Monday, December 8, 2008

Television's Kick Ass Women and Smart Men

There's a new trend on Television: Kick Ass Women partnered with "smart" men, solving crimes and fighting evil. Seen so far mostly on hour-long dramas (a few sitcoms such as "Big Bang Theory" have semi-touched on this pairing), the device is both a response to a genuine fondness for the pairing among male audiences, and the type of social engineering that Hollywood is famous for. This dramatic device does however offer some insight into how both men and women relate to each other, in changing ways, and how Hollywood sees this change.

It is important to remember that Western civilization has always had a strong preference among it's men for "strong" or independent women with their own minds, able to make their own choices. As far back as the Greeks, plays like "Lysistrata" had a preference for women who were able to make up their own minds, and make their choices stick. In Medieval romances and tales from El Cid to "Song of Roland" to various tales of King Arthur or Robin Hood, there is always a strong and independent woman at the center of the tale, to be won (or not) by the hero's courage, devotion, and manly attributes of self-sacrifice and duty.

Much of Western literature is centered around what amounts to a "how-to" manual for young men seeking to woo and win a strong, independent woman. Western society faced the task, throughout it's history, of managing a lot of young men who could present a threat to the established order, but were also needed for defense and obviously, local wealth creation. Compared to other societies, Western Christendom offered a different solution to this problem — monogamous marriage, based at least in part on romantic love. Muslim societies to this day, retain both arranged marriages and polygamy, making them intrinsically unstable and prone to export their surplus young men via conquest or Jihad. By contrast even in Medieval times, various troubador ballads would lament, in bald terms, the loss of their beloved's favor. Which implies that their beloved could indeed choose not to love them. Something simply unthinkable in Muslim societies, and by contrast the constant obsession of Western ones.

Western societies have a clear line from Medieval troubadors to Mississippi Bluesmen, with song after song after song, nearly all of them, dealing with romantic love in form or another. The thrill of a new romance, a woman's favor, the celebration of the love, and the crushing feelings of loss in one aspect or another, form the basis for most popular music in Western culture from the 1200's onward. All this creative energy suggests that Westerners, unlike other societies, place far more importance on romantic love. Romantic love where the woman is both worthy of struggle, and has the ability to choose.

Pretty much most of Western literature, therefore, has been entertaining but "how-to" manuals on how to win the type of strong Western women that dominate Western literature: Maid Marian, Lois Lane, Mary Jane Watson. It's no surprise either that the "strongest" female characters often appear in male-oriented fiction. If there is a woman to be won, she must obviously be worthy of winning. Hence the strength of the female characters, who are often important partners in the adventures of the male heroes.

Western literature both reflects, therefore, the obsession of Western men in winning a woman worthy of being won, and the strong social suggestion that winning such a woman is a more worthy endeavor than overthrowing the King and replacing him, and constructing a harem. While Western nations obviously have throughout history had a great deal of social disturbances, in general, compared to their Islamic and Asian contemporaries, they had more social peace and stability. The stability of the West in turn depends on the ability of the average man to form a family, one based mostly on love and the free romantic choice of the woman. That social structure allowed massive mobilization of resources at places as various and terrible as Lepanto, Tours, Ypres, and the skies over Germany.

Of course, Western men find strong women very attractive. Buried in the "Taming of the Shrew" is the assumption that Petruchio finds Katherine attractive and worth "taming" instead of simply pursuing another more pliable woman. Western men find strong women, of independent judgment and character, deeply attractive for obvious emotional reasons. Strong women are less likely to be swayed by other men, who might temporarily have an advantage in power and strength and standing over her husband. Strong women offer their own counsel which is vital for a man navigating the complex and changing society of the West. Finally, the desire to pass on to one's children the positive, independent aspects of character of one's wife as well as one's own is strong among men in the West.

Almost every comic book in the "Golden Age" of the late 1930's to mid 1940's had strong women, as the central women to be won throughly manly adventure. This continued in the "Silver Age" of the 1960's, from the "Incredible Hulk's" Betty Ross to the "Invisible Woman" of "the Fantastic Four." Not to mention Spider-Man's Mary Jane Watson.

It's important to note that the emotional and mental characteristics of the characters were as important if not more important than their physical beauty. While none of the characters was ugly or plain, they all possessed independence and their own judgment, rather than merely being "pretty." The "Invisible Woman," Susan Storm, even had powers of her own. Importantly of course, when "won" by the hero she stayed "won."

So strong female characters are nothing new. Men have always liked them, and women readers of authors as diverse as Jane Austen to Candace Bushnell have also liked women of strong character and independent judgment. Hollywood has mostly shown strong women. Soap operas and night-time soaps like "Days of Our Lives" to "Dynasty" to "Desperate Housewives" have all featured women who were not exactly shy or wallflowers. Hollywood's classic age, with actors such as Cary Grant, Spencer Tracy, and Humphrey Bogart paired with strong women such as Katherine Hepburn, or Lauren Bacall, speak to how enduring that attraction has been, and remains to this day. These films are remembered still, in part because of the strength of the women.

But what has changed is how men and women relate to each other, both in real life and Hollywood's fantasies on Television.

In real life as I've noted in my posts Hollywood's Romantic Comedies for Men, and Modern Romance, and Dating Capital and Chuck: Men, Romance, and Female Empowerment, there are serious demographic changes taking place.

First, men and women are getting married later and later in life, compared to the last seventy years, with these trends picking up in the late 1960's. Next, demographics crunch men because the female cohort that is younger is numerically smaller, a given of the declining birth rates. Because of the preference among both men and women for a man about six to ten years older than the woman, the men face more contemporaries competing for the smaller pool of women, instead of the other way around in increasing birth rates, with profound effects on the relationships between men and women. Men face a decreasing social power (more of them pursuing fewer women) and women increasing social power in romantic matters.

Mediating institutions such as churches and neighbors and close families no longer exist in today's highly mobile and urban societies. Moreover, women face so much choice that they tend to retreat to the most simple of criteria: power and social dominance. This decisively tilts power and even the ability to find romance for most men and towards the few "players" who can appear to be the most socially and physically dominant men in the bar. Since bars and other venues like them are the way in which women find and choose their romantic partners, highly mobile, urban professional environments.

Finally, contraception, cheap and easy and effective, in the form of the condom and the pill, along with anonymous urban living and female wealth and power equal to that if not more than men (in urban information-age occupations), means women can afford to choose on everything BUT character, a complete reversal from times past. There is no downside risk perceived at any rate for choosing Mr. Wrong.

Which leads to the irony of our times. Never have so many men so wanted strong women, of independent character and assertiveness, and never have strong women wanted most men less. The dirty little secret of female empowerment is that it merely shifts female choice ever-upward, to men who are of higher social and physical power than themselves. Any casual perusal of female-oriented entertainment will confirm this. "Sex and the City's" "Mr. Big" or "Buffy the Vampire Slayer's" characters "Angel" and "Spike" are measured by the power and strength and social dominance over other men they possess, not inner qualities of mercy, kindness, self-sacrifice, or adherence to Western/Christian morality. Because a strong woman does not need those qualities in a man, if he fails to please he can be simply replaced. With no risk or penalty.

This dynamic is why most strong, independent women in urban centers end up sharing a few socially dominant men, in a de-facto polygamy. Even women who complain about dates don't complain that they cannot get them, merely the quality of men they must consider in their thirties, as they age out of peak desirability. That in itself is a measure of the dating disparity. Since if men were simply sitting out the dating game, in pursuit of unobtainable women of great beauty, there would be many women of average looks sitting alone at home, which is not the picture we see in complaints about dating.

All of this has created a market, and a considerable one, looking at the receipts for "the Wedding Crashers" ($209 million domestic gross), or "Superbad" ($121 million domestic gross), or "Knocked Up" ($148 million domestic gross), among mostly men (though with some women) for romance involving strong female characters and somewhat funny, ordinary guys. [Source: ]

This has created a backlash. Hollywood Elsewhere by Jeffrey Wells has talked about the "eclipse of the hunk" and the "Apatow Schlub," in which he bemoans ordinary looking guys paired with attractive women. He's not alone. The female star of "Knocked Up," Katherine Heigl, has objected (after collecting her paycheck and being made famous by the role) to the movie itself, particularly the premise that her attractive and powerful character would have sex with the loser played by Seth Rogen. Who just was not attractive enough. It's clear that the gay and female aesthetic in Hollywood is deeply challenged by the popularity and money-making effect of the average Joe paired with an independent and beautiful woman.

The threatis obvious: far fewer roles for the female and gay-appealing pretty boys, promotion of a more straight guy appealing romantic agenda (i.e. choose Joe Average when he demonstrates proper heroism and stick with him), and general themes and plots that are alien to gay and female dominated Hollywood — gone is flitting to the most powerful and appealing man of the moment, and present would themes of sacrifice, duty, courage, endurance, and a traditional culture resurgent.

Hollywood hates this development. But all that money is nearly irresistible. So Hollywood, particularly in Television, where the ability to move quickly and cheaply (well, by Hollywood standards, anyway) allows exploration and experimentation more so than film, has chosen to hesitantly exploit that massive audience of lots and lots of men without any significant romance, hungry for stories about men like them winning the girl, with the cherry on top of some extra women watching as well, drawn by the strong female characters. Of course, there is lots of PC messaging, and a real reluctance to fully exploit this theme, even given the dramatics inherent, but that it is taking place at all is significant.

[Serenity, the "Firefly" movie, cost $39 million to make, with a 2 hour running time, according to Box Office Mojo, while the series itself likely cost about $3 million per episode, or 45 minutes of actual screen time. That makes TV cost about $60,000 per minute raw production costs, versus $325,000 per minute, even with the same basic material.]

Now, Television has started to explore that Apatow pairing, but with Kick-ass women and Smart men fighting "evil" as the more threatening aspect of living ordinary lives. Shows as disparate as "Chuck," and "Fringe" and "Eleventh Hour," and "the Mentalist," have a "smart" guy paired with an aggressive, no-nonsense woman who visibly kicks ass.

What's notable is how tentative the pairing is. In each show, the setting is "professional." In "Chuck" and "Eleventh Hour," the aggressive, no nonsense female agent is assigned to protect the smart guy, who is consistently portrayed as not very good in purely physical confrontations (and therefore a romantic turn-off to women). In "the Mentalist," the canny social observer played by Simon Baker avoids physical confrontations and is often bailed out by the tough, female agent (and boss of the unit) played by Robin Tunney. "Fringe" treads the same ground. "Chuck" is constantly rescued by his female protector, as is the hero of "Eleventh Hour."

In each show, while romance is hinted at, it is just a hint. No real romance exists, merely the possibility, however fuzzy and uncertain. The social reality is that being "smart" is a loser for men romantically, since it generally correlates with lower levels of testosterone. Various studies shown here and here how rising IQ strongly correlates with far fewer sex partners. "Smartness" has a trade-off, and that trade-off seems to be lower levels of testosterone and the characteristics associated with high levels of testosterone, such as physical and social dominance. In other words, the very things women find attractive about men.

What's interesting is that the audience for these shows is mostly male, although there is a strong female component to the viewership, attracted no doubt by the presence of strong female characters. Female audiences, and actresses, have complained for years about the lack of strong and interesting female characters in movies and television. For the most part, since the end of the golden era of the 1940's "women's pictures" there have been few interesting and strong roles for women in movies. Television, however, has had a plethora of strong and independent women. "The Pretender's" "Miss Parker," and "X-Files" Agent Scully, and their successors: "Life's" "Detective Reese" and "Chuck's" "Sarah" and the female leads in "Eleventh Hour," "the Mentalist," and "Fringe" all are not just, but more tough than the male leads, carry guns (the men don't), and face "interesting" personal-professional dilemmas (often work-life balance).

Men of course like the "tough but vulnerable" female characters, and all of the female characters above have personal issues that suggest inner vulnerability and the need for male comfort: "Life's" "Detective Reese" is an alcoholic, "Chuck's" "Sarah" is closed off emotionally and a work-a-holic, and so on. The male audience enjoys seeing lead male characters offer comfort and support, and this particular dramatic aspect is noticeably lacking in the movies, as opposed to episodic Television.

What is telling about Hollywood, however, is how tentative they are even in episodic Television, where fast and cheap (again, by Hollywood standards) is the norm and where themes and structures can be easily explored, as a sort of creative laboratory, in using the romance between the "Kick Ass Woman" and the "Smart Guy" to build audience. Only on "Life" is there an explicit romantic pairing, and while the Sarah Shahi character ("Detective Reese") is most certainly "Kick Ass" and tough, her romantic partner, played by the always excellent Donal Logue, is more amiable doofus than explicitly "Smart."

You would expect that the huge box office, for not much production money, of the Apatow-themed comedies, with together, savvy, and beautiful professional women paired with good natured average guys, would be quickly exploited on Television. Instead, a "credible" reason for the "Kick Ass Woman" and the "Smart Guy" to work together is constructed: the "Smart Guy" needs protection from rival secret agents ("Chuck") or threats ("Fringe" and "Eleventh Hour") or he is a consultant ("the Mentalist"). Mutual attraction is never the reason for why the two characters interact. Even more puzzling, the pairing is depicted as "friends" (which is of course incompatible with romance) and remain a respectful romantic and sexual distance from each other. Expressions of desire for the other by one of the characters come, and are quickly snuffed out.

Part of this, of course, is the PC ideology of how men and women work together. In the professional workplace, it is necessary for any overt expression of desire (particularly among men for women) to be suppressed. This is required for actual work to be done and for everyone to get along rather than escalating mating competitions.

Beyond this actual, real-world requirement to make the workplace about work, not finding a romantic partner, is how PC believes men and women should relate. PC holds that the "best" way for a man to win a woman is to be respectful, kind, and supportive. This is basically the path to becoming the "gay best friend" beloved of women's comedies. Something that creates a lot of anger, parenthetically, when men find out how false that belief really is in actual reality. PC of course holds this because the fairy-tale of how men and women interact benefits PC's promulgators. Women and the few socially dominant men obviously benefit from the average guy believing that being supportive and respectful is a way to win a woman's heart. Instead of being socially and physically dominant over other men, which is the actual path to success with women for men. Women benefit because average men don't waste their time approaching them, only socially dominant men, and the latter face far less competition.

PC, by painting a false, unworkable picture of the world, and how it works, benefits those who ignore it's dictates and act on how the world really works.

It's natural therefore that Hollywood, which is more PC bound than any other (being run by basically, a few dominant men, gays, and women) would encourage a PC-driven view of relationships between the "Smart Men" and "Kick Ass Women." That the way to win the "Kick Ass Woman's" heart is to be her "friend." Or basically, the "gay pal."

But Hollywood has another problem — it's gay-female-Big Man power axis finds pairing attractive, accomplished women with a guy who is NOT the classic "Big Man" deeply offensive. This is what got both Katherine Heigl and Jeffrey Wells upset. Female audiences don't like it either — "Smart Men" are not very attractive to women for obvious reasons. Hollywood just can't believe itself in an explicit romantic pairing of "Smart Men" and "Kick Ass Women." Despite explicit, and quite graphic romantic-sexual pairings of lesbians, or powerful older men and their younger female subordinates, or gay men, or even polygamists and their many wives.

It's pretty telling that Hollywood can portray ANY romantic-sexual pairing BUT that of a "Smart" guy and a "Strong" woman. Too many Hollywood constituencies would be upset by that pairing, never mind that it could make money, lots of it. Gays would be upset by promotion of a monogamous romantic choice. Women by "settling" for a less than socially dominant man. "Big Men" by an erosion of their social power and control.

Hollywood likes the money that promoting that type of romantic pairing could bring, but can't bring itself to quite pull it off. There are too many taboos and people made angry internally for Hollywood to collect the "money on the table." In terms of increased male viewership, men being far under-served in Hollywood, with the exception of the Summer Action Blockbuster ("Dark Knight," "Indiana Jones," etc.) which are also known as the few films that actually make money in Hollywood. Apatow's movies don't cost too much. They make nearly as much money as the expensive Hollywood Action movies. They don't require big stars who cost lots of money either. You'd think that TV would be filled with that type of pairing, or something like it, but it's not. The closest Hollywood can get in it's "laboratory" for dramatic exploration is a professional partnership with mere suggestions of romance quickly shot down, from time to time.

Which leaves potentially a huge opening for Hollywood's competitors. Peter Jackson ("Lord of the Rings") showed how New Zealand could be used to make big-budget and very successful films. Other strategic competitors of Hollywood would be Australia, and Ireland, and Canada. Filled with low cost labor, favorable tax treatment, and skilled actors and others who can work quickly and cheaply. Eventually the rise of such centers, and the ability to distribute TV series and films on the internet through sites such as (deriving money from advertising) will present the threat to Hollywood that Japan presented to Detroit.

Already, Hollywood's moguls are asking for bailouts. Maybe they know something. Someone, someday, is going to exploit the demographic changes (a lot of lonely and single men) and make a lot of money by being there first.
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Sunday, November 30, 2008

The Bombay World

The Jihadist, terror attacks in Bombay, which have at latest report have as many as 300 feared dead, are the symbol of the problems of the modern world. For most of the Twentieth Century, threats to Western nations were from industrialized, modern powers. Either other Western nations, such as the Kaiser's or Furhrer's Germany, or Soviet Russia, or modernized Asian nations such as Tojo's Japan or Mao's nuclear armed China. Failed nations and states like Pakistan or Somalia were not considered threats. What armies did they have? What navies? What strategic air forces or ICBMs? That of course has all changed, mostly without anyone noticing it until now. When it must be noticed.

The problem is that the diffusion of modern technology, like the AK-47, across the globe allows even failed societies like Pakistan to export their troubles to neighbors, or even distant places. Like England or the United States. Technology has become so cheap and widely available that even places that can't produce it on their own can buy the technology in the global marketplace. The United Nations in 2001 estimated that an AK-47 could be purchased in many places in Africa for as little as $6. That is the price of something that is a commodity. While doubtless prices have risen since that report, the ubiquity of the AK-47 worldwide is proof that Western nations no longer have technology advantages.

From what is known, by reporting from various sources, the Bombay assault was planned for a year in advance. Training was conducted in Kashmir and Rawalpindi (the military heart of Pakistan). The attack team consisted of between ten and possibly as many as twenty men. Considerable logistics support was required, to stash arms and water and ammunition inside the hotel, and other places, and keep the hotel staff away from the rooms or prevent them from reporting the arms and water caches. Targets were carefully surveilled, and the targets included the very obscure Lubavitcher Jewish Center in Bombay, which was unmarked and unknown to nearly all of Bombay (so much for security by obscurity). The gunmen operated in pairs, in the manner of US Marines and other American combat infantrymen. The gunmen, according to the survivor, expected to survive and escape. The goal, according to the survivor, was to kill as many people as possible, the number that the attackers desired to reach was 5,000 people.

India is a nation of about a billion people. The "demands" of the group claiming responsibility, the Deccan Muhajideen, were for the entire Indian subcontinent to be put under Islamic rule and Sharia Law. It was not of course, a serious demand. The purpose of the attack was not hostage-trading, or publicity for demands. Or even killing to achieve a political objective from the target, i.e. "negotiations" or giving in to demands that did not require great sacrifices from the target. No, the killing was all about raising an exile army. Liberals consistently ask "Why do they hate us?" and Conservatives answers are often "They hate us for our freedoms." Neither provide a good answer for why Bombay's atrocities took place. It is not about us, it is about them.

Westhawk believes that the attack, like 9/11 organized by Al Qaeda, is all about mobilizing the Caliphate. The attack, in other words, was designed to create a backlash against Muslims in India and create a religious-ethnic war between India and Pakistan. This is only partly right. What Westhawk misses are the goals of men like Ayman Al-Zawahari and Osama bin Laden. As amply documented in Lawrence Wright's "The Looming Tower," the goal of both Al-Zawhari and Bin Laden was to create an exile Army. An exile Army capable of overthrowing the regimes of Egypt and Saudi Arabia, where each could then rule his native land. This is the big flaw of Islam, in that there is no other path to power in Islamic societies except sitting out in exile somewhere, and organizing a coup, or assassinations of the leaders. There are no peaceful paths to power, by political organizing, as there is in the West. There is no accommodations, for powerful forces, as there is in say, China or Japan, in a more consensus-driven environment (and ruthless suppression of those who do not cooperate). Thus, Islamic society, heavily influenced by it's polygamy and "Big Man" society, with a chief who runs everything and owns everything, and everyone else below, predictably creates these exile forces. Algeria is plagued by the GIA and GSPC, Egypt by Islamic Jihad, Saudi Arabia by Al Qaeda, Morocco by Al Qaeda, Indonesia by the Jemaah Islamiyah, and so on. Pakistan is the worst, with an alphabet soup of terrorist groups, all fighting for influence and power. Each group is hoping to overthrow the current regimes, using Islam as a lever (and the convenient tactic of labeling the current regime as "infidel") and assembling it's own exile Army and group of supporters inside the nation.

Simply put, these men want power. The power of the ruler. They aim to get it. And the way they get it is by demonstrating they are winners.

Wright demonstrates how Al-Zawahari and Bin Laden only fitfully arrived at the "winning" model for assembling lots of men, money, and supporters inside their target country. At first, both tried assassination attempts and terrorism against the regime. Egyptian Islamic Jihad had a series of failed attempts to kill Mubarak, and attacks against tourists in Southern Egypt and elsewhere. Osama's attacks against Saudi regime figures, and agitation got the same results as Al-Zawahari's Egyptian endeavors. Police crackdowns, imprisonment of supporters, execution of a good many suspected backers, and very visible failure. Funding and support from backers dried up. Men stopped coming to the camps in Sudan, or Somalia, or Pakistan. Their host nations got nervous and informed them that perhaps they would find a better climate elsewhere, under pressure from Egypt and Saudi Arabia.

Then, with the tactic of killing lots of Americans, with impunity, both Al-Zawahari and Osama bin Laden found men and money pouring into their camps. Al Qaeda went from an obscure bunch of "losers" who were nowhere near the vanguard of Islamic Jihad to the leaders. This success of course attracted considerable American retaliation in the end, and put both men on the run and unable to take full advantage of their ability to raise money and men and gain followers inside their target nations (for takeover). But every would-be usurper and terrorist leader took notice. To gain the lion's share of money and men, one must successfully attack and kill lots of Westerners.

The danger of American retaliation could be finessed in several ways. First, by not claiming direct responsibility, and using a cover organization, while covertly spreading the word that it was, indeed, your own that directed the attack. Second, by banking on the election of Muslim-friendly (if not Muslim himself) Barack Hussein Obama as President of the United States, who has written in his autobiography "Dreams From My Father: A Story of Race and Inheritance" that he would "stand with Muslims" rather than America in the event of a Muslim attack on the US. Third, by manipulating the desire for legalistic "proof" in Western societies before any action in retaliation for an attack takes place. By carefully choosing men who have no direct connection to a terrorist group, there can be no "proof" that a terrorist group was responsible.

Meanwhile, the advantage for any would-be terrorist kingpin for pulling off such an attack is great: he can very likely receive tens of millions of dollars at least from Gulf oil interests, and others, around the Muslim world. Not the least of which is the money that can be raised from Muslims in the West. It is alleged that much of the financing for the Bombay attack came from Muslims in Britain. It is further alleged that some of the dead attackers were British Citizens as well. At least the former seems plausible and the case of the latter is bolstered by the number of British Muslim Citizens (and Canadians, for that matter) captured or killed in the battlefields of Afghanistan in the last seven years. This is not surprising, a recent poll reveals that forty percent of British Muslims want Sharia Law in the UK. A full twenty percent had sympathy for the 7/7 bombers.

The problem for the West, and other non-Muslim societies, is that there are too many would-be "Big Men" sitting out in exile, figuring that they can quite reasonably expect to at least run their own lucrative private Armies, if only they can figure out a way to kill lots of non-Muslims and get away with it. This has of course, always been the case for Islamic societies, while both Western and Eastern societies have largely done away with exile leaders since well, Napoleon.

What has changed is the ability of technology, and the weakness of both Western and Eastern societies, which depend on cooperation and non-violence, to make this desire of Muslim exile leaders quite possible.

In examining the Bombay Jihadist atrocities, the relative cost of the operation is not high. Almost any well organized terrorist group could pursue it, at relatively little risk. The surveillance of the targets was relatively low risk, even if discovered the PC attitudes of most nations and screaming of "profiling" particularly America and Europe, would lead to charges being dismissed. Try again with another target. Groups of two men, five to six teams in all, could produce enough reporting and raw data to plan an effective attack. The cost for the surveillance could be as little as $20,000.

The training of the men who would carry out the attack, and their careful selection, would take more time, but would not cost much. AK-47's are ubiquitous and easily obtained in places like Pakistan, or Somalia, or many other parts of the world. Creating mock-ups of the targets, screening the men, training them, providing them with meals and sleeping arrangements, could very likely be done for only $70,000. The largest cost component of this phase would be security and investigations of the proposed attackers.

Next comes the plausible deniability. Care must be taken to feed appropriate intelligence agencies fake plans, intentions, and so on. Perhaps fake denunciations of schismatic people conducting the training in case of their involvement being revealed. Payoffs and bribes to the local authorities, must also be considered. This could be a sum as little as $80,000.

After that, comes the positioning of the arms and other supplies used in the attacks. The difficulties encountered by the Bombay attackers in coming from sea (the Indian Coast Guard nearly caught them) means that it is unlikely this means will be pursued further. It is more likely that the arms will be smuggled in or purchased piecemeal off the black markets, one at a time. This is likely to cost around $130,000 or so. Perhaps more in societies with a larger, more robust police presence, and concentrated geography, perhaps less in places with a more spread out geography and less able police. The aim being to keep the arms and attackers separate until right before the attack begins, for maximum surprise and effectiveness.

Finally, comes the infiltration of the attackers. Ideally they should enter the country through normal commercial means, as many of the 9/11 Hijackers did, though under assumed identities. They would be indistinguishable from the mass of people moving in and out of modern Western societies. The cost for this would be only $20,000 or so. Very cheap.

So the total cost of $320,000 give or take, could be estimated to produce around $20 million in funds raised from sympathetic Gulf interests and Jihadist networks in Europe and America. It certainly is risky. But then so is sitting out in the desert in Pakistan, hoping to overthrow the Egyptian or Saudi government, or the Pakistani government for that matter. Men who will take that risk, will take this risk. The only trick is to avoid retaliation by the Americans, who are at this point the only forces capable (well, besides the Chinese and Russians) of producing misery for the men who would plan the attacks.

The widespread affordability of cheap but reliable AK-47's, grenades and other weaponry, makes this tactic of mass-killing by sudden assaults likely to be repeated. Until they stop working, which means they fail to produce money and men and supporters at "acceptable" levels of risk for the plotters. Which means in turn that the plotters don't end up dead.

The likely targets would not at first be American. India was chosen for a reason. It was next door to Pakistan, it had poor security, and exiting to Pakistan was theoretically possible. Indeed if there were twenty not ten attackers, then ten have escaped. The Netherlands, Denmark, Italy, Spain, France, Britain, are all convenient targets. All these nations lack any meaningful ways of killing the plotters, which to them is the only thing that matters in considering such attacks. Neither Britain nor France will nuke Pakistan. Certainly not over an attack that "merely" kills 5,000 people. These societies present a "free shot" for men who wish to become Caliph.

Which brings to mind the irony of how technology has created this situation. In the movie "The Man Who Would Be King," Sean Connery and Michael Caine use their superior technology (repeating rifles) and military know-how to become kings of "Kafiristan" (in reality the last pagan outpost in Afghanistan before it was conquered in 1895-96 by Muslims). Their reign as "Kings" comes to an end, however, when they are revealed to be men not gods, and the Kafiris turn on them. In that instance, the superior technology of the West enabled for a while, the Connery and Caine characters to pose as Gods and rule as Kings.

Now, cheap transportation from anywhere in the Globe, and cheap and available weaponry, means that the Man Who Would Be King is not a some ex-Sergeant Major of the British Army in India, looking for an easy target, but an ambitious exile from Egypt, or Saudi Arabia, or perhaps a native Pakistani, who would be King himself. And his means is not seizing a weak, broken place like Kafiristan, separate and outside of modern technology. No, the ambition is to be like Reza Khan, who rose from an officer in the Persian Kossack Army, to Shah. Or Saddam Hussein, who rose from a simple assassin in the Baath Party to undisputed leader of Iraq. Or Gamel Abdel Nasser, or any one of the strong men who control the Muslim world. Muslim history and particularly modern Muslim history is littered with examples of people who assembled an exile and internal army and staged coups to become undisputed rulers of their countries. All that is needed is men and money.

Both readily available to anyone who can attack Westerners with impunity.

So these types of attacks will not end any time soon. If anything they will only increase. Because they are the quickest path to power in the Muslim world.

These attacks are not about Israel, or Jews, or Freedom, or why they hate us. It is about power and money, pure and simple, and enabled by modern technology along with the limits of the West.

However, like everything else, it will not last forever. The West has been coasting on the internal peace and prosperity bought by cheap energy, as documented in my post The Bailout, along with a lack of any serious threat impacting security and safety. The Soviet Nuclear Threat was largely neutralized by America's nuclear arsenal, creating a stand-off. Soviet Marines did not pose a constant threat of landing in New York City or Barcelona and massacring holiday shoppers in a shopping mall. Success and managing the one threat facing the West depended on cooperation and signaling (to the Soviets) a lack of any aggressive intent.

That is now changed. It is quite possible and eventually likely, that holiday shoppers or stadium-goers or attendants at Mass, or any other large public event could be massacred by Jihadis intent on killing as many infidels as possible, just so their masters and planners can assemble an exile Army.

This will change Western society in profound ways just as the threat of global nuclear war with the Soviets helped produce a deep and profound feminizing influence on the West (which was in some ways deeply beneficial).

First, in culture we will see a shift away from consumerism and status (which mean nothing if there is a realistic chance of being shot up by a jihadi in a large social setting) towards independence and self-reliance. Since those are the traits that provide success when realistically threatened by sudden violence at any moment. We will see a celebration of the spread out suburbs, which are unattractive targets to gunmen, and a disdain for the "loser" cities and concentrated urban areas.

The cry of the Indian photographer of "I wish I had a gun" will be felt more sympathetically. India has strict gun control laws, and the idea that armed Jihadis will be stopped by making sure their targets are unarmed will be deeply unappealing. The alliance of women, progressives, Blacks, Hispanics, etc. who are anti-gun ownership by ordinary people, will not change. However, their influence as more and more shootings happen, particularly in European nations with strict gun control, and horror stories of defenseless victims, is likely to wane.

SWAT teams and police units are likely to be the last line of defense. Even in compact cities like New York City, there simply won't be enough police to combat the attackers. Particularly if the police face multiple attacks to spread out their response. Politically, cities will be the last to allow hand gun possession by licensed legal owners. Because of the political alliances inherent in urban politics (women, gays, non-Whites).

However, that will just reverse the trend of "new urbanization" or the move to the cities. Instead, the safe suburbs, and shopping online, will dominate. Places that allow licensed concealed carry will have more people moving into them, and those that don't (in the US) will not. In Europe, it is likely that people will simply carry concealed and highly illegal weapons.

These attacks will not fundamentally threaten Western civilization. However, they will significantly change it. When people face the prospect of being killed at random in public places, they change their behavior. We are likely to see a switch from centralized, SWAT type response, while people wait to be killed, to a series of gunfights with the attackers. We are also likely to see the development of more powerful firearms that can stop attackers quickly, and alternatives to firearms that promise the same (vortex ring weapons, sonic weapons, microwaves, etc). Particularly as body armor becomes part of the attacker's gear.

After all, SWAT is designed to respond to fairly infrequent, violent threats. That type of protection, based on a centralized and governmental response, does not work (and certainly did not) when faced by a large number of attackers over a dispersed area.

The threat from the attackers is distributed and decentralized. It is likely that the response to the threat to be effective will be decentralized and distributed also.
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Friday, November 21, 2008

24 Killed by PC

The Wall Street Journal reports on the debut of Fox's "24" this Sunday with a two hour movie showing Jack Bauer in a fictional African country trying to save enslaved children. According to the Journal, the rest of the season picks up in Washington DC where Jack Bauer is on "trial" for "torture." The writers and show-runner Howard Gordon (series creator Joel Surnow left) wanted to "re-tool" the series for the "age of Obama," and essentially stage a 24 episode apology for the character of Jack Bauer and all prior seasons. Exit "24" as a money-making series. This season is almost guaranteed to be it's last, and the money thrown at series star Kiefer Sutherland to keep him on the show seems a waste of money and effort.

Thus is Hollywood's great weakness exposed: Political Correctness. Like Detroit's inability to master the art of making economical, high-quality cars, Hollywood's insistence of PC above all, including making money, offers the opportunity to canny competitors to take their customers away.

What made "24" popular after all, was the theme of revenge on terrorists. The character of "Jack Bauer" exists only to wreak revenge on terrorists, who have operated with impunity in the Western World since the late 1960's. This is popular theme in modern Western society, from at least the "Count of Monte Christo," and popularized by characters such as Zorro, Batman, Marvel Comics "the Punisher" and the Charles Bronson "Death Wish" films. This type of theme, revenge (mostly within moral limits) has been a winner for the last two hundred years at least. It certainly was not realistic settings, naturalistic plots, or believable characters that made "24" a ratings hit and favorite among male viewers.

But revenge themes have always been very unpopular with women. Even female-oriented revenge flicks such as Jodie Foster's "the Brave One" have not succeeded with women. This is likely due to profound gender differences. Men are both more comfortable with violence and familiar with what it can and cannot achieve. Every young boy is in at least several fights, while most young women experience social exclusion rather than physical intimidation as right of passage from puberty into adulthood. For men, moreover, physical violence can work to produce a higher status in society or reverse their usurpation from a position by a rival. Physical violence and revenge, however, does not "work" for women in the mating game. It does not make women either prettier or younger. Women generally take the tack that violent revenge does not work because it does not, indeed, work for them. For men, and within reason, violent revenge does work and is sometimes mandated to prevent further loss of power, status, and even life. [Clearly, some female audiences like the revenge genre, "Lethal Weapon" has been popular among women as has the Die Hard series, however in the main, women have not embraced this genre, for the most part.]

Hollywood, before it became Gay and Female dominated, understood this. It would have been inconceivable for say, the "Gunsmoke" writers of the 1960's to put Marshall Dillon "on trial" for well, doing what the character is in fact popular doing. Which is killing bad guys. As late as the 1980's, Don Johnson and Philip Michael Thomas were expressing the frustration that the average person felt with the drug war by (very stylishly mind you, clad in Versace and driving a Ferrari) shooting drug lords, dead. The 1980's TV series "the Equalizer" presented a whole host of urban bad guys dispatched by the masterful Edward Woodward. At no time did the scripts ever suggest that the heroes were "wrong" for doing what they did. Neither Crockett, nor Tubbs, nor Robert McCall were ever put on trial by their show-runners for doing what made them popular in the first place.

But TV's creative teams are run by the Female (and Gay) mores and sensibility. The group-think of catering to PC has become so strong that what seems to most casual observers to be just another form of "Revolutionary Suicide" ala Jonestown becomes a mandatory drinking of the Kool-Aide. The creative team does not really like or believe in the character of "Jack Bauer," much less the whole notion that a man with few limits in the age of terrorism and nuclear proliferation is required to avert disaster. While the Wall Street Journal notes that the series became "controversial" with critics for it's use of "torture" by the hero, said use of torture and general ruthlessness towards terrorists was the whole reason the show was popular in the first place.

Which brings to mind a comment by poster Usually Lurking about how PC was created, how it is maintained, and how it is enforced and evolves. PC is strongest among Single Women and Gay Men. It is enforced through the social power of these groups, usually by various gatekeepers who label as "un-PC" various thoughts, words, behaviors, and attitudes. It was created as Single Women and Gays started to dominate culture, particularly popular culture,and the media, and White Men generally retreated from those areas of life, pushed out by the forces of PC. It is self-reinforcing through the growth of female consumer spending and the desire of advertisers to reach and appease that critical demographic group. Nowhere is the dynamic of PC stronger than the "PC-castration" of "Jack Bauer" on "24."

The show-runner, Howard Gordon, even has a female FBI agent constantly questioning and challenging the necessity of Jack Bauer's actions. Something the show has in the past shown to be absolutely required, hammered home by the ticking clock shown periodically to remind the viewers of the urgent time pressure. This is a pure expression of female power, and an indication of how the culture itself has shifted in a time of great prosperity and security. A security moreover, that might be well illusory.

Women consumers are courted the most by marketers. Women are assumed to make the household purchasing decisions, and young female consumers, even before they are married, are the preferred target by marketers because it is assumed that brand loyalty is set in early adulthood. Single young women are assumed to spend more than young men, though this may be a false picture, demographically speaking. Certainly most of Television is aimed at young women, with even non-performing shows like "Gossip Girl" kept on life support because it's young female demographic is the most desired by advertisers.

Politics follows this trend, with much attention paid to the concerns of women, and the celebration rather than criticism of single motherhood. The culture wars are over, and Murphy Brown not Dan Quayle was the victor. The victor because of demographic strength and political power, as more and more women become single mothers. An example of this cultural shift is the announcement of Rep. Linda Sanchez (D-CA) that she is pregnant. Sanchez is unmarried. A picture of Sanchez and her boyfriend may be found here.

There is no serious attempt to curtail single motherhood, indeed any such attempt is treated as an attack on womanhood itself, and Sanchez certainly won't suffer from censure by her constituents, who are mostly Hispanic themselves. Forty five percent of Hispanic births, according to Heather McDonald of City Journal are illegitimate. PC makes criticizing the rise of illegitimacy and single motherhood a disaster, politically and socially. As the website Why Boys Fail points out, women now outnumber men in college degrees, borne out by the Census Bureau's figures. That is an expression of earning and political and social power, all related to higher earnings and social prestige associated with College degrees.

This has been enabled by the long run of prosperity, as shown by the figure below from the St. Louis Federal Reserve website:

[click on Graph to enlarge]

This prosperity, and long peace-time security, has enabled the growth of PC by magnifying the advantage that women (and gays) have in the entertainment, media, and publishing industries, along with academia, all places where PC dominates. You won't find much PC, in the areas of Rap Music, or professional sports, or blue collar occupations dominated by men. Women and gays enforce PC through social approval and exclusion for those who toe the PC line or cross it. In areas where this social power is irrelevant, PC does not hold much sway. PC does hold sway in Hollywood, particularly network television, and the fate of Jack Bauer is proof of it.

Jack Bauer, no matter how popular he is with men who provide ratings, is simply anathema to the female (and gay) cultural assumptions that are embedded in most creative endeavors in Hollywood. This includes the taboo against revenge or violence, in the assumption that it solves nothing (reality: revenge and violence transfers power from really cool designers and "fabulous" trend-setters to Orwell's "rough men who stand ready to do violence" so the people may sleep safe in their beds). Even Steven Spielberg changed from the violence-endorsing creator of Indiana Jones to the man who finds fighting evil futile in "Munich."

This is the real reason Jack Bauer is on trial. The character himself violates too many PC taboos of action and masculine independence to be allowed to exist without overt disapproval from the female-gay approved PC star chamber.

However, the long run of prosperity and peace may well be at an end. If Hilaire Belloc, wrote "whatever happens, we have got, the Maxim Gun, and they have not," well, now "they" have the "Maxim Gun." Or more precisely, Pakistan, slow-motion falling into Taliban and Al Qaeda control, with it's 100 plus nuclear weapons (and plans to make more), along with Iran (already possessing enough material to make at least one nuke) promise to end the West's duopoly (with Russia and China) on nuclear weapons. Even more troubling, the prospect of classic deterrence breaks down when these states might not even control the use by terrorist proxies, given the extreme factionalism and the belief among terrorist leaders that no serious consequences will be incurred for killing lots of Westerners.

After all, the plotters of the 1993 World Trade Center bombing, planned to topple one tower onto another and kill 50,000 people. Had they succeeded we would be discussing Bill Clinton's wars in the Middle East. It is likely that the next terrorist attack will kill even more than 9/11, as Al Qaeda has since it's founding a branch dedicated to acquiring either nuclear, biological, or chemical weapons. Tapes and other documents show Al Qaeda experimented extensively with chemical weapons (on dogs and goats) in Afghanistan, and the experience of Japanese Cult Group Aum Shinrikyo demonstrates that even a poorly organized cult can kill lots of people with Sarin gas. Nuclear weapons are even more efficient in killing lots of Americans in urban areas. Coupled with a sense of frustration caused by economic decline, this creates a dangerous incentive for groups to target the US. It's not as if New York City can be hidden from shipping containers.

Meanwhile, the long economic growth experienced in the Post-War period may be coming to an end. Fueled in part by relatively cheap oil prices, as explained in my post The Bailout, the stability and long term ability to access cheap oil may be in serious question, even with the price of oil falling below $50 a barrel today. India, Brazil, and China have been unable to create a large middle class consumer class to match that of the United States or Europe, and consumer spending world-wide is in free fall as all the globally linked economies implode together. Partly due to the credit crisis, but mostly due to the spike in energy prices that sent the energy sensitive economies into the ground. It will be a long slow climb uphill just to regain the level of consumer wealth and spending that drove the global economy before the melt-down.

Which would seem to be a golden opportunity for a can-do, time-pressured "revenge hero" like Jack Bauer. Just when the PC forces are putting him on trial. But as they do so, technology is allowing competitors from other places to usurp Hollywood. had six million hits in September of this year. That's not much, Slashdot by contrast averages around 15 million per month, and Youtube had 83 million hits in September. Still, six million is a lot of hits. Particularly since the cost of reaching those hits is fairly low, and scales well. Youtube after all has spent next to nothing in advertising, and has more hits per month than the CW and Fox Networks have viewers, combined.

The ability to stream, either movies or series, on a website, with paid advertising, allows even otherwise unknown players to compete with Hollywood. It's the equivalent of Toyota using Deming's Total Quality Management and an emphasis on robotics to overtake Detroit. In the same way, hungry and eager companies based in places like Wellington, New Zealand, or Sydney, Australia, or Dublin, Ireland, have the ability to create non-PC entertainment for the American market, and particularly the under served male market. Including characters that out-do the "revenge fantasy" of Jack Bauer.

Despite the PC police and the "trial" of "24's" Jack Bauer, the demand for revenge heroes will not go away. The next Jack Bauer might simply be played by an Irish, Australian, or New Zealand actor, with the money all going to companies based abroad instead of America. Everything has it's price, including PC.
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Twilight is Junk

Stephenie Meyer's "Twilight," based on the best-selling novel of the same name, opens today in movie theaters across the nation. Deadline Hollywood Daily has predictions of a $60 million weekend box-office. By all accounts, "Twilight" is a huge marketing and social phenomena. Yet it is bad, truly bad, fantasy, just on it's own accounts, and even worse in it's social effects.

As commenter Wiredgrenadier noted in a comment on my post "More Scary Vampires":

"Twilight" is basically female wish-fulfillment fan fiction, full of completely shallow characters (who never really grow in depth), centered around a Mary-Sue of the worst kind and a supernatural being for whose love a compelling reason is never given.

More so, the characters also never face true challenges. The Twilight vampire type is immortal, wealthy, has a superhuman physique and is, quite frankly, indestructable. From a standpoint of character development and story suspense, those vampires and the world they roam in are about as interesting as a heap of bricks. Nothing of true impact is ever done with them (which is already symbolized through the first novel: its 600 pages could just as well have been 300, so little does truly happen).

This is quite true. Moreover, "Twilight" is not alone. Other examples, would include Laurel K. Hamilton's "Anita Blake" series (which skews slightly older, young adult women rather than teen girls as with the "Twilight" series) or the "Sookie Stackhouse" novels by Charlaine Harris.

All of these novels have various female fan-fiction characteristics. This would include "Mary Sue" wish fulfillment, resolution of conflict through rather icky sexual situations and encounters, mostly devoid of any mention of the word "Love" or any depiction of realistic romantic love, and a huge dose of "specialness" in relation to the female characters powers of sexual attraction and control, of powerful, dominating, supernatural male characters. All of whom are far older and more powerful than the female characters.

Other examples of this kind of fusion of female fan-fiction meets "Chick Lit" would include "Lonely Werewolf Girl", and "Cry Wolf" which provide a werewolf instead of vampire setting.

In all cases, with these new female fan-fic fantasies, the traditional settings of fantasy, which are mostly rural, fantastic worlds far removed from mundane settings, are up-ended. Instead, magic exists right alongside the modern, urban setting, with magical societies being merely jumped-up versions of the publishing, fashion, advertising, and public relations occupations/industries that dominate Chick Lit. While certain male-oriented authors such as Tim Powers ("Last Call" and "Expiration Date") have used modern urban settings (modern Southern California and Las Vegas), the magical secret societies exist outside and completely separate from the mundane world, and have no rules save that of the jungle.

The main concern of the female heroines are that of Chick Lit. Finding the most dominant guy, remaining thin and beautiful, becoming successful in a "cool" field filled with status and "important people." The important people may be werewolves or vampires, the field may be a magical private eye, or a vampire, or werewolf, instead of fashion or publishing, but the strong appeal to single young women are the same: STATUS.

This is a far cry from traditional female romance novels that centered on family, romance, the word "Love" and the desire to find or create the right family. It is also a departure from the traditional female fantasies written by authors such as Ursula K. Le Guin ("Wizard of Earthsea") or Anne McCaffrey ("Dragonriders of Pern") where tensions between utopianism and necessity, feudalism and modernism, tradition and the future, all collide. The mostly female heroes have things to accomplish that are more than merely status-climbing and becoming important, with an important boyfriend.

The female fan-fic type of works, whether "Twilight" or "Anita Blake," are of recent vintage. The Blake series is the oldest, and dates only back to 1993. These novels are as commenter Wiredgrenadier noted, poorly written, with little dramatic structure, tension, or resolution. Things just happen, the protagonists are "Mary Sues" with a strong resemblance to Chick Lit characters, and sex as the solution to all problems (often the ickier the better) characterizes the novels. Even the "Twilight" series, that many clueless older female conservative columnists love, has lots of graphic sex, though no sexual intercourse.

The novels themselves are terrible influences on young women, particularly given the collapse of traditional culture and institutions. Young women are mostly influenced by peer groups and the media and entertainment environment. Thus, these fan-fic novels have an outsized influence. An influence that is toxic and bad for young women and society.

The heroines enter into relationships with powerful, much older men, that are controlling and socially isolating. Rather than achieve anything by their own independence, they merely exert power through their relationships with these powerful, older men (who merely look young and "hot"). The relationships are characterized by violence, with rape a common theme. Often the female characters have sex with characters they do not love to control or influence those characters. Remarkably absent is the Western ideal of romantic love, of consensual choice by two roughly equal young men and women, who form a lifetime partnership for both child-rearing and mutual support and affection, including deep romantic love after physical passion has burnt itself out.

The relationships the female characters have is built on pure lust and physical passion. The reason they love the older, socially dominant, male characters is never explained. Nor is the reason the older, dominant male characters love the female characters explored, save youth and beauty. The young women in the stories don't struggle and sacrifice, don't accomplish concrete, physical goals, have no plans for advancing themselves outside a relationship, and are merely pretty and desired. Jane Austen would be horrified.

Because the choices the young women make are abysmal. Violent, bad-boy brooding men, who have no capacity for compassion, integrity, self-control, cooperation (with other men), leadership (that does not include sheer intimidation through physical violence), or providing for a family. The stories, and "Twilight" is among the worst, read like a how-to manual for one bad-boy, abusive relationship followed by another, leading to single motherhood and the pattern repeating. Since in real life, not fantasy, girls turn into young women, who turn into older women. "Twilight" alone, with both the book and the movie, will turn out quite a number of single mothers who perpetuate misery and unhappiness from generation to generation through stupid choices in men, and rejection of the proven ways to advance in wealth and status: education, wise choice of career, saving money, and deferred gratification.

Be that as it may, it's instructive to examine the possible reasons WHY these fan-fic stories are so popular. As noted, the earliest of them (Hamilton's "Anita Blake" novel "Guilty Pleasures") dates to only 1993. The earlier female fantasy authors wrote strong, independent heroines who's primary accomplishments lay outside relationships, and even echoed the structure of male fantasy. Only instead of "save the day and get the girl" it was "save the day, win the heart of the proper guy."

What has happened is demography and marketing. There is a huge entertainment market, focused on women, young and old. Disney makes a considerable amount of it's money marketing one wish-fulfillment Pop Tart after another to pre-teen girls. If it's not a young Britney Spears it's Miley Cyrus as "Hannah Montana" or the "Cheetah Girls" or the "High School the Musical" actresses. Older girls, in their teens, have "Gossip Girl" and various other conspicuous consumption tales, in luxury goods or luxury sex, to amuse them. Women in their twenties, thirties, and beyond, have "Sex and the City" to titillate them. Though "Sex" has as the Wall Street Journal noted, a substantial teen and pre-teen female audience, through the repeats (censored) on various cable outlets. Women are getting married later and later, earn more money than male counterparts (in urban areas) and have more educational achievement (often an indicator of income). Indeed, the American Medical Association lists women as making up fully 50% of all incoming medical students. All that delayed marriage, higher disposable income, and free time leads to consumption of luxury goods including tales of luxury and luxury sex-relationships. A demographic and cultural shift that moves downwards into teens and tweens, as well.

Note the pattern of wish-fulfillment. A "career" where the girl or woman is "important" in some industry like fashion or pop music (never say, classical music where rigorous and demanding regular practice is required). In many cases, fame and celebrity are on offer. Wealth and status among an insular, wealthy in-group is the major part of the story. Romance with various bad-boys of dubious character is on offer, and the men are always quite literally at the top of the heap ("Mr. Big"). Nowhere are the themes of Jane Austen, i.e. choosing carefully the right man for a husband (or boyfriend) evident. Nor are the other concern of Austen and female writers like her anywhere in these stories: deep romantic love, and romantic love explained to the viewers/audience.

It's a consumerist approach to live, and sex, with love and human connections completely absent.

This sort of approach, which Disney pioneered, and the publishers of junk like "Twilight" copied, rests of course on the assumption of good times. Disney depends on enough disposable income from parents to pay for Hannah Montana related T-Shirts, concert tickets, movies, and more. Not the least of which is the cable or satellite package for the Disney Channel where the "tween" girl stars like Cyrus and company are launched. [Amusingly enough, to the constant consternation of Disney, the young women who portray the "tween" wish fulfillment idols regularly engage in the practice of posting inappropriate to provocative photos of themselves on the Internet, no doubt preparing themselves for overtly sexual roles as they inevitably age out of their Disney roles and can no longer credibly play teen agers. The path of a parent of young girls is not an easy one.]

Decades long expanding economies, a whole series of industries built on disposable female income, from either parents ("tweens") or single young women, have built the economic and demographic and marketing structure to create the environment for "Twilight" and the books like it. However, this structure looks increasingly shaky.

Chick-Lit books, and the fantasy cousins of "Twilight" and "Lonely Werewolf Girl" are dependent on disposable income. As the publishing, public relations, fashion, beauty, and advertising industries come crashing down, during what looks to be a prolonged, lasting recession, there won't be that many employed in those industries, and women young and old will have less disposable income. [High incomes for women are disproportionally distributed in these professions, plus the legal, and medical professions. There are relatively few female Mechanical or Chemical engineers, for example, but many female publicists, lawyers, fashion designers, and associates and assistant in book and magazine publishing.] It is possible, of course, that female readers would want even more feel-good fantasy of wealth, power, and luxury, and increase rather than decrease the appeal of these books and stories. However, there is far too much competition among the female market in books, magazines, television, and movies, and so far indicators are that the appeal of these kinds of luxury goods sex-status stories have peaked.

ABC's "Dirty Sexy Money," which was an adult version of "Gossip Girl" has been canceled due to poor ratings. "Gossip Girl" is struggling to stay above 3 million viewers, and so far is on track to repeat last season's performance, of about 2.5 million viewers. Viewers and readers generally don't have an appetite for contemporary based luxury, status, and relationships characterized by the same, during economic hard times. Preferring instead to be taken out of the present day for fantastical settings of the past, an alternative reality, or the future.

So far, in the extraordinary run of general economic good times from the early 1990's to the present day, the fan-fic vampires of "Twilight," and other supernatural versions of "Gossip Girl" are seemingly immortal. But just as sunlight kills most vampires, prolonged hard times and the required shift by women along with men to sheer economic security rather than luxury good consumption (including luxury good relationships and sex) may kill vampires like "Twilight's" Edward Cullen after all. It is not set in stone, but quite possible that female fantasy may return to traditional themes of accomplishment and actual, real, romantic love-based romance (instead of icky and violent sex) that used to characterize the genre. Let's hope so.

Update: reader/commenter Wiredgrenadier passed on this link with the quote by the actor who plays "Edward Cullen" in "Twilight" :

"When you read the book," says Pattinson, looking appropriately pallid and interesting even without makeup, "it's like, 'Edward Cullen was so beautiful I creamed myself.' I mean, every line is like that. He's the most ridiculous person who's so amazing at everything. I think a lot of actors tried to play that aspect. I just couldn't do that. And the more I read the script, the more I hated this guy, so that's how I played him, as a manic-depressive who hates himself. Plus, he's a 108-year-old virgin so he's obviously got some issues there."

The actor also complained that fans, including a six year old, asked him to bite them.

Historically vampires have never done well in recessions, quickly turning into figures of ridicule as the real scary monsters are poverty and unemployment. The ridiculed "nerd" or "beta provider" may well win out for a while as incomes crash and single motherhood becomes unaffordable, a luxury good of good times long past.

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Sunday, November 16, 2008

My Own Worst Enemy Was It's Own Worst Enemy

NBC has announced that the series "My Own Worst Enemy" starring Christian Slater has been canceled. Who cares? Well, probably no one, but examining the trivia of culture and society can often be instructive, and failures often teach more than success. The brief run of "Mine Own Worst Enemy" is probably interesting for what it tells us about Hollywood, how it views the leading man, and what works on Television and what does not, in attracting male viewers, and the future of entertainment in depicting how men and women interact.

First, it's a measure of how Hollywood has changed that Slater would agree to star in the series. Only 39, Slater is best known for his role in "True Romance." Much like his slightly older contemporary and "24" star, Kiefer Sutherland (age 42), Slater has found work mostly as villains or supporting characters in films. While sometimes derided as "Jack Light" for what critics have called fairly obvious copying of Jack Nicholson's acting techniques and persona, Slater is at least not a metrosexual. In contrast with younger rivals such as Ashton Kutcher, Josh Hartnett, Shia LaBeouf, Orlando Bloom, Colin Farrel, or Zac Efron, the male actors who came of age in the 1980's and early 1990's are finding it difficult to land leading roles in film. The best known example would be Judd Nelson, who went from 1985's "The Breakfast Club" and "St. Elmo's Fire" to 1996's sitcom "Suddenly Susan" with fellow 1980's star Brooke Shields.

Other leading men who would logically be film stars but end up as leading men on TV are William Peterson ("CSI"), Anthony LaPaglia ("Without A Trace"), Mark Harmon ("NCIS"), Rob Morrow ("NUMB3RS"), Damien Lewis ("Life"), Joe Mantegna ("Criminal Minds"), Hugh Laurie ("House"), Rufus Sewell ("Eleventh Hour"), Gary Sinise ("CSI: NY"), and Simon Baker ("the Mentalist"). Ranging in age from their thirties to mid fifties, none of these men could be considered "Metrosexual" and most play characters who are both tough, in some form or another, and lead teams. Others demonstrate "manly independence" by playing men who buck the conventional wisdom (Baker, Laurie, and Sewell). What is interesting about this situation is that none of these men can be found as leads in films where you would expect them. Add Slater and Sutherland to the mix and the picture of a film industry dominated by what Ovitz called "the Gay Mafia" could not be clearer.

Certainly, the idea that "television is the sincerest form of imitation" as comedian Fred Allen put it, is likely partly responsible for the weird situation that Television dramatic series finds itself in. While nearly all sitcoms are female skewing (80% of sitcom viewers are female), and most of television in either reality format ("American Idol," "Survivor," etc.) or dramatic format ("Gossip Girl," "Desperate Housewives") is very female oriented, there is this strangely masculine outcropping of shows with very masculine characters as the leads.

This suggests that there is a strong appetite, despite the film world's perceived wisdom, for a conventional portrayal of masculinity. After all, a TV dramatic series that does not pull in ratings is soon canceled, witness "My Own Worst Enemy." Costs for an hour of a dramatic series can run into three or four million dollars per episode, or $88 million per year. Networks, in the meantime, must sell advertising against viewers, and have to rebate money and/or advertising spots to sponsors when they don't reach agreed upon levels of viewers. It's bad for everyone when television series don't make money. The Networks lose money, and the studios lose their investments which can be considerable in developing and producing the series. This is true even if the studio and network are part of the same company, the money lost is still lost. Formulas that work, tend to produce imitations, as Fred Allen observed nearly half a century ago.

The "Bruckheimer Formula," first debuted in 2000 with "CSI" and featured a strong, though offbeat, male lead in William Peterson, who led gently but firmly, a varied "team" of subordinates. Debuting one year later, "24" featured another strong male lead, this time a "maverick" who rejected the conventional wisdom within a team setting and demonstrating independence, got results. Both the "Bruckheimer Formula," and the "24" formula were soon copied, and probably are responsible for the amount of traditional male lead actors on TV today. The "Bruckheimer" formula depicts, the male lead as the boss, often focusing ("NUMB3RS", the various CSI franchises, "NCIS" and "Without A Trace") on the responsibilities inherent in that position. Sometimes complicated by a relationship or attraction for a younger, female subordinate ("CSI," "Without A Trace"). The "24" formula focuses on the rejection of conventional wisdom by offbeat, independent, "maverick" male leads seeking human connections. "Life," "the Mentalist," "House," and "the Eleventh Hour," are part of that formula.

What is interesting is how absent these formulas (which obviously work, if executed with a modicum of skill) are from film. Hollywood big and medium budget films seem to depend on "name" actors like George Clooney or Brad Pitt, rehashed concepts such as "Get Smart," or "Starsky and Hutch" from decades old television shows. Generally, these films fail. While studios will raid the ranks of TV for leading men (such as "the Office's" Steve Carrell), the roles they play are mostly comedic, and lack the proven appeal of the conventional leading man. Very strong evidence of a "Gay Mafia" in the film industry insisting on the Metrosexual leading man and ignoring the evidence of their own Television productions on how successful formulas and actors can make money.

It certainly tells the careful observer about what type of roles are available in what type of medium when Joe Mantagna, William Peterson, Gary Sinise, Rob Morrow, Mark Harmon, Anthony LaPaglia, Damien Lewis, Simon Baker, Rufus Sewell, Hugh Laurie, Keifer Sutherland, and Christian Slater all star in Television series instead of feature films. Leading men do exist, but only on Television. Only Metrosexuals need apply for film roles.

"My Own Worst Enemy" is interesting in how it tried to break out of either the Bruckheimer or 24-style formulas, and how audiences rejected that effort. Unlike either formula, "Enemy" worked with a number of themes, some of them actually interesting if poorly executed, but was done in by unlikeable characters. "Enemy" concerned family man "Henry Spivey," who works for a boring consulting firm "AJ Sun." To his horror, he discovers he has a manufactured split personality, and even worse it was deliberately induced by the shadowy government agency "Janus" (an anagram of AJ Sun, sigh). Henry is the manufactured personality, the perfect cover, created by a computer chip implanted in his brain. The "real" personality is "Edward," a ruthless agent and killer with few real emotions, no personal life, no real friends, and an irresistible touch with the ladies. When the "chip" malfunctions and the personalities "wake up" in each other's worlds, they must cope with situations they are ill-prepared for. Henry, with the violent world of betrayal and torture and murder of Edward's missions, and Edward with the boring mundane nature of Henry's life, one he sought to escape by agreeing to the split personality in the first place.

One of the interesting ideas put forward was that Henry, though he was not very good at violence, was more the "real man" of the two, being willing to face death than allow the death of a fellow agent who discovered that he is "broken." Even facing down a killer "Edward" sent by pretending to be Edward. Whereas Edward was all to willing to kill the fellow agent in pure self-preservation. Meanwhile, women adore Edward (including Henry's own wife, unknowingly), even though he is often cruel and dismissive to them. Which naturally, enrages Henry. That is fairly remarkable, and something that the writers should be congratulated for depicting.

Almost nowhere else in Hollywood has anyone ever covered the modern woman's desire for the Alpha Jerk (which "Edward" is in spades) and the jealousy and anger it produces in the ordinary guy. For that alone, "My Own Worst Enemy" deserves to be remembered. That the show also tried to suggest that heroism is not merely killing lots of people, but standing up for decency, even at potentially great cost, is also a land mark moment, as was the deliberate positioning that "Henry" was the true hero and the "real" personality "Edward" mostly a villain.

What did in "Enemy," however, was the sheer unlikable nature of nearly all it's characters. While the obvious influences of "La Femme Nikita" with the secret agency willing and often eager to sacrifice it's agents was clearly identifiable, the writers and producers forgot that it's 2008, not the mid 1990's, and angst for angst's sake does not work in the already anxiety overloaded times of the late 2000's. It did not help that the cliched "wise Black woman" trope made it's appearance in the character of Edward's boss, or that there was little humor, quirks, or oddities in the supporting characters to draw viewer interests. Yes, the premise of a government spy agency creating the perfect cover by using a chip that creates a split personality is ludicrous, but then so are talking, thinking cars, a physician who is the modern incarnation of Sherlock Holmes, people with superpowers, vampire detectives, and a police officer wrongly imprisoned for a crime, newly exonerated and back in his old job with a hefty multi-million dollar settlement. People watched those shows plenty.

It may also be that not many of the male audience for "My Own Worst Enemy" liked the setup of a family man discovering his existence is one giant cover and "fake." If my post Hollywood's Romantic Comedies For Men suggests, men are getting married at later ages, and in fewer numbers. As more men stay single, the end goal or "happy ever after" would be marriage and family. The depiction of that state as very much NOT happy ever after may have hurt the series ability to draw male viewers significantly, and obviously did not draw in female viewers either.

Television shows, of course, face ruthless competition. The off button, or whatever is on the next channel. Likable characters are a must, for a show to succeed. The worst enemy of "Mine Own Worst Enemy" was that lack of characters the audience wanted to spend time with, excluding "Henry." That the show did not shy away from depicting the "real" personality of "Edward" as a villain and possible murderer was not designed to make audiences tune in again either. It is clear that Slater relished playing the dual role, but things that amuse actors don't always amuse audiences. It is doubtful that the upcoming FOX-TV series "Dollhouse," with Buffy alumni Eliza Dushku and Joss Whedon, will fare any different. Audiences will endure PC, ridiculous premises, and often laughable plots in pursuit of likable characters. Absent characters they enjoy spending time with, well there's always another channel.

One thing that also stands out in the interesting failure of "My Own Worst Enemy" was how poorly drawn the female characters were. The character of Henry's wife was a cipher, and his psychiatrist, played by Saffron Burrows, was also a cipher. That's in contrast, and markedly so, to the female characters in either the Bruckheimer or 24 formulas. Who are generally given their own quirks, oddities, motivations, and sub-plots, such as "Life's" rough-tough, aggressive female partner played with comedic burn by Sarah Shahi, pursued the by smitten (and hilariously so) Donal Logue (from "the Tao of Steve"). Or "the Mentalist's" Robin Tunney, alternately enraged or charmed by lead Simon Baker, and presented as a deadly with a gun, willing to shoot it out with bad guys.

While it seems that most of the audience for the male-lead shows are men, there are significant portions of female viewers, and both men and women viewers seem to prefer female characters of interest and complexity. The old formula of the hot but ill-defined female character won't do any more, it seems. Even a show like the "Mentalist" takes pain to characterize a secondary female character like Amanda Righetti's "Grace Van Pelt" as naive and sweet, rather than just a walking prop and exposition machine. This is a good thing, even though plots are often laughable, and poorly executed, characterization of both male and female characters, even extending to secondary ones, is far better than in times past, for the most part.

Men certainly don't seem to want a return to the 1950's of women in the kitchen wearing pearls. Any strong and aggressive female character, and one shown to be attracted to an ordinary guy, is pretty much guaranteed to get male viewers in spades. "Chuck" mines that territory as the entire show, "Life" obviously saw the appeal of that and copied it as well (Fred Allen was quite right). It shows up in "the Mentalist," and in "Eleventh Hour." Very likely Joss Whedon and Rob Thomas left millions of dollars on the table with their series "Buffy the Vampire Slayer" and "Veronica Mars" by not pushing that particular device, since male audiences are hungry for it, even if female audiences generally don't like it (and they don't).

It is however, quite sad that the male demand for strong, aggressive female characters paired with very ordinary or un-Macho leading men (even if they are depicted as heroic) exists. Since in real life, strong and aggressive women prefer more strong and aggressive men than themselves, in traditional, uber-macho, "Alpha Jerk" format, just like "Edward" on "My Own Worst Enemy." Too much reality in depicting that situation may turn off audiences, men who prefer the fantasy, and women who don't like the reality shown.

It is likely, however, that someone will mine the territory that "Enemy" explored, the ordinary guy left out in the cold by a female preference for the "Alpha Jerk," and the relative unimportance placed on everything else, along with the true meaning of heroism in an age where a willingness to die to save others can be more brave than self-preservation for a meaningless existence.

After all, 1968's "the Outsider" starring Darren McGavin re-appeared in slightly different format, with a different format, and had some success. It was called "the Rockford Files." You might have heard of it.
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Saturday, November 15, 2008

Prop 8 Hate: Our Glorious Multicultural Future and an X-Ray into PC

California's Proposition 8, which defined marriage as between a man and a woman, and outlawed Gay Marriage, has spawned protests around the United States, and a series of some ugly incidents in the wake of it's passage. First, Gays in West Hollywood and elsewhere called Black passers-by the N-Word. Rod 2.0, and Pam's House Blend two gay, anti-Prop 8 sites, have the details. More recently, envelopes containing white powder have been sent to the Los Angeles and Salt Lake City Mormon Temples, following protests and invasions of the Temples by Gays. Gays invaded a Lansing, Michigan church that had sent money to support Proposition 8, screaming "Jesus was a Homo," threatening parishoners, and several hiding in restrooms, only discovered during a police sweep. Meanwhile the Sacramento Theater Director who donated money to Prop 8 (he is married, the father of two, and a Mormon) has been fired for making the donation. The Los Angeles Film Festival Director who donated money to Proposition 8 has tendered his resignation after his donation was discovered by a database search, kindly offered by the LA Times and Sacramento Bee, by the new McCarthyist Gay Mafia. Currently the Board is discussing how best to fire him for his political opinions, no doubt. Meanwhile, the elderly Mormon woman who owns Hollywood's El Coyote Mexican Cafe has been targeted for boycotts and threats.

This is all fairly remarkable. Given that Gays at most comprise around 5% of the population, and the numbers may be smaller. All this fuss, this political frenzy, protests, targeting of first Blacks, in "safe" very White and Gay areas (the Westside of LA) and then convenient targets such as Churches, Mormon Temples, and political donors to Prop 8 (someone had to search the databases to find the donations, and must have had their own gay Jihad reasons to "purge" the non-Gays from public life) is revealing. In the way that an X-Ray can reveal the underlying bone and tissue structure, or seismic waves the makeup of the ground through which they pass, the actions of Gays can reveal remarkable facts about PC (and Hollywood).

These are, in no particularly order:

  • Gays are counting on the "Stuff White People Like" status-mongering to carry the argument politically.

  • There is a complex PC hierarchy of which Gays are at the top.

  • Gays are a tiny segment of the population, but are over-represented in Hollywood and the Media.

  • Michael Ovitz was right, a "Gay Mafia" does run Hollywood (much to it's ruin).

  • Single Women have moved closer to Gay Male behavior.

  • Gays do not wish to marry, rather they wish to subvert marriage.

  • Gays over-representation in Hollywood and the Media is a weakness as well as a strength.

Let's explore what the X-Rays reveal, one by one.

First, gays are not very numerous. Around 5% of the population. Whites are by the US Census Bureau about 43.1% of the California population. Hispanics account for 35.9%, Asians 12.7%, and Blacks only 6.7%. Hispanics don't vote as much as Whites, but voted for Proposition 8 in significant numbers. Gays have been very careful not to say anything negative about the Hispanic vote for Proposition 8, and Spanish Language Media has supported Proposition 8. As the link shows, Prop 8 opponents made ads with "Ugly Betty" star America Ferrera, which were ignored (it is an English Language TV show) and Prop 8 supporters made Spanish language ads with telenovela star Eduardo Verastegui. America Ferrera, after all, is of Honduran descent and appears in English language films. She is the "Stuff White People Like" conception of a Hispanic star, as opposed to the real one that real Latinos actually watch. Ferrera, is in fact an actress on an English language TV show watched by ... Whites (and specifically, White women). Not real, actual Hispanics who prefer such fare as "Sabado Gigante."

[Click Image to Enlarge]

The blunder in the campaign, and the aftermath (that Gays never targeted Hispanics/Latinos which in LA amounts to Mexicans) is significant. Even the "Stuff White People Like" Gays and their supporters fear angering the Mexican community which is demographically powerful. Blacks are only around 7% of the population, so they may be abused, but the N-bombs stopped fairly quickly because while Blacks can be convenient targets due to demographic weakness in California, they form an important function among the "Stuff White People Like" contingent.

Laughably, the Magical Negro, popularized by Spike Lee, forms an important function for "Stuff White People Like." Rich White Yuppies, who are bored out of their skulls, find magical transcendence by pretending "authentic" and "spiritual" Blacks are their super-secret pals. You can find this all over culture, in the films Lee derided ("The Green Mile" and "Legend of Bagger Vance") as well NBC-TV's "Heroes" (with it's magical Black guy who sees the future). Criticism of Blacks, who are remarkably anti-gay (see Eddie Murphy's Raw), risks losing the "Stuff White People Like" coalition of Rich, Bored, Status-obsessed Yuppies.

This is not anything new. Picasso and the Cubists thought only African Art could "save" their bored patrons from ennui, and Europeans have had a patronizing and romanticizing attitude towards Black American Jazz artists since the 1920's. A long tradition of using Blacks as props in the status-play obsessions of the bored rich is merely confirmed by how quickly Gays dropped the use of the N-bomb, and switched to other targets.

There are not that many gays, and exit polls, if they are to be believed, showed that Whites mostly (by a small margin), voted against Proposition 8. The Whites who voted for Proposition 8 were older, married, with children, and church goers. The natural enemies of "Stuff White People Like," who are engaged in an endless battle for status in the never-ending mating game, and constantly disparaging those with actual marriages and families. Gays politically depend on this group of Rich White Yuppies to carry their objectives forward. Politically, Gays just lack the numbers and face defeat in a straight numbers battle. In turn, the Rich White Yuppies hate the relatively poorer, but somehow married with children, Whites, who voted for Proposition 8. The pure hatred shown Sarah Palin, mostly over her class, her family, her husband, and children as a good example of this dynamic among the snob set that Gays depend on.

Here is the significance of the lack of any attack on the Mexican voters who voted for Proposition 8: Gays are afraid of them. That Gays quickly dropped the N-Word response to Blacks in their protests shows two things: One, that Gays feel free to make those attacks, because they sit higher up in the PC hierarchy than Blacks, and Two, that the attacks stopped as soon as Gays realized it weakened their hold on the "Stuff White People Like" contingent, the rich White Yuppies.

If one were to create a hierarchy level for PC, as shown by the Gay Protests, it would go something like this: Stuff White People Like > Mexicans (who are the bulk of Hispanics in LA) > Gays > Blacks > Ordinary Whites > Religious Whites. Asians are of course "invisible." Asians have the numbers in California that Blacks have nationally, yet they are ignored in political campaigns. The dog that didn't bark in the Gay Tantrum over Proposition 8 was how Asians were not even part of anything related to Proposition 8.

Are gays over-represented in Hollywood? Yes.You don't get the suggestions by "Hollywood Elsewhere" blogger Jeffrey Wells for a Maoist "self-criticism" session if Gays are not over-represented in Hollywood. While it's hard to find actual numbers, Gays seem to dominate certain key positions in Hollywood, such as Casting Directors. The Metrosexual Boy-Men plague, with actors such as Josh Hartnett, Ashton Kutcher, Shia La Boeuf, Leonardo DiCaprio, and so on, lies at the hands of Gay casting directors, who prefer the pretty boy look instead of actual, masculine, leading men. Writers and producers, too, are over-represented with Gays. "Big Love" writer-producers Mark Olsen and Will Scheffer, "Desperate Housewives" writer-producer Marc Cherry, "Superman Returns" writer-producer-director Bryan Singer, "Day After Tomorrow" writer-producer Roland Emmerich, "Chicago" producer Rob Marshall, "Sex and the City" writer-producer Darren Star, represent a large chunk of writers and producers who are actively working in Hollywood. CNS News has a report from GLAAD detailing how the broadcast networks alone (CBS, NBC, ABC, CW, and Fox) have 22 series featuring 35 openly gay characters for the Fall 2008 TV season.

“There are openly gay writers on almost every major prime-time situation comedy you can think of … In short, when it comes to sitcoms, gays rule.”

Gays are 5% of the population. Clear evidence, therefore, of how over-represented Gays are in Hollywood. To have openly gay writers on almost every sitcom.

Michael Ovitz, who complained after he left Disney, that a "Gay Mafia" that ran Hollywood was out to ruin him, was at least correct in that respect. Gays do dominate Hollywood, much to it's ruin. As the CSN News link points out (quoting GLAAD):

“Ehrenstein, a professed homosexual, cheerfully admits that gay writers are attempting to influence viewers with a homosexual agenda:

‘The gay and lesbian writers of today have been pushing the envelope any chance they get. In fact, they’re encouraged to do so. Since current comedies are positively obsessed with the intimate sex lives of straight young singles, who better to write them than members of a minority famed for its sexual candor … as a result of the influx of gay writers, even the most heterosexual of sitcoms often possess that most elusive of undertones – the “gay sensibility”—‘Frasier’ being a case in point.’

“The ‘gay sensibility consists, according to two homosexual writers, of ‘a very urban, very educated, ironic, detached, iconoclastic attitude.’ Plus, a deliberate overdose of sexuality.”

This is probably responsible for the fact that 80% of sitcom viewers are women.Gay men are able to write for a female audience, but cannot write for (straight) men. Which is nearly all men. As TV has become gayer and gayer, it has become more and more female. Men have fled it, largely, for other less gay entertainment. The parallels with Broadway musicals is pretty clear: when Gays dominate a particular form of entertainment, men flee it.

Gay men cannot engage the interest of straight men in the stories they tell, because they don't understand the desire of straight men to have exclusive access to just one woman. It's understandable, given how promiscuous Gay men on average are, and how little appetite there is for monogamous relationships in Gay society. This can be seen most clearly in "Superman Returns," which presents a Gay Superman as a Christ figure, with a Lois Lane being married to someone else. Nothing could be farther from what the Superman character is, which is wish-fulfillment for boys ("I wish I was all grown up and powerful") and for young men ("I wish I had superpowers to get the girl and save the day.") Openly Gay writer-director-producer Bryan Singer of course, could not understand this. No wonder the movie failed, despite being about well, Superman.

Hollywood increasingly relies upon female audiences for Television, which has turned into a Broadway like Gay-Female ghetto, and young men for the pitifully few movies which actually make money (Comic Book action-adventure films). The ability of Hollywood to churn out the latter is in serious question given how Gay it has become. There is about zero chance for a Gay Writer-Producer to be able to understand what young men want and deliver that on screen. It might indeed be fabulous. But no one is going to watch the action-adventure films that Gay Hollywood creates.

Gay Hollywood has been successful in one aspect — Single Women. Who can't get enough of what Gay Hollywood has to offer. The movie "Sex and the City" grossed $152 million domestically, for a cost of "only" $65 million (source, Box Office Mojo) plus marketing costs. Women form the enthusiastic audience for Gay Hollywood. Which is a historic change from the days of the 1940's and 1950's. What has happened of course is that Single Women have become closer to gay norms.

Single Women are single longer, than they were in times past. They have more sexual partners, are more likely to have multiple partners at the same time (compared to times past), and are far less religious than their mothers or grandmothers. The number of sex partners in urban areas like NYC are higher than the national average.

"I stopped counting at 56," says Christine, 35, a locations director from Bayside who lives in SoHo. "There are so many opportunities to meet men here - bars, restaurants, clubs, walking down the street, the deli. Men are everywhere."

Women nationally average 9 lifetime sex partners, while in NYC they average 18-20. As Roissy in DC points out, anonymous urban living usually equates to many women living a Gay Man's lifestyle. Complete with an emphasis on fashion, "fabulous" friends, conspicuous consumerism, and many sex partners. The NYC Health Department found that 25% of NYC adults were infected with Herpes. The rate was higher for women than men, 36% vs 19% (men), and roughly equivalent to Gay Men's rate (32%). The national average was only 19% for all adults. As I pointed out in my Hollywood's Romantic Comedies for Men, both men and women are marrying later. In many respects, Single Women's open-ness to Gay Men reflects their shared social behavior (many sex partners, urban living, jobs in "design/entertainment/law" areas, lack of religious belief, consumerism). You will find few Gays or Women in Alaskan fishing boats, Sarah Palin excepted, or among the engineers in the suburban office parks.

According to some exit polls, Single White Women voted overwhelmingly against Proposition 8. Which should surprise no one.

Which brings us to the next question, why are Gays intent on getting married? The answer is, they are not. In places where Gay Marriage has been available for years, Gays don't get married. Toronto has had Gay Marriage for years, and through 2008 only one gay couple has been married. Last year, only 107 Gay marriages have been performed.

The city of Toronto, which hosted the claimed "million-strong" annual Gay Pride March on Sunday, has one of the largest homosexual populations in Canada. Despite this fact, however, the demand for same-sex marriage licenses has drastically declined. Last year, the city issued 107 licenses to Canadian homosexual couples, whereas this year it has so far only issued 1.

Even though the overall number of “marriages” has declined significantly, the proportion of foreign couples has increased to two-thirds of the licenses issued. According to Reuters, last year Toronto gave out 924 same-sex “marriage” licenses, and of these, 338 were for American couples and 479 for foreign couples. This year, of the 320 same-sex “marriage” licenses issued, 118 were for Americans and 201 for foreigners.

The Gay Toronto Tourism Guide claims homosexual persons make up 14% of the city’s population, thereby making Toronto the third largest gay community in the world. Nevertheless, this year’s 1 legal gay “marriage” comprised only 0.01% of the marriages taking place in Ontario’s capital. This would seem to strongly confirm past charges that the political and legal campaigns which successfully and dramatically changed the institution of marriage in Canada were ultimately about nothing more than forcing acceptance of homosexuality.

Gays, in fact do not want to get married. Very few of them actually do, in places where Gay Marriage has been legal for some time. Gays are notoriously promiscuous, and promiscuity is incompatible with the traditional notions of marriage. Rather, as Stanley Kurtz has argued in National Review Online, Gays wish to use cultural arguments (mostly through television and movies) and legal ones to collapse traditional culture and specifically, the nuclear family. Which is viewed quite naturally as the enemy of Gay Culture (it is).

As Kurtz puts it, there is a three way split. A few Gay conservatives (who are as tiny a segment numerically as gays are in the larger population) admire bourgeois marriage and wish to emulate it. This is probably no more than 5% of all Gays. Radical Gays reject marriage, as outdated, and only want recognition of Gay Marriage as approval of Homosexuality. Subversive Gays (which is most of the TV writer-producer Gays) argue that the best way to destroy the Nuclear Family is to subvert Marriage itself, by moving it to "Gay" norms of promiscuity through normalizing sexually open unions.

Most straight people have no idea how much Gays loathe the institution of Marriage as it is understood traditionally. Like feminists, they view it as a prison, and the "Subversive" group wishes to sever the connection, as Stanley Kurtz argues, between monogamy and marriage.

"Big Love" writer-producers Olsen and Scheffer admit this is their goal through their TV series "Big Love." Gays who embrace a life of promiscuity can hardly be expected to embrace monogamy in marriage, or allow it in any one else, for that matter. As Kurtz argues here in the Weekly Standard and here in National Review Online, Gays allied with Feminists, Family Law Radicals, and extreme Libertarians seek to redefine Marriage out of existence.

Both by legal means and cultural means.

Which explains the defenestration of the Sacramento Theater Director and the LA Film Festival Director. Anyone and anything that threatens the Gay "Subversives" who wish to redefine marriage out of existence must be "dealt with." By McCarthyesque means if possible. As an expression of Gay Power. To erase the nuclear family and replace it with Gay Culture.

However, the Gay over-representation in Hollywood, and this defenestration of non-Gays in Hollywood who oppose attempts to redefine marriage out of existence, is an expression of weakness as well as strength.

The assimilationist Jews who ran old Hollywood knew how to count. While they may have ran much of Hollywood, they understood they were small in number, and vulnerable to the sort of pogroms that their parents had fled. Louis B. Mayer, head of MGM, created his own birthday on July 4. Jack Warner, Mayer, Samuel Goldwyn, all made sure that their productions were as pro-Middle American as possible, espousing the broadest possible view, the most populist and celebratory attitude towards America. They understood that their position was precarious, and overt expressions of in-group nepotism could create a populist backlash. They certainly had stories of such things from their parents. Moreover, they genuinely adopted and believed in the values of Middle America, which made them far more effective than the Gay Mafia in Hollywood today. Nearly all of Old Hollywood films made money. As opposed to today when only a few really do.

Gays depend on the over-representation of their segment in Hollywood (and the Media) for political strength. In sheer numbers, they have very little to offer, other than a loud megaphone, support among Rich Yuppies, and Single Women. Most straight men don't seem to care for anything Gay, given how they've fled "Gay" sitcoms (as late as the 1970's men formed half the audience for shows like the "Bob Newhart Show") and Television in general. However, they moderate their expressions of disdain around women to maximize their dating chances. This of course, can change, and the more Gay Men seek to redefine Marriage, openly, as just a "Big Gay Party" that people throw to be "fabulous" and then go on having sex with many other people, the more most men, who win by having exclusive sexual access to only one woman, will oppose Gays. In nearly every form.

Making Marriage "Gay" (i.e. promiscuous) is a sure way to make permanent enemies of many, many men. It's not as if men have not killed over women before.

Gays risk, in over-reach, alienating a large chunk of straight White men, and defining the Democratic Party as "Gay." Straight White guys avoid "Gay" like the plague.

The public punishment of "safe" targets, the Mormons, Straight White Guys, and so on, may make the Rich White Yuppies happy. It may thrill the Media. It shows how PC is oriented against the "enemies" of the Rich White Yuppies who create and maintain PC: the religious, Straight White Guys, social conservatives, and so on. With a likely long recession, this is not a winning strategy, and the various Blacklists of supporters of Proposition 8 are likely to create their own counterparts.
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