Category Archives: morality

Evan & Gordon Talk/Culture War Correspondence: Is It Okay to Punch Nazis?

EVAN: Ladies, gentlemen, and the rest, it has been almost two whole years since we released a “Culture War Correspondence”, the feature formerly known as “Evan and Gordon Talk”.

You can thank/blame my co-writer for its momentary revival, and I’ll let him be the one to introduce the topic for this week-

GORDON:  “Is it OK to punch Nazis?”

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Some of you may remember back in November, when alt-right spokesman Richard Spencer was clobbered during an interview with an Australian news channel, an event which prompted many across the nation (and indeed, the world) to ask that very question.

EVAN: When you first broached this topic with me I remember saying “Is the answer not ‘always’?”, to which you responded “Not by my book, no.”

That in turn led to me greenlighting this whole thing, because I think that may be as much a surprise to our readers as it was to me at the time.

GORDON: I guess part of that stems from who you define as a “Nazi”. I mean, sure, there’s the folks who stomp around in jackboots with swastikas tattooed over their chests…

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…But there’s plenty of folks- including Richard Spencer, who totally is a Nazi- who claim to be simple “White Nationalists”. As if there’s any ****ing difference.

I guess that’s to say I probably wouldn’t lay the almighty smackdown on someone’s bigoted grandma, y’know?

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Unless you cut me off in traffic one more time, Helen…

EVAN: It sounds like your stance, if you want to really boil it down, is to attack the able-bodied or “those who can take it.”

GORDON:   I don’t know if I’d say it’s about attacking those who can take it. Not that I’m in favor of wailing on the feeble (something that the Nazis, for the record, are all too eager to do), just that I don’t view someone’s bigoted grandmother as an actual threat.

If Agnes winds up pulling off the retirement-home-putsch, that might be another story.

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It’s not like the Fascist leadership in Germany, Spain, and Italy were all hip youngsters…

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Animus: Our Soul Searching Interview With Johnny Sachon

mv5bowrioda2ngmtntvjns00nzizlwjkzgqtmwe1yjhmmdlly2qzxkeyxkfqcgdeqxvymju5otazmzi-_v1_sy1000_cr006581000_al_Last week, CWR published our review of Animus, a short but powerful film directed by Mark J. Blackman. This writer had an opportunity to put a few questions to Animus actor/producer Johnny Sachon, who was nice enough to take the time to respond.

What inspired the story behind Animus?

It all came about quite organically. I’d worked with Katie [Goldfinch] a few times before. We both felt that we brought the best out in each other and wanted to challenge each other. As we’ve both produced films as well we made the decision to develop something together.

I met Mark [J. Blackman] in Cannes 2012 and had been following his work since. Out of the blue Mark contacted me regarding another project which sadly didn’t come work out for me. However, Mark asked me if I had anything else I was working on… and it just so happened I did. I guess everything happens for a reason.

2016 was a strange year for a lot of people and from my point of view I felt a lot happened in my own life as well that I wanted to explore and even exorcise in some way. The three of us met, and again, quite organically began discussing all of this and found a mutual subjects and ground to build upon. We spoke about absolutes – we wanted to produce a drama set in one location that focused on the performances.  Having recently worked on projects that were bold and intensive when it came to their scale of production  Animus was quite a refreshing challenge we all looked forward to. Out of these meetings Mark wrote Animus. The first draft was remarkably close to what you see on screen. Continue reading

#NotMyFacebook, or: Is Facebook For Political Discourse?

If you Google the question “What is Facebook for?” you come up with a short article by Mike Bantick for iTWire that bears the same name. Although it was published back in 2013 the basis for it is particularly topical, with the first paragraph relating the reason for it was written.

“Recently my brother told me he defriended a close friend of the family because of his overtly political posts on the social media website Facebook.  ‘That’s not what Facebook is for,’ he said, that got me thinking.”

Bantick then proceeds to list off a number of different answers gathered from friends and family, ultimately settling on a handful that he considers “the most truthful”:

“‘Referrals for products and services from people you trust, or know the value you place on the referrer’s knowledge of the requirements. Eg, games references, plumbers, mechanics, travel…. So useful and more personal than googling. You also then have wonderful reasons to catch up with people you may not otherwise.’

‘Stalking people and pictures of cats’

‘Annoying people with puns’

And, the one that resonated with me the most ‘Sharing sh&% for giggles…'”

The list has him implicitly agreeing with his brother. Facebook is for recommendations and, as the latter three state in various ways, for personal enjoyment. Not included among the social networking service’s uses? The dissemination of strongly held political beliefs or stances. Could’ve fooled me.
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The 2017 Women’s March: A Q&A Guide for Dummies

What rights have been taken away during Trump’s first 24 hours in office?

The ACA is presently being dismantled, meaning millions of Americans will be deprived of health insurance. Of this number, women are uniquely affected. As explained in The New York Times:

Until now, it has been perfectly legal in most states for companies selling individual health policies — for people who do not have group coverage through employers — to engage in “gender rating,” that is, charging women more than men for the same coverage, even for policies that do not include maternity care.

As deeply flawed a system as the ACA is, outright elimination will result in a sudden and fundamentally arbitrary penalization of women on the basis of their sex. The added cost will be especially detrimental to women in or near poverty (besides sucking for everyone in general).

So this is about Obamacare?

Not necessarily. The dismantling of the ACA is merely one of the many issues being protested by the millions of women marching in the US and around the world. Points include (but are not limited to):

  • Gay Rights – As the vice president has openly stated that gay marriage signal “societal collapse“, and has actively legislated the exclusion of gays from the military and a number of other civil rights issues.
  • Public Services – Which have been threatened with reduced funding, if not complete elimination, by high ranking members of the administration.
  • Defense of Racial and Religious Minorities – particularly people of color and Muslims, who have received ample disparagement and hostility from almost everyone within the administration.
  • Environmental Issues – The very existence of which Trump has denied, claiming global warming to be a hoax perpetrated by the Chinese.
  • And easily a dozen more…

Bah! These protesters should be grateful for how easy they have it. Now women living in the third world, they experience real oppression. Why isn’t anyone speaking up for them?

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Making It Big [Enough to Steal From]

Who doesn’t like attention? Introverts, probably. But for the sake of this introductory paragraph we’re running with the general idea that attention is something we all crave in various amounts, even to the point of wishing to be famous in some respect. Given the existence of the internet, the latter’s never entirely out of the question.

After all, it doesn’t take much more than one of your videos going viral for you to appear on countless talk shows, both daytime and late night. And then, as quickly as that spotlight appeared, it’s extinguished, leaving you alone in the dark. Given that whiplash-worthy stop-and-start is it any wonder that “Chewbacca mom” is currently “hustling to stay famous”?

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This feels more like a threat than anything-

It’s all about getting attention and holding onto it, preferably when it’s the positive variety. And, while we’re talking about positive attention, isn’t imitation the most sincere form of flattery? Continue reading

Grading Obama

There’s a tendency in this country to speak of ex-presidents with the same generosity one would use to speak of the recently departed. A “funeral parlance” (if you’ll forgive the awful pun) that leads folks to look on the old administration with rose-tinted glasses. Considering the replacement, that’s going to be doubly true this year.

Not at Culture War Reporters, though.

Here’s our final grade for Obama,

Note: The issues selected here are based upon the principles we here at CWR seem to touch on most frequently. We hope to make this a regular tradition, provided the United States still exists in four years and that this writer will not have been imprisoned or sent to work on a lunar penal colony.

Economic Equality:

Advocates of the president will be swift to point out that the unemployment rate at the beginning of the president’s term was in the double digits, and has since fallen to about 4.9% after years of slow but steady recovery. And there absolutely should be credit where it’s due- the Obama administration has seen the recovery of the economy. Can I whine about it not being enough though? You bet I can.

While many Americans are finally back to work, the positions they find themselves in are often low-paying with little to no security. While that’s not entirely the president’s fault, the president himself has been agonizingly slow (and bafflingly conservative) in advocating a raise for the minimum wage. While the extremely wealthy are paying slightly more in taxes, taxes have also risen for folks making less than $250,000 a year (which is the overwhelming ****ing majority of us) with the majority of the president’s proposed reforms having ended in defeat. All in all the extremely rich continue to enjoy unrivalled luxury and unchallenged control of US politics and wealth.

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Final Grade: D+

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How Marvel Ruined The Movies

Over the past decade, we’ve been witness to something unprecedented in the history of film: the rise of the cinematic universe.

Pioneered by Marvel with their ever-expanding Avengers universe, this innovative and impressive model has been swiftly copied by others, and we’re already seeing attempts at DC’s Justice League universe, an expanded Star Wars, and even Harry Potter. While the success has certainly been varied, it would seem the standard is here to stay.

And here’re the reasons why that sucks.

Bigger Audiences Don’t Mean Better Movies

And while that goes without saying, the issue becomes especially apparent when movies become global phenomena in the way the MCU has become.

In his posts about the whitewashing of Doctor Strange, Evan brought up the case of film-critic-turned-writer C. Robert Cargill. In a podcast, Cargill discussed the whitewashing of “The Ancient One” and how the character of an old man from the Himalayas got turned into middle-aged woman from Scotland.

“The Ancient One… comes from a region of the world that is in a very weird political place. He originates from Tibet. So if you acknowledge that Tibet is a place and that he’s Tibetan, you risk alienating one billion [Chinese] people who think that that’s bullshit…”

-C. Robert Cargill, Double Toasted Podcast

While my co-author pointed out that the character of The Ancient One was set in Nepal, not Tibet, and while Cargill swiftly clarified that these were his thoughts, not Marvel’s, I do think he’s got a point. China has become a major consumer of western films, and the effects of that are already apparent.

2014’s Transformers 4: Age of Extinction surpassed Jame’s Cameron’s Avatar in Chinese theaters, and presently stands as the 4th highest-grossing film in the nation.

“The long and the short of it: Bay made a movie set and filmed in China, starring Chinese actors, using Chinese resources and pushing Chinese products, and in exchange, the movie gets a timely premiere across the country’s 18,000-plus movie screens.”

Nash Jenkins, TIME Magazine, 2014

The remake of Red Dawn, originally based on the idea of a Chinese invasion of the US, was hastily changed to cast North Korea as the principal villain for fear of offending Chinese viewers. Because the US getting conquered by a country smaller than the state of Louisiana is somehow believable.

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Now that’s not to say that Red Dawn would’ve been a good movie otherwise (it wouldn’t have)- just that it was made even more stupid in a greedy effort to rake in more cash. While we certainly didn’t lose a cinema classic in catering to political correctness, it does set a disturbing precedent for the future. Will films purposefully cut reference to Tibet, Taiwan, or the Uighurs? Will China’s despicable record on human rights and the environment be glossed over for box office sales?

And they’re not the only problem. Continue reading