Re: Guest Post - Let's Get Critical

1

I think it makes it easier to criticize the process but harder to judge the people, because you get a better sense of their competing concerns and interests. Depending on the people involved, of course, and only if you have the ability and inclination to differentiate.


Posted by: Minivet | Link to this comment | 11-27-12 9:19 AM
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IME, criticism is either stating something completely obvious ("this is chaos," or maybe "the process here is antiquated"), or criticising particular people. IMO chances to improve defective processes are pretty rare, usually being one of the people implementing a successor process. Just saying what's wrong beyond reporting a definite, irrefutable symptom definitely caused by a problem is not helpful.


Posted by: lw | Link to this comment | 11-27-12 9:56 AM
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I dunno, I was thinking about math education as context. That's neither necessarily that obvious nor targeting specific people, but those on the inside are going to have better understandings than those on the outside, (like that NYT dolt from a few months ago.)


Posted by: heebie-geebie | Link to this comment | 11-27-12 9:58 AM
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If it's not obvious, this was prompted in part by that Crooked Timber thread on the Lincoln movie. I have no moviemaking experience, but some of the "You can't criticize!!" comments in that thread were reminding me of things that people say about municipal policy work.

I think those reactions are mostly baloney, but my "baloney" reasoning is based on actual experience when it comes to policy issues.


Posted by: Witt | Link to this comment | 11-27-12 9:58 AM
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Easier. If I don't know how something works, I'll be quite forgiving, assume there are all sorts of intricacies I don't understand, and so on. If I know how it works, and/or have done it successfully myself, why can't these other incompetents do it properly?

(I am pretty judgemental though. [Anecdote redacted as I don't think I come out of it well.])


Posted by: asilon | Link to this comment | 11-27-12 9:59 AM
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5: But what if you were unsuccessful yourself, or saw how hard it was for competent people to pull off?


Posted by: heebie-geebie | Link to this comment | 11-27-12 10:01 AM
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You may abuse a tragedy, though you cannot write one. You may scold a carpenter who has made you a bad table, though you cannot make a table. It is not your trade to make tables.


Posted by: Samuel Johnson | Link to this comment | 11-27-12 10:05 AM
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I think being on the inside of a big process at least makes you appreciate that it is hard to improve it. Even if the outcome is dumb and wrong and you're pretty sure it would have been possible to do better, you have a better understanding that it's not easy to wrestle a big process in a different direction. Minivet's point in 1 is perhaps what I'm getting at -- you can better judge the process but are more reluctant to judge the people because you know it's hard to fight the system.


Posted by: PGD | Link to this comment | 11-27-12 10:21 AM
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If it's not obvious, this was prompted in part by that Crooked Timber thread on the Lincoln movie.

I think many of the commenters over there are missing the point. I tend to agree that reviews that simply castigate a movie or book for not being some entirely different movie or book are not generally very illuminating. But that's not what Corey Robin seems to be doing. Lincoln would not have to be a totally different film in order to not dismiss the role of blacks in achieving abolition.


Posted by: AcademicLurker | Link to this comment | 11-27-12 10:22 AM
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If I tend to know how something works and how its done, I suppose I'm more judgemental if I feel the person has either done something badly which is easy to do well, or is making false claims for the difficulty of the thing.

That applies whether it's work stuff, music, philosophy, or whatever.


Posted by: nattarGcM ttaM | Link to this comment | 11-27-12 10:23 AM
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some of the "You can't criticize!!" comments in that thread were reminding me of things that people say about municipal policy work

This is where critical thinking and general knowledge comes in. I have no direct experience with municipal policy work, but I've read and thought about it, and at least know that there are processes and people and politics that may not be immediately visible to me.


Posted by: Sir Kraab | Link to this comment | 11-27-12 10:36 AM
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9: Agreed. Corey's analysis is thoughtful and (very successfully, I think), addresses the "it would be a different film" point.


Posted by: Sir Kraab | Link to this comment | 11-27-12 10:38 AM
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At the moment I'm on the hirer, rather than the hiree, side of postdoc applications for the first time, and reading letters of recommendation for the first time, and it's clearly somehow upending my perception of things but I'm not entirely sure how yet.


Posted by: essear | Link to this comment | 11-27-12 10:41 AM
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I guess a process that from the outside appeared orderly and usually seemed to sort people into suitable jobs seems like a godawful mess from the inside.


Posted by: essear | Link to this comment | 11-27-12 10:44 AM
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@14

Have you been on a faculty search committee yet?


Posted by: AcademicLurker | Link to this comment | 11-27-12 10:49 AM
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15: No. Though that, from the outside (and from the interviewee perspective) always seemed like a horrible process.


Posted by: essear | Link to this comment | 11-27-12 10:51 AM
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I was talking with someone about Corey's analysis earlier today and she prounced "biopic" to rhyme with "myopic." That's weird, right?


Posted by: Sir Kraab | Link to this comment | 11-27-12 10:56 AM
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Not sure this should be the Lincoln thread, but I didn't quite know what to make of Corey's criticism. That's partly because I find it rather mystifying that they chose to do a movie about Lincoln that was centered around Congressional wrangling in 1865 around the passage of 13th amendment. This has led to all kinds of idiotic commentary on the movie that talks about how it reaffirms the value of the political process. But Lincoln presided over the Civil War, which was the culmination of the biggest failure of the political process in American history. (A failure which continued into Reconstruction and Jim Crow).

If you're going to do a movie about how to whip a bill through Congress at a time when black people don't vote and aren't represented, there might not be many black people in the movie. But why would you do a Lincoln movie about whipping a bill through the House?

I will admit to not having seen the movie yet. Perhaps all will be revealed when I do.

There has already been one great movie about black agency in the Civil War and by extension abolition, namely "Glory".


Posted by: PGD | Link to this comment | 11-27-12 11:01 AM
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prounced "biopic" to rhyme with "myopic." That's weird, right?

No.


Posted by: urple | Link to this comment | 11-27-12 11:07 AM
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There has already been one great movie about black agency in the Civil War and by extension abolition, namely "Glory".

You warned me.


Posted by: Von Wafer | Link to this comment | 11-27-12 11:09 AM
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prounced "biopic" to rhyme with "myopic." That's weird, right?

Yes. (At least assuming the person doing the pronouncing was speaking American English.)


Posted by: Von Wafer | Link to this comment | 11-27-12 11:10 AM
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Hah! I hadn't even seen urple's comment when I wrote mine. Maybe there's regional variation here?


Posted by: Von Wafer | Link to this comment | 11-27-12 11:11 AM
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I think it's weird. Which is also consistent with 19/21/22.


Posted by: heebie-geebie | Link to this comment | 11-27-12 11:12 AM
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19. Does urple put the stress in myopic on the first syllable or the stress in biopic on the second?


Posted by: chris y | Link to this comment | 11-27-12 11:17 AM
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I agree that rhyming with "myopic" is not the standard pronunciation, but I only consciously realized that several years ago. Before that I didn't ever use the word, but probably pronounced it closer to the wrong way in my head. I think part of it is that I hate "pic" as short for "picture."


Posted by: Blume | Link to this comment | 11-27-12 11:22 AM
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I would think the person might be misunderstanding the word -- maybe the person was thinking of that TV series starring Lindsay Wagner.


Posted by: peep | Link to this comment | 11-27-12 11:24 AM
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Maybe they actually meant binocpic, like myopic.


Posted by: heebie-geebie | Link to this comment | 11-27-12 11:24 AM
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There has already been one great movie about black agency in the Civil War and by extension abolition, namely "Glory".

And Quentin Tarantino is making that movie about black slaves revolting -- so I guess the black agency thing is pretty much done.


Posted by: peep | Link to this comment | 11-27-12 11:26 AM
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I pronounce it to rhyme with myopic, but I'm aware that's probably wrong. Kind of like Blume's response, the proper pronunciation just sounds stupid to me, and an invitation to start labelling all genres x-pics, which would be horrible.


Posted by: Ginger Yellow | Link to this comment | 11-27-12 11:26 AM
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I hate "pic" as short for "picture."

Fair enough, but that horse left the stable so long ago it's practically in Argentina by now.


Posted by: chris y | Link to this comment | 11-27-12 11:27 AM
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Assertion that someone can't criticize this that or the other are nearly always stupid. As distinguished from 'you're criticism is unfair or unpersuasive for the following reasons.' It's good enough reason to ignore CT altogether, except when linked here. (And even then not always).

Obviously, they could have made a different movie. But I don't see Robin's criticism as particularly relevant to the movie that was made. The thing is almost completely limited to a month, and it's about the House debate on the Amendment (first amendment in over 60 years) and the machinations to get to a majority. The filmmakers made a million choices to keep to that limit, including not showing the assassination and leaving Booth out entirely. I mean, we are not shown the first thing about Senate approval of the amendment -- which takes place before the movie -- or of ratification, which takes place after. It's surprisingly narrow. Was Douglass (for example) instrumental in trying to get lame duck House members to vote for the Amendment? If so, omission of his role is a serious problem. If, however, he wasn't involved in either the strategic planning or in the execution of the House strategy, then leaving him out of this limited story isn't surprising at all.

Schindler's List wasn't "a movie about the Holocaust." Casablanca wasn't "a movie about WWII."

I liked Lincoln, not only for the way it handled the House vote itself, and the hook/crook way of getting the votes,* but for the way it showed, in 2012, the importance of white people accepting the humanity of black people. It's a tragedy on several levels that this process needed to happen then, much less now, but it's not untrue to say, in 2012, that we are not where we should be. Showing Stevens as an unambiguous hero (who shades a little to avoid wrecking the thing) is a huge departure from past portrayals, and a positive statement on the Zeitgeist now: not there yet, but at least the guy most committed to equality isn't a villain. (I think Tommy Lee Jones will likely get an Oscar for that.)

I think CR is wrong about the screen time/emphasis on Lincoln. He does act as the motive force, and without him, not only would the cabinet have failed to push the thing, but there's no way they would have gotten even a majority in the House, much less the supermajority needed. He uses every tool i his arsenal, and is shown doing so. I think DDL gets an Oscar as well.

*I also liked Lincoln's acknowledgement of the legal weakness of the Emancipation Proclamation, and the need to get the Amendment passed before the war ended, (and ratified before the South gets back in).


Posted by: CharleyCarp | Link to this comment | 11-27-12 11:29 AM
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24: I pronounce them both just like "bipolar", except with an "opic" instead of a "polar".


Posted by: urple | Link to this comment | 11-27-12 11:29 AM
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Wait, "biopic" is supposed to be short for "bio-pic"? No way. I've never heard that pronunciation.


Posted by: urple | Link to this comment | 11-27-12 11:31 AM
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And Quentin Tarantino is making that movie about black slaves revolting

I like movies about black slaves, but not if it's going to be revolting.


Posted by: heebie-geebie | Link to this comment | 11-27-12 11:32 AM
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re: 29

Did you see the beer-announcement? For tomorrow?


Posted by: nattarGcM ttaM | Link to this comment | 11-27-12 11:34 AM
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I remember at some point in my youth realizing that "miniseries" was a contraction of "mini" and "series". I had never heard it spoken, only seen it in the Sunday paper, and so before my epiphany, I figured it was pronounced something like muh-NIZ-uh-rees and denoted a genre, like melodrama or comedy.


Posted by: M/tch M/lls | Link to this comment | 11-27-12 11:34 AM
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33 -- see 26 (the first part was serious, the 2nd part was another failed attempt at humor)

33 is probably trolling though.


Posted by: peep | Link to this comment | 11-27-12 11:35 AM
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PGD, it's very humanizing of Lincoln, and the rest, to have them doing a hands on small bore (but big deal iykwim) process in only a few days.

I'm not going to read the comments at CT -- one has to have standards -- but really this criticism of the narrowness of the movie is missing the point of the movie. We are brought, in 2012, along with reluctant congressmen, in a popular art form, with humor, drama, and light, through the eyes of our secular saints (which now include Stevens), to accept as self-evident the complete equality of the races.


Posted by: CharleyCarp | Link to this comment | 11-27-12 11:39 AM
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35: I did. Not sure at this stage if I'll be able to make it, but it's probably about 60/40.


Posted by: Ginger Yellow | Link to this comment | 11-27-12 11:41 AM
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I figured it was pronounced something like muh-NIZ-uh-rees and denoted a genre, like melodrama or comedy.

Like a variation on miseries, almost. (Also, now I won't ever be able to un-hear that and it will join snow peas/Snoopies, etc, in my list of mental problems.)


Posted by: heebie-geebie | Link to this comment | 11-27-12 11:43 AM
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I've heard it rhymed with "myopic" two or three times. It seemed like it was obviously a joke, along the lines of coming up with your own wacky abbreviation for something, but maybe not.


Posted by: Cryptic ned | Link to this comment | 11-27-12 11:44 AM
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Is the pronunciation really supposed to be "bio-pic"? I've never heard that, ever.

I honestly thought if I was mispronouncing either word, it would have been "myopic", which I feel like I've heard pronounced both ways.


Posted by: urple | Link to this comment | 11-27-12 11:48 AM
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heebie mama is a ferocious censor.. glad to oblige in your favourite pastime

"And Quentin Tarantino is making that movie about black slaves revolting -- so I guess the black agency thing is pretty much done."
two movies and it's pretty much done? an exemplary racist thing to say
after the game of thrones movie there was all that rubble on twitter about teenagers' twits saying that when in the movie one of the heroines was a black girl, a little different from the book, have no idea about either the book or movie whether it's so, and that made the movie instantly boring for them, then slate or forgot which other news media was doing like interviews with those racist young people and they all turned out to be very thoughtful and innocent girls and guys who in the end even apologized or got apologies for something or other, forgot which way it was
that young people and already so deeply biased so must be things wont change too quickly


Posted by: | Link to this comment | 11-27-12 11:48 AM
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Is the pronunciation really supposed to be "bio-pic"? I've never heard that, ever.

Yes, of course. "bio" for "biographical" or "biography", and "pic" for "motion picture".


Posted by: Cryptic ned | Link to this comment | 11-27-12 11:49 AM
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I understand the definition, but that's a stupid way to pronounce the word. If it's supposed to be pronounced that way, it needs a hyphen.


Posted by: urple | Link to this comment | 11-27-12 11:52 AM
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Bi-opic.


Posted by: Moby Hick | Link to this comment | 11-27-12 11:53 AM
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like cow-orker?


Posted by: text | Link to this comment | 11-27-12 11:54 AM
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I think blow-job is a proper use of hyphen.


Posted by: text | Link to this comment | 11-27-12 11:54 AM
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Now I'm totally confused.


Posted by: urple | Link to this comment | 11-27-12 11:59 AM
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Do you just jam it down the pee-hole?


Posted by: heebie-geebie | Link to this comment | 11-27-12 11:59 AM
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sometimes, when permitted.


Posted by: text | Link to this comment | 11-27-12 12:03 PM
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Myopic is the obvious pronounciation endpoint. Do you all say bio-graphy? Anyway, biofilm should be preferred.


Posted by: Eggplant | Link to this comment | 11-27-12 12:03 PM
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Why would obviousness stop you from going further, Eggplant?


Posted by: text | Link to this comment | 11-27-12 12:06 PM
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Byofflm


Posted by: heebie-geebie | Link to this comment | 11-27-12 12:08 PM
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I hate biopics. You can't fit a life into two or three hours. Movies about historical figures which don't try to do that are ok. I don't know what Lincoln does.


Posted by: text | Link to this comment | 11-27-12 12:08 PM
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I don't know what Lincoln does.

If only there was some way to find out.


Posted by: CharleyCarp | Link to this comment | 11-27-12 12:10 PM
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you got ideas?


Posted by: text | Link to this comment | 11-27-12 12:12 PM
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57: I would suggest reading comment number 31 in this thread.


Posted by: peep | Link to this comment | 11-27-12 12:13 PM
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I wouldn't. It's long and boring.


Posted by: text | Link to this comment | 11-27-12 12:14 PM
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I pronounce barfly like an adverb.


Posted by: apostropher | Link to this comment | 11-27-12 12:15 PM
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thanks for sharing, apo.


Posted by: text | Link to this comment | 11-27-12 12:17 PM
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I think the "miniseries" = "miseries" mistake is relatively common as these things go. Another common one shared by me is thinking "misled" is the past tense of the verb "to misle".


Posted by: Cryptic ned | Link to this comment | 11-27-12 12:17 PM
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Do you guys write "hair extension" or "hair-extension" ?


Posted by: text | Link to this comment | 11-27-12 12:18 PM
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I pronounce very last fucking syllable in Worcestershire because I can't say it right the other way.


Posted by: Moby Hick | Link to this comment | 11-27-12 12:18 PM
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I only encountered hair-extensions once, but they were remarkable. I might never have known.


Posted by: text | Link to this comment | 11-27-12 12:20 PM
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66

Charley, here's what I wrote to a friend. I'm not sure it's helpful, and I am pretty sure you already know all of this, but here goes:

When it came time to actually pass the amendment, black abolitionists were not a huge part of the story. In fact, they were asked, much as black activists would be in the 1960s, to step off center stage when it came to legislating. The complaint, then, is that black abolitionists were a huge part of the story leading up to that point, that they were, in fact, the prime movers of the 13th amendment (I don't think this true, by the way, but they were really important in pushing it along), and that they should have been incorporated more thoroughly into the narrative related in the movie.

The fight, for what it's worth (probably not much), is part of a broader historiographical dispute: did Lincoln (standing in for righteous white people) free the slaves, or did the slaves free themselves? The answer is, probably a little of both with more emphasis on the latter. And the movie apparently elides the latter point almost entirely.

Kushner's quote, if I'm understanding it absent all context as presented by Robin, was about Reconstruction, which is another thing entirely. He was, at least in this quote, parroting a totally discredited line of historical argument: that Reconstruction failed because of federal bungling -- inefficiency and corruption -- rather than because of Southern intransigence and terror tactics. Kushner is almost entirely wrong about this, and to hear him say such a thing is a real bummer, as the Dunning school was just an element of the Lost Cause lament gussied up in academic regalia. And the Lost Cause lament, which is still an important part of the discourse surrounding the Civil War and Reconstruction, shouldn't be coming out of the mouth of a gay Jew who typically has *very* progressive politics. That said, I think Kushner was raised in the South, maybe even in Louisiana, so perhaps that explains why he's so ignorant.


Posted by: Von Wafer | Link to this comment | 11-27-12 12:21 PM
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59: Can you read this one sentence from 31 then?

The thing is almost completely limited to a month, and it's about the House debate on the Amendment (first amendment in over 60 years) and the machinations to get to a majority.


Posted by: | Link to this comment | 11-27-12 12:21 PM
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cool. then I guess it's not a biopic.


Posted by: text | Link to this comment | 11-27-12 12:22 PM
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I have to say, hair-extensions were a turn-on.


Posted by: text | Link to this comment | 11-27-12 12:23 PM
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While I would like to think this is me: I think being on the inside of a big process at least makes you appreciate that it is hard to improve it. Even if the outcome is dumb and wrong and you're pretty sure it would have been possible to do better, you have a better understanding that it's not easy to wrestle a big process in a different direction

I think in fact this is closer to the truth: If I know how it works, and/or have done it successfully myself, why can't these other incompetents do it properly

I suppose I'm more judgemental if I feel the person has either done something badly which is easy to do well, or is making false claims for the difficulty of the thing.

Right. Especially the latter. This is the part that I find particularly enraging from people (journalists, academics, whoever) who are lecturing you on how no, it is totally impossible for Authority Figure X to have done things any differently, because gosh, it's just so difficult.

44 and preceding are, of course, exactly right.


Posted by: Witt | Link to this comment | 11-27-12 12:23 PM
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60: Barfly or barf-list?


Posted by: JP Stormcrow | Link to this comment | 11-27-12 12:23 PM
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I pronounce barfly like an adverb

There's a bar in Austin called "Barfly's" and every time I drive by I wonder whether it's pronounced bar-flees or bar-flies.

I suppose I could just call and see how they answer the phone.


Posted by: M/tch M/lls | Link to this comment | 11-27-12 12:26 PM
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Holy crap! That was long! It really didn't look that long the other place. Oh well. Apologies all around.


Posted by: Von Wafer | Link to this comment | 11-27-12 12:27 PM
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68: Wow! I feel like I really accomplished something!

God, I'm an idiot.


Posted by: peep | Link to this comment | 11-27-12 12:27 PM
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don't be too hard on yourself, peep. that isn't like you.


Posted by: text | Link to this comment | 11-27-12 12:30 PM
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73: It's not pwnage too wordy if you add value.


Posted by: Witt | Link to this comment | 11-27-12 12:31 PM
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74: Stop picking on peep, you racist.


Posted by: M/tch M/lls | Link to this comment | 11-27-12 12:31 PM
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I'm not a racist, I dig chick[] with hair extensions.


Posted by: text | Link to this comment | 11-27-12 12:33 PM
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Holy crap! That was long! It really didn't look that long the other place.

This makes me sad (assuming that you're talking about 66).

It is one of the longer comments in this thread, but it's hardly long, and I'd hate to think that there would be any reason to apologize for a 12-line comment at unfogged.


Posted by: NickS | Link to this comment | 11-27-12 12:34 PM
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I'm not a racist

If you say so. One thing I do know is that you didn't author comment 74.


Posted by: M/tch M/lls | Link to this comment | 11-27-12 12:35 PM
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Just so long as I'm not a racist.


Posted by: text | Link to this comment | 11-27-12 12:36 PM
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We're allowed comments that exceed twitter-length, but we must apologize for them.


Posted by: urple | Link to this comment | 11-27-12 12:38 PM
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79: it was about 66, and I didn't mean to make you sad. Now I'm sorry about that, too.


Posted by: Von Wafer | Link to this comment | 11-27-12 12:38 PM
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66.2 -- There's plenty of agency to go around. Some random sergeant from Massachusetts who got permanently disabled by Rebel fire at Spotsylvania gets a share of credit as well: without military victory, and sacrifice, abolition wouldn't have taken place. Without the agitation of slaves and especially free blacks it wouldn't have happened either.


Posted by: CharleyCarp | Link to this comment | 11-27-12 12:39 PM
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Ok, I've got my hair off. Now I'm ready to go.


Posted by: text | Link to this comment | 11-27-12 12:39 PM
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IME, criticism is either stating something completely obvious ("this is chaos," or maybe "the process here is antiquated"), or criticising particular people.

See, this isn't my experience at all. Good criticism can take the form of suggestions ("I wish this reporter had asked X question"), ideas ("Maybe we could combine public health messaging with a tool the people already use, like texting"), or context ("I suspect they are dragging their feet on this because they're worried about litigation. What if we stipulated that we're not going to bring suit over this?")

IMO chances to improve defective processes are pretty rare, usually being one of the people implementing a successor process.

I could go either way on this. It's true that some processes are so ossified that trying to change them is an exercise in willful insanity. But that's not true of all processes, by a long shot.


Posted by: Witt | Link to this comment | 11-27-12 12:42 PM
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84: just for the record, I didn't use the word "agency". It's important to me that the record reflect this fact.


Posted by: Von Wafer | Link to this comment | 11-27-12 12:43 PM
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88

31 was long, and I'm not sorry. Except that I should have said that Henry V wasn't a play about the Hundred Years War.


Posted by: CharleyCarp | Link to this comment | 11-27-12 12:47 PM
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89

I think the term for Henry V is history play.


Posted by: text | Link to this comment | 11-27-12 12:49 PM
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90

I do enjoy a good history play.


Posted by: text | Link to this comment | 11-27-12 12:50 PM
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87 -- I'm not disagreeing with you, or 66. History, like Success, has many fathers.

If McClellan had captured Richmond in the early summer 1862, and the war ended, would abolition have taken place within the decade? I think probably not.


Posted by: CharleyCarp | Link to this comment | 11-27-12 12:51 PM
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87: Thank you the word bothers me. Is "agency" what nice people have instead of "power?" That is my guess, although that is not the only use and meaning of "agency." But not atypical is "slaves had agency in passing the 13th amendment" which is not the same as "slaves had agency in leaving the plantations"


Posted by: bob mcmanus | Link to this comment | 11-27-12 12:53 PM
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If you're calling my mom a slut, you'd better watch it.


Posted by: Opinionated History | Link to this comment | 11-27-12 12:53 PM
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Without the agitation of slaves and especially free blacks it wouldn't have happened either.

You say that fairly breezily, but that isn't the way U.S. history is taught: Douglass and Sojourner Truth made some speeches, Harriet Tubman brought some slaves north, Kunta Kinte kept his name, and Lincoln freed them all.

Sure, Spielberg and Kushner aren't obligated to set the record straight and they can make whatever choices they want. It's just a shame that even within the confines of the 13th Amendment story, one of those choices was not to acknowledge the role of black people -- it's a blown opportunity and a less interesting story.


Posted by: Sir Kraab | Link to this comment | 11-27-12 12:55 PM
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Have I met your mom? Did she wear hair extensions?


Posted by: text | Link to this comment | 11-27-12 12:55 PM
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90 -- Me too, sometimes. I think putting the St. Crispin speech into the ears of 17th century Londoners was a bigger motivation than telling people what happened two centuries earlier.

We saw Argo a couple weeks ago. I like a good caper picture, and was suitably entertained. My ife thought putting so much anti-Iranian sentiment into the hearts of a 2012 audience was a little fraught.


Posted by: CharleyCarp | Link to this comment | 11-27-12 12:55 PM
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+w


Posted by: CharleyCarp | Link to this comment | 11-27-12 12:56 PM
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History, like Success, has many fathers.

SRSLY?


Posted by: OPINIONATED SOJOURNER TRUTH'S LOLCAT | Link to this comment | 11-27-12 12:58 PM
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Just imagine how much anti-Iranian sentiment the movie would have had without the five-minute opening montage about Mossadegh and the Shahs which made the point that Iran was entirely justified in hating the US.


Posted by: Cryptic ned | Link to this comment | 11-27-12 12:59 PM
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Aaron Bady over at Jacobin is excellent on Lincoln and is closest to my thoughts. This piece linked to and recommended by Robin.

Kushner flatout shocked me. Perhaps he was disgenuous, hoping to get Republicans, southerners, and conservatives to go to the movie? I think that quote might help.

LGM is admiring Jacobin, which worries me. Dennis Perrin called Robin a friend, and linked to CT. As bad a shock to me as Kushner.

Robin is messing bad with Nietzsche. Grrrr


Posted by: bob mcmanus | Link to this comment | 11-27-12 12:59 PM
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Do you all say bio-graphy?

For my amusement, part of which is the mild irritation my wife, pronounce thermometer as thermo-meter.


Posted by: gswift | Link to this comment | 11-27-12 1:01 PM
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Well, "less interesting" is pretty subjective. I think it might well have been less effective in terms of reaching and bringing along the people who needed to be reached and brought along. In 2012. I mean, the emphasis Stevens puts on party identity when grilling Coffroth (I think he calls him coughdrop at one point) cannot have been missed in 2012: Republicans were, emphatically, the party of equality. Your heroes were heroes for equality. Equality is self evident. What's your fucking problem?


Posted by: CharleyCarp | Link to this comment | 11-27-12 1:04 PM
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I don't say "biopic." I prefer biopic criticism.


Posted by: fake accent | Link to this comment | 11-27-12 1:07 PM
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Republicans were, emphatically, the party of equality. Your heroes were heroes for equality. Equality is self evident. What's your fucking problem?

Considered for the movie's tagline, but too long for the posters.


Posted by: Sir Kraab | Link to this comment | 11-27-12 1:08 PM
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100 -- I'm not going to read all that. But I will say that I think there's a defensible case to be made for the argument that it's a good idea to get folks into the theater and let Spielberg work his magic on them.


Posted by: CharleyCarp | Link to this comment | 11-27-12 1:08 PM
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Robin is getting pushback at that post about the text of Nietzsche, and N's contemporaneous politics, but shit, I'm shocked that anyone who has read N would believe N might walk into the House Republican Caucus and see his Renaissance Dukes or visit the Koch heirs and exclaim "The Overpersons!"

Robin has gotten lost in his own analysis of aristocracy, deliberately ignoring Foucault I think. Our current thugs are not Nietzsche's Ubermenschen, even if they claim him.


Posted by: bob mcmanus | Link to this comment | 11-27-12 1:09 PM
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86. Public policy criticism would be different. I spend time talking about computer programs that will reliably do some piece of analysis; discussions are usually top-heavy (ie lots of good ideas and worthy goals in comparison to resources ). Conflicts are usually conflicts of perspective about which kinds of problems are both important and tractable, among people who at least notionally respect each others' competence, but who require strong evidence for reevaluating something. Filmmaking would have I think similar constraints.

Policy or business consensus-building is different.

I saw Lincoln last weekend. DDL great, Spielberg worse (back to predictably sentimental) after a few tolerable bright spots AI, Minority Report, and Schindler's List in his otherwise pointless and boring output. I usually dislike political movies; this one had nice cinematography. No-one's mentioned Amistad


Posted by: lw | Link to this comment | 11-27-12 1:09 PM
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I think the term for Henry V is history play.

Pronounced hiss-toe-RAH-mah or hiss-TOE-rah-mah?


Posted by: apostropher | Link to this comment | 11-27-12 1:09 PM
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103: I've been looking for that joke for half an hour. Thank you.


Posted by: Von Wafer | Link to this comment | 11-27-12 1:10 PM
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Pronounced hiss-toe-RAH-mah or hiss-TOE-rah-mah?

Where I come from it's pronounced "fellatio".


Posted by: text | Link to this comment | 11-27-12 1:11 PM
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I haven't seen it, I agree with the view that it would be nice if someone would make a different film, and I'm inclined to be sympathetic to myopic biopics, but that Kushner quote about Reconstruction was just shockingly ignorant. It's probably better, if that's what he thinks about Reconstruction, that the film is apparently so restricted in time and scope.


Posted by: fake accent | Link to this comment | 11-27-12 1:13 PM
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105:it's a good idea to get folks into the theater and let Spielberg work his magic on them.

You don't need to, since I suspect you would approve of Spielberg/Kushner making a propaganda piece to help Obama pass his catfood bargain.

Steven Spielberg and Tony Kushner's Lincoln is about Obama, we are told, or don't need to be told. It is about the triumph of a political compromiser, and it argues that radical change comes about by triangulation, by back-room deals, and by a willingness to forego ideological purity. Kushner has said this quite explicitly, not only likening his Lincoln to Obama, but arguing that there are general principles to be drawn from it; "too much impatience can make it impossible for anything to happen," he said, in response to Chris Hayes' question about whether the movie favors moderates over radicals. It is, in short, a barely veiled argument that radicals should get in line, be patient, be realistic.

Is "radicals should get in line" your middle name, Charley?

Bady does make the case for radicals, then and now, but it is long.


Posted by: bob mcmanus | Link to this comment | 11-27-12 1:15 PM
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105: Bady's piece is the best thing I've read about the movie so far but even if you did read it, it probably wouldn't change your views, as Bady and Robin are making similar arguments.


Posted by: fake accent | Link to this comment | 11-27-12 1:18 PM
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VW, whom should I read about Reconstruction? Foner?


Posted by: Sir Kraab | Link to this comment | 11-27-12 1:20 PM
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Bady makes an even better case about Reconstruction.

Why few blacks in Lincoln?.

Because they would be impatient, unrealist, radical voices.

The ones, unlike Kushner, who didn't like the way moderates did Reconstruction, and suffered for a century and more from "triangulation, by back-room deals, and by a willingness to forego ideological purity."


Posted by: bob mcmanus | Link to this comment | 11-27-12 1:20 PM
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105: time spent reading Aaron is almost always time well spent. He's incredibly smart and almost always very interesting.


Posted by: Von Wafer | Link to this comment | 11-27-12 1:21 PM
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And count me among the people who thought "biopic" was supposed to rhyme with myopic. I figured it out the first time I heard it, and it still sounds horrible to me to the extent that I go out of my way to say biographical film or some context-appropriate equivalent phrase ("about the life of [person]", about [series of events in person's life]", etc.).


Posted by: fake accent | Link to this comment | 11-27-12 1:22 PM
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"Survivorman" rhymes with "Curvy foreman", right?


Posted by: Crypic ned | Link to this comment | 11-27-12 1:23 PM
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114: his Short History of Reconstruction (the abbreviated version of the ridiculously long and ponderous Reconstruction) is excellent on the merits, but it's terribly boring, especially so for the lay reader. That said, it's pretty important if you want to understand the tick-tock and the broad-strokes arguments for why Reconstruction failed. Having said that, I think Nick Lemann's Redemption is, while overly romantic and flawed in other (very boring) ways, a really nice introduction to the subject.


Posted by: Von Wafer | Link to this comment | 11-27-12 1:25 PM
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Kushner was born in 1956. That's old enough. I am not giving that fucker a pass on grounds of ignorance.

Too much fucking Roy Cohn in Angels for my taste. Couldn't watch it.


Posted by: bob mcmanus | Link to this comment | 11-27-12 1:25 PM
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I have to say that Robin has the better of the argument. If you view the narrative choices of any movie in isolation, then most choices are defensible. But when the whole narrative weight of culture pushes in one direction, then movie-makers have some responsibility to push back.

For example, I had no idea that this was the set of opinions of American historians could include this statement:

...did Lincoln (standing in for righteous white people) free the slaves, or did the slaves free themselves? The answer is, probably a little of both with more emphasis on the latter.

And honestly, for an ordinary citizen I know American history pretty well.


Posted by: Walt Someguy | Link to this comment | 11-27-12 1:26 PM
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And even further, learning that Spielberg was directing the movie took some of the excitement I got when I heard there was going to be a Lincoln movie that wasn't, like the classic old Lincoln movies, mostly centered around his pre-presidential life. At least it's not a Scorsese movie.


Posted by: fake accent | Link to this comment | 11-27-12 1:26 PM
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121: I'm not sure I'm understanding what you're saying in your .2 here. I feel like I should probably call you a fuckwad, but I'll wait to hear back from you before doing so. Nah, fuck it, you're a fuckwad.


Posted by: Von Wafer | Link to this comment | 11-27-12 1:31 PM
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learning that Spielberg was directing the movie took some of the excitement I got when I heard there was going to be a Lincoln movie

God yes. I just assumed Spielberg would somehow make Lincoln part of the Greatest Generation. But I guess instead he's decided, as most Americans already implicitly recognize, that the nation has had three greatest generations: the founding generation, and especially the founders themselves; those who lived, in both the North and the south, during the Civil War era; and those who lived during the era of WWII. There's nothing like a Good War to make a nation feel good about itself.


Posted by: Von Wafer | Link to this comment | 11-27-12 1:34 PM
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Wikipedia says that the Tarantino film about a slave rebelling is being done in the style of a spaghetti western.


Posted by: fake accent | Link to this comment | 11-27-12 1:38 PM
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Eric Foner stolen from CT

"It's not a question of being wrong, it's just inadequate," Foner said. "It gives you the impression that the ratification of the 13th Amendment ends slavery -- and that's wrong. Slavery is already dying at that moment."

Well now. No, it is more interesting.

Even if the slaves had de facto freed themselves in the South by 1865...didn't we need a LAW?

I mean, liberals, didn't we just have to have a fucking law before we could have freedom? Didn't the LAW create the freedom? (read the Bady)

There is a lot going on in Lincoln, about the necessity for the 13th, and about the ideological covers liberals used and use to ignore oppression and avoid social revolution.

Circa 1900:"Blacks do so have the right to vote in Mississippi" I mean, over there. There's a LAW."


Posted by: bob mcmanus | Link to this comment | 11-27-12 1:39 PM
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Nah, fuck it, you're a fuckwad.

Thus I refuteth all who stand in my path!


Posted by: text | Link to this comment | 11-27-12 1:39 PM
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123: Either you misnumbered or you *really* love Scorsese.


Posted by: Sir Kraab | Link to this comment | 11-27-12 1:39 PM
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128: I was kidding around by picking an unnecessary fight with a friend (or maybe a "friend), but I really didn't understand what he meant in the second part of the comment.


Posted by: Von Wafer | Link to this comment | 11-27-12 1:43 PM
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I left the second quotation mark out on purpose. My art: let me show you it.


Posted by: Von Wafer | Link to this comment | 11-27-12 1:43 PM
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I'm going to fucking stab you, Von Wafer, right in your fucking scar tissue. I was saying that I had no idea that the evidence was such that an American historian could plausibly make the case I blockquoted. (I don't know if it's the majority view, so I was trying not to overstate the case, since you fucking historians love your fucking nuance. You make love to it every night, while your wife must turn to mechanical aids.) I was saying I goddamn learned something from your goddamn comment, a mistake I promise never to make again.


Posted by: Walt Someguy | Link to this comment | 11-27-12 1:46 PM
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I might make a case for the 60s generation, actually the "Silents" although I might be alone.

It was bad war, but it was also a faltering attempt at a social revolution, maybe the 2nd after WW II? The third after Jackson and WW II?

I am not that impressed with any of the "Greatest Generations", at least in comparison to others.

Circumstances and opportunities create heroes. My dad was a schmuck, except for a few weeks on some islands. He didn't think he had that much choice.


Posted by: bob mcmanus | Link to this comment | 11-27-12 1:47 PM
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I really, really don't like Scorsese's recent or many of his past movies. Gangs of New York occasionally looked nice.


Posted by: fake accent | Link to this comment | 11-27-12 1:48 PM
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Wait, I didn't need to make that explicit.


Posted by: fake accent | Link to this comment | 11-27-12 1:49 PM
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131: oh. Well, yeah, there still isn't anything like a real consensus on "the slaves freed themselves" argument -- I think the holdouts are holding out mostly, but not entirely*, for the reasons that bob is putting forward: procedural liberalism -- but we're getting pretty close to it. I mean, I'd be very surprised if I said something like I said way upthread -- again, that legislation mattered, sure, but that the slaves had freed themselves long before the legislation passed, not to mention that the fact of their having freed themselves was what got the legislation passed (okay, okay, Charley, along with a lot of sausage making) -- in front of a bunch of professional historians and my statement prompted any real argument. As you say, someone would want to nibble around the nuanced edges, but that's all the pushback** I'd expect to get.

* Others are stupid. Still others are f'reals racists.

** Make of this low-hanging fruit what you will.


Posted by: Von Wafer | Link to this comment | 11-27-12 1:56 PM
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Two Laws of Large Numbers in War

1st Law:Ask a million men to storm a beach or Stalingrad or have a revolution, and very few will refuse.

2nd Law:Some will die, some to most will survive, and some will excel.

The 60s were remarkable. There just aren't that many "unpopular" wars.


Posted by: bob mcmanus | Link to this comment | 11-27-12 1:57 PM
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You know what's cool, by the way, if you like history? The new Assassin's Creed. I can't play it, of course, because it's way too complicated for an oldster like me, but A/lan T/aylor came over for Thanksgiving, and we watched my older boy play for a while. The attention to detail, especially in the re-creation of the New England landscapes, was pretty amazing. And a lot of the history was much better than what you'd expect to find in a high school text in Texas. Movies really are in trouble.


Posted by: Von Wafer | Link to this comment | 11-27-12 2:04 PM
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136.1: I think the NKVD might object to part of that.


Posted by: Moby Hick | Link to this comment | 11-27-12 2:07 PM
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136.2:Should that be "legitimately ask"? Not sure.

To give Kushner/Spielberg a slight break, they did have Stevens, and from reports a small part of the story might be about the procedural liberals seeking to avoid Stevens' social revolution. And most of us not named Kushner know the social revolution in the South was a necessity.

In which case it could be a subtly subversive anti-Lincoln movie.

Does the movie end:"And then the South saw 100 years of Jim Crow and the racist oppression of the ex-slaves?"

I'll never watch it.


Posted by: bob mcmanus | Link to this comment | 11-27-12 2:10 PM
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Also, returning to the issue of editing, you know what put me off? That my copy editor insisted on removing the colon in re-creation. Doesn't the word then just read as recreation, as in Parks and?


Posted by: Von Wafer | Link to this comment | 11-27-12 2:10 PM
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If I didn't have kids, I would totally get that Assassin's Creed game.


Posted by: Walt Someguy | Link to this comment | 11-27-12 2:10 PM
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135: Spell out 'freed themselves'? I don't know if that means 'voted with their feet by leaving for the Union lines once the war made it possible', or 'black abolitionists created the political atmosphere that got the ball rolling that led to the war and emancipation and the rest'. My history is weak enough that either or both, or something else I haven't thought of, could be true, but I'm not sure which you mean.


Posted by: LizardBreath | Link to this comment | 11-27-12 2:12 PM
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129: I can't read numbers, apparently, and thought you said it to f.a. while you meant to say it to bob though why you would be taking up for Roy Cohn I don't know and I'll just shut up now.

Also, I didn't realize you and Walt are such close fuckwad friends.


Posted by: Sir Kraab | Link to this comment | 11-27-12 2:13 PM
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The colon in re:creation? Who are you, Mos Def?


Posted by: Cryptic ned | Link to this comment | 11-27-12 2:13 PM
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We're "friends", which I think is code for the fact that he actually hates me.


Posted by: Walt Someguy | Link to this comment | 11-27-12 2:15 PM
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I should totally get that game. Maybe it will run on... something...

Boy I am just not up-to-speed on videogames these days.


Posted by: Sifu Tweety | Link to this comment | 11-27-12 2:17 PM
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I read the Bady piece. It's a fair commentary on the movie, I think, although I disagree with some conclusions he draws from it and from history. I don't think the post-Lincoln years as described by Bady vindicate the position that more lasting progress is made when radical get free rein than when radicals collaborate with moderates.

The 'slaves freed themselves' argument depends, it seems to me, on ignoring the very real work done by the Union Army in creating the conditions for freedom, by wrecking the structures that maintained it by force. And the idea that absent some federal action (Proclamation and then Amendment) the South would not have been able to reinstate slavery is seems particularly facile, especially in view of the actual history of the South after Reconstruction. Of course the slaves were not without agency, but to a very real extent their freedom was won at the point of a gun, held by a white man. And re-enslavement defeated (to the extent it was) by a coalition including both white men with guns and white men with pens.


Posted by: CharleyCarp | Link to this comment | 11-27-12 2:18 PM
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135 -- I think the fear expressed by Lincoln in Lincoln that once the war was concluded, the courts would force re-enslavement of anyone who could be claimed isn't at all unrealistic. The EP was shaky. Readmitted southern states that didn't have a social revolution imposed and enforced by federal law would have done so. I don't see how that can be doubted. All 3 amendments were necessary. And even then not completely sufficient, as we know from the event.


Posted by: CharleyCarp | Link to this comment | 11-27-12 2:26 PM
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Movies really are in trouble.

My response to video games with story has generally been that the story is not good enough to justify making me sit through it. The only two games I've played a fair amount since 2008 are both open-world driving games. Before 2008 I hadn't played a video game that wasn't tetris since about 1993.


Posted by: fake accent | Link to this comment | 11-27-12 2:30 PM
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147-148: Yeah, I think he goes too far in downplaying the 13th amendment. Even with the 13th amendment, states used vagrancy laws to approximate slavery, one of the reasons the radicals were right that force was still needed to make abolition real.


Posted by: fake accent | Link to this comment | 11-27-12 2:34 PM
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142: both and also: that black men fought for the Union on the front lines, that black women fought for it behind the lines, and that the contributions of black people, soldiers especially, went a long way toward changing white peoples' attitudes*, thus making emancipation a political possibility.

* The movie nods in this direction, right?


Posted by: Von Wafer | Link to this comment | 11-27-12 2:39 PM
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91: If McClellan had captured Richmond in the early summer 1862, and the war ended, would abolition have taken place within the decade? I think probably not.

I'm dubious about that assertion. Lots and lots of Northerners who had been sitting on the fence, or even pro-slavery, wound up moving significantly towards radical abolitionism. And the actual Abolitionists were very much emboldened during the early part of the war. A quickie war with a decisive Union victory would have left plenty of Radical Republicans in Congress or trying to get in, and they would have ample Bloody Shirts to wave. Without the horrors of the later years of the war, would Lincoln have felt it so necessary to push for a kid-gloves Reconstruction? With Hamlin still VP?

As we've discussed at length before (no comments from the Peanut Gallery now, bob), the Southrons had made it very, very explicit at the beginning of the war, and during the run up, that they were fighting for one main thing, namely the protection of the Slaveocracy. A victorious North, early on, would have had just as much moral force for ending slavery immediately or very shortly afterwards. And if they didn't, you'd probably see a bunch of Brownian Abolitionists picking up the gun.


Posted by: Natilo Paennim | Link to this comment | 11-27-12 2:40 PM
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the very real work done by the Union Army

A lot of former slaves (we don't know precisely how many; sorry) fought in that army -- not to mention a lot of free people of color. But still, what you say was important.

the South would not have been able to reinstate slavery

The South sort of did. But still, what you say was important.

their freedom was won at the point of a gun, held by a white man

You're really overreaching here, massively simplifying a more complicated story (see my reply to LB above), and generally summing up what I think people hate about the Spielberg line on emancipation.

Still and all, I don't think the slaves freed themselves alone. I never said they did. Read what I said above in my longer comments and see if you disagree with them. If so, let me know what part rings false to you.


Posted by: Von Wafer | Link to this comment | 11-27-12 2:44 PM
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151 -- Absolutely.

152 -- I think you're undervaluing the role vengeance played, and the role black soldiers played in normalizing things. Would there have been a supermajority necessary to impose constitutional changes? Not if the South comes back in on terms then available (pre-Proclamation).


Posted by: CharleyCarp | Link to this comment | 11-27-12 2:45 PM
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Brownian Abolitionists

Is it wrong that I picture a whole bunch of abolitionists bouncing off each other and the walls?


Posted by: Moby Hick | Link to this comment | 11-27-12 2:45 PM
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153 -- I don't think we disagree. Except where you leave off a qualifying phrase like 'to a very real extent' which is designed to connote that white Union soldiers were necessary but not exclusive.


Posted by: CharleyCarp | Link to this comment | 11-27-12 2:48 PM
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155: "our greatest strength... is CHAOS!"


Posted by: Sifu Tweety | Link to this comment | 11-27-12 2:48 PM
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156: right, I don't think we disagree either, especially if you chill a bit on the "in the end, it was white people, holding guns manufactured by white workers, who freed the slaves. White people 4evah!" It's not an either/or. I mean, it may be that you and I place more weight on one or the other side of the story, but I think we both agree that the story needs both sides to represent the past accurately.


Posted by: Von Wafer | Link to this comment | 11-27-12 2:57 PM
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no comments from the Peanut Gallery now, bob

I prefer "groundlings" or "bleacher bums"


Posted by: bob mcmanus | Link to this comment | 11-27-12 3:03 PM
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the contributions of black people, soldiers especially, went a long way toward changing white peoples' attitudes

While growing up my parents had a Currier& Ives compendium, with reproductions of many of the prints. What fascinated me at the time were the depictions of black Union troops in heroic action. Not in my history book, and certainly not in the movies. Also to be noted were the extremely racist caricatures about "Darktown".


Posted by: Tasseled Loafered Leech | Link to this comment | 11-27-12 3:18 PM
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Holy crap! That was long! It really didn't look that long the other place.

That's what she said, Von Wafer.


Posted by: essear | Link to this comment | 11-27-12 3:38 PM
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145: we're actually only "friends.


Posted by: Von Wafer | Link to this comment | 11-27-12 3:39 PM
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My hotel internet connection, which has been working fine for weeks, and still works fine on my phone, is now only working on my laptop if I click "Renew DHCP Lease" about once a minute. What's up with that?


Posted by: essear | Link to this comment | 11-27-12 3:41 PM
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155 Is it wrong that I picture a whole bunch of abolitionists bouncing off each other and the walls?

It's very, very right.


Posted by: essear | Link to this comment | 11-27-12 3:50 PM
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I think all the players were necessary, from Tubman and Douglass, to Stowe, to Stevens and Butler, to Brown, Lincoln, Sherman, individual soldiers of whatever race (including Irish!), etc etc.

And even then it wasn't enough, as we know from what happened from 1866 through 2012.

I think Spielberg moves the ball downfield a bit. I think the criticism that it's about Obama and Social Security tells us more about the critic than about the movie.


Posted by: CharleyCarp | Link to this comment | 11-27-12 3:52 PM
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162: Which is code for what? Indifference? Die in a fire? In what way do you yearn to destroy me as a fellow human being?


Posted by: Walt Someguy | Link to this comment | 11-27-12 4:01 PM
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They write letters. Foner in the NYT in response to Brooks on Lincoln.


Posted by: JP Stormcrow | Link to this comment | 11-27-12 9:19 PM
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I don't think I've ever heard "biopic" pronounced in a way that didn't rhyme with "myopic." With this and the trouper thing I'm kind of freaking out. Bio-pick? Really?!


Posted by: jms | Link to this comment | 11-27-12 10:07 PM
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167: I was just coming to link that. Oh well.


Posted by: Von Wafer | Link to this comment | 11-27-12 10:10 PM
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I, contrariwise, have never heard "biopic" to rhyme with "myopic".


Posted by: nosflow | Link to this comment | 11-27-12 10:13 PM
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I don't think I've ever heard "biopic" pronounced in a way that didn't rhyme with "myopic."

Wait, what? I've never heard it pronounced that way.


Posted by: Josh | Link to this comment | 11-27-12 10:17 PM
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170. Well I'm wondering now, because that seems to be the predominant position, and it's not like that word has never come up in conversation before. Have I just assumed it was a different word entirely? I'm reminded of that TAL episode with the woman who thought that "misle" was a word that meant to deliberately give someone the wrong impression. And I thought that episode was so hilarious.


Posted by: jms | Link to this comment | 11-27-12 10:19 PM
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I think I'll hide in this thread.


Posted by: fake accent | Link to this comment | 11-27-12 10:20 PM
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Me too.


Posted by: teofilo | Link to this comment | 11-27-12 10:20 PM
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It's a lot nicer in here.


Posted by: jms | Link to this comment | 11-27-12 10:21 PM
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44 to 168. 62 to 172.


Posted by: Crypticc ned | Link to this comment | 11-27-12 10:28 PM
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I think I may have once had a theory that biopic was related to biopsy.


Posted by: fake accent | Link to this comment | 11-27-12 10:31 PM
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168: Imagine you are reading it in a Variety headline. For extra pleasure, read it in a clipped, Katharine Hephburn, staccato style, with some crackles like on an old time radio program.


Posted by: Natilo Paennim | Link to this comment | 11-27-12 10:37 PM
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MOBY HICK NIXES BIOPIC FLICKS


Posted by: Natilo Paennim | Link to this comment | 11-27-12 10:38 PM
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I hope Prof. Foner can find a good filmmaker to tell a more complete story. And I hope reviewers of his film aren't obsessed with pointing out that the real story was much more complicated than can be shown in two hours of focusing on a few identifiable individuals engaging in activities that can presented on film.

Of course, that's only possible in a different world from the one we inhabit. In our world, the choice isn't between Spielberg's truncated Lincoln and a more complete and nuanced story, but between Lincoln and another comic book stretched to movie length.


Posted by: CharleyCarp | Link to this comment | 11-27-12 11:23 PM
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||

Mit schlachtwarmem Speck!

|>


Posted by: nosflow | Link to this comment | 11-27-12 11:35 PM
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181: Now with 50% blut!


Posted by: Sir Kraab | Link to this comment | 11-28-12 1:26 AM
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I've never been sure which way to pronounce it, but I definitely heard someone in the movie business say it to rhyme with myopic on a podcast this week.


Posted by: Unfoggetarian: "Pause endlessly, then go in" (9) | Link to this comment | 11-28-12 1:33 AM
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I'm actually kind of sorry that I just looked up what "blut" means. "Blut" is funnier when it's just a sound.

Is there a German word for that?


Posted by: Sir Kraab | Link to this comment | 11-28-12 1:34 AM
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Biopic should rhyme with myopic if it's a coinage intended as analogous to biography or biology; it should be bi'o-pic if it's an abbreviation like helipad. Alas, whoever coined it has already been hanged for doing so is too ashamed to let us know.


Posted by: chris y | Link to this comment | 11-28-12 2:46 AM
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181: Ah, the step before throing up blut.


Posted by: Thorn | Link to this comment | 11-28-12 4:41 AM
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I hope Prof. Foner can find a good filmmaker to tell a more complete story.

It's slightly regrettable that if Spielberg makes a film about dinosaurs, no one castigates him for not making a film about (say) the union movement. But if he makes a film about (say) the union movement, he gets showered with shit for DOING IT RONG.


Posted by: ajay | Link to this comment | 11-28-12 5:45 AM
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I just can't see how anyone is at all surprised when Spielberg's first blockbuster movie was also about a great white.


Posted by: Barry Freed | Link to this comment | 11-28-12 5:53 AM
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How LINCOLN and AMISTAD and THE COLOR PURPLE prove that Spielberg is the real racist! #slatepitch


Posted by: ajay | Link to this comment | 11-28-12 6:10 AM
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You don't think people bitched about how Spielberg got the dinosaurs wrong?


Posted by: Walt Someguy | Link to this comment | 11-28-12 6:22 AM
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My goodness, it's sure a good thing that Obama was reelected!

http://www.fightbacknews.org/2012/11/27/facebook-likes-used-evidence-material-support-terrorism


Posted by: Natilo Paennim | Link to this comment | 11-28-12 6:24 AM
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188: "You're going to need a bigger proclamation."


Posted by: Moby Hick | Link to this comment | 11-28-12 6:29 AM
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I certainly read a very long piece at the time mocking the idea that dinosaurs could be cloned. To be fair it was more "Why Michael Crichton is Always Wrong" than anti-Spielberg, though.


Posted by: tierce de lollardie | Link to this comment | 11-28-12 7:02 AM
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Surely I'm not the only one who's leery of shelling out the equivalent of a half a box of wine for this movie precisely because it's a Spielberg pic? For me anyways, the last 15 years of so of his output don't make for good odds that I'm going to be happy I spent the money.


Posted by: gswift | Link to this comment | 11-28-12 7:06 AM
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I'm certainly waiting for the movie to get to Redbox, but I do that with pretty much every movie.


Posted by: Moby Hick | Link to this comment | 11-28-12 7:12 AM
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Fair point, Walt. Though the wrongness was mostly Crichton, who wasn't very good at science. (What with being an MD.)

"It can't see you if you don't move!" was particularly outstanding, and mocked by (among others) Terry Pratchett: "What, you mean we just have to stand here and wait until it walks into a tree?"


Posted by: ajay | Link to this comment | 11-28-12 7:18 AM
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shelling out the equivalent of a half a box of wine for this movie precisely because it's a Spielberg pic

This is kind of a mouse-orgasm-equivalent approach to film criticism, and I like it.


Posted by: ajay | Link to this comment | 11-28-12 7:19 AM
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I've got no intention of watching it, if that counts. Not for purported whitewashing reasons. Just because it doesn't sound very interesting. And, as gswfit says, Spielberg's been rubbish for a long time. I am slightly curious how he's going to shoehorn in a broken family/absent father angle this time, though.


Posted by: Ginger Yellow | Link to this comment | 11-28-12 7:20 AM
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In the far superior and more scientific Tremors, standing still is of course a life-saver.


Posted by: tierce de lollardie | Link to this comment | 11-28-12 7:24 AM
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Tremors is great, but I think you may have to be willing to suspend disbelief about how fast something can tunnel through dirt in order to enjoy the movie.


Posted by: Moby Hick | Link to this comment | 11-28-12 7:26 AM
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Racist.


Posted by: OPINIONATED MOLE PEOPLE | Link to this comment | 11-28-12 7:29 AM
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200: Much as I liked Tremors, I wouldn't tunnel through dirt at all in order to enjoy it.


Posted by: politicalfootball | Link to this comment | 11-28-12 7:32 AM
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The cable TV comes through the dirt, not the viewer.


Posted by: Moby Hick | Link to this comment | 11-28-12 7:39 AM
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Tremors is a hauntological analogy for the consequences of its own means of broadcast transmission /close high-end theory tag


Posted by: tierce de lollardie | Link to this comment | 11-28-12 7:46 AM
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Both AI and Minority Report were quite good I thought. AI was a complicated joint effort with Kubrick, who died before he could get the film made. Schindler's List was a pretty good movie.


Posted by: lw | Link to this comment | 11-28-12 7:46 AM
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Don't make me cock you, mole people.


Posted by: apostropher | Link to this comment | 11-28-12 7:54 AM
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I despised AI (especially the ending, and bad endings kill movies for me) and Minority Report had a handful of exciting sequences tied together with nonsense-string and bad acting. Schindler's List was the last of his I saw that I liked (though to be fair I missed quite a few of his early 2000s films).


Posted by: Ginger Yellow | Link to this comment | 11-28-12 7:58 AM
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Both AI and Minority Report were quite good

Dude, I'm far from a movie snob. I'm perfectly happy to go watch Mission Impossible movies and Dwayne Johnson hit people with pieces of lumber and all kinds of other trite shit. I liked Minority Report fine but AI failed the basic test of "does the ending make a sane and righteous person want to go find the director and give him a swift kick to the nuts."(Ridley Scott, don't think I've forgotten about Prometheus)


Posted by: gswift | Link to this comment | 11-28-12 8:00 AM
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Dwayne Johnson hit people with pieces of lumber

They ruined that one by adding a plot.


Posted by: Moby Hick | Link to this comment | 11-28-12 8:04 AM
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Yes the ending was a failure, not in my mind a serious flaw. The Big Sleep doesn't hold together either. I liked the child getting kicked out of the garden of Eden a lot, tied nicely to the ethics of artificial intelligence and the distorted struggle for existence. Kubrick's ideas done by someone who can succesfully manage false warmth was an interesting combination.

Visually both films worked pretty well also; I'll forgive almost anything except sustained shlocky sincerity in a film if it's visually interesting.


Posted by: lw | Link to this comment | 11-28-12 8:10 AM
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You don't think people bitched about how Spielberg got the dinosaurs wrong?

Real historians know that the dinosaurs freed the slaves. Lincoln just took all the credit.


Posted by: AcademicLurker | Link to this comment | 11-28-12 8:13 AM
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I just watched The Big Sleep over Thanksgiving. The Bogart/Bacall one, not the Mitchum/Collins one. It was great to watch, but it really did not make any sense. I don't think the book did either, but I read that years ago and don't remember it well.


Posted by: Moby Hick | Link to this comment | 11-28-12 8:15 AM
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I am slightly astonished at myself for (a) not yet having seen the Tintin film and (b) having then defended it at absurd length here or anywhere else. The best thing about War Horse is that it has helped a friend -- who worked on the London stageplay, a surprise success for all concerned -- buy a house and stop having to worry about money for a year or so.


Posted by: tierce de lollardie | Link to this comment | 11-28-12 8:16 AM
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Probably a not there missing from (b). Or not.


Posted by: tierce de lollardie | Link to this comment | 11-28-12 8:18 AM
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212. Chandler is on record as saying that the plots of thrillers in his day often didn't make much sense, so probably, yeah.


Posted by: chris y | Link to this comment | 11-28-12 8:19 AM
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Isn't sustained schlocky sincerity pretty much Spielberg's metier?

As for The Big Sleep, of course it doesn't make sense, but that doesn't detract from the fun of it at all. AI's problem isn't not making sense (though it doesn't). It's being mawkish and over-long and insulting the viewer with a stupid, unnecessary ending


Posted by: Ginger Yellow | Link to this comment | 11-28-12 8:22 AM
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"Let's be ruthless thugs who kill a harmless young man for asking a couple of questions but merely tie-up the persistent detective and leave him in a room with a woman who is obviously attracted to him."


Posted by: Moby Hick | Link to this comment | 11-28-12 8:22 AM
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The story I heard about The Big Sleep is that Howard Hawks insisted on putting in a bunch of additional scenes featuring Lauren Bacall, and as a result had to cut out some other scenes to fit the allotted running time. Apparently some of the stuff that was cut out was essential for the plot to make sense.


Posted by: AcademicLurker | Link to this comment | 11-28-12 8:26 AM
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Isn't there also the story that Hawks rang the scriptwriter at one point -- scriptwriter in question being W.Faulkner! -- to say "hang on, who exactly killed this guy!?" and Faulkner read back and said "I seriously have no idea!" Or maybe Faulkner rang Chandler. Or maybe it's an urban myth.


Posted by: tierce de lollardie | Link to this comment | 11-28-12 8:30 AM
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I don't really have a problem with that. I'd rather watch Bogart and Bacall banter than have a plot that makes sense. Still, I don't recall the book making a whole bunch of sense either.


Posted by: Moby Hick | Link to this comment | 11-28-12 8:30 AM
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219: The fuddy guy on AMC who introduced the movie told that story.


Posted by: Moby Hick | Link to this comment | 11-28-12 8:31 AM
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216. Yes, and that's why I hated his films up to these.

Testes differ-- I agree that these are defects, the interesting parts are enough of a counterweight to my taste.


Posted by: lw | Link to this comment | 11-28-12 8:31 AM
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I swear that's a typo. Tastes differ in 222.


Posted by: lw | Link to this comment | 11-28-12 8:32 AM
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Best typo ever.


Posted by: Awl | Link to this comment | 11-28-12 8:35 AM
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Sometimes the brain goes off track from inscrotable reasons.


Posted by: Moby Hick | Link to this comment | 11-28-12 8:37 AM
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I'm excited to see Skyfall this week and I think Jack Reacher looks decently promising but I have to admit my real excitement for next month is The Hobbit. Oh, and the thought of a Christopher Nolan written and produced Superman next summer makes me want to hug myself.


Posted by: gswift | Link to this comment | 11-28-12 8:37 AM
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Isn't sustained schlocky sincerity pretty much Spielberg's metier?

You say that like it's a bad thing.


Posted by: politicalfootball | Link to this comment | 11-28-12 8:38 AM
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Which side do you dress, sir?


Posted by: chris y | Link to this comment | 11-28-12 8:39 AM
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I won't see Skyfall, will probably go see the Hobbit in the theater, and will wait for the Reacher movie to come out on DVD so I can skip through the movie trying to see if I can recognize the buildings.


Posted by: Moby Hick | Link to this comment | 11-28-12 8:45 AM
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I just need to see any movies at all.


Posted by: Natilo Paennim | Link to this comment | 11-28-12 8:47 AM
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I agree that these are defects, the interesting parts are enough of a counterweight to my taste.

Yeah, I don't mind Minority Report. The good bits are worth the price of admission. I just wouldn't hold it up as a reason to think Lincoln might be good - after all, the good bits of Minority Report are highly unlikely to be replicated in Lincoln. Abraham Lincoln - Vampire Hunter, maybe.

I'd rather watch Bogart and Bacall banter than have a plot that makes sense.

Exactly. The plot is more or less incidental (the Coens got that aspect so right in Lebowski).



Posted by: Ginger Yellow | Link to this comment | 11-28-12 8:47 AM
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Tastes differ

Especially regarding testes.


Posted by: apostropher | Link to this comment | 11-28-12 8:54 AM
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For example, most steers do not enjoy a meal of mountain oysters.


Posted by: Moby Hick | Link to this comment | 11-28-12 9:00 AM
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Despite posting the link to the Foner NYT letter, I am generally sympathetic to CC's take in 180. However, I do think that without doing a "different" movie there was a big opportunity missed to give some of the backstory on how the amendment even got to the point (rather than actual the stupid opening*).

Maybe they should require the Lincoln/Frederick Douglass Drunk History to be played before all screenings.

*I was convinced to go see it semi-against my will by my wife and some friends. About 5 minutes in I was hating them and myself, but I actually ended up mostly liking the film and thinking it effective. Despite the Spielberg touches--or the fucking music, a lesson in how to ruin otherwise effective cinematic moments.


Posted by: JP Stormcrow | Link to this comment | 11-28-12 9:49 AM
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I was also thinking that Lincoln was a rather spectacular Bechdel test fail, but I guess Mary Todd Lincoln and her attendant (named so it passes that) do talk about something at some point. Failed in spirit, however.


Posted by: JP Stormcrow | Link to this comment | 11-28-12 10:01 AM
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You keep baiting me VW, you're going to get a review of "Gods and Generals".

McManus beat me to it, but regardless of whether this story of a month of political wheeling and dealing late in his career 'humanizes' Lincoln, it is a problematic place to focus. For one thing, it has led to a whole bunch of nauseating stories about how Lincoln demonstrates the heroic qualities of ordinary DC politics, when the record of ordinary politics w/r/t slavery was an unbroken and disastrous string of moral and practical compromises that just permitted slavery to expand. What is special about Lincoln is that he broke away from ordinary political compromise and finally stood up to the slave power even at the cost of war.

It loses what to me is the most interesting Lincoln and the Lincoln with the most to teach us today, the Lincoln of 1855-1860 who reentered politics because of his recognition of the approaching national crisis and his determination to decisively address it. He successfully built a coalition to do this, rooting his arguments in law and tradition while maintaining the backbone necessary to eventually fight the expansion of slavery by force. The conventional politician side of Lincoln is better known today than his radical side, which is also very significant even though not initially abolitionist. How often do you see Lincoln's correspondence with Karl Marx quoted or mentioned? Here is a good piece on Lincoln from the International Socialist Review that puts Lincoln in this context.

A final point: quarreling about whether blacks or whites 'freed the slaves' misses the extent to which slavery was seen as a white working class issue, and not just a black issue. The ideology of free labor goes beyond race and was central to Lincoln's political thought. Lincoln and others at the time put slavery in the context of class struggle between workers and owners, and this allowed them to describe the common interests of whites and blacks as workers.


Posted by: PGD | Link to this comment | 11-28-12 10:58 AM
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235: Elizabeth Keckley, I presume. I read a nice biography of her a few years back, though I haven't read her memoir.


Posted by: Thorn | Link to this comment | 11-28-12 11:02 AM
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How often do you see Lincoln's correspondence with Karl Marx quoted or mentioned?

This is the first time ever for me!


Posted by: nosflow | Link to this comment | 11-28-12 11:03 AM
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I wrote a paper in college comparing how similar elements are used differently in noir and comedy (groundbreaking stuff, I know). It was called "The Big Sleep with His Girl Friday."


Posted by: Sir Kraab | Link to this comment | 11-28-12 11:16 AM
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238: the letter from Marx to Lincoln and Lincoln's reply are both quoted in full near the end of that International Socialist Review article I linked. Recommend that piece highly as it also makes the connection to free labor ideology which is a central/unifying progressive tendency in Lincoln's thought.

Marx also of course wrote many journalistic articles on the Civil War and Lincoln... in this 1861 article he makes the point, so obvious to people at the time but apparently not to later historians, that the Civil War was fundamentally about slavery. Here he writes on the Emancipation Proclamation , with a bunch of weirdly backhanded compliments to Lincoln as a 'son of the working class'.


Posted by: PGD | Link to this comment | 11-28-12 11:29 AM
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Of course people would bitch about a movie made more to Foner's liking. But they wouldn't bitch about it being a movie about the end of slavery in the US that just happened to have, as a result of the choices the film makers made, very little for ex-slaves and free blacks to do.


Posted by: fake accent | Link to this comment | 11-28-12 11:35 AM
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Also, The Big Sleep novel definitely makes more sense than the movie. Hollywood requirements and the production code forced a bunch of changes. The novel might still not completely make sense, but it's not obviously incoherent like the movie.


Posted by: fake accent | Link to this comment | 11-28-12 11:39 AM
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