Monday, October 29, 2018

Truest statement of the week

This is all about reinforcing the corporate “center,” which has been destabilized, not only by Donald Trump’s takeover of the GOP and surprise election victory, but most fundamentally by the collapse of wages and job security and the general demoralization caused by endless austerity and war -- the core policies of both corporate parties. Americans must be made to reject the “extremes” if the corporate consensus is to be reestablished. But racial oppression cannot be tackled without massive, and expensive, transformations of society, requiring whole new layers of democratization. To the extent possible, therefore, race must be eliminated from the conversation (except to avow that America loves all races). The More in Common brand of race-less and classless social science, which claims to more accurately describe Americans’ political views “than by referring to their visible traits such as race, gender or income,” is a perfect tool for corporate consensus-makers. The rulers won’t have to do anything for anybody, because real demographics cease to exist.

-- Glen Ford, "The Great Un-Blackening: The Corporate Project To Erase Black People From Politics" (BLACK AGENDA REPORT).

Truest statement of the week II

Brown tried to challenge individualism in the Black community. He explained Black college students tended to believe that as individuals they were on a path to success and that they could separate themselves out from the general population, a term to describe prisoners. However, when police or fascist attacks happened, Brown contested, those with middle class aspirations learned to use the term “we” quickly. Individualism was used as a tool to divide and conquer. He argued white people don’t exist as individuals. Patriotic notions that obscure white supremacy make it clear most white people function as a group. Brown was trying to illuminate that the very notion of “the people” or “American people” meant white people. This was a big challenge to a previous generation of Black radicals, such as those influenced by Paul Robeson , who while having Black pride, tried to labor a multi-cultural identity for what was only conceived as Anglo-America.
Brown exposed the notion that when the police stated “we are a minority too” that they were “a thin blue line.” This is false. They express in organized form the ideology of the ruling elite of this country, defense of property and subordination of labor, which the multitudes are socialized to identify. So the police do not function as individuals, though a handful of individual police may mean well.

-- Dr. Matthew Quest, "What H. Rap Brown Says To Us 50 Years Later, Part 2" (BLACK AGENDA REPORT).

A note to our readers

Hey --

Early Monday morning except on the west coast (where we are -- where it's still Sunday).  And we're done. 

Let's 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?

Glen Ford gets another truest. 
Dr. Matthew Quest gets a truest.
You will know them by their actions.  BLACK AGENDA RADIO stood up last week.  Everyone else pretty much ducked their heads.  Remember that.
Ava and C.I. take on another really bad sitcom from ABC.
There was something more than just hissing at a Republican going on this month.
Ava and C.I. weigh in on the closing of FILMSTRUCK.

Goes to Ann Garrison.
The stars of today really aren't that political or smart.  And the ones who might have been smart in 1970 are rushing to play dumb today.
A repost of Ava and C.I. explaining what would happen to THE CONNERS ratings (and they were right).
What we listened to while writing.
Mike and the gang pick the week's highlights.

And we just realized we forgot the book feature.  We won't forget it next week.


-- Jim, Dona, Ty, Jess, Ava and C.I.

Editorial: The world catches on


Why is it they can talk about things that actually matter when others cannot?

Last week, "Editorial: What can you do?" covered the Women's March on the Pentagon.

You might think the so-called independent media would be all over it.

You would be wrong.

why didn't you cover the women's march on the pentagon.


Amy Goodman ignored the Women's March on the Pentagon but not only did her regular episodes of DEMOCRACY NOW cover the anti-Trump and pro-Democratic Party march in January of 2018, she even did a special broadcast to cover that partisan march live.

She's a fake ass.

The world is catching on.

And there are a lot of whores out there who, time and again, fail when it comes to actual issues of war and peace.  BLACK AGENDA RADIO covered the march.  Most chose to ignore it.  That tells you that some people feel very removed from the war and cannot relate to -- or defend -- those being killed by US weapons.

TV: Neither the kids nor Channing Dungey are alright

There is nothing "alright" or even "okay" about ABC's latest family sitcom THE KIDS ARE ALRIGHT.  Not only have its ratings already fallen significantly in the week to week, but anyone watching wonders not just how it got on the air but who cast it?


Mary McCormack plays the woman who birthed 8 children.  She's also the only woman in the main cast.  How does that happen?  She has 8 sons.

This show is set in 1972 and rubbers have been around since 1564 but somehow McCormack's Peggy Cleary never heard of them or of the pill (available since 1960), let alone ROMPER ROOM's Miss Sherri's trip to Sweden in 1962.  The biggest surprise to us is that Michael Cudlitz' face wasn't its own form of birth control -- Cudlitz recites lines for the role of Mike Cleary -- Peggy's husband.

We can't say Culdtiz acts because he doesn't.

Filmed before a live audience, Cudlitz might have been forced to deliver a comedic performance.  The lack of laughter might have clued him in that he wasn't accomplishing a damn thing and that his attempt at a performance came off as slumming.  He can't do comedy.

Can McCormack?

Nothing we've seen indicates that she can.  We're not just referring to her past roles, we're also referring to this one.  Maybe last season's ROSEANNE was such a hit because the character Roseanne was likable and not a shrew? MODERN FAMILY, FRESH OFF THE BOAT, SPEECHLESS . . . controlling shrews abound.  Kids grow up, for example, on MODERN FAMILY so is there a reason that Claire can't?  Julie Bowen's one note character has never grown and has resulted in an increasingly one note performance.  You'd think Bowen would demand better scripts but some people are just happy to bank a check.

Claire has become an archetype for TV moms in the last decade and, if you don't find that frightening, you've clearly missed I FEEL BAD which features a cyborg delivering monologues constantly while endlessly whining about the 'pains' of having it all.

We kept expecting to hear from Mike or Peggy that they have 8 boys because they kept trying for a girl but that's apparently putting more thought into the show than Tim Doyle ever did when he created it.  He also narrates it.  Yes, that's right, narrates it.  Because, goodness knows, we all need narration from sitcoms.  Who can ever forget how the narration onf HOW I MET YOUR MOTHER and THE WONDER YEARS produced the biggest laughs of all time  What's that?  They didn't?  Oh, right and no laughs are produced by the narration on this show either.

8 sons.  We keep coming back to that.  Even in the sixties, when they wouldn't let characters take the pill on sitcoms (Mary Richards on 1970's THE MARY TYLER MOORE SHOW was the first sitcom character to be on the pill), Fred MacMurray was only saddled with MY THREE SONS.  Yes, the character Tom Bradford did have eight children but EIGHT IS ENOUGH also had an hour each week.  With thirty minutes a week -- minus commercials -- there really isn't time for this large of a cast.  Maybe about four or five of them could pull a Chuck Cunningham and take a trip upstairs never to be seen again?

That would certainly help viewers follow the show since there's not a lot distinguishing Stinky, Farty and Belchy Cleary from each other.  No, those aren't the real names of the characters.  But after seeing three episodes, we're still confused about at least five of the sons.  Maybe they could wear name tags?  Or, this being ABC DISNEY, Mouseketeer ears and a t-shirt with their name on it -- the way Cubby and Annette did on the old MICKEY MOUSE CLUB?

Sam Straley's easy to track as Lawrence.  He was supposed to become a priest but has left seminary school -- we think it might have something to do with his hair -- specifically the Jesus 'do.  Is he supposed to be the David Cassidy of the show because he really presents himself like he thinks he is -- it's too bad he lacks the charisma to succeed in his presentation.  He mainly leaves us wondering if he's going to be the gay son?  Catholic family, eight sons, at least one has to be gay, right?  On Laurie Metcalf's THE MCCARTHYS, there were only three Irish Catholic sons and one of them was gay.

Then there's Caleb Foote's Eddie who is so tightly strung you picture him seeking out a dominatrix for stress relief.

Otherwise, it's pretty much a muddle.  In fact, a better name for the show might by ABC's THE MUDDLE.  We'll assume that's due to the scripts and leave the performers' names out of it because we don't critique child actors.

We do critique the muddle that Channing Dungey has made of ABC.  Apparently not content with merely destroying Friday nights, Channing's going after Tuesday nights as well.  ROSEANNE made it a ratings powerhouse night last season.  This go round?  THE CONNERS has dropped in week two (losing 26% of the viewers from week one -- we told you, Rhoda can only get married once) -- in fact, all of ABC's Tuesday night line up lost a significant number of viewers last week.  Channing tried to power through preaching some sort of Nietzcheian WILL TO POWER as she explained why, despite the lousy ratings, she ordered one episode more for THE CONNERS, THE ROOKIE and, yes, THE KIDS ARE ALRIGHT.  Reality?  She is willing to throw away millions of dollars -- it's not her money -- to try to change the conversation.  One episode more for these ratings losers, she hoped, would pull the focus away from the ratings.

She really is stupid.  And if you ever doubted that, prepare yourself for the ultimate proof of her stupidity.  Channing's job is already on the line.  To her superiors, she's touting the upcoming GRAND HOTEL as the 'hit' that will return ABC to a ratings winner?


Because we're seeing it as yet another failure in Eva Longoria's long list of failures as a producer -- MOTHER UP!, DEVIOUS MAIDS and TELENOVELA  to name just three examples of her being out of touch with what viewers wanted to watch.

Despite this history, Channing's insisting GRAND HOTEL will be the next DESPERATE HOUSEWIVES but, to us, it just sounds like LOVE BOAT with a soap opera twist or, as it was known in 1983, HOTEL.   The family of Aaron Spelling should sue.  But they're not the only ones who should be offended.  Maybe it's because one of us (Ava) is a Latina, but we're pretty much appalled that ABC thinks they can get away with a casting a single family with Mexican-Americans, Cubans, Venezuelans, etcs.  Maybe to Channing it's all the same thing but we call that xenophobia.

The stoning of Kanye West

Kanye West is a rapper -- a very successful one.

For the last month, a lot of people have been throwing stones at him because he won't meet their notion of what an African-American man should believe in politically.

Reality: Some Black men are Democrats and some are Republicans and some are Greens and some are Libertarians and some are Socialists and some are Communists and some are non-political and some are apolitical.

But the refusal to be aware of that reality doesn't bother us so much as the attitude expressed.

People who never comment on James Woods or other Trump supporters felt the need to comment on Kanye.

That includes the US Green Party.  We're having a really hard time remembering the last time they waded in on any issue involving rap or a rapper.

SATURDAY NIGHT LIVE also went to town on Kanye.  They treated him like he was Sinead ripping up a photo of the Pope.

So many others wanted to toss a stone as well.


Because to us it just looks like a lot of White people who miss being able to openly attack African-Americans saw Kanye as their chance to rip apart a Black person.  In fact, there was a subtext in their attacks on Kanye that he was being "uppity."

We don't agree with Kanye's politics.  We agree with Kanye's right to express his viewpoint.  And we agree with the points Elaine raised in "If Kanye's happy, good for him."

FILMSTRUCK prepares to close shop (Ava and C.I.)

leaving soon

Leaving soon?

Uh, try the whole damn inventory is "leaving soon."

FILMSTRUCK will be no more in a matter of weeks:

We regret to inform you that FilmStruck will be shutting down. Our last day of service will be November 29, 2018, and we are currently no longer enrolling new subscribers.

All current FilmStruck subscribers will receive an email with details about your account and the refund process as applicable. Please see the options below for more information or email the customer service team at

So November 29th, everything's leaving.

We've endured many consumer losses during our time online.  Significant ones like the loss of TOWER RECORDS and the loss of BORDERS BOOKS.

On that level of grand loss, how does FILMSTRUCK rank?

Not all that bad honestly.

The hysterical articles since Friday have only reminded us how many do not subscribe to the service -- while pretending to know about it.  The bulk of the articles don't even get the cost right for a month of FILMSTRUCK.

If you're looking for big time stupid, turn -- of course -- to THE NEW YORKER where Richard Brady sports his ignorance like two huge implants he just had added to his chest. 

No, classics from TCM were not "recently added," as Brady maintains.  TCM films were always the bulk of the mix -- even the press promoting then then-upcoming FILMSTRUCK service noted that they would have films from TCM as well as some from THE CRITERION COLLECTION.  Brady then goes on to disparage the offerings from TCM implying they aren't diverse when, in fact, they are much more diverse than the 200 or so CRITERION served up each month since CRITERION has always built its own film library around European White male directors with a small sprinkling of men of color and of women tossed in.

For example, CRITERION's new releases webpage currently promotes 14 films -- Hal Ashby's SHAMPOO (White male director),  Rainer Werner Fassbinder EIGHT HOURS DON"T MAKE A DAY (White male director), Daniel Petrie's A RAISIN IN THE SUN (the studio refused to allow the African-American director of the play to direct the film, choosing instead a White male), Olivier Assayas' COLD WATER (White male director), Cuba's Tomas Guiterrez Alea's MEMORIES OF UNDERDEVELOPMENT (he's basically White with Latino ethnicity but due to political idealogy, we'll count this as a diverse film), Terrence Malick's THE TREE OF LIFE (White male director), Susan Seidelman's SMITHEREENS,  Robert M. Young's THE BALLAD OF GREGORIO CORTEZ (White male director), Cornel Wilde's THE NAKED PREY (White male director), Ernst Lubitsch's HEAVEN CAN WAIT (White male director), Igmar Bergman's SCENES FROM A MARRIAGE (White male director), George La Cava's MY MAN GODFREY (White male director), Brian de Palma's SISTERS (White male director) and Andrei Tarkovsky's ANDREI RUBLEV (Russian).  So of the fourteen, all but the Russian Adrei Rublev really do fall under White.  In terms of diversity of approach, thought and means it's two -- Rublev and Tomas Guiterrez Alea.  That leaves us with 12 White people.  There's also only one woman in the group of 14.

13 men and one woman?  Why it's the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame all over again!

If you're not getting just how bad the tokenism is at CRITERION, please note the opening of this sentence to an online essay, "Jane Campion is a rarity, not simply because she is a world-class female director . . ."

And, boys and girls, that sentence was not written in 1976 when female directors were thought to only be Ida Lupino, Elaine May and Barbara Loden but also included and had included -- among others -- Agnes Varda, Julie Dash, Chantel Akerman, Kinuyo Tanaka, Safi Faye, Maya Deren, Joan Micklin Silver, Therese Sita-Bella, Liliana Cavani, Sally Potter, Matilde Landeta, Claudia Weill, Shirley MacLaine, Jacquline Audry, Jan Oxenberg, Barbara Kopple, Josefina Molina, Shirley Clarke, Wang Ping, Pilar Miro, Forough Farrokhzad, Ana Carolina, Vera Chytilova, Bette Gordon, Laura Mulvey, Lina Wertmuller, Yvonne Rainer, Sangeeta, Jane Arden and Bonnie Sherr Klein.

No, that sentence was written in 2005.  That's appalling but, yes, that's CRITERION.

CRITERION is something we're all supposed to love but the reality is that CRITERION isn't the calling card it's thought to be.  For several years, HULU subscribers had access to CRITERION.  During those days of streaming, the only significant streams were of the films TO BE OR NOT TO BE and I MARRIED A WITCH.

CRITERION didn't pull people to FILMSTRUCK either.  Why?  Some CRITERION fans were put off that the entire collection was not available (about 200 films were available at a time).  TURNER CLASSIC MOVIES tended to provide a better offering of classic films -- especially if it was film noir or UK cinema.

With the impending death of FILMSTRUCK, lovers of classic films would do well to subscribe to HULU PLUS LIVE which includes TCM and FXM.  FXM usually offers a classic film or two on Saturdays and TCM offers them constantly.  In fact, Shirley Clarke's classic film PORTRAIT OF JASON isn't part of the CRITERION COLLECTION but it is a film that TCM has aired twice in the last six months (and one that made the National Film Registry in 2015).  More to the point, you can stream these films live or for a week or so after in most cases.

Back in May, we noted how little FILMSTRUCK actually had to offer.  And we noted that those thinking it had a wealth of choices -- and it was keeping that wealth off TCM -- were wrong.  We also discussed NETFLIX and we'll note that it has two classics it's now streaming: THE STRANGER with Orson Welles (who also directed), Loretta Young and Edward G. Robinson and Carol Reed's THE THIRD MAN (also starring Welles).  And on the subject of NETFLIX, please note that this month has everyone talking about the service's desire to go $2 billion into debt for new content over the next year.  This move only makes the question we asked last June more pertinent "TV: Is NETFLIX the new DUPONT?"


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