Monday, November 19, 2018

TV: The Selfie


Former First Lady went on Oprah Winfrey's OWN network to promote her new book BECOMING.  She'll be everywhere shortly.

And, as on Oprah, she'll be fuming because she's very upset over her life.  It's all there in her book.

She was First Lady but it's all about her.  She was First Lady so you'd think she'd be able to write about the American people -- she was, after all, supposedly representing them.

That's not what the book is about, it's just about her.

Your first clue is the table of contents.

"Becoming Me" starts on page 1.  The next chapter?  "Becoming Us" (meeting and marrying Barack) starts on page 109.  Yes, it's that kind of self-indulgent routine.

Remember her work for veterans?  She does in a single sentence noting herself and Jill Biden.  But not noting any veteran.  Sort of explains to you why so many veterans and reporters called her out in real time -- including Thomas E. Ricks, here and here, for just two examples.

In interviews, she whines about herself or about her family.  They live with Secret Service protection for life.  She and her husband are proving to be as money grubbing as Bill and Hillary Clinton.  She's really concerned about herself, not so much about the people of the world -- and certainly not about the people who died in the wars Barack continued as well as the ones he started.

It's a selfie in text.

The selfie?

As with so many bad things in society of late, it can be traced back to Ellen DeGeneres.  Ellen, after all, can't dance and encourages others who can't dance to dance awkwardly with her on her show.  Ellen also started the rehabilitation of Bully Boy Bush by bringing him on her show and dancing with the War Criminal.  And then there are the 2014 Academy Awards where Ellen took that ridiculous selfie.

Selfie's -- where the focus is on one's self.

Armie Hammer got in trouble last week over selfies.  Stan Lee, the legendary creator of so many comics, had passed away.  TWITTER erupted in selfies.  Armie dared to note the vanity in this and was attacked for it.

Whiners insisted they would post photos with their grandfather if he died.


Presumably, they would have known their grandfather.

They didn't know Stan Lee.  The point of their Tweets was that they'd briefly met him once.  Yes, that was making it about them.

Amrie's point -- a valid and simple point -- was that someone had passed away and maybe we should honor the work that the person did which so inspired us and not make the story about us.

That was too much in this Age of The Selfie.

Did you ever see UP THE SANDBOX?  For years, Barbra Streisand has shared that the inspiration for the family scene where one idiot member keeps taking photos over and over was her own brother Sheldon and that she told him, "You know, you're not here.  You'll be here when you develop those pictures."  That was true then.  Today?  With selfies?  Maybe they're never here.  Maybe with so much self-focus, even after the event, when they're looking at the selfies, the focus remains on them.

It is the focus that so many of us spend our lives fighting.  The media tends to focus on the power.

We were reminded of that with THE SMITHSONIAN's hideous AMERICA IN COLOR.  There are so many problems with 'colorizing' old film.  We'd say the segment on Greenwood, Oklahoma outlined one huge one.  It's interesting, in this Black community, how everyone shown was light skinned.  Was that reality?  We don't think so.  We do think it was the bias by those coloring the prints, they determined to include only light skinned African-Americans and erase anyone else.

Who gets the focus is about the power in this country which is why AMERICA IN COLOR ignores all the people initially run over as the automobile became huge in the 1920s -- all but the young son of a family who built a fortune with hand cream (they leave out the fact that the hand lotion promised honey and almonds but contained neither).  That's a death to recognize.  They note he was the fourth one in the city -- fourth child -- to die in 24 hours from being run over but somehow the other three people just didn't rate.  No photos of them were shown, they weren't even named.

It's this self-focus that Michelle exhibits but doesn't understand.  The same as Hillary Clinton.  Which is clear in  A&E's mini-series THE CLINTON AFFAIR (which kicked off Sunday night and continues for five more episodes).  It's a bad mini-series, a really bad one.

Monica Lewinsky comes off well.  She makes her case.  And it underscores how Hillary just doesn't get it -- Monica's remarks.  She's a volunteer at the White House, Bill Clinton is the president of the United States.  How is this equal?  And that's before you add in age.  Bill conducted a long running sexual affair with a young woman.  It was a huge abuse of power.  We don't believe it was an impeachable one.  We do believe it goes to how corrupting power is and that, yes, Bill was corrupted by power.

Paula Jones also gets to make her case.  But we don't care for the mini-series because we remember Hillary.  We remember Hillary's public remarks about various women -- Gennifer Flowers, for example -- about how if she had them on the stand, she'd prove this and she'd do that and blah, blah, blah.  (Flowers had a long standing affair with Bill.  Under oath, he admitted to at least one instance of sex with her.  Her recordings of their phone calls make clear that it was a long standing affair.) Clintonista Bob Somerby, among others, has created a revisionary history with a narrative of Hillary never attacking the women who stepped forward.  That's all she did was attack them.  The famous "vast right wing conspiracy"?  That was when she was on THE TODAY SHOW to attack Monica Lewinsky's credibility.

For six nights, the mini-series pretends to provide a complex look.  It doesn't.  It does give Monica a chance to really speak about what she saw as a love affair but was clearly, on Bill's part, just sexcapades.  It allows you to grasp how cruel and calculating Bill was with regards to women.  He was president, he was conducting an affair with an intern and he was married at the time.  He was leading this young woman on.  He's disgusting.  He's as much a pig as the character married to Jill Clayburgh in AN UNMARRIED WOMAN -- and we can picture him, like the guy in that film, crying when he finally had to tell Hillary about the affair.

Juanita Broaddrick get a tiny bit of time in the final episode. Not enough.  If you're going to revisit this topic, Juanita needs to be front and center.  Her allegations came after the impeachment -- and they came after the impeachment because NBC sat on her interview and had to be shamed into finally airing it by THE WALL STREET JOURNAL's Dorothy Rabinowitz.  Juanita charges that Bill Clinton raped her when he was governor of Arkansas (we believe her).  She has stood by the story for two decades now.  We believe her.  She certainly deserved far more attention than she received in THE CLINTON AFFAIR.

All the women did -- including Paula Jones -- but that's the thing about the focus, it continues to be on the powerful and their lackeys who make excuses for them.  There is no need for all the supporting players -- Joe Conason, liar David Brooks (who is able to airbrush his own actions), James Carville, et al -- who show up.

Today, when Hillary slams Monica or defends Bill's abuse of power, it just reminds us of how the news that her 2016 campaign staff (male) committed multiple acts of harassment and that Hillary's response to this after-the-fact exposure was to assure the world that the women involved -- who were forced to sign non-disclosure agreements -- were all okay and thrilled with the way she handled things.  That's where the press put the focus.  On Hillary and her statements.  The focus should have been: "If what you say is true, we're sure you'll waive those non-disclosure agreements to let women speak for themselves."

Over and over, Hillary has aligned herself with men who prey on women.  Just like her husband preyed on women, Hillary tolerates the behavior among the men who work for her (Philippe Reines, we're looking at you).  Hillary harmed her own 2016 campaign in many ways but that did include refusing to send her aid Huma packing because Anthony Weiner was a freak show.  Hillary tolerates freak shows, she tolerates abusive men.  It's why, today, Bill's behavior now reflects on her.  It's not longer that she's the wronged wife, it's now that she has a pattern of allowing these abusers (Patrick Kennedy in the State Dept.) to remain in jobs she should fire them from.

But the victims don't get to speak.  We have our problems with Alyssa Milano and we've gone past the point where we can simply believe someone who steps forward blindly.  But we do understand why Alyssa and others do: It's about the need to enlarge the focus from the He Said of the Powerful.  In The Age of the Selfie, it's especially important to enlarge the focus.  Hopefully, that's something most people can agree on.

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