Now that's a cautionary whaleDaniel Radosh
Hey, remember when Denise Richards played a physicist in that James Bond movie?
I love scientists.
So, back in February, 2002, I wrote an Op-Ed for the New York Times calling for the elimination of the best actress category at the Oscars. I made the point that "It would be preposterous even to consider a black actors category," and concluded that the sex-segregation only exists because "on Oscar night, it's the women who bring the glamour. Audiences want to see this year's dresses and hairstyles. Studios want female stars to help them sell tickets."
When the article came out, I bitched and moaned about how the paper had edited all the funny out of it, and posted my original version here.
A month later, that original version somehow appeared in the London Guardian credited to me and the Times but without the permission of either of us. (I eventually persuaded the paper to pay me, but they sent the check to the Times instead, and I never did see it.)
Flash forward, as they say in the movie biz, to February, 2004, when William Kowinski wrote an Op-Ed for the Los Angeles Times calling for the elimination of the best actress category. The LAT page is gone, but guess what: Kowinski bitched and moaned about how the paper edited all the funny out of it, and posted his original version here. In it, he makes the point that there are no "separate categories for black actors and actresses," and concludes that "glamorous and sexy women attract audiences to movies."
Four years go by — the category returning each one, I might add — and now (h/t Matt) the Guardian runs another Op-Ed (this time, presumably, not stealing it) calling for the elimination of, well, you know. In it, Sarah Churchwell asks us to "imagine the uproar if we had Oscars for best performance by a black man in a supporting role," and concludes that "beautiful women on display are used to sell everything in our culture, and the Oscars are no exception."
At least Churchwell can say that the Guardian didn't edit the funny out:
After 80 years, we have naturally advanced since the days when women won only 6% of Hollywood's most coveted awards. Today, they direct only 6% of all Hollywood films. Of the 24 "regular categories" of Oscars, women have also been eligible to win best supporting actress since 1936. Costume design was added in 1948, and makeup in 1981, both arenas in which women excel, for obvious reasons: we're skilled at being pretty, and we like to make other people pretty, too. This is why beautiful women pretending to be ugly, or men, have such a high statistical probability of winning best actress: it takes real virtuosity to overcome our biological urge to ornament. A woman has never won best director (only three have ever been nominated), and only six women have ever won best picture (all of which were shared with male co-producers). We do all right with screenplays, as women have been graciously permitted to write for a couple of centuries now.
My old Oberlin classmate Rachel tipped me off to this recent article in our alma mater's newspaper: Public Art: The Politics of Puking.
On December 12, just before the end of classes and the start of Reading Period, a group of five students led by College junior Kalan Sherrard, dressed up in white and went in front of Mudd Library where they proceeded to consume beets and tomato soup and vomit the red mixture on themselves and each other.
Sherrard was put on probation for, essentially, failing to get advance permission to vomit on himself and others. A well-trained Oberlin student, he's pretty sure that's an outrage, and he's got the postmodern gibberish to prove it: “Modern dance shows that walking can be a type of art," he says, "so banning art in public spaces means banning public spaces."
Of course, not everyone was so pleased with Sherrard's performance. Why not? Well, if you think it's for the obvious reason — people were vomiting on each other in public — then you obviously didn't go to Oberlin. No, here's the fundamental objection: "I'm a recovering bulimic who has a hard enough time during finals as is. I really REALLY didn’t need to see someone puke on themselves with no goddamn warning.”
My only question is: why isn't this on YouTube? Oh well, here's an Oberlin art project that is, "How Many Licks." I can only assume it's an ironic commentary on commercialism. Whatever. The project is almost salvaged by the moment that begins at 185.
This week's winner will receive a signed copy of Pornography: A Groundwork Guide by Debbie Nathan (must provide working e-mail address, etc). Because of this, special consideration will be given to non-sexual captions, if that's not too much to ask.
"Allahu akbar to you, allahu akbar to you, allahu akbar dear Maaaaaar-tin, allahu akbar to yoooooou!"
"I'm sorry, I thought this was Archduke Ferdinand's apartment. But it's not. Man. There goes World War I."—Nixon
"The best part is, it's full of scorpions!" — Brian
But when your whole campaign has come down to "the other guy steals his sound bites," you should really make sure that your own best sound bites are not stolen.
Now that I've got your attention, let me offer you Free Pornography. More precisely, a free copy of Debbie Nathan's new book, Pornography, which will be the prize in next week's anti-caption contest.
Debbie is a friend of the site since back in the Landesman era and more recently the gadfly who took down Kurt Eichenwald. Pornography: A Groundwork Guide is "the first and only book about pornography for young adults of high school and undergrad college age." It "summarizes the latest scholarly research about porn and makes it easy to understand."
When you think about it, this is actually an incredibly valuable resource. If you're a high school or college student looking to write a paper on this topic, you can't exactly Google "pornography" and expect to get any usable results (or any work done). Without this book, your only option would be to turn to one of the sensationalist and unreliable anti-porn advocacy groups or, if you're particularly enterprising, a porn industry apologist group, which is likely to be equally unreliable. Nathan's book is not pro-porn but, I would say, anti-anti-porn, though it fairly presents arguments from all sides.
Really any one of any age who's interested in the topic is likely to find it useful, but since it's meant for teens, feel free to give your copy away if you win it in the contest. The best way to do this is to log into a teen chat room and ask if there are any 15 year olds who want free pornography.
As your longtime source for scurrilous rumors about candidate affairs, I feel obliged to weigh in on John McCain's current predicament, even if I don't have anything especially weighty to say.
My first reaction was, WTF was the Times thinking? It seemed like they had a reasonable story about McCain and lobbyists — which would have been pretty ho hum except for the fact that McCain poses as Mr. Ethics — that they could have dressed up, in paragraph 10, with a fun anecdote: "McCain is so cozy with lobbyists, some of his advisors thought he was having an affair with one!" Instead they ran the story as if they had the goods on the affair, which they didn't, and then weakly tried to back it up with the lobbyist stuff.
Then I wondered if McCain hadn't actually planted this story himself so that we'd all be talking about his, um, vigor. It reminds me of a twist on the old doctor joke.
"As your straight-talking ethics candidate, I've got bad news and good news. The bad news is, I'm in the pocket of big lobbyists."
"Oh my God, that's terrible! What's the good news?"
"You see that hot blonde who's half my age? I'm fucking her."
You know I don't often post cute stories about my (now 4-year-old) kids, but I think you'll understand why I can't resist sharing this conversation from the ride home today.
Margalit: Mommy, I want the song about the princess.
Gina: What princess?
Margalit: The motherfucking princess.
My work here is done.
Joanna Klonsky of the Council on Foreign Relations on The Role of Delegates in the US Presidential Nominating Process in The Washington Post, Feb. 6.
Peter Kann and Lee Hudson Teslik of the Council on Foreign Relations on The Role of Delegates in the US Presidential Nominating Process in the New York Times, Feb. 4.
Hitch asks "What on earth is the point of a newspaper of record that decides that the record itself may be too much for us to bear?"
Hitch also urges me (well, not me personally but "you") to refuse to buy books or (gulp) do readings at Borders, because the chain banned an issue of Free Inquiry that published the Mohammed cartoons. That is a pretty cowardly and hypocritical move for a store that celebrates Banned Books Month every year. Must I oblige Hitchens' request when April 1 rolls around?
How scary is Lindsay Lohan's face in Bert Stern's re-creation of Marilyn Monroe's last sitting? [mirror] LiLo has been pushing her "new MaMo" brand for some time now, but if anyone was buying it, they sure aren't today. Marilyn looked sexier and more — what's the word? not dead — at age 36 and six weeks away from a fatal OD than Lindsay does at 21. (Enlarge for full effect.)
"I really wish we had bought hazmat suits for the kids too. I miss them." —JohnnyB
"How's about a glow job?" —Brian L
"Not tonight honey, my suit is filled with shit and piss." —Gary Goldsmith
I call bullshit: "Billy Ray Cyrus says he and his daughter, the 'Hannah Montana' actress Miley Cyrus, simply forgot to buckle up for one of their scenes in their new hit movie. 'We got caught up in the moment of filming, and we made a mistake and forgot to buckle our seat belts,' the country music star said Wednesday."
Sorry, pops, but if you're in the habit of buckling up every time you get into the car -- and you should be -- then it's not something you forget to do. It's not something you remember to do either. It's just something you do. That's why they call it a habit. Anyone who forgets once forgets regularly.
You know that thing that bloggers do where when they go away for a while, they get somebody else to blog for them, or at least have the courtesy to let readers know that they're not going to be posting? That might have been a good idea.
Belatedly, I'm traveling and won't be posting till later in the week. I would have posted the new cartoon, but there isn't one this week, so keep milking every drop of funny out of that last one.
That is all.
Last week I weighed in on a lopsided debate between Christopher Hitchens and TV rabbi Shmuley Boteach on the topic, "Does God Exist?". To my delight, the 92nd Street Y has now put the entire 90-minute debate online. It's Hitchens at his finest and an intellectual hoot from start to finish. C'mon, it's not like you're getting any work done anyway. At least watch Hitch's opening statement.
Is this the actual Crystal Skull whose kingdom Indiana Jones is bent on storming? Letters from Paramount's lawyers would suggest it is. What's more something about the skull fits with the spoiler in the recent Vanity Fair article.
I know I shouldn't get my hopes up, but, well, my hopes are way high for this movie (and have been since they announced the return of Karen Allen).
[Via Kyle Smith]
"They were looking at Mitt Romney as pretty doable in the political sense saying, 'This is a guy that has a record that we can really run with' and they ran with it in the Republican Party as you know, saying that he used to be pro-choice, now he's anti-abortion. He has changed his position on stem cells, he has changed his position on gay unions, that sort of thing." —Candy Crowley, CNN
h/t: TG Gibbon
Yeah, blogging here has been sporadic while I get actual work done. So any fan of mine should be regularly checking out Burro Hall for stuff like this.
I almost never watch election returns on TV. It seems more efficient to watch the stats auto-update on Politico without all the pundit blather. But tonight a little analysis will probably be helpful, so if you have a favorite network for such things, let me know. Given the delegate fight, this does seem like a night when CNN's wall could come in handy, but I briefly had CNN tuned in after New Hampshire and the smug, idiotic commentary almost did me in. Is MSNBC any better?
Good luck trying to figure out from his obituaries what Earl Butz is best remembered for. (Does that even make sense?). The NY Times says "Mr. Butz made a remark in which he described blacks as 'coloreds' who wanted only three things — satisfying sex, loose shoes and a warm bathroom — desires that Mr. Butz listed in obscene and scatological terms."
As Burro Hall recalls, Butz's actual words were, "I'll tell you what the coloreds want. It's three things: first, a tight pussy; second, loose shoes; and third, a warm place to shit."
And Nixon came through with how many of those?
Here's a fun anecdote about how the incident was reported at the time:
The Associated Press sent out the uncensored quotation but, according to Columbia Journalism Review, only two newspapers printed it: Wisconsin's Madison Capital Times and Ohio's Toledo Blade. Other newspapers said Butz had derogatorily described blacks' "sexual, dress and bathroom predilections," or that he had said "a tight [obscenity] ... a warm place to [vulgarism]," or otherwise cleaned up the language. ("Courageously." David Shaw of the Los Angeles Times commented, "...no editors dropped 'shoes' from Butz's remarks and substituted 'an article of footwear.'")
Two newspapers provided ways for readers to see Butz's uncensored remarks. The Lubbock Avalanche-Journal in Texas announced that the original statement was available in the newspaper office, and more than two hundred people came to read it. The San Diego Evening Tribune offered to mail a copy to anyone who requested it, and more than three thousand people did so.
[a Neanderthal animal rights meeting] "It's so wonderful that you saved that giant beast from the hunters. Soon we'll convert everyone to a healthy vegetarian life style and finally displace that other emerging human species." —MAtt
"Hey, Og, Gor said you had coke?" —TG Gibbon
"Do you have any art that's not about you?" — J
[via Kurt Andersen]
My latest HuffPo Rapture Ready! tie-in is The American Idol Virgin's Mistake.
There's an awkward joke in there that I originally constructed wrong, and then when I asked the editors to fix it, they only fixed part of it, so it's even more wrong. I guess I'll just see if anyone notices.
There's an interesting new Fox/Opinion Dynamics poll [pdf] on the presidential campaign today. Slate spotlights the fact that in head-to-head match ups, "Both Clinton and Obama were in a dead heat with McCain at about 45 percent, while both topped Romney by roughly 15 points." I said just yesterday that McCain is the stronger candidate against Clinton, but I also said that either Republican would be able to beat her. Does this poll change my mind? No, and a few of the other results in it explain why.
So far, Republicans have been refraining from really attacking either Clinton or Obama (Obama because they think Clinton is going to win the primary and Clinton because they want to make sure she does). But after the primaries, the gloves come off against either candidate, and several questions in this poll make it clear that Clinton is the far more vulnerable target.
"Which presidential candidate do you think is more likely to do anything -- including something unethical -- to win the election?"
Clinton 44%, Romney 11%, McCain 9%, Obama 8%
"Regardless of how you plan to vote, which presidential candidate do you think is most likely to do something that would embarrass the country?"
Clinton 37%, Romney 14%, McCain 12%, Obama 11%
"Regardless of how you plan to vote, which presidential candidate do you think is the most positive?"
Obama 36%, Clinton 22%, McCain 18%, Romney 11%
Interestingly, this does not seem to be about any visceral dislike of Clinton.
"Which one of the following candidates would you MOST want to watch on television for four years?"
Clinton 25%, Obama 25%, McCain 19%, Romney 12%
There's also a few questions in there indicating that Bill Clinton could continue to be trouble. 58% say Hillary should be responsible for what he says and does on the campaign trail; 31% say they expect the Clintons to have a "co-presidency" (up from 10% in November), and 66% say that if Hillary "difficult foreign policy situation with a world leader" as president, they'd expect Bill to "jump in and defend her the way he has been doing on the campaign trail." And in case you were wondering why that's a bad sign, when asked who benefited from Bill's jumping in and defending Hillary in South Carolina, 32% said Obama did, and 30% said the Republicans did. Only 12% thought he actually helped her.
Look for a lot of red-faced-Bill ads if Hillary gets the nomination.
Jim finds the best ever comment on an online recipe: "no way i would eat this or anyone in my family."
For the first time in my voting lifetime, my primary vote will actually matter. Since I imagine the same is true for many of you, let me add my voice to the many already urging you to vote for Barack Obama. There are plenty of good reasons to vote for Obama, but let's not let the better angels of our nature distract us from all the equally good reasons to vote against Hillary Clinton.
If you have time, read George Packer's recent New Yorker essay on the candidates' different philosophies of the presidency. If you don't, just consider any of the little things that Clinton has done, and continues to do, that reflect so poorly on her character (and yes, I do believe that character matters). Here's the latest regarding Clinton's harping on Obama's association with Tony Rezko.
No one who has ever practiced law, let alone Mrs. Clinton, could argue, with a clear conscience, that these five hours on behalf of a church group that partnered with a man who at a later point in time would be alleged to be a scoundrel equated to knowingly representing a Chicago slumlord. Yet she could not resist leveling the accusation.
I suggest that this provides a window into Mrs. Clinton's character because notwithstanding the enormous suffering she had to endure when accused of wrongful conduct in her representation of Madison Guaranty -- a representation that appears to have been no more than a routine business transaction -- she is willing to behave no differently than did her Whitewater accusers if she can gain politically. She appears to have learned no lessons from the Starr investigation.
Mrs. Clinton's willingness to ignore the truth for short-term political advantage is exactly what breeds the partisanship that's paralyzed Washington for too many years, and the cynicism felt by so many Americans, especially the young. Getting ahead by any means possible is the strategy. Once elected, the candidate falsely believes that he or she will be able to set things right and govern differently....How you get elected defines who you will be once in power.
The other night, I attended a debate at the 92nd Street Y between Christopher Hitchens and Rabbi Shmuley Boteach on the question of the existence of God. As everyone who agrees with me agrees, it was a ridiculously lopsided match up, with Hitch taking command from the start and never relenting.
This is the only clip available so far and it doesn't exactly capture the mood of the debate because it shows Boteach in sermon mode rather than argument mode, which is what he was usually in. Still, Hitchens has a moment that was pretty typical for him when he says, "We've already answered that question. He to the best of his ability."