Sunday, 21 March 2010

A list of people whose deaths I have permission to mourn. An annoying anonymous person writes: Why is it any time anyone hipsters or academics are supposed to like dies, they just so happen to be very important never-before-mentioned influences on your life? Are you really so needy that there's no death you won't use as an excuse to call attention to yourself? Although this comment belongs to the tedious category of "complaints about bloggers having blogs and writing about stuff on them," it nevertheless struck a chord: first, because the size of the community grieving for Alex Chilton surprised me; and second, it seems to be a dangerous time to be a living artist or academic who changed my life. That said, this annoying anonymous person is reading in bad faith: not everyone who influenced me did so greatly or uniquely, which is why I noted Kurt Vonnegut's passing in passing, as a "Vonnegut phase" is required to join the community of readers. The same cannot be said of those academics and artists with whom I shared an intimate relationship over many years, which is why I wrote individual remembrances of Octavia Butler, David Foster Wallace, Howard Zinn, or Alex Chilton. If I seem to be too familiar a type, blame central casting: academics play the part because that's the part they've been asked to play. That there seems to be a wider community of similarly interested intellectuals is, to my mind, a sign that while academic disciplines may be irrevocably balkanized, something resembling a larger intellectual culture still exists. Whether this cultural homogeneity is a good thing depends on what it actually contains, and given how surprising Chilton's inclusion image was to me, I probably should refrain from saying much more about it. However, in light of the recent proliferation of lists like this, I think I'll take a moment to silence future scolds by listing all living authors, musicians, and filmmakers with whose work I feel a deeply irrational kinship. They may not still move me as they once did, but they once did and when they die a little bit of me will too. Literature and Books Thomas Pynchon Gabriel García Márquez Susan Orlean Philip Roth Joan Didion Ishmael Reed Noam Chomsky Robertson Davies Neal Stephenson Iain M. Banks Steven Pinker Denis Johnson John McPhee China Mieville Colson Whitehead Walter Benn Michaels Bill James John Crowley Ursula K. Le Guin Mark Helprin George Saunders Film and Television Jim Jarmusch Joss Whedon David Simon David Milch Eddie Izzard Woody Allen Martin Scorsese Nicole Holofcener Atom Egoyan David Lynch Comics Dave Sim Alan Moore Alison Bechdel Scott McCloud Frank Miller Chris Claremont Warren Ellis Daniel Clowes Jeff Smith Ben Katchor Art Spiegelman Neil Gaiman Music Tom Waits Jeff Tweedy Leonard Cohen Sleater-Kinney Shane MacGowan Bruce Springsteen Paul Westerberg Tori Amos Pavement Michael Stipe The Indigo Girls Paul Simon Radiohead Grant Lee Philips Let me add: I stopped adding items to the list when I started having to think about what belonged on it. The only criterion for inclusion was...
John Nolte's outraged on behalf of topless women everywhere. It goes without saying that John Nolte will write something like this: Annually we are showered with Leftist films created by morally superior beings who lecture us on human rights, civil rights, feminism, lookism, racism and any other “ism” they can conceive, when in real life they’re the very worst in all of these departments. He honestly believes that because some people on the left are sexist or racist, everyone on the right is morally superior despite, you know, supporting policies designed to protect the interests of white males. In this case, his ire is raised by a New York Post article about the casting call for the fourth Pirates of the Caribbean movie: The filmmakers sent out a casting call last week seeking “beautiful female fit models. Must be 5ft7in-5ft8in, size 4 or 6, no bigger or smaller. Age 18-25. Must have a lean dancer body. Must have real breasts. Do not submit if you have implants.” And they warn that there’ll be a “show and tell” day. To make sure LA talent scouts don’t get caught in a “booby trap,” potential lassies will have to undergo a Hollywood-style jiggle-your-jugs test and jog for judges. Nolte is outraged on behalf of surgically-enhanced women everywhere: This isn’t some sleazy porn peddler in the valley doing this, this is…Disney. DISNEY is going to subject and exploit young women desperate to be stars to the indignity of a booby ”show and tell.” DISNEY is going to have them jog in place for producers and casting agents in order to keep score of the bounciness of their breasts. Not only is this a case of discrimination against women whose only crime was undergoing a dangerous surgical procedure in order to enhance their appeal to sexists like Nolte, it involves a particularly dehumanizing "booby 'show and tell'" in which woman will be asked to "jog in place for producers and casting agents in order to keep score of the bounciness of their breasts." How does he know this? It says so right in the actual, unexpurgated casting call: Must be 5'7-5'8, Size four or six - no bigger or smaller. Age 18 to 25. Must have a lean dancer body. Must have real breasts. Do not submit if you have implants. This is a show and tell of costumes with the director and the producers. Plan on an entire day of trying on clothes and being photographed. Sticklers might insist that the prepositional phrase "of costumes" modifies "show and tell," and that there's nothing in the casting call about actresses being asked to "jog in place" so producers and casting can "keep score of the bounciness of their breasts." Since it's not in the casting call, where did this idea of a "booby 'show and tell'" in which a parade of topless women jiggle only what the good Lord gave them come from? Where else? The imagination of John Nolte. The man can't even defend hypothetical women without undressing them in his mind. This...

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