Tag Archives: TV

Michele Bachmann’s “Iron” Deficiency


Last summer, Margaret Thatcher snubbed Sarah Palin, turning down a visit from the Tea Party darling because (in the words of someone in Thatcher’s camp) “That would be belittling for Margaret. Sarah Palin is nuts.” If that was really how Thatcher thought of Palin, imagine the low regard she’d have for Michele Bachmann.

That’s not stopping Bachmann from comparing herself to Thatcher in a new ad (embedded above), one that capitalizes on the buzz surrounding Meryl Streep’s Oscar-worthy performance as Thatcher in the new biopic The Iron Lady. Now, it’s often problematic when conservatives try to tap into pop culture and align themselves with current hit movies.* (Remember over the summer when Republicans in Congress psyched themselves up for the debt ceiling fight by watching a clip of thuggish behavior from The Town? Was that really the image these fiscally responsible Republicans wanted to convey, that of violent bank robbers from a movie made by prominent Democratic supporter Ben Affleck?) How tone-deaf is it for Bachmann to associate herself not with the real Thatcher but with the movie Thatcher, played by one of Hollywood’s prominent liberals, in a film that British conservative politicians have criticized as an unflattering smear of Thatcher? Continue reading

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Filed under 2012 Election, Movies, TV

Imagine No Self-Righteous Outrage


Is this really a thing? Outrage over Cee-Lo Green changing one lyric in John Lennon’s “Imagine” during his New Year’s Eve performance? Granted, Cee-Lo became superfamous for singing altered lyrics to his own famously profane hit song, but we’re supposed to be surprised that he displays similar irreverence toward someone else’s work?

Fine, so he changed the lyric, “And no religion, too” to “And all religion’s true.” (The offending alteration comes in at around the five-minute mark in the video embedded above.) But if you think about it, that line is just as provocative as the line it replaces. If all religion is true, then neither Muslims nor Christians nor Jews nor Buddhists can claim a monopoly on religious truth. (And then, I guess, we should all become Unitarian Universalists.) It’s a provocative change, provocative in a good way, like the rest of the song, and I suspect that that venerable provocateur, John Lennon, might have approved of the tweak, since he considered so little to be sacred, including his own musical canon (“I don’t believe in Beatles,” as he put it). Continue reading

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Filed under Feuds, Music, Religion, TV

Happy 30th Birthday, MTV, For “Shore”

Vodpod videos no longer available.

MTV, which marks its 30th birthday today, has changed a lot since I wrote this Boston Phoenix article marking the channel’s 10th birthday.But one thing remains the same: it’s still a channel that’s all about the search for identity. Well, maybe “search” isn’t the right word; “shopping trip” might be more apt. Continue reading

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Mark Twain, Sarah Palin, Tucson, and the Follies of Censorship

Mark Twain

Mark Twain (Library of Congress No. LC-USZ62-5513)

Your elites don’t trust you. They don’t trust you to be able to read certain historical or literary documents, listen to TV and radio pundits, or even look at certain billboards and posters without getting the wrong ideas and letting them poison your mind to the extent that you turn to violence.

We’ve seen that a lot this month, with censorship efforts against a broad spectrum of source material, from Huckleberry Finn to the U.S. Constitution to Sarah Palin’s website, in the wake of the Tucson shootings. Continue reading

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Filed under Arts, Books, Censorship, Media, TV

Farewell to a Focked-Up Year

Robert De Niro and Ben Stiller in "Little Fockers"Visiting Colorado this week, I was chatting with a couple, family friends, who remarked that I was the first person they’d met who admitted to having voted for Obama. Of course, where I live, in a New York City suburb full of elite media folk, no one will admit to not having voted for Obama. Except for the politics, we had a pleasant conversation, but it dismayed me that we continue to live in two countries with seemingly irreconcilable views, not only on which policies and politicians should govern, but on how to interpret real events we all experienced.

There’s Fox Nation, where Glenn Beck and Sarah Palin are distinguished sages, where Juan Williams is rewarded for the thoughtless bigotry for which NPR punished him, where Obama is an alien bent on destroying capitalism, where Andrew Breitbart is the wronged party after he’s condemned for making Shirley Sherrod notorious and costing her her job, where a proposed YMCMA a few blocks from Ground Zero is a shrine to a terrorist victory, where the midterm elections are a sign of genuine populist rejection of the Democrats’ big-government agenda, and where white Christian male privilege is a sign of embattled martyrdom and not still at the centers of power in most places.

And then there’s the place where the rest of us live, a place that doesn’t even have a name because we’re too disorganized, disputatious, and dispirited to give it one (per Yeats: the best lack all conviction, while the worst are full of passionate intensity); call it Colbert Nation — a place where jesters Stephen Colbert and Jon Stewart are taken seriously because they’re the only media/political watchdogs still actually doing their jobs, where Obama is a  Wall Street sellout who’s been too deferential to implacable obstructionists, where the midterm elections are a sign that a well-funded right-wing astroturf campaign beats an ineffectual Democratic party any time, and where the repeal of Don’t Ask Don’t Tell is the only sign that we’re not on the verge of a wholesale repeal of every positive social advance of the last century.

During my brief visit to Fox Nation, I found only a couple of signs of hope that an America riven into two seemingly irreconcilable camps can find something to agree upon. Continue reading

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Filed under 2008 Election, Arts, Barack Obama, Feuds, Media, Movies, TV

“Dancing With the Stars”: The Mama Grizzly Votng Bloc

Bristol Palin (and Brandy) on "Dancing With the Stars"It’s always instructive to me when a firestorm erupts over one of my AOL posts. In this case, plenty of people, both pro- and anti-Palin, are up in arms over the controversy of Bristol Palin’s continuing presence on Dancing With the Stars after the elimination of many undeniably better dancers, including this week’s apparently shocking ouster of Brandy.

In my TV Squad post, I noted the many conspiracy theorists (including some closely affiliated with the show) who believe that Tea Partiers are stuffing ballots to vote for Palin simply because they’re political supporters of her mother. I note the evidence for fraud marshaled by Jezebel, only to reject it as inconclusive. Nowhere in the post do I discuss Bristol’s character, attitude, looks, or unwed-teen-mom status, only her dancing skills. Nonetheless, just for bringing up the possibility of vote fraud, I am apparently a liberal hack who has besmirched Bristol’s sterling reputation with my unfounded smears.

In the thousands of comments that follow my post, there’s a lot of gratuitous insult-trading going on, a lot of mean-spirited comments about Bristol and Sarah Palin, and inevitably, about Barack Obama and Harry Reid and other Democratic politicians who have nothing to do with Dancing With the Stars except that no derogatory remark about the Palins is allowed to go unanswered by the Mama Grizzly bloc. As for whether or not there’s a conspiracy here, no one can say — and I don’t think it even matters — but the support for Bristol does tell me a lot about the way Tea Partiers think politically.

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“Lost” vs. “24”: A Tale of Two Americas

Ben and Hurley in "Lost" series finale, "The End"It’s fitting that both Lost and 24 should come to a close within 24 hours of each other at the dawn of new decade. Both summed up what it felt like to be an American in the George W. Bush era of post-9/11 existential dread. But they came at that feeling from opposite angles.

I’ve tried to make sense of the ‘Lost finale in this post at AOL’s TV Squad. Of all the other ‘Lost’ post-mortems I’ve seen, this one by the Washington Post‘s Hank Steuver is the one that has best addressed what 24 and Lost said about America. Of course, each show seemed to be speaking to a different America, which itself says plenty about our conflicted age.

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Filed under Feuds, Media, Middle East, Religion, TV