Alarming News: I like Morgan Freeberg. A lot.
Anti-Idiotarian Rottweiler: We were following a trackback and thinking "hmmm... this is a bloody excellent post!", and then we realized that it was just part III of, well, three...Damn. I wish I'd written those.
Anti-Idiotarian Rottweiler: ...I just remembered that I found a new blog a short while ago, House of Eratosthenes, that I really like. I like his common sense approach and his curiosity when it comes to why people believe what they believe rather than just what they believe.
Brutally Honest: Morgan Freeberg is an intriguing guy...[he] asks great questions and answers others with style, flair, reason and wit. On the blogroll he goes. Make him a part of your regular blogospheric reading. I certainly will.
Brutally Honest: Morgan Freeberg is brilliant.
Common Sense Junction: Misha @ Anti-Idiotarian never ceases to amaze me. He keeps finding other good blogs. I went over to A.I. this morning for my daily Misha fix and he had found this guy named Morgan Freeberg in Fair Oaks, California, that has a blog, House of Eratosthenes. Freeberg says its "The Blog That Nobody Reads" but it may now become the blog that everybody reads.
Jaded Haven: Good God, Morgan, you cover a topic from front to back with a screwy thoroughness I find mind boggling. I'm in awe of your thought proccesses, my friend, you're an exceptional talent. You start by throwing in the kitchen sink, tie in someone's syphilitic uncle, bend around a rip tide of brilliance and bring it all home in a neat, diamond dripping package of an exceptionally readable moment of damn fine wordsmithing. I love reading you.
Mein Blogovault: Make "the Blog that No One Reads" one of your daily reads.
Philmon: When Morgan meanders, stick with him - he's got a point and it'll be worth it in the end. He's not a hit-and-run snarky quip kind of guy. The pieces all fall into place like tumblers in a lock and bang! He's opened a cognative door for you.
Rightlinx: Morgan at House of Eratosthenes is one of the best writers out there. I read him nearly every day because he manages to provide an interesting perspective, even though I don't always agree.
Poetic Justice: Cletus! Ah gots a laiv one fer yew...
What is it about the name “Carter”? Regretfully, the title of this post is intended to refer to a new magnitude of fail. Disclaimer: I still have high hopes for this movie, have not gotten around to seeing it, want to.
Studio Disney has admitted that its $250m-budgeted science fiction adventure John Carter is set to lose more than $200m (£126m) following disappointing box-office results.
The film, directed by Andrew Stanton of the Pixar animation house, opened poorly in the US two weekends ago with just $30m, and has so far made $184m across the globe. It has been far more successful outside the US, with No 1 openings in Russia and the UK helping to save it from an even more humiliating total.
Critics have suggested that John Carter’s failure to connect with audiences may have been due to confusing marketing as well as lukewarm reviews. Disney chose not to run with the “of Mars” suffix in the wake of traditionally poor box-office results for films that focus on the planet, and trailers also largely ignored the movie’s central romance, something Hollywood tends to see as a surefire method of attracting female filmgoers.
“The movie is called John Carter, but aside from the fact that he can jump far and looks good without a shirt on, what else did commercials really convey about the title character?” wrote Ray Subers of the Box Office Mojo website. “Also, what was John Carter doing in this desert landscape occupied by tall green men, aside from fighting giant furry white creatures?”
What is fascinating, to me, is that these “marketing” people have spent their lives — I assume — honing their craft, learning how to connect with the public. To be sure, they succeed in a big way when they do succeed. But they’re not in the business of amplitude, what they’re supposed to deliver is frequency, and they don’t seem to be connecting that often.
Their industry is a fail. They’ve become overly-institutionalized, more worried about following rules of orthodoxy than about crossing the finish line.
And their fail, is ours. I see it everywhere now, in politics as well as outside of politics. People are supposed to convince me of something: Citizen Kane is the greatest movie ever made, this-or-that kid has Autism, the earth is getting warmer and humans are the cause, there’s way too much sexism in M&M candies, Mitt Romney is inevitable, Barack Obama’s birth certificate is genuine and Rush Limbaugh shouldn’t have called a slut a slut. Over and over again, we end up back at the same place: There’s no argument presented on which I can pass judgment. I’d like to say, I have doubts about my abilities to hear unwelcome ideas and to evaluate them with balance, fairness and objectivity. The reality is, we don’t make it to that point.
It says something bad about us, as a society, that the problem persists in everything from sexist candies, to mega-film-flops with shirtless guys, to talk radio hosts and sluts. We’ve lost something. As a resident of the culture, I view this with some measure of alarm. I perceive it thusly:
My job is to convince you of A. Step one: Figure out if you already think A. If not, fuck you and I’m outta here. There! Job done!
Isn’t that exactly what happened with all of the above examples. Here’s a marketing budget, now use it to convince people they should go see John Carter. Okay…here’s some footage. Look how high he can jump. Here he is facing off against a big monster. He’s got a gorgeous bod, ladies, and…oh, look at that! He just beaned the monster with a big rock. See our movie!
Contrast that with the plain and eloquent logic in the Marbury vs. Madison Supreme Court decision of 1803:
If, then, the Courts are to regard the Constitution, and the Constitution is superior to any ordinary act of the Legislature, the Constitution, and not such ordinary act, must govern the case to which they both apply.
Those, then, who controvert the principle that the Constitution is to be considered in court as a paramount law are reduced to the necessity of maintaining that courts must close their eyes on the Constitution, and see only the law.
This doctrine would subvert the very foundation of all written Constitutions. It would declare that an act which, according to the principles and theory of our government, is entirely void, is yet, in practice, completely obligatory. It would declare that, if the Legislature shall do what is expressly forbidden, such act, notwithstanding the express prohibition, is in reality effectual. It would be giving to the Legislature a practical and real omnipotence with the same breath which professes to restrict their powers within narrow limits. It is prescribing limits, and declaring that those limits may be passed at pleasure.
See what Chief Justice Marshall did there? This is what seems to have died off; he got into the opposing argument. Gave it a test drive. “This doctrine would subvert the very foundation of all written Constitutions…It is prescribing limits, and declaring that those limits may be passed at pleasure.” He declared the opposing argument to be just so much nonsense — not because it was his intention at the outset to do so, which it very well may have been, and probably was. But after giving it a try, and rationally weighing the consequences of following it, he declared this knowledgeably. Can’t take this car on the freeway. None of the gears above second are working, and the engine won’t go that fast. It’s the kind of finding that works best as an actual finding, not as conjecture. John Marshall embraced the experience. We don’t.
It seems we can’t think through ideas hostile to us, or against which we have pledged some hostility in return. Part of this obligatory hostility is that we have to hold the idea at arms-length, and get it dismissed before it’s had a chance to contaminate us. We’ve intellectually lost the idea to do much beyond declaring them welcome or unwelcome. This is injurious to our ability to hold aloft the welcome ideas, and state authoritatively why they are welcome. We select them with all the respectability and gravity of a flipped coin.
People like to bitch up a storm about movies having lost all their creativity, about a Hollywood overly enamored with remakes and sequels and “homages.” I don’t think the problem has to do with what can & cannot be cooked up; it’s got to do with what can & can’t be marketed. If the loyal following is not already built up and ready to miss important surgery appointments to buy the tickets, then the marketing project won’t be capable of building it.
Because we don’t communicate with each other in such a way for that kind of marketing to work anymore. I fear that all we have to say to each other, distilled down into its essentials, is: “agree with me already or else screw you.”
Maybe I’m reading way too much into it. I hope so. I’ve seen some bits of evidence to suggest so. But not much in the last, oh, five to ten years.
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