SELMA ON OUR MINDS: In conclusion, three points!

THURSDAY, JANUARY 29, 2015

Part 6—The way we “liberals” now “reason:”
The fickle finger of liberal piddle has now moved on from our sad debates concerning the feature film Selma.

The crucifixion of Nicholas Kristof has bumped aside several weeks of debate. So has the crucifixion of the white male heretic Jonathan Chait, whose recent somewhat muddy piece was cuffed aside in this manner by J. Bryan Lowder at Slate:
LOWDER (1/28/15): Many progressive critics have written off the piece as the whining of an out-of-touch white guy, and that's certainly a fair response.
Chait is white and he’s a guy! It’s certainly “fair” to “write off” a piece by citing such crucial facts!

This is the way we “liberals” now reason! This brings us back to several weeks of pseudo-discussion concerning the feature film Selma.

Those discussions are basically over. With that in mind, let’s present a few final thoughts about the pseudo-debates which once swirled around Selma.

Our point is not to debate the merits of the film; many people loved the film, though we ourselves did not. Instead, we want to discuss the caliber of pseudo-liberal debate, which we regard as quite poor.

Questions:

Did Selma misrepresent President Johnson? Did the film get “snubbed” when it received only two Oscar nominations? If so, was it snubbed on some racial basis?

Google “Selma AND Johnson” or “Selma AND snubbed!” You can spend hours reading irate liberals discussing these points. As a general matter, the quality of discussion will be strikingly poor.

We’ll guess that this is a very bad sign for those who favor progressive interests. Let's consider a few final points about Selma.

The alleged Best Director snub:

Did Ava DuVernay get “snubbed” by the Academy when she wasn’t nominated for the Best Director Oscar? If so, did she get snubbed on some racial basis?

Everything is possible! Many people may believe that DuVernay’s performance as director was one of the year’s five best. And it’s always possible that some Academy members voted against her on some racial basis, or because she’s a woman.

That said, you can spend hours reading complaints without encountering the facts which follow, and without seeing any mention of the way Clint Eastwood got “snubbed.”

Can we talk? Eight films were nominated for Best Picture this year; Selma is numbered among them. But only four of those films’ directors received Best Director nods.

Four out of eight! That’s just half!

DuVernay didn’t get nominated, but neither did three other people who directed Best Picture nominees. One such person is Clint Eastwood, an old white male Hollywood icon.

If you Google “Selma AND snubbed,” you will read, again and again, that DuVernay got snubbed because the Academy is so heavily older, white and male. You will not be told that Eastwood, the iconic white old coot, also got “snubbed” for Best Director.

This the way we “liberals” now argue. Rather, this is the way we pseudo-liberals now refuse to do same.

The unmentioned Best Screenplay snub:

If you google “Selma AND snubbed,” you will read, again and again, that Selma got snubbed for Best Director and Best Actor. You won’t read that Selma got snubbed for the Best Screenplay award.

This omission in our screeds would seem to be odd. Only five actors and five directors get Oscar nominations. But there are ten Best Screenplay nominations—five for original screenplays and five for screenplays which are adapted from some other source.

On its face, this was a bigger snub than those for actor and director. Presumably, it isn’t mentioned because the screenwriter who nominally got snubbed was Paul Webb, a white British male fellow. This makes it hard for us to play our only card, in which we complain about snubs due to gender or race.

In fairness, the situation here is a bit more complex than we've said. As has been widely reported, DuVernay rewrote Webb’s original screenplay in a fairly thorough manner.

According to Professor Cooper, DuVernay wrote twenty-seven new characters into the script, thus emphasizing the wide range of players involved in the civil rights movement.

In our view, this helped create a rather jumbled script. Standard texts about the civil rights movement spill with the names of its many remarkable players. But it’s hard to craft a two-hour drama with such a profusion of players. These are the types of problems which may arise when a person decides to go for Hollywood’s fame and riches, as many people do.

According to DuVernay, she changed Webb’s screenplay in part to shift the focus off Johnson. Here’s what told Rolling Stone:
DUVERNAY: Every filmmaker imbues a movie with their own point of view. The script was the LBJ/King thing, but originally, it was much more slanted to Johnson. I wasn't interested in making a white-savior movie; I was interested in making a movie centered on the people of Selma. You have to bring in some context for what it was like to live in the racial terrorism that was going on in the deep south at that time. The four little girls have to be there, and then you have to bring in the women. So I started adding women.
DuVernay added a lot of women, along with a lot of men. That’s what the movement was actually like—but if you’re making a Hollywood movie, this may not create a great script.

Did the original script pose Johnson as a “white savior?” We don’t know, but that comment provides a road map to the problem which arose when DuVernay created a portrait of Johnson which almost everyone ended up describing as inaccurate.

We aren’t experts on screenplays here. That said, DuVernay’s screenplay didn’t strike us as being especially good. It’s possible that experienced Academy voters thought the screenplay stunk. Or they may have snubbed the film for those much-preferred racial reasons.

At any rate, the final screenplay seems to have come from DuVernay more than from Webb. But Webb refused to relinquish or share his screenwriter credit, as was his contractual right.

We liberals could have played the lack of a Best Screenplay nomination—ten films got named!—as a racially-motivated snub. For undisclosed reasons, we chose not to do so.

Was it some sort of a racial snub? As with the ballyhooed pair of “snubs,” neither we nor anyone else has any real way of knowing.

The portrait of Lyndon Johnson:

“What is truth?” Pontius Pilate once said. As we slavishly played race cards in our pseudo-debates about Selma, we liberals created some genuine laughs concerning a similar question.

“What is fiction?” we sometimes semi-asked. For our money, the most foolish moment in the dispute came from Alyssa Rosenberg, one of the Washington Post’s bright young hires from Yale.

How should Selma be categorized? Only a recent Ivy League grad could have started a discussion of Selma in this sad and comical way:
ROSENBERG (1/5/15): Since its December 25 release “Selma,” Ava DuVernay’s movie about Martin Luther King, Jr., President Johnson and the leadup to the Voting Rights Act of 1965 has been under attack for some of the ways DuVernay and her screenwriter Paul Webb present this immensely complicated period in American history. In the pages of The Post, Joseph Califano, who served as Johnson’s top domestic aide, suggested that because of some of these decisions, “The movie should be ruled out this Christmas and during the ensuing awards season.”

I’m all for close reading of how film and other fiction approaches politics, and for deeper attention to the Civil Rights movement, particularly at a moment when judges and legislatures are dismantling some of the advances King and his colleagues won. But Califano’s approach, besides setting an odd standard for how fiction ought to work, doesn’t further those discussions. Instead, it suggests that we should check fiction for inaccuracies, and if diversions from science or historical record appear, end the conversation there, rather than talking about what a director was trying to get at.
Say what? In that second paragraph, Rosenberg referred to Selma, three separate times, as a work of “fiction.”

This reference helped Rosenberg argue away inaccuracies in the script. But did anyone who went to this film think that’s what they were seeing?

Did people think they were seeing “fiction” full stop? Not even a work of “historical fiction,” a term which is slippery enough when applied to a film of this type?

We liberals followed several paths in defending Selma against claims of inaccuracy. Early on, we tended to argue that the film really wasn’t inaccurate in its portrait of Johnson.

By the end of the game, most people were agreeing that the portrait of Johnson actually was inaccurate. But we were offering various explanations as to why that was irrelevant or OK—or even a wonderful feature.

All the film-makers do it, we said, presenting a fairly accurate but pitifully strange defense. Some of us said the portrait of Johnson was inaccurate, but was understandably so.

(Joan Walsh said the inaccurate LBJ was really a composite character—a composite of Johnson and President Kennedy. Apparently, President Kennedy was snarling at Dr. King in early 1965, fifteen months after his death!)

We liberals refused to give ground. It would have been extremely easy to make some form the following statement:

I loved this film and thought it was great. But nothing is perfect, and it was inaccurate in its portrait of Johnson.

It would have been easy to say that! But we pseudo-liberals now pretend to argue in the same childish ways the pseudo-conservatives all adopted when Rush and Sean came on the scene.

By this Limbaughian logic, DuVernay’s lack of a nomination just has to be racial. It isn’t possible that five actors may have given better performances than Daniel Oyelowo did—and it we can’t simply say that one part of DuVernay’s screenplay gave a false impression in that one respect.

None of these stances can be allowed! We now live in the low-IQ world pioneered by the other tribe.

How bad was the portrait of Johnson? For ourselves, we shared Charlie Pierce’s basic reaction, without going quite so far.

Pierce loved the film and thought it was great; our own assessment was different. But this is part of what he wrote about the portrait of Johnson:
PIERCE (1/19/15): And speaking of bouncing history off the wall, DuVernay's portrayal of Lyndon Johnson is even worse than I heard it was. She turns him into such a melodramatic villain that you half-expect Johnson to tie Amelia Boynton to the railroad tracks. And the clear implication that LBJ was behind sending the salacious videotape to the Kings has to dial one just to get to "inexcusable." (God, will American liberals ever stop covering for the Kennedy brothers?) But I was expecting those. What I didn't expect was that DuVernay would turn two of Johnson's shining moments into equally cheap cartoons...
For our money, Charlie is overstating here. But we had the same basic reaction.

We had read all about the controversy before we saw the film. But when we saw the film, we were actually quite surprised. Like Pierce, we thought the film’s “portrayal of Lyndon Johnson was even worse” than we had expected.

Other people’s reactions may differ. What is sad is the way we pseudo-liberals struggled to disappear this problem even after we started agreeing that the portrait of Johnson was “off.”

Everyone does it, we happily said. It’s a composite character, Walsh explained. And Pierce recovered from his judgment that the portrait of Johnson didn’t rise to the level of “inexcusable.”

(“But, having seen the movie now, this seems like less of a real problem than it seemed in the abstract,” he said.)

Some of us even said that it was good that the portrait of Johnson was wrong. At TPM, Professor Railton presented the logic of a ditto-head tribe:
PROFESSOR RAILTON (1/19/15): Having seen Selma, I have to agree that it does distort history, making Johnson into more of a villain than seems justified by the historical record as it exists. And I believe doing so was a correct and necessary choice.
Wonderfully, the headline said this:

“Selma Did Distort History—And Was Right To Do So”

Alas! Some of us are so tribal now that we’ll say the professor makes sense!

Selma didn’t strike us as a great film. For our money, DuVernay got very little out of some of the most amazing events in human history.

That doesn’t mean that she’s a bad person. It simply means that we didn’t think Selma was a great film.

At this point, such thoughts will rarely occur in our tribe, which is increasingly unintelligent and ruthlessly ditto-headed:

For us liberals, every loss must be a snub, and every snub must be racial. It simply can’t be that five other actors, or five other directors, may have done better jobs.

In our tribal ruminations, we won’t mention all the other black actors who were nominated in recent years. We won’t mention the snub of the old white male guy Eastwood.

In all that, though, our favorite moment came from the young Yale grad who kept saying that Selma was “fiction.”

She didn’t call it historical fiction, a term that’s slippery enough in itself. (For ourselves, we’d recommend describing a film like Selma as an “historical drama.”)

To this over-schooled young kid, the feature film Selma is “fiction!” So it goes as our big newspapers keeps hiring credentials from Yale, and as our tribal mumbo-jumbo just keeps gaining ground on Rush.

Will progressive interests be served this way? Everything is possible, but we find that quite hard to believe.

123 comments:

  1. Abraham Lincoln, Vampire Hunter is fiction.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Or so the Germans would have us believe ....

      Delete
  2. You know, who got "snubbed" and "who didn't really get snubbed" is the easiest, laziest thing to argue about. And it always boils down to nothing more than the opinion of the person doing the arguing, one way or the other.

    But I got to admit. Somerby's "lots of black actors have been nominated before" argument certainly takes it to a new low.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Cue the rest of the trolls.

      Delete
    2. When you argue that discrimination has occurred you use statistics to support your case. Why is it wrong to use statistics to demonstrate that discrimination has not occurred? Or is just arguing that racism may not be the whole explanation a heresy? If the latter, you have made Somerby's point.

      Delete
    3. "Some of our best Oscar nominees are black" sure sounds like "some of our best friends are black" to me. You should always pay attention to what follows immediately after.

      In Bob's case, it's "neither the director or actor, or the film itself was very good." Which is of course, his opinion.

      Which is, of course, what these "snubbed vs. not snubbed" debates always boil down to. Opinion.

      Now Somerby is entitled to his opinion. You are entitled to consider it Gospel.

      But as for me? I find his attempt to justify his opinion with, "Lots of black guys have been nominated before" to be quite laughable.

      But then again, that's just my opinion.

      Delete
    4. If you argue that Duvernay's film was snubbed because she is black, the nominations of other black filmmakers is not only relevant, it refutes that argument. Mocking people for having black friends has never struck me as a good way to promote racial inclusion. You perhaps think Somerby sounds like the old racists who said such things because it is all surface with you. No thought to the different motives and contexts of two statements. I think that is because you only purpose is to attack Somerby, not to defend DuVernay or even decry racism.

      Delete
    5. That's just it. I don't argue that DuVernay's film, DuVernay or anyone else was "snubbed" because she is black. As I said before -- now pay attention -- I find the whole "snubbed vs. not snubbed" thing rather silly, and something that always is nothing more than someone's opinion.

      And I don't mock people for having black friends. I mock what they say immediately AFTER they say they have black friends.

      You are free to "think" whatever you want about my "purpose." But let me assure you that it is not to "defend DuVernay" ore even to "decry racism."

      I just wonder how long Somerby is going to continue to beat this horse.

      Hey, I get it. He didn't like "Selma."

      Delete
    6. You don't get it. What he doesn't like how people like you (particularly journalists) can't think critically due to an over-exuberance for pulling the race card; e.g. you completely miss the point because all you want to do is call Bob a racist for deviating from the accepted liberal script.

      Delete
    7. What has Bob said specifically to explain why he did not think Selma was a very good movie? Anything? Anyone? Bueller?

      Delete
    8. Your Howler ReadersJanuary 29, 2015 at 3:34 PM

      It's fun to pretend that the most interesting thing here is whether the film was found good by Somerby.

      That way we can ignore what he's saying about the critical reception.

      A+, trolls!

      Delete
    9. But isn't that what this whole lengthy series is about? There couldn't have been any snubs because Somerby didn't like the movie and some of our best Oscar nominees are black.

      Delete
    10. If you came here to read a review about the movie, you are in the wrong place. You should probably just look for an article with a title that is something along the lines of "A Review of the Movie Selma".

      Delete
    11. Yes, Somerby has kept his opinion of the film, the director, and the lead actor close to the vest.

      Delete
    12. You sound like the kind of student who underlines everything in the paragraph because they can't identify the main point.

      Delete
    13. Urban, he says above that adding more characters to the script made the film less focused. He said yesterday he didn't find the dialog plausible (realistic). Those seem like pretty specific criticisms to me.

      Delete
    14. Sorry, "less focused" and "didn't find the dialogue plausible" aren't really all that specific, are they? Matter of fact, they are easy criticisms to make and quite lazy.

      And they are, of course, nothing more than opinion written off the top of his head without any research whatsoever.

      Delete
    15. Bob has offered evidence that the film was not snubbed. That the claims it was snubbed are unfounded is the point of this series. Critiques and historical facts about black nominees are provided to refute both the idea that the film and acting were without question superior to other films and actors nominated and that Hollywood doesn't have it out for blacks. Claims of snubbing are nothing more than hysterics from the left no matter how many emergency summits Rev. Sharpton calls for to address this grave crisis.

      Delete
    16. *and that Hollywood has it out for blacks

      Delete
    17. 3:42 Your position is "This movie should be considered snubbed unless proven otherwise and statistics or evaluations don't count." What counts?

      Delete
    18. No, actually my position is that Somerby is a tedious old fart who impresses only himself and a handful of remaining sycophants when he drones on and on with nothing really new or interesting to say after his first post.

      And to anticipate your next concern, I come here because I have an IQ in the low three-digits, and this place makes me feel oh so smart compared to the author and his remaining sycophants.

      Delete
    19. Ow. That hurt.

      Delete
    20. But you didn't tell us how we should determine whether Selma was snubbed. You only told us that Bob didn't convince you that it wasn't. So tell us what gives those claiming "snub" credibility. The excellent acting? The poor record of nominating blacks, inaccurately presented here? What?

      Delete
    21. I'd say you were off by a digit there, Sparky. Remember that your Dunning Kruger affliction only makes you feel smart.

      Delete
  3. Wonder when Somerby is going to get around to tying all this into the "War on Gore"?

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Go ahead and do it for him.

      Delete
    2. According to the Oracle of Bacon, the symmetry is perfect.

      Al Gore has a relationship of 3 to all four major actors in "Selma."

      It is the same relationship he has to Tommy Lee Jones, although he is fictionally one with Tommy Lee through the unforgettable character of Oliver Barrett IV in Love Story.

      Delete
  4. Or maybe Duvernay was, in fact, snubbed, since the movie received the most critical acclaim of any movie of the year, but was snubbed not because she is black -- I strongly doubt anyone serious really believes that, least of all her -- but because LBJ people, with their ties to the industry via Jack Valenti, wanted her punished for not lionizing Johnson as much as they think he deserved. In this case, not lionizing him enough was tantamount to treating him as a villain, since the movie clearly does not treat him as a villain but as a politician/President who was basically sympathetic with what King was doing but also was juggling many parts of an ambitious agenda. It appears that the historical record is clear that, while Johnson agreed with King's goal and its importance, he was exasperated and angry sometimes that King would not -- as he was perfectly right not to -- put the voting rights act further down on the agenda. As he says to King in the movie, more or less, it is your job to push this matter as hard as you can, but my job means I have to do 100 things.

    There is historiography that supports the interpretation of events in the movie, including the dynamic between King and Johnson. There is also historiography that disputes it. The criticisms come from wanting to believe the latter part, but in my opinion anyway, the interpretation presented by Duvernay is far more believable than one that would have King and LBJ plotting the whole process together and marching arm-in-arm from beginning to end.

    At any rate, since Selma received the most critical acclaim of any movie of the year and covered a monumental subject very difficult to do properly, it is almost beyond good-faith contention that Duvernay was not, in fact, "snubbed." Eastwood might have been snubbed, too, but while his movie received considerable acclaim, it was not praised as much as Selma.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. "the movie received the most critical acclaim of any movie of the year"

      What established movie critic is going to risk publishing a negative review of a film about Martin Luther King?

      Delete
    2. " the interpretation presented by Duvernay is far more believable than one that would have King and LBJ plotting the whole process together and marching arm-in-arm from beginning to end."

      Score one for you for pretending that's the substance of the "historiographical" dispute, troll wantwit.

      Delete
    3. You're onto something there, Urban, though I must note that Valenti retired in 2004 from the MPAA and died in 2007. So I doubt he had much to do with this.

      I happen to think that Chris Hayes had it right from the get-go. This has a lot more to do with typical Hollywood politics at Oscar time that happens every year.

      This time, they got a former LBJ aide and a willing newspaper to write, "Selma was all LBJ's idea," and the ball rolled from there.

      Delete
    4. 3:36 Don't be such a jerk. Read Califano's article before you spout off.

      Anyone you disagree with is a troll? Apparently you don't have the guts to distinguish yourself from all the other anonymouses here when you advance a premise like that.

      Delete
    5. majneb -- Of what possible relevance to the Academy would be the reasons behind critical success? Under normal circumstances, they wouldn't care whether the critics deep down hated the movie and were forced under an editors' conspiracy to say great things about it. The numbers are the numbers, and that is all they would care about.

      Delete
    6. 1. Califano was a colleague of LBJ. He is not a historian, as should be obvious from his language and emotional involvement. Actual historians have made detailed, supported criticisms of the film. 2. DuVernay went around giving interviews about her intentions for the film, including her intent to make LBJ less of a hero (there can be only one). 3. None of the other awards bodies has been recognizing Selma or its cast but this dispute is only about how old and white the Academy is. They have rightly been honoring Birdman which will probably do very well at the Oscars because it is an innovative film that does not rest on the emotions evoked by a historic struggle, as Selma does. There are some wonderful movies this year. That is DuVernay's bad luck but it isn't racist to prefer a better film. Chris Hayes was wrong. DuVernay shot herself in the foot by emulating Spike Lee's media relations instead of his filmmaking.

      Delete
    7. Ah, Califano is "not a historian." Well, neither is DuVernay. She's a filmmaker.

      Let's not forgive one for their exaggerations of history in order to tell a story while condemning the other, based of course on the version of the story we like the most.

      By the way, I hope you are grown-up to know that you shouldn't cofuse artistic representations of history for dramatic effect with history itself.

      If not, here's a shock for you. Remember that iconic painting of Washington crossing the Delaware? It didn't really happen that way.


      Delete
    8. You really should read Somerby's post before commenting. He describes her involvement in rewriting the script. The ptoblem is that when you rewrite history with a goal, you are creating propaganda. As she herself describes, the changes were political, not for art's sake.

      Delete
    9. Urban Legend --

      Its much easier to express one's true opinions when one doesn't have to sign one's name to them, especially when they may upset politically correct norms. Individual Academy members' privately expressed lack of positive votes for a film they may secretly believe doesn't measure up to its hype won't redound to them personally like a published critic's views would.

      Delete
    10. Ah, so we're now down to "film critics were too timid to give their honest opinion, and really didn't like this film" theory.

      Delete
    11. My God! A movie as "propaganda." Must be the first time this has ever happened for all the hub-bub around here.

      Delete
    12. The discussion was about why such films don't win Oscars.

      Delete
    13. A competent film is not going to be disliked. It just isn't an Oscar-winning film. This is like when Barbra Streisand thought Yentl should have won her a best director award. No one disliked that film either.

      Delete
    14. I'm heartened that some in this thread have such faith in the fearlessness and integrity of film critics, and in their imperviousness to tthe spectre of political correctness. I, regretfully, am not so sanguine.

      Delete
    15. Oh, not at all! I'm just not one who pretends I can read the minds of an entire group of people, such as film critics, and know their true motives.

      I stand amazed that you are so blessed with such a gift.

      Delete
    16. It's so much easier to read the minds and know the motives of Academy Awards voters?

      Delete
  5. At this point it feels uncomfortably close to boasting, but nevertheless --

    Majneb continues to get major results!! Once again, Bob discusses an article (in this case, "Proffessor" Railton's cringeworthy piece at WhoeverKidnappedJoshMarshall PM) that I originally pointed him to in the comments. Lacking evidence, I can only assume a direct cause-and-effect relationship ....

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Oh, I have no doubt that Somerby these days pays rapt attention to people like you.

      It shows in his work.

      Delete
    2. It is common for people to mistake coincidence for causality. Lacking evidence the safest assumption is coincidence.

      Delete
    3. My head says: "It is common for people to mistake coincidence for causality," -

      But my HEART says: "I have no doubt that Somerby these days pays rapt attention to people like you."

      Delete
  6. "In conclusion, three final points!"

    We can only pray!

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Anita Diamant in her new book The Boston Girl describes orphan children who were shipped to the midwest on "orphan trains" to work as servants for the family who chose them, doing hard manual labor. Many were not treated as family members, adoptees, or even as children. Siblings were separated. This form of white slavery was part of the motivation for federal child labor legislation in the 1920s, decades after black slavery was abolished.

      Delete
    2. 200,000 kids, many immigrant and not all orphans

      Delete
  7. Robert Caro's excellent biography of LBJ, The Passage of Power, goes into great length in explaining the passage of the Voting Rights Act, as well as Johnson's close involvement in pushing civil rights legislation through Congress.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Is this where we all get to go on Google and Wikipedia to find books we can pretend we've read?

      Delete
    2. Just cause you don't read doesn't mean no one else does.

      Delete
    3. And in other pseudo-intellectual activities, I wonder what Noam Chomsky had to say.

      Delete
    4. I'd call Chomsky a genuine intellectual. Nothing pseudo about him. When did ant-intellectualism become chic on the left?

      Delete
    5. Oh, Chomsky is indeed a genuine intellectual.

      I just find that the people who cite him most often learned everything they know about him and his work off Wikipedia.

      Just like people who run to forums such as this with the title and author of books.

      By the way, did you know that the Passage of Power is the fourth volume of Caro's comprehensive biography of LBJ?

      Did you know it covers the years 1958-64?

      Delete
    6. Then it covers the civil rights act and the leadup to the voting rights act. Are you suggesting no one should be interested in LBJ unless the book concerns Selma? Out of curiosity, have you read it yourself?

      Delete
    7. "Robert Caro's excellent biography of LBJ, The Passage of Power, goes into great length in explaining the passage of the Voting Rights Act . . ."

      Delete
    8. So, you don't actually know what the book has in it.

      Delete
    9. I don't claim to. Horace Feathers does.

      Delete
    10. Anti-intellectualism isn't chic on the left but anyone of any persuasion should recognize just how ridiculously unrealistic and bizarre intellectuals often become. They're frequently no more in touch with reality than small children.

      Delete
    11. And people who are not intellectual can be unrealistic and bizarre too but when they do it, it is called stupidity.

      Delete
    12. I worked at a bookstore when Caro's books came out and was surprised how many people were buying, and I assume, reading them. Just because Conservative flame throwers in chat rooms never read anything you shouldn't assume no one does.

      Delete
    13. 7:43, intellectualism often has little to do with intelligence and much to do with personality. There are many stupid intellectuals and genius non-intellectuals or anti-intellectuals. Did you know that?

      Delete
  8. A stray, perhaps unrepresentative two cents:

    Despite my fairly long ago hand washing of contemporary movies,
    it wasn't so long ago I would be interested in seeing the talked about
    controversial film to see what all the fuss was about. In the cases of
    both "Selma" and "American Sniper" I'm so appalled by the pandering
    dishonesty of both ends of our political spectrum you couldn't pay
    me to see either of these films. So, brand me above it all, so there.

    I think Bob has done a good job on "Selma,"

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Historical accuracy isn't as important in Sniper because it's about "a sniper" and could include a great deal of fiction without affecting its purpose. A story mainly about history and important historical figures can't.

      Delete
    2. The History of the war in Iraq is as important as the history of the civil rights movement.

      Delete
  9. As a reader since 2002/03 it is nice to see that bigots and racists have a (so called) liberal site where they can display their racism & bigotry.
    All blacks are criminals and all cops are saints.
    Nice going Bob.
    J-O-B.
    Well done.

    LG

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Troll this.

      LG

      Delete
    2. Was that an admission, LG?

      Delete
    3. Admission of what?
      You may not be dumb but you sure are stupid.

      LG

      Delete
    4. Bob's long on the reverse racism meme, and shrugs off examples of real racism. Over the years, yes, it has taken it's toll.

      Delete
    5. Greg, you fucking idiot.

      Delete
    6. Liberals invoking the racist label as a catch all for anyone who doesn't share their ideology has taken a toll as well. It has diluted the word to the point of comic relief.

      Delete
    7. By which, I mean:

      Where, exactly, has Somerby expounded a theory of reverse racism?

      You and LG appear determined to prove Somerby's actual thesis: you imagine that simply calling people racists serves you better than argument will.

      Judging what we've seen from you in terms of actual argument, sadly, you are likely correct.

      Delete
  10. Obviously stolen from Mick & the Boys.
    Just call me Lucifer. I'm in need of some restraint.

    LG

    ReplyDelete
  11. Good God! 6 + Posts on one movie? In less than 1 month? From a guy who waited 4 years to review his first film and then picked and praised "Blue Crush"? Then waited almost another year to review his second, "Bend It Like Beckham" because it reminded him of "Blue Crush."

    Are you people fricking nuts too?

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Bob devoted one Selma post to numbers.

      Here is a number he missed.

      How many blacks and women have been nominated for best director?

      He has done more posts on "Selma" in January *than blacks and women have been nominated for Oscars for Best Director in the history of the Academy Awards.

      Maybe he didn't miss it. Perhaps is was disppeared.

      Delete
    2. You can do that research yourself -- you don't need Somerby for it. It will be a higher number than you think, given that you obviously think there haven't been many.

      Delete
    3. So few black directors making "major" Hollywood movies. That may be an issue unto itself, but I can't think of many worthy black directed films other than perhaps Spike Lee's Do the Right Thing. I'm not much for mainstream Hollywood films so turn me on to a few worthy suggestions. I mean that respectfully.

      I don't have any serious or solumn reverence for the Academy Awards. It's little more than a huge marketing ploy.

      Delete
    4. You, like far too many of the commenters in this thread are as dumb and lazy as Somerby says you are.

      Bob has done eight posts on the film Selma. Nine if you throw in his panygeric to the words of King and LBJ. The words of LBJ that Bob posted, by the way, were in the film Selma. Bob disappeared that as well.

      There have been four women and three blacks nominated for best director. There have been no black women.

      I do agree with one thing you wrote. I don't need Somerby doing any research for me.

      Delete
    5. So, do the rest of the math. Divide by the total number of nominees in that same time period and see whether it is 12%. You might also calculate whether the %of black directors nominated is the same as the % of white directors that get nominated (hint: divide the number nominated by the total number of directors of each race).

      How can anyone care about race and forget John Singleton? Just for fun use the same time period as Somerby did. It is easy to like Selma and feel outrage about DuVernay. Harder to follow about Forrest Whitaker's career, apparently. And then there are all the black filmmakers who don't aim for the Oscars, like the Wayans, Mario Van Peebles and Tyler Perry and many others who demonstrate that things have changed to the point that DuVernay had her shot. Too bad she missed.

      Delete
    6. "White Chicks " was overwhelmingly snubbed.

      Delete
  12. When one is trying to claim systemic knee-jerk racism based on the age and ethnicity of an entity, in this case Academy Awards voters, then those same voters past pattern of nominees is indeed relevant to proving otherwise.

    Cheap allusions to "some of my best friends are ...." in this case are every bit as dumb as some idiot guffawing sarastically about the science of climate change because it happens to be warm day.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Excuse me, a cold day.

      Delete
    2. Except he posted stats not casual allusions.

      Delete
    3. Who is claiming systemic knee-jerk racism?

      The one who is most often claiming it is Bob. He just seems to attribute the claim to others based at best on some who have written the demographics of the Academy may have played a part. Then he attributes the more grandiose claim to "liberals" as a whole. Then he elevates that to an indictment of an entire group who have a shared left of center ideology, saying it forms their only view.

      Sorry, but the intellectual bankruptcy and bigotry Bob sees in the media and liberal culture could be more easily seen in his own mirror every morning.

      Delete
    4. I think this claim was thoroughly explored a few days ago. Now you are just trolling. No one here thinks Somerby is a bigger racist than you, for example.

      Delete
    5. A few days ago? Somerby's MO has been explored for years, and 11:40 describes it perfectly.

      Delete
    6. Your Howler ReadersJanuary 30, 2015 at 8:41 AM

      It's claimed Selma's received a race-based snubbing. Little evidence of that is presented (to be generous; actually virtually no evidence). Evidence that points the other way is ignored.

      The problem, of course, must be with Somerby for saying so.

      Delete
    7. Again, if your perception that the entire discussion of "Selma" has been about "race-based snubbing," then it's easy to wring your hands with Somerby and play "Ain't It Awful" with him.

      But then again, if your perception doesn't go beyond that, you're pretty damned lazy and not very thoughtful. Funny how many people are like that who already know everything and have their minds already made up.


      Delete
    8. Riight.

      If we agree with Somerby's point, we must think that's the *entire* discussion around Selma.

      Makes perfect sense if you're a troll, I suppose.

      Delete
    9. Yes, yes, to observe that from some quarters it was claimed Selma received a race-based snubbing is the same as to insist that constitutes the entirety of commentary around the film's reception.

      That's troll-think 101.

      Troll-think 102 is to move on from there (since refutation of the claim is impossible) and claim that to point it out is to be unthoughtful and full of preconceived, lazy assumed knowledge.

      Hilarious, as it's you trolls who consistently fall back upon your supposed knowledge of where others' perceptions begin and end.

      If I say "there was a reaction against criticism of the film, which was premised on the film's having been dismissed on the basis of its racial subject matter and its production by people of color." And I show that reaction. And I say "that reaction is based on little evidence." And I show how little evidence for that there is. And I show evidence to the contrary.

      You don't then win the argument by saying "well, that's not the entirety of the discussion of the film; you're being lazy."

      Except perhaps in your own head. Enjoy that.

      Delete
  13. Pierce likely had it right that there might well have been some effort in all of this to shift focus away from the Kennedy brothers wiretaping of King on to Johnson in order if not to change the historical record, to change public perception.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. King was wiretapped during the administration of JFK. King was witretapped during the administration of LBJ. Both were white. Both were Democrats.

      Arguing about which one started it may make aging white liberal LBJ cabinet members and aging white liberal bloggers
      feel superior to the filmmaker.

      It doesn't diminish the quality of the film or the point her film set out to make. While King, his colleagues, and his followers moved a mountain, two Presidents nominally on their side were doing some things fundamentally wrong and others painfully slow.

      Delete
    2. Robert Kennedy personally signed off on the wiretap yet he and his brother goes unmentioned. Instead we're given Johnson plotting with Hoover. Perhaps billionaire Oprah is too enamored of the glitz and glamour of the Kennedy mystic to notice or to care.

      Delete
    3. Some of us don't believe all white presidents were alike.

      Delete
    4. That's because JFK and RFK are considered liberal saints for some reason. Despite the fact that they were hawks and that JFK began the reign of neoliberalism by dropping the top marginal rate.

      Delete
    5. They were Irish Catholics at a time when the Irish dominated the party, especially in large NE cities.

      Delete
    6. The Irish would go on to dominate the entire post debate pundit panel of one whole TV networks post Presidential debate discussion.

      Thousands of dead Iraqis remember.

      Delete
  14. Changing public perception is tantamount to changing public record because few people read public recod and will know when it deviates from public perception. It is dishonest to deliberately manipulate public perception to conceal public record. That, and not this film, is why this topic is important. People deserve the truth.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. But of course, we're not like that poor, dumb "public" who ware so easily deceived.

      Delete
    2. Yeah, you only care about "facts" because you're such an elitist 11:44!!

      Delete
    3. From my reading, it seems as though our friend at 11:44 is at least as concerned with "public perception" and how easily the "public" is deceived than he/she is about "facts."

      After all, he already knows all the "facts."

      Delete
  15. Not to veer off topic but for those who haven't seen it I can't recommend strongly enough, either as a companion or alternative to "Selma", the '87 PBS documentry "Eyes on the Prize- 1954-1965" (1-6). Simply put the finest television ever produced. After a long hiatus due to music copyright issues finally available on DVD and streaming (Amazon). Prior, the original limited production VHS fetched hundreds of dollars used.

    Episode 6 covers events leading up to the Selma march. They're all oustanding but another great one is episode 5, "Mississippi- Is this America?" Who could forget Mrs. Fannie Lou Hamer. The moral brilliance Somerby descibes is seen throughout this series. BTW, there's legitimate grounds for criticism of LBJ for his political calculations here.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. You are speaking of Eyes on the Prize Part I, of course. And that's been out on commercial DVD for five years.

      And the issue wasn't music copyrights, but the copyrights to archival footage.

      Delete
    2. Fair enough, I know ot has been available for several years, it was thought for many years it would never be released. It was personally at the top of my "Holy Grail" films for over a decade. I had given up on it.

      No doubt really special.

      Delete
  16. This is a current twist, btw, on an old form of post nomination handicap, often if a film is nominated without the director being nominated the critics will carp on this weighty subject. It's now been given a quasi racial twist by the hate white males crowd.

    Most people simply do not care.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Well, if you read only Somerby, you'd think this whole debate is over the "snub" and its "quasi racial twist."

      The most thoughtful discussions -- and there are many -- seek to explore the voluminous historical record to put the roles of both LBJ and King in proper perspective in getting the Voting Rights Act, and whether the film really casts LBJ as a villain.

      And this is all after Califano's astoundingly preposterous "It was all LBJ's idea" claim.

      The whole "snub" thing with its racial -- and sexist -- implications is mentioned in passing, if at all.

      In my opinion, this is a very healthy discussion to have, as opposed to yet another rehash of "There go those pseudo-liberals, throwing around the R-word again!"

      Delete
    2. The snub is all over the entertainment press and the internet. It isn't something made up by Somerby to avoid talking about LBJ.

      Delete
    3. Sure it is. That's because it's the low-hanging fruit, which Somerby always picks.

      But also "all over the entertainment press and the internet" are some very serious, thoughtful discussions about Selma, both the event and the film -- and the people involved in both.

      Funny how Somerby can't seem to find them, because that's a far better discussion than who got "snubbed."

      Delete
    4. Civil rights good, racism bad, ho hum.

      Delete
    5. One of the better pieces I read about this challenged the persistent "great man" view of history that seems to boil all of history down to the works of one great leader.

      This author proposed the notion that at Selma, both LBJ and King were caught between forces they couldn't entirely control.

      I found that quite interesting.

      Delete
    6. "this is a very healthy discussion to have, as opposed to yet another rehash of "There go those pseudo-liberals, throwing around the R-word again!""

      Yeah, because that didn't really happen, and the only preposterous thing to happen was Califano's absurd statement.

      Riiight.

      Delete
  17. There seems to be a larger grudge against LBJ for not seating the black convention delegates in place of the Southern Democrats. Stanley Nelson, director of the new film about the Black Panthers, refers to it as a betrayal. DuVernay's deliberate changes to the portrayal of LBJ may reflect a fundamental difference in the way LBJ is regarded by black versus white people. No one seems wrong want to talk about whether it is right to vilify an agent of change for doing "too little" when no one else was doing as much.

    ReplyDelete
  18. The problems of R-bombs and phony allegations of racism are more socially significant and negatively consequential than is racism itself now. Including for the groups liberals pretend to care about but really only utilize to boost their own self-esteem as "good persons."

    And even charges of racism that do involve racism not trumped up by grievance mongers are reflexively dismissed or viewed with extreme skepticism by people who were once inclined to view them as more likely true than not.

    ReplyDelete