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...
So at the Golden Globe awards, Meryl Streep gave a speech in which she let it known she doesn’t like Donald Trump, and this went over very well with other actors & actresses in attendance who also do not like Donald Trump. The full transcript is here. It isn’t terribly long, isn’t terribly complicated, and isn’t terribly coherent or terribly accurate.
Nor is it too unusual. We’re often reminded actors and actresses don’t have the same opinions as real people. Is that harsh? Because as near as I can make out, that was Streep’s whole point.
An actor’s only job is to enter the lives of people who are different from us and let you feel what that feels like. And there were many, many, many powerful performances this year that did exactly that, breathtaking, passionate work.
Once when I was standing around on the set one day whining about something, we were going to work through supper, or the long hours or whatever, Tommy Lee Jones said to me, isn’t it such a privilege, Meryl, just to be an actor. Yeah, it is. And we have to remind each other of the privilege and the responsibility of the act of empathy. We should all be very proud of the work Hollywood honors here tonight.
It takes only one intelligent person who never watches any acting, and yet somehow manages to show empathy, to invalidate Streep’s point. No, this is not an actor’s only job, and it isn’t an actor’s job at all, to “enter the lives of people who are different from us and let you feel what that feels like.” That is absurd. And as she demonstrated all too clearly, in the course of attending to that misguided mission, it is necessary to engage in a bit of what might politely be called “nonsense.” Example: Streep made a prolonged reference to the President-Elect ridiculing the handicap of a reporter who has arthrogryposis, an allegation that has been debunked over and over again.
What’s this business with feeling, anyway? Why all this undue weight placed on it? Reminds me of what Prof. Sowell once said,
The problem isn’t that Johnny can’t read. The problem isn’t even that Johnny can’t think. The problem is that Johnny doesn’t know what thinking is; he confuses it with feeling.
This is valuable in that it tells us where Meryl Streep goes wrong. She says things that are not true, and doesn’t seem to realize it, because she doesn’t realize it. She doesn’t know what thinking is.
And it’s valuable because this was — near as I can tell — her entire point, that Hollywood is in a class by itself. That industry, according to her remarks, seems to be headed in the right direction while the rest of us are just bumbling around, bumping into each other and falling down, like Keystone Cops or something I suppose. And what makes them so uniquely right & true? Feeling. Their ability to empathize with others.
Matt Walsh was not impressed by this, too much…
Actors “enter the lives of people who are different” in order to “let you feel what that feels like,” she said proudly. That brought her to her attack on Donald Trump, which inevitably included attacks on the 60 million people who voted for him. Conjuring an image of rabid dogs, she said that Trump’s bullying made his supporters “show their teeth.” She finished, finally, by lavishing more praise on Hollywood and the press. Hollywood “safeguards the truth,” she swooned, and they all ought to be proud of themselves. They can teach the world to be “empathetic” and “understanding.” “The powerful are using their position to bully others,” Streep warned, but fortunately Hollywood rises above it. And from its position of moral supremacy it acts as society’s guardian angels. The crowd of well-heeled angels roared with approval as Streep left the stage.
It was truly inspiring. At least, that’s what I’m told.
Now, two brief notes on all of this:
1. Whatever you think about the content of the speech, it certainly was not courageous.
You’ll notice that it’s never enough for liberals to simply agree with what someone says or does. It always has to be “brave.” Streep’s speech has been described in those terms by countless liberals on social media, along with many similarly glowing adjectives. It’s absurd, obviously. Whether you agree or disagree with what she said, she still said it in front of the friendliest possible audience. She told a group of people who worship her exactly what they want to hear and already believe. She risked absolutely nothing…
2. Hollywood is a disgusting cesspool of nihilism, narcissism, and hatred.
Although Streep hilariously painted herself and her fellow multi-millionaire celebrity demigods as victims who are a part of “the most vilified segment of society,” the truth is that they are not nearly vilified enough. If they were vilified to an appropriate degree, people would be showing up at the red carpet to ruin their 80 thousand dollar outfits by pelting them with eggs — not that I would condone such behavior (publicly)…
Empathy for whom, exactly? An understanding of what? It seems the answer to both questions is “themselves.” Hollywood rarely makes any attempt to reach outside of itself. And putting a gay person in every movie and show doesn’t count. Half of Hollywood is gay, after all. If Hollywood were really all that Meryl Streep cracks it up to be, it would produce shows and films that explore the lives of people who are actually different from themselves. But every time it does, the conclusion it draws is always the same: “These people are freaks and we should laugh at them.”
Seems we have a disagreement! How do we adjudicate it? One has only to envision Hollywood personalities sitting in judgment of this criticism, and speculate on their reaction to it…you needn’t go out on a limb too much. Right? They’d conclude Meryl Streep is right and Matt Walsh is wrong. And how would they know this?
They would feel it.
And that’s the part that really interests me. Time after time after time, if you round up a randomly-selected sample group from among the A-list actors and actresses, you’ll find the group overwhelmingly leans left, in one political decision after another. And they’re going to lean left because of their feeeeeelings. Meryl Streep is correct on this. And if you create a similar sample group out of most other professions…most other professions, not all other professions, just most…that sample group would offer different opinions. It would certainly be to the political right on these decisions, compared to your Hollywood sample group. Butcher, baker, candlestick-maker…auto mechanic, software engineer, dry cleaner, mattress manufacturer…
See, there is a difference, and the difference comes from the job of being an actor. What Streep got wrong, is what she should’ve gotten right before anything else, where she has abundant experience that the rest of us lack — she erred on identifying what an actor’s job is. It isn’t “to enter the lives of people who are different from us and let you feel what that feels like.” An actor’s job is to pretend. It is to take statements known to be untrue, like “I’m Batman” or “I’m the Captain of a Starship” or “I’m a Jedi Master” — and behave as if they are true. To act. That’s what acting is. That’s the definition, and it works better than Meryl Streep’s. Do these things, and show no empathy, you’re a successful actor. This has been proven over & over again. Dwell on feelings, but fail to do the right pretending, and you fail as an actor. It isn’t about empathy. It’s about pretending untrue things are true. That is the job, and we should find it reassuring when we discover actors disagree with us.
Which we will discover, and often. It is the natural and expected result. The butcher, the baker, the candlestick-maker all succeed by recognizing true things, and behaving as if those true things are true. Like: This is good meat, these are guts. The bread’s baked long enough, the bread hasn’t baked long enough. This candlestick is not flawed, this other one is and I can’t sell it.
When people roll their eyes at puffed-up speeches like Meryl Streep’s, with the dismissal of “shut up and act,” it isn’t always just because they disagree with her. Maybe some of them don’t realize it, but there is an entirely justifiable reason to be saying this. Actors pretend false things are true for a living. Entertainers are, when you get right down to it, clowns. We don’t let clowns actually make important decisions about things, especially on behalf of someone else, whose tethering to reality is much stronger.
Related: Don Surber: What did football ever do to Meryl Streep?
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