Symptoms of a fever afflicting America’s culture.
- “Hollywood’s Hero Deficit“, James Bowman, July/August 2008
- “Red Hoax Blue Hoax“, Ann Coulter, 29 October 2008 — About the plague of fake hate crimes.
Both are, each in their own way, serious symptoms of underlying weakness or even illness in America’s culture. As usual, self-awareness is the first step to a cure.
“Hollywood’s Hero Deficit“, James Bowman, July/August 2008 — This is just a snippet of a valauble article, which I strongly recommend reading in full.
American movies have forgotten how to portray heroism, while a large part of their disappearing audience still wants to see celluloid heroes. I mean real heroes, unqualified heroes, not those who have dominated American cinema over the past 30 years and who can be classified as one of three types: the whistle-blower hero, the victim hero, and the cartoon or superhero. The heroes of most of last year’s flopperoos belonged to one of the first two types, although, according to Scott, the only one that made any money, “The Kingdom,” starred “a team of superheroes” on the loose in Saudi Arabia. What kind of box office might have been done by a movie that offered up a real hero?
There’s no way of telling, because there haven’t been any real movie heroes for a generation. This fact has been disguised from us partly because of the popularity of the superhero but also because Hollywood has continued to make war movies and Westerns, the biggest generators of movie heroism, that are superficially similar to those of the past but different in ways that are undetectable to their mostly young audiences, who have no memory of anything else
… As a result of this increasingly influential cultural attitude, the movie hero was already beginning to become a more and more ambiguous figure in the immediate postwar period. The kind of clean-living, pious hero portrayed by Cooper in the pre-war “Sergeant York” (1941) – which celebrated an American hero of the First World War-gave way to the isolated and magnificent but dubious postwar figure of Cooper’s Marshal Will Kane in “High Noon.”
The heroics of Sergeant York were seen as having been performed on behalf of a community and a nation-two-thirds of the film is spent introducing us to his hometown of Pall Mall, Tennessee-which are as properly grateful to him as he is devoted to them. Kane’s deeds are performed in spite of and in opposition to the will of the community he serves and more to satisfy a personal standard of honor than a sense of duty to such a pack of ingrates. The film ends with his dropping his badge in the dust and leaving town for good.
… in the noir pictures there was always a sense-enforced to some extent by the Hays Code that aimed to uphold high moral standards and was still in force at the time-that however hated and resented the moral order enforced by the social and political powers-that-be, it was still a genuine moral order and not just the greed, viciousness, and violence of those who happened to hold power.
Though the antihero whose flowering we have seen in our own time was there in embryo, it still left open the possibility of goodness and decency, not just on the part of individuals but of a community. That’s what it took for Dan Evans in the 1957 version of “3:10 to Yuma” to be a hero: the idea that his courage was for the sake of a belief that “people should be able to live in peace and decency together.” Without this belief in a community where power is not antithetical to the good and the decent but the means of its advancement, neither the war films nor the Westerns of our own time will ever be able to give us any but a debased sort of heroism
“Red Hoax Blue Hoax“, Ann Coulter, 29 October 2008 — Another in the seemingly endless stream of fake hate crimes that have appeared over the past few decades. Not matter how often they are found to be fake, the next one receives exaggerated attention and belief.
As the case of Ashley Todd reminded us again last week, racial bias crimes are almost always hoaxes. Todd is the Republican volunteer who claimed that a black man in Pittsburgh had pummeled her and carved a “B” into her cheek after spotting the “McCain-Palin” bumper stickers on her car. A lot of people suspected the case was a hoax from the outset, including Fox News’ Bill O’Reilly, who immediately said: “It could be bogus. I’m a little skeptical about this, but our duty … is to report everything to you.”
The claim was bogus, but on MSNBC, instead of citing the Todd case as further proof of the maxim “Never believe claims of racial bias until proved,” the hoax hate crime led to somber discussions of — you guessed it! — racism in America.
MSNBC’s Keith Olbermann histrionically described Todd’s hoax as “a narrative straight out of Reconstruction-era, race-based fear-mongering: a black man, 6-foot, 4-inches, attacking, sexually assaulting, fondling, mutilating a young white woman.” His expert pontificator on race was The Washington Post’s Eugene Robinson, who said the Pittsburgh hoax was “the blood libel against black men concerning the defilement of the flower of Caucasian womanhood. It’s been with us for hundreds of years and, apparently, is still with us.”
Robinson was last heard from on the subject of race crimes in his famous April 25, 2006, Post column melodramatically saying of the Duke lacrosse rape case: “It’s impossible to avoid thinking of all the black women who were violated by drunken white men in the American South over the centuries. The master-slave relationship, the tradition of droit du seigneur, the use of sexual possession as an instrument of domination — all this ugliness floods the mind, unbidden, and refuses to leave.” … As is now well-known, the alleged gang rape of a black stripper by white lacrosse players never happened. At least Ashley Todd’s hoax didn’t almost ruin an actual person’s life.
Meanwhile, back at Hoax Interpretation Central, Olbermann spent most of October issuing blistering denunciations of John McCain and Sarah Palin based on the claim that someone had yelled “Kill him!” in reference to Obama at a Palin campaign rally. “There’s a fine line between a smear campaign and an incitement to violence,” Olbermann lectured. “If Sen. McCain and Gov. Palin have not previously crossed it this week, today even, they most certainly did.”
One of Olbermann’s many guest-hysterics was Newsweek’s Richard Wolffe. Equally excited, Wolffe said it was “no excuse” that McCain and Palin couldn’t hear what the crowd was shouting because “what you’re seeing here is a very conscious attempt to paint Obama as un-American, as unpatriotic and, yes, cohorting, consorting with what they call, ‘domestic terrorists.'” (Liberals indignantly reject the label “domestic terrorists” for former Weathermen, preferring to call them “future Cabinet members.”)
After beating the “Kill him!” story to death for a week, Olbermann delivered one of his comical “Special Comments” about the incident. “You, Sen. McCain,” he pompously announced, “are not only a fraud, sir, but you are tacitly inciting lunatics to violence.” Olbermann demanded that McCain cease campaigning: “Suspend your campaign now until you or somebody else gets some control over it. And it ceases to be a clear and present danger to the peace of this nation.”
… As has now been conclusively established, no one ever shouted “Kill him!” at a Palin campaign rally. The Secret Service undertook a full investigation — listening to tapes of the event, interviewing people who had attended the rally, and interrogating Secret Service and other law enforcement officers who were spread throughout the crowd.
As even an article on the crazy, left-wing, don’t-make-any-sudden-moves-around-them Salon site noted: “The Secret Service takes this sort of thing very, very seriously. If it says it doesn’t think anyone shouted ‘kill him,’ it’s a good bet that it didn’t happen.”
While we’re on the subject of massive deceptions, Olbermann regularly has Chris Kofinis on his show to talk about the sleaziness of Republican candidates. But why has Olbermann never asked this former communications director of John Edwards’ campaign about the hoax Edwards was pulling running for president as a family man with a sick wife while carrying on an extramarital affair? What were they planning to do if Edwards got the nomination? Claim that Rielle Hunter’s baby was fathered by a black man?
Having helped promote massive hoaxes that lasted for weeks in the case of “Kill him!” and years in the case of the Duke lacrosse case, you would think liberals would go easy on the crocodile tears over a 24-hour hoax by an obviously disturbed girl in Pittsburgh.
A note from the real world, as a true hero passes away
Our time on the world’s stage will be finished when American no longer produces men like this. God willing, that time has not yet come.
“Vietnam War Hero John Ripley Dies at 69“, AP, 3 November 2008 — This provides an account of a real hero’s life. Well worth reading.
At the website of the US Naval Institute’s “Americans at war” program, you can see the video of this interview:
In this video Captain Ripley relates his heroic feat of singlehandedly stopping the enemy during a major offensive on Easter Sunday in 1972. His “tiny force” of South Vietnamese Marines was poised on one side of the Dong-Ha Bridge to take on the “enormous force” of North Vietnamese troops ready to attack from the other side. Undaunted, the determined Captain Ripley decided to take the situation in his own hands to bring down the bridge.
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Other FM posts about the American spirit, the American soul:
- Diagnosing the eagle, chapter IV – Alienation, 13 January 2008
- Americans, now a subservient people (listen to the Founders sigh in disappointment), 20 July 2008
- de Tocqueville warns us not to become weak and servile, 21 July 2008
- A philosphical basis for the Batman saga, 23 July 2008
- The American spirit speaks: “Baa, Baa, Baa”, 5 August 2008
- We’re Americans, hear us yell: “baa, baa, baa”, 6 August 2008
- The intelligentsia takes easy steps to abandoning America, 19 August 2008