Tuesday, March 7, 2006


I haven't been to a movie in a couple years. Don't quite know why. Enjoy them. It's not a protest. Don't care much for crowds, but that's not much of a factor. Maybe it's just my general withdrawal. Didn't watch the Olympics. Didn't watch the Oscars. I've got things to do, apparently. But when I see their names, I always read the columns: Mark Steyn; Charles Krauthammer. Steyn, as I've said before, is always right. When Krauthammer is wrong, rarely, he is still a rational, intelligent and reasonable voice. I've just read Krauthammer's piece on Clooney's movie Syriana.

The phrase for the day: "moral clarity."

Clooney has the reputation of being a generous, modest, funny, decent guy. How is it possible to take the best country in the world - the greatest force for liberty - and make it the villain? How is it possible to take the perfect evil of Islamism - racist, murderous, treacherous - and make it the hero? How is it possible for personable, attractive people to get it always so completely, perversely wrong?

They smile, and smile, and they are villains.

Brokeback Mountain. Haven't seen it. Is it a love story? A love story? Is it love? Haven't seen it, so I don't know. I do know, from hearing, that it is an adultery story. Is this a beautiful thing? I don't see betrayal as beautiful. I understand desire, and longing, and loneliness. I understand lust, and rebellion, and desperation. I understand caring yet not caring about the people you hurt to get your own way. But I don't understand believing it's beautiful. Either they believe it is beautiful, or they smile, and smile.

What, then? They're bad? Disloyal? Confused? I don't know what they are. I know what they claim to be pure and beautiful, I call vile. I know they are skillful communicators. They are very talented at seeming sincere. They are attractive, and recite scripts articulately. With seeming conviction. With passionate intensity. But everything we see of them is an illusion. Whether they are correct or in error, the product they sell is verisimilitude - not reality, but ... an artistic interpretation, or a propagandistic lie. In every case, good or bad, right or wrong, a manipulation.

The days of yellow journalism, of muck-rakers, are gone. In those days, newspapers stated their political allegiance. Biased, and proud of it. Must have been Watergate that changed all that. The adolescent tantrummers of the '60s took power, and never having learned self-control, they made cynicism a mainstream virtue. The problem with cynicism is that it is profoundly dishonest. And so they lie, to us and themselves, about their bias. No, we're objective, we're truth-tellers. It's too dangerous to be pathetic. Now, they are muck-makers.

There will always be twisted liars and self-deceivers. Can't change human nature. The problem is that they deal not only in words, but in images. Everyone knows that liars use words - we are taught early on to doubt what we hear. But pictures? Pictures make better pornography than do paragraphs. What we see is more powerful than what we hear. Hollywood shows us. And what we see becomes what we know. That's why they are so dangerous. They put their pictures to stirring music, and frame them with mountains and seascapes and lovely woman and strong-seeming men, and what are we to do, but believe?

These people, who don't even have the moral sense to be hypocrites. They don't even pretend. They celebrate drugs, which destroy rationality, and betrayal, which destroys society, and the enemy, which destroy us.

When I get around to it, I'll go to a movie. Hope it's a good one.


No comments: