Hunt for the Wilderpeople
(Reviewed July 12, 2016)
A funny-serious adventure in the photogenic New Zealand wilderness that, like the author’s Boy has coming-of-age pretensions
(Reviewed June 23, 2016)
A fantastical satire against bureaucracy whose real-world target is less than immediately recognizable
Me Before You
(Reviewed June 14, 2016)
A well-made film that teaches an obnoxious lesson
(Reviewed June 2, 2016)
You should be ashamed to be watching this movie. I know I was.
Though never a big fan of Donald Trump, I find myself becoming more and more thankful for the Trump candidacy — mainly for saving me so much of the time that I would once have had to spend with America’s media. Now, as my eye travels down the scroll of the day’s articles in this or that newspaper, magazine, TV network or website, I increasingly find myself able to check them off, one by one, without reading them. Why? Because I can see at once that they boil down to three words: I hate Trump. Then, to that long list I can add all those ringing the changes on the ancillary hatreds due to anyone, once purportedly respected but now in disgrace for backing Trump, or those congratulating themselves for not doing so — not to mention a mass of other articles on the incompetence of his campaign and the destruction, moral, political or both, that it is wreaking on the Republican party.
Nor is that all. You can also add in the articles which find in completely unrelated stories further reasons for hating Trump. Responding to a series of murders of policemen, for example, The New York Times last week headlined: "After Outbreaks of Violence, Donald Trump Strains to Project Leadership." What is this but I hate Trump by other means? As I have already heard and mentally filed away every conceivable reason for hating Trump, along with a lot of inconceivable ones, and have in most cases already read at least one article from the same author expressing those reasons, I don’t need to bother anymore.
Now, practically all the mainstream media is like The New York Times editorial page: you already know what they’re going to say before you open the paper, or your browser. So why bother? Often, nothing more than the juxtaposition of names is enough to tell you that you don’t need to read something. The TLS headline on the front cover of its July 15, 2016 number read: "Richard Ford on Donald Trump." Yep. That was another one I didn’t have to read — though I gather from the pull-quote which accompanies the headline that it belongs to the I hate Trump sub-genre which we might call: "And I consider him emblematic of the fakery and corruption of the entire American political process." I flatter myself that I could have guessed as much. Creative people and novelists still tend to be as boringly and self-importantly predictable on political subjects as the late Gore Vidal used to be before, poor fellow, he died.
ENTRY from July 21, 2016
My book Media Madness, is available for order from Encounter Books. Less a polemic than an attempt to understand the origins of the mass media’s folie de grandeur, the book is a warning even to those who are deserting the big networks, newsweeklies and large-circulation dailies not to carry with them into the more attractive world of niche media the undisciplined habits of thought that the old media culture has given rise to. To order this book, click here.
Also available, now in paperback, is Honor, A History, which was first published in 2006. A study of Western cultural artifacts, from the epics of Homer to the movies and TV shows of today, it is focused on explaining why Western ideas of honor developed so differently from those elsewhere — and especially from the savage honor cultures of the Islamic world. The book then goes on to trace the collapse and ultimate rejection of the old Western honor culture from World War I until the present day and to suggest the conditions that would have to prevail for its revival.
Master of Suspense.
June 7, 2016.
Hitchcock made the movies and the movies made post-modernism — from The Claremont Review of Books, Winter 2015/16 ...
Scandals and Experts.
May 31, 2016.
What if the Trumpists’ much-mentioned grievance is not so much their own misfortunes as the insufferable self-righteousness of their supposed betters? — From The New Criterion of May, 2016 ...
Politics Without Honor.
April 30, 2016.
To put honor, trust, decorum in the service of self-interest is to misunderstand the meaning of the words — From The New Criterion of April, 2016 ...