Thursday, April 28, 2011

Where Have You Gone, Glendolyn Beck? Joe Farah Turns His Lonely Eyes to You

Right-wing publisher Joseph Farah made headlines again for making things up. It's not much of a surprise, falling on the predictability axis somewhere around finding out that Lindsay Lohan was arrested behind a Tony Montana-sized pyramid of blow, or that Ben Roethlisberger forced entry to her house and then her pants. Friends of the site might remember Farah as the man behind both the ultra-conservative website World Net Daily and the idea that the birther rappers Wolverines weren't a total embarrassment.

What makes the current revelation about Farah's willingness to make shit up singular is that he boasted about it to a mainstream blogger who was in the process of trying to establish the parameters of World Net Daily's dishonesty in a published piece. Salon reporter Justin Elliott had already written about how Donald Trump's claims that Barack Obama had spent over $2 million to fight lawsuits from birthers weren't true, then turned his attention to the source of those claims, to further debunk Trump and whomever was spreading them.
Trump's claim was based on a series of stories on the right-wing and Birther news outlet, WorldNetDaily. I emailed WND editor and CEO Joseph Farah 90 minutes before my story was published to ask if he thought Trump's comments were accurate, and whether WND had evidence to back it up. After my piece came out, Farah angrily emailed me to take issue with my characterization of WND as "a discredited birther website." Our subsequent email exchange — in which Farah acknowledged that WND publishes "some misinformation by columnists," which he claimed all opinion journals do — is telling for what it says about the standards of one of the most influential news websites on the right.
I really recommend you go read the article, if only for the ample sources of previous made-up-hilarity from WND (including links to a Photoshopped picture that allegedly proves Obama wasn't somewhere, despite the fact that the person manipulating it forgot to matte out Obama's knee).

Farah's crowing about the standards of his own online newspaper damn himself and it for three reasons: contempt, his essential admission that even he acknowledges his own paper's regular illegitimacy, and bad, bad timing. The last is harder to explain, but the first two are fairly easy. In fact, the contempt part is glaring.

Wednesday, April 20, 2011

Criterion Recollection: A Funny Thing About 'The Vanishing'

Note: We, the good people of Et tu, Mr. Destructo? are proud to present Criterion Recollection, an analysis of the popular Criterion Collection of historic and unique achievements in film. Your guide is Mark Brendle, a former media critic for and a short-fiction writer. Brendle lives in the Pacific Northwest in a small post-recycled yurt adjacent to America's largest family-owned retail video and book store, Art Trough. When not writing or staring purposefully at culture, Brendle works as a fair-trade coffee beanist. You can follow him on Twitter.

The Sociopathy of Everyday Life: Spine #133, The Vanishing (1988)

George Sluizer's The Vanishing (Spoorloos) masquerades as a mystery-thriller in order to expose the structure of the genre itself. This suspenseful film actually contains many comic moments; in fact, it's founded on a subtle, dark irony that revels in pulling the curtain of suspense back to reveal the mundane reality of a terrible crime. In addition to exploring the motivations of a thriller, The Vanishing uses its examination of a sociopathic kidnapper, Raymond, and an obsessive selfish husband, Rex, to obliquely tackle the question of solipsism — the inability to truly share one's experience of life with another person.

Although The Vanishing fits in the "missing woman" category of suspense thrillers (see Hitchcock's The Lady Vanishes), it self-consciously toys with audience expectations so subtly that the viewer easily can get caught up in the very devices the movie works to undermine. A married couple, Rex and Saskia, go on vacation, and Saskia disappears. The rest of the movie focuses on Rex's increasingly obsessive attempt to find out what happened to her. The fairly simplistic plot structure betrays both Sluizer's skillful manipulation of genre norms as self-parody as well as his keen psychological insight.

Early in the film, when their car runs out of gas in a dark tunnel, and Rex leaves Saskia alone to find a gas station, one expects her to be abducted. Sluizer includes all of the essential elements of the dangerous situation: solitude, darkness, feminine vulnerability, alien surroundings and anxiety-inducing music. Nothing happens.

When Raymond, the kidnapper, finally takes Saskia, he does so in broad daylight, in a crowded public place, in clear sight of Rex. What Sluizer cuts through here isn't the naïve misconception that only dark alleys are dangerous, but rather an audience's expectation that the terrible event will happen in a suitable mise-en-scene. The Vanishing's efficacy springs from Sluizer's refusal to bend to genre expectations. On top of this, he allows his film a self-reflexive irony, so that this refusal can be read not only as an avoidance of clichéd devices, but as a statement on the devices themselves — an opposite tactic than the standard thriller, which tries to support our suspension of disbelief by utilizing the same old tricks "better."

Monday, April 18, 2011

Wailing Walls: Slouching from Benghazi, Part III

Note: As NATO forces intervene in Libya, we, the good people of Et tu, Mr. Destructo? turn for insight to General Rehavam "Gandhi" Ze'evi, former Israeli Minister of Tourism. Having faked his assassination in the Mt. Scopus Hyatt Hotel, the General has been in deep cover, in Judea and Samaria, posing as an American goy pursuing graduate studies in the Middle East. This piece is continued from Part II: The Magical Monied Muammar's Comeback Tour, or: 'The Most Disgusting Story Ever Told'.

The Libyan War Is Decadent and Depraved

Seize an industrial laser — a diamond-bit drill, one of those explosively formed penetrators that wrought so much havoc on soft-skin Baghdad Humvees — because it is apparently going to be a Herculean effort to puncture the Große Lüge that is the Libyan War. Like Austin Powers in Goldmember, we've seen this movie before, and it's not any funnier.

Launching a "limited humanitarian intervention" in Libya with the goal of "securing freedom and perpetuating democracy" is the military equivalent of the third time Mike Myers drinks a coffee pot full of shit. The first time, you were mildly amenable to the gag, succumbed to the word of mouth and bought a ticket (Afghanistan). The second time, you were amped up; you were suckered into the theater, inexplicably expecting a revelation in the second stretching of a thin joke for ninety minutes (Iraq).

But a third time? You don't deserve a refund. You deserve strychnine in your popcorn.

The ogres of Georgetown fleece the country rubes yet again. The labels of "Democrat" and "Republican" are significations as distinct as the difference between Our Gang and The Little Rascals. If you really think the motives for the Libyan War are dramatically different from those of our Iraqi self-immolation, Barack Obama's peals of laughter are only inaudible due to the foot-deep soundproof padding they have blanketing the war room. In the darkened corridors of the West Wing at midnight, the haunting sound of courtier hi-fives and war drum bro-daps can still be faintly heard, echoing off the cranial sinus where this swaggering pig president's soul should nest.

Friday, April 15, 2011

How to Score While Seeing 'Atlas Shrugged'

Two years ago, I joined The Atlasphere, an Ayn Rand fan "singles" website. Since then, its regular email newsletter had provided me a weekly dose of unintended joy and even helped me to make a new friend. Today, both the site and I can teach you how to selfishly take what's rightfully yours: lovin'.

Atlas Shrugged: Part I opens in theaters today, a detail which, if you know anything about income tax, summarizes the film's production beautifully. In most years, April 15 is tax day, a release-date coincidence that would drive home the film's toddler-snit cry of government injustice with a bit of calendric irony. This year, tax day is April 18, while April 15 celebrates the emancipation of black people from their economic and biological "superiors," capping off a litany of ironies about the production of Atlas Shrugged that impeach it even on its own terms.

For a film about the truly elite making their own destiny and setting the world aright by turning their backs on lesser peoples, at their discretion, it has: a cast that can in no way be construed as elite; a roster of elite actors who turned it down; two screenwriters and a producer you've rightfully never heard of; a 30-year history of the TV/Hollywood marketplace saying, "You are not desirable and cannot successfully compete," and, as such, a production funded via handouts and charity from ideologues trying desperately to foist their message on others.

I Will Turn You Into Francisco Stankonia

Note: Here to share his tips for picking up single objectivist ladies is occasional Destructo contributor and former Federal Reserve Chairman Alan Greenspan, who previously explained our Ten Favorite Albums of the Decade, offered Birther Queen Orly Taitz asylum in his bedroom, described a black luxury car of divine provenance and who, of course, used to totally nail Ayn Rand. This article continues from Part I: How to Score While Seeing 'Atlas Shrugged'.

15 Tricks to Taggin' a Taggart Trampstamp

I can't believe I'm writing for these assholes again, but when my homeboy Phil Coates — whose last name on a lady's lips is a verb — dropped the ballin' for the first time in his career, I felt like I had no choice but to step in. The fact is, a movie event like this should provide a plush panoply of primo pussy for the (re)producer on the prowl, and it's only a matter of a few tips and tricks to make sure you take this cinematic cash-bash and leverage it into a gash-bash. I'm not from the government, and I'm here to help.

The trouble with the Ayn brand is that too many motherfuckers psych themselves out about it, thinking it's so high-end that they need do some crazy shit or else a fine lady is going to walk out on them. They get so uptight, they dynamite their own erection. Thing is, just remember, these girls value makin' a wad, and I'm not talking about the bills in your pocket. Any girl who asks for that is not a true objectivist mama. I'm telling you, whoever that girl is, she's got a looter-cooter on her. The only value is in earning; let a lady know that you're an earner, and you're gonna earn her — nasty.

Here are 15 tips to get you invested up in her portholio:

Wednesday, April 13, 2011

Rick Scott Can't Stop Doing You Favors

Since the last one personally cost him over $70 million, Rick Scott could use an inexpensive win right now. Two weeks ago, a PPP poll revealed that, in a do-over election, he would lose to Democratic candidate Alex Sink by nearly 20%, a mammoth number for such a high-profile position.

Then, just a week ago, he was booed lustily by Tampa Bay residents while throwing out the first pitch at the Rays home opener. Although the FOX-owned Sun Sports network muted the crowd reaction, its intensity was unmistakable in the stadium. Insignificant and isolated cheers — in part due to planned attendance from a St. Petersburg conservative group — were drowned out by the packed house. People in line buying hot dogs and beer booed him on the concourses, and the crowd noise was loud enough that it was easily identifiable even in the restrooms.

Perhaps stuffing a war chest to buy another victory lies at the heart of Scott's plan to introduce mandatory drug testing for all state employees, close public health clinics and farm out state Medicaid to private HMOs. Scott, of course, founded Solantic Corporation, which runs a chain of 32 urgent care centers across the state and which stands to profit handsomely from managing former public Medicaid-related responsibilities as well as the burden of thousands of regular drug screens.

Admittedly, Scott went to the farcical effort of transferring his investment in Solantic to a trust held by his wife and also professing that Solantic would not profit from the state during his governorship, but both gestures are absurd and meaningless. No married person can hear the myth of "isolated" and "personal" income in a marriage without descending into a fit of giggles, and it's a foregone conclusion that Scott's policies can benefit Solantic even peripherally, long before his mantis-shaped exoskeleton gets booted out of office.

Wednesday, April 6, 2011

The Poetry of, Like, Alienation and Stuff

A former media critic for, short-fiction writer and author of the Criterion Recollection, Mark Brendle is also a regular reviewer of literary fiction for Et tu, Mr. Destructo. His last piece, "Huck Finn and the Nigger in the Woodpile," examined the new bowdlerized edition of the classic Twain novel. In his private life, he has inspired the television series Portlandia and been romantically linked to both Winona Ryder and Adam Duritz. He uses a different open-source operating system for every mood. You can follow him on Twitter.

Guinness World Record: A Hipster Say '...'

i don’t hide my sadness
and i don’t glorify it either
my sadness is displayed exactly as it should be
Poetry that matters reflects contemporary society upon itself, in its funhouse mirror way, with various layers of meaning, allusion and intent. Lehan Li's self-published book of poetry, "", gives voice to the information-riddled, developmentally arrested, yet surprisingly self-aware modern manchild. An overarching theme of intimacy versus irony ties this collection of short, funny poems together in a way that produces a cohesive worldview, one shared by many people in their twenties, of absurdity, loneliness and destructive wit.

The title of the book, "", lends itself to multiple interpretations: the ellipsis as silence, the ellipsis as gap between sentences, the absurd symbol of failed communication or the popular catchphrase of many a Final Fantasy protagonist. In past forms, an author typically chose between irony and sincerity, clueing in the reader to the mode in which they were operating. In "" however, no such distinction exists. More than a narrative technique, the simultaneity of ironic sincerity betrays an emotional compartmentalization that drives the author and readers who share his malaise through a cycle of mockery and desperation.

We've internalized the mechanisms of too many cartoon anti-heroes, sarcastically dynamiting anything sincere and pointing out the inescapable vulnerability in those who fail to armor themselves with ironic distance. TV characters spout witticisms in every direction, blow up every sacred bond and ideal, yet exert an image of unattainable happiness, appearing inhuman, unreal, like media golems forged from the worst pieces of our realities and the best phantoms of our desires.