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February 14, 2008

"Maps of War"

Neat-o timesuck site featuring lots of cool animated maps. Among them, this animation of American war casualties under different political leaderships.

Not really red meat or anything -- can't blame Lincoln for the Civil War mess too much, nor FDR for that whole Nazi/Empire of Japan unpleasantness -- but interesting to watch.

Via the Weekly Standard blog, which also includes a link to a conservative producer's take on progressivism killing dramatic fiction. And how Joel Surnow exploited the deadness of the form to "shock" people with rather simple twists that were only "twists" at all because Hollywood had long ago deemed them verboten:

Before Hollywood started working for al-Queda [sic] my biggest complaint with them was how left-wing cliches were killing films and television. Once you know how the simple liberal mind works — once you crack that code – you can see plot-twists coming from a mile away. Liberal purity has created more cliches and ruined more thrillers and action films than I can even begin to count.

I don’t know the man, but Surnow seemed to consciously understand that over the decades a liberal socialization had taken place with television audeinces which would allow him to create truly shocking plot twists by playing on what we’ve expected from liberal Hollywood for decades and then turning those expectations on their ear.

Black presidents torture? Torture works? The bad guys really aren’t white? A black first lady is the villain? The hippie kid really is a snivelling punk? The protagonist loves his country? The guy who played John F. Kennedy is torturing his own son because his country comes first? Terrorism is always a bad thing? Non-white people are terrorists? Guns do good? And those are just the ones I can think of off the top of my head.

There have been many complaints that “24″ wasn’t truly conservative. True. But again, that’s a good thing because ideological purity ruins drama. You never knew what was going to happen on “24″ because the plot wasn’t beholden to any ideology and this freed the creators to keep the twists coming from any direction.

That's a pretty good point. Star Wars owed its popularity in no small measure to the simple rediscovery of age-old tropes that Hollywood had long considered unfashionable.

It's not that politics alone preclude me from liking a movie like Shooter, a paranoid dark fantasy about Old White Republican Men conspiring to murder us all. Time was, and time could be again, that I liked that kind of movie. They're fun.

The trouble is that this is the only permissible plotline in filmed entertainment anymore -- and alternatives are only barely permissible in print, either, allowed only in low-rent trashy action thrillers -- and the same goddamned plots, tropes, stock characters and standard villains only have so much fucking juice in them. And all of that juice was used up sometime around 1982.

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posted by Ace at 06:02 PM

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