Category Archives: Television

The Audiovisual

Last night went out with a good friend to see You Were Never Lovlier, an absolutely terrific Fred AstaireRita Hayworth film from 1942. I had never seen a movie with Fred Astaire before, but after You Were Never Lovelier he ranks up with William Holden as an amazing star I had never seen until recently.

Then tonight watched four episodes of Kenra, a 2000s series starring Kendra Baskett née Wilkinson.

I’m pretty sure I prefer the 1940s.

The Veil of Laughter

The easiest way to shut up a critic is to bring down a veil of laughter.

More effective than using a racial slur, and more reliable than accusing someone else of racism, is a tactic as equally as disgengious: presenting .

Two personalities who excel in this sort of sleight-of-hand are Sean Hannity and John Stewart. The difference between them is that Sean Hannity acknowledges himself to be a political activist, and so maintains his intellectual honesty. Jon Stewart pretends to be a comedian, and so doesn’t.

I use to watch The Daily Show with Jon Stewart back when it was derivative of Saturday Night Live’s Weekend Update. It was funny. There is very little humor that is actually original (even Family Guy is derivative of The Honeymooners), and I took it for what it was.

Over time, however, Jon Stewart morhped into a younger and thinner version of Al Franken. Laughter was no longer used to make people laugh, but to silence critics and support a political agenda. It’s too bad, because unlike more honest political hacks (like Hannity) or even honest political commedians (like IowaHawk), Stewart uses humor to bring down a veil of laughter on those he disagrees with, and then hides behind that laughter, by pretending to be a comedian.

Stewart uses mockery and derision. This has become most recently appearent in his reflexive criticism of media personalities who critize Barack Obama. To Stewart’s barely educated primary audience, I’m sure it is effective. And this is who he is after. Politics runs on votes, not ideas.

Still, the baselessness of Stewart is impressive. In attacking CNBC, he managed to demonstrate evne less understanding of market operations than CNBC. This is impressive. CNBC itself favors an easily corruptive speculator class, and the bias and superficiality of most of CNBC’s on-honor comments are apparent to anyone with evne a loose understanding of the subject matter. Jon Stewart is clearly not one of these people. Like a college freshman who angrily denounces Hitler for failing to be vegatarian, Stewart’s factually untrue criticisms are made the more astonishing in that he apparently fails to see any of what is wrong.

But of course, you cannot criticize Stewart. He brings down a veil of laughter on those who do. As I said, he is a dishonest political hack.

Don’t you know it’s just a joke?

(I want to thank a tweet by NYkrinDC for making this my first twitter-inspired post)

Important Things with Demetri Martin

After watching two awful movies this weekend (which I will discuss tomorrow), it was wonderful to stumble upon Important Things with Demetri Martin. It’s great sketch-comedy. Here are three sketches which give something of the flavor of the show

The All New Season of 24: “Financial Crisis”

Hour 1. Scene: The Senate Joint Committee to Investigate the Crimes of Jack Bauer

Stuffy Senate Committee Chairman: “Mr. Bauer, the charges brought against you by the committee today are quite serious. While you say that you had no choice but to impersonate the President, order the arrest of most of the Cabinet, dissolve the Senate, and, as you said, ‘Stop talking and start retrieving the Omega Device,” many of us here today…

Jack Bauer: May I remind YOU, we did retrieve the Omega Device

Stuffy Senator: “As I was saying, your extra-constitutional actions to retrieve a device that,as you said while impersonating our President, could ‘disolve matter into its most elemental forms’…”

Bauer: “Rashid Ivanovskov Yamato had already used the Omega Device to destroy CTU!”

Stuffy Senator: “And may I remind you that when you are on trial for dissolving the Senate, in the Senate, it may be wise to show a little…”

(Doors fly open. FBI agent Tina Leans marches in, striding to the front of the committee room):

Stuffy Senator: What is the meaning of this!

Agent Leans: I’m sorry, Mr. Chairman. Mr. Bauer needs to come with me. We are in a financial crisis. Orders of the President.

Hour 2. Scene: The Offices of Mr. Dawhler Pound Yurrow, International Financier

Jack: *punching Mr. Yurrow* Where are the points? Last I looked, the stock market was at 14,000, now it’s at less than 8,000! Where are the points? What did you do with the money?

Mr. Yurrow: I don’t know what you are talking about!

Jack: *punching more forcefully* Don’t give me that. The financial system is in crisis, and we have audiotapes of you driving down the price of stocks. Where did you drive those prices too?!?

Mr. Yurrow: I’ll never tell you!

Jack: *roughly drops Mr. Yurrow to the floor, and menacingly picks up a Hostess Cupcake (TM)* Do you like Hostess Cupcakes (TM), Mr. Yororw?

Mr. Yurrow: Why… yes. Hostess Cupcakes (TM) are delicious! Why?

Jack: You won’t after this!

Hour 3. D.C. Headquares, International Committee for Counter-Proliferation of W.M.D.. Main vault.

Jack (flanked by FBI Agents): Open up your vaults! We know the Dow Joints points are in here!

Strange man in business suit: I can’t!

Jack: Why not?

Strange man: There was… an accident. Humans can no longer tolerate exposure to the lost points. It is… dangerous…

Jack: *angrily* What’s going on?

Strange man: We wanted to double our money… It was just business. But there was an accident.. The assets… they are toxic!

Jack: You’re under arrest!

Hour 4. FBI Building, Integgoration room. Mr. Yurrow and the Strange Man are handcuffed to each other.

Jack: How do I decontaminate the toxic assets?

Mr. Yurrow: I won’t talk until I get immunity from the President!

Jack: That will never happen. *punches Mr. Yurrow, turns to the Strange Man.* You, who are you, and how we do clean those assets?

Strange Man: I’m afraid you’ll have to listen to my colleague, Mr. Bauer. I’m Secretary of the Treasury Tim Geithner!

Hour 5. Office of the Director of the FBI

Secretary Geithner (on the phone): Yes, Mr. President. I am sure the only way to save the economy is to grant a Presidential Pardon to Mr. Yurrow. *nods head* (to Bauer): “The President agrees. Mr. Yurrow is a free man.”

Mr. Yurrow: Untie me!

(Jack Bauer grudgingly unties Mr. Yurrow)

Secretary Geithner (on the phone): Yes, Mr. President. I am sure the only way to save the economy, now that you have pardoned Mr. Yurrow for stashing 6,000 Dow Jones basis points in a radioactive locker, is to decontamine those assets. Yes, Mr. President. We must give Mr. Yurrow billions — perhaps trillions — more in guarantees, and he promises that he will try very hard not to do it again. … * nods * ( to Bauer). After this meeting, escort Mr. Yurrow to the Treasury Department. He has a couple of tons of money to pick up.

Mr. Yurrow: I knew I would win!

Bauer: *attempts to contain rage*

Secretary Geithner (on the phone): Yes, Mr. President. I am sure the only way to save the economy, now that you have pardoned Mr. Yurrow and printed billions of dollars, is to arrest Jack Bauer, a traitor to the United….

Bauer (leaps up): This can’t be! This isn’t change I can believe in!

(Bauer lunges at Secretary Geithner, but as he tries to throw a punch, his ring gets stuck in something).

Jack Bauer: “What… the?…”

(Secretary Geithner’s face is revealed to be a mask. Jack Bauer rips it off, reveleaing…)

Jack Bauer: Former Secretary of the Treasury Hank Paulson!

Secretary Geithner/Paulson: Waa haa haa haa haa!

* 24 clock sound*