Showing posts with label acculturated. Show all posts
Showing posts with label acculturated. Show all posts

Wednesday, September 13, 2017


At rightwing ladymag Acculturated, Mark Tapson has written the ten millionth conservative complainer about how the artistic commissars are prejumadiced against them:
The culture leans sharply left, and in our current, highly-polarized political climate that means conservatives in the arts tend to be treated as outsiders at best and pariahs at worst. Listen to the personal experiences of conservatives in Hollywood, for example, whether “above the line” (the stars, producers and directors) or below it (the rest of the crew), and you will understand why most keep their politics in the closet to avoid bad vibes, ostracism, and/or outright hostility. The left, of course, dismisses complaints of blacklisting and bias as paranoid whining, but they are very real indeed.
Wow -- someone in Hollywood was hostile to you? Must be your politics!

Tapson has a more specific gripe, too: He claims the New York Times best-seller listings are cheating rightwing authors like Dinesh D'Souza of their proper rankings:
The Times says its list is based on “surveys” of “a wide range of retailers who provide us with specific and confidential context of their sales each week. These standards are applied consistently, across the board in order to provide Times readers our best assessment of what books are the most broadly popular at that time.”

Confidential context? Best assessment? Broadly popular? This sounds suspiciously unscientific and non-transparent, and does not address the evidence of the sales figures themselves. The once highly-regarded “newspaper of record” is notoriously leftist and D’Souza is a lightning rod for Progressive animosity, so the idea that there might be some manipulation of the list is not only not ludicrous, it’s likely.
This goes back to something I've been saying forever about wingnut whining -- for example, when they complain that Yale and Harvard are prejudiced against them, I always say: Why not quitcher bitchin' and instead make Bob Jones and Liberty University the intellectual lighthouses to which the best students flock? Then you won't need to worry about Yale and Harvard! Bypass the gatekeepers! Be the star you are!

Similarly, why worry about the Times rankings at all? (Shoot, Regnery doesn't -- they say they'll stop using the Times rankings in their marketing which, given their bulk-sales-to-gomers approach, probably won't make any difference.) Conservatives having been saying for decades that the Times is untrustworthy and irrelevant -- why not instead lobby for the New York Post, Breitbart et alia to have their own lists, and then you can all enthuse that D'Souza's Liberal Fascism for the Even Dumber is #1 on the American Thinker Best Seller List?

The answer's pretty obvious: These guys don't really believe what they say they believe. They don't want the path cleared so they can be judged by the wide world on their own merits. What they want are the glittering prizes their enemies dispense, because somewhere deep in their blackened little souls they burn with desire for the approbation of the people they spend their days raging against, like spurned teenage suitors. And, if they can't have the prizes, they can at least retain the boogiemen -- Hollyweird! Eggheads! Shut Up and Sing! -- that they and their yokel supporters can invoke whenever they feel like having a good cry about how persecuted they are.

For his coda, Tapson then tacks on another popular rightwing favorite: Let's Put on a Culture! (A nice one, not that entarte kunst those liberals do.)
The upshot is, it’s time for conservative artists to do more than complain about the culture bias; it’s time for us to -- first and foremost -- create great art (or none of the rest of it will matter), and secondly, create alternative distribution channels to disseminate it: magazines, networks, publishers, production companies, studios, awards shows, foundation grants, everything the left used to create the current infrastructure that favors its worldview.

The technology for this transformation is available. The funding is available (if only moneyed conservatives had the vision to use it effectively). All that’s necessary is the will.
Yep, all it takes is the will, and the endless, fruitless quest to get Rupert Murdoch to finance your hard-hitting dramedy about the Knockout Game. I hear this kind of thing a lot, and the payoff is nearly always a dud or a grift -- take the sad cases of Liberty Island and Declaration Entertainment. It's not that I think they can't do it; it's just that I think the real conservative artists are just making their art rather than boo-hooing about bias -- notwithstanding the former is much harder than the latter. Try to imagine Evelyn Waugh crying that the Labour Party was keeping him down.

I understand the emotions, but outside of ungovernable obsession I don't understand why they post and print so much about the subject in public where people can see it. I can see bitching at the liberal media if you're a politician -- it may convince your voters the stories they tell on you are false. But what's even the point of crying about how Big Artistry isn't fair to your play, book or film when your readers probably only ever watch Game of Thrones and Clint Eastwood movies, and only ever pick up a book to smash flies? Maybe it's an easy space-filler for when one of their propagandists calls in sick.

UPDATE. I realize that quoting wingnut comboxes is the lowest form of comedy but I ain't too proud for it when the lulz are this good: Sarah Hoyt at Instapundit aggregates the story and her commenters are -- well, look how some cowboys answered "Is it Time for Conservatives to Create an Alternate Culture?"

Go over there and look, it's hilair. Sample: "I thought conservatives already had an alternative culture. I thought it was called church."

Friday, March 17, 2017


The kids are alright.

• Though Salena Zito is alicublog's favorite White Working Class Whisperer, we don't sleep on J.D. Vance, the Hillbilly Elegy guy who, though he went to Yale and became a rich investment capital executive and a National Review writer, still feels for his kinfolk back in Skunk Holler (actually, according to his official bio he "grew up in the Rust Belt city of Middletown, Ohio, and the Appalachian town of Jackson, Kentucky" -- a WWC twofer!) and really understands why they went for Trump (which, of course, is very different from supporting Trump himself, though he never gets around to saying what the difference is). The other day Vance told his many rustic fans (at least those who read the New York Times) that he was "moving home" with the noble goal of "founding an organization to combat Ohio’s opioid epidemic." Thus he will do his bit to reverse the "brain drain" that Charles Murray worries about, and bring jobs and purpose to Rust Belt Middletown and --

Hang on -- you say he's not moving to Middletown? He's moving to Columbus? Or, as the hipsterrific ads call it, Cbus?

Columbus Monthly explains:
Though Cincinnati is closer to his hometown, Vance chose Columbus for its more convenient airport, central location and availability of promising job opportunities for his wife, Usha, a lawyer and fellow Yale Law School graduate. Speaking before an event hosted for him at Miranova by Columbus power couple Larry and Donna James, Vance, an Ohio State graduate, said he and his wife plan to move to German Village with their two dogs, Pippin and Casper.
Somehow I dount Pippin and Casper are coonhounds.

• Back in 2009, The Editors of National Review blasted the DNC for referring to obstreperous attendees of Obamacare Town Brawls as a "mob," and Democratic officials for avoiding such events:
The DNC’s ad, “Enough of the Mob,” abominates those Americans who show up to address their congressmen and to exercise their constitutional rights to speak freely, to assemble, and to petition their government for redress of grievances. You know, that old pre-hope-and-change, hopelessly retro, pre-messianic democratic stuff...

The most mockery-inviting aspect of all this is that Obamacare-supporting Democrats are now ducking constituent meetings back in their home districts, afraid to face questions from the people they are paid to represent. Given the Obama team’s contempt for these people, and its utterly dismissive attitude toward their concerns, is it any wonder “the mob” doesn’t want Obama in charge of their health care? Obamacare will constitute an injury to Americans’ well-being — and the president now adds insult to it.
Today, with the disastrous Trumpcare bill being muscled through Congress, and Republicans ducking their own Town Brawls, The Editors haven't got the nerve, so they've hauled in some poor lady from Acculturated, rightwingdom's single-A farm team. Her headline:
Stop Trolling Politicians at Town-Hall Meetings
There follow several grafs from a History of Town Halls term paper, then:
This is the new political coliseum, and while there aren’t lions, chariots, and sparring with swords, there is the aura of the melee rather than deliberative debate...

The best town halls will always be places to gather and debate, sometimes heatedly. But if this crucial democratic tradition is to survive our fractured age, we should embrace civility during town-hall meetings, and save the angry trolling for Twitter.
NR performs its duh diligence, the Acculturated lady gets a top-drawer writing credit, and no normal people ever see the column. Everybody wins!

Wednesday, January 25, 2017


Welcome back to the pages of alicublog,  Ashley E. McGuire of Acculturated!
Is Ivanka Making Motherhood Great Again?

Is Ivanka Trump America’s Kate Middleton?
Quick primer for the uninitiated: Acculturated is one of those wingnut ladymags commissioned by culture warriors to make young female conservatives feel less lonesome. Their philosophical tradition is Kinder, Küche, and Kirche, but they seem to worry their target will find this dowdy and depressing in its pure form -- like Woman's Day meets Soviet Life -- so they try, as here, to glam it up.
In this viral photo posted on Ivanka’s Instagram page the day before the Inauguration, America’s new first daughter channels the Duchess rather mightily.

In the picture, Ivanka is rocking the whole Duchess package: walking down the red-carpeted steps of a private jet in nude stilettos and a gorgeously tailored outfit, with an incredibly intact blowout with a babe on one hip and a child holding her other hand.

There are entire Google image archives devoted to pictures of the Duchess coming down airplane steps with babies and toddlers in tow.
Great thing about the Internet -- something for every kink! McGuire cites one of her fellow Kate 'n' Kids furries who thrills to the Duchess towing tots in heels, specifically; "a bit precarious," he swoons. McGuire responds:
It is precarious. It’s also precarious trying to be both a mom and a public figure in today’s world: yet another parallel of mastery between Trump and Middleton.

Kate Middleton has done an exceptional job of making motherhood glam again. Unlike American celebrity moms, she doesn’t post on social media about being covered in throw up and never getting any sleep. She doesn’t complain in interviews about the travails of parenting. She doesn’t post the makeup-less 3 a.m. selfie that is supposed to make us think she is a “real mom” like the rest of us. Yes, she has the royal P.R. straight jacket on...
Straitjacket, surely? Or does she know something we don't?
...and yet, she demonstrates her authenticity in motherhood with the obvious care she puts into her children and the genuinely warm way she behaves with them, even under the camera’s glare. She commits the ultimate crime in today’s post-feminist world: She appears to enjoy being a mom, and lets the media run with that perception.
Being a mom must be heaps of fun if you're married to royalty with an army of nannies and minders to take the kids, clean you up, rub your shoulders, and put cream on your nipples as soon as the photographers leave. Speaking of promo, now to suck off The Leader!
Like Middleton, Ivanka has allowed herself to be very much defined by her role as a mom. While Ivanka has a demanding career, she seems proud to let the paparazzi make a fuss over her family life too, occasionally doing what Middleton does not, sharing a more candid and makeup-free moment with her kids with the world.
Which is gross when less conservative celebs do it but she has a way don'tcha think?
...It’s easy to scoff at Middleton’s lack of a career, but she is one of the most scrutinized women in the world.
"Object of male gaze" has been a career for many women, honey, but rarely so remunerative; that it's a crap deal only gets more obvious (thanks in part to the gruesome example of Ivanka's dad!). That's why Teen Vogue is woke and you're a snore.

Tuesday, February 09, 2016


It may seem as if I'm picking on Mark Judge of culture-war catastrophe Acculturated, but look, it's a busy day and sometimes you just have to take the easy lay-up. His latest is about how men should be able to go out with other men -- no, he doesn't mean anything gay, though it does get physical -- when Judge hangs with his old school buds "it’s noticeable how physical our friendships still are, even decades after we graduated. At reunions we tend to fall back on the age-old male expression of affection—light punches on the shoulder, a bear hug, even playful wrestling after a few beers." (I would pay good money to see Judge's remake of Cassavetes' Husbands.)

Judge's plea is actually for Boy's Night Out, which leads me to ask: so who's stopping you? Like all culture-warriors, he thinks behaviors of which he disapproves reflect political ideologies:
Both feminists who hector men to spend every moment with them—making sure all activities are of equal time—and conservatives who argue that a man’s entire life should revolve around his family, are both presenting ideas that are harmful to men.
Hectoring men to spend every moment with you -- isn't that from Our Bodies, Ourselves (That Includes You, Larry)? And even the comedy strawmen that pass for conservatives here at alicublog don't think "a man’s entire life should revolve around his family" -- how then, for example, would married preachers ever get away to Bible conferences for anonymous sex with men?

Here are my two favorite parts of the thing, devoid of context because who gives a fuck:
Feminists of course will take this (like everything else) the wrong way—I’m mansplaining why women don’t feel stress, etc.—but it’s actually a compliment.
The decision was instant and near unanimous: No. All it took to make the right call was a reminder of last year’s monkeyshines: the drinking, pick-up games, late night skinny dipping in the ocean, frank talk about women and sex. We needed to pick the insects and fleas off of each other, and that was best done without girls.
Readers Who Liked This also enjoyed "Why the ‘Conan the Barbarian’ Sequel Should Focus on Fatherhood," which amazingly exists but was written by somebody else.

Wednesday, January 27, 2016


As a young'un, Marco Rubio got tagged by the cops for drinking beer in a park; when the story recently came to light, he laughed it off. Credit where due: I am in sympathy with anyone who has brownbagged his bottle, even if he later turns out to be a shit, as Rubio has. And though his team's "humorous" response is not actually funny, and implies the Washington Post reported his youthful transgression to attack him rather than to generate a more clickbaity story, at least it's dismissive.

That is how I would leave it, but for the gloss of Mark Judge, the artist formerly known as Mark Gauvreau Judge, at Acculturated, my favorite culture war/wingnut welfare cluster. Judge isn't satisfied with good news for Rubio -- he wants thinkpiece fodder! And so:
Rubio hit back with a fake ad revealing his other crimes—coloring outside the lines, double-dipping potato chips. The episode was a seemingly small political blip, but it inadvertently points to another problem: We need to stop trying to prevent our boys and men from being boys and men.
It's Routine 19 -- the feminaziation of our boys by libtards! But Judge doesn't know when to quit:
We need to let them feel passion and lust and adventurousness and act on it. We need to let them get in trouble, drive fast cars, and chase girls. The dark and dangerous part of them—us—that does these things is also the place that can call forth great leadership....
He seems to have upgraded "teenager drinking beer in the park" to the Scarlet Pimpernel.
The Rubio “story” in the Post reveals how our culture has become uncomfortable with male behavior. On one hand there are the liberals who seem to celebrate any kind of sexual expression except heterosexual manhood, which they aim to deride and ultimately destroy...
Guess Judge would be happier if the Post ran items like "How to Knock a Bitch Up" in the Sunday Comics.
Both left and right attempt to do the same thing: stamp out the shadow. The shadow is an idea from Jungian psychology...
Ugggh I'll spare you -- oh, wait, get this:
The shadow is crucial to psychic health, and particularly powerful in leaders (both male and female). Think of the classic Star Trek episode where Captain Kirk was literally divided into two people, one good and one evil. While the evil Kirk...
Urkel just called Judge a nerd. Eventually:
Rubio’s satirical response was fine, but it would have been better if he had embraced his shadow, freely admitting that as a young man he felt lust, the thirst for danger, anger, and even depression.
Jesus Christ, I would so love it if Rubio read this, felt inspired, flew Judge down for some intensive speechwriting work, and at the next Republican event answered his first question, "Sure, we're all against Obamacare, but what I really want to talk to you about tonight, America, is this: How you ever, when you were young and high on teenage angst and MDMA, made it with a girl who's into superstitions, black cats and voodoo dolls? Who'll make you take your clothes off and go dancing in the rain --  make you live her crazy life but she'll take away your pain? Like a bullet to your brain? Come on!"

Wednesday, December 09, 2015


I guess it's time for another stroll around Acculturated, the wingnut welfare training school for the shock troops of the cultural revolution. But there's less overt craziness there these days, it seems; maybe they've given up on trying to get attention outside the WW community. For example, what is one to do with something like "Celebrities, Please Stop Talking About Menopause," which author Charlotte Hays asks because, well, who knows -- this is as close as she gets to a reason:
But embedded in the current menopause talk is the notion that menopause was once a stigma from which women are now boldly freeing themselves. No, it was never a stigma. It was a fact of life. But it was private.
There are certain things about which one simply does not talk because they are disgusting -- like defecation, or menopause. And definitely don't tell your little girl that she can be anything she wants when she grows up, that's just too "vacuous" and "tiresome," says Carrie Lukas (seen before here). Sometimes I think the brief at Acculturated is "Advocate for a world in which no man ever learns anything about women except they're supposed to smell nice and wait for marriage to fuck them."

Thank God, then, for Mark Judge, who tells us that the new James Bond movie is really about "what is arguably the modern social problem that is at the root of all other social problems: fathers abandoning their sons":
Whereas Steve Jobs won’t acknowledge his own daughter, being too busy creating machines that will turn people into petulant narcissists, Bond ventures into the world, throwing himself into danger and accepting the mantle of father figure – and not just for one child, but for an entire civilization. Beneath his cynicism Bond loves Britain and Western Civilization. In his designer suits and gold watches he is a brutal but sophisticated guide for the soft boys and weak Millennials of today... 
In his novels, Bond creator Ian Fleming gave 007’s family a motto: “The world is not enough.” This reflected Bond’s Scottish-Catholic roots – the idea that the things of this world are not sufficient to attain happiness or salvation.
That's why he was always helping those pretty ladies say their prayers at night, see. Now that's the kind of thing we expect from Acculturated! Maybe we should think of this as a rebuilding year and come back later.

UPDATE. In our comments, which are as always very good, some readers note that Judge includes the Steve Jobs movie in his paradigm, with Jobs symptomatic of the wages of fatherlessness, and Bond, who was adopted and had, in essence, two daddies, of the blessings of fatherfulness. "Somehow, James Bond is the well balanced personality, and Steve Jobs is an empty husk of failure," observes Downpup E. "Imagine an editor, staring blankly into the void, and finally shrugging: 'Hopeless. Just run it as it is.'" Some funny stuff about Orbis non sufficit, too.

Thursday, August 27, 2015


In 2013 Katrina Trinko told USA Today readers that, instead of raising the minimum wage to help those moocher fast-food workers make a living, right-thinking consumers should "pressure fast-food companies to allow tip jars, so that people who wanted to pass on more to the workers had a way to do so." Well, big cities are still raising the wage, and Trinko has turned around, in a way: At Acculturated she now says she'll even countenance the evil of a minimum wage hike if it's used as a substitute for tipping in restaurants.

It's neither an obviously terrible nor an unheard-of idea. Is Trinko attempting conservative outreach to working people in election season? She certainly expects to benefit from a no-tip world herself: "I’m ready for relaxing dinners that don’t end with me having to calculate percentages." And she makes a feint at arguing that the waiters would benefit, too:
Imagine getting a performance review from someone who had worked with you part of one day (a day that might or might not be typical of your experience), and who likely knew little to nothing about your job. Most of us would (rightfully!) protest. We’d point out that the person simply wasn’t qualified to rate how well or poorly we did our job.
But the more she talks about it, the clearer it becomes that she's not worried that this poor performance metric harms waiters; she's mainly concerned that it's inefficient ("the data show that when it comes to judging the excellence of restaurant servers, we are lousy"). The real object of her concern comes out in a passage I'm surprised they left in:
Businesses have other ways besides tips to hold workers accountable for customer service. When I worked at Borders (R.I.P, non-virtual bookstore), managers constantly observed our interactions with customers, and mystery shoppers and callers made sure we stayed on our best behavior.
See, there's an alternative model! You get the feeling that Trinko is more concerned waiters might be getting away with something than that they might be under-compensated -- like she saw the scene from The Grapes of Wrath where the truckers leave a large tip for a waitress ("What's it to ya?"), and her face burned at the injustice of it.

Coincidentally, I saw a story in MIT Technology Review today about workers on a construction project "being monitored by drones and software that can automatically flag slow progress." It includes one of the more depressing gifs I've seen in a while:

Again, getting rid of tipping might be great, and feel free to debate it in comments. But I am very aware that the scene above is what innovation generally means to the people who cut paychecks, and that's why, when people like Trinko make even reasonable-sounding neoliberal proposals about improving the world of work, I keep my guard up. 

UPDATE. Comments are very sharp; among the tales of woe from the New Workplace, derelict's:
But that, I guess, is not as bad as what one of my sister-in-laws put up with when she worked for Ameritech. They forced all employees to go on "retreats" at which the employee's personality was broken and remade into what the company wanted it to be--pliable, conformist, unquestioning. The "counselors" used the same techniques that cults use. The company did not simply demand that you do your job competently--it demanded your soul, the totality of your being in exchange for a paycheck, some meager benefits, and the knowledge that you could be terminated with no notice at any moment.
There are several references to Taylorism and the cult of efficiency (I'm surprised no one brought up Modern Times). The abovelinked article contains this apposite journal quote:
The last quarter of the twentieth century has seen an erosion of job security in both manual and professional occupation… employee involvement schemes in manual production and the growth of temporary employment, outsourcing and project-based teams in the professions have influenced working conditions in both settings… these practices represent not a departure from scientific management, as is often presumed, but rather the adoption of Taylorist principles that were not fully manifested in the era of mass production.
The authors refer to this revival as neo-Taylorism, but I'm more partial to the term neo-Feudalism, as it makes more vivid the respective roles and conditions of serf and baron.

A few commenters lingered over Trinko's claim that she yearned for relief from the awful burden of calculating a tip, which strikes them and me as rich. Commenter Gabriel Ratchet says he heard one of the Freakonomics guys making a similar claim ("YOU'RE AN ECONOMIST FERCHRISSAKES!! FIGURING OUT PERCENTAGES IS PART OF YOUR FUCKING JOB DESCRIPTION!!"). I can find no evidence Megan McArdle has complained about tipping too (seems a natural, no?), but one of her summer replacement drones, Courtney Knapp, got into it in 2010; she talked about the "complicated etiquette of tipping" as if a coffee-shop were the Court at Versailles, and sniffed that "there is little evidence that tips are related to objective measurements of quality service." Again, I'm open to reason, but the fact that libertarians feel the need to make such self-evident bullshit arguments on behalf of this idea is at least one strike against it.

Wednesday, July 08, 2015


I haven't been paying proper attention to Acculturated, that most enjoyable culture-war make-work project, so thanks to alicublog commenter mortimer2000 for alerting me to a new column there by Mark Judge (known as Mark Gauvreau Judge in an earlier incarnation). It's called "'Manhattan': Remembering a Near-Great, Near-Conservative Film." Get a load:
Manhattan was famously shot in glorious black and white by Gordon Willis, who passed away in March. Manhattan is also, at least at times, a conservative film. This sounds absurd about a Woody Allen film, but it’s useful to remember that Allen has always had a lot of criticism for the cultural revolution of the 1960s. His films often poke fun at drugs, radicals, rock and roll, and the movie industry. Allen’s obsession with sex and younger—much younger—women has often obscured this fact. But without it, Allen could write for National Review.
Well, he could still serve as president of Hillsdale College.

Anyway: the fact that Woody Allen's character Isaac has the hots for the Diane Keaton character Wilkie, even though she believes in God and talks smack about Norman Mailer, proves to Judge that "he’s a New York liberal with a conscience that tells him that Wilkie may have a point," because there's no bigger turn-on than philosophical differences, look at James Carville and Mary Matalin, preferably not before lunch. Also, Isaac is mad at his lesbian ex-wife -- which has to be a moral imperative, because it can't possibly be the kind of psychological reaction you'd expect Woody Allen to have to a woman who left him for a woman -- and also has character-building tips for his underage girlfriend:
Isaac criticizes his young girlfriend Tracy for being raised in the Sixties.
I hope you've learned your lesson, young lady! Next time pick a responsible decade to be born in.
“You were brought up on drugs and television and the pill.” He then adds that he believes “people should mate for life, like pigeons or Catholics.” Then, disgusted with the drug-taking hippies who produce his show, Isaac quits. This is not a member of the Weather Underground.
No, this is typical Woody Allen, a crabby guy who likes to lecture his friends about God and death -- and in the end gets his comeuppance from, surprise, the teenage girlfriend, which shows at least a little self-awareness on his part. In Judge's view, though, "Manhattan sets up a great premise and then fails to deliver" and guess what, it doesn't have to do with anything as puny as art:
Keaton’s Mary Wilkie arrives as an intellectual equal to challenge Allen’s assumptions. Then, just as suddenly, she and Isaac fall in love and she loses all of her edge. She vacillates when she gets involved with a married man, Isaac’s best friend Yale. Where she was once fearlessly direct, she becomes dithering and morally uncertain. It’s fine to have characters who have self-doubt, in fact it makes for a more compelling film—and a fresh alternative to so-called Christian and conservative films, which give us square-jawed protagonists who get all their answers from God.
Allen will be relieved to hear he avoided this pitfall.
But you don’t establish a powerhouse female character who dismisses liberal journalists as “schmucks... mired in Thirties radicalism,” and two scenes later have her almost begging Woody Allen for a date.
I have asked this many times but: Has Judge ever met a real person? Or at least seen a Whit Stillman picture? Eventually Judge tells us how he would have made Manhattan:
How different and better Manhattan might have been had Allen just gone with the initial premise of the script: a middle-aged TV writer who is uncomfortable with the Cultural Revolution meets a sharp journalist who validates his doubts. They don’t become born-again Christians, but they do navigate their way to a better moral place. He stops dating teenagers, and she stops fooling around with a married man.
I'm on the edge of my seat! You won't be able to sell tickets fast enough! Maybe for the foreign markets, though, in the third act we should have them go on vacation to the Grand Canyon, and have one of those humorous encounters with wildlife Allen's so good at.

Next week at Acculturated: "Citizen Kane -- So much better without the class politics."

UPDATE. Comments are already fun! Gromet:
Chapter one: He adored Tulsa. He idolized it all out of proportion. Uh, no. Make that He romanticized it all out of proportion. To him, no matter what the season was, this was still a town that existed in black and white and pulsated to the great tunes of Toby Keith...

Friday, April 03, 2015


One of the funniest things by two of the funniest people of all time.

•    It is axiomatic that Jonah Goldberg can make anything worse, and the Indiana RFRA case is no exception. Here he shows evidence of having been crammed with some libertarian revisionism: Goldberg argues that the pre-"clarification" RFRA was not like Jim Crow because Jim Crow was really about economic oppression -- because everything is! -- and had nothing to do with anything so gauche as violent prejudice against a despised minority, and still less to do with political power:
Of course, the more infamous Jim Crow laws were aimed at barring blacks from being able to vote. But there was a pernicious logic to such efforts. Denying blacks the vote, even in states where they were the majority of citizens, guaranteed that they couldn’t overturn racist state economic regulations. 
In fact, says Goldberg, Confederate businesses loved serving black people, but because a flood of emancipated black workers caused a labor shortage (forget it, he's on a roll), both blacks and black-loving shopkeepers were Jim Crowed into submission not by the Klan nor by the White Leagues, but by Big Business -- you know, the people conservatives worshiped as gods until Tim Cook said he was gay. "Ultimately," says Goldberg, "the federal government had to use just coercion to crush unjust state-government coercion," without mentioning that his own magazine was against that "just coercion" every step of the way; they affect to feel sorry about that now, and one would like to think that they'll apologize for their absurd attitude toward gays fifty years from now (if they and the nation last so long), but alas, Goldberg shows that they haven't really learned a thing:
In Indiana, the most vocal and arguably the most powerful voices against even the perception of anti-gay discrimination have come from the business community. And, one suspects, there are plenty of people in the wedding-planning industry eager for such business. 
We could impose a fine on recalcitrant religious wedding photographers. But the market already does that, every time they turn away paying customers.
They still think Title II is an injustice and don't want it applied to anyone else.

•  One Bob & Ray thing isn't enough: Enjoy this bit -- first four minutes of this clip from the Letterman show, but the rest is okay too -- in which "Barry Campbell" talks about his disastrous opening in the play "The Tender T-Bone."

•    From the Weird Reaction file: You may have seen the fascinating story of a suitcase full of photos, receipts, and diary entries chronicling a German businessman's extra-marital affair forty-five years ago that has been revived as a gallery show. Most of us find it interesting or creepy or a spur to reflection. Ole Perfesser Instapundit, however, reacts thusly:
IT WASN’T AN AFFAIR, it was performance art. Bow down and don’t criticize, philistines!
Most of the time I think Reynolds is just putting it on for the rubes, but sometimes it seems he really is that weird mix of Babbitt and Nathan Bedford Forrest he plays on the internet.

•    Speaking of the arts, I went over to Acculturated to take in the latest by Mark Judge, or Mark Gauvreau Judge or Gark Jauvreau Mudge or whatever he calls himself these days. He's sighing over a 1954 Sports Illustrated cover showing a pretty girl in a modest one-piece bathing suit largely obscured by sea spray. As you may have guessed, this inspires a meditation on how much sexier things were before sideboob.
More than fifty years later, the Pamela Nelson photo ignites my passion more than anything that is in the hyped, recently published 2015 Sports Illustrated Swimsuit Edition. The photographs in the new swimsuit issue are dull. The poses are clichéd, similar, and the models look like cyborgs. There is the arching-back pose. The bedroom-eyes-on-the-beach shot. The backside shot (or shots). Did I mention the arching-back pose?

In our culture today, pornography has excelled at titillating the masses, but is poor at capturing the soul. And no matter what our sex-drenched society tells us, sex is sexier when the soul is involved.
Every single one of the poses named above comes with a link, so Acculturated readers can decide whether they want to beat off to contemporary or vintage pin-ups -- which I guess is how some people measure cultural seriousness. Chacun à son gout is very very true...

•    Still speaking of the arts, this is from a report on wingnut intellectual George Nash's speech to the Philadelphia Society last month:
“Many conservatives, of course, including many in this room, are laboring valiantly and effectively in the realm of cultural renewal,” Nash said. “But as a historian I am constrained to note that the ‘progressives’ in this country continue to predominate in the production of culture, and in the manufacture and distribution of prestige among our cultural elites. As long as this imbalance continues, the fate of post-Reagan conservatism will be problematic.”
Do remember this, dear reader: You may think of novels, plays, ballet, music, etc. as works of art that illuminate the human condition, but to the great minds of the conservative movement they are merely widgets in "the manufacture and distribution of prestige among our cultural elites." Their policies are inhuman, that is, because they don't really relate to humanity.

Wednesday, February 11, 2015


Haven't looked in for a while on Acculturated, the culture-war jump school for would-be Douthats that has given me much pleasure in the past. There's currently a post-Grammys piece there by Mark Judge, the artist formerly known as Mark Gauvreau Judge, beginning thus:
Don’t make Sam Smith gay. 
That is to say, don’t make Sam Smith a representative of the gay community and a symbol for all things gay.
See, Judge hates it when people see sexual orientation -- that is, when gay people recognize gay people -- and also when people see color -- like when black people tell Iggy Azalea to fuck off. It all goes back to a youthful trauma:
When I was in college, the British duo the Pet Shop Boys were key contributors to the soundtrack of my young life. The Pet Shop Boys are gay.
[Blink. Blink.]
When I heard their first album Please in 1986, I felt that delirious swoon of falling in love with a piece of musical art...
I followed the Boys for years, but something started bothering me: they increasingly became known as a gay band and not just a band. Great songs like “King’s Cross,” “Liberation,” and “It Always Comes as a Surprise” were subordinated to the larger theme of homosexuality. The Pet Shop Boys were not brilliant songwriters who could touch the hearts or people all over the world—they were “queering pop.” It was like only selling Van Morrison’s music in Irish pubs...
I was a suburban kid at a Catholic university who occasionally snuck a look at Playboy. If I was to listen to the journalists, and the political club goers, and the subculture police, I would have turned myself away. Because I wasn’t the target audience.
The Gay Gay Gay took my babies away! The subculture police with their phallic nightsticks tried to drive Judge out of the disco, just as the black radicals tried to spoil his appreciation of Motown, I suppose. I'm surprised he survived with his perfectly-unexceptional tastes intact.

This is a high point of the issue, though you might also enjoy Acculturated's "Celebrities Behaving Well Award" nominations, including "Taylor Swift for reaching out to one of her adoring fans to give her real, thoughtful, honest advice about an unrequited love," "Kate Middleton for maintaining a certain level of class and decorum in the pop-culture sartorial scene," and "Justin Timberlake for his unprecedented awe and humility during his recent visit to Israel" (by which I assume they mean he didn't come onstage wearing a BDS shirt and a keffiyeh). "The winner of our contest will be announced on Monday, February 23," Acculturated says, "and we will award their charity with a $2,500 donation." $2,500! Dunno who's giving this ad-free site its wingnut welfare, but if they can come up with that kind of scratch  for a contest, I'd be happy to explain to their readers (for a reasonable fee) how my heart was broken the day Camryn Manheim became a fat activist.

UPDATE. In comments, tigrismus encapsulates Judge's problem: "He gets to decide what's universal, and quelle surprise, it's him."

Thursday, September 04, 2014


Well, boys, how's the culture war going?
How Big Government Ruined Parks and Recreation
Clickbait for sure, among a certain population! Spencer Klavan (Jesus, Andrew has a brother? I weep for the Republic) complains at PJ Media that the show "has devolved from incisive comedy into aggressively unfunny propaganda." See, once it was about "the morass of self-importance and illogic that results when people get together to plan other people’s lives for them" -- that's conservative for "small-town government," folks -- but then "the writers replaced it with a dogmatic fantasy world based on the unexamined conviction that everyone needs a hyper-attentive government mommy. That’s when Leslie Knope became a hero, and Parks and Rec became about as entertaining as a health code referendum."

Wow, so they beefed up the role of the star? And a cynical supporting character became more cuddly? Just like in nearly every sitcom that lasts more than three seasons? What a bunch of statists!

But courage, kulturkampfers -- it's not all liberal fascism on the TV; here's a show that Matthew Rousu of The Federalist says teaches a conservatarian message:
What TV’s ‘Suits’ Tells Us About The Job Market 
...Ross and Spector form a great team. They trade witty rejoinders and provide incredible service for their clients. But in the United States, for the most part, it is illegal to practice law without passing the bar exam. That Ross is practicing law illegally — and what he must do to avoid being discovered – provides part of the show’s drama. While I find the show entertaining, it troubles me because these types of situations happen in real life. There are people who would be good at a job, but restrictions make it illegal for them to work...
Yes, it's the old licensing-restriction rap, with which max-freedom fans sometimes get liberals to agree five minutes before they call them hypocrites for thinking polluters can't regulate themselves. Mentioned in essay: Uber. Not mentioned: State medical boards.

Meanwhile at Acculturated, Erin Vargo:
Drugs are ruining EDM...
Which is like saying sugar is ruining cake, but go on:
...and not only as a matter of individual health and safety (a sobering topic in and of itself). Drugs at EDM festivals ensure that Calvin Harris is virtually indistinguishable from a remix DJ at a wedding party.
[pause, suppressing laughter]
Sure, he showed everyone a good time, but the event wasn’t really about him or his skills and talents and creative capacity.
[pause, stabbing myself in the thigh with a pen] For our reductio ad wingnut let's go to The Federalist's Rachel Lu:
Is it possible that Clueless Dad (that tired old television trope) is going into decline? He’s long since outworn his welcome. And General Mills seems to have gotten the message. 
Their new commercial for Peanut Butter Cheerios...
For some reason I'm reminded of the end of The Incredible Shrinking Man, though it's not so much the "closing of a gigantic circle" as a disappearance up one's own asshole.

Friday, May 09, 2014


I guess you've heard about the latest wingnut-welfare-funded propaganda project, the Heritage Foundation's Daily Signal, and they swear this time it'll be real news:
The site aims to rectify the conservative perception that mainstream news slants to the left. “We plan to do political and policy news,” says [publisher Geoffrey] Lysaught, “not with a conservative bent, but just true, straight-down-the-middle journalism"... 
The past few years have seen a profusion of conservative media outlets... “You often sense there’s an element of preaching to the choir,” says Katrina Trinko, a well-regarded political reporter lured away from National Review to manage the Signal’s news team. “What appealed to me was that our goal is not just to reach that audience. Obviously, we hope conservatives will come. But we hope anyone interested in information and public debate will see us as a trusted news source.”
"Katrina Trinko... to manage the Signal’s news team" is the key phrase here. Trinko has shown up in these pages twice before: Once for suggesting that, instead of passing a higher minimum wage, America should encourage fast-food chains to put out tip jars, and once for explaining that it was unfair to compare Republicans with Randroids because Republicans actually want a safety net run by the Church.

Trinko has also written several articles for our favorite culture-war stakewaster Acculturated, with titles like "What We Lose In Our Child-free Culture." And she has helped make National Review Online what it is; her biggest scoop there was that Elizabeth Warren had plagiarized some book, which showed great ambition and a nose for news even if it turned out not to be true. Most of her other NRO work was stuff like "RNC Makes Two Hires for Outreach to Black Media" and "After Eighty-Three Years of Marriage, Husband and Wife Die Three Days Apart -- though she did get on the homosexuals-are-oppressing-us bandwagon early with "The Gay Marriage Double Standard" last September.

So yeah, she's just the person for the job. And the job is more of the same, with better graphics.

Tuesday, July 30, 2013


Conservatives are crazy over something they call "the narrative" -- that is, a storyline with which evil media liberals are bamboozling America -- and every so often they send a howling culture-warrior over the hill to seize control of the radio station. A distant sputter of gunfire and it's over, usually, but they always send a medal back home to his think-tank. Here's the latest offering at TownHall by Kurt Schlichter:
The Royal Baby Is a Rejection of the Family Chaos Liberalism Feeds Upon
Ain't even kidding.
The birth of Prince George creates a problem for liberals. They love the idea of royalty because it validates their vision of an anointed elite with a divine right to the obedience of their subjects.
[Citation needed.]
However, this wonderful couple has created a traditional nuclear family that provides a powerful counterpoint to the kind of freak show dysfunction that liberalism requires to survive.
The obvious solution is to give this nation's welfare recipients £202.4 million a year per household and see if they straighten up and fly right.

Meanwhile Ole Perfesser Glenn Reynolds does his bit for narrative reclamation by telling USA Today readers the real "war on women" is being waged by liberals via horndogs Anthony Weiner (dropping in the polls), San Diego Mayor Bob Filner (ditto), and Eliot Spitzer (well, he's running against Scott Springer). Reynolds takes the opportunity to repeat the old tale of Bill Clinton, Rapist, and to heap second-hand insults on Weiner's wife ("leaving some to say that she's even worse than he is") because when you're a men's-rights nut pretending to give a shit about women, you can't get through 800 words without some bitch-slapping.

Anyway the upshot is that Democrats have "a contempt for people in general, and especially for voters," but as usual the real villain is the media, because for them "an isolated remark by a Republican candidate or radio host is treated as representative of the entire party." These narrative-spielers are just twisting Republicans' words! Speaking of which, here are some words that are missing from Reynolds' essay: vaginal wand, abortion restrictions, war on contraception coverage, and criminalized sodomy. These were left out, I suppose, because they're connected to actual Republican policies.

For the easy rule-of-three layup, let's see what the nuts at Acculturated are up to -- ah, here's one: "How Hollywood Has Ruined Sex." It's not just about how tits and grinding ruined author Bruce S. Thornton's moviegoing experience. He's got specifics! For example:
Consider some of those banal conventions that lazy directors and writers throw into sex scenes. There’s what I call the “trail of clothes.” The camera starts with some article of clothing on the floor, and then follows more bits and pieces of attire until it reaches the fornicating couple.
I thought this signifier went the way of two cigarettes in the ashtray, but Thornton says he saw it as recently as Bugsy, which came out in 1991. Also:
Then there are the ubiquitous 20-30 candles illuminating every sex-scene. When do those candles get lit?
Was there a sex scene in Lincoln? I don't know what the guy's talking about. Maybe he actually wrote this thing twenty years ago, and left it in a bin at the Moral Majority offices that was later bequeathed to Acculturated. I mean, it's a more flattering explanation than assuming someone is still writing shit like this.

UPDATE. In comments, hellslittlestangel: "Mistreat half a dozen women and it's an outrage against humanity; mistreat tens of millions of women and it's a statistic."

Monday, March 25, 2013


The kulturkampfers at just can't quit Lena Dunham, even when another of their hate-objects is in their line of fire:
Tina Fey, like other Hollywood-created stars including Lena Dunham, is showing herself to be a box office bust.
That's Ben Shapiro, who goes on to tell Fey that though she's "very talented... her pokes at Palin did her no good with mainstream America, and her cutesy 'too-smart-for-the-room' routine does her no favors with audiences." No, really: Ben Shapiro's giving Tina Fey career advice.

Dunham Alert also for this Maurice Black column:
Although Girls never fails to find humor in its characters’ haplessness, it also reflects the disturbing reality that more than half of college graduates under 25 are now unemployed or working jobs that don’t require a degree.
The title is "HBO'S 'GIRLS' OFFERS STARK FISCAL LESSONS IN AGE OF OBAMA." According to Black Dunham "unwittingly lends credence to moves by governors such as Pat McCrory in North Carolina or Rick Scott in Florida to shift higher education funding into fields that have better job placement rates." Maybe he's thinking of Laverne & Shirley.

(Black, BTW, is Vice President of the Moving Picture Institute, progenitor of that "youthful pop music video that alerts the hipster set to the perils of artificially low interest rates" we were talking about the other day; given his obvious commitment to agenda-driven entertainments, it must drive him nuts that Dunham isn't aware of what a conservative message she's sending; I imagine him yelling "You're one of us and you don't even know it, Lena!" at his TV while masturbating furiously.)

There are many other Dunham dumps at, but let's close with one about an older favorite: The communist menace that is Law & Order. Wingnuts have had a hard-on for the show and its treasonously topical story lines for years, and now Warner Todd Huston brings the fist-shaking fury as L&O makes hay of Todd Akinism:
A character sitting in the witness box then says, "It's nearly impossible for a victim of legitimate rape to become pregnant." This is followed by looks of disgust by the two female lead detective characters sitting in the courtroom gallery.
Jesus Christ, people, do I have to spell it out for ya?
To subtly drive home an allusion to a politician like Todd Akin, on the lapel of the character testifying is a prominent U.S. flag pin, just like one a conservative politician might wear. How often do you think characters on Law & Order: SVU have worn flag pins?
Yeah, they may act regular, but that guy who played Lennie Brisco? He was in musicals!

UPDATE. Some extra culture-war nuggets for you: Our old friend Mark "Gavreau" Judge at Acculturated,  musing on gay marriage, gives us the line of the week:
It is important to celebrate tolerance, while keeping watch to make sure that the tolerance itself doesn’t become oppression.
The rest of the column never equals this, though it does tell us that Dan Savage is the real bully. Second place winner: Tevi Troi at Real Clear Politics, in his brow-squeezer "Can Republicans Close the Pop Culture Gap?" --
A move towards hipness must come from the party leaders themselves...
Comrades, the hipness of mere apparatchiks will not suffice -- the party leaders must themselves be hanging and banging. Draft a memo!

Monday, February 18, 2013


I have been following online kulturkampf mag Acculturated a while now, but I may have to stop. First there's this new Downton Abbey essay by Ashley E. McGuire -- a servant was sent away for having been knocked up, apparently, and McGuire reacts:
On the one hand, Grantham’s hypocrisy makes me glad for progressive laws that ensure that sexual assault gets prosecuted and that men have to pay, at least financially, when they sire a child. 
On the other hand, it makes me wonder, are things that much better today?
Men are expected to sleep around to be manly. But whereas women were once expected to be pure, now women are expected to sleep around (thanks Hanna Rosin!) to be feminists but still somehow be pure to be desirable.
They do?
Like it or not, virginity in a woman is still very much valued.
It is? Oh hold on, McGuire has evidence:
Nothing exemplifies this better than recent examples of women auctioning off their virginity for absurd sums.
Then I looked at the Acculturated TOC and found an essay called, "One Way to Resurrect Manliness: Everyone, Dress Better!"

I'm genuinely flummoxed. I want to keep making fun of them, but I begin to suspect Acculturated is really an epic internet fraud like Christwire. I'm afraid I'll look silly when they rip the mask off and turn out to be a bunch of Vassar students having a laugh. Come to think of it, I've seen few besides the very dumbest conservatives ever linking to them...

Another bad sign: They do podcasts at Ricochet, an obvious parody site.

Does anyone have the inside story?  Thanks in advance.

Friday, February 15, 2013


The Ol' Perfesser was pimping something at Forbes called "Down On Downton: Why The Left Is Torching Downton Abbey," and I thought, that's strange, I haven't seen any such thing. I have seen those crazy kids at Acculturated kvelling over Downton Abbey as some sort of conservative thing, as if it were a political candidate and not some stupid TV show. I've also seen Jonah Goldberg claim the show for  the right because "the whole point of the show is to sympathize with the landed gentry" and one of the villains is gay. Since then I've seen similar yak from PJ Lifestyle ("5 Covert Conservative Lessons in Downton Abbey"),  First Things ("Downton Abbey is the perfect anti-Girls" -- their hard-on for Lena Dunham never dies), Gary North ("here we TV have a show which basically is opposed to the idea of confiscatory inheritance taxation" and references to Adam Smith and Edmund Burke), etc.

So I went to Forbes to see Jerry Bowyer lay out the evidence:
That’s arguably why the left is bashing Downton Abbey. The New York Times Art Beat column has reported that British critics are ‘torching’ Downton Abbey. Apparently Downton Abbey is snobbish, culturally necrophiliac (and if you don’t yet know what that word means, I suggest you leave it that way) and its popularity in the United States is due to the rise of the Tea Party movement and conservative opposition to the death tax. Even worse, creator Julian Fellowes is the holder of a Tory Peerage. Definitely not the right sort of people.
Wait a minute -- British critics? I clicked through to Art Beat: They mention the criticisms of Simon Schama and James Fenton, and... that's it. Two English guys.

Having thus established the conspiracy, Bowyer goes on to explain why The Left/two English guys hate the show: "Downton Abbey‘s message is an anti-class warfare one. The fact is that the spirit of the critics is hard left, and maybe that’s why Downton Abbey makes them so angry, because the success of the series shows that this group does not speak for America."

These guys couldn't be projecting any harder if they had halogen lamps up their butts. Plus: Don't they feel ashamed to be watching anything on the communist PBS?

UPDATE. I wonder why Bowyer didn't mention this, from Irin Carmon at Salon: "Why liberals love 'Downton Abbey.'" It's about... why liberals love Downton Abbey. Why, it's as if they have the ability to enjoy things that don't flatter every single one of their prejudices. What savages! But at the Washington Times, Jack Cashill offers an alternate explanation:
Carmon’s liberal friends may have sensed that their own ill-formed ideologies lack the integrity and the grace of the one they are exposed to in some detail on successive Sunday nights each winter. Outwardly, they may continue to reject the world the Crawleys have inherited, but inwardly, they envy it, and once a week at least, through the magic of television, they get to be part of it.
So in this reading, liberals actually love the show, but only because they wish they were conservatives. Well, when you spend years of your life telling people that Bill Ayers wrote Barack Obama's book, you may develop impressive self-convincing skills.

UPDATE 2. In comments, L Bob Rife: "Could someone wake me when the Acculturatniks lay claim to the 'Harlem Shake'?"

Wednesday, February 13, 2013


I am grateful to Will Sommer -- who's doing fun things with the Washington City Paper blog, by the way -- for luring me back to Acculturated, the rightwing kulturkampf factory where I had previously found an essay about how feminists kept us all from living in Downton Abbey and saying "jolly good" or something. Sommer's find is by Mark Judge, nee Mark Gavreau Judge and a recurring minor character in the alicublog buffooniverse, who agrees with Kay Hymowitz's shtick about American men having too much fun, and blames women.
These days the problem isn’t as much pre-adulthood males as it is uncultured people–including women. When I was in high school at Georgetown Prep, a Jesuit school that prided itself on producing men who could both lay down a block and conjugate Latin, we had a term for well-rounded women: “cool chicks.” Yeah, she’s a cool chick. A cool chick would go to a baseball game with you, maybe liked a cool band, and also had a favorite museum and novel. They were cool because they weren’t just one thing–the Lena Dunham hipster, the scholarship-obsessed athlete, the Ally Sheedy Breakfast Club basket case. Do cool chicks exist anymore? Is there a Dianne Keaton of this generation?
Translation: I just can't beat off to the Vanity Fair "Hollywood" annual since Meryl Streep got crow's feet.

But then I found that Judge's essay is only "part of a symposium in which a variety of writers and thinkers weigh in on the question: 'Can men be men again?'" -- a line I'd prefer to believe is a Rusty Warren set-up, but which these brightish youngish things apparently take very seriously. One of these is Ryan Duffy, and his essay is called, not even kidding, "Training Men to be Better: Rewards and Punishments."

Duffy tells us it's important that we get guys to stop liking casual sex because who knows why (with this crowd the reasons don't even have to be mentioned, but I bet birth rates are involved), and like Judge he blames women (I sense a pattern), because they "have been feeding the beast of men’s desire for short-term relationships." But if the stupid bitches will just listen to him and Steve Harvey, we can turn this thing right around:
But should we also look to women to play a role in this process? In his book Act Like a Lady, Think Like a Man, Steve Harvey talks about men like animals and the importance of rewards and punishments. Harvey actively acknowledges his suggestions might not work so well with feminists, but makes suggestions likely waiting ninety days before having sex with men to ensure he is truly in it for the right reasons. 
I believe there is some morsel of truth to Harvey’s claims. If we as a society want men to grow up and be real men–whatever that definition is–it’s critical that we go back to the simple rules of behaviorism. People will feel, think, and behave in ways that they are rewarded or punished for. If we truly want men to change, we can hope they will reward and punish themselves, but acknowledge that we (and especially the women dealing with them) must also play a part.
I suppose it is progress, in a way, that instead of relying on embittered mothers or maiden aunts to teach women to treat men like dogs, conservatives are starting to enlist the aid of Magic Negroes. Maybe this is the direction their minority outreach will take: encouraging Ice Cube, for example, to go out on stage with Allen West to do "Black North Korea."

Still, if your strategy relies on convincing people to stop having sex, you've got a hard sell no matter how you jazz up the pitch. Maybe it's time they went really retro and advocated the establishment of red light districts. Of course, they'd probably abandon the project once they realized they have to pay the comfort women at least $9 an hour. Sigh. I guess it's rightwing sitcom reviews until someone gets them all jobs at The Atlantic.

Parting irony, though: Isn't it rich that their plan for whipping male sexuality into shape requires women to behave like a union?

UPDATE. ADHDJ, in comments: "Indeed, it's easy to forget the world pre-January 2009, before titty bars and pool halls were invented."

UPDATE 2. Late as it is, I should like to add chuckling's observations on Judge and his Lena Dunham hangup, which could easily be applied to any of these guys and their Lena Dunham hangup:
Anyway, interesting the dude's definition of cool when applied to a young woman: It's not someone who's smart, well-educated, cultured, ridiculously successful in television, probably crown fucking princess of the New York indie celebrity scene -- no, none of that is cool -- but someone who will fetch him a hot dog at a baseball game. Of course pretending to share the interests of some conservative ass and smiling as he drones on and on about whatever infuriates him at the moment is a more achievable aspiration than being Lena Dunham for most women, but unfortunately it's pretty much nobody's definition of cool.

Wednesday, January 09, 2013


Acculturated is a new dispenser of culture war ordnance that yells "WHY POP CULTURE MATTERS" from the masthead.  Connoisseurs of the genre will find it a little bit Culture 11 and a little bit Speculative Rightwing Ladymags The Perfesser Wants Created.

One thing the Acculturati like to talk about is Downton Abbey. (Here's a thing where Emily Esfahani Smith twits Simon Schama for calling it "snobbery by the bucketful." "The scenes take place in and out of a manor inhabited by tony aristocrats," sniffs Smith. "Its appeal is aesthetic. As an art history professor, Schama should know this." I'm pretty sure she's not kidding.)

And in case you thought Jonah Goldberg had farted the last word on the subject, get this: Ashley McGuire lets us know up front that she's sophisticated and Has Agency --
I’m no dummy. My last order from Amazon included The Feminine Mystique, Aristotle’s Nichomachean Ethics, and Kate Millett’s Sexual Politics.
-- But she watches crummy TV shows. Why? Not merely to relax; that'd be common.
I simply think that I (like my fellow educated female consumers of garbage television) am looking for intrigue. Intrigue that gives us something to talk about. Something to think about. A framework to ponder our sex. 
Television is a sort of social barometer, and as women we are particularly inclined to take the temperature of our society and it how it views us and treats us.
Those days when you were a kid and imagined TV shows really spoke to you and your generation? That's why you have this coming to you -- McGuire pondering her sex:
It’s a sort of lifeline to any woman drowning in the thick waters of modern culture... 
Indeed, the show evokes wholly contrary thoughts about womanhood and feminism. As I watch the show, I find myself fighting between two selves. One side of me hardly envies the women of the era, when marriage was a woman’s only ticket in life, when the corset still grasped the fashion industry, when one make-out session with an exotic boy could ruin your prospects for life. 
But then one side of me envies the women of Downton ever so slightly. Envies the thought of my husband referring to me as “her ladyship.”
In previous sub-generations, ladies who didn't want to live in Dallas might yet have envied the women of Southfork and dreamed of falling under the spell of courtly if amoral J.R. Ewing. But when the show was over and the Asti Spumante drained, I don't think their fantasies spurred them to social analysis like this:
Are we happy with where we are? Do we demand enough of men? Do we demand enough of ourselves? Can we do better than table flipping in Jersey or ten plastic surgeries? Are we really that much better off today, or are today’s television shows any indication that there is still much work to be done?...
The women of Downton want driving lessons, they want jobs, they want the vote. But are there things from that era that we have thrown away that might have had value?...
If only we had cars and servants with crisp aprons! Clearly society has failed us.
Did respect for a woman’s reputation keep men in check and protect ourselves from winding up like Ethel, pregnant and scared? Did good-old-fashioned esteem for women raise the odds of winding up like Anna and Mary, wives who had been thoroughly woo’ed by good men?    
We'll never know now; there's no time machine to whisk us back to the days when women were thoroughly woo'ed and could do without that spinster's toy, the Vote. Ah well; there's still a little Red Bicyclette left, and a page where one can send eloquent essay-length distress signals that Ross Douthat may pick up. In the words of Martin Mull: It's not that great and it's late and once again, honey, you lose.

Friday, June 01, 2012

NEW DISPATCH FROM THE MINISTRY OF CULTURE. Here to explain the latest innovations in conservative culture war strategy, Ole Perfesser Glenn Reynolds:
Well, the notion that right-leaning pop culture is driven by politics but left-leaning pop culture is not is transparent twaddle. Leftist political messages have simply become so established in pop culture that people treat them as part of the wallpaper–which is, of course, the Gramscian strategy.
This is an obvious winner. Reynolds should engage flying squads to barge into theaters where people are laughing and enjoying themselves, and cry, "You are the victims of a Gramscian hoax!"

But culture warriors cannot always be on defense -- they must provide something the proles can enjoy. What have you got for us, Perfesser?
One place where conservatives–and particularly libertarians–do pop culture well is in the science fiction field.
Sure, why not. But it's got to be the right kind of SciFi, not the negative stuff  -- say no to SFINO!
Of course, academic-writing-seminar types have been proliferating in the science fiction world (often creeping in via fantasy) and some worry that they’ll ruin the field. But I don’t think so. There’s too much of a fan base for more traditional science fiction. In fact, with the new “Human Wave” movement of prohuman, protechnology science fiction, there’s big pushback against dreary literary antiheroes and dystopian futures.
Hear that, troops? Keep your tits 'n' lizards sagas upbeat and protech, and there'll be some robowhores in it for you comes Der Tag.

The punchline is, the Perfesser's offering is just part of a whole "symposium" on the theme, "Are Conservatives Bad at Pop Culture?" The Big Brain in Charge claims that "Here at Acculturated, we are less interested in politics than we are in how the virtues — like creativity, beauty heroism, responsibility, joy, and generosity, to name a few — play themselves out in the popular culture." But it begins with Ann Coulter longing for more black and Hispanic skels on Law & Order, and the rest of the entries are mostly boo-hoos over how unfair it is that liberals get to wear berets and live La Vie Boheme while the poor conservatives are ignored and have to write cult-crit that nobody reads.

I've said it before and I'll say it again: For these people, culture war is war on culture.

UPDATE. Kudos to commenters, even those who just want to talk about science fiction like a bunch of nerds.

Also, some of you pointed out that Lee Siegel's essay introduced a bit of sanity to the sympfest. Another Luke describes it as "essentially a turd in the punch bowl, from the opening sentence, which labels the entire subject of the symposium 'just another way for conservatives to indulge their strange masochistic fantasy of being inferior to liberals,' to the bit where he calls conservatives' belief in a left wing agenda driving pop culture 'a delusion bordering on a hallucination.'"

kth explains how deep the liberal-artistic conspiracy goes:
That clumsy invocation of Gramsci would imply, not just that most big Hollywood types are left-leaning, but that they got into showbiz specifically to bring about the revolution. No doubt that's why George Clooney joined the cast of The Facts of Life thirty-odd years ago: no doubt it was a humbling task for the aspiring insurgent, but you have to look at the bigger picture. They also serve who only stand and wait.