Combs Spouts Off

"It's my opinion and it's very true."

  • Calendar

    June 2020
    S M T W T F S
    « Jan    
  • Recent Posts

  • Tag Cloud

  • Archives

Posts Tagged ‘culture’

The legacy of Charlton Heston

Posted by Richard on April 8, 2008

Charlton Heston was a great actor and a great champion of freedom and individual rights, as Alan Gottlieb of the Second Amendment Foundation noted:

“Mr. Heston stood head and shoulders above other civil rights activists,” Gottlieb recalled, “because he recognized that the Bill of Rights was all-inclusive. He marched alongside Dr. Martin Luther King long before it was fashionable for Hollywood stars to involve themselves in social issues. He was a firm believer in freedom of speech, and yet he was not afraid to hold this nation’s press corps and our institutions of higher learning accountable for their stifling political correctness.

“It is not often that a man of such international stature, and with such unquestionable dignity, steps forward to take a leadership role in a struggle of such importance as did Charlton Heston, in his ardent defense of the Second Amendment,” he continued. “Our prayers and most heartfelt thoughts are with Mr. Heston’s family.

“While we join our friends at the NRA in mourning the loss of this great American,” Gottlieb stated, “we should also celebrate the fact that he lived, and that he stood up when it counted. He was certainly an inspiration to those whose lives he touched, and to the millions of gun owners whose rights he unselfishly defended.

“Charlton Heston set an example by doing what he thought was right,” Gottlieb concluded, “and as a nation, we are the better for it.”

What I remember most about Heston is his aesthetic sense, sense of life, and profound understanding of the nature of art, as exemplified by two quotes that have stuck in my mind for many years. I can't seem to locate either one on the Web, so I'll simply paraphrase from memory. 

In an interview where he talked about the nature and role of art, in which he echoed some of Ayn Rand's ideas on the subject, Heston observed that Dustin Hoffman may be a great actor, but Michelangelo is so much more interesting than Ratso Rizzo.

And in response to the observation that many of the historical characters he played were "larger than life," Heston objected that they weren't larger than life, they were real people whom we could aspire to emulate. 

You young people out there could do a lot worse than aspire to emulate Charlton Heston. 

Posted in Uncategorized | Tagged: , , , | Leave a Comment »

Another anti-war bomb

Posted by Richard on November 26, 2007

Four weeks ago, I noted that Hollywood's recent spate of anti-American propaganda films had been singularly unsuccessful:

The bad news is that Hollywood is relentlessly cranking out film after film intended to undermine support for the war against Islamofascism. The good news is that Americans are avoiding these propaganda pieces in droves. Most recently, Babel, The Kingdom, and Rendition have all bombed at the box office.

Add Brian De Palma's execrable Redacted to the list. In fact, put it at the top. According to a NYPost story quoted by JammieWearingFool, it may be the biggest box-office bomb ever. On its opening weekend, it took in about $25,000. No, I didn't accidentally leave off three zeros. Twenty-five thousand dollars. At what — about eight bucks a ticket? That means more people attended your average minor-league hockey game than saw this left-wing turkey.

JWF's post also has the unbelievable story of how De Palma is complaining that he's a victim. You see, his corporate overlords insisted on blurring the faces of dead American soldiers in a "collage of actual bloody bodies at the end of the film." He's been censored! Denied his opportunity to inflict gratuitous pain and suffering on the families and friends of the dead in service of his art (and politics)! Poor Brian!

De Palma is a vile POS, and a pretty sorry director, too — overrated, overblown, and completely derivative. His career should have ended years ago. I remember a great (late 70s?) Saturday Night Live parody commercial for a De Palma film called The Clams — a silly ripoff of Hitchcock's The Birds, complete with clams gathering on a jungle gym. As I recall, the money line at the end was "every couple of years, he picks the bones of a dead director and gives his wife a job."

Posted in Uncategorized | Tagged: , , , , , , , , , | Leave a Comment »

Anthony Hopkins

Posted by Richard on November 1, 2007

I just watched Anthony Hopkins on the Late Late Show with Craig Ferguson. Very odd segment, and it's clear that Hopkins is not very comfortable as a talk show guest, but he and Craig got on OK. Some nice English-Irish-Scottish-Welsh banter.

I've always liked Hopkins and greatly admired his acting. The World's Fastest Indian is one of my all-time favorite movies, and Hopkins was just tremendous as Burt Munro.

My high opinion of Hopkins was affirmed during this interview, and even raised a couple of notches: Hopkins mentioned in passing that his favorite actor was Robert Mitchum.

Anthony Hopkins, who trained at RADA, was discovered by Sir Laurence Olivier, was a member of the Royal National Theatre, won an Oscar and a couple of Emmies, and was nominated for several more, admires above all others Robert Mitchum.

Damn. That Anthony Hopkins is a fine judge of acting and a person of great character. I'm impressed.

If you haven't seen The World's Fastest Indian, I cannot recommend it highly enough. It's a true story, and I guarantee that you'll feel better about the human race just knowing about Burt Munro and the many people who helped him. Hopkins said that this was "the best film I've been in," and his portrayal of Munro is simply amazing, incredible, awesome, and every other superlative you can think of. You must see this film. 

Posted in Uncategorized | Tagged: , , , | 4 Comments »

Hollywood’s war

Posted by Richard on October 31, 2007

The bad news is that Hollywood is relentlessly cranking out film after film intended to undermine support for the war against Islamofascism. The good news is that Americans are avoiding these propaganda pieces in droves. Most recently, Babel, The Kingdom, and Rendition have all bombed at the box office.

But it's not just that film-makers are making anti-war movies. They've also gone out of their way to avoid portraying the most believable and likely villains around today, Islamist terrorists, even if it meant rewriting stories like Tom Clancey's The Sum of All Fears to kowtow to the demands of CAIR (unindicted co-conspirators in a terrorism-financing operation). The film version replaced the Islamist terrorists in Clancy's novel with cartoon neo-Nazis.

Michael Fumento noted the difference between Hollywood then and now:

In 1942, Hollywood went to war. It began pumping out countless movies designed both to entertain the public and bolster its will to fight. A lot of them were cheap, hokey, or both. But even in a nation that seemingly needed little reminder of the dastardly attack on Pearl Harbor or the evils of the Nazis, they kept drilling home the message that we must persevere no matter the costs or the duration.

Well that they did. President Franklin Roosevelt lived in constant fear that the public would turn against the war. Indeed a Gallup Poll taken just five months before Germany’s collapse and long after the American public began learning of the horrors of the Holocaust, showed about one-fourth did not want to drive on to unconditional surrender.

Fast forward that reel to the post-9/11 era. Just how many Hollywood movies (not documentaries) have been made in which the bad guys are Islamist terrorists that do not specifically concern the Sept. 11 attacks? If you have to guess, guess “none.”

Read the whole thing. As Fumento observed, Hollywood seems bent on convincing us that either Islamist terrorists aren't really a threat or that they're no worse than we are.

Also, read Ed Driscoll's Hollywood Nihilism, which argues that the change in Hollywood predates 9/11 and Bush ("who's the real enemy," indeed).

It's really remarkable (and disgusting) that Tinseltown — with its well-known predilection for hedonism, its commitment to feminism, its enthusiastic embrace of alternative lifestyles, and its general "do your own thing" attitude — has consistently sided with the most barbaric, mysogynistic, intolerant, and repressive religio-political movement on the face of the earth, a movement that would, given the chance, behead or stone to death practically every last one of them. 

Driscoll be damned, I blame Bush.  

Posted in Uncategorized | Tagged: , , , , , , , , , | Leave a Comment »

Happy hookah fans

Posted by Richard on October 2, 2007

They're really tough on smoking in Vancouver, even prohibiting it on sidewalks. But they've adopted one exception to the harsh restrictions: hookah lounges. It would be culturally insensitive, after all, to ban "smoking while Muslim":

Vancouver's hookah-parlour owners are celebrating after winning an exemption Thursday from a proposed new bylaw that will ban smoking on most sidewalks in commercial districts, in bus shelters and even in taxis passing through Vancouver.

In giving the bylaw unanimous approval-in-principle, Vancouver city council members bowed to arguments that hookah lounges provide an important cultural space for the city's Muslims and granted them a temporary exemption.

Mind you, I object in principle to these draconian smoking bans, so I'm glad that hookah lounge owners remain free to run their businesses and exercise their property rights. But the Vancouver city council isn't belatedly and partially embracing the doctrine of natural rights here. It's practicing dhimmitude. It's furthering a growing trend in the Western world — the practice of bending over backwards to avoid offending Muslims.

Maybe it's craven cowardice. Maybe it's the self-loathing and loathing of their own culture and heritage that leads to the belief that the Other is more entitled to respect and accommodation than Us. Either way, it makes me want to loiter on the sidewalk in front of a Vancouver hookah lounge and smoke a cigarette.

Posted in Uncategorized | Tagged: , , , , | 1 Comment »

Avast! It’s Talk Like a Pirate Day!

Posted by Richard on September 19, 2007

Today, September 19, is International Talk Like a Pirate Day. So, say "shiver me timbers" to somebody. Or quaff some grog. Or maybe take The Official Talk Like a Pirate Personality Inventory (TOTLAPPI). In other words, have fun in a whimsical way today, because that's what talking like a pirate is all about. 

Q: What sci-fi TV series do pirates like best?

A: Faarrrr-scape. 

Arrr! International Talk Like a Pirate Day September 19

Posted in Uncategorized | Tagged: , , , | Leave a Comment »

Kid Peoples Republic

Posted by Richard on August 28, 2007

I dropped by Babalu Blog to see if they had any fresh news about the rumors of Castro's death — no news, but some interesting and intelligent speculation. While there, I spotted this post from Saturday about one of the kids in the new CBS "reality" show, Kid Nation. He's 11-year-old Guylan from Massachusetts, and here's his answer to the question, "What world leader do you admire?":

Fidel Castro is a world leader that I admire for many reasons. Firstly, he led a revolution against a corrupt government ruled by an evil dictator named Fulgencio Batista. Then he went on to lead the country of Cuba by ousting their existing political system in order to instill a socialist government throughout the country. That meant out with the rich and corrupt and in with a more fair and balanced environment for his people. …

There's much more in his CBS Kid Nation bio. I don't suppose this will surprise you: Guylan thinks that George W. Bush is one of the worst presidents ever, that we invaded Iraq for the oil, and that we should be "severing our ties to fossil fuels" in order to save the planet.

I wonder how many 11-year-olds use phrases like "severing our ties," "putting it aside," "foster the skill," and "specify the artistic value" when they write. You think maybe his commie mommy helped him with his responses?

You couldn't pay me to watch Kid Nation. After all, I've never watched Survivor or any of the umpteen other reality shows, and I'm not about to start with this piece of crap example of the genre. But I'm at least idly curious about how many of the 40 kids think that Bush is the worst president and that people are destroying the planet. I suspect a comfortable majority think the former and probably 90% the latter. I think "progressive" parents are much more likely to send their kids off to play Lord of the Flies in front of cameras in the desert, and the kids' political thinking (such as it is) would reflect that.

I'm not curious enough to check out all those bios, though.

Posted in Uncategorized | Tagged: , , | Leave a Comment »

“Kill da wabbit, kill da wabbit”

Posted by Richard on July 8, 2007

This is quite the year for important anniversaries. It was fifty years ago this week that Warner Brothers released the greatest cartoon of all time, "What's Opera, Doc?" Steve Watt wrote a marvelous tribute to the Wagnerian classic and to Chuck Jones and his associates at the "Termite Terrace" animation studio:

It is the antithesis of the routine cartoon. In place of snappy one-liners we see Elmer Fudd and Bugs Bunny singing their parts with complete sincerity and commitment. The backgrounds are beautifully textured paintings. The score is powerful and moving. Bugs cuts a striking figure in a metallic brassiere before Madonna was even born. It's audacious and decadent and beautiful and bold and everything the vast majority of cartoons would never dare to be.

Chuck told me he and his team of writers and animators never saw themselves as making cartoons for anyone but themselves. … It was because they made cartoons to humour themselves, and because studio executives didn't much care what they did so long as they stayed on time and on budget, that "What's Opera, Doc?" was possible.

The key was placing it between two Wile E. Coyote and Road Runner cartoons in the production schedule. Formulaic by design, those ones could be done fast and cheap. Knock off the Coyote films ahead of schedule and under budget, reallocate the time and money to "What's Opera, Doc?" so the overall budgets remained intact, and voila! A masterpiece created right under the noses of studio executives who would have vetoed the idea long before Elmer Fudd could have raised his spear and donned his magic helmet.

Read the whole thing. (HT: Fark)

I'm sure Watt is right — this really should be experienced on the big screen (I've seen it on TV, but not in a theater). This YouTube video is a poor substitute, but if you've never seen it, you just have to watch. If you have seen it, you'll probably want to watch it again.

Posted in Uncategorized | Tagged: , | Leave a Comment »

Laser pistols don’t kill people, …

Posted by Richard on May 26, 2007

Thirty years ago yesterday, Star Wars opened in just 32 theaters across the country, and producers worried it would lose money. In Los Angeles this weekend, well over 20,000 fans are attending a five-day celebration of the anniversary, the Postal Service has issued Star Wars stamps, and George Lucas is making clips from the Star Wars movies available for "remixing" at

But not all Star Wars fans are celebrating this weekend. An Aussie on his way to a 30th anniversary photo shoot made the mistake of letting his Star Wars laser pistol poke out of his backpack and alarm the hoplophobes in a Melbourne mall. Police, not knowing whether the laser blaster was fully charged, took no chances:

"It was a replica gun. We weren't sure what we were dealing with," Senior-Constable Daniel Sage told the Herald Sun newspaper. Photographs showed a gun closely resembling the weapon carried by Star Wars rogue Han Solo in the cinema classic.

The man had been on his way to pose for a community newspaper ahead of the 30th Star Wars movie anniversary when he was surrounded by armed police, forced to the ground and handcuffed.

Police said despite being a harmless replica and a close match to a weapon from a galaxy far, far away, the man would be charged with possessing an unregistered firearm.

Don't Australians realize that laser pistols don't kill people, people kill people? (Also, battle droids …)

In other movie news, today is the 100th birthday of Marion Morrison, better known as John Wayne. The Duke carried a plain old revolver, not a laser pistol, but he changed movies forever, too. Check out the fine tribute poem posted by commenter shirley at Firetop.

Posted in Uncategorized | Tagged: , , , , , , , , , | Leave a Comment »

Rated R for graphic smoking

Posted by Richard on May 11, 2007

The Motion Picture Association of America is going to consider smoking (by adults) as a factor, along with sex, violence, and language, in determining whether a film gets a restricted rating. Critics are complaining that the MPAA isn't going far enough. They want any image of tobacco use to automatically get an R rating, so that no child under 17 can see on the screen what they can see just outside the door on their way out of the theater:

"I'm glad it's finally an issue they're taking up, but what they're proposing does not go far enough and is not going to make a difference," said Kori Titus, spokeswoman for Breathe California, which opposes film images of tobacco use that might encourage young people to start smoking.

Titus said film raters should be as tough on smoking as they are on bad language to minimize the effects of on-screen smoking on children, including her own 5-year-old daughter.

"I don't want her using that language, but last time I checked, she's probably not going to die from that," Titus said. "If she starts smoking from these images she sees in movies, chances are she's probably going to die early from that."

Apparently in anticipation of such criticism, the MPAA had already lined up defenders to argue that their level of nannyism is sufficient:

While Titus' group wants tougher ratings restrictions, the MPAA released statements of support for its plan from John Seffrin, chief executive officer of the American Cancer Society, U.S. Sen. Joe Biden and filmmaker Rob Reiner, among others.

"By placing smoking on a par with considerations of violence and sex, the rating board has acknowledged the public-health dangers to children associated with glamorized images of a toxic and lethal addiction to tobacco," Barry Bloom, dean of the Harvard School of Public Health, said in a statement.

So, the public debate is whether images of people lighting cigarettes are worse than or merely as bad as images of rape or disembowelment.

How long do you suppose it will be before some group of nanny-state nazis calls for restricted ratings on films that depict the consumption of doughnuts or french fries? 

UPDATE: A caller to Rush had a brilliant idea. He pointed out that the MPAA's statements and actions amount to an acknowledgement of culpability by the film industry. How many millions of us watched Humphrey Bogart, Lauren Bacall, and others smoking on the silver screen in film after film, and thought they looked oh-so-cool, and decided to emulate them? Could we perhaps get John Edwards or one of his law partners to file a class action suit on our behalf? Or do Edwards and his pals only go after industries that aren't dominated by leftist Democrats?

Posted in Uncategorized | Tagged: , , , , | 1 Comment »

Cocky and dumb

Posted by Richard on April 3, 2007

There's still more evidence that American kids don't measure up to their foreign counterparts, and according to Ralph Reiland, American kids are cocky and dumb by design:

Only 6 percent of Korean eighth-graders expressed confidence in their math skills, compared with 39 percent of eighth-graders in the United States, according to the latest annual study on education by the Brown Center at the Brookings Institution in Washington.

The problem is that the surveyed Korean students are better at math than the American students.

Their kids are unsure and good, in short, while ours are cocky and dumb — not exactly a good position for the U.S. to occupy in an increasingly competitive global economy.

Reiland sees this as the predictable consequence of educators' aversion to competition and embrace of unearned self-esteem. They've chosen to promote "unskilled self-satisfaction" over competence:

…  For those in American education with an aversion to competition, an aversion to the thought of winners and losers, the idea of putting self-esteem ahead of academic performance was an easy concept to adopt.

It's like those no-score ball games. The goal is good feelings. Everyone plays, no one loses, every kid gets a trophy. It's like the teachers' contracts — no scorecard, no linking of pay hikes to performance, everyone's a winner.

It's a mind-set that sees score-keeping as too judgmental, too oppressive, too capitalist, too likely to deliver inequality and injured self-images, whether it's with pay or on the ball field.

In a related development, Seattle's Hilltop Children's Center recently banned Legos because they "teach capitalism" and promote private property rights:

According to the teachers, "Our intention was to promote a contrasting set of values: collectivity, collaboration, resource-sharing, and full democratic participation."

The children were allegedly incorporating into Legotown "their assumptions about ownership and the social power it conveys." These assumptions "mirrored those of a class-based, capitalist society — a society that we teachers believe to be unjust and oppressive."

They claimed as their role shaping the children's "social and political understandings of ownership and economic equity … from a perspective of social justice."

This is the same contemptible mindset made even more explicit.

The field of education is largely in the hands of extreme egalitarians and collectivists. They despise winning, achievement, and success because they see every instance of those things as a reproach. They loathe individualism because it encourages people to differentiate themselves from the herd in which they think we should all be submerged. They hate liberty because it frees some to rise above others, and they believe we should all be constrained to the level of the least of us.

Nothing would do more for the future of liberty than wresting control of the schools of education from the socialist scum who currently dominate the field. Of course, it would help if those wresting control had a coherent philosophy that celebrated the individual, freedom, and reason, instead of the incoherent, unprincipled mess that is today's conservatism.

Posted in Uncategorized | Tagged: , , , , , , | 1 Comment »

A Muslim parallel society

Posted by Richard on March 30, 2007

Last week, I commented on a German judge's ruling that the Koran gives a Muslim man the right to beat his wife. A few days earlier, I noted LGF's post on the "camel caravan" rule for Muslim schoolgirls' participation in field trips. A loyal reader recently emailed me about a long piece in Germany's Der Spiegel ("The Mirror") about these and related issues. It's entitled "Paving the Way to a Muslim Parallel Society." I've finally read all eight parts, and I highly recommend it. Here's the "executive summary":

A recent ruling in Germany by a judge who cited the Koran underscores the dilemma the country faces in reconciling Western values with a growing immigrant population. A disturbing number of rulings are helping to create a parallel Muslim world in Germany that is welcoming to Islamic fundamentalists.

Some of the evidence cited for this claim involves matters of headscarves, field trips, and swimming lessons. But some of it is much more grim: 

In 2005, Hatun Sürücü, a young Berlin woman, was killed because she was "living like a German." In her family's opinion, this was a crime only her death could expiate. Her youngest brother executed her by shooting her several times, point blank, at a Berlin bus stop. But because prosecutors were unable to prove that the family council had planned the act, only the killer himself could be tried for murder and, because he was underage, he was given a reduced sentence. The rest of the family left the courtroom in high spirits, and the father rewarded the convicted boy with a watch.  

Beatings and honor killings, often excused or treated leniently by the courts, are a growing problem in Germany. Even the apparently more innocuous matters supposedly involving "choice," like the field trip, swimming, and other female modesty issues, conceal the vicious reality: the "choices" being exercised aren't the apparent desire of the Muslim women and girls to be modest, they're the Muslim men's desire to subjugate and control their wives and daughters, treating them like property. Germany's women's shelters are increasingly seeing Muslim women and girls fleeing arranged marriages, slave-like living conditions, and savage beatings:

Ayten Köse, 42, who manages a shelter in the Neukölln Rollberg district, tries to help. She doesn't resemble most of the Muslim women here. Instead of a headscarf, she wears her hair uncovered. Köse knows how difficult it is for Muslim women in Germany to be courageous and rebel. …

The problem for many women, says Köse, is that they are completely alone, alone against their own family or their husband's family. "And if they haven't attended school in Germany," Köse explains, "they usually don't even know about human rights." 

Besides the human rights issues, there are other lesser public policy implications for the mulitculturalists' acquiescence to a parallel Muslim society. Germany's massive social welfare system can ill afford some of the consequences:

In another letter from Absurdistan, the Federal Ministry for Social Affairs issued the following announcement to German health insurance agencies in the summer of 2004: "Polygamous marriages must be recognized if they are legal under the laws of the native country of the individuals in question."

What the policy statement boiled down to was this: In certain cases Muslim men from countries where polygamy is legal — like Morocco, Algeria and Saudi Arabia — could add a second wife to their government health insurance policies without having to pay an additional premium.

Read it, please. All eight parts. The Germans have a head start on us, but this is where we're headed, too, if CAIR and the like have their way. 

Posted in Uncategorized | Tagged: , , , , , , , | Leave a Comment »


Posted by Richard on March 25, 2007

Last Friday, ABC TV broadcast another great John Stossel special, this one entitled "Enough!" It showcased some people who'd had enough of something and decided to take action. My favorites were:

  • New York Knicks star Stephon Marbury, who remembered growing up poor and asking his mother in vain for some $200 Air Jordan sneakers. The kind some kids have been beaten and even killed for. After Marbury became "Starbury," earning $17 million a year, he decided to come out with his own line of sneakers. They sell for $14.98. And he plays in them.

Starbury's sneakers have been a big hit. One fan is Dallas Mavericks owner Mark Cuban, who wears them, loves them, and said about Starbury:

… "They're aren't many things we will do in our lives that will have an impact on culture and social change. To be able to send a message to kids and sell millions of shoes so the message gets through saying, save that extra $85 and buy your kid a guitar or some clothes. That is huge."

"You can look at 'NBA Cares' all you want. You can look at the things I've done for charity all you want. The NBA has never done anything as impactful as what he has done."

  • Chicago restauranteur Dan McCauley, who got fed up with out-of-control kids in his A Taste of Heaven cafe. He told one mother, whose kids were climbing the wall while she paid no attention, not to come back. Then he posted a sign that said, "Children of all ages have to behave and use their indoor voices when coming to A Taste of Heaven."

There were the predictable expressions of outrage from the parents who think saying "stop that!" to their kids is a form of child abuse. But the surprise was the tidal wave of support:

Letters applauding the restaurant's stand against rowdy kids began to arrive from around the country, some from as far away as Singapore and the United Kingdom. McCauley even received some small checks from supporters worried he would lose business.

Macauley didn't lose business. People are flocking to his cafe, grateful for a place where they can enjoy a peaceful, relaxing meal. Some of them are parents with children taught how to behave in public and how to be considerate of others. What a novel idea!

  • New York writer Maryann Reid, who was bothered by the fact that 70% of children in the black community are born to single mothers. She decided to do something about it:

"There is no stigma anymore in the black community about having a child out of wedlock," said Reid, which led to the creation of Marry Your Baby Daddy Day. For those who don't know, Reid explains that "a Baby Daddy is simply…an unmarried father. But they've become caricatures in the ghetto."

Reid said, "Enough of that! Enough of upholding this 'baby daddy' and 'baby momma' as the norm. I am really just fed up with…the decline of marriage in the black community…It's about bring black love back in style. And that's what I want to do."

Reid persuaded a bunch of wedding industry people to donate their goods and services for her project. The first Marry Your Baby Daddy Day was in September 2005, and ten couples were wed. All are still together. She's currently screening couples for the next one, this September. Meanwhile, she's also got a novel and a website promoting the idea that mommas should marry their baby daddy.

Of course, I'm just hitting the highlights. And there were other good segments, too. If you missed it, keep an eye out for a rerun — it was an uplifting hour about some decent and interesting people.

Posted in Uncategorized | Tagged: , , | Leave a Comment »

Dame Helen, the Queen, and the Beeb

Posted by Richard on March 19, 2007

Gerard Baker is U.S. Editor and Assistant Editor of The Times of London. While back in Britain recently, he happened upon a BBC interview with Oscar-winning actress Helen Mirren. The interviewer asked her about the difficulty of playing a character as "unsympathetic" as the Queen. To her credit, Mirren rejected the premise.

Baker was struck by this precisely because it was merely about an actress, not Iraq or politics, and he proceeded to unload on the Beeb most marvelously (emphasis added):

It betrayed an absolutely rock-solid assumption that the Queen is fundamentally unsympathetic, and that anyone who might still harbour some respect for the monarch – or indeed for that matter, the military or the Church, or the countryside or the joint stock company or any of the great English bequests to the world – must be some reactionary old buffer out in the sticks who has not had the benefit of the London media's cultural enlightenment.

More than that, the question – all fawning and fraternal and friendly – contained within it an assumption that, of course, every thoughtful person shares the same view.

You really do have to leave the country to appreciate fully how pernicious the BBC's grasp of the nation's cultural and political soul has become. The groupthink and assumptions implicit in almost everything broadcast by BBC News … lie like a suffocating blanket over the national consciousness.

This is the mindset that sees the effortless superiority, at every turn, of benign collectivism over selfish individualism, exploited worker over unscrupulous capitalist, enlightened European over brutish American, thoughtful atheist over dumb believer, persecuted Arab over callous Israeli; and that believes the West is the perpetrator of just about every ill that has ever befallen the world – from colonialism to global warming.

I'm often told, when I take on like this, that I'm ignoring the quality of BBC output. But I spent almost a decade in the employ of the BBC and I can say, without demeaning my gifted colleagues at The Times, that it has probably one of the highest concentrations of talent of any institution in the world. But that, of course, is the problem. It perpetuates its power by attracting and retaining an educated elite that is distinguished by its unstinting devotion to collectivist values. I've no doubt it does what it does very well. It is what it does I object to.

Bravo. In today's world of cable and satellite channels, lots of Americans who consider themselves educated and sophisticated speak of BBC News in glowing terms — admiring the Beeb even more than NPR or MacNeil-Lehrer. It's a sentiment not confined to those who are philosophically aligned with the collectivists at the Beeb, and it's something I don't understand. The Beeb reports on its own postmodernist alternate universe that bears little resemblance to the reality in which I reside. Their purpose is evil and the result is pernicious. Why should I admire them for doing it well?

Posted in Uncategorized | Tagged: , , , , | Leave a Comment »

Decline of hip-hop?

Posted by Richard on March 2, 2007

As regular readers know, I’m not religious. But this is the kind of story that makes even me whisper, "Please, God, let it be true":

Maybe it was the umpteenth coke-dealing anthem or soft-porn music video. Perhaps it was the preening antics that some call reminiscent of Stepin Fetchit.

The turning point is hard to pinpoint. But after 30 years of growing popularity, rap music is now struggling with an alarming sales decline and growing criticism from within about the culture’s negative effect on society.

Rap insider Chuck Creekmur, who runs the leading Web site, says he got a message from a friend recently "asking me to hook her up with some Red Hot Chili Peppers because she said she’s through with rap. A lot of people are sick of rap … the negativity is just over the top now."

The rapper Nas, considered one of the greats, challenged the condition of the art form when he titled his latest album "Hip-Hop is Dead." It’s at least ailing, according to recent statistics: Though music sales are down overall, rap sales slid a whopping 21 percent from 2005 to 2006, and for the first time in 12 years no rap album was among the top 10 sellers of the year. A recent study by the Black Youth Project showed a majority of youth think rap has too many violent images. In a poll of black Americans by The Associated Press and AOL-Black Voices last year, 50 percent of respondents said hip-hop was a negative force in American society.

Read the whole thing — it’s an interesting and multifaceted story.

For me, it’s not just the misogyny, glorification of violence, thuggishness, and nihilism that turn me off to hip-hop. Over the last 35 or 40 years, I’ve liked plenty of music that had a message I fundamentally disagreed with. But I’ve liked the music. Heck, there are rock and roll songs that I really like even though I have no idea what they’re about. They just sound nice.

I heard someone on the radio once discussing music, and he said music consisted of three elements: melody (which comes from the head), harmony (which comes from the heart), and rhythm (which comes from the groin).

I don’t know if that’s true or not, but if it is, it explains my dislike of hip-hop. Hip-hop discards the first two elements completely and presents only a vile message packaged in rhythm alone. To me, that’s not just anti-intellectual, but anti-human. It’s the glorification and celebration of the animalistic.

Melody matters a lot to me. Melody is what makes music music. The absence of melody — the rejection of melody — turns me off. Heck, it annoys me. Hell, it angers me. If you call yourself a "musician," but you can’t — or won’t — write a melody, I hope you, your do-rag, and your hate-filled doggerel go back to working at the Grease Monkey where you belong.

And did I mention that I have no use for "singers" who can merely chant?

Posted in Uncategorized | Tagged: , , | 9 Comments »