Tuesday, April 12, 2022

TV: The Myths


Myths? Joseph Campbell spent a career exploring them. He wound up with a theory that they were all "variations of a single great story." We'd argue they're p.r. But we do see his point. We'd further argue, based on the work of Gore Vidal, that the US is Myth America. We do embrace our myths -- sometimes so tightly you'd think they were a body pillow.


Some years ago, AMAZON finally discovered women. Who knew that a show starring a woman (Rachel Brosnahan) could be a hit? Everyone except for AMAZON executives and SPIKE TV, that's who. AMAZON ended up with a hit show and an Emmy and Golden Globe winning show, THE MARVELOUS MRS. MAISEL. See, there is more to the world than garbage like ALPHA HOUSE. Since we reviewed it, the show has continued with further seasons. Some complaints have come in according to Ty in the last year. Some e-mail to complain about the show, a few e-mail to complain about us. The gist of the latter e-mails is that we praised the show in 2017 and we're to blame for the latest season years later. Huh?

We understand the disappointment. When season two started, we spoke with a few people with the show and said, "No." Just no. That's not entertainment.

For those who've never watched, THE MARVELOUS MRS. MAISEL is about a woman who leaves an unhappy marriage and becomes a comedian in the 1960s. This is a fictional story. We thought that they would root it in realtiy. With season two, it became clear that would not be the case.

Maisel is just too funny, too on and too incredible and met with that reaction. So they're basically screwing with history.

Ryan Murphy's HOLLYWOOD did as well. That was a single season series and it was a nice reworking. Something akin to MAVEL's WHAT IF . . . comic book series. HBO's MINX is another entry in this genre. We've held off noting it because other things kept coming up. It is set in the 70s and a feminist Joyce (Ophelia Lovibond) can't find any takers to publish her concept for a new feminist magazine. Along comes Doug, who publishes adult magazines (nudes) and he will take the chance as long as nudity is part of the publication. They end up with a hit magazine.

Can there be a season two?

That's getting ahead a bit. First, should there be one? Yes. Jake Johnson plays Doug and is also one of the producers. MINX is a strong show with a great cast. Care appears to have been taken with every role -- no matter how big or small. They should be nominated, the cast, for a SAG Award because they work so well together. Even the guest stars -- most recently Hope Davis. It is entertaining and it makes you think.

Maybe because it's set in adult entertainment, we aren't so concerned with reality? There was PLAYGIRL and other magazines. And Joyce isn't going to be leading the feminist movement. So we think this fictional story can continue and do so without having viewers thinking it jumped the shark.

But THE MARVELOUS MRS. MAISEL has jumped the shark. We know Joan Rivers, Phyllis Diller and Moms Mabley were hugely successful in that period but still came up against the glass ceiling. Maisel's success feels both fictitious and insulting.

Myths, what you going to do?

How about explode them? Especially when they come presented as documentaries?


A NETFLIX friend asked Sunday if we wanted to see it ahead of its premier on NETFLIX this Wednesday?

Sure. For those who don't know, former President Barack Obama, who has never created content for TV, signed a multi-million dollar contract with NETFLIX after leaving the White House. For those keeping track, true original John Waters can't catch a break, The great Allison Anders is sidelined as well. But by all means, let's give millions to a politician with no track record in the entertainment field instead of giving working artists the breaks that they actually deserve and need.


In terms of artistry, it's garbage. NETFLIX spent millions for visuals that would be obvious and uninspiring in a child's VIEWMASTER. There is no sense of art, no sense of majesty. How do you do that? How do you have something as gorgeous as a national park and present it in a perfunctory manner? It's robotic and lacks wonder and amazement.

But then Barack's never been that entranced with the world of nature. It's cute to watch him try to do, post-presidency, what most try to do in the last year or two of their second term -- create a legacy.

There are many subjects Barack was qualified to make a documentary series on.

For example, he could have done with on drone murders. Barack oversaw the deaths of many (including American citizens) with drones. He appeared to have a special affinity for murdering guests at weddings.

How about HITCHED AND DITCHED where Barack picks out weddings and, after the I dos are exchanged, Barack takes out one of the spouses with a drone?

Human Rights Watch noted:

On December 12, 2013, a United States aerial drone launched four Hellfire missiles on a convoy of 11 cars and pickup trucks during a counterterrorism operation in rural Yemen. The strike killed at least 12 men and wounded at least 15 others, 6 of them seriously.
Yemen authorities initially described all those killed in the attack outside the city of Rad`a as “terrorists.” The US government never officially acknowledged any role in the attack, but unofficially told media that the dead were militants, and that the operation targeted a “most-wanted” member of Al-Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsula (AQAP) who was wounded and escaped.
Witnesses and relatives of the dead and wounded interviewed by Human Rights Watch in Yemen said the convoy was a wedding procession. They said everyone in the procession was a civilian, including all of the dead and injured, and that the bride received a superficial face wound.

Or he could do a series about broken promises. NAME THAT BROKEN PROMISE! or HOW I LET US VETERANS DOWN could focus on Barack's promise to end veterans homelessness Remember that? Barack grandstanding in 2010 that he was going to end veterans homelessness by 2015? Never happened, did it? In fact, Jennifer McDermott (AP) reported at the start of 2017, "Pledges by President Barack Obama and a national nonprofit organization to end homelessness among veterans did not meet their goal."

Nope, another broken promise.

Just like closing Guantanamo Bay. Remember that? Barack, running for president, was going to restore the country's good name by closing the gulag that is Guantanamo Bay. He was going to do it in his first term as president.

He didn't.

He signed an executive order.

He never closed it.

In fact, at the start of this year, the ACLU's Hina Shamsi noted:

Twenty years have passed since the first detainees arrived in Guantánamo Bay, making it the longest-standing war prison in U.S. history. Since 2002, 779 Muslim men and boys have been held at Guantánamo, nearly all of them without charge or trial. Today, 39 men remain indefinitely detained there, and 27 of them have never even been charged with any crime. Fourteen of those 27 have been cleared for transfer or release, some for years. Many of the remaining men are torture survivors; the CIA formerly disappeared some of them at “black sites” before our government sent them to Guantánamo. All of the prisoners have been exposed to the physical and psychological trauma associated with prolonged indefinite detention.
Around the world, Guantánamo is a symbol of racial and religious injustice, abuse, and disregard for the rule of law. Our government’s embrace of systematic torture shattered lives, shredded this country’s reputation in the world, and compromised national security. To this day, it has refused to release the full details of the torture program or to provide justice and redress for all the many victims.
As we mark this 20th anniversary, it is worth pausing to reflect on the fact that all the teenagers and many young adults alive today have never known a United States without the stain of Guantánamo. They’ve seen three presidents pledge to close the prison without following through on that promise. Guantánamo is now embedded not only in our conscience, but in American culture, as recent critically-acclaimed films about torture and its impact, like “The Report” and “The Mauritanian,” show. Yet too many think Guantánamo is in our past or even that amends for abuses have been made, as a Jeopardy question and response last year showed. In response to the clue, “In 2015 Congress authorized payments of $4.44 million to each of these people, $10,000 for each day of their captivity,” a Jeopardy! contestant wrongly answered “Guantánamo Bay prisoners.” There has been no such redress, and this shameful chapter of our history is still being written.
President George W. Bush transferred over 500 prisoners out of Guantánamo. President Barack Obama transferred approximately 200 men, and said he would shut the prison down, but failed. President Donald Trump reversed course and kept the prison open. Now it’s up to President Joe Biden to fulfill his pledge to finally close Guantánamo.

Failure. Maybe that could have been what he offered with NETFLIX: WHO WANTS TO VOTE FOR A FAILURE? And he could have picked some of his voters to interview. We're sure that a number would hold his hand and tell him it's okay that he didn't keep his word. After all, The Cult of Saint Barack always had a lot of lunatics for members. But we're equally sure that a significant number would tell him exactly what a disappointment he was. They might note his efforts to destroy Occupy Wall Street (and his spying on those participating). Or maybe they'd emphasize that candidate Obama swore he'd be marching with workers for the right to organize but then he became president and could no longer seem to remember that promise?

Maybe they'd note that the man who claimed to be against dumb wars, destroyed Libya and what a stain it was that a bi-racial person was responsible for creating open slave markets in Libya?

David Welna (NPR) noted:

Among the many things President Obama will be handing off to his successor this week: stubborn wars in three separate countries.
Obama came to office eight years ago vowing to end U.S. military interventions in Iraq and Afghanistan. Yet President-elect Trump stands to inherit the nation's longest war ever in Afghanistan, as well as renewed fighting in Iraq that has spread to Syria.
The outgoing president was reminded of the persistence of those wars at the pomp-filled farewell ceremony the Pentagon put on for him him earlier this month at a nearby military base.
"Mr. President, we've been at war throughout your tenure," said Gen. Joesph Dunford, chosen by Obama in 2015 to be chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff. "That's a period longer than any other American president."
That's right: Obama is the first president to serve eight years and preside over American wars during every single day of his tenure. That's not what Obama wanted or expected.

Well it's certainly not what he promised, David, it's certainly not what he promised.

Barack lied about Iraq constantly. In fact, that's why Samantha Power had to leave his campaign for president.

She told the truth. Oops! Shortly after coming under fire for telling a reporter that Hillary Clinton was a "monster," Samantha was out of Barack's 2008 campaign for the Democratic Party's presidential nomination. We remember. We covered it -- both here and at THE COMMON ILLS. We know all of his lies, all of his broken promises.

He never planned to end the war in 10 months as he said on the campaign trail. 'We want to end the war and we want to end it now!" Then in March of 2008, Sammy Power gave her interview to BBC NEWS. The Democrats had run in the 2006 mid-terms on the Iraq War. Give them one house of Congress, they insisted, and they'd have the power to end the war. The American people gave them both house of Congress. They did not end the war. Why would they? It had been a huge issue in 2006 and very effective at turning out the vote. Why end it when they wanted the White House in 2008? So they did nothing.

(Yes, that includes the benchmarks that they never enforced and that they quickly forgot. Remember, Congress was going to cut off funds to Iraq if the benchmarks weren't met. To this day, Congress funds Iraq and, no, those 2007 benchmarks were never, ever met.)

Samantha Power told the BBC that Barack's promise to the American people to end the war wasn't really a promise and that he couldn't be bound next January, if elected, by 'promises' he'd made on the campaign trail. No, she explained, once elected, once in office, he would look at all the information and then decide what to do.

A far cry from his hollering to one throng of admirers after another, "We want to end the war and we want to end it now!"

Samantha immediately parted with the campaign ahead of the interview airing. She and Barack were helped in lying to the American people by professional clown John Nichols who rushed to defend Sammy and insist she was fired for calling Hillary a monster and, goodness, they were friends. She left because of the BBC interview. She and Hillary were not friends. When we see Katie Halper bringing John Nichols on as a guest, we wonder if she's just another whore or if she just doesn't know his history. (Which is well documented at this site and also includes his backing off from impeachment because Nancy Pelosi didn't want it -- despite the fact that he was supposed to be promoting his book on impeachment and his lying about Barack and NAFTA)

But back to Barack. He gave an interview to Michael R. Gordon and another NYT scribe. They wrote it up. It was outrageous, the write up. The paper made the mistake of publishing a transcript of the interview. It was in the transcript that you learned Barack planned to remove troops from Iraq and then . . . possibly . . . put them back in. (Here for coverage at THIRD, here for coverage at THE COMMON ILLS.)

Which is, for the record, exactly what he would do.

The fraud didn't even make into office before he broke his word on Iraq for the first time. The SOFA was rammed through by Bully Boy Bush over the objections of various Democrats -- including Senators Barbara Boxer, Hillary Clinton, Dick Durbin, Russ Feingold, everybody really that was a Democrat in the Senate. That included Barack and Joe Biden. And, don't worry, Barack said, if Bully Boy Bush pushed through a SOFA, it would not stand. They wouldn't let it stand.

Bully Boy Bush pushed it through on Thanksgiving of 2008 -- weeks after the election.

We all waited for the strong response from Barack. His response? He deleted the pledge to prevent the SOFA.

He was on huge disappointment after another.

BARACK AND HIS SISTER-WIVES? He could make a program entitled that. He's real good about reducing women's rights and denying them both access and opportunity.

Last month, President Joe Biden nominated Alina Romanowski to be US Ambassador to Iraq.

Barack never did that. He never did nominate a woman to be Ambassador of Iraq. We should note that. We met with the transition team. We argued that Iraqi women had suffered due to the war, that the US government had backed religious zealots who were trying to overturn the rights of women in Iraq. If only for symbolic reasons, appointing a high ranking woman might have some impact.

No one nominated as many people to be ambassador of a country as Barack did Iraq. He came in with Ryan Crocker still in office. Barack's nominees were Chris Hill, James Jeffrey, Brett McGurk, Robert S. Beecroft, Stuart Jones and Douglas Silliman. Six nominees, not one was a woman. Five were confirmed. (Brett wasn't confirmed.)


Barack was hailed by MS. MAGAZINE as our first feminist president. He was, we were told, what feminism looks like. Really? Because he used various events -- outside of the workplace -- as a way to network and women were always excluded from those events (such as basketball games). MS. hailed him as a feminist but we just saw Mr. Hart from 9TO 5 when we looked at him, we just heard Dabney Coleman's voice saying, "I like to think, if there's a word to describe my philosophy of business, it's teamwork. Everybody working together. You girls, of course, never got a chance to play football or baseball and I've always felts that' unfortunate . . ."

We think it's very unfortunate that Barack was misrepresented as a feminist. He would insist in April of 2016 that it was men's job to fight sexism. That was applauded by some. Why? He'd done nothing but sideline women in his administration, preventing them from being included. Feminist? More like a Queen Bee (as defined by Gloria Steinem in REVOLUTION FROM WITHIN).

We mentioned The Cult of Saint Barack earlier. Remember? Well Barack's temple prostitutes are out in full force. If you read through any review and see a comparison of Barack to David Attenborough, grasp that they're just repeating the press material (yeah, we got it too). So the temple prostitutes repeat it.

It's insulting on so many levels. First of all, the 95-year-old Attenborough has been producing, narrating, writing and presenting films since 1951. He is a professional. Barack is not. Nor is Barack responsible for any real duty other than narrating.

Did you really think the princess was going to have to work for his money? Oh, where have you been.

Emma Brennad, Sarah Conner and Patrick Evans are among the actual directors. Barack's reciting words. In that Leonard Nimoy like tone, he's reciting words written by others.

We get it, NETFLIX paid him millions. But they were crazy if they ever thought he was actually going to put in work.

Second, David Attenborough has an impressive body of work and it's a huge insult to that work to try to compare his work with debutante and dilettante will not end up with a body of work. As for a body of work on nature?

This is the man who 'helped' the nation's parks as president by resorting to big money donors ("to supplement federal funds" is how he liked to put it). It's all about the big money for Barack, always has been (those mythical small donors driving his 2008 campaign never existed -- NYT waited until after the 2008 election to blow the lid off that myth).

Geoffrey Lean (ANCHORAGE DAILY NEWS) reported in 2009:

Now here's a wild card: Barack Obama is doing even less to protect wildlife than George W Bush did. As its first year nears an end, the President's administration has so far listed only two species – both plants – under the Endangered Species Act, compared with 11 at the same stage in the presidency of the "toxic Texan".
Admittedly, Bush's listing tailed off, averaging eight a year over his term in office, but that was four times what Obama has achieved. And both pale besides the averages of 65 and 58 listed under Bill Clinton and the elder Bush.
The current administration has angered conservationists even more by halving a proposed safe habitat for bighorn sheep, and in removing protection for the grey wolf in the Northern Rockies. "They are failing to grant badly needed protection to animals and plants on the brink," says Nicole Rosmarino, of WildEarth Guardians.
"There is no longer a clear ideological opposition to endangered species, but they have not exactly made it their priority either," adds Noah (great name for a conservationist) Greenwald, of the Centre for Biological Diversity.

In 2010, the Center for Biological Diversity issued the following:

WASHINGTON— In response to President Barack Obama’s press conference on actions he will take in response to the Gulf oil disaster, Center for Biological Diversity Senior Counsel Brendan Cummings said:
“While the decision to suspend Shell’s planned drilling this summer in the Arctic is an important first step, what we really need is revocation of the improperly issued leases and permanent protection of the Arctic. The fact that no technology exists to effectively clean up an oil spill in Arctic waters will not be changed in a year’s time.
“As the president recognized today and the Gulf disaster has tragically demonstrated, even in areas with existing infrastructure and significant spill response assets, containment and response capability to a large oil spill is wholly inadequate. Interior Secretary Ken Salazar and the Obama administration should not pretend that a six-month review of drilling procedures will change anything. Expanding offshore drilling to new areas needs to be permanently taken off the table.
“President Obama’s speech follows a month of half-steps and broken promises by the Interior Department since the Deepwater Horizon explosion in which a pledged ‘moratorium’ on oil drilling turned out to be largely a fiction, with multiple drilling plans approved after no environmental review, and drilling permits similar to those given to BP continuing to be issued.

In 2014, the Center for Biological Diversity released the following:

WASHINGTON— New rules unveiled today by President Barack Obama don’t do enough to cut planet-warming pollution from America’s power plants. Using the Clean Air Act, the president aims to reduce existing power plant emissions 30 percent below 2005 levels (or about 7.7 percent below 1990 levels, the base year for the international climate treaty) by 2030.
But international scientists warned years ago that developed countries like the United States must reduce their emissions 25 percent to 40 percent below 1990 levels by 2020 to avoid tipping the scales further toward a climate catastrophe.
“This is like fighting a wildfire with a garden hose — we’re glad the president has finally turned the water on, but it’s just not enough to get the job done,” said Kevin Bundy of the Center for Biological Diversity’s Climate Law Institute. “President Obama’s draft power plant plan should be strengthened to achieve the global pollution cuts scientists recommend. He also has to quit stalling on reducing emissions from other sectors such as air travel and the oil and gas industry. If we keep kicking the can down the road, the cost and difficulty of averting catastrophe will skyrocket.”
The Obama administration has said the power plant rules will help meet the emission reduction pledge the president made at the Copenhagen Climate Change Conference five years ago, but scientists agree the Copenhagen pledges are not enough to head off a climate crisis.
A May report from federal scientists found that global warming has already dangerously increased flood risk to America’s coastal cities and is delivering periods of intense heat that “last longer than any living American has ever experienced.” The National Climate Assessment predicts as much as 4 feet of sea-level rise and 10 degrees Fahrenheit of warming by 2100 unless deep cuts are made to carbon pollution.
Global warming is altering some ecosystems so rapidly, the report finds, that many species “may disappear from regions where they have been prevalent or become extinct, altering some regions so much that their mix of plant and animal life will become almost unrecognizable.”
The Clean Air Act is America’s leading tool for curbing greenhouse gas pollution, and 79 U.S. cities have joined the Center’s Clean Air Cities campaign urging the EPA to use the Clean Air Act to help reduce carbon in our atmosphere to no more than 350 parts per million, the level scientists say is needed to avoid catastrophic climate change.
“The Clean Air Act is a great tool for fighting power plant carbon pollution, but President Obama has to wield it more ambitiously to get the kind of emission reductions we really need to protect our planet,” Bundy said.

We could do this all day -- you know, the work required, the thing that The Water Cooler Set loves to avoid. Barack's ignoring reality and trying to suddenly become Earth Man. Remember when Al Gore used to claim that title? At least Al put in some work for the title. Barack worked against nature and then thinks this bad mini-series can refurbish his image.

Myths? THE MARVELOUS MRS. MAISEL lost its way by attempting to 'happy end' Maisel when she can't succeed in that time period, not to the degree her talent warrants. If they'd have gone with the 70s, it wouldn't have been such a stretch. Not only did Joan build in prominence but Lily Tomlin emerged -- an honest to goodness concert draw, a regular guest on Johnny Carson's show. Of if they'd set it in the 80s, where Joan continues to build her large following and Lily maintains her own while Roseanne Barr emerges as a full blown comedy star and Gilda Radner and Whoopi Goldberg drew crowds on Broadway. Even the late 50s might have worked (Elaine May became a comedy superstar with partner Mike Nichols during the Eisenhower years). But they want to choose a very repressive period for women. And they don't really reference any women. Judy Henske would be an obvious reference but Maisel has, as a stand up, long surpassed Judy's success. It's a myth and it just doesn't work.

MINX? Again, this could do another season, possibly a third. It really is a beautiful show -- the look of it, the various grace notes from each performer. Jake Johnson has long impressed us but, no, we weren't prepared for this from him. When you have a talent and a vision, you can really make something wonderful.

Barack has neither talent nor a vision. And it shows by his tying himself to this second-rate program that has nothing to offer. It was put out this week for that reason, in fact. NETFLIX is embarrassed by it. That's why we got to see it early. And they put it on this week thinking it would have the best chance of finding an audience and maybe being in the top ten. As our friend at NETFLIX told us, next week, the only documentary the streamer expects people to be watching is the one on Abercrombie & Fitch -- "and that's got stronger visuals and a real point of view, plus it registers as a documentary." Poor Barack, all these years later, he still struggles to register. Maybe next time let NETFLIX spend that money on real projects with real artists?

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