Last one out

Boo!

Over at Alex on Film I’ve been wtaching the Riddick, or Chronicles of Riddick movies. So far there have been three: Pitch Black (2000), The Chronicles of Riddick (2004), and Riddick (2013). Will there be more? Probably, though the franchise hasn’t been a blockbuster. I’m not sure I’ll be sticking with it though.

Broken promises

From The Day of the Locust (1939) by Nathanael West:

Their boredom becomes more and more terrible. They realize that they’ve been tricked and burn with resentment. Every day of their lives they read the newspapers and went to the movies. Both fed them on lynchings, murder, sex crimes, explosions, wrecks, love nests, fires, miracles, revolutions, war. This daily diet made sophisticates of them. The sun is a joke. Oranges can’t titillate their jaded palates. Nothing can ever be violent enough to make taut their slack minds and bodies. They have been cheated and betrayed. They have slaved and saved for nothing.

From Notes of a Native Son (1955) by Richard Wright:

In America, though, life seems to move faster than anywhere else on the globe and each generation is promised more than it will get: which creates, in each generation, a curious bewildered rage, the rage of people who cannot find solid ground beneath their feet.

Kids in the corn

Just a kid. Looking out of the corn.

Over at Alex on Film I’ve been watching the almost totally undistinguished Children of the Corn movies. I say “almost” because the first movie isn’t bad, and in later episodes you can catch Charlize Theron’s debut and Naomi Watts in a leading role before she was a star. But mostly these movies are awful, which shouldn’t be surprising as they were being produced by the same company driving the Hellraiser franchise into the ground. Apparently Stephen King didn’t even keep track of how many there were. Though I guess he was getting paid since he usually received a credit for coming up with the title of the series (if nothing else).

Bottom line: the first movie is still worth seeing, but I would avoid all the others.

Children of the Corn (1984)
Children of the Corn II: The Final Sacrifice (1992)
Children of the Corn III: Urban Harvest (1995)
Children of the Corn: The Gathering (1996)
Children of the Corn V: Fields of Terror (1998)
Children of the Corn 666: Isaac’s Return (1999)
Children of the Corn VII: Revelation (2001)
Children of the Corn: Genesis (2011)

Gaslighting 11.0

None of these fellows has read the transcript. But they bought the t-shirt.

Much has been said about the presidency of Donald Trump and his gaslighting of the American public. Indeed whole books have been written on the subject. The results have been truly incredible, leading me to believe that it’s probably true that Trump could, as he boasted, shoot someone on Fifth Avenue and get away with it.

Of all the many examples of this that there have been, I think the most dramatic has been his command to “Read the transcipt!” Sometimes in all caps. This has turned out to be such a winner of a line that it’s even been printed on t-shirts for his followers to wear at rallies.

The reason I find this bit of gaslighting so remarkable is that there are no transcripts to be read. What Trump is referring to is the summary report of the phone call he made to the President of Ukraine. This is not a transcript. But apparently that doesn’t matter, any more than the fact that the Mueller Report, which Trump claimed as “total exoneration,” concluded that it could not exonerate Trump from the charge of having committed a crime.

What makes the “Read the transcript!” line even stranger though, and what dials it up to 11 on the gaslighting scale, is the fact that the only person stopping anyone from reading the transcript is . . . Trump himself. He could release a transcript of the call, but apparently it’s been locked down on a secure server somewhere. So the command to read the transcript is impossible, and impossible precisely because Trump has made it impossible.

I’d like to think the line was meant as a joke, but I’m afraid it may be part of a new reality.

Angry voters

Over the last few days I’ve been watching the ESPN Films documentary O.J.: Made in America. All of that craziness went down nearly twenty years ago and I can still remember it clearly. I think if you are of a certain age it will always be with you. It’s hard to imagine another media event capturing the world’s attention to that degree again. Nearly 100 million people in the U.S. watched the highway procession (not a chase) in the Ford Bronco. And then there was the trial. Or trials. I was actually in Los Angeles during the civil trial. I waited outside the courthouse but there was a lottery to get tickets to go in and my number didn’t get called.

The documentary is a solid bit of reportage, and kept me interested throughout it’s almost 8-hour running time. The only part where I turned against it a bit was at the very end, when Simpson is given the last word, pleading with his fans to remember the good O.J. This struck me as being false, or at least ironic, since O.J. seems to have never changed. So what was the good O.J.? The football player? The celebrity? The idol? However you slice it, I didn’t get the sense that the good O.J. was the real O.J.

What I found most interesting though was the way the politics played out in ways that really foreshadowed the rise of today’s anti-elite populism, only from a different perspective. From interviews with jurors it’s clear that sides were taken early on, and that no amount of evidence was going to change anyone’s mind. African-Americans in Los Angelese saw themselves, with justification, as a group oppressed by the system, leading to feelings of cynicism and even nihilism. The game was totally rigged and no facts presented by the Man, no matter how clearly demonstrated, could be believed. Acquitting O.J. would even be “payback” for a history of racist law enforcement.

Today we usually associate this kind of attitude with Trump voters, so it’s instructive to see how it has played out in other contexts. Either way, people were voting angry. The results speak for themselves.