Category: Uncategorized

The Accused: Rolling Stone’s Apology Has a Glaring Omission

The Wilderness |  Issue 46  |  4 . 11. 15  |  

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In poring over mountains of information provided by the Columbia School of Journalism’s report on Rolling Stone and Sabrina Erdely’s now completely debunked gang rape story at the University of Virginia, I was personally trying to pin point the exact moment Rolling Stone stopped being a music magazine and more importantly, why.

I’m pretty sure it’s when they put N’Sync on the cover and called them the biggest band in the world. But it was around this time as well that somehow the satanic offspring of the Hilton and Kardashian families began gaining notoriety at a soul sucking pace for almost unexplained reasons. At some point, pop media culture stopped caring about artists who played instruments or wrote their own songs and became preoccupied with the cult of celebrity surrounding them. One hit wonder pop stars used to go away. Now they are on Instagram, Twitter, Snapchat etc… Forever.

Modern day pop stars will never fade. In the past, we would hear a song, get sick of a song and move on. If it was revealed a pop star was lip syncing or ripping other artists, they went the way of the dodo as well. Today, because of the saturation of personality, that doesn’t happen. Katy Perry can get caught lip syncing or actually not playing an instrument and her career doesn’t suffer for it. She and other lab creations can just tweet the controversy away. 

We will grow up with Miley Cyrus and Justin Bieber and as that happens we are inundated by not only their latest crappy synthetic abomination to our ears, but who they are dating, their eating habits, arrests, fights and political beliefs. The need for attention is almost ravenous as witnessed with every single “FOLLOW ME” tweet, whether it’s aimed at Beyonce Knowles or Barack Obama. Movie and music information television like E! moved away from standard news format to tabloid reporting of the latest deli meat Lady Gaga was wearing as a hat. Perez Hilton was getting clicks and they wanted in.

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Most of this leads to a harmless culture of late term teenagers who will eventually grow out of twerking in their bedrooms and obsessing about the constant pursuit of attention and fame. But the few that can’t grow out of this phase apparently go on to become narrative journalists. Narrative journalists believe themselves to be no different than pop stars increasing and solidifying their brands. Journalists like Sabrina Erdely aren’t selling their writing ability any more than Katy Perry is selling her music or singing ability. They are selling their beliefs, their social media status, their instagram pictures and selfies that show off their unfettered access to people, politicians and locations that you, their reader and their fan will never see. They don’t stand in the middle of a riot, in say Ferguson, to give information. They do it to look cool. They believe themselves to be Wayne Gayle with their tie around their head screaming along with Mickey and Mallory. They want to be that person.

Keeping all that in mind, it should come as no surprise that Rolling Stone will not be punishing any of their staff members in light of having to apologize for unsourced defamation (if not complete fabulism) concerning their University of Virginia campus rape story. It should come as even less a shock, that narrative pop star journalist Sabrina Erdely won’t be terminated or suspended either. 

As far as Rolling Stone is concerned, Erdely did her job and did it flawlessly. She’s a star.

There’s only one problem. When Miley Cyrus rides a giant hot dog or piece of construction equipment and slaps her special spots, the only thing that really hurts is our eyes. When a narrative journalist sets out on a crusade to justify the meaning of their rigid ideology, facts be damned,  lives are ruined.

In the case of Rolling Stone’s retracted campus rape story, it’s seven of them. All men. All still waiting for their apology from Erdely and Rolling Stone.

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Rolling Stone and Sabrina Erdely took it upon themselves to issue an apology to everyone except the actual victims. Seven young fraternity members who were the victims of a young woman’s alleged intentions to get back a guy and a journalist obsessed with selling a story she had already story boarded in her mind. She already had her premise, evidence and conclusion already written. She just needed a vessel to mortar it all together. As far as the University of Virginia’s student council is concerned, it worked

At what point will Rolling Stone, Sabrina Erdely and Jackie Coakley pay the same price the seven men they accused are paying?

The same accountability Erdely demanded of seven young men (all accused of a vicious rape), Their fraternity – Phi Kappa Psi, Jackie Coakley’s friends and UVA Administration in the wake of her pulp fiction rape culture expose doesn’t apply to Rolling Stone or their employees. It doesn’t apply because in a progressive narrative driven world, accountability doesn’t exist. This isn’t exactly an revelation but even I was taken aback at the ferocity at which Erdely and her bogus opus were defended by activists in media, so eager to have their team win, they forgot to exhale and express some relief that a vicious gang rape didn’t actually happen. 

Erdely is being defended by her colleagues like a pop star is defended by their rabid fans on Twitter.

This is not a rape culture problem, there is a media accountability problem. Just as Lena Dunham’s troublesome recanting of her sexual assault, institutional media have staked out a position of defense. Not because the facts of the story back her up, but because the narrative confirms their bias and they are just really big fans of her show. A writer at Rolling Stone can be fired for a negative review about Hootie and the Blowfish but not for orchestrating a rape hoax. Shortly after her original piece hit, Erdely took to promoting it like an album.

Fearless storytellers at Mashable, the Washington Post, The New Republic (famous for fabulist and former classmate of Erdely, Stephen Glass), The Guardian and Talking Points Memo have all dug in to defend Erdely.  They all still view Jackie as a victim because a narrative of rape culture is far too important to advance over the damage false rape accusations can do to a person. None of them are talking about the seven accused fraternity members accused of gang raping Jackie Coakley.

This was the goal of Rolling Stone memory holing Erdely’s original story. So people would forget the words actually featured in the header of the story: 

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Rolling Stone rushed to unequivocally condemn seven innocent young men of rape.  Where is the rush in the media to exonerate them?

It’s because they want you to forget the actual story and details surrounding Coakley’s fabrication. Just as defenders of Michael Brown want you to forget he grabbed an employee of a mini store by the throat as well as a police officer’s gun. What matters is there were protests. Media fawning, outrage and action (The fraternity was briefly suspended before Erdely’s piece was independently fact checked). What matters is that the imaginary patriarchy was shouted down, just as imaginary hands were raised up. Not facts.

The left are collective experts at propping up false idols. It’s really what they do best and they are getting better and better at getting results. 

Besides obviously protecting themselves legally, Rolling Stone is hedging that any damage done to their reputation will be minimal as opposed to the public promotion of a fictional fraternity rape culture. The more stories that come out of racist chants and explicit dating manuals from other fraternities completely unrelated will somehow reflect that Erdely was right about Phi Kappa Psi all along. Somewhere down the line there’ll be a high-profile case of sexual assault where progressive left and feminist movements will point to and say this justifies Sabrina Erdely’s smearing of an entire fraternity chapter, just as they have done between Ferguson and the recent shooting of Walter Scott in South Carolina.

They are betting on the public distaste for college brotherhood culture to overwhelm any demands of public accountability. It’s fashionable to stereotype all bro-culture as ping pong bouncing, overly sexualized neanderthals. But without proof, that doesn’t make them rapists. No matter what Zerlina Maxwell says. Rollings Stone will fall back on blaming a young girl who fell into the trap of the attention seeking culture they created. They want it’s readers to believe their fact checkers and editors can dig up the most intimate details of Kurt Cobain, Jimi Hendrix, Bono, Michael Stipe, Daft Punk, Taylor Swift, Lady Gaga, Bob Dylan or Jimmy Page, yet were somehow magically tricked by a young college girl from Virginia.

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They are also hoping people ignore Sabrina Erdely’s emerging problems concerning a prior rape story, which
Leon Wolf at Red State broke down in one of the most important pieces of actual journalism done this year. By all appearances, an activist under the guise of a journalist traveled to campus searching out a desperate soul willing to tell her a gruesome tale that her colleagues would devour. Erdely weaponized her pen and with it, inspired her get-along-gang of radicalized feminists in media to shout down any questioning of her reporting by claiming any opponants of her debunked narrative deny all rape.

 Sound familiar?

In less than a week, Rolling Stone’s apology has been all but been vanquished to a blurb at the bottom of their homepage. They’ve gone back to pretending they’re a music tabloid concentrating on what the hell it is Iggy Azalea is actually trying to say. This is the facade they’ve tried to hide behind. They will continue featuring Barack Obama posed as Superman instead of musicians who actually write their own words. Rolling Stone will preach to it’s dwindling masses about global warming and the evils of the NRA while giving their covers to oil billionaire Al Gore or  Lady Gaga holding machine guns.

Progressive media will continue to prop up political stunts like walking around with a mattress and push debunked campus rape statistics. Celebrities will continue trying to one-up each other’s rape tale on the Howard Stern show. Sabrina Erdely will continue to collect a paycheck. But it needs to be stated somewhere very loudly that the primary victims of this travesty concocted at UVA by Rolling Stone and Jackie Coakley’s are the seven men of Phi Kappa Psi.

In the end, the only predator on the campus of UVA at that time was Sabrina Erdely.

 

– SM –

 

* Other Resources

AP Spins Ludicrously to Rehabilitate Sabrina Erdely’s Tattered Reputation
Has the Rolling Stone gang-rape author EVER corroborated a story?
What was the single point of failure at Rolling Stone
At Some Point, ‘Jackie’ Needs to Be Held Accountable
Campus Rape and the ‘Emergency’: It’s Always an Excuse for Authoritarianism

 



 

 

 

 

Noah’s Arc: The New Daily Show Host Has Unlikley Defenders

The Wilderness  |      Issue 45    |   4 . 1 . 15 |

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Full confession: During the Bush years I loved The Daily Show. I loved that a show could go after a presidential administration, no matter the politics, and balance it by highlighting how ridiculous and trivial news media at the time was becoming. When Stewart appeared on CNN’s Crossfire, his pleas for Tucker Carlson and Paul Begala to grow up and give the country a mature dialogue were only out done by Stewart’s ability to highlight that their show was more satirical than his. As a conservative, it was always fair to me that someone could not only go after the president who I agreed with and voted for but could also go after the media that that criticized him relentlessly. Stewart’s tribute to the World Trade Center on his first show back after 9/11 is truly humbling and more memorable than any of the media counterparts he regularly lampooned.

As much as Conservatives hate to admit it, there are valid points to Stewart’s undeniable impact on pop culture political media. But on the night when Barack Obama was elected in 2008 that all went out the window. Stewart shed his tears and with them, any propriety of news comedy satire.. He immediately became that of which he always made fun of – a rigid ideologue with a partisan agenda. Like every other member of Network Media saluting a peacock logo, he is personally invested in the narrative that Barack Obama is a success. He HAS to be a success. Obama’s failures would be Jon Stewart’s failures. Therefore any criticism of Barack Obama is an attack on Jon Stewart. Stewart was able to cleverly mask this due to several years prior to hosting The Daily Show before the arrival of Barack Obama. Newly announced host Trevor Noah, a relatively unknown, doesn’t have that luxury.

He is a choice borne of what the current news cycle demands, but not necessarily where it is headed. The Trevor Noah hire is something Comedy Central feels like something that they had to do not something that they wanted to do. It’s like Comedy Central out sourced Lex Luthor to steal a strand of Jon Stewart’s hair and then combine it with a nuclear weapon and  launch it into the sun.

They went down the proper Cultural Appropriation checklist and said, “what do we have to do to take the least amount of criticism from social justice mobs and prevent them from storming our gates?” As it turns out even that didn’t work out so well in the end. Old eyebrow raising tweets of Noah’s were recycled by people on both the left and the right for everyone on Twitter to see. Noah snarked about the apartheid state of Israel (even more laughable considering he’s from South Africa), the intolerance of pretty much the entire United States between LA and New York City and committing the biggest no no of all, making ill advised shaming of fat girls. Media leftists can abide Antisemitism but they draw the line at commenting on a woman’s weight.

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Soon enough, The Daily Show’s staunchest defenders in media were expressing concern. The Daily Show’s target audience — progressive millennials — was even more outraged. An audience that can’t wait to jump on the missteps of its heroes the second they stumble is how we say, problematic. It’s also exhausting. The country is exhausted. We’re exhausted because of a permanent protest culture always waiting for an excuse to gin itself up into new heights of frothing pique. It’s a feeding frenzy just circling  waiting for the waters to be chummed. Last month it was protests fueled by a fictionalized media myth of “Hands Up Don’t Shoot”. This month it’s the fictionalized myth of gay discrimination on behalf of a state law in Indiana. Next month it will be something else and this will continue as it has until the clock runs out on Barack Obama’s activist presidency in January of 2017.

These aren’t conservative websites organizing online mobs and calling for entertainers, business owners or athletes to apologize, be fired, drawn and quartered.

The stories of Noah’s deeply Anti-Semitic jokes (And they were jokes, no matter how tasteless or unfunny) and tweets about fat girls were collected on the usual suspects of online mob organizing in Gawker and Gawker With Cat Gifs, the same sites that orchestrated an online outrage army against a random PR executive for making an Aids joke. We are a leftist dominated culture being spoon fed outrage from bottom feeders because the lowest common denominator clicks make them money.

By noon yesterday Noah’s really bad jokes had spread to the New York Times, Talking Point Memo ( No, I’m not linking them) Hollywood Reporter, ESPN and CNN. Vox writers locked themselves in a dark room and wrestled with how best to express their fragile disappointment without coming across the as privileged elitists that Noah may ridicule later and not give an interview with. Salon, not exactly known for their sterling reputation of ideological consistency, did a full one-eighty on Noah faster than it takes Jon Stewart to change his last name.

None of the sites where Noah’s tweets were embedded for public pillorying are exactly known as political bastions of the American Right. We don’t police thought-crime, organize protests, smash windows or demand these people be fired. We change the channel.

Any faint outrage conservatives expressed online was more directed at Noah and Stewart’s audience. This might be a shocker to the Brawndo sponsored cult of leftist, #UniteBlue Alinksyites, but there’s not even a controlling media protest entity on the right. None. We might highlight rank hypocrisy on our individual twitter timelines and Facebook posts but we also have work in the morning.

Being the targets of late night comics for decades has hardened us to the point of almost never truly being offended or shocked enough to bother lighting a torch or as Trevor Noah might put it “gerrbing ou’ pitchferk ferm the barn raight next to tha’ der shotgern” But that’s not how a leftist dominant media sees things.

Comedy Central released a statement yesterday standing behind their new host which shouldn’t really be surprising coming from the network that has those print ready after every new episode of South Park. It was too late. Noah himself spoke out in an attempt to capitulate the mob.  This is the official death of Stewart’s Daily Show.  The second any comedian apologizes for their jokes, it’s over. Noah now has to operate from the position that he may offend his viewers. Not exactly edgy stuff. Noah is now having to reign in an overly sensitive and triggering culture that Jon Stewart and the show’s creator, Lizz Winstead, helped facilitate.

Yes I’m enjoying this.

 

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There is no validity in hypothetically asking “What if Noah tweeted these things about blacks, or if he was white?” There is a validity in the fact that the people standing up for Noah and fending off the SJW/PC/OFA brigade are the ones that he routinely directs his ire at the most. But that isn’t a lesson he will learn by the time he takes Stewart’s chair.

Under Noah, The Daily Show will turn into ever-more-blatant, thinly disguised propaganda, shoveled joylessly out into the gaping maws of the activist millennial masses. The one audience that Noah plans to target the most in the next coming 3 to 4 years including the next election are the ones that are most apt to defend him and his freedom of expression on Twitter and social media. The problem is entertainers like Noah will never understand this until it’s too late. The Daily Show was attempting to lock up a bright young unknown talent. Except that’s never who the host of the Daily Show has been. Both Craig Kilborn and Stewart were relatively known comedic performers.

Noah will still carry on Stewart’s traditions of swiveling around in his chair over what a GOP intern in the Secretary of State’s office in whatever red state said (more likely now especially if that intern is Jewish).  But the culture of micro-aggression doesn’t come from making jokes at the expense of Conservatives. Brendan Eich didn’t resign at Firefox because of a conservative mob. Conservatives didn’t make an astrophysicist cry over a shirt. Conservatives don’t have Patton Oswalt in their cross-hairs. Conservatives didn’t care about Jaime Foxx’s Bruce Jenner joke. Conservatives didn’t make Steve Martin apologize for an off color (pun intended) joke. Stephen Colbert made millions ridiculing conservative Fox News culture and became a pop culture icon waiving his finger in George Bush’s face at the White House Correspondent’s Dinner, but it took a far left activist named Suey Park to call for the termination of his show. That’s the line. American Conservatives can handle it. We’ve been taking it on the chin ever since George Carlin paced frenetically on a stage screaming about Ronald Reagan, and we laughed right along with him. Meanwhile every reporter for Vox.com or Salon will watch every episode of Trevor Noah’s Daily Show with baited breath and puckered asshole hoping that he doesn’t stray too far from the narrative they expect from him and by all appearances, he won’t.

He is to only destroy the things they deem appropriate to destroy.

That’s why Trevor Noah’s hire doesn’t seem right to begin with. His humor isn’t born out of trying to satirize a country he loves and identifies with by utilizing goofball antics and spitwads. He genuinely comes off in his stand up routines and tweets as cantankerous and begrudged. A more outraged and less funny Chris Rock. Maybe by 2016 that’s where his audience will be but those won’t be welcome qualities to tune into every night, as MSNBC has very painfully learned. As disagreeable and repetitive as Stewart’s pencil tapping routine has become, there is never an atmosphere surrounding him that feels malicious or angry. Stewart’s goal was to always play the role of John Bender gladly asking for another Saturday from the political elite and uptight principal. Stewart’s puppetry of propaganda may misguided and dishonest, but it’s certainly not driven by hatred. Noah’s rampant antisemitism wasn’t the issue. It’s just that it’s not that funny. The second The Daily Show admits it’s own serious role in news media, the joke dies.

The risk the Daily Show runs into with Noah is he won’t be original and he certainly won’t be able to replace Stewart’s inquisitive interview style. Noah most likely won’t be filling any niche that isn’t already filled. Larry Wilmore, as Colbert’s replacement, has already brilliantly nailed the shocked & wide eyed black guy. Bill Maher has the sarcastic/angry shock host market cornered and John Oliver has quickly patented the “I just got here and I’m the kooky foreigner trying to figure out why Americans do things this crazy way?” act. Maybe Noah can be successful as a good natured, late night Xixo, trying to figure out why that crazy American Coke bottle fell from the sky, but that’s not what his stand up routines or his past Daily Show appearances suggest.

Stewart and Colbert are gone and the progressive news entertainment elites are desperate for a hero going into 2016 that can sell an old grandmother to young millenials. Unfortunately for Noah, the same audiences he will attempt to cater to won’t hesitate to make anyone and everyone their next target. Even him.

 

 

– SM –

Faith Healer: The Sermon of Ted Cruz

The Wilderness  |      Issue 44    |   3 . 24 . 15 |

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Political strategy is much like professional sports. When a team wins a championship other teams will inevitability try to duplicate their strategy in hopes of similar success. This is essentially the phenomenon behind the evangelical rock stardom of Ted Cruz 2016. Network media has cocooned Barack Obama into a political pop culture icon, a brand instead of a politician, and ever since, Conservatives have been searching for his allied, self-perceived equivalent and in Ted Cruz, they found it.

Almost no politician has calcified the passions of social conservatives as Cruz. He has symbolically led them back from a political wilderness. His healing of the Conservative base is undeniable. Cruz became the guy bringing them water as they lay parched and dying in the desert. Cruz has always been the chief antagonizer of an Obama administration skating by on well wishes and good intentions from network media. That role remained vacant for almost three years and it was ripe for the taking. Cruz stepped up and took an almost self masochistic pleasure staking out defiant stances against this admin and Obamacare. Obama, Reid and Pelosi had no idea how to play him because they had gone so long without someone unwilling to compromise their principles in opposing them.

Cruz has always been the Joker showing an entire room full of Democrat mobsters his magic pencil trick.

They’re not alone. This is what the GOP donor and establishment class never understood about him either. He is a true believer. If Cruz tells them he can walk on water, he’ll find a way to do it, usually by letting a devoted base of political fanatics simply spread the rumors that he can, and that they saw him actually do it. Much similar to other leaders of faith, he developed powerful enemies in the process. This of course only made his stature grow, and his followers more staunch. Conservatives finally had an idol and no one will take that away from them. Not Barack Obama and Harry Reid. Not John Boehner or Mitch McConnell and certainly not online critics and pundits.

Conservative critics of Cruz are often on the receiving end of the wrath of Cruz’s devout following more so because the love of Cruz isn’t based in policy. It’s based in faith. Almost nothing is more sacred to an individual than that. Any faint criticism of Ted Cruz’s tactics and strategy from either side unleashes an online parade of locust trolls that would make Moses jealous.

Cruz is a religious celebrity much the same way Tim Tebow is, and has just as strong a following. What ardent Cruz online supporters don’t understand however is a criticism on Tim Tebow’s throwing technique is not a criticism on his character or his principles. This applies to Ted Cruz as well. You can be a season ticket holder of the New York Jets and still concede that they aren’t going to win the Super Bowl. The problem with this kind of political fanaticism is it plays right into the hands of the media and Obama administration.

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The Obama administration was all too happy to take it upon themselves to use this cult like aura and use it to paint Cruz as a conservative boogeyman who with the wave of a hand would erase birth control and healthcare for everyone. They successfully were able to turn Sarah Palin into a media caricature, both during and after the 2008 election  and were all too eager to deploy the only Alinksy bomb tactics their leader knows against Cruz. During the Government shutdown of 2013, Cruz took center stage in late night monologues and Daily Show skits and his transformation from idealistic Jr. Senator to proverbial boogeyman was complete.

The left have their new Sarah Palin and they are dedicated to portraying Ted Cruz as such.

Prior to his Presidential announcement, members of the media immediately took it upon themselves to concentrate on the same Palinesque style attacks. Both Philip Rucker of The Washington Post and Blake Hounshell of Politico stated on Twitter that Ted Cruz kissing his wife at a walk through was staged and rehearsed, which allowed Democrat ops to chime in about the religious nature of Liberty University itself. Mind you these are the people who have obsessively crafted every single nuance around Barack Obama or Bill and Hillary Clinton’s marriage.

Palin however has a liberated freedom that Cruz, as a sitting Senator, does not. Leftist media in-particular has always under estimated Palin’s blue collar appeal and routinely overplayed their hand in going after her to the point of having to apologize to her and her family, repeatedly. Palin, out of power and out to develop a permanent branding foothold in popular culture, gleefully embraces the bobble head, sassy hockey mom persona the media always painted her out to be and she has done it quite brilliantly. She’s turned their own game around on them and has been trolling them every since. She doesn’t have to worry about running for any more elections (Sorry 2016 and 2020 hold outs) and could concentrate and becoming a typhoon of conservative personality. Ted Cruz is a political birth product of that and is indebted to Palin for it. Her followers naturally translate over to him. He brings that same kind of faith based appeal to conservatives and social conservatives in-particular and with it comes their rabid activist passion. They see what media did to Sarah Palin. They’re not going to let it happen again. From anyone. 

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This is the talent of conviction Ted Cruz brings to politics that others simple just don’t have. Barack Obama has always been a blank slate. Hand him a piece of paper with some catchy slogans, turn the reverb up to eleven and out comes the preacher drawl and U2 songs. But take that all away and Obama becomes flustered, quiet and more reserved. Cruz has the ability to take a stage with no teleprompter and free wheel it and he’s certainly more of a religious show person than Obama has ever tried to be. Take away Obama’s pyrotechnics and he becomes mortal. Give Ted Cruz a hill and an audience and he excels.

It’s the difference between being an actual snake handler and snake oil salesman.

Cruz’s somewhat surprise announcement and launch of his presidential campaign is a reward to his conservative base. His developing theme of growing a loyal army of Courageous Conservatives, a theme that is almost guaranteed to stick, is one that will be too undeniable to resist for them. It’s like throwing a lion a steak. His stand alone appearances come off as faith based in nature more than policy statements. His Presidential announcement at Liberty University resembled a Joel Osteen or Hillsong Megachurch rock concert and Cruz is clearly playing the angle of pastor-in-chief. Cruz as the role of a political televangelist is an intriguing angle and one we have seen attempted before but not as masterful.

He’s more intelligent and more charismatic to pull the act off then say a Rick Santorum who comes off more like the sexually frustrated flagellant neighbor who knocks on your door every Sunday and asks why he didn’t see you in church. Mike Huckabee looks a little too excited to spend his Friday nights listening to pop music backwards in hopes of discovering Satanic verses. Cruz has a more mischievous sense of humor, like he already knows the punchline to the joke you think you’re clever for telling him. That was demonstrated by making an entire DC beltway press corps stay up past midnight est. to see what announcement he was going to make on Twitter. His breezy air of confidence is frustrating to late night hosts who have tried to rattle him with political policy but are completely caught off guard and unable to process that his policy and his faith are one in the same. He’s a soldier of social conservatism who knows he has a devoted army on his side.

He doesn’t have to yell.

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A rabid fan base can go a long way in politics when it comes to online fights, but rarely does it translate over to electoral victories. Ever since the idol worshiping election of 2008, conservatives in-particular have been holding out for a hero to the point of forcing a cult of personality on people that largely agree with them. But Cruz supporters need to understand that Barack Obama was not elected because of rabid online mob trying to stomp out any and all opposition they think is out to break their favorite GI Joe. He was elected on an unprecedented data collection movement on the ground and helped by a fawning media who could not sit idly by and allow the 2004 election to repeat itself all over again.

Cruz could very well be the most principled conservative in generations but he’s also limited to expressing it to a base that largely agrees with him anyway. If Cruz can’t develop a broad grassroots movement on the ground, his declarations of evangelical conservative principles are meaningless.

The challenge for Cruz becomes if voters in blue wall states like Ohio, Pennsylvania, Virginia, Wisconsin and Colorado can become true believers. If his brand of rhetorical political televangelism catches on after eight years of religious marginalization by the Obama administration, while simultaneously avoiding the box that far right batshit crazy leaders like Pat Robertson will inevitably try to put him in, things will get interesting. He’s betting on tapping into jaded young social conservatives who have, as mentioned before, turned to Hillsong culture for a place they feel they can belong. If he can convince them he is their Shepherd then perhaps there is a symbolic path to the White House.

He embraces that preacher/savior role and in doing so he makes it easy for the media and leftists to marginalize him to independent, younger more libertarian minded voters and paint him as a real life Henry Kane from Poltergeist 2. Almost no Conservative politician has tried to conjure the ghost of Ronald Reagan more than Ted Cruz and that very real cliche will only metastasize the more the media spotlight is on him. If anything we’ve learned repeatedly, the more a modern day politician tries to invoke Reagan, the more we come to realize that person is not Reagan.

Reagan could always translate conservatism to non traditional audiences. Cruz doesn’t seem to be making that play. He’s pitching a tent and inviting the sick and disenfranchised to enter so he can place his hands on their head. The country is exhausted from ten years of listening to one long sermon. The question becomes if we’re prepared to listen to one for another ten.

We are burned out on seeing a President treated like a demi-god. We need real fact and data based solutions to begin rebuilding 8 years of disastrous and divisive policies. It’s because of Cruz’s stylings and appeal to faith that an almost cult-like political aura of support grows around him. He can certainly march his loyalists into battle against the left and the right. But the question remains if he will have enough of them to conquer Hillary Clinton.

Sermons won’t win this election. Solutions will.

 

 

– SM –

 

 

Deal With It: Rand Paul’s Troll Game Could Carry Him to the White House

The Wilderness . Issue 43 . 2 19 15 . Stephen Miller .

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Within hours of Jeb Bush announcing his exploratory PAC for a Presidential run last December, anyone who Googled his name was treated instantly to Google Ad Words (ads based on search queries) with their results criticizing him. The small ads slammed Bush as a big government, pro Common Core, squishy establishment moderate and included a link. All someone had to do was click. This kind of online tactic reeked of a stunt Barack Obama or Hillary Clinton’s digital team, virtually unbeatable in two elections now, would pull in an early attempt to smear who their campaign believes is the early 2016 Republican nominee. But it was neither.

It was Rand Paul’s Pac.

When members of media asked Paul’s representatives about the ads, Senior Paul Adviser Doug Stafford responded with “mostly because we like to amuse ourselves.” Paul’s team also ran ads against Mike Huckabee shortly after he walked off his Fox News set as well as poking Chris Christie on Twitter. The intent here is clear. A big message to the old establishment that this can be a new party utilizing data as weapons that attracts youth and internet culture; the fatal flaw to both John McCain’s meme riddled campaign and Mitt Romney’s unwillingness to reach out to younger audiences. Paul is clearly trying to paint himself as the suitable cool and mischievous outsider in a coming election of tired establishment retreads on both sides. He’s engaging non-traditional voters with non-traditional tactics.

And it might just be crazy enough to work.

In a recent Qunnipac University poll, Paul was virtually tied with Hillary Clinton in important swing states of Colorado and Virginia and not far behind in Iowa. His PAC has already been building a strong framework on the ground in New Hampshire and Iowa as well. But this next election is not going to resemble anything close to the past two. Young disenfranchised voters have already trashed their Shepard Fairey posters and abandoned Barack Obama. They are looking elsewhere for hope but have hesitancy turning toward a traditional GOP whom they believe loves Fox News and hates gays. Almost no demographic has been hit harder by Obama’s economics than African-Americans whose frustration can be seen bubbling over in communities like Ferguson, Missouri. How many of them show up to vote for Miss Daisy is questionable considering her campaign is shaping up to look like the executive chapter of the Alpha Betas. Paul was the only one paying attention to a movement happening in hashtags and livestreams enough to visit Ferguson in October and meet with community leaders to hear them out.

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Despite these demographic tides shifting, the next campaign will be fought online with data as much as on the ground and in debates.

The next Presidential election is shaping up to be one massive online campaign, unlike what was seen in 2012. Hillary Clinton has already amassed Barack Obama’s digital team to begin laying the framework for the largest online recruitment of voters in history, both in mining data and messaging. Hillary’s goal is to say as little as possible to as few members of network and web media as possible. Obama’s digital team has this game figured out while it has always felt GOP candidates were one or two steps behind the conversation that was happening. The GOP is going to have to siphon to grow, not simply show up. The problem facing Obama’s former team this time however is simple reality. Hillary Clinton is not new. Hillary Clinton is not young. She’s not cool. She can’t be sold like a brand to millennial voters and thus far any attempts have made her look like Voldemort trying to give Draco Malfoy a hug.

There is an enormous opportunity here. A generational opportunity for the right, and thus far only Rand Paul can be seen attempting to get dirty and chip away at a part of culture that we interact with every day, but has somehow gone ignored by traditional party strategists. Online engagement, including trolling tactics that Paul has employed using Google and social media, are no longer fads. They are imperatives. College voters are going to be listening to candidates who are engaged on platforms they are and who understand their sense of humor.

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Earlier this week, Pinterest removed a Paul sponsored Valentine’s Day parody page of Hillary Clinton due to breach of their Terms of Service, despite Pinterest allowing a Marco Rubio parody page to stay up. The boards featured memes poking at Hillary Clinton on everything from Benghazi to socialism and even tied her fake war stories to disgraced anchor Brian Williams. Did his team know the page would be taken down? Maybe, maybe not and the page being removed is completely beside the point. Removing the page probably generated more interest in the stunt but the point, like all trolling, was the stunt itself. The story appeared on websites outside the political box including Verge, Digg and Uproxx while the Washington Post and other established political websites were incredulous that a Republican is adopting Daily Show spit balling tactics. It also made online readers aware of another fact – 67 year old Hillary Clinton is not on Pinterest.

Nor is she on Snapchat, another young popular social media platform, where Paul gave an interview last month.

Whenever Paul’s twitter account sends a tweet or meme referring to Hillary Clinton, the hashtag #HillarysWar is attached, instantly tying her to the Obama Administration’s failures in Libya while she served as his Secretary of State and championed far more than a torched consulate in Benghazi. Libya has become what has described by foreign analysts as Mad Max. No rules. No government and no hope.

When Mitt Romney was kicking the tires on another possible run and met privately with Jeb Bush, Paul inserted himself into the conversation using Twitter. When it became obvious that Romney was not running, but Jeb was ramping up, Paul released a fake phone call between Jeb and Hillary, parodying the close relationship between the two. These antics alone don’t win elections, but it raises Paul’s brand and makes him the buzzing fly around the heads of his opponents. Trolling isn’t exclusively limited to social media whoopee cushions. It can be about simply pulling up a chair at a table Democrats and media don’t think he belongs at. On top of engaging in pure ridicule of Grandma, Christie and Bush, Paul ran a “Liberty Football” campaign over Super Bowl Sunday. Over Christmas he took to Twitter to air his Festivus grievances.

Any current traditionalist thinker or strategist berating this kind of behavior or shrugging it off as juvenile or unbecoming of a Presidential candidate hasn’t been paying attention to what’s happening in culture for the past six years, or how Barack Obama beat them – Twice. No one is asking GOP candidates to start prancing around like an idiot with a selfie stick, but there are ways of engaging online audiences that majority of would be candidates are passing up or when they do, it comes off like Randy Marsh playing Guitar Hero. The use of humor, trolling and memes translates into the ability to speak to voters offline. Online outreach allows candidates to enter hostile territory.

 

None of this is an endorsement of Rand Paul as much as it is an endorsement to the tactics being used. Being the candidate of internet counter culture doesn’t save Paul when he fumbles all over himself trying to answer simple questions about vaccinations. As loyal a voting base as his kooky dad has, Paul would be better off searching for a nice chunk of real estate in Iqaluit, Nunavut to stash him away at. There are questions about his strength on foreign policy, Iran in particular where Paul immediately loses support to other candidates-to-be like Marco Rubio who is far more polished on the subject.

But the funny thing about policy is you can’t implement it unless you get enough votes to win elections.

If those on the right don’t want Paul’s questionable philosophies on foreign engagement with Cuba and Iran to become White House policy, they should start asking what their candidate of choice is doing to engage audiences that can become allies and voters for a generation. Online persona is power and there are personalities in both entertainment and policy that have been propelled almost exclusively because of it. Cory Booker’s social media outreach is a large reason he made it to the US Senate and onto the short list of probable Hillary VP candidates, despite a horrible track record of dealing with poverty and crime as mayor and rash of unexplained imaginary friends. Barack Obama was able to organize voters in 2008 in a way not seen before using Facebook and Twitter. By the time John McCain figured out how to use those damn buttons, it was too late. Mitt Romney engaged young voters online, but refused to visit them on college campuses.

The party of youth with a 70 year old nominee at the helm suddenly becomes very, very old and no Buzzfeed listicle or Vox powerpoint presentation can fix that. Paul’s social media team has demonstrated the ability to make Obama’s former digital team look old and outdated as well. A young fledgling Internet culture suddenly finding themselves without A Jon Stewart or Stephen Colbert and not ready to give up their misguided sense of belief in political heroes are going to turn to somebody and it’s not going to just be whomever gives the best speech about morning in America. Those days are over. We exist in a popular culture that is dominated by the tweet or the meme and Paul is the only would-be-candidate thus far who understands that. Deal with it.

 

 

– SM –

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Anchorman: The Legends of Brian Williams

The Wilderness . Issue 42 . 2 10 15 . Stephen Miller . 

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In 2007, Managing Editor of NBC News, Brian Williams, attended a Newsweek Executive Forum and answered submitted questions to him in front of an audience. One of the questions he chose, from an anonymous participant read:

How has the Iraq war coverage by mainstream media caused distrust of the ability of the media to give us the real news?

Williams immediately became incredulous at the very insinuation at the idea that media was not giving viewers and readers an objective view of the Iraq war and even more so that some anonymous coward would dare question his credibility or the credibility of his colleagues:

I’m going to say to the questioner, who chose not to sign this, with a straight face, please be my guest. Fly commercial tonight on Royal Jordanian, New York to Amman. And then from Amman, you’d take a commercial flight into Baghdad international airport. Try not to notice the corkscrew landing you have to make to avoid the SAMS (surface to air missiles) on the way into the airport. Hire yourself a good security person, get some body armor for the drive from the airport to the motel of your choice in Baghdad and please I beg you, go do what we do. On your way perhaps, stop in Germany and visit my friend Kimberly Dozier who now has two titanium legs. Or perhaps on the way to Kennedy, visit my friend Bob Woodruff up in Westchester County where he is recovering.

Williams continued, visibly angered as though trapped in a glass case of emotion:

Do you sense some emotion on this? What do you think we’re doing? This isa product of the internet. I read it every morning. Where do we hide ‘the real news’? Do we have a closet in New York? Do we keep it behind a curtain in Baghdad? Don’t you think that our bureau chief would like to go outside today as part of his job? Bob Woodruff was traveling with an Iraq unit trying to tell the good news we are told is out there. We can’t leave our compound.

Williams then dramatically waived the anonymous questionnaire in the air, neverminding the fact that he still hadn’t actually answered the question:

For all of you represented by this unsigned question. Please know that’s the answer. Get visas, and go! And blog about it. Tell us all what you find. and how it differs from what you’re seeing on the mainstream media.

For those who can’t speak Spanish, there’s a video link below:

As it turns out, it didn’t even take bloggers committing daring areal stunts while dodging rockets to uncover how events in Iraq were very different from Williams’ description. It simply took a group of veterans calling him out “On the internet”.

After a post on Facebook and faster than Williams could say great Lincoln’s mullet, Williams recanted a story he had been telling since 2003 about a Chinook helicopter he was flying in taking fire from an RPG, a story he claims he simply mis-remembered. Except he mis-remembered it several times. He remembered looking down the tube of the RPG, what the farmer looked like and how he felt, but the actual getting shot part – hazy.  As it turns out Williams wasn’t even in the Chinook copter he cited in his apology. His Chinook landed 35-40 minutes after the formation that took fire.

Anonymous bloggers even didn’t have to parachute into  Katrina ravaged New Orleansdrink flood water and fight off wild feral dogs to uncover more inconsistencies behind more of William’s harrowing claims of seeing dead bodies in the Superdome. Nor did bloggers have to fly from New York to Israel to uncover embellishments of being hit by Hezbollah rockets

Upon returning from his photo op with the troops in Iraq, Williams took to the airwaves like Verbal Kint reading a bulletin board and stated his experience was “Like something out of Saving Private Ryan and Blackhawk Down“, a story confirmed by one of the vets on the ground that day.  That is exactly what this is all about. Williams believes he’s the star of a Steven Spielberg movie where he can be cast to play any role he wants. He can be a grizzled war veteran, a storm weathered protagonist  taking on FEMA Bush Administration Zombies or even a volunteer firefighter saving puppies.

Williams exists in a world where he hears his own theme music, written exclusively for him and performed by John Williams, inside his own head everywhere he goes.

News anchors long ago, as well most journalists in general, realized that social media was not going away. The idea that online, news happens instantly and anyone with a smart phone can report on it. Anchors became obsolete almost over night. They were forced to adapt to it by becoming part of the stories themselves. A example of this was on full display recently in Ferguson, Missouri. The images from riots and live streams were infinitely more interesting than anything happening on MSNBC. Short clips from Jon Stewart, Stephen Colbert, Conan O’Brian or John Oliver are shared daily on Facebook and Twitter. Gifs and Vines litter thousands of Tumblr pages. Because the lines of news and social sharing have been irreparably blurred, it doesn’t ultimately matter to Brian Williams if sixty percent of the time, he’s being honest all the time.

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Just by googling Brian Williams there are as many images of him alongside Jimmy Fallon, Tina Fey or David Letterman as there are of him posing at a news desk, in the field or with Edward Snowden. He hosted Saturday Night Live in 2007, has appeared on 30 Rock and even performed stand up comedy at the famous Caroline’s in Times Square. We need comedy and nothing almost brings us as much joy as seeing people in a profession where they are forced to take themselves seriously take time out to lampoon and make jokes every once and awhile, but Williams, not unlike our current President seems as though he would rather be an entertainer over the job he was hired to do. Williams surveys the fossilized remnants of his profession and wonders why guys like Stewart and Fallon get to have all the fun.

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Entertainment through Embellishment has become a pre-requisite for news broadcasts which have become more about branding identity than anything else. Go back to how this story broke in the first place. Brian Williams was doing a report on NBC Nightly News about Brian Williams. A veteran he met while in Iraq was honored at Madison Square Garden during a New York Rangers game. The Williams segment was about how Brian Williams knew him. Does anyone remember the veteran’s name or his story? No. They do remember Williams’ face on the jumbo-tron.

That’s all that matters to Williams and NBC.

 

stand uipThere’s Brian Williams with Tom Hanks, there’s Brian Williams with Jimmy Fallon and Jon Stewart. There’s Brian Williams with David Letterman or Conan O’Brian. There’s Brian Williams on Tina Fey’s show. There’s Brian Williams laughing along with Larry David.

Williams has made a career out of hanging out with people all cooler with more interesting stories than him.

That goes for Bob Woodruff and Kimberley Dozier. That goes for the troops under real fire in Iraq, the same Troops Williams snubbed for an appearance on Saturday Night Live.

Now Williams has taken a hiatus and Saturday Night Live, The Daily Show and Fallon go on without him.

That’s what stings the most about this to NBC and Williams. Not his credibility as it relates to the field of battle. Williams is forced to do the thing that must devastate him the most; backing out of public appearances. He cancelled an appearance on Letterman this week and probably won’t be showing up for his weekly engagement playing the jazz flute at Tino’s. He can’t walk into Restaurant Daniel in Manhattan, glasses in hand without the fear of being served a cat turd.

How important Williams is to NBC’s brand is all that’s left to decide. It’s safe to assume when Alison Williams, Brian’s daughter, landed the part for NBC’s live special of Peter Pan, it was in no small part because of her last name and pedigree with the network. It would be foolish to believe Williams isn’t a cornerstone of that brand. Williams is counting on his likability as a comedian and performer to survive this, not his credibility as a managing news editor.

If NBC believes it can weather this storm, floating bodies and all, and wait for the social media cycle to move on to Taylor Swift Grammy reaction gifs with help from allies in media, before the month is out, Williams will be slow jamming this scandal on Jimmy Fallon and all will be forgotten. The strategy seems to be polarize the scandal to the point of making it look like it’s just internet conservatives ranting about a conspiracy or as Sean Davis from The Federalist coined it, BRIANGHAZI.

Williams can make more appearances on SNL, win the Stanley Cup, defeat the Stay Puft Marshmellow Man and win an Oscar. There’s only one problem in all of that.

Williams in his apology stated that in attempt to honor troops he ended up lying about them. Repeatedly. That’s the conflict he can’t escape no matter how many jokes he tells on Letterman. Williams can’t go on demonizing the war while also wrapping himself in the glory of the troops. If Williams wants to star in the SNL parody of Tony Clifton goes to Baghdad, he’s welcome to do that, but not at the expense of our troops or our tragedies.

That’s the answer to his anonymous question.

 

 

– SM –

 

 

 

 

Ad Sense: Super Bowl Ads Tap into the Mood of the Country

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During his last State of the Union Address, Barack Obama told the country we had turned the page. Turned the page from a decade of turmoil and war, economic calamity, impending doom of global warming and the threat of terrorists entering businesses and gunning down cartoonists. America was back and Obama was the one to bring us back! Wages are rising. The middle class is growing and everyone loves their mandated healthcare! It’s a new morning in America. Through Obama’s election we have finally made a transformational cultural shift from cynicism to optimism. Birds are singing, rainbows appear at will and unicorns are running wild and free across the great plains which Obama has also preserved and saved!

So why does everyone still feel like shit?

Ad agencies know the key to selling a successful product is by not just tapping into the wallet of a consumer, but their soul as well. Their purpose is to harness the most basic bonds of human emotion of a consumer, to make them believe they aren’t just buying into a product, but buying into an idea, or a lifestyle, or hope.  Good ad agencies are able to exploit the mood of individuals, or in some cases, an entire country, reaching into our consciousness, mood and most experiences. More often than not, design and advertising is a product of the culture at hand, and not the other way around. A successful ad will not shift a cultural narrative, but relate to and reflect it:


Mad Men: The Carousel from ray3c on Vimeo.

 No platform gives companies and agencies hired by them a bigger showcase than the Super Bowl. It’s the most watched event of the year drawing a worldwide audience for reasons that outnumber the playing of the actual game. Companies pay millions in blood and brand name to sell their product and their message to millions who will talk about what ads they remembered for weeks to come. These being the ‘Hope and Change’ years of Pepsi style political sloganeering invading pop culture, the country should be standing around water-coolers laughing over how optimistic and great things are. But we’re not.

The days of innocent youth gazing at Cindy Crawford in Daisy Dukes as she gulps an ice cold Pepsi are over.

Super Bowl viewers were hit with ads of American Revolutionaries loving taxes (TurboTax), the apocalypse (Mophie), looming puppy death at the jaws of wolves (Budweiser), abandoned fathers and near death experiences (Nissan), an NBC show about slapping other peoples kids, Scientology, and in what is being called the darkest Super Bowl ad of all time, courtesy of Nationwide Insurance, dead kids drowning in bath tubs and being crushed to death by flat screen televisions before having a chance to grow up and experience life.

Nevermind other politically driven ads featuring Sarah Silverman with a basement delivery clinic, which is about as believable as Kermit Gosnell running a day care center. Or Always Maxi Pads shaming men to a national audience via the Twitter hashtag #LikeAGirl. If Always truly wanted to make a brave ad they would have used the hashtag #LikeAMan and portrayed a nervous guy buying maxi pads. That takes real courage.

But, deservedly so, it was Nationwide’s dead Sixth Sense kid ad that stole the spotlight, and sucked any joy Super Bowl viewers were trying to salvage from watching two hated teams in the first place. After viewing the ad again post game, I had to hunt down Sarah Maclachlan’s ASPCA abused dog ad just to cheer me up so I could sleep.

It was that bad.

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After an enormous social media backlash that saw “Nationwide Kid” appropriately turned into a meme, Nationwide, who are better known for their light-hearted Peyton Manning jingle humming ads, scrambled to release a statement explaining their thought process, which was produced by New York City agency Ogilvy & Mather.

“The intention of the ad was actually not to sell insurance. ” stated chief marketing officer Matt Jauchius. “It was to raise awareness of a cause that we’ve been championing for decades at Nationwide, which is to keep kids safe from preventable accidental injuries.” Ogilvy President Adam Tucker took to Twitter unapologetically standing up for Nationwide’s “Make Safe Happen” campaign and his firm’s work, seemingly unaware that Nationwide had violated a sacred rule of great advertising:

If you have to offer an explanation to your thinking, then it’s not a great ad and your agency has failed – miserably.

Adweek among others panned the ad as one of the biggest buzzkills in Super Bowl history. Nationwide’s only defense was the public relations equivalent of Pee Wee Herman tumbling off his bike onto a neighbors lawn and saying “I meant to do that!” This is problematic on several levels. An insurance company shelling out millions with an expressed goal of not selling their product but rather to start a conversation, an all-too-familiar concept. On top of that, the company willingly admits they set out to ruin your Super Bowl party, or time spent with your family trying to relax and watch the harmless spectacle of the event. Another recent familiar phenomenon.

Compare Nationwide’s dead kid who will never fly, sail or get married Super Bowl spot with All State Insurance’s Mayhem campaign. Both have identical messages, to protect your family and your valuables. Yet Mayhem is able to express these concerns with relatable humor & exaggeration. Not by telling you your kids are going to fucking die unless you buy their product.

Raising awareness of sensitive topics such as death is a hard sell with traditional celebrations. People expect to have fun, celebrate, not be hurt, get upset, or end up depressed and wanting to hang themselves. Also Nationwide did not take into account young children or parents of lost children watching the game which wouldn’t be a public relations disaster if you know, every young pre-teen in America wasn’t tuned in to see their favorite Pop star at halftime. If the philosophical goal of your company or ideology is to scare the living hell out of people into buying it, it’s probably not a very sound philosophy and more likely not a very good company.

The modern left’s ideology is one big Nationwide ad. Submit to our practices or your kids will die. Only our mandated health insurance will treat your Bain cancer or protect you from global warming.

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The reason and logic behind why all these companies thought they could sell their products better by appealing to our sense of cynicism and fears, rather than our collective sense as Americans of hope and optimism is because they know this is where our culture is at the moment. Despite the self congratulatory rhetoric this President reverberates from the bully pulpit, there aren’t rainbows appearing at will, or Unicorns roaming the plains. The Middle class is not growing and ISIS is not on the run. We feel as though we are governed by crisis at every turn and with the constant notion of impending doom. We are angry, we are exhausted and we have no reprieve from the invasions of social justice into our every day lives. More importantly, we are meant to believe we have no way of stopping it.

If the world constantly feels like it’s spinning off its axis for the past five years, it’s because it is.

The majority of Super Bowl ads were depressing because we as a country are depressed. If there are political undertones in maxi pads and smart phones it’s because our culture has been radically politicized. Any brief moment we seek to shelter ourselves we are faced with a progressive outrage mob screaming in our faces and demanding submission. Watching football no longer means rooting for your favorite team, betting a few bucks and laughing at a chimpanzee trying to work a fax machine.  It means having conversations about domestic violence and shaming racist Redskins fans only after we just watched Barack Obama talk about whatever was on TV the past week.

This is the result of integrating radicalized progressivism into pop culture. We almost instinctively reflect the values of the leaders we elect and advertisers reflect us. If our President is taking selfies with Hollywood celebrities, we as a culture imitate and follow suit. If our leaders encourage social activism while standing behind mythical slogans born out of their past as organizers, it’s a green light to block traffic and barge into restaurants. And if our culture is built on a foundation of constant progressive disruption, nothing will be considered safe, not even a leisurely family activity like sitting down and watching a football game.

Is it any wonder that Scientology is beginning to look like a viable option to people?

We are sold on the promise of hope and change and yet we are reminded in our daily activities of a world falling into chaos. This White House continuously bludgeons us over how great things are, and that we just need to change our attitudes about it, like solving our problems by drinking a bottle of Coca Cola. But turning that frown upside down doesn’t bring back the doctor or pediatrician your family lost. Paying for a cheeseburger at McDonald’s with a hug doesn’t prevent the rise of radical Islam and a President telling us to simply turn the page doesn’t erase the lowest workforce in 38 years, which was Super Bowl XII.

Big problems, real problems, are purposely ignored so the focus falls on the imaginary microaggression of  tampon shaming.

In 1984, Apple premiered a Super Bowl commercial, directed by Ridley Scott, showing a bleak, depressing, dark and hopeless apocalyptic future. A crowd of mindless drones nods along to a single minded authoritarian on a large monitor, barking slogans at them. A strong, athletic woman appears, charges down a long corridor with a sledgehammer, winds up, and heaves it into the giant screen, shattering it and all preconceived notions of the limits we as a people can accomplish.

That’s what “throwing like a girl” used to mean to us.

 

 

–  SM   –

 

Target Practice: Media Takes Aim at Conservatives in Culture

 

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When the Academy Award nominations last week were announced, Selma‘s name was only called twice. The collective sound of everyone who works at MSNBC fainting on the floor could be heard all over social media. The only person left standing was Sony Pictures new executive board member Al Sharpton who loudly declared he would take action. Barack Obama has very subtly taken steps to bully the academy into making sure Selma receives both Oscars it is nominated for. The problem is Selma just isn’t that compelling of a film beyond something made for cable. The progressive left believes it to be a moral injustice that it did not receive Oscar attention, simply because the film exists and not on its merits.

It would be easy for those on the right to point out the hypocrisy of this situation as usual except that it’s also happening on that side of the aisle as well.

I was able to see the film American Sniper while it was still in limited release and there was very little reaction to the film. There was no sold out theater or long lines. There was sparse applause after the film (Again I viewed it in the progressive artistic utopia of New York City) and I myself walked away from it somewhat nonplussed. It was certainly not a disappointing film per se. It was made honestly and extraordinarily acted but seemed repetitive (Four tours in Iraq will do that) and in cruise control mode for much of the film. I am certainly surprised by the box office and the passion the film has stirred, much the same way I was with Selma. Both the story of Selma and Chris Kyle deserve to be told, but in both instances better films could have been made.

My complaints with the film itself rest in the amazing lack of suspense revolving around scenes where Kyle is forced to make a decision that could alter his life and end another. The shots are framed with very little tension, save for one scene when Kyle spots a young child picking up an RPG launcher after a kill. Another complaint was the steady resolve of the Kyle character. He floats through the film never unsure of who he is or why he is doing what he is doing, even as other characters around him meltdown. He was a rock that every character around him broke themselves against. This is not a criticism on Kyle the man, rather the necessities of dramatic storytelling. These are exactly the kind of people I want fighting for this country, but not necessarily starring in film drama.

The Kyle character is exactly the same person at the end of the film as he was at the beginning, similar to a super hero. More of the film could have combated that by exploring Kyle’s service to wounded veterans over the need to create Bond style, action movie villains and combat chase scenes. In researching Kyle, one gets the sense helping veterans gave him the purpose he was missing after he could no longer kill, a purpose he ultimately died for. Bradley Cooper is transformational in a similar way that Will Smith was in Ali. The actor’s face is right in front of you with without makeup or prosthetics, yet you completely believe you are watching someone else. Sienna Miller, much the same way she did playing Eddie Sedgwick, accomplishes this as well, starring as Kyle’s wife.

However there was nothing in American Sniper that was more dramatic than the end credits and Eastwood’s trumpet solo. It was only after that final montage I truly asked myself for the first time why Kyle, whose coffin is shown decorated with multiple Navy Tridents (A ritual shown in the film), was snubbed of even a Presidential mention. I have nothing invested in Chris Kyle. I haven’t read his book and beyond interviews I searched out I know nothing personally about the man. And neither do you. He could have been a soulless blood thirsty glory hound and unrepentant killer who drank baby blood and pounded his chest in the nude. However, I as an American, have everything invested in his service.

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That is why progressive media like Rolling Stone, Gawker, Vox, Salon, MSNBC and Michael Moore all feel betrayed by the massive and passionate reaction American Sniper is receiving beyond the Academy awarding four more nominations to American Sniper than they bestowed upon Selma.

They feel betrayed that in just three short weeks American Sniper has out grossed the rash of anti-Iraq war films like Green Zone and In the Valley of Elah or anti Bush war films Rendition and Lions For Lambs. But this isn’t just about a movie or box office receipts. They see American Sniper giving conservatives a fighting chance of punching their way back into mainstream culture. This is something they cannot tolerate. Non-activist conservatives were fine with paying their money to watch American Sniper, but once again, because of a progressive network media complex, they are now compelled to push back to the point where the film has no original meaning anymore. They are forced to fight over our political beliefs while simply enjoying recreational movie going.

Progressive media including network media has spent seven hard long years banishing conservatives out of the mainstream of cultural debate. This job has become ever increasingly easy for them when prospective national candidates and media personalities on the right like pop off about the first daughters and Beyonce. They view things like that as just another nail in the coffin of conservative cultural relevancy. This is the celebrity pop culture they have encased Barack Obama in. He’s the cool guy who goes on Funny or Die. He’s the smooth guy who smack talks at the State of the Union. He’s not some war happy ye-ha cowboy eager to rush off to war and kill everyone.

To media, Barack Obama is Denzel Washington in Crimson Tide while Chris Kyle is Gene Hackman.  There is no separation of art and reality with them. American Sniper, which isn’t really a political movie or a traditional war movie must now be judged by the standards of progressive media. Because they have declared it a conservative political movie, conservatives believe they must now defend the film on political merits.

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Film as an art form should not exist as simple confirmation bias but that’s exactly what the progressive left expects and desires. They’ve done it with American Sniper just as they did it with a black stormtrooper in Star Wars. Conservatives can no longer participate in culture leftists believe they own. American Sniper doesn’t feel like a trumped up Lifetime drama like Heaven is For Real that Rick Santorum can’t stop raving about. It’s a real film. It features one of Hollywood’s most bankable actors and directed by one of its aging icons. But more to the point, they view the film itself as just an extension of Clint Eastwood’s empty chair gag at the 2012 Republican convention.

But the vicious media sniping over the film has nothing to do with the actual movie itself. If it did progressive media personalities and outlets would have seen the movie before actually reviewing it. They wouldn’t be talking about what American Sniper isn’t or focusing on trolling tactics over robotic babies.

The film is simply acting as a vessel to channel political rage at ideological opponents. This is where conservative audiences fall into the trap and media is allowed to act the cool kids shooting spit wads from the back of the room. Conservatives are going to the mat for the film because of what they believe and because Hollywood symbols that represent their beliefs don’t come around often. Because we believe the very core of our beliefs in liberty is being attacked, we get overboard reactions as if it was a religious experience. It’s not. It’s just a movie but progressive media uses this as an opportunity to drive an ideological wedge and refer to conservatives as typical blood thirsty warmongers just as they did with Lone Survivor (not a particularly good film either).

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The question we should be asking is why Hollywood won’t make more movies that appeal to audiences such as American Sniper. If a Michael Bay makes a Turdformers film that grosses hundreds of millions of dollars worldwide, we can expect four to five equally bad sequels. That should be the larger focus and not accolades from Hollywood. Conservatives will no doubt watch the Oscars now with baited breath every time American Sniper is called or not called and for every award it does not win there will be complaints of liberal Hollywood snubbing that as well. But once conservatives start measuring the worth of its principles by how many little golden statues Hollywood gives them, the game is over and we should all just go home.

A better representation of conservative principles is how Bradley Cooper, an ardent supporter of Barack Obama can be moved by Kyle’s book to the point of securing the rights for his book and producing as well as starring in a film. Progressive media in Hollywood believes films are to be made and awarded simply because they exist to agree with them. This is the driving complaint behind the perceived snubbing of Selma. ‘How can the Academy snub a film like Selma after we’ve been pushing protests in Ferguson and New York for the past 6 months?”

Conservative focus should be on how Cooper and Eastwood can put their politics aside in a creative and compelling effort to tell the story of a remarkable warrior.

 

– SM –

 

 

Drawing The Line: Our Media Is Not Charlie Hebdo

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I grew up with Bill Watterson and Gary Larson. Just about anyone else who did can remember back to the days where their parents had a stack of Calvin and Hobbes or Far Side anthologies on the bathroom floor.  My love of cartoon illustration led me into drawing comic books in Jr. High instead of doing math assignments. I attended instructional crash camps by John Romita from Marvel. My love of story telling through panels and pictures became a failed endeavor of story boarding and film which eventually led me to a career in illustration and digital design. That has led me to this silly little blog-zine. Instead of Calvin And Hobbes collections, my shelves are now stacked with Taschen hard cover anthologies and typography manuals but I’ll never forget where it started. These are the thoughts I’ve internalized over the past four days, trying to ingest the act of terror in Paris against journalists, artists and cartoonists.

For the first time in years, I miss my pens.

Cartoon illustrators are the stand up comedians of  journalism. Each one of them has a slightly skewed perspective on the world and the only way to express it without going mad is through their drawings. They laugh at tyranny and absurdity because they have no choice. No one else will.

While people all over the world try to make sense of this latest massacre, our media and our White House grapple with how best to appeal to the delicate sensitivities they have been cultivating with their progressive ideological audiences. They are slowly coming to grips with the fact that there is nowhere to hide anymore. For every blustering sound clip of Al Qaeda being “on the run”, there is another horrific act on innocent people. Elitists in media are forced to reconcile their message more, hiding behind the imaginary backlash of a myth called “Islamophobia”. Except this time it was liberal elitists in France that were attacked. It’s a joke Charlie Hebdo would have appreciated.

Instead France is now marching.

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George Clooney in an acceptance smug, er, speech at the Golden Globes this past Sunday said “They didn’t march in protest, they marched in support of the idea that we will not walk in fear. We won’t do it.” But Hollywood has been an industry walking in fear for over 20 years. They refuse to produce any motion pictures portraying radical Islam in a negative light.

Batman and Robin was a far greater offense than anything Charlie Hebdo ever published.

Throughout the 1980’s, villains in action movies were always Soviets (Rocky 4, Red Heat, Firefox) because that’s who America was fighting. But the last major film Hollywood produced with a fictional radical Islamist was basically True Lies in 1994. James Cameron even cancelled a sequel to True Lies after 9/11 and stated “Terrorism isn’t funny anymore”. So films today are still scripted and saturated with Russian villains (Jack Ryan, Die Hard 4) instead of the villains real people are facing at their jobs around the world and the box office is suffering. Even in Clooney’s film Syrianna, for which he won an Academy Award for, we see a child is electrocuted in a swimming pool, an envoy with American Citizens is obliterated by a US air strike and an American Spy is tortured. But at the end of the film when two young radicalized Islamists aim their raft strapped with explosives at a large tanker, in an attack reminiscent of the USS COLE, the camera fades out.

The highest grossing film of the 2014, Transformers: Age of Extinction, had Chinese Government delegates on set to approve of script and story, so the film could open in theaters overseas to maximize their box office receipts. Iron Man catered to the Chinese the exact same way. The last people standing up and telling us how brave they are in the face of terror and human rights abuse is anyone from Hollywood. Hollywood is afraid and they are the largest of cowards, because they have the loudest microphone. The last film that exposed radical Islam for the laughingstock it should always be greeted with was Team America and just a month ago, that was banned from theaters.

We were told we can’t watch that.

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“We can do whatever we want to Jesus, and we have. We’ve had him say bad words. We’ve had him shoot a gun. We’ve had him kill people. We can do whatever we want. But Mohammed, we couldn’t just show a simple image.” Matt Stone, co creator of South Park and Team America said in a 2006 interview. When confronted with explanations of religious sensitivity from peers and media censoring radical Islam, Stone called bullshit. “You’re afraid of getting blown up. That’s what you’re afraid of. Comedy Central copped to that, you know: ‘We’re afraid of getting blown up.'”

No one is more afraid than Hollywood but they certainly aren’t alone.

All the brave provocateurs in the media standing up for The Interview just barely three weeks ago suddenly vanished. AP, CNN, ABC, NBC, NPR, Fox News,  New York Times, Reuters, Boston Globe and on. They all stood up and demanded theaters screen The Interview. The content of the film didn’t matter we were told, all that mattered is that we support our right to free speech. Yet those same networks and outlets would not air illustrations that twelve people were murdered over. Barack Obama did not stand up as he did with The Interview and boldly declare that not showing Charlie Hebdo’s illustrations was “A mistake”.

In fact Obama didn’t do much standing at all this past weekend.

Several of these outlets stated that the decision to not show any of Charlie Hebdo’s work was an issue of safety for their employees. That’s fair and good except these are the same people preaching for the past three months that they are the lone voice of the voiceless and the brave truth tellers, as they stood filming the torching of buildings in Ferguson, Missouri. If network and print media fear for their safety in doing their job then they no longer get to criticize American soldiers for doing theirs. That same rule applies to New York City Police Officers as well.

The same media outlets citing safety concerns over not publishing illustrations of Muhammad are the same people who have absolutely no qualms posting names and addresses of gun owners. Network and print media has no problem bludgeoning people over the head with the mean facial expressions by police officers while white washing eye witness accounts of acts of Islamist terrorism.

Popular new media websites published images from the pages of Charlie Hebdo but they’re honestly not to be congratulated either. It’s their job. This is how ideologically poisonous the climate of news journalism has become. When news sites think they’re committing an act of bravery for doing something they are supposed to do.

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You are not Charlie if you censor what they died for. You are not Charlie if you hold up a sign with words or hashtag instead of an illustration. You are not Charlie if your news outlet refuses to publish photographs of Stephane Charbonnier with his illustrations.

You are not Charlie if you choose to stand in a crowd with a sign but not alone with a cartoon.

If our President was Charlie Hebdo, he wouldn’t have blamed terror attacks in Benghazi and Egypt on our First Amendment. He would not have jailed the creator of some obscure random YouTube video and produced his own with Hillary Clinton standing side by side in front of four flag draped coffins. If Barack Obama was Charlie Hebdo, he would tell the world that we stand by the artists and journalists that were slaughtered, instead of telling the world the future must not belong to them.

If Eric Holder was Charlie Hebdo, he would not have ordered the Department of Justice to intervene in the Washington Redskins trademark protection lawsuit. This order came down through the DOJ just two days after the massacre in France. If Eric Holder was Charlie Hebdo, there would be no tapping of journalist’s family member’s phones and personally signed and issued subpoena’s of journalists notes.

If Jon Stewart or Stephen Colbert were Charlie Hebdo, they would not only not fear telling jokes about Muhammad, but about Barack Obama as well. If Twitter or Facebook were Charlie Hebdo, Brendan Eich would still be the CEO of Mozilla. If Hollywood was Charlie Hebdo, their studios wouldn’t have caved to anonymous hackers just three weeks ago.

If our collective media was Charlie Hebdo, Lois Lerner would be behind bars. Our media and our President is not Charlie. They are the WWE.

That is really all “Legacy” media has become. A large group of loud personalities, each with their different graphics, screaming into microphones and cameras while people cheer or boo and when it comes time to take a punch to the face, they fake it.

Media who proudly stands on a mountain and declares they are the gate keepers of freedom of speech when they are escorted out of a fast food restaurants shrink when called to defend the freedom of expression of those they politically disagree with. Because political ideology is now paramount, nothing else can be. That’s the price of six years of the exhaustive protest culture that dominates the lives of everyone from celebrities apologizing for jokes, to random nobodies tweeting on airplanes. So jokes about Muhammad aren’t okay. Race jokes aren’t okay. Aids jokes aren’t okay. Rape jokes aren’t okay, unless of course they are being told by progressives in entertainment whom media adores.

Leftist media isn’t just scared of radical Islam. They are scared that their words have no meaning to the ideology they protect. At the White House press briefing yesterday, when confronted with past comments former Press Secretary Jay Carney made about Charlie Hebdo’s “poor judgement“, Josh Earnest stated that the White House believes it is up to the news outlets themselves to judge whether or not to publish the Illustrations of Charlie Hebdo. This response speaks volumes about what the current administration believes the limitations of the born right of freedom of expression are. To them it’s apparently whatever the New York Times says it is. That’s a world that none of us should choose to live in. Any religion that cannot stand being the butt end of a joke is one not worth following. Any God that refuses to be pranked is not one worth kneeling before.

To die in the name of Allah does not make one a Martyr. To die laughing at him does.

 

 

– SM –

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Lena Dunham and the Rise of Rape Glam

I believe Lena Dunham when she says she was raped.

The terrifying trouble with Lena Dunham’s faulty  account of her sexual assault is not because it could be fictionalized, but because it could be real. Because of her rapidly changing story and staunch defense of the story told in her book, a vicious campus rapist is now protected by Random House attorneys and the entire media complex defending her story.  

Dunham, through her publisher, has gone to great legal lengths to protect her attacker’s identity, an attacker she claims has committed several acts of sexual assault against other girls around the same time as her, on the same campus. She not only idles on prosecuting her attacker, but has stated she has no intention of exposing his identity. According to Dunham and her defenders, there is an alleged vicious sexual predator at large and even more dangerous because he’s anonymous. Dunham in her books stated her attacker had also attacked 2 other women. How many more women has he forced himself on with violent consequences while Dunham, and a multi-million dollar publishing conglomerate create a phalanx of legal protection around him?

 

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Dunham might have been a victim of a brutal sexual encounter as she claims, but she is no longer a victim of circumstance and certainly not as helpless as she made herself out to be in her Buzzfeed explainer. She is, by any good measure, the most powerful woman in Hollywood under the age of 30. A director, writer and multi-millionaire, she is idolized by young women for her creative assertiveness with multiple awards given to her work. Dunham could be the leading voice of feminist power in the 21st century by standing up and facing down her attacker in court, something women without the privilege of an army of lawyers or armed security provided by Random House or HBO do every day. Every day.

Dunham could set an empowering example for women everywhere that no matter who you are, ruthless predators don’t get away with taking advantage of a drunk and or drugged woman in the dead of night and remain safely anonymous. She could be the voice that says enough is enough. Instead she not only chooses to protect his legal identity but according to Random House publishing, created a pseudonym for him which inadvertently targeted the wrong guy. Random House will also be “Tweaking” future printed copies of Dunham’s book.

Dunham and her publisher are going to incredible lengths and pains to protect the identity of her alleged rapist.

It’s great that Dunham is allowed a platform like Random House, HBO or Buzzfeed to express her own personal insecurities for her fans to gush over, but what about the multitudes of women at the hands of her attacker? Dunham doesn’t believe she owes them an explanation, or more importantly, a warning. Lena Dunham is a bigger perpetrator of rape culture than any video game ever could be. She calls herself an unreliable narrator but based on her description of handle bar mustache, purple cowboy boots and flamboyant hootin’ and hollerin’ conservative, I’m just going with that she was raped by Yosemite Sam until she confirms otherwise.

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The problem with Lena Dunham’s flippant attitude with pursuing her attacker is that those in the industry desperate to cling to any relevancy in the headlines blasted across the pages of Rolling Stone or on MTV are following suite.

Lady Gaga appeared on the Howard Stern show and alluded that she too had been raped by a record producer whom she refused to name. How has Gaga handled her attacker’s identity since? By claiming a song she wrote was about him and used the occasion to promote her new duet album with Tony Bennett. Gaga herself is no stranger to rape controversy when she experienced severe PR blow back for a music video she filmed with R. Kelly of all people and directed by alleged rapist Terry Richardson, formerly of Vice fame. Gaga even attached a hashtag, #DWUW to the video to promote it. Was her mysterious insinuation of assault a tepid effort to stifle any of the bad PR? Maybe. It’s not like Lady Gaga has engineered promotional maleficence in the past to generate publicity. Once again, a dangerous influential predator of women remains free to prey on young starlets while Gaga occupies herself with trying to super glue a kitchen appliance to her head.

While on the brief topic of R. Kelly and Terry Richardson, noted women’s magazine Cosmopolitan featured an article titled “Sex tips from R. Kelly” in 2013. It was penned by Anna Breslaw, who also happens to have very strong opinions on “Rape Culture”. Lena Dunham herself  also worked with Terry Richardson without complaint.

And then there’s Rolling Stone.

Even beyond Rolling Stone’s completely shattered reputation of narrative journalism which has been well documented over the recent non events at University of Virginia, it has become a pop culture relic more interested in the sexualization of violence (and vice versa) than the latest projects of influential musicians and artists. Jim Geraghty provided a detailed rundown of Rolling Stone’s hypocritical downward spiral.

If rape culture exists it’s not on college campuses. This is a developing and startling trend with Hollywood and feminist entertainment culture. The glamorization of rape as a means of fitting into a social clique. It’s not about demanding truth. It’s about demanding obedience. 

Not getting young women to bond with shared experiences of a sexual assault to find healing, but that it’s simply becoming a fad and cool to do so. This is a dangerous bandwagon that corporate pop culture is all too happy to attempt to exploit. Currently a who’s who of VH1 reality celebs are coming out of the woodwork to claim that Bill Cosby has allegedly raped them and everything except the 3rd mafia housewife from season 15, and claiming it in every gossip show and rag mag that exists, everywhere except in sworn depositions under oath, where it matters legally and giving prosecutors the information needed to put Bill Cosby behind bars where he possibly belongs.

This is feminist driven media attempting to gleefully create a culture of Rape Glam and at the forefront is the hipster queen of millennial drama, Lena Dunham.

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It’s becoming such a hip trend that the entire fringe of rape glam media becomes more unhinged when they discover a violent gang rape at a college university didn’t actually happen. As Sabrina Erdely’s fabulist reporting is revealed and Rolling Stone’s story crumbles more and more, the likes of Sally Kohn, Jessica Valenti, Zerlina Maxwell (whom has claimed she too was sexually assaulted without naming her attacker) and Amanda Marcotte dig in more and more because they believe there is a political point to be made. There isn’t. The Rape Glam movement is about as interested in actually stopping rape as Al Sharpton is stopping racism.

The more an idea of rape culture persists, no matter what evidence suggests otherwise, the more a progressive ideology is allowed to thrive, such as it has now with Randi Weingarten, the head of the American Teachers Union. Claiming to have “almost been raped” and using already debunked statistics to help push and promote Senator Kirsten Gillibrand’s (whom earlier this year declined to name an older male senator fat shaming her) sponsored rape campus legislation.

Will Weingarten’s claims be investigated? Maybe. Will the reporter investigating them be ostracized as a rape sympathizer? Absolutely yes. And that’s how the Rape Glam industry operates.

All that matters is the accusations.

Rape Glamourists aren’t interested in an honest discussion about sexual assault, statistics and discovering truth, no matter how inconvenient it might be. They’re concern for rape ends at their political ideology because it’s their political ideology that pays for their narratives.

This is the basis of why Zerlina Maxwell believes every woman should automatically be believed when accusing a man of a violent rape, no matter what, yet cheers on the party boy antics of Bill Clinton. This will become increasingly inconvenient for the Rape Glam Movement as 2016 approaches and they prepare to throw their public support behind a woman who is not only married to an accused rapist, but gleefully defended one as well.

The only rape culture preying on impressionable, confused, young women, such as Jackie from Rolling Stone’s discredited story, is the culture created by Dunham, Lady Gaga, Rolling Stone and an industry far more interested in pushing a political narrative into the mainstream than punishing specific attackers. The details become phased out. Evidence becomes inconsequential and the narrative then becomes a moral fable, to be followed, believed and adhered to on broken knee without any bounds to truth, no different than an HBO sitcom or a pop song. Accusers are to automatically be believed without merit, because they then join the ranks and grow the movement. It becomes a crusade. Claiming to be raped becomes much more glamorous and acceptable than surviving and punishing an actual rapist. It becomes cool and then becomes a necessity to fit in.

Lena Dunham’s anonymous composite rapist works as a storyline for Girls and in her memoir. It is infinitely more interesting to her anti-conservative agenda and that narrative only works if we’re left with only the impression and details she provides, or in this case, chooses not to provide. Meanwhile other girls without the legal arsenal that Dunham has are being victimized by a man she protects. Exposing, confronting and convicting a rapist isn’t as easy as setting up a tumblr blog or tweeting about Beyonce, yet young courageous women without the army of lawyers Lena Dunham has, or the MSNBC platform Zerlina Maxwell has, do it every day. 

These girls are faceless to MTV and Rolling Stone and useless to the Rape Glam movement but they are the true heroes and the ones that deserve our attention and our support.

 

 

– SM –

 

 

 

Race Wars: Media Creates a Phantom Menace.

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Last Friday, Star Wars finally made the jump to light speed and joined the internet age. The 88-second teaser trailer for the seventh installment of the franchise, titled “The Force Awakens,” was released online and immediately shot up Twitter trends, zipping past hashtags of protests and riots stemming from the Ferguson grand jury decision. If people understand how a teaser trailer for a Star Wars movie — more than a year away from release — knocked the media’s love affair with Ferguson-inspired riots off of the front page of the internet, then they can understand why progressive media outlets are attempting to fabricate a racial narrative out of complete thin air concerning its new young star.

The first new image that prequel-scarred fans are given is of an Imperial Stormtrooper popping into frame, panicked and sweating, shortly after an ominous voice states that “There has been an awakening”. “Who is he?,” “why is he panicked?” and “where is his helmet?” are the many questions that run through the viewer’s mind. The teaser has done its job by raising more questions than answers, and fans are hooked again despite being bludgeoned nearly to death by a decade of incredibly disappointing prequels they refuse to acknowledge even exist, save the final 20 minutes of Episode III.

The “stormtrooper” in question is Attack the Block actor John Boyega, and he is rumored to be not just a minor cog in a rebuilding Empire, but in fact the lead of the new Trilogy that will see Luke Skywalker, Han Solo and Princess Leia pass the saber in some form or another down to a new hope.  Anyone who has seen Attack The Block can testify that Boyega brings an intense dynamic presence to the screen. He has the undeniably chiseled face of a young hero, comes across as mature beyond his years, and is the perfect candidate for an aging Mark Hamill — now the same age Alec Guinness was when he played Obi-Wan Kenobi in the original Star Wars — to pass his skills and knowledge down to a (possible) new apprentice. Other than sporadic leaks about Boyega’s character’s rumored origin months ago, no one knows for sure what he’s doing out there in the desert.

The trailer also introduces an insanely illogical “Sithcalibur” light saber and a stunt-flying Millennium Falcon that reminds fans of just how thankful they are that George Lucas didn’t fuck up the coolest spaceship ever put on film during the prequels. The most anticipated film of the year now has footage that fans and internet obsessives can dissect frame-by-frame until the Super Bowl, or new Avengers film in theaters, when a second full trailer is revealed.

But none of that has been the topic of discussion on the progressive websites that masquerade as nerdgasm sites. The topic of discussion has been all about the purportedly rampant racism online directed at John Boyega himself. Hundreds and hundreds of racist comments about the “Black Stormtrooper” controversy. Yahoo News, The Atlantic, Buzzfeed, Verge, The Wrap and Mashable all tackled this sensitive subject with a passionate fury. Boyega himself even weighed in, expressing his gratitude and excitement on his personal Instagram saying, adding a somewhat cryptic phrase at the end: “To whom it may concern, get used to it.” It took progressive media all of 1 parsec to assume he was clearly referencing one or two anonymous YouTube comments about his race, and not perhaps a former acting coach, or ex-girlfriend, or anyone else.

The issue of Boyega’s skin color has been such a heated topic of debate online that none of the news outlets who ran stories about fan racism directed at Boyega could cite a single example of it happening. Not on Twitter. Not in an op-Ed, not on movie fansites.

Not one.

The story appeared at Mashable by Annie Colbert and once again didn’t link any actual criticisms about Boyega’s race. The closest any of them came was Kimberley Dadds from Buzzfeed embedding tweets that mentioned people were outraged yet linked or provided no examples to any actual racist comments to which those tweets were referring to. Variations of this story that appeared at The Wrap and Verge opted for headlines like “Black Stormtrooper fires back at critics” but didn’t reference a single critic. Yahoo Movies took it a step further and used the occasion to slam Fox and Rupert Murdoch but once again provided no tweets, links or blogs. Kriston Capps from The Atlantic wrote a full Op Ed titled “Of Course There Are Black Stormtroopers” with the tone that people were once again objecting and he was simply responding to them. Yet throughout his entire piece, he didn’t provide a single link, tweet or even anonymous YouTube comment, deferring instead to a Mel Brooks joke about the black troopers using an afro pick to “comb the desert” in Spaceballs. If these writers are going to start claiming Mel Brooks is racist they may want to reach further back to minimize any attempt at looking foolish by targeting Blazing Saddles instead.

Reaching to the far corners of the progressive galaxy, the Daily Kos weighed in and, oddly enough, could only muster the same Spaceballs comparison from a Reddit thread, while bringing up past perceived and imagined slights with Jar Jar Binks. (The voice actor for Jar Jar, Ahmed Best, is black and this is considered racist; Darth Vader, voiced by James Earl Jones, somehow is not.)

Here was populist web-media pushing a nonexistent narrative with no references other than to those of the cryptic comments of the star. If Boyega is in fact referring to specific racist comments then these outlets should push him to cite the examples he witnessed so we, as a collective fanbase, can shame these people together. This all of course leads to the motivation of these writers and their editors. Fans and casual readers not trained in recognizing these techniques see headlines about racist reactions and are driven further apart; evidence be damned. The authors cite zero examples of bigotry toward Boyega but their 18pt-font headline or tweet says it exists.

You should have a bad feeling about all of this.

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Fans will try to shrug this off as no big deal. But it is, because it is a pattern that won’t stop and won’t slow down. This same wing of the media are the ones that went after a rocket scientist for his shirt. This is the pattern of progressive media, shaming anyone and anything away from popular culture that doesn’t politically agree with them. This is the playground bully attempting to keep the kid off the monkey-bars and using any justification they can possibly conjure to make it acceptable to themselves. It is not an accident that, since the repudiation of extremist progressive policies just over a month ago in the midterm elections, this sector of the media is trying desperately keep the focus off of a failing president and his policies. This includes supplementing the unpopularity of Obamacare and Obama’s unpopular executive amnesty orders with imaginary racial narratives in Ferguson, and popular culture’s modern day religion in Star Wars. Just as Mike Brown belongs to progressive media, the hope is that John Boyega becomes their voice in a galaxy far far away and J. J. Abrams floods a new trilogy with narratives and innuendos about climate-change on Tatooine and Wookie birth control. It’s only a matter of time before we’re all bombarded with “Hans Up, Don’t Shoot First” memes.

There is no difference in progressive media creating and fabricating a race angle in the Ferguson incident and the Star Wars trailer nontroversy, and the intent with both is equally malicious. The incident between Officer Darren Wilson and Mike Brown was hijacked by a race-narrative-happy media who are now attempting the same with Star Wars (of all things!), something that has brought people together both in terms of how good and how bad it has been. This is their idea of “fundamental change.” It only happens when the things we all love are torn down and destroyed, only to be rebuilt by the perpetually politicized. That includes Thanksgiving. That includes Star Wars.

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There is not a shred of evidence that there were any racial motivations behind Darren Wilson’s shooting of Mike Brown. Mike Brown’s race played no part in him grabbing a shopkeeper by the throat and jacking a handful of cigarillos. Mike Brown’s race played no part in him deciding to walk down the middle of the street in a lumbering effort to block traffic shortly before Wilson stopped him.

Mike Brown’s race played no part when he reached for Darren Wilson’s gun.

Unless Boyega’s character in the new Trilogy is Lando’s son, then there’s no evidence to suggest he was cast for any other reason than his acting ability and no fans have suggested otherwise.

But progressive media needs the race angle to stoke the passions and pain of a community who feels wrongfully treated by an aggressive and militarized police force, and they need the race angle for the Occupy-driven protests to stay relevant. That means politicizing anything that might turn our collective heads away from their circus in Ferguson. There certainly might be a racial divide in Ferguson, MO. But Mike Brown is not Emmett Till. As Ferguson riots entered into their fourth and fifth days and the country sought to turn toward the Thanksgiving table with their families, progressive media wasn’t having any of that either, demanding family members discuss birth control, healthcare, race, race and race or glorifying protesters laying down in traffic. If you think that our films and moviegoing experience is somehow safe from these agitators, think again.

These “critics” are not fans of Star Wars. Just as a barrage of progressive media critics who love to opine about a professional football team name or violence that suddenly becomes acceptable when players raise their hands symbolically for Mike Brown before a game. MSNBC producer Jamil Smith, one of the first to launch into a racist anti-racist tirade about imaginary internet racism towards Boyega, is such an ardent Star Wars fan that he somehow completely forgot that Samuel L. Jackson had one of the most pivotal roles in the prequels, as the Jedi Master that never fully entrusted a young Anakin Skywalker the way Emperor Palpatine did.

For a brief moment, an 88-second Star Wars trailer made people remember what was great about our culture, how we can all rally around something that gives us a new hope. Then progressive media whiners (intent on making sure their shiny new race-war doesn’t fade away) fabricated a narrative out of nothing. They would have a better chance proving the existence of midichlorians than mass racial protests against a long awaited trilogy’s newfound hero. Billy Dee Williams’ race was not an issue in 1980. Samuel L. Jackson’s race was not an issue in 1999. Yet here we are in 2014. What changed?

Boyega is on the verge of becoming a huge star, regardless of his race, and the crowds staging sit-ins around the country next December outside of movie theaters in order to see new Star Wars will dwarf the few hundred protesters laying on the floor in shopping malls or a handful media agitators hoping to cause a disturbance in The Force.

 

 

– SM –