July 8, 2020

Now Playing

Juliet Naked
(Reviewed September 21, 2018)

An amusing but slight adaptation of a Nick Hornby novel which can laugh at its characters without precluding the possibility that they may laugh at themselves

Won't You Be My Neighbor?
(Reviewed September 20, 2018)

Did Mr Rogers’s extraordinary capacity for love end up producing a generation of haters?

Lady Bird
(Reviewed March 6, 2018)

A delightful and not entirely politically correct movie about growing up as a Catholic schoolgirl in 2002-2003

Three Billboards Outside Ebbing, Missouri
(Reviewed February 22, 2018)

An occasionally amusing parable of guilt and forgiveness whose setting in small-town America, like the prejudices of its author, does it no favors

ENTRY from June 23, 2020

Apart from the name of the publication, its volume number, date and price, the only words on the front cover of the current number of the London Review of Books are these: “Adam Shatz: America Explodes.” You would think that, if true, this would be pretty big news around the world, and yet this little niche publication three thousand miles away from the alleged explosion appears to have got the story exclusively. Nobody else noticed. Nor has anybody else noticed the absurd hype to which this otherwise respectable scholarly publication has descended in telling the story of the demonstrations (“mostly peaceful,” as the media keep reassuring us) that have followed the death of George Floyd in Minneapolis on May 25th.

I couldn’t help noticing the parallel with a headline in yesterday’s Independent, another U.K. publication, though no longer a printed one. “Jessie Ware: ‘We are living a dystopian nightmare’” Jessie Ware, in case you were wondering, is a British pop star who, to judge from the sub-head, is most famous for a song called “Say You Love Me” and a podcast called “Table Manners” which “has won her millions of listeners.” You’ll be excited to hear that she also has a new album out which the Indy judges is “a dazzling return to form.” In the article, “she talks to Kate Hutchinson about her mum Lennie, Black Lives Matter, being an ‘underdog’ and believing in herself” — as well, of course, as the “dystopian nightmare” she, along with the unspecified “we” of the headline, claims to be living in.

Nobody at The Independent appears to have noticed that, if it takes a celebrity puff-piece to inform us that we are living in a dystopian nightmare, we can hardly be living in a dystopian nightmare — any more than it would have required Adam Schatz to bring us the news that “America Explodes” in a small-circulation British fortnightly if America had really exploded. But the readers of both publications must be used to making allowances for the fact that they and their favorite pundits and pop stars are living in a fantasy world of their own — a world of monstrous evils and grinding oppression — which has nothing to do with the workaday world of pedestrian joys and sorrows that most of us live in.
  Full Entry

Media MadnessBefore there was Howard Kurtz’s Media Madness, there was mine — now, alas, out of print but still available while supplies last for the cost of shipping and handling. Send $5.99 to me in care of the Ethics and Public Policy Center, 1730 M Street, Suite 910, Washington, D.C. 20036

Honor, A HistoryAlso available, now in paperback and Kindle version, 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

Experts in spate May 31, 2020.
Experts can never be wrong for, if they were wrong, they wouldn’t be experts. They would be Donald Trump. — From The New Criterion of May, 2020 ... Full Article

Cancel nation April 30, 2020.
Imagine the media’s frustration: they keep canceling President Trump, but he just won’t stay canceled — From The New Criterion of April, 2020 ... Full Article

Polite fictions March 31, 2020.
Like Humpty-Dumpty, we now use words to mean just what we want them to mean — From The New Criterion of March, 2020 ... Full Article

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