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Wednesday, 27 February 2013


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If nothing else, the Oscars did a lot to shape my opinion of Shirley Bassey. 76, lives in Monaco, and apparently has a license to kill. I will be building a shrine to her in my back yard come spring.....

It was the most significant in terms of generating the most clicks. It's all about the clicks for them.

Greenwald's excellent article covers 'Zero Dark Thirty'. Its worth noting that similar (if less severe) complaints of distortion were made by the Canadians re 'Argo'. And there were complaints about some content in 'Lincoln' as well. I guess Hollywood just doesn't let the facts stand in the way of its story and prejudices.

Have you seen president Carter about Argo?: http://t.co/kylqY5cjN8

I don't know if you've noticed, but the animated GIF has seen a huge resurgence in popularity recently, driven by social media. These days nothing remotely "visual" happens on TV without it immediately being turned into an animated GIF and circulated widely on Facebook and Twitter. I would even say it's replacing Instagram as the "visual vernacular of social media (of the moment)."

On Sunday night it took about five minutes for Jennifer Lawrence's stumble to get GIFed and tweeted. On a positive note, she seems to be an extremely unshakeable young woman, as she laughed it off when she got on stage, and again afterwards (off-stage interviews), which I think might have driven the circulation of the image even more, as nobody felt bad for her. So between that GIF and the ever-popular "FAIL" memes that also circulate widely, this is the kind of image that floats to the top quickly.

So yes, it is entirely un-newsworthy. On the other hand, you're talking about a Yahoo home page, not CNN or the BBC. Anyway, none of this amounts to much, but I think it helps to explain why this image was seen by Yahoo as "eyeball worthy."

Huh. I came away from the film thinking they'd made it pretty clear that traditional detective work was what got him, not torture. Maybe I saw a different film.

It's baffling you can think that way Mike. The overwhelmingly false Lincoln hagiography won awards for glorifying a bungling president responsible for killing 500,000 souls and destroying the Southern infrastructure while leaving freed slaves in apartheid for another 100 years.... And Argo shamelessly co-opts a brave ~Canadian~ story. Hollywood is rotten and corrupt in which stories get produced... seeing a few dirty and deserved terrorism suspects tortured in ZD30 was one of the few gratifying moments in this year's movies. For a a moment I felt like Hollywood was actually on the right side of an issue.

The Senate investigation referred to by The Guardian has apparently been droppped http://www.independent.co.uk/arts-entertainment/films/news/senate-investigation-into-making-of-zero-dark-thirty-quietly-dropped-8512043.html

From Greenwald's article:

" ... it's both gratifying and a bit surprising to see that this CIA-shaped jingoistic celebration of America's proudest moment of the last decade - finding bin Laden, pumping his skull full of bullets, and then dumping his corpse into the ocean - ended up with the stigma it deserves."

Who said, "Bin Laden is dead and General Motors is alive?"

Sadly, the movie is probably considerably more accurate than most of what is taught in any American history class.

I wish Hollywood would just go back to creating brand new stories instead of writing things "based on actual historical events" because far too often the movie becomes the history. Being a bit of a history buff I could write quite a few pages worth of just awful liberties that have been taken by Hollywood that have made the stories worse.

Funny, my reaction was completely the opposite. Ms. Lawrence wore a ridiculous dress, no doubt chosen for her, which made her fall innocent, and sweetly appropriate. Made me sigh, which in my mind trumps the usual cynicism that we've become inured to. OK, opportunistic by Yahoo and just about everybody else, still, it was an innocent moment from which Jennifer Lawrence has emerged quite the better, I think.

We are The Empire, have been for a while now, most seem OK with that, most can't imagine how it could be any other way, most seem so scared it's hard to imagine how this nation once whooped Hitler and stared down 30,000 Soviet nukes. Oh well.

As far as "news" is concerned, some years ago I got a CNN e-mail news alert on my cell phone informing me that some A-list celebrity couple had "ended their relationship." It's been hard to pay attention since.

"I'm still grinding my teeth over Argo...
I don't think it was the CIA's finest hour, but I'm no expert in such matters..."

I can recommend 'Legacy of Ashes: The History of the CIA' by Tim Weiner for anyone who thinks the CIA ever had a finest hour.

I haven't seen "ZD30" and that's probably how it will stay unless it appears on British TV - and maybe not even then. I have however seen "Argo". FWIW I've also been to the three principal countries depicted in these films, unarmed. Argo is simply pitiful, slavishly following as it does the Hollywood tradition of recasting the USA's miscalculations and consequent humiliations as triumphs. Prefacing the film with a selective potted history of Iran doesn't absolve it. The laughably meaningless Oscar awarded to this film is hardly surprising given that it also presents the triumph as not only American rather than Canadian, but also Hollywood's. The promised Iranian film about this event should be interesting; they have some excellent directors.

I find this horribly consistent with the USA's persistent failure to learn from its foreign policy blunders. In the case of Iran, against which country, foul government that it surely has now - as it has had in one form or another ever since 1953 - there is currently a covert war taking place; in Syria by proxy and directly by other covert means.

Consider Iran's position. Government overthrown by a coup engineered by the UK and USA in 1953. Invaded by Saddam's Iraq in 1980 with US and western encouragement and material assistance, subjected to chemical warfare, with total fatalities of half a million and consequent social and economic devastation (which solidified internal support for the theocratic regime). It's hard to overstate the effect of this 8 year catastrophe on the Iranian psyche; by comparison USA lost "only" about 60,000 dead in Vietnam.

Iran is bordered by Pakistan, a country on the verge of collapse yet armed with deliverable nuclear weapons and technology which it is known to have proliferated with impunity! Pakistani Hazaras - Iran's Shia co-religionists - are being regularly slaughtered by salafist jihadis who are essentially the deniable wing of Pakistan's intelligence organisations.

Israel, (another covert developer of nuclear weapons, if not actually a signatory to the NPT) and probably a high proportion of the USA's foreign policy establishment would like nothing better than to destroy Iran's defence infrastructure entirely. The campaign of assassination waged against engineers working in the Iranian nuclear industry goes almost unreported. If I was Iranian I'd want a nuclear deterrent too: it has worked pretty effectively for the other countries who have it. The Iranians are hardly likely to commit national suicide by utilising a first strike capability even assuming they want or could acquire one.

Well, I imagine this post will get, er, nuked. But I didn't raise the topic.

I forgot to add:
No Oscars for "The Master"? Says all that needs to be said about the Oscars really. And it didn't even have subtitles.

"Huh. I came away from the film thinking they'd made it pretty clear that traditional detective work was what got him, not torture. Maybe I saw a different film."

The unmistakable impression left by the film is that the interrogation of multiple detainees, some of whom were tortured, led the CIA to focus on Bin Laden's currier. Once the currier was identified and located, CIA operatives simply tracked him right to Bin Laden's compound. People in the know say that vital information was not obtained via torture, but ZDT does nothing to dispel the notion that it was. Rather, reinforces it, contrary to the claims of Bigelow and her screenwriter. The most generous assessment one can make of them is that they were willing dupes who wanted to make an exciting, controversial film.

It ain't only Hollywood that produces movies with inaccurate, polished up versions of history. It is just that they are the biggest on the block. Others get away with it and are rarely noticed, certainly not in the US where foreign films are not very popular.

Hollywood movies which pretend to portray history, but are in fact inaccurate, affect more than just the US. We see now that Argo's putting Canadian efforts behind those of the CIA irritates many, especially Canadians, I would think. I have no doubt many outside the US will then assume that this yet another example of arrogant, fat, stupid Americans (US). I've lived overseas for 15 years and I hear this all the time. Even Americans themselves say claim this, though they generally mean Americans other than themselves.

On the other hand movies critical of the US, Oliver Stone movies, esp JFK, "documentaries" such as those by Michael Moore, are taken as true and entirely accurate by those without real, direct knowledge of the US and its politics and controversies.

Even fiction can be taken as accurate. I about broke one Japanese "24" fan's heart when I told him there was no real US government department called CTU. Years of watching this stuff, cops getting in blazing gunfights and killing suspects every working day with complete disregard for anyone's rights, people running around nearly naked, having sex with everyone, everyone using cocaine and other drugs give an impression of the US that I never had, because I know the country and society. Most of the world doesn't have that knowledge of the US, though many think they do from movies and reading the NYT.

I should see "Zero Dark Thirty" before deciding to not do so, but there have been sufficient intelligent reviews and discussion for me to draw the conclusion that it normalises torture, so no thanks Ms Bigelow and co.

That said, when I realised that the First Lady would be announcing the Best Picture award I wished that I had had a wager: surely there was no way that she would be required the winner as either "ZD30" with the torture events nor the "n-word" (apologies) "Django Unchained."

Years of watching this stuff, cops getting in blazing gunfights and killing suspects every working day "with complete disregard for anyone's rights, people running around nearly naked, having sex with everyone, everyone using cocaine and other drugs give an impression of the US that I never had, because I know the country and society. Most of the world doesn't have that knowledge of the US, though many think they do from movies and reading the NYT."

I read most of the NYT every day, and unless they are hiding something in the sports and real estate sections "people running around nearly naked, having sex with everyone, everyone using cocaine and other drugs" I don't see any of that in the Times, unless maybe they are hiding it in the sports or real estate sections.

The N.Y.Post on the other hand has quit a bit of drugs, nakedness, and mayhem

T.O.P. Has been off my radar for a while.
Find the US so-called entertainment industry tends to portray the US as the most wonderful glorious "free?" place on terra firma. Sorry it isn't; and if the uS doesn't watch itself a country which controls the world's manufacturing may well suddenly one day control the world the USA thought it was about to inherit. We Canadians removed the hostages however as usual the US portrays itself as the hero; when it fact it is not. Have always maintained, invade enough countries in the name of
freedom when in fact all said invading
country wants is their natural resources and eventually said invading country gets bitten in the backside. Demolition Derby in NYC on 9/11 anybody?

Maybe that's why I no longer hold a valid Canadian passport; travel to a foreign land to the south of Canada is no longer a happy journey.

I don´t understand all this fuss about movies not protraying historical facts correctly... do people expect to go and watch a movie thinking that it will show the truth? Are people this gullible?

To learn the facts, people should read/see books or documentaries that are based on testimonials. Movies are for entertainment, not history lessons.

I have no problems about movies "distorting" the facts, to make the movie more attractive or popular. Hollywood is an entertainment industry; what is pitiful is that people expect movies to teach them History...

From today's Wall Street Journal opinion page ...

The Senate Censors
Feinstein drops her probe of 'Zero Dark Thirty' a day after the Oscars.

"Zero Dark Thirty" is brilliant filmmaking. As was "Triumph of the Will." In time they may be seen as equivalent.

Argo...what offensive drivel!

In the film: "Brits turned them away, Kiwis turned them away."

In reality, according to US consular officer Robert Anders - who should know, as he was one of the six:

"That is absolutely incorrect, absolutely untrue. They made us very comfortable, the British were very helpful and they helped to move us around to different places after that too.

If the Iranians were going to start looking for people they would probably look to the British. So it was too risky to stay and we moved on.

They put their lives on the line for us. We were all at risk. I hope no one in Britain will be offended by what's said in the film. The British were good to us and we're forever grateful."


I was surprised to see that Beasts of the Southern Wild got any nominations, since it is a film that challenges expectation by portraying a culture completely outside the mainstream of USA society. It does this with incredible determination; the people of The Bathtub are never framed by an outside normative perspective. I can't remember another film that has been so bold.

On top of that it dares to portray troubled familial and social relationships (violence, alcoholism, poverty) in a manner other than the moralistic, documentary styles that seem to dominate such subjects. Instead -- can you believe it? -- we get a fairytale.

It's far and away the most radical thing to get into the Oscars in living memory. Despite the uplifting tone and professional sheen, which might coat the pill for some, I was not surprised it came up short.

As for ZD30 Matt Taibbi said it all here: http://rol.st/13E7yKt As for Argo, no thanks. Anything that celebrates or glorifies violence of any kind is NOT something that I'm going to go out of my way to see - especially if its meant to hold America up to the light as being justified in its actions in any way. Bloodshed is not glorious in any form, shape or size. Having just watched Lincoln I must have teared up at least 3 times. The opening battle scene, the battle scene at towards the end of the movie and during the movie when I realized that no one even remotely like Lincoln could even get close to the White House in this day & age.

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