aTypical Joe: a gay New Yorker living in the rural South
Saturday, November 19, 2005
It’s in this season:
There has been an explosion of Oscar-baiting performances in which straight actors play gay, transvestite or transgender characters. Philip Seymour Hoffman melts into the role of the gay title character in “Capote,” while Cillian Murphy plays a transvestite in 1970’s Ireland in Neil Jordan’s witty, endearing “Breakfast on Pluto.” Jake Gyllenhaal and Heath Ledger play lovers in “Brokeback Mountain” (set to open Dec. 9), already better known as “the gay cowboy movie” and already a Letterman joke.
But big-name actors are leaping into such roles in smaller films, too. Felicity Huffman stretches way beyond “Desperate Housewives” as a man about to become a woman in “Transamerica” (Dec. 2) and Peter Sarsgaard plays a gay Hollywood screenwriter who has an affair with a closeted, married studio executive (Campbell Scott) in the current “Dying Gaul.”
She receommends all but the last. I saw Capote this week and was amazed by Philip Seymour Hoffman’s incredible performance. I liked Flawless too and don’t understand why no one else (including the Times writer today) did.
Follow the leader
One of Josh’s Republican readers, on the ferocity of Republican reaction to Murtha:
[A] lot of politicians tend to take cues from Presidents of their party. Reagan led a generation of GOP politicians to speak with sunny optimism; Clinton influenced Democratic politicians to project empathy in a somewhat ostentatious way. Bush, being more than a little insecure, tends to want to lash out at critics even when this is not politically necessary or productive, and this tendency has radiated downwards through his administration and outward to some Republicans, particularly in the House. Karl Rove’s influence on GOP political operatives may be even more profound, and GOP political operatives have vast influence in Republican politics.
He also says dem pols are wimps, “...there wouldn’t be many Democratic politicians I would be afraid of.”
I’ve been researching conservative versus liberal reasoning patterns. Compared to liberals, conservatives are more likely to be demonstrate the following characteristics:
1) “externalizing"--that is they are more likely than liberals to be aggressive, name-calling, hostile, threatening.
2) prone to “magical thinking"--that is, they conjur up hopeful realities that don’t actually exist, they lack critical thinking skills and engage in what I call “soothing speech"--repeating content free platitudes to reassure themselves.
3) lack empathy--they are less able to take the perspective of another.
4) thin-skinned paranoia. They are more likely to take offense.
These differences strike me as profound. The conservatives and liberals are operating at very different levels of moral reasoning. The conservatives attack viciously when they feel threatened, ignore reality and don’t consider the consequences of their viciousness. They just go for the jugular. And they feel no shame. Shame requires empathy.
It is not being a wimp to be stunned by this viciousness. If you are used to a world in which people are reasonable, take turns, understand the others point of view, use data and critical reasoning to define and address problems, it can be quite startling to discover that the other person has zero interest in getting along or being reasonable. Democrats CAN be accused of being in denial--of failing to anticipate problems or recognize that not everyone is good-hearted.
The attacker will consider his victim a “wimp” for not fighting back. But that is not the same thing as being a wimp. A “wimp” is someone timid or ineffectual. God help us if being reasonable and civilized is the same as being a wimp. It is a matter of perspective.
Half of those surveyed said President George W Bush was right to suggest that “intelligent design” - the notion that God played a role in evolution - be taught alongside Charles’s Darwin’s theory in public schools while 37% thought he was wrong to do so.
The poll highlighted the divide in the deep debate in the United States on whether creationism should be taught in public schools.
The Scripps Howard/Ohio University poll found that 69% agreed that “evolution is what most scientists believe, so it should be taught in public science classes.” Twenty percent said they believe “scientists are wrong, so evolution should not be taught” while 11% suggested teaching both views or were undecided.
Just 23% of those surveyed said “humans evolved from other animal species through natural selection,” while 54% said they believe “God created the universe and humans in a six-day period,” Seventeen percent said “God caused humans to evolve from other species.” Six percent were undecided, the Cincinnati Post, a Scripps Howard paper, reported.
People are at best conflicted. Evolution’s opponents have successfully co-opted our rhetoric of protecting “controversial ideas” and our elevation of “debate” and “diversity” and “academic freedom” to create an effective argument that we can call illegitimate all we like, but majorities of the American public are buying into it.
I think the way to deal with this may be to take a positive stand for teaching comparative religion in public schools. That may just satisfy the majority who clearly don’t want to say they believe in evolution but know in their hearts that their kids need to understand it if they don’t want to be mullet-headed morons unable to function in modern society.
A biology teacher at the military college here made a similar suggestion at a party last year. Here’s why I like it: Arguing the facts hasn’t worked. This positively reeks of comprimise, a good thing. And it shows respect for the other side’s beliefs.
Matt Stoller, copyfighter
Pointing to this article on how Dan Glickman (onetime Democratic Congressman, now “the movie industry’s top lobbyist") went to UCLA and got catcalled by students there, Matt Stoller returns to the issue of dems and copyright law for the second time this week (and includes copyright reform in his 2006 dream platform). His conclusion:
Copyright is about culture and new technology, but the narrative it touches on is old. The use of technology is simply a voting issue, because it explains to a younger generation in their own terms what it means to have two classes in America, one rich and one poor, one that has access to participating in the culture and one that can only consume it.
It’s like guns. Copyright is a symbol of a lifestyle and a set of values. Communitarian, libertarian, progressive.
So let’s wizen up on it, Democrats.
Absolutely positively 100% right-on Matt! Now how about a copyfight section on MyDD?
How to tame your entertainment budget. Not!
Today the Times promises something - How to Tame an Inflated Entertainment Budget - but offers nothing:
The average American spends more on entertainment than on gasoline, household furnishings and clothing and nearly the same amount as spent on dining out, according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics.
Among the affluent, the 20 percent of households with more than $77,000 a year in pretax income, more money is spent on entertainment - $4,516 a year - than on health care, utilities, clothing or food eaten at home. [...]
Entertainment budgets will only grow larger. With a proliferation of electronics like giant flat-screen TV’s, video iPods and devices to send music, photos and video from room to room in your house, not to mention a proliferation of services to deliver entertainment on cellphones and laptops, you will be opening your wallet more often.
How do you get a handle on it?
Yes, how? “Consider Netflix.” Huh? Their own story says it only saves you if you up your consumption!
They go on with lots of statistics on price per minute of entertainment enjoyed, borrowing a page from cable providers who note your price per channel has gone down - even as the average person still watches only 12 to 15 television channels. Remember a la carte pricing? Now that would cut entertainment spending.
Instead of paying 99 cents to download a song on iTunes, Yahoo charges $5 a month, if you pay for a year’s subscription upfront, so you can download as many songs as you want onto your computer or MP3 player. [...]
But in Yahoo we also see just how costly the reliance becomes. Just a few months after starting the service, Yahoo doubled the price. If you don’t pay it, you lose the music. That may be one reason it has been slow to catch on despite being cheaper than iTunes.
Here’s a tip: If you want to put payment of your subscriptions on automatic, use a credit card rather than have payments deducted straight from a bank account. It’s easier to manage credit card payments and it may be easier to monitor for price increases.
Wow, thanks for the tip! That’ll save me, uh, nothing!
The shame of this story is that it uses a statistic that consumers find true and troubling - that the price we’re paying for the services we’re
getting actually using is going way up - to do little more than promote spending on those same services.