FRIDAY, DECEMBER 16, 2022
These elites today: It probably isn't Joshua Needelman's fault. We'll assume he just got the assignment.
Needelman is six years out of college (Maryland, class of 2016). At present, he's a "reporting fellow" at the New York Times. The program replaced the summer internship program back in 2019.
We'll guess he was told to do it! But Needelman's report about WOW—Women of Wrestling appears on the Times' front page today.
"Female empowerment" has come a long way! His report starts off like this:
NEEDELMAN (12/16/22): Where was the mud? The oil? The Jell-O?
When Jeanie Buss attended her first WOW—Women of Wrestling show, in February 2001, she expected to see scantily clad performers wrestling in slippery substances, as had been the norm on mainstream TV shows of that era.
Instead Ms. Buss, then the executive vice president of business operations for the N.B.A. team the Los Angeles Lakers, sat rapt as the indoor arena, now the Kia Forum, in Inglewood, Calif., shook with excitement. This was not mud wrestling; this was female empowerment. It felt as if the comic book heroes of Ms. Buss’s childhood had come to life, displaying strength and athleticism as they tossed each other around the ring.
Increasingly, "comic book heroes" are driving the culture in this, our declining world. Those comic book heroes are everywhere, from Hollywood right on down.
At times, this may seem to reflect the fact that some of us, the American people, may not always be perfectly sharp. Here's what female empowerment looked like to Buss, a good and decent and highly placed person, way back in 2001:
NEEDELMAN (continuing directly): The loser of the match, as stipulated in advance, had her head shaved in the middle of the ring. Ms. Buss, sitting 10 rows back, turned in shock to the friend who had joined her.
“It was wild,” Ms. Buss recalled. “And I fell in love with it.”
If you lost the match, your head would be shaved! That was genuine female empowerment, reminiscent of the way a gang or Irish villagers attacked the Sarah Miles character in a brilliant scene portraying ugly, misogynist conduct in David Lean's poorly received 1970 epic, Ryan's Daughter.
(In truth, the lengthy film was a bit of a dud. But we'd score that deeply ugly scene as deeply memorable.)
Has we been at that wrestling match, we're not sure that its manifestations would have struck us as "female empowerment." To his credit, Needelman eventually broke the news to Times subscribers about another aspect of so-called professional wrestling:
NEEDELMAN: Professional wrestling is actually something of a misnomer. It’s a scripted, athletics-based morality play with over-the-top characters and dramatic story lines, as well as so-called “feuds” settled through choreographed “violence,” which is different from legitimate fighting competitions like boxing and mixed martial arts. It also has traditionally been dominated by men, in terms of both featured competitors and decision makers.
According to Needelman, professional wrestling is "a scripted, athletics-based morality play with over-the-top characters and dramatic story lines, as well as so-called 'feuds' settled through choreographed 'violence.' "
So, of course, is our own "cable news," as Tucker Carlson showed, for the millionth time, in an ugly display last Thursday night.
As we noted yesterday, Tucker was savaging Brittney Griner in his monologue that night. Griner had just been released from a Russian labor camp. Another American, Paul Whelan, had not been part of the deal.
Based on a single, later disowned report, Tucker said it was "obvious" that the Biden administration had chosen to leave Whelan behind. Even as Griner was flying home, here's what the cable star said:
CARLSON (12/8/22): Well, why did they make that choice? Well, you should know that Whelan is a Trump voter, and he made the mistake of saying so on social media. He's paying the price for that now.
Brittney Griner is not. She's got very different politics. Brittney Griner despises the United States. She's been very vocal about that. This country is so repellent and immoral that two years ago she said: "I honestly feel we should not play the national anthem during our basketball season." She hates the country so much she doesn't want to hear its anthem. So there's that.
That's the kind of position that gets you rewarded by Joe Biden. "Hate America? Perfect! We'll free the guy who sold weapons to drug cartels to get you out early."
Thus spake a disordered member of an elite which speaks to millions of people each night.
(Full disclosure: Fox now seems to have disappeared the transcript of this monologue. Over the weekend and as of yesterday, the transcript was available.)
As we've noted in the past, a large portion of modern "cable news" is actually "a scripted morality play with over-the-top characters and dramatic story lines." Carlson was scripting one such over-the-top character with his ugly conduct last Thursday night.
This particular character was being scripted as a comic book villain. But how accurate were the cable star's comic book claims?
For the record, the quote he clipped was a technically accurate quote, but how accurate was his larger characterization? Has he possibly disappeared some aspects of the actual story in service to comic book villainy?
For the record, Griner had made the statement in question in the wake of the killing of Breonna Taylor. Griner was a major star with the WNBA's Phoenix Mercury.
Below, you see, headline included, a fuller report of what Griner had said. The report was written by Jeff Metcalfe of the Arizona Republic:
Phoenix Mercury's Brittney Griner will not be on court for National Anthem this season
Phoenix Mercury center Brittney Griner does not believe the National Anthem should be played before WNBA games and will not be on the floor if it is.
Griner made her comments during a teleconference Monday, two days after the Mercury's opening game at IMG Academy in Bradenton, Florida. Players were not on the floor for the anthem during that game, honoring the late Breonna Taylor, other victims of police brutality and Black Lives Matter.
"I honestly feel we should not play the National Anthem during our season," said Griner, one of the top players in the WNBA and second in 2019 most valuable player voting. "I think we should take that much of a stand.
"I don't mean that in any disrespect to our country. My dad was in Vietnam and a law officer for 30 years. I wanted to be a cop before basketball. I do have pride for my country."
Carlson forgot to mention several things Griner had said. He was too busy creating a comic book villain, as millions of people watched and were possibly being misled.
We're going to guess that Carlson's statement—his statement about Griner despising the United States and finding it repellent—may not be perfectly accurate. That was comic book, pro wrestling stuff. Our culture is full of such product.
We'll have to admit that this makes us think of the greatest film of all time—Jeanne Dielman, 23, quai du Commerce, 1080 Bruxelles (1975).
An international elite recently selected Jeanne Dielman, 23, quai du Commerce, 1080 Bruxelles as history's greatest film. We have never seen the film, but as we noted at the start of the week, its storyline is said to go like this:
The film examines a widowed mother's regimented schedule of cooking, cleaning, mothering, and running errands over three days. The woman...earns money by having sex with a different client each afternoon before her son arrives home from school. Like her other activities, Jeanne's sex work is part of the mundane routine she performs daily by rote.
After a visit by a client on the second day, Jeanne's orderly behavior begins to subtly unravel. She overcooks potatoes while preparing dinner, then wanders around the house carrying the potato pot; she forgets to cover the porcelain in which she keeps her money, misses a button on her house coat, and drops a newly washed fork. The alterations to Jeanne's routine continue until her client arrives on the third day. They have orgasmic sex, she dresses herself, and then impulsively stabs him to death with a pair of scissors. She then sits quietly at her dining room table.
We've never seen the film. Nor have we been able to find an explanation of what makes the film so great.
We've seen it suggested that the film brilliantly captures the existing state of European feminist thought as of 1975. We wonder if the vision of that era's Euro elite may perhaps have been built around a comic book characterization of female possibilities in Europe as of that particular date.
These elites today! One elite may possibly love that ancient Eurovision. Another elite has Women of Wrestling atop today's front page!
For ourselves, we think Griner may have shown imperfect political judgment in the stance she adopted concerning the national anthem, not unlike the well-intentioned Colin Kaepernick before her. It seems to us that some other type of gesture might have produced a broader range of converts.
That said, Kaepernick and Griner were brilliant young professional athletes, not seasoned political players. By way of contrast, Carlson is part of a disordered elite which struts and frets upon a stage. Also, the New York Times has Buss and WOW and a vision of female empowerment atop today's front page.
Everywhere President Roosevelt looked, he saw "one-third of a nation ill-housed, ill-clad, ill-nourished." Everywhere we look today, even including MSNBC, we see gangs of overpaid elites whose statements you shouldn't assume to be fully accurate and whose sometimes slightly peculiar assessments you possibly shouldn't quite trust.