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September 2015

The Word, I think, is Chutzpah

Marc Chacksfield steers us to this Guardian review of the film Legend, which the reviewer, Benjamin Lee, describes as “overflowing with bad dialogue,” “disappointingly shallow” and suffering from “a major lack of atmosphere and an overwhelming stench of inauthenticity.”

Oh dear.

However, as Mr Chacksfield points out, the film’s marketing team has done what it can with this somewhat unflattering two-star review.

Via Mr Eugenides

Reheated (45)

For newcomers, three items from the archives:  

Feel the Racial Healing

The Guardian’s Aisha Mirza bemoans the “psychic burden” of living among white people, which is worse than being mugged.

The more I think about it, the more this may exemplify a near-perfect Guardian article, the ideal to which all other Guardian columnists should aspire. It’s haughty and obnoxious, is ignorant of relevant subject matter, is frequently question-begging, and its imagined piety is premised on a rather obvious double standard. Specifically, Ms Mirza’s belief that people who leave London do so, secretly, because they don’t feel comfortable living among people with skin of a darker hue, which is racist and therefore bad, and her own simultaneous preference not to live among people whose skin is paler than hers, which is somehow not racist at all, and is in fact aired as the last word in righteousness.

Aesthetes, Take Heed

Brace yourselves for some taxpayer-funded cultural improvement.

Those with a taste for even more daring and challenging work may prefer the theatrical stylings of Mr Ivo Dimchev, a “radical performer” acclaimed for his “gripping sensitivity” and whose performance piece I-ON “explores” the “provoking functionlessness” of various objects, before showing us “how to make contact with something that has no function.” Readers are advised that the aforementioned contact-making, which was performed as part of the 2011 Vienna International Dance Festival and is shown below, inevitably includes vigorous self-pleasure with what appears to be a wig.

Strange Construal

In which socialists misremember a 1970s sitcom.

To seize on The Good Life as an affirmation of eco-noodling and a “non-greedy alternative” to modern life is unconvincing to say the least. The Goods only survive, and then just barely, because of their genuinely self-supporting neighbours – the use of Jerry’s car and chequebook being a running gag, along with convenient access to Margo’s social contacts and expensive possessions. And insofar as the series has a feel-good tone, it has little to do with championing ‘green’ lifestyles or “self-sufficiency.” It’s much more about the fact that, despite Tom and Barbara’s dramas and continual mooching, and despite Margo’s imperious snobbery, on which so much of the comedy hinges, the neighbours remain friends. If anything, the terribly bourgeois Margo and Jerry are the more plausible moral heroes, given all that they have to put up with and how often they, not Tom’s principles, save the day.

There’s more, should you want it, in the updated greatest hits

Elsewhere (178)

Ashe Schow on attempts to exacerbate campus “rape” hysteria: 

One of the best tactics so-called researchers have used to conclude that fully one-fifth of college women will be sexually assaulted is to vastly expand the definition of what [rape] is… Reason’s Elizabeth Nolan Brown dissects the [Rutgers University survey], noting the definition of “sexual assault” and “sexual violence” included everything from “remarks about physical appearance” and “persistent sexual advances that are undesired by the recipient” to “threats of force to get someone to engage in sexual behaviour, as well as unwanted touching and unwanted oral, anal, or vaginal penetration or attempted penetration.” There’s an ocean of difference between someone saying you look good today and someone physically pinning you down against your will. To include both under the category of “sexual assault” is just ludicrous, and certainly not a serious way of studying the issue.

These, though, are the standards of Rutgers’ School of Social Work.

And via Ace, Timothy Sandefur tracks the wildly changing politics of Star Trek

At no point in the show’s history had Kirk or his colleagues treated the Klingons unjustly, whereas audiences for decades have watched the Klingons torment and subjugate the galaxy’s peaceful races. In “Errand of Mercy,” they attempt genocide to enslave the Organians. In “The Trouble with Tribbles,” they try to poison a planet’s entire food supply… Yet never does the Klingon leader, Gorkon, or any of his people, acknowledge — let alone apologise for — such injustices. Quite the contrary; his daughter tells a galactic conference, “We are a proud race. We are here because we intend to go on being proud.” Within the context of the original Star Trek, such pride is morally insane. Yet in service to Spock’s mission of elevating peace over right, the film [Undiscovered Country] portrays the Klingons not as thugs, but as misunderstood casualties of human bigotry. Kirk and his crew, says Gorkon’s daughter at the Enterprise banquet, represent a “homo sapiens-only club,” devoted to such chauvinistic values as “inalienable human rights.” “Why, the very name,” she quips, “is racist.”

The incoherent utopianism of many Trek episodes – “the pernicious ideal,” as dicentra called it - has been discussed here beforemany times, along with the authoritarian types who imagine a similarly ‘progressive’ tomorrow

Feel free to share your own links and snippets in the comments. It’s what these posts are for. 

Friday Ephemera

Mortified cow. (h/t, Damian) // Impromptu kitten rescue. // How to make squid piglets. // Ants encounter monolith. // When a first-stage engine nozzle lands in your living room. // Satlapse. // One scene, three Lecters. // Layers of paper. // That paper polygon gorilla head you’ve always wanted. // Thirteen-year-old boy is pleased to discover Portal-themed bedroom. // A short film about a ballet shoe factory. // Underwater belly rub. // Beatboxing saxophonist plays Bach’s Cello Suite No. 1. // Motoring over Ben Nevis, 1911. // Drone versus ram. (h/t, Julia) // I see a straw monster. // Commuting sociably in the pre-smartphone era. // For the agoraphobic and antisocial, an app for avoiding crowds. // Gif of note. // And finally, tastily, a leech that feeds exclusively on hippo rectums