Thursday, 18 February 2010

We is a serious news organization what demands you retract tweets now. The following sentence actually appears in a post on the site of a darling of conservative media:We have identified yet another tweet we would like [Roger Ebert] to retract[.] The "yet another" is delicious, as it indicates that Andrew Breitbart has initiated a campaign to compel people to retract their tweets. The vicious slur of a tweet in question reads: Breitbart's bright bulbs know that's a lie:We have established that we differ on the last sentence, but his claim he did not know that “teabaggers” is a pornographic term until the MSM (mainstream media) told him is provably false. We know it’s false because in 1998, Prof. Ebert reviewed a film containing this scene[.]How can you not respect a corporate non-entity who insists on granting Ebert a doctorate for the sole purpose using "Prof." as a diminutive? More to the point: how can you not pity the poor Breitbart intern who, I hope, is pretending to misunderstand Ebert's patently sarcastic remark in order to score points with his boss? Because that's what this all adds up to: some minion being forced to impersonate a tweet-retracting mountain camel in order to impress Andrew Breitbart. Because this is what impresses Andrew Breitbart: the retraction of tweets in which people call tea-baggers by the doubly ignorant name they chose for themselves.* The demand to stop calling tea-baggers the name they gave themselves is, remarkably, not the dumbest part of this tweet-retraction crusade: that would be the faux-outrage Pam Meister musters upon learning that Ebert's tweets don't rise to the level of "informed commentary." She suggests, with a straight face, that the lack of sustained commentary by Ebert is a grave failure of character, not a feature inherent in the Twitter's 140 character limit; and she does this, of course, without acknowledging the vast archive of his writing freely available online. Granted, Meister might not be any better acquainted with Google than her fellow tea-baggers, but the point remains: she thinks Ebert should write tweets with more characters than Twitter allows, and until he does, she will be very, very cross with him. Which is terrible, terrible news, as the odds of someone as soft as Ebert weathering this tweet-retraction campaign are slim indeed. *They can pull down their site in an effort to deny it, but Google remembers that they were the ones who started using "tea-bag" as a verb, so they need to live with the consequences of their laziness and sexual stolidity. Liberals didn't claim the Founding Fathers threw tea-bags into Boston Harbor, nor were they the ones who insisted on compounding the error of that anachronism by naming their movement without performing a precautionary Googling. For a movement so concerned with personal responsibility, you'd think someone in it might take some.
Great Moments in Misprision; or, Why I always thought Lost in Translation was an anti-racist film, not the other way around. I'm having one of those moments in which I wonder whether I was watching the same movie everyone else was. At Racialicious, Thea Lim discusses Complex Magazine's list of The 50 Most Racist Movies You Didn't Know Were Racist, and while the majority of the list disappoints (on account of me already knowing the overtly racist films listed were racist), some of the entries simply baffle me. Foremost among them is Bulworth, Warren Beatty's film about the centrist penchant to use blacks as electoral pawns—Bulworth won't die in defense of his principles, but he will commit suicide for a lobbyist payday, at least until he realizes that black people are really people, at which point American political logic demands he be assassinated—but not far behind is Sopphia Coppola's Lost in Translation, which Lim glosses thus: [T]he whole point of the movie disgusts me. As in, the nauseatingly self-indulgent focus on the deep, brooding subjectivity of two Anglo-Americans, against a backdrop of depthless Japanese people who, with their hilariously absurd subcultures, bizarre language and affinity for bowing, are all exactly the same.Lim then quotes a section about self-involved white cluelessness from Restructure!: [W]hat disgusts me about Lost in Translation is that it centers on the lives of white people in a country where they are the minority, and it suggests that the social isolation that comes from being a minority is something that could only happen to white people.I'm not sure why either writer assumes that the experience Coppola describes in the film is something that can only happen to white people, because to me, the film seems to do the exact opposite: it demonstrates that white Americans are emotionally and intellectually unprepared to understand the non-majoritarian social experience. So maybe it does describe an experience that can only happen to white people—but only because white people are alone in being unable to recognize their privilege for what it is. Neither Bill Murray's "Bob" nor Scarlett Johansson's "Charlotte" have given a moment's thought to the plight of non-whites in American society, so the events of the film represent their first encounter with any form of double-consciousness—even one in which their whiteness still affords them privileged social stature. The film begins with caricature and absurdity because these characters are incapable of understanding Japanese society, or their roles as others in that society understand them to be; e.g. Bob is baffled by the arrival of an escort because he is unfamiliar with the sexism endemic in traditional Japanese business culture. Charlotte knows one of her roles—that of the tourist in exotic Japan—and indulges in some Orientalist fare, visiting a temple to watch some monks chant. Their relationship, such as it is, is only possible in an environment in which their previously stable and unquestioned identities have dissolved in the face of their own otherness. I took this to be a criticism of American insularity and arrogance, not an assertion of its eternal provenance. To an American audience, it may seem as if the...

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