Sunday, July 31, 2022

Class warfare in the multiplex

My sweetheart and I both enjoyed Where the Crawdads Sing, and in that we were not alone, despite the movie's very mixed reception among professional film critics (see samples below).

These critics can't be trusted. As the snippets illustrating this post show, neither Clarisse Loughrey nor Peter Bradshaw was paying enough attention to the film they were supposed to review. 

Loughrey, for example, missed several onscreen cues to the effect that "Crawdads" takes place in North Carolina. 

One might excuse a British reviewer for not knowing what North Carolina's state flag looks like (it's in courtroom scenes), but the movie also announced its location in dialog more than once. 

Bradshaw's complaint is even dumber. Two Black actors play pivotal roles in the story, so to call the movie an "all-white reboot" of anything else is ridiculous. In the current social climate, it's also irresponsible.  

And it's hard to say anything about Gary Kramer except that his visceral dislike for Where the Crawdads Sing sure makes him seem an unhappy soul.

Sadly, the dichotomy between critical (33% approval) and popular (96% approval) reception for Where the Crawdads Sing isn't a one-off. 

You can see the same dynamic at play in the "Rotten Tomatoes" reaction to the last year's hero-worshipping documentary about Dr. Anthony Fauci, the camera-loving face of federal response to COVID-19 who hasn't seen actual patients since he completed his residency decades ago:

More recently, scoring on Rotten Tomatoes also shows a gulf between what audiences (95% approval) and critics (39% approval) think of The Terminal List

That eight-episode exposition of a U.S. Navy SEAL's revenge is many things, not least a commentary on the value of informed consent. I thought season one very much worth watching, with fine performances throughout, and unusual fidelity to the novel on which it is based. 

Actors Chris Pratt, Taylor Kitsch, Constance Wu, Jeanne Tripplehorn, and Tyner Rushing all turned in yeoman work for season one of that series. Even so, professional critics were more likely to sneer at the effort. One can't help but wonder if their beef with The Terminal List was mostly ideological. They probaly don't understand the appeal of such allegedly polarizing real-life figures as Joe Rogan or Jordan Peterson, either.

Friday, July 29, 2022

Plans A through F

Michael Anton's astute political analysis is always worth reading. This time he writes about why "They Can't Let Him Back In."  And you know very well who he is.

Anton writes:

Anti-Trump hysteria is in the final analysis not about Trump. The regime can’t allow Trump to be president not because of who he is (although that grates), but because of who his followers are. That class—Angelo Codevilla’s “country class”—must not be allowed representation by candidates who might implement their preferences, which also, and above all, must not be allowed. The rubes have no legitimate standing to affect the outcome of any political process, because of who they are, but mostly because of what they want.

Complaints about the nature of Trump are just proxies for objections to the nature of his base. It doesn’t help stabilize our already twitchy situation that those who bleat the loudest about democracy are also audibly and visibly determined to deny a real choice to half the country. “No matter how you vote, you will not get X”—whether X is a candidate or a policy—is guaranteed to increase discontent with the present regime.

To the point that Anton makes about what might be called a country club war on Trump's base -- and Neo's related thoughts about the January 6 subcommittee's quixotic quest for something to charge Trump with legally -- think of Rodney Dangerfield's character in Caddyshack: Like Donald Trump, Dangerfield's character ("Al Czervik") has money enough for membership at the Bushwood Country Club, but other golfers consider him uncouth. Attitude-wise, Czervik, like Trump, has more in common with Bill Murray's gopher-hunting groundskeepr than with the other people in his social class.

I'm tickled by that fact that Anton uses a nautical analogy near the end of his essay. I had a similar thought (seawater on the brain?) for this recent piece published by The Locke Institute's Carolina Journal, except that I was looking at progressive reaction to Dobbs v. Jackson Women's Health Organization, rather than political machinery prepping for the 2024 presidential election.