Manchester by the Sea
(Reviewed February 24, 2017)
A great actors’ movie but, to that extent, not so great as a movie — From The American Spectator
(Reviewed February 7, 2017)
Martin Scorsese’s attempt to reconcile Christianity with multiculturalism is unlikely to impress anyone not already a convert to the latter
La La Land
(Reviewed January 30, 2017)
A feeble parody of the old-time Hollywood musical that appears to have wowed critics not in spite of but because of all the ways it falls short of its original
(Reviewed November 21, 2016)
A fine war movie in spite of its being pitched to an audience with a pacifist predisposition
Today is the one hundredth anniversary of America’s declaration of war against Germany and thus of her joining the British, French and Russian empires in their tremendous struggle against the German, Austrian and Ottoman empires — a struggle known at the time as the Great War. “Great,” that is, in the sense of large, as in Great Britain or great toe — as some in Great Britain still call the big toe. It certainly was a big war. The biggest ever up until that time if you go by the numbers of combatants involved and the number of casualties they sustained. The other kind of great — as in great man or great meal — that war, more recently known as World War I, was not. Certainly not for the people involved, the scale of whose suffering and death has since become legendary.
I have written here and here to contrast President Wilson’s message to Congress requesting the declaration of war with the famous speech to Parliament by the British Foreign Secretary, Sir Edward Grey, of two and a half years earlier. In 1914, Britain’s entrance into the war was seen by Sir Edward to depend upon honor, and specifically the honor involved in Britain’s treaty obligation to guarantee the Belgian neutrality that was in the process of being violated in the opening days of the war. Britain, thought Sir Edward, would be dishonored and any subsequent treaty obligations rendered worthless if she failed to enter the war on the Franco-Belgian side in response to such a provocation.
By contrast, President Wilson never mentioned honor in connection with America’s entry into the war, even though Germany’s resumption of unrestricted submarine warfare against neutral shipping, the ostensible reason for it, would have given him good reason to do so. To Wilson, America had to be going to war for something much bigger and much more universal than mere honor or patriotism, let alone German violation of American neutrality. He was doing it, as he famously said, because “the world must be made safe for democracy.” Not our democracy, but just plain Democracy, with a capital D. And for “the rights and liberties of small nations, for a universal dominion of right by such a concert of free peoples as shall bring peace and safety to all nations and make the world itself at last free.”
ENTRY from April 6, 2017
My book Media Madness, is available for order from Encounter Books. Less a polemic than an attempt to understand the origins of the mass media’s folie de grandeur, the book is a warning even to those who are deserting the big networks, newsweeklies and large-circulation dailies not to carry with them into the more attractive world of niche media the undisciplined habits of thought that the old media culture has given rise to. To order this book, click here.
Also available, now in paperback, is Honor, A History, which was first published in 2006. A study of Western cultural artifacts, from the epics of Homer to the movies and TV shows of today, it is focused on explaining why Western ideas of honor developed so differently from those elsewhere — and especially from the savage honor cultures of the Islamic world. The book then goes on to trace the collapse and ultimate rejection of the old Western honor culture from World War I until the present day and to suggest the conditions that would have to prevail for its revival.
Who Governs America?.
March 31, 2017.
If it’s not (yet) the media, that’s not through any lack of effort on their part. From The New Criterion of March, 2017 ...
Cessation of the Oracles.
February 28, 2017.
The media’s failure to recognize the degradation of their own authority could tip us off as to the reason for same — from The New Criterion of February, 2017 ...
Faking it and Making it.
January 31, 2017.
There’s something pretty fake about the assumption that "fake news" all comes from one side — From The New Criterion of January, 2017 ...