Friday, March 29, 2013


TRIGGER WARNING, but I mean literally in this case: Phil Spector killed a woman with a gun, and this past Sunday there was an HBO movie about it written by (notoriously manly) David Mamet, with Al Pacino, Helen Mirren, and Jeffrey Tambor in it.  The case was sufficiently disturbing that we should not allow Spector’s historic musical achievements to cause us to forget (he waved a gun around the Ramones as well, apparently, and even punk has its limits). 

While it’s true that we should not imagine that everyone who commits violence against women will be as eccentric and easy to spot as Spector, I think (as an individualist might) that there’s also a real danger in the suddenly-popular approach of condemning most of society as “rape culture” – not because the issue is unimportant (and certainly not because any decent person condones rape) but because, much as it pains egalitarians to do this, you have to make clear distinctions between those who commit violence and those who do not (this goes for the recent guns debate as well). 

When you tell every male who likes high heels or whistles at strippers that he’s part of “rape culture,” you’re also telling the handful of actual rapists: Hey, you’re just like everybody else (except a handful of feminists, of course). 

That’s dangerous in much the same way as those creepy instances of (no doubt warmhearted) folk saying, Both the assailant and the person he shot were victims here.  Well, sort of, maybe, in some complicated Hegelian sense, but in a far more important way: no, not if you’re trying to maintain some semblance of a moral order and legal system.  With that in mind, maybe we can safely indulge in a...

SEXIST SIDENOTE: Twenty years ago, I was privileged to be present (until I quietly drifted away because I’m polite and unobtrusive like that) at a somewhat flirty conversation between writer David Lodge and the aforementioned Helen Mirren, who I contend is still hot, was even hotter then, and was a freaking curvaceous bombshell back when she was **walking around completely naked at age twenty-seven in the 1972 film Savage Messiah.**

...if perchance that sounds like something you might want to rent.  Y’know, I mean, like, for Easter.  I mean because it has “Messiah” in the title and all.  (She played Ayn Rand once, too, you know, allowing her to vent about as passionately as the real Ayn does here.  And the recent RED movies are based on comic books.  And she uses machine guns in them.)

BUT ADMITTEDLY BOOBIES AND RELIGION/CULTURE OFTEN CLASH, as in the case of threats against Tunisian activist Amina Tyler.

On the bright side, though, back here in the benighted U.S., National Victimization Survey stats suggest that just in the past three decades alone rape rates in the U.S. have fallen by 85%(!) – even as crude jokes on TV and porn everywhere have increased (with high-profile spats over such forms of crudeness causing people like vlogger AmazingAtheist to spring to their defense). 

Yet rage at purportedly omnipresent, conspiracy-like “rape culture” seems to be growing exponentially, to the extent that one isn’t quite sure any of us, no matter how innocent, can hope to escape the boiling fury now.  We are all still guilty, guilty, guilty participants in patriarchy no matter how peaceful things get and how spotless our own criminal records are. 

(And, in a comparatively trivial footnote, I suspect all that mounting rage, no pun intended, is somehow going to be channeled, in a massive non sequitur, into zealous support for a 2016 Hillary Clinton presidential campaign – just you watch.  Several of the angriest feminist bloggers are of course also ardent socialist Democrats, a few right here in NYC.  They are always fighting what they perceive as the “War Against Women” on two fronts, hating Wall Street as much as they hate rapists – and somehow seeing the two as related.  And at some point in 2016 they may find themselves compelled to revisit the night of Rand Paul’s infamous “Aqua Buddha” college prank.  Don’t think it can’t happen... I’m warning you... People should listen to me...)

BUT WHAT DID LOUIS C.K. DO in between Lucky Louie on HBO and Louie on FX, you ask?  Apparently, he got his own lesson in how economic and sexual exploitation can intermingle.

AND CONTINUING THE HBO AND NUDITY THEMES: Game of Thrones season 3 starts on HBO this coming Sunday (though I’ll be watching it one week from tonight) and should be nicely Machiavellian.  (In addition to breasts and political intrigue, the show sometimes depicts the promise and peril of mixed-faith marriages, as does Naomi Schaefer Riley’s new book at an apt time.)

Breasts and violence notwithstanding, though, I think the two things the series does right that set it apart from other fantasy and sci-fi are using the supernatural elements vary sparingly at first and using morality almost not at all.  I’m not knocking morality, of course, but the usual practice in fantasy of having clans of aristocrats line up neatly into good and evil camps is, well, not convincing given actual human history. 

BUT FIRST, I'll be seeing G.I. Joe: Retaliation, no doubt far more morally-dualistic.  And I know it'll be goofy.  And I have no intention of seeing the first film.  But (to return to this blog’s “Conspiracy Week” and “Month of Geopolitics” themes), those people who fear reptilian shape-shifters have secretly taken over the government will surely rush to see a film about a Cobra operative disguising himself as the President in order to conquer America.  It’s like this movie was made for them.  They probably think it’s part of the conspiracy. 

IF ONLY real-world politics were that simple.  Instead, it involves subtler evils, like the quiet death of contrarianism over at once-eclectic, sometimes-hawkish New Republic and its replacement by a new, authoritarian, Progressive sycophancy from the likes of young Ezra Klein. 

(My only tiny complaint about that great Matt Welch piece is that the second-to-last paragraph notes liberals bringing the charge of “epistemic closure” against closed-minded conservatives three years ago – but Matt might’ve mentioned that, for good or ill, it was Reason’s own Julian Sanchez who started that lament.  And so the snake consumes its tail, and the ritual is completed.)

ON THAT NOTE, we conclude this “Month of Geopolitics” – and after Easter/April Fool’s, I'll really, truly take that break from cyberspace I’ve threatened for least on this site.


Eric Hanneken said...

As that article about Amina Tyler notes, her parents sent (committed?) her to a psychiatric hospital. I take that as proof that the therapeutic state has arrived in the Muslim world.

Frank Hark said...

Holy crap- that CK video is Amazballs!

Diddo on G.i.Joe- I can't wait to see the ninja fight on the side of a mountain.

BrooklynBrett said...

I was reading through the C.S. Lewis and Ayn Rand stuff and found this one interesting:

"The later a generation comes – the nearer it lives to that date at which the species becomes extinct – the less power it will have in the forward direction, be­cause its subjects will be so few. There is therefore no question of a power vested in the race as a whole steadily growing as long as the race survives. The last men, far from being the heirs of power, will be of all men most subject to the dead hand of the great plan­ners and conditioners and will themselves exercise least power upon the future. "

If he had the demographics shifts and entitlement programs in mind this quote is actually pretty smart.

Anonymous said...

I was certain that Phil Spector would be acquitted on the basis of two things: 1) He was a rich celebrity; and 2) He was tried in California. After all, O.J. Simpson, Robert Blake, and Michael Jackson were all found not guilty in the once-Golden State.