Bounties On The Gridiron

Alyssa Rosenberg breaks down the latest NFL scandal, where New Orleans Saints players were incentivized to injure players on other teams:

[T]he bounties themselves were offered—and paid—not by the team but by Saints players to Saints players. And they worked as incentives because special teams players who are in a position to inflict those injuries make less than the teammates who offered them the bounties. … [I]t’s a worrisome illustration of how the league’s compensation patterns could make bounties seem worth reaching for, and could lead to them violating their own collective bargaining agreement.

Buzz Bissinger, by contrast, has no problem with the payments:

Is it barbaric? Yes. Is it terrifying? Yes. Is it sick? Yes. So what?  I’ve said it before and I will say it again: That is why we watch football. Because it is barbaric and terrifying and sick. Because we love good hits and kamikaze safety blitzes and a quarterback sitting on the field after a sack with visions of Tweety Bird dancing in his brain.

Update from a reader:

The Iranian People’s Oscar


In the above video, starting at the 2:00 mark, Iranian filmmaker Asghar Farhadi accepts the Academy Award for Best Foreign Language Film for A Separation. Alyssa Rosenberg calls it "by far the classiest, most meaningful speech of the evening":

One of the best things art can do is expose who we are, in all our beauty and ugliness, and remind us of what we’re capable of being. And in this case, it was also a brave act. Farhadi’s been wearing a necktie most of this awards season in a subtle rebuke to the Iranian regime’s suggestion that it’s a decadent Western accessory, and tonight, some commentators suggest that his speech could prevent him from returning to Iran or make life uncomfortable for him when he got back there. That’s a real risk for an award that carries less benefit than a Best Actor or Best Director statuette. Farhadi should be an example to politically engaged artists—and to politicians—everywhere.

Recent reviews of A Separation here. The Oscar was a first for an Iranian film:

A Film For Kids That Kids Can’t See, Ctd

The MPAA will not reconsider its R-rating of Bully. Linda Holmes fights back:

There's a grotesque irony in declaring that what is portrayed in Bully should be softened, or bleeped — should be hidden, really, because it's too much for kids to see. Of course it's too much for kids to see. It's also too much for kids to live through, walk through, ride the bus with, and go to school with. That's why they made the movie. The entire point of this film is that kids do not live with the protection we often believe they do — many of them live in a terrifying, isolating war zone, and if you hide what it's like, if you lie about what they're experiencing, you destroy what is there to be learned.

In response to the controversy, Alyssa Rosenberg calls for reform:

We need a ratings system that more clearly breaks down the reasons parents might find a movie unsuitable for their children, and that provides some sort of context for tagging a movie with those elements.

The Hounding Of Pat Buchanan, Ctd

PM Carpenter, who disagrees with Buchanan about almost everything, thinks MSNBC was wrong to fire him:

What I want to hear — what I need to hear — is whatever incisive stuff the other guys are thinking. And Pat Buchanan, on MSNBC, was that lone voice. Now, even he is gone, which only further exacerbates cable networks' mindless polarization and further weakens mutual enlightenment.

Alyssa Rosenberg differs:

Sunlight is the best disinfectant only if the ideas at hand have actual traction and need to be dislodged. Nobody takes seriously the ideas that Jerry Sandusky’s alleged abuse and rape of children has any connection to marriage equality for gay couples, or that Anders Brevik, the Norway terrorist, has the right worldview. Their credibility has nowhere to go but up, and lending someone a seat at the table confers some of that credibility, even if it’s only to acknowledge that the idea has power that’s dangerous.

My take on Buchanan's firing here. Dissents here. A rare departure from the dozens and dozens of other dissents:

Awarding Abuse


At the Grammys, both domestic abuser Chris Brown and abuse victim Whitney Houston were honored. Megan MacKenzie is appalled by the contrast: 

Does no one connect Houston's drug abuse to her experience of domestic abuse and her tumultuous private life? I don't look to awards shows to stand as moral beacons, but I do think it is worth considering these counter Grammy narratives as a signal of the state of popular culture and gender relations at the moment.

A depressed Alyssa Rosenberg zooms out:

Kill Hollywood?

That's the objective of Paul Graham's drive to fund alternative entertainment startups:

There will be several answers, ranging from new ways to produce and distribute shows, through new media (e.g. games) that look a lot like shows but are more interactive, to things (e.g. social sites and apps) that have little in common with movies and TV except competing with them for finite audience attention. Some of the best ideas may initially look like they're serving the movie and TV industries. Microsoft seemed like a technology supplier to IBM before eating their lunch, and Google did the same thing to Yahoo.

Alyssa Rosenberg thinks he's dreaming:

Louis CK’s Political Philosophy

As described to Alyssa Rosenberg:

Some things I think are very conservative, or very liberal. I think when someone falls into one category for everything, I’m very suspicious. It doesn’t make sense to me that you’d have the same solution to every issue. I just like listening. I try to take people who are way far away from what I think or understand and put a representative of them on my show. I like to try to learn from them. When we did the show with the Christian anti-masturbating lady, it would have been easy to have a stupid Christian anti-masturbating lady…it was more fun to have her be really eloquent and see if I could learn from someone who never masturbates. There really is a very blissful, beautiful idea behind that. If I could stop, I would be very happy.

CK touched on similar sentiments in an interview with Jonah Weiner back in November:

Hipster Zealots

Kristin Rawls profiles Jason "Molotov" Mitchell and his wife, Patricia "DJ Dolce" Mitchell and their brand of Internet-driven dominionism:

Despite the violent rhetoric, the Mitchells are the friendliest—and some of the savviest—people I have ever interviewed. Avid followers of popular culture, they are not Quiverfull-style Christians who isolate themselves from outside influences. They want to emulate the Biblical mandate to "be in the world but not of it." So they laugh at The Daily Show and mention that they would enjoy hanging out with Jon Stewart, whom they consider a political foe. Molotov says he wants to emulate Jesus, who, he says, spoke harshly before crowds but showed compassion when people approached him one-on-one.

I suspect the Mitchells’ success has as much to do with their openness as their extremism. They are not scary, even if their views are. And for those of us who disagree with them politically, it will not do to ignore them. They believe they are following God’s mandate for their lives. They will not be going away any time soon.

One of Molotov's recent unhinged video rants (above) vilified Dan Savage for standing up to Santorum; another urges Ron Paul to sign the marriage pledge. In an infamous video from a few years ago, Molotov supported Uganda's "Kill The Gays" bill. Alyssa Rosenberg rallies the left in response:

Drag Gone Bad, Ctd

A reader writes:

Besides being unfunny, "Work It" is also not very original. "Bosom Buddies" in the '80s was very similar with the only difference being that they dressed as women because they couldn't find somewhere to live – the two lead characters moved into a women-only apartment building. Oh yeah, and it starred Tom Hanks.

Credit sequence above. Longer clip from the "Bosom Buddies" pilot here. Alyssa Rosenberg cheers "Work It"'s low ratings. She struggled to get through the first episode:

All-American Prejudice

Lowe's has pulled its ads from TLC's "All-American Muslim" just as the show was being attacked as "propaganda that riskily hides the Islamic agenda's clear and present danger to American liberties and traditional values." Alyssa Rosenberg is furious:

[T]he idea that Muslims deserve to be judged by a majority of believers rather than a small minority, is all you have to believe is true to support the show. I’ve never really understood why Muslims in particular shouldn’t have that last right. Should all depictions of Christians include references to the Inquisition, religion-inflected colonialism, and anti-gay hate crimes? Is the truest way to depict Catholics to look at the faith from the perspective of Cardinal Law and the pedophiles he protected? Do we judge all Jews by a car accident in Crown Heights or Baruch Goldstein? Lowe’s fallen prey to this kind of thinking made clear whose its most prized customers are. And acting on the principals of solidarity that motivate Russell Simmons, this homeowning Jew is glad she bought her washer-dryer from Home Depot.

Adam Serwer nods: