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May 27, 2014

Washington Post Film Critic: Let's Face It, the Santa Barbara Virgin Psycho Shooter Proves We Need More Women Directors

Some people are just so single-minded and shameless about turning any particular event into proof of their ideology that they're nearly heroic in their solipsism.

Input: Six people murdered by a deranged sexual-inadequate.

Output: We need to promote more feminist-themed movies and more female movie directors.

Indeed, as important as it is to understand Rodger’s actions within the context of the mental illness he clearly suffered, it’s just as clear that his delusions were inflated, if not created, by the entertainment industry he grew up in. With his florid rhetoric of self-pity, aggression and awkwardly forced “evil laugh,” Rodger resembled a noxious cross between Christian Bale’s slick sociopath in “American Psycho,” the thwarted womanizer in James Toback’s “The Pick-Up Artist” and every Bond villain in the canon.

As Rodger bemoaned his life of “loneliness, rejection and unfulfilled desire” and arrogantly announced that he would now prove his own status as “the true alpha male,” he unwittingly expressed the toxic double helix of insecurity and entitlement that comprises Hollywood’s DNA. For generations, mass entertainment has been overwhelmingly controlled by white men, whose escapist fantasies so often revolve around vigilantism and sexual wish-fulfillment (often, if not always, featuring a steady through-line of casual misogyny). Rodger’s rampage may be a function of his own profound distress, but it also shows how a sexist movie monoculture can be toxic for women and men alike.

How many students watch outsized frat-boy fantasies like “Neighbors” and feel, as Rodger did, unjustly shut out of college life that should be full of “sex and fun and pleasure”? How many men, raised on a steady diet of Judd Apatow comedies in which the shlubby arrested adolescent always gets the girl, find that those happy endings constantly elude them and conclude, “It’s not fair”?


...

Every year, San Diego State University researcher Martha Lauzen releases a “Celluloid Ceiling” report in which she delivers distressing statistics regarding the state of women in Hollywood. This year, she found that women made up just 16 percent of directors, writers, producers, cinematographers and editors working on the top 250 movies of 2013; similarly, women accounted for just 15 percent of protagonists in those films.

Even if 51 percent of our movies were made by women, Elliot Rodger still would have been seriously ill. But it’s worth examining who gets to be represented on screen, and how. It makes sense to ask, as cartoonist Alison Bechdel does in her eponymous Bechdel Test, whether a movie features (1) at least two named female characters who (2) talk to each other about (3) something besides a man. And it bears taking a hard look at whether we’re doing more subtle damage to our psyches and society by so drastically limiting our collective imagination. As Rodger himself made so grievously clear, we’re only as strong as the stories we tell ourselves.

Mass-shooting? What an opportune time to promote "The Bechdel Test."

Seth Rogan and Judd Apatow are up in arms about being impliedly to blame for the rampage.

Larry O'Connor seems relieved that things besides the 2nd Amendment are being blamed for the shooting.

Sure, these other claims are insane, but it's better than the usual insanity, I guess:

It’s interesting to see Hollywood heavyweights Rogen and Apatow pushing back at armchair analysts finding “reasons” for an evil rampaging murderer’s actions. Too infrequently actors, writers, and directors sit silently while the right to bear arms is cited as the “reason” for these crimes.

Hornaday’s assault on the first amendment received appropriate ridicule and response this time from Rogen, let’s hope he stays consistently vigilant when the second amendment is similarly attacked.

Yeah I don't think so.

The actress Holly Marie Combs, meanwhile, has apparently found a time machine and travelled back to 1992: she blames violent video games.

Sonny Bunch defends the Washington Post writer, Ann Hornaday, from what he deems a censorious imputation of "bad faith" on her part.

He begins by saying something true:

Of all the bad habits that permeate our culture of permanent grievance and perpetual argumentation, the one I find most frustrating is the constant presumption of bad faith. On the one hand, I get it: If you don’t feel like having an argument it’s easier to dismiss your opponent as evil or morally blighted. On the other, it’s deeply corrosive to the very concept of rational, good-faith discussion.

Apatow later suggested Hornaday was just trying to make some money for her corporate overlords...

But then errs in applying that truth to this particular case:

[A]patow’s response is wanting. He doesn’t bother defending his films or countering any of the arguments in Hornaday’s essay. Instead, he simply states that a film writer writing about films in the wake of a tragedy with undeniable ties to Hollywood is trying to “promote herself” by piggybacking on the shooting to promulgate her “idiotic thoughts.” He implicitly suggests she is arguing something she doesn’t believe in order to generate page views (and thus ad revenue) for the Washington Post.

Again, I think Hornaday’s way off base here. But accusing her of callously promoting herself for committing the crime of doing her job and contributing to the conversation is a rather terrible way of rebutting her argument. It is, at best, thin-skinned whinging. And it is, at worst, a tacit admission that she’s right.

Well, that's nonsense.

I don't agree that Apatow or Rogan need to "defend" themselves from the charge. It's a hysterical plague of a charge, bred in the most virulent pools of the fevered swamp of lunatic Gender Criticism Ideology.

One should not rush to claim that something written is beneath one's dignity to even address, but certainly there are some claims that are beneath any serious consideration.

There is nothing at all wrong with calling arrant nonsense by its name.

This woman, Ann Hornaday, is a soulless ideologue incapable of viewing life, or intelligently writing about it, through anything other than the twisted lens Try-Me-On Ideological Identikit she bought on the cheap on her third year at Vassar (or wherever).

The fact that she pounces on a mass shooting to promote The Bechdel Test of Feminist Film Theory, For Blasphemy's Sake!, can and must be held against her.

She is a low thinker, her daffy little head filled with bubblegum Theories of the Trivial and silly-string Daddy Didn't Love Me ragings.

And I don't think it's out of bounds to suggest that a writer should write something that she does not firmly believe.

It's a fact that Writer's Write. Even when they have nothing in particular to say: When you are a professional, you don't just write when you're inspired. You also write when you're decidedly uninspired, because the Rent Check doesn't care if you're inspired or not.

Not only is there the usual imperative of a deadline (be it an editorial deadline or a landlord's rent deadline) compelling the production of stupid articles by scatterbrained writers -- and such has been the case throughout history -- but our stupid Age of Twitter is also increasingly incentivizing the publication of deliberately, inappropriately, stupidly provocative pieces, simply because such pieces will attract (disapproving) links and page views.

In the Age of Twitter, one can get an awful lot of attention, and per-click revenue, from writing deliberately stupid things.

I don't know anything about Ann Hornaday. I don't know if she's a cynical provocateur who knows the formula for Internet Success -- Hot Tragedy + Celebrity Mentions + Jezebel Link-Trolling = Money -- or if she's actually so blinded by an ideology simultaneously poisonous and trivial that she actually thinks this way.

But I don't think it's out of bounds to question her motives here -- or her intelligence.

Hornaday Responds to the Criticism: Here.

Jonah Goldberg used a phrase on the podcast a few weeks ago that I always like: "talking his book" or "talking her book."

The phrase originates, I think, on Wall Street, where "your book" is your investment portfolio, so when you talk up your book, you increase the value of shares you already own, and thus enrich yourself.

We apply it now more broadly. In Hornaday's case, she can't avoid "talking her book" -- Hollywood movies and feminism -- even when we're talking about things quite a bit more serious than Knocked Up.

Just as Michael Eric Dyson cannot string three sentences in a row without talking his book ("Racism!!!"), so too can Hornaday not stop talking about stupid f***ing movies.

I think writers maybe should be careful about announcing that they have an extraordinarily cramped range of thinking, and, like robots, literally cannot think in any other terms without blowing a logic circuit.

Cartoon Thinking: I just can't help but noticing that so much of political thought -- especially on the left -- is perfectly cartoonish.

Serendipitously enough, Allison Bechdel, who proposed the Bechdel Test, is a cartoonist.

Incidentally... Which Judd Apadow movie sparked this shooting?

BRUSSELS (Reuters) – Belgian police were hunting on Sunday for an assailant who shot dead three people at the Jewish Museum in Brussels, and French authorities tightened security at Jewish sites following another attack that prompted fears of a rise in anti-Semitism.

Probably This is 40. The Albert Brooks character? He even made me a little anti-semitic.



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posted by Ace at 03:58 PM

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