So, look: 12 Years a Slave is a powerful and important movie but not a great one. It is basically the antebellum south version of Forrest Gump, a film that watches passive protagonist Solomon Northup stumble through the lowlights of slavery’s horror—Whippings! Rapes! Slave auctions tearing families apart! The “good” owner who still has slaves and therefore isn’t “good” at all! The bad owner who is a sadist!—before a beneficent white dude comes along to save him. It is, as Armond White noted, more akin to torture porn than great filmmaking.* Searing imagery alone does not a great film make.
That a film can be both “powerful” and “not great” is causing some distress amongst its fans, a distress that is manifesting itself in odd ways. For instance, you wind up with David Simon stripping 12 Years a Slave of its status as art, reducing it to a political tool, and writing it is “not intelligently assailable by anyone.” Over at Pajiba, Dustin Rowles wrote the following about Michael Fassbender’s performance as the aforementioned bad owner:
Vice broke a stunning bit of news yesterday when it published a massive essay cataloging the ways in which left-of-center news outlets are complete and utter hypocrites when it comes to their support for the minimum wage. Turns out that most of these publications, which have long argued for increases to the minimum wage and against the exploitation of labor by evil capitalists, pay their interns either nothing or “starvation wages.”
Charles Davis reported that a veritable who’s who of noted left wing outlets—stalwarts like the American Prospect and the New Republic and Mother Jones and Salon—fail to pay their interns the minimum wage. Indeed, Mother Jones gave tips to its interns on how to qualify for food stamps, a ploy seemingly right out of the Walmart playbook. Of special interest to me, however, was the fact that In These Times pays its interns zero dollars an hour. Wrote Davis:
In These Times, which has published work by left-wing icons such as Noam Chomsky and Barbara Ehrenreich, is currently hiring interns to do everything from editing to fundraising—but none of those funds are set aside to pay those raising them. On its official Twitter account, the publication has said, “Interns must unite to stop the trend toward free labor becoming the norm,” but it did not reply when asked if such a campaign should include its own employees.
I say I found this of special interest because the face of In These Times, Mike Elk, claims to be a stalwart champion of the working man.
Hopefully you answered anti-consumerism:
It looks as though the Goldieblox / Beastie Boys legal debate could be over before the case hits courts. The toy company has issued a new statement in which they reveal that they don’t want to fight with the living members of the group and were unaware of Adam Yauch‘s wishes that the band’s music not be used for commercial purposes at the time they created their parody of the song ‘Girls.’ …
The trouble started when Goldieblox shot a very creative video empowering young girls and breaking down stereotypes by promoting their new line of toys. The video featured a reworked version of the Beasties’ ‘Girls’ with the lyrics more in line with the message. The band reportedly reached out to Goldieblox to ask about the usage of the song since they hadn’t licensed it and were met with preemptive legal action from the company seeking to “vindicate the rights” of the company in connection with the parody video.
I found the Beasties Boys vs. Goldieblox fight intriguing because it put three sacrosanct principles into direct competition with one another. It was “gender equality/grrl power” vs. “remix culture” vs. “anti-consumerism” in a to-the-death cage match.
The Goldieblox ad went viral because it managed to be both modestly clever and also perfectly PC. Slate’s XX blog, for instance, described the ad as “stupendously awesome” and praised Goldieblox for “subvert[ing] a bunch of dumb gender stereotypes.” You go girls!
But then it turned out that things weren’t so awesome after all.
Homefront, written by Sylvester Stallone, comes packaged as your Standard Statham: Undercover cop Phil Broker (Jason Statham) moves to the Louisiana countryside to get away from his work. But, while trying to put his life back together following a sting gone bad, Broker runs afoul of the family of local meth cook Gator (James Franco).
Perhaps you heard about the waitress who was not only left no tip but also viciously insulted by a family of bigots who didn’t approve of her gay lifestyle. It was really horrible! Here’s the important part of the story:
Earlier this week, a server at a restaurant in Bridgewater, NJ looked at a check to see that the family she had just served completely stiffed her on the tip. And the awful thing was the reason the diner wrote on the check: “I’m sorry but I cannot tip because I do not agree with your lifestyle and how you live your life.”
Server Dayna Morales sent the check to Have a Gay Day, which posted the offensive check on their Facebook page. Morales, who works at Gallop Asian Bistro, also revealed that when she got to their table, “NEVER in a million years did I think this would happen. Not only was it a family with two kids, but as I introduce myself and tell them my name is Dayna—the mom proceeds to look at me and say ‘oh I thought you were gonna say your name is Dan. You sure surprised us!’”
Emphasis in the original, and for good reason. Because that is really and truly a horrible thing to say to someone! Except that, welp, turns out that it wasn’t actually said.
That’s right: The hate receipt is a fake. Here’s the follow up:
The stupid scandal du jour revolves around whether or not Katy Perry is guilty of “cultural appropriation” for wearing a geisha costume at the American Music Awards. “Cultural appropriation” is, at heart, a defining down of “blackface” (and “yellowface” and “brownface” and the rest) that allows the perpetually aggrieved to be angry. “Well sure, you …
Lots of spoilers for season four of Boardwalk Empire below.
Earlier this week I noted that a bunch of busybodies with too much time on their hands decided to wage a social media campaign against a local drinking establishment that had dared to point out that a massive increase in the minimum wage for tipped employees would hurt their business, hurt their workers, and hurt their customers. But the scolding scolds were not deterred from their scolding. Indeed, they’ve now penned an open letter to demonstrate just how much they love the restaurant and care about the plight of the working man.
Their letter kicks off by noting their bona fides:
The sequel to 2012’s smash hit, The Hunger Games, opens with a striking visual. Heroine Katniss Everdeen (Jennifer Lawrence) crouches low, bow in her hand, water before her, and the sky grey. It’s an iconic image, one that immediately gave me hope that director Francis Lawrence had managed to add some visual flair to the franchise.
Two interesting and illuminating cable TV clips popped up yesterday. The first involved National Review‘s Rich Lowry and Feministing’s Zerlina Maxwell.* Lowry made the point that younger people are avoiding the exchanges. This is a simple, empirical fact. The exchanges are attracting older and sicker people. Younger people are, thus far, avoiding the exchanges, in large part because the premiums they have to pay are insanely high. As a result everyone else’s premiums are going up. This is the dread “death spiral.”