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The Four Categories of Oscar, Or Why I’m So Tired of Holocaust Movies

I have been tired of them, in fact. I was bored of Holocaust flicks when I saw the trailers for Jakob the Liar. None of them are as good as Schindler’s List, and they have all the plot creativity of a 19th century melodrama. I’d be surprised if Jojo Rabbit does’t include pauses saying “You Have One Second to Hiss the Fuhrer”.

And I’m not the only one who thinks so.

Formula still works: Jojo Rabbit is an average film that would never get 6 Oscar noms if it wasn’t about the HOLOCAUST

The link describes the Four Categories of Oscar: the subjects that the Academy loves to rain Gold upon, which are as follows:

1. Holocaust and/or Nazis

2. Slavery/civil rights/race

3. The AIDS epidemic and LGBTQ themes

4. Hollywood

Examine the Oscar winners, and most of the nominees, of the last ten years, and one of those 4 pop up. They are the expectations of our rulers.

To be fair, there are good reasons why these films tend to do well in Oscar season:

Another reason these subjects are employed is because the Holocaust and slavery are monuments to human depravity and suffering – and as uncomfortable as it is to admit it, both subjects are chock full of dramatic potential. The same is true of the AIDS epidemic, which was its own kind of Holocaust. The bottom line is, any subject which has death as a constant and contains a foreboding presence is going to be loaded with drama… and hence has the potential to be a good film.

They give the most hackneyed story structures a historical weight, elevating them into what voters believe to be classy award-winning pictures.

Tropes work because people respond to them. However:

But the suspicion is it’s even simpler than that.

The two cities at the heart of the film industry, Los Angeles and New York, are the cities with the largest Jewish and gay populations in the US, which most likely translates into a solid number of Academy members being Jewish, gay, or both.

Which is why we don’t see films about the Holdomor, or Sherman’s March to the Sea. Hollywood will never ever shove Communists into the role of cartoon villainy that Nazis play, and Hollywood doesn’t give a damn about the South except when using them as a backdrop for films about Race. That doesn’t flatter the sensibilities of the Academy, so you won’t see them.

The other reason than boredom is that films about Nazis have a tendency to be political hatchet jobs in disguise. I haven’t seen it, but I’d lay good odds that once or twice in JoJo an off-hand comment in the mouth of a bad guy will suspiciously echo the sentiments of someone on the American Right. They’ve been calling us Nazis since the time actual Nazis were a thing, so how can they resist the chance? Especially when it be waved away as “just a joke”.

Maybe if JoJo gets shut out, we’ll see fewer of these. But I’m not betting on it.

Some Thoughts on Once Upon A Time in Hollywood

Finally sat down and watched it. I would put it squarely in his Western Phase, that he’s been on since Django Unchained. It’s more of a meta-Western, but it has that tone and that feel to it, and the main character is a down-on-his-luck Western Star. Anyway, here are my thoughts:

  • Quentin Tarantino is the Last Great American Director. He’s the only big-name auteur left in town, and we’re gonna miss him when he’s gone, and talk about him the way people talk about Kubrick or Hitchcock.
  • Hippies turning on a dime from quirky to feral makes 1969 real in a way that no other film I can think of ever has.
  • Everyone who complained about Margot Robbie not getting enough lines in this movie absolutely missed the point. She’s meant to play an elegy of Sharon Tate, and she nails it. Call this objectification/iconography if you will, but that’s what we’ve been doing to Sharon Tate for 50 years. Tarantino gave us a look at her observing her imminent iconostasis, and he did it with the language of cinema, which is primarily a visual medium.
  • I would totally watch a DiCaprio and Pitt in a buddy cop movie.

“Mindhunter” is going on ice at Netflix. Variety has confirmed that the show’s cast members have been released from their contracts. The streamer is not ruling out a third season of the series, however, depending on executive producer David Fincher’s schedule. Fincher is currently working on directing the Netflix film “Mank” as well as executive…

via ‘Mindhunter’ Cast Released From Contracts, Season 3 Put on Hold — Variety

Womp womp.

A link to my Quick Review.

The New Year For Unnamed Journal

Unnamed Journal has finished four volumes and is about to start its fifth. It’s gotten into a nice steady rhythm now. I enjoy the process of creating it. Short fiction and essays are always a challenge worth grappling with.

But it wouldn’t be UJ if we weren’t thinking about how we could improve it.  A couple of things have been under serious, two-beers-in discussion:

  1. Opening Up Submissions. We’ve been producing everything in-house so far, except for one or two outside-written pieces. We’re open to having a place for other people’s wierd fiction, driven snark, and long-form jokes.
  2. Charging for Subscriptions. There’s a point at which giving it away for free loses its luster. Producing a literary magazine and a podcast does take some work. So we’re looking at Patreon as a possible solution, as well as others.

I suspect that if we do one of these, we’ll probably do both, as they both kind of fulfill the need to grow UJ to the next level. But everything’s on the table at this point, including staying the current course of a quarterly free lit mag.

In the meantime, links to all our currently available issues is found on the UJ page on this blog.

On the Shores of Cevalon – New Story in the Works

I have often mentioned my interest in epic fantasy, and that I have been working on my own homebrew world, in fits and starts, for a long time. I have put in some drawing time using the aforementioned Fantasy Maps drawing guide, and I’ve already started constructing a story on my new map. It’s part of the overall world of Cevalon, which I’ve been expanding to include more lands beyond its shores and a more clearly spelled out mythology & history.

And as part of getting myself back into actually writing in the world, I’ve outlined a new small project to start on for the new year. I actually started it without an outline, then junked the start and went back and did the scut-work. I was trying for a first-person narrative, which is usually fun, but for some reason didn’t work for me. A bit of Robert Howard (“The Black Colossus”, to be specific) and I decided to avoid a self-overhearing ironic approach, as is common to the Drunk Vampire Hunter stories (which really need a post of their own), and play it a little more straight. It’s kind of an experiment in world-building.

What’s it called?

The King’s Ransom.

What’s it about?

A bastard prince finds redemption in rescuing his full-blood brother, the King, from fiendish enemies. A trio of scheming princesses round out the family as a kingdom beset by enemies human and demonic dances on the edge of chaos.

It’s got the shape of a novella at this point, but who knows. I’ve got an outline.

I Love it When the Ignorant Lecture Me About Jesus

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This is the kind of rhetorical nonsense that people who think they’re moar SMRTer then dem stoopid Xtians love to share. It’s so full of irrelevancies, absurdities, and flat-out mischaracterizations as to represent a Perfect Storm of Woke-Signalling. It cries out to Heaven for a Fisking.

Original in Bold, my responses in italic.

Jesus was a radical nonviolent revolutionary

Lemme stop you right here. “Radical” is one of those words, like “fascist” that has been overused to the point of meaninglessness. He was certainly not a “revolutionary” in any accepted meaning of the term. In the first place, claiming to be a Messiah, the Heir of the House of David, is if anything a Reactionary position, as restoring the Davidic Kingdom would by definition be restoring a long-honored past. In the second place, dude was quite clear that his Kingdom was Not Of This World, and had very little to say on proper political arrangements, other than everyone should pay their taxes, which is the least revolutionary political statement of all time.

As for the “nonviolent” bit, we’re talking about the guy who kicked the money-changers out of the Temple and promised that he was “bringing not peace, but the sword,” right?

…who hung around with lepers, hookers, and crooks…

Which, as he explicitly said, was in order that these people be healed, forgiven, and brought back into the fold. Not as a statement that leprosy, prostitution, and theft were valid choices to be celebrated.

…wasn’t American and never spoke English…

Your strawman, it burns so beautifully. I’ve heard versions of this chuckle-witted applause line a million times if I’ve heard it once, and always comes from someone mocking the idea. I have never in my born days heard a grown adult Christian of any denomination claim that Jesus was American and spoke English. Find a new line, will you?

…was anti-wealth, anti-death penalty, anti public-prayer (Mt 6:5)

Y’all just love that line about the difficulties of a wealthy man entering the Kingdom of Heaven. True, love of money is a sin. But most of the Bible treats wealth as a blessing from God, to be dispensed with in a Godly way, but by no means wicked in and of itself.  And if we’re being honest, you don’t think YOUR money is bad. You think the other guy, who has Too Much Money, is bad. There’s a whole commandment just for you.

I’m gonna need a citation on that anti-death penalty thing. Because Jesus was real big on casting people into the fiery Gehenna, to the point of telling people to cut their hands of and gouge their eyes out to avoid it. And when Peter told Jesus NOT to go and have himself handed over to death, Jesus called him Satan and told him to get behind him. It’s almost as if this guy was working on a meta/cosmic/spiritual level, and doesn’t deserve to get shoehorned into your modern political demands. But whatever.

Matthew 6:5 does indeed tell people to pray in their homes rather than make a loud show to their neighbors of how Holy and Good they are. If you think he was talking about punishing high school kids for saying a prayer before their football games, because an atheist might be downwind, then you’re deliberately taking Matthew 6:5 out of context. A guy who publicly taught people his message about God, to the point of preaching to thousands at a time, was 100% not saying what you’re trying to squeeze out of him here.

…But was never anti-gay…

Being “gay”, like America and the English language, didn’t exist in the first century. Jesus didn’t speak about “gay issues” because there was no subculture seeking validation for them. What Jesus did say was that the Mosaic Law (which is blunt on homosexual acts being contrary to God’s Will) was to be retained and followed, and unless your righteousness exceeded that of the Phariseees, (meaning you followed the Law even better than they did)  you weren’t getting your Golden Ticket. He also rather publicly stated (Matthew 5) that marriage existed in order to bring together male and female, and that such was what God intended from the beginning, in case you’re planning on updating this screed to include same-sex marriage or the 57 new genders.

…never mentioned abortion or birth control…

Again, because this wasn’t an issue for Jews of his time. The Mosaic Law (which again, Jesus said he was all about) applies the death penalty to men who by violence cause an unborn child to die (Ex 21:22-23). No Jewish sect of Jesus’ time was pro-abortion or pro-birth control, and the Early Church was foursquare in its condemnation of Roman practices of both. He didn’t have to mention it; everyone was on board.

…never called the poor lazy…

“But his master answered and said to him, ‘You wicked, lazy slave, you knew that I reap where I did not sow and gather where I scattered no seed. ‘Then you ought to have put my money in the bank, and on my arrival I would have received my money back with interest. ‘Therefore take away the talent from him, and give it to the one who has the ten talents.
“For to everyone who has, more shall be given, and he will have an abundance; but from the one who does not have, even what he does have shall be taken away. “Throw out the worthless slave into the outer darkness; in that place there will be weeping and gnashing of teeth.

-Matthew 25:26-30

This also doesn’t sound like a guy who’s “anti-wealth”. Huh.

…Never justified torture…

See above, regarding cutting your hand off and poking your eye out to avoid Hell. Jesus’ pronouncements about Hell as a Lake of Fire and a Second Death, are pretty vivid and horrifying. But you do you.

…never fought for tax cuts for the wealthiest Nazarenes…

Nazarenes weren’t wealthy. Nazareth was a half-Samaritan backwater that no one thought anything of. It was the Flyover Country of Judaea. If anything, Jesus endured the snobbery of Hellenized, globally-aware Jerusalem urbanites who scoffed at the notion of anything good coming from those dirty fishermen.

Sound familiar?

As for the statement that he never specifically advocated for tax relief, for the wealthy or otherwise, that’s probably because of his general lack of interest in political questions. Is that a stance you’re going to be emulating anytime soon?

…never asked a leper for a copay…

He also never demanded that Caeser Augustus and the High Priest create a control board rationing care to lepers and demoniacs. He just healed them. Because he was God.

..and was a long-haired…

Every single artistic depiction of Jesus of the last two-thousand years has shown him with long hair. What secret do you think you’re uncovering?

…brown-skinned…

I promise you, no one is shocked by this. Everyone knows Jesus wasn’t a European. I’m pretty sure Chinese Christians know that he wasn’t Asian and African Christians will admit that he wasn’t black. This is another strawman, and says way more about you than it does about whoever you imagine you’re calling out.

…homeless community-organizing…

Precisely what did Jesus organize the “homeless community” of Judaea to do?

And while you’re answering that, you can go ahead and tell me what Barack Obama’s community-organizing accomplishments were. I’ve been waiting for about 12 years for that state secret to get declassified.

…anti-slut shaming…

Tell that to the Woman at the Well. 

15 The woman said to him, “Sir, give me this water so that I won’t get thirsty and have to keep coming here to draw water.”

16 He told her, “Go, call your husband and come back.”

17 “I have no husband,” she replied.

Jesus said to her, “You are right when you say you have no husband. 18 The fact is, you have had five husbands, and the man you now have is not your husband. What you have just said is quite true.”

John 4:15-18

Now, I know you’re really talking about the Woman Taken in Adultery a few chapters later, in John 8. But you’re taking the wrong lesson from that story, as almost everyone does. Jesus didn’t say “The law is wrong and you shouldn’t stone her,” he said “Let him who is without sin cast the FIRST stone.” Not all the subsequent stones, just the first one. He was making a point that he often made about casting out your own sins (hence the aforementioned hand-chopping and eye-gouging) before dealing with another’s. And when the crowd dispersed, Jesus didn’t say “You Go Girl!” to the woman spared, he said “Go forth and sin no more.” As in “Get your life together, sister, or next time I won’t be here to slow them down.”

…Middle Eastern Jew.

Hey, you got one right. Good for you!