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April 21, 2014 / 21 Nisan, 5774
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Posts Tagged ‘HBO’

Needed: A Conservative Counter-Culture

Sunday, February 10th, 2013

The last election has brought on essays bemoaning the conservative disconnect from popular culture and the need to somehow reconnect with it. The means of this reconnection are hardly ever stated, though there is the implication that conservatives would need to “evolve” on certain social issues in the hopes that its economic viewpoint will be taken seriously by a population whose social way of life doom it to be dependent on government support.

As plans go, this one is nearly as clever as trying to promote weight loss by opening a cake shop. And it ignores the obvious reality that the only way that conservatives will be allowed to participate in popular culture is as the butt of a joke. Whether it’s Sarah Palin’s appearance on Saturday Night Live or Rush Limbaugh’s Family Guy appearance, trying to be a good sport about liberal culture is the strategy of a good loser playing into the prepared stereotype, rather than destroying it.

The culture is polarized. That means there is no place for conservatives in it except by playing the villain’s part, and the villain’s part, whether played with good humor or reluctantly, is not the winning part. But it’s also a mistake to call it the culture, when what we really mean is the culture created and perpetuated by a small number of corporations, their affiliated creatives and their affiliated press.

Take Girls, an HBO series that is one part nepotism and nine parts artificially generated corporate trend, that was recently the subject of several essays insisting that we take it seriously because it is “the culture”. How big of a slice of the culture is Girls? It’s on HBO, which means it has limited viewership and unlimited publicity. HBO exists to promote the illusion, not so much of quality, but of relevance. And Girls is a triumph of fake relevance. It is the show that you must consider relevant, because well… it’s relevant. Isn’t it?

The Girls Season 2 premiere scored 866,000 viewers. After multiple airings it made it up to 1.6 million. It wasn’t exactly a case of the entire country tuning in. Nor its entire female population or even its entire population of women in their twenties. And since HBO only exists as a desperate effort by the dying cable industry to hang on to its subscribers, its episodes are not available on iTunes, Hulu Plus or any of the other concessions to the age of internet broadcast entertainment.

Girls is doubtlessly relevant to the daughters of wealthy urban liberal families who find themselves with too much money and too little common sense. And it’s probably not even relevant to them since its larger audience share is with men over 50 and its median viewer age is 43. Is it relevant to the culture as a whole? Not really. And its perceived importance highlights the disconnect between the Low Culture of the free TV sitcom and the High Culture of the cable indie drama. Both may have a leftie agenda, but one exists to be consumed by overeducated professionals, many of whom also work in media, in the major cities, while the other is mass culture entertainment.

Trying to tackle, adapt to or duplicate leftie High Culture is a senseless and useless task in every sense of the word. Their only relevance comes from their trickle down effect into mass culture. It’s mass culture that is relevant, but though that Low Culture is mass consumed, it’s still created by the same sort of people who create the High Culture and packed with many of the same agendas.

The difference between them is in tone and the perception of importance. Elites imagine that what interests them is important, because they are important. What interests the masses is less important, because they are less important. Important people and their important programs influence the culture or even are the culture. Unimportant people are not. In fact it’s the other way around.

Girls is not America. No television show is. But the closest to America may be American Idol or Sunday Night Football, which dominate the ratings and reflect the culture far more than it ever will. That’s not something to celebrate either. Not when you consider that most entertainment emerges out of the bowels of a cultural and corporate establishment well to the left of the country at large. And unlike Girls, much of what it spews forth does slowly push the country to the left. But that also shows why trying to run alongside it in the hopes of staying relevant is a dead end. Not unless the goal is to go on being the villains, comic relief or otherwise.

US Queen of Kosher: “I’m a Jewish Person and it’s the Jewish Homeland, and I Want to Go Home!”

Thursday, August 2nd, 2012

With great emotion and to the joy of Jewish foodies throughout the world, the Queen of Kosher cooking is coming home to rule the roast/roost. Jamie Geller is making aliyah and though she used to think that life in Israel was “so not me”, she is now encouraging others to take the plunge, too.

The kosher cooking magnate, mom, and returnee to Jewish tradition made the announcement that she is moving to Israel at the Nefesh B’Nefesh aliyah organization’s June 25 ‘Tweetup’. Since then, Geller has begun to share her experiences with her loyal followers on her ‘Joy of Kosher’ website and in reality-tv-style ‘Joy of Aliyah’ videos.

In an interview with the Jewish Press’s Yishai and Malkah Fleisher, Geller spoke frankly about her opinion of life in the “galus” (Diaspora) and what is driving her to make the move.

“My grandparents survived the Holocaust, and I just don’t feel like they did that so I can live in Spring Valley,” Geller told Jewish Press. “The end is not to achieve it here in America or wherever you may be, and I just feel like I’m a Jewish person and it’s the Jewish homeland, and I want to go home!”

From Highschool to HBO

Geller shared her earliest memory of wanting to live in the Jewish state, remembering a call she placed to her mother during a high school semester in Israel. “I’m not leaving, and if you’re going to make me leave then I’m going to come back after high school, and I’m going to join the army, and I want to live here forever,” Jamie told her mother.

Yet she neither stayed nor donned IDF fatigues after high school as she had planned. “I had that feeling, and it was so strong… [but] by the time I graduated high school, it wasn’t even on my radar anymore. My whole life was just taken up, and I was going to NYU, and I was going to become famous…”

And taken up she became. In just a few years, Jamie had soared to the top of her industry, writing and producing for CNN, Entertainment News, the Food Network, and HBO.

But Israel wasn’t done with Jamie Geller. It wasn’t long before she had a date with a nice young man who told her he wanted to live in Israel. “I was like ‘no way, absolutely not,’ it was almost a deal breaker. I laughed at him – and I was someone who had had those feelings!”

The Persistent Husband

It wasn’t a deal breaker. The couple married, and her husband’s dream of making aliyah did not fade. “My husband has always said – you’re not building a house in galus” and even when they bought their own house, Israel was a frequent topic of conversation.

“I think it was like water on a rock,” Geller said. “We would be Chol HaMoed (interim days of Passover and Sukkot) at Six Flags Great Adventure, an amusement park, and then [my husband] would show pictures of his brother in Hashmonaim… doing a tiyul [hike] in the land… [and it was as if he was saying] ‘it’s Chol HaMoed – what are we doing at Six Flags?’”

But while her husband talked aliyah to Israel, Geller’s career was taking off in America. In 2007, she authored her first cookbook, Quick & Kosher Recipes from the Bride Who Knew Nothing, with her second, Quick & Kosher: Meals in Minutes soon to follow. Now, Jamie publishes the largest online kosher cooking website, JoyofKosher.com, and a top-of-the-line accompanying magazine, Joy of Kosher with Jamie Geller.

Saying Goodbye to the Serving Dishes

Yet with all that American success, Geller told the Jewish Press that she is ready to take on the challenges of life in Israel. “I’m not going out of a position of weakness, I’m leaving a 3400 square foot home behind to go live in something double the price that’s half the size, but I’m doing it because I believe it is the right thing and the best thing for our family… I know that I’ll be working extra and double, but it’s a small price to pay to be there.”

Along with the smaller space, Geller does not much lament the little things she will leave behind, including her oversized American furniture and special serving dishes (“ain’t no room for once-a-year serving platters in Israel”, she said in one of her Joy of Aliyah videos). “I don’t think that’s a reason, just because I love blueberries, not to live in Israel. Those are silly to me… that’s not on my top list of worries. I’ve got other ones.”

Why The Newsroom is Good News for Republicans

Tuesday, June 26th, 2012

http://sultanknish.blogspot.co.il/2012/06/why-newsroom-is-good-news-for.html

The last time Aaron Sorkin had a high-profile political television show, liberals used it to cope with the decline and fall of the Clinton Presidency and the long winter of the Bush Years. The West Wing was a coping mechanism for the death of a liberal dream, and so is The Newsroom. Both are an escape into fantasy to avoid dealing with the harsh reality.

On an episode of Seinfeld, George is stung by an insult but is unable to think of a retort, so he spends days trying to come up with the perfect comeback, until he finally thinks of it and travels around the country to get the chance to deliver it. The Newsroom, set in the past, and jumping in right before the political balance tilted toward the Republicans in the mid-term elections, is the same thing.

The Newsroom is Sorkin’s sad attempt to win an argument by rewriting history and coming up with all the comebacks that his side couldn’t think of two years ago. It’s the sad and pathetic spectacle of an ideology creating its own fantasy version of its reality in which it won the argument.

Unlike The West Wing, The Newsroom isn’t set in an alternate world in which the universe innately favors liberals. Instead it’s set in an alternate version of the past, in which liberals were smarter and won all the arguments that they ended up losing here. And the existence of The Newsroom is the greatest possible concession that the argument was lost.

There’s no reason for Republicans to look down on The Newsroom. It’s a safer outlet for liberal anger than Occupy Wall Street. It’s a miniature universe in which they are smarter, nobler and better than everyone else. Children have fantasy worlds like that. There’s no reason that liberals shouldn’t. Not only does it give them the security of believing that they really were superior, but it prevents them from learning any useful lessons from their defeat.

It’s never a bad thing when your enemies escape into a delusional state, to a world of their making in which they are in complete control of everything. It makes it more likely that they will cede at least some control over the real world. And it’s not only an admission of defeat, but of emotional and mental fragility. Adults don’t need to build fantasy worlds to escape the effects of their failures on their precious self-esteem. That’s for overgrown children who are used to getting trophies for just showing up.

The Newsroom is the kid that everyone hated losing his race for class president and creating a fantasy world in which he won the election and everyone cheered his obnoxious tantrums. It may not be good for him, but it’s good for us because it means he hasn’t learned to win. All that he’s learned to do is manage the emotional experience of defeat through delusional tantrums of superiority.

Propaganda that tells you that you won, when you actually lost, is corrosive; it inhibits any serious self-evaluation. And without some soul-searching and error-checking, the same mistakes are bound to be repeated over and over again. Seventeen years after the Clinton Presidency was nearly torpedoed by universal health care, his party’s successor, who defeated the woman who shaped the initiative, went down the same road, but with much less caution.

That kind of stupidity would not have been possible if the winners had learned any lessons from the past. But the winners had been living on The West Wing, in which liberal speeches and principles are all it takes to win. Where the good guys never lose, because the scripts are written that way. Rather than living in the real Clinton Years, many of them had been living in the imaginary version. Now, rather than remembering the actual Obama Years, they will remember The Newsroom‘s fictional version of them. And they will make the same mistakes all over again.

HBO, which has invested big in liberal propaganda, knows exactly what it’s doing. At a time when customers are dropping cable, particularly the high-priced packages, it is insulating itself with a built-in audience. Forget MSNBC or Comedy Central with their tantrums against real-life Republicans, on HBO, liberal audiences can go on safe safaris to see experienced liberal great hunters taking potshots at imaginary Republicans.

Printed from: http://www.jewishpress.com/blogs/sultan-knish/why-the-newsroom-is-good-news-for-republicans/2012/06/26/

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