Sunday, February 15, 2015
Rasty loves to watch John Stewart, Rachael Maddow, The Nightly Show, and all that crowd -- even in re-runs -- which is how I happened to watch the re-run of TNS that roasted Bill Cosby over those rape allegations. I noticed that, after a few lines of lip-service to "innocent until proven guilty", the host and guest panel gleefully went after the usual Politically Correct topics of "nobody believes the woman" and "Cosby's nice clean media image" and so on, cheerfully assuming that Yes He Did It. For evidence, they're quoting Cosby's refusal to say anything about the subject. It's assumed that an innocent person would talk and talk and talk all over the media, the way Cosby's accusers did. Uhuh. It never seems to have occurred to all these media pundits that maybe Cosby's lawyer warned him not to say a word about the accusations, so as not to give away any of the facts he plans to use in his court case. No, Cosby has to be guilty because he won't talk to the self-important media! Rrrrrrright.
Just judging from the few facts we know, I don't think he did it.
For that matter, I didn't think that O.J. Simpson Did It either -- based on observable facts. That is, I don't believe it's possible to kill one's ex-wife and her new boyfriend, clean up the evidence, run home, play a couple rounds of golf, get in a limo and be driven (at normal speed) to Los Angeles airport, check in, and get on one's plane -- all in one hour. I have personally traveled through LAX airport, and believe me, it's impossible to get through that airport and get on your plane -- even for a red-eye flight -- in less than an hour. The timeline just doesn't fit. The fact that the restaurant Nicole visited that night, and which her new boyfriend worked at, was a notorious cocaine distribution center -- and that Nicole was into coke -- is beside the point. I think O.J. was ruined -- by the media -- for nothing. The only people who profited from the whole incident were the media and the family of Nicole's boyfriend, who -- after O.J. was cleared in criminal court -- sued him in civil court, won, and walked away with most of O.J.'s millions, leaving him ruined for life.
Now let's look at Bill Cosby. What we do know is that this obscure woman went to the police and, especially, the media, claiming that Cosby had raped her some 30 years earlier. She gave considerable detail: that Cosby lured her to his home with promises of making her a star, gave her a drink full of Roofies, and raped her. She claimed he did this several times, using his "charisma" to "hypnotize" her into compliance, and this is why she didn't complain for 30 years. Since this story broke, some 35 more obscure women have made the same claim, repeating the exact same details. We also know that Bill Cosby was born in 1937, which makes him 77 years old now, and that (like O.J. Simpson) he made himself very rich over the years.
Now let's start drawing some connections. At the time when Cosby was supposed to have been playing Svengali to some 35 young women, he was a) married and raising a family, b) starring in a weekly TV comedy show, c) still doing stand-up comedy at any venue that could afford him. From my own experience in showbiz, and what little I've seen of TV production and live gigs, I have to ask: when did he get the time -- let alone the energy? Entertainment is a very time-and-energy-consuming business.
Another question: why did all these women wait more than 30 years to complain? Cosby obviously didn't make them stars, or their names wouldn't be so obscure. If he used them and tossed them away, that would have ended his "hypnotic" control over them; such stuff has to be renewed constantly to remain effective, even when done by an expert psychologist. Without such constant reinforcement, it wears off within a year -- and one thing Cosby has never been is a hypnosis-trained expert psychologist. The only reason I can think of for the delay is that, over this many years, the witnesses' memories of that time would have grown a bit fuzzy. For example, I can clearly remember my move from Chicago to northern California; I remember the incidents well, but damned if I can recall what day I arrived in Albany, or what time (other than "afternoon"), or even what month. If asked what I observed on December 14, 1983, I couldn't begin to say.
And why do they all tell exactly the same story, with the same details that the first woman spread around the media? Even a compulsive serial criminal never repeats his crime exactly the same way, every time, and over the years needed to seduce that many women, even a serial rapist would vary his technique somewhat. These reports sound as if all the women were reading the same script. Ahem.
Finally we come to the question of motive. What do all these women have to gain by making accusations against a 77-year-old comedian with an image as a kindly family man?
Well, first, he has a lot of money -- and remember what happened to O.J. Simpson. When, not if, Cosby is cleared of criminal charges, the inevitable media-circus will color the attitudes of the public so that it will be hard to collect a jury that's really neutral -- and the rules of evidence for a civil lawsuit are much looser than for a criminal case. 35 women could divide up Cosby's millions quite handily between them. That's not counting the money they could get for peddling books and media appearances; any good public relations expert could tell you how to make money on a scandal.
For another thing, this will give them the one thing which they claim Cosby promised them, but they never got -- fame.
Monday, February 2, 2015
I haven't seen "American Sniper" and I'm certainly not going to comment on a movie I haven't seen; what I'm interested in is the official reactions to it, and the underlying politics thereof -- which can get pretty blatant. I remember when I was in 9th grade and came across an old issue of Readers' Digest, which contained an article denouncing that "communistic" and "misrepresentative" movie "The Grapes of Wrath"; I remember laughing my @ss off at the obvious political bias of the author, so visible at that remove of history. I'm seeing the same kind of bias in the reactions to "Sniper" today, only in a different political direction.
For starters, there's Matt Taibbi's review in Rolling Stone where he complains at great length about how the movie is too shallow and superficial, because it concentrates on the hero's experiences and "panics at the idea of embracing more than one or two ideas at one time". He goes on at great length about how the film doesn't mention "the insane moral morass that is/was the Iraq occupation", or "the failed WMD search" or "Abu Ghraib" as if these were facts that everyone accepts. Now in fact it's known that Hussein did have WMDs -- Sarin gas, specifically -- because he used it on the Kurds, as the witnesses attest. It also turns out that the Abu Ghraib photos, as both the army and the Red Cross determined, were a hoax. Both of these could be subjects for whole movies by themselves, and the morality of the war is a subject for a documentary mini-series, at least.. Just how much political back-story does Taibbi expect to cram into a single 2-hour movie? If he wanted to see film get seriously into the moral philosophy of politics, he should have watched the Atlas Shrugged trilogy. Ah, but those three pretty obviously have the wrong sort of moral philosophy for him!
Seth Rogen won better than 15 minutes of fame for his Tweet comparing "American Sniper" to the fictional movie about a German sniper within the movie "Inglourious Basterds". This is interesting, because less than five minutes of that fictional film actually appear on screen, and "Inglourious Basterds" is a blatant fantasy about a World War Two that never happened. This is a rather off-base criticism, seeing that "American Sniper" is a biographical film about a real shooter in a real war. Rogen seems to be implying that the film is pure government pro-war propaganda, when in fact the Obama administration has been trying to disentangle itself from Iraq and the whole developing Jihadi war, and "Sniper" -- as no less than Michelle Obama noted -- is at least partly about "the stresses of balancing love of family with love of country, and the challenges of transitioning back home".
And then there's Michael Moore's now-famous Tweet: "My uncle killed by sniper in WW2. We were taught snipers were cowards. Will shoot u in the back. Snipers aren't heroes. And invaders r worse." He went on to add: "But if you're on the roof of your home defending it from invaders who've come 7K miles, u are not a sniper, u are brave, u are a neighbor." This reveals much more about Moore than about "American Sniper". He overlooks the fact that in World War Two the American troops were invaders, such as at D-Day, and that if you're shooting from "the roof of your home" -- or any other building -- you are a sniper. If indeed he was "taught that snipers are cowards", this reveals something about the logical capacities of his teachers. In modern (post 1600) warfare, 99% of all killing is done from a distance: with bullets or artillery or (in the last 100 years) bombers. If anything, the sniper is more selective than the artilleryman, let alone the bomber. The complaint about fighters who shoot and kill at a distance probably began with the first cave-man who was hit by a thrown rock instead of a swung club. In fact, how "brave" or "neighborly" is the fighter who disguises him/herself as a civilian, hides among harmless civilians or uses them as human shields, and plants hidden bombs to be set off with a radio signal? There's no logic in Moore's claims except "Americans bad, Arabs good". This is particularly ironic when one considers that Moore has never served in any kind of real combat.
Frankly, I think these criticisms are motivated mainly by plain old jealousy. "American Sniper" has proved hugely popular, and since its release a little over a month ago it has raked in a whopping $248 million. None of Moore's or Rogen's movies have ever done anywhere near that good (and Taibbi's name isn't even known outside of Rolling Stone). Rogen, who doesn't have total control over his movies, might be forgiven, but Moore -- who runs his whole show -- has no such excuse. Moore's films have no plot, little continuity, indifferent or worse camera-work, flatly dishonest editing, and themes that are entirely preaching to the choir; his success is due entirely to flattering the egos of those who share his political views. Frankly, he couldn't convince anybody who knows anything real about his subjects. As somebody who has studied and occasionally performed political propaganda, I can tell you that Micheal Moore is a lousy propagandist.
Whether or not "American Sniper" was even intended to be political propaganda, it has done a fine job of winning over far more of the audience than its critics ever have. For that alone, it's worth seeing -- and I'll do that little thing first chance I get. Only then will I venture to write a review about the movie itself.