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  • Watching the Oscars tonight? Me neither. I can't remember the last time I even tried. Kyle Smith considers the ceremony to be The Movies’ Salute to Television.

    Just a few years ago, the Oscars featured big stars such as Sandra Bullock in big movies such as Gravity, but the slate of nominees gets increasingly esoteric. And the theatrical distinction has been erased: This year’s top two contenders are TV features that got only a token release in theaters: Apple TV’s CODA (Child of Deaf Adults), a feel-good movie about a girl growing up in a family of deaf people, which won the Producers Guild of America’s top award; and Netflix’s The Power of the Dog, a revisionist Western from New Zealander director Jane Campion that has won dozens of awards, including the Critics Choice honors. The movie’s theme of closeted homosexuality is of such intense and enduring fascination to the Oscars (American Beauty, Moonlight, Milk, Call Me By Your Name, The Imitation Game) that the movie seems like a shoo-in, though it has lost momentum in the awards season lately.

    Only two women have ever won the Best Director Oscar, so Campion’s win in that category is a foregone conclusion, which means factors other than merit are playing a big role in the selection, which is exactly why people don’t watch awards shows anymore. If they’re just a reaffirmation of the wisdom of identity politics, who cares? We don’t need a three-hour telecast reminding us that the Academy is committed to honoring diversity. People know corruption when they see it, and the Oscars are corrupted by an eagerness to display inclusivity. Just don’t hold your breath waiting for Sam Elliott to win. That guy will be lucky if he ever works on a studio movie again.

    Confession: I watch about 30 minutes of the local TV news when it's not sports-preempted. The station (WMUR) is an ABC affiliate, and they're not above shamelessly plugging the upcoming show during the broadcast. As "news".

    One of their pitches is that the ceremony will be "historic". A sample "news" story from the national network: 7 potential historic wins to watch for. You don't want to miss history being made, do ya bunkie?

    There's a long history of Hollywood couples being nominated for Oscars the same year -- and this year there are two.

    Omigod! To think that Javier Bardem and Penelope Cruz could win Best Actor and Actress (respectively).

    The second pair: Kirsten Dunst and Jesse Plemons, but they're just engaged.

    What are the other 6 history-making possibilities? Well, Jane Campion could be the third woman to win Best Director! (Are you excited yet?) I assume she'll be chanting "I'M NUMBER THREE! I'M NUMBER THREE!" in her acceptance speech.

    In even less interesting news:

    • Ari Wegner could become the 1st female best cinematographer winner!
    • Troy Kotsur could become the 1st deaf best actor winner! (In which case you can forget about that Bardes/Cruz thing mentioned above happening. There's only so much history to be made.)
    • Lin-Manuel Miranda could achieve EGOT status! (Winning Emmy/Grammy/Oscar/Tony awards.) And that would be the … seventeenth time that's happened. ("I'M NUMBER SEVENTEEN! I'M NUMBER SEVENTEEN! I'M…")
    • Drive My Car could win something, and that would be a first because it's Japanese.
    • Ariana DeBose could win for the same role Rita Moreno won for 60 years ago! (But that would mess up the Plemons/Dunst parley ahove.)

    But is there anything else historic? Well, sure! The Aussie site Women's Agenda noticed the History making all female line-up to host Oscars 2022!

    For the first time in Oscars history, three women will be hosting the awards this coming March.

    Amy Schumer, Regina Hall and Wanda Sykes have been named as the hosts of the 94th Oscars ceremony, the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences confirmed this week.

    The all-female line-up will be the first time the ceremony, arguably Hollywood’s biggest night, will have a host since 2018, and the first time in 35 years it has had three presenters share the stage. In 1987, the ceremony was hosted by Chevy Chase, Goldie Hawn and Paul Hogan.

    I am unsure the venue will be able to contain the excitement of seeing this much star power concentrated on one stage.

  • I wish Mitch Daniels were president. Of the US, not Purdue. A primer: Rebating tax dollars doesn’t ‘cost’ a state anything. It’s your money!

    A newspaper account early this year reported on pending legislation that would “slash billions of dollars worth of taxes” in my home state of Indiana. The article was more interesting for its word choices than for its content. Twice, it stated that the proposal would “cost the state” money. Twice, it warned that the state would “lose out” on large sums. And the article capped its evident alarm by labeling the bill a “potential hit” against both state and local governments.

    This is not to pick on the writer. As yet another young reporter in the parched landscape of what was once local journalism, she couldn’t bring a firsthand, historically informed philosophical understanding to the assignment. The article simply showed the implicit biases now thoroughly ingrained across what these days is referred to as the corporate press. The negative slant about the tax policy in question, a legitimately debatable matter, is less important than the mentality it reflects about whose money we’re discussing.

    Hey, whatever happened to “The job of the newspaper is to comfort the afflicted and afflict the comfortable”?

    But (Google-"research" coming up) this site notes the original quote (from Finley Peter Dunne's 1902 book Observations by Mr. Dooley) has context lending it a less noble slant:

    “Th’ newspaper does ivrything f’r us. It runs th’ polis foorce an’ th’ banks, commands th’ milishy, controls th’ ligislachure, baptizes th’ young, marries th’ foolish, comforts th’ afflicted, afflicts th’ comfortable, buries th’ dead an’ roasts thim aftherward.”

    Apparently it helps to be stinking drunk to make that observation.

  • Another phrase that reveals that the speaker is probably being less than honest. And that phrase is… well, read Alex Baiocco, policy analyst at the Institute for Free Speech: When They Attack 'Dark Money,' They're Really Attacking Free Speech

    By adopting Democrats' strategy of attacking so-called dark money groups at this week's confirmation hearings for Supreme Court nominee Ketanji Brown Jackson, Republican senators are fueling efforts to undermine core First Amendment protections.

    Sen. Chuck Grassley (R–Iowa), the top Republican on the Senate Judiciary Committee, denounced the "role of far-left dark money groups like Demand Justice" in his opening remarks. And he wasn't the only one to do so. Sen. Lindsey Graham (R–S.C.) made vague references to "the most liberal people under the umbrella of Arabella." Prior to the hearing, Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell (R–Ky.) criticized the "dark money" being spent to "raise [Jackson's] profile."

    With friends like… well, Republicans and Democrats, the Constitution doesn't need enemies.

Last Modified 2024-01-17 4:00 PM EDT

Love in the Time of Contagion

A Diagnosis

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For folks seeing my one-star rating at Goodreads: it's subjective, I just didn't like it. As the kids say (but usually abbreviate): your mileage may vary. It might be useful and insightful to someone else, maybe you. Theoretically possible. But not me.

Why did I read it? Well, it's my library book rule: if I check it out, I have to read it. I might not have checked it out if we were in the pre-Covid days of leisurely library browsing: glancing at a few pages might have caused me to put it back on the shelf. But we've gotten into the habit of putting books on hold online, picking them up a few hours later.

I thought it would be a safer bet. I really liked Kipnis's previous book, Unwanted Advances. I blogged about her conflicts with Kampus Kancel Kulture pretty frequently in the 2017-2018 era: here, here, here, here, here, here, and here. But there's not much about that here. No warning signals were emitted when I listened to her interview with Nick Gillespie at Reason. So:

It's purportedly an examination of how the Covid pandemic has affected our intimate relationships, with callbacks to the AIDS disaster of the 1980s. There's precious little actual data on that here; Kipnis relies mainly on her own experience, and those revealed to her by her acquaintances. An example is her fourth chapter, in which she talks about her Zooming with an ex-student "Zelda", described as "queer, Black, and very online". Sample paragraph describing a social media incident Zelda had to deal with:

So why had [Frank] sent [Zelda] Camille's tweets? "Okay, this is kind of messy," she said, laughing a little self-consciously. Zelda had known that Frank knew Camille—in fact she'd first encountered Camille on one of Frank's social media pages, and texted him when she and Camille first started dating to say "Wow, Camille's cute and kind of cool." Frank hadn't at first told Zelda that he'd also had a brief thing with Camille until Zelda said, "You're acting weird, like did you sleep with her," and he said yeah, and Zelda was like, okay whatever. Frank also knew Olivia, Zelda's current girlfriend, and he was just scrolling through his timeline and saw Camille's tweets, figured they were about Zelda and probably thought, Camille's making a fool of herself, so I'm gonna screenshot these tweets because they'll be gone soon.
The legend of Zelda takes up about 40 pages of this 210-page book. I was uninterested the whole way through, but really uninterested in that.

But guess what? "Queer, Black" folks have fraught relationships, just like white heterosexuals. Things are certainly exacerbated when a large chunk of that aspect of their lives is revealed in social media. (To show off my fuddy-duddiness, being promiscuously sex-obsessed is probably adding to the drama.)

That's not all, but that's enough. I was occasionally amused by Kipnis's prose artistry, but she's just not speaking to me here.

Last Modified 2024-01-17 4:00 PM EDT