Sunday, 05 May 2013

Jonah Goldberg “traffick[s] in an old theory that was perfectly within the bounds of intellectual discourse not very long ago” That theory being, of course, that what he says matters. It doesn’t. But what’s frightening is that in this isolated case, he may be right. (In all others? Not so much.) After trying to apply our new Internet Tradition to what Republicans said on the Sunday talk shows, it occurred to me that a weapon this dangerous can’t be allowed to fall into conservative’s grasp. The power of Peak Exculpation must remain in our scheming hands and our mocking hearts for all eternity. Imagine if conservatives realized that they could say anything they wanted so long as someone followed with a note that they were merely “trafficking in an old theory that was perfectly within the bounds of intellectual discourse not very long ago”? That can’t become acceptable. Sadly, given Jonah’s ability to influence conservative “scholars,” I’m sure it’ll become more than acceptable — it’ll become the excuse du jour among the professionally wrong. It’s not their fault they’re old and white and male, so how can they be held accountable for “trafficking in an old theory that was perfectly within the bounds of intellectual discourse not very long ago.” If you have an issue with their obsolete positions, take it up with Father Time, Jefferson Davis and The Patriarchy. NOTE: Someone who knows how to use the Twitter machine better than I should show @JonahNRO the power of his despicable phrase. Start a clever #hashtag and all. I’m just saying!
Mad Men: Is the awesomeness of white men really "For Immediate Release"? The majority of people watch Mad Men wrong. What do I mean? A translation of last night’s episode, “For Immediate Release,” from their perspective should suffice: With the exception of Matt Zoller Seitz and a few others, the majority of responses to this episode have focused on how “satisfying” it was to see Don Draper behaving like Draper again. Meaning the majority of the people writing those responses are still watching the show primarily to experience the thrill of being a powerful white man. The episode, directed by the always excellent Jennifer Getzinger, undermines this reading at nearly every turn. Consider when Sterling announces that he’s landed SCDP a chance at Chevy after Don brushed off Jaguar: Pete Campbell upbraids Draper, saying “Don’t act like you had a plan, you’re Tarzan, swinging from vine to vine,” creating an image that would seem to correspond with the “appealing” white male narrative above. Draper isn’t just any powerful white man — he’s the walking-talking embodiment of early 20th Century theories of white male supremacy. Like Tarzan, he’s an orphan who cultivates the talents required to survive in a hostile and alien society; and like Tarzan, when he finds himself among “normal” people again, these talents appear superhuman to them. To become king of the apes he had to become more than just a man. In this particular context, Campbell’s insult almost reads like a compliment; however, this isn’t the first time this season we’ve encountered an ostensibly superior white man in a society of apes: For the second time in two weeks, the show demands we consider the hubris of a white man in the society “unworthy” of his talents. The reference to Tarzan in “For Immediate Release” only seems ambiguous if we conveniently forget that Draper’s mildly obsessed with a film whose premise is that no man — not even a white one on a world mad with apes — is beyond reproach. Campbell’s insult holds these two visions of white male supremacy in tension: Draper can only continue to feel superior if he deliberately forgets what he learned watching Planet of the Apes. Those critics who found this episode a “return to form” fail to realize that they’re taking comfort in a momentary resurgence of white male privilege — a momentary return to that Golden Age “when things just made sense” that conservatives reference every time a woman, person of color, or anyone under the age of forty-five decides to have an opinion. Wasn’t it grand when self-made men like Draper could impose their will on the world? The problem with finding “satisfaction” in this episode, then, is that it requires us to ignore the same things Draper does. Note how the medium shot of Campbell upbraiding him is composed: Draper, representing the old guard, is in the foreground, but he’s a face without a brain and out of focus; Campbell, Ken Cosgrove and Joan Harris, representing the generation after Draper’s, occupy the midground; and in the background is an...

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