Do you regard Vox's presentation as dumb?

SATURDAY, JANUARY 18, 2020

Also, (all but one of) The Reasons Why Hillary Lost:
At some point, should a major political movement decide to reject the transparent dumbness of its thought leaders?

Should political players decide that it isn't OK to be transparently dumb in pursuit of legitimate values? Over the past month, we've been asking ourselves these questions.

Golden Globe nominations were announced on December 9. It's been A Furious Time in the Neighborhood ever since.

Liberal and feminist pundits have declared that Greta Gerwig and her film, Little Women, have been widely "snubbed" on the basis of gender. In our view, gender fairness is very important, but so is avoidance of transparent dumbness.

With that in mind, how about it? Do you regard this recent presentation in Vox as dumb?
GRADY (1/13/20): On Monday morning, Greta Gerwig’s Little Women was nominated for the 2020 Oscar for Best Picture. It also racked up five other nominations, including Best Adapted Screenplay. But Gerwig herself was notably shut out of the Best Director race.

Those two categories have traditionally tended to closely replicate each other
, on the grounds that the directors who did the best jobs probably made the best movies. But on a fairly regular basis, the Oscars have opted not to nominate directors from disenfranchised groups, Best Picture nomination or not: When Selma was a Best Picture nominee in 2015, director Ava DuVernay, a woman of color, was not nominated. Only five women directors and 22 directors of color have ever been nominated.
The presentation goes on from there, leading to a claim about the "consistent snubs" suffered by Gerwig as endless industry groups have handed out their endless nominations and awards.

It's certainly true that women have rarely been nominated for Best Director Oscars. When Gerwig was so nominated two years ago, she was just the fifth woman to receive such a nomination.

That said, was she somehow "snubbed" this year? This brings us back to our original question:

Do you regard that presentation by Vox as dumb?

The presentation turns on a vastly misleading statement. Truth to tell, the statement in question is really just wrong. The statement in question is this:
Two Oscar categories—Best Picture and Best Director— "have traditionally tended to closely replicate each other, on the grounds that the directors who did the best jobs probably made the best movies."
On the basis of that statement, we're asked to believe that Gerwig was discriminated against this year. Righteous anger spread through the land, but that statement by Vox was just dumb.

In fact, that angry statement was tremendously dumb. This is why we say that:

As of 2009, the statement in question was accurate. Right through 2009, the Oscars dispensed five nominations for Best Picture each year, along with five nomination for Best Director.

Almost always, the people who directed the Best Picture nominees were nominated for Best Director. For a reason everyone understands, that changed after 2009.

Starting in 2010, the Oscars began nominating up to ten films for Best Picture each year—but there are still only five nominations for Best Director. Stating the obvious, this means that many directors of Best Picture nominees don't get Best Director noms.

How hard can it possibly be to understand this point? Starting in 2010, the numbers break down like this:

Over the past eleven years (2010 through 2020), 98 different films have been nominated for Best Picture. But there have been only 55 Best Director nominations.

Two Best Director nominations have gone to people whose films weren't nominated for Best Picture. This means that of the 98 people who directed a Best Picture nominee, only 53 received Best Director noms.

Eleven years later, are we still unable to understand the way this system works? Over the past eleven years, 46 percent of the people who directed a Best Picture nominee didn't receive a Best Director nomination!

Gerwig was one of those people this year, along with two white men and one man who is ethnically Maori. As everyone knows, this is the way the system now works.

(When DuVernay failed to get a Best Director nomination, so did three white men who had directed Best Picture nominees. One of the three was Clint Eastwood.)

"Those two categories have traditionally tended to closely replicate each other?" As everyone on the planet knows, that stopped being true after 2009.

But so what? There it was in Vox at the start of the week, with some unnamed editor waving the claim into print. In this way, we liberals were goosed into seeing our tribe as victims again.

Should Gerwig have been nominated for Best Director this year? We have no idea. Nor do we know of any reason to think that the principals at Vox bring any expertise or experience to this subjective question.

Gerwig was so nominated just two years ago, for another female-centric film. This makes the claim that she's now being discriminated against on the basis of gender this year seem especially stupid.

That said, we live in a time when The Culture of Irate Tribal Complaint has surged to impressive new heights. Discrimination on the basis of gender is, of course, a bad thing. But so is the spectacular dumbness which is increasingly put on display across the liberal world, winning votes for Trump.

Should liberals and progressives complain when tribal journalistic leaders behave this way, perhaps a bit like the shills at Fox?

In our view, the answer is yes—and there's a lot more to complain about. Consider Gene Lyons' new column, the one which touches upon The Reasons Why Hillary Clinton Lost.

When we discuss the reasons why Clinton lost, we're also discussing The Reasons Why Donald Trump Won. Lyons calls attention to the decades-long role the New York Times played in this debacle.

The Times' role in this debacle dates all the way back to 1992, when its bungled front-page reporting created the Whitewater pseudo-scandal. Quite literally, Lyons wrote the book on that puzzling journalistic affair, the heavily-disappeared Fools For Scandal.

In the course of his new column, Lyons discusses the role the Times played in pushing the transparently ludicrous Uranium One pseudo-scandal.

Uranium One was an especially stupid part of the Trump-Clinton campaign. It involved a set of ludicrous charges—charges for which Hillary Clinton has recently been "exonerated."

The Times pimped Uranium One through a gigantic front-page report in April 2015. In his new column, Lyons says this about that:
LYONS (1/15/20): Like Whitewater, [Uranium One] originated in a piece of absurdist journalism published by the mighty New York Times back on April 24, 2016 [sic]. Read today ... Well, the thing is almost impossible to read, which ought to have been a tipoff.

When you can’t make heads or tails of a newspaper article, it’s usually because the authors have no idea what they’re talking about
and hope you won’t notice. Here Secretary of State Hillary Clinton was murkily accused of taking a bribe from a Canadian philanthropist who’d long ago sold his interest in a Utah uranium mine of no great value. (U.S. ore production is a tiny fraction of the world market.) A Russian company bought it.

The Times produced no evidence that Hillary played any role in the transaction whatsoever—signed off on by nine separate U.S. government agencies unrelated to the State Department. But the newspaper had made a devil’s bargain with one Peter Schweizer, a Breitbart-affiliated Steve Bannon acolyte with a history of smearing Democrats.

It was one of those deals where all the “mistakes” ran in the selfsame direction. Correct the errors, fill in the blanks, and the presumptive scandal vanishes. Exactly as this latest, and presumably last, Clinton scandal has done.
So it went at the New York Times starting in 1992, with a detour of several years spent attacking Candidate Gore in transparently ludicrous ways.

Last week, Rachel Maddow gently chided the Times for its treatment of Uranium One. She forgot to mention what viewers of her own program were told about the crazy report when it appeared in the Times.

(Maddow herself completely avoided the topic. As we've noted down through the years, this is her standard play whenever Elite Upper-End Power is involved in assaults against major Dems. She mugs and clowns and entertains but also looks out for herself.)

The Times ran a jihad against Hillary Clinton (and Candidate Gore) which extended for roughly twenty-five years. This is one of the obvious reasons why Clinton lost (and Donald Trump won), unless you read lists of reasons recently compiled by Ed Kilgore and Gail Collins.

We'll assume that Vox was just being dumb concerning those Oscar nominations. At other times, leading journalists may simply refuse to tell us rubes the (whole) truth.

We'll get back to Maddow and Uranium One as we proceed with our award-winning "Rational Animal Tales." For today, let's conclude our rumination concerning Vox:

That recent presentation was transparently dumb. Will the time ever come when we liberals decide to reject this type of tribal behavior?

The anger is fine; the dumbness is not. Will we self-impressed "rational animals" ever decide to accept this?

55 comments:

  1. "At some point, should a major political movement decide to reject the transparent dumbness of its thought leaders?"

    Hmm, but where's the movement, dear Bob?

    Your scummy DLC scoundrels destroyed it decades ago.

    Nowadays it's just a tool of the international finance, paid for by Soros and such, and carried out by zombie media and a bunch dembot hacks.

    What you perceive as 'dumbness', dear Bob, is the essence of your zombie cult, I'm afraid.

    ReplyDelete
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  2. Liberals live in a world where the biggest victim wins. So, it makes sense to claim victim status for a female director, even if the argument makes no sense.

    This doesn't work in the real world, particularly internationally. Can you imagine President Hillary Clinton saying to Suleimani, "Women are oppressed, so would you please stop killing Americans?"

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Can you be a bigger asshole?

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    2. @ 8:40 - that comment is an insult to assholes.

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    3. And you were nominated to represent your fellow assholes with this complaint?

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    4. Does that make Leroi a victim too?

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    5. David's call to ignore rural Conservative voters (self-styled victims), is his most logical yet..

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    6. "Can you imagine President Hillary Clinton saying to Suleimani, "Women are oppressed, so would you please stop killing Americans?"

      I can imagine Clinton as President seeking to negotiate with Iranian and Iraqi military leaders instead of illegally bombing them. It is one of the major reasons I voted for her. She believes in diplomacy.

      Delete
    7. @11:30 President Obama negotiated with Iran by giving them an amount of money that may have been as much a $150 billion! What would President Hillary Clinton have done? Give them even more money?

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    8. Whose money was that, Dave?

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    9. Time to remind commenters that David in Cal is a moral and intellectual idiot, capable of only regurgitating here the right-wing propaganda that he swallows whole. Back in the day, the Shah paid for military aircraft, which we refused to deliver to the regime that deposed the Shah. Iran sued to get its money back, we lost in the World Court, and Obama obeyed international law. For people who don't believe in the rule of law (and the idiots who love them), this was a bad thing.

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    10. Even a stopped (broken) clock is right twice a day. David nailed it wth his call to ignore rural Conservatives, and their crybaby victimology.
      Although David didn't use the same language I would ("Fuck those clowns!")

      Delete
    11. Obama is black man. If he stole Iran's money, like a common Conservative, he'd go to prison,. If the cops didn't shoot him to death first.

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    12. @12:42 - the money was disputed. It was originally Iran's, but the US had a claim on it. There was no legal necessity to pay that money now. That's why no other past President paid the money.

      But, please go back to my question. How could President Hillary Clinton have negotiated with Iran? What could she have offered them?

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    13. @8:58A, I don't mind "conservatives" being whiny about their victimology. I do find the hypocrisy of these "moral values" voters disgusting, and I'm annoyed by their sucking up tax money as they whine. You'll notice that you can't tell the metaphorical time by David in Cal. He's an idiot, so all he can do is parrot. We never had a valid claim on Iran's money. We had it; we kept it; we lost in court. No other President paid the money because of the fuss liars on the right would have predictably made and the idiots like David in Cal who believe them without question.

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    14. deadrat -- back to my question. How could President Hillary Clinton have negotiated with Iran? What could she have offered them?

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  3. You don't use statistics to say that one person should have been nominated and another not, as Somerby tries to do today. You use statistics to determine whether there is bias or whether awards are going equally to men and women over time. Clearly there is bias (5 women directors given the award out of 95 years). The metacritic averages for male and female directors are equal, so there should be an equal number of awards going to men and womern in the absence of bias. It is up to the Academy to figure out how to fix this, and where the bias is coming from, what causes it. But Somerby cannot refute the presence of bias by arguing that Gerwig doesn't deserve an award since there are 10 best pictures and only 5 director nomination slots.

    Gerwig is not being offered as proof of sexism. She is being offered as this year's likely candidate who has been yet again passed over. There are other women this year too who might have been nominated (not on the basis of best film lists or critic comments, but because their films were of high quality).

    This situation has gone on too long. It is time for the Academy and other awards bodies to do something about it.

    Somerby gives his pro forma nod to sexism, then argues for the status quo. Liberals tend to support change. But we know Somerby is no liberal, not even when it comes to fair treatment of women in the film industry, including behind the camera.

    ReplyDelete
  4. " The metacritic averages for male and female directors are equal, so there should be an equal number of awards going to men and women in the absence of bias." Talk about dumb. That would only work if equal numbers of major films were directed by men and women - which isn't the case. The bias is in a different place.

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    Replies
    1. Right. If men and women make equal quality movies, they should be chosen as directors of films equally often, but they are not. As I said. It is up to the Academy to figure out where the bias is and how to fix it. But there is clearly bias at work.

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  5. Not sure the Vox story was “vastly” misleading. Just “misleading” would have sufficed without the added drama of “vastly.” Also not sure if the complaints about Gerwig getting snubbed qualify as a true “Howler” of the day.

    Gerwig herself is not joining in the freaking out over her “snub.” She does, however, have some intelligent things to say about opportunities for women in the, dare it be spoken, male-dominated film world.

    https://www.cnbc.com/2020/01/15/greta-gerwig-movies-about-women-are-not-a-bad-investment.html

    If the complaints from fans and culture writers mean anything, it is not a complaint about victimhood, but an admonition to the movie business to change its ways and an encouragement to women to become directors. It’s about creating more opportunities for women in a field where they are relatively scarce. The discussion can’t always be reduced to mere statistics, but his focus on raw numbers is Somerby’s way of waving the essence of the issue away, all while giving lip service to the idea that “gender fairness is very important” without recognizing how the idea of gender fairness is inherent in the reaction to Gerwig’s “snub.”

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    1. Women are not scarce among directors for lack of trying. Women start out wanting to be directors, but they need to work, so they wind up trying acting or do casting or are hired as production assistants. Like Gerwig, they get a break in Indie films. It is incorrect to call Lady Bird Gerwig's first film. She paid a lot of dues before that, including acting in numerous films, then co-writing and co-directing several films. It is easier to think of someone as unqualified or undeserving if you disappear their previous body of work.

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  6. In the discussion about selection of African American students for Stuyvesant high school, Somerby argues that it would be unfair for additional black students to be admitted because they would displace Asian students.

    Today, Somerby argues that it would be unfair for Greta Gerwig to be nominated for Best Director because it would displace one of the male nominees.

    The assumption in both situations seems to be that the Asian students are more deserving of a place in Stuyvesant High School, and that those male directors who were nominated are more deserving than Greta Gerwig. Somerby assumes that if she were more deserving, and if those African American students were more deserving, they would have been selected in the first place. But that is the point. They are not more or less deserving because of the selection process -- that depends on their ability, which is separate from the selection process. Those complaining are saying that the selection process is unfair. Somerby keeps arguing that the selection process is valid and therefore going around that process would be unfair. So this hinges on whether there is bias involved that prevents otherwise qualified students/female directors from getting a fair chance to be selected.

    But Somerby never wants to examine that. He just keeps defending the status quo by assuming a priori that the selection process is fair when it clearly isn't. How do we know it isn't? We have the quality of the work performed by those passed over to remind us of the failures of the system to recognize talent beyond the favored few. That's what's wrong with Somerby's endless attempts to justify an obvious wrong.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
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      Delete
    2. The assumption in both situations seems to be that the Asian students are more deserving of a place in Stuyvesant High School....

      Hopeless.

      The assumption is that students who get higher scores on the entrance exam are more deserving of a place in Stuyvesant.

      Delete
    3. But that is demonstrably wrong because of the known problems with testing and minorities, further it is circular logic.

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    4. What's demonstrably wrong? Every comment you make?

      Please tell me the "problems" with SHSAT. I mean beside the fact that it doesn't give you the result you like. And look up the definition of circular logic, while you're at it.

      Back in the day, Jews aced the test and people grumbled about how many seats they took away from gentiles. What changed? (Hint: it wasn't the test.)

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    5. deadrat, there is a literature on testing. Psychometrics is an actual field of knowledge You can look things up in it.

      One of the problems with testing of minorities who have negative stereotypes about their intelligence is called "stereotype threat" by Claude Steele. He found that evoking a stereotype tends to cause minorities to do worse on tests than non-minorities (or than they might do without test anxiety). The magnitude of this effect is sufficient to account for most of the difference in scores. This is one reason why members of stigmatized groups do poorly on tests even when their performance otherwise is very high (e.g., grades). It is why it is suggested that schools not use tests as their sole criterion for inclusion in special programs, and in this case, a special school.

      The circular logic involves assuming that the best students are those selected by a test simply because that test is designed to select the best students.

      Jews wouldn't be subject to stereotype threat because the stereotypes about them are positive (with respect to testing) because the stereotype is that they are smarter, thus they are expected to do well. This is not true for African Americans, whose stereotypes work against them.

      The "demonstrable" part of this is that there are empirical results in studies supporting Claude Steele's theory. This effect has been widely replicated.

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    6. 'Somerby's endless attempts to justify an obvious wrong.'

      That was obvious when he defended Roy Moore. Not to mention DJT, Ron Johnson, Devin Nunes and Jim Jordan.

      One should not assume that TDH is remotely making a serious point. His sole goal is to attack liberals like the hardcore Trumpturd that he is.

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  7. Ed Kilgore says: "Sexism has to compete with a vast array of other plausible explanations for Clinton’s Electoral College loss, including: status quo fatigue, Democratic overconfidence, Clinton campaign resource-targeting mistakes, the Comey letter, Russian disinformation, voter suppression by Republican-controlled election officials, residual bitterness among Sanders supporters, media “false equivalence” in feeling the need to balance Trump’s moral sins with Clinton’s venial sins, nativist fears, fear of Democrats as the party of minorities, and on and on. Why is gender so often singled out as crucial without evidence? "

    Kilgore ignores that sexism is a motive, not a tactic. The reason why someone would go to the lengths described, to keep Clinton out of office, may have been sexism -- the unthinkability of letting a woman into the White House as President. When you take the list of actions commited against Clinton, it should be obvious that people were working very hard to keep her out of office. What motive is strong enough to cause that kind of concerted effort against a candidate?

    When Gore was defeated by Bush, there were a lot of Democrats who believed Bush's lies about being a moderate and who were not that concerned about who won the election. It was only after Bush's incompetence became clear and he revealed himself to be both an idiot and far more conservative than his campaign suggested. Then Democrats cared more strongly about defeating him, but the momentum of 9/11 and the Iraq War was too hard to overcome.

    After 2016, it should be clear that lots of men really didn't want Hillary to get into office. That's why Comey did what he did. That's why Putin did what he did. That's why Trump rallies create unity by shouting Lock Her Up, even this week when she is far beyond Trump's reach.

    I don't understand how sexism is limited only to overt acts, and isn't considered as the underlying motive for much the other wrongdoing against her.

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    Replies
    1. Sexism is hard to prove with statistics, so Somerby can’t find any evidence of it, even though of course he thinks it’s a bad thing.

      Delete
  8. “Also, (all but one of) The Reasons Why Hillary Lost: “

    Will Somerby ever mention the rift in the political left, between Bernie and Clinton? Many on the left refused to vote for Hillary because she was too centrist or neoliberal or conservative or what have you.

    It’s always been an odd omission from his analysis.

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  9. “In this way, we liberals were goosed into seeing our tribe as victims again.”

    Perhaps the various Somerby defenders can explain the difference between this statement of Somerby’s and David in Cal’s comment at 4:19.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Since David in Cal is an idiot who swallows right-wing propaganda, he thinks that all liberals think a certain way. Since TDH is an obsessive fuss-budget about what he sees as liberal media, he complains about an instance of baleful influence. David in Cal thinks all liberals are identically-programmed robots. TDH thinks media clowns "goose" liberals into drawing the wrong conclusions.

      Delete
    2. David in Cal and TDH are both subscribers to "Rightwing Grievance of the Day" newsletters.

      Delete
    3. The case can be made that Somerby also thinks that liberals do nothing but identity politics, playing the victim, etc. His criticisms aren’t limited to media figures, so he seems to indict politicians as well. Perhaps he thinks that rank-and-file “average” liberals are being duped or “goosed”, but then that seems to accuse average rank-and-file of all being a bunch of dummies. That seems to be a pretty broadly stereotyped view of liberals. Almost as if they were all “zombies”’without independent decision making ability.

      Of course, there may even be a segment of liberal voters who don’t see “identity politics” the same way Somerby does and thus see it as an important component of politics. An analysis of the term “identity politics” might reveal the unfortunate acceptance of wrongheaded right-wing views about this by certain liberals like Somerby.

      Delete
    4. Which comes first, the criticism of "identity politics" or the criticism of not doing more for the "white working class"?

      Delete
    5. The case can be made … he seems to indict … Perhaps he thinks … seems to accuse … seems to be stereotyped … Almost as if … there may even be … An analysis might reveal….

      You have to be careful lest you find yourself playing tennis without the net with a doubles partner like that waste of cyberspace who comments as Centrist. The stupid things “conservatives” say aren’t stupid because “conservatives” say them. They’re stupid because those things are demonstrably wrong.

      Identity politics might be fact-based or a strictly emotional ploy. Identity politics might be good strategy or bad. Identity politics might turn out to fit TDH’s definition or something much more nuanced. But whatever it is can be correctly discerned without considering what “conservatives” have to say about it.

      If TDH is wrong about identity politics, that’s unfortunate because it means TDH is mistaken, not because right-wingnuts claim not to like identity politics.

      Delete
    6. The stupid things TDH says (i.e. 99% of all things he says) are stupid because they are demonstrably wrong.

      But TDH is a Trumpturd, after all. Only the voices in TDH's skull accept the idea that he is a liberal.

      Delete
  10. Hello and greeting-

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    If eat it bobarcho cricket then you have it bad smell gas.

    In one time past lady friend Smupa eat it bobarcho cricket.

    She then have it bad smell gas for 3.5 day.

    Not good my friend.

    Thanks you.

    Pilau

    ReplyDelete
  11. Somerby is technically correct. It is a simple fact that at least 4 of the 9 best picture nominees will have a director who doesn’t show up as a best director nominee. It’s theoretically possible for all 9 to miss out, because there is no connection between the nominating processes for the two lists: only directors nominate directors, whereas the entire academy nominates best picture.

    So, Gerwig not being nominated as director doesn’t prove discrimination. Perhaps it isn’t even a snub. The Vox story gets this wrong.

    The question of whether it was discrimination which prevented Gerwig from being nominated by the directors branch is open, however. The directors branch is currently headed by a woman, Kathryn Bigelow. We don’t know who the members are, but we can see that “In Hollywood, women make up only 12.6 percent of film directors, as reported by a UCLA study of the 200 top theatrical films of 2017”, according to Wikipedia.

    That statistic may reflect a lack of trying by women, or a lack of ability. But a legacy of bias is pretty well-known in the movie business, and this is at least a factor leading to the small number of female directors currently working in Hollywood. How much of a factor is difficult to compute statistically.

    One gets the impression from writers like Somerby that, even though he acknowledges the importance of gender fairness, he would rather people wouldn’t discuss it because it upsets the right wing. But it isn’t clear how you change Hollywood without some public prodding and a willingness to discuss its legacy of bias.

    ReplyDelete
  12. The Vox story has the headline
    “In 2020, Little Women has a men problem. But it used to be seen as a story for everyone.”

    The sub-head is
    “The history of men ignoring Little Women.”

    While it is true that the story opens with the incorrect statement about a purported but essentially nonexistent connection between best picture and best director, it goes on to put a social and historical context around gender bias, through the current example of the Little Women movie, but also through a historical example of the book itself.

    It is this larger theme that Somerby doesn’t discuss, preferring to focus solely on the initial incorrect statement to brand the entire article as dumb.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. It’s not clear to me whether the article is saying that our culture has changed because in the past, boys read Little Women, because it’s a great book and was of interest to them, or if boys read it because was required reading at school and that it (and other books from a female perspective) should be required now too.

      Delete
  13. The charges of discrimination here are being leveled at Hollywood, a supposed liberal bastion, and not Republicans or Trump voters. Why should this rile them up then?

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. I don’t think these sorts of chattering class controversies rile people as much as they make them roll their eyes as the increasingly emotional pressing of what may be a valid point, amps into dumber and dumber rhetoric.

      Something to consider is that Somerby, a man, says he went to see Little Women three times.

      I’m fairly certain that as much as he might have enjoyed the movie and/or was intrigued by some intellectual consideration that it sparked, that Somerby sat thru it at least one more time because some female of some relevance to him asked him to do it.

      Never underestimate this eternal dynamic.

      Delete
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