Tag Archives: freedom of expression

‘Confederate’: Save your ammo for the real battles ahead of us, snowflakes

I find it ironic that I recently wrote about what I called “the cultural war on white people” and that with the piece I used a graphic from “Game of Thrones” (specifically, the Night King, a blue-eyed devil who leads the “white walkers.”)

Because this past week’s tempest in a teapot was the fact that the creators of “Thrones” plan to create next an HBO television series called “Confederate,” which examines an alternate universe in which the South successfully seceded from the Union.

This would be no big fucking deal if we didn’t live in an era of smug, pearl-clutching outrage addicts, but we do, so it is.

So addicted to their self-righteous outrage are the snowflakes supposedly on the left that now they don’t hesitate to engage in attempted prior censorship — the dooming of a creation, of an expression, before it even has been substantially started by its creator or creators.

These aren’t true leftists, because true leftists value the freedom of expression.

“Confederate,” if and when completed, might suck ass. It might be corny. It might turn out to be tone-deaf, although I rather doubt that it will. I mean, “Game of Thrones” over the past several years has matured. Sex scenes apparently meant to appeal mostly to young heterosexual males have diminished with each passing year as the show has grown more serious, which includes the development of its female characters from sex objects to the show’s true leaders (heroines and villainesses and somewhere in between).

And despite criticisms apparently from those who haven’t seen the series, “Game of Thrones” is diverse. True, it’s set in a Medieval-like place and time and so you see a lot of white characters, but it has important black characters (but, if we’re keeping count, not any Asian characters that I can think of, and while the series has featured at least one Latino actor, it hasn’t had any explicitly Latino characters, since there is no Spain or Latin America in Westeros, the mythical land in which most of the series takes place).

But if “Game of Thrones” isn’t racially diverse enough for you, snowflake, well, go yell at George R.R. Martin, on whose series of books the television series is based.

But that said, no creator of a poem or a short story or a novel or a song or a television show or a film or of anything has to practice affirmative action in his or her creation.

We can and should argue for a diverse workplace and for the equality of opportunity in our society and in our daily lives, but artistic creations are something else. They exist in a special realm that needs to be protected, even from “harmless” snowflakes.

If you want to create something that features predominantly or only black people or Asian people or Latino people (or gay people or women or men or transgender people or…), knock yourself out; maybe your story or your movie or your song lyrics are focused on that group of people and you don’t want to drag a lot of other people into the mix just to make some snowflakes happy.

If you want to create something that features predominantly or even only white people — gasp! — you can do that, too, especially if the time and the place depicted in your creation warrant it.

And the “Thrones” co-creators seem to be well aware of what they’re getting into with “Confederate.” “Thrones” co-creator D.B. Weiss recently told Vulture:

… [I]t goes without saying slavery is the worst thing that ever happened in American history. It’s our original sin as a nation. And history doesn’t disappear. That sin is still with us in many ways.

“Confederate,” in all of our minds, will be an alternative-history show. It’s a science-fiction show. One of the strengths of science fiction is that it can show us how this history is still with us in a way no strictly realistic drama ever could, whether it were a historical drama or a contemporary drama.

It’s an ugly and a painful history, but we all think this is a reason to talk about it, not a reason to run from it. And this feels like a potentially valuable way to talk about it. …

Many black Americans say that they’re beyond sick and tired of the slavery theme. I can understand that; as a gay man, my entire life I’ve seen that in most movies gay male characters are acceptable only as flamboyant, easily identified, non-threatening nelly queens, as the deserved victims of violence (up to, of course, murder), and/or as the mentally ill perpetrators of violence (up to, of course, murder) and/or of other depraved crimes, and usually the only acceptable ending for them is to commit suicide, to be murdered or to die of AIDS.

You want a happy ending from time to time.

But the Civil War never ended. Look at “President” Pussygrabber, his Nazi elf of an attorney general from Alabama, his oily secretary of state from Texas and the rest of his Cabinet members who hail mostly from the South, and the map of the 2016 presidential election results:

Image result for map 2016 presidential election red blue

This is a valid, still very relevant topic, and “Confederate” would, I think, only further the discussion. And on board “Confederate” are the husband-and-wife television-writing team of Malcolm Spellman and Nichelle Tramble Spellman.

As Malcolm Spellman told Vulture:

… For me and Nichelle, it’s deeply personal because we are the offspring of this history. We deal with it directly and have for our entire lives. We deal with it in Hollywood, we deal with it in the real world when we’re dealing with friends and family members.

And I think Nichelle and I both felt a sense of urgency in trying to find a way to support a discussion that is percolating but isn’t happening enough. As people of color and minorities in general are starting to get a voice, I think there’s a duty to force this discussion. …

Nichelle Tramble Spellman said:

… I think what was interesting to all of us was that we were going to handle this show, and handle the content of the show, without using typical antebellum imagery. There is not going to be, you know, the big Gone With the Wind mansion. This is present day, or close to present day, and how the world would have evolved if the South had been successful seceding from the Union. And what was also exciting to me was the idea that in order to build this, we would have to rebuild world history …

Malcolm Spellman adds:

This is not a world in which the entire country is enslaved. Slavery is in one half of the country. And the North is the North. As Nichelle was saying, the imagery should be no whips and no plantations.

Read the entire Vulture interview with the four creators of “Confederate”; I think that it’s clear that, as “Thrones” co-creator David Benioff put it, “anyone who thinks that Malcolm and Nichelle are props have never met Malcolm and Nichelle,” and that, as the interviewer worded it, “Confederate” is not going to be “almost pornography or wish-fulfillment for white supremacists and the alt-right.”

If “Confederate” sucks for whatever reasons — if it’s artistically lame and/or it’s tone-deaf or even offensive to the reasonable members of its audience — then let it die deservedly in the marketplace of ideas, but let’s not kill it in the crib.

As Benioff said:

… [W]e haven’t written any scripts yet. We don’t have an outline yet. We don’t even have character names. So, everything is brand-new and nothing’s been written. I guess that’s what was a little bit surprising about some of the outrage. It’s just a little premature. You know, we might fuck it up. But we haven’t yet. …

Coming from the creative minds behind “Game of Thrones” and the Spellmans, I expect “Confederate” to be more like “Game of Thrones” in quality than like “The Man in the High Castle,” Amazon.com’s series that imagines that the Germans and the Japanese had won World War II and that I have tried twice to get into but just haven’t been able to, as it’s just not that good.

I hope that these what-if-history-had-turned-out-differently television series don’t proliferate too profusely, but I don’t recall Amazon.com being called anti-Semitic for having resurrected Hitler, so I think it’s incredibly bullshit for the creators of “Game of Thrones” to be called racist for planning to resurrect the South.

Pick your battles and save your ammo for the battles that matter, snowflakes. You’re only turning off far more potential allies than you are doing yourself any good by attacking popular culture that is enjoyed by millions of Americans — and that is not actually “racist” — such as Bill Maher’s show and the not-even-born-yet “Confederate.”

It’s pretty clear that you’re making it all about yourself and your supposedly easily hurt pwecious widdle feewings, and that’s not a winning strategy. Nor is prior censorship in a nation that has valued the freedom of expression since its inception.

Keep trying this bullshit; you’ll see.

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NBC, CNN should call Rethugnicans’ bluff

Reports The Associated Press:

Washington — The Republican National Committee charged [yesterday] that NBC and CNN are promoting a potential presidential candidacy by Hillary Rodham Clinton, threatening to blackball [the two networks] from future [Republican Party] primary debates if they air upcoming programs on the former secretary of state.

RNC chairman Reince Priebus called a planned NBC mini-series on Clinton and a CNN documentary on the first lady an “extended commercial” for a future Clinton presidential campaign. In separate letters to the networks, he urged them to cancel “this political ad masquerading as an unbiased production.”

Clinton has not yet said whether she’ll run for president again in 2016, but her future remains the subject of wide speculation in political circles and beyond. The primary debates typically provide a ratings boost for the networks and are highly coveted as the presidential campaign unfolds.

In making the charge, the RNC was raising a common complaint among Republican activists that news and entertainment industries favor Democratic candidates. Republicans have also used a potential Clinton campaign as a fundraising tool in recent months as both parties begin to assess the crop of candidates to succeed President Barack Obama.

CNN Films is planning a feature-length documentary film on the former first lady, looking at her professional and personal life. It will be led by Oscar-winning director and producer Charles Ferguson and is expected to air in 2014.

NBC has announced a miniseries called “Hillary,” starring actress Diane Lane. No air date has been announced but it is timed to be released before the 2016 presidential election. NBC has said the four-hour miniseries will follow Clinton’s life and career from 1998 to the present. …

The RNC gets to dictate the networks’ programming?

Really?

And it’s hilariously ironic, because it was Repugnican icon Ronald Fucking Reagan who killed the so-called “fairness doctrine” in 1987, allowing CNN and NBC to air programming about Billary Clinton if they so choose.

But when the results of Reagan’s action aren’t favorable to their party, the Rethugnicans cry “foul.”

Love her or hate her — and I don’t much like her myself — but Billary Clinton is a public figure of significant public interest, which makes her an appropriate subject for a documentary or even a mini-series. And the networks have the First-Amendment right to produce such programming if they so fucking choose.

NBC and CNN should tell the blackmailing Rethugnicans to go fuck themselves and proceed with their programming.

Who, after all, really needs whom? 

Billary Clinton thus far is beating all of the potential 2016 Repugnican Tea Party presidential candidates in nationwide polls, which apparently has Reince Priebus (that’s “major prick” in Greek) & Co. shitting their pants. If she weren’t such a threat, I can’t see them trying to dictate the networks’ programming in the Repugnican Tea Party’s favor.

The AP article linked to above claims that coverage of the the Repugnican Tea Party presidential primaries is ” highly coveted,” but aren’t the votes of the American people in a presidential election also highly coveted? Would the Repugnican Tea Party not shoot itself in the foot by disallowing any of the networks to cover any one of its presidential primary debates?

Are the party’s presidential primary debates not also “political ads,” to use Priebus’ own words?

Again, CNN and NBC should ignore the Rethugnican Party’s pathetic, desperate, anti-democratic blackmail attempt and proceed as they wish.

If the Repugnican Tea Party can’t win the war of ideas, then too fucking bad. It has no fucking right to try to manipulate and rig the marketplace of ideas itself.

P.S. Further on the topic of Billary, while it certainly is possible that “Billary fatigue” might harm her campaign, should she decide to run for president for 2016, unless another high-level Democratic candidate emerges, I still think that the 2016 Democratic presidential nomination is Billary’s if she wants it.

It would take someone like, say, Al Gore or Howard Dean, I think, to give Billary a run for her money for the 2016 Democratic presidential nomination, as Barack Obama did in 2008, and thus far we’ve had no indication that someone on that level has any intention of running for 2016.

Whether or not Billary could win the White House is another story, of course.

Recent nationwide polls put Repugnican Chris Christie from 4 percent to 6 percent behind Billary, a lead that Christie, should he decide to run (and I’m pretty sure that he will), might not have such a hard time erasing, especially if (when?) “Billary fatigue” fully kicks in.

But could the so-called “moderate” Christie make it alive out of the Repugnican presidential primary season, which is much ideologically purer (that is, much more right-wing) than is the presidential election itself? Will the Repugnican Tea Party traitors have the sense not to nominate their party’s biggest fascist, but to nominate their party’s candidate who has the best chance of actually winning the White House?

It’s too early for all of this, I hear some readers groaning. My response to that is No, it’s not too early to prevent control of the White House from reverting back to the Rethugnican Party in 2016.

Barack Obama hasn’t done nearly enough to get us out of the abyss that George W. Bush & Co. left us in, but another Repug in the White House will only dig our hole even deeper.

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The art of protest is dead

Well, apparently not in Wisconsin, and very apparently not in the Middle East, but here in Sacramento, California, and throughout much if not most of the rest of the nation, I surmise, it is.

Last night I attended the solidarity-with-the-workers-of-Wisconsin gathering at the California state Capitol here in Sacramento. It was a great turnout, especially given that the gathering was in support of the working people several states away and was not about anything that immediately is occurring here in California.

The Sacramento Bee put the turnout at 2,500, but, while I’m no expert at estimating crowd size, I would estimate that there were at least 4,000 people at the peak of the turnout.

The turnout was impressive, but the organization of the protest (which barely can be called a “protest,” since it was so tame) was sad.

The organizers had had at least a few days to organize, but the sound system was for shit. It sounded like they were using technology along the lines of Mr. Microphone. Unless you were within maybe a dozen yards of the individual speaking at the moment, you couldn’t hear anything but muffled sounds.

Old labor-movement songs (from the 1930s, I believe they were) were sung. So old that few there knew the lyrics. Hell, why not use some old protest ditties in Latin? The labor movement sorely needs to update itself. The history of the labor movement is important, but when you are singing decades-old songs, it makes you appear to those who are unfamiliar with labor-movement history (which is the majority of Americans) to be, um, irrelevant…

Once the organizers of last night’s “protest” got the crowd that they wanted to get, they apparently didn’t know what to do with it. There was no coordinated march, the chants and the singing were weak (in no small part because of the practically non-existent sound system), and, although the event was billed as a “candlelight vigil” for the embattled workers of Wisconsin, what appeared to be portable stadium lights brightly lit up the protest area the whole time and never were dimmed, making an actual candlelight vigil impossible.

And a candlelight vigil implies that you’re going to be there for at least two or three hours, but by around 6:45 p.m., only 45 minutes after the event began, it was over and the crowd started to disperse. Shit. The protesters in Wisconsin have been at it for more than a week now; we couldn’t do a full hour last night?

Predictably, a small group of “Tea Party” traitors — most of them old and white and just mean (one of them had a sign advising us unionized workers to “man up,” when what the traitors really want us to do is to bend over) — were across the street from us last night. I estimate that there were no more than 20 of them there at a time. (The Bee put their number at 35. My guess is that the mainstream/corporately owned and controlled media don’t mind underestimating the size of crowds of those of us who are left of center, but that they are much more generous when estimating the number of wingnuts, since they don’t want the wingnuts harassing them that they were undercounted.*)

I hate “Tea Party” traitors. To give you an idea of what utter incorrigible asswipes these people (and I use the word “people” very loosely) are, the Sacramento Bee has reported that a local “Tea Party” ringleader named Mark Williams had planned to have “Tea Party” traitors wear labor-union shirts (specifically, the purple shirts of the state’s largest and most powerful labor union, Service Employees International Union [to which I belong]) and to act in ways to shed a falsely negative light on us pro-labor-union protesters.

The Bee reports that Williams had blogged (in part) about his plan to infiltrate last night’s protest:

Our goal is to make the gathering look as greedy and goonish as we know that it is, ding their credibility with the media and exploit the lazy reporters who just want dramatic shots and outrageous quotes for headlines. Even if it becomes known that we are plants the quotes and pictures will linger as defacto truth.

See, just as the members of the right wing have no problem with such things as stolen presidential elections and bogus wars, truth doesn’t matter to them — just the appearance of truth, or, as Williams put it, the “defacto [sic] truth.” (Faux wingnut Stephen Colbert calls this “truthiness.”)

If we labor-union members truly inherently are so “greedy” and “goonish,” then why would “Tea Party” traitors need to don labor-union garb and act like greedy goons? Wouldn’t our greedinees and our goonishness be self-evident? Why would our supposed greediness and goonishness need a boost?

Anyway, word of Williams’ dirty plot leaked out, and SEIU warned its members of it via Facebook (and maybe Twitter, too), which apparently explains why I saw not a single purple T-shirt there (which at the time I found strange, since at that time I wasn’t aware of Williams’ plot; it was only after I got home from the gathering last night that I read about it).

As I have established, I loathe the “Tea Party” traitors, and as the “protest” was dispersing last night, from across the street I yelled at the “Tea Party” traitors who were there to counter-protest something like this: “Tea Party traitors! The ‘founding father’ you follow is Benedict Arnold! You fight against the working class and you support the rich!”

Immediately a thuggish white male member of the California Highway Patrol (California’s state police, who have jurisdiction over the Capitol grounds) and an apparent “security” team member (also a thuggish young white male) for one of the unions that had “organized” the “protest” who looked and acted like a fucking bouncer both tried to shut me up, trying to use their imposing presences, the threat of violence, to intimidate me into silence.

Sadly and pathetically, I had to remind both of them (who apparently spend much more time in the gym than reviewing the Bill of Rights of the U.S. Constitution) that I simply was exercising my First Amendment rights, to which they had no coherent response.

I was across the street from the “Tea Party” traitors and I had made no movement toward them. I had not threatened them with violence. I had not tried to pelt them with rocks or anything like that. I simply had shouted at them what I thought of them. From across the street.

(That violence might ensue from spoken words at what is supposed to be a “protest,” for fuck’s sake, does not mean that it’s legal to infringe upon a citizen’s First Amendment rights.)

But so cowed have we Americans become that apparently even at a “protest” you aren’t to — gasp! offend anyone! You are to stand obediently like cattle in your designated “protest zone” (which our police state actually has instituted in many of our cities) and be nice. Definitely no shouting at the opposition! (Especially if you aren’t a wingnut, to whom much more latitude is given, since wingnuts are professional “victims.”)

So: Only as long as “protests” are rather ineffective and inoffensive, they are allowed.

What’s the fucking point of “protests,” then?

And why do cops and soldiers and other authoritarian types think that they’re such hot shit when testosterone-fueled tools for the powers that be is all that they actually are? They’re exploited just like the rest of us are, yet they apparently believe that they’re superior. They need to ask themselves — and we need to ask ourselves — for whom they really, ultimately are “keeping the peace.”

From my experience last night and from other “protests” at the California state Capitol and elsewhere in Sacramento, I surmise that the (vast) majority of Americans today have no real idea of how to protest. Having been divided and conquered and trained from diaperhood to look out only for our own interests (capitalism, after all, encourages the screwing over of others for the enrichment of oneself [survival of the fittest, you know!]), most of us are at a fairly total loss as to how to come together to effect change.

Even at a public “protest,” we think that we must be “polite.”

And if we dare to be “impolite,” a member of the police state, official or self-appointed, like the sellout sheep-herding dog that he or she is, quickly will intimidate us to get back in line with the other sheeple.

Thing is, when you don’t allow the people a viable, meaningful means of expression, it seems to me that you are asking for it. You are asking for the pressure to build and build and build — until the volcano blows.

At which point the sheeple will scratch their heads and ponder aloud about “senseless,” “incomprehensible,” “unpredictable” acts of violence that, given the police state that we inhabit, which inhibits anything even remotely threatening to the status quo, actually were pretty fucking comprehensible and fucking predictable.

*Similarly, the Bee gave the news story of the event only seven paragraphs, two of which it devoted to the vastly outnumbered “Tea Party” traitors (you know, to be “fair and balanced”). Had it been a “Tea Party”-sponsored protest of even a third of the same size, instead of a labor-union protest of the size that last night’s was, I’m confident that the Bee’s coverage would have been more thorough.

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