Sunday, January 15, 2012
-- Pablo Manriquez, "It Would Behoove Barack Obama To Immediately Stop Pissing Off Latinos" (Huffington Post).
I'm not sure which straw broke the camel's back when it came to my love affair with Barack Obama. It was certainly long before the National Defense Authorization Act, which the president signed on New Year's Eve, ensuring that his successors will be able to detain any of us for as long as they want without due process of law. A couple of days after that glorious first Tuesday in November three years ago, when he appeared at his first post-election press conference, flanked by what might as well have been the board of Goldman Sachs to announce his transition team, a bad taste started to form in my mouth.
From the too-small-to-matter stimulus package, ironically pushed through at the height of his electoral mandate, through the secret negotiations with the pharmaceutical industry to keep prices artificially high, I quaintly, but halfheartedly, defended Obama. As we continued to use drones to kill innocents across the world in our quest to end terror (as if such a thing were possible), breezily deported record numbers of troops, and clamped down on whistle-blowers, I grew confused. As progressive African-American members of Obama's administration were targeted by right-wing demagogues, while the president refused to stand up for them; as promises for greater transparency went by the wayside; as the mettle to fulfill his promise to close Guantanamo Bay atrophied; as significant progress in our preparations to mitigate the effects of climate change went unfulfilled, my confusion gave way to sullenness and even anger.
-- Brandon Harris, "Blacks for Obama? Don't Assume That Anymore" (The Daily Beast)
First up, we thank all who participated this edition which includes Dallas and the following:
The Third Estate Sunday Review's Jim, Dona, Ty, Jess and Ava,
Rebecca of Sex and Politics and Screeds and Attitude,
Betty of Thomas Friedman Is a Great Man,
C.I. of The Common Ills and The Third Estate Sunday Review,
Kat of Kat's Korner (of The Common Ills),
Mike of Mikey Likes It!,
Elaine of Like Maria Said Paz),
Cedric of Cedric's Big Mix,
Ruth of Ruth's Report,
Wally of The Daily Jot,
Trina of Trina's Kitchen,
Marcia of SICKOFITRDLZ,
Stan of Oh Boy It Never Ends,
Isaiah of The World Today Just Nuts,
and Ann of Ann's Mega Dub.
And what did we come up with?
And that's what we came up with.
-- Jim, Dona, Ty, Jess, Ava and C.I.
No, we're wondering whatever happened to a working press? A functioning one?
One that didn't necessarily have scoops but did at least report news.
More and more, we're starting to wonder if the Tehran crisis (the 444 day seizure of the US Embassy in Tehran -- dubbed "American held hostage Day XX" by Ted Koppel) happened today, would they even note it?
Yes, there's the 2009 gala which finally emerged in the news last week. As the unemployment rate surged to 10.2% in October 2009, the Obamas celebrated with a lavish Halloween party with Johnny Depp greeting guests while wearing his Mad Hatter costume. As the right-wing Big Journalism notes, only after the news pops up in Jodi Kantor's The Obamas does the corporate media report on a White House gala that they should have reported on three years ago.
But we're thinking of an incident from last month and one from last week.
See, the party? Unseemly. But no one was physically harmed or in fear.
December 28th, the Associated Press 'reported' that 2 American contractors were released by the Iraqi government. 'Reported'? The two contractors were released December 28th, after being held for 18 days. The AP never reported on the two until the 28th. Neither did any other US outlet. And AP only reported it, only reported it, because US House Rep. Peter King had issued a press release on the matter:
The three men, Army veteran Alex Antiohos of Long Island, New York, National Guardsman Jonas March of Savannah, Georgia, and Kevin Fisher of Fiji, all contractors for a security firm, were detained by Iraqi Army forces in Mahmudiyah, part of the infamous "Triangle of Death," and held until early today without being charged with any crime.
Immediately after learning of the men's detention from Antiohos' wife Melissa last week, King pressed the State Department for help in securing their release. Last Wednesday, King wrote a letter to Iraqi Prime Minister Nuri al-Maliki, urging that the men be released. King's staff followed up by personally pressing Iraqi officials at the Iraqi Embassy in Washington for the release of the men.
King said: "I am pleased that these three men have been released after having been detained for no reason. With the unfortunate and clearly deteriorating security situation in Iraq and with al-Qaeda in Iraq still very active, these men were in increasing danger with each passing day.
"I appreciate the efforts of officials at the Department of State and U.S. Embassy Baghdad, as well as individuals at DoD and the White House who worked to secure the men's release. Representative Jack Kingston (R-GA) and Senators Saxby Chambliss (R-GA) and Johnny Isakson (R-GA), who represent Jonas March, were also very engaged and deserve great credit for this good news."
Antiohos, March, and Fisher were reportedly detained while escorting a logistical convoy simply because the Iraqi Ministry of Defense officials did not like the "mission request authorization" paperwork that had been issued by the Iraqi Ministry of Interior. The men were never charged with any crime.
That was news. It might have been embarrassing for the Obama administration, but it was news. Time and again, the common theme in what the press refuses to report is that it might embarrass Baby Barack.
Last Friday, came news that 4 Americans were arrested in Baghdad -- two men, two women -- carrying firearms, with silencers. It didn't make the State Department press briefing on Friday -- as a topic introduced by spokesperson Victoria Nuland or by the reporters present -- and it didn't make the US news outlets. (As C.I. noted Saturday, the unofficial official word in the Iraqi media is that the 4 have been released.)
You can dismiss the party and many well. It's only evidence of greed, after all -- a sin, not a crime. But Americans taken into custody in Iraq? That's news. That's real news. And it shouldn't require a member of the Congress issuing a news release for the US press to feel they can finally mention it.
On NBC, three hours were spent introducing the new drama, an update of John Grisham's The Firm. A lot of money went into this show and CBS, still insisting that NBC stole the series from them, has a lawsuit against NBC that's easier to follow than the onscreen drama. With all that money involved, how does the show come off like a seven-year-old trying to tell a knock-knock joke?
"Knock-knock -- Wait. Wait. Knock -- Oh, somebody says -- Say, 'Who's there?' Peaches. Wait! No, lemon! No, uh, orange! Orange you glad I didn't -- wait! Say, 'Orange who?' Go ahead. Say it now."
If you're not getting the problem, you didn't watch. Back in 1988, Justine Bateman hosted Saturday Night Live and took part in a Family Ties skit which found the Keatons going into a flashback, then into a flashback within the flashback, then . . .
The Firm is a thriller. Or it's supposed to be. It picks up ten years later -- from the novel and the Sydney Pollack directed film. If you've forgotten, Mitch and Abby moved to the south when Mitch went to work for 'The Firm' -- a law practice so ruthless that it made the mob look good. In fact, Mitch enlisted the help of the mob to put away 'The Firm.'
In the TV show, Mitch (Josh Lucas) and Abby McDeer (Molly Parker) are informed by the feds that the mob is now after them -- seems the feds went ahead and prosecuted the mob which now wrongly believes Mitch must have ratted them out. Mitch tells the feds to shove their witness relocation program offer but Abby tells him she's pregnant and they decide to enter the program. Then, years later, the mobster dies and Mitch and Abby (and daughter Claire) leave the program -- against the fed's recommendation. Then Mitch starts his own law practice with his private detective brother Ray (Callum Keith Rennie) and office manager Tammy (Juliette Lewis). And then Ray gets an offer to joina firm. He doesn't want to join a firm. Even Abby tells him, Mitch, you don't want to join a firm, you like being your own boss. But he joins the firm. And apparently doesn't notice all the repeat looks between his friend and his new boss. And then he ends up with someone with the firm as a witness to something and he and the man are trapped in a hotel room and someone's banging on the door and screaming "Hotel security!" but Mitch says if they're really hotel security they'd have a key and not be yelling "hotel security" so don't let them in and the man tells Mitch he can't take it anymore and the man jumps off the balcony to his death and . . .
And if you followed all of that, first, congratulations. Second, you might not have followed it on TV. All of that -- and so much more -- was told in a non-linear manner. The show started with Mitch 'modern day' phoning Abby and telling her they were going to have to go on the run again. What!!! Flashback to the hotel. Then flashback to an earlier time. And on and on. Quantum Leap didn't skip around this much.
It's meant to keep you guessing and maybe it will work for some people but it also runs a risk of alienating the audience. If, for example, you're curious about the case where Mitch is defending a young boy who may have killed a school mate, if you're really interested in that, you're not going to want to jump around in the pilot to a hundred other story strands and never have that one developed. Or maybe, in the pilot, you were more interested in the young woman accused of murdering an elderly woman, another one of Mitch's clients, and felt like the show should have provided some resolution there -- or to either legal case. Or maybe you just don't like jigsaw puzzles.
There are a hundred ways the storytelling on the show can alienate and the ratings proved that something did. The two hour pilot debuted last Sunday and it lost viewers each half hour.
Something was pissing them off. Maybe it was the look of Josh Lucas?
Lucas has startling blue eyes and was, one would guess, hired in part because he's good looking. In Sweet Home Alabama, for example, he was very good looking. On The Firm, not so much. And if you read comments on the show (we checked out viewer response after a friend with the show passed on four critical pans of it), a lot of people are attempting to fix Lucas' look. Most think the problem is that he needs a shave.
That may be. It is true that if you're on trial for murder, you really don't want your lawyer -- assigned by the court or not -- showing up to defend you with two-day old stubble.
But we don't think that's the problem.
The problems are the camera and the wardrobe. Let's start with the latter. Does no one know how to dress men on this show? Lucas is wearing suits that look off the rack and as if they didn't fit him in the store. Every jacket he wears tends to be too large and makes it appear he has a bustle under the jacket. They're also lousy fabric (in terms of filming) and lousy colors (ibid). Now for the camera work.
Pollack, for the film, gave Tom Cruise a different look in the role of Mitch. His cheekbones and forehead were more prominent and it added to an energy for the film. Pollack had the camera angle down to capture Cruise (and others in the film). The film's unique look (which tended to make many look like a Bratz doll) is not translating to the TV show successfully and Lucas, already wearing a too-large and unflattering suit, is coming off rat faced and fat as a result of the angles. (Lucas is not fat, he is not rat faced. He is a very attractive man -- though watching the show you might not ever guess that. We're not making fun of his looks, we're noting that the worst camera angle possible is being used.) It's so bad, the casual viewer might wonder if NBC has rebranded Cannon and discovered the new William Conrad.
The pilot was really bad because, in two hours, you have a right to hope at least one of the multiple storylines might be resovled. Thursday, the show moved to NBC's last hour of prime time and piled on even more starter stories but did actually manage to resolve two minor storylines (a man who had falsely confessed to one murder had, in fact, murdered before and Abby handled a student's cheating on a test without implicating her daughter Claire who saw the cheating). But though that was a tiny step forward, the episode itself was a huge step backward.
In the first regular episode, Molly Parker moved to forefront. Parker is very pretty but, as Shirely MacLaine notes in Terms of Endearment, "pretty isn't enough." The writers haven't created a compelling character for Molly and her little teaching story isn't just a distraction, it's a bore. Sorry but people aren't watching a thriller where one man's jumped to his death and we now know that Mitch's boss is attempting to have him killed so that they can watch middle school children cope with testing and home work.
The only one with a strong handle on a character from the start of this show was Juliette Lewis. She's taken over (from the film) in the Holly Hunter part. That's the most difficult part there is. In the book, it's underwritten and an embarrassment (as most Grisham females are). In the movie, Holly Hunter just created it out of scratch. She flooded the nothing role so much that not only was Tammy a full bodied human being, but you forgot about all the criticism that had dogged the various rewrites of the script and how Meryl Streep had turned down the rewrite that her as a partner in the film because it was so underwritten despite being promient in terms of screen time.
If Juliette Lewis had just decided to mimic Holly Hunter, that would have been a treat all by itself. Instead, she's put her own mark on Tammy and its original and interesting and you always feel like when the director's said action, Tammy didn't just come to life. That she was in the midst of sharing a dirty joke or planning a hook up with Ray or some such business right before the scene started. She comes across real and alive. And Thursday night, she was barely on the show.
If the show gets an axe -- barring a miracle in the ratings for this Thursday, that's very likely -- it should at least serve as a TV jumping point for Juliette Lewis. We have been very lucky over the years to note some of the most gifted performers in shows that got the axe. We championed, for example, Ty Burrell when the Water Cooler Set ignored him. We noted his comic chops. Now, of course, he's the lifeforce of Modern Family. We're not recommending the show be pulled, we think the problems are fixable. But if it is pulled, Juliette should get credit for being the one thing that worked on the show.
How do you fix the show?
If NBC is serious abot the show, if they're willing to stand by it and give it a second season, they need to do something bold that indicates they'll take risks and that they're not your standard procedural. Meaning someone needs to die at the end of the first season. In terms of impacting Mitch, it would have to be Abby or Claire. A thriller that requires your lead characters to go on the run? We'd argue Claire's the baggage there and point out that Abby (in the film) was far more interesting once she was assisting with the plots (drugging Avery on the island, for example). So kill off Claire. Let Mitch's actions have consequences. Demonstrate this isn't The Practice with gunfire twice an episode.
And when Mitch, Abby, Ray and Tammy start over, stop being so damn genteel. Mitch can't pay the lease on his storefront law offices but he's living in a huge house, tastefully decorated? And this is before he goes into partnership with the new 'Firm.' That might have played in the 90s, but in the midst of an economic recession, the country's not really buying it. (Check audience reaction, we did.)
Plot longterm storylines. Slow reveals are not longterm storylines, they are storylines you tease out. Longterm storylines are stories that effect the characters and change everything. If NBC wants to stand by the show, season two should be Ray's betrayal of Mitch. The show needs to be taking major chances with the characters (and giving the actors material worth digging into).
Immediate fixes? Get Lucas in some clothes that fit with colors and fabric that film well, stop shooting overhead and start resolving at least one case in a single episode.
Will we be listened to? A number of you feel we were listened to last week. The second half of "TV: The misguided Water Cooler Set" addressed NPR's live coverage of the Iowa caucus. New Hampshire was last week and All Things Considered was back with 'special' live coverage. A number of you noted how great it was to have Melissa Block as anchor after last week when Robert Seigel anchored and women were barely part of the proceedings. Melissa as anchor did improve things. With her as anchor, every segment had a woman in it, true. That was a huge improvement after last week which, over five hours, featured only three women (Mara Liasson, an Iowa public radio employee and Debbie Wasserman Schultz).
But mainly, Melissa acted as a concealer, not a fix.
We listened to four hours (we believe there were more hours, but we were streaming, we were in London, and our stream went out and we couldn't get the stream back up -- and don't get us started on the time difference). In addition to the various GOP candidates making 'victory' speeches, here are the voices we heard.
1) Melissa Block (NPR).
2) Ari Shapiro (NPR).
3) Mara Liasson (NPR).
4) Bob Smith (Republican politician, Newt Gingrich endorser)
5) E.J. Dionne (Washington Post columnist)
6) Matthew Continetti (Weekly Standard columnist)
7) Tom Ridge (Republican politician, endorser of Jon Huntsman)
8) Robert Smith (NPR)
9) Don Gonyea (NPR)
10) Andrew Kohut (Pew Research Center)
11) Charlie Bass (Republican politician, endorser of Mitt Romney)
12) Tovia Smith (NPR)
13) Jennifer Donahue (New Hampshire Institute of Politics)
14) Ron Elving (NPR)
15) Andrea Seabrook (NPR)
16) John Sununu (politician, Mitt Romney endorser)
17) Ben Philpott (member station KUT)
18) Tim Scott (Republican politician from South Carolina)
19) Frank Guinta (Republican politician from New Hampshire)
20) Doug Wead (Ron Paul adviser)
21) Debbie Wasserman Schultz (Democratic US House Rep.)
Over four hours, we heard 21 voices and only six of those were women?
Yeah, that's an improvement from 3. But we do get that 15 of the voices were men? While it's good that we learned NPR does have women covering individual campaigns (in Iowa, they had to use an Iowa public radio person because NPR had no one assigned to Michelle Bachmann's campaign), we noted, yet again, that opinion columnists sharing 'analysis' were all men.
We noted that, also yet again, every Republican politician was a man. Where was Nikki Haley? Her office told us NPR didn't contact her. But, you insist, Haley is the Governor of South Carolina. This was the New Hampshire primary. Ben Philpott was on to discuss South Carolina (specifically how it was make it or break it time for Rick Perry with that primary). Tim Scott is a politician from South Carolina. Why wasn't Nikki Haley even sought as a guest? She's weighed in. She endorsed Mitt Romney some time ago.
After last week's piece went up, we heard from a Republican consultant. We know her. She e-mailed us via this site and said, "Call me to discuss the coverage." We did. Though she's often on TV commenting, she wasn't asked to appear on NPR and she's noticed that other Republican women aren't. Her argument is that NPR is purposely leaving women out of the coverage and attempting to subliminally suggest that women do not vote Republican.
We've often noted NPR's sexism on air (such as, with Ann, that women made up only 18% of Terry Gross' guest list for 2010 on Fresh Air). So, to us, it doesn't seem that NPR needs much prompting to go sexist and under represent women.
But she asked us if we'd talk to other Republican women? She arranged for us to talk to ten other Republican women -- including two office holders. They're not joking. They honestly feel this way. They honestly feel that NPR is slanting the coverage, purposely presenting an abundance of men to ensure that their largely female audience is left with the impression that GOP equals male party (and that women in the audience, therefore, will not be tempted to vote Republican in November).
Again, our own opinion is that NPR needs no excuse to go sexist. For example, we weren't at all surprised that with Renee Montagne on leave (her father passed away at the end of last year, our condolences and sympathies), NPR has decided to team Steve Inskeep up with David Greene. The last thing NPR needs is two male hosts in the morning and the last thing the increasingly 'jovial' Inskeep needs is an on air roll dog. But that's NPR which is sexist every damn day, on every damn program. If it ever had a functioning ombudsperson, this issue would be loudly called out. (A woman who lies that she can't call out Fresh Air because it is not produced by NPR is not a functioning ombudsperson. Especially when NPR ombudspersons have always been happy to rush to defend Terry Gross in their ombudsperson space, such as when Terry used the n-word on her show repeatedly.)
But that's our opinion. Our opinion is not the only opinion or the supreme opinion or the ruling opinion. It is one of many competing to be heard.
The Republican women we spoke to have an opinion. It deserves to be heard and evaluated as well. And they're seeing conflict of interest.
NPR's guidelines don't just require that NPR avoid conflict of interest, the guidelines require that they avoid even the appearance of a conflict of interest.
They've got the appearance right now with several Republican women. They need to address this issue. Out of 21 speakers on your live coverage, ten of -- at least ten -- should have been women. Their failure to ensure that was the case creates not only the appearance of a conflict of interest but also confusion.
The Republican consultant who asked us to call her and then set us up with ten other women was worried we might drop the issue because "you're Democrats." Yes, but let there be no confusion on this point, we are feminists and we do not support sidelining women, not because of their political beliefs, not for any reason.
"How bad could it be?" I wondered. "I mean it's got Sabrina the teenage witch as a guest star."
Yep, that's how bad. Archie . . . Meets KISS.
If the idea sounds dated, it's because it is. As are the 'jokes.'
Betty: Well, it can't be easy getting around town looking . . .
Paul Stanley: Looking like what?
Reggie: Face it -- you stand out!
KISS formed in 1973 and got their first gold record in 1975. By 1977, they were so popular, they appeared in the Howard The Duck comic book which was quickly followed by their own comic book. Point being, Gene Simmons and Paul Stanley and two other members (they've changed over the years) have been around for nearly forty years now. And their face makeup is well and widely known. For 13 years, they without their makeup, from 1983 to 1996. The makeup returned at the start of 1996 and has remained ever since.
So the 'jokes' about the KISS look spoiled about 40 years ago.
But they're all over the comic. In Pop's malt shop, Gene Simmons will ask the Archie gang, "Do you have any idea what you're up against?" Veronica will reply, "Four nerds who got locked in a costume store." At which point, apparently, readers are supposed to exclaim, "Oooh, snap!"
But do it quick because the lameness of it all is quickly topped by KISS allowing Veronica to give them a 'makeover' -- putting Gene in a sweater vest, and worse for the others.
The story involves some spell Sabrina cast which accidentally released zombies on Riverdale. Now KISS and the kids must try to stop the zombies. This is a multi-comic story, believe it or not, and Archie Meets KISS is actually the second of four issues, the ad inside the comic calls it a "mini-series" and advised you that you can have "ALL Four Only $11.99" (limited time offer) so "BE THE FIRST ON YOUR BLOCK TO ROCK!"
And did I mention that on the last page of issue two, we learn that Archie is now a zombie!!!!!
It's supposed to be so scary.
I find the ad for Life With Archie far scarier: Betty and Veronica both sit in Archie's lap and the ad proclaims "Archie marries Betty & Veronica!" Well if Archie can meet KISS, can Archie Goes HBO Big Love be too far behind?
It gets worse? The cover of Archie: The Married Life features Veronica cupping Archie from behind and Betty face to face with him with the tag "TWO WORLDS, TWO LOVES, TWO DESTINIES" and the promise that this can be yours ("Fine out what happens after the 'I do's") for only $19.99, this "Archie COMICS GRAPHIC NOVEL." Do we really need graphic novels from Archie?
I would say no but here we are talking about graphic novels and here we are talking about Archie comics and that was the whole point of the KISS tie-in, getting word out on a series of comic book titles that are largely forgotten while the buzz circles each month around this DC title or that Marvel one. In that regard, the tie-in, four-part mini-series is already a hit.
Last week, we (Ava and C.I.) defended ABC's Work It in "TV: The misguided Water Cooler Set." It's a funny show, with one breakout performance, and not to be taken seriously at all (as we explained in great detail).
Last week NOW released an 'alert' on the show.
Well . . .
NOW tried to release an alert.
We were in London, but we were ready to immediately reply at The Common Ills. (As Ruth noted.)
However, NOW didn't know how to publish online. (As Ruth noted.) So you'd click their 'alert' and be taking to a page with tags and no alert. This happened over and over, day after day, until finally we stopped checking after Thursday.
NOW finally learned how to operate the computer, congrats.
The same NOW which, in 2008, sold out women.
There's no denying that. It's not open to debate. It's why then-NOW president Kim Gandy's hand-picked successor was defeated in a vote. It's why Kim Gandy had no traction with the White House and the administration made clear that her "baggage" meant they didn't have any appointment for her.
It's why she ran to the Feminist Majority Foundation and a position that is a significant demotion from her past work.
NOW has a new president. And we've noted her, we've noted NOW.
But our days of being nice when NOW plays the idiot ended in 2008.
So we'd, first of all, advise NOW to get a damn sense of humor.
Oh, did that hurt?
Too damn bad.
Second, we'd advise you to STOP LYING.
Work It is a minor sitcom. Even should it become a major ratings hit (doubtful at this point), it will always be a minor sitcom. Why you would risk your organization reputation with a dishonest critique is beyond us. Why you would resort to lying is beyond us.
NOW could hate Work It. As we noted last week, most critics did.
But what's not fine is LYING.
And that's what NOW does in their 'alert' that you can finally read online.
Let's reply to NOW's nonsense.
The first episode included lines such as: "Women are taking over the workforce. Soon they'll start getting rid of men. They'll just keep a few of us around as sex slaves . . . Not the kind of sex you like . . . Just kissing and cuddling and listening," and "When women take over, they'll make pride illegal."
That would be the character we identified last week as repulsive. He's physically repulsive, he's emotionally repulsive. He's also a minor character. What did he have? Two tiny scenes. And how much of a loser is he? Not because he's unemployed (it's a recession) but because, he informs, he lives with his ex-wife . . . and her new husband. In the second episode, he says, "[. . .] I wish I had something they [women] wanted." The whole point of the character is that he's supposed to be repulsive.
Is NOW arguing that good television is television where everyone speaks nicely and says nothing objectionable, that conflict is no longer key to drama? Or that, if Taxi were made today, they'd need to ditch Danny DeVito's Louie de Palma?
At times they lie, at other times Lisa and company just come off stupid.
If you don't understand drama and the need for conflict, you probably shouldn't attempt to "analyze" a TV show.
NOW argues, "The script is obsessed with ticking off every supposed difference between the sexes." We disagree but, then, so does NOW: "And, of course: Men just don't get women, even their long-suffering wives. They need to literally walk in women's shoes to empathize with the other half of the population."
So, Lisa, which is it: Differences or commonalities. Because the show we're watching had the two male leads learning about commonalities but you're insistent that it's a show about differences. You can't argue both ways.
And, again, Lisa, if you're too clueless to analyze entertainment, then just find another task. We'll help your lazy ass at the end with that. But right now, let's just note that the journey is at the heart of most American drama. The self-discovery. And that the popularity of Joseph Cambell has only increased that. So when the characters on Work It discover commonalities and you object, you're objecting to the path of the protagonist in drama and, in doing so, explain to the world that you either lack or failed to absorb a liberal arts education.
Lisa and NOW also upset by this: "For instance, women eat itty-bitty lunches, while men crave giant subs." Who is generalizing women here? We'd argue it's NOW.
We see the wife and the daughter eat throughout the show's first episodes. They didn't eat itty-bitty.
At the job, we saw two women, hired for their looks (as their boss makes clear in the pilot), eat tiny meals. (A third ate a salad, about the size she'd get at a fast food place on the dollar menu.) That's a shocker? (The real shocker is that all three of the women -- not new hires -- were in the office eating lunch when they should have been out selling drugs since that's their job. NOW missed that.)
So, in the real world, women hired for their looks and expected to maintain those looks must never address the costs of that? Because to do so would upset NOW?
So now NOW's insisting that TV programs not only must deny that sexism exists but also that it costs women?
You go, Lisa, you go back to whatever self-taught drama class you attended.
It's obviously not one that helped you understand characters:
The stereotypical female characters in the office include the blonde princess, the driven bitch, and a slight variation on the Manic Pixie Dream Girl (this version's on hand to help the lead male character, Lee, become a better man and woman).
First off, the standard of quality sitcoms remains The Mary Tyler Moore Show. Have you ever watched the pilot? The thing about a pilot (and why we don't review a show based just on a pilot) is that it takes time for characters to flesh out in a sitcom. If CBS' The Class had been as strong at the beginning as it was as the midway point, it would still be on the air.
Second off, that's not how we saw the three. "Blonde princess"? We could be wrong. We saw the blond as an airhead. We figured that, a la Jessica Lange's character in Tootsie, she would find her own strength over time watching the leads express their strength. "The driven bitch"? Wow. We've seen that character with a penis in a number of shows -- including The Office -- but never heard him called a bitch. A jerk or an ass, at most, but never such hostility as to hiss "bitch." Who's sexual stereotyping here and deciding that competition at work, that wanting to be the best equates with "bitch"? Who's really afraid of strong and powerful women? Right now it looks like Lisa Bennett and NOW are afraid of strong and powerful women. And please note that elsewhere Lisa will lament that the women at the office aren't seen as capable or smart but she'll attack the lead salesperson, the one focused on her job, as a "bitch"? Wow, Lisa, you really are a piece of work. As for "Manic Pixie Dream Girl," we'll assume Lisa identified with that character, hence the praise.
The woman, like Lisa, is a drip, a dope and a coward. She's easily intimidated and desperate for approval. Don't see how that qualifies as "Pixie" or "Dream Girl." But then, we have full lives, unlike Lisa.
Lisa and NOW declare:
Other clichés are trotted out, too, like straight men's fascination with lesbians and this classic: "I'm Puerto Rican, I'd be great at selling drugs." Even book clubs where women read about coming of age (and dying) in Rwanda are played for laughs. Aren't women and their interests just silly?
Let's take that one at a time, okay?
Other clichés are trotted out, too, like straight men's fascination with lesbians
A large number of straight men are fascinated with the thought of two women (or more) together. And Work It isn't the only show offering that. We've yet to see NOW take on other shows. They could go with The League on FX, in fact, they could go after most of the FX programming. But they didn't. They waited for a show that the critics savaged and then, a week after it was savaged, they showed up to attack it.
There's a word for that. It's not "brave." It's bully.
Is the fascination with two women overplayed? Possibly. But we're not seeing how a fantasy of two women together qualifies as sexist or something NOW needs to call out.
Could Lisa please explain to us what's offensive about two women having sex with each other? And then could NOW please issue an apology to the lesbian community for Lisa's 'explanation' of how two women having sex is offensive?
and this classic: "[But] I'm Puerto Rican, I'd be great at selling drugs."
We dealt with that throwaway line last week. What happened since?
NOW, where's your alert?
Gabby wanted information and was battling with the drug rehab attendent/receptionist. What does she tell him? That she knows a lot of people hooked on drugs and she will tell them not to go there. Who is Gabby? ABC and prime time's most prominent Latina, the only Latina star currently on network TV, Eva Longoria.
And Gabby knows a lot of people hooked on drugs?
Hmm. Again, where's the alert?
Oh, and who went to rehab? Carlos. The most prominent Latino male on ABC prime time.
Where's the alert, NOW?
Even book clubs where women read about coming of age (and dying) in Rwanda are played for laughs. Aren't women and their interests just silly?
Book clubs played for laughs? Oh, goodness, that is a shocker. We've seen one sitcom after another in the last years portray reading clubs as a joke. That includes, last season, 30 Rock where Liz Lemmon ditched the book to watch the video and that includes, this season, Last Man Standing where Tim Allen's character delivered riffs on it. Is NOW unaware of all the book clubs jokes that have been going on for the last ten years?
The line the "pixie" delivers about the book is, "It's about a girl who comes of age during a spelling bee in Rwanda. Spoiler alert: She dies!" And she screams, "She dies!" The book is made fun of -- and sounds like a blend of several titles -- but it's not a joke about Rwanda and maybe NOW and Lisa need to pay attention and be honest. It's the yelling of "She dies" that gets the laugh (as is evident when the husband passes the book along to his wife).
"Work It" might be easy to write off, if it weren't so offensive. [. . .] And Lee's wife has to remind him to "stop comparing prostate exams to the pinball scene in 'The Accused'" -- no matter how old the reference, is gang rape ever good fodder for a joke?
The wife calls him out for comparing it to rape. September 10, 2006 the most famous TV portrayal of a prostate exam aired. It lives on eternally in syndication.
If you're not smart enough, if you're not well-versed in TV, you don't need to be analyzing a damn thing. You need to find something you're good at -- surely, Lisa, there is something -- and focus on that.
But in the world of TV, there's "Stewie Loves Lois." That's an infamous episode of Family Guy where Peter has a prostate exam. We're not shown in at is happens. We 'see' it in Peter's flashback as he explains what happened. And it's The Accused.
If Lisa doesn't know that, we're not surprised. But, as with the law, in TV criticism, ignorance is no excuse. Since that episode has aired, it has entered the cultural lexicon. We thought it was wonderful that the wife on Work It called out that nonsense.
We could go on and on refuting the nonsense.
But the point is that NOW was useless and a bully.
Lisa, pay attention, this is where we set your sorry ass straight.
NOW chose to pick on a sitcom a week after it had been repeatedly trashed and after it debuted to lousy ratings. That was 'brave' to them.
Remember what we said here last week, "There were many things for media watchers to call out last week, serious issues. How sad but telling that they were more comfortable attacking a sitcom and looking the other way while NPR served up a broadcast far more offensive than the sitcom ever could offer."
Yeah. Women were rendered invisible on NPR's live Iowa coverage (only three women is invisible). You might think that the National Organization for Women would be interested in calling that out. But instead of addressing a real issue, they gorged on a trifle. Work It could be the number one show on TV and would do no serious damage to anyone. NPR's refusal to book women in equal numbers to men is not new and is not helpful to women. But Lisa Bennett's too stupid or too cowardly to call that out.
Here's a hint for Lisa and NOW: What everyone's writing about at Entertainment Weekly or E!? It's covered. Address some actual issues, address things that actually matter. In 2010, Terry Gross booked how many women? (Only 18% of her guests were women.) Where was NOW? When NPR repeatedly ignores women, where's NOW? When last week's live NPR New Hampshire coverage featured 21 voices, how many were women?
When NOW and Lisa are ready to tackle those issues, they might have something to say about the media worth listening to. Until then? As Maria McKee sang (and co-wrote) in"Why Wasn't I More Grateful (When Life Was Sweet)," "Some people like to complain about every little thing, Some folks just never stop bitchin'." And that's neither entertaining nor enjoyable.
Title is tongue-in-cheek and references Abby (Cristin Milioti) shouting, "Liz Lemmon is a Judas to all womankind!" at the end of 30 Rock's "TGS Hates Women." 1-16-12: The characterization paragraph has been tightened up since this published. "'Blonde princess?'" was previously a much longer, run-on sentence, for example. Thank you to Ty for typing this from our longhand draft on legal pad (we had to leave for the Golden Globes), if we'd done it ourselves (as we should have) we would have caught the problems with that paragraph which are now fixed.
And you might puzzle over the assertion that neoliberal Rachel Maddow (War Hawk under Bush, War Hawk under Barack) is on the list or that so is the blogger whose family allegedly had close ties to/ran death squads in El Salvador, as well as other B-list celebrities. Not enough talent in there to make for a good episode of Password. And nothing remotely left for the bulk of the list. Where's Michael Ratner, for example? Cindy Sheehan? Cynthia McKinney? It's all so confusing.
At least until you discover the piece is 'written' by TV personality and Johann Hari lackey Medhi Hasan. In a token of good will across the Atlantic, we decided to match the 'work' Hasan did by compiling one of our own.
Who's left? The top 5 UK progressives
1) Tom Hardy. With one smouldering look, he explains how empire and conquest was once so appealing! Said to cause global warming in the panties of many women and in the briefs of 1 out of 10 men.
2) Patricia Routledge. Reportedly her Hyancinth Bucket was based on the posers at The New Statesman.
3) Mark Watson. Essayist, thinker, geophysicist and monologist. More responsible for the state of England than the Royal Family and David Cameron combined.
4) Alice Goodwin. The deepest thinker in all of Great Britian. When the Dahli Lama is perplexed, he calls Alice. An educator of the soul (hence the glasses).
5) Ben Cohen. The economic guru of England. Macro, micro, Indonesian, Polynesian, Ben Cohen can sniff it out. In his spare time, he also likes a good round of football.
Just five? Well the UK is much smaller than the USA. But we think our list is as comprehensive as that of The New Statesman. As a bonus, the people on our list are actually talented!
1st Annual Scientific Symposium on
Lung Health after Deplyoment to Iraq & Afghanistan
February 13, 2012
Office of Continuing Medical Education
School of Medicine
Stony Brook University
Health Sciences Center, Level 3, Lecture Hall 5
Anthony M. Szema, M.D., Program Chair
This program is made possible by support from the Sergeant Thomas Joseph Sullivan Center, Washington, D.C.
2 WAYS TO REGISTER FOR THE CONFERENCE
* Register with your credit card online at: http://www.stonybrookmedicalcenter.org/education/cme.cfm
* Download the registration form from:
fax form to (631) 638-1211
For Information Email: firstname.lastname@example.org
1st Annual Scientific Symposium on
Lung Health after Deployment to Iraq & Afghanistan
Monday, February 13, 2012
Health Sciences Center
Level 3, Lecture Hall 5
Program Objective: Upon completion, participants should be able to recognize new-onset of lung disease after deployment to Iraq and Afghanistan.
8:00 - 9:00 a.m. Registration & Continental Breakfast (Honored Guest, Congressman
9:00 - 9:30 Peter Sullivan, J.D., Father of Marine from The Sergeant Thomas Joseph
Sullivan Center, Washington, D.C.
9:40 - 10:10 Overview of Exposures in Iraq, Anthony Szema, M.D., (Assistant
Professor of Medicine and Surgery, Stony Brook University)
10:10 - 10:40 Constrictive Bronchiolitis among Soldiers after Deployment, Matt
King, M.D. (Assistant Professor of Medicine, Meharry Medical College,
10:40 - 11:10 BREAK
11:10 - 11:40 Denver Working Group Recommendations and Spirometry Study in
Iraq/Afghanistan, Richard Meehan, M.D., (Chief of Rheumatology and
Professor of Medicine, National Jewish Health, Denver, CO)
11:40 a.m. - Microbiological Analyses of Dust from Iraq and Afghanistan, Captain Mark
12:10 p.m. Lyles, D.M.D., Ph. D., (Vice Admiral Joel T. Boone Endowed Chair of
Health and Security Studies, U.S. Naval War College, Newport, RI)
12:10 - 12:20 Health Care Resource Utilization among Deployed Veterans at the White
River Junction VA, James Geiling, M.D., (Professor and Chief of Medicine,
Dartmouth Medical School, VA White River Junction, VT)
12:20 - 1:20 LUNCH AND EXHIBITS
Graduate students Millicent Schmidt and Andrea Harrington (Stony Brook
University) present Posters from Lung Studies Analyzed for Spatial
Resolution of Metals at Brookhaven National Laboratory's National
Synchrotron Light Source
1:20 - 1:40 Epidemiologic Survey Instrument on Exposures in Iraq and Afghanistan,
Joseph Abraham, Sc.D., Ph.D., (U.S. Army Public Health Command,
Aberdeen Proving Ground, MD)
1:40 - 2:10 Overview of the Issue Raised during Roundtable on Pulmonary Issues
and Deployment, Coleen Baird, M.D., M.P.H., (Program Manager
Environmental Medicine, U.S. Army Public Health Command)
2:10 - 2: 40 Reactive Oxygen Species from Iraqi Dust, Martin Schoonen, Ph.D.
(Director Sustainability Studies and Professor of Geochemistry, Stony
2:40 - 2:50 BREAK
2:50 - 3:15 Dust Wind Tunnel Studies, Terrence Sobecki, Ph.D. (Chief Environmental
Studies Branch, U.S. Army Corps of Engineers Cold Regions Research
and Engineering Laboratory, Manchester, NH)
3:15 - 3:45 Toxicologically Relevant Characteristics of Desert Dust and Other
Atmospheric Particulate Matter, Geoffrey S. Plumlee, Ph.D. (Research
Geochemist, U.S. Geological Survey, Denver, CO)
3:44 - 4:15 In-situ Mineralogy of the Lung and Lymph Nodes, Gregory Meeker, M.S.
(Research Geochemist, U.S. Geological Survey, Denver, CO)
Continuing Medical Education Credits
The school of Medicine, State University of New York at Stony Brook, is accredited by the Accreditation Council for Continuing Medical Education to provide continuing medical education for physicians.
The School of Medicine, State University of New York at Stony Brooke designates this live activity for a maximum of 6 AMA PRA Category 1 Credit(s)TM. Physicians should only claim the credit commensurate with the extent of their participation in the activity.
Martin Luther King Jr. Day helps launch new year of fightbackBy Abayomi Azikiwe
Editor, Pan-African News Wire
The Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. would have been 83 years old on Jan. 15. In honor of this iconic civil rights, anti-war and social justice activist, the federal government and other public agencies close every year on the Monday following his birthday. King was martyred in Memphis, Tenn., on April 4, 1968.
This year the King Day holiday will take on profound significance in light of the political and social developments that have occurred over the last year. Millions have taken to the streets around the world in the fight against poverty, increased attacks on working people and the oppressed, and imperialist wars.
Since January of last year, revolutionary movements have emerged from Tunisia and Egypt to Bahrain and Yemen. Rebellions and general strikes led to the resignation of long-time Western-backed puppet President Zine El Abidine Ben Ali in Tunisia and the forced removal of President Hosni Mubarak in Egypt.
In Morocco the monarchy was shaken by mass demonstrations that were largely unprecedented in recent times. Other states throughout the Middle East, Africa and Europe saw popular movements erupt in opposition to rising food prices, the imposition of austerity and the intervention of U.S. imperialism along with its NATO allies.
Workers in European capitalist countries, especially Greece, Spain and Portugal, suffered tremendously from the ongoing world economic crisis. In Britain Black and working-class youth rose up in rebellion in response to the blatant police killing of a Caribbean-British man, who was followed and shot to death in cold blood in London.
Inside the U. S., a people’s uprising in Wisconsin was a direct response to intensifying attacks on public sector workers and their right to collective bargaining. Workers and youth occupied the state capitol in Madison for weeks and drew the attention of people throughout the world.
Occupation participants in Wisconsin paid direct tribute to their class brothers and sisters in Egypt. The progressive forces in Egypt, during the same time period, expressed their solidarity with the people in Wisconsin.
This movement of workers and youth, aimed at defending the right to organize as well as the right to quality education and a decent wage, spread to other states around the Midwest and nationally. In Ohio, legislative actions that were just as draconian as those passed in Wisconsin prompted mass action by trade unions and their supporters.
In Lansing, Mich., the conservative-dominated legislature wasted no time, after securing a majority, to enact bills that drastically cut public spending. These cuts resulted in salary reductions, massive layoffs of public sector employees and the obliteration of city services.
The passage of Public Act 4 in Michigan superseded the former Public Act 72, which allowed for the imposition of emergency management of school systems and municipalities. Public Act 4, now popularly known as the “dictator law,” provides for the nullification of the authority of elected officials, the abrogation of labor and vending contracts, and the forced payment of debt service to the banks, irrespective of the desires of the electorates or the unions.
Public Act 4 has been implemented in several majority African-American cities such as Flint and Benton Harbor. In Detroit — the largest African-American-dominated city in the U.S. — Gov. Rick Snyder recently appointed a financial review panel. The appointment is an effort to justify forcing the city to accept a consent agreement that could ultimately lead to installation of an emergency manager.
Election years — from 1968 to 2012
The year that Dr. King was killed represented a watershed of mass struggle and urban rebellion. The previous year, 1967, saw more than 160 instances of civil unrest throughout the U.S. as well as the emergence of a mass youth movement in opposition to the war in Vietnam.
Although Dr. King was a proponent of nonviolent direct action, he did not condemn the rebellions that swept the country between 1964 and 1968. The civil rights leader viewed the unrest within the urban areas as a result of the failure of the U.S. system to provide adequate living conditions, decent jobs and incomes to the majority of African Americans.
In a “Face to Face” television interview conducted on July 28, 1967, just one day after President Lyndon Johnson announced the appointment of a National Advisory Commission on Civil Disorder, Dr. King said, “I am not calling for a guaranteed annual wage as a substitute for a guaranteed job. I think that ought to be the first thing, that we guarantee every person capable of working a job.” (“Testament of Hope, The Essential Writings and Speeches of Martin Luther King, Jr.,” 2001)
Dr. King pointed out that “this can be done in many, many ways. There are many things that we need to be done that could be done that’s not being done now. And this could provide jobs.”
In 1968, Dr. King and the Southern Christian Leadership Conference set out to wage a real “war on poverty” by taking thousands of poor people to Washington, D.C., to demand jobs and a guaranteed annual income. King had founded the SCLC in 1957 in the aftermath of the Montgomery Bus Boycott. In March 1968, he was invited to Memphis to support a sanitation workers strike that was representative of both the class struggle and the national question.
The year 1968 was an election year just like 2012. The failure of the Democratic Party between 1961 and 1968 to effectively resolve the problems of national oppression, discrimination, economic exploitation, poverty and war played a large part in its losing the elections in 1968.
Despite the fact that the Democratic and Republican parties have different constituencies, both organizations are controlled by the ruling class of bankers and industrialists. Today, even though the Democratic Party has commanded a majority in both houses of Congress between 2006 and 2010 and has controlled the White House since 2009, rates of poverty and exploitation are continuing to rise.
The 2010 election results were a reflection of the lack of motivation on the part of working-class people and the nationally oppressed to once again support Democratic candidates without any real improvement in the concrete conditions under which they live.
The year 2011 saw an acceleration of attacks against workers and the oppressed. The only real defense against these assaults has emanated from the unions, the youth and the oppressed communities themselves.
This is why there needs to be a concerted effort outside of the established ruling class parties to address the crises now facing the majority of people inside the U.S. The response of the Department of Homeland Security to the Occupy Wall Street movement across the country — with DHS operating through local municipal administrations, many of which are led by Democrats — demonstrates that both of the capitalist-controlled parties do not want to see a real grass-roots revolutionary struggle emerge that focuses on the role of the banks and the corporations as the fundamental cause of the economic crisis.
It was the political repression carried out under a Democratic administration in 1968 that created the conditions for the assassination of Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. That same year, FBI Director J. Edgar Hoover declared the Black Panther Party as the leading threat to the national security of the U.S.
After 1967, during the height of the rebellions, the FBI’s Counter-Intelligence Program (COINTELPRO) sought to crush the Black Liberation movement and the anti-war struggle. Scores of activists were killed and imprisoned while the National Guard and conventional military forces were deployed into the cities to smash the rebellions.
Since 2010, the FBI and other DHS branches have targeted immigrants, the nationally oppressed, Muslims, anti-war and solidarity activists for deportation, raids, targeted assassinations and grand jury subpoenas. In the final days of 2011, President Obama signed into law the National Defense Authorization Act, which provides further ammunition for the ruling class to crack down on activists and organizations deemed to be threats to the status quo.
2012: Another year of momentous struggle
In all likelihood this year will also be one of protracted struggle and resistance. Signs of this are already developing, with Jan. 16 King Day actions under the banner of Occupy 4 Jobs – inspired by the Occupy Wall Street movement – in New York, Baltimore, Washington, D.C., Boston, Philadelphia and elsewhere.
Detroit is the focus of a growing mass struggle against the imposition of emergency management. On Jan. 2, more than 2,000 people rallied at Tabernacle Missionary Baptist Church to say “no” to the appointment of an emergency manager.
In a statement, the Moratorium NOW! Coalition to Stop Foreclosures, Evictions and Utility Shut-offs stressed, “The same banks that caused the economic crisis and destroyed the City of Detroit’s tax base, with their fraudulent and racist predatory loans resulting in approximately 150,000 foreclosures in the past five years, now get first lien on city tax dollars for debt service payments.”
Detroit’s 9th Annual MLK Day Rally & March will be held under the theme of “Escalating the Struggle for Jobs, Peace and Justice.” Featured speakers will include contributors to the groundbreaking first-person account “Hands on the Freedom Plow,” which examined the role of women in the Student Nonviolent Coordinating Committee, the vanguard organization within the Civil Rights movement of the 1960s.
The emphasis at Detroit’s MLK Day rally will drive home the need for a cadre-developing organization, a working-class orientation, the important role of women and the oppressed, and the need to build a movement outside the ruling-class-dominated political parties. n
Workers World, 55 W. 17 St., NY, NY 10011
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"I Hate The War" and "Iraq snapshot" -- most requested highlights of the week, C.I. on not endorsing.
"Kat's Korner: Ani DiFranco's embarrassing odor" and "Kat's Korner: Adam Levine itches for one on the flip side" -- Kat turns in two musical pieces.
"4 men, 2 women" -- Ann on why she won't be voting for Nader or Green this go round and plans to instead go Republican at the top of the ticket. ("An independent campaign by Cynthia McKinney is something I would support but after the way the Green Party undercut her repeatedly to build up Barack in 2008, I will not support that. My party should be ashamed of how they treated Cynthia.")
"Whitney," "4 women, 3 men," "revenge," "Whitney," "Body of Proof," "Desperate Housewives,"
"2 Broke Girls," "The Good Wife" and "The Firm" -- Betty, Ann, Rebecca, Marcia, Stan and Ruth cover TV and Ann continues to cover radio:
"Barack finds another man to love" -- Kat on Barack's appointments.
"Fried Egg Sandwiches in the Kitchen" -- Trina offers a reader's recipe.
"Solyndra" -- Betty on Barack's scandal.
"it's no movement" -- Rebecca on the latest self-exposure from Occupy.
"Edwards case postponed" -- Ruth notes John Edwards gets a postponement on his trial.
"Rochelle Riley's lust for Michelle Obama," "Ugly Rochelle Riley" and "Whore Rochelle Riley wants to pretend to care about women" & "THIS JUST IN! ROCHELLE THINKS YOU'RE STUPID!" -- Kat, Marcia, Cedric and Wally on Rochelle Riley.
"Ford lays off workers" -- Trina on the economy.
"is he drunk?" -- Rebecca with an important question.
"A trip to an actual bookstore" -- Ruth writes an excellent essay on visiting a physical bookstore.
"Take Two" -- Isaiah digs into the archives.
"Crazy limp dicked Robert Parry" -- Mike awards Robert Parry an 'honor.' One that Parry has more than earned.
"I'm sticking with him" -- Elaine's no changing her endorsement of Ron Paul.
"Maybe I will see The Iron Lady" and "The Mod Squad" -- Kat and Stan talk movies.
"Ron Paul has strong New Hampshire showing" -- Elaine on Ron Paul.
"John Nichols should slit his own wrists" -- Mike offers a suggestion we can all support.
"Was he not paying attention?" & "THIS JUST IN! NOT A SURPRISE!" -- Cedric and Wally on the latest from the Titanic.
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