Random Reflections on the Popular Scene

U.S. Supreme Court Justice Neil Gorsuch, of whom I am not an admirer, has incurred the faux wrath of the progressive social media mob by asking whether the state of Colorado forcing a small business owner to undergo compliance training because he preferred not to make a wedding cake for a same-sex couple was tantamount to putting the man through a re-education program. The state’s reply was that this was merely a training session to explain to the businessman how and why he must comply with Colorado’s anti-discrimination laws. In other words, the man was being coercively subjected to “a process to ensure he was familiar” with why he is not allowed to act according to his moral principles with respect to his own property and labor — that is, why he must reject his moral principles in favor of compliance with the state’s one-size-fits-all moral judgments. In short, the man was being re-educated. Whence the confusion and uproar, then? The progressives criticizing Gorsuch for his dastardly act of calling a spade a spade should have the courage of their poorly hidden convictions: They should simply admit that they believe a man who wishes to use his property in ways that conform with his moral beliefs, if those beliefs happen not to comport with current progressive pieties, needs and deserves to be re-educated, as a condition of being allowed to continue working and earning a living in the state of Colorado.

Quentin Tarantino, a movie director whose public persona annoys me, and whose films I do not watch, has joined legendary director Martin Scorsese, whom I regard as overrated and ultimately trivial, in criticizing the dominance of the Marvel comic book movies in recent years, citing the fact that the commercial success of these movies has driven thoughtful, plot- and character-based movies out of the major studios, which now devote all their money and resources to producing the most lucrative product at the expense of everything else, not to mention marketing adult sensibilities and real-world interests out of the global psyche in favor of childish incoherence, and the obliteration of the crafts of storytelling and dialogue writing in a cloud of nihilistic self-referential giggling.

Naturally, the Marvel universe, which is as fake in real life as it is on screen, has charged out of its money-infested fantasy world to take issue with the obviously true judgment of these two directors. Simu Liu, a Chinese-Canadian star of one of these comic book atrocities, after offering the usual pro forma respect to the talents of Tarantino and Scorsese, whose films I would bet a lot of money he could not watch and understand, goes on to praise the corporate owners who have made him a rich celebrity (brave stance there, Simu), specifically on the grounds — wait for the obvious — that the Marvel universe has “made sustained efforts to improve diversity onscreen by creating heroes that empower and inspire people of all communities everywhere.” In other words, the role of Hollywood today is to promote the chimerical dream of “diversity,” which is to say the denial of a universal human nature in favor of the celebration of the trivial rainbow of superficial differences in skin color or sexual behavior. But this was the very point Tarantino and Scorsese were trying, however inadequately, to strike at: Art is not advertising or special pleading. It is an attempt to highlight or reveal the essentially human. To give that up in favor of turning film into “amusement park rides” (Scorsese’s criticism) is to knowingly damage the public’s ability to recognize the difference between art and marketing, honest investigation and agenda-driven hackery, until market calculation and politically fashionable agit prop are the only models understood or accepted by the filmgoing public, and genuine attempts to survey or mine the human condition for truth are rejected as relics of the bad old days.

As Liu goes on to protest, “If the only gatekeepers to movie stardom came from Tarantino and Scorsese, I would never have had the opportunity to lead a $400 million plus movie.” True. And that’s because movies, as actual filmakers understand the term, are not defined by their box office, nor designed to star carefully calculated mixes of “diverse” groups in order to serve a combination of corporate and progressive agendas. If Tarantino and Scorsese were profiteering hacks trying to make as much money as possible off that portion of the Asian population that is as numb-skulled as its Occidental counterparts, and in the process to cede any concern with real life problems in favor of generic, UN-approved abstractions and politically non-judgmental bromides, they would undoubtedly have chosen Mr. Liu to star in a stupid action movie about nothing. To their credit, they have not done so, and probably would not.

Tarantino and Scorsese are right. The Marvel propagandists, profiteers, and useful idiot fans are wrong. Art and adulthood are dying in an addictive haze of immaturity and greed, a calamity far more pervasive and irreversible than the opioid crisis. 

Liu concludes his indignant, defensive rant against his superiors with the most obvious and commonplace self-reveal of this era: “I loved the ‘Golden Age’ too.. but it was white as hell.” Ah yes, the systemic racism trope, the easy answer to every rational question about the social value and effects of our runaway progressive nihilistic materialism and the rejection of human nature and its deeper longings and aspirations.

Howard Stern, or perhaps we ought to cut to the chase and say Coward Stern, has spent much of the Covid pandemic, along with all the most fashionable “liberal” media icons, ranting against science and common sense, which stance is euphemized today as “following the science” and “rejecting crazy conspiracy theories” — from the safety of his basement.

It turns out — or at least this is news to me, a non-listener — that Stern has conducted his radio interview show alone in his home studio throughout most of the pandemic, allowing none of his staff, sidekicks, or guests to sit in the same building with him, requiring vaccinations and Covid tests of every one of the few family members he has allowed into his home during these past two-plus years. He refuses, even now, to leave his home at all, for any social purpose, will not meet friends, and scolds radio guests or staff members who mention concerts they have attended, restaurants they have frequented, or for that matter any maskless activity whatsoever. This extreme germaphobia is obviously an indication of a fairly advanced mental instability and a complete lack of proportion, rational perspective, or willingness to face life (or death) with even the slightest modicum of adult maturity and courage.

And yet, throughout the pandemic, the mainstream media has repeatedly quoted this loon as some sort of voice of reason for his various rants supporting vaccine mandates, recommending that the unvaccinated be denied access to medical treatment and “sent home to die,” mocking the unvaccinated dead, and so on. As though these rants were not coming from an unhinged paranoid. As though there were ever a time when everyone who got Covid did die without medical assistance. As though the Fauci-media-fostered lie of a so-called pandemic of the unvaccinated ever existed, or ever could have. As though the measures mandated, the lockdowns imposed, and the livelihoods stolen by government and corporate overreach during the pandemic had been shown, or could ever be shown, to have effected any net gain in lives saved or infections prevented — let alone enough of a net gain to justify the complete and open-ended cancellation of all moral and rational restrictions on public authority, or the utter collapse of all pretenses of a free society of self-governing individuals. As though Coward Stern were anything, in the end, but an over the top parody of one of our nihilistic moment’s most insidious pandemics: the irrational, authority-serving, ignoramus celebrity who puffs himself up as a thoughtful social critic, and is then “taken seriously,” for propaganda purposes, by the very opinion controllers who fed that celebrity the fatuous wisdom he is spouting in the first place.

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