Slate scribe promotes use of a four-letter word!

TUESDAY, JANUARY 14, 2020

Dan Kois get it right:
How good a film is Joker?

We certainly have our suspicions. Objectively, though, we have no idea.

We say that because we haven't seen Joker. At Slate, Dan Kois apparently has.

At present Kois may or may not be Slate's Books Editor—reports seem to differ—but he sometimes sees films. Yesterday, he performed an important service when he reviewed Joker under this pair of headlines:
Joker’s Oscar Nominations Are a Joke
Stop the madness. This movie is dumb as hell.
Kois used the word "dumb" again and again as he described the Oscar-nominated film. Here are some of the term's deployments in the text of his piece:
KOIS (1/13/20): Today—as Joker receives 11 Oscar nominations, the most of any movie, including Best Picture and Best Director—is the day that someone must stand astride the tracks and say: Enough. Stop the madness. Joker is not the best picture of the year. Joker is dumb as hell.

It’s OK that Todd Phillips wanted to make a Batman movie that looked like Taxi Driver! That’s a fun thing to do in the context of a comic book story. The result was exactly as entertaining and dumb as you might expect. What the result was not was one of the 11, or 21, or 51 best pictures of the year. To reward it as such is, well, not smart.

From its dumb yellow title card to its antihero’s dumb delusions of grandeur to its dumb absolute belief in its own transgressiveness, Joker is just as stupid as can be. It is a movie designed to seem impressive to anyone without much of an understanding of film history, who’s maybe seen clips from Taxi Driver online. It’s a movie designed for people who must rush to get on Twitter to see if everyone catches the reference.

[...]

The film’s many fake outs? Dumb, dumb, dumb. Are viewers seriously meant to believe that Arthur’s cute and funny neighbor, played by Zazie Beetz, actually enjoys his stand-up routine and welcomes him into her life? We’d have to be idiots to think so. Or are we meant to believe that the filmmakers intended, all along, for us to know we’re watching Arthur’s delusions? Well, that would be even dumber, considering how big the movie plays its dramatic Tyler Durden–esque reveal that actually she was never there.
Is Joker "just as stupid as can be?" Is it relentlessly "dumb?"

We aren't in a position to say. But Kois is performing a major service when he aggressively uses that term.

Wide swaths of our ongoing national discourse are just stupendously dumb. The dumbness is all over cable news. (Another new Iowa poll! Proving that we were wasting our time when we discussed the last one!) It's all over cultural criticism.

The dumbness infested our mainstream political journalism a very long time ago. In the broadly cultural realm, is anything dumber than Aaron Sorkin's claim that Harper Lee's To Kill A Mockingbird ends with Atticus Finch "covering up a murder?"

Nothing could be much dumber than that! But Sorkin has been a very important cultural player, and the stunning dumbness of his commentary was put in print, and affirmed, by The Atlantic.

Our view? Donald J. Trump sits in the Oval because of this decades-old culture of dumbness. For the record, we aren't referring to possible dumbness on the part of Trump voters. We're referring to the dumbness which has long since taken control of our "liberal" and mainstream discussions. That dumbness put Trump where he is.

Reactions to yesterday's Oscar nominations were often stupendously dumb. Surely, though, no one was surprised by that. We'll look at examples tomorrow.

That said, liberal cable is massively dumb. So is much of the liberal Internet. For these reasons, we badly need the concept of "dumb" as a basic analytical category.

Trump is crazy, but we've long been dumb. Our dumbness helped send him to power. We're badly in need of more anger like Kois', this time aimed at the tribal gods who have massively failed to serve us.

Dumbness is our tribe's middle name. We're deeply invested in Dumb.

Tomorrow: #OscarReactionsSoStupid

35 comments:

  1. "But Kois is performing a major service when he aggressively uses that term [dumb]."

    Somerby applauds namecalling. But in a review, the use of the word dumb conveys no information about what the critic objects to about the film. We get that he is feeling negative about it, but that is all. The critic must go on and explain why he thinks aspects of the film are "dumb." But if he does that, then he doesn't need to also use the term dumb at all. It lowers the tone of his review, but more importantly, it invites readers to accept his summary judgment (dumb) instead of evaluating the criticisms and reaching their own decisions about whether to see or not see the film. Dumb is a wasste of space in articles that used to be severely limited in length.

    That Somerby is calling for greater use of the word in reviews simply reveals his ignorance about what constitutes good journalism, even in reviews.

    Would you want a reporter to tell you that a person was apprehended for doing something really dumb, or would you want to know what that act was?

    ReplyDelete
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      Delete
  2. "Our view? Donald J. Trump sits in the Oval because of this decades-old culture of dumbness."

    I'm afraid your view is stupendously dumb, dear Bob.

    Culture is merely part of the superstructure on the economic base. The reason Donald J. Trump is our beloved president, is your liberal cult's globalist economics.

    As for Joker, the film is fine. Emblematic of our times. A decent portrayal of ordinary people's distrust and hate of the establishment. No wonder your zombie media despise it.

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    Replies
    1. Anthropologists would disagree with your description of culture. The economic base is part of culture. Globalism may be the reason foreign films are given Oscars, but that's been happening since the Oscars began, since we've been having World Wars. Perhaps a good thing if films bring us together, globally speaking.

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    2. It's not my description, it's the most basic materialist concept, popularized by Marx and Engels. Only dumb anthropologists would disagree.

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    3. Economics is an aspect of culture. Culture comes first because people invented their economic systems as part of their culture. Culture encompasses everything created by people, including their systems of barter, their social organization in isolated tribes without commerce, and their invention of money and finance and number systems to keep track of it all. Marx and Engels perhaps wish to see everything through the lens of economics, but anthropologists don't do that.

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    4. Yeah, sure. Dumb move critics in dumb online dembot magazines encompass everything. And they put Donald J. Trump into the oval office. You've got it.

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    5. "your liberal cult's globalist economics." - Mao

      You're a lying piece 0f shit. Globalism is a bipartisan, big-business con. Liberalism has NOTHING to do with it. Stop lying.

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    6. Hold on. "Culture of dumbness" as used here by Somerby isn't talking about culture as in movies, books, art, etc. In any case, one person seems to have despised it. How does that translate to your zombie media? At least address what Somerby writes, not what you want him to write just so you can attack him.

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  3. Somerby asks "How good a film is Joker?" then continues "Objectively, though, we have no idea."

    Aside from the fact that reactions to films are mostly subjective not objective, he ends with "We're badly in need of more anger like Kois', this time aimed at the tribal gods who have massively failed to serve us."

    Setting aside whether tribal gods have anything to do with making movies, is anger a good quality in a reviewer? It doesn't signify much objective judgment. It is an inherently subjective response.

    Once a reviewer critiques a film, it is up to movie goers to decide whether to support that film with their dollars. If they don't go see it, it doesn't make money and studios will be less likely to make a similar film in the future. That is how viewers control what gets made. It isn't up to people like Kois to get angry and thus limit what people are allowed to see.

    But if he expresses anger at something viewers liked, he won't remain a critic because people will stop reading his reviews. That's how capitalism and democracy work.

    And why on Earth is Somerby caling for a critic to get angry about a film he himself hasn't seen? He has apparently decided on the basis of the review that some anger is warranted, and he's mad because young people like being able to catch implanted references to films they have only recently discovered, such as Taxi Driver. Dennis Miller built a career on that harmless pleasure. But damn those kids for being young! And get them off Somerby's lawn!

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  4. The reason Trump sits in the White House is because people like Mao love their cultural resentments over common sense policies.

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  5. I have no problem with the idea that there is way too much "dumb" going on out there in our society. But let me just briefly say, since the usually sensible Somerby did not, that Koi's movie review was dumb. Really, really dumb. One example: he tells us the movie wants to be "daring", but fails in the attempt. But he doesn't tell us how he knows the movie wants to daring in the first place. Maybe it wants to tell a story in a rather mundane way, to emphasize the mundaneness of Arthur Fleck's life, and doesn't in fact want to be daring at all. In which case, it must have succeeded brilliantly!

    Also, it's rather obvious that Koi just didn't want to like the movie. He literally says its yellow title card is dumb. Why is that? Is yellow an especially dumb color in general, or what?

    Oh, and Koi points out that the movie is gritty. "It is so gritty", he writes. Okay, it's gritty. What, grit doesn't exist in real life? Seems to me if anyone is going to be living a gritty life, it would be Arthur Fleck. Roger Ebert once said you can make a movie about anything. The important part, as he said, is how the movie is "about" that thing. Did the movie want to portray a gritty existence, and fail? Assuming that it's even possible to know what a movie "wants", if it did want to show grittiness, but wasn't able to get that across, okay, Koi might have a point.

    Finally, in a truly ridiculous statement, he says "It is a comic book movie whose star thinks he is too good for comic book movies." Sorry, Koi, it's a movie about someone who is portrayed in comic books and comic book movies, sure, but exists in the conceptual time before Fleck became a comic book character. That may be something of a stretch in general, but the movie itself has no real link to the comic book movie genre.

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  6. Thus, here again, the obvious desire of Kois to get in a pointless dig at a movie he just didn't want to like fails miserably.

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  7. Scott Lemieux (at Lawyers, Guns & Money blog) calls Little Women "the movie that directed itself." He quotes Dana Stevens saying: "that august body saw fit to recognize the film for Best Picture, Best Actress (Saoirse Ronan), Best Supporting Actress (Florence Pugh), Best Adapted Screenplay (Greta Gerwig), and Best Costume Design (Jacqueline Durran). Yet all this goodness must somehow have assembled itself without any guiding hand at the helm...". He then talks about all the other accomplishments by women in 2019, then says "To respond to a year like that with the studious exclusion of anyone female from the award that above all others confers authorship and authority, the one that attributes a film's success to the unifying vision of an individuals, starts to look like nothing else but rank condescending sexism."

    Somerby has to call the film a mess because otherwise there is no excuse for overlooking its director.

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    Replies
    1. Everything is sexist and racist with you sactimonious, juvenile dumbshits.

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    2. Hey dumbshit, nominees for best actor are nominated only by other actors, best costume design only by other costume designers, nominees for best director are only nominated by other directors. It's not one august body working as one. So tell the dumbshit at the world's dumbest liberal blog his and his sanctimonious dumbshit attributor's premise is completely wrong and stupid.

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    3. that idiot from Lawyers guns and money can't even do 45 seconds of research. He just sees the word sexist and cums in his pants. I swear to God. What is the matter with you people? You're dumb as rocks.

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    4. The members of the Academy that get to vote on the nominees are largely old white men. They vote for other white men, who are like themselves. You can skip the abuse. It doesn't make your arguments any stronger. I'll bet you're unaware that costume design and production design are dominated by men, just as the women's fashion industry is. You probably think that because women wear the dresses, they design them.

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    5. No, I work in fashion dumbshit. Designers of women's clothing are mostly all men too. And shoes. As you know. I don't need my arguments made any stronger. It's case closed. The premise the article is completely wrong. But false premises never prevent you dumb shit juvenile crybabies from making your claims of sexism. You're children. You're babies. You know nothing of history. You know nothing of sociology. You know nothing of biology. Your're insane. But mostly you're just children. Young and dumb. The only good news is is that you have it so much better than you think you do which is much better than the other way around.

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    6. "old white men. They vote for other white men"

      They are also Jewish and gay. They are old Jewish, gay white men.

      How does that figure into your idiotic crybaby arithmetic??

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    7. Perry, why do you hate gay Jews? You're anti-semitic and homophobic and I am, frankly, sick of it.

      Delete
  8. If I start reading a review and the author calls the film dumb, I stop reading the review. What can a person with such a limited descriptive vocabulary for film have to tell anyone?

    The same goes for Somerby and his descriptions of politics. If he can't come up with anything to say about or too liberals but "Out middle name is dumb" there is nothing to learn from him. I find myself wondering what our first and last names are. And then I know it is time to stop reading.

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    1. Was that a review?

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    2. And then I know it is time to stop reading.

      Will it ever be time for you to stop commenting, though?

      Wake me when it is.

      Delete
    3. Speaking for myself, not for Anon@5:37, I'll stop commenting when TDH replaces his signature phrase 'We liberals' with 'We Trumptards'

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  9. ' Donald J. Trump sits in the Oval because of this decades-old culture of dumbness. For the record, we aren't referring to possible dumbness on the part of Trump voters'

    Naturally not, since you wouldn't to call yourself and other Trumptards like yourself dumb.

    ReplyDelete
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  11. “We're badly in need of more anger like Kois', this time aimed at the tribal gods who have massively failed to serve us.”

    The antecedent “tribal gods” appear to be “liberal cable” and “liberal Internet”, although calling either of these things tribal gods is a stretch. Is Sorkin supposed to be a tribal god? If so, that is a foolish notion.

    Is Somerby familiar with the “liberal Internet?” If he were, he would see the vast amount of anger, the kind Somerby wishes, hurled mercilessly at entities like the New York Times.

    There was even a lot of anger and derision aimed at the media when they were shocked, SHOCKED, at that “joke” about Trump’s kid and how that awful woman broke the rules of decency by attacking the kid that way.

    I joined in angrily denouncing the media outlets who enacted this faux outrage. That is why I denounced Bob Somerby’s The Daily Howler when he joined the media on their fainting couch, rather than denounce their stupid faux reaction.

    Somerby really needs to venture out to the actual “liberal Internet.” He might be surprised at what he would find, as opposed to his wrongheaded idea of it.

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    1. 'Somerby really needs to venture out to the actual “liberal Internet.”'

      Why should he ? He is happy being a grade A Trumptard.

      Delete
  12. If Kois had been writing for The Atlantic, I wonder if Somerby would have agree with him.

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  13. Somerby’s argument is dumb.

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