Rightwing Film Geek


Two “All-American” college students were victims of racial profiling in Ohio — it’s just unfortunate that their names were Fritz, Luigi and Akira Osama and Ali.

Nor is this all. Also the US president uses the term “Islamic fascists.” The German-American Bund Council on American-Islamic Relations is on the case, as cited in the Al-Reuters report:

We believe this is an ill-advised term and we believe that it is counter-productive to associate Islam or Muslims with fascism … We ought to take advantage of these incidents to make sure that we do not start a religious war against Islam and Muslims.

CAIR, carefully noting that there are only “alleged” terror plots, takes the role of leadership in this time of national and world crisis to warn against the great evil of our day — ethnic stereotyping:

“The American Muslim community supports efforts to ensure the safety and security of the traveling public,” said CAIR Executive Director Nihad Awad. “We once again urge law enforcement authorities and elected officials to caution against stereotyping entire religious or ethnic groups based on the alleged actions of individuals.”

British Muslim leaders also warn against the imminent pogrom:

We need to find out what was the connection between 7/7 and subsequent attacks. It is imperative to find that link to stop continuing Islamophobic attacks
(As Allahpundit asked: “Isn’t it more imperative to ‘find’ that link to stop terrorist attacks?”)

And the worst is yet to come as Abdurahman Jafar, vice-chairman of British Muslim Council’s legal affairs committee, warns.

Whether the result is successful or not does not matter. Muslims will be stigmatised and kids will come back from school with more vitriol thrown at them
(wondering … does vitriol produce this effect?)

Mr. Jafar puts the matter most eloquently. It. Does. Not. Matter. … what links to “alleged” terror may be among British Muslims. What. Does. Matter. … is that Muslims not be stigmatized. The London Times names the 19 latest victims of racial profiling:

Umir Hussain, Muhammed Usman Saddique, Waheed Zaman, Assan Abdullah Khan, Waseem Kayani, Waheed Arafat Khan, Cossor Ali, Tayib Rauf, Ibrahim Savant, Osman Adam Khatib, Shamin Mohammed Uddin, Amin Asmin Tariq, Shazad Khuram Ali, Tanvir Hussain, Umar Islam (born Brian Young), Assad Sarwar, Abdullah Ali, Abdul Muneem Patel, Nabeel Hussain

What … no Mary Margaret O’Malley, no Luigi Benvenuti, no Bobby Jack “Tater” Hatfield, no Sven Olsson, no Jacob Feldman, no Shamika Robinson, no Kumiko Yamamoto, no Lee Chin, no Rudolf Guttmacher, no Leszek Kowalski, no Juan Gomez Castro, no Rajiv Singh? wtf is going on here? This is prima facie racial profiling on a grand scale. And not smart, since it only pisses off Muslims who SO want to be America’s friends.

Anything else happen in the news today?

August 10, 2006 Posted by | Uncategorized | , , , | Leave a comment

The P.R. lie

David Mamet, one of my favorite writer-directors, had a column in the Chicago Tribune where he bluntly states some ugly truths about the Middle East, including the irrationality of the focus on Mel Gibson, ugly though what he said was.

Many Jews are upset with Mel Gibson because they believe in something called “the public relations war.”

But Mamet says there is no such thing, because Israel and the Arabs pursue self-evidently morally different causes (“Israel wants peace, the Arabs want Israel gone”) without it making a dent on “world public opinion.” So, he concludes, we are dealing with an irrational animus toward Israel fostering such chimeric notions as “cycle of violence” and “disparity of force.”¹

He also says that attempts to “address root causes” are inherently anti-Semitic when dealing with what is simply an irrational hatred (and anyone who maintains that the Arabs are not irrational anti-Semitic haters, marinated to the bone, is deluded).

That the Western press consistently characterizes the Israeli actions as immoral is anti-Semitism. … The Jews are not the victims of bad PR. They are the victims of anti-Semitism. Europe has always been devoted to the destruction of the Jews. At times it is acute; it is always chronic. …
To ask “must there not be a cause for this anti-Semitism?” is an outrage, similar to asking the rape victim “how short a skirt were you wearing?” The question cannot be posited without, at least, the implication of the victim “having, somehow, at least in part, ‘brought it on yourself’.”

The column piqued my interest in what is easily the most significant gap in my “Mamet-seen” list — the film of HOMICIDE, where Jewish identity is obviously more central than in any of Mamet’s other work. In fact, I’m tempted to say, HOMICIDE is the only film where it’s a centrally and explicitly textual matter — certainly I don’t recall it anywhere else and I’m enough of a Mamet fanboy to have liked the films of OLEANNA and AMERICAN BUFFALO.
¹ Hezbollah and other Islamists know what they are doing in playing The Victim Card to Western media. The contemporary West has so thoroughly turned away from the (distorted, BTW) notion that “might makes right” that we’ve de facto embraced the ludicrous proposition that therefore “might makes wrong” or “weakness makes right” (the “oppressed” are somehow more authentic and honest, doncha know). So Israel must be being a bully because it has overwhelming military superiority.

August 10, 2006 Posted by | anti-Semitism, David Mamet, Middle East | , , | Leave a comment


cartoons.jpgReaction shots from the Palestinian dear-hearts, taking time out from their marches and their studies. But don’t look for that kind of stuff in the MSM — it might “inflame” people. Not these people, you understand — the Western media and peace activists can aid their feasting on images like these all day — no problemo.

Of course, since the world media has to keep Israel’s “atrocities” front and center, they resort to recycling images, every time claiming them the result of the latest Israeli bombing (read the captions). Not to speak of manufacturing atrocities where none happened, staging photo-ops, or running misleading images or information — all curiously making the Jews (“that’s J-E-W-S“) look in a worse light. This is not a new practice and the result of past Arab treatment of photographers who snap embarrassing pictures.

August 10, 2006 Posted by | Uncategorized | , , , , | Leave a comment

Japan, be a state

Speaking of the delegitimization of force (in the name of passive-aggressive guiltmongering, the “force” of our time) China and South Korea are protesting visits to a shrine to Japan’s war dead by its prime minister and likely-designate. If I were Japanese, I’d give them the raspberry. This is no more that Bush (or Clinton) visiting Arlington National Cemetery. And this is not made different by matters of the justice of WW2 per se … love of country may be carried to excess, but hatred/shame/guilt of country leaves you with no country worth loving at all.

What the Chinese and Koreans want is for Japan to cultivate its national self-image and attitude toward history, in as “hatriotic” a fashion as possible, thank you very much. That’s unnatural — and not coincidentally, it also happens to be the narrative that China and Korea propagate for the purpose of their national “muthoi.” In other words, it’s imperialism by other means, remolding Japanese into thinking like good Chinese or Koreans.

My favorite quote in the Reuters story is from a Chinese Foreign Ministry spokesman. Keep in mind this is a regime that still considers Mao Tse-tung its founder, so see if you can avoid detecting the whiffs of the Little Red Book, both in rhetorical style and concepts:

Dealing with the history problem based on a correct view of history will be to the benefit of both the Japanese and Chinese peoples.

August 10, 2006 Posted by | Uncategorized | , , , , | Leave a comment

The end of sports programming

I thought rock bottom on sports-programming had been reached a few months ago when I saw, when looking at one of the TVs at a sports bar, a football video game contest/tournament being shown as programming on ESPN (making a spectacle of a simulacrum — Baudrillard, where are you).

But my colleague Tim Lemke topped that with a Sign of the Apocalypse on Wednesday’s front page. Madden 07 has become a sports event in its own right. Complete with … get this … a pay-per-view special. $19.95 to watch basically an infomercial on how to play a video game? Yes. I am not making this up.

Tim once came over to my apartment to watch pay-per-view, but of a legitimate athletic contest — the John Ruiz-Roy Jones Jr. fight, if memory serves. I’d be the first to admit that video games left me behind (or maybe I just left them behind) in the late-80s — Galaga, Ms. Pac-Man. But I always thought the point of athletics as a spectacle, as a spectator activity, was to be wowed. To see people do stuff that popped your eyes out, that you couldn’t do, that involved an element of physicality.

But in the era of reality TV, that believes in the name of pig-headed egalitarianism that *anyone* can be a star/athlete — apparently not. Now, more and more of the programming on sports channels (the proliferation of them also undoubtedly accounts for some of this — they need to fill the hours somehow) is taken up by what can at best be called leisure activities. There always had been the fishing and hunting shows that were staples of Saturday mornings on the UHF channels, of course.

But in recent years, and in bigger venues, this has expanded to include card games, spelling bees, Scrabble/crossword and similar intellectual pursuits. So, everyone can be an athlete. Now the ultimate (as far as I can think of) — a computer representation of the game that can be seen at other times on the same channel, as itself.

August 10, 2006 Posted by | Uncategorized | , , | Leave a comment

Ingmar Bergman criticizes

Girish Shambu¹ posts a very funny excerpt from John Simon’s “Ingmar Bergman Directs” of Simon and Bergman kvetching over some of the great directors of the late-60s and early-70s. I remember reading it years ago and cheering that Bergman (whom I love) so loathed Jean-Luc Godard (whom I loathe) and had no use for Pier Paolo Pasolini (whom I generally don’t *get*). It was a nice bit of critical bookkeeping and synchronicity, although somewhat sullied by Bergman’s elsewhere-stated dislike for Alfred Hitchcock.

update: Actually Bergman’s opinion of Hitchcock wasn’t nearly as negative as my memory had it being. Here is the exchange:

Simon: How about Hitchcock? Is her someone you learned from?
Bergman: Yes, of course.
S: Technically, I suppose. But isn’t there a great intellectual emptiness in his work?
B: Completely, but I think he’s a very good technician. And he has something in Psycho, he had some moments. Psycho is one of his most interesting pictures because he had to make the picture very fast, with very primitive means. He had little money, and the picture tells very much about him. Not very good things. He is completely infantile, and I would like to know more — no, I don’t want to know — about his behavior with, or rather against, women. But the picture is very interesting. I learned a lot from all those Americans who knew their profession.
S: I find it’s a terrible notion in modern film criticism that these people were artists, when they were really technicians. We must distinguish between an artist and a technician.
B: Yes, that’s important.
S: Modern film criticism tends not to distinguish. People like Raoul Walsh or Howard Hawks don’t know what art is. They merely have marvelous techniques, some of them.
B: They have told their stories and they have made their films in a good, effective way. That is a duty: effectiveness in telling a story.
S: Yes, that’s a very good minimum, but it’s only a minimum.
B: But it’s difficult.

Bergman, in other words, admired Hitchcock and the Hollywood studio film-makers more than Simon did, because they had a skill he admired — telling a story well, efficiently and effectively. And while Bergman’s narratives were rarely difficult or incomprehensible, nobody would call him a yarn-spinner. Now this exchange with Hitchcock from the book “Schickel on Film” makes a lot more sense than it ever did:

[S]omething like original sin was in [Hitchcock’s] view always operating in the world, and his films universally reflected that fact, though I’m not sure he ever acknowledged this, to me, self-evident fact. One day, over lunch, he said he had read somewhere that Ingmar Bergman had expressed admiration for his work, and it puzzled him. He could not see anything they held in common. “Well,” I ventured, “you are both post-Christian artists.” He looked at me quite blankly and quickly returned the conversation to its original track, which was, as I recall, some true crimes he had been studying.²

Still, though the subtextual similarities with Hitchcock are clear, the commenters at Girish’s site are correct that one simply wouldn’t expect Bergman to care for Godard. Their sensibilities are just too different. It’s not that Godard’s films are “emotional” and Bergman’s “intellectual” — no film is more nakedly-emotional than CRIES AND WHISPERS. But that Bergman treats everything, including the emotions, seriously, and he expects the same from his viewers and in his own viewing. Godard’s game-playing, self-referentiality and wild tone shifts would almost certainly drive Bergman (as it does me) up the wall.

To highlight an article noted in Girish’s comment fields, Bergman also stays up-to-date with film-makers, is just as prickly as ever (Orson Welles is a total bore who fills his films with worthless performances), and apparently is a Stephen Soderbergh groupie (though I’ll bet that’s just Scandinavian stick-togetherness). But he still hates Godard … ♥♥♥
¹ I’ve met Girish at Toronto in the past, via J. Robert IIRC, and know enough to know his tastes are a bit different from mine … at least within that tiny slice of the universe called art-house snobs, to which we both belong.
² I absolutely think Schickel was on the money with this comparison. Their styles and genres obviously have nothing in common, but Hitchcock and Bergman were clearly both Christians who had enormous difficulty being believers.

August 10, 2006 Posted by | Uncategorized | , , | Leave a comment

Top 100 Catholic Movies (sic)

A couple of years ago, the National Catholic Register (that’s the good NCR) asked readers to nominate (and later vote on) “films that best celebrate Catholic life … movies with specific Catholic references, not simply with Catholic themes.” The results of the more than 1,000 votes are here. I wasn’t impressed. Like all popular polls, this is basically a list of “Catholic” movies people remember having seen recently (or in some cases treasure from their youth).

But, as much as I like it (as I said at the time), I don’t believe there is any way that THE PASSION OF THE CHRIST (#1) is that much a better film than THE PASSION OF JOAN OF ARC (#48). Or even better at all. But that I can chalk up to taste — and Dreyer is an acquired one — and to the obscurity and difficulty that an 80-year-old silent film poses for most. And since Gibson did in fact make a great film, I can’t call honoring PASSION OF THE CHRIST unworthy. But what either film has to do with “Catholic life” (particularly as distinguished from “Catholic themes”) is unclear at best.

There are also a lot of downright bad films on the list, starting all the way up at #2 — though I can chalk that particular one up to taste also (or more precisely, my distaste for easy uplift). But the #11(!!!!) showing for the 2004 THERESE is just a crime — the worst example of both presentism and judging a work of art by its surface content. There is no way, no how that the 2004 THERESE belongs on any list of honor or high regard. Particularly so much higher than the French THERESE from 1986 — Alain Cavalier’s film is down at #79. That is merely a reflection of how many have seen the film, and how recently. If this gets repeated in 2025, the 2004 THERESE will be forgotten.

August 10, 2006 Posted by | Uncategorized | , | Leave a comment