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Friday, December 16, 2011

NYT: Bonds Avoids Prison - Sentenced To 30 Days Home Confinement

Starts with GWB’s attack in the State of the Union, ends with a whimper. Parallels to Iraq at your own risk.

Ephus Posted: December 16, 2011 at 08:13 PM | 217 comment(s) Login to Bookmark
  Tags: giants

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   201. Morty Causa Posted: December 31, 2011 at 03:18 AM (#4026103)
Look:

Birth of A Nation is what it is as a social artifact. Many people then, and since, and before, thought it was historical and sociological truth--but, more importantly, many thought it was artistic truth, which means it appeals to something in someone. It kind of depends where in the audience you’re sitting, doesn’t it? But, you know, had it been other races in the slots designated, the same complaints would have been made by the same usual suspects. It’s all so mundane, really. As to that, make of it what you will. That's another subject, and one that doesn't directly impinge on the process of creation of a movie except to censor it. There’s more than one type of code.

Some took BOAN one way; some took it another. If this arouses in you a sense of righteous indignation fostering an urge for some sort of call for repression or repudiation, fine, great. Make your case. The fact is, though, that there's nothing generically peculiar or even out of the ordinary about what that movie did, and does, compared to any number of movies (not to mention works in the other arts) that villainize a group or class to make some “greater” point. If movies couldn't do that, I don't think you'd have very many movies—at least none that people would be interested in seeing. That, I realize, is kind of a sad commentary on humankind, but there you have it. And I really not cynical about—life is what it is. The longer I have lived, the older I get, the more I am driven to conclude that unless we can create black hats/white hats, unless we can burnish our moral point of view to fare thee well, we just won't get the G-spot spiritual satisfaction that leads to great surcease. As far as I can tell, this is an irresolvable contradiction that issues from our nature and our existential predicament. Sorry, everybody can’t win. (But, if you can’t win, at least try to make the other side feel like ####.)

America has a particular species of class conflict problems, but it's not generically unique. Everyone and every class wants to think they are special; however, they are only so in a very limited sense. Like cars, we’re pretty much made to spec. Historical movies across the spectrum have always done, and still do, exactly what BOAN did. (But try to make the creator feel bad or afraid and if he’s great enough he does what Griffith did: he makes an even greater movie in expatiation.)

You know, if you think about it honestly, one of the most unfairly stigmatized classes, as a general class, are the German people. It's understandable why this is so, given fairly recent history, but for the great number of individual Germans (as for Negroes/Africans back then) it's still unfair--and I bet those Germans feel hurt, too. Yet, how much sympathy do we allocate to them?

This view of art and what is supposed to do you, or not do, that you espouse is essentially reductive, primitive and childish and dishonest, and I have no truck with it (as art) at all. I could say I'm sorry if this offends—but, you know, I'm really not. We should be working in a socio-political way to getting beyond this ####. And the way to get beyond it is not through suppression and repression in any form. Instead, we just want to wallow in it, when we don’t just lateral to applying this thinking to a different species of the same type. What’s important is making our adversary in the human condition eat ####. Indeed, we do to the extent that the strictures resembling Stalinist-like mandates--you know how the Soviet view of art (and all disciplines) was, I sure. It could only be done a certain way and the results were programmed ahead of time.

Actually, we in the glorious West have not advanced much beyond that. But we have advanced some, although some of us love to luxuriate in shame ourselves for our shortcoming, as if we really aren’t any better, as if we’ve not made any difference at all. Yeah, I find Kipling jingoism a lot more appetizing than this eternal wienieization. And honest. We, too, have our taboos. I don’t buy them—not when it comes to art or science or, really, any form of public communication or discourse. But, as we Cajuns have a saying: “c’est tout la meme merde.” I will not allow myself to be intimidated in to following that draft board yellow line in a circle so as to appease someone’s empty tinhorn one-sided sensibilities (and that, please believe, is not meant to be a characterization of yours). In order to have great art—indeed, in order to have social progress, you have to have freedom, not just in law, either; and if you have that, then have to be willing to contemplate the possibility of that freedom being abused. Not to mention that you also have to countenance that you just might have your feelings hurt and your sensibilities outraged. TS is what I say. Something more important than feelings are at stake.
   202. ray james Posted: December 31, 2011 at 03:56 AM (#4026116)
You know, if you think about it honestly, one of the most unfairly stigmatized classes, as a general class, are the German people. It's understandable why this is so, given fairly recent history, but for the great number of individual Germans (as for Negroes/Africans back then) it's still unfair--and I bet those Germans feel hurt, too. Yet, how much sympathy do we allocate to them?


None. They brought it all on themselves, and all of it deserved.
   203. ray james Posted: December 31, 2011 at 04:00 AM (#4026118)
It could only be done a certain way and the results were programmed ahead of time.


Morty, I think Andy is not referring to style. He's referring to the politics that Birth of a Nation none too subtly supported. And that was a repugnant politics that is not redeemed by style points.
   204. ERROR---Jolly Old St. Nick Posted: December 31, 2011 at 04:11 AM (#4026121)
That's a nice little statement in # 201, Morty. Not that it has much if anything to do with anything I've written, but I'm glad you've had a chance to let off steam.

Birth of A Nation is what it is as a social artifact. Many people then, and since, and before, thought it was historical and sociological truth--but, more importantly, many thought it was artistic truth, which means it appeals to something in someone. But, you know, had it been other races in the slots designated, the same complaints would have been made by the same usual suspects.

I always say that everyone's right.

It’s all so mundane, really. As to that, make of it what you will. That's another subject, and one that doesn't directly impinge on the process of creation of a movie except to censor it. There’s more than one type of code.

As if I've been calling for "censorship" beyond assigning a few of your pet films to a few points less than 100 on a 100 scale. In terms of slippery slopes, that one doesn't have much grease on it.

Some took BOAN one way; some took it another. If this arouses in you a sense of righteous indignation fostering an urge for some sort of call for repression or repudiation, fine, great. Make your case.

The "repression" I've called for exists purely in your head, since I've never called for any such thing. The "repudiation" consists of pointing out its blatant propaganda and falsification of history, while at the same time fully granting its cinematic brilliance. I've certainly "made my case" for that already, whether or not you accept it.

The fact is, though, that there's nothing generically peculiar or even out of the ordinary about what that movie did, and does, compared to any number of movies (not to mention works in the other arts) that villainize a group or class to make some “greater” point. If movies couldn't do that, I don't think you'd have very many movies—at least none that people would be interested in seeing.

Yes, The Birth of a Nation is no more out of the ordinary in this respect than Duck Soup or Donald Duck, whose Black Pete character elicts the same response from audiences as the black savages depicted in the Griffith movie. It's all about villainization, even in Bringing Up Baby. Sheesh.

You know, if you think about it honestly, one of the most unfairly stigmatized classes, as a general class, are the German people. It's understandable why this is so, given fairly recent history, but for the great number of individual Germans (as for Negroes/Africans back then) it's still unfair--and I bet those Germans feel hurt, too. Yet, how much sympathy do we allocate to them?

I'm not sure what brought that on, but it's certainly nothing I've written here.

This view of art and what is supposed to do you, or not do, that you espouse is essentially reductive, primitive and childish and dishonest, and I have no truck with it (as art) at all.

Is this because that by my own taste and standards I find Angi Vera a more compelling movie than The Searchers, or is it because I take note of the racism in The Birth of a Nation, while (once more, with feeling) at the same time fully acknowledging its cinematic greatness? Do I have to burn incense at a homemade shrine of D.W. Griffith or John Ford in order to satisfy you? Am I forcing you to worship Pal Gabor or Hector Babenco?

Actually, we in the glorious West have not advanced much beyond that. But we have advanced some, although some of us love to luxuriate in shame ourselves for our shortcoming, as if we really aren’t any better, as if we’ve not made any difference at all. Yeah, I find Kipling jingoism a lot more appetizing than this eternal wienieization. And honest. We, too, have our taboos. I don’t buy them—not when it comes to art or science or, really, any form of public communication or discourse. But, as we Cajuns have a saying: “c’est tout la meme merde.” I will not allow myself to be intimidated in to following that draft board yellow line in a circle so as to appease someone’s empty tinhorn one-sided sensibilities (and that, please believe, is not meant to be a characterization of yours). In order to have great art—indeed, in order to have social progress, you have to have freedom, not just in law, either; and if you have that, then have to be willing to contemplate the possibility of that freedom being abused. Not to mention that you also have to countenance that you just might have your feelings hurt and your sensibilities outraged. TS is what I say. Something more important than feelings are at stake.

Well, whenever some modern day Breen tries to prevent The Birth of a Nation from being shown anywhere**, I'll be there on the barricades with you.

**It's been shown at least twice on TCM in the past 14 months without any visible outcry, and possibly even more times that I failed to notice.

P.S. Did you catch Edward G. Robinson's The Widow of Chicago (1930) on TCM a few weeks back? I just watched it today for the first time, and it's my nomination for sleeper of the month. Alice White was a revelation, and Neil Hamilton was damn good, too.
   205. Morty Causa Posted: December 31, 2011 at 11:13 PM (#4026429)
No, I didn't see The Widow of Chicago. I don't think I ever have. I'll have to watch for the opportunity to do so.
   206. Gotham Dave Posted: December 31, 2011 at 11:56 PM (#4026442)
They brought it all on themselves, and all of it deserved.
Is this a joke? You do know that most Germans were born after WW2, right?
   207. Something Other Posted: January 03, 2012 at 02:45 AM (#4027431)
Sort of speaking of Birth of a Nation, I'm watching Full Metal Jacket. "Just remember, son. Inside every gook there's an American, trying to get out."

"The people we wasted here today are the finest human beings we will ever know." Anyone figure out what Kubrick was trying to do with his film? A lot of the scenes seem arranged simply in order to have ignorant people saying either broad, stupid things, or what a bunch of drunk scriptwriters thought would be hilarious coming from ignorant people. None of the characters, even Joker, has any depth or interest. Even the poster for the film is dumb: "In Vietnam, the wind doesn't blow, it sucks." Seriously?

The occasional scene is jarring, but so's having roadkill dropped in your lap. If there's a joke here, I'm missing it.
   208. Ben Broussard Ramjet Posted: January 03, 2012 at 07:11 AM (#4027458)
You damn right. You know any peoples ever who have not interpreted their Gods, and their men like Gods, as being like them?


Reaching back a little, but yeah: Hindus. Unless you've met a lot of blue-skinned Indian people in your time?

(Just for fun; not really looking to start an argument here, and yes, it's a lot more complicated than skin-color. But I would expect that the way in which a god is different from its creators would be much more interesting than the similiarities.)
   209. Morty Causa Posted: January 03, 2012 at 06:46 PM (#4028199)
   210. Fred Lynn Nolan Ryan Sweeney Agonistes Posted: January 03, 2012 at 07:07 PM (#4028211)
A lot of the scenes seem arranged simply in order to have ignorant people saying either broad, stupid things, or what a bunch of drunk scriptwriters thought would be hilarious coming from ignorant people.

Think of it as an anti-war film written and directed by a radical feminist. Then it'll all make sense.
The scene where the drill instructor holds up Charles Whitman and Lee Harvey Oswald as inspirations to every Marine beginning their rifle-training... (dark) comic gold.
   211. ray james Posted: January 03, 2012 at 07:08 PM (#4028214)
The people we wasted here today are the finest human beings we will ever know." Anyone figure out what Kubrick was trying to do with his film? A lot of the scenes seem arranged simply in order to have ignorant people saying either broad, stupid things, or what a bunch of drunk scriptwriters thought would be hilarious coming from ignorant people.


His point, in fact the entire point of the whole film, was that soldiering, and war fighting, is dehumanizing. This is not a particularly novel or easily refuted observation (see: My Lai massacre). He made the same point in Paths of Glory.

In one of Paul Fussell's books, a soldier remembers how he came to be like, fighting as an infantryman in France and Germany. He remembers self-noticing how his sense of smell became more acute, that he could smell when Germans were nearby, how his powers of observation became so acute that he could tell from faraway the difference between a German and an American solder by the way they walked, how he could tell by how the birds in the trees moved if there was enemy activity, how he learned to breathe without making any sound. He realized he had become an predator, like a wild animal.

Man's inhumanity to man is a recurring theme in Kubrick's films.

The occasional scene is jarring, but so's having roadkill dropped in your lap. If there's a joke here, I'm missing it.


The film wasn't meant to be funny.
   212. Morty Causa Posted: January 03, 2012 at 08:22 PM (#4028257)
Man's inhumanity to man is a recurring theme in Kubrick's films.


I forget: was he for or against?
   213. Gonfalon Bubble Posted: January 03, 2012 at 09:00 PM (#4028294)
Man's inhumanity to man is a recurring theme in Kubrick's films.

And not only that, but vice versa.
   214. Something Other Posted: January 05, 2012 at 12:40 AM (#4029325)
@210. Yeah. My jaw dropped at that one--something like, 'that is an example what one determined Marine with a rifle can accomplish!'

@211--ray, I understand the basics of it, but I'm assuming we all agree that War is Hell so the question becomes, why this? Why Kubrick's particular take here on it? It's unsubtle, to say the least, and using caricatures instead of characters make particularly the second half of the film unconvincing and worse, uninteresting. When the film ends with the troops singing the Mickey Mouse song as they march through the burning landscape, Kubrick's clearly reaching for something legendary but the result is silly. I think of Tim O'Brien's The Things They Carried as an excellent example of the 'war is hell' theme at its base, but 'war is hell' as it affects rounded, smart, interesting characters. That's beyond Kubrick, at least in Full Metal Jacket, and the film suffers correspondingly for that lack.

edit: strange casting note. Kubrick, according to wikipedia, wanted Anthony Micheal Hall to star, and they spent eight months negotiating before the deal fell through. How can that be? If you're Anthony Micheal Hall and Stanley Kubrick wants you to star in his latest picture, it takes you eight months to talk it over, and then you decide instead that you want to make Out of Bounds II (or whatever it was)?
   215. Morty Causa Posted: January 05, 2012 at 02:22 AM (#4029343)
Very few actors, beginning after 2001, if not before enjoyed working with Kubrick, and word spread. He was so demanding most actors found it intolerable. And he just got worse. What did Jack Nicholson say about him: "Just because you're a perfectionist doesn't mean you're perfect"

Full Metal Jacket is a failure, but even so. there are unforgettable scenes and images that are indelible.
   216. ray james Posted: January 05, 2012 at 07:40 AM (#4029371)
Well, I think Full Metal Jacket is a great film but I don't have time to say why right now. I'll come back tonight and post my take.
   217. jacksone (AKA It's OK...) Posted: January 05, 2012 at 04:09 PM (#4029753)
Well, I think Full Metal Jacket is a great film but I don't have time to say why right now. I'll come back tonight and post my take.


Is it tonight yet?
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