Archive for July, 2019

Speaker Amplified Too Much, Put Out of Commission

Wednesday, July 17th, 2019

That speaker was getting old anyhow, really just a relic from the hippie era, covered with dust, maybe we need to go buy a new one.

This was weird:

Escalating tensions on Capitol Hill erupted into a floor fight in the House of Representatives on Tuesday afternoon, as Speaker Nancy Pelosi spoke in favor of a resolution condemning “racist” comments by President Trump — and Pelosi’s words were eventually ruled out of order, as House Majority Leader Steny Hoyer, a Democrat, announced the decision from the House parliamentarian.

“The words used by the gentlewoman from California contained an accusation of racist behavior on the part of the President,” Hoyer said, in a decision that technically banned Pelosi from speaking on the House floor for a brief period of time. “The words should not be used in debate.”

She ended up losing her speaking privileges for the day. Evidently the House of Representatives has rules against impugning someone’s character. I suppose an actual Representative would have much better knowledge of this rule and more experience defining the periphery of violation than the average person…since impugning someone’s character seems to be oh, roughly 90% or more of what democrats have to say about anything.

It’s awkward when you’re holding a vote to officially excoriate a political opponent for saying unseemly things, and in the course of doing so you lose your speaking privileges for saying unseemly things.

Then things got weirder:

The scene then became even more bizarre when the chair, Rep. Emanuel Cleaver, D-Mo., told representatives after a lengthy huddle that he was trying to make a fair ruling as to whether Pelosi had broken House rules governing decorum, but people weren’t cooperating. Cleaver told Fox News he felt Pelosi was being singled out.

Cleaver simply declared, “I abandon the chair,” and left — a moment with no apparent precedent in modern congressional history.

democrat partyWell the action does Cleaver no credit, but after watching the video I have to admit I agree with him.

In fact, there are those who say this whole thing is anything but an “oopsie” by Trump, or any impertinent kind of stepping-over-the-line, and is more of a calculated strategy and one well-executed.

Trump stated the obvious. And by his willingness to state the obvious, he has returned the obvious to the realm of public discourse. He has shifted the Overton window back to a more normal, common sense debate. It wasn’t a mistake of epic proportions. It was a brilliant insistence on having public debate occur in reality world, not in the Leftist’s dystopian fantasy world.

This makes more and more sense to me, the more aware I become of what’s going on under the capitol dome. Every time I watch these — what do I call them, I dunno, I certainly don’t want to impugn anyone’s character. But every time I watch them I’m happier and happier to be a small-government advocate. Who in their right mind would want important problems addressed by this crowd? And if they could ever run like a well-oiled machine, seriously what would you expect them to get done. Think like a grown-up not like a child, what would you expect. They’d make it easier to sell window installation services, tires, computer software, gasoline, sugar, life insurance? Easier? No. They wouldn’t. There’s no reason to think that. They’d make it harder. We should be celebrating when they’re dysfunctional.

And now that the House has held its vote and officially frowned on Trump’s shenanigans…what have we got here?

Nevermind the fact that this is a duly elected and seated House. Would you trust them with anything important? Putting party affiliations and oh-so-passionate #NeverTrump hatred aside, choosing between the President and the House of Representatives, who would you trust to produce positive results — with regard to your house, pet, your next business trip, or something of equal importance?

The media is still getting the vapors about these so-called “racist tweets,” theatrically horrified when Trump supporters say things like “that’s why I voted for him.” I was a Cruz supporter in 2016, but this is true of me as well. No one ever bothered to ask me if I support this craziness, this Salem Witch Trial logic of “You’re guilty of racism if your comments could be construed as racist.” That’s nuts, because I think all competent adults possessing any useful experience understand everything can be construed as anything. Who wants to live in a world where no one says anything that could be construed as something…by mentally infirm ankle-biters spoiling for a fight? I think the answer to that is nobody. So when Trump was ambushed at the last minute with this dumb fake “Miss Piggy” scandal, and the dumb fake “pussy grabbing” scandal, and managed to win anyway, I was thrilled. Still haven’t gotten over the euphoria after all this time. And it wasn’t for Trump.

Political correctness is the witch, innocent citizens saying harmless things are not the witch — it’s had water poured on it and is melting into the floorboards. This makes me very happy. Die faster you reprehensible parasite, and let’s entertain no delusions that you ever made anything better for anybody, ever motivated anybody to behave with better character, or ever kept anyone from feeling bad.

Next up, we’re going to have an election. It’s shaping up to be very much an either-or election; one side or the other is going to have to go. The case for keeping this House of Representatives and jettisoning Trump, as appealing as it may be for those who have been bitterly clinging to it the entire time, is tougher to make to any new recruits than it was a week ago. So if that’s what this whole thing’s been about, then Trump won. Yuge.

Feelz Over Realz

Tuesday, July 16th, 2019

It occurs to me that obsessing over people’s feelings too much is at odds with respecting them for their potential. It seems, at first blush, like consideration and civilized sensitivity. Like you’re showing empathy to their plight. But it’s not. It’s smothering them and infantilizing them.

Think about this. Make a short list in your head of people who indisputably created a positive influence. Liberated others, defended others, did something to make it possible for others to do things for others…George Washington, George Patton, Black Jack Pershing, Chesty Puller, Ulysses Grant. Other military heroes. The itty bitty kids who weren’t old enough to drink yet, and dropped bombs on the Nazis. The heroes of D-Day. Our nation’s Founding Fathers: Jefferson, Madison, Adams, Hamilton, Franklin, all them guys. Fictional: Superman. Or, if you’re so inclined, Iron Man and the Avengers. James Bond. And then your savior Jesus Christ. Your parents. Somebody at work, your boss maybe, who had your back when something went ugly. Guy who offered you his seat on the bus when you were eight months pregnant. Driver of the other car who waved you on through the 4-way stop, when you had to have a bowel movement really, really bad.

How did THEY FEEL? In the running-up to the act of heroism. During. And after.

It’s not even part of the story!

Okay maybe except for Jesus who wanted to know why God had forsaken Him while He hung on the cross. But even then, you’ll see there was no answer. The lesson is that feelings, yes, are definitely real…but also we have to rise above them to get anything done that helps others. That’s just how it works.

It’s a terrible, terrible disservice we do to young people when we condition them to think their feelings matter. There’s a lot of human potential being spilled straight down the drain here, because whole generations of kids aren’t being asked that most important of questions: Yeah, but didja die?

They could be learning how to help others.

And they’re being systematically taught now not to do this. How to just wallow in the marinade of how they feel.

Their Problem with Experience

Sunday, July 14th, 2019

So I’m making a list of things that mean something other than what they’re supposed to mean, and in a jolt I suddenly gain yet another new insight into something that’s been weighing on me for over thirty years: How come it is that liberals remain in steadfast disagreement with any competent adult who has common sense.

It’s got to do with the introduction.

I’ll explain by way of a hypothetical so I’m not including any of the items on the list: Let us say we have become generally aware of a vexing problem in our country, that it’s hot out and people can’t get ice cream cones whenever they want them. So the government sets up a Department of Frozen Confections…which of course is stupid. And our temptation is to get distracted by that, because people with common sense understand that if you really want a fudgesicle, you just need to pony up a couple of bucks and you can have one. And so we think the great divide between liberals and people with common sense is, liberals can’t form a vision of simply earning the $3 through honest labor, and then spending it. They want/need an agency to deliver them things.

That used to be the divide.

Things are changing though.

Think on this not in terms of conservatives and liberals, but in terms of conservatives, liberals and moderates. It’s important because most people self-identify as moderate. The department is created and the stalwart conservatives will write some blog posts about how terrible this is, taxpayer money is being wasted, kids are being taught how to go begging to Uncle Sam instead of how to do some hard work…these are all legitimate complaints. But most people don’t identify with them. Most people will say “Eh, that’s a stupid idea but who cares.” And they’ll agree with the liberals, ultimately. After all you can’t stop it, the department’s already created.

And the liberals will harass people in restaurants and spit in their food, if a single syllable is ever uttered against this new Department of Frozen Confections.

But then a funny thing happens.

The DFC doesn’t hand out any ice cream cones to anybody. It goes off on this wild tear, subsidizing “alternative milk product” development because cows are bad for the environment. Or they find some other excuse to harass people and get involved in all sorts of goofy projects that have nothing to do with fudsicles.

What then develops is this bizarre, crazy-quilt divide between promise vs. delivery, between labels vs. packaging, between expectation vs. fulfillment. This is where the support of liberal initiatives shrinks. See, the die-hard liberal is always going to go by the label. It’s the ice cream department! Because that’s what the announced intention was…you stupid idiot. But gradually the moderates who simply have some common sense, and didn’t identify as conservatives…come to swing over to the conservative side, after years and years of paying cable and telephone bills with “Department of Frozen Confection” surcharges at the bottom.

Bottom-lining it, liberals have a real problem with learning from experience. They can’t grasp that a symbol of something might be different from the actual thing. “Education,” to a liberal, is exactly that and it can’t mean anything different…”ANTIFA” must be anti-fascist, they’re entirely unswayed by the accumulated evidence that the group is, in fact, fascist. And it’s not just because they sympathize with them ideologically, although there is that. The big problem is that the name says anti-fascist. That it might actually mean something different from that, doesn’t register.

“This undocumented migrant’s ‘child’ might actually not be his child” — they can’t even comprehend the possibility.

Some of this is by definition, since a lot of liberals are young. You can’t have much experience when you’re young, that’s what being young is. That’s why liberals want to lower the voting age. They must.

They haven’t come up with a cogent answer to the question “What’s the difference between socialism and ‘democratic socialism’?” Because there isn’t one. D.S. is a label invented by left-wing power-brokers to bamboozle left-wing acolytes.

They think “journalists” actually do journalism, and “climate scientists” actually do climate science. This is why the divide exists, is so wide & deep, and is getting worse. You can explain to them until you’re blue in the face, your own personal story of how you came to suspect “climate change” might have more to do with politics than science. And you won’t get through, not because they’re disagreeing with you, but because they cannot understand how something might possibly be different from what it represents itself to be.

They didn’t read Little Red Riding Hood, or if they did, it was lost on them that the big bad wolf pretended to be L.L.R.H.’s bedridden grandmother. They may have watched Fargo, but if they did, they missed the significance of Mike Yamagita fibbing to Marge Gunderson about being married to Linda Cooksey, how before that surprise Margie had never earnestly dealt before with prevarication. Didn’t pick up that the whole story is about her world getting a little bit bigger, how she had to change her worldview to solve the crime.

This is the problem liberals have. It’s not all caused by inexperience. There are some old liberals out there. You’ll notice they all have that weird, mean look about them. It is the look that comes from having given up on untangling the mysteries of deceptive labeling, chalking up all detected contradictions in life to the sinister machinations of “George W. Bush and his oil buddies.” It is the look of realizing you’ve been deceived, again and again and again, and then failing to anticipate or untangle the deception, and eventually resolving to join the deceivers.

They’re confused, and angry because they can’t see a way through their confusion. They rely too much on the verity of labels, and not enough on their own experiences.

This is connected, I’m convinced, to their obsession with leaving it up to government to handle everything and forcing all their fellow citizens to do likewise. “Don’t need a gun, call nine one one”; it’s connected to all that.

Don’t Have to Remember

Saturday, July 13th, 2019

Yes, movies are important. All too often, we don’t even consciously realize it at the time.

In 1981 Indiana Jones said “I dunno, I’ll make it up as I go.” And since what followed was a “truck chase” that made action movie history, I didn’t attribute a lot of importance to that line. None at all, really. But then in the aftermath, ten years later, twenty, thirty, I discovered that was me. Often the hard way. Here and there, now and then, I’d be hired into “code monkey” jobs that were all about following proper procedure and doing it exactly the same way some other guy would’ve done it…who cares whether it works or not. And I learned I do not belong in those jobs. I received praise for my careful designs, but the ones that drew the most praise came from little sparks of the imagination…that won’t work, or it’ll work but I don’t want to maintain that, let’s do it this way instead. And then I went back and re-did it with a careful design and some good documentation. But first I made it up as I went.

But then.

Eight years after that line, his Dad said: “I wrote it down in my diary show I wouldn’t have to remember!”

And now it’s thirty years after that. ++sigh++

Once again…I assigned little importance to that line. But again, give it a decade or two and I’m looking around seeing just a few words back then have all too neatly defined my reality now. Taking notes on a laptop in a meeting is rude, I’ve come to understand, and so I grasp the notebook with its creamy-white last-century pages, and my trusty ball-point, like a dehydrated desert traveler clutching a canteen. And when the pen shows signs of running out of ink I’m gripped by a cold panic that wasn’t there back in my younger days. But when the meeting is over and the people dissipate, the chicken-scratching only accelerates.

It is the chapter of life I’m occupying now.

I have to write it down…so I don’t have to remember…I’m past that other point, that runner-up point. You know, the one where your memory is slipping away and so you think “I won’t write this down, then I’ll have to remember it, and that will exercise it and keep it around for a few years more.” I’m past that. I’ve learned the hard way that if I care, I don’t play that game anymore. It’s become a trust issue.

Oh so now we’re assessing competence in our technical personnel by making them memorize answers to questions, hmmm? No one asked me. But I’d advise against this.

And we’re teetering on the brink of assessing ethics in our computer programmers, which we’ve learned is a thing we need to value — the same way?

That’s a disaster.

I’m not saying so because I suck at it — although I do. I’m saying so because it’s bound to validate exactly the kinds of practitioners we don’t want. The “cram for the test tomorrow, forget it all the day after” types. The tell-you-what-you-want-to-hear types.

There is a story about Einstein addressing this. He supposedly didn’t know how many feet are in a mile.

One time Albert Einstein was asked “How many feet are in a mile?” and he responded saying “I don’t know why would I fill my mind with facts I can in two minutes in any standard reference book”

“Lady Ghostbusters” Rule

Saturday, July 13th, 2019

Success is predicted with greater effectiveness and confidence, by evaluating the priorities of the practitioners, than assessing the resources at their disposal or critiquing their methods of implementation.

Movies, as I wrote before, are important. They show us how we build things when the stakes are high, and how we consume and rate those things after others have built them. Now this one illustrates several important points. It tanked, at least in the sense that the audience was left wanting more even though the critics were afraid to give it anything short of slobbering praise. If you watch it, you’ll see there are a few funny bits in there that should’ve worked. These actors are talented. The writing is okay. It just doesn’t gel.

The problem isn’t the parts and it isn’t in the execution. And it’s not that they gave women too much prominence in the film. It’s the priorities.

We don’t discuss this because we can’t. You’re not allowed to dislike female-led superhero movies, or female-led action movies, or female-led comedies, or anything female-led. Because we’re not allowed to say anything negative about these efforts, the problems don’t get fixed. Again, it’s priority. The real mission is to entertain the audience and that’s what makes a great film. But that’s not where the priorities were with lady-Ghostbusters or with Captain Marvel, or with the new Tomb Raider. The makers of those films were concerned about other things and they ended up making mediocre messes.

Jason Reitman, son of legendary director Ivan, got into Twitter trouble when he announced he was going to give the franchise back to the fans. With our current prevailing insanity, the perpetually offended were free to read whatever they wanted into that comment, and it seems like the most damning inflection they were able to make out of it was that someone somewhere liked the old Ghostbusters better than the new one. That was enough to get the chest-thumping going, and the younger Reitman ended up apologizing.

Much about this is silly, but that one thing in particular strikes me as the silliest. New things, in general, are no good. More of these remakes/reboots/re-imaginings than not, move the audience to shout almost in unison “What was the point of this?” And the best example I have in mind for that is The Omen. It is a scene-for-scene remake of the original…because…? Why? There’s no answer. You’ll end up wondering this if you sink the time into it. Gregory Peck wasn’t a good enough actor? Why did you guys do this?

Fans of the Lady Ghostbusters movies should have been thrilled that it did well enough people weren’t asking that question. But, it’s a comedy with just a few laughs, measured against the time sunk into watching it, and it did about as well as most comedies that have just a few laughs. The market is not kind to such offerings, and this one was spared the harshest criticism that would normally rain down upon it because, well, it’s what Matt Walsh was saying. You’re not allowed not to like it.

I’m saying this as someone who wasn’t entirely thrilled with the original Ghostbusters. That’s another thing that makes this a good example. There was a fever that caught on, you couldn’t get away from the theme song no matter where you went, and people recited the lines from the movie everywhere…not because it was funny, but because it was fun. Harold Ramis and the other folk who’d put it together, wanted to entertain the audience. And it showed.

Kinda like Quentin Tarantino wanted to dazzle and overwhelm the audience with The Bride. He did a good job with it, and it worked.

Now the strong-women offerings today, just aren’t as good. That’s because the priority is missing…and what’s even much worse than that is, there’s no reason for it to be there. If anyone doesn’t like the movie or utters so much as a peep of protest against it, or merely withholds praise, you can just napalm them on Twitter until they apologize. It’s looking like something that’s crystallized from being merely an unseemly reality, to morph into a hardened battle-plan, a way to win Internet arguments about your movie. It makes for shitty movies.

Rapinoe Rule

Friday, July 12th, 2019

We need an extension to the Rian Rule, which is merely about the consequences of unconventional, contrarian expression. Something that has to do with mixing political expression with spectator-sport performance.

Rapinoe Rule: If the performer can’t keep politics out of the performance, the audience doesn’t have to keep it out of their reactions. And it’s improper to ask.

Goes for marketing/consumerism too. Shoes, shaving blades, coffee

Just on Monday I heard someone on the radio, who still has my respect and should know better, browbeat one of his listeners about Ms. Rapinoe. He might have been facetious about it or playing Devil’s Advocate. “Can’t you leave politics out of her great performance?”

In her case, politics is in the performance because she, as the performer, put it there. But that does seem to be the prevailing thought. Can’t you just acknowledge Julia Roberts is a great actress, that Robert De Niro is a great actor, can’t you just appreciate their performances…funny, I don’t hear anyone being upbraided about “Can’t you just appreciate Ted Nugent’s wonderful music?” Once again, our prevailing viewpoint tilts and it tilts, for no reason anyone can explain, to the benefit of the liberals who are wrecking things and destroying us. There’s no good reason.

No one’s holding a gun to the heads of these performers and retailers and demanding they alienate and piss off half their audience/customers. They’re doing that all on their own.

The Rian Rule

Saturday, July 6th, 2019

When I first started this blog, which no one reads anyway, there were a lot of exciting movies coming out and occasionally I’d allow my commentary on political events to mix with what I had to say about the movies. After hitting the Publish button I’d wander around attending to the various other (more important) bits of my life, wondering if that’s the right way to go. This was before Obama, and the point had not yet been driven home that liberalism is like a house fire, we can’t ignore it and hope it goes away…it was before we tried that approach and scientifically proved to ourselves it doesn’t work. And so everything about blogging was uncertain. People who aired their opinions in this new medium were constantly being told they shouldn’t, and I daresay every single one of us seriously entertained the idea that this is true, that we were wrecking something.

Sometime during all this, I’ve gradually come to realize that we are all living things, our political scene is a living thing, and as such it is constantly changing. And I’ve come to look at movies differently, especially the big-budget summertime blockbuster ones. These are massive investments made by people who have devoted their entire lives to relating to others. Now, I can form an opinion about things just like anyone else, but I haven’t been doing that. They know something I don’t know, and it isn’t confined to just making movies. So we stand to learn a great deal from them. The movies are constantly changing too, right?

Kids vote. By “kids” I do not mean, of course, those who are too young to legally vote; I’m talking in terms of age brackets. I’m speaking of the younger voters who were kids, and have now crossed the threshold. Here and there, now & then, they bamboozle the pundits and pollsters because it isn’t really possible to see in advance what this bloc is going to do. It happened in 2016, 2000, 1972, 1968…lots of midterms. The movies mold and shape how this new generation thinks. When you’re a kid, movies are a sort of reality existing in its own universe. In real life you have to wait until you’re eighteen to do stuff, and then you have to wait a whole lot longer to acquire prestige, authority, respect…in the world of movies, kids are important right away. So we have here a window, a crystal ball of sorts — a hundreds of million-dollar crystal ball, better than any other one we have, for figuring out what new generation is being constructed for us. By Hollywood, more than by their parents maybe. And that should produce paroxysms horror perhaps, but the good news is that the movies themselves are fallible. You can invest $200 million in a movie, that doesn’t mean it should make a profit. And if it makes a profit that doesn’t mean the audience — of kids — is going to like it.

I have noticed over the years that this imperfect lens isn’t very much good to us figuring out where we are, but it’s great for figuring out how we’re moving. That’s a significant statement. Because our movements are becoming more rapid, and the year-to-year changes are becoming more significant. We seem to be rounding a corner.

Now a fifth of the way into this new century, we’ve hit a point where the makers of the movies, themselves, are also kids. Or maybe it just seems that way to me because I’ve been aging. But in writing, directing, producing — and defending — their more questionable works, these movie-maker kids are doing a lot of things I would not be doing, which is something I view as instructive.

There is a trend lately, and it’s a recent one, to insert things into movies that will “really blow your (the audience’s) mind.” This crusty old fart is finding it just a bit annoying, particularly when the mind-blowing event is not supported logically by events in the running-up, or in the aftermath. “Turns out, when [blank] did [blank] he really was doing [blank]” appears way too often in the plot summaries. “He knew it was a suicide mission, it turns out.” “Turns out, he really wanted MI6 to catch him all along because his laptop had a virus.” “Turns out, he already abducted Rachel and Harvey before Batman caught him.” I’m not condemning the simple plot twist, which has been a staple of Hollywood fare for generations and generations. Hooray for Alfred Hitchcock, I say. No I’m reserving this criticism for plot twists that lack artistic cachet, that impart the feeling they were chosen by picking slips of paper out of a hat, and make you squirm in your seat and let loose with a hearty but confused “What the–??”

Now, this Last Jedi movie thoroughly abused the privilege. It’s impossible at this point to deny it. I still rank it higher than its predecessor, because it at least purported to answer some questions. But what were those questions?

1. Who is Snoke?
2. Who are Rey’s parents?
3. What does Luke do with that lightsabre when Rey gives it back to him?

And the answers were:

1. Go fuck yourself.
2. Go fuck yourself.
3. Go fuck yourself.

Doesn’t it just blow your MIND??? Awesomesauce!!

No. No it isn’t. And the new “This will blow your mind too, while we’re at it” extra trimmings just dig the hole deeper. The side plot with the rich people on the gambling planet, the turning loose of the goat-horses or whatever, the kicking-off of the movie with a prank call and yo-momma jokes, the burning of the never-before-mentioned “sacred Jedi texts,” the reformed stormtrooper’s suicide run, the Asian chick that foiled the suicide run, the nephew-trolling with the Force hologram…

They’re all rather clever ideas, and each by itself potentially contributes to an enjoyable holiday experience in the theater. But together it’s just too much. Yes, maybe I’m hyper-sensitized to it because they’re trying to “re-imagine” (ugh) Star Wars as a social-justice vehicle, and I’m not down with that…four decades after cutting lawns so I’d have enough money to go to Mt. Baker Theater, I’m no longer in the desirable audience. Which I guess brings us back to “go fuck yourself” as the proper rejoinder to my concerns.

But I do get asked for my opinion, and I have to rate Star Wars movies according to the likelihood of the disc to find its way back into the player. This one doesn’t rank very highly. It’s about on par with “Attack of the Clones.” With the original trilogy, we’re putting the useful lifespan of a DVD to the test, cooking them guys until you could fry an egg on ’em.

So I understand and respect that there is a new audience here, and these items that give me such consternation, they like them just fine. I get that. But that’s what makes it all the more important to clue ourselves in to how things are changing, bit by bit, by way of checking out the movies. The stories end up being incoherent, incomprehensible and nonsensical because the plot events are super-glued together — and the kids don’t mind? Okay then. That tells me something valuable. Kids today don’t appreciate stories. It’s a clue to the rest of us about how the newer generation thinks. Ooh, that blew my mind! Ooh, that other thing blew my mind! Mind blowing here and there! Whee!

All of this is leading up to a salient point though, more important than all the rest of that. The creative force behind the debacle, the mastermind. He’s been taking to Twitter to defend his work, and although he’s a humble dedicated creative type who takes the criticism in stride and is busying himself with seeing how he can channel it to make his future efforts better…

No. No he isn’t. To my knowledge, he hasn’t been doing that at all. You M-U-S-T like his work, dammit! If you don’t, then YOU are the problem.

It isn’t just Rian Johnson who has been doing this. It’s the default behavior now among filmmakers. “Here is how I re-imagined it, and if you don’t like it then go screw yourself.” Female-led action movies, as Matt Walsh has noted, are ensconced in this special exalted status in which you are required to like them. Even if a contrary leitmotif has emerged that you shouldn’t be allowed, due to your gender and your race, to watch them.

There was a time when artists of all kinds — writers, actors, directors, painters, charcoal-on-paper, sculptors, authors, poets — sought out criticism and prized it just as highly, or even more highly, than their praise. It was part of being an artist. They got to be that way because some practitioners like Herman Melville, or Vincent van Gogh, died in ignominy and squalor with their greatness discovered long after they were dead. Well who wants that? And so artists learned that the whole mission was to please the audience. Without that navigational guiding-star, there was no mission and therefore nothing of import was being done. You had to learn to relate, or else not bother, and that meant you had to constructively channel criticism or else not bother.

That was then, this is now.

We got here because we forgot “entertain us” rhymes with “anus,” we forgot that court jesters are not kings, and we’ve somehow hit on the idea that whoever has what it takes to drag us into an air-conditioned theater during the roasting hot days of midsummer must have what it takes to lead us.

There is something else happening here, something else that constitutes a meaningful cultural change. This whole ritual of coming up with a new and unexpected element. There was a time when “creativity” meant one thing, and that was a subtly different thing. You might anticipate the most likely answer expected by your audience, and discard it simply because it was the most likely…The Butler Didn’t Do It. Then you’d proceed to the second most likely, bypassing that as well as the third, and maybe settle on the fourth. There was an understanding that that, all by itself, was not “creativity.” For an example I would point to Agatha Christie’s Ten Little Indians which has found success and been remade countless times. There is a twist at the end. And it isn’t that the killer is the nanny, or the careless driver, or the big game hunter. The twist is truly creative, and it is connected to another meaningful event in the story: The fact that the police haven’t been able to solve the crime.

That’s not the case with Luke chucking away his lightsabre. It’s an isolated event. Wow, that blew my mind…so?

There was another understanding about having creative, unusual, unexpected ideas. It used to be taken as a given that some people wouldn’t like what you’re doing. So if you’re all set to receive the praise you have to brace for the criticism. Cilantro flavored ice cream? Bright canary-yellow house paint? A good stiff self-righteous scolding for being human, when you thought you were innocently settling down to enjoy a Star Trek movie? These are matters of personal taste. Some people may like these things — others will not. The ones who don’t like it will have something to say. There will always be a headwind pounding on the nose-cone of your craft that you’ve steered into the route never-traveled.

Not liking the criticism is normal. Being surprised by it or calling it unfair just because it isn’t positive, is annoying, and makes you look like something of a twit.

This should be a rule. We could call it the “AOC Rule” maybe. Or perhaps “The Rian Rule.”

Now having said all that…

The idea has now been put out there that people who go on the Internet in some form, like a blog such as this one, or social media, or YouTube…if we say bad nasty things about members of Congress, this is a “disgrace,” and…well…

“Those people who are online, making fun of members of Congress, are a disgrace and there is no need for anyone to think that is unacceptable,” Wilson said. “We’re going to shut them down and work with whoever it is to shut them down, and they should be prosecuted.”

“You can not intimidate members of Congress, threaten members of Congress. It is against the law in this United States of America,” she said.

Now the congresswoman who so proclaimed, is something of a clown. A Rian-Rule clown. No really, she goes into the halls of Congress and onto weekend talk shows wearing brightly-colored ten-gallon hats covered with sequins…for no reason at all that’s managed to find its way to me. So this kind of goes back to my original point about big-budget movies lighting the way and showing us where our culture is headed. This used to be unthinkable. Here you are working so hard to be unique — not better, just different — just to get attention. Your methods ensure that this will be a successful effort on your part, but of course you can’t dictate that all of the attention will be positive, so when some of it isn’t positive you get all twisty. And stick your finger in the air and start making these proclamations about disallowed behavior and punishment.

It makes me seriously wonder: Are these people, like Rian Johnson and Frederica Wilson, showing us their true selves when they hold themselves out as bold iconoclasts? Because to me, they just don’t seem to get it. In my younger days I went against the grain quite often because I realized I didn’t have what it takes to go with the grain, and there was no other way for me. With time, I’ve gradually learned to keep my mouth shut until such time as the “common consensus” is sure to lead us into some disaster. That’s the right balance, I’ve determined. Figure out who in this situation has something to learn — I see it might very well be me — and if I’m so sure that I’m the one with something to teach, stop and figure out if the learners can afford the lesson life is about to teach them, versus are they about to do irreparable harm. If they can afford the consequences of the mistake they’re making, then it may not be necessary for me to say anything at all.

But for all of us, if we do say something that goes against the prevailing consensus, for whatever reason, there will be blowback. Lots of it. Whether you’re right or wrong. And even if you are right and your critics are wrong, they still are, in all likelihood, perfectly reasonable people. You are, after all, advancing a novel idea.

It is the price to be paid for having one and giving it a platform.

It has always been this way. You play that game, you have to have a thick skin and not a thin one.

It is the “Rian Rule.”

Be bold and unusual, or be spared the inconvenience of unflattering blowback. Pick one. You can’t have both. No one gets to have both.