Good morning, World!
1 Golden Globes hangover I. Following up on a point made in yesterday’s Golden Globes post, presenter Natalie Portman’s much-praised but unfair innuendo that the directors nominated in the “best director” category were there because of gender bias rather than the quality of their work was an example of shooting the bystander rather than the villain. The fact that women don’t get the opportunities to direct major films that men do–as a result of many factors, none of which relate to the relative directing abilities of the two pools–is not the fault of the male directors who get the jobs, nor does the fact of discrimination make the films that women do get to direct inherently better and more award-worthy than they are.
That said, the bias against female directors is real, and dumb. Here is an excellent article about it.
2. A Nation of Silly People. I warned that electing Donald Trump as President would eventually turn us into a Nation of Assholes, and that has come to pass with unexpected rapidity. I did not see the development resulting in the US becoming a nation of silly people, though that process was well underway already. The rush to anoint Oprah Winfrey as the savior of the Republic based on a speech at an entertainment awards show, however, is new evidence of the damage done to the nation’s values by the Trump trauma. Oprah is a cult, pop culture figure; a democracy deteriorating into a society where celebrities and cult leaders become political leaders was one of the fears expressed by our Founders. For the Left to embrace Oprah is stunning hypocrisy, after more than a year of (correctly) accusing Republicans of nominating a Presidential candidate with none of the qualifications traditionally required to be taken seriously as a contender for the office. Many unhealthy trends of long standing pointed to this eventuality,it is true: celebrity obsession, poor civic education, ignorance of history, and new age gibberish, plus the stunning absence of legitimate leaders in both political parties. Having followed O for a long time, since her days in Baltimore as a rising lief-style reporter, I recognize a lot of warning signs regarding her ethical instincts, such as her addiction to talking about “personal truths,” which is just a sneaky way of endorsing “alternate facts,” her troubling anti-vaxx statements, her promotion of fake experts like Dr. Oz and Dr. Phil, her race-baiting, and more. There will be plenty of time to elaborate on these if and when her candidacy becomes more than a twinkle in E!’s eye. I doubt that we’ll get there, but as President Trump proved, you never know in the United States of America.
3. A “Nah, there’s no media bias against Trump” note: During the Golden Globes broadcast, NBC, that paragon of journalism integrity, tweeted this:
4. Fake news in irresponsible punditry. I have been meaning to write about this op-ed by New York Times “contributing opinion writer” Kashana Cauley for more than a week now, and the task has seemed so odious that I have avoided it. It is as bad an op-ed as I have ever seen, full of false assertions, misrepresentations , rationalizations and racial hate. I wonder when the New York Times editors reached the point where they would regard such trash as fit to be published under its banner. Rather than dissect the ugly thing as I originally intended, I’ll let you do the work, with me just pointing out some, but far from all, of the features that make this such unethical op-ed page content.
- It begins by claiming that the death by heart attack of Erica Garner, the 27-year-old daughter of the late Eric Garner of “I can’t breathe” fame, was evidence that “Since the country’s founding, black families have never been able to thrive.” That statement is false. Many black families thrive, particularly those that are not headed by law-breakers and habitual criminals.
Nor is Erica Garner’s death, as the author somehow believes, the result of “police brutality.” In relating her father’s demise, Cauley misleadingly attributes Eric Garner’s death to a “banned choke-hold.” No, the choke-hold, which is not legally banned but prohibited by police regulations, was one of many factors identified in Garner’s death, including compression of neck (choke hold), compression of chest and prone positioning during physical restraint by police,” “acute and chronic bronchial asthma; Obesity; Hypertensive cardiovascular disease”. She also doesn’t mention that Garner contributed to his plight by resisting arrest, and that he had been had been arrested by the NYPD more than thirty times since 1980 on charges ranging from assault, resisting arrest, and grand larceny.
- The author writes, “Michael Brown is no longer with us because a cop couldn’t let go of the violent fantasies he entertained about black men. “
This is Black Lives Matters fiction. Michael Brown was shot because he was rushing a police officer after resisting arrest, as every investigation found.
- She writes, “Eric Garner’s death was ruled a homicide, but it increasingly looks like one of those homicides no one committed.” The technical use of “homicide” in the medical examiner’s report meant that human agency helped bring about Eric Garner’s death. It does not mean “murder,” or that a crime was committed. Editors had an obligation to make her clarify this.
I’ll let you ponder her objections to black mothers having to face the consequences of leaving young children at risk, and black families being “torn apart’ because of prisoner visiting protocols. This regular Times contributor has apparently never considered that black families are vulnerable because too many are headed by only one parent, have more children than the family can afford, and are headed by habitual criminals. It’s all America’s fault.
5. Gee, who could have seen this coming? Jacksonville Jaguars defensive end Yannick Ngakoue accused Buffalo Bills Guard Richie Incognito of using racial slurs as “trash talk” during Sunday’s NFL play-off game. The NFL is investigating.
Incognito, Incognito...where have I heard that football player’s name before? Oh! Here.. This is the same player who drove African-American Jonathan Martin out of pro football in 2013 with racist hazing that an NFL report found to be had “ a pattern of harassment.” Incognito was suspended for eight games, and the Dolphins dropped him, he was picked up by the Bills. Incognito has had fights with teammates and opponents during his career, and has been accused more than once of dirty play in the pros. He’s also reputed to be a talented player. This is a sub-category of The King’s Pass, or the Star Syndrome. Not only are high-level performers in organizations often held to lower ethical standards than everyone else, they are forgiven serious breaches that others would never recover from, and given second, third and fourth chances. More often than not, these extra chances just give the “kings” and “stars” a chance to misbehave again, harming their new organization in the process.
6. Golden Globes Hangover II. Social media was indignant that the Golden Globes honored Kirk Douglas, now 101 and the last living vestige of Hollywood’s Golden Age during the telecast. Many twitterers asked why. Why not google him, you ignoramuses? Douglas was a three time Golden Globe nominee, won once, and also was awarded the same lifetime achievement award that Oprah was, the Cecil B.De Mille Award, in 1996. And while it sometimes looks like Kirk will outlive us all, it’s not unreasonable to assume that a salute to him has some urgency. The main objections to his appearance seemed to be that he was 1) a man and 2) has been accused in the gossip and rumor mill of raping Natalie Wood when she was 16. In today’s culture, all that is needed to erase a career and a reputation are anonymous allegations of sexual misconduct, or so the witch hunters would have it. It is revolting that Douglas should have to face these completely unfounded accusations now. The Golden Globes did the right thing.