As HBO’s blockbuster series Game of Thrones returns for its seventh season, Reason offers its own freedom-filled parody. A libertarian paradise north of the wall? What’s happened to Westeros’ social security trust fund? Should it take low-income Dothraki four years to get a hair-braiding license?
Written and produced by Austin Bragg, Meredith Bragg, and Andrew Heaton. Shot and edited by Bragg and Bragg. Starring Andrew Heaton, Austin Bragg, and Remy.
The liberal talk show host and conservative Breitbart editor tried to find common ground during an 11-minute discussion, which made national headlines earlier this week after previously scheduled Real Time guest The Intercept co-founder Jeremy Scahill dropped out of the show to protest Yiannopoulos’ booking.
“The Democrats are the party of Lena Dunham. These people are mental, hideous people, and the more that America sees of Lena Dunham, the fewer votes that the Democratic Party is going to get.”
“I wrote a bad review of the movie. I said she look like a dude, she does. I said she’s barely literate, she is.”
The liberal talk show host and conservative Breitbart editor tried to find common ground during an 11-minute discussion, which made national headlines earlier this week after previously scheduled Real Time guest The Intercept co-founder Jeremy Scahill dropped out of the show to protest Yiannopoulos’ booking.
“And I simply don’t accept that the star of a Hollywood blockbuster is sitting in a Hollywood mansion crying over mean words on the internet; get over it. Mean words on the internet don’t hurt anyone,”
“The reason [liberals] want to police humor is they can’t control it — because the one thing all authoritarians hate is the sound of laughter,” Yiannopoulos said.
“Nothing annoys people like the truth. Policing humor for racism and sexism is utterly wrongheaded. Not because normally it’s not there, but because that’s how we build bridges and not how we break them.”
“And also because when people laugh they know it’s true,” Maher agreed. “… You are so helped by the fact that liberals always take the bait.”
“I hurt people for a reason. I like to think of myself as a virtuous troll.”
“Nothing annoys people like the truth,” Yiannopoulos concurred. “Policing humor for racism and sexism is utterly wrongheaded. Not because normally it’s not there, but because that’s how we build bridges and not how we break them.”
Yet Yiannopoulos made blatant sexist comments during the interview, criticizing Amy Schumer and Sarah Silverman as people who “used to be funny before they contracted feminism.” Read the rest of this entry »
John Oliver may well care about gay people, but it turns out gay people don’t care a huge amount about John Oliver.
The British comedian and host of “Last Week Tonight” joined up with Billy Eichner for a segment of “Billy on the Street” to find out what gay people think of him. Eichner scours the streets of New York for gay people to sample, while Oliver stands awkwardly by his side. At first the pair’s struggle seems to be to find someone who’s even heard of him.
“Who’s John Oliver?” one man asks…(read more)
Mediate reports that “John Stossel will step down from hosting his weekly Fox Business program, Stossel, this month.” Separately, Stossel announced on Facebook that the special he is airing on Friday, 12/16 will be his last show on Fox Business.
Mediate adds, however, that Stossel will “be working with ReasonTV to start up a libertarian-themed internet platform. He’ll also serve as an educator with the Charles Koch Institute’s new Creative Fellows Program.” Stossel has been a prolific libertarian documentary filmmaker, and a few of his documentaries were reviewed over the years at MissLiberty.com. Many Stossel clips can be found on YouTube.
This is the speech that is given by a German General to his men after surrendering to the Americans. This is directly cut from the episode, nothing added nothing taken. We feel its a great speech that can relate to all military branches foreign and domestic and should be shared.
“Band of Brothers” is one of the most famous television series ever created, and one of the most famous scenes is a German general’s speech after surrendering to American forces.
The general explains the horror of war as several American soldiers watch in what almost certainly appears to be complete agreement…(read more)
Read more: dailycaller.com
Democrats might have held onto one or both houses of Congress if only Americans better understood the strength of the economic recovery, President Barack Obama said in an interview published Thursday.
“I mean, the truth of the matter is that if we had been able to more effectively communicate all the steps we had taken to the swing voter. Then we might have maintained a majority in the House or the Senate.”
“I mean, the truth of the matter is that if we had been able to more effectively communicate all the steps we had taken to the swing voter,” Obama remarked in a New York Times Magazine interview with Andrew Ross Sorkin, “then we might have maintained a majority in the House or the Senate.”
The U.S. economy is in a better state after the recession than the American people realize, Obama suggested.
“I actually compare our economic performance to how, historically, countries that have wrenching financial crises perform,” he said. “By that measure, we probably managed this better than any large economy on Earth in modern history.”
“I can probably tick off three or four common-sense things we could have done where we’d be growing a percentage or two faster each year. We could have brought down the unemployment rate lower, faster. We could have been lifting wages even faster than we did.”
The president also expressed regret that, in three successive years, his administration was not able to kick-start “a massive infrastructure project,” adding that 2012, 2013 and 2014 “was the perfect time to do it; low interest rates, construction industry is still on its heels, massive need — the fact that we failed to do that, for example, cost us time.
“It meant that there were folks who we could have helped and put back to work and entire communities that could have prospered that ended up taking a lot longer to recover,” Obama said. Read the rest of this entry »
The interruption was part of a scripted gag on the NBC sketch series. But advocacy group Deport Racism said it still plans to make good on the offer.
Anita Bennett reports: “Joke or not, it’s true,” the group Deport Racism says about David’s scripted outburst
While the “Curb Your Enthusiasm” creator probably doesn’t need the cash, he’s about to collect $5,000 courtesy of an immigrant rights group for heckling Donald Trump this weekend on “SNL.”
“Trump’s a racist!” David shouted at the end of the GOP presidential candidate’s monologue. When asked by Trump why he was shouting, David answered, “I heard if I did that, they’d give me $5,000.” Read the rest of this entry »
Patrick Clair of Elastic (www.elastic.tv) has created some of the most startling credit sequences in recent years, including both seasons of “True Detective” (HBO) and 2015 Emmy nominees “Halt and Catch Fire” (AMC) and “Daredevil” (Netflix). Clair explains the thinking behind his work and why a great title sequence long or short can still be a vital part of TV storytelling.
‘Louis CK’s SNL Opening Monologue Was Awesomely Offensive’
In a late-night post involving Louis CK, and Mollie Hemingway, we find ourselves in familiar territory. Testing the limits of good taste, defending freedom of expression, and witnessing fallout from violating powerful social taboos. In the current edition of The Federalist, it’s gratifying to see one of my favorite media writers stand up for one of my favorite comedians. As we see in the video above, Louis CK goes where few comedians would dare to tread.
“It was actually quite disgusting and completely offensive. I can not possibly characterize how tasteless it was. It was also hilarious.”
— Mollie Hemingway
If you’ve ever heard Louis C.K. talk about SNL preparation–as I did recently, listening to a recent radio an interview–you know he seeks out difficult audiences rather than easy ones. He described testing his SNL monologue material in unfavorable environments, on disinterested audiences, intentionally, in order to find weaknesses in the material, and win over tough crowds.
Unlike his usual hip New York audiences, he discovered, SNL audience are comprised mostly of non-New Yorkers. Tourists, regular folks from the heartland. Edgy material he might normally do doesn’t necessarily connect here. After one disappointing performance on SNL, he worked harder at it the next time—testing, calibrating, rehearsing more. And coming better prepared, in his subsequent appearance, he succeeded. (it’s a good interview, if I find the audio clip or transcript of it, I’ll link it) Which is why his recent appearance on SNL surprised me. Because even if the now-infamous controversial material seemed risky, or misguided, you can be sure that the choices made were not arrived at casually.
Likewise for Lorne Michaels. SNL is shot live, the material is vetted in advance. I can’t imagine anything was performed that wasn’t approved. (or at least not disapproved) Knowing Louis C.K.’s work habits (more disciplined than they appear) it’s likely that he rehearsed his monologue for weeks, in front of difficult audiences, in different settings. And then, on live TV, Louis said exactly what he wanted to say. Knowing the risks. Expecting to offend people. But reasonably confident that it was funny.
When asked, in the interview, about his willingness to make people uncomfortable, referring to his frequent run-ins with authority figures in childhood, Louis C.K. said, “I’m used to getting in trouble”. It doesn’t bother him, the experience of being in trouble. He’s often talked about the challenge, and joy, of taking audiences to uneasy places, to explore what’s there, and find what’s funny about it.
To me, this is classic Louis C.K. There’s something about his frankness, sincerity, and delivery, that allows him to get away with things other comics would get crucified for. There’s more here than meets the eye.
The social justice warriors are creating a culture where comedians can’t make most jokes about race, sex, sexual choices, or any of the things that used to be staples of the comedy circuit. One joke in a stand-up set bombs for being over the line and the social media mobs come forth with pitchforks and your career is over or your comedy is seriously proscribed. It’s a free country, though, which means, in these cases, that if a bunch of coddled children can’t handle transgressive comedy without losing their minds, they can make life for a comic a living hell. Just because you’re trying something out in an intimate setting with a particular group of people doesn’t keep them from blasting it on the internet for a global audience that couldn’t possibly understand what you were going for. Comedians such as Chris Rock say it’s just not fun any more….(more)
“It’s a free country, though, which means, in these cases, that if a bunch of coddled children can’t handle transgressive comedy without losing their minds, they can make life for a comic a living hell.”
— Mollie Hemingway
While not exactly endorsing the content of Louis C.K.’s queasy monologue, The Federalist‘s Mollie Hemingway defends it, describing it as “refreshing — and ballsy”, and links to an earlier article discussing the necessity of tolerance. Comedy will suffer if comics are threatened and stop taking risks. Enforcing current PC-orthodoxy with online shaming campaigns, social justice warriors provoke and exploit social media hysteria to keep violators in line. Thus, the idea of Comedy Speakeasies.
The problem with comedy is that people can share what happens in the club with anyone in the world. In the future, when comedy speakeasies are the only way for people to hear transgressive jokes about race and sex, people will have to have the password. But they’ll also have to be patted down for recording equipment. No phones. No audio recorders. No pens and pads. Any recitation of the bits will be fully denied…
In her current column, Mollie continues…
…Louis CK knew he’d be met with social justice warrior outrage — and he was — and he went ahead with the monologue anyway. Not in a speakeasy but on network television. No trigger warnings. No concerns about punching all the way down…
Mad Men Retrospective on Google Play Includes Free Episode
Todd Spangler writes: “Mad Men,” as it nears the finish line after eight years on TV, is getting a virtual retrospective on Google Play that will allow fans to relive the show’s run — a promo that includes free streaming access to the series’ very first episode.
Under a pact with Lionsgate, Google Play is debuting “The Mad Men Experience,” at madmen.withgoogle.com. The website is billed as an interactive, art-exhibit-style destination set in the world of 1960s Madison Avenue with more than 300 pieces of content released for the first time in a digital environment. Those include rarely seen artwork interviews with cast audio commentaries and other features.
The deal is Google Play’s first digital fan experience for a TV show, and it’s aimed at driving viewers to purchase episodes and full seasons of “Mad Men” from the online store. In addition, for a limited time Google Play will stream season one, episode one (“Smoke Gets in Your Eyes”) for free on Google Play, available to users in the U.S., Canada, the U.K. and Australia. All prior seasons of “Mad Men” also are available for streaming on Netflix, and for purchase on Apple’s iTunes and Amazon’s Instant Video services. Read the rest of this entry »
OH YES THEY DID: Journalists Who Peddled Mayweather Domestic Violence History Say They Had Credentials Revoked Before FightPosted: May 2, 2015
ESPN.com news services/ABC News reports: Two reporters said their credentials were revoked for Saturday night’s Floyd Mayweather–Manny Pacquiao fight, and a third reportedly had his taken away as well.
Rachel Nichols of CNN and Michelle Beadle of ESPN/HBO said via Twitter that they had been told their credentials were pulled. USA Today reporter Martin Rogers’ credential was reportedly pulled as well, according to SI.com.
Beadle was credentialed through HBO and not ESPN, both networks and Beadle said.
A spokesman for Mayweather denied the allegations from Beadle and Nichols.
A source with Showtime told Schaap that it had nothing to do with Beadle’s credential situation — only that it denied her permission to film inside MGM Grand arena. A Mayweather promotions source, meanwhile, said Nichols had a temporary credential, but CNN never confirmed she’d need a fight credential.
All three of the reporters have been at the forefront of reporting in Mayweather’s history of domestic violence. Nichols had a contentious interview with Mayweather on CNN last September. Rogers has written a number of stories chronicling Mayweather’s domestic violence issues, and Beadle has been outspoken about Mayweather.
Kelly Swanson, a media relations spokesperson for the Mayweather camp, denied that Nichols and Beadle has lost their credentials. Read the rest of this entry »
Back in September, there was plentiful speculation about HBO’s rumored streaming-only service. Now that the service is here, how did the speculation stack up to the reality? Here’s a trip back to some of those early predictions.
Speaking at an investment conference earlier this week, Time Warner CEO Jeff Bewkes said that the company is “seriously considering what is the best way to deal with online distribution.” For the many who have been pushing HBO to package HBO GO as a separate entity for awhile now, this is no small statement. And with Netflix marching ever forward to corner the streaming market, this could be a crucial moment for HBO.
Yet offering HBO GO without a subscription to HBO presents a number of difficult questions. While it’s undoubtedly a tantalizing possibility, there are as many challenges inherent in this scenario as there are benefits.
Pro: Easier for “Cord Cutters” and Millennials to Watch Their Favorite Shows
Offering HBO GO sans HBO already gels with the way a large number of millennials watch television. According to newfound data, this is a demographic that ingests three times more TV online than their older counterparts.
These millennials are often lumped in as part of a larger group that’s been dubbed “cord cutters,” aka people who’ve dumped cable entirely to watch television through the Internet. And they’re a group that’s growing. A study that came out in June found that 2.9 percent of pay-TV consumers in this country are planning on canceling their cable service and joining the ranks of the cord cutters in the next year. This doesn’t sound like much until you take into account that this number is up from 2.7 percent last year, which was up from 2.2 percent the year before that, indicating American cord cutters are rising steadily.
Together, as millennials and cord cutters reject cable, they are changing the face of American television. HBO GO becoming its own service would be a huge victory for them, and for the shifting trends they represent.
Con: Harder for HBO to Create Content
However, offering HBO GO separately from HBO could come at a price. Because for now, HBO, and all the content they provide, are still very much entrenched in a classic model of distribution.
When viewers first started to clamor for standalone HBO GO accounts several years ago, Ryan Lawler at TechCrunch observed, “HBO currently has about 29 million subscribers and reportedly receives around $7 or $8 per subscriber per month. So HBO could, theoretically, get more per subscriber than it’s currently making. But that doesn’t include the cost of infrastructure needed to support delivery of all those streams, including all the CDN delivery and other costs that would come with rolling out a broader online-only service.”
He continues, “More importantly, it wouldn’t include the cost of sales, marketing, and support—and this is where HBO would really get screwed. Going direct to online customers by pitching HBO GO over-the-top would mean losing the support of its cable, satellite, and IPTV distributors. And since the Comcasts and the Time Warner Cables of the world are the top marketing channel for premium networks like HBO, it would be nearly impossible for HBO to make up for the loss of the cable provider’s marketing team or promotions.”
What does this ultimately mean for you, the consumer? In short, it means that if HBO suffers, their output also suffers.
So far, HBO is doing just fine in their fight against Netflix. Of course, they’re not able to provide the same wide array of movies and TV shows from other networks, but they’re as prestigious as ever, and they have several huge hits on their hands. In fact, Game of Thrones just surpassed The Sopranos to become their highest rated show ever. Read the rest of this entry »
It’s Not About Substance. It’s All About Signaling
Jonathan V. Last writes: In economic theory, “signaling” is an action one party takes that has, superficially, no plausible economic explanation. The reason the action is undertaken isn’t because the action itself is helpful, but because the action transmits important information to a second actor.
“Why do reporters ask politicians what they think about evolution? Practically speaking, no one really cares what a senator or a congressman-or even a president-thinks about evolution. But what a politician says about evolution is a handy signal to certain types of voters telling them what they’re supposed to think.”
So, for instance, the entire field of higher education is essentially a big production in signaling, with students paying lots of money to achieve-not because a college education is worth anything as a good, but because the students hope that the the credential will signal value to potential employers. You don’t pay $200K for a bachelor’s in history from Williams because the class on colonial oppression in West Africa is worth the price of a house. You pay it because you hope that Goldman Sachs sees a Williams diploma as proof of intelligence and will want to hire you.
“The president of the United States-who’s also a constitutional law scholar!-decided that in order to get his arms around reforming the criminal justice system he had to consult with the producer of a fictional TV show that went off the air seven years ago.”
Political life is full of signal theory, too. Why do reporters ask politicians what they think about evolution? Practically speaking, no one really cares what a senator or a congressman-or even a president-thinks about evolution. But what a politician says about evolution is a handy signal to certain types of voters telling them what they’re supposed to think.
“President Obama has always been skilled at sending out very precise, targeted signals, whether it’s to mainstream swing voters or to his liberal base. But the group Obama works hardest at signaling to is the young, Millennial hipsters who were so vital to his 2008 victory over Hillary Clinton.”
So if you’re a nice, well-educated cog in the Goldman Sachs machine who thinks that, generally speaking, public-sector unions are harmful, that the federal government is operating in a suboptimal manner, and that the mullahs of Iran probably shouldn’t be allowed to have nuclear weapons, you might consider voting for someone like that tough, can-do governor from Wisconsin.
But then someone asks the governor whether or not he “believes in evolution” and he doesn’t answer by jumping up and down chanting and “Darwin! Darwin! Darwin!” And suddenly you understand: This guy isn’t really like you. Better to let Iran have nukes.
You got the signal loud and clear.
“As a substantive matter, Obama’s presidency has been terrible for these people. High unemployment numbers for recent graduates. No bending of the curve on college tuition prices….Yet Obama has made sure to signal that, despite everything, he’s really on their side.”
Apple’s Spring Forward event was quite eventful (repetition intended). Apple TV got a big price drop and an even bigger exclusive partnership with HBO. The Apple Watch was priced for every single tier. And there’s that ultra-thin, minimal-ported MacBook.
The political-themed Oscar firestorm season—or is it Oscar-themed political firestorm season?—has reached its height of late, with Clint Eastwood’s war flick American Sniper overtaking Ava DuVernay’s Selma as the preeminent flashpoint for all the grousing. (The film is up for Best Picture and Best Actor, among other awards.)
Thanks to their tweets, Michael Moore and Seth Rogen both spent the week on the receiving end of criticism from the pro-Sniper crowd, most notably Kid Rock. On Friday night’s Real Time with Bill Maher on HBO, the reliably cantankerous Maher suggested that Chris Kyle, the Navy SEAL played in the film by Bradley Cooper, is a “psychopathic patriot.” Maher also read excerpts from Kyle’s 2013 autobiography, the book on which the film is based, in which he called Iraqis “savages.”
But his critique may not have had much of an impact at the box office: Deadline reports the film…
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John Nolte reports: What was supposed to be Her Year has in fact turned out to be five-alarm disaster for Lena Dunham, the creator of HBO’s “Girls.” A year ago, closing out 2014 had to look pretty exciting to the 28 year-old. No matter how good or bad it was, her memoir would be released to guaranteed critical acclaim (she is Lena Dunham after all), there were two major Golden Globe nominations, and the publicity surrounding the 4th season premiere of “Girls” was going to be bigger than anything anyone could have ever imagined.
2014 was going to be Dunham’s breakthrough; the year she went mainstream. Along with the gushing reviews of her memoir and slavish coverage from The New York Times, there would be countless magazine covers, talk show appearances, and a thousand slathering articles obsessing over her every tweet and utterance. The entertainment media was on board. The mainstream media was on board. And at first it all went according to plan. Read the rest of this entry »
In the final segment of Friday’s edition of HBO’s Real Time, host Bill Maher took aim at those who oppose free speech, especially taking liberals to task for the “Islamophobia kills” campaign and being against “bullying” when it’s convenient.
“Yeah, liberals hate bullying alright but they’re not opposed to using it when they causally throw out words like bigot and racist.”
“It does cower people into avoiding this debate. And if you’re doing that, you don’t get to wear the “Je suis Charlie” button; the button you wear is ‘Je suis party of the problem.’ And that goes for everybody,” he added.
[BONUS: The pro-censorship website crooksandliars.com disapproves of Maher’s defense of free speech with this thumb-sucking, pouting, infantile headline: Maher’s New Rule: Limbaugh Can Say Whatever He Wants, You Little People Can Just STFU]
Maher criticized Catholic League president Bill Donahue for blaming the publisher of Charlie Hebo for not understanding “the role he played in his tragic death. Maher says that’s essentially blaming a woman for rape because she was wearing clothes that were too provocative.
“Free speech only works if there are no waivers. No waivers. Including for religion.”
— Bill Maher
Next, Maher slammed frequent guest of the show Glenn Greenwald for saying anti-Muslim speech is a “vital driver” for the occupation of Muslim countries and killing the innocent.
“Really? Newspaper cartoons did all that? Wait until they get to the horoscopes and the crossword.”
“It reminds me of one of those protest signs that I saw up in Berkeley last month; it said: ‘Islamophobia kills.’ Does it? The phobia kills? Or maybe it’s more the AK-47s, and the beheadings, and the planes into buildings,” Maher responded.
— Pamela Geller (@PamelaGeller) January 17, 2015
“…Ironically you’re not even a proper liberal because you don’t get free speech. You’re just a baby who can’t stand to live in a world where you hear things that upset you. Oh, you’re not alone.”
HBO Series Goes There
…Lena Dunham, creator and writer of the series, said that she’s proud of Allison for being a “good sport,” and offered some insight as to how personal something like the aforementioned sex act actually is.
“Let me tell you this, when someone puts their face in your butt, whether there’s a barrier or not, their face is still in your butt. And she handled that with aplomb.”
— Lena Dunham
“Maybe that’s one of the cliffs or peaks that we need to begin to incorporate into our societal representation of this revolution, specifically in television.”
— Alex Karpovsky
Zosia Mamet, who plays Shoshanna Shapiro on the show, said she understands that Dunham and the other writers wouldn’t incorporate anything that’s “uncomfortable or scary” into the script, unless it served a purpose….
“Maybe that’s one of the cliffs or peaks that we need to begin to incorporate into our societal representation of this revolution, specifically in television. This could be the year of the anus,” he said….(read more)
Jessica Chasmar reports: Random House declared Monday that “Barry One,” who set up a legal fund and was reportedly making plans to sue Lena Dunham, is not the same Barry the actress claimed raped her when she was 19 at Oberlin College.
“Under scrutiny, Dunham’s rape story didn’t just fall apart; it evaporated into pixie dust and blew away.”
— Breitbart News report
Breitbart News reported last week that a man identified only as Barry One had been in frequent contact with Ms. Dunham’s representatives in recent months and has recently set up a legal fund to cover legal expenses to clear his name.
“We are offering to pay the fees Mr. Minc has billed his client to date. Our offer will allow Mr. Minc and his client to donate all of the crowd-funding raised to not-for-profit organizations assisting survivors of rape and sexual assault.”
— Statement from Random House
In her memoir “Not That Kind of Girl: A Young Woman Tells You What She’s ‘Learned,’” Ms. Dunham, 27, describes an unwanted sexual encounter with a mustachioed campus Republican named Barry, in which she says she was drunk, high on Xanax and cocaine, and in no condition to consent to sex. Read the rest of this entry »
For Reason.com, Meredith Bragg & Nick Gillespie assemble the worst of the worst, see the whole thing here. And don’t miss the best of the best list from earlier, we’ll include that in an upcoming post, because life is too short for bad TV.
A little while ago, we tallied up “The 5 Best Libertarian TV Shows.” South Park, Penn & Teller: Bullshit, The Wire, The Prisoner, House of Cards: They’re all there, along with your abuse in the comments for leaving out Firefly, Yes, Minister, King of the Hill, and all your other favorites.
Now it’s time to list the five TV shows that are the absolute worst from a libertarian perspective.
5. The Newsroom (2012-2014). To be fair, just about everyone hates this sanctimonious drama created by Aaron Sorkin, who also has the rosy-eyed White House valentine The West Wingin his oeuvre. Its third and final season premieres on HBO in November.
The Newsroom follows the on-air tantrums of Will McAvoy, a preening, self-righteous anchorman who can’t open his mouth without inveighing against capitalism, gun rights, or political speech with which he doesn’t agree. As played by Jeff Daniels, McAvoy is a lot like Ron Burgundy, but unintentionally funny. Read the rest of this entry »
From HBO’s “John Adams”, 2008. The life of one of the USA’s Founding Fathers, its second President, and his role in the nation’s first 50 years, featuring Paul Giamatti, Laura Linney, John Dossett |See full cast and crew »
An extraordinary Adams speech, well-exectuted by Giamatti.
This series had such potential. Some unfortunate casting choices and a mediocre script made it less successful than it could have been. HBO started with material rich with history and drama, and managed to make it boring.
Casting Paul Giamattia as John Adams was perhaps the most misguided aspect of this production. I admire Giamatti’s work in other movies, but as John Adams, much of the time his performance results in unintended unserious, comic, lightweight moments. This speech, however, is an exception.
The provocative documentary, which hit select theaters on Friday, demonstrates in sad detail how American college students and their families are struggling to cope with tuition prices that have skyrocketed 1,120 percent in “absolute dollars” since 1978.
Rossi observed that salaries for bureaucrats ranging from incredibly cushy to downright obscene have been a huge factor in tuition increases.
“The increase in administrators and professional staff has far outpaced the growth of full-time faculty.”
— Director Andrew Rossi
Many college presidents now bring home seven-figure salaries, he noted. Read the rest of this entry »
Last Week Tonight With John Oliver: “Oregon Spirit” by Lisa Loeb (HBO)
“your passion for cuteness may kill your whole state.”
“That has got to be a bitter pill to swallow for the people of Oregon — or it would be if they could get the pill, which they can’t because their sh***y website is broken”
Some thoughts on the celebrity of Sarah Silverman.
Kevin D. Williamson writes: ‘I saw my father’s penis once. But it was okay, because I was so young . . . and sodrunk.” Thus one of the important cultural voices in modern American liberalism explores what our credulous Freudian friends would call her Electra complex. If, somewhere in this or another galaxy, an advanced alien race is monitoring the broadcasts of Sarah Silverman, we can be sure that they will not be much tempted to visit.
Silverman is a model American of the age, whose craft consists of taking a very old tradition, Jewish ethnic humor, and making it embarrassing. Barack Obama is a fan — it is not mere cultural accident that their careers are contemporaneous — while semi-serious intellectual salons host her, to their occasional regret. This is an age of infantile politics, the motto of which is: “I want!” It is only natural that this would be matched by an equally infantile popular culture — it is the infantile culture that brings about the infantile politics, not the other way around — and that one of the more significant evangelists for Barack Obama and Obamaism would be a woman who starred in a faux French New Wave film called Féte des Pets (Fart Party) and published Eat, Pray, Fart: Life Lessons from the Sarah Silverman Program.
Freud’s triune description of the human personality may be useless as a model of the mind, but it works as a method of classifying comedians. There are practitioners of the comedy of the superego, rare birds such as Bob Newhart, whose main subject, stated or not, is social convention. More common are the comedians of the ego, such as Richard Pryor, whose main subject is the comedian himself and his personality. Miss Silverman, with her fascination with all things squeamishly infantile — her father’s genitals, and her mother’s, too — is the reigning queen of the comedy of the id. Her career is considered in some quarters groundbreaking, on the theory that she has advanced the cause of feminism by demonstrating that women can be as gross and tacky as men, as though there were people to whom this fact needed to be demonstrated.
John Nolte writes: Business Insider reports that the television industry is “having its worst year ever.” Ratings have plummeted, and so have subscribers to bundled cable television — which is the Golden Cash Cow of Hollywood. Since 2010, cable providers have lost 5 million subscribers. During the last quarter alone 113,000 cable customers said goodbye.
For decades, cable providers gained a lot more customers than they ever lost, but those days are long over. For the first time in the industry’s history, there are fewer than 40 million customers paying for cable from America’s major providers. People are obviously moving online, choosing to stream the television shows and films they want to watch, and doing so when they choose to. Appointment television is as dead as Barack Obama’s credibility.
Streaming is a much better deal for consumers. Instead of facing punishing prices for a bundled cable package that makes you pay for dozens of channels you never watch, streaming offers choice and value and convenience. Some programming is still exclusively available via bundled cable or satellite only. Eventually, though, that will have to change. Entertainment providers will have to go to where the people are. Read the rest of this entry »
AMC’s “Breaking Bad,” one week after picking up the top Emmy drama prize, capped its meteoric ratings rise Sunday by surging to series highs in its finale — despite facing formidable season premieres on ABC, CBS, Fox and Showtime.
There was no stopping fans from watching the show live Sunday (or at least same-night, thanks to DVRs), as the conclusion to Walter White’s odyssey was watched by an average audience of 10.3 million, according to Nielsen, up 3.7 million (or 56%) from its penultimate episode of the previous week (6.6 million). Read the rest of this entry »
Yesterday the New York Times broke the news that the final season of Mad Men will be broadcast in two parts (see more on this here). This isn’t the first time that a television series has been split into two – AMC recently adopted the same strategy for Breaking Bad which saw a gap of almost a year between the first half and the last half of the final fifth season. Nor is this necessarily even a recent trend – HBO notably broadcast the final season of The Sopranos (1999-2007) in a similar manner. In that instance, the decision to split the season into two was arguably more of an afterthought, as the series’ creator David Chase later decided that he wanted the opportunity to “round out the story”. But it’s not just TV (as the HBO slogan goes), this happens in cinema too. Franchises such as Harry Potter (2001-2011) and Twilight (2008-2012) have both recently featured two-part endings in concluding their narratives. The logic behind the two-part conclusion, whether it’s in film or television, is no doubt financially motivated. Indeed, why not draw out the story in two parts and reap the financial rewards? In the case of cinema, this form of serialisation is intended to increase box office takings (presumably people who saw part one will want to see part two), while in television the money comes from subscription fees and advertising. This economic gain may be the main impetus for this trend, but I’m more interested in the way that these patterns of distribution might impact upon the programme’s narrative. Read the rest of this entry »
Amidst this campaign’s bickering about which candidate is women’s friend or foe, the Obama camp targets young women in an eye-catching web ad intended as feminist but, in fact, profoundly insulting. Its main effect is to show that, while the Republicans have serious “woman problems” of their own making, the Democrats often peddle a pseudo-feminist paternalism that reeks of condescension.
The one-minute Obama for America spot features Lena Dunham, 26-year-old creator and star of the HBO show Girls, addressing a college-age female audience. “Your first time shouldn’t be with just anybody. You want to do it with a great guy,” Dunham says. “Someone who really cares about and understands women. It should be with a guy who cares whether you get health insurance, and specifically whether you get birth control.” At the end of the video, Dunham reminisces in hushed giddy tones, “My first-time voting was amazing… Before, I was a girl; now, I was a woman.” Then, with a coy suggestive grin, she discloses that she voted for (who else?) Barack Obama.
How to count the ways in which this is wrong? To start with, there’s the innuendo-laced voting-as-sex (or sex-as-voting) metaphor, in which a woman’s exercise of her basic right of citizenship is analogized both to choosing her first lover and to giving her virginity to the man she chooses as leader. It plays like a parody of the sexist clichés that reduce women’s lives to their sexual functions—and women’s politics to eroticized worship for the ultimate alpha male.
This particular alpha male is more sensitive than dominant, but make no mistake: it is still his role to take care of the little woman. It’s almost as if the ad makers wanted to validate conservative claims that the Democrats’ pitch to women is the state as a substitute husband — Uncle Sam taking over the traditional male role of provider and protector.
Many critics saw this theme in the Obama campaign’s famous interactive online ad, “The Life of Julia,” which tracked the Obama-favored government programs that would help a fictional woman through her life, from school to work to motherhood (with no husband in sight) to retirement. But in the “Julia” ad, the “Hubby Sam” theme was only inferred; it could be seen as a more general, albeit female-geared, statement about the benefits of government. In the “First Time” ad, the “let the government be your man” subtext is not even “sub.”
Young female voters, moreover, are portrayed in nakedly stereotypical terms: besides a mention of bringing soldiers home from Iraq and an obscure pay equity reference, they seem to care only about birth control and perfect weddings. Yes, weddings: when Dunham discusses Romney’s opposition to same-sex marriage, she says that he thinks “gay people should never have the kind of beautiful, complicated weddings that we see on Bravo and TLC all the time.”
There’s another cringeworthy twist: The video echoes a Russian campaign ad from earlier this year in which a young cutie consulting a fortuneteller about her “first time” discovered that her “intended” was Vladimir Putin. “I see that it will be for love, and with no cheating,” the psychic told her; “he’ll protect you like a stone wall.” The tagline read, “Putin: The first time, only for (heart).” After watching that, I told a Russian-speaking friend that, however bad American politicking might get, at least we wouldn’t see anything so crass or sexist here. Oops…
- Sexist, degrading ad compares voting for Obama with losing your virginity (redalertpolitics.com)
- VIDEO: Comedian Steven Crowder parodies Lena Dunham’s “First Time” Obama commercial (redalertpolitics.com)
- Obama’s Disgusting Plea for Teenage Votes Moves His Campaign from Kiddy TV to Depravity (politicalcenter.newsvine.com)
- Lena Dunham Laughs Off Obama “First Time” Ad Backlash (thehollywoodgossip.com)
- President in Shining Armor (nytimes.com)