Currently viewing the tag: "media critiques"

At this point, it’s pretty clear that Jezebel exists to make Gawker look thoughtful, radical, and  passionate. Gawker slants tediously leftist, as do all of its writers (to my knowledge). But Hamilton Nolan, Max Read, and a few others have written quality, serious pieces on cops, the drug war, and war — many of which contain nothing in them that would alienate a libertarian.

Now, compare and contrast  a few Gawker posts with this latest Jezebel piece on the president, entitled “Check Out Obama’s Adorable Prom Pic.” It begins: “After last week’s hellish scandal week, President Barack Obama could use a little PR break.”

It continues:

What’s this? Photos of a young Barry at his prom have unearthed and Michelle was not his date? Is that infidelity? Does this mean impeachment? IS HE WEARING MARIJUANA AROUND HIS NECK? Nope, this photo is just sweet and innocent.

Oh Mr. President, look how happy you were at such a simple time when the greatest concern that could possibly bother you was the size of your fro, the breasts on your date and the awkwardness of the slow dance.

One of Barry’s high school friends, Kelli Allman (second to the left) just shared this gem from senior prom with Time, and it’s beyond adorable. It features Barry’s BFF, Greg Orme (the other dude in the photo) and Barry’s date that night, Megan Hughes. Apparently the double date duo sipped on some champagne before prom, did a Socialist ritual at prom (I kid, I kid) and attended an after-party like any other high school kids.

Allman also shared a photo of her yearbook, which has an even sweeter note from the future President. If you want to get the full experience, just let your eyes wonder at this picture. But if Barry’s handwriting is too handsome for you to handle, here’s what he says:

It continues, but I don’t care to.

Jesus Christ, editors; swoon over Ryan Gosling, or Joseph Gordon-Levitt, or any of the other currently-dreamy men who have made no choices that lead to the deaths of Pakistani children. This continuing obsession with the attractiveness of the president is completely appalling. It’s worse than the lowest type of gossip site, it’s worse than completely ignoring politics or serious issues, in the manner of Cosmopolitan. Yes, Jezebel is actually more embarrassing for women than Cosmo. It’s official. As a lady writer, I declare it so. Better to not talk about politics than to degrade good, old fashioned fawning in this manner. Teen idols don’t deserve to be grouped in with Barack Obama. The Jonas Brothers do not have predator drones. David Cassidy didn’t spy on the AP. Leif Garrett didn’t permit the DOJ to shut down medical marijuana clinics.

Jezebel is free to hire only leftist writers. They don’t even need to think about how all women are being portrayed when they write for a women’s blog — that’s too much to ask of anyone. They’re a subset of a subset, a moderate-left-blog for women’s interests. But it’s still troubling when there are multiple blogs on one platform, and it’s the women’s one with the most empty-headed, brood-hen bullshit. Just stop writing about politics entirely if you side-step their deadly seriousness.

And if you really support the president, explain why. Don’t write snotty posts with dog-whistles to the most inane, right-wing strawmen critiques so you can all have a hearty laugh about how wacky are those Republicans. Be honest and say the drug war, the wars, the spying is all worth it to you. Politics is awful, but Obama has the power of life and death, or freedom and imprisonment, over millions of people. That is fucking serious, do not write about it as if you were a 12-year-old.

With such posts — and such timing! —  you’re embarrassing the rest of the women, and the rest of the teen idols. Obama might have been a nice guy in private life, but he lost the privilege of being a morally neutral figure the moment he was elected, and he sure as hell lost the ability to be a sex symbol.

  • Three terrible, neocon tweets, possibly preserved in some sort of social networking hibernation in 2004 to be thawed out now:

I didn’t know Eric Holder was soft on terrorists! What a disturbing interpretation!

You’re a parody.

“Playing the victim.”

  • Two different round-ups of more awful responses. The first is from Dan Bier at The Skeptical Libertarian, the second is from Andrew Kirell at Mediaite. The worst one is by far from Nick Kristof of The New York Times. The most banal — to me, and at least before the insane infowars-invaded press conference — was the one from Alex Jones. What the hell else would you expect from him besides spouting off about a “false flag attack”? I’m more impressed that he managed to express some sorrow for the lives lost.
  • And honestly, I think that the Cable News response could have been a lot worse. Some lingering lessons from Tuscon shooting, Sandy Hook, maybe Columbine, for Christ’s sake, seems to have finally stuck in people’s minds. I mean, Fox News still leaned towards terrorists of the brown persuasion (and Cavuto talked to Joe Arpaio, which was terribly enlightening, as you can imagine). MSNBC and CNN used words like “Waco” and “McVeigh” a lot more often. And, ya know, The New York Post lost its fucking mind and continued to refer to a Saudi suspect and 12 dead until at least 6 p.m. But somehow it felt like it could have been worse.
  • Some moving and grisly photos compiled by Buzzfeed. Take their”graphic” warning to heart. If you can stomach seeing a man with half both legs gone, you may be able to appreciate one amazing photo in particular. That sounds utterly callous, but then, so is taking a photo of a naked, napalmed girl. There’s no way to resolve my — or other folks’ — appreciation for hideous, powerful photojournalism. It’s always going to be wrong and necessary to intrude into people’s horror-moments in this way.
  • Dave Weigel on “Why the Conspiracy Theorists Will Have a Tough Time With Boston.” Weigel seems to have forgotten about the existence of the Zapruder film, however. I’m going to have to assume there’s some sort of deep conspiracy there.
  • Something to make you tear up — more concrete even than a Mr. Rogers quote.

Sen. Rand Paul’s speech at the historically black college Howard University earlier in the week provoked liberal scorn from some, including the frustrating-cause-he-almost-knows-better MSNBC stable Chris Hayes. The Atlantic‘s Conor Friedersdorf wrote a blog post in response to Hayes and company’s easy critique of Paul as the stammering, Southern, pandering white Republican who doesn’t care about the black community and it contains some deliciously damning bits.

To much of the left, Republicans are by default Mitt Romney asking a group of black kids “who let the dogs out?” They’re racist and when they try not be, they’re an out of touch joke, not interested in changing any of society’s racist institutions. This is too-often a fair critique of the right, to be sure. But it also give the left, at least the Democrat left, an absurd amount of completely undeserved credit, and neglects to damn them for their equal sins in this arena.

Friederdorf’s subhed alone — “What’s most racially “cringe-worthy,” Rand Paul’s speech at Howard, Stop and Frisk, or indefinite detention?” — sums it all up brilliantly. Read the whole thing here, but read the takeaway below.

(Friedersdorf is rapidly joining the ranks of journalists that I am mad about not being.)

[Rand] Paul believes minorities are disproportionately affected by failing schools, draconian sentences for non-violent crimes, and drug laws. He believes reforming those policy areas is required for racial progress, and also worth doing because people of all races would benefit. More broadly, he believes that protecting civil liberties is particularly crucial to protecting minority rights. Agree or disagree with his policy stances. But don’t say, as Hayes does, that he believes achieving racial progress is just a matter of having the right conversations.

That is verifiably false.

The irony is that Hayes’ segment and most coverage of race in the establishment media treats conversation about race — it’s earnestness, tone, and sophistication — as a proxy far more important than hard fought policy changes. Awkward moments during a speech at Howard can get you labeled as hilariously backward about race in America in analysis that totally ignores your policy efforts.

Whereas Mayor Bloomberg, who has presided over Stop and Frisk and spying on innocent Muslim Americans, would never be labeled “worse than Braid Paisley on civil rights.” And Barack Obama, who gave a superb speech about race in America, is judged, by virtue of his rhetorical sophistication, to be the epitome of enlightenment on the subject. Hayes is truly a vital voice, in part because (unlike many others on MSNBC) he consistently and admirably criticizes the Obama Administration for its transgressions against civil liberties. Insofar as there’s any chance of stopping indefensible drone strikes or inane drug policies, it’s because of people like Hayes, and I really can’t overstate how much I appreciate that about his work. Yet he would not do a mocking, glib segment that portrayed Obama’s outreach to blacks and Muslims as laughable and “cringe-inducing,” no matter how badly Obama’s policies transgressed against justice. That’s because in America we cringe at awkward moments more than indefinite detention. Paul’s rhetoric on race is thought to be more “unsophisticated” than Stop and Frisk.

Even people who criticize establishment abominations can’t quite bring themselves to mock and ridicule them.

Ridicule is for folks outside the tribe.

The rest of the Paul-mocking media wouldn’t criticize a Bloomberg or Obama on civil rights or racial policy at all, not because Bloomberg and Obama have more enlightened racial policies — they’re presiding over the ugliest of what we’ve got at the local and national levels — but because Bloomberg and Obama know how to talk about race in the way it is done at liberal arts colleges. They’d be far better than Paul at being sensitivity trainers or diversity outreach coordinators.

  • ob2Horrible hawk Sen. Lindsey Graham says that “we” have killed 4700 people with drone strikes. 
  • Said Obama on February 4: “weapons of war have no place on our streets.” Said the internet…
  • Neither Obama nor Jeffrey Tucker said this, but it is still beautiful.
  • This year in Students for Liberty booing awful Stossel guest: Ann Coulter! She believes that libertarians care about the drug war in order to “suck up to… liberals.” See the next bullet point for important liberals mostly don’t give a shit news!
  • Okay, but before that there is important beard news.
  • I don’t really suggest that all white people run around calling other people people their “nigga,” but I still dislike the tone of this Jezebel blog. Lena Dunham had no obligation to respond to this this “thing,” but she did it in a classy fashion. Probably don’t call everyone “nigga,” but also, blog about something else. Say, how about the drug war, progressives who seem to care a lot about race?. Except not that, because then there are so many awkward moments what with the fawning over Obama thing that Jezebel just can’t stop doing.
  • Yes, this is infowars, but it’s a mostly-credible follow-up to Mike Riggs’ Reason blog on horrifying police practice targets.
  • Cato’s new map of defensive gun use incidents
  • Go whine about it on “The Facebook.” [H/T: Bruce Majors]
  • Not everyone was down with prohibition, you’ll be shocked to learn.
  • “Cows in Pants”
  • My cousins and I already invented Choose Your Own Glorious Adventure To Celebrate the Party, Comrade. That was, however, 2008, in Montana, and only in our imaginations. Jesse Walker notes that someone else has had a similar idea
  • Rookie mag, I adore you, and I adore the idea of a “too painful to listen to anymore” song playlist. But, people, one of those songs is “Butterfly” by Crazytown. “Butterfly.” Look, I kind of enjoy like six Taylor Swift songs. Whatever floats your boat or breaks your heart, but holy shit, “Butterfly” by Crazytown. I need a moment to stop laughing.
  • I am going to see La Plebe tonight in San Francisco. This is what it looked like when I saw them open for Jello Biafra in San Francisco in 2010.

fox-news-logoMichelle Fields has a point about liberal political correctness when it comes to language in this clip from Fox News. And “out of status” is a clunky, imprecise term for undocumented workers. I am pro that meme that says “no human being is illegal,” but on the other hand, maybe we should just call them illegal immigrants and then try to puncture the ensuing panic over the word “illegal.” Shouldn’t conservatives, the folks who are in theory for small(er) government, recognize that there is no inherent negativity in “illegal” or “law-breaking”? Particularly when it comes to laws that came hundreds of years after the Constitution, have nothing to do with the Constitution, and are really a legacy of the hated Progressive era?

The tedious liberal obsession over language is a side issue to the bigger one of immigration; Fields’ response is at least as inane as the original suggestion of “out of status.” Talk about talking about nothing.

As the good folks at Reason, plus the great cartooning of Terry Colon, put it in 2008, “What Part of Legal Immigration Don’t You Understand?” There is no line for most of the people being debated about on Fox News. A  small government, pro-family, pro-economic freedom conservative should understand that the rational choice for most illegal immigrants is not to respect the “sanctity” of the U.S. borders and wait for years or forever, but to go where they can find work, no matter the law. Conservatives should realize that every individual and every family head should be thinking about their and their family’s survival, period.

Katie Pavlich, Fox and Friends, there’s political correctness run amok, and then there’s your refusal to notice that the Pledge of Allegiance is the following:

a) Fundamentally antithetical to small government — it’s a loyalty oath that children are taught to parrot while in public schools. No matter how great America is, isn’t that concept in opposition to all of the best ideas about the U.S.A.?

b) Was written by socialist Frances Bellamy in 1892. Bellamy’s cousin Edward also wrote the horrific Utopian novel “Looking Backward”, which is both nationalistic and socialistic in ideals.

c) Not to mention, your precious “under God” was inserted in the 1950s. In fact, the whole pledge wasn’t put into wide usage until the 1940s. Are we trying to get back to the Founders, or are we trying to get back to a time when FDR was ruining everything, hmm?

Instead of discussing that or anything worthwhile, the show spent three minutes hand-wringing over whether Arabic should ever be spoken in a school.

esq-megan-fox-cover-0213-lgEsquire, oh Esquire. You’re the confederate vampire character Jasper in Twilight — compared to  the other characters/magazines (Bella/Cosmo), you are the weightiest, most literary thing.  But there you are, somehow still being terrible and shallow. You’re always there, a reminder of how bad you are, but don’t have to be, but how much better you are than things that are worse.

But first, a list. Cosmo and associated lady magazines think that women are interested in sex, men, make-up, clothes, things that will kill you, and not much else. Esquire, according to their February issue, believes that you, a Man, are interested in the following things:

Megan Fox’s weirdness and her hotness and her sadness (more on that later), Barack Obama’s second term, how the Post Office is the Best Thing in the World and is Also America, Everyone Should Calm Down About Sex Scandals, head injuries in the NFL,  Kevin Bacon wearing a 5,000 dollar suit, Alan Arkin’s life advice, how to make mushroom gravy for your steak, various sexual things, short stories, poetry — one poem is even by a lady, alcohol, which smartphones have the best cameras, the war in Afghanistan, jokes told by scantily clad women, clothing, the World Trade Center, Chris Christie.

Yes, they are selling you lots of shit, same as lady magazines do, but nobody who has given even a cursory glance at both general interest men magazines and lady ones could ever argue against this summary; that men’s magazines, even the most shallow ones, suggest a lot wider, and meatier range of interests than any women’s ones (even more than, say, Bust, which is just a little too into knitting and shit). You, a Man, have a lot of interests. Sexy ladies are just one of them. Sexy ladies are interested in their looks and in men, men are interested in doing things and thinking things and, yes, getting sexy women. This is not new. This is still frustrating.

Thankfully, Esquire also has some really solid examples of appalling sentences and paragraphs. Their fault, intriguingly (again, when contrasted with Cosmo, which is written at probably a fifth grade reading level) is most often that they are pretentious.  And so, presenting the top five most awful piece of writing in the February Esquire —

1) No reaction to the cover profile of Megan Fox could beat Caity Weaver’s blog for Gawker. Her headline, “Megan Fox Speaks in Tongues and is Symmetrical” is an impressively accurate summary of the content. Weaver’s takeaway, that Fox alludes to a lot of weird, fascinating beliefs, mentioning Pentecostal church, leprechauns  aliens —  but the writer — Stephan Marche — is much more interested in her face, is correct. The worst part of Marche’s writing (read it out loud in the most theatrical tone possible):

The symmetry of her face, up close, is genuinely shocking. The lip on the left curves exactly the same way as the lip on the right. The eyes match exactly. The brow is in perfect balance, like a problem of logic, like a visual labyrinth. It’s not really even that beautiful. It’s closer to the sublime, a force of nature, the patterns of waves crisscrossing a lake, snow avalanching down the side of a mountain, an elaborately camouflaged butterfly. What she is is flawless. There is absolutely nothing wrong with her.

As previously noted by The Awl and Jezebel. Marche also calls Amy Adams and Adele and Lady Gaga “perfectly plain.” This is obviously ridiculous. But says Marche, they are basically signs that ugly women have been okayed by society now. That leads him to his thesis — not that Fox believes weird shit and hates her body being used as dissected and that could be interesting, np — that it’s hard out there fore the symmetrical-faced.

Marche also has to put “I” in his lede. Every single profile of a sexy celebrity needs to start with the author sitting next to or across from their subject. It’s very important. It’s key. I am there, the sexy celebrity is there, look how she eats food, how she curls up her feet onto the sofa, look at her.

(All of this makes me realize how God damned good that New York Times Magazine article about Lindsay Lohan actually was.)

2) I am not reading your article about Barack Obama, Charlies Pierce. You are boring. Okay, fine, here’s something:

“The personal victory he won over most of the things that are cheap and lazy and stupid in our politics has given him the power to disenthrall the public from those same things, and to disenthrall his own administration from its notion that there was some good to be found in the people who so fastened themselves to the cheap and the lazy and the stupid, and that there was some patriotism to be found in the politicians who so profited from them. In his second term, it should be Barack Obama’s job to make that personal victory ours as well.”

Shut up.

3) “This isn’t a story about whether we could live without the post office. It’s about whether we’d want to.” Gawker, my God, your talents could be so great mocking this ode to American postal greatness, if only Hamilton Nolan wasn’t a God damned commie he could skewer this absurity so well.

The name Lysander Spooner sure never shows up in this piece. Nor is a query that maybe private folks could do this easier ever answered. It just hangs there for a paragraph. There is just a worried collection of numbers about privatization — we have 110,000 military contractors, private companies house 16 percent of federal inmates — that have nothing to say about efficiency or morality or public versus private. The person who wrote this piece had better be 150 years old, or we are doomed.

4) “He was the Martyred Jesus of Oral Sex with Interns…” No. Fuck you. Stop it. Your writing makes my my teeth itch. And if you’re pleading for a less puritanical America (fair enough!) do not include Eliot Spitzer in your list of fallen, free love heroes. You get to go to prostitutes, or you get to use your powers as attorney general to crack down on sex workers. You do not get to do both and not be awful. (Though, of course, cracking down on prostitution is gross either way. ) Author, your good points are buried under my urge to punch you.

5) Turns out everything else is tolerable. Tom Junod wrote about head injuries in the NFL, and Junod is overrated, but also not so bad. However, I already read about concussions in sports in Rolling Stone, and I cannot read two articles about sports in one day.  Pleasantly enough, many of asides and briefs are even funny. Something about this issue is slightly more charming than usual, but only the bits and pieces — which, as I know from Reason days, take plenty of time to ensemble, too.

And three out of nine poems aren’t bad — that’s a whole lot better than The New Yorker does.

The laundry list of wide, interesting subjects, the occasional humor, the excessive need to be literary about everything (calm down, we know you published Salinger, you don’t need to get so swoony about Morena Baccarin)… Esquire, you try. I want to like you more than I do, every damn time. This is why you’re are on my love/hate list. I want to write for you, but you piss me off at least half the time. You’re like the Red Eye of magazines, but with much, much worse politics. And yet, every time I start to rant about you, Esquire, I get even more depressed that women’s magazines aren’t even close to being as good as you.