The American Conservative Staff
(”An American in Paris” is briefly mentioned in this.)
Pop Culture This summer’s big-budget flops represent a day of reckoning that had to come before any possibility of the studios reinventing themselves. — Joe Morgenstern (@JoeMorgenstern) July 25, 2013 I certainly hope so, though Morgenstern’s WSJ colleague reports that despite some massive failures, 2013 overall box office is ahead of last year’s. But man, have the failures been huge. Think about all the wonderful little movies Disney could have made with the $170 million it lost on The Lone Ranger, a movie that any idiot could have told you would have been a flop. Who the hell cares about that character? How many potential My Big Fat Greek Weddings could have been made with that cash? Nia Vardalos’s charming little movie cost $5 million to make. Know how much it’s pulled in over the past 11 years? Almost $370 million. I watched the second episode of the first season of House Of Cards tonight, on my iPad as I worked out. It’s very dark, and I’m not all that into it, frankly, but I can’t think of the last movie I saw in the theater that gave me as much to relish. Had I seen Argo on the big screen, that certainly would have qualified. I enjoyed the hell out of that movie, but I’ve been burned so many times by the cost and bother of going to a theater to see what turned out to be a big piece of nothing that I wasn’t willing to take the chance. I caught it on an iTunes download. Can’t say I regret waiting to see it in that format, but I do hate that I’ve gotten out of the habit of seeing movies on the big screen. On the other hand, all of us in my family had a terrific time watching an HD version of An American In Paris together, via an iTunes download to our Apple TV. For us, it was an event, and it only cost four dollars. Still, I would like to be able to take my wife out for a date to a real movie and a real dinner, and make it worth paying the babysitter. I know we’ve been over this a couple of times recently on this blog, but I still can’t stop wondering why it’s so hard to make movies for the big screen that make people over the age of 22 say, “You’ve got to go see this!” ]]>
(Review Source)
The American Conservative Staff
(”An American in Paris” is briefly mentioned in this.)
A couple of weeks ago, we watched An American In Paris as a family. Tonight the boys and I watched On The Town tonight. After it was over, Lucas, who is nine, said, “I want to see every movie Gene Kelly ever made!” I told him that sometime this weekend, we would watch Singin’ In The Rain, which is Gene Kelly’s most famous movie. “I think I’ve heard of that,” he said. “Come see this,” I said, and showed him the clip above. It dazzled him. Lucas said, “It’s hard to believe somebody like that died.” Which, after a second or two, I realized might be just about the best thing that anybody could say about Gene Kelly, or anybody: that you were so full of life that it seemed only right that you should live forever. Look what I found just now. Gene Kelly, the quintessential American, was a Francophile who spoke French. Good man!: UPDATE.2: Look what just came in the e-mail: Dear Mr. Dreher, A Google Alert this morning directed me to your lovely piece about my late husband Gene Kelly. I smiled when I read your son’s comment about Gene’s death. I feel the same way. I am often on panels with filmmakers who say that young people don’t have any attention span and that you need to dumb things down – hype them up – in order to make them appealing to kids. I disagree completely and your son’s response to the films is a good example of why. Instead, I think you have to do what Gene did – make something of quality that is both contemporary and timeless. By the way, Gene also spoke Yiddish and pretty fair Italian. He read Latin, wrote poetry and often read a book a day. Good man is right! Warm regards, Patricia Kelly Isn’t that marvelous? I can’t tell my children what to like, but what I can do is expose them to the greats, and hope that their imagination is captured. My son Lucas is athletically and musically inclined, so I’m not surprised that he is fascinated by Gene Kelly … but I am delighted. Thanks to Mrs. Kelly for this generous note. He read Latin and spoke Yiddish! Can you imagine? How great it would have been to have known him. ]]>
(Review Source)
The Unz Review Staff
(”An Inconvenient Truth” is briefly mentioned in this.)
Two of the most important problems that the so-called Green New Deal will attempt to solve at the cost of incalculable trillions are global warming and its consequences, including drought, famine, floods and massive starvation. You may recall that Obama in his 2015 State of the Union speech declared that the greatest threat facing us...
(Review Source)
Taki Mag Staff
(”An Officer and a Spy” is briefly mentioned in this.)
As the political races of 2020 emerge, we’re going to see some remarkably weird and hilarious ads. The first to receive that nod belongs to Valerie Plame. The former spy has filmed something that looks less like a candidacy announcement and more like a reboot of Jennifer Garner’s spy show Alias. You might recall that […]
(Review Source)
Annihilation
Intolerant
‘Annihilation’ starring Natalie Portman had me excited, as it is the same writer and director that did ‘Ex Machina,’ an amazing film. Unfortunately ‘Annihilation’ did not meet these expectations. Disregarding the poor scientific explanations (like a character turning into a … Continue reading
(Review Source)
Anonymous
The American Conservative Staff
(”Anonymous” is briefly mentioned in this.)
Hey, I can understand why some people are really interested in the theory that William Shakespeare was not really the author of plays attributed to him, that he was the literary beard for someone else. I don’t care, but I can see why literature professors and theatergoers would find this topic worthwhile. I hope they enjoy the film “Anonymous,” which opens this weekend, though it sounds to me like Dan Brown for English majors. But I gotta say: Really? I can’t imagine that this film, with Vanessa Redgrave and other top-flight English actors, was cheap to make. Does the studio really expect to make a penny on this thing? How big could the audience possibly be? I’m always up for a good British costume drama, but … this? What am I not getting? Help me here. ]]>
(Review Source)
Apollo 11
American Renaissance

Dare we celebrate the achievements of white men?

The post Apollo 11 and the America That Was appeared first on American Renaissance.

(Review Source)
The Unz Review Staff
I just got off Skype with Kevin Barrett. Interviewed, I sat in the dusty office of our dustier plastic recycling plant. Truck horns and roosters crowing provided background noises. Though we covered many topics, I want to expand on just one, that of America as a religion. Unless you’re a reactionary, assbackward a*****e, you believe...
(Review Source)
Apollo 13
American Renaissance
(”Apollo 13” is briefly mentioned in this.)

Dare we celebrate the achievements of white men?

The post Apollo 11 and the America That Was appeared first on American Renaissance.

(Review Source)
American Renaissance
(”Apollo 13” is briefly mentioned in this.)

A journey to Wakanda is more important than one to the moon.

The post The 2019 Oscars Honor Multicultural Fantasy over Racial Reality appeared first on American Renaissance.

(Review Source)
The American Conservative Staff
(”Apollo 13” is briefly mentioned in this.)
Usually, when I do these (too infrequent) double feature features, I connect one current film with a film from the back catalog: “The King’s Speech” with “Richard III,” or “Tree of Life” with “A Serious Man.” But every now and again, Hollywood serves up two movies that are obviously intended by fate to be seen together. This year is one such, and the pairing is “Gravity,” directed by Alfonso Cuarón (director of “Children of Men” and “Y Tu Mamá También“) and “All Is Lost,” directed by J. C. Chandor (director of “Margin Call,” my favorite film about the financial crisis and, hence, a primary object of my envy since I wish I could have written a film that good). I almost don’t feel like I need to explain why. But I will anyway. “Gravity” tells the story of Sandra Bullock, rookie astronaut, struggling home to earth all on her own after space junk cripples the shuttle that brought her to orbit in the first place. Everything that can go wrong does, and at one point she gives up and prepares for death. But her final brainstorm actually works, and, amazingly, she makes it (we presume – the movie ends when she finally reaches dry land but is still far from civilization). “All Is Lost,” on the other hand, tells the story of Robert Redford, wealthy yachtsman, struggling to get back to land all on his own after sea junk (a stray shipping container) cripples the 39-foot sailboat that brought him to the middle of the Indian Ocean in the first place. Everything that can go wrong does, and at one point he gives up and prepares for death. But his final brainstorm actually works, and, amazingly, he makes it (we presume – the movie ends when he is swimming to the surface picked up). Both movies appear to be paradigmatic “man (or woman) versus wild” contests. But both are ultimately more interested in charting an internal spiritual journey than in showing an audience how human beings can win a round in the endless war against pitiless nature. It’s in the differences between those journeys, and between the two movie star protagonists, that the contrast between the films primarily lies. Where one film runs before the wind of our era, the other tacks against it. *     *     * Gravity When I saw “Gravity,” I went into the theater thinking about “Apollo 13,” the Ron Howard film about the successful effort to bring the astronauts home from a failed moon shot. That film focused on the grit and practical ingenuity of the men who made America’s adventure in space possible. It was about a set of virtues, and more specifically about watching those virtues in action. And, because it told the story of a failed mission, it was also (like “Argo,”) very much a movie about America in the 1970s, about certain classic American virtues being pressed into service to salvage as much as possible from a mission that is doomed to fail. But “Gravity” isn’t really that kind of movie – because it isn’t really interested in practical ingenuity. There’s a contradiction at the heart of “Gravity” with respect to realism. Enormous effort has been put into getting the physics right, and that effort pays off magnificently. The film is stunningly beautiful – more than that, it is sublime (to use the Burkean distinction). The opening shot, which must be something like fifteen minutes long, will leave your jaw slack, and when you’ve stopped staring you’ll realize that, amazingly, you’ve been able to keep oriented when there is no up nor down. That’s a heck of a cinematographic achievement. Even when things start to go wrong, and the frame fills with objects moving in trajectories we never see them follow on earth, we still somehow always know where we are. And then there are the little directorial choices here have a huge impact in terms of creating a feeling of realism – for example, it’s amazing how much is communicated simply by massive collisions between space ships produce no sound. Cuarón’s primary commitment in this film is to give us some sense of what movement looks like up there in orbit, and hence to what walking in space might feel like. He succeeds entirely. But what actually happens in the film requires enormous suspension of disbelief. [Spoilers follow.] Sandra Bullock’s character, Ryan Stone, doesn’t just survive being thrown from the structure where she’s working when the space debris hits. She makes her way to a space station 100 kilometers away. She crawls inside that station, only to be nearly trapped by a fire that breaks out inside. She escapes the fire into the reentry craft, and figures out how to launch the craft away from the station, only to discover that the chute, which has deployed prematurely, has gotten tangled around the struts of the station. She gets back out and frees the craft from the tangled parachute – in the middle of a hailstorm of space debris that annihilates the space station. She escapes the millions of fragments of flying debris, gets back into the spaceship, only to discover it’s out of fuel. She figures out how to jerry-rig it to fly anyway, and makes her way to yet another space station (a Chinese one). She’s got no thrusters to maneuver with, so she bails out of the ship and pilots herself successfully to that station using a fire extinguisher. She gets into the other station’s reentry vehicle, figures out how to fly it even though all instructions are in Chinese, and finally survives a reentry even though her capsule is tumbling rump over teakettle. That’s rather more than six impossible things to believe before breakfast. Which is fine – this is a movie. But the fact that Stone is able to pull off this series of wildly improbably feats tells us what kind of movie we’re in. For all it’s commitment to realism in the depiction of this strange and hostile environment, we’re not in a movie about what it takes to survive in that environment, in terms of practical knowledge or native virtues. And the proper point of comparison isn’t “Apollo 13” but “Life of Pi.” Early on in the film, we learn that Stone is emotionally dead as a consequence of the death of her young daughter. (She’s not named “Stone” for nothing.) There’s no mention of a husband or any other family; so far as we know, she is entirely alone, nobody looking up at her, waiting for her to come home. (The weakest sequences in “Apollo 13,” by the way, were the shots of the “home front” – none of the astronauts’ wives had any character, and they had nothing much to do but look worried.) But she has a mentor figure: Matt Kowalski (George Clooney), commander of her mission. He draws her out, rescues her from her space tumble, and then heroically (and completely stoically) sacrifices himself so that she might live. Kowalski’s there to remind her of a reason to live, but also to communicate the message that if you know that reason – if your soul is properly oriented – you will always either find a way to live, or face death with his extraordinary equanimity. In the most ultimate sense, your fate is entirely in your hands, and is determined by how in tune you are with the universe. He even appears later as a ghost to give her the crucial insight that enables her to finish her journey – which she finishes flying her ship essentially by intuition, without instruments (since they are all in Chinese anyway). He might as well be named Obi Wan Kenobi. Stone’s personal journey, meanwhile, is clearly signposted as such over and over again. All of the spaceships she pilots have a religious figure above what I can only think of as the dashboard (an icon on the Russian craft, a smiling Buddha on the Chinese – this cheerful ecumenical approach to religiosity is another similarity to “Life of Pi”). When Bullock first makes it into the ISS, she pulls off her space suit and gulps in the air (she had run out just before getting in), then floats, for a moment, before the airlock, in a semi-fetal position, the tube from her suit floating just behind her in the position of an umbilicus. And when she gets back to earth, she blows the hatch immediately upon landing (wouldn’t you know – there’s another fire) and has to escape the capsule into the ocean, shed her space suit skin, and swim to shore. A verdantly Edenic shore – but uninhabited. That emptiness is not an accident. For all that Stone’s journey is supposedly about re-awakening to human connection – getting over the loss of her daughter and finding someone to look up at her and hope that she comes home safely – solitude is fundamental to her journey. The stoic Kowalski, though he won’t stop talking for even a second, is ultimately self-sufficient enough to be content to die gazing at the beauty of the Ganges (note, not the Amazon or the Danube, but a religiously potent river) from space. And one doesn’t get the feeling that he has anybody looking up at him, hoping he’ll come home. At the end, Stone is alive again, and the world is alive as well; she’s no longer in the cold darkness of space. But she is defiantly solitary. Because she’s found what she needs inside her. *     *     * All Is Lost It’s not incidental that an essential self-sufficiency – cheerful, adaptable, ready for any challenge – is our civilization’s paramount economic virtue. And it’s what the Robert Redford character embodies at the start of “All Is Lost,” a radically different film from “Gravity” even though it has a very similar premise. Redford is the only person in the film, and he present himself as quite thoroughly self-sufficent – he must be, or he wouldn’t be sailing the middle of the Indian Ocean without a crew. And he doesn’t even paint a volleyball to talk to; there is virtually no dialogue, far less than in “Gravity,” a film that takes place in a world without air and, hence, without sound. (I assume that a major motivation for Chandor to make this film was just to see if it could be done – to make a nearly dialogue-free, one-man movie. Kudos to him even for trying, but the more impressive fact is that he succeeded.) He’s self-motivated as well – he is not in the middle of the ocean performing any social function, or on any assignment. He’s there because he’s there. In any event, he is alone, and plainly considers himself sufficient as such. And we know that he is supposed to be a representative character, a symbol of our age, right from his name. Which he doesn’t have. In the script, he’s known simply as “Our Man.” What kind of man he is we have to infer, because, unlike “Gravity,” “All Is Lost” declines to give us any backstory. We open on a calm sea in flat, bleak light, and hear Robert Redford in voice over reading a last letter to – well, we don’t know to whom; he names no wife, no children. It is addressed, it would seem, to the universe at large. And it’s an apology, but Our Man doesn’t say what he’s sorry for, what he did wrong or to whom. He says with some pride that he fought until the end, but he wonders whether that means anything. All he knows is that he’s sorry. The letter is almost a perfect inversion of the sentiment on which Ryan Stone concludes her journey. But, as we flash back to the accident that put Our Man adrift, details accumulate that enable us to infer what kind of man he is. His ship is a late-1970s-era yacht, nicely appointed but not particularly up to date. This is a wealthy man, but not a billionaire, and a man who harkens back to an earlier era, when he was in his prime. He wakes to seawater pouring in through a hole in the hull, and ruining his electronics – none of which are waterproof; our first indication that this is not a man actually prepared for any eventuality. It’s a bad break, but Our Man doesn’t panic. He investigates the hole – his sailboat was hulled by an errant shipping container of sneakers. He gets the sailboat off the container and sets to work, methodically, setting the ship right – patching the hull, pumping out the water, and rinsing the salt out of his ruined radio. Then, climbing the mast to repair a broken circuit, Our Man spots a storm coming. He battens down the hatches – and then he shaves, expertly enough that there’s not a nick on him. The shaving scene is crucial for telling us what kind of man this is. He is not shaving to make an impression on anybody else (as, if I may juxtapose the sublime and the ridiculous, Crocodile Dundee did); he’s not preening for the cameras like a character on a Discovery Channel show. (I suspect many will come to this movie expecting a version of that kind of ersatz survivalism – more to the point, I wonder whether Our Man came up with the idea for this voyage by watching too much Bear Grylls.) Because there is nobody else there, nobody to impress but himself. This is a man, the gesture says, of stable habits that have served him well, that he doesn’t intend to abandon in a moment of crisis, and also a man of some personal vanity. And this is the moment that tells us: this man is not going to make it. It’s been fascinating to read the comments by experienced sailors on this film, because they are generally contemptuous of Our Man, calling him a weekend sailor, in over his head, and making one rookie mistake after another. As a non-sailor, I couldn’t possibly see most of these, but it was clear to me watching the film that we were not supposed to infer Our Man’s great skill so much as we were to infer his calm self-confidence – true self-confidence, not mere arrogance. This is a man who has seen successfully through many crises before. It makes sense that he assumes he can handle this one. It also makes sense that he would make rookie mistakes, because he is in over his head. But he makes them calmly, confidently, making the best decisions he knows how all along the way. Another difference: “All Is Lost” is much less invested in showing us the extraordinary environment of the ocean than “Gravity” is in showing us space. That’s partly a function of the different vantage point you have in orbit versus on the ocean’s surface, but it’s also a difference in the stories being told. In “Gravity” we get lots of panoramic footage that places us in context, that displays all the splendor of Earth, the cold vastness of the heavens, and the fragile elegance of our creations that hover between. We have the filmmaker’s God’s-eye view of reality. In “All Is Lost,” by contrast, the camera stays on Redford nearly all of the time, and so we experience the storm from an entirely human vantage point. When Our Man gets tossed overboard, we go over with him, and frankly we can’t see much. When the yacht is overturned by a particularly ferocious wave, we’re below decks with Our Man; the picture tumbles as the floor becomes the ceiling and then the floor again, but we don’t see the vessel dismasted – an obvious shot for a movie about a storm and shipwreck – until Our Man comes up and sees the damage himself. Budgetary considerations were undoubtedly one reason for that choice, but Chandor makes a virtue of necessity. He doesn’t personify nature as an antagonist. Nature is just reality. Once his sailboat is wrecked, Our Man abandons ship into an inflatable life raft, and hopes for rescue. He charts his drift into the shipping lanes between East Asia and the Cape, and stands at the ready when he’s in the zone. But he’s rebuffed by two enormous container ships (the vessels responsible for his desperate situation in the first place) that pass extremely close to his little raft; nobody even notices his flares. It’s perhaps too direct a symbol – the indifference of commerce to anyone tossed overboard – and I wondered: isn’t anybody ever on deck on these ships? But perhaps that’s really the point: there’s almost no crew, and nobody is on deck. The economic system is more like pitiless nature than like anything human. His last hope lost, Our Man prepares for death by sending his empty final message in the proverbial glass vessel (a jar in this case rather than a bottle). And then, an unexpected hope flickers. In the middle of a dark night, he sees a light on the water. He has only one flare left, and, clearly worried it will be insufficient, he lights a fire, setting the lifeboat itself aflame, and jumps into the water. Before the fire is even out, he sinks below the surface, clearly exhausted, and watches the circle of fire and the echoing circle of the moon from below as he sinks. The image is striking, and clearly intended as a symbol – it was the first image in the film to hit me that way, and for that reason it jarred. And, lo and behold, the fire trick works. A small (human-scale) boat comes to rescue him, and, surprised by his sudden good fortune, Our Man swims to the surface, and to safety. It is, again, a reversal of the progression in “Gravity.” Where Ryan Stone learned self-sufficiency from a kind of stoic, that with enough confidence and grit you can overcome any obstacle (or face death calmly when there truly is no way), Our Man learns, finally, his utter insufficiency. He faces death not calmly, but exhausted, emptied, having burned his last earthly refuge and surrendered to the waves. And then, when he has finally given up, he’s saved. I admit, I wasn’t crazy about that ending. It felt like a note of grace that was unconnected to the rest of the film, which didn’t traffic in those kinds of quasi-theological notions. Our Man is deluded about his self-sufficiency, yes, but I didn’t think he was deluded about the pitilessness of the universe. To put it another way, I’m pretty sure Werner Herzog would have let him drown. But if we must carry around a “notion” about the universe, the idea that we have to surrender our earthly hopes to experience the gratitude of salvation sits better with me than the uplift of “Gravity.” ]]>
(Review Source)
The American Conservative Staff
(”Apollo 13” is briefly mentioned in this.)
I finally got around to seeing “Argo” earlier this week, and was astounded at how thoroughly it failed (in my view) to measure up to the considerable hype. I’d been fairly warned not to expect much from Affleck’s performance, but his flatness was only part of the problem. What, ultimately, is this movie about? In case you haven’t heard, “Argo” is a “thriller” about the successful exfiltration of six embassy staff from Iran during the hostage crisis. The six escape the American embassy just before the Iranian mob bursts in, and flee to the Canadian ambassador’s residence, where they wait for weeks for somebody to do something to get them out of there. The CIA cavalry (Ben Affleck) comes to the rescue just in time, as the Iranian authorities are busily putting the pieces together necessary to discover and then find the missing six, which would undoubtedly mean their heads on pikes. But the cavalry comes on a pretty strange horse: a plan to sneak the staffers out disguised as a Canadian film crew scouting possible locations for a “Star Wars” knockoff. “Best bad idea” though it is, it turns out to be good enough, and home we go. I put “thriller” in quotes because there aren’t many thrills to be had. Affleck (the director) goes instead for precisely modulated tension, which is more rewarding but tougher to achieve. Our heroes don’t generally have to do anything clever in response to obstacles thrown at them – instead, they get through basically by brazening it out and not giving up. This should have been fine for me. I prefer a realistic approach to the bloated action of a typical thriller. In fact, I don’t tend to watch many thrillers, preferring character-driven pieces. But there wasn’t much in the way of character development either. There’s no real internal conflict within Affleck’s CIA operative. There’s no real conflict between him and his bosses – except briefly, when they try to call the operation off, and he goes ahead anyway. There’s no real conflict between the Canadians and the Americans, or between the American staffers in hiding. There’s a bit of conflict between Affleck and one of the staffers – and, of course, the staffer who doesn’t trust Affleck winds up saving the day at the last minute by sweet-talking the Revolutionary Guard officer at the airport in Farsi – but that conflict is limited to “I don’t trust you;” it doesn’t go any further or have any ramifications. Affleck has some kind of conflict with his wife – when we meet him, he’s “taking time out” from his marriage, and at the end he returns to her – but we don’t know what the conflict is or how it’s resolved. The Hollywood scenes could have been an opportunity for conflict between Affleck and himself, or between Affleck and the Hollywood people, but nothing of the sort materializes, and any satire of Hollywood is extremely tame. We don’t even really get a sense of whether Affleck is titillated, amused, impatient in dealing with these people from outside his normal sphere. There isn’t even any real conflict between America and Iran. We see period clips of Americans furious at the hostage-taking, and we see Iranians furious at America’s historic support for the oppressive Pahlavi regime, but none of the actual characters behave as if there is any reason for America and Iran to be in conflict. It’s just very unfortunate that we’re in this mess, and the Americans we see just want to find an honorable way out. And that unobjectionable sentiment is what I ultimately concluded this movie is about. Affleck (as director) saw the opportunity to make a patriotic film essentially without enemies. The conflict with Iran isn’t the fault of anybody on screen, and nobody on screen defends the behavior of earlier American administrations that are implicitly blamed for creating the mess. It’s just an inherited problem, and we get to cheer these six escaping with their lives. It’s like “Apollo 13” with the Iranians playing the deadly vacuum of outer space. And with no moon. And that’s the problem. I think Affleck avoided ginning up conflict between the staffers in hiding (the usual reason you lock people in a room together in a movie), avoided creating a “Die Hard”-style conflict and reconciliation between Affleck and the wife, avoided letting Hollywood satire take over the movie, etc. because he didn’t want these Hollywood tropes to distract from the serious heart of the movie. And I applaud him for that. But where is that heart? What is the larger context within which this drama plays out, and which gives the drama meaning? This is a movie from 2012, so the larger context today is the American position in the Middle East. If you believe that this position is primarily the fruit of foolish or malign decisions by previous administrations, and that we basically need to judiciously extricate ourselves without getting ourselves killed, then this movie “works” as a metaphor. But the absence of a “moon” – of any sense of what the mission was that failed, and that we now need to extricate people from, which is part of how the movie avoids offending anyone – deprives that message of any emotional punch, and turns the movie into something more akin to a campaign ad. How effective an ad is it? Well, I’ve argued in the past that the Obama Administration is just trying to surf the tides in the Middle East, and is under no illusions that it is in control (or could be in control) of events. And I agree with them in this. But it’s probably not ideal to use an incident from the Carter Administration to make a similar point. In the end, I think Affleck made a mistake not directing this as an absurdist comedy with a serious edge, instead of playing it so straight. The comic potential in the premise is so obvious, I have to assume he saw that potential, but turned away from it. But what America really needs when we contemplate the mess we’re in isn’t inoffensive uplift, but a good laugh. ]]>
(Review Source)
The Unz Review Staff
(”Apollo 13” is briefly mentioned in this.)
John Glenn’s passing at the age of 95 is just another reminder that the era of infinite possibility is sadly passing away. Glenn, a Marine fighter pilot in WWII and Korea, was the first American to orbit the earth in 1962. And with Glenn’s death goes the possibility of refuting one of the stranger tales born in the Current Year and poised to become the definitive story of the Mercury and Apollo missions: the Christmas Day-scheduled movie Hidden Figures’“untold true story” that black women were the real force behind America’s space exploration. In the book on which the movie is based, Hidden Figures: The American Dream and the Untold Story of the Black Women Mathematicians Who Helped Win the Space Race, by Margot Lee Shetterly, Glenn is quoted as having said this of Katherine Johnson, the black female brain allegedly behind NASA‘s greatest glories. ““Get the girl to check the numbers,” said the astronaut. If she says the numbers are good, he told them, I’m ready to go.” Glenn was supposedly asking for one more check before his flight into space—a review of the orbital trajectory generated by the IBM 7090 computer. With Glenn’s death, we will never know if this conversation ever took place. But it is part of an insistent revisionist history of NASA [National Aeronautics and Space Administration], which was in fact almost entirely staffed by whites until the Apollo program was shuttered in the early 1970s. Historians of the space program recognize the awful truth: NASA, along with the companies that performed contract work during Apollo, was a reflection of society’s workforce in the late 1960s—mostly white, mostly male. [Apollo Moon Missions: The Unsung Heroes, by Billy Watkins,2006, p. 79] But NASA’s website now reports that Katherine Johnson, a blue-eyed, light-skinned black female, calculated the trajectory for Alan Shepard, the first American in space…even after NASA began using electronic computers, John Glenn requested that she personally recheck the calculations made by the new electronic computers before his flight aboard Friendship 7—the mission on which he became the first American to orbit the Earth.” [Katherine Johnson: The Girl Who Loved to Count, NASA.gov, November 24, 2015] The primarily white Main Stream Media began frenetic virtue-signaling with the #OscarsSoWhite movement. This helped spawned a bidding war over the “true” story of how a lone black female helped fulfill John F. Kennedy’s promise of putting a man on the moon before the end of the 1960s: And Fox 2000 and Chernin are developing Hidden Figures, a movie about the African-American women who helped NASA launch its first space missions (Taraji P. Henson and Octavia Spencer recently were cast). [Hollywood’s Casting Blitz: It’s All About Diversity in the Wake of #OscarsSoWhite, by Rebecca Ford, Hollywood Reporter, March 2, 2016] But the recent canonization of Katherine Johnson and her “untold” contributions to NASA’s incredible achievements (think about it: the Wright brothers were the first humans to fly in 1903, NASA landed men on the moon only 66 years later) stretches credulity. Why isn’t Johnson mentioned in John Glenn’s John Glenn: A Memoir or Alan Shepard’s Moon Shot: The Inside Story of America’s Race to the Moon? Why does Charles Murray not mention her in his seminal book on the Apollo program (co-authored with Katherine Murray), Apollo: Race to the Moon? Why is Johnson not mentioned in Tom Wolfe’s epic The Right Stuff,documenting the sensational story of NASA’s first astronaut group, the all-white Mercury 7. Why, especially oddly, is Johnson not mentioned in We Could Not Fail: The First African Americans in the Space Program. Why was Johnson not mentioned in either Jet or Ebony magazine, two black magazines that spent the 1960s and 1970s simultaneously lamenting the lack of blacks at NASA and celebrating any minor achievements of blacks in the space program. (Finally, she appeared May 23, 2005 issue of Jet: A physicist, space scientist, and mathematician, Katherine Johnson gained a minute in the national glare in 1970 when she was instrumental in formulating calculations that helped the crippled Apollo 13 return home safely. U.S. Rep. Eddie B. Johnson Pushes Resolution To Support Black Women In Science & Technology Curiously, the Jet article acknowledges “very little literature documents African American women and their place in science”). Why, given her alleged role in the Apollo 13 drama, does Johnson not appear in Jim Lovell’s autobiographical Lost Moon: The Perilous Voyage of Apollo 13(subsequently made into the Tom Hanks movie, Apollo 13). Why does Gene Kranz, the Flight Director of NASA famously played by Ed Harris in Apollo 13, fail to mention Katherine Johnson in his autobiography Failure is Not an Option: Mission Control from Mercury to Apollo 13 and Beyond? Why, perhaps most significantly, does Johnson not appear in Harlem Princess: The Story of Harry Delaney’s Daughter, the autobiography of Ruth Bates Harris? Harris, who took the job of Deputy Assistant Administrator for Equal opportunity for NASA in 1972, famously said, “I saw no minorities or women as astronauts. Could I help make a difference?” Harris waged a war to get more blacks involved with NASA, which was a paltry 5.6 percent non-white in 1973 versus a government agency average of 20 percent minority. [Societal Impact of Spaceflight, 2007, PDF] Why does Johnson not appear in Beyond Uhura: Star Trek and Other Memories, by the black actress Nichelle Nichols, who played the part of Lt. Uhura in the iconic TV series Star Trek? Nichols waged a personal crusade against the overwhelming white nature of NASA, giving a speech in 1977, “New Opportunities for the Humanization of Space,” lamenting how white the space agency was and how this was dehumanizing to nonwhites. Many leading white liberals in the 1960s wanted to find a way to put a black into space. Edward R. Murrow wrote a letter to James E. Webb, then the Administrator of NASA reading thus: September 21, 1961 Dear Jim, Why don’t we put the first non-white man in space? If your boys were to enroll and train a qualified Negro and then fly him in whatever vehicle is available, we could retell our whole space effort to the whole non-white world, which is most of it. As ever, Yours, Edward R. Murrow Just last year, after Katherine Johnson was awarded the Medal Of Freedom by President Obama, she named “West Virginian of the Year” and these strange words were written about her: Johnson’s achievements, despite their significance, went largely unnoticed. “No one knows that John Glenn wouldn’t fly unless Katherine Johnson checked the math,” Megan Smith, the White House chief technology officer, said in October. “It’s an amazing story, and it’s totally unknown.” Johnson was never mentioned in the New York Times or the Washington Post before this year. She is nowhere to be found in ‘This New Ocean,’ NASA’s comprehensive internal history of Project Mercury. Before 2015, the Charleston Gazette and Daily Mail wrote about her exactly once. The story appeared in the Gazette in 1977 to note that she had been honored by the Afro-American Historical and Cultural Museum in Philadelphia. It did not mention NASA. It was five sentences long. “We’re in a country that sometimes we have revisionist history, and if you go look at history books, lots of times there aren’t African-Americans in there,” said Leland Melvin, a former space shuttle astronaut. “It’s so easy to just have an omission and play up the people and things that you want to make prominent.” During the Mercury and Apollo missions, that meant playing up the stereotype of the first seven astronauts. “Back then, you were a test pilot with a crew cut,” Melvin said. “The original seven, Life Magazine with the wives and the Corvettes — there wasn’t room for anyone else in that dialogue.” [West Virginian of the Year: Katherine G. Johnson, Charleston Gazette Mail, by David Gutman, December 26, 2015. Link in original]. Let’s be honest: the only “revisionist” history going on right now is the push to have Americans in 2016 believe a black woman was key to NASA’s putting a man on the moon. Minority Occupied America may not put men on the moon. But it can hype Politically Correct myths, Paul Kersey[Email him] is the author of the blog SBPDL, and has published the books SBPDL Year One, Hollywood in Blackface and Escape From Detroit, Opiate of America: College Football in Black and White and Second City Confidential: The Black Experience in Chicagoland. His latest book is The Tragic City: Birmingham 1963-2 013. ]]>
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Aquaman
Nick J. Fuentes
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Nick J. Fuentes
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