Blue is the Warmest Color (La vie d'Adèle)
(Reviewed November 25, 2013)
A visual delight which there are numerous but often mutually contradictory reasons for feeling guilty about enjoying
12 Years a Slave
(Reviewed November 23, 2013)
The racial grievance industry proves that there is life still in the biggest grievance of all, thought by the merely naive far to ante-date any living memory
(Reviewed October 25, 2013)
A beautiful and profound meditation on the claims of a very little, very fragile human life upon eternity
(Reviewed October 17, 2013)
Are Americans getting to be the good guys in the movies once again? Well, maybe not altogether so.
Teach English with a Degree in Elementary Education.
Listening to Rush Limbaugh last week, I was struck by the caller who told El Rushbo that, up until the moment of her call, she had never been able to bring herself to reveal to a pollster her disapproval of President Obama for fear of being thought — by the pollster! — a racist. Now that so many others were expressing such disapproval on account of the Obamacare fiasco, she said, she feels safer in stating what has all along been her true opinion. I guess she figured the pollster would be less censorious if he reflected that not everybody now expressing a negative view of the President could be a racist.
I was reminded of a piece I wrote in The New Criterion over a decade ago called "We’re taking a poll on how bright you are. . ." which pointed to the not-often-enough recognized effect of people’s desire to look good in the pollster’s eyes when answering psephological questions. On that occasion, I was writing about polls which showed a majority of people believed the Bush administration knew more than it was saying about the collapse of the Enron Corporation. Remember that? Well, of course people were going to say that, I thought. Who wants to be classed with the naive and those not — as the pollster obviously was — "in the know" about what only less intelligent people were likely to take at face value?
These kinds of questions pop up more often than you might think, and the obviously skewed response to them must accordingly give rise to a lot of pretty worthless commentary. The most recent example came with the news from Gallup in the week of the anniversary of the Kennedy assassination that "a clear majority of Americans (61 per cent) still believe others besides Lee Harvey Oswald were involved." True, "this percentage is the lowest found in nearly 50 years" — that is, since December, 1966 when exactly 50 per cent claimed to believe in multiple assassins. But if such a consistency of response over half a century doesn’t show that conspiracy is the default setting for most people, at least when they are asked about it by pollsters, I don’t know what does. People may not know all or even some of the conspiracy theories themselves, but they know the pollster is looking for those who do know and believe in them.
ENTRY from November 25, 2013
My new book Media Madness, is now published and 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.
The Dream Team.
October 31, 2013.
We console ourselves for our inability to remedy the evils in the world by insisting on our morally creditable feelings about them — From The New Criterion of October, 2013 ...
The Heartlessness of the Matter.
October 30, 2013.
Who needs the humanities? It’s a more interesting question than why they are needed, which no one seems to know — From The American Spectator of October, 2013 ...
Sanity: an obituary.
September 30, 2013.
Does American journalism have any purpose besides sniffing out racism or scandal, or the scandal of racism? — From The New Criterion of September, 2013 ...