I was supposed to be all better yesterday, and instead I took a step back.
That photo above is from the last scene in “It’s a Mad, Mad, Mad, Mad World,” after all of the comedians and Spencer Tracy have ended up in the hospital with horrible injuries following their self-created disaster on an out-of-control fire truck ladder at the supposedly hilarious climax of the Sixties epic chase comedy. The film-makers were very creative in their uses of bandages, casts and traction, but even as a kid, I was struck by how it just isn’t possible to make injuries seem very funny.
1. Since everyone is watching as much TV now as I usually watch routinely, I’ll mention this: have you noticed that several commercials show parents playing pirates with their kids? Did you ever play pirates with your parents? Have you ever seen anyone play at being pirates?
The reason this is being forced on the culture as a thing is that political correctness has robbed kids of almost all fantasy outlets, so someone decided that pirates were safe and inoffensive–especially since Disney had to remove the rapey stuff from the “Pirates of the Caribbean” rides. (Pirates are actually murderous thieves, today as always; what a weird safe haven to choose!)
In “Parasite,” Oscar’s Best Picture last year, the little South Korean son of the wealthy family was obsessed with playing “Indians,” complete with feathered headdress and arrows. I wonder if this feature would have disqualified an American film for cultural insensitivity. American kids can’t be cowboys anymore, since they were genocidal; soldiers are taboo, as are cops and robbers; even space invaders are verboten, since they involve guns. As my friends and I discovered long ago, you can try to play superheroes but they don’t leave you much to work with. Sword and sorcery games, like acting out fairy tales, trip on too many anti-feminist stereotypes.
I wonder what the next generation will turn out to be like, absent any symbolic fantasy villains and conflict to instruct their play. Pirates are not the answer, and again, I doubt any kids are playing pirates like the imaginary families in Bounty commercials. The iconic pirate novel “Treasure Island,” once a standard assignment in grade school, has been purged from the canon—too male, or something. (It’s still a terrific book.) The other classic with pirates is “Peter Pan,” and that one is in the process of being scrubbed and gender-twisted beyond recognition. There still are Johnny Depp’s weird pirate movies, I guess, though his drunken, bumbling pirate slob anti-hero seems unlikely to inspire normal kids into flights of fantasy.
Our culture just is not in competent hands, and what the end result will be, nobody knows.
2. I’m not sure if this is unethical, exactly, but something’s definitely wrong…
Once, not too long ago, there was an attraction called “Presidents Park” in York County, Virginia, near Williamsburg. The 10-acre park featured a museum and a sculpture garden, and visitors could walk among 43 huge concrete busts, each about 20 feet high and weighing as much as 22,000 pounds, of the U.S. Presidents from George Washington to George W. Bush.
Nice promotional job, there: I’ll go anywhere there’s an interesting Presidents-related attraction, and I never heard of the place, though I don’t live that far away.
The park was only open from 2004 to 2010, then closed for want of visitors and funds. The First Heads sat around for several years until developers bought the property and hired Howard Hankins, who owned a local waste management company, to haul the busts away and destroy them. Howard couldn’t bear to do it. “Instead of going into the crusher, I brought them up to the farm and there they are in their new home,” Hankins now says.
He’s hoping to raise a million dollars or so to repair the heads that were damaged in transit and create a new Presidents Park.
Good luck with that. I will be visiting his farm, however, if and when I’m healthy again.
3. It’s reassuring to see that the defenders of Joe Biden’ s comment that you can’t be black and not vote for him are exactly the people you’d guess. Disgraced former ESPN host Jemele Hill, now a full-time race-baiter, tweeted, “The issue wasn’t what Joe Biden said, because it was accurate. The issue was that it came from Biden. It also was clearly a joke that didn’t land. But I’m wondering where all this outrage was yesterday when y’all president declared his public devotion to a Nazi sympathizer.”
That’s bad even for Hill. Isn’t it amazing that there are public media figures who display such complete intellectual vacuousness and warped perception and yet continue to somehow earn six and seven-figure paychecks to inject their stupidity into public discourse? How wrong can a single statement be? No, Biden’s idiocy is not “accurate,” and plenty of African-Americans responded to her tweet to let Hill know it. Biden’s remark also wasn’t “clearly a joke” by definition, since almost nobody took it to be a joke, it wasn’t funny, and it’s hard to imagine how anyone would think it was funny.
And what “Nazi sympathizer?”
Not to leave Hill hanging, that Pulitzer Prize winner responsible for the New York Times’ factually fanciful “1619 Project,” Nikole Hannah-Hones, tweeted that “There is a difference between being politically black and being racially black. I am not defending anyone, but we all know this and should stop pretending that we don’t.”
That’s funny: I don’t know that; in fact, I don’t know what the hell she’s talking about. Do you? (She deleted the tweet, by the way.) I assume Americans were not required to hold particular political views based on their genetic make-up. What do I know, though? I used to assume that Pulitzer Prize-winners could think clearer than that.
4. Trump Tweets into Cloud Cuckoo Land. Are his tweets suggesting that MSNBC host Joe Scarborough murdered an intern the all-time low? I don’t see how you can get much lower. Twitter said yesterday it will not remove the tweets that promote a conspiracy theory involving a woman who died working at Joe Scarborough‘s former congressional office in Florida, writing in part, “We are deeply sorry about the pain these statements, and the attention they are drawing, are causing the family. We’ve been working to expand existing product features and policies so we can more effectively address things like this going forward, and we hope to have those changes in place shortly.”
Twitter would assist the Trump re-election effort immeasurably by taking down his Twitter account.