated them for it (hell, they still do).

          Where I have some pause is when the movie shows the girl actually secretly enjoyed her assault, only making a show of her objection, and eventually marries her abuser and has a bunch of with him.

          Now, were there — are there — girls and women who marry boys and men who torment, assault, and abuse them? Sure. Are there some girls that might like that in a guy? I guess.

          But the clear signal from the movie was that this is something boys SHOULD do… not something that boys DID or DO do.

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          • Here’s the thing: I think I can usually distinguish when an author has self awareness about the implications of what they are doing. I’m not saying I’m perfect. Sure I can misread things or overreact. Most people do from time to time. However, I think I get a fair sense of the distinction often enough.

            I am perfectaly able to view unpleasant truths. I can view a piece of media with flawed characters. Likewise, I can view a piece in the context of its time.

            What was missing from these films was the interior lives of women. These were “guy things” about guys with licence over the bodies of women, and this was celebrated. Women were there to be consumed, and dammit wasn’t that fun!

            Look, it’s clear. These writers (and producers and directors, etc.) were celebrating the male experience of sexually assaulting women. It was easy and fun. It was how you win! The women themselves — how this relentless miasma of male entitlement and assault actually affected them — we don’t need to see that. It would distract from the fun.

            Blah! We gals are allowed to be disgusted by this. We’re allowed to talk about that.

            Was this article the high point of journalism?

            Well, I guess not. But it was one woman responding to one film, which evidently was praised in her social circles. It seems reasonable for her to respond to that.

            In response, we have a gaggle of thin-skinned men responding back.

            But why? Why does this bother you in particular, as when contrasted to the general mass of “Buzzfeed” style journalism?

            I have a suspicion.

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            • The more you use “you” to complain about general tendencies, the more it will seem to me that you are arguably attacking site commenters and not making general statements.

              “A gaggle of thin-skinned men” is certainly not an acceptable descriptor in the context of our site rules, for the conversation that has taken place here so far.

              Please take this into account going forward.

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        • FWIW it was both glaring *and* not particularly different from all the other glaring examples of such to me, watching it 25 years ago as a fifteen year old. I mean, I also thought the movie was funny and there was stuff I enjoyed about it. But the whole “boy forces kiss on girl or tricks her into mouth-to-mouth contact” thing? Especially when presented as something that more or less worked out well in the end? That’s been turning my stomach (and that of many of my age peers) for a very long time. As has the irritation that if we complained about it, some boy or another was likely to take umbrage at our complaints.

          So in that sense the historical context is different for different watchers, and the contemporary context was different as well. Not sure why she should consider your context for it rather than mine…

          (That said, it was a dumb article. Just, the reaction to it seems even more over the top than the article was, at least to me (and of course, I can only see it as me). It’s a 20-something complaining that the people who insisted she watch something are ignorant of why she would hate it. Why not shrug and move on?)

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          • Sorry for tossing a grenade and leaving, I had to fly to Phoenix this morning.

            I think I was more annoyed by how dumb the article was than the point that was being badly made, hence my reference to Huck Finn. I mean, yes, back in the 1800’s, black people were still treated as slaves, and most people were OK with it to some degree or another. I’m not going to be turned off by Huck Finn because of that. I’m also not going to be critical of someone from enjoying Huck Finn unless they are going on about how awesome slavery was.

            The Sandlot (a movie I have only seen once, hence it is not in my list of formative movies) was a product of it’s time, and of the time it was trying to portray. And while you, and V, and b-dragon, at others might find the treatment of women disturbing, it’s not something that was created whole cloth out of teenage boy fantasies. I mean, teenage girls and even young women STILL reward bad male behavior. Just a few days ago I linked to a story about how the Parkland shooter is getting fan mail from teen girls and young women. Such behavior was commonly rewarded by girls in the 60’s and the 90’s as well, so the idea that a boy might try something like that and gotten a positive result is not out there.

            Yes, it’s disturbing, and I can totally understand why the author was turned off by that. I don’t blame her for saying that the movie will fail to be a beloved classic for her. But I can also see why men who came of age in the 60’s, or the 90’s, still like the movie, even if they understand that the boys behavior is unacceptable today. We can also look at the movie and use it to understand why guys in their late 30’s and 40’s might still have issues with what constitutes decent behavior towards women, and hey, that would be a great article to read (but we didn’t get that essay). Now if a guy is still of the mind that the kiss scam was awesome and a perfectly fine way to test a girls affections… well, that’s problematic.

            To sum it up, the movie is what it is, yelling at it because it fails to conform to current ethics/morals/ideals isn’t fair to the movie. People’s reactions to the movie, on the other hand, is something that is a lot more interesting.

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            • “But I can also see why men who came of age in the 60’s, or the 90’s, still like the movie, even if they understand that the boys behavior is unacceptable today.”

              I think this is a bit of the linchpin. If men or boys consume this movie and don’t see the behavior as unacceptable or — even worse — get the message that it is acceptable or desirable even, that’s a problem. That doesn’t mean it should be relegated to the memory hole with every other “problematic” bit of media out there. I think the scenes in question are explicit enough that they offer really accessible “teachable moments” for kids. But they need to be leveraged as such.

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            • I think part of the disconnect is that, as Lee referenced elsewhere on this post, some people interpret problematic very differently than other people.

              I have honestly theorized this is part of some larger Myers-Briggs divide, or gender divide, or just word usage divide or something. I don’t even know. Every theory I come up with falls apart.

              Leaving aside the essay for a minute – she’s quite clear on her opinion, didn’t use the word problematic, and I’m not sure why she isn’t allowed, as a reader who happens to have a platform at *deadspin* where all people DO is yell about stuff, to yell whatever she wants at the movie as *part* of “people’s reactions to the movie” and somehow that isn’t fair… I mean, people yell at things all the time! But I know you personally are averse to those kinds of “reviews”…

              Sorry! I said I was leaving that aside.

              Anyway, as far as I can tell, for some folks, “problematic” means “throw it in the memory hole,” “shameful to still accept,” etc etc etc. Jaybird HATES it when I call something problematic because he thinks it means I detest it and find it unworthy, and the people who react other than hatefully to it unworthy.

              For other folks, self included, problematic means “liking this thing is complicated and I will be weirded out if you like it in an uncomplicated way that flat out denies any of the things that have, actually, been bothering me about it for a really long time, and that I’ve quite been shamed before for being bothered about.” CF “your fave is problematic” which was a thing people said about things they had sympathy for other people’s love of LONG before it became a snarky way of cutting people down.

              Generally what those folks (again, self included) want, insofar as they want anything, is some acknowledgement like “yup, you’re right, that scene is really creepy and women are pretty much unimportant to the entire thing and I can see how it would be annoying to have people keep harping on how utterly fabulous it is and/or telling you ‘hey, you like baseball! you MUST watch this movie it is the best!!!!!” – annoying to the point where some just-barely-not-an-intern-anymore Deadspin writer with content deadlines might blow her lid about it.” (Wait, I got distracted into my own POV at the very end there :D.)

              People calling something problematic may or may not dislike that thing! Often they like it or feel ambiguity about it or just don’t care that much.

              I don’t have a lot of memories of Sandlot other than the things I mentioned and that I’d seen it at least twice, but before this conversation happened, if someone asked me about it I would’ve said, “there’s some really funny or touching parts, but it’s also kind of creepy in some ways. you know, typical 90s movie weird gender stuff that I didn’t like back then, let alone if I think about my nieces watching it now. overall I didn’t hate it, not really interested in watching it again.”

              or I mighta said, “ehhhhhhhhhh, it’s problematic but not awful, and I’d watch it again if I didn’t have better options.” And they would have meant the exact same thing.

              sometimes I say “enh, it’s problematic but also I love it”

              You know?

              I do wonder sometimes if the difference in how people use problematic has to do with how often they run into stuff that is problematic for them personally. I mean, if I avoided all media that did a shitty job of representing my identity and the identities of other people I care about, I’d pretty much have little left to enjoy and I’d miss an enormous amount of really great stuff. I have to work really hard just to FIND stuff that doesn’t do that. That being the case, obviously a lot of stuff (yes, including Huck Finn, one of my most favorite books of all time)?

              Is problematic. And I just have to deal with that if I want to enjoy the things, same as anyone else does.

              It is what it is. It’s unfair to people’s larger experiences, IME, to try and establish a norm that we should take every piece of media on its own terms, in the particular context of one set of particular people who enjoyed it.

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              • The issue with the word problematic is that when most people hear or read it what their mind processes is problem. For most people a problem is at best something that needs to be solved. A problem can also be a bad thing that needs to be dealt with and eliminated. People who use the world problematic might believe that created a nice word to describe “this thing has some questionable content” but as a lawyer I can tell you that your not going to get the interpretation you want. What might be a big issue to you, isn’t going to register at all to another person.

                Since we are talking about gender, I do think large parts of the online left have decided to wage war against what can be called cis-gendered male heterosexual fantasies. The tendency with putting everything a certain type of man might like under the surgical knife as part of some sort of reform effort is a keen example. Since, as observed on Slate Star Codex, policing the weak is a lot easier than policing the strong it is the marginal cis-gendered heterosexual men that are on the receiving end of this. Hence, all the criticism against the manic pixie dream girl. A lot of it reads as very mean-spirited to me, men who really haven’t had much look romantically are being told that they can’t even have their fantasies and that they are bad, evil people for wanting this.

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                • “For most people a problem is at best something that needs to be solved. A problem can also be a bad thing that needs to be dealt with and eliminated. ”

                  Once again, I wonder if that is a gendered take (I hope not, how Mars&Venus if so…), a Myers-Briggs influenced take, or (more likely) something else I’ve never quite managed to put my finger on that has to do with relative amounts of feeling seen in the world- some type of curve, possibly bell or double-bell, not a straight-line correlation. (I honestly wonder, though, if it might be something boring like a regionalism instead.)

                  For me and most of the people I know who use “problematic” the way I use it (which is a lot! probably about 65 percent of the people I know, more like 80 percent of the women! often about something that has nothing to do with culture!)…

                  A problem is not what you describe, but rather a feature of a situation that it may be possible to navigate around, but more often is just part of what needs to be dealt with to deal with that situation. Where “dealt with” doesn’t at all mean “removed from the equation”. If we are talking about a problem that should *stop*, that’s generally made clearer from context.

                  I might, for example, say, “Lee thinks it is a serious, mean-spirited problem that people attack lonely cisgendered heterosexual men for wanting to fantasize about a manic pixie dream girl, whereas I think it is more of a serious, will-we-ever-get-past-this problem that Hollywood exploits that fantasy to make money hand over fist without any care for how it will affect men, or women, to be constantly exposed to that trope of a young woman and few others. Either way, we both agree that the characters themselves are at worst problematic (not that Lee would use that word) and at best, extremely appealing. Occasionally, both at once.”

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                  • We talked a little bit about this in the Baby It’s Cold Outside post but I think people are hearing two different things. Like I think Lee probably does, I see it and tend to think ‘Great, here comes another lecture in which some piece of (usually old) pop culture is nitpicked for not reflecting a particular set of modern values. Anyone who sees it at all differently will be harshly accused of evil or complicity in evil.’

                    I think it’s the second part that really bites people but it doesn’t have to be that way. I’m actually really glad pillsy linked to the Ringwald essay which looks at the same issue in a different set of movies. One is intelligent and well written, one is just another shovel of manure into the pile of smugness and affirmation that is online discourse (I know, I know, that’s Deadspin’s schtick and it’s very happy to disappoint anyone looking for something different).

                    I don’t even think it’s the ideas themsleves, but rather the framing. Instead of a discussion about the tropes it’s a flame war over whether people who like the Sandlot are mysoginists (not just sexist or susceptible to sexist ideas but unapologetic woman haters). Someone will be called an SJW or feminazi, someone else will be called a fragile male or rejoice in bathing in cis white male tears or whatever. At the end no one learns anything.

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                    • Yeah, I’ve become increasingly disenchanted with that sort of Deadspin style snark in general, and now getting annoyed with it for Problematic Discourse is really just catching up with my other preferences [1].

                      I also think this kind of vitriol can be anti-convincing with people who tend to disagree but aren’t dead-set against you. It’s like adding an adjuvant to a vaccine, making it that much more likely to provoke an immune response [2].

                      Also, if you’re coming into these debates from the other side, it can be just as irksomely intrusive. My knee-jerk response to, “You should be able to separate the artist from the work,” is generally, “You should be able to kiss my entire ass.”

                      [1] People should have more latitude over perceived sexism or racism than I was over plot holes in superhero movies or the like, IMO. Fandoms can be toxic for a ton of reasons beyond strike over social justices.

                      [2] Also, some of you may note this is not entirely consistent with my style of discussing politics. “Lord, make me nice. But not yet.”

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                    • @pillsy But the thing is, the person who wrote this article (for whatever its flaws may be, indeed are) didn’t say any of that. (I just reread it, to check.) She just hated the movie, pretty intensely, and was snarkily defensive in advance about being accused of… exactly the things people are accusing her of doing here.

                      She didn’t accuse anybody of anything, except accusing the characters in the movie.

                      Which I mean.

                      If one can’t accuse some movie characters of some things without it immediately being assumed you’re accusing everyone who has ever liked the movie of the same things, we might as well just stop talking about movies entirely.

                      From my perspective, which certainly no one is obligated to share, people have become so defensive about ctrl-left discourse that they see it everywhere anyone doesn’t like something for left-ish reasons, even where there’s no ctrl involved or desired.

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                      • Yeah, I wasn’t trying to imply that she was making personal accusations. I only barely remember The Sandlot despite the fact that I saw it a couple years ago [1], but I’ve watched movies where similar stuff happens recently and yeah, it’s pretty gross and sexist.

                        But people who are into ${THING} taking snarky attacks on ${THING} personally is not remotely limited to movies that are problematic. It’s a pattern I’ve seen over and over again, really whenever you have fans or enthusiasts. I sort of tried moving towards this as a personal policy after someone had a forum meltdown after I said I thought Star Trek Voyager (IIRC) was dumb and boring, but at greater length, and using what Spock would call “colorful metaphors”.

                        People often take things personally that are not intended personally. It seems a lot of politeness revolves around accommodating that.

                        And yeah, questions of tone and politeness are especially fraught when social justice issues are at stake. But I also know multiple people who have been made genuinely miserable by this kind of thing, and they aren’t necessarily (or even usually) coming from a position of privilege.[2]

                        [1] Leading me to suspect that her characterization of the movie is not very good is accurate.

                        [2] One thing about what you call ctrl-left discourse that seems especially toxic from where I sit is that if you do have a habit of checking your privilege, you will often keep your head down when it comes up. But if you lack the relevant privilege, that won’t necessarily protect you from drawing a volley of fire if you stick your head up above the parapet.

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                        • See, from where I sit, if you don’t like media things because they make you feel personally attacked (as by depictions of forced kisses being for the best, which are pretty upsetting to a lot of women, in an unentanglably personal way, and didn’t just suddenly become so in the last 10 years), you are supposed to be polite and kind about them so that… other people don’t feel personally attacked. And that strikes me as dumb. I don’t hate this thing! As describe in detail elsethread! But I can see how someone (especially someone who, yay! grew up after this mostly stopped being such a thing) would.

                          And that *particular* line of reasoning about women’s opinions of their portrayal / gendered portrayal in culture generally – that they should be quiet about it, or at least find a way to express themselves in a polite and kind way so as to appeal to men, because just hating it isn’t acceptable, they have to be *appealing* about hating it – isn’t some novel feature of discourse, it goes back to well *before* the 17th century. And it’s a criticism that falls far more heavily on women, than men, in the aggregate.

                          Complaints about shrews, scolds, etc. (yesterday’s equivalents of a lot of the terms women get called for complaining about these things) have always been a way of trying to get women to shut up. Not like, someone on this board is personally, specifically trying to get women to shut up – definitely no one is – but like the social *framing* of everything related to gender critiques as women being shrewish and scolding serves the social function of getting women to shut up about gender inequalities.

                          And while a person might be fully *capable* of exerting themselves to do their best to only be perceived as shrewish or scolding by the worst respondents (ie no one here), and as thoughtful and conflicted by most people (cf Molly Ringwald, who did a fine job and who genuinely IS thoughtful and conflicted) – while that might be worthwhile – at a certain point the student of history is like, “you know what? f that. people are allowed to like things and say they like them and probably it’s better if mostly people focus on things they like sure, ok, whatever, but also? GIRLS ARE ALLOWED TO HATE THINGS.”

                          In this particular case, even on this board where people are making a huge effort to be reasonable, it sure looks to me like a lot of what’s going on, collectively, is discomfort over some girl hating something and saying so without mincing her words.

                          Men say they hate things alllllllllllll the time and mostly *we* (regardless of what larger society does) just ignore them unless we agree with them. There is plenty of room for them to hate things. And if they get linked to here, because some feature of their hatred provokes bafflement or deeper thought, we usually end up arguing the merits, not the semantics. (Unless, of course, they are talking about how something is cruddy b/c awful to women – hating empathically if you will.)

                          Some woman hates Sandlot in a defensive and snarky way, and we end up using her as an example in order to spring off from there and discuss everything that is wrong with SJWs’ discourse and/or the word problematic even though Will – hardly an SJW – and NOT the author, is the one who used that word in the first place.

                          I find it hard to believe that this phenomenon, and its gender-skewed nature, is invisible to y’all, but it appears to be. Not nearly the first time it’s happened here, either.

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                          • I find it hard to believe that this phenomenon, and its gender-skewed nature, is invisible to y’all, but it appears to be.

                            It’s not. I should have been much clearer that it’s not, because I was kind of circling around it.

                            But I can see for all that it’s a gendered phenomenon, I’ve been in plenty of all-male (or mostly-male) spaces and seen men flip their shit at each other for comparably strongly worded negative remarks. The dose-response curve is different, but enough to get me to shift my own behavior.

                            ‘Course knowing it’s a gendered phenomenon, I… definitely should have phrased all of that differently, if at all. I implied it was a good idea which had never occurred to the author, which is a dumb, sexist thing to say, and definitely at odds with the gendered nature of the phenomenon.

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                          • I was just talking presentism, which I thought made sense from the comment Oscar made way back up top. I’ve made the same types of comments about other movie critcisms by men linked to (I know we had one such discussion about a retrospective on The Day After). Either way it took us way off course from the original article and I didn’t intend to turn it into a pile-on/rehash of unrelated past discussions.

                            For the record I don’t think the Sandlot is that great either. I’m sure MLB will do whatever its marketing research suggests is best to cash in on any nostalgia there is for it.

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                  • Every single critic of the manic pixie dream girl fantasy implicitly or explicitly attacked the men who watched said movies for the reasons listed bellow. The word problematic is inherently political. Like many other cis-gendered heterosexual men, I have issues with a lot of media aimed at women. I think that they give young women unrealistic expectations on what type of courting most men are capable of like porn might give young men unrealistic expectations about sex. I know that I can’t point this out though without getting the riot act read at me.

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                    • “The word problematic is inherently political.”

                      T’isn’t, and that’s part of the divide I’ve observed. I’ve used it about situations that are so non-political they don’t even involve human beings.

                      I don’t mind using the word less (I actually do use the word a lot less since I realize so many people share Jay’s knee-jerk bad reaction to it), and I’m only really bothering to defend it here b/c it seems to me like people misunderstood Will’s intent in linking to the piece in the first place… but it would be easier to let that word go (when to me it’s a perfectly useful word!) if people who perceive it the way you do would grant something approaching the same kind of “ok, this isn’t how I use the word but I can recognize that not everyone is in that ballpark” in return.

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                      • It’s like the word “privilege”.

                        Sometimes it refers to a genuine phenomenon.
                        Sometimes it’s a power play.

                        It’s gotten used as a power play enough times to make red flags reasonable. Sure, it’s not always used in a toxic manner. It’s really a bummer that there are people out there that are using it toxicly.

                        Problematic, if you will.

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                    • — I recall Laurie Penny’s take on the MPDG thing. At one point she attempted to embody the trope. It worked. Men were drawn to her, quite strongly according to her. However, she found it soul crushing and empty. So she stopped, and the men went away.

                      I think she’s allowed to be upset at this. The problem is, the MPDG trope is inherently empty. It’s about ego-less women, whose strength is superficial and entirely debased in service of an even-more-empty man.

                      Yeesh. What woman would want to play that role, erasing herself?

                      Of course you’re allowed your fantasies, but why fantasize about that?

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                  • Wasn’t it used differently then? As another way to say “argument,” “thesis,” or “framing”? (I could be wrong, I’m not inclined to research it, and I’m not particularly wedded to what “problematicke” may have meant in the 17th century.)

                    I will say I tend to react negatively to the word “problematic” because of one guy I knew in grad school who would call something “problematic” and seemed to think that just by calling it so, he had repudiated it in terms that weren’t discussable…..Now, just because one person used it that way doesn’t mean other people can’t use it in another way. But that person was so unpleasant to be around that I have a strong reaction against most things that remind me of him. Again, though, at the end of the day, that’s my problem, not yours or anyone else’s.

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              • I have honestly theorized this is part of some larger Myers-Briggs divide, or gender divide, or just word usage divide or something. I don’t even know. Every theory I come up with falls apart.

                Purity/disgust? It can look like being problematic is a contagion, and you want to avoid it to avoid contamination (and you think other people view it the same way)?

                I dunno, I’m definitely on your end of the spectrum in terms of how I react to things being problematic (or being called problematic). Hell, one reason I haven’t been able to productively participate in these conversations in the past is I’m so firmly entrenched on that side that I assumed people arguing otherwise had to be acting in bad faith, or in the grip of some wildly irrational fantasy, instead of just being genuinely upset by something that doesn’t bother me.

                This is also why I’ve been trying to dial it down a notch or three, and am increasingly advocating for people to just try to not get caught up in Problematic Discourse that bothers them. Maybe that won’t work (I’m only guessing what it feels like to walk in their shoes) but it’s worth a try.

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              • When it’s something created a while ago, I don’t call it problematic, because it has only gained that status through time and change.

                I just say, “it doesn’t age well”. I think that is a phrase which signals quite clearly that the issue is tied tightly to the passage of time and changing ethics/morals/standards.

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                • If you’re just explaining your own take on things, that makes sense to me – no one should be *required* to say anything is problematic. Was anyone arguing that they should?

                  But if you’re offering advice, I can only say, once again, the features of that movie that are a problem (something to be reckoned with for me and many others if watching the movie) were a problem when it was made. I saw it in the theater as a first run film, then again on TV in the first 5 years after it was made, and I had many of the same problems she did, I just had other things I liked about it more!

                  The issue is tied tightly to the passage of time for you, and probably for mainstream society, but not for many other people who were bothered by it back then as well. If anything, what’s changed with the passage of time is how much people are allowed to express their dislike for something because it makes them uncomfortable about being treated as objects rather than people – not, for many of us, the discomfort itself.

                  So why would I say it hasn’t aged well? It bothered me back then too. If anything, I have more perspective on the broader culture of the time now than I did now, so I’m (personally) more likely to be less bothered by the film now than I was then.

                  And why should she say it hasn’t aged well? That’s would involve her presuming that the perspective of those who enjoyed it without those caveats, rather than the people she might (accurately in this case) imagine were upset then by some of the same things she she is now, is what’s most pertinent.

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                  • She never uses the term problematic, so perhaps that is a bit of a red herring.

                    Again, I’m going to bring up Huck Finn, because work like that gets at my issue here. Would you be taking seriously the concerns of a person who read Huck Finn and found the portrayal of Jim, and his treatment in the novel, to be problematic?

                    Is anyone claiming that the antics portrayed by the boys in the movie were not somehow anchored in the reality of the 60’s? Or that society writ large was progressive enough to not think that such antics were still fondly remembered in the 90’s by people who came of age in the 60’s such that they would be fine seeing them portrayed positively in the movie?

                    What I see the issue as is not that either work is really problematic, but rather that the past is a different country. Huck Finn is a distant and foreign land, while The Sandlot is one state over telling a story about good ol’ days from the state just on the other side. And the problem is not that the portrayal was too positive, but rather that there are people still alive who remember fondly being a boy like that in the 60’s.

                    Which gets back to my original point, that the proper measure is not the movie itself, but whether or not it is still being held aloft as an exemplar of good behavior, rather than just a bit of nostalgia, and people know better now, even if they didn’t then.

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                    • “And the problem is not that the portrayal was too positive”
                      The movie was marketed (accurately IMO) as family fare and for many women who watched it at the time, it was upsetting. (I also thought it was funny and touching, but it *was* upsetting).

                      That isn’t one state over. It’s “we weren’t all in the same country back then”.

                      And yes, if someone – say my niece in a couple years if she starts trying to explore her experience as a person who is about 1/4 mixed black and First Nations – read Huck Finn and felt like it was hurtful for them because of the portrayal of Jim and of black people generally., in ways that didn’t apply to me as a mostly-white person whose dilute non-white ancestry has never negatively impacted my life, I would take their concerns seriously. Not seriously as in “let’s stop teaching this book, let’s stop venerating this book, etc.” – but seriously as in, “Hey, I get that this is a lot easier for me to shrug off than it is for you, I get that if things weren’t still pretty screwed up around this issue it would be easier to treat as ‘of its time’. If you want we can talk about the context and what I think Mark Twain was trying to do, but if you’d rather just be pissed off, I get that too.” rather than scoffing at them for their problem.

                      I think you see judgment where I see self-protection.

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                    • Is anyone claiming that the antics portrayed by the boys in the movie were not somehow anchored in the reality of the 60’s?

                      As I suggested in my other post, there are different ways to do this. Certainly one can have a “flawed main character,” or “unabashed portrayal of the times,” but in a way where the author gives the impression that they understand the implications, and moreover where they humanize the victims. By constrast, one can tell a story where men celebrate sexual assault, where women are presented with zero internality and exist as object to be freely raped.

                      We can tell these things apart.

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                        • It’s not like every movie from the era has this problem, and they certainly could have simply omitted the scene. Or had a different episode about the budding interest in, and interaction with, girls that the characters were experiencing that wasn’t gross like that.

                          C.f. the Ringwald article where stuff that would have made those movies (even) worse was dropped at Ringwald’s insistence, or her mother’s. Which is also a good argument for including (and listening to) a diverse group of people in filmmaking.

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                        • — Well yes, we can. At least we can insist that women are people. That’s a damn minimum.

                          A writer has no obligation to explore the nuances of sexual coercion and violence. They can skip that entirely.

                          After all, there are hundreds of millions of American men. I’m sure you can find entertaining and engaging stories to tell about those who are not junior rapists in training.

                          If you want to tell a story about mr. junior rapist in training, then dammit yes, you need to have the women be realistic. You need to really explore what these things mean.

                          The fact that filmmakers saw no reason to do this, nor did male audiences really notice anything awry, says much that is not so nice.

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                          • Since we can not travel back into the past to convince the writer(s) in the 90’s to adopt a more progressive approach to how women were treated 50 years ago, I’m not exactly sure how you can insist on anything.

                            It is what it is, and all we can do is acknowledge that we are collectively deciding that girls and women have a right to be treated as people (it’s still a work in progress).

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                            • I mean, that’s possibly all we can do – I’d add being supportive rather than dismissive of people who are pissed off about movies that came out before they were born that everyone told them were soooooooo great, but I get that that is teeth-grinding some times. I mean, if I read an article where someone was ranting at me about how nothing good about Pump Up the Volume matters because BOOBS, don’t I know how exploitative that scene was and also BOOOOOBS… I don’t think I would be all that charitable towards them either (though I hope I would be). (Heh, speaking of formative movies, that one is definitely up there. I’m actually afraid to watch it in case old me wouldn’t be able to cut young me the needed slack ….)

                              But, either way, it’s not all Hollywood / the nostalgia machine could do. They can put their efforts and their marketing into reviving other movies that aren’t like that, or at least have less to cringe at. Nor is just acknowledging it all they did – They showed A League of Their Own all last year (on its 25th anniversary), a movie which I am sure I would have reservations about if I went back to it, so I can’t count it to your other question! – But also a movie which is far more thoughtful about women’s experiences. Perhaps being directed by a woman had just a tiny bit of something to do with that…

                              You know, part of why I struggle with the argument that a movie like the Sandlot was “just how it was” in the 90s when A League of Their Own is a whole year older and it was *full* of female characters who, despite any flaws in their portrayals, were portrayed three-dimensionally and not as objects for male characters. Who struggled with their treatment by the male characters in the film.

                              And I’m not having any argument someone might broach about how the ratings / audiences are different… I just double- checked and both are PG. (Both also get high marks from Common Sense Media, amusingly enough.)

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                              • if I read an article where someone was ranting at me about how nothing good about Pump Up the Volume matters because BOOBS, don’t I know how exploitative that scene was and also BOOOOOBS…

                                I haven’t seen Pump Up the Volume in quite a long time, but I did like it enough when it came out to go see it twice at the threater, and have watched, and enjoyed it, several times since.

                                And for the love of me, I don’t remember BOOOOBS had anything to do with it

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                                • @j_a She takes off her shirt, remember?

                                  I would not characterize that scene as exploitative in any way, but I also haven’t seen it since I was in my early 20s and I definitely remember them. And have heard the movie (very implausibly IMO) characterized as such as well.

                                  Good to know that isn’t how it comes across to you though, ups the chances that a rewatch will be enthusing rather than unpleasant.

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                                  • It shows how much I thought the movie was good in many ways that whatever boobs scene there was, I completely discounted, perhaps as something they needed to get people into the threater that otherwise would not just watch a good movie otherwise, but that failed to include BOOOOOBS!!

                                    Which is in itself a problem, now that I think of, that BOOBS!! might have been like the 99% ingredient in pills that’s just there so you can swallow it and digest, but it’s otherwise “inert” and useless.

                                    It’s fishing exploitative

                                    (And I still don’t remember the BOOBS!! at all. I guess I was already woke 20 years ago)

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                              • Yes, it would have been nice if The Sandlot was more progressive. A League of Their Own is a great example of how it could have been done (and is one the few baseball movies I enjoy watching). But again, the movie was made in the early 90’s. I graduated High School in the early 90’s. I remember how things were back then. Being openly sexist was still socially acceptable, if on the down-slide (but honestly, only just).

                                So it was very much a product of it’s time. It has some pretty sexist moments that are treated positively because such things were acceptable in the 60’s, and still acceptable in the early 90’s. It could have been less sexist, or at least framed the sexism less positively, but I wouldn’t expect it to do so just because other movies were being more progressive.

                                If it was made today, totally different story.

                                PS remind me someday and I’ll tell the story of the first two women to join my rating (my job classification in the Navy). Mine was a combat rating, so women entering the rating was a huge deal, and in 1993, it was rife with contention.

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                                • Right, but what you’d been arguing upthread is that it is not fair or reasonable *to the movie* for someone to criticize it for not being that way, as in, somehow the creators should be exempted from a standard *I already held* at the time it was made, and that another, *previous* movie from the same era met far more skillfully.

                                  Why should I exempt them from a standard I already held just because they hadn’t caught up yet? Why should modern people prioritize y’all’s standards from back then (the majority standard, sure) over the progressive standard from back then? Why not hold things from the past to the highest (known) contemporaneous-to-them standard rather than the lowest? It’s not like nobody had ever thought of not being grossly sexist in a baseball movie! We KNOW that wasn’t the case (which is why A League of Their Own is relevant).

                                  And I mean, it’s not even a matter of everyone should choose that highest standard. It’s a matter of, Girls Are Allowed to Hate Things. It is not *unfair* or *unreasonable* to the movie (or its creators) to hate it for its sexism.

                                  That’s what I’m saying. It seems to be something you aren’t hearing, no matter how much I say it, because you keep arguing against other things. Even though you made the arguments upthread that I was still responding to, not only directly but also directly, in the League of Their own comment.

                                  And I’d like to hear your story, but I also have heard a lot of stories from women who served in various military capacities in the 90s, and the challenges/struggles they had… so while I’ll appreciate the further nuance – and honestly you’ve never told a story I didn’t enjoy reading – it’s also… not novel context to me. I mean, I heard a fair amount about it first-hand from military women at the time (and earlier), and I was living in Canada, so much less chance to know military women than I have now. They (and I) didn’t see it as “perfectly reasonable considering the times,” they were dang well fed up, in private though rarely in public.

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                                  • No. You, who held values at the time of creation, and consumed the media at the time, could hold whatever opinion of the media you wanted to at the time, and that’s fair. And those opinions can evolve over time, and that’s also fair.

                                    That’s not presentism, that’s just saying you took issue with it at the time, and it hasn’t gotten any better as time has worn on.

                                    I don’t have time to write up my story today, but nag me through email and I’ll write it up as a post. I think it’d be interesting, because I remember what I thought of it at the time, and as I think of it now, the view changes.

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                                    • So why isn’t it fair for *her*, when looking at something made back before she was paying attention, to take up my at-the-time values, rather than your-at-the-time values / society’s generally? Why does the majority have some magic sway over present-day people such that it’s unreasonable for her to “side” with people who were in the past, but more like modern in their values, rather than with the middle of the road?

                                      That’s the part you keep looking past.

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                                      • Well, no. I said before, she can have a personal opinion on the movie. Which she did, and that’s fine. It’s the whole ‘taste vs. morality’ thing that irks me. It’s fine to have an opinion on X, but deciding that your opinion of X is a moral position requires more of a defense in-depth, especially when X happened 25 years ago.

                                        But if X is happening now, the moral position is easier to make because the context is part of the moment. So in the early 90’s, your opinion on X at that time could be used to drive home how media perpetuates White Male Privilege over women. You could even make the argument that the movie did that back in the 90’s, and use that to suggest that people who remember The Sandlot fondly keep that awareness about them.

                                        So saying, “I didn’t like The Sandlot because the main characters were sexist shits in this scene/these scenes and the movie was too eager to celebrate that fact.” is fine. Personal opinion is personal opinion. It’s when personal opinion extends to others, so to say that any person who still enjoys, or remembers fondly, The Sandlot today is somehow morally deficient… Well that requires a more careful examination of how those others truly feel, and if they are aware of the implications, which is my whole point that you seem to keep brushing past.

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                                        • OK, but the article’s author never did that. (I just reread it twice. I see no sentence that claims anyone is morally deficient other than the characters in the movie, or its creators.)

                                          So I guess that’s why I kept missing your point, because you were bothered (it seemed) by what she wrote, and what you are criticizing here is not something she did in this article.

                                          Perhaps your complaints were not directed toward the author of the article, in which case, I apologize for missing that part. It seemed likely that she was the origin of your complaint since your first comment implied that she was fishing stupid and then you also said she was willfully ignorant.

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                        • Again, I think the issue is less showing “boys behaving badly” and more “celebrating boys behaving badly and being rewarded for behaving badly by ‘winning’ the heart of the woman they assaulted”. We knew better in the 90s.

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                    • I think the question really is whether or not it’s still being held aloft as good behavior. I’m not at all sure that it isn’t, especially by people who came of age in the 60s and remember fondly ‘being a boy like that’ – i.e., one who could treat women like objects for their use/pleasure and expect that society would tell the women they shouldn’t object.

                      Honestly this strikes me as very different from Huck Finn (which my oldest just read for AP English) because despite the way Jim was treated and spoken of, part of the story was Huck coming to see him as human being who had worth and honor despite how white society viewed him. That is very, very different than wrapping racism in hazy nostalgia.

                      Overall though I think we’re dealing with a divide over how men and women react to the movie. A lot of men saw those scenes and it didn’t really impact them; after all they had never had an unwelcome tongue stuck down their throats. A lot of women saw those scenes and cringed – even those of us born in the 60s – because the scenes brought up unpleasant memories. The difference is that women now feel that they can voice those reactions in public.

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                      • I think we are largely on the same page here.

                        I’m trying to think of a movie that was important in my formative years that I look back upon both fondly and with reservation, and I’m drawing a blank. If I think of one, I’ll mention it.

                        How about you guys?

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                        • No movies springing to mind, but the original Battlestar Galatica series turned up on streaming awhile ago and I had fond childhood memories of it as an interesting scifi. At the time it also seemed fairly progressive.

                          However, when rewatching… well, let’s just say the more recent version for all its own flaws did not have nearly as many things that made me facepalm. Not to mention so many scenes that lead to incredulous “*You* liked this, Mom? seriously?” reactions from my kids.

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                        • I’ve been trying to think of any movies that were important in my formative years that I enjoyed *at the time* both fondly and without reservation, and I’m having trouble managing that.

                          Seems a necessary precursor for the other thing. And also kind of relevant to my point.

                          Wait! I just thought of Return of the Jedi.
                          But a) I was seven.
                          b) I had serious serious serious levels of headcanon that meant I was pretty much watching a different movie than what was actually playing on the screen
                          c) I actually did have reservations about the bikini scene, but they were part of the headcanon as in “OK Jabba isn’t into human women probably so he’s just doing that to humiliate Leia because apparently he knows how it will make her feel? or something? How completely dastardly*** to treat her that way!!!!” I definitely noticed it and didn’t like it, I just had a very …. creative way of explaining it at that age.

                          Later stuff, ages 10-20? I got nothing. My siblings and I couldn’t even watch a hockey game without a running critique. Drove our parents nuts (which given our parents, probably part of the reason we enjoyed doing it so much).

                          (Though it’s possible my brain is just uncooperative and it’ll come to me later.)

                          *** yes, dastardly is the sort of word I liked when I was seven. ‘acolyte’ is another one I was really fond of. I was… not a typical 7 year old, I suppose.

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                      • I mean, obviously I don’t think the Sandlot is of the same stature of either of these works, but it strikes me reading your objection…. I think it’s much more like “Gone with the Wind” than “Huck Finn”. Only, you know, on a 90s movie / Sandlot-appropriate scale.

                        (And I mean, I can be okay with the fact that many many white women of my acquaintance adore Gone with the Wind, and even buy the movie version on Blu-Ray for my mother-in-law, and still find it troublesome as heck (both movie and book versions)).

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                        • I think that’s about right. I’m not a huge baseball fan so Sandlot really wouldn’t be my kind of movie even without the cringy bits, but in terms of works of fiction that people think of as classics, I do think it’s closer to ‘Gone with the Wind’ on that scale. Not only were slaves/ex-slaves depicted in ridiculously stereotyped and insulting ways but some of the scenes with Rhett were cringeworthy for the same sort of thing we’re talking about in Sandlot.

                          That doesn’t mean there were no good scenes in the movie or things that make it classic, only that I probably wouldn’t bother to watch it now and if someone recommended it to the kids I’d make sure to go over some caveats before screening it.

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    • I only half-watched The Simpsons last night (these days, half my attention is all it can command) but there was a similar plot point in the episode, though it kind of did a weird turn towards the end (“the author was a crypto-lesbian so it’s really all OK!”)

      I dunno. The 2010s seem to be all about pointing out how almost everything you thought you enjoyed, you should feel guilty over.

      (All I really know of “The Sandlot” is the line “You’re killin’ me, Smalls!” so I may not be the one to talk. Is “The Goonies” still OK or not?)

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      • Whig History is one of those things that might have made sense back when there was only one gestalt change per generation or so.

        If you have multiple gestalt changes per generation, you put yourself in a “we’ve always been at war with Eastasia” situation as you watch the kids in their 20’s enthusiastically putting up Oceana signs.

        “When I was a kid, Oceana was bad.”
        “You thought Oceana was bad? That’s kind of problematic, don’t you think?”

        And only the stupid grown-ups would continue to talk about how great Eastasia was and discuss the atrocities of Oceana that were plastered on the evening news and other whataboutisms. The smart ones know that, hey, go along to get along. If they’re lucky, they won’t have to recalibrate and see Eastasia as an important ally against Oceana for the third or fourth time.

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          • Oh, Lord. I haven’t.

            I admit to having it categorized as being good at being a view from nowhere in the back of my head.

            If I go back… will it obviously be a piece of its time? A history book written with assumptions of shared culture on the part of the reader and writers? Oh, jeez… of course it does.

            Now I’m depressed.

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                        • There is no plan without hope.

                          But depending on how you want to look at the Svarlbard project, it is quite literaly a BenOp project in that you cannot transmit what you have not protected.

                          Some people will see Svarlbard as a retreat into a mountain fortress… others will see the mission as preserving bio-diversity from natural and human disasters… relevant, timely and needed.

                          Take Typhoon Xangsane, which swept through the Philippines, Vietnam, and Thailand in September 2006, causing at least 279 deaths and over half a billion dollars in damage.

                          At the Philippine National Plant Genetic Resources Laboratory (NPGRL), a flood of water and mud up to two meters high inundated the facility, …

                          The Crop Trust, in coordination with Bioversity International, quickly funded the restoration of the genebank and rescued the collection. Unfortunately, parts of the collection were not duplicated anywhere else, and consequently varieties that had evolved over centuries in response to the unique requirements of Philippine agriculture, and perhaps containing traits useful for agriculture elsewhere, have been lost.

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            • If I go back… will it obviously be a piece of its time? A history book written with assumptions of shared culture on the part of the reader and writers? Oh, jeez… of course it does.

              Of course it does – But perhaps not in the sense you are imagining – It’s an “Enlightenment” book, and shares the Encyclopedists assumption that Christianity was really a very bad thing to happen, and, if only Julian had been known as The Restorer, instead of The Apostate, things would have been so much better for centuries.

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          • If I’m understanding Mike Duncan correctly, Decline and Fall is still useful (and is still used) because Gibbon did a great job of assembling and synthesizing a lot of primary sources (which was innovative for his day), but his narrative is garbage not just because of his era’s blindspots and prejudices, but also because things like the study of economics were only being invented at about the same time.

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            • That’s a good question; I don’t really know. But, I’ve dashed off a note to one of my Classicist pals to see what the current thinking might be… I’ll update if they respond.

              I studied him in the context of Butterfield and his historiographical place; as part of an intellectual history of the 18th-19th centuries.

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        • I think this comment makes a lot of sense. The problem isn’t that things that were seen as acceptable in the past are problematic. That has always been the case. The real issue is that standards are changing so fast that it can get hard for people to keep up. In many social circles, especially on the internet, failure to keep entirely up can lead to a lot of social penalties.

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    • I think the day before set a record for lowest first pitch temperature (37 deg.)

      One can’t tell what happened from that clip. The Cardinals got two borderline/outside pitches called strikes in the inning, the second for a strikeout. The Diamondbacks player is arguing the call with the umpire and his manager comes out probably to prevent his player from getting thrown out and the manager is immediately thrown-out.

      The Manager starts pointing violently at the Cards catcher Molina, calling him a mother f***er, apparently accusing him of stealing/framing pitches with his glove. Molina moves to deck-him and the umpire gets in between. The benches clear, but things abate. Nobody is thrown-out or suspended except the Manager.

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      • First pitch temperature at the Rockies’ home opener this year was 27 °F, lowest temp ever for an opener. Coldest game ever is also the Rockies, 23 °F on April 23, 2013. OTOH, last year it was 74 and sunny for the home opener. Neither is particularly unusual for this time of year.

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  1. S1: You included this just to troll me, right? The article is not nearly as bad as it could have been. On a scale of one to ten, I give it a five. Maybe even a six, if feeling generous.

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      • I don’t really watch any sports with chearleaders myself, so I wouldn’t miss them I guess.

        On the other hand, there’s some really great gymnastic dance there, and that’s also a cool thing, so hey, why not keep it.

        Whether we’re going to keep cheerleading or ditch it – but if the teams can’t stop themselves doing this then yes – they can’t be trusted to have cheerleaders, and the whole thing should be ditched.

        Maybe they could be allowed to contract out to a worker-owned cheerleading cooperative, with a contract that explicitly prevents clients from enforcing any conditions at all on the cheerleaders the second they leave the stadium.

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  2. S7: Kareem Abdul Jammer is making, The NFL has a problem with cheerleaders because it is trying to sell them as sex fantasies and present itself as the official sport of all patriotic Americans. By wielding itself closer to the Red state vision of the United States, the NFL needs to police cheerleaders so they look great but don’t behave in ways that would cause a scandal in public.

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  3. S7:
    While I thought that was an interesting, deliberately provocative argument, the paragraph I enjoyed most was this one:
    “This article was amended on 6 April 2018 to correct a paragraph mentioning Lord Tywin Lannister. The original version referenced Lord Tyrion Lannister.”

    Don’t mess with the Game of Thrones fandom, man. lolololololol.

    (It’s of course equally possible – *more* than equally possible – that someone just politely pointed out the error. But it amuses me to, as a GoT fan of sorts myself, to imagine ravening hordes instead.)

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    • It’s an important difference! But it’s kind of a bad analogy, even in the corrected version.

      Tywin was famously unsuccessful – and didn’t try very hard – in reining in the immoral behavior happening among those whom he lead, especially within his own family.

      Eta Goodell is Mace Tyrell, if he’s anyone.

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      • Mmmm, Tywin was 100 percent interested in appearances and disinterested in actual behavior, IIRC, which I think was also Jabbar’s accusation re: Goodell.

        It wasn’t that Tyrion slept with whores, it was that he had the bad taste (from T’s perspective) to fall in love with them and treat them well, when T thought they should have been abused and treated as objects, thereby bringing shame upon the family (aka “making us look bad to Middle America”, except not really I know, but also sort of yes). And as for Cersei and Jamie, within the context of the series, Tywin probably saw that as entirely moral, given what we know of Lannister (and aristocratic) family history in general in their world. Tywin has a moral code, it’s just a supremely terrible one by most people’s standards (including mine to be sure!!)

        Goodell doesn’t appear to try hard at reining in immoral behavior, especially among men, from what I’ve heard about, but only at reining in immoral showings? I mean, that’s the argument in the article at least, and that’s the reason I think the analogy makes sense.

        I actually know very little about Goodell, so I’d be willing to concede that I could be entirely wrong about him.

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        • Ok, I see the connection now. I think I’m srill too much, well, not an apologist for Tywin, but understanding where he’s coming from. Kevan’s respect and actual affection for his brother, as well as the insolvable mystery of the exact nature and timing of Tywin’s relationship with Shae still stick in my mind, despite all the tweets and podcasts emphasizing that Tywin is Very Bad.

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  4. A few thoughts on Gibbon, and ever-evolving notions of history.
    It isn’t so much that Gibbon (and by extension the canon) is “problematic” for its portrayal of others, so much that history was seen as having a single authoritative point of view.

    Consider for example how most histories record the conquest of Britain and Judea.

    Like the Pythons hilariously observed, the Roman conquest of Britain is viewed as bringing law, roads, culture and all manner of wonderful things.

    “B-but…what about that pile of corpses?”
    “Oh, them? They are addressed in a footnote in Appendix A.”

    By contrast, the Roman conquest of Judea is treated with a decidedly different tone. We hear about the aqueducts alright, but also a lot about the sack of the Temple, the cruelty of Herod, and singular incidents like Masada.

    Why the difference?

    Because the story of Britain is written by people who adopted Roman culture as their own, and write about it as the heirs of the Romans.

    The conquest of Judea is written from the point of view of the Jews and early Christians, and requires that the piles of corpses get a voice of their own.

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    • Consider for example how most histories record the conquest of Britain and Judea.

      Like the Pythons hilariously observed, the Roman conquest of Britain is viewed as bringing law, roads, culture and all manner of wonderful things.

      But it is true that, for contemporaries of the Roman conquest, Britain was a very primitive place -be it culture (no writing), law (no fixed legal codes), or technology (no large vessels or, yes, roads). Hence, piles of corpses notwithstanding, the Romans did “civilize” Britain by bringing it to one of the apexs of civilization at the time. It was a Great Leap Forward for the (surviving) Britons, who, a hundred years later, could also aspire to participate in the Roman Senate (Claudius, the conqueror of Britain, also inducted the first Gauls into the Senate).

      On the contrary, Judea already partook of this Mediterranean civilization the Romans brought to Britain. You can even argue that, being part of the Hellenized Middle East (the -to them- strange Jewish religion notwithstanding), Judea was even more civilized -and had been for longer- than the Romans themselves.

      Even to their contemporaries, the invasions of Britain and Judea were not exactly the same.

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      • “In the 21st Century, the Progressive Conquest of America was complete.
        The Progressives brought the advanced concepts of multicultural society, social welfare and secular ideas to backwards and undeveloped regions which wallowed in dark superstition and bigotry.

        After the difficult period of the Gun Wars, in which primitive tribes were exterminated [see Appendix A] such that their guns and Bibles could be taken from their cold dead fingers, the remaining residents were allowed to learn software coding, and many even rose to became baristas and adopt metrosexual fashion.”

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      • Romans allowed the the Jews to practice our religion because even though they didn’t like us much, they recognized the antiquity of our tradition. Romans expected antiquity. Christians had a harder time at it because the Romans saw it as a new superstition rather than an old religion. To the Romans this meant Christians had no good reason to excuse themselves from the civic duties of Roman religion.

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        • Although the Romans were generally accommodating to local religions they weren’t above destroying the Temple and crushing with ruthless brutality anyone they perceived as opposition.

          I can imagine an alternative history in which Judea suffered the same fate as Carthage, in that the entire Jewish culture was wiped out along with the tiny cult of Christians, and today both would a footnote in history.

          I guess this is my point, that history is written by those who survive enough to tell their story.

          The other point is that we can only envision our culture from within it, so its superiority seems axiomatic.
          A culture that doesn’t write things down, or that has no use for a wheel seems unfathomable to us so we can’t grasp how “bringing” these things to them could be anything but benevolent.

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