CBS has just declared war on the heartland of America. No longer is comedy going to be a covert assault on traditional American values, conservatives. Now, it’s just wide out in the open. What this hire means is a redefinition of what is funny and a redefinition of what is comedy.

He’s talking, of course, about Stephen Colbert … who hates “traditional American values” so much that he teaches Sunday school.

I can only imagine that Rush is upset about CBS choosing Colbert to replace Letterman because he believes the real traditional values are taught in synagogues on Saturdays.

I’m going to go ahead and guess that Rush doesn’t know the first thing about Colbert — which is bolstered by the fact that he calls him “Kohl-burt” rather than “Kohl-bear” — except that his Comedy Central persona satirizes conservatives. And that was enough for Rush to give his well-reasoned opinion.

On the plus side, at least his ridiculous opinion wasn’t as off-the-wall as this.

# media # comedy # Limbaugh # Colbert # television # religion

Isn’t This Form of TV Dead Yet?

Before all the announcements about retirement and replacement, when was the last time you watched Letterman?

# television

Game of Thrones, Season 4

Hands down, the best part about the season premiere of HBO’s Game of Thrones is that we didn’t have to catch up with the Theon or Bran storylines.

The worst part about the season premiere of HBO’s Game of Thrones is that we’re definitely going to spend some quality time with Theon and Bran in the second episode.

Seriously, I thought Season 3 was an amazing ten hours of television … except for the seemingly unending torture of Theon Greyjoy and the northerly meandering of Bran, Hodor, and the Reed siblings. If those characters fell off the map of Westeros, I wouldn’t be sad. [And, no, I haven’t finished reading the books; no spoilers in the comments here, if you please.]

# television # Game of Thrones


Sesame Street’s Cookie Monster has become a symbol for far right extremists after he was used to help recruit children, according to German police.
In the latest incident Neo Nazi Steffen Lange, 31, dressed as the popular children’s TV character, walked into a school in Senftenberg, in the German state of Brandenburg, and together with another Neo-Nazi handed out pamphlets to children.
The Monster and his accomplice were arrested after a teacher complained to police about the contents of the leaflets.

The whole notion of attempting to hand out neo-Nazi pamphlets to kids young enough to care about Cookie Monster utterly baffles me.
It’s disturbing and weird. But it’s also misguided.
My son, who is almost four, would be very excited if Cookie Monster turned up at his school. But he cannot read, so he would likely dismiss the racist pamphlet completely. Or, he would ask me to read it and I would tell him it was just junk that needed to be thrown away. And then he would forget all about the pamphlet we never read and he would talk all about how Cookie Monster came to school. And I would say to him, “Yes, Cookie Monster is very nice and he likes everyone in the world.” Kids who are old enough to figure out the pamphlet likely don’t care much about Cookie Monster. And it’s not as if parents whose little kids bring home neo-Nazi pamphlets are suddenly going to say to themselves, “You know, I wasn’t sympathetic to the neo-Nazis before … but this Cookie Monster makes some pretty compelling arguments.”
So I guess what I’m saying is that neo-Nazis aren’t very smart. Also, water is wet.

Sesame Street’s Cookie Monster has become a symbol for far right extremists after he was used to help recruit children, according to German police.

In the latest incident Neo Nazi Steffen Lange, 31, dressed as the popular children’s TV character, walked into a school in Senftenberg, in the German state of Brandenburg, and together with another Neo-Nazi handed out pamphlets to children.

The Monster and his accomplice were arrested after a teacher complained to police about the contents of the leaflets.

The whole notion of attempting to hand out neo-Nazi pamphlets to kids young enough to care about Cookie Monster utterly baffles me.

It’s disturbing and weird. But it’s also misguided.

My son, who is almost four, would be very excited if Cookie Monster turned up at his school. But he cannot read, so he would likely dismiss the racist pamphlet completely. Or, he would ask me to read it and I would tell him it was just junk that needed to be thrown away. And then he would forget all about the pamphlet we never read and he would talk all about how Cookie Monster came to school. And I would say to him, “Yes, Cookie Monster is very nice and he likes everyone in the world.” Kids who are old enough to figure out the pamphlet likely don’t care much about Cookie Monster. And it’s not as if parents whose little kids bring home neo-Nazi pamphlets are suddenly going to say to themselves, “You know, I wasn’t sympathetic to the neo-Nazis before … but this Cookie Monster makes some pretty compelling arguments.”

So I guess what I’m saying is that neo-Nazis aren’t very smart. Also, water is wet.

(Source: Daily Mail)

# Sesame Street # television # Germany # sadness # racism # anti-semitism


Clever map by VinePair of the “Wines of Westeros” just in time for tonight.

Clever map by VinePair of the “Wines of Westeros” just in time for tonight.

# television # Game of Thrones

reblogged from ParisLemon
You know who likes my blogging?
Roseanne, apparently.

You know who likes my blogging?

Roseanne, apparently.

# television # Twitter # internet # comedy

TV Ascendant

One way I know that television is currently at the apex of popular culture is that I find myself wondering whether or not a particular movie would make a good tv show. Often, my answer to this question also coincides with my determination of whether or not I thought the movie was a good one.

Case in point: I watched Thor 2 the other night and it was predictably horrible. The plot was tired and occasionally impossible to understand; the acting was overly goofy; and the CGI didn’t even look good. But I also thought to myself: This would be a horrible tv show. There’s not really enough plot here for an hour and a half movie; there’s certainly nothing interesting about the characters … apart from Loki who’s confusingly alive at the end of the film without any real explanation (after we watch him die heroically fifteen minutes earlier). In short, there’s absolutely nothing here for an ultra-violent eight episode HBO anthology series to be built around.

I suppose this is precisely why “Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D.” is a spectacular failure of a tv show. If you wouldn’t make an hour and a half movie about the adventures of Phil Coulson and his misfit band of agents because they’re a bunch of boring lumps, you certainly shouldn’t try making 22 episodes.

# movies # television # comics # heroism

Toward the end of the Kansas loss to Stanford this afternoon, CBS showed a young fan — maybe 10-12 years old — crying in the stands. Then Kansas made a little run and closed the gap with a few seconds to go. CBS showed him again, no longer crying and even hopeful. Then, after Kansas eventually lost the game and the studio show went to commercial, they reran the footage of the young fan crying again.
And then, as if this wasn’t enough, someone working for CBS posted a gif of the crying fan on their “Eye on College Basketball” website [to which I refuse to link]. To accompany the gif, the CBS staff member wrote:

I’m sure this kid wasn’t the only one crying toward the end of Kansas’ Round of 32 loss to Stanford, but he represents Jayhawk fans everywhere.
And he’s going to go viral.
It’s good to see a kid that passionate about a college basketball program, though.

CBS has a long history of showing college athletes weeping as their careers come to an end and it’s never really bothered me a whole lot. Sure, they’re exploiting the emotions of others … but those others are adults (who, truth be told, are being exploited in a far more serious way by the NCAA).
But this exploitation of the sadness of a child is just gross and my sense is that the people at CBS — who apparently couldn’t see the difference — will be hearing about it from a lot of people over the next few hours.

Toward the end of the Kansas loss to Stanford this afternoon, CBS showed a young fan — maybe 10-12 years old — crying in the stands. Then Kansas made a little run and closed the gap with a few seconds to go. CBS showed him again, no longer crying and even hopeful. Then, after Kansas eventually lost the game and the studio show went to commercial, they reran the footage of the young fan crying again.

And then, as if this wasn’t enough, someone working for CBS posted a gif of the crying fan on their “Eye on College Basketball” website [to which I refuse to link]. To accompany the gif, the CBS staff member wrote:

I’m sure this kid wasn’t the only one crying toward the end of Kansas’ Round of 32 loss to Stanford, but he represents Jayhawk fans everywhere.

And he’s going to go viral.

It’s good to see a kid that passionate about a college basketball program, though.

CBS has a long history of showing college athletes weeping as their careers come to an end and it’s never really bothered me a whole lot. Sure, they’re exploiting the emotions of others … but those others are adults (who, truth be told, are being exploited in a far more serious way by the NCAA).

But this exploitation of the sadness of a child is just gross and my sense is that the people at CBS — who apparently couldn’t see the difference — will be hearing about it from a lot of people over the next few hours.

# television # basketball # sports # kids # Kansas

How is it possible that we haven’t talked about this yet?

# Žižek # Harmon # philosophy # television # comedy

I’ve never seen an episode of “Dancing With The Stars” and, as a result, I almost missed what is surely both the best and the worst thing I can recall seeing: a 76 year old Billy Dee Williams dancing a Star Wars themed cha-cha.

Well, thanks to Grantland’s Rembert Browne, I didn’t miss it and I didn’t have to watch “DWTS,” a show that once inspired this conversation with my sister:

Me: “Why is this a show? Why would anyone watch this?”

Sister: “Because it’s on television.”

# television # Star Wars

Forgetting Snowden

From the USA Today live blog of Monday’s Edward Snowden chat at South by Southwest:

We’re about 25 minutes away from the start of Snowden’s chat and lines are already forming.

But, according to USA TODAY’s Jon Swartz, reporting from SXSW, lines for a competing chat with Girls star Lena Dunham are 10 times longer than the the [sic] line for Snowden’s talk.

I was asked recently about the lasting impact of Snowden’s actions and I noted that, once you get outside the echo chamber that can sometimes be created on sites like Reddit, Twitter, or Tumblr, most Americans have long since forgotten about Snowden … if they ever thought of him at all.

This doesn’t mean that his actions weren’t impactful or that we’re not still seeing the impact of the revelations about the NSA; it means, though, that the individual who briefly stood at the center of the debate, and who was the subject of an intense discussion about whistle-blowing, narcissism, treachery, and heroism, has faded pretty quickly from the broader public consciousness if he was ever there to begin with.

HT: AZspot.

# Snowden # politics # SXSW # internet # television

Nonsense Makes Things Difficult

I was watching a conversation unfold on Facebook about religion, dating, and traditional values in marriages — brought on by some reality tv star entering into some sort of courtship relationship. Everyone seemed to be in agreement that a return to these “old ways” was obviously good, but one participant was concerned about the age difference between the young man and the young woman:

it’s problematic to have a 20-year-old girl with an 18-year-old boy. I’d advise against it. In our increasingly feminized society, men need some age advantage to lead when young, I think.

Pretty much none of this made any sense to me and, when I intruded on the conversation to ask what in the world this all meant, I received no reply.

But a friend of mine directed me to the “Core Beliefs" of the Council on Biblical Manhood and Womanhood, which contains these points (among many others):

We have been moved in our purpose by the following contemporary developments which we observe with deep concern:

  1. The widespread uncertainty and confusion in our culture regarding the complementary differences between masculinity and femininity;
  2. the tragic effects of this confusion in unraveling the fabric of marriage woven by God out of the beautiful and diverse strands of manhood and womanhood;
  3. the increasing promotion given to feminist egalitarianism with accompanying distortions or neglect of the glad harmony portrayed in Scripture between the loving, humble leadership of redeemed husbands and the intelligent, willing support of that leadership by redeemed wives;
  4. the widespread ambivalence regarding the values of motherhood, vocational homemaking, and the many ministries historically performed by women;
  5. the growing claims of legitimacy for sexual relationships which have Biblically and historically been considered illicit or perverse, and the increase in pornographic portrayal of human sexuality….

So that’s what’s going on here.

It’s all about the virtues of inequality between men and women, and about the damage done to society by — let’s see — feminism, homosexuality, pornography, egalitarianism, and probably a whole bunch of other things too.

Having thought about it for just a few minutes, I have to say that what bothers me so much about this sort of thing isn’t just all the nonsense about inequality or sexuality. It’s also that it makes it so much more difficult to be a person of faith today because you constantly have to deal with the perception that you have a connection to or relationship with this kind of nonsense.

# religion # women # television # Facebook # lgbtq

Over at Think Progress, my friend Zack Beauchamp hammers last night’s “True Detective” finale:

The biggest reveal at the end of “Form And Void” had nothing to do with Marty Hart, Rust Cohle, or the Yellow King. It was that True Detective was a failure.
Not that the show wasn’t brilliantly acted, beautifully directed, and pulse-poundingly tense. The finale was all of those things, in the last case literally (my viewing partner actually timed out his rapid heartbeat). Rather, “Form And Void” revealed True Detective to be a sham in the worst way: a show that pretended to be about ideas on everything ranging from the nature of evil to institutional misogyny didn’t have any.

I agree with the review, especially as I was never as much of a fan of the way the show was unfolding as Beauchamp seemed to be. Indeed, from the eighth episode of the show, I got exactly what I was expecting: Metaphysical mumbo jumbo from Rust Cohle; some sort of vindication for Marty; heroics for both as former cops; and an unsatisfying conclusion to the murder mystery.
As Beauchamp points out, the unresolved questions are piled one atop the next:

who was in on the conspiracy to cover up Errol Childress’ crimes? Was a U.S. Senator one of the five men whose rape and murder of young women was so violent that watching a tape of it reduced hardened cops to inchoate screaming? What, exactly, was the point of all of these ritual murders? If “Carcosa” was simply Errol’s name for his twisted playground, how did so many people know about it and The Yellow King? Was there life beyond death, as the elderly woman in episode 7 said, or were we living in Rust’s godless world?

Many critics were left unsatisfied because the finale failed to address questions of metaphysics or the role of women, or that it completely left behind the unreliable narrators of the previous episodes to focus only on resolving the present-day plot. I didn’t really expect that stuff to be on offer because creator Nic Pizzolatto said, explicitly, that he wasn’t trying to surprise or trick people with the plot of the show. But for an eight-episode crime drama anchored around a serial killer, I was hoping, at least, that it would be tightly constructed, that the major issues raised by Beauchamp above would see some sort of resolution (or at least discussion).
A number of fans responded to Beauchamp’s piece and claimed that he missed the point of the show, that it was about mood and tone or about two characters and their brokenness. I’m sympathetic to that argument, actually, but it doesn’t resolve the plot problems.
"True Detective" did an admirable job of highlighting the ways in which Hart and Cohle are both fundamentally broken men. Cohle’s last monologue, about his deceased family members, is particularly powerful in that regard. But the finale fell flat because, like the first episodes that bored me nearly to sleep, it skewed too much in one direction while ignoring anything else. Those first episodes were all about establishing mood and tone; it was a set up for the shocking revelation of Reggie Ledoux (about whom we’ve entirely forgotten by the eighth episode).
The first forty minutes of the finale were given over entirely to resolving (part of) the plot; the final fifteen minutes went entirely to the two heroes and their brokenness. This meant that the unresolved plot elements remained unresolved so we could return to focusing on the two characters at the center of the drama. But why does one necessarily need to be sacrificed for the other? Why couldn’t we get Cohle’s concluding monologue along with some sort of resolution to the murder mystery? Why does Hart need to be restored — in some sense, at least — to his family; what is achieve by it? Or, if you want to leave the final episode alone, why couldn’t parts of episodes six and seven deal thoughtfully with the cult/conspiracy or Hart’s wife and daughters or Errol’s motivations?
This is where I think the show ultimately fell down: Pizzolatto’s decision to resolve the central serial killer plot in just forty minutes of an eight hour story arc and to jettison a host of questions in favor of repeating the well-worn notion that these cops are the broken men we thought they were (but who, when all is said and done, also end up relatively unscatched and lauded as heroes).

Over at Think Progress, my friend Zack Beauchamp hammers last night’s “True Detective” finale:

The biggest reveal at the end of “Form And Void” had nothing to do with Marty Hart, Rust Cohle, or the Yellow King. It was that True Detective was a failure.

Not that the show wasn’t brilliantly acted, beautifully directed, and pulse-poundingly tense. The finale was all of those things, in the last case literally (my viewing partner actually timed out his rapid heartbeat). Rather, “Form And Void” revealed True Detective to be a sham in the worst way: a show that pretended to be about ideas on everything ranging from the nature of evil to institutional misogyny didn’t have any.

I agree with the review, especially as I was never as much of a fan of the way the show was unfolding as Beauchamp seemed to be. Indeed, from the eighth episode of the show, I got exactly what I was expecting: Metaphysical mumbo jumbo from Rust Cohle; some sort of vindication for Marty; heroics for both as former cops; and an unsatisfying conclusion to the murder mystery.

As Beauchamp points out, the unresolved questions are piled one atop the next:

who was in on the conspiracy to cover up Errol Childress’ crimes? Was a U.S. Senator one of the five men whose rape and murder of young women was so violent that watching a tape of it reduced hardened cops to inchoate screaming? What, exactly, was the point of all of these ritual murders? If “Carcosa” was simply Errol’s name for his twisted playground, how did so many people know about it and The Yellow King? Was there life beyond death, as the elderly woman in episode 7 said, or were we living in Rust’s godless world?

Many critics were left unsatisfied because the finale failed to address questions of metaphysics or the role of women, or that it completely left behind the unreliable narrators of the previous episodes to focus only on resolving the present-day plot. I didn’t really expect that stuff to be on offer because creator Nic Pizzolatto said, explicitly, that he wasn’t trying to surprise or trick people with the plot of the show. But for an eight-episode crime drama anchored around a serial killer, I was hoping, at least, that it would be tightly constructed, that the major issues raised by Beauchamp above would see some sort of resolution (or at least discussion).

A number of fans responded to Beauchamp’s piece and claimed that he missed the point of the show, that it was about mood and tone or about two characters and their brokenness. I’m sympathetic to that argument, actually, but it doesn’t resolve the plot problems.

"True Detective" did an admirable job of highlighting the ways in which Hart and Cohle are both fundamentally broken men. Cohle’s last monologue, about his deceased family members, is particularly powerful in that regard. But the finale fell flat because, like the first episodes that bored me nearly to sleep, it skewed too much in one direction while ignoring anything else. Those first episodes were all about establishing mood and tone; it was a set up for the shocking revelation of Reggie Ledoux (about whom we’ve entirely forgotten by the eighth episode).

The first forty minutes of the finale were given over entirely to resolving (part of) the plot; the final fifteen minutes went entirely to the two heroes and their brokenness. This meant that the unresolved plot elements remained unresolved so we could return to focusing on the two characters at the center of the drama. But why does one necessarily need to be sacrificed for the other? Why couldn’t we get Cohle’s concluding monologue along with some sort of resolution to the murder mystery? Why does Hart need to be restored — in some sense, at least — to his family; what is achieve by it? Or, if you want to leave the final episode alone, why couldn’t parts of episodes six and seven deal thoughtfully with the cult/conspiracy or Hart’s wife and daughters or Errol’s motivations?

This is where I think the show ultimately fell down: Pizzolatto’s decision to resolve the central serial killer plot in just forty minutes of an eight hour story arc and to jettison a host of questions in favor of repeating the well-worn notion that these cops are the broken men we thought they were (but who, when all is said and done, also end up relatively unscatched and lauded as heroes).

# television

This week on the Hero Report podcast, we look at the recent case of a Marine whose heroic actions seem to have fabricated to discuss the way we assign the title of hero and how quickly that can disappear. Also, we spend some time thinking about why there is a fascination for TV series with bad main characters such as “Breaking Bad" and "House of Cards.”

Tell us what you think about this episode, discuss these issues with us on Twitter (Matt Langdon / Ari Kohen), and join us every week on Google+ for our live broadcast (where you can chat with us while we’re on the air and contribute to the conversation).

Want to make the podcast portable? Subscribe via iTunes (audio-only).

# podcast # television # heroism

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