“There’s a fine line? There’s NO line. There’s NO LINE you IDIOT! It’s free speech or it isn’t, there’s NO LINE.”
— Bill Whittle
Chris Matthews said that the Texas incident was a mousetrap for terrorism, and that event organizers crossed a line. The Trifecta Gang rips this apart.
“Chris Matthews, you miserable lowlife COWARD, you have the audacity to make a living giving your opinion on American television and now you’re gonna say that these people deserved this, the same way Gary Trudeau said that the people at Charlie Hebdo deserved to be butchered in their chairs because they drew cartoons just like he did?”
“You have got a lot of nerve, you don’t deserve to live in this country, none of you deserve to live in this country, and if you want to know what the basis of this is, you’ve got it exactly right, Scott, it’s COWARDICE, it’s FEAR, these WEASELS, these LOWLIFES, these TRAITORS, in the media…”
— Bill Whittle, just getting warmed up
Yet the award has become controversial, attacked by a group of writers who presume to lecture murder victims on not provoking their murderers.
“If the publication’s equal-opportunity offenders had been assaulted by right-wing extremists for their savage mockery of anti-immigrant politicians, or opponents of gay marriage or Catholicism, surely the dissenting writers would be all for recognizing Charlie Hebdo.”
These dissenters are an unabashed fifth column undermining PEN America’s devotion to free expression so as to carve out a safe space for Islam from the barbed speech inherent to a free society.
They oppose the killing of the Charlie Hebdo journalists — thanks, guys — but otherwise agree with the jihadis that the publication was out-of-bounds.
“This is a version of Garry Trudeau’s argument that Charlie Hebdo was ‘punching downward’ against the defenseless, when satire should punch up against the powerful. This is a bizarre notion of power. The weapon of choice of Charlie Hebdo’s cartoonists was the pen; the weapon of choice of their assailants was the firearm.”
Amazon’s new pilot proves that alternative-history shows are an uphill battle
The Man in the High Castle, by Philip K. Dick, is an acknowledged classic of the alternative-history genre — the sort of books that imagine a world in which something important had gone differently. (In this case, it’s if the Axis powers had won World War II.) The TV show of the same title, whose pilot is currently streaming on Amazon, is unlikely to meet as much success, not least because the alternative-history genre of TV isn’t something that exists. In general, TV has been uniquely bad at conveying dystopian fantasies. So far, The Man in the High Castle is worse than it could be — but it’s hard to call it a disappointment, given how low expectations should have been.
The power of books that imagine the apocalypse (or a far worse alternate present) is their power to parcel out information about the state of the world we’re witnessing through context. When television attempts to do the same, it feels sledgehammer-level unsubtle. In a book, a mention of a popular current movie or song, or a quick description of a poster or work of art, can be easily absorbed in the flow of information. In Amazon’s The Man in the High Castle pilot, when the camera pauses on a movie theater marquee or poster of a Third Reich soldier, it feels as though we’re being nudged in the ribs: This will be important later! The important stuff that’s actually interesting gets withheld to a frustrating degree, in favor of fairly dull characters who are on quests we don’t get enough information about to care. What would it really be like to live under Nazi rule in America? We don’t get a strong sense, aside from a vague feeling that the police would be far more aggressive.
Subtlety isn’t television’s strongest trait, but shows like The Man in the High Castle, which exist in a wildly different universe than our own, only exacerbate the medium’s problems with obviousness. We want to know how America ended up overrun with German and Japanese soldiers — just as how, in Under the Dome, we want to know how the town ended up under a dome, or how in the late ABC reboot of V we wanted to know the alien’s plots. Those last two shows are but two easy examples of an irritating phenomenon: when they did parcel out information about the world in which their characters found themselves, it was heavy-handed in a way that only emphasized how much the rest of the show was wheel-spinning. Read the rest of this entry »