RATIONAL ANIMAL TALES: Atticus Finch [HEART] Bob Ewell!

THURSDAY, JANUARY 16, 2020

And calls to mind Donald J. Trump:
Does it really make sense?

Does it make sense to create an "adaptation" of a famous book—in this case, a famous novel—if you don't even like the book? If you don't understand the famous book, even in the most basic ways?

Also, have you "adapted" a famous novel if, in the course of your "adaptation," you simply change the famous novel's basic events all around? If you massively scramble the attitudes andthe views of its famous characters? Should we call that an "adaptation?"

The famous novel to which we refer is Harper Lee's 1960 classic, To Kill A Mockingbird. The "adaptation" to which we refer was written by Aaron Sorkin.

At present, it's bringing in big money on Broadway, but generating no public discussion. And perhaps that's just as well!

In a recent, extremely strange interview piece, The Atlantic's David Sims describes the Broadway version of To Kill A Mockingbird as "an unexpectedly probing work that refuses to let an American classic go unchallenged."

There's certainly noting wrong with "challenging" an American classic; such critiques are advanced all the time. But Sorkin's critique is based on certain perceptions which are remarkably hard to sustain—and Sorkin has played a major role in our nation's childish political discourse over the past thirty years.

Sorkin has been a major "influencer," and it seems he's perhaps weirdly dumb.

How strange are the perceptions which lie behind Sorkin's apparently heartfelt "adaptation?" In a crazy essay for New York magazine, Sorkin offered a set of crazy pensees back when his play debuted.

Sorkin reasoned thusly. Atticus Finch was going to be the protagonist of his play. And if he was going to be the protagonist, he would have to have a flaw.

That said, what flaw could Atticus possibly have? Sorkin racked his influential brain as he tried to come up with the answer.

Finally, it happened! According to Sorkin, he realized that Atticus always had a flaw, even in Lee's novel! The man who has fed us so much simple-minded TV sitcom-style pap spelled it out like this:
SORKIN (11/26/18): [H]ow do you give Atticus Finch a flaw?...I tried all the doors and they were locked, until I found one that swung open with the lightest touch. I didn’t have to give Atticus a flaw because, to my mind, he already had one; it’s just that we’d always considered it a virtue. Atticus believes that you can’t really know someone unless you “climb into someone’s skin and walk around in it.” He believes that Bob Ewell should be understood as a man who lost his job. He believes Mrs. Dubose should be understood as a woman who recently stopped taking her medication and lives in physical pain. He believes in the fundamental goodness in everyone, even homicidal white supremacists. He believes … that there are fine people on both sides?

In the play, this set of beliefs would be challenged.
It would be hard to overstate the childishness of that analysis, and beyond that its sheer stupidity. What can it mean when one of our leading "influencers" reasons in such childish ways?

Amazingly, that passage actually seems to mean when it seems to say. As he reread Harper Lee's novel, Sorkin apparently came to believe that its noble hero, Atticus Finch, "believes in the fundamental goodness in everyone, even homicidal white supremacists."

Those are Sorkin's actual words—and yes, it even gets more childish and stupid than that! As Sorkin reread the famous novel, he began to see that Atticus Finch was quite a bit like our own Donald J. Trump!

Very famously, Trump had recently said that "there are fine people on both sides." Apparently, Sorkin thought that he had spotted this attitude in Lee's heroic lawyer. The flaw had been there the whole time!

Harper Lee's fictional Atticus Finch now seemed like Donald J. Trump! In a disappointing piece in The New Yorker in which she herself seemed to take everyone's side of every point, Casey Cep summarized Sorkin's new view of the book:
CEP (12/10/18): The children are now played by adults; Calpurnia, the Finches’ black housekeeper, gets to argue a bit with her employer about his tolerance of intolerance; and Atticus—sounding, Sorkin has noted in interviews, a little like President Trump—says that there are good people on both sides of a lynch mob. It was Trump’s comments after a counter-protester was killed by a white supremacist in Charlottesville that, Sorkin has said, helped him see the contemporary resonance of the play.

In an essay for New York, Sorkin recounts how, after finishing a bad draft, he realized that he could not “swaddle the book in bubble wrap and transfer it gently to a stage”; instead, he focussed on Atticus and his transformation from one kind of man into another. In this new production, the empathy for which Atticus has always been celebrated—his belief, as Sorkin sees it, in the “goodness in everyone, even homicidal white supremacists”—would be his fundamental flaw.
In Sorkin's reading of Lee's book, Atticus Finch believed in the “goodness in everyone, even homicidal white supremacists.” He was a great deal like Trump.

In case you missed that part of Lee's book, Sorkin apparently decided to goose up this flaw just a bit. In last month's interview piece at The Atlantic, actor Ed Harris describes a scene in the new "adaptation." Harris spoke with David Sims, The Atlantic's film/drama critic
SIMS (12/17/19): The show is interrogating Atticus’s passivity and nobility. How do you want to communicate that passivity, and the anger within him as well?

HARRIS: Early on in the play, Bob Ewell comes by [to the Finch house] and threatens Atticus, saying, “We’ve got two ropes.” And Jem, Atticus’s son, comes out and says, “You want me to respect Bob Ewell?” And he says, “Yeah, there’s good in everyone.”
"There's good in everyone," this new, adapted Atticus says. Atticus [HEART] Bob Ewell!

Did Atticus Finch really [HEART] Bob Ewell in Lee's famous book? We're forced to suggest that he didn't.

In the climax of Lee's book, Ewell tries to kill the Finch children. Boo Radley saves their lives.

This unseemly bit of behavior is not unlike Bob Ewell! Early in the book, the adult narrator tells us what Scout's father had told her about the Ewells when she was still only 6:
LEE (page 33): Atticus said the Ewells had been the disgrace of Maycomb County for three generations. None of them had done an honest day's work in their lives. He said that some Christmas, when he was getting rid of the tree, he would take me with him and show me where and how they lived. They were people and they lived like animals.
There isn't a lot of admiration there. Indeed, Lee has been criticized for her book's scathing portrayal of the Ewells as "white trash."

That criticism seems valid to us. But it flies in the face of the lusty "challenge" Sorkin decided to lodge.

Later, Scout starts to learn about the crime with which Tom Robinson has been charged. Once again, we learn how Atticus has described the Ewells:
LEE (page 141): Calpurnia sighed. "Old Mr. Bob Ewell accused him of rapin' his girl an' had him arrested an' put in jail—"

"Mr. Ewell?" My memory stirred. "Does he have anything to do with those Ewells that come every first day of school an' then go home? Why, Atticus said they were absolute trash—I never heard Atticus talk about folks the way he talked about the Ewells. He said—"

"Yeah, those are the ones."
Atticus does display empathy for Bob Ewell's mistreated children. Back toward the start of the book, he tells his irate daughter why everyone agrees to let Bob Ewell hunt outside hunting season:
LEE (page 34): "Atticus, that's bad," I said. In Maycomb County, hunting out of season was a misdemeanor at law, a capital felony in the eye of the populace.

"It's against the law, all right," said my father, "and it's certainly bad, but when a man spends his relief checks on green whiskey, his children have away of crying from hunger pains. I don't know of any landowner around here who begrudges those children any game their father can hit."
There is no place in Harper Lee's book where Atticus Finch tells his children that they should respect Bob Ewell because there's "goodness in everyone, even homicidal white supremacists.” Whatever their shortcomings might possibly be, the moral holdings of the book are much more subtle and varied than that.

Atticus doesn't [HEART] Bob Ewell in Harper Lee's famous book! For whatever reason, Sorkin decided to put new attitudes in this famous character's head, new words in his mouth.

No ticket holders will be irreparably harmed by Sorkin's "adaptation." With that admission recorded, we think a different question should be asked:

What does it mean when influential figures within our culture reason as oddly as this?

As he says in The Atlantic, Aaron Sorkin apparently thinks that Harper Lee's famous book ends with Atticus Finch covering up a murder—the murder of Bob Ewell.

That is a very strange reading of this famous book. Beyond that, Sorkin seems to think that Harper Lee made her black characters too "docile." Instead of displaying respect for Atticus Finch, they should have taken to the streets of their small Alabama town in 1935.

They should have shouted "no justice, no peace," then burned the courthouse down. In The Summer of '35!

To help us see why Maycomb's black residents should have done that, Sorkin rearranges Finch's racial views, having him display imagined resentment toward Calpurnia, who isn't grateful enough. To help us see how stupid Finch was, he has him consign Tom Robinson to his death by dumbly convincing him to renounce a previously-arranged plea deal.

And not only that! Sorkin has Atticus tell his son that he should respect Bob Ewell because there's good in everyone, even in a person who has just threatened him with a hanging. This is what this very strange person thinks when he reads Lee's book.

In her disappointing discussion of Sorkin's "adaptation," Cep offers an accurate assessment of Harper Lee's actual book. "Although it features children, it is not childish," she says.

To Kill A Mockingbird isn't childish, but Sorkin's odd reasoning is. Searching for a way to "adapt" a book he doesn't seem to understand very well, he decided that its hero reminds him of Donald J. Trump and even [HEART] Bob Ewell.

Does Lee's famous book end with a murder? You have to be dumber than a seventh grader to come up with an idea like that.

The person who did so is influential! What does it mean when our leading cultural figures are as dumb and as childish as that?

Tomorrow: The Summer of '99

69 comments:

  1. "After the photo of Rob Porter’s ex-wife with a black eye surfaces, Trump said, “Maybe Holderness purposefully ran into a refrigerator to give herself bruises and try to get money out of Porter?”

    This is a quote from the new book "A Stable Genius", about Trump. But this seems a lot like the kind of contorted thinking that Somerby engages in as he tries to defend predatory men against charges against them. It is those nasty women who are always trying to entrap men. Predators always seem to think that their victims have asked for it.

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    1. Lets go back and rehash the Chanel Miller case, where Somerby wanted us to believe that she consented to have her panties pulled down in a public place by someone she barely knew, because that's how women like to have sex, and since Turner denied everything (despite being caught in the act), maybe she pulled her own panties down in order to charge an innocent young man with rape. And is she says she doesn't remember anything, she is probably lying, since she just wants to be a feminist hero and get some guy in trouble.

      Delete
    2. You either have an active fantasy life or you didn't actually read TDH's blog entries on the Miller case. Or both.

      Delete
    3. @deadrat
      Please feel free to debunk 12:20’s assertions by summarizing, in fewer than 5000 words, what Somerby actually said about the Miller case.

      Delete
    4. TDH defended Roy Moore gallantly. He defends anyone who is opposed to liberals.

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  2. "And not only that! Sorkin has Atticus tell his son that he should respect Bob Ewell because there's good in everyone, even in a person who has just threatened him with a hanging. This is what this very strange person thinks when he reads Lee's book."

    Ewell stands for The Other who Somerby is constantly defending. Sorkin is just saying the same thing as Somerby always says, but now Somerby blames him for putting those words in Finch's mouth.

    Somerby doesn't seem to understand that Sorkin is apparently changing Finch from a hero into a flawed anti-hero. There are no white civil rights heros. Maybe that is what Somerby is upset about. He no doubt dislikes being confronted with his own lack of action (Atticus represents all white people just as Ewell represents all white bigots). Somerby is arguing that we should all be more highly regarded despite dragging our feet over civil rights for so long.

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    1. The “dumb” is on the loose, just as I predicted.

      Ewell stands for The Other who Somerby is constantly defending.

      Nope, TDH is saying that perhaps we shouldn’t automatically consign millions of our political opponents to The Other because they voted differently from us.

      Somerby doesn't seem to understand that Sorkin is apparently changing Finch from a hero into a flawed anti-hero.

      Nope, TDH explicitly talks about Sorkin’s finding a flaw in Finch. TDH just thinks Sorkin’s reasoning is flawed.

      There are no white civil rights heros [sic].

      Two names for ya, Sparky: Schwerner and Goodman. Of course, their lives are nothing compared to your toil in the trenches of a commentary section of a blog nobody reads. But still.

      He no doubt dislikes being confronted with his own lack of action….

      “No doubt”? My, but you’re a confident mind reader!

      Somerby is arguing that we should all be more highly regarded despite dragging our feet over civil rights for so long.

      Nope. Hey, I’ve got an idea. Why don’t you take your comments and place them on a blog of your own? They’ve got precious little to do with this blog.

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    2. @deadrat
      “Sorkin’s reasoning is flawed” somehow equates to “Sorkin is dumb.” at TDH. That doesn’t follow. It is a difference of opinion.

      The “flaw” that Sorkin finds is in Lee’s second book. It doesn’t come from left field.

      And why don’t you quit trying to silence or oust commenters? Somerby is so repetitive that it relieves the monotony to read interesting provocative comments. Hell, if we’re just you here, there wouldn’t be any reason to even read the comments.

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    3. There are no white civil rights heroes because African Americans decided that civil rights must be fought for and attained through the actions of black activists. It is not for white people to give civil rights to black people, but for black people to assert their rights and secure them through their own efforts.

      That's why it is one thing to consider those white people who died in the South as martyrs to civil rights or as participants in the struggle, but they are not the heroes of the movement.

      When you assert that white people gave civil rights to black people, it perpetuates the subordinate position of black people in society. There has always been a black civil rights movement and struggle and there have always been white people helping, but use of the term "white civil rights hero" is inappropriate because it implies paternalism.

      But you just want to heap abuse on other commenters. Otherwise you'd ask questions when you think something is mistaken, unclear or odd, instead of calling names.

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    4. There are no white civil rights heroes because African Americans decided that civil rights must be fought for and attained through the actions of black activists.

      Excuse me, but who elected you Spokesman for All African Americans? Or is it a hereditary position? Even assuming a near-universal consensus among African Americans that there be a designation Martyr-Participant-Who-Would-Be-Called-A-Hero-If-Only-His-Or-Her-Tan-Was-Deep-Enough, that wouldn’t change the definition of the word hero.

      It is not for white people to give civil rights to black people, but for black people to assert their rights and secure them through their own efforts.

      Under he conceit of the US legal system, nobody gives rights to anyone else. These rights accrue to people as the result of their being human. It is the government’s job to protect those rights, and in many instances our government has failed in that mission. It’s for brave, right-minded people to hold the government accountable, and in confronting and defeating the system of American apartheid in the south, black people’s efforts could never have been enough.

      When you assert that white people gave civil rights to black people, it perpetuates the subordinate position of black people in society.

      When I assert that white people were a necessary part of the coalition that prodded the government to take seriously the rights of black people, I’m acknowledging a fact: during American apartheid, black people were in a subordinate position. There’s disgrace in that fact, but I don’t see how any of it accrues to black people.

      I find your position risible, but that merely means you’ve found a home amongst your peers, the Anonymous Ignorami. But I also find it contemptible because it minimizes the enormity of the task that took generations to prosecute.

      But you just want to heap abuse on other commenters.

      Fair cop on the heaping abuse, but it’s not all I want to do by commenting.

      Otherwise you'd ask questions when you think something is mistaken, unclear or odd, instead of calling names.

      I ask for clarification when I’m confused by a comment. Yours seems transparent to me.

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    5. Not 11:56, first, thanks for the nym.

      “Sorkin’s reasoning is flawed” somehow equates to “Sorkin is dumb.” at TDH. That doesn’t follow. It is a difference of opinion.

      Well, there’s informed opinion and dumb opinion.

      The “flaw” that Sorkin finds is in Lee’s second book. It doesn’t come from left field.

      Actually her first, as in first draft. The flaw (and why is that in scare quotes?) that Sorkin claims to find isn’t found in TKAM and it’s not the one found in GSAW.

      And why don’t you quit trying to silence or oust commenters?

      How could I even start to try to do either of those things? I have no way to control who comments here. Do you think otherwise? Tell me how.

      Somerby is so repetitive

      Obsessively so. I find it part of his charm.

      that it relieves the monotony to read interesting provocative comments.

      I agree! The dumb is so damned amusing.

      Hell, if we’re just you here, there wouldn’t be any reason to even read the comments.

      “If it were just you here”?

      Agree completely.

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    6. I don't mind when you take your spite out on me but it bothers me when you mockingly trample on African Americans and their struggle to be treated as full citizens of our country.

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    7. Just in case you’re not trolling me, nothing, and I mean nothing, I’ve written mocks or tramples on African Americans and their travails in this country. Their collective stories of perseverance in their simple demand that this country live up to its principles and treat them as fully human and full citizens should inspire both awe and tears.

      It is a fact of history, amply attested to, that as a beleaguered minority, stripped of all power, political, social, and economic, by a hostile majority, they were incapable of achieving their freedom by their own hand alone.

      To deny this fact is to downplay the monumental burden of the task.

      To acknowledge this fact doesn’t mean that African Americans weren’t instrumental in achieving the victories, and it doesn’t mean that their need for assistance was blameworthy.

      (How can I take my spite on you? Not only have you hidden yourself behind the brand name of your band of Ignoramuses, but this is just a commentary section of a blog no one reads. All l do is point out the ignorance in what you post. You don’t like what I write? Don’t read what I write. Or you could learn. Ignorance is curable, you know.)

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    8. There is a large African American literature that says the things I posted above, which you mocked by calling me king of the African-Americans or some such. Everything I said is contained in writings of various civil rights leaders of the 1960s and 1970s. Your ignorance of these books is consistent with the mean-spirited way you denied a guiding principle of the black power movement, which most liberals are familiar with, some of us having lived through those times.

      And how do you know the other "Ignoramuses" aren't hiding behind my name? You cannot claim that I am ignorant when you routinely fail to understand what I write and make claims that are easily disproven. See below where you ignore the word tragicomedy to claim that I called MoV a tragedy. You have no standing to call anyone else around here ignorant or dumb or any of the other pet names you throw around. Sober up and come back tomorrow with a different attitude.

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    9. I'm mocking you.

      Quote the "writings of various civil rights leaders." Sure, the Black Power movement tried to make black leadership of the civil rights movement paramount. SNCC threw out its white members in 1967, but not because white people weren't instrumental in getting civil rights laws passed.

      Do you have any idea of the history of the civil rights movement in the decades before that? Do you realize there was no Black Power movement in 1935? Do you have the faintest clue about why that was so?

      I may be ignorant, but I won’t take seriously lectures from an ignoramus like you.

      You cannot claim that I am ignorant when you routinely fail to understand what I write and make claims that are easily disproven.

      You’re not hard to understand.

      You have no standing to call anyone else around here ignorant or dumb or any of the other pet names you throw around.

      As much standing as you.

      Sober up and come back tomorrow with a different attitude.

      Tomorrow I’ll be sober and you’ll still be an ignoramus.

      Something I could truthfully say any day. Can you follow the implication?

      Alas, this is the only attitude I have.

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  3. "...but generating no public discussion. And perhaps that's just as well!"

    Well, yeah, I agree, dear Bob.

    Liberals are sick, deranged. Undeniably. And I suppose most people feel it's a simple courtesy, simple politeness, to avoid excessive mockery. It's better to pretend you ain't noticing nothing odd in their squirming, their convulsions.

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    1. Sort of like the way everyone is pretending Trump is normal while he rants at his rallies like a madman, making no sense at all about toilet flushes and locking up Hillary (who has been exonerated by yet another investigation). Nothing odd there, right?

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    2. Mao doesn't like when Trump rants like an idiot about things he knows nothing about (i.e. pretty much everything). Mao likes Trump because Trump does the bidding for Mao's Establishment elite pals.

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  4. This is just embarrassing. Somerby doesn't bother to read Lee's later book and makes a bunch of wrong statements about Atticus Finch and Sorkin's "changes." Since he doesn't bother to read his comments either, his wrong statements continue day after day. There is probably a lesson in this, but meanwhile it just makes Somerby look like a complete fool. While he is calling everyone else dumb.

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    1. Didja even bother to read the blog entry? First, it's not about Lee's later work. It's about TKAM. Second, no need for scare quotes around the word changes. Sorkin made actual changes, and TDH is correct that the changes show his cluelessness about his source material. TDH even helpfully documents this for you.

      So who's the fool here?

      I don't understand why TDH is so worked up about this matter, but that's a different question.

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    2. I don't blame TDH for not reading his commentariat. If he's so worked up about Sorkin's "dumb," the comments here would probably give him apoplexy.

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    3. Deadrat, you don't know whether Sorkin read and was influenced by Lee's other book. You don't know whether he had conversations with Lee about the Finch character. Yet you confidently say "it's not about Lee's later work." Somerby's essay is about Sorkin's adaptation of Lee's book into a play. You are speculating about how Sorkin did that and you have no greater basis for saying what he did than the commenter has. It seems so likely as to be a certainty that Sorkin read Lee's last book, since that is what any competent person would do who was trying to adapt that book into a play. Why would they ignore anything that might bear on their job?

      Sorkin is clueless only if you assume that his goal was to make a completely faithful adaptation of the original, but the Sims interview suggests that was not his goal at all.

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    4. @deadrat
      Ah, deadrat reads Somerby’s mind.
      “The comments would probably give him apoplexy.” Poor Bob. He must be a snowflake, if his feefees are that sensitive to criticism, at least according to you. Especially since he engages in over-generalized vicious attacks against other people all the time.

      Do you think you’re doing Bob a favor by imagining Bob incapable of a measured adult response to reader comments, or wishing his few remaining commenters would leave?

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    5. Deadrat @4:33: The quotes around "changes" are because the reintroduction of material that is in Lee's Watchman book is not exactly a change in the same sense as moving the setting from the South to NYC might be, for example. It still comes from Lee but it isn't in the original book, so that makes it a different kind of change than something that is introduced but wasn't in either book.

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    6. Er, Sparky @5:00P, it was a joke through hyperbole.

      I can’t know whether Somerby reads his commentariat or how upset he really is about Sorkin. I’m just guessing that Somerby doesn’t bother to trudge through the dumb here.

      I don’t know how sensitive Somerby is to criticism. I don’t know him.

      I can’t imagine that I’m doing Somerby any favors. I don’t know him, and remember? I’m the one who thinks he doesn’t read his comment section.

      And where do you get the idea that I wish his commenters would leave? Sometimes I wonder why they’re here, but I don’t want them to leave. I’m entertained by them.

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    7. You know exactly how sensitive Somerby is to criticism. He doesn't read his comments.

      You told one of the comment writers to go away and write their own blog.

      Delete
    8. You know exactly how sensitive Somerby is to criticism. He doesn't read his comments.

      I don’t know Somerby, so I don’t know how sensitive he is to criticism. I’ve never claimed to know him or his feelings. I’ve said I always assumed he didn’t read his comments because he never responds to them. And because they’re mostly worthless.

      You told one of the comment writers to go away and write their own blog.

      Here’s what I wrote:

      Hey, I’ve got an idea. Why don’t you take your comments and place them on a blog of your own? They’ve got precious little to do with this blog.

      Fercryanoutloud, it’s in this very comment section.

      It was a sarcastic aside that the writer collect his or her wisdom and make an independent blog because the comments were so unrelated to what TDH actually writes.

      Nothing about going away. Why can’t you get the simplest facts straight?

      I have no control over who comments here, and I don’t pretend to.

      Anyway, I don’t want commenters like you to go away. You’re entertaining.

      I could do without the spell casters and the Mumbai movers and packers, though.

      Delete
  5. "Indeed, Lee has been criticized for her book's scathing portrayal of the Ewells as "white trash."

    And yet Somerby complains because Sorkin remedies this in his play?

    Does Somerby think that a faithful adaptation must repeat the bigotry of the original author? Apparently so.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Yes, a faithful adaptation keeps the portrayals of the original author. By definition. Sorkin's isn't a faithful adaptation, and the way he went about adapting is what's wound up TDH. Try to focus.

      Delete
    2. Again, deadrat, this is literary criticism, the question of whether an adaptation is faithful to the original or not. It has nothing to do with liberal dumbness, liberals, or dumbness.

      Creative people, including Shakespeare, quite often freely adapt source material.

      Delete
  6. Lee’s subsequent book “Go Set A Watchman” is considered by some to have been a first draft of what became To Kill A Mockingbird, although we don’t know for sure. In this second book, Lee depicts Finch as having decidedly unprogressive views on race. He even attends racist White Citizen’s Council meetings, has racist friends, opposes integration, and denounces the Brown v Board decision.

    It’s interesting to imagine this material as a first draft, because, if it is, it must have occurred to Lee that a white Southern “liberal”, whose only “liberal” accomplishment was agreeing to defend a wrongfully accused black man, and who comes close to being a racist, would not make an attractive hero, certainly not for the cautious liberals of 1960 who would be uncomfortable with this Atticus and preferred a saint in a white suit generously agreeing to defend a black man, all the while apparently not noticing that Atticus otherwise does nothing to combat racism or fight for civil rights in the more famous book. And it isn’t as if there wasn’t actual civil rights advocacy going on in 1935.

    Thus, Sorkin’s idea of Finch was born, and it makes the same criticisms of pompous, self-regarding, virtue-signaling liberals that is the main theme of TDH.

    It’s revealing that Somerby rejects his own ideas when he finds them disagreeable coming from someone else.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Sure, in Lee's first draft Finch criticizes Brown v Board in the summer of 1935.

      Maybe you shouldn't be talking about what's revealing, eh?

      Delete
    2. @deadrat
      The idea that it was a first draft is that she intended to set the story after 1954, when Scout returns to visit her father, years after Finch’s failed defense of Robinson, and she learns some unsettling things about her father, but Lee decided to change the date back to 1935 to portray the actual defense.

      Maybe if you actually read her second book and the controversy surrounding it, you wouldn’t make such ridiculous comments.

      Delete
    3. I agree with the comments about the lesser appeal of Finch as a flawed person as opposed to a saint, but I think Scout is the main character. She is not only the narrator, but she is the person who changes through the course of the book, so that makes her the protagonist.

      It is a small point, but it isn't right to assume that the adult male, flawed or saint, is most important when Scout is the main character. I read this book as a child and identified with her, which I think is what makes the book readable to high school students. If it were about just Atticus, it wouldn't have endured as a high school classic, in my opinion. He exists as a role model but she gives the interest to the story.

      Delete
    4. @5:22
      That is an excellent point. People tend to focus on Atticus, especially after Gregory Peck played him in the movie, and ignore the other characters. I wonder how the new stage version handles Scout.

      Delete
  7. Somerby says: "In Sorkin's reading of Lee's book, Atticus Finch believed in the “goodness in everyone, even homicidal white supremacists.” He was a great deal like Trump."

    Actually, Trump doesn't believe in the goodness in everyone. He believes that everyone is like him, corrupt to the core. How do I know this? He says it all the time. And like all criminals, he thinks he is a good person. So Trump's idea of what constitutes goodness is warped. You can see this in his distrust of short people and his belief the attractiveness = goodness. Trump doesn't go around believing everyone is good. He believes everyone is a con artist scrambling toward wealth, just like him, but the only people of value are those who praise him and toady up to him, or those who are strongmen who cynically manipulate his vanity while laughing at him.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. But, but, Trump clearly *denounced* white supremacists. Remember Trump’s very clear statement to that effect following Charlottesville?

      At least, that is what Somerby wanted you to believe, if you go by his angry posts about it.

      Delete
  8. "No ticket holders will be irreparably harmed by Sorkin's "adaptation." With that admission recorded, we think a different question should be asked:"

    Here is an example of Somerby style of discussion. He first admits whatever his adversaries are likely to say, then he goes on to argue the opposite.

    He first states that Sorkin's changes are harmless. Then he calls Sorkin and everyone else dumb as rocks, dumb dumb deedle dumb stoopid. And he works himself up to condemning entire humanity, but he is on the record as saying that there is no harm in Sorkin's adaptation, so what does the rest of his screed mean? By it's tone, a lot. But Somerby has already said there is no harm, so he has covered himself and he obviously isn't ranting like a turd. Except, he is.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. To be precise, like a Trumpturd.

      Delete
  9. Somerby likes his saints and his myths. Just as he vigorously defended the white man’s Thanksgiving myth, he prefers the familiar notion of Atticus as the knight in shining armor to Sorkin’s and Harper Lee’s more disturbing portrait.

    And since Sorkin’s Finch looks a lot like Lee’s subsequent vision of him, Somerby’s argument must be reduced to arguing that a stage adaptation shouldn’t alter an original source. That may be a point of literary criticism, but it has no place in a discussion about liberals and their dumbness.

    ReplyDelete
  10. "and even [HEART] Bob Ewell."

    This reminds me of My Fair Lady and Eliza's father's distinction between the deserving and the undeserving poor. Lee took the expedient of characterizing Ewell as white trash, a concept that would be familiar to her readers and would make believable both incest and murder, along with poaching and drinking moonshine (raw alcohol). Lee's readers would know exactly the kind of people she was talking about, due to stereotypes of poverty.

    It is to Sorkin's credit that he doesn't want to rely on such easy characterizations and won't repeat the stereotypes about poor people, white or black. He wants Ewell to be understood as a person. To be fully realized, he needs to have both bad and good traits of his own, not be a caricature of white poverty. You cannot decry black stereotypes while perpetrating white stereotypes.

    But Somerby doesn't understand this impulse. Again, what liberal wouldn't see this point? This is yet another reason why it seems implausible to me that Somerby is any kind of liberal. And if he is not, why does he say he is, day after day, in order to trash liberals from within? And who benefits? Russia, Putin and maybe Trump and conservatives.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. It reminds me of the way Shakespeare handled the Jewish character, Shylock, in “Merchant of Venice.” There was a kind of monstrous, stereotyped Jewish villain character in Elizabethan stage plays. But Shakespeare refused to give us that. Even if the character was modeled on this fad, Shylock was a fully realized person with understandable motives for his actions. Al Pacino did a magnificent version of Shylock in a movie version a while back.

      Delete
    2. You realize that MoV is a comedy, a rom-com of it's day, right?

      Delete
    3. It is described as a tragicomedy because it has "dark predicaments with potential to end tragically," but ends happily. But Shylock is not a caricature, as he might be in today's rom-coms.

      Delete
    4. It didn't end "tragically" in Shakespeare's day. All the romances are fulfilled, and a Jew is stripped of his property and forcibly converted to Christianity. Yay!

      As I said, a rom-com.

      You might want to re-read the play or look up the definition of caricature or both.

      Delete
    5. This comment has been removed by the author.

      Delete
    6. Stop and read carefully. I said that it was a tragicomedy. The tragi part refers to the potentially tragic problems that arise before the happy ending. The comedy part refers to the ending, which is happy. That is exactly what I said above.

      Are you so eager to get to your insults that you don't bother to read the full comment? Or are you commenting while drunk? And then you posted your comment twice. Once was enough.

      Time for you to stop this and go do something that requires less concentration.

      Delete
    7. I must have double tapped the publish button. Better now?

      The "tragic" part of MoV is a modern invention and reflects our own sensibilities. In Shakespeare's day, the unrealized and unrealizable jeopardy drives the romantic plot. And the villain (Didja take my advice on looking things up?) gets his comeuppance and hilarity reins.

      It is that time already when I need to mention that it's my time to do as I wish?

      Delete
  11. We have another "he said, she said" in the news. Fans of Bernie claim that he would never lie and that Warren is falsely attacking him to get attention and sympathy from female voters (as if she needed it). Meanwhile, Warren is defending her staffers by supporting the truth of their leak about what Sanders said, and she accused Sanders of calling her a liar during the debate, when he claimed again that he had never said that she couldn't win the presidency because she was a woman. Meanwhile, the Sanders camp is making hay with some vicious attacks on Warren, all over the internet and in tweets.

    So this brings out the male predisposition to believe that women are lying in the absence of corroboration, under the assumption that women have something to gain by it. Here, what would Warren gain by portraying Bernie as a man who might say such a thing? She already has lots of support from women voters, while Bernie does not. If she were going to lie, why not make up a lie about some aspect of policy that gives her an advantage? This kind of lie makes no sense as a lie, only as truth. The meeting where the remark was made was one in which Bernie might have attempted to discourage her from running against him. His portrayal of her as a liar gives him a greater advantage than hers would of him as a sexist jerk. Women already experienced his attitude when he ran against Hillary and know what he is like. So Warren has little to gain whereas Bernie can tarnish Warren by claiming she has falsely accused him.

    But what does this say about the knee-jerk reaction of men? I predict that Somerby will come out in support of Bernie and attack anyone defending Warren, once he has finished trying to trash Aaron Sorkin, who is an actual liberal writer.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. #WarrenIsASnake is trending but Bernie is the one who seems to believe that a flat denial is the best way to deal with something undesirable like this coming out.

      When will people get tired of their politicians doing wrong and then just flatly lying about it?

      Bernie has to believe that his bros will stick with him and he doesn't have a female following that will care about such a thing, so his denial is a cynical calculation. He should apologize and explain what he really means, if he was misquoted.

      Otherwise, Bernie is behaving just like Joe Biden, who never apologizes for anything. Bernie might have a chance to attract more female voters if he didn't behave like such a bro himself -- there's nothing weak about apologizing. It would make him seem more honest and less hostile toward women.

      Delete
    2. Sanders and Warren had a non-aggression pact that last about 9 months, then Sanders broke it by giving scripts to his workers that trashed Warren. Here is a summary of the chronology and discussion of this recent #NeverWarren campaign being waged by Russian bots, together with the reaction by Sanders' team:

      http://yastreblyansky.blogspot.com/2020/01/a-little-depressed.html#more

      Delete
  12. Somerby calls today's essay "Rational Animal Tales". I think it is wise to beware when an author wishes to call human beings animals. As Dave Neiwert (who follows white supremacism and alt-right activity and writes books about it) has noted, dehumanizing people and use of eliminationist rhetoric precedes actions to harm marginalized people. It makes violence possible. So too when it is liberals who are being dehumanized, by being called animals, as Somerby is wont to do.

    Today we read that alt-right militias are planning a boogaloo at the Virginia State Capitol to protest their pending gun legislation. The organizers see this as the start of a second civil war aimed at liberals and minorities, diverse people and those who support their rights.

    We don't need anyone inflaming the divisions that currently exist and evoke violence in our society. Somerby's use of the word "animals" as he describes liberal perfidy thus stokes this animosity and contributes to the tone that makes violence more likely. This is the same irresponsible targeting that Trump engages in, as he encourages his rally attendees to vent their anger on targets like the press, Hillary, and liberals such as Nancy Pelosi and anyone else in the news.

    Somerby should not be contributing to this. He wouldn't be, if he were any kind of liberal. But he is clearly not, and his comments occasionally reflect the ugliness this casual use of language attracts. He is a conservative, and like conservatives, he uses dehumanizing language toward those he targets, which is generally liberals every single day.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Dumb-da-dumb-dumb.

      Let’s ban Animal Farm, Ovid’s Metamorphoses, and all modern biology, which has determined not only that humans are animals, but which genus they belong to.

      (Psst! “Rational Animal Tales” refers to TDH’s mistaken notion that Aristotle called the human race, “the rational animal.” Nothing do with the alt-right.)

      Delete
    2. You have no idea what Somerby means by it. The name Aristotle appears nowhere in today's post. Even if it did, how do you know it isn't just camouflage so that he can call liberals more names? Since Aristotle didn't call refer to the people as rational animals (by your admission) that makes your assertion less likely.

      Animal farm was about animals. There are no people in it. Context matters. If someone is clearly talking about biology then referring to humans as animals might make sense, but Somerby, by context, is not doing that. He uses the term as an insult because he thinks people are dumb as animals. Dumb dumb dumb, remember? That is his context.

      It isn't cute when you imitate his behavior by calling commenters dumb. It just proves me point that this kind of behavior is contagious.

      Delete
    3. Please, TDH has been nattering on for months about Aristotle's supposed claim about "man being the rational animal." TDH is wrong, but that didn't stop him from carrying on as though the quote were accurate. And it's not camouflage for calling out liberals. It's right there in the open. Try to focus.

      Animal Farm is not about animals, there are people in Animal Farm, and the animal characters in Animal Farm are stand-ins for real people.

      I've been calling claims from people like you dumb before TDH started his blog.

      If you don't want to be called dumb, why not stop posting dumb comments?

      Delete
  13. Thinking about what anon 12:20 said:

    Somerby objected to the praise from liberal critics of Chanel Miller’s book. He felt they were buying into and furthering liberal “myths.”

    Has he considered being skeptical of the vast praise that Harper Lee’s book received from a great many “liberal” reviewers?

    Could it be that they bought into a pleasing myth that Lee created, of the white liberal saint?

    ReplyDelete
  14. Does anyone really believe Somerby has any actual interest in To Kill A Mockingbird?

    ReplyDelete
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