The Clare Spark Blog

December 18, 2014

“Rape culture”

rape-culture-imageThis blog is about “rape culture” (supposedly an invention of such “man-haters” as Andrea Dworkin and Catherine MacKinnon in the 1970s, and carried on, controversially, by such as misogynistic, yet Romantic and quixotic Aaron Sorkin: see http://www.slate.com/blogs/browbeat/2014/12/14/newsroom_finale_did_aaron_sorkin_forget_how_to_write_a_tv_show.html), http://www.newyorker.com/culture/cultural-comment/the-newsroom-crazy-making-campus-rape-episode, “The Affair” (a Showtime series), and postmodern treatments of the battle of the sexes.

The second wave of feminism did not turn out well, although some of the chapters in The Shock of the Global (Belknap Press of Harvard U., 2010), state or hint that feminism was the most lasting of the 1970’s “human rights movements” that displaced the “Cold War consensus,” going so far in its chapter on Rock Music to claim that groupies were sexually liberated, like androgynous rock stars, making a lasting contribution to the war against the puritanical 1950s. That a woman wrote this chapter, inverting freedom and slavery, should not surprise us. The second wave of feminism was sex-obsessed and most of the activist women I have known would hate this blog.

I have written earlier about the unwinnable and inevitable “battle of the sexes” for all research and personal observation show that men and women are put together differently, and no amount of activism, cross-dressing, or preaching will change these biological differences. (I wrote about androgyny here: https://clarespark.com/2014/01/23/androgyny/.)

DavidBowie

Thus when postmodern feminists of either sex try to contrast male and female perspectives on events in a marriage or an affair, they get it only partly right, as for instance, the contrasting views of recent events in Noah vs. Alison in “The Affair.” (For instance, Noah initially sees Alison as a femme fatale, a perception reiterated in the Fiona Apple death-obsessed song “Container” that heads each episode; whereas Alison sees Noah as the more aggressive of the pair.)

What is missing is any depth of insight into the difficulties in maintaining the romance in any relationship. Also MIA is the attraction that all mature adults feel for the unspoiled beauty of young children, who we imagine to be “innocent” of the animal urges that torment us in attempting to maintain a monogamous relationship, especially a relationship with children who may arouse contrasting and incompatible feelings in fathers versus mothers. (See https://clarespark.com/2009/06/16/woody-allen-and-the-myth-of-the-artist/.)

Most public speech is heavily censored, much of it by ourselves, as we fight to maintain our idealizations of those we love or admire. So we count on poetry and fiction to illuminate the “dark” side of our impulses, but authors, no matter how talented, well-intentioned, and “conscious” may have the same limitations as readers. For we are all populated internally by “ignorant armies that clash by night.” As I have maintained often on this website, we are to an unknowable extent prisoners of our contexts.

This blog has been abstract and vague for reasons of privacy, or perhaps not. For as Herman Melville famously observed in his “crazy” novel Pierre, or the Ambiguities (1852), “It is impossible to talk or to write without apparently throwing oneself helplessly open.” (Note the qualifying word “apparently”; this is how Melville hooks the reader, laying traps wherever he wanders. On the ideological misreadings of Melville’s oeuvre see https://clarespark.com/2010/06/10/herman-melville-dead-white-male/.)

“NO TRUST.”

notrust

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September 22, 2013

“The Newsroom” season two

Newsroom-cast-season-two[Update: Jeff Daniels won an Emmy award for best actor in a drama, 9-22-13] I have already written about the opening episode of Aaron Sorkin’s The Newsroom (season one) here:

https://clarespark.com/2012/06/26/aaron-sorkins-scottish-blood/. I have now watched all nine episodes of season two, and have also read various reviews blasting the second season as “preachy” and overly mushy in the romantic love department. This blog is about cable news networks and Sorkin’s ending most of the episodes with an explanation about what we have just seen, sometimes referring to his own biography, in the season finale of season two stating outright that all the characters are based on his father, who has “one foot in the past.” (I surmise from this confession that he has probably undergone psychoanalysis and sees himself as a visionary Romantic.)

According to Wikipedia, Sorkin (born 1961) grew up in the posh Westchester suburb of Scarsdale. His father was a lawyer, his mother a school teacher. His paternal grandfather was a founder of the ILGWU, one of the most successful and militant of the early trade unions. Sorkin attended Syracuse University, known for its theater and cinema program. It should not surprise us that Sorkin is widely known as a left-liberal, and a progressive. Or that his own love life has been unstable, perhaps complicated by drug use. I watch his shows because he writes about the change in the workplace where powerful women are now present; they are sometimes smarter than the men who supervise them, and the males accept this revolutionary change apparently devoid of sexist angst. Moreover all his characters wield great power, as US heads of state with their staffs, or, as in this case, an outspoken cable news anchor whose memory bank and ability to think encyclopedically on his feet, in the anchor chair, and under the klieg lights, is simply astounding.

Sorkin’s main character in The Newsroom  is a moderate Republican, ostentatiously centrist, who is equally critical of the Occupy Wall Street ‘mob’ as he is of the ‘Taliban’-like far Right.  I don’t know if Sorkin’s father was a progressive Republican, or whether “Will McAvoy” is positioned simply to draw in the maximum numbers of eyeballs. But the carping criticism from the media regarding the “preachiness” of season two is bizarre. As I have tried to demonstrate, “the moderate men” are amoral, and must be so, in order to buttress the notion of the neutral state.  (See https://clarespark.com/2010/11/06/moderate-men-falling-down/, especially the bold-face type that quotes from Melville’s The Confidence-Man (1857).

The season two finale is also blasted because of the corny engagement of the Jeff Daniels character and the Emily Mortimer character (“Mac” is so smart that she was president of the famed Cambridge Union in the U.K.). Are the reviewers steeped in Brechtian theories of communist drama that avoid the clichés of “bourgeois” theater? (These Brechtian adjurations consist of the unresolved ending that throws the problem into the lap of the viewer who is to make the red revolution, and desisting from the climbing arc of suspense that is resolved through the happy ending—all accomplished through “the alienation effect” that banishes histrionics from the stage.)

But more interesting than that (and ignored by the reviews I have read), is that startling season finale  where Sorkin makes it clear that it is necessary to move on in the journalism business, and to overcome the traumas of the day. “Maggie” (played by Alison Pill) will not make in the biz, for she does not have the required short memory and thick skin of her colleagues. (An abandoned, hysterical Magdalene?) she clicks her mouse and the rest is darkness.

Crazy MaggieAlisonPill

None of the reviews I read noticed the improbability of the GENOA theme that threaded its way through the nine episodes. It is highly unlikely that a cable news network would broadcast a taped interview conducted by a visiting young producer, obviously an America-hater, without examining the unedited interview with the retired general who blows the whistle on US use of chemical weapons on a Pakistani  village. This troupe of geniuses, fretting over the credibility of the war crime accusation for eleven months, would be incapable of such carelessness. (For the real life 1998 CNN incident that suggested the GENOA theme of season two see http://www.theatlantic.com/entertainment/archive/2013/08/the-news-vs-i-the-newsroom-i-was-there-a-real-genoa-report-yes-in-1998/278795/.]

In one of his more interesting post-episode summaries, Aaron Sorkin tells the viewer that he has been thinking about his own relation to the audience.  (Will’s father has just died as he learns through a phone call to his ailing father, but his sister conveys the unexpected news via cell phone. Live on the air Will is tongue-tied, then says “It’s just us now.” A nice Oedipal moment, as Will will later win the heart of his “executive producer”, i.e., the reconnection with the didactic, perhaps debating Mother, now that Father has left the scene.

As with most other television offerings, that is the correct question: what designs do fiction writers have on the audience? And how do they envision their audiences? Do the better writers even know how to think about such a question? How much poking around all the relevant families of origin would able reviewers have to accomplish before writing their analyses of successful writers like Aaron Sorkin?

But more, is red-haired Maggie his Doppelgänger? If Sorkin is a Romantic (as he insinuates), then he has the problem of every Romantic artist: how to equal the last tour de force. Has he emptied himself out to such an extent that he will never produce another ‘masterpiece’? There is one reason for ‘post-partum’ depression of the creative artist, for whom praise and reputation are almost toxic. Whereas the neoclassicist is following a recipe that is time tested and will never go out of fashion. (See the classically pornographic painting by a Duke: https://clarespark.com/2013/09/21/ad-for-cambridge-conference-on-the-occult-and-spirituality/.)

AaronSorkinOr is Sorkin caught in that no-man’s land where he is cannot be sure where his artistic independence ends and pleasing the corporations that support him begins? If the latter, then Sorkin might be identified with the desolate and deserted Mark Zuckerberg in the final scene of the ironically titled, The Social Network.

August 26, 2012

Democratic Party talking points 2012

Pro-Andrew Jackson cartoon

[Read this along with https://clarespark.com/2012/06/26/aaron-sorkins-scottish-blood/. Sorkin’s HBO series The Newsroom (now complete) will preview Democrat talking points, without missing a beat.]

The Yankee Doodle Society is a 501©3 organization, and its purpose is education, not polemicizing for one party or the other. Nevertheless it is not unscholarly to note the ideology informing the talking points of the Democratic Party.  I start with my own list, then add several messages submitted by Facebook friends.

Clare (off the top of her head): [From NPR:] Voter fraud a bogus issue invented by the pigs (or as Aaron Sorkin calls them, “the American Taliban”) to negate minority voting

The War on Women/women’s health

Romney is waging war on the poor through clever evasion of income taxes [NPR interview with Nicolas Shaxon]

R wants to harm students and teachers

R is destroying Medicare and Social Security

FB friend: it’s all bush’s fault… the other guys want to return to the same failed policies that led us to the brink of disaster…mitt is out of touch with the voters.. flip floppers.. mormons are weird(unless of course they are senate majority leaders)… republicans want to lower taxes on the rich and raise them for the middle class…people who oppose obama must be racist… they will destroy medicare as we know it…. mitt’s a felon… mitt didnt pay his taxes for 10 years.. mitt likes to fire people… mitt is a job exporter… mitt and bain are tax cheats…ryan has dangerous randian notions… republicans are greedy and unfeeling , democrats are kind and generous…. republican party is the party of the rich, corrupted by evil corporations… we’ve created 4.4 million jobs since bo took office, more than george w or reagan did in recoveries(really false btw).”

FB friend Mike Murray: War on Women, White Privilege, Fat cats, Fair Share. On a local note, something I find absolutely fascinating.  The state of Minnesota would, per the language of the proposed amendment, provide a free photo ID for every eligible voter, as a photo ID would be required to vote.  Taxpayers would pay for this, of course, so it wouldn’t be “free,” yet this is somehow evidence of a war on the poor?

FB friend Randy Davidson: “Obama’s Pet Peeves: The Constitution, Congress,The Supreme Court, The separation of powers, Thomas Paine, Israel, Alexis de Tocqueville, Capitalism, Oil companies (even though he accepted more money from them than any other Presidential candidate in history), Thomas Jefferson, The free market, Private jets (with the exception of Air Force One, Pelosi One and Soros One), Hayek, Chevy Suburbans and Cadillac Escalades (with the exception of those used by Rap Stars and the Presidential motorcade – where is that fleet of Chevy Volts the White house ordered?), Montesquieu, Doctors (he accused them of unecessary amputation among other things, although he’s okay with late-term/partial-birth abortion), The private sector, Banks (see oil companies). Ironic afterthought: Although Barack Obama is a rabid anti-colonialist, he does in many ways bear a striking resemblance to the late King George III.” [Added by anon. FB friend: England… Arizona…Fox News… Health insurance industry.]

Taken as a whole, a detached observer might conclude that the Democratic Party is waging “total war” on their challengers for the presidency.  This is nothing new for the Democrats. As I showed in prior blogs, Claude Bowers laid out his program here: https://clarespark.com/2011/12/10/before-saul-alinsky-rules-for-democratic-politicians/. But see also the “progressive” appropriation of German/Nazi methods of mind management here: https://clarespark.com/2010/04/18/links-to-nazi-sykewar-american-style/.

These tried and true propaganda techniques were not once brought out in my graduate school education (not at Harvard, not at UCLA), nor have I seen an article or a book that identified them with a critical eye. We should all be asking, “why not”?

June 26, 2012

Aaron Sorkin’s [Scottish blood]

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/The_Newsroom_(U.S._TV_series), http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Aaron_Sorkin.

Aaron Sorkin

I watched Sorkin’s latest, The Newsroom during its debut on HBO, June 24, 2012. It was among his most improbable scripts, and a triumph in progressive chutzpah. For its mission statement is no less than the setting of America on a course that would have pleased the most significant ultra-liberal theologians of the last three centuries.

Among its implausibilities is the phenomenal memory of its lead character, “Will McAvoy” played by Jeff Daniels, who slightly resembles the author himself. “Will” is on a panel at Northwestern University, flanked by a Republican on one side, and a Democrat on the other. He is allegedly the moderate Republican who wants to please everybody. But when queried by a blonde co-ed, who hopes he will ratify her notion that America is the “greatest country in the world”, Will, at first mumbling something about the Constitution and the Declaration of Independence as revolutionary, switches his rap and goes off on a tirade quoting the low ranking of the US in achievements, a ratatat of rankings displaying a memory like a computer. He was coached by an unidentified woman in the audience who holds up signs indicating that we could be the greatest country in history, if we [repent ] and recognize our deficiencies. Obviously, Sorkin has designs on the HBO audience, who, sadly, probably will eat this stuff up.

Jeff Daniels

Turns out that Will McAvoy is the anchor of a nightly news show on a fictional cable network named for Atlantis (ACN). He returns to the newsroom only to discover that his staff has decamped with his co-anchor, leaving a saving remnant. Sam Waterston plays the head of the News division, and lingers on the greatness of Murrow and Cronkite, hoping to resuscitate their integrity as fearless purveyors of the truth. The rest of the episode is devoted to the astonishing feat, aided by his new, at first unwanted, “E.P.” (executive producer, “MacKenzie McHale” played by Emily Mortimer), in delivering the kind of exemplary investigative reporting that will make us proud to be liberal Americans.

We suddenly find ourselves back in summer, 2010 at the moment of the British Petroleum oil spill in the Gulf of Mexico. A very young producer, of Ivy League background, turns out to have contacts with both BP and Halliburton, the latter are manufacturers of the ostensibly defective concrete that allowed the catastrophe. Through the swiftly achieved cooperation of the mostly young people in the newsroom, ACN scoops the rest of the media with not only authoritative interviews with honchos, but, thanks to Will’s almost magical ability to do arithmetic in his head, gets an inspector of the oil platforms to admit that the inspection team assembled by the [evil] oil company could not possibly do its job. Competing networks, devoid of these fast-thinking, high-minded, adrenalin-hyped news gatherers, must do with limp reportage of “search and rescue” operations.

Aaron Sorkin has created two new superheroes, both with Scottish clan names. Thus Will and MacKenzie are doubles, and ex-lovers. Braveheart anyone? Not to worry about the 2012 election: America is back on the path to Freedom from Big Oil, at least on HBO at 10pm, Sunday nights. For the agenda being served by Sorkin and his affinity group, see http://tinyurl.com/7ryo95l . [Added, 7-24-12: in episode 5, Sorkin glorified the uprising  in Egypt’s Tahrir Square, as well as the uprising of the teachers union in Wisconsin. In HBO “Buzz”, Sorkin reaffirmed his belief in a pre-Bush America [that now has lost its way, with the rise of Fox News and the Tea Party]. Read this blog along with https://clarespark.com/2012/08/26/democratic-party-talking-points-2012/.

Emily Mortimer

March 16, 2012

Index to blogs on popular tv shows

Dick Wolf and Judith Light

I haven’t commented on all the crime shows. It is enough to say that we are to believe that good cops will eventually triumph over bad cops, and that most criminals are tracked down and punished. I.e., the State is looking out for you and me, with all the tools that modern science (including profiling) can muster. Law and Order: Criminal Intent (not analyzed here) adds a flourish: the Vincent D’Onofrio character is often dissatisfied with normal procedures, co-opts Freud, and seemingly obeys a higher (more compassionate) law.

https://clarespark.com/2009/10/15/the-christianization-of-ziva-david-ncis/

https://clarespark.com/2009/10/02/roman-polanski-and-his-critics/

https://clarespark.com/2010/05/20/criminal-minds-and-the-pathology-of-rural-america/

https://clarespark.com/2010/10/24/mad-men-and-the-jewish-problem/

https://clarespark.com/2010/12/12/hbo%e2%80%99s-in-treatment-and-boardwalk-empire/

https://clarespark.com/2011/04/27/james-m-cains-gorgon-gals-2/

https://clarespark.com/2011/05/20/the-mentalist-melville-blake-and-israel/

https://clarespark.com/2011/07/07/network-and-its-offspring/

https://clarespark.com/2012/02/04/blue-bloods-freud-trauma-911/

https://clarespark.com/2012/02/09/glee-goes-la-raza/

https://clarespark.com/2012/05/18/smash-season-finales-and-the-demonic/

https://clarespark.com/2012/06/26/aaron-sorkins-scottish-blood/

https://clarespark.com/2012/07/03/andy-griffiths-greatest-performance/

https://clarespark.com/2012/07/09/hbo-does-gellhorn-in-red/

https://clarespark.com/2012/09/23/homeland-and-the-idea-of-the-fifth-column/

https://clarespark.com/2012/07/29/girls-or-the-new-lost-generation/

https://clarespark.com/2013/02/14/is-there-a-culture-of-violence/

https://clarespark.com/2013/01/26/decoding-call-me-ishmael-and-the-following/ (Read this first)

https://clarespark.com/2013/02/25/potus-michelle-and-the-end-of-the-democratic-republic/

https://clarespark.com/2013/04/26/the-television-season-goes-dark/

https://clarespark.com/2013/05/27/smash-the-perfect-liberal-backstage-musical/

https://clarespark.com/2013/06/20/james-gandolfini-as-tony-soprano/

https://clarespark.com/2013/09/22/the-newsroom-season-two/

https://clarespark.com/2014/03/24/the-good-wife-and-bad-timing/

https://clarespark.com/2014/06/25/penny-dreadfuls-sinister-significance/

April 16, 2011

The Social Network hatchet job

Filed under: Uncategorized — clarelspark @ 6:07 pm
Tags: , , , , , , ,

opening scene from The Social Network

At first I was interested in seeing how far the screenplay diverged from the facts of Mark Zuckerberg’s life, but as I thought about it, the more sinister significance of the David Fincher/Aaron Sorkin movie was its adherence to a pattern that I have analyzed elsewhere on this blog: https://clarespark.com/2010/05/20/criminal-minds-and-the-pathology-of-rural-america/. As Aaron Sorkin reportedly said, he was not interested in the truth of Facebook’s origins, but in creating a “metaphor.” That metaphor is not only the subject of this blog, but of many other items on this website, particularly those that criticize the nailing of technology and of technical workers who are held to be responsible for mass death—unless they are spiritualized through religion or some other influence that turns them away from their “obsession” and towards a cohesive “community.”

If you have never availed yourself of Facebook as a tool to counter the dominant mass media and academic lines that simply mimic the talking points of the Democratic Party, then you may well be persuaded by the movie that Facebook is mainly of interest to horny young men searching for “hot” girls. Perhaps the script tells us more about its creators than it does about the varied uses to which Facebook is directed. And the irony is that Mark Zuckerberg himself (according to his biography on Wikipedia) is probably a liberal himself. [Added 4-21-11: And a big Obama supporter, who agrees with Obama’s tax policies and has vowed, along with Bill Gates and Warren Buffett, to give away half of his wealth.] But I am arguing here that MZ is not the target, but rather the busting up of the left-liberal monopoly of public speech in America. (And as an added treat, it is never dangerous to scorn a nouveau riche, horny Jewish swindler.)

Hence the strategy of the film, conscious or not, is to nail MZ as a self-absorbed narcissist, easily swayed by luxury (as offered by Sean Parker) and casual sex, while faithless to his true supporter, Eduardo Saverin. (Note that he remains obsessed by the girl friend who dumps him in the very first scene, and, with all his billions, he is isolated from the world, connecting only to his computer.) The last spoken words describe him as an “asshole” twice, by a sympathetic young female lawyer.

I did a Wikipedia search on all the major figures in the making of this film, and no one knows how many shares MZ’s faithful but betrayed friend Eduardo Saverin holds in Facebook, for the settlement agreement is sealed. Which brings me to another point. This film has been recognized by the Hollywood “community” as a great movie; indeed it is a well-made, even brilliant effort until you think about it. One could argue that it is a technical tour de force.

When will a modicum of ethics settle upon the world of filmmaking? How dare liberals present real people and events while  disclaiming any connection to “the truth?”

May 13, 2010

The New Gay Flappers

Filed under: Uncategorized — clarelspark @ 9:22 pm
Tags: , , , , ,

“My Love is of a birth as rare
    As ’tis, for object, strange and high ;
It was begotten by Despair,
    Upon Impossibility.

 Magnanimous Despair alone
    Could show me so divine a thing,
Where feeble hope could ne’er have flown,
    But vainly flapped its tinsel wing….” [Andrew Marvell, The Definition of Love]

Ramin Setoodeh, 2004, just awarded the Daniel Pearl intern prize at Stanford University

       Ramin Setoodeh, theater critic of Newsweek, has tongues flapping over whether or not his magazine should be boycotted as Ryan Murphy, creator of Glee, contends it should.  Aaron Sorkin in HuffPo says no, the problem is not the publication that he loves, but the demented right homophobes along with the pervasive and repellent  “voyeurism” that characterizes our culture—Sorkin hints that those prying, prudish, reactionary eyes are to blame. Kristin Chenowith, meanwhile, is incensed that the “homophobic”  Setoodeh’s argument—that gay men should not play straight men—has been published at all.

    Lesbianism is also a hot topic in the media, for fifty-year-old Elena Kagan has never married, and is suspected by some on the Right as a closeted gay, and therefore destined to support gay marriage if she makes it onto SOTUS.

    What nobody has mentioned is the pink elephant in the room (and I don’t mean the gayness of Sean Hayes). It is identity politics, to be specific, the notion that we are so defined by our sexuality or “race” that we can’t think or feel ourselves into a person who is not “like us.” Hence, Sean Hayes, a gay man, could not possibly play the straight romantic lead in the Broadway revival of Promises, Promises. Such are the fruits of “diversity” training.  Ramin Setoodeh, a gay man himself, has learned his lessons well.

    On the pinkness of the elephant: it is widely believed that “cultural Marxism” brought us the wonders of multiculturalism. As this website has shown again and again, it was not “the opposition of the stars” but the corporatist liberal establishment that instituted the social policy now called multiculturalism. Don’t blame the class-conscious Left—though some young academics leaped at the chance to preach anti-imperialism and rag on white male supremacy. Look to the Ford Foundation, the Rockefeller Foundation, and many others who co-opted the civil rights movement and exacerbated the divisions that threaten to tear our nation apart. The elephant is pink, like Newspeak, and we are all in trouble. As John Leonard quipped long ago when gender and ethnic studies became the latest big thing, must it have been the case that only a white whale could have written Moby-Dick?

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