Yesterday while traveling, I was subjected (eh!) to my husband’s watching movies on his tablet next to me.  Because the first flight was the bumpiest thing I’ve ever been on and I couldn’t read or write, I ended up watching a lot.  And I realized how pervasive the “messages” in entertainment are.

The first movie he watched was Black Panther and very weird the serious problems I had with it are none of the ones the left would think I would have with it.

Advanced civilization in Africa which keeps itself secret?  Sure.  Why not.  It’s science fiction (or at least comic book science.)  I sniffed (momentarily) at the goddess Matt thing because it ties in with the old seventies canard that Egyptians were black.  Not only is it obvious from their writing that Egyptians were mildly racist towards Nubians, but holly hell, we do have DNA analysis and it turns out they were way paler than we thought.  But I only sniffed A LITTLE because, well, “civilization starting by Egypt which was started by Atlantis” is a trope in the field.

The things that got me pissed off?  The villain’s background.  Yeah, sure, the US military makes people crazy.  The villain’s complaints about how black people are oppressed and colonized etc, which are dropped and believed by the other characters as a matter of fact.  Yes, the history of black people is appalling (and a lot of it inflicted by other black people, particularly in Africa where the results of the Zulu conquest left so many bones that some became hills.) However, if you wand to choose a place to be black in, choose the US.

Also for the people who threw themselves over the side of slave ships because it was better to die than to live in subjection.  Oh, f*ck that.  Is this the sh*t they’re teaching black kids in the US?  I’m sure people threw themselves over the side of slave ships in terror, and I’m neither going to defend slavery (DUH.  Libertarian, remember?) nor the slave ships, about which I read when I was ten or so, and which dwarf any horror movie for sheer death toll and awfulness.

However, that bullshit about throwing themselves because it was better than to live in subjection?  THAT is bullshit.  Slavery was common in Africa back then, when you lost a tribal war, or your relatives got into debt (much like Rome, guys.  We’re all descended from slavers and slaves and not very far off either) and killing yourself to escape it was not common.  This ties in to the lies told young black people in the US that white people invented slavery to enslave the black race, when in fact slavery is an ancient ill of humanity and the only thing different about the US is that we voluntarily freed our slaves, and made laws outlawing slavery.  This nonsense myth making, casually dropped in entertainment is what divides us.

BTW they might have thrown themselves overboard in terror because they knew nothing about the US and therefore assumed the stranger would be worse than the familiar.  And the familiar included the Dahomey who killed their slaves to coat the tombs of their kings in blood when the mood struck them.

Other casual bullshit that had me foaming at the mouth: all the fighters are women.

Seriously?  The aforementioned Dahomey had a regiment of female bodyguards who guarded their king.  This is probably what this nonsense is based on.  But actually that was largely a ceremonial/ritual regiment, in that they were all female, all beautiful and all virgins.

Doesn’t make any sense even in a high tech society for a fighting force to be ALL women.  Have women, sure, because augmented strength.  Be all women?  Oh, hell no.

Also the casually dropped mentions about how this guy was trained to destabilize/bring down regimes.  Seriously? He was? By whom?

Guys, since at least the seventies, and I suppose before, we’ve been thoroughly ineffective at any regime change. We could have spared some wars had we been better.  And spared the world a great deal of trouble.

In face, unless I’m wrong, the US (sole among nations) has rules against killing foreign leaders that are in our way.  And rules against interefering in other countries politics which get ignored (mostly by democrat presidents.)  So, oh, please and also pfui.

You mean the CIA which most of us knew was swallowing whole the lies about the soviet union’s population and strength is this super effective organization?  Sure.  Pull the other one, it plays jingle bells.

Oh, yeah, and Wakanda is going to work through the UN.  Holy sh*t.  They might be an advanced civilization, but how naive are they actually?

So those were my issues with Black Panther.  On the “black thing”?  Meh.  Yeah, the movie is racialist (which is different from racist, being pride of race more than discrimination against other races.)  That’s fine.  Having pride in race is not a problem, unless it slips into racism.

Take me, I’m a mutt.  I’m immensely proud of all humans throughout history.  But seriously, being proud of your ancestors, real or imaginary, has worked throughout history to put a floor under bad behavior.

“Do you want your great ancestors to be ashamed of you?” works, which is why ancestor worship is pervasive throughout history.

Oh, one other minor nit.  Having already met a T’challa (cute little thing), I want to say “Hollywood, black people in America did NOT need your encouraged to give their kids strange hyphenated names.  But whatevs. White people in America now do too, and in fact the minority of us who give our kids normally spelled names are feeling mighty unique these days.

Good movie.  I just don’t like the stupid lies we accept as throw away lines in this kind of thing, because they sink into the subconscious and become “everybody knows.” Watch for movies to casually refer to the Russians rigging 2016 for Trump, until everybody just accepts it, even though it’s obviously false.

The second movie Dan watched, which I THINK was Justice League 1 (I’m not sure, because I didn’t see it start.  Whichever the one had Batman and Wonder Woman) was obviously markedly inferior both in production and plot and all that, but …

Casually dropped in, Batman rants about humanity melting the poles. Completely unproven. In fact chances are any melting has nothing to do with humanity, since there was no ice on the poles long before we emerged, and hell, far less than lethal. There was no ice on the poles and life flourished.

But yeah, it’s delivered like “everybody knows” and like it’s going to kill us all.  Pfui.

That’s how they do it.  That’s how it works. That’s how so many lies have become “what everybody knows.”

We should ALL be very grateful, now and forever that the crazies in science fiction have reached the point they just unabashedly preach with no shame and absolutely 0 entertainment value.  (If you were a decent writer, my loves, you’d be far more entertaining and your poison far more effective.  Thank heavens, though, you’re just blinkered partisans and political dinosaurs.)

It’s far less effective than when they make good entertainment with poison pill lies dropped in like “everybody knows this” so that people assume it’s been proven and the mushy middle moves steadily left.

Heck, maybe Hollywood has just reached that point too, judging by Star Wars.  And this is very good.  Because what is in the open can’t sink to the subconscious.

Do write “Woke” movies and books, dear left.  We like it so much when they tank, their poison undelivered.



274 thoughts on “Pervasive

  1. 1) DC can’t make decent movies to save their collectivist lives.
    2) Kreaty’ve spelling of names is absolutely ridiculous, but at least my daughter has never met another “Bonnie” under the age of 50.
    3) I can suspend a lot of belief when watching comic book movies (how in the Most Holy Name of Bhob does Hulk avoid losing his pants?), but the message in Black Panther was so flipping heavy-handed that it kept kicking me out of the story, and that made me notice all the other crap in it.
    4) I need more coffee.

  2. A while back, my youngest sister “proved” to me that later comedy movies were funny. We watched a Will Farrel movie and I must say, no, it weren’t funny.(He and a step brother?)
    It was effing stupid. Stupid is not comedy. (plot was as stupid as the jokes) While there is stupid comedy (Hee Haw, Animal House), everything I see lately, and more and more it is in situations like that where I am visiting somewhere and to visit I must sit through something, has lost the comedy and is just a seeming stream of stupidity presented as something funny.
    All the other stuff, and really I ain’t seen more than a scene or two, because I just tune out or go visit someone not watching brain-dead movies, seems to be designed to insult my intelligence.
    Insty just had someone saying that, today, there are 3 kinds of movies: Comic Book Hero Movies, Remakes of old movies, and Remakes of Comic Book Hero movies. And they can’t get any of them right, and wonder why they bomb.

    1. Comedies are hard to do well, and when they don’t do well, they crash and burn much more completely than dramas. A bad drama can be an unintentional comedy. A bad comedy is just painful.

      1. This concerns me, as good comedy should not be difficult at all. Truly.

        All it takes is a keen observation of human behavior. There are as many kinds of humor as there are kinds of human beings, and whethere you answer that “one” or “uncountably many,” I believe it is true. Gentle humor is what pokes you when a little tyke giggles at the world itself, or a wagging puppy’s tail, or the like. Great big grown up guffaws are bombastic, and while they might be a little caustic, they’re delivered with a keen appreciation of the audience’s resilience and mental toughness. Dry, raspy wit is the sly butler commenting archly on milady’s choice of dinner companion, but with reserve.

        Humor is often a misdirection with a surprise at the end, something often true but unexpected. Merely watching people being people will allow a person to see how it is done in most cases (people watching is a guilty pleasure).

        If the comedy is bombing hard, some fundamental assumptions about human behavior are probably flawed. Either that, or folks just can’t make (or take) a joke anymore, and if that’s the case, we’re probably doomed as a species. I mean come on- we may be guts deep in alligators, but if we can’t laugh about it every now and then we’re *really* screwed! *grin*

        1. All it takes is a keen observation of human behavior.

          Which means you have to have an accurate grasp of some aspect of human nature.

          And it takes some love, too, or a significant chunk are going to recognize the predator behavior.

          For a very long time, I’ve noticed that pretty much all the movies that get me to laugh are movies doing something else. Marvel movies are good for this, the Princess Bride– it’s like romance, for that matter, or “drama.” It tends to flop by itself, but when it’s woven into a part of other stuff it’s great.

          1. Well, that and humor is generally somewhat ‘politicallly incorrect’ as it frequently pokes fun at something. Sometimes gently, sometimes not so much. Which is why the insistence on political correctness in humor invariably kills it, as it insists that only ‘certain approved things’ can be made fun of.

            And you can’t ‘make fun’ of tragedy, even if that’s one of the most common coping mechanisms humanity has. I’ve seen it being rather prevalent in Filipino and Jewish attitudes; maybe because it’s human to realize that if you can still laugh about something, no matter how horrible things are around you, you don’t give up hope. This does not in any way diminish the horrors, but is more a psychological ‘path out of the darkness.’

            Aff noted that it’s usually the folks who refuse to let themselves be boxed into the minority games that belt out the most politically incorrect but funniest jokes – and usually aimed at their own group, sometimes derisively, sometimes taking advantage of the fact that ‘they can get away with it.’

            Like the time when they were in high school, and the teacher passed out candy bars that they could eat during an exam, calling it concentration food. The Jewish kid in the class goes “Concentration food? Yay! I haven’t had that since camp!” Apparently the teacher turned pale, then regained color as the kid happily opened up the candy and ate it and started on his test.

            Or a recent one I was told, where a local imam came through the door of a business (a small restaurant/cafe Aff was buying food from for lunch) declaring “I’m invading!” then he pulls out a stack of mail from his pocket and adds, grinning “because they delivered your mail to my place again. And the guy next door’s mail.” (Apparently, such ‘invasions’ were an almost monthly occurrence and was that particular imam’s self-depreciating tongue in cheek joke.) As he left he waved hi to the two cops eating in the cafe, who clearly knew him.

            And there’s always the various Terrorist stories (that was the nickname when he was Muslim and would drop deadpan jokes about crashing planes, which is why he shouldn’t be driving, and he’s since converted to Roman Catholicism, and is apparently running on the joke now that he should’ve converted earlier because BACON IS DELICIOUS HOW DID I LIVE WITHOUT IT BEFORE.)

            1. “Aff noted that it’s usually the folks who refuse to let themselves be boxed into the minority games that belt out the most politically incorrect but funniest jokes – and usually aimed at their own group, sometimes derisively, sometimes taking advantage of the fact that ‘they can get away with it.’ ”

              The other part of this is, regardless of what group the joke teller is a member of, the audience, anyone, also has to understand what they are saying, what the spin is. AGT on Tuesday had an Older retired gentleman who did comedy, funny, but at least one joke went by me, a lot went by one of the judges; I could see why, but if the jokes in question had to be explained, they weren’t funny. One of them was “being older has some benefits like when people offer you a seat on the bus, kind of cool, right? Kind of creepy when they offer your their seat in the men’s room.”

            2. One of the funniest recent movies I’ve seen is “The Death of Stalin”, which is a comedy. And yes, they go there. Jokes about the NKVD rounding up suspects at midnight. Jokes about torture at NKVD HQ.

        2. I’ve heard/read that comedy and horror both work by the subversion of the expected. How you subvert things determines whether you end up with horror or comedy. (Or “Cabin in the Woods”)

            1. Pattern recognition is a pretty basic human skill– and a wide variety of predators operate in part by attempting to destroy that ability.

              I was thinking Draven was slightly over-reacting, but your reactions and subsequent behavior supports his “trolling” identification.

    2. “Here, watch these people be painfully stupid and/or gross!”

      Uh, no thanks.

      Apparently Deadpool managed a lot of guy humor that was actually funny. Not my thing, but hey!

      1. I watched Deadpool with C a week or so back, in preparation for possibly seeing the sequel. She had seen it before and thought it was quite funny. I got through the entire thing without ever even smiling, let alone laughing. I did kind of like Negasonic Teenage Warhead, but there wasn’t much to her.

          1. I don’t think that’s it. But my sense of humor is quite nonstandard and a large part of what other people consider “comedy” leaves me utterly flat. I found “A Funny Thing Happened on the Way to the Forum” unspeakably tedious, I walked out of “The Gods Must Be Crazy,” and “Young Frankenstein” was agonizing for me.

              1. Well, scanning my DVD shelves, Bend It like Beckham, the lighter episodes of Buffy and Firefly, Fargo, Jeeves and Wooster, classic Warner Brothers, and Working Girls (the one set in a high-end New York bordello) have all made me laugh. I don’t think I can analyze why those worked for me and the others didn’t.

            1. I liked Deadpool just fine, but I recognize it was flawed, like any movie is. I saw this send-up of a lot of the flaws and plot holes last night and found it to be quite amusing.

              1. “flaws and plot holes” in Deadpool?

                Why bother? Deadpool isn’t to be taken seriously as a character, as a comic or as a movie. 😉

                Seriously, I don’t like the Deadpool character but have nothing against the people who like the character. 😀

              2. I saw the original _Deadpool_ movie years ago, and didn’t like it much or see much humor in the movie that I liked. I admit that I liked the bodies-viewed-from-the-top-of-the-showdown-building round of one of the running grim jokes. The main thing I remember finding funny, though, was not in the movie, but framing the movie: the credit writers getting the bit in their teeth and letting you know how they feel about everyone else.

                (And years ago I argued in the comments here against the Man from Mars’ claim that suffering and cruelty is central to humor, and those two gags exemplify two of the claims ISTR making then. The gag in the credits is not cruel, just absurd, so I claim it supports my claim that the real key to humor is not cruelty or suffering but is more like absurdity and incongruiity (and related stuff like the elaborate confusion in comedies of manners). The gag before the final showdown is absurdity spiced with cruelty, and seems to support my claim that the association of cruelty with humor is like the association of cruelty with traditional fairy tales: cruelty is not fundamental to humor or to fairy tales, but it’s a common tactic for authors spicing up humor or spicing up fairy tales.)

      2. I found the first Deadpool (somewhat) funny, but I haven’t gotten around to seeing the second one. But then, I imagine that in the same situation, I would act in a similar manner to Deadpool. Perhaps not as vulgar because vulgarity isn’t my thing. More the stupid jokes (like over-acting death scenes, when everyone around me KNOWS I can’t die… stuff like that)

          1. Shouldn’t that be fourth wall? When a character in a show or movie talks to the audience that’s called breaking the fourth wall.
            I haven’t seen Deadpool because I’m upset with his poor performance in Green Lantern and because it looked unfunny.

            1. Green Lantern looked bad enough that I didn’t even watch it, but a lot of that seemed to be whoever writing it not having a clue what to do with the character.

              They SERIOUSLY need to try launching the Marine, for heaven’s sake.

    3. Jerry Lewis movies, especially later ones.

      Note the contemporaneous puzzled observations that the French loved that style, while a lot of ‘murcans were “Meh”.

      For that matter, the Pink Panther movies’ bumbling inspector Clouseau.

      It’s not a new form of comedy, but it’s been a niche before now.

      1. yeah, but they now think anything stupid is funny, instead of having someone acting stupid do something funny. The Jerry Lewis stuff was not really to my taste, but I can see the humor in them. I saw almost zero humor in that Farrell movie. What was there was so slight that it can’t even rouse a smile. We ain’t getting Blazing Saddles, or even Benny Hill. And they keep telling us their output is of Dennis Miller or Tom Leher intelligence levels and quality.

        1. But the Benny Hill & Blazing Saddle comedy wasn’t “stupid”, it was presented as absurd, in punch line delivery.

          One newer comedy, & I don’t normally care for his stuff, was the Rocketman. Crude, rude, & clueless, joke setup had audience chuckling well before the action triggered out loud laughter, along with a few groans. Sequence was chuckle, groan, laugh, which then went on & on.

          1. Actually a good way of putting it. I’ll be stealing that. Never had a good reason that i saw airplane as different than sandler or recent carrey

    4. I think that a lot of comedy depends on people doing stupid things – but that modern “comedy” is too dependent on people doing gratuitously stupid things.

      Or maybe I’m just getting old and realizing just how much a movie or a book takes out of my remaining time on this Earth. I don’t want to waste it on gratuitous anything – gratuitous stupidity, gratuitous violence, gratuitous sex…

    5. A lot of really dreadful comedies were made during Hollywood’s ‘Golden Age’ , we’ve just mercifully forgotten most of them. We remember gems like BRINGING UP BABY or MY MAN GODFREY. For all they got good mention in MY FAVORITE YEAR, everything I’ve seen by The Ritz Brothers explains completely why they’ve largely disappeared down the memory hole.

      My own problem is that I have a hard time with humiliation comedy. If I’m supposed to identify with the poor shmoo who’s getting it in the shorts, I don’t find it funny.


      Haven’t seen too many recent comedies, though. I lack the time and energy.

      1. My own problem is that I have a hard time with humiliation comedy. If I’m supposed to identify with the poor shmoo who’s getting it in the shorts, I don’t find it funny.

        I find humiliation comedy embarrassing and painful to watch, so I don’t.

        While we are talking old gems I would like to add a nod to Howard Hawk’s delightful His Girl Friday and <Twentieth Century.  Then there is the like of Ninotchka and The Thin Man.   And none of this touches upon The Marx Brothers, Preston Sturges or Frank Capra’s work.

        1. Twentieth Century?? Did somebody mention Twentieth Century?


    6. Here’s the thing: somebody noticed that a lot of comedies were about people doing stupid things (Jerry Lewis, Laurel and Hardy, Abbot and Costello), so they decided to make movies about people doing stupid things and call it comedy without actually trying to be funny.
      I often wondered about young people using Marijuana in college when, if it had the proper effect, they just acted really stupid and laughed at themselves and each other a lot while I looked at them askance. I concluded that these people had observed that mentally retarded people were frequently happy all the time, and decided that stupidity was the path to happiness.

      1. I vague recollection from the National Lampoon album (circa 1976 or so),

        “If dope doesn’t rot your brain, how come so many stoners think Cheech and Chong are funny?”

        1. $SPOUSE doesn’t care for Mel Brooks, which got emphasized when we saw a local production of The Producers. I avoid singing “Springtime for Hitler” in her presence.

          Memo to self: see if I can find a DVD of To Be or Not To Be.

          Saw Spaceballs when it first came out, and was laughing at the star destroyer coming, and coming, and coming long before the bumper sticker. OTOH, I have friends who didn’t understand why I liked Monty Python and the Holy Grail. Their loss. 🙂

          Haven’t seen a movie at the theater since 2003, but from what little we’ve seen on TV, either it’s stupid or nasty.

          1. Bingo! TV rots ya brain… stopped watching either around ’95ish ’93? Gee, BRAIN must be gone…. I cannot remember the last time I ACTUALLY watched tv….

      1. The Lumiere brother’s first film was publicly screened on the December 28, 1895, nearly 123 years ago.  This is often viewed as the beginning of the industry.  Spaceballs was released in 1987, 31 years ago.  That is a quarter of the history of commercial film ago.    

        It is the kind of thing that can contribute to one feeling old if you let it. 

  3. I’ve been fuming at the same types of comments and assumptions in books for years, and have been brushed off by a lot of people who just couldn’t see the danger (I VERY seldom watch movies, but I know that the same things are in them). Of course, I think more people see the movies than read the books, but it’s still another pervasive little bit of socialist creep into our culture every time someone writes those things.

    1. Cue the MCU Peter Parker comment –

      “You remember that old movie…”

      (Peter proceeds to describe a well-known movie from the ’70s or ’80s)

  4. In related news, Peter Fonda’s new movie grossed a whopping $30k on opening WEEKEND. Hard luck for Christopher Plummer, who came out of retirement to make it, but you’d think Petey might have thought of that before flooding Twitter with his pedophilic, misogynistic S&M political fantasies.

      1. Apparently only on 5 screens, so it wouldn’t wouldn’t have made a huge amount. About $6000 per screen for the weekend. In comparison, Little Pink House made $7500 per screen and was called a success.

    1. Just wait, it won’t be long before someone out there will put forth the argument that the real reason the film tanked is the misogynist public’s rejection of a film because it was written and directed by a woman and not Peter Fonda’s bad judgement in tweeted messages.

        1. Lady Ghostbusters should have caused deep reflection in the boardroom at the House of the Mouse, but it did not, and now it looks like Disney has managed to at least severely wound the Lucasfilm gold-egg-laying goose.

          But it’s totally not that Kathleen Kennedy and the other people-in-charge who made these latest Star Wars movies actually hate the premise, the canon stories, and the fans (“I reject this fan base and will call forth another!”).

          Clearly the last few SW movies failed to attract moviegoers because racism and sexism and speciesism and Look! Squirrel!!!

          1. There is very good reason for the saying “Get woke, go broke.” The problem with too many of today’s filmmakers is that they see their role as advancing leftist ideology rather than entertaining, and are more than willing to engage in the kind of outright propaganda that was typical of the Soviet Union.

          2. The funny part is that fact that Disney is having a hard time finding somebody who’s willing to replace KK. At best, it’s a wash, with unlimited downside potential for the person. I knew I should have bought popcorn today…

          3. I wonder whether the SW crew were aiming at an all girl-power story for #9. Luke sacrificed himself for the women. Rey figured it out on her own. General Princess Leia will truly get a movie of her own with Rey to back her up. Poe and Finn will be the token boys. But the Carrie Fisher died. And Luke was killed off. And. . . We’ll see what they come up with.

            1. Whatever it is they are doing, IX apparently “too far along” to hold up while they figure things out, so JJ is proceeding. Apparently all the side story movies are not too far along, and are on hold.

              I wonder how KK was intending to make the Obi Wan The Hermit Spiritualist movie a grrrl power flick?

              1. If JJ is ticked off enough at what KK has stuck him with, he could go the “Springtime for Hitler” route ala The Producers. Of course in this case it would be more like Springtime for Palpatine, with lyrics such as “Springtime for Palpatine and the Empire, Winter for Aldaraan and Kashykk” 🙂

              2. Thing is, I think Kennedy wasn’t in charge of the side films, just the main ones.
                It shows, because the side films are, importantly, better movies.

                1. Kennedy’s the one who got the original directors for Solo replaced. I don’t know how involved she’s been with them, but she’s apparently the one with the final say.

        2. NO, reboots on movies suck…. Now on music there are some good ones out there, Bad Company by FFDP.

      1. It was a rather nasty and vindictive suggestion — which does not bear repeating — that anyone over the age of middle school and running on all cylinders should have known better than to put in writing.

      2. Standard issue nasty liberal dehumanizing, with gratuitous sex, of the most vulnerable member of Trump’s family, justified because Trump is supposedly evil.

        If you really want to know, can search for the youngest son’s name, and that of the pervert.

        Also exactly what CACS said.

  5. Seriously, the sloganeering has become as awkward and blatant as the token black guy placed prominently and uniquely by the door in mid-60s companies.

  6. Just two notes in passing;

    T’challa is the character’s original name, dating back to the creation on the whole Black Panther cycle in THE FANTASTIC FOUR in 1966. Blame Stan Lee or Jack Kirby for that one.

    The ‘Advanced Civilization hiding in Africa’ also dates from the beginning, and can probably be laid at Kirby’s door; he liked having people stumble through jungles into one of his two-page spreads of gleaming high-tech.

    I seem to recall that he had already done something of the sort with an American Indan character Wyatt Wingfoot, and his Tribe, also in 1966. Kirby liked him some ‘supposedly primitive people with advanced technology’. He did it again with The Eternals cycle.

    1. Arguably the “Advanced Civilization hiding in Africa” goes back to King Solomon’s Mines and similar adventures. Wanting to believe that there is a magical place just waiting for us to discover it seems to be a human trope.

      1. ‘Over the Mountains
        Of the Moon,
        Down the Valley of the Shadow,
        Ride, boldly ride,’
        The shade replied,—
        ‘If you seek for Eldorado!’

          1. While El Dorado has it moments, I prefer the version that Howard Hawks made first, Rio Bravo.

            1. RIO BRAVOE and EL DORADO are a perfect example of how one can take the same basic story, change the cast, and make a substantially different film. Fascinating. I marginally prefer EL DORADO, if only because I like Robert Mitchum more than I like Dean Martin.

              1. There are many excellent Robert Mitchum performances out there. I do agree with his his own description of his early career, whatever the part he played his character would get beat up on page 8. His Preacher Harry Powell in Night of the Hunter is truly and powerfully chilling and he was brilliant as Philip Marlowe in Farewell, My Lovely.

                Rio Bravo was one of the films that convinced me to take another look at Dean Martin. Until them much of what I saw him do seemed ‘phoned in’.

              2. I liked the humorous turn. It was like a gentle parody. Especially Mississippi, the gunfighter who couldn’t shoot.

                1. No, Old Tucson’s been around far longer than Pinnacle Peak, having been originally built in 1939 for the movie Arizona. OT is on the west side of the Tucson Mountains on the border of Saguaro National Park, West rather than in the foothills of the Santa Catalinas.

                  (Tucson has a lot of mountain ranges…)

      2. Oh, no doubt. I’m just pointing out that it was part of the Black Panther story from the very beginning, and that one of the creators was fond of the trope.

      3. Well, you have to put your hidden country SOMEWHERE!

        The 19th century was the point at which options were really shutting down. One reason why fiction took to space. 0:)

        1. LOL.

          Got even worse once we were in space and looking back on the earth with all sorts of equipment. The ‘hidden remote valley’ in the extreme wilderness trope became less imaginable … unless you added high technology screening.

        2. Or d-e-e-e-p underground, as in everyone from Verne to Burroughs to Kathy Ireland.

            1. I figured HPL was somewhere between Jules Verne and Kathy Ireland. 🙂

    2. IIRC, in the comics they were high tech because they’d scavenged a crashed alien spacecraft. Given the Hollywood Stupidity of the culture in the movie, I’m thinking the same thing happened, only at some point the crown decided to pretend that it was only a meteor – that all the tech they had was due to their own invention (rather than merely adaptation to human use) – and over a few generations the pretense became accepted history.


      1. they were high tech because they’d scavenged a crashed alien spacecraft

        Nope – can’t have Africans culturally appropriating from those dead aliens. Not in today’s Hollywood.

          1. But they can’t admit it, because that would imply they weren’t SMART.

            1. Of course can. Just say that it happened at same time as Roswell and were same craft. Stupid whitey couldn’t understand tech

      2. Not sure when the Alien Spacecraft entered the narrative. I don’t remember it from the ’66 FANTASTIC FOUR storyline, but I may have forgotten.

      3. The important thing – both in the movie and the comic books – is that Wakanda has the world’s sole access to stable vibranium (there’s another sort of vibranium found in Antarctica, but it makes nearby metal melt). Everything else is negotiable.

      4. First noting that there is a Marvel comic-verse and the Marvel film-verse…  

        In this case in both verses a meteorite consisting of the element Vibranium landed in Africa long ago.  The exact effects and the subsequent history, but the qualities of Vibranium are unique allowing for much of the technological development.

        1. Actually, I’d like to know when the “alien spaceship” became Black Panther canon.

          I can’t find anything concerning Wakanda being a site of the crash of an alien spaceship.

          Everything I’ve found has Wakanda being the main site for Vibranium and the technological advance of Wakanda was funded by the sale of Vibranium.

      1. One of the blogs i used to follow eons ago had a feature every Sunday of the oddest names.

        1. Best as I can tell, some parents hate their children at birth, and inflict them with names to make them risible the rest of their life.

          And even stranger, most of those kids will actually defend those names when they get older, because a name like “Teemothay Coca-Cola Hilton-Kardasshun” makes them “special…”

  7. And this right there is a big part of the reason why I don’t go to the movies anymore.

    I’m glad it’s not just me that thinks this way: y’all remember Napoleon Dynamite? Back when it came out, pretty much everyone I knew was going on and on and on about how it was the funniest movie in history. So one night a bunch of us sat down and watched it. It was the most boring, idiotic film I’ve ever had the displeasure of sitting through. I still want those 95 minutes of my life back!

    1. I have tried to watch NAPOLEON DYNAMITE three times, and each time have run aground of the shoals of obdurate idiocy. I can sit through a Three Stooges short only mildly irritated by the stupidity, so it’s not as if I have no resistance.

      What the pluperfect hell do people SEE in that goddamned film?

        1. I liked it a lot, but then, I’m a Utahn, and it was made by an Idahoan, so I could see why my sense of humor could match up with the movie.

          I could also see how someone could be bored to tears by the movie as well…

    2. My mother says she can’t stand that movie… because she grew up with people exactly like that.

      1. I am the same way about Beavis and Butthead.
        I grew up with guys like that, they were not funny then, and they weren’t on some stupid cartoon.

        1. Same. They were the guys destined for prison and/or the cheapest trailer park in the county. No work ethic, no common sense, no sense of humor that I’d recognize, either.

          1. one such, I heard, was killed in prison.
            not a loss.
            The others were that way from chemistry. never asked and haven’t heard tell of what they turned out to be, but they were standouts in an area where the teen pastime was getting drunk every weekend.

  8. I actually liked the fact that in Black Panther, the villain was spouting all these “Black people are oppressed and should take revenge” lines. Because it was the villain that was spouting them. He was pretty much arguing the BLM line (not the Bureau of Land Management, the other one), and the movie pretty much said “Nope. His attitude is wrong.”

    Now, I’ll grant that nobody disputed his “facts” (about people throwing themselves off slave ships, and so on) in the movie. But the fact that he was the villain gives you a chance to tell anyone who quotes it, “You know the villain was lying about that stuff, right?”

    The whole “the U.S. military turns you evil” stuff, well, there’s no excuse for that one. It’s a standard comic-book trope, but that doesn’t excuse it.

    1. Yes.

      It was the villain who embraced and voiced the arguments of victim hood.  He shifted the blame for his own choices and actions to others.  His time in the military did not render him evil, he used his time in the military toward his own evil purpose.  When the villain was a child something awful happened and as he grew he nursed his bitterness and anger.  He set out to seize power and wreck vengeance on those who he blamed and anyone who got in his way in the process.

      1. It might have. Remember, in the Marvel “Universe” Hydra agents were active in all parts of the U.S. government…….

        1. It didn’t. Civil War and Black Panther are both best understood together. The antagonists of both movies are the real heroes. The former leader of Wakanda was an evil man who they brought to justice.

        2. Hydra is not really in favor of helping empower independent agents with their own agendas. Hydra is for Hydra and Hydra alone. So I don’t think Killmonger would be Hydra, unless it was as a kind of a Manchurian candidate

    2. And let’s not forget that when he spouted them to the Wakandans, they looked at him like he was an idiot.

    3. actually liked the fact that in Black Panther, the villain was spouting all these “Black people are oppressed and should take revenge” lines. Because it was the villain that was spouting them. He was pretty much arguing the BLM line (not the Bureau of Land Management, the other one), and the movie pretty much said “Nope. His attitude is wrong.”

      Yep. That’s why I liked the movie. I actually noticed it was subtly saying BLM is wrong.

  9. Also, on the “we voluntarily freed our slaves and made laws abolishing slavery”, that’s one where Great Britain actually gets more credit than we do, because they managed to do it first, AND without having to fight a war over it. I love the movie Amazing Grace, about how William Wilberforce, driven by his Christian beliefs in the equality of man, worked for twenty years to pass an anti-slavery act, and campaigned for total abolition — and managed to live just long enough that he knew he’d been successful (he died three days after the 1833 abolition act was passed). Bonus: William Pitt, the Prime Minister during most of the movie and a personal friend of Wilberforce’s, is played by a young, unknown (at the time) actor named Benedict Cumberbatch.

    1. The Brits had less of their culture dependent on Slavery. The Aristocracy needed it to man their South Seas holdings, but nothing much closer to home.

      Not to detract from the achievement. Both Britain and the US deserve a lot of credit (for ending Slavery) that they don’t get.

      1. The Brits had a famine when they were cut off from slave-raised cotton. They were not dependent on slaves in their own territory.

    2. Um, they were fighting a war with France and banned slavery in reaction to France’s doing it first.

      1. Britain abolished slavery in its colonies in 1833; France in 1848. The two countries hadn’t been at war since 1815.

            1. Not often taught aspect of colonial history of the U.S.: in 1735 James Oglethorpe, the founding governor penal colony of Georgia, banned slavery in that colony. It was instituted by royal decree in 1751.

    3. >> “Also, on the “we voluntarily freed our slaves and made laws abolishing slavery”, that’s one where Great Britain actually gets more credit than we do, because they managed to do it first”

      I can’t remember where I read this, but didn’t some U.S. states ban slavery at the state level first? Great Britain beat us to the first nationwide ban but I don’t think they were the first government ever to go full abolition.

      1. The Republic of Vermont abolished slavery (at least partially) with it’s constitution of 1777.

      2. Yep, it’s complicated. Although England abolished slavery before the entire US did, it was much less embedded in England’s economy than in our South’s. In order to get the constitution ratified by the southern states, it did say:”The Migration or Importation of such Persons as any of the States now existing shall think proper to admit, shall not be prohibited by the Congress prior to the Year one thousand eight hundred and eight, but a Tax or duty may be imposed on such Importation, not exceeding ten dollars for each Person.” At 1808 the US did ban the slave trade, but could not agree to do anything about the existing slaves in the US. Certainly no nation sacrificed more to get rid of that ancient evil.

    4. Honestly, “We” in that case meant “the west” but it was early and I was being interrupted, since I’m in hotel room with husband and son for Liberty con. So I couldn’t figure out how to turn the corner of that thought…

      1. We are ODDs. You do know that here we will argue about all sorts of things, including items that few outside of a particular specialty would notice. I doubt that anyone could fully anticipate what might get us started.


    5. Someone fought a war over it?
      As to Great Britain’s “credit”, both USA South (what do you think they did with all this cotton?) and post-Peter Russia (hemp and wood — strategically important resources) retained slavery long after it clearly held back industry due to being dominated by export-oriented economies to the point where calling them “British economical colonies in all but name” won’t be exaggeration. So there’s also that.

  10. Marvel does better movies, DC does better TV. DC does voter animation, except where Marvel has farmed it out to the Anime industry, and then the story-fit can get a little odd.

    I’m not totally thrilled by any of the Superhero franchises at the moment, and the SJW twerps have a lot to do with that, but a good deal of it is fun in spite of the virtue signaling.

    Still kinda wish they’d do a DAMAGE CONTROL movie, though….

    1. I will agree about better movies. I’ve enjoyed the great majority of the Marvel Cinematic Universe films, whereas Dawn of Justice left C and me asking ourselves “how long do we have to wait for this fight scene to be over?” Marvel nearly always remembers that to sell a fight scene they need to give the combatants a *motive* for fighting.

      But I can’t agree about TV. I’ve seen some Marvel shows that I enjoyed, such as Runaways, and some that are excellent, such as Daredevil; I’ve yet to see anything from DC that rose above “enh.” Admittedly I haven’t gotten around to Gotham yet, and I’ve heard good things about it. But I can’t say that DC is clearly superior to Marvel, even with Marvel’s list including catastrophically bad shows like The Inhumans.

      1. Well, taste is taste. I lack the stamina to watch TV these days (long, multi-season, story arcs are probably a good artistic choice, but they demand more attention than I’m willing to commit.) but I have dipped into several shows from both brands. Daredevil, Luke Cage, Jessica Jones, Iron Fist, Defenders; Meh. Agents of SHIELD; some good points, but seems to have allowed itself to wander. Arrow, Flash, Supergirl? Not bad.

        And in animation, DC clearly holds the high ground, with the exception of some stuff animated by Japanese studios.

        1. I tried an episode of Flash, and could not come up with any reason to watch another. I watched several episodes of Supergirl and increasingly felt that they were travestying a character I had always liked. On the other hand, I’ve enjoyed Runaways, and I find both Daredevil and Legion (admittedly, that’s in a *different* Marvel universe) impressive.

          Part of this may be that C and I prefer to watch TV shows that take the form of season-long story arcs. But there are shows where I see one episode and say anything from “enh” (Flash, Cloak and Dagger) to “no, no, no!” (Inhumans). That can’t be a response to the story arc, because I don’t see the story arc.

          1. First season Flash was quite good, imo. Second started to lose it. I quit watching after a couple of episodes of the third season.

            One interesting tid-bit about that series – apparently the guy in charge fires the entire writing staff after every season is finished. That might explain why the seasons seem to be so different.

          2. Flash is ehhh, supergirl is meh, Black Lightning is dreadfully depressing, legends of tomorrow varies considerably, but the crossover episodes are fun!

            Oh, and the Wonder Woman movie was pretty good comparatively.

      2. “how long do we have to wait for this fight scene to be over?”

        This is endemic in Hollywood these days – hand to hand stuff in TV, and those and car/plane/helicopter/whatever chases in movies. Not to mention the hand-to-hand-antigrav-garbage-truck thing on the second ST reboot movie.

        Yeah, fine, just get on with the story.

        1. I dunno, if they ever, ever EVER get around to showing Michael freaking Bay a Matthew Reilly book, I’d love to see the collaboration of those two and their EPIC SHIT BLOWING UP and weaponizing the EVERYTHING (including atmosphere at one point.)


          1. I’ve been waiting for somebody to film “Ice Station” ever since Reilly wrote it. And in the current political climate the plot – “allies” violently screwing each over for a game-changing prize – would make even more sense now than at the time it was released. Although “Dora The Exploder” would be fun, too . . . 😛

      3. I don’t know a better way to put it than this: After watching the first four episodes of Gotham, Batman’s whole motivation should have been to drop an asteroid on it. It truly met the Sodom and Gomorrah test of “no one worth saving.”

    2. There’s probably an alternate universe where Marvel makes better TV and DC makes better movies.

    3. I’m totally annoyed with the progressivism running rampant through the various DC tv series. Multiple antigen episodes in several shows. BLM , welfare free education, this whole team deal. I’m spending more time reading kindle unlimited now just because tv has gotten so bad.

      Man, this is tough reading and typing on a Kindle. Halfway to St Louis to fencing tournament.

  11. It really wasn’t the case that *all* the fighters were women. The Wakandan rhino cavalry were led by a man, and it looked as if they were all men. And the tribe of Hanuman worshippers (even stranger than Bast worshippers!) had their own warriors and were led by a man, the one who nearly took the throne away from T’Challa in the opening scenes. It was the royal bodyguard who were women, and that was obviously stolen straight from the Dahomeyans—and it fits into the Amazon iconography that storytellers have loved at least since Homer, long before there was anything like feminism.

    Oddly, perhaps, the thing I bounced off of hardest was the Wakandans speaking a click language. Wakanda is shown as being in East Africa, and while there are a couple of click languages there, they’re nowhere near any of the big lakes; the others are all spoken in South Africa, the world heartland of click sounds (probably picked up from the Bushmen by the Bantu colonists).

    1. I loved the armored rhinos.

      But the ending! Wakandans coming to America to save the inner city Blacks, while ignoring their own neighbors chopping each other up. Right.

      1. Maybe… or maybe it ended there because it was where T’Challa’s cousin was born/raised in.

        Though I do note that the first group they fought were some of the neighbors. Those slavers/bandits holding a bunch of women (and shanghai’d that kid) hostage, presumably to sell them somewhere or ransom them.

        Though I think that was more to pick up T’Challa’s not-his-girlfriend instead of getting more involved in the world.

      2. I noticed that it’s implied that the Wakandans do subtly interfere with the wrongs being done locally (like the slavery), and it kind of made sense to me to go to the US at the end – in Africa they’d have to rebuild everything from the ground up, including an uprooting of a lot of local social attitudes that would likely greatly clash with Wakandan principles; versus in the US, and the young there would be more receptive to the changes. It’s a touch ‘I couldn’t help my cousin, but I can help boys like him not become like him’; because while T’Challa was upset that his father had killed the uncle, ultimately the King was right because his brother had been radicalized and such ideas were ultimately dangerous for the Wakandans (essentially, an indictment of black power radicalization and violence.)

        Path of least resistance, maybe, but more likely to take root.

      3. To be fair, I can see the American government consenting to that sort of project where a lot of other African governments wouldn’t. Given that Wakanda seems to be carrying on at least some anti-trafficking campaigns I don’t doubt they have made lots of local enemies.

      1. Probably, though I would have settled for a northern branch of Niger-Kordofanian. I mean, it was cool hearing those distinctive click sounds, but they really aren’t geographically plausible.

  12. Two notes on this:

    The difference between slavery in the US (and elsewhere going into the 19th century) and slavery elsewhere / in antiquity was that US slavery was race based while in Rome or Greece anybody could end up a slave.

    The US government assassinating leaders and a competent CIA are all common themes in fiction and movies, so I don’t see any issue with that in the movie. Leads to what I’ve called the “mission impossible syndrome” where people think elaborate conspiracy theories are being covered up (whether 9/11 or pizzagate).

    1. Given all the perverse behavior being uncovered out there, I’m beginning to wonder if something like Pizzagate might be going on in Warshington. There’s an awful lot of important people screaming SQUIRREL! right now…

        1. Individual cases keep turning up, for sure, but #pizzagate alleged an organized ring, run for people at the highest levels. I’m going to have to see some guys in handcuffs before I’ll sign on to that one.

          1. *chuckle* It’s more that they’re trying so very hard to distract from something and making it obvious they’re trying to hide that something. I’m a suspicius sort though, so the ‘might’ was more ”they’re definitely up to something but what… is probably worse than we’ll imagine.’

    2. ‘Anyone could end up a slave’ and the idea that ethnicity was not involved do not seem to describe the helots Sparta controlled.

      1. This is the new improved explanation of why we are uniquely evil. The left has been peddling it for at least a decade, so it MUST be true.
        In fact, it wasn’t race PRECISELY in the US, and it wasn’t not race (as defined at the time) in other times and places. Bah.

      1. Islamic slave raids might been based on factors beyond ease of kidnapping.

        The Teutonic knights have at least one recorded incident of trafficking in slaves. Their choice of peoples to wage war against was not 100% based on religious differences. (Even if the much later ‘it was the racism’ narrative appears to be revisionist bullshit.)

    3. The race based thing is arguable Tom. It was “such the mother, such the condition”. Sure, on importation but by the end of it many people were as light as their owners. Such the mother such the condition was VERY Roman. There really wasn’t that much difference, except that you couldnt’ wind up a slave in the US except form being bought from elsewhere or having ancestresses who were.
      The whole idea that slavery in the US was uniquely evil is bullshit. Moors enslaved Europeans and Europeans enslaved Moors, for instance. Not unique. Just the same old evil.
      As for “this is a trope” A-yup. Tell me why being repeated everywhere makes it BETTER rather than worse.
      What did I say but that it was repeated till assumed to be true?

  13. “And I realized how pervasive the “messages” in entertainment are.”

    Oh, its never ending! This is why I cancelled my cable around 2010, the TV was nothing but propaganda all the time. Watch an old Friends re-run or a Murphy Brown, the antique Messages leap right out at you. There’s nothing subtle about it.

    Dr. Mauser has a post up today on this issue as well. His is the encapsulation of why he doesn’t read Asimov’s mag anymore. He includes the issue of not-so-sly digs at Conservatives as part of his discontent.

    I’m more about the themes. All robot stories are Frankenstein. All clone stories are Frankenstein. All alien movies are Frankenstein. Keep them violent monkeys in their place, at all costs, before they kill the Earth!

    As I said over at MGC, that’s why I’ve pretty much stopped buying books and I’m writing my own now. If I want to escape the grey goo and the “Conservatives are bad!” bullshit, I’m pretty well stuck doing it myself.

    And now if you’ll excuse me, I’ve got a robot scorpion arguing with an FAA security guard and I want to find out what happens. ~:D

    1. I had complete DVD sets of “The Outer Limits” and “Twilight Zone” for a while. I made it into the second season of both, more out of wonderment than enjoyment.

      Every single episode boiled down to “humans suck”, “science is the root of all evil”, or “the universe sucks and we’re going to die.” Frequently all three at once.

      There were some decent individual episodes, but as a series, it was like slamming my face into the desk over and over.

      1. You left out the “let’s kick this sympathetic character in the gut while they’re down, and then end the episode.”

        It kind of fits in #3, but more malicious.

      2. The retina specialist had a DVD of I Dream of Jeannie on the monitors today. I showed up early and tried to ignore a couple of episodes, but in one spot when I had to wait, I chose a spot away from the monitors.

        Gotta admit, it was interesting seeing a very young Larry Hagman, but yikes!

        (A couple months ago, he had Mary Poppins. Not bad, actually.

        1. I cannot rid myself of the thought that I DREAM OF JEANNIE’s rating success was based on the lingering hope that Nelson would FINALLY do what every heterosexual male in the audience wanted to do (and what Jeannie apparently wanted him to do), and bend Jeannie over the back of the sofa.

          Other than that mildly twisted fantasy, I found the show utterly tiresome.

        2. It would be better than being screamed at by “The Waiting Room Channel” or whatever local practitioners have… they all have the same TVs; I’d make a sizeable bet the whole package comes “for free” from one of the marketing companies.

          The entire concept of “waiting quietly” seems to have gone away, like “quiet dining.”

          1. He actually (usually) has decent stuff on the monitors. Since it’s a retina practice, most of the patients are fairly old (modulo the tattooed guy with the Dirty Rotten Imbeciles tour tshirt–guessing a detached retina), so the older stuff plays well. Around Christmas, he had It’s a Wonderful Life playing, and occasionally some PBS stuff (Rick Steves, and something on marshlands), so I’ll give him a pass on this. Oh well, I won’t be so early next time; morning appointment.

        1. Cool, thanks for plugging it! Although that was really just a minor point. Most of it was about how poorly structured so much of today’s short fiction is. It’s “All count-down and no blast-off.” They spend all their words setting up a story and then don’t bother to tell it.

          1. Well, at least you got the countdown… in the ’80s I kept encountering stories like they were clipped out of the middle of something else. No beginning, no plot, no end. Just some people moving around, a bunch of irrelevant description, and… nothing.

          2. *fake snobby tone*
            “Use your imagination!”

            Nevermind that the point of reading a story is that you get to see what someone else does with a story….

  14. I can’t understand why Wakanda is so loved while Ellysium was evil. Both possessed great riches and amazing technologies that they refused to share. Must be because Wakanda kept their selfishness secret and Ellysium paraded theirs around in orbit.

  15. Sometimes it’s unintentionally hilarious.

    Pacific Rim comes to mind. The aliens had tried to invade before “What do you think the dinosaurs were?!?” But the environment was too hostile for them to succeed. Anthropogenic Global Warming and increasing the atmospheric CO2 meant “we terraformed the planet for them!”

    Anyone with even the most cursory knowledge of paleoclimate instantly facepalmed.

    1. Anyone with even the most cursory knowledge of paleoclimate instantly facepalmed.

      I did! But then I chucked it aside because I was also aware that pretty much the whole movie was a love song to giant mecha and kaiju and the old Daimos type mecha fights alien monster anime, and THAT is what I wanted to see.

      1. Well, yeah.

        When you saw it, did the audience cheer at the Newton’s Cradle grace note that the critics hated so much?
        Because I know we shook the walls.

    2. What about the one where Global Warming FROZE rhe entire Northern Hemisphere?

  16. Did you just say, inter alia, “if you were political dinosaurs, my loves”? LOL

  17. The Left actually has (or had) a point here. A lot of traditionalist fiction included a lot of hidden messages that supported particular points of view or beliefs. If you watch old movies, you can see some of them.

    In many cases, they would be really offensive if the underlying attitude hadn’t been totally discredited. (I.e. the clownish, servile negro character.)

    Now, of course, one sees a lot of the reverse.

    But the point remains – when the makers of popular culture all (or mostly) share a particular attitude, it will diffuse into their products and society at large. And it matters who those people are. It’s not a matter of conscious propagandizing, it’s unconscious habits and assumptions.

    One thing I strongly suspect is that Jewish sensibilities have a disproportionate influence on our general culture, because Jews are disproportionately present in the culture-making industries. In particular, Jewish feelings about immigration are (IMO) a major source for the discomfort with immigration enforcement that paralyzes the US on that issue. I don’t mean liberal or libertarian Jews preaching “open borders” today. I mean literally millions of text bites, plot choices, passing references, all made without conscious intent, but all reflecting similar pro-immigration feelings. That’s how it works.

    The effect is perhaps more dangerous when it is unconscious and dispersed to the point of near-invisibility. It creates support for a position that isn’t reasoned, merely assumed. That’s a problem in itself, and it may also lead to opposing viewpoints being vilified as somehow utterly improper. (As we see with SJWs today.)

    It is also profoundly dangerous when the underlying attitude is universally dominant among culture makers, because that stifles any alternate thinking. (A result which is even harder to perceive and evaluate, because one can’t judge ideas that never appeared.)

    1. The difference is that the old “messages” were generally not inserted intentionally, they were just the way people thought. The current message fiction has deliberately inserted gratuitous messages that are about as welcome as the gratuitous sex which it also often has. Thus the old stuff was entertaining while the new stuff tends to be dreck.

      1. A lot of the current messaging is also unconscious. The comedy writers who routinely made fathers ridiculous didn’t intend to undermine traditional family structure.

        Overt messaging is less dangerous, because it’s visible and can be consciously rejected. The built-in assumptions slide under the radar.

        1. no, they specifically wanted to undermine Father Knows Best/Leave It to Beaver etc.

          1. (Waggles hand) Yeah, but that’s not quite the same thing as wanting to undermine the traditional family structure. I suspect it started as a desire to balance out an unrealistically rosy view of traditional families, but, like most all reactions, it ended up drinking its own ink, and by the 1990s was all that existed on network television.

  18. Two items I learned about Hollywood. One was that shortly after Star Wars became a hit, the studios had rooms full of interns reading scripts to outline how slavishly they followed “The Hero’s Journey,” so they could buy the most slavishly imitative ones. That might be a worthwhile way to analyze art, but it’s no way to create art. Now I hear they do the same thing with Die Hard–not that they call it that. Might come from the way they pitch movies to people with really short attention spans–Die Hard on a bus! Die Hard in the White House! Yes, even Wagon Train to the stars.
    Second, there is a story that Mr. Ellison told (May he finally find the peace that eluded him in life, so he can learn to be nice. Maybe Mr. Bradbury can help him with that.). He related a story discussion on a movie project with all the “suits” when one of them said (literally!), “Why don’t you put a dog in it?”
    “Why would I put a dog in it?” H.E. replied.
    “Because my kids just got a puppy, and he’s so darn cute!”
    H.E. claimed he launched himself across the table and put his hands around the guy’s neck.
    Yep the suits will still put that stuff in, only now it’s not about cute anymore. ‘Course most of those who have survived in Hollywood are probably self-selected that way anyway.

    1. That “high concept” concept, where they say, “It’s Die Hard, but in the White House and with puppies”? Yeah, I LOATHE that. And it’s not just in Hollywood; it’s infiltrated all the way to romance novels.

        1. my two classes on producing taught that that is how lots of things are pitched… either :

          “its like x with y!”


          “Its like x crossed with z!”

          1. That’s a really low-IQ form of pitch, or at least low-attention-span. The campaign I’m now running in San Diego once a month had a “high concept” pitch, but it was a lot longer:

            ___ Tapestry. Historical fantasy. Run in Big Eyes, Small Mouth or GURPS.
            Set in a GM-defined fantasy world inhabited by a number of intelligent humanoid races, each with its own magical style, culture, and preferred habitat. Technology will be mainly bronze age; magical traditions will be largely spirit-based. Player characters can belong to any race, or can be of mixed ancestry, though hybrids are rare and often sterile. The point of departure will be one of the world’s first cities, from which player characters will go out on quests, which they should be competent and motivated to undertake. The main focus will be on exploration, encounters with other races and cultures, and magical traditions.

            1. Too long of a pitch. Seriously, pitches are a few quick sentences that are basically the equivalent of a blurb on the back cover.

              1. I don’t know about that comparison with blurbs. I’m currently rereading The Rolling Stones; the blurb on the back cover is just a few words longer than my writeup.

                  1. Seventh Del Rey printing, 1985. But my 2014 printing of Terry Pratchett’s Hogfather has a blurb that’s longer than either.

                    Are you proposing that the average IQ or attention span has declined precipitately over the past generation?

                    1. I’m proposing that the standard level of a pitch has always been aimed at not necessarily the brightest people.

        2. It’s even with Startup pitches. I tried to apply for an idea competition (for various reasons I gave up on the application), and one thing that stood out to me was a line where they literally asked me to describe something as “It’s X for Y” (my idea was “Kickstarter for watching movies in theaters”; the day I started the application, I learned of the existence of a company that did that, which is a major factor in giving up on this particular application).

          That rubs me the wrong way. It implies that you can only succeed by taking two existing ideas and ramming them together.

    2. Heh. I remember reading a transcript of a Star Wars RPG game session (done over some IRC-like chat client) that the referee dubbed:

      Die Hard on a Trade Federation Battleship.

      Though he borrowed heavily from John Woo films as well.

          1. *crawling through a vent using a small plasma torch for light*

            “Come out to Naboo, she said… have a few laughs…”

  19. Very nice! And thanks – had not really thought about the throwaway lines being acid to culture. I was focused too much on the core stories to pay attention to the little poison pills. Now I need to revise a blog that’s scheduled for Monday and it’s all your fault.

  20. The “stuff everybody knows” gets you movies like Soylent Green. It’s a good thing they made that movie so we could avoid overpopulating the earth.

  21. I’m going to re-post a comment I just made in response to Foxfier on the “Strange Days” thread, because I’d like more people than just her to see it; I think it could start an interesting discussion. Foxfier said, “What bugs me is how many folks will howl about Gell Mann, but then assume that their reporting on “youth movements” is accurate.” My response was:

    I bet a large part of it is wanting to know something rather than nothing. It’s not fun to admit to knowing nothing about a subject, so most people will latch on to the first thing they learn about it and assume that it’s correct — even when they should know better due to knowing about the whole Gell-Mann Amnesia thing.

    It’s a very human response. We’ve been trained* to associate ignorance with being a bad person. And we don’t want to be a bad person, do we? So we latch on to the first thing that will help us to not be ignorant. And we often don’t want to examine it too closely, lest we find out that it’s actually false, because then we’d be right back where we started — still ignorant.

    * And who trained us? In many cases, it’s the same popular-culture providers (news media, Hollywood, TV) who talk about “ignorant hicks from Hickville” as if that ignorance was an automatic disqualifier for being one of the Anointed**. And most of us*** still haven’t put two and two together and said, “Well, given what your category of Anointed entails, I don’t want to be one of those” and rejected the classification. Because it’s never presented as a formal, reasoned argument; it’s just assumed as a usually-unspoken premise, so it slips past the mind’s defenses.

    ** Yes, in precisely the way Thomas Sowell means that word.

    *** I include myself in that: I’m learning, but there are still times when I catch myself with a gut feeling that my mind knows is wrong, like “ignorance = unable/unwilling to learn”. (The classic “hick from Hickville” stereotype, for example). I know this is false; I’ve met a guy who had no formal schooling until he was, IIRC, 14 (he had to tend his father’s cattle) and then had finished his college degree by the age of 21. I know that “ignorant” does not equal “stupid”. But I’ve heard the lie that “ignorant = stupid” enough times that it’s sunk into my hindbrain, and it’s a lot of work prying it loose from there.

    1. I suspect that most of those who are considered “ignorant” for not having book-learning, are deeply tuned in to detecting the truth behind the messages others are trying to fool them with.
      (OH NOOOOOOOooooooooo; I ended a sentence with a preposition!)

    2. I’m a recovering technocrat.

      Intellectually, I’ve managed to persuade myself that these vast bureaucracies and other such things, for most if not all cases, cannot deliver to order societal changes.

      That doesn’t mean I’ve fixed my instincts, catch myself quickly with they mislead me, or always catch them.

      1. I am firm believer in the accuracy of the late Dr. Pournelle’s Iron Law regarding bureaucracies. Sigh, I really miss his take on stuff.

    3. I think it’s much simpler than that.

      1) Fact- checking is *work.*
      2) Nobody’s right all the time.
      3) Sit still and listen.

      Between the three, we have a tendency to sit in our pews/couches and listen respectfully to our “betters.” If we were as egalitarian as we’re supposed to be, news broadcasts would never have gained any traction here, and every public meeting would be a debate. It ain’t so and never has been.

      And the *only* time we step outside those lines is when that programming is interrupted by a “wait, what?”.

  22. I refused to watch BP when I heard about the shameful way they treated Klaw (though I had a bad feeling when Klaw wasn’t the one who killed BP’s dad in Civil War, not to mention how they butchered Zemo’s character).

    Klaw is supposed to be BP’s archenemy, the murderer of BP’s father, and who is eventually transformed into a being made of sonic energy, capable of projecting and shaping sonic energy – Green Lantern level powers here!

    It could’ve been so awesome if they movies had portrayed him right: had him working with Zemo in Civil War, had him running Winter Soldier to plant the bomb that killed BP’s dad (or just planted the bomb himself) then get taken prisoner in BP but escape at the end, having been subjected to some comic book science thing that turns him into sonic-energy Klaw…a setup for the next movie!

    What happened instead was on the level with ruining the Mandarin.

    Andy Serkis seems to have knack for portraying potentially interesting characters who get offed way too early in movies with a political bent. Could be a bad career move…

  23. The propaganda is not limited to TV shows or movies. It also shows up all the time in commercials. As one example, the number of mixed race couples or families in commercials far exceeds the incidence of such in the general population.

    Other tropes, such as “stupid husband, smart wife”, or “grrrrl power!” are also ubiquitous.

    Once you become sensitized to it, you realize it is everywhere.

    1. There was a commercial out for J.C. Penny’s a few years back advertising a big national sale. It involved a man sitting amidst chaos inflicted by a bunch of unruly children and he was just blankly staring into space saying “Where is your mother.”

      As a single dad, I loathed that commercial; and given the opportunity may have applied a cricket bat to the writers face.

      1. *twitch* I know guys like that– they wouldn’t be doing the “helpless” thing, they’d just be cranky they had to “babysit” their kids. Because children are the woman’s responsibility, just like not reproducing when he doesn’t want a(nother) kid, or any level of housekeeping he doesn’t like.

        I swear, wish they’d get married to that annoying twit like in the Progressive commercials where she goes from “men are better drivers” to “but I had fewer accidents so you shut up while I rant at you even though I can’t even figure out the concepts involved.”

  24. I’ve been playing Shin Megami Tensei: Strange Journey for the last week or so, and every time one of the demons goes on about how humans have destroyed the environment, or they’re consuming until the world is out of resources it makes me groan.

    In wealthy countries, the environment’s going back on an upswing, and we’re getting better at using less and less resources for the same standard of living. The best thing we could do for the environment is bring everyone up to our standard of living and continue the trend towards less resources for our happiness. It’s a good game otherwise, but it’s the same sort of pervasive misinformation that’s in a lot of entertainment.

    JRPGs are often a lot better about it than this one has been. Sure, there’s a lot of high profile ones that are bad, but this is worse than most.

    1. Japan makes artificial islands to increase their living space. They also have 3 recycling bins where people sort their burn and recylable trash. To the Japanese, people with 5 different bins of sort trash or 7, are environmentally conscious.

      It’s not something that can be bypassed or understood with a game, this American vs Japanese cultural difference.

  25. One things that I’ve noticed (hey, Comedy School graduate here!) about most modern comedians is that they lack one important thing.

    The ability to make fun of themselves.

    Robin Williams? Lily Tomlin? Rich Little? Oh, I can so easily see them completely taking the piss out of themselves, and their comedy shows it. Classic comedy shows and movies? They can take a joke, as much as give one.

    But, the modern run of comedians? I can’t see Samantha Bee or Amy Schemer taking a joke. Or anybody else, really. The last “comedy” I saw was Superbad and it was just…mediocre. And, screaming talking points seems to be the only form of “comedy” that SNL can do.

    Don’t even get me started on The Big Bang Theory

    1. Rodney Dangerfield was a master of the old style joke about oneself comedy. Most of today’s comics are so full of themselves that they consider jokes directed at them as being a dueling offense.

    2. Back in the day I used to say I needed self-deprecating humor so my head would fit through doors.

      Then I had a depressed period and backed off from that. You should have seen how badly my face swelled up.

      1. Slightly more seriously, I’ve gotten scolded a lot because of basic self-deprecating humor. It’s like folks have an utter HORROR of the idea of making fun of yourself.

        1. Oh, I’ve had that to. I think it is horror. Some people have their minds set to expect others to have crippled themselves with self defeating thoughts. I just ignored them, because my ego was more than confident enough. Then I got my extremely severe reality check. I can kinda see where they are coming from now, but if I am operating my brain properly, I’m not going to crippled just because someone says something cruel about me, maybe even if I am persuaded enough to repeat it.

          If I have a disordered mind filled with negative ideas about myself, the problem isn’t what I say, or what others say about me. It is the disordered mind. A Potemkin village of feedback doesn’t fix a disordered mind. It can create a disordered mind with dysfunctional expectations of results. Self deprecating humor can be a way of dealing with stress from the fact that the sun doesn’t shine out of it, and what does come out doesn’t smell like roses.

  26. BTW, sociologist Max Weber thought that we ended slavery because it couldn’t compete with free labor.

    1. I certainly can’t see any economic reason to try slave labor now that I know what free labor is capable of. In absence of socialism.

      1. While I’d agree that free labor is more productive, I doubt that “economics” was on the only thing on mind of the people who outlawed slavery.

  27. they were all female, all beautiful and all virgins
    Well, I’ve seen actual pictures of the Dahomey “amazon” regiments and they were NOT uniformly lovely women. Even accounting for cultural differences of beauty, some of them were downright homely.

    As to the “ceremonial” aspects… not necessarily. They were used in combat – and seemed to cause capitulation wherever they went because of a reputation for barbarity (and for disdain for death). They were reputed to be excellent shots, too.

    But, no, they were not the only military units around.

  28. I wish movies were just movies, and not preachy drivel pushing an agenda. What happened to the great storytelling, in the movies now all I have seen is the ever present to “climate change” and the telling off of a white racist. or that illegal immigration is good. all white men are inept and women can fight off a platoon with karate moves. This seems to be standard fare in the movie, perhaps I am getting jaded.

    1. MEESTER Garabaldi, my goot fren! Let me tell you , I have this system for playing that card game you humans invented… poke her, i think it is called? Anyway, this system is unbeatable and I can win a fortune if you will only loan me a small sum…

  29. I’ve always wondered since watching Black Panther, which I enjoyed immensely like the massive Marvel nerd I am, whether the producers realized they made their villain into an SJW. I wonder if they realize how close Killmonger was to the real deal. As a side note, he may have been a good villain, but my gosh, he has the stupidest name.

    1. “Brotherhood of Evil Mutants”? OK, maybe that’s runner up. 😉

      Amusing story:
      apparently after the movie there was a run on black cats at shelters.
      This shelter records the names of the cats they adopt out, and there were a lot of T’challas and Nakias and such like you’d expect…but this gal had to keep a straight face as the sweet little old lady volunteer waxed poetic in her confusion about why a very sweet natured, fluffy, middle-aged cat was given the moniker of “Killmonger.”

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