Compared to Salon, The Onion is a straight news site:
Apparently, selling a war is easy. In case you missed it, “Lone Survivor” stunned box office pundits with a $38.5 million haul on its opening weekend. It’s the second-biggest January opening ever (behind 2008’s “Cloverfield”), and the biggest ever for a war movie in the post-9/11 era. As an explanation, the Hollywood Reporter cited the film’s patriotic tone, noting that it “differs from many of the movies broaching Iraq, Afghanistan, and the Middle East in sticking to themes of courage and heroism, versus politics and social issues.” As a point of contrast, THR cites box-office disappointments “Green Zone,” “Rendition,” “Stop-Loss” and even “The Hurt Locker,” which earned only $12.6 million domestically despite winning an Oscar for best picture. Not all of these movies were overtly critical of our recent wars, but none of them blindly accepted war as a moral good like “Lone Survivor” did.
Still, the film’s success is about more than patriotism. It’s about timing. Winter used to simply be a dumping ground for those films that were not good enough to warrant a more competitive release date, but it has recently become a good time to release brainless, pro-violence action flicks. Last year, we saw films like “The Last Stand,” “Bullet to the Head,” “A Good Day to Die Hard” and “Parker” released between January and March. Each was a throwback to a time when action movies didn’t need to have a brain — the 1980s — and several even used the aging stars of that era. In that decade, when the modern action flick was born, we preferred a tough guy with a gun; the brain was optional. Films like “First Blood,” “Die Hard” and “Lethal Weapon” dovetailed politically with the Reagan administration’s calls for increased defense spending and ramping up of the Cold War.
Over time, our thirst for war has decreased, and the successful action movies of the post-9/11 era are more contemplative about their violence. Nowadays, our summer action movies need to be more ambivalent about their use of violence or at least ponder weightier themes, like the future of our planet or the merits of using violence to fight crime.
But there is still a place for movies that suggest all we need to solve our problems is guts and ammo, and that place is January, when the “intellectual left” is busy watching serious movies destined for Academy Awards. While folks on the coasts are catching up with “Her” and “Inside Llewyn Davis,” the heartland is falling hard for “Lone Survivor,” which lionizes military service, revels in the killing of enemy combatants, and never bothers to question the need for war in the first place. Calum Marsh summed up the film’s politics best in the Atlantic last week: “Not asking is its own kind of answer.” In other words, the filmmakers’ narrow focus on the survival of its four protagonists could be read as a de facto justification for the entire war. By rooting for their survival, we root for America to win. End of story.
I’m gonna go see Lone Survivor this afternoon with my son and a couple friends. I’ll let you know what I think of it.
This poor girl seems to be committing blasphemy:
Obama’s speech on the National Security Agency Friday charted, at most every turn, a predictable path. He called upon notable moments in U.S. history to frame the question of surveillance, he made claims from national security to defend the NSA, he made qualified announcements about reforms to come, he even pointed a finger at those baddies in Russia and China, who most certainly hate freedom and privacy more than the U.S. government — rest assured. It was oration straight out of the president of the United States handbook.
To be sure, Obama put forward a number of concrete reforms on Friday. They are the stuff of realpolitik: fiddling with the details of surveillance procedures in response to public concern, without enacting any deep structural shift to the government’s hoarding complex when it comes to communications data. Indeed, Obama himself said Friday, “those who are troubled by our existing programs are not interested in a repeat of 9/11, and those who defend these programs are not dismissive of civil liberties. The challenge is getting the details right, and that’s not simple.”
This was the crux of Obama’s performance today: An argument for fiddling with details to placate both outraged privacy advocates and national security hawks. But we all know where the devil resides, so Obama’s focus on “details” is all important: Without scrutiny, debates over the details of NSA reform could distract us from the fact that our state of totalized surveillance is going nowhere.
I knew that Obama couldn’t be trusted when he flip-flopped on the FISA revision/telecom immunity. His followers were totes cool with it though. Now the civil libertarians on the left are suffering from cognitive dissonance because they simultaneously love Big Government and hate Big Brother.
Um, guys? Big Government IS Big Brother. Lefty civil libertarians are just as confused as those smart phone-using, Starbucks-drinking, spoiled rich-kid anti-corporatists at OWS. In fact, there is a lotta Venn diagram overlap between the two groups.
This guy used to be a Cabinet Secretary for the Big Dawg:
For years political scientists have wondered why so many working class and poor citizens of so-called “red” states vote against their economic self-interest. The usual explanation is that, for these voters, economic issues are trumped by social and cultural issues like guns, abortion, and race.
I’m not so sure. The wages of production workers have been dropping for thirty years, adjusted for inflation, and their economic security has disappeared. Companies can and do shut down, sometimes literally overnight. A smaller share of working-age Americans hold jobs today than at any time in more than three decades.
People are so desperate for jobs they don’t want to rock the boat. They don’t want rules and regulations enforced that might cost them their livelihoods. For them, a job is precious — sometimes even more precious than a safe workplace or safe drinking water.
This is especially true in poorer regions of the country like West Virginia and through much of the South and rural America — so-called “red” states where the old working class has been voting Republican. Guns, abortion, and race are part of the explanation. But don’t overlook economic anxieties that translate into a willingness to vote for whatever it is that industry wants.
This may explain why Republican officials who have been casting their votes against unions, against expanding Medicaid, against raising the minimum wage, against extended unemployment insurance, and against jobs bills that would put people to work, continue to be elected and re-elected. They obviously have the support of corporate patrons who want to keep unemployment high and workers insecure because a pliant working class helps their bottom lines. But they also, paradoxically, get the votes of many workers who are clinging so desperately to their jobs that they’re afraid of change and too cowed to make a ruckus.
I am ashamed to admit I once subscribed to the “What’s the Matter with Kansas” theory of politics. Then I realized that not only is it anti-democratic but it’s also a load of crap. The places that have taken the worst hits in terms of job loss over the past 40 years are the true blue northern and Midwest states in the “Rust Belt.” The places that have seen the most economic growth are red states in the South and West.
This post would not be complete without some first-class Grade-A stupidity from Joan Walsh:
Sen. Ted Cruz’s fearless crusade to defund what he calls Obamacare ended with a whimper not a bang Thursday, as the junior senator from Texas dropped his demand that the Senate vote on amendments to defund the Affordable Care Act before passing the $1.1 trillion spending bill.
“The majority leader and Senate Democrats have chosen not to listen to the American people,” Cruz said. The Senate voted 72-26 first to cut off debate, then to pass the bill.
Apparently Cruz’s Senate GOP colleagues spent the Thursday lunch hour begging him to drop his plan for a defund-Obamacare vote, according to the Washington Post’s Lori Montgomery. He still tried, but he didn’t try that hard.
Concerned that the freshman senator’s quick surrender might be interpreted as backing down – which it was – his office issued a statement later saying “he remains committed to keeping the conversation about Obamacare front and center as the law continues to harm more and more Americans by raising their premiums, canceling their plans and keeping them from their doctors.”
Sure. The Affordable Care Act is on its way to stability, as the number of signups continues to surge in advance of the March 31 deadline, and as people who lost coverage find better plans and/or subsidies. Ted Cruz, meanwhile, is on his way to irrelevance.
Last time I checked Ted was still popular in Texas, and right now they are the only voters whose opinion matters to him. I always love it when pundits declare living, breathing politicians dead. I’m not making any predictions about Ted Cruz’s career, but I am pretty sure we haven’t seen the last of him.
As for what he calls Obamacare, saying that it’s stabilized is correct only in the sense that someone in full cardiac arrest is stable. As for Joan Walsh, I’m honestly not sure whether she’s lying or delusional.
Seriously, how can you spoof crap like that? Salon is spoof-proof.