In the wake of the political upheaval of 2016, cultural critics predicted that the Trump presidency would, for all of its inevitable calamities, bring about a golden age for political art. They were wrong. Instead of a flowering of genius works of protest art, the past two years have brought a deluge of half-assed attempts at political commentary. We’ve seen enough faux-woke pop songs, prestige TV plots based around “Fake News”, and Oscar-bait that pontificates on “American Culture” over the last couple of years that even the biggest news junkie must be sick of art that tries to be topical — to be important.
Certain ticket reservations for the Stanford College Republicans’ recently announced event with controversial conservative group Turning Point USA have been deleted and cancelled, with the cancelled reservations possibly having been targeted in a manner in violation of SAL event policy.
The most shocking thing about Avengers: Infinity War, the nineteenth film in the all-conquering Marvel Cinematic Universe (or MCU), is that it is, for the most part, coherent. For the bulk of its two-and-a-half hour runtime, Infinity War operates as if it’s just another movie — one with clearly sketched characters, some of whom have arcs of their very own, and a plot that builds to a climax befitting the movie’s overwrought title. This may sound like damning with faint praise, but just clearing that low bar of coherency is something to celebrate. Considering the vast amounts of capital (of both the narrative and literal kinds) invested over the past decade into the MCU by its owners at Disney, it was always more likely that Infinity War was going to be a mediocre, focus-grouped-to-death product that muddled through its contractually-obligated crossovers with all the joy of negotiating a corporate merger.
A common theory of eternal damnation is that of the personal hell— a uniquely tailored punishment for each sinner to eke out the most possible suffering. It’s a theme that’s animated pop culture for centuries, from The Divine Comedy to The Good Place. I’m not sure I quite believe in personal hells, but if they exist, I know what lies down there for me: An endless stream of awards shows, of self-congratulatory speeches segueing into misbegotten tributes segueing into maudlin performances then back into those same damned speeches about the power of cinema or how wonderful the music industry is.
Continue reading “You Don’t have to Watch the Oscars”
The conventional wisdom goes that there are two types of news: fake and real. The fake kind is an upstart, a scammy provocation designed by Macedonian teens and conservative operatives to infiltrate our social media feeds, suckering gullible baby-boomers into believing misinformation about George Soros funding Jade Helm antifa operatives as commanded by Hillary Clinton. The real kind is an old, august tradition, a centuries-long chain of journalistic integrity and devotion to bold truth-telling and upholding the principles of a free society. It’s a binary— the New York Times on the end of the real, InfoWars on the end of the fake.
The Resistance is winning. Last Tuesday, Democrats won races throughout the country, securing the three highest elected offices of Virginia, the triple legislative crown of Washington State, and a smattering of offices in smaller level races throughout the country. Meanwhile, Robert Mueller’s pursuit of evidence of Russian collusion in the 2016 Election has begun to bear fruit, with his indictments of former Trump campaign manager Paul Manafort and generic stooge/foreign policy advisor George Papadopoulos. Trump’s presidency is in disarray, with no major legislative achievements. The repeal of the Affordable Care Act was an unqualified disaster, and the newly introduced tax plan looks increasingly at risk of a similar fate. After a first half of the year that looked increasingly dire (remember Jon Ossoff?), recent months have shown the power of the Resistance against Donald Trump.