Friday, 21 September 2012

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Anyone wanna pay me $1,000,000 to produce a video of Obama choking on a matzo ball? All I had to do was dither around the site to which I'd already linked to find evidence that my prediction about the next two months is correct. Because as it turns out I somehow missed this: Breitbart News is doubling its reward—to $100,000—for one of the missing pieces of Barack Obama’s past, which may be the key to understanding his collapsing Middle East policy: the “Khalidi tape,” a video kept under wraps by the Los Angeles Times since April 2008. The Khalidi tape shows Obama at a 2003 farewell party for radical Palestinian academic and activist Rashid Khalidi, and reportedly features vitriolic anti-Israel rhetoric ... The ties between Obama and Khalidi are deep, going back to the days when Obama served on the board of the Woods Fund with former terrorist Bill Ayers, and provided funds for Khalidi’s Arab American Action Network ... Given Obama’s muted response to the attacks on U.S. embassies and troops throughout the Middle East today; his refusal to meet with Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu next week; his eagerness to sacrifice Americans’ free speech rights in fruitless gestures of appeasement; and his belated but effusive support for the now-radicalized Arab Spring, it is worth examining the roots of his misguided foreign policy. The Khalidi tape may provide the key. I'm pleased to introduce you to The New New Stupid, son of The New Stupid, inevitable father to the host of Newer Stupids due to arrive in the next two months. When FOX decided to blanket itself in that 1998 video of Obama discussing taxation as an anodyne form of redistributing wealth, all I could think was that someone in management thought tit-for-tat the most effective strategy to counter the release of the Romney video.* If they have videos, I imagined management saying, we will too. Put aside the fact that FOX claims to be an independent news organization and focus on the fact that executives at FOX believe that "video" is a unit, and that the only way to counter one unit of "video" is with another. Breitbart News, so named because it decided to call itself that, literally doubled-down today in an attempt to produce a unit of "video" that will damage Obama's candidacy more than Romney's did his. This video, if it exists, will do maximal damage because it'll introduce Breitbart News readers and FOX viewers to shocking new ideas like "Obama has Muslim sympathies," "Obama hates Israel" and "Obama pals around with terrorists." As I noted in my previous post, the problem with this approach is that anyone who's going to believe that already does, so finding a unit of "video" that can be edited to demonstrate Obama's long-standing loathing of America and gefilte fish will have absolutely no impact on the election. Yet it's incredibly important to conservative "news" outlets to find and disseminate as many of these units as they can between now and November. I would say that I don't know why, but I know that sucking at...
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Game of Thrones: "Winter Is Coming" for Bran (This is another one of those visual rhetoric posts that's born of this upcoming course. The next post in this series can be found here. The course blog, which is currently still in the demo stage so don't judge, is here.) In the previous post we established that the director of "Winter Is Coming," Tim Van Patten, went to great lengths to transform Will into a sympathetic character. He can choose immediate death at the cold hands of the white walker or run back to Winterfell and face immediate death for having deserted his post on the wall. He chose the latter, which in terms of prolonging his life was the correct choice, but eventually his decision caught up with him: As hinted in the previous post, this shot is almost a graphic match that straddles the opening credits. Will's forlorn face as he decides to run to this death rather than face the other resembles, in a compositional sense, this medium long shot of his capture. The difference is one of scale, and it's an understandable one, as the previous medium close-up highlighted his pained indecision, whereas this medium long shot diminishes him to the "proper" height of one about to be beheaded. But as I noted in the previous post, Will is but a directorial tool—a means to a sympathy-creating ends. The deep focus in the shot above emphasizes the fact that despite the fact that Will's in the middle of an open field, he's surrounded and escape is impossible. Unlike when he was north of the wall and the danger was effectively hidden in plain sight and shallow focus, south of the wall, easily spotted threats arrive from all directions. Hence, the look of resignation on Will's face. Not that Will matters. He doesn't. He's but a means to an end, and that end is the introduction of the rigorously structured points of view present in the novel. This episode, "Winter Is Coming," translates nine chapters of Game of Thrones from the page to the screen. Ignoring, for the moment, Daenerys I and II, which cover happenings an ocean away, the episode must introduce the perspectives presented in Bran I, Catelyn I, Eddard I, Jon I, Catelyn II and Bran II. Without going full-Rashomon, how can Van Patten accomplish this? By introducing their internal thoughts and feelings via their reactions to Poor Will's unfortunate fate. The shot above follows some of the riders to an establishing shot of Winterfell: Without knowing anything else about what's going on here, what has Van Patten communicated? Unlike the inhumanely scaled wall presented in the Prologue, this castle is imposing but clearly of human design and repair. It's also clearly a castle, which creates in the audience the expectation that they'll be meeting the groomers and smithies and kitchen wards. Of course not: if Van Patten had cut to a crack in the castle wall large enough for someone half-starved to slip through, that might be the case, but he cut...

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