The Horror of Smug Liberals

Posted in Articles, Communications/Media Studies, Literary/Artistic Criticism, Media Archive, Social Justice, United States on 2017-03-19 15:12Z by Steven

The Horror of Smug Liberals

The New York Times

Frank Bruni

Ben Wiseman

Oh, those smooth-talking, self-congratulating white liberals. Listen to them moon over Barack Obama. Look at how widely they open their arms to a black visitor. Don’t be duped. They’re wolves in L. L. Bean clothing. There’s danger under the fleece.

That’s a principal theme in the most surprising movie hit of the year so far, “Get Out,” whose box office haul in America crossed the $100 million mark last weekend. Heck, that’s the premise.

The black protagonist heads with his white girlfriend from an apartment in the city to a house in the woods, where he’s gushingly welcomed by her parents. But their retreat is no colorblind Walden, not if you peek into the basement. I won’t say what’s down there. I don’t want to spoil the fun or sully the chill.

Besides, I’m less fascinated by the movie’s horrors than by its reception. The most ardent fans of “Get Out,” many of them millennials, don’t just recommend it. They urge it, framing it as a “woke” tribe’s message to the slumbering masses, a parable of the hypocrisy that white America harbors and the fear with which black Americans move through it…

…But the movie’s African-American writer and director, Jordan Peele, conceived and began developing it well before the possibility of a Donald Trump presidency came into focus. He wasn’t responding to stark examples of racism like that infamous tweet last week in which Representative Steve King, the Iowa Republican, warned against trying to “restore our civilization with somebody else’s babies.” …

…“Get Out” is being categorized as a horror movie, though Peele prefers the neologism “social thriller,” and it’s more eerie than violent, with superb pacing that critics are rightly praising. It’s also a reminder that the best horror movies are intensely topical, putting a fantastical, grotesque spin on the tensions of their times…

Read the entire article here.

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The Emotional Tug of Obama

Posted in Articles, Barack Obama, Politics/Public Policy, United States on 2012-05-29 00:13Z by Steven

The Emotional Tug of Obama

The New York Times


Frank Bruni

FORGET your political affiliation. Never mind your assessment of his time in office so far. If you have any kind of heart, you’re struck by it: the photograph of Barack Obama bent down so that a young black boy can touch his head and see if the president’s hair is indeed like his own. It moves you. It also speaks to a way in which Obama and Mitt Romney, whose campaigns are picking up the pace just as polls show them neck and neck, are profoundly mismatched.

Pete Sousa/White House

In a story that quickly went viral, The Times’s Jackie Calmes wrote last week about the photograph, which was taken three years ago when the boy, then 5, visited the White House. It has hung there ever since, left on the wall even as other pictures were swapped out, as is the custom, for newer, fresher ones.

David Axelrod, one of the chief architects of Obama’s political career, told Calmes: “It doesn’t take a big leap to think that child could be thinking, ‘Maybe I could be here someday.’ This can be such a cynical business, and then there are moments like that that just remind you that it’s worth it.”

Axelrod’s words, meanwhile, are a reminder that more than three and a half years after Obama made history as the first black man elected to the presidency, he still presents more than a résumé and an agenda. He still personifies the hope, to borrow a noun that he has used, that we really might evolve into the colorblind, fair-minded country that many of us want. His own saga taps into the larger story of this country’s fitful, unfinished progress toward its stated ideal of equal opportunity.

And that gives many voters an emotional connection to him that they simply don’t have to most other politicians, including Romney, a privileged and intensely private man whose strengths don’t include the easy ability to humanize himself. There’s a Mitt-versus-myth element to the 2012 campaign, and it influences the manner in which Romney’s supporters and Romney himself engage the president and make their pitch. They must and do emphasize job-creation numbers over personal narrative, the technocratic over the touchy-feely.

Obama and his advisers don’t exactly tack in the opposite direction. Understandably concerned about longstanding prejudices, they don’t invoke his racial identity all that frequently.

But when they do, it’s powerful. The photograph released last week instantly reminded me of one taken in mid-April, when Obama visited a museum in Dearborn, Mich. It showed him seated in the bus that Rosa Parks made famous. And it, too, pinged fast and far around the Web…

Obama aboard the Rosa Parks bus in Dearborn’s Henry Ford Museum, April 18, 2012. (Credit: Official White House Photo by Pete Souza)

Read the entire opinion piece here.

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