Fifty Shades of Ghomeshi and American Sniper

Bradley Cooper as Chris Kyle in American Sniper

By Peter Guenther

I have a confession. I have not read or seen Fifty Shades of Grey and I do not have any desire to do so. All I know about it is from reviews and trailers. It is a fictional story about a billionaire, Christian Grey, seducing a young, naive woman, Anastasia Steele, and drawing her into a submissive role as his BDSM slave. By many objective accounts it glorifies an abusive relationship. Many others think it is just a very bad movie.

Enter Jian Ghomeshi a real person who thought he was living out a real life version of the fictional Christian Grey. In real life, Anastasia Steele is an abuse victim. Even large portions of the BDSM community think so. Some scenes conform to a “no means yes” mentality. Consent is tricky, as Ghomeshi is finding out. But many women seem to love the book and movie, which have been described as Mommy Porn. The same demographic also loves romance novels that feature dashing, dominating, well endowed, male protagonists. Go figure.

Don’t get me wrong, I’m no anti-porn prude. Whatever floats your boat.

So what does American Sniper have to do with all this? In short, it’s a romanticized fictional portrayal of a real person. It has broken box office records, like Fifty Shades of Grey. Both aren’t what they seem on the surface. One glorifies sexual abuse, the other glorifies killing. Both portray troubling issues in a simplistic way that appeals to the lowest common denominator.

American Sniper is War Porn. It glosses over American war crimes in Iraq. It revels in portraying ALL Iraqis as savages deserving death. It is propaganda that makes Americans feel good about a brutal and unjustified invasion of a foreign country. It takes a man who bragged about his obvious psychopathic tendencies and portrays him as a hero for killing 160 people. He becomes the victim and his victims become human dreck.

I am willing to bet that victims of sexual abuse and bombed into oblivion Iraqi’s aren’t flocking to support these movies. A few plot and dialogue corrections could have gone a long way towards fixing both. Ignorance is not an excuse.

Advertisements

America dumbs down: a rising tide of anti-intellectual thinking

The U.S. is being overrun by a wave of anti-science, anti-intellectual thinking. Has the most powerful nation on Earth lost its mind?

Jonathon Gatehouse

May 15, 2014

via America dumbs down: a rising tide of anti-intellectual thinking.

Larry Bartels, the co-director of the Center for the Study of Democratic Institutions at Vanderbilt University, says he doubts that the spreading ignorance is a uniquely American phenomenon. Facing complex choices, uncertain about the consequences of the alternatives, and tasked with balancing the demands of jobs, family and the things that truly interest them with boring policy debates, people either cast their ballots reflexively, or not at all. The larger question might be whether engagement really matters. “If your vision of democracy is one in which elections provide solemn opportunities for voters to set the course of public policy and hold leaders accountable, yes,” Bartels wrote in an email to Maclean’s. “If you take the less ambitious view that elections provide a convenient, non-violent way for a society to agree on who is in charge at any given time, perhaps not.”

A study by two Princeton University researchers, Martin Gilens and Benjamin Page, released last month, tracked 1,800 U.S. policy changes between 1981 and 2002, and compared the outcome with the expressed preferences of median-income Americans, the affluent, business interests and powerful lobbies. They concluded that average citizens “have little or no independent influence” on policy in the U.S., while the rich and their hired mouthpieces routinely get their way. “The majority does not rule,” they wrote.

Hateful Christian Bigots Claim HGTV ‘Got Bullied’ Over Cancelled Show (Video) | Crooks and Liars

Hateful Christian Bigots Claim HGTV ‘Got Bullied’ Over Cancelled Show (Video) | Crooks and Liars.

The Benham brothers feel that people serving the “gay agenda” bullied HGTV into cancelling their show, “Flip it Forward.” Jason and David Benham were capitalizing on their friendly sibling rivalry to “help families find a fixer-upper and transform it into the dream home they never thought they could afford,” according to Right Wing Watch. David told ultra-religious, right-wing radio host Janet Mefferd that the “gay agenda” was “attacking the nation,” in the same sentence as “demonic ideologies to take our universities and our public school systems while the church sits silent and just builds big churches.”

According to CNN, David Benham said, of the cancellation:

 

“I feel they got bullied. There’s an agenda that’s out in America right now that demands silence, especially from men and women who profess Jesus Christ and hold to his standards.”

Here’s the audio via Right Wing Watch.

Plus, they had more to say on North Carolina’s Amendment One to ban gay marriage.

No, there isn’t an agenda against people who profess to follow Jesus Christ and try to live their own lives according to biblical principles. There’s an agenda against people using Christianity to further a discriminatory, even hateful, campaign against anybody whose lives they disagree with. There’s an agenda against people trying to force Christianity on the rest of us.

It’s not Christians, it’s bigoted “Christians” like the Benham brothers…

It’s not Christianity itself that’s under attack. It’s people like the Benhams, like Pat Roberts, like everyone who screams, “We are a CHRISTIAN nation that must get back to our CHRISTIAN roots and live by CHRISTIAN principles,” that are under attack. These right-wing Christians are the ones acting like bullies, if we are to use the word “bullying” in that manner.

The statement the Benhams issued after HGTV made its decision said:

“The first and last thought on our minds as we begin and end each day is; have we shined Christ’s light today? Our faith is the fundamental calling in our lives, and the centerpiece of who we are. As Christians we are called to love our fellow man. Anyone who suggests that we hate homosexuals or people of other faiths is either misinformed or lying. Over the last decade, we’ve sold thousands of homes with the guiding principle of producing value and breathing life into each family that has crossed our path, and we do not, nor will we ever discriminate against people who do not share our views.”

“We do not, nor will we ever discriminate against people who do not share our views.” Really? David Benham also worked hard on the side of Amendment One, an amendment to the North Carolina constitution defining marriage as only between a man and a woman. He also (wrongly) compared the fight against marriage equality to the fight against Nazis, calling Christian acceptance of things like abortion and marriage equality and “appeasing evil,” according to the Right Wing Watch article.

If fighting against marriage equality and saying that the so-called gay agenda is attacking our nation isn’t hateful and discriminating, then what is?

It’s no wonder that, fearing a major backlash, HGTV would choose to cancel their show. HGTV did that one day after Right Wing Watch published its report. While people have the right to their views, there is nothing in the Constitution or the 1st Amendment saying those views can’t have consequences. If you’re going to be high profile, you do have to be careful about how you express your views. As the Benhams and others could stand to learn, it’s not necessarily in what you say, it’s in how you say it, and it’s in how you act.

Here’s the video, with some “fair and balanced” reporting from Fox News.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=R2WtgKxhOII#action=share

David Foster Wallace was right: Irony is ruining our culture

David Foster Wallace long ago warned about the cultural snark that now defines popular culture. It’s time to listen

David Foster Wallace was right: Irony is ruining our culture David Foster Wallace (Credit: Hachette Book Group)

Percy Shelley famously wrote that “poets are the unacknowledged legislators of the world.” For Shelley, great art had the potential to make a new world through the depth of its vision and the properties of its creation. Today, Shelley would be laughed out of the room. Lazy cynicism has replaced thoughtful conviction as the mark of an educated worldview. Indeed, cynicism saturates popular culture, and it has afflicted contemporary art by way of postmodernism and irony. Perhaps no recent figure dealt with this problem more explicitly than David Foster Wallace. One of his central artistic projects remains a vital question for artists today: How does art progress from irony and cynicism to something sincere and redeeming?

Twenty years ago, Wallace wrote about the impact of television on U.S. fiction. He focused on the effects of irony as it transferred from one medium to the other. In the 1960s, writers like Thomas Pynchon had successfully used irony and pop reference to reveal the dark side of war and American culture. Irony laid waste to corruption and hypocrisy. In the aftermath of the ’60s, as Wallace saw it, television adopted a self-deprecating, ironic attitude to make viewers feel smarter than the naïve public, and to flatter them into continued watching. Fiction responded by simply absorbing pop culture to “help create a mood of irony and irreverence, to make us uneasy and so ‘comment’ on the vapidity of U.S. culture, and most important, these days, to be just plain realistic.” But what if irony leads to a sinkhole of relativism and disavowal? For Wallace, regurgitating ironic pop culture is a dead end:

Anyone with the heretical gall to ask an ironist what he actually stands for ends up looking like an hysteric or a prig. And herein lies the oppressiveness of institutionalized irony, the too-successful rebel: the ability to interdict the question without attending to its subject is, when exercised, tyranny. It [uses] the very tool that exposed its enemy to insulate itself.

So where have we gone from irony? Irony is now fashionable and a widely embraced default setting for social interaction, writing and the visual arts. Irony fosters an affected nihilistic attitude that is no more edgy than a syndicated episode of “Seinfeld.” Today, pop characters directly address the television-watching audience with a wink and nudge. (Shows like “30 Rock” deliver a kind of meta-television-irony irony; the protagonist is a writer for a show that satirizes television, and the character is played by a woman who actually used to write for a show that satirizes television. Each scene comes with an all-inclusive tongue-in-cheek.) And, of course, reality television as a concept is irony incarnate.

For the generation that came of age during Vietnam, irony was the response to a growing distrust toward anything and everything. In the 1980s, academics such as Mark Jefferson attacked sentimentality, and Neo-Expressionists gave sincerity a bad name through their sophomoric attempts at heroic paintings. Irony was becoming a protective carapace, as Wallace pointed out, a defense mechanism against the possibility of seeming naïve. By the 1990s, television had co-opted irony, and the networks were inundated with commercials using “rebel” in the tagline. Take Andre Agassi’s Canon camera endorsement from that period. In the commercial, the hard-hitting, wiseass Agassi smashed tennis balls loaded with paint to advertise Canon’s “Rebel” brand camera. The ad wraps with Agassi standing in front of a Pollockesque canvas saying “Image is everything.” For all the world, it seemed rebellion had been usurped by commercialism.

This environment gave artists few choices: sentimentality, nihilism, or irony. Or, put another way, critical ridicule as experienced by the Neo-Expressionist (see Sandro Chia), critical acceptance through nihilism like Gerhard Richter, or critical abdication through ironic Pop Art such as Jeff Koons. For a while, it seemed no new ideas were possible, progress was an illusion, and success could be measured only by popularity. Hot trends such as painted pornography; fluorescent paint; sculpture with mirrors, spray foam, and yarn were mistaken for art because artists believed blind pleasure-seeking could be made to seem insightful when described ironically.

[Continue to source article: David Foster Wallace was right: Irony is ruining our culture – Salon.com]

Baby boomer humor’s big lie: “Ghostbusters” and “Caddyshack” really liberated Reagan and Wall Street

An interesting take on common assumptions – PG

Baby boomer humor’s big lie: “Ghostbusters” and “Caddyshack” really liberated Reagan and Wall Street – Salon.com.

Harold Ramis was a master of subversive comedy. But the politics of “Caddyshack” and rude gestures have backfired

I am going to start with three beloved movies of my childhood, and end with a suggestion of why liberals will probably never be able to come to grips with what they winningly call “inequality.” The three movies I have in mind—”National Lampoon’s Animal House,” “Caddyshack,” and “Ghostbusters”–were all written or directed, in whole or in part, by the great Harold Ramis, who died last week, and whose work was eulogized by President Obama as follows:

When we watched his movies . . . we didn’t just laugh until it hurt. We questioned authority. We identified with the outsider. We rooted for the underdog. And, through it all, we never lost our faith in happy endings.

That seems about right, doesn’t it? Each of the films I mentioned features some prudish or strait-laced patriarch who is spectacularly humiliated by a band of slobs or misfits or smart alecks. With their dick jokes and cruel insults, these movies represented, collectively, the righteous rising-up of a generation determined to get justice for the little guy. That’s why a group of prominent Democrats showed up at Ramis’ funeral. It’s why articles about Ramis’ movies routinely speak of their liberating power.

So, the political equation is obvious, right? We of the left own the imagery of subversion and outsiderness. It’s ours. Every time a stupid old white guy gets humiliated in a TV commercial for choosing Brand X, we know it’s because the people at Brand Y secretly support universal health insurance and a nice little pop in the minimum wage. Right?

Well, no. And with that acknowledgement, let me advance to my bold hypothesis: The dick joke is not always what it seems to be. The dick joke is not always your friend.

*

Start with the first really great movie Ramis had a hand in writing, “National Lampoon’s Animal House.” Watching it again today, I didn’t think so much of righteous defiance, or underdogs and outsiders; I thought of Wall Street. This particular iteration of Ramis’ martinet vs. slob theme pits—as everyone knows—a prissy, militaristic college fraternity against a fraternity where the boys like pleasure, which is to say, where they drink beer and throw parties and actually enjoy getting laid. If this basic formula doesn’t strike you as particularly rebellious or even remarkable, that’s because it isn’t: in its simple anarchic assertion of appetite, it’s the philosophy of the people who rule us. Everyone is a fraud in this world; learning is a joke; sex objects are easily conned; Kennedy-style idealism is strictly for suckers; and in one telling moment, fratboy 1 remarks to fratboy 2, who is crying over the trashing of his borrowed automobile by fratboy 1 and company, “You fucked up. You trusted us.” What popped into my mind when I heard that line was that other great triumph of the boomer generation: the time-bomb investments of 2008; Goldman Sachs peddling its “shitty deals” to the naive and the credulous.

Drink, take and lie: translate it into Latin and it could be the motto of the One Percent. It is no coincidence that P. J. O’Rourke, who was editor of National Lampoon when “Animal House” was made and is currently a wisecracking critic of liberalism at the Cato Institute, recently declared that the release of the movie in 1978 marked the moment when his generation “took over” and started to make the world “better.” (That O’Rourke chose to write this for the American Association of Retired Persons is a particularly poignant detail.) It is also no coincidence that the fraternity at Dartmouth which served as one of the models for “Animal House” has of late become a kind of pipeline into the investment-banking industry, nor should it surprise anyone that Wall Street is home to a secret Animal House-style fraternity of its own, a place where the anarchic captains of finance come together to slurp likker and howl their admiration for their beau ideal: the self-maximizing asshole . . . who got bad grades in college.

The second of the Ramis comedies eulogized by Obama was the 1980 cult classic “Caddyshack,” which took on the great movie theme of the Seventies—class antagonism—over a game of golf. The martinet this time is a country-club grandee, depicted by veteran blowhard Ted Knight; the slob confronting him is a real-estate developer of hilariously garish taste played by Rodney Dangerfield; between them stands the American worker in all his nobility—meaning, specifically, a teenaged caddy at the country club who must decide whether to be true to his blue-collar self or to kiss the grandee’s ass in order to go to college. The movie unfolds as a series of set pieces in which WASP prigs blow gasket after gasket upon beholding some infringement of their Prussian sensibilities—absorbing one of Dangerfield’s jokes, or seeing caddies frolicking in the pool, or hearing someone using the word “sucks,” or finding a car parked on the lawn, or picking up the saucy strains of a Journey song as it wafts across the greensward. Boom: Apoplexy! Watch the patriarchs go berserk!

And that makes for a pretty liberal film, right? I mean, who else makes fun of country club grandees except for us lefty authority-questioners?

Well, free-market conservatives do. Google the phrase “Country club Republican” and what you will find, by and large, are right-wing types using it as a synonym for “RINO”: fake Republicans who are in it for the snobbery—not out of faith in the relentless, disruptive forces of capitalism.

These same conservatives are also the most likely to understand class conflict in the way “Caddyshack” does: as a rivalry between WASP old money and differently pedigreed new money. In fact, this is one of the themes of George Gilder’s 1981 book “Wealth and Poverty,” the manifesto of the “supply-side” revolution, and of countless wealth-celebrating books that followed. That’s why “Caddyshack” seems in retrospect like a piece of crypto-Reaganite social commentary. Rodney Dangerfield’s character, for example, is a clear symbol of the crude power of markets—proudly showing off one of his tasteless billboards and announcing that he only cares about the “snobatorium” country club because he wants to build condos there. The choice before the white, working-class caddy boils down to the Harvard-proud WASP snob and the earthy, joke-cracking businessman; the side he eventually chooses is the same one that millions of real-life blue-collar workers were also choosing in those confused days.

There is nothing “crypto” about Ramis’s 1984 hit, “Ghostbusters”: Its Reaganism is fully developed, as numerous critics have pointed out. Here the martinet is none other than a troublemaking EPA bureaucrat; the righteous, rule-breaking slobs are small businessmen—ghost-hunting businessmen, that is, who have launched themselves deliriously into the world of entrepreneurship. Eventually, after the buffoon from the EPA gets needlessly into the businessmen’s mix and blunders the world into catastrophe, the forces of order find they must outsource public safety itself to the hired ghost-guns because government can’t do the job on its own.

Both Reagan and his closest advisers were transfixed by the film, Sidney Blumenthal tells us; “Ghostbusters” fit nicely into their idea of an America guided by “fantasy and myth.” And while the film itself piled up its stupendous box-office returns in that summer of ‘84, Jack Abramoff and his College Republican pals got together a troupe of “Fritzbusters” to warm up the crowds at Republican events, mocking Democratic presidential candidate “Fritz” Mondale with an offensive take-off on the catchy “Ghostbusters” theme song. And why not? What Mondale was promising—yes, promising—was to raise taxes, balance the budget, get responsible, and close down the party. What a Niedermeyer.

*

Harold Ramis was a sort of poet of the rude gesture, of the symbolic humiliation. Our reaction to his work, both now and when it was fresh, is almost mechanical: We see the square on the screen get shamed, and our mind shouts liberation. It is almost Pavlovian. Our culture-masters have been gleefully triggering this kind of reaction for nearly fifty years now—since the rude gesture first became a national pastime during the 1960s—and in that time the affluent, middle-class society that produced the Boomer generation has pretty much gone the way of the family farmer.

These two developments are not unconnected. One small reason for the big economic change, I think, is the confusion engendered by the cultural change. The kind of liberation the rude gesture brings has turned out to be not that liberating after all, but along the way it has crowded out previous ideas of what liberation meant—ideas that had to with equality, with work, with ownership. And still our love of simple, unadorned defiance expands. It is everywhere today. Everyone believes that they’re standing up against unjust authority of some imaginary kind or another—even those whose ultimate aim is obviously to establish an unjust authority of their own. Their terms for it are slightly different than the ones in “Animal House”—they talk about the liberal elite, the statists, the social engineers, the “ruling class.” But they’re all acting out the same old script. The Tea Party movement believes it’s resisting the arrogant liberal know-it-alls. So did Andrew Breitbart, in his brief career as a dealer in pranks and contumely. So do the people who proposed that abominable gay marriage discrimination law in Arizona. Hell, so do the pitiful billionaires of Wall Street—even they think they’re standing bravely for Ayn Rand’s downtrodden job creators.

Maybe the day will come when we finally wake up and understand that insults don’t always set us free. But until that happens, my liberal friends, don’t ask for whom the bird flips: the bird flips for thee.

 

Thomas Frank is a Salon politics and culture columnist. His many books include “What’s The Matter With Kansas,” “Pity the Billionaire” and “One Market Under God.” He is the founding editor of The Baffler magazine.

100 Things You Honestly DON’T Have to Do Before You Die

100 Things You Honestly DON’T Have to Do Before You Die | Alternet.

Thank goodness! I really wasn’t looking forward to skydiving, para sailing, etc. Bucket lists are way, way down there near the bottom of my priority list. Guess I’m just a boring lout. It’s alright. I’m okay with just trying to be where I am instead of obsessing about where I’d rather be.- PG

“OMG, you have to watch Breaking Bad! You simply have to. Stop whatever you’re doing and watch it right now. Stop resuscitating that patient, and watch Breaking Bad. Stop flying that plane, crash it into that field and fire up Netflix.”

As I understand it, we are now all legally obliged to watch Breaking Bad. Our prisons are already full to bursting with people who failed to watch The West Wing or The Wirewhen they were expressly told to. I even saw a woman prosecuted last week for not having read Gone Girl. What was she thinking?

These days we are told we simply have to watch, to read or just to do, very many things: 100 Things to Do Before You Die; 100 Films You Have to See, 100 Books You Must Read If You Don’t Want Everyone at Work to Realise Exactly What a Shallow, Self-Obsessed, X Factor Fan You Really Are.

I am very keen to do what I’m told at all times. If I’m told there are 25 Must-Dive Reefs or 30 Loganberry Recipes You Can’t Live Without then I take that responsibility very seriously and immediately go out shopping for scuba equipment and soft fruit.

But, while I can’t stress enough that I don’t wish to be a troublemaker, there is a slight problem with the maths.

The average human being will live for 701,844 hours. You will be asleep for 233,600 of those hours (more if you’re a cricket fan). You will be working for 74,060 hours (fewer if you’re Usain Bolt) and you’ll be waiting for your children to hurry up and get their shoes on for 11,850.

Take off another 200,000 hours for miscellaneous activities such as being on hold for broadband customer service, queuing at Costa Coffee, or looking up pictures of your ex-girlfriend’s new boyfriend on Facebook.

You suddenly find yourself with just 182,334 useful hours in your life for reading, watching films and baking your signature Loganberry Pecan Flapjacks.

But it gets worse. Given that you are reading this you are, let’s be honest, at least 40. If you were under 40 you’d be reading the cheat codes for Grand Theft Auto V instead (FYI, the dirt-bike code is Circle, X, L1, Circle, Circle, L1, Circle, R1, R2, L2, L1, L1). This means your available hours now stand at 91,167. That’s what you have left. Just over 90,000 hours. To do everything.

So, Breaking Bad should be a breeze: just 61 hours, or 0.000667% of the rest of your life. And – I don’t know if you’ve heard – apparently it’s amazing.

But if you wanted to watch every episode of the Guardian’s Top 50 TV series of all time, that would take up another 2,080 of your precious hours. Add in two new series a year – every year – that you simply have to watch, and that’s a further 4,000 hours. Then add in The Great British Bake Off and, in all, that’s around 6,130 hours of television you simply have to see. That’s nearly 7% of your available life

Watching every film on the BFI’s list of The Greatest Films of All Time will take you 217 hours (with an extra half-hour if you want to watch the hilarious “blooper reel” at the end of Citizen Kane). You will also have to watch at least one new film a month that Charlotte at work keeps banging on about, and one foreign-language film a month because Peter Bradshaw has called it “a stunning new benchmark for Latvian cinema”. That takes your total for films you simply have to see up to 2,233 hours.

And now an even bigger problem: books. Let’s read the Observer’s 100 Greatest Novels. Add in one new book a month that Charlotte has recommended (I like Charlotte, but I wasn’t absolutely convinced by A Street Cat Named Bob) and one new book a month that the Review section has described as Margaret Atwood meets EL James. Sum total of hours spent on books you simply have to read? 6,360.

Then you also have to find time to swim with dolphins, to watch the sunset over Machu Picchu, to kiteboard in the Andes, and to do any number of other tiresome things you see people doing in their profile pictures on  Soulmates.

There are also 50 boutique hotels you must visit, 100 ways to make your garden or your children happy, and 5,000 fonts you can’t PowerPoint without.

And these, of course, are just the things you have to do. The mandatory things. You will still have to find time for the things you actually like doing, such as popping bubble wrap.

Isn’t it time to end this tyranny? In the 1970s we weren’t told what we had to do all the time. Mainly because there were only about eight things you actually could do, so everyone simply did all of them as a matter of course. But there are now too many things in the world, too much stuff. None of the old stuff has gone anywhere, and new things are being added all the time. Citizen Kane still exists, but now Piranha 3DD does as well.

Let’s end this madness shall we? By all means watch Breaking Bad (I’ve heard it’s good – have you heard it’s good?), but the only bit of TV you actually have to see before you die is the episode of Superstars where Kevin Keegan falls off his bike. Use the time I have saved you to watch the TV you actually want to. I recommend Pointless, for example.

The only films from the BFI’s list that you must watch are Some Like It Hot, The Godfather and Singin’ in the Rain. You have my permission to never watch FW Murnau’s 1927 masterpiece Sunrise: A Song of Two Humans or Kenji Mizoguchi’s Ugetsu Monogatari. Watch them if you want, but you don’t have to. You also don’t have to watch the Lord of the Rings trilogy (that’s 47 hours saved right there).

Of 100 Greatest Novels, you can happily ignore all of them except Scoopand The Prime of Miss Jean Brodie. I am assuming you’ve already read To Kill a Mockingbird for O-level. Read Shakespeare if you want to, but you don’t have to. (Though if you don’t ever read him, you’re not allowed to say he’s rubbish. Deal?) You should probably read Great Expectations, but feel free to leave Dickens there. And I think Wuthering Heights is the only Emily Brontë novel worth reading (someone will rise to this, just you wait and see).

You must never swim with dolphins. If they ever want to swim with you, I’m sure they’ll let you know. Forget Machu Picchu; the sunset on the west coast of Scotland is as beautiful as any you’ll see in the world, and it’s really nearby. And by all means go kiteboarding above the Andes, but that might be the thing you do literally just before you die. And we would miss your Soulmates subscription.

In reality there are very few things you actually have to do before you die. They include: ring your mum more often; recycle; watch The Book of Mormon.

Please feel free to leave other suggestions online. The simple things, not the showy things. The things that make the world a better place. I believe, for example, that I’ve already mentioned popping bubble wrap.

But before you do that, have you seen Breaking Bad? You must.

Duck Decoy

Thanks to: Duck Decoy | Ten Miles Square | The Washington Monthly. January 09, 2014 12:00 PM Duck Decoy How the entertainment industry made the Duck Dynasty family into rednecks. By Daniel Luzer

My Comment: No one’s saying you can’t be a redneck without a ZZ Top beard but here’s what happens when there’s profit to be made from hyperbole. Gay bashing is profitable too, I guess. It’s enough to make one question the intelligence of the general public. Duh.

But here is Phil’s son Jase (the show’s “laid-back, self-professed redneck”) and his wife a few years ago

Duck Decoy | Ten Miles Square | The Washington Monthly

Here’s Jase today:

Duck Decoy | Ten Miles Square | The Washington Monthly

He’s not a redneck. He just plays one on TV.

His brother, Willie Robertson, is the CEO of Duck Commander. This is what he looks like:

WillieDD

This is what he used to look like:

WillieDDold