(Reviewed October 12, 2017)
Ben Stiller is at his best when playing unlikeable characters. He shouldn’t be trying to soften them and make them more likeable.
(Reviewed July 28, 2017)
A great movie as spectacle, though also an illustration of the limits of spectacle
The Wedding Plan
(Reviewed June 2, 2017)
An amusing fairy tale that sometimes flirts with over-seriousness
(Reviewed May 26, 2017)
"In short measures life may perfect be." — Ben Jonson
“For Trump, the Reality Show Has Never Ended.” So The New York Times, forever behind the curve, headlined an article by its reporter Peter Baker the other day. Trust The New York Times to report as “news” what everybody on the planet has known since at least January 20th of this year and most of us have known since well before that time. It’s not that they don’t know we know this, of course, still less that they are just waking up to the fact themselves. It’s that Mr Trump seems to have driven them literally crazy — crazy in the sense that they keep doing the same thing over and over and expecting a different result.
For the “reality show” trope is one that has often come up in the media generally and The New York Times in particular over the last eleven months. As long ago as last December, Mark Leibovich was writing for the Times of “The Trump Transition Reality Show,” while an editorial of the previous July sought to besmirch Mr Trump’s vice-presidential choice by headlining: “Donald Trump and Mike Pence: The Political Reality Show.” It’s just one of many ways the media have of calling attention to what they regard as the President’s “unpresidential” behavior. If we keep doing that, the Times editors appear to be thinking, eventually people have got to start being outraged about it.
So far, however, it seems to be working only for those who were already outraged. Maybe it’s time for the Times to get “woke” to the fact that the world outside their little New York-Washington media bubble now has, for better or (I would say) worse, a somewhat different idea of what constitutes presidential behavior than they do. If so, however, it shows no signs of happening any time soon. On the same day as Mr Baker’s piece, the paper ran one by Greg Weiner blasting the President for, of all things, disregarding a due Burkean regard for custom and tradition in presidential behavior.
ENTRY from October 13, 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.
Decency for Deplorables.
September 30, 2017.
Only the media could fail to see the comedy in their setting themselves up as the arbiters of decency ...
Fantasia on a Theme.
September 18, 2017.
Ordinary delusions and the madness of crowds in Kurt Andersen's unreal America — From The Weekly Standard of September 18, 2017 ...
A “narrative” outworn.
June 30, 2017.
The media’s triumphalist account of the Watergate scandal has turned their routine bias into confirmation bias ...