Alternative Trump and the media-go-round

Posted on January 24, 2017

The early days of Trump’s presidency have been strange, bewildering the media with errors so unforced they appear deliberate. Starting with the new press secretary’s weirdly combative conference on Saturday, at which alternative facts were presented, and continuing through a meandering series of appearances and sternly-worded executive orders of uncertain consequence, they have managed to raise an already-high alarm level in newsrooms.

The most established of these media have now taken to calling out falsehoods plainly, which is admirable but highly unlikely to change anyone’s opinion of Trump. Given what has already come to light, the chances that exaggerating his inauguration attendance will finally sway public opinion is remote.1 The New York Times’ newly-discovered scolding tone accomplishes little really, other than to reassure those already in the fold that it will now hold Trump to account, the impact of which might be, to the Gray Lady’s horror, nothing. Read more…

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  1. “What’s that you say, he made up attendance numbers? Well I can overlook the bankruptcies and the lecherous comments, but lying about our grand civic pageant is just beyond the pale.”
  2. And though they might be able to ignore his spokespeople, they can’t so easily do that to Trump himself, who remains the one and only President of these United States.
  3. It may be that Trump is immune to the Streisand Effect; in fact it may actually make him stronger.

Watching Kutty Pattalam for the first time

Posted on August 6, 2015

Kutty Pattalam is a Malayalam television show whose name roughly translates to “Kiddie Army”. It’s a fairly straightforward lifting of the “Kids Say the Darndest Things” concept, where kids are seated on elevated mini-thrones in front of studio audiences and prodded with leading questions until unintentional humor ensues. Consider the following a live blog of the show, only without the “live” part (and also a tenuous connection at best to “blog”.)

Five minutes in: I have a passing familiarity with Malayalam, and I am understanding approximately zero percent of what is being said right now.

The prodigious use of sound effects makes it seem like someone is playing a degraded version of Super Mario Brothers on a circa-1986 Nintendo connected to high-end Danish speakers. The overall sensation is one of disorientation, as if the sensory overload is designed to induce shock and/or seizures.

Much of the humor appears to be at the expense of parents and/or family members, who from their expressions appear to be taking it all in stride. They knew what they were signing up for.

Side note: the jump cuts are staggering. I think I have vertigo. Read more…

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Public discourse

Posted on July 14, 2015


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How laws work

Posted on July 7, 2015


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Jurassic World

Posted on June 22, 2015

The fourth installment in the dinos-run-amok series isn’t a reboot but might as well be, given the years elapsed since 2001’s third installment and the even greater cultural distance that’s opened up since Netscape Navigator introduced us to an internet festooned with banner ads. Chris Pratt is Owen, who gamely works his material as an animal handler performing requisite feats of derring-do, all while wielding an absurdly small rifle in the face of rampaging angrysauruses. Pratt’s innate aw-shucks everyman vibe nevertheless shines through; this is a guy who understands his place in the food chain, and right now his job is to keep the cash gushers nicely primed thank you very much.businessaurus

Product placements are surprisingly both few and odd, coming primarily through a fleet of various luxury Mercedes that some brand manager thought appropriate for a remote tropical island, assuming that cachet would transfer seamlessly to the Whole Foods parking lots of Scarsdale. (On second thought the analogy might be better than it first appears, given the primal nature of the struggle in both places.) In a universe when 50 Cent can rep Glaceau’s VitaminWater to great commercial success, maybe Mercedes needs to outrun hybrid dinosaurs to stay relevant.

This isn’t a full-blown puncturing of the theme park fantasy (see: Shrek, original) but, chompasauruses notwithstanding, satire of the theme park experience is the closest the movie comes to being biting. Jurassic World has hints of Sea World meets Six Flags on Disney’s Main Street, with overpriced chain restaurants overrun by hordes of sheeple. These extras mill about waiting to feed a flock of newly-freed flying hubrisauruses, who have ostensibly been on restricted rations and take advantage of the jailbreak to gorge on doughy tourists. The underwhelmed announcer, the wide-eyed teenager entrusted with the safety of clueless people, line-skipping access for the island’s one-percenters – this world is peppered with digs at the sanitized, highly regulated environment of modern escapist parks.

As usual you’ll find one Indian actor in a main role, since that apparently suffices to rope in the cinema-going population of a nation of 1.3 billion. Per most spectacle movies these days the climactic scene ends with lots of stuff getting smashed up real good, but not before potential sequels zip away in an escape helicopter, where they can bide their time until they inevitably break out and tear through the nearest multiplex, having caught the scent of cash.

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