September 30, 2016

Now Playing

(Reviewed September 22, 2016)

Is it unreasonable to care about Clint Eastwood’s mild falsification of what actually happened after "the Miracle on the Hudson"?

Hell or High Water
(Reviewed September 15, 2016)

A sometimes amusing but morally illiterate "neo-Western" which seems likely to spawn numerous imitators

Florence Foster Jenkins
(Reviewed August 19, 2016)

A bittersweet but well-executed comedy to which there is much more than may at first appear.

Hillary’s America: The Secret History of the Democratic Party
(Reviewed August 18, 2016)

If this is how both sides in America have decided to do politics in the age of Trump, there’s not much point finding fault, is there?

ENTRY from September 22, 2016

By now, God knows, I should be used to it, but the irony of yesterday’s New York Times headline, caused me to laugh out loud — though as usual I was only laughing so as not to cry. "Donald Trump Jr.’s Skittles Post on Twitter Fits a Pattern," read the head to a piece by Jason Horowitz. Nor was the pattern-monger just the anonymous headline writer. Clearly, Mr Horowitz himself was part of, if not leading, the media gaffe-patrol when he noticed that the bowl within which the fatal (and non-fatal) Skittles of Mr Trump Junior’s visual analogy to terrorists among the refugee population, was "white." Aha! And guess what? The Skittles themselves were "rainbow colored." In other words: non-white. Not only was the Trump scion identifying himself (and, presumably, his father) as a white supremacist, he was also saying that Syrian refugees, who are people "of color" ex hypothesi, were, um, poisoned candy. Or at least some of them were. At least metaphorically.

The "Pattern," you will have observed, which this comparison allegedly "Fits" is one of the media’s own manufacture. And it was made precisely in order that either of the Mr Trumps, or anyone else among the politically benighted who have incurred the media’s displeasure, could be made to fit it with a minimum of difficulty. Not that the Times was crowing over its own triumph in "outing" (again) the racist Trumps. No, it was lots of other people, beginning with (to take an example at random) Hillary Clinton, who professed themselves to be outraged by the Twitter post. Mrs Clinton called it "disgusting," wrote Mr Horowitz, while "a stream of social media users denounced it as both flippant and fearmongering, noting the infinitesimal odds of being killed in a terrorist attack by a refugee."

Wasn’t that just the Trumpian point? Why take the unnecessary risk of letting in the malignant along with the benign, even if the odds are small? Ah, but it was part of a pattern. "Mr. Trump’s comparison of men, women and children displaced by a horrific civil war to a chewy candy was hardly the first time he had been accused of poor taste." The comparison, it seems, was itself the accusation. And the "poor taste" further suggested — to Mr Horowitz, anyway — "white supremacy, anti-Semitism, incendiary language and conspiracy theories" on the part of both Mr Trumps. To those imputed sins I suppose we must now add their advocating cannibalism. Or, to be absolutely precise, avoiding cannibalism, though only because the human "chewy candy" might be poisoned.
  Full Entry

Media MadnessMy 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.

Honor, A HistoryAlso 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.

Recent Articles

House of Cads August 30, 2016.
The ladies and gentlemen have long since left the building — From The New Criterion of June, 2016 ... Full Article

Master of Suspense June 7, 2016.
Hitchcock made the movies and the movies made post-modernism — from The Claremont Review of Books, Winter 2015/16 ... Full Article

Scandals and Experts May 31, 2016.
What if the Trumpists’ much-mentioned grievance is not so much their own misfortunes as the insufferable self-righteousness of their supposed betters? — From The New Criterion of May, 2016 ... Full Article

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