JOANNE LAURIER—Mendes’ movie never asks who was responsible for one of the most barbaric episodes in world history, a calamity that resulted in some 40 million civilian and military casualties, including an estimated 22 million dead. The claims that the film’s depiction of numerous atrocities makes it an anti-war work are spurious, as is the case in regard to various contemporary movies on the subjects of the Iraq and Afghanistan invasions (The Hurt Locker, Zero Dark Thirty, Lions for Lambs, Mendes’ own Jarhead, etc.). It is entirely possible to picture the awfulness of such conflicts—particularly as they affect one’s “own” side—and still insist, or imply, that such conflicts are necessary, inevitable, or, once begun, have to be “carried through to the end” in the national interest. The uncritical, narrowly focused treatment of the immediate “facts” of the war in 1917 helps plant it firmly in the pro-British establishment camp.
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Ricky Gervais may be kissing his big time career good-bye with this monologue (which clearly made many VIPs uncomfortable), but I guess the man had to get it off his chest, and he did. Seeking truth to a roomful of egotists accustomed to sycophants is risky business.
DAVID WALSH—Nell Beram at Bright Lights Film Journal points out that “Day detested her virginal image. She knew that ‘a ‘Doris Day movie’ had come to mean a very specific kind of sunny, nostalgic, sexless, wholesome film.’… In her book [with Hotchner] she says, ‘I have the unfortunate reputation of being Miss Goody Two-Shoes, America’s Virgin, and all that, so I’m afraid it’s going to shock some people for me to say this, but I staunchly believe no two people should get married until they have lived together.’ She loathed the pristine image in part because it was a lie—she was against artifice… and in part because the image was impossible for someone with her biography to live up to.” That “biography” included several unhappy marriages and a bankruptcy that resulted from her and her husband being swindled out of their money.
JASON HIRTHLER—In many respects what all this superhero cinema reveals is the startling infantilism of the American mind. Benjamin Barber foresaw this some years ago in his excellent cultural exposition, Consumed. The infantilization of the American masses produces the ideal state for consumption: blissfully ignorant and driven by impulsive desires and fears, largely uninformed by any evaluative research let alone the consequences of spending. The critical faculties of adults are absent in the infantile consumer. Surely adults that continually appease their fears (or boredom) with fantasies of caped crusaders rescuing the sheeple from certain destruction participate in this sophomoric recidivism.
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TUCKER CARLSON—Julian Assange embarrassed virtually everyone in power in Washington. He published documents that undermined the official story of the Iraq War and Afghanistan. He got Debbie Wasserman-Schulz fired from the DNC. He humiliated Hillary Clinton by showing that the Democratic primaries were, in fact, rigged.Pretty much everyone in Washington has reason to hate Julian Assange. Rather than just admit that straightforwardly, “he made us look like buffoons, so now we are sending him to prison!”