A few weeks ago, Don Morrison of Time Magazine suggested that French culture was on the decline. Morrison bemoaned the fact that the French take their culture seriously. He tsk-tsked fashion magazines for carrying serious book reviews (he says this like it’s a bad thing!) and small towns from putting on opera and theater festivals. Morrison’s main gripe was that “[a]ll of these mighty oaks being felled in France’s cultural forest make barely a sound in the wider world.” And that because of this, France was “a wilting power in the global cultural marketplace.”
The chief problem with Morrison’s essay, aside from its considerable hubris, is the term “cultural marketplace.” Why must culture be dependent on the marketplace? In addition, Morrison’s stupendous ignorance of contemporary French cinema — I’m nowhere nearly as steeped in French cinema as I once was, but has this dilettante not even heard of François Ozon or Gaspar Noé? — leads him to report that “France’s movie industry, the world’s largest a century ago, has yet to recapture its New Wave eminence of the 1960s, when directors like François Truffaut and Jean-Luc Godard were rewriting cinematic rules.” Is Morrison complaining about the French film industry in 1907 or the 1960s? Or is he just a hopelessly confused man? And if box office gross is the paramount distinction, what of 2001’s Amélie ($33 million U.S. gross), 2003’s The Triplets of Belleville ($7 million), 2003’s Swimming Pool ($10 million), or 2006’s Arthur and the Invisibles ($15 million)? And why doesn’t he cite any contemporary examples? Wild stab in the dark, but could it be that Morrison doesn’t know what the fuck he’s talking about?
I’d plunge into this essay further, but thankfully Bernard Henri-Levy has done my work for me, dispensing with this yokel’s argument quite adeptly and including a helpful taxonomy of axioms.
(Thanks, Gonzalo, for the tip.)
Sherri Shepherd of The View has uttered, in all seriousness, that “Jesus came first.” Shepherd seems to believe that, in the great collective whole of human existence, there was no religion before Christianity. One must ask how such an ignorant fuckwit was picked from the available pool of candidates and hired as co-host. Granted, one does not expect penetrating insight from The View, but surely there are minimum intelligence standards. Surely, there is some producer on the show who is doing more than tearing out hair and begrudgingly accepting this dunce as a talking head for our time. Because this baffling statement truly represents the nadir of talk shows. I’d expect such a conclusion from a four-year-old who still believes in Santa Claus and doesn’t know any better, not a forty year old adult who has had decades to form her conclusions. But there it is. “Jesus came first!” A statement as foolhardy as shouting “The world is flat!” at a geography convention.
If this were a just world, Shepherd would be employed at a full service gas station somewhere, assuming of course that her diseased mind was capable of understanding that inserting the nozzle does not come first (although Jesus DOES come first and he shall save you from rising gas prices!) and that you actually unscrew the cap before putting in the nozzle. Of course, since this is a task repeated multiple times throughout the day, perhaps after the thirty-seventh time, she might catch on. Then again, maybe not. Because as seen in the clip, when presented with the facts by her peers, Shepherd is incapable of even confessing that her co-hosts may be right.
Why the hostility? Because this isn’t just about the glorification of ignorance, but the glorification of people who refuse to accept anything but their ignorance. A remotely thinking person would stop in his tracks and realize that they’ve made a mistake or consider that facts and evidence may have some bearing on maintaining a mind set. And here’s the thing. It’s not as if Shepherd is being asked to weigh in on the Jungian influence on advertising or distinguish between an AK-47 and an M16, but she’s being asked to respond to a basic fact that anyone with a basic elementary school education knows! In continually employing a numbskull as dumb and dense as Shepherd’s on the show, The View‘s producers are complicit in celebrating one of the most abhorrent qualities that has pervaded this country. Maybe Mike Judge was right. If we continue to accept such rampant stupidity without protest, at this rate, we’ll be queuing up for Ass: The Movie in a lot less than 500 years.