When it comes to fiction—in print or in film—I vigorously avoid reading reviews, or even summaries of the story, because I want the author to have the full pleasure of unfolding his tale to me personally. That’s been a very difficult practice to maintain with the book I finally decided to read this weekend: Life of Pi by Yann Martel.
I bought the book so long ago, the page edges have yellowed ever so slightly. I skipped seeing it in the theaters because I much prefer to read a story first. But the movie keeps creeping up higher in my Netflix queue, so I rescued it from my “frivolous” to-read pile (as opposed to the variously sorted to-read piles of “the great books,” “scholarly studies,” “popular political writings” and the extremely dusty “beginning Latin”). I wish I hadn’t waited so long.
I’m barely a quarter of the way through it, just been introduced to the various characters and themes, but so far, I’m finding it very conservative in an oddly quirky, Tea Party-ish kind of way. (Religious conservatives of a fundamentalist or orthodox nature might be off-put by Pi’s pantheism—devoutly practicing Christianity, Islam and Hinduism, simultaneously, to the dismay of his priest, imam and pandit and the bemusement of his nonreligious parents, all to whom he explains he just wants to love God. But the manner in which Martel writes about religion through the eyes of Pi is very respectful, espousing fundamental beliefs and heralding Pi’s wish to be religious even in the face of mockery and attempts to stop him.)
This surprises me because, even though I haven’t read all the glorious reviews of the book and film, I know most of them had to have been written by liberals. That makes me trepidacious that later in the book, suddenly Pi is going to reject religion and go on a tirade against it. How else could liberals love it? But then the book starts with the warning that the tale “will make you believe in God.” So I read on to get to the bottom of this perplexing mystery.
But it’s not just in the area of religion that I find the book to have conservative tendencies, but also in political philosophy about capitalism. It’s here that I came to a passage that I just had to stop and record.
Pi’s father runs a small zoo in India. While not politically active, he is no fan of Indira Ghandi’s socialist policies, and when she began her harsh crackdown and ruling by decree, he had enough. He decided to uproot his family and business and move to Canada. Martel sums up his rationale beautifully:
People move because of the wear and tear of anxiety. Because of the gnawing feeling that no matter how hard they work their efforts will yield nothing, that what they build up in one year will be torn down in one day by others. Because of the impression that the future is blocked up, that they might do all right but not their children. Because of the feeling that nothing will change, that happiness and prosperity are possible only somewhere else.
He’s writing about India in the 1970s, but it’s amazing how apt that description is for so many people across America today in the 2010s. For some in states like California and Maryland, where the governments are determined to soak the money makers and businesses to fund their progressive folly, they have the freer states to which they can flee.
But when looked at from a national perspective, as our government tightens the yoke on its productive citizens and progressives howl for even more government control, where can the anxious move? As America is transformed into a second-rate European socialist barnacle on the Earth, where is that “somewhere else” where happiness and prosperity are possible?
How odd that just a couple of weeks ago when the Latina hottie appeared on Fox & Friends to promote her love of all things Obama, she made no mention that her campaign role would coincide with a high-profile run as a primetime reality game show executive producer and spokeswoman:
Longoria said that after Desperate Housewives ends, she plans to hit the road for the president’s reelection effort engaging in voter contact and outreach. “I’m one of the co-chairs for the Obama campaign,” Longoria told the Fox & Friends panel. “So I’m going to be really dedicating a large amount of my time going to the swing states.”
Poor old Guilianna and Bill Rancic, the supposed real hosts of the show, are apparently too homely to feature on the show’s promo pictures and videos. People would probably run screaming if the couple popped up on the show’s Facebook page. Even the three rich guys being set up are but briefly flashed on screen in the advertisement. These promos are about one person: Obama 2012 co-chair Eva Longoria.
Longoria’s bio at the show’s site gives a full account of her entire resume, but just happens to neglect to mention that she is a co-chair of a presidential campaign, and thus putting NBC in an ultra biased position.
So the question is, when will NBC give a top Romney advisor his or her own primetime TV show as well? Wouldn’t that only be fair? Hello, FEC.
Once upon a time, Hollywood loved to splash all that made America great across the silver screen. It made our heroes larger than life, made the whole world look upon us with awe, envy and desire. We were the strong and the brave, striving to do the right thing, fighting the good fight. In times of trouble, Hollywood cheered us and rallied us, kept the home fires burning.
Then came Vietnam, and suddenly the men that put their lives on the line for us were no longer treated as heroes—they were barely even treated with respect. Not much has changed in the nearly 50 years since then. Hollywood lost touch with the common man. It went from being cheerleader to scold and naysayer.
Therefore, it’s a refreshing experience to see a movie in which America’s military is portrayed with pride. Act of Valor is one of those rare films that isn’t ashamed to be patriotic. Yet it’s not sugar-sweet; it doesn’t make battle pretty.
We go on a couple of missions with the SEALs, during which they operate with skill, precision, professionalism and honor. The incredibly difficult, tense missions pit them against tough, ruthless opponents. The SEALs don’t waver for a moment. They do their job, without apology. The film is made without apology.
While the actors were Hollywood amateurs yet military professionals (real-life active-duty Navy SEALs), they performed quite well. Some of the dialog came across as a bit hokey, a little stilted, but that was easily forgiven, in that the film was much more action-based than dialog-focused, letting the guys do what they do best.
The filmmakers packed the movie with action from start to finish. The audience was thrown into the adrenaline and confusion of a firefight, as the SEALs on screen achieved their objectives calmly and purposefully, with awesome firepower, using much of the latest weaponry and surveillance tools.
Throughout the film, the families of the sailors aren’t far from their minds or the minds of the audience. Before the men go off to battle, they say they have to make everything right at home so they have no distractions in the field. America’s military families can take pride in knowing their sacrifices, their strength and contributions, were well represented in the script.
If the movie had a downside, it was the portrayal of whom we were fighting. The terrorists were not Middle Eastern bad guys. Instead it was an odd assortment of two Russian kingpins (and a handful of babushka seamstresses sewing suicide vests), Costa Ricans, Mexicans and a few Filipinos thrown into the mix. The movie has drawn some criticism because one of the Russians, the billionaire money man funding the terrorist operation, is called out in one line of dialog as being Jewish. Islamic terrorism commentators Debbie Schlussel, Bookworm and Pamela Geller claim this makes the movie anti-Semetic. I disagree. It wasn’t a central point of the film.
I do agree it is rather stupid to make the financier of Islamic jihad a Jew. Would radical Muslims even want to take Jewish money to pay for their supposed way to heaven? I rather doubt it. By inserting this one line (“But you’re a Jew”), the filmmakers ask the audience to suspend disbelief that the money man is so down with the cause that the Muslims could overlook their religious animosity. But that premise isn’t supported at all. For one, the head Muslim honcho is a Chechen convert to Islam. No lifelong Muslim takes part in directing the operations. We’re told the Russian Jew and the Russian Muslim convert have joined forces because they were friends back in childhood. Yet they don’t seem to like each other, and they never give the audience any common goal that has now brought them together after all these years.
In fact, the billionaire tries to back out, saying he doesn’t want to be directly involved anymore though he’ll keep paying for the plans in motion. We’re never told why this billionaire, who has made his rubles as a drug smuggler, would benefit from blowing up Americans. Throughout the first part of the movie, we are left to assume he is a radical Islamist too. Later, when the Rob Reiner-looking SEAL senior chief confronts him on his yacht and mentions he is Jewish, it makes no sense.
It’s just all so preposterous, the Russians’ backstory, that it is easy to dismiss as lousy scriptwriting and forget it all when the action soon retakes the screen. And that’s the last we see of the inexplicable Mr. Russian Jew Islamic Jihadist.
Schlussel, Geller and Bookworm seem to be upset that anyone engaged in terrorism could possibly be Jewish. But this guy didn’t seem very religious or very bright. (From the start, I was wondering how in the world this greasy-haired hippie could have possibly amassed a billion dollars, even in a corrupt Russia.) I could see someone who was obsessed with making money by any means could associate themselves with terrorism if they were gonna make money off of it, but this guy was funding it, not profiting from it, thereby negating that angle (and potential charge of pushing a negative Jewish stereotype).
But I ask Schlussel, Geller and Bookworm, why should Jews be excluded from being the bad guys? Are all Jews perfect angels, never driven by baser motives? Wouldn’t it be anti-Semetic to say Jews can’t be treated like everyone else? Be bad guys in action movies? Granted we would all prefer bad guys that make sense in the constructed scenario….
If I had to guess, I’d say Obama’s Defense Department had a lot to say about whom the bad guys were to be. The people that Obama has spent most of his presidency bowing to, giving apologizing speeches to, relinquishing all American military superiority to, attempting to ignore all their connections to violent terrorism, are the people that are completely left out of the movie: radical Islamist Middle Eastern Arabs.
At first glance, it seems surprising the Defense Department consented to make Russians the bad guys, no matter how bumbling and disconnected to true Islamism they were. Obama has been courting the Russians since Day One, unilaterally giving up key strategies and forsaking our allies for them. But one bad guy was a Chechen, whom the Russians don’t like anyway, so they’d be cool with that. Making the other Russian Jewish also fits with Obama’s world view of good and evil. With the animosity this current administration has shown towards Jewish people, it would not surprise me if that group would be Obama’s personal choice to make the bad guys (if he had to choose some group other than American right-wingers).
As far as the Mexican connection is concerned, hey, the Obama administration has sent Americans guns into Mexico and caused Mexican deaths and crime as a result, without giving Mexico the typical apologies they love to give to our foes, so it’s no surprise they wouldn’t care much about making them the bad guys. I don’t know what beef the Obama administration has against Costa Ricans. Perhaps they better start worrying what Obama has up his sleeve for them.
So yes, having a Russian Jew fund the operation was a dumb, unexplained twist. But it was such a minor plot point, it did not impair my enjoyment of the movie. (In fact, Bookworm retracts the charge of anti-Semetism after more consideration.)
Our military deserves to finally have a supportive film in the long 10 years of war they have endured. Films like Act of Valor and Restrepo have sadly been few and far between. In an torn America that can’t even bring itself to give our returning warriors a parade, supporting this little film feels like a fine way to support our troops.
It’s understandable that they have pride in being a vital communication vehicle during events such as Iran’s Green Revolution and the so-called Arab Spring. But for their home page, why would they have a romantically dusty photo of a bunch of guys playing cricket in front of a mosque? (I presume that’s Pakistan, due the mountains and the residual colonial enthusiasm for the British sport.)
It’s a little jarring, as if I’m signing into Al-Jazerra. It doesn’t seem to have much to do with me or with the Arab Spring. But it definitely makes a statement. I’m just not sure what they are saying.
Last night, a reporter for the Contra Costa Times and Oakland Tribune photographed a surprising sign in the window of the Men’s Wearhouse Oakland store:
Photo by Matt O'Brien (@mattoyeah)
The sign reads “We stand with the 99%. Closed Wednesday November 2.”
That’s the day the Occupy Wall Street movement in Oakland called for a general strike.
Men’s Wearhouse is a publicly traded corporation (MW on the New York Stock Exchange) that takes in over $2 billion a year selling suits, with a net profit of over $67 million last year. So a company that caters to capitalists and businessmen chose to strike against its customers in support of the socialist, communist, anarchist movement that has violently clashed with police in Oakland and has had scores of reports of degenerate behavior across the country, ranging from numerous rapes to defecating on a police car.
The photo of the closed sign was tweeted last night, but nearly 24 hours later, Men’s Wearhouse has still not made a response to the numerous tweets sent to them. (The @Mens_Wearhouse twitter account says that it is staffed by four people. Surely one of them took notice of the hoopla their Oakland store had created.)
I contacted the corporate headquarters by email and phone to get an official response, and to learn how the store closing came about. However, I received no reply to my multiple inquiries.
Men’s Wearhouse does not have franchises. The Oakland store is corporate-owned. No one answered the phone at the Oakland store (store ID 2169, to the best of my knowledge) during business hours to give their side to the story either.
The Oakland Chamber of Commerce raised alarms about the continued economic impact.
“There are a number of negative ramifications from these protests,” said Paul Junge, director of public policy with the chamber. “A number of local businesses are seeing sales drop off dramatically.”
The Fountain Cafe, in the Oakland City Center complex downtown, is among those that have already felt the bite of Occupy Oakland.
“The protests have hurt our business,” said Elias Salameh, owner of Fountain Cafe. “If it goes on any longer, I’m sure it will hurt more.”
Robert Guevera, manager of La Salsa in Oakland City Center, echoed him, saying, “We don’t know if we’re going to stay open. This is affecting our business.”
An Occupy Oakland representative, Tim Simons, said major corporations are the primary focus.
“This movement has never targeted small businesses,” he said. “It has always been explicitly against the largest corporations and banks.”
Simons conceded that some restaurants may have suffered a decline in business. But he argued that the effects aren’t monolithic.
“There are numerous businesses in downtown Oakland around the occupation,” Simons said. “Some are doing the best business they have ever done.”
It’s highly doubtful that Occupy Oakland’s hippie protesters have caused Men’s Wearhouse’s business to boom. Yet, these are the people with whom Men’s Wearhouse has chosen to stand, in opposition to their customers. On the bright side, should riots break out, the store won’t have to fear looting from the hippies and hipsters.
We closed our store near Oakland City Hall today, for one day, to express the company’s concern for the issue of wealth disparity in our country. The issue affects our employees and customers across the political spectrum.
Men’s Wearhouse CEO George Zimmer is a confirmed liberal, putting his money where his mouth is. Since 1989, according to the website Newsmeat.com, he has made $304,000 in political contributions. $1,500 of it (less than 0.5%) went to Republicans.
RB of The Right Sphere reports that Men’s Wearhouse’s siding with the hippies, communists and anarchists of Occupy Wall Street and OccupyOakland didn’t save them from having their window smashed as their non-suit-wearing friends rioted on Wednesday night.
@PoliticalMath tweets with the picture: “Huh. Men’s Wearhouse took down the ‘We are the 99%’ sign.” I presume it was a joke to get people to look at the photo, but he has a point. Why would they take down the sign, when leaving it up would have shown their continued solidarity with rioting anti-capitalists?
Perhaps Men’s Wearhouse didn’t want to shame its uncouth, uncivilized comrades. Perhaps it wants to act as if it never cast its lot with the barbarians. Those people are gonna need a lot more than a new suit to take their place in polite society.
“We had people who were attempted to break into our building,” the landmark Rotunda Building on Frank Ogawa Plaza outside City Hall, Tagami said today. He grabbed a shotgun that he usually keeps at home, went down to the ground floor and “discouraged them,” he said.
No police were in sight, he said.
“Basically, people were pushing to get through the door,” he said. “I was standing there and they saw me there, and I lifted it – I didn’t point it – I just held it in my hands. And I just racked it, and they ran.”
Although they didn’t get inside the building – Tagami oversaw its $50 million renovation and has an office there – vandals did scrawl graffiti on the outside walls during the post-midnight riot that broke out after Occupy Oakland’s daylong general strike.
The Rotunda Building was far from the only victim. Graffiti was spray-painted on many buildings along Broadway from 14th to 16th streets, where masked vandals shattered windows, started fires and threw objects at police.
To steal a bit more from Political Math, he tweets: “If this is Krugman’s army, think of all the jobs they’re creating w/ all those broken windows!” So true. Think of all the Men’s Wearhouse suits that will now be able to be purchased due to the repair of that broken window. Oh, wait, no. Proper, non-Keynesian economics proves that broken window will reduce the number of suits that con now be purchased. Confused? This short little economic cartoon will enlighten you while entertaining you:
Pop Quiz! What item did the baker say he would have spent his money on if he didn’t have to waste it repairing his window? Oh, the irony of this pre-Occupy Oakland video tutorial!
When Mario Vargas Llosa won the 2010 Nobel Prize for Literature, I was surprised to see conservative commentators giving his selection approving nods. I’d only read his entertaining, soap-opera-esque Aunt Julia and the Scriptwriter and hadn’t considered its politics at the time. But if his novels have conservative themes, I’d sure like to read them. So I’ve begun to progress through his oeuvre.
Somewhere in some review, I read that his characters are secondary to the socioeconomic, political backdrops of the historical events of the period in which the characters are immersed. I don’t agree that they are secondary, but the real histories do add a sense of vibrancy and tension to the stories.
In Vargas Llosa’s novel The Bad Girl, which spans several decades and countries, his protagonist Ricardo finds himself amid the hippie scene in 1960s London, and it struck me as a contrast with today:
I liked Earl’s Court very much and fell in love with its fauna. The district breathed youth, music, lives lived without caution or calculation, great doses of ingenuousness, the desire to live for the day, removed from conventional morality and values, a search for pleasure that rejected the old bourgeois myths of happiness—money, power, family, position, social success—and found it in simple, passive forms of existence: music, artificial paradises, promiscuity, and an absolute lack of interest in the other problems that were shaking society. With their tranquil, peaceable hedonism, the hippies harmed no one, and they didn’t proselytize, didn’t want to convince or recruit people they had broken with in order to live their alternative lives: they wanted to be left in peace, absorbed in their frugal egotism and their psychedelic dream.
Reading that passage, my mind fast-forwarded to New York City, lower Manhattan, 2011, and the swarm of wannabe hippies at the Occupy Wall Street “protest,” proselytizing utter ignorance about the financial system and the economy, demanding handouts, defecating in the doorsteps of the surrounding good citizens, and drumming incessantly, noisily keeping the neighborhood children awake all night and distracted in school all day.
If only these hipsters “wanted to be left in peace, absorbed in their frugal egotism and their psychedelic dream.” But that’s the difference between these hipsters and old-school hippies. These people also reject conventional morality and values—but only because it’s too hard. They want stuff that others have, but don’t want to work for it, don’t want to start at the bottom and climb as they build experience and skill. They want the bourgeois money, power, position, social success; they just don’t see the need to earn it. It’s simply unfair if others have it, so they’re gonna pout and stamp their feet about it, and tweet their outrage from their iPads.
Another Vargas Llosa description pointed out, however, that the types of people drawn to 1960s London hippieville and 2011 NYC hipsterville are essentially the same:
Many hippies, perhaps the majority, came from the middle or upper class, and their rebellion was familial, directed against the well-regulated lives of their parents and what they considered the hypocrisy of puritanical customs and social façades behind which they hid their egotism, insular spirit, and lack of imagination. Their pacifism, naturism, vegetarianism, their eager search for a spiritual life that would give transcendence to their rejection of a materialist world corroded by class, social, and sexual prejudices, a world they wanted nothing to do with—this was sympathetic. But all of it was anarchic, thoughtless, without a center or direction, even without ideas, because the hippies—at least the ones I knew and observed up close—though they claimed to identify with the poetry of the beatniks (Allen Ginsberg gave a reading of his poems in Trafalgar Square in which he sang and performed Indian dances, and thousands of young people attended), in fact read very little or nothing at all. Their philosophy wasn’t based on thought and reason but on sentiment, on feeling.
All that dopey folly was tolerable enough, by virtue of being so inane it could be ignored. However, it came with a very dark side back then:
One morning I was in Juan’s pied-à-terre, dedicated to the prosaic task of ironing some shirts and undershorts I had just washed in the Earl’s Court Laundromat, when someone rang the doorbell. I opened and saw half a dozen boys with shaved heads, commando boots, short trousers, leather jackets with a military cut, some wearing crosses and combat medals on their chests. They asked about the Swag and Tails pub, which was just around the corner. They were the first skinheads I had seen. After that, these gangs would appear in the neighborhood from time to time, sometimes armed with clubs, and the benign hippies who spread their blankets on the sidewalks to sell handcrafted trinkets had to run, some with their babies in their arms, because the skinheads professed an obstinate hatred for them. It wasn’t only hatred for the way they lived but also class hatred, because these hoodlums, playing at being SS, came from working-class and marginal areas and embodied their own kind of rebellion. They became the shock troops of a tiny party, the racist National Front, which demanded the expulsion of blacks from England. Their idol was Enoch Powell, a conservative parliamentarian who, in a speech that caused an uproar, had prophesied in an apocalyptic manner that “rivers of blood would run in Great Britain” if there wasn’t a halt to immigration. The appearance of the skinheads had created a certain tension, and there were some acts of violence in the district, but they were isolated….
Is the reemergence of a skinhead movement likely to occur in 21st-century America with the Democratic Party and President Obama’s constant stoking of class warfare? Our top levels of government and media and entertainment now tell people they should look to scapegoat others for their lack of success instead of picking themselves up and attempting to succeed on their own. I fear this will not end well.
A revival of skinheads is only one group to worry about. The organizers and propellers of Occupy Wall Street are not dopey hippies. They are hard-core Marxists, communists, socials, anarchists. They don’t want to be left alone. They want to coopt our American way of life, our American dream. They want to finish the job that Barack Obama has so successfully begun. They don’t intend to fade away peacefully in a haze of pot smoke.
The neighborhood had filled with small cafes, vegetarian restaurants and houses where all the varieties of Indian tea were offered, staffed by hippie girls and boys who prepared the perfumed infusions in front of the patron. The hippies’ scorn for the industrial world had led them to revive handicrafts of every kind and to mythologize manual labor: they wove bags and made sandals, earrings, necklaces, tunics, headscarves, and pendants.
I’ll take hippies over hipsters and union thugs. We’ll know they’re winning the battle for control over Occupy Wall Street if there starts being more tables selling macrame potholders and tie-dye t-shirts than copies of the Daily Worker and the Communist Manifesto.
The Wall Street Journal’s “NBC Unable to Shake Slide in Ratings” says that NBC, which has been in fourth place for years, has continued to go downhill. The only network up in ratings for the same period as last year is…Fox. But FOX is hardly the conservative bastion that Fox News and Fox Business are. Instead, the FOX network has cornered the market on soft edgy. (The hard edgy is over at F/X.)
I may be conservative, but when kids aren’t around, I don’t mind edgy. However, I also don’t mind wholesome, clever, educational, inspiring, or any of the myriad other things television programming can be.
The strange thing is that the article doesn’t address any of the reasons why I no longer watch NBC. In hopes that the NBC/Comcast executives would actually read the comments, here’s what I had to say to them:
I quit watching NBC because of their politicization of their entertainment—taking their abhorrent messaging from MSNBC and inserting it into their “family viewing.” For instance, embedding their “Green Week” propaganda into the script of their dramas and sitcoms. How Orwellian.
On top of that, if their stars are known conservative bashers who make vile jokes about the right on SNL, at award shows and at other venues, does NBC really think I’m going to enjoy watching them for evening relaxation? (Hello Alec Baldwin, Tina Fey and Amy Poehler, to name a few.)
This is all on top of the general decline of network TV that’s apparently ashamed to have any wholesomely written shows. Why must family shows have parents talking/joking about their sex lives? Is it that much of a challenge to write well without thinking about sex? Can our children have a few years of television viewing without that? Is it impossible to come up with a modern-day Ozzie and Harriet or Father Knows Best that tells engaging stories about trying to be a good person and a loving family? Look at society today. Isn’t it obvious that we could use some of these stories to model?
Perhaps if NBC—and other networks—actually hired some conservatives in their programming departments, they might provide some television for the half of the country they currently ignore. That would surely give them a boost in ratings.
Lastly, the final straw that caused us to give up on most television is the constant cancelling of television shows. We’ve been burned so many times, just getting into a show and then poof, it’s mysteriously gone. Why waste the effort to tune in when it’s more likely than not that the show won’t make it a whole season. But then if it does, we’ve missed out on all the early shows and it’s just too much effort to try to catch up now. Why not offer a guarantee that the show will air the full season?
Oh, and quit scheduling your good shows up against your competitors’ best shows. There are many evenings when there is nothing interesting, but a few hours a week, the shows would watch all air at the same time. That ends up being a good thing for us, in that we don’t have our lives devoted to television all night, every night, and can enjoy books, music, videos, and occasionally an on-demand airing of a show that was stupid enough to air when we couldn’t watch it, if we haven’t completely forgotten about it.
Oddly enough, if I’m in the mood for comedy and want to watch an NBC property, I don’t turn to Bravo or Style or A&E. Instead, I’ll watch MSNBC. Now that’s some pure comedy gold.
Could it be a sign that the Obama 2012 is feeling shaky? Politico has reported that Oprah is ready and willing to campaign for Obama again:
Winfrey, who is beginning a new chapter in life following the sunset of her monster-hit show, told POLITICO she would be “happy to be of service” to Obama for his reelection campaign.
“I supported Barack Obama in 2008 because I believed then as I do now that he is the right man for the job,” Winfrey said in a statement. “I wanted to share my enthusiasm for his candidacy in hopes that others would see what I saw in him.”
“As for 2012,” Winfrey added, “If the campaign needs me, I’m happy to be of service. I’m in his corner for whatever he needs me to do.”
Since Obama’s inauguration, Winfrey hadn’t publicly declared her intent to campaign for his reelection, even when he and first lady Michelle Obama taped an episode of the “Oprah Winfrey Show” near the end of its final season.
Could it be that Oprah’s network has now gained a sufficient share of the viewership so that she doesn’t have to worry that her liberal Hollywood politics would drive segments of her audience away? Um, not likely. About.com Media reported last week in “The Oprah Winfrey Network Falls to 73rd in Cable TV Ratings” that:
Its ranking had been 45th for the first quarter, so dropping to 73rd place for the second quarter shows that ratings are in a free fall. TV Week reports that OWN is in last place among all women-focused cable networks.
Winfrey’s issues extend beyond television. Her O magazine is faced with an advertising sales drop of more than 31%. The Media Industry Newsletter says that compares with a 7% drop in ad sales for monthly magazines overall.
So is Oprah simply willing to toss her troubled network over to assist her buddy Obama? Or is campaigning for him simply a way to get her name in the media again?
Oprah’s CEO announcement in the NY Daily News also included a little tidbit about one of OWN’s shows in development: a new talk show hosted by Rosie O’Donnell set for this fall.
Anyone afraid their endorsement of Barack Obama would damage their business would not be putting the toxic, hate-spewing Rosie O’Donnell in a prime slot on their network. Having O’Donnell gush anger and slime daily might tend to turn off more people.
Oprah can’t help herself. She’s just a lefty, now more anxious and willing to promote liberal views.
Therefore, I’d bet Oprah needs the publicity as much as Obama does. She’s gonna gamble that she’ll gain more eyeballs than lose the ones she pokes in the eye by appearing in support of Obama again.
[NOTE: Ginger Lee's statement on Congressman Anthony Weiner's resignation can be found in the update at the bottom of this post.]
Ginger Lee gave a press conference today, with her new lawyer, media-crazed Gloria Allred. (I don’t typically read celebrity gossip sites or watch breathy “entertainment” shows such as Extra! or Inside Hollywood [I think that's a name of one, isn't it?], so I just about missed the news entirely.)
Ginger supposedly felt the need to hire an attorney because some man was threatening her. That sounds horrible, awful—until we learn it was not a threat to harm her physical safety. No, it was a threat to release a statement that she had not authorized. What? Is there any man that would want to release a statement for her other than Rep. Anthony Weiner (or one of his staff on his behalf)? Yet, at the press conference called to address this very issue, Allred refused to name the man. She would only say that he knows who he is, and they (Allred and Ginger) have the proof of it.
Ginger also reiterated her charge that Weiner had asked her to lie for him, and Allred creepily read from three emails in which Weiner tried to engage Ginger in a discussion of his “package.” That’s where I felt a bit sorry for her. If that’s the most brazen of Weiner’s sexy talk with her, I suspect it was rather bland communications. She was emphatic that no photos had been exchanged (although Weiner had apparently perused the numerous photos of her on her Tumblr blog).
This was Ginger’s opportunity to cash in on the scandal. If she had any super racy messages or obscene photos from Weiner, this was her one shot to release them. (Otherwise, it will be her later having to say that she was lying as well.) However, it seems that having Gloria Allred as her attorney is far more sensational than the actual communications with the congressman. Good for Ginger if she denied him the pleasure he was seeking. I don’t doubt her statements that he wanted what she wasn’t giving.
Jim Treacher at the Daily Caller said he wouldn’t live-blog the press conference, but couldn’t help himself. See his quick outline of the sideshow, which concludes with a few Catskills-worthy jokes about the media-loving attorney and her porn star client.
Unfortunately, only a few short video clips from the press conference are currently available online; I can find no full unedited video of the show.) Here’s TMZ’s typically raunchy juvenile edit, which features a couple of typical Allred awkward public relations moment:
Here’s a more mature edit by some guy with a pleasant accent:
Here’s Ginger’s full, unedited statement:
Lastly, here’s the most complete version, with both Gloria Allred’s and Ginger’s statements, along with a few questions from the media at the end:
I hope someone will please upload the full press conference portion. The Q&A session was the most illuminating, and Allred made several misstatements…or untruths.
Allred concluded the press conference saying that her client would not be able to do interviews after the press conference due to her heavy schedule. We now see that schedule involved flying off to Atlanta to begin capitalizing on her increased name recognition due to her Weiner connection.
The poster for her two-night appearance at the Pink Pony is quite amusing, reading: “Exclusive engagement” “The Pink Pony has done it again!!! We present Ginger Lee, the pornstar connected with the “peter tweeter” in Weinergate. June 15th & 16th. 2 shows a nite. 8:30pm & 11:30pm.” “She’s here for 48 hours only!!!”
Gotta love the little Weinergate Seal with a bust of Weiner amidst stars and jackasses (okay, okay, Democrat donkey logos).
TMZ notes that Ginger’s new gig was booked last week. They report that:
Sources at the Pink Pony strip club tell TMZ, the place will be selling super-sized hot dogs during Ginger’s 20-minute performance tonight — in which she’ll strip completely naked in a room full of dudes.
And it really pays to be at the center of a national controversy — we’re told Ginger is getting THREE TIMES her normal stripping rate to appear tonight.
And so the slow-speed trainwreck that is Weiner’s career continues, and Democrats desperately try to just move on with the Weiner albatross around their neck. As Ed Morrissey at Hot Air said of the Democrats’ PR strategy after taking note of the Ginger Lee/Gloria Allred press conference in which the porn star called on the congressman to resign: “Gloria Allred? Yeah, that strategy of ignoring the story is totally going to work now.”
UPDATE 6/16/11 1:30am
Well, boys and girls, you missed your opportunity to see Ginger Lee in the flesh (literally) at her post-Weiner Atlanta engagement. But she’s heading to South Carolina for the weekend, y’all. However, if you want to go, you’ll have to at least do some work to find the clubs by going to her schedule yourself. I’m out of the Ginger Lee performance promoter business. (Well…unless another club does a really fabulous Weiner poster, then we’ll see how newsworthy it would be.)
Earlier today Ginger put out a statement regarding Weiner’s resignation that even MSNBC’s Lawrence O’Donnell called more dignified than Weiner’s own press conference. I had a hard time finding a complete copy of it anywhere in the major newspapers, magazines or blogs. The first place it finally popped up in full was at ExtraTV’s website—showing Miss Ginger to be smart again in going after the glitzy, fawning celebrity press instead of the rumpled, gruff political press:
I am glad that he has resigned. After the past three weeks and everything that transpired before that I think that he is making the wisest decision for himself, for his family, for everyone else drawn into this scandal and for the Democratic Party. I wish him the best and hope that the treatment that he is receiving will help him to control his impulses and make better judgments in the future.