Monday, June 19, 2017

Week of 06/19/2017

If The Media Were Serious About A War With Trump...
This is not a good time to be a reporter.
Once upon a time there used to be a modicum of respect for the journalist.  They had a job to do and a story to cover, and they were supposed to cover it with an unbiased eye, no matter what that story was.  It was their job to expose the truth.  Or so the story goes.
And, yeah, being a reporter isn’t easy in other nations.  Third world dictators and terrorists have journalists killed simply for asking a question.  But this is America we’re talking about!  Freedom of the press; one of the first five freedoms in the First Amendment!  We may not like the coverage, but we don’t mess with the media, because we’re supposed to be better than that!
But now we aren’t better than that.  Now we are acting like a third-world junta.  That goes all the way to the top, and to the man with the fake Jersey tan and the fake coiffed hair and the narcissistic personality disorder that would make Narcissus humble who is now the President of the United States.
President Donald Trump probably doesn’t “hate” the media, per se.  I’m sure that he’d say that he has “enormous support” for them, “the highest, without a doubt, more than anyone else, bigly.”  But I’m also sure that he doesn’t often like what they have to say about him, especially when what he says is either false or an over-exaggeration or simply bad.  When they’re kissing his ass, he loves them.  But when they’re exposing him to be an ass, then they’re “the enemy”.
And it’s not like the media has given a pass to any of his predecessors, despite the con and neo-con lies.  The media covered Obama’s failure to help the American people, his inability to get anything meaningful passed in a GOP-ruled Congress, and continually brought up the so-called “Birther” conspiracy as if it was something that would actually remove him from office.  It played no favorites with George W. Bush for his nearly eight years of fearmongering for warmongering.  And do you really think that the media gave Bill Clinton a pass during his eight years in office?  From Whitewater to “Travelgate” to Monica Lewinsky, Bill Clinton was stained with more scandals than Ms. Lewinsky’s blue dress.
So what makes Trump think that he should deserve anything different from the same media that created him?  Because he won the election?  Big deal!  Over forty men have done that before him!  There’s nothing special about that.
Nevertheless, Trump’s election and subsequent inauguration has made it open season on reporters.  He’s shut out access to the media for certain public events, and condemned them on camera and especially through is Twitter account.  Trump’s favorite condemnation of any media that does not kiss his oversized ass is “fake news”.  Anything bad about him is “fake news”.  The truth is “fake news”.  His White House Press Secretary is an abusive hack that seems to treat the media like a bad teacher to a room full of kindergarteners.  The loudest complaint made about him when he’s characterized on Saturday Night Live is not the accuracy of the portrayal, or the exaggerated abuse, but the fact that he’s being parodied by a woman!
And it’s not just the White House being openly hostile towards the media.  A recently-elected member of Congress pled guilty to physically assaulting a reporter just the day before his election for the supposed “crime” of asking a question.  That’s hostile!  That’s just a bullet away from being third-world-junta hostile!  The United States Senate, under the regime of the slack-jawed turtle-dick Mitch “The Bitch” McConnell, imposed new restrictions on the media filming interviews in the hallways of Congress.  You know, the building we all paid for with our taxes.
Bully much, Bitch?
So my thought isn’t why the GOP is doing this, because we all know why they are.  They’re simply letting their natural fascism be exposed like a drunk celebutant with no panties.  No shame, no morals, and no stopping them from flashing it for the world to see.
What surprises me is that the media is playing this like a straight-man in a slapstick comedy.  They’re eagerly tripping on the banana peel, getting slapped upside the head with the ladder and the wooden plank, and getting pie in the face like it was simply another day that ends in “Y”. 
I can understand why they’re keeping cool about it.  They’re playing the victims because it exposes the GOP as the clear villains in this country.  They have a job to do and if the GOP are not letting them do it, then they can’t be accused of being complicit in the Cult of Trump or coming up short in challenging them.  Hey, they tried.  It’s the GOP that are behaving like the third-world junta thugs that they are.
But that still made me wonder what the media would do if they took Trump’s war with them seriously.  What if they showed Trump what a real media bias was like?
Well, first of all, you’d find a lot of Washington reporters out of work, because there would be almost no reporters in the White House and Congress as long as the GOP and Trump are there.  Sure there would be “some reporters” there.  Fox News, NewsMax, Breitbart, InfoWars, Christian News Broadcasting... all the propaganda mills would be there, but they’d be the only ones.
Hack Sean Spicer wouldn’t have to be hostile to the reporters in the White House briefing room, because there wouldn’t be enough people for him to have a daily briefing.  Hell, they’ve already been talking about doing away with it, as if that was a punishment.  A true “media war” would make that idea real.  And, really, I think it’s long overdue.
They’d still be talking about Trump’s Twitter-Twit postings, but that would really be all they’d be talking about with him.  There would be no press conferences.  No public events covered.  No rally coverage.  No sound-bytes.  No Easter Egg Roll coverage.  No Christmas Tree lighting ceremonies.  No exclusive interviews outside of those propaganda mills that kiss his ass.  Trump would have to start a war, or have a 9/11-style terrorist attack, or have the economy completely fail before a truly hostile media would give him any kind of air-time.
And it wouldn’t just be Trump that the media would truly freeze out if they were serious about a “media war”.  Trump’s surrogates would also have a problem getting attention.  And I’m not just talking about the flakey ones like Kellyanne Conaway.  Pretty much anyone that would represent the White House or the GOP-controlled Congress would be barred from the discussion panels outside of those propaganda mills.  No “White House spokesperson”, no representative to cover what the White House thinks of a certain story, especially when it’s a subject that affects Trump.  Even the conservative columnists like Pat Buchannan and George Will would be shut out.  The Sunday Morning news shows would be pretty one-sided without those White House surrogates and defenders.
Oh, and if you cons and neo-cons and Trumpets think that the media is “unfair” to Trump now, you would be sickened by what the media would be like if they really gave as good as they have been getting from you cultists!  Let’s start with continual references to Trump’s presidency as being illegitimate.  Let’s have them use actual references to regimes and juntas in their news stories, not just in the editorial section or in Internet columns like my own.  And to top it off, let’s throw in discussions about how to quickly remove Trump and company from Washington as part of their regular news stories, not just in their editorials. 
If you think the media is biased now, then you haven’t seen what bias is really like.
Look at how the media handles things like strip clubs and the Libertarian Party.  The former is treated like evil incarnate, and the latter is treated like they cannot win no matter what.  And, again, we’re talking about normal news stories, not editorials.  So you cons and neo-cons and Trumpets really have no reason to bitch about how your cult leader is being “treated” yet.
Let’s get brutally honest here... the members of the media have been showing a remarkable amount of control when it comes to the abusive treatment they’re getting at the hands of Trump and the GOP, and we should be grateful for that.  There is much that a truly abusive media can do to cause damage, and we’ve been witness to that now more than at any other time in at least the past fifty years.
No, we should be more than just grateful.  We should be ashamed.  We should be ashamed at how we treat a vital part of the First Amendment.  We’re supposed to be better than this!  This is the United States of America we are talking about, not the One State of Trump, Incorporated!
We’ve seen what happens when the media is bullied into being nothing more than a propaganda mill for despots and thugs.  If we want to really be true to our continual promise that we wouldn’t “let that happen here”, then we have to make sure that the means are there to warn and inform us.  That’s the true role of journalism.  That’s what separates the legitimate media from being another propaganda mill.  That’s why freedom of the press is one of the key protections in the First Amendment.  And if we can’t see that, if we can’t respect the legitimate media even when we don’t like what they are doing, then we have no right calling ourselves “Americans”.

Monday, June 12, 2017

Week of 06/12/2017

The Hero-Hate Continues
There is nothing more infuriating for me, as a long time comic book fan and as a self-published comic book creator, than to hear people trash heroes.  Two years ago, I spoke out in defense of comic book movies, which were getting mercilessly trashed by the Hollywood elite even though they were bringing in billions to the studios.
Sadly, the hypocrisy continues to this day, and, if anything, the hero-hate is getting nastier and more despicable.
It should be noted that this column is being published just two days following the death of Adam West; an actor that was forever known for playing the family-friendly campy-serious Batman.  Even though he would play several roles through his long career (including one after-midnight production for the grown-ups), he was always remembered as Batman.  Even up to his last roles, both on-screen and off, he embraced his connection to the superhero that was forged more than fifty years ago.
While Adam West entertained generations with his strong connection to Batman, both liberals and conservatives have been busy slamming superheroes.
HBO comedian Bill Maher whined about superheroes supposedly causing people to embrace Donald Trump as their president.  He even went so far as to declare Trump to be a superhero called “Orange Sphincter”.  I’m sorry, but for this comic book fan and comic book creator, for him to claim that Trump is a superhero is *my* “n-word”.  And, unlike Ice Cube, I can’t go on Maher’s show to school him about how abso-*bleeping*-loutely wrong he was about that.
On the conservative side, the shameless propaganda mill known as Fox News actually questioned whether or not Wonder Woman, an ambassador from another country, was “American enough” in the recently-released and very successful Warner Brothers movie. Yes, they actually went there!  The movie takes place in Europe during World War I, which America was not as invested in as it would be for its sequel, and at no point did Wonder Woman visit America during the movie, so to have a propaganda mill owned by an Australian and run through Great Britain decide to question whether or not the character was “American enough” is nothing short of sheer jingoistic lunacy.
Meanwhile, the “elite” are back to bashing hero movies in general.  When the DC-hating Rotten Tomatoes refused to torch “Wonder Woman” in favor of Marvel movies, other critics stepped up their own hate simply because this was a DC character.  Someone questioned whether director Patty Jenkins should have even had the job, given how her previous work was the Oscar-winning drama “Monster”.  Wonder Woman’s attire was a frequent target of hate, especially the supposed skimpiness of it.  I mean, my god, you could actually see her bare shoulders and parts of the thighs!  The horrors!
Seriously, people, what is your damage about superheroes and superhero movies?
I understand why some of you would think that superheroes are “childish” and naïve.  It’s simplistic to think that someone can just step in with a catchy name and save the day, never mind doing so in a symbolic outfit, be it a female Grecian warrior or a cape-and-cowl vigilante.  We have problems that we simply can’t “punch” our way out of.  In fact, doing so would only make things worse.
And I also understand that many a film critic is obligated to review a kind of movie they don’t really like.  That’s how they get paid.  Not every film they can go to is a tear-jerking “chick flick” or juvenile comedy romp or a dramatic tour-de-force that screams “Best Picture”.  As a movie-goer, I have the pleasure of saying “no”.  The critic cannot, because that is their job.  But that still doesn’t justify or validate the biased hatred of the genre.
Let’s get brutally honest here... the true power of the hero, especially in the context of a superhero movie, isn’t what they can do but what they can inspire.  For all my complaints about the “Because Batman” meme and the glorification of Batman into being something more than what he really is, which is a crime victim with a control fetish, the idea of Batman is more than just a rich man in a costume.  It’s an idea that people should not cower to criminals.  Superman inspires hope; the idea that everyone has the potential to be something better than they currently are.  Wonder Woman shows that everyone, men and women alike, can be better than our base instincts.  Spider-Man shows that having power comes with responsibility.  Captain America... well, let’s just stop there.
And with all of the things going on in the world today, between terrorists and narcissistic leaders throwing temper tantrums and big corporations actively screwing over the masses and the continued economic decline, we need a little bit of hope and inspiration in our lives.  We need some reassurance that things are going to be okay, even if that reassurance is through a fictional representation.
So when you are bashing hero movies in general in your selfish attempt to “purify” the movie industry of a genre that you consider to be “beneath you”, you are really bashing hope.  You’re bashing the idea that we are better than our brutal natures and our base instincts and the crime and misery going on today.  You’re saying that we’re not better than all this, that we can’t rise above it, and that we can’t be better people.  This is it.  This is what we’re stuck with.
Speaking for myself, I refuse to accept that kind of condemnation.
Stories of heroes, from the gods and demigods of Greece, to the Norse Gods of Asgard, to the Arabian adventurers, to the warrior monks in Asia, and even the heroes of South America, were more than just fairy tales told to children.  They were ways to express the idea that humanity is more than what it is at the time.  That there will always be champions, and those champions transcend the limitations of time.  I know this because we still remember those old stories from centuries ago and comic creators like myself and movie companies like Warner Brothers and Marvel Studios still bring them back to life for a new generation to be inspired.
Adam West may have never won an Oscar for his works, but he did something that would have a far-lasting impact on society.  He helped tell a modern-day story of heroism for a generation that was hungry for hope and a better tomorrow.  And that’s something that will outlast any snooty critic or Fox News propagandist.