1. Variety: “West Side Story Falls Flat at Box Office With Disappointing $10 Million Debut”
Of course it did, as I sagely predicted when the project was announced nearly two years ago. First, American musicals are a niche genre for an increasingly elite and rarefied audience. Second, the efforts of critics to hype the movie—it was the creation of two Super Stevies, Spielberg and the recently departed Sondheim, so it had to be brilliant!—rang forced and false as they detailed the oppressive politically correct re-writing of the book by Tony Kushner, like placing the rivalry between the Jets and the Sharks in the context of gentrification and urban renewal, as if anyone inclined to watch a musical cares. Third, the well-publicized decision not to have subtitles for long scenes where the characters spoke Spanish was a red-flag: this is a pandering effort, not a musical. Finally, as Sondheim said in various ways in interviews over the years, making a show of any kind requires a good answer to the question, “Why?” This project had none: “Because the director wants to prove how versatile he is” isn’t one. “Because every movie made in the Sixties is racist, sexist and offensive” really isn’t one. Neither is “Because it’s crucial to remake a movie classic that won 10 Oscars.“
This is a lesson in hubris. Another one.
2. Washington Post op ed: “I hate Christmas. And you should be okay with that.”
Oh, I’m fine with that; I’m especially fine with a Chritsmas-hater writing such a revealing piece of signature significance. The whole thing is an open admission of bitterness, envy, hate and misanthropy. Here’s the crux of his complaint:
I didn’t like Christmas in part because the steel mill where my father worked had closed. That news did nothing to stop the commercials with shiny, happy, children opening reams of colorful paper to reveal the things that they’d always wanted. The ads seemed to suggest that the more stuff you got, the better person you were. I learned through those commercials that good people got presents and that my family was trash. I took it into me every year like communion.
Sometimes, I wonder what essential part of me is missing. I know that Christmas is supposed to be about family. But as I grew to adulthood and became my own person, I found that family can be challenging when thrust upon you all at once.
Each year around this time, I find it more difficult to balance the awful things we see happening the rest of the year with the joy I’m supposed to drum up near the end of it. With age, it’s harder for me to reconcile the good will we’re supposed to feel toward each other at the holidays with the horrible way we treat each the rest of the year. It just feels fake.
Not surprisingly, he is a committed social justice warrior who is angry about the American cream that doesn’t hand out its bounty in carefully measured equal portions. “The stores where I buy my meager Hungry-Man frozen dinners now explode with silver and red in a gaudy celebration of unchecked, poinsettia-riddled capitalism,” he grumbles.
So he doesn’t get Christmas. I feel sorry for him. But why would the Washington Post decides that this guy’s pathology is worthy of an op-ed?
3. Associated Press: San Francisco’s vaunted tolerance dims amid brazen crimes
Here’s the only quote you need:
Residents wake up to news of attacks on Asian American seniors, burglarized restaurants, and boarded-up storefronts in the city’s once-vibrant downtown.San Franciscans take pride in their liberal political bent and generously approve tax measures for schools and the homeless. They accept that trashy streets, tent encampments and petty crime are the price to pay to live in an urban wonderland.
Wait, what? What makes any of the conditions described consistent with an “urban wonderland”? One resident expressed remorse at allowing Democratic activists to transform the city. “If I say I want laws enforced, I’m racist,” she said. “I’m like, ‘No, I’m not racist. There’s a reason I live in San Francisco.’”
What do you call it when people insist on a course that doesn’t work, has never worked and can’t possibly work, and continue to advocate and pursue it even as it results in deepening disaster? Incompetence? Irresponsible conduct? Denial? Delusion?
4. New York Times op-ed: Charles M. Blow says, “We’re Edging Closer to Civil War”
You’ll never guess why. Blow thinks a Supreme Court decision limiting abortion rights will trigger some kind of civil war because he compares the battle over abortion to the battle over slavery, as did I here. The problem is that somehow—well, I know how: he’s intellectually dishonest, and bias makes you stupid—Blow thinks the antiabortion position is the one resembling the pro-slavery position. That’s strange: both the abortion advocates and the slavery advocates insisted that human beings weren’t human. Both were dedicated to denying the rights Jefferson began our nation by declaring that all human beings possessed to one vulnerable, innocent group, because to grant members of that these rights would cause too much sacrifice and inconvenience to a more powerful groups. Both the pro-abortion and pro-slavery advocates arrayed their “evidence” to reach a conclusion that was already decided, rather than basing a conclusion on objective facts. Strikingly, both advocates of slavery and abortion relied on badly decided Supreme Court decision.
Nevertheless, Blow can’t see where the real parallels are, so he plays a cognitive dissonance game, attempting to tie those who want to allow millions of unborn children to have a clear path to life, growth, and protection of our laws to slaveholder who wanted to deny personhood to blacks. Instead he writes,
[T]his war won’t be only about the subjugation of Black people but also about the subjugation of all who challenge the white racist patriarchy. It will seek to push back against all the “others”: Black people, immigrants, Muslims, Jews, L.G.B.T.Q. people and, yes, women, particularly liberal ones.
In some ways, the abortion battle now being waged in the courts is a test case. Can the states make an argument that a civil right can be reversed on the state level? Can they make the case that all that the Constitution has not explicitly spelled out should be reserved for the states?
Typical of the deceptive abortion fan, Blow won’t acknowledge that there are lives involved other than those of pregnant women. He won’t acknowledge that very basic civil rights are at stake in the view of anti-abortion advocates. Ultimately, he won’t even be straight about what he’s warning about, writing, “The civil war I see is not the kind that would leave hundreds of thousands of young men dead in combat…rather that this new war will be fought in courts, statehouses and ballot boxes, rather than in the fields.”
Oh, you mean like the United States is supposed to decide contentious issues?
What fear-mongering idiot at the Times approved that misleading and inflammatory headline?