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Mad Max Beyond Thunderdome

I am a devotee of MAD MAX BEYOND THUNDERDOME. Obviously I love the whole series, some of them even more than this one, but there are many special qualities particular to this installment. I wrote about the movie in 2007 and I think that review does the job of describing many of the reasons it’s great. But I really felt like I needed to revisit it both in the context of the Summer of 1985 movie season, and as a movie to watch in 2020, so that’s what I’ll do in this supplemental review.

July 10, 1985

Like all of George Miller’s work, THUNDERDOME boldly stands out from other films of its era. Though RAMBO: FIRST BLOOD PART II was the action movie causing the biggest stir at the time, it didn’t have anything approaching the inventiveness or filmmaking prowess of the Thunderdome duel or the train-track chase. And yet I don’t even think of THUNDERDOME primarily for it’s action – it’s more like a fantasy film – and in a season that includes RETURN TO OZ and WARRIORS OF THE WIND, it still might be the most imaginative movie of the summer, the most detailed fictional world, the most evocative mythmaking.

It’s very much an Australian production, and a continuation of Miller’s previous films. The stunt coordinator is the legendary Australian stuntman Grant Page, who we also know from his parts in THE MAN FROM HONG KONG, DEATH CHEATERS, STUNT ROCK and ROAD GAMES. Cinematographer Dean Semler, co-writer Terry Hayes, art director Graham “Grace” Walker (now production designer) and costume designer Norma Moriceau, among others, returned from THE ROAD WARRIOR. But in the four years between MAXes, Miller had some dalliances with Hollywood, and THUNDERDOME does seem aware of its place in a blockbuster landscape largely shaped by fellow TWILIGHT ZONE: THE MOVIE segment director Steven Spielberg and friends. According to the Mad Max wiki, “on one wall [of the Bartertown set], there’s a picture of a Gremlin. Not far away, the feed and grain store has a few words painted over its front entrance – ‘Proprietor: E.T. Spielberg’.”

The film’s beautiful one sheet was painted by Richard Amsel, who did both the original and re-release posters of RAIDERS OF THE LOST ARK, and it’s reminiscent of the Drew Struzan collage style we associate with the great blockbusters of the era. Along with the two leads, it depicts The Lost Tribe – primitive kids wearing furs, holding spears, performing primitive rituals and group storytelling, later to swing on ropes and fight a superior army – who certainly have a few things in common with George Lucas’s Ewoks.

And there are a few little touches that kind of connect it to trends of the ‘80s. We got kids going down an underground slide – not a waterslide, but still kinda GOONIES-esque. There’s a scene where somebody gets knocked into a giant tub of pig shit, which relates to RAPPIN’s crash into a garbage truck and BACK TO THE FUTURE’s crash into a manure truck. Surprisingly this is the only Summer of 1985 movie I’ve come to so far that has quicksand in it. Quicksand was a major concern of young people in the ‘80s. It’s actually shocking that there’s not any in GOONIES. What in the hell were they thinking?

Okay, those are frivolous details, but a definitively 1985 touch is the use of movie-specific Tina Turner songs on the opening and closing credits. None of the other three MAD MAXes include pop songs, but this was an era when hit soundtracks were highly coveted by studios. The previous two years had seen FLASHDANCE, SCARFACE, RISKY BUSINESS, FOOTLOOSE, BEVERLY HILLS COP, GHOSTBUSTERS, THE WOMAN IN RED and the peerless PURPLE RAIN. Already this summer we’ve had THE GOONIES with its two Cyndi Lauper songs and BACK TO THE FUTURE with its two Huey Lewis & the News songs. Of course, THUNDERDOME has the additional novelty of its A-list music artist co-starring in the movie – her only real acting performance outside of the Acid Queen in TOMMY – and doing a great job.

“We Don’t Need Another Hero (Thunderdome)” came out as a single the same week as the movie, and became one of Turner’s biggest hits. On the Billboard charts it peaked at #2 (under the theme from ST. ELMO’S FIRE). That was September 14th, so Mad Max was on pop culture’s brain for months!

The video got endless MTV play. Directed by Miller, it’s mostly Turner in costume as Aunty Entity, standing on a lighted disc, floating in a black void, hosting a montage of clips from the film. In the first shot we get a good look at Aunty’s silver high heels covered in chain mail. Turner’s shirtless saxophone player Tim Cappello (not Aunty’s movie saxophone player Ton Ton Tattoo, played by Andrew Oh) shows up for the solo. At the end when she says “All the children say” there’s a choir of children beneath her feet. They look like the Lost Tribe, except they’re wearing normal black clothes rather than rags or furs.

I like the song, but I actually prefer “One of the Living,” which plays during the opening credits. That one made it to #15 in November. I never knew it until a random record store discovery last year, but there’s a 12” single that includes a “Dub Version” and a 7:35 “Special Club Mix by Steve Thompson & Michael Barbiero.”

THUNDERDOME is the only MAD MAX movie to be rated PG-13 (as opposed to R), but I haven’t been able to find any information about whether this was an intentional audience-widening attempt by Miller or Warner Brothers. If so, they didn’t cash in by merchandising for children – though the movie could’ve made for some pretty cool STAR WARS style toys. (Miller doesn’t seem interested in that sort of thing – he allowed very little merchandising for FURY ROAD in a time when Furiosa collectibles could’ve made a killing.) The one thing I’ve discovered that’s marketed at children is one of those photo-illustrated storybooks, written by Ann Matthews, whose other works included children’s books based on The Transformers, THE JOURNEY OF NATTY GANN, and Punky Brewster. Otherwise they just did the basic blockbuster tie-ins: a novelization by sci-fi author Joan D. Vinge (a.k.a. J.D. Vinge, as she was credited on the RETURN TO OZ novelization earlier in the summer) and an Official Collector’s Edition Souvenir Magazine.

But the Turner songs helped the movie get a cover story in Rolling Stone, and showed Warner Brothers’ intentions to make THUNDERDOME a legitimate cultural event. The studio opened it on more screens than BACK TO THE FUTURE (which it came in second place to), with 70mm prints in some cities. It did okay – 24th at the 1985 worldwide box office, above COMMANDO, DAY OF THE DEAD, SILVERADO, TEEN WOLF and THE LAST DRAGON. Looks like that was about three times its budget, so I’m sure with the soundtrack and then video and TV and stuff it did its job.

I didn’t see the MAD MAX movies until I was older – I just remember the theme song and the concepts of Thunderdome and Master Blaster seeping into the popular consciousness. I suspect it was only years later that it began to develop a reputation as the not-as-good one. I couldn’t find a Starlog review as a sample of the contemporary genre fan response, but Thomas Doherty praised it in Cinefantastique. Though he describes the climax as “succumb[ing] to generic expectations with a perfunctory chase scene” he praises even the less popular elements (“With Max’s entry into the kiddie oasis, THUNDERDOME moves from engrossing to magical”) and concludes that it’s “a remarkable film fully deserving of any overused superlatives and four-star ratings pasted on its advertising… BEYOND THUNDERDOME is no mere sequel lunging forward on inertia alone, the latest Mad Max is an enchanting continuation of an authentic modern saga.”

The ads did in fact have plenty to work with, and chose to quote Roger Ebert (“AN INCREDIBLE, EXCITING AND ORIGINAL ACTION EPIC that I think is one of the best films of the year”), Pat Collins and Gene Siskel. Michael Wilmington in the Los Angeles Times called Miller “chaos’ poet” and compared him to John Ford, Howard Hawks and Akira Kurosawa. Richard Schickel of TIME called the movie “an astonishing display of virtuoso cinema.” Candice Russell in the South Florida Sun-Sentinel called it “everything that fans of the futurist road warrior could hope for and more… as exhilarating as a roller coaster ride.” Paul Attanasio in the Washington Post was one of the few to consider it “a sort of case history of just what’s wrong with sequelitis,” under a headline labelling it “Boring to the Max.” He at least had a good line for his claim that Turner’s performance is too dignified: “You want King Kong Bundy, but she gives you King Lear.”

Over time it seems to me the consensus on the movie became less glowing than what most critics said at the time. I think the critics were right, of course. It’s more clear now than ever.


“What you look for in films is not a reflection of things, but their essence. Films, in many ways, are closest to poetry, where you always try to get the maximum amount of meaning in the minimum number of words. With film, you try to find the maximum amount of meaning in the minimum number of images.” —co-writer Terry Hayes interviewed in Starlog, October 1985.

For years I would talk about the brilliance of THUNDERDOME to people who hadn’t rewatched it in forever, and they would say it was the weakest one, they didn’t like the kids, not enough cars, etc. And before I could get very many of them to see what I and those 1985 critics saw in it, Miller threw a wrench in the works by making FURY ROAD, building on much of THUNDERDOME’s greatness, with even more spectacular results. Since a full five years have passed and I may have watched it more times even than ROAD WARRIOR, I don’t have to hesitate in saying I consider FURY ROAD the best of this uniformly excellent series. So it casts a giant shadow over THUNDERDOME. How ya gonna keep ‘em down in Bartertown after they’ve seen the Citadel?

If you break it down, the two films have very similar structures. They start out with Max traveling through the desert, destination unknown, being ambushed, his vehicle stolen. He ends up inside a heavily fortified settlement where his vehicle is being taken apart. After some scuffles he escapes into the desert. Eventually he comes upon a tribe of warriors, in this case all children instead of all older women. He reluctantly decides to help them with a plan that involves going back to the settlement. There’s a climactic chase scene where he battles alongside the people he’s met and he gets them what they want, but then goes off into the desert on his own.

Of course, FURY ROAD does all this bigger, faster, more exciting, more moving, more incredible. It tops THUNDERDOME. But let us honor THUNDERDOME as the pioneer, the o.g., and for its distinct features like the alternately dishonorable and honorable Aunty Entity, the temporarily powerful duo of Master Blaster, the shattered language of the Lost Tribe, and Max’s acceptance of self sacrifice – all things we encounter because of Max’s interlude as a pedestrian, and that continue to take on new depths of meaning as we head toward our own Pox-eclipse.

The existence of FURY ROAD is one reason you can’t help but see THUNDERDOME a little differently these days. Another is these god damn times we’re living in. Like FURY ROAD, the thrills and mythology of THUNDERDOME are built onto a meticulously-thought-out world that says much about our own. FURY ROAD felt of-the-moment partly because its themes are timeless, and the same is true of THUNDERDOME. It reaches 35 years into its future to a time when we have new analogs for everything. Even the innocent Lost Tribe remind me of something different now. They’re a culture of young people with plenty of information, but little expertise, so they turn the little bits of passed down knowledge into convoluted false histories and superstitions. Yep, we’ve seen some of that. Imagine what the Lost Tribe could’ve figured out about Captain Walker if they’d pored through WikiLeaks email drops!

To me one of the most observant parts of the movie is the chants of Bartertown. They have these brutal laws that people go along with in part by chanting their slogans – “Two men enter, one man leaves!” and “Bust a deal and face the wheel!” Chants are easy to recite as known fact, rather than something to think about, to question, to react to as a human being. You can just accept it.

I couldn’t stop thinking about “bust a deal and face the wheel” during the 2016 election, when the world was introduced to Trump rallies. An entire segment of this country, not a majority, but probly made up of more people than watch whatever your favorite TV show is, were happy to chant “LOCK HER UP,” absolutely for real believing that their future president should have the unilateral power to jail his political opponent for vague, varied, unspecified fictional crimes and conspiracies. They still believe it today and will still chant it about her or any other woman they’re told to. It’s real. It’s here. We are not beyond Thunderdome.

Everything about Bartertown seems a little deeper in the midst of the discussions we’ve been having as a result of the growing movement to rebuild society and protect Black lives. The movie doesn’t address race at all, but it certainly deals with a system that is built on injustice and results in needless pain and death.

At the top of Bartertown, both literally and figuratively, is Aunty Entity. She’s a great character full of nuance, who clearly has been through some struggles, and who’s got enough non-evil in her to let things go at the end, and even laugh about it. But when she says she’s “up to my armpits in blood and shit,” that’s no joke. I don’t think she got this job (or kept it) through peace and love. She lives in her penthouse dangling above the citizens and tourists, who themselves live above Bartertown’s most valuable asset: the people who work underground in the dark, shoveling pig shit to harvest for methane. Master is down there bossing them around, and he feuds with Aunty, but it’s not really a labor dispute because he’s not looking for better conditions for his workers. And many of them are prison labor, living in the shit farm, shackled at the neck.

What did they do to get there? We only have one example: Pig Killer (Robert Grubb, GALLIPOLI, PHAR LAP) received a life sentence for killing a pig to feed his family. That’s not against the law for animal rights reasons, I’m guessing. Basically, he stole a loaf of bread, so he’s enslaved for life, when the system works as designed. Steal the swine, work the mine. That’s the law. You gotta follow the law.

It wasn’t until two viewings ago that it struck me who enforces that law: people wearing mohawk wigs and football style shoulder pads with black feathers attached. They look like they’re cosplaying Wez. Basically, the psychotic #2 bad guy from ROAD WARRIOR is now the model for the cops. That’s how this stuff escalates: what once was once tyranny has become normalized, even institutionalized.

In place of a court system, Bartertown has Thunderdome. And of course Thunderdome is not free from corruption. Aunty wants Blaster killed to consolidate her power, but she doesn’t want her fingerprints on it. She has to hire Max, a ringer, and act like she has nothing to do with it. “We are dealing with subtleties here,” explains her stooge.

She still considers it a fair fight “as provided by law.” The philosophy of this justice system is that “Fighting leads to killing, and killing gets to warring. And that was damn near the death of us all… Now when men get to fighting, it happens here. And it finishes here. Two men enter, one man leaves.”

Almost sounds good, right? We have to kill some people so there won’t be wars! And we have to wage war on neighborhoods so there won’t be murders. Send a bunch of geared up commandos after people somebody thinks might be carrying drugs, loitering, speeding, sleeping in a car, passing a counterfeit twenty, selling a loose cigarette, acting suspicious, resisting arrest. Any allegation of possible infraction, large or small, must be dealt with by people trained and equipped to end human lives at a moment’s notice. Just in case that comes up.

That’s what this is – it’s Thunderdome. It’s the inability to imagine a solution other than savagery. B-b-but… two men enter, one man leaves! What, you want both of them to leave? We can’t just let people leave all the time. You’re crazy!

According to the script, Bartertown is “broken down and very medieval, but to Max it’s the closest thing to civilization he’s seen in twenty years.” There are legitimate merchants, blacksmiths and bars. There’s methane to keep the lights on. So people accept Thunderdome. It’s easier that way. But that doesn’t make it right.

Max, of course, has grown into a character who can’t help but stand up for what’s right. Never wants to, always does. In articles from the time, Miller, Mel Gibson and co-writer Terry Hayes all refer to Max as a “closet human.” In THUNDERDOME he has three major moments of heroism: when he refuses to kill Blaster, when he goes to find the kids who have headed out into the desert, and when he drops from the plane so the others can get away. But there’s a less consequential moment that really hit me on this viewing. When he decides to join Savannah Nix (Helen Buday, DINGO) and the other Lost Tribe kids on their expedition, there’s an even younger kid who catches up with them, apparently having chased Max since leaving the camp. Max reluctantly lets him join the group but says, “He holds his own, okay?”

From there it dissolves to later, as we can see the crucified teddy bear that the boy has attached to his back rising up from the horizon. And as he comes into view we see that he’s not being forced to “hold his own” – Max is carrying him shoulders.

That’s Max condensed into one edit. He talks a good game about the harsh realities of the world of blood and fire. He wants to look out for #1, be left alone, mind his own business, not get involved, stay out of it. But he always ends up helping – the oil refiners, the lost kids, the wives – because that’s who he really is. It’s a classical archetype, frequently used by Clint Eastwood as well, and I think it’s something that some people overlook when they try to use the films of badass cinema to support their macho tough guy tough shit bootstraps bullshit. Compassion is not the antithesis of badassness. It’s a key element.

For its time, for this time, or for any time, MAD MAX BEYOND THUNDERDOME is one of the greats.

This entry was posted on Thursday, July 9th, 2020 at 11:39 am and is filed under Action, Reviews, Science Fiction and Space Shit. You can follow any responses to this entry through the RSS 2.0 feed. You can skip to the end and leave a response. Pinging is currently not allowed.

173 Responses to “Mad Max Beyond Thunderdome”

  1. Get so sick of being told ‘no’ when I say this one is great.

  2. I LOVE this movie. In some way it’s my favorite. I mean yeah, Fury Road was insane and amazing, bit I like how this one feels like a film noir, you even have a Sydney Greenstreet villain. Master Blaster in inspired, and the reveal of Blaster’s true self is great. Tina Turner is classic and Ironbar is awesome. I like how this one was funnier too. I love the music, and the case at the end was excellent. Maybe a bit short, but let’s not forget, that up to that point, Road Warrior was the outlier. Mad Mad wasn’t about long elaborate chases with a ton of crashes except for the beginning. So this was kind of between the first and the second in terms of the amount of action.

    Yeah, it falters some when we meet the kids, gets kinda boring. But even then it doesn’t make them moppets, we see one of them get sucked into a desert pit and die. Mad Max movies never fuck around.

    AND, it had I think the best dialogue exchange out of any of the movies (I know this isn’t a priority with them). But the exchage with Auntie and Master is a classic.

  3. It’s not a BAD movie, but it will always be the least of the series for me (and I ACTIVELY DISLIKED Fury Road when it came out). I revisited all four when they were available as a Blu-Ray set, and I liked MMBT all the way up till the goddamn kids. I don’t have kids, I don’t like kids, I don’t like movies about kids, there is no room for negotiation here. The first half of MMBT is as good as any installment in the series; the second half, I just don’t watch.

    (For the record, I didn’t like Fury Road because I felt like it was too cartoonish, plus I hate Tom Hardy. Re-watching it on Blu-Ray, it’s a lot better than I thought when I first walked out of the theater.)

  4. And Vern you definitely hit Max just right…it’s nice to see a genuine hero who’s not a perfect Marvel boy scout…he just always has to do the right thing. A lot of action movies do it but there usually seems to be some kind of self-serving to it, but Max always ends up sacrificing for others.

  5. Terrific retrospective of a great movie. Like DAY OF THE DEAD, this is my favorite of the “original” trilogy, even while it has a reputation for being lesser. Part of what I love about it is actually the same thing I love about DAY as well- I like that we’re now a *ways* into a real new world. One that still echos with the sounds of the past, certainly, but those echos are fading fast. There’s no Road Warriors here anymore, just a dude rapidly exiting middle age, riding a camel cart. That sense of a world that’s beginning to move on is really special in this movie, and I think it makes a great palate cleanser for the series as a whole. No matter how many other stories they tell, this one feels like the last one- the one where we finally escaped the twitching grasp of the dying world’s values and built a new place in the bones of the old.

    I was just a little kid when this first came out, so I didn’t see it til the ’90s sometime, but my folks were big Tina Turner fans so I was very familiar with the look of Auntie Entity from the video. I didn’t know the whole outfit and song was from a movie for years and years, and was quite surprised to eventually find out that was so. I like to think the song and video exist in-universe as well, and maybe Auntie Entity does a little show for everyone on nights when there’s nobody mad enough to get in the Thunderdome.

  6. I love Day of the Dead too. I full realize it’s not the BEST of the original trilogy…it probably IS the least of them. But it’s so relentlessly entertaining. Night is so grim, and Dawn is amazing but still has some slight dull patches, but Day is fun and moves like a damn rocket until the super satisfactory ending, where the bads get theirs and the goods get away. I love how Romero gave it an upbeat ending. Interesting how Day really doesn’t have much violence until the last half hour too.

    Day is like Return of the Living Dead for me…I like a movie that gives a premise and then pounds and pounds and doesn’t slow down for much. Those mid 80s zombie movies, they never did better!

  7. “One of the Living” is my preferred song too. I started my 2015 playlist with it after revisiting for Fury Road. I have done “We Don’t Need Another Hero” at karaoke though just so I could say Thunderdome.

    Beautiful review, Vern. Since my Fury Road revisit this has become my second favorite Mad Max, and that’s no slight to The Road Warrior. This is truly a series that keeps getting better. And you keep finding new details to me. I hadn’t put it together that the mohawk soldiers were a whole army of Wezes, or the cut to Max carrying the kid.

    I think that’s what a lot of people mistook Fury Road for “having very little plot.” It has a ton of plot. They just don’t explain it. You have to see it and understand all the story that happened with no dialogue. Those are the best kinds of movies, but people have gotten used to the Michael Bay and Marvel school of exposition.

  8. When I first saw the Mad Max trilogy as a kid, I think Thunderdome was my favorite because it has the most intricate world building, and I liked how it framed the story as a myth. I was shocked to find out that it was seen as the “bad one.” These days, I prefer Road Warrior when it comes to the Gibson movies, but Thunderdome holds a special place in my heart.

    I like how Max always has to do the right thing, but also that, with the exception of the first film, he’s never the master (blaster) of his own destiny. He’s always being positioned by larger forces, which is in many ways the opposite of the take charge lone wolf hero that so many envision when they think of these sorts of stories.

  9. I recall this one as feeling really like a pulled punch, almost to the point of being condescending. There’s the violence suddenly having a slapstick quality–it’s the kind of movie where it seems like someone would get shot in the face and then blink at the camera while covered in soot. Then there’s the kids. Then there’s Auntie Entity being the nicest post-apocalyptic warlord ever, in addition to being Tina Turner of all people, in the middle of the rapists and sadists of the other movies. Even the Thunderdome itself is pretty goofy when you think about it–gladiatorial combat on trampolines. It all adds up to kinda feel like a movie that’s its own Saturday morning cartoon show.

    P.S. The Gyro Captain shows up with a little kid sidekick? Yeah, I can’t see this as underrated.

  10. If by “little kid sidekick” you mean “son who he lets fly a plane and shoot at people” then yes.

  11. That Rolling Stone article is available online. I’ve bookmarked this to read later.


  12. Kaplan, was the razor blade boomerang slicing off fingers in Road Warrior not slapstick?

  13. @Fred Road Warrior has ‘slapstick’ that fits the tone–you wouldn’t see fingers getting chopped off on a Saturday morning cartoon. Thunderdome has slapstick where a car blows up and then the people inside stumble out with soot all over them. In a series that started with the hero’s wife and kid being brutally murdered.

    It’s maybe not ‘selling out’ per se, but it’s certainly way more Conan The Destroyer than Conan the Barbarian.

  14. I think a certain willful denial of “coolness” is inherent to the Max franchise, honestly. Not to say they aren’t awesome or badass, because they fully are obviously, but they take place in a context where the characters don’t necessarily seem like your traditional James Bond “cool” action characters who can get their ass kicked in one scene and be totally fine running and jumping in the next. The grind of life seems really apparent on every character- medical attention is scarce and it shows. While obviously they’re meant to be entertaining, they also fly in the face of a lot of pop culture that glorifies a kind of “lone wolf” ideal, especially post-apocalyptic pop culture.

  15. What’s so cool about this series is, not one of the movie is like another one. The closest is Road Warrior and Fury Road, which are more similar, but the styles are so different. Thunderdome is the most classic cinema, Miller learned some tricks in Hollywood, with great crane shots like where the guy makes a speech and it ends in a huge close up of his face as he says “Dyin time’s here.” Miller really is an amazing director, and even back in Road Warrior times he really let the sound design be more abstract sometimes. I think he gets tons of credit for his action, but the guy is brilliant at so many aspects.

    I love how in all of the Max movies, this is also the only one without a proper villain. I mean, Auntie rules hard but in that world, she’s not wrong. She’s not evil, and letting Max live at the end was great.

    Vern totally nails it with the slogans, never really thought of it that way.

  16. After pointing out that the cops are Wez (reminds me of WATCHMEN), you get right to the heart of the movie in a way I’ve not read previously. And I like everything before that, too. Gets my vote for Best Continuing Modern Film Series. There is not one bad MAX yet.

  17. When this came along I had seen 1 and 2 about a hundred times, so I was a little underwhelmed at first. Then I married a woman who thinks THUNDERDOME is the best Mad Max ever, so I’ve learned to love it. I would hate to rank the four movies. I mean, FURY is #1, and will always be (unless the next one is even better), but 2, 3 and 4…

    I got hold of the black’n chrome version on bluray not long ago, and I guess that could count as a fifth Max. It certainly is a different experience, bordering on art.

    SPOILER! It looks like Miller’s next wasteland movie will be without Theron as Furiosa. No word on Hardy yet.

  18. On one hand, I wish I could see Theron as Furiosa again. On the other hand, reading old articles of Miller talking about THUNDERDOME cements my belief that if we were to continue beyond FURY ROAD, we’d have to see her turn into Aunty Entity or worse. Miller believes that people who try to hold on to something are destined to be villains and agents of change are heroic. In my mind I can imagine Furiosa, the wives and the Vuvalini created some new, just way of living at the Citadel. In a movie I don’t think that would hold.

    I still think it would be cool if a) Max had an unrelated adventure where he crossed paths with her in some unexpected way, sort of a guest appearance or b) Theron played a different character (as Bruce Spence and Hugh Keayss-Byrne were able to). But as always, I defer to whatever Miller wants to do.

  19. According to Theron Furiosa is supposed to be 20 years younger in the next installment. I wonder where on the timeline that puts Mr Rockatansky?

  20. I was pretty happy when I recently talked to a few friends and found out that they like THUNDERDOME too. I was less happy when they told me they enjoy it as some “So bad it’s good” camp classic. The same week some of them also tried to explain to me that “cancel culture” means “people get crucified in public by other people, who don’t agree with them, even if it’s about scientific facts”, instead of “some non-existant boogieman that was made up by assholes and edgelords who lost a TV gig after they were getting caught saying the N-word or molesting women, and now feel like they have to pretend that they are the victim”.

    In conclusion, I’m in a bit of a crisis right now in term of my friends. But BEYOND THUNDERDOME is a good movie!

  21. BEYOND THUNDERDOME is a good movie, and this is a great review, but I was there in ’85 on opening weekend, and I’d be lying if I said I didn’t come away disappointed then. My personal favourite is the first MAD MAX, though I won’t argue that it’s objectively the best of them. One of the things I definitely miss in THUNDERDOME from the first two is Brian May’s scoring. Maurice Jarre is a fine composer, but I want the blaring and thumping of May’s music, which is the music that any Mad Max movie plays to in my head. I don’t want to fetishise the ozploitation aesthetic, but Mad Max needs the guy who wrote the music for TURKEY SHOOT, not the guy from LAWRENCE OF ARABIA.

  22. “In my mind I can imagine Furiosa, the wives and the Vuvalini created some new, just way of living at the Citadel. In a movie I don’t think that would hold.”

    Because any plot would necessitate a conflict and, if it weren’t a “live long enough to see yourself become the villain” situation, then it’d have to stem from a destruction (natural or man-made) of their peace or some short-coming in their way of living. By not directly sequelizing Fury Road, we can just leave it as “Happily ever after,” which is the only way to ever get a truly happy ending, I guess. Once Upon a Time…in the Wasteland

  23. It says a lot about what impact the Furiosa character had, and the faith we have in George Miller, that none of us are a bit concerned about how he will manage to fit Max into the story.

  24. Maybe I’m wrong, but I have always assumed that Max is not in this story. I believe it’s the Furiosa script that they at one point intended to produce as an anime.

  25. CJ, I like your take on cancel culture. I wouldn’t have chosen the name cancel culture, but then of course that was partly decided on by people getting rightfully “cancelled.” When the word cancel is a cheeky exaggeration anyway. Canceling someone just means you don’t watch their shows or follow their twitter anymore, which you always have the right to do. But I guess “lose followers culture” doesn’t have the same ring to it.

  26. Vern, have you read “Riddley Walker” yet? If not, you’ll be amazed about how this film is influenced by it.

  27. I guess it should be mentioned, that a lot of shows HAVE been taken off the air, and a lot of Twitter accounts HAVE been deleted, often for fairly random reasons. If it offends someone, then it can be deleted. But of course TV-channels, streaming services and Twitter are owned by private companies, so they can censor whatever they want.

    I value people’s right to disagree with me. I find it a much more important thing that my right to not to be offended. But, a lot of people will disagree.

    Harper’s has a great opinion piece, which pretty much sums up my opinion:

    A Letter on Justice and Open Debate | Harper's Magazine

    July 7, 2020 The below letter will be appearing in the Letters section of the magazine's October issue. We welcome responses at letters@harpers.org Our cultural institutions are facing a moment o

  28. Is there a recent example of a show that was removed from the air for “fairly random” reasons you’re thinking of specifically here? This linked Harpers article likewise does not provide any actual examples, it’s just engaging in a sort of generalized anxiety around, I guess, people being fired for being racist. I can’t say I find that sort of hand-wringing especially compelling. It sounds to me like a plea to keep being allowed to not care how other people feel about what you say.

    I also think there’s a dangerous rhetorical gap when talking about how speech can “offend” people, rather than how speech can contribute to actual violence and death against people. “Offense” has been defanged as a word to basically mean “your widdle fee-fees were hurt”, but there are plenty of instances where pop culture fuels attitudes that lead to real pain and death- jokes about how “gross” trans people are, or cops shooting suspects as a standard plot element for instance.

    I don’t think it’s too much to ask folks to think about what they say before they say it. And even if they don’t, it’s not like they’re going to jail for it (unless they’re journalists reporting on police violence of course).

  29. Ugh CJ, your friends sound like they need to be canceled for sucking. Even if you don’t think Mad Max 3 is great, loving it because “it’s so bas it’s good” is fucking idiotic. It’s not so bad it’s good. It’s not Ed Woods or a million other shitty movies. Someone once said the same about RoboCop and what they saw as unintentional humor, and I had to ask if they were so completely dumb that they thought RoboCop wasn’t meant to be funny. Jesus Christ.

  30. To put it more bluntly, I have no interest in listening to both sides of a debate when one side is openly fascist and racist.

  31. The film that now seems to have been canonised as “so bad it’s good” rather than just “good” (and in fact great) that really, really bothers me every time I see it referred to as such is FACE\OFF

  32. Tuukka, a streaming service has the right to pull blackface episodes from their platform if they feel it’s what the majority of their subscribers want. Your subscription to Hulu or Netflix never guaranteed complete access to any series. They’re not scrubbing the episodes from existence. You just have to buy the dvd to see them.

    It used to be if you missed an episode the first time it aired you may never see it again. George Lucas would prefer to scrub the Star Wats Holiday Special from existence but fans have kept it alive (he hasn’t demanded it be pulled from YouTube). So even that hasn’t been cancelled.

  33. Pac-Man, the Face/Off generation gap is troubling because it’s a total misread of the movie. Do millennials actually think Cage and Travolta did not think the movie they were making was totally fucking insane and acted accordingly? Let alone Woo’s sincere commitment to said insane premise.

  34. “AND, it had I think the best dialogue exchange out of any of the movies”

    I’d go further. It has the best dialogue-script of any ’80s action movie. Shit’s poetry.

    It’s always interesting to me how sometimes a great movie is universally beloved, and everything seems right in the world. And then everyone complains that Thunderdome sucks (as though “Mad Max meets the Goonies” isn’t a fantastic movie premise), and you’re reminded that sometimes people are really sort of clueless.

  35. James Gunn should be fired from Guardians of the Galaxy again.

  36. I think the piece that Tuukka shared is tapping into a real phenomenon. It’s an open letter, not an extended essay or legal brief, so, it’s not surprising that they didn’t go about marshaling extensive examples of each trend over which they hand-wring. There’s definitely a fair amount of panic and overcorrection on this cancel culture stuff. For example, I don’t find blackface particularly funny, never did. I saw that Jimmy Fallon impression of Chris Rock back when it first aired, and it was cringe on comedic grounds, even when it was acceptable. It’s far from obvious to me, though, that the majority of viewers want all episodes of shows that feature blackface to be pulled from catalogs, or that it’s never okay for a non-gay person to play a gay person, or a gay person to play a straight person, or people to say the kind of shit David Chappelle says (sure, he can get away with, because he’s David Chappelle and, but that doesn’t mean that an upstart can be that politically incorrect and pull it off).

    In any case, while, I agree that it’s not as bad as conservatives and “edgelord” types are making it out to be, all kinds of generally sensible and progressively minded people have raised concerns that an increasing dogmatism and litmus testy environment around wokeness is very much becoming a thing. When people like Salman Rushdie or Margaret Atwood (and even, elsewhere, Barack Obama) talk about a chilling tendency toward self-censorship or piling on to be the most woke, I think it’s worth listening without being dismissive.

    Also, while I’m here, there is a huge double-standard in the way that action and horror fans completely dismiss the idea that violent media inspires real violence in society in general but then argue in the opposite direction that homophobic or pro-police media representations contribute to the kinds of real societal violence or harm in those areas.

  37. Skani- I don’t necessarily agree that there’s a double standard there. I was talking on another thread recently about the difference between movies that are attempts to portray a story that takes place in “reality” (e.g. ROCKY or WINTER’S BONE or something like that) and movies that are attempting to portray a a more heightened version of reality for the purposes of telling an entertaining story (e.g. DIE HARD or FRIDAY THE 13TH PART 3).

    Additionally, I think it’s a little disingenuous to compare the two ideas- the argument isn’t that movies *cause these things to happen* but rather that they contribute to a culture that normalizes police shootings or homophobia. When those things, those very real life things, are consistently portrayed in a certain way, I do think it contributes to a culture of normalization of bad behavior. There’s no mainstream culture of ax murder for a horror movie to “normalize”- we all recognize it as an extreme and unusual event. Compare that to, day, police shooting a suspect, something that happens in real life all the time across the country. I think there is a strong argument to be made that pop culture worked hard to normalize the idea of violent police in a lot of people, whether it meant to do that or not.

    Does this mean I don’t like DIE HARD or I’m never gonna watch LAW & ORDER again? No, because I’m not some insane zealot purist, but I *do* think these things are worth examining and talking about.

  38. Wow I repeated myself a lot there. But that’s ok. I’m a tv star now. Repetitiveness is my job. My job. My job is repetitiveness.

  39. Like Skani said, that Harper piece is an open letter, not a legal brief. It’s supposed to tap into a phenom that a lot of *liberal and leftist* people are worried about. Skani said a lot of things I agree with.

    Franchise Fred, I said exactly that thing in my own post, so you are trying to debate something that I already agreed with.

    Kurgan, a lot of rap music glamorizes crime and violence. It could easily be argued that it leads to those things among some black people (And probably white as well). Should it be censored? Who gets to decide what should be censored?

    I would assume that people can google the episodes and movies being pulled themselves, as I would have to provide dozens and dozens on links on this post. But it goes to ridiculous lengths. They just pulled out an episode of Golden Girls, because the old ladies were wearing dark cosmetic masks. It was deemed “blackface”. They are also pulling satirical episodes that make fun of people wearing blackface. Satire is forbidden to some, as it can be offensive. They pulled out South Park episodes that make fun of prophet Mohammed.

    If you want *some* examples, on TV: 30 Rock, Workaholics, It’s Always Sunny in Philadelphia, W/Bob & David, Scrubs, Golden Girls, South Park, The Office, have at least been censored. For movies, I guess everyone already knows about Gone With The Wind.

    Twitter and Reddit have deleted countless of accounts and sub-reddits.

    Netflix just edited Back To The Future 2 of all things. An innuendo joke was removed, along with two lines from Marty. Fan pressure luckily made them bring back the original. But most of the time these things probably go unnoticed, or people just don’t care enough to complain. When this happens more, people will find it too time-consuming to complain about every change, and thus it can become the new normal.

  40. Kurgan, I find your distinction at least somewhat meaningful, but there be dragons. I went on my screed in the BTTF thread about how a lot of mainstream movies normalize affluence, implying “affluent people, they’re just like us,” and insidiously promoting aspirational materalistic consumerism. That didn’t get a lot of traction. Entertainment disproportionately represents certain professions, like lawyer, doctor, criminal investigator, news anchor, celebrity, business executive or stock broker, journalist, and special operative. It disproportionately represents violence (vs. heart attacks or diabetes or obesity). It disproportionately represents conventionally physically attractive people (relatively thin-waisted, flat-tummied people with symmetrical and well-proportioned faces). It tends to mostly ignore lower-middle class people and the poor, or else portray them in caricatured or cliched terms. It imagines a robust and pervasive upper middle class that most of us have not cracked. Aside from self-consciously arthouse or indie films, it’s *all* a very heightened and selective reality that conveys all kinds of unrealistic, fanciful, prejudiced ideas. It’s all wish fulfillment. It does tend to glorify violence as fucking awesome and a generally effective way of solving problems, even when it’s portraying horrific and upsetting violence (HOSTEL, ONCE UPON A TIME IN HOLLYWOOD). I tends to objectify and sexualize things, especially but not only young women. It portrays problems as being caused by “bad guys” and not by large-scale systemic forces. I think it is perfectly fine to reject something because it offends certain moral sensibilities, but this argument about contributing to a culture of normalizing blah just falls flat for me, because our most beloved entertainment of pretty much all forms and varieties — from DISNEY to FRIDAY THE 13TH to THE CHRONIC to John Hughes to FAST AND FURIOUS to all unscripted “reality” television — normalizes all kinds of creepy, violent, superficial, mean-spirited, antisocial shit. To single out the particular forms of caricatured and/or anti-social shit that offend your political sensibilities strikes me as not that different from the family values crowd doing similar things in the 80s and 90s (and, of course, up to the present day).

  41. Please do note I never indicated anything *should* be censored (And what counts as censoring anyway? If a creator decides they don’t want to have some of their old work available because, for whatever reason, they don’t want it around anymore, that’s very different from the government dictating what can and can’t be printed), only that it’s not a bad idea to talk about how media reflects and echos society.

    Also no I don’t really care if episodes of any of those shows are pulled because of blackface. Why should I? I’m not that attached to blackface, and it sure seems to bother black people. Certain episodes of tv being unavailable on some streaming platforms is not the same thing as being, say, jailed for political speech, and I do not think one is a slippery slope to the other.

  42. Skani- I mean, yeah, I don’t think it’s actually strange to single out things that particularly bother my own personal sensibilities. Isn’t that what everyone does? Anyway, again, I’m not saying that any of this stuff needs to have *laws* enacted about it, just that it doesn’t hurt us as a society to talk about what we’re commonly portraying onscreen and why. I think you’re saying the same thing, but you were seeing it from an economic lens and I was seeing it from a police violence/homophobia lens (which are two things that have touched my life directly, so yes I have some feelings about them).

  43. Not coincidentally, a big part of what drew me to this website in the first place is Vern’s ability to both enjoy a genre piece on its merits, as well as be insightful about its context in the wider culture. All I’m asking is that every critic and talking head out there put as much thought toward excellence as Vern- is that so much to ask?

  44. Of course, I’m not accusing you of promoting actual government censorship, nor is anyone (that I can see) imagining that this is what is happening or will be happening next week. The point is not that the FCC or the ghost of Joseph McCarthy is holding hearings about THE GOLDEN GIRLS or SOUTH PARK. It’s that the general climate is one where if you are a progressive who has some questions or differences on some issue, you understand that you’re going to get dragged and maybe face serious career impact. I want to live in a world with a better, more equitable justice system, with less police brutality, rape, discrimination, and harasssment and where the rights of gay and trans people are respected and protected. And I want to live in a world where JK Rowling can speak her mind about transgenderism without being demonized (whether I agree with her or not), where we don’t automatically assume that Woody Allen molested his kid because of #metoo (I don’t think he did, but I don’t *know*), where younger David Chappelles who are not household names can say some borderline offensive shit (I honestly don’t find his recent standup that good), and where I can find whatever cringey, pervy Aziz Ansari scene from PARKS AND REC or homophobia-tinged Eminem song I want to listen to without having to find a physical copy of it on ebay or some shit.

  45. I actually think the JK Rowling thing is a great specific example here- she’s said some TERF shit and now she’s getting some heat from it, but from where? Well, by and large, it’s her readers, her fan base. I don’t think they have any obligation to stay quiet about how what she’s saying makes them feel, any more than she has an obligation to not say what she thinks. It’s also worth noting that she is hardy a lone voice on this issue- lots and lots of people think like she does.

    I guess to me I have a thought around the question of “demonization” or cancel culture in general. What it seems to me to be is that people who were, previously, just told to suck it up are now able to say that they don’t want to suck it up anymore, maybe it’s time for YOU to suck it up (not *you* you anyone on this board, just the general rhetorical “you”) and find something else to make fun of.

  46. But all “cancel culture” is really doing is saying “we don’t want to buy your product or read your social media anymore” which was always their right to do.

  47. Tuuka, GONE WITH THE WIND was never censored or “cancelled”. They removed it for a few days and even when they did it, they said it would be back with some disclaimer about the historical context, and that is what they did. Most Twitter feeds and subreddits that were removed, were promoting racism and other hatespeech. And the BTTF 2 thing was a mistake. Apparently Netflix got a TV or airline version and quickly changed it when someone called attention to it.

    About the whole blackface removal thing. Yeah, I mean that should be looked into from case to case. The GOLDEN GIRLS episode was hilarious overreacting. Many of the removed things were obviously anti-blackface, but also not doing much more than “Oh, he is wearing blackface and another character points out that it’s offensive”, which is far from being smart satire. And for us white guys it’s just “Oh, how cringey, he is wearing shoe polish on his face, but hey, at least he is getting called a dumbass, haha”, for someone who actually is black and has to deal with the whole history of that shit, it might be offensive on a whole different level. And let’s be honest, at the very least that whole thing is opening a never before seen dialogue about it, so I would say it’s worth missing out on a few minutes of sitcoms, that are still available elsewhere.

  48. I will say, if they were going to be censored, I think the offending *scenes* in 30 ROCK should have been cut, rather than taking down the full episodes, as has been done with WB and MGM cartoons on TV probably longer than any of us have been alive. There is something to be said about customers being entitled to own a full season if that’s what they’ve bought, but to me the lesson there is to go physical if it’s something you think you’re going to want to own for the rest of your life.

  49. It should be noted that most self-censorship happens out of fear. People or companies who fear a lynch mob. Twitter and Reddit and streaming services do censorship mainly due to money – They don’t want to lose their audience, so they censor things that some *might* find offensive. Because they are afraid of the current climate. It’s a different thing than an artist taking out something old that he regrets.

    I don’t think it’s a good thing that people have to live in fear.

    I think that things like shows and movies and Twitter/Reddit accounts should just have a general disclaimer: SOME PEOPLE MIGHT HAVE THE CONTENT OF XXXX OFFENDING. IF YOU ARE EASILY OFFENDED BY XXXX, PLEASE DON’T WATCH. On in places like Spotify you can just add a disclaimer to the song. They already say if the song is explicit.

    That would solve the problem, and everybody should be happy.

    I’ve always been a progressive, much more so than most progressive people. I still am. Like Skani said, the current movement is somewhat similar to the “Family Values” movement. It’s one set of people wanting to decide for others, what should be allowed. As I value human rights and freedom of speech above all things, I don’t like it.

  50. Like Tukka said, the problem with the removal of episodes and movies from the streaming record on grounds of wokeness is that I fully believe the motivation to be selfish. The sites/networks/creators make a big show about how they’re doing it to protect us, but they’re only doing it to protect themselves. This doesn’t actually correct the mistake, of course; it just removes the evidence. Now nobody has to know that Tina Fey has a history of questionable racial humor and she can continue to make money for her corporate overlords. That’s the ultimate goal. They could give a shit if anybody gets triggered. They’re just trying to protect their cash cows and lying to our face that it’s for our own good. Personally, I’d rather have everything be available, warts and all, so I can have all the facts about the motherfuckers I’m dealing with here so I can make an educated decision about whether or not I want to continue to support them. Put some disclaimers up in front of problematic content like those racist old cartoons and let adults make their own decisions. Let them see the way things really were, not the way we wish they were. Because whether we like it or not, this stuff is part of who we are. We can’t just erase it and expect anyone to learn anything. We’re a society that not only made the white-supremacist-to-its-core GONE WITH THE WIND, but made it the most popular film of all time. We can’t absolve ourselves of that by ignoring it, and I’m glad the film is now available to be seen with at least a little discussion of its historical context. That feels like a step forward. That feels like how we accept responsibility and move on.

  51. I disagree with minimizing “cancel culture” (or “boycott culture” or “call-out culture” or whatever is a non-clunky way to capture that trend). It’s a vocal minority of people whom I don’t believe represent the majority of Americans or even necessarily the majority of people who belong to the given social group being advocated for (in, like, a polling sense). And it is creating a climate of fear and panic around being caught and called out. Obviously, corporations or individual artists are complicit in their own choices there as far as caving into the fear of a bad news cycle, if / when that is what it is (I don’t deny that an artist might have a legitimate heart change, but even then, I don’t feel their art solely belongs to them at that point).

    Furthermore, I think a lot of these issues that people are making so black-and-white are not so black-and-white. The issue of whether Halle Berry can play a trans character or Fred Armisen can play Obama (or the various Middle Eastern, Latin American, or other African American characters) who had a white mother). I’m not convinced that it is exclusively people who belong to the given group who should play these characters or who should decide who gets to play these characters, and I very much doubt that the consensus among people who identify a given way (e.g., as black, as gay, as low-income) would be as decisive as the level of certainty expressed by the loudest activists.

    So the idea that the general voting public came together and deliberated and reached consensus on these things is a gross oversimplification at best. As is the idea that the content creators or corporate backers simply had a crisis of conscious and came to the reasoned and principled decision that this is best. Whether they are strictly “allowed” to do this or whether the government is making them do this — these are all red herrings and strawmen; they are beside the point.

  52. Kurgan, there is this line of argument I keep hearing, like with the J.K. Rowling thing as one example, but also elsewhere, and it goes like this: “all that’s happening is that now some of these bigoted monsters are getting some healthy pushback on their bigoted monstrous views, and now they’re all freaking out like a bunch of babies now that they are getting a bit of pushback.”

    I think there are all kinds of things wrong with that line of argument.

    First, there are real consequences in terms of self-censorship or in terms of certain stories not being told. Woody Allen lost his Amazon deal and lost his initial opportunity to publish his book. James Gunn lost his directorial role for a long minute there. As we’ve discussed, content is being pulled in places. People are quitting roles they would have otherwise taken. And everyday people are carefully parsing every word to make sure it is not construed as offensive or are getting fired from current jobs for dumb things they said many years ago. The point is not that saying and doing offensive things should go unchecked, but that distinctions of degree, remorse, passage of time, era, etc. should be recognized. Often, those nuances are not.

    Second, words like TERF are dack-stecking words decided to create a prejudicial stink around a person and her views. It’s basically “here is my word for you so the world will think of you as a bigot.” I read the JKR post, just for the hell of it.

    J.K. Rowling Writes about Her Reasons for Speaking out on Sex and Gender Issues - J.K. Rowling

    Warning: This piece contains inappropriate language for children.  This isn’t an easy piece to write, for reasons that will shortly become clear, but I know it’s time to explain myself on an issue surrounded by toxicity. I write this without any desire to add to that toxicity. For people who don’t know: last December I tweeted […]

    I have no idea if some of her specific factual claims around gender dysmorphia are sound, but I do know that the writing is cogent, he tone is generally conciliatory, she directly and explicitly affirms that there are real trans people who should and are best served living as trans people, and so on. And yet the narrative around it is “she’s said some TERF shift.”

    Third, in terms of getting pushback or a change in the discourse, it’s not just like playful ribbing or spirited debate, and it’s not just that finally now others have a voice. These people get hardcore hatemail, threats, etc. To express a recently controversial view in generally thoughtful and cordial, principled terms and then have all of that happen is not nothing. And then everyone in their circle (the guy who plays Harry Potter who isn’t even on social media, Stephen King for some reason) has to repeat the phrase “trans women are women” in a manner that reads as borderline coercive (read what’s on the paper or the kid gets it!).

    Also, just for the record. I’m not a trans denier. I’m for trans rights, trans bathroom access, addressing people with their preferred pronouns, etc. All good with me. I say that not because I need you to know that “some of my best friends” are trans, but so you know that it’s not a question of Rowling acting as a better-platformed surrogate for my own views. I would not go so far as to take a position on a lot of the things she says one way or the other, but I do take the position that she’s not the bigot she’s being portrayed as and that these are discussions worth having, but who’s going to openly participate in such discussion when this is the fallout?

  53. I too have been reflecting on so-called “cancellation” lately, as a few days ago I threw on Star Trek: Deep Space 9 for the first time in many, many years. And now I can’t stop writing a think piece in my head called “Why Aren’t We Talking About Star Trek’s Cultural History Of Blackface?”

    Comedy shows are receiving the great majority of efforts to remove blackface-featuring episodes from streaming services. 1990s Trek, thus far, gets a pass. But why should it? Quark, a brown-skinned Ferengi character who is in nearly every episode, is played by Armin Shimerman, a white man. Alexander Worf and Nog, both of whom also appear frequently, were each played by a white kid. The list of such casting decisions on TNG and DS9 (and for all I know, Voyager and Enterprise too, but I never got that far) goes on and on. I’m not saying “cancel Star Trek,” but by now the near-total silence about this feature of its 2 most popular series is downright weird to me. A few seconds of one Golden Girls episode pinged somebody’s radar at Netflix, but the same radar was not pinged throughout 7 entire seasons of DS9? That’s pretty weird! Especially because literally all the Trek fans I know are left-leaning in the extreme. You’ll hear a lot about the inexcusable TNG episode “Code of Honor,” but very little about the actual casting decisions throughout the history of the franchise.

    I’ve already done some self-devil’s-advocating about this, so I’m aware, of course, that the actors on Trek are portraying alien races and not humans. I’m also aware that Klingons are widely thought to be based on unkind stereotypes of Soviet Russians and Ferengi on racist stereotypes of Jews. But by TNG and DS9, those races were inarguably established to be ‘of color’ in the world of Trek, regardless of whatever real world bullshit informed their behind-the-scenes creation. And yet rather than hire a performer whose hands they WOULDN’T need to put makeup on every goddamn day of shooting, they hired Armin Shimerman. I would be so, so curious to see who else was in the running to play Quark.

    I’m sure it could be argued (and would, probably, by some) that Shimerman was simply “the best actor for the role.” Or that literally all such decisions to hire a white performer for a Ferengi or Klingon part was due to a “colorblind casting” rule, likely presented as a progressive ideal in keeping with Roddenberry’s utopian dreams. If that’s the case, does that mean that the quality of our entertainment is really more important to us than the experiences had by the people creating said entertainment for us? (Obviously “Lol, guess so” is the answer many people would have to that question. But that really sucks, in my opinion. And I think it is something that should change.)

    And to be clear, I **fucking love** so many things about DS9. Not saying I want them to take it offline or that I feel bad about watching it or that I think people who like it are ignorant. Overwhelmingly, my take on the current situation in the United States is “When you expect ideals to apply to human experience without leaving room for contradiction, you are going to be disappointed and frustrated.” In a perfect world, I’d agree with Majestyk’s “sunlight is the best disinfectant” sentiment too. But this Trek conundrum/double standard has been feeding my thoughts the past couple days, and I don’t have a solution. If removing the blackface-featuring episodes of 30 Rock or Bob & David or SNL is about the potential offense caused to the audience — “we don’t want someone to be randomly watching this and be upset by catching it out of context” is the rationale? Well, I know people who’d be very bummed out to watch DS9 and learn that Quark is not Black IRL. Holding DS9 to the same standard by which seemingly all comedies available online are now judged to could send the message that the process of *actually creating the show itself* deserves as much of our critical eye (IE the way agencies represent talent, or the ability of certain performers to influence casting outcomes in their favor) as the things the show depicts its characters doing.

    Anyone else had similar thoughts? Or am I overthinking/missing something?

  54. Skani- sure, I didn’t assume you were anti-trans or anything, but I guess my question is why do you feel Rowling deserves this kind of loud defense? Same with Woody Allen, or James Gunn? These are people who made it BIG already, already hit the highs everyone else only dreams of. That’s why the public eye is on them, but even when they fuck up, they’re gonna be just fine. Once you’re famous in America, you can always get someone to give you money. (For the record, I thought the Gunn thing was obviously overblown, which is why it was reversed, and I can’t say I care about Woody Allen much one way or the other, but a book deal is not a God-given right).

    And regardless if she’s saying it politely, if a bunch of my trans friends are upset by what Rowling is saying, if they say that it’s the same kind of shit they deal with all the time just in prettier language, shit that hurts them, shit that gets people killed, should I tell them it’s her right to say whatever she pleases and they should just be grateful for the books? No, I think their real lived experiences have more valuable insight than Rowling’s thought experiments. What should people who are upset do, in this case then? Say nothing, keep quiet, maybe not buy her next book? That’s what people had to do before Twitter, and maybe if Twitter were to die a merciful death that’s what they’d have to do again, but in the internet age, the creator’s voice is no longer as primary as it was. I personally don’t think that’s the worst thing in the world, but I think it’s very jarring for some parties who are not used to any sort of pushback whatsoever.

    psychic_hits – love me some Star Trek and just got into season 5 of my own quarantine DS9 rewatch. For what it’s worth I never once have thought of Quark as black, but that may be because I knew Armin Shimmerman from other stuff first. Regardless, I do think there’s a valid question there and it’s worth talking about. I don’t personally find the Klingons particularly egregious since they’re explicitly aliens and technically they’re supposed to be a sort of maroon I think. There is also a pretty wide variety of skin tones at play (Chang in UNDISCOVERED COUNTRY for instance, is basically just Christopher Plummer in light bronzer). Bottom line- even if many of the actors who play Klingons are black, “Klingons”, as a species, aren’t “black” in the way humans might be.

    THAT SAID, I don’t think it would really be ok for a white guy to slap dark makeup on his face for a Worf costume or something. I dunno. Maybe that’s a hypocritical thin line. I’m not sure.

  55. Very interesting contribution, psychic_hits! And to be 1000% clear on my own evolving views, absolutely, I think there are some practices that should end. Although, even here, I could devil’s advocate some of this, and it gets tricky. Should the COSBY SHOW not air anymore because Bill Cosby turned out to be a huge hypocrite and serial abuser? Maybe, but then the COSBY characters have a life of their own, and that show has an important place in African-American U.S. entertainment history (and in normalizing and legitimizing affluence, but that is another story). Should R. Kelly be dropped from his record label, like I’m assuming he was (but not bothering to check)? Yeah, because there is such a pattern of abuse, and his music is all about sexualizing everything, and it’s a super-gross combo. Is it inherently wrong or poor taste to buy or stream R. Kelly’s music digitally? I’m not sure that it is, though sometimes, depending on the intent, etc., it surely is. This speaks to your point about contradictions and application of principles to real life. All of these things are loaded with a multiplicity of meanings and implications and can “trigger” a myriad of positive and negative emotional responses depending on various factors. That’s evident enough from quickly things are changing: if there was a single, inevitable experience or reaction to these things, it couldn’t change, and we’d have nothing to argue about!

    But I don’t understand this point: “If that’s the case, does that mean that the quality of our entertainment is really more important to us than the experiences had by the people creating said entertainment for us?”

    Do you mean the experience of the guy putting on the make-up or the experience of the brown-skinned person who didn’t get the role or the experience of the trans actor who might have gotten the Halle Berry role in the news, etc.? What actual or hypothetical people are doing the suffering here, what kind of suffering, and how so?

    In any case, for me, the upshot is, I’m fine for tagging any number of pieces of entertainment as “material that may offend some audiences, viewer discretion advised,” though, as this DS9 example illustrates, pretty much all PG-13+ comedy or R-rated anything or 90s-era artist hip-hop music or unscripted television (and much else besides) is going to get that tag, so, I’m not sure where this gets us. I guess it is at least an acknowledgement of the potential to offend, which maybe counts for something, symbolically?

  56. First let me apologize again to Vern for accidentally derailing another thread about a movie.

    Then the Star Trek thing is a bit difficult. I mean, yeah, why not hire POC actors for Klingons and Ferengi, but then…wouldn’t it be also a bit discriminating to say “Hey, we save make up costs, because you are already brown”, mixed with a possible backlash because “Are you telling us that POC are greedy/bloodthirsty or why do most of them play only these aliens”? And who to hire for the blue-skinned Andorians or the green skinned Andorians?

    Some probably groan now and think “Yeah, that’s the problem with political correctness right here!” but on the other hand, it also makes us actively think and talk about the implications that these things have.

  57. Kurgan, re: your initial comments about celebrity and rich people, I mean, I dunno, my thoughts are mixed. On the one hand, I personally don’t think anyone should ever have more than, say, $10M in net worth for any reason at all. Do I think it should be illegal (i.e., anything more than this should be confiscated by the government through taxation)? Maybe? Probably? So, as is clear enough from my other comments elsewhere, I’m not super sympathetic to massively wealthy people or to the societal promotion of accumulating and keeping massive wealth. I don’t like it in the abstract or in the particular.

    At the same time, it’s very easy to dehumanize celebrities and legitimize abuse of celebrities on the grounds that they are rich and no what they’re in for (which smacks of, “If she didn’t want to be raped [or he didn’t want to be gay-bashed], maybe she should have thought of that before…”). Paparazzi-induced accidents, stalkers, restraining orders, death threats, various other serious privacy violations, and the general inability to move about normally are costs of celebrity. Doesn’t seem like much fun. And there are celebrities who end up penniless, cast aside, drug addicted, out in the cold. I’m under no illusion that they don’t have far more resources and options for coping with setbacks than the average middle-class or poor person, but that doesn’t make it okay to normalize harassment or to normalize dismissing a person’s body of work or demonizing them because they have unpopular opinions or someone accused them of something. I think that’s wrong in many concrete cases. Am I going to push for legislation against it or take up a collection for the Woody Allen sympathy fund or put a mauve ribbon sticker on my car that says “support celebrity rights”? No, but I am going to say it’s wrong here on outlawvern.com, by gum.

  58. Personally, I think the FACE\OFF issue raised by that erudite and I can only assume very handsome poster earlier needs more discussion.

  59. Oh don’t get me wrong- I’m sure being rich and famous comes with all sorts of its own problems, and I definitely don’t support the kind of buck wild shit that video game people do, sending death threats, doxxing people, stuff like that. But there’s a difference, a big difference, between a video game company that does something “objectionable” to a certain set of gamers (usually something like “hire a woman”), and JK Rowling using her massive platform to spread bigotry.

    It’s tricky because so many people have learned to weaponize this kind of thing in bad faith (see: James Gunn again), but I don’t think that means the weapon itself is bad, just that it can be used badly. That’s why I think critical thinking and media evaluation classes should be standard courses in elementary/middle school for kids, but that seems like a real pie in the sky at the moment.

  60. Not that I’m trying to quell discussion of these important issues. I was trying to write something similar to CJ’s post about STAR TREK but couldn’t quite articulate it. It might be problematic, but I don’t think it’s quite a double standard, blackface as “ironically” reprised in 30 ROCK etc has a direct history of cruel mockery.

  61. Kurgan –

    Also, I’m not taking the side of the billionaire in the fight against the unknown and oppressed multitudes. I’m taking the side of open dialogue and discourse and diversity of viewpoints in an overall environment that respects the realities of oppression and seeks to address those issues. It doesn’t have to be either or, and defending the viewpoint of a celebrity does not mean siding with those in power and against the little person in some zero-sum battle where only one person can win. If I defend the position of one celebrity or attack the position of another celebrity, it is because that is a concrete person whose views I can interrogate and engage, not because I’m for celebrities and against regular people.

    As for the JK Rowling thing, and your trans friends, and people who disagree with JK Rowling

    1. They should absolutely be free to speak their mind

    2. I would hope that they would do so respectfully and substantively and from a starting point of good faith and dialogue as opposed to single-phrase bumper stickers, snark, harassment, and demonization. A hearty “yes” to criticism and spirited dialogue.

    3. I am not persuaded that JK Rowling’s post is just a nicer, dressier way of being a bigot, and I’m not persuaded that her post is an incitement or facilitator of violence or oppression. Or at least that it’s the primary lens or way to think of it. For me there is a big difference between “I disagree with your views for reasons x, y, and z, and I think others may use your views for nefarious purposes, a, b, and c, and I want you to consider that and speak to those issues” vs. “your words are dangerous and bigoted and ultimately will lead to violence against people, so fully recant, now.”

    4. We flatten out any nuance or dissent into us-them. I don’t see JK Rowling trying to make trans people a marginal them, I see her as trying to open up a more nuanced conversation while affirming that ultimately trans-ness is real and the best path/truth for some real segment of people.

  62. Hey thanks for the thoughts, guys. @Skani, when I said that I meant the actors who don’t get the roles that go to white performers. Like, if Ferengi are canonically dark-skinned, and if chronic discrimination already exists against performers of color who are trying to land racially-nonspecified roles that go to white performers the majority of the time, I feel like it’s the same category of complaint/suffering/indignity as, say, the recent controversy over Disney’s decision to use white background dancers wearing bronzer for crowd scenes in the Aladdin remake, rather than hiring performers with regionally appropriate cultural heritage. But I know Trek’s case is different than all of the other shows with episodes taken down, because ‘blackface’ typically involves a performance of racial identity as well as skin-darkening & that is a massive part of the offense… still, for me Quark is proving to be a hurdle. And I totally forgot about Christopher Lloyd in Star Trek 3 but that always felt completely wrong to me too!

    I appreciate the points of comparison, though— reminds me of the pass I give Rosemary’s Baby, even though I can’t enjoy anything else of Polanski’s. I tell myself RB is the work of so many other people besides Polanski— but of course, at the end of the day that’s just me being subjective; that argument/excuse can be made for nearly any tv or movie, Star Trek among them. “Context is everything” is a great general principle to go by, & it sounds like that’s what you’re saying too. As is “the older it is, the more bummers it may contain.”

  63. I think the whole “why don’t people of color play the right color of aliens or monsters” is kinda nuts. I don’t see a darker skinned alien as brown in the sense of a brown human, it’s an alien. It’s not latino (or latinx if we really want to be correct). I tended to think the thing about the orcs being “black.” I mean, okay I can soooort of see that point, but they’re monsters, they’re going to have different colorings. They’re not “coded” as black humans…like in Bright where a lot of those trolls or whatever they were listened to rap music and wore “black” looking clothes. Godzilla is greyish or black, I don’t think a black guy needs to play him…shit, I don’t think a MAN needs to play him, let’s get women women folk in that damn costume for once. I don’t think of any of those Asian ghosts as wearing whiteface…it’s a ghost, you just want some regular Asian girl crawling around, she’s just going to look like a mental case and she weighs like 87 pounds, no one’s scared of that shit.

  64. Yes, but here again, there be dragons. I 102.4% agree that online harassment of any form is wrong. The difference is that I don’t regard anything JK Rowling is doing as online harassment, whereas some of the things that some of the people are doing to her or in engagement with her views does qualify as harassment. The fact that other people also harass trans people does not mean that what JK Rowling is doing is tantamount to harassment. The fact that other people who harass trans people might incorrectly cite JK Rowling as a hero or ally or kindred spirit also does not meant that JK Rowling is in some sense responsible for harassment. If we believe that the media influences our behavior but that we as individuals and/or as a society are ultimately responsible for engaging the media responsibly, then I think that calls for a certain level of consistency.

    For me, the only unambiguous “weaponization” that occurs is when one party directly engages in some form of malicious harassment. Calling for action against another party (firing, boycotting, cancelling, deleting, legislation, etc.) is a form of collective political action that needs to be considered on a case by case basis. I tend to think of that more as organization or mobilization than of “weaponization.” The problem I have is when the use of the term “weaponization” is used selectively depending on the position that is taken by the target of the action. So, if a film portrays cops positively it’s bad and part of a toxic culture, but if a film portrays violence as a constructive and awesome way of solving problems or affluence as deserved and awesome, it gets a pass. If gross sexual harassment or other harassment occurs, it’s bad, but if celebrities with disagreeable views are harassed, it’s not that bad. If anything that shows blackface is getting pulled, that’s good or okay or about time, but if music that glorifies violence or misogyny or drug use is censored in similar fashion, it’s a moral panic. And so on.

    There are real differences or points of disanalogy in all of these analogies, of course. That will be true of any analogy–they all have their limits. But what I’m trying to illustrate is that it smacks of inconsistency and discourse-based coercion or indoctrination. The
    implication would seem to be that we need to teach people to have the right opinions on these things, and we need to stop harassing or triggering or offending people with those right opinions and feelings, but maybe it’s sort of okay to harass or trigger or offend people who have the wrong opinions and feelings, because they should be able to take it and kind of deserve it anyway on account of their bad opinions and less legitimate feelings. You should be offended by this (blackface on this show), but you should not be offended by that (e.g., some of NWA’s choicer sexually charged lyrics).

  65. I don’t know why we’re talking about that dumb Harper’s letter, but I maintain that in a just world it would have been laughed off like the celebrity “Imagine” video. It’s basically the same thing except for the elite members in journalism and publishing. I’m surprised that anyone takes that self-aggrandizing junk seriously.

  66. When I was young I was big on free speech idealism, and I agreed with that thing people say about “I disagree with what you say, but I would defend to the death your right to say it.” And there was a hypothetical people would always use, about the ACLU (who I’m literally a card carrying member of, at least in times of wallets) defending the KKK’s right to have parades. That’s all real nice on a hypothetical level, but now days it seems like there are an awful lot of people who will defend the KKK’s right to march, but won’t bother to show up to protest the march. And to me that’s a big fucking problem.

    Of course there are many messy issues under the umbrella of this discussion, often without clear answers. But I am skeptical, to say the least, of the many people who are extremely passionate about the dangers of Cancel Culture overreach, but can’t get worked up about the various forms of bigotry, assault and harassment being addressed. It is awfully convenient for those of us who are comfortable to say “Hey, believe me, I agree with the revolution, but unfortunately it could have some negative side for me, so you can’t have it.” And in many, if not most (but I suspect most) cases, the person being “cancelled” is really just being called an asshole for being an asshole.

    I think it’s good for racists to be afraid, I think it’s good for people to have second thoughts about their initial instinct to be an asshole, I think it’s good for people to try to be nicer and more understanding and to understand the plight of others. Yes, it is true, that many people have poor judgment and make mistakes and this movement can fuck up. I think George Takei and James Gunn are two cases where people were treated unfairly – in both cases, fortunately, it worked out. (And we even get THE SUICIDE SQUAD out of the deal.) There will be other cases where it won’t, I’m sure.

    Most of this is about ugliness in our culture that has been allowed to go on forever but that people are finally standing up to. People have gotten away with being rapists and harassers and assholes because they were talented, and that’s starting to change. This is progress. Too often the fear of “going too far” is an excuse not to go far enough.

    In my lifetime it has gone from “the KKK has a right to have a parade” to “look, we shouldn’t ask them to take away the KKK’s column in the New York Times, that would just stifle the vigorous debate.” And what I didn’t get as a youth is that the KKK march is not free speech in the first place, because its message is “be afraid of us.” Maybe we should listen to the people whose right to exist is being “vigorously debated” and not just assume their problem is that they’re “easily offended.”

    Also, Fred had a very astute point that the original use of “cancel” was kind of a joke. Like, “oh no, [musician I liked] said [stupid bullshit], he’s cancelled.” And, at the risk of being dangerously political correct, it bothers me that terms like woke and cancel start out as black slang, get adopted by liberal-leaning white people, who then start to use them sarcastically, then get picked up by conservative columnists who take them literally, and are cemented into their permanent form as terms to caricature liberals, and we all go along with it.

    But more than anything I have written above, by far the most important point I want to make is that my first amendment right to talk about THUNDERDOME has been cancelled by the out of control anti-cancel-culture culture. This cannot stand in a democracy.

  67. psychic_hits – I did not know about the ALADDIN bronzer thing. See, to me, that’s a textbook case of just being stupid and tone deaf, where they clearly should not have used bronzer or done the casting that way. That’s an easy one, I think.

    But let’s stay with ALADDIN, pivot to a different casting choice, and fashion an analogy.
    Other casting choice: Will Smith as genie.
    Question: Should it have been a lesser-known Iraqi or Iraqi-American looking actor? Would any “middle eastern” guy have worked? Is saying “it should be a middle eastern guy” itself offensive (i.e., is being Lebanese-American interchangeable with being an actual native Iraqi?)? Also, the original ALADDIN story may have been set in China. Further down the rabbit hole…

    Analogy casting choice: Johnny Depp as tonto:
    Question: Should it have been a (virtually by definition) far lesser-known Native American actor?

    I would submit that in both of these cases, the issue is name recognition and bankability. We like Will Smith and Johnny Deep in big action-adventurey tentpole films, and they do (or at least did) add to the marketability of such films.

    I would also submit that in some cases the alternative is to cast a virtual unknown, which often will be a non-starter for these films.

    Not trying to be facetious. I’m trying to illustate how some of these sensitivities have no rock bottom resolution or coherent principle if you pull the thread enough. It starts to unravel. It pushes you to places like the outrage about Zoe Saldana playing Nina Simone (which maybe was outrageous, but it’s not easy to dismiss as racist) or where maybe I should be outraged at Christian Bale, Gary Oldman, and all those other filthy limeys appropriating Batman. Sheesh!

  68. I have no idea who the KKK guy writing for the NYT is in reference to. Is that supposed to be a real thing that I’ve somehow missed, or just being facetious.

    Why can’t I think Dave Chappelle is being an asshole about trans-people, being spot-on about race, not being particularly funny about anything lately, and free to speak his mind without having Netflix pull his specials because they are insensitive or culturally outdated or whatever (which they are not doing, but which is not unlike some of the stuff that is happening)? Why do I have to pick a side, and why does highlighting one of these facets dictate how I feel about the others? We can walk and chew bubble gum at the same time, and we can agree that stopping chokeholds and radically reforming the police is way more important than “justice for Woody” or whatever while at the same time having a more nuanced portfolio of viewpoints across these various issues.

    It’s also important to distinguish “cancelling” a known sex abuser or whatever vs cancelling someone who makes jokes you find offensive.

  69. Beautifully said, Vern. An even more extreme example than the KKK is there are holocaust deniers that want to be free to present their “evidence” that there were no concentration camps. I don’t think we would say “Well, let’s give them a platform for the sake of debate and we’ll add a disclaimer that there is actually evidence of 6 million people executes by Nazis.”

    I can see how to a trans person, JK Rowling saying a trans man is still a woman or a trans woman is not one is also deadly. But she’s not even being prevented from saying it. She’s just being called out. And if not every reaction is nice and articulate, those are the consequences. People want to promote free debate, unless that debate is harsh, then it’s somehow stifling.

    I don’t think it’s such a bad thing if people have to think before they talk. They should do that anyway. And the future issue with Berry’s casting is she referred to the trans man character as a woman. Not only should the role go to a trans man, but it should go to someone who understands the character is a man who had to transition into his true identity.

    We’re those blackface episodes removed from anyone’s library who bought the shows digitally? I thought it was only from streaming services which speaks to a sort of sense of entitlement that everything should be available in perpetuity. That’s a very modern expectation that did not exist even 10-20 years ago.

    Thunderdome rules, and Face/Off is intentionally melodramatic. It’s a masterpiece.

  70. >>Maybe we should listen to the people whose right to exist is being “vigorously debated” and not just assume their problem is that they’re “easily offended.”

    This is it for me, in a nutshell. If an issue does not affect me, I defer to the perspective of someone whom it does affect. Not only because that seems like the morally correct way to go about things, but because I generally want to learn more about how other people see the world. To pick a less immediately contentious example, did anybody read the NY Times editorial by a Vietnamese author, about how he saw DA 5 BLOODS (and many other Vietnam movies)? It was intensely eye-opening for me. Here’s the link.

  71. @Skani no facetiousness detected— I appreciate your points and have no easy answers regarding Smith (or Williams, for that matter) as the Genie. Depp as Tonto is a performance which our host wrote to some length about at the time, I just re-read the review and he puts it way better than I could. So I’ll defer to him on that one.

    @Muh I wasn’t saying the aliens correspond to races of people on Earth, like in Bright. I meant it’s weird that the casting directors of Star Trek in the 90s were so willing to cast actors whose skin was a different color than the skin of the character they were going to be playing, when they could have easily cast actors whose skin was already the same color as that of the character’s.

  72. I think part of the problem is that the term isn’t clearly defined so peoples’ arguments aren’t built upon the same foundation. For instance, Bill Cosby and Harvey Weinstein aren’t instances of cancel culture. They were tried and convicted of crimes. They’re not cases of the internet cancelling someone.

    I also think there’s an issue with some pundits (the “cancel culture isn’t real” crowd) only seeing this as something that impacts rich celebrities. Those are just the cases we hear about, and for the most part they’ll be fine. It’s different when a store owner loses his business and then doesn’t have the resources to survive and has trouble with reemployment.

    It certainly doesn’t help that many of the loudest voices against cancel culture are deliberate asshole edgelords. It’s a complicated state of discourse, for certain.

    We don’t like to admit it but there is a strong lure of social clout that comes with public condemnations. I don’t understand how a letter signed by famous people is supposed to change anyone’s online behaviour, but I’m also not super comfortable with the idea of human disposibility. As movie fans, I’d think we have some belief in redemption arcs.

  73. burningambulance- Really interesting article, thanks for pointing it out. I definitely think it’s applicable to a lot of what we’ve been talking about here. The idea of narrative plenitude he mentions at the end really speaks to me, and I think that’s a lot of the issue right there. The “problem“ (such as it is) is not with any individual story in particular, but that they exist in a cultural context where they’re the *only kinds* of stories being told.

  74. When I think of redemption arcs I think of Charles S Dutton and Danny Trejo. In both cases they literally served hard time (Dutton for Murder I believe) and reinvented themselves as beloved actors. That’s a high standard and not everyone committed a crime that warrants prison, but those aren’t bad role modes.

    I imagine most people would be here for it if JK Rowling said “You know what? I’ve hurt a lot of people and while I don’t understand it, I want to learn more about trans women.” The problem is she wants to be uncancelled just for keeping her harmful beliefs, and I think most people don’t want to put any work into redemption.

    So let’s see if people commit to redemption and still get shut down. I’m sure some people won’t be forgiving but I bet it’ll split the “cancel culture” at least 50/50 among people who are zero tolerance and people who want to support growth.

  75. Well psychic_hits, I think when they were casting actors to play aliens they’re not thinking of the skin being the same color, they’re just casting…cause it’s not like an appliance has a real “color,” it’s all painted anyway. So I do know what you mean, but most of a Ferengi face is covered anyway, and as I recall Klingons weren’t all the same color…they were all different shades, Worf was very dark but you had light ones. Then you had Duras who basically was a dark as Worf but played by a white guy. So I’m not AGAINST what you mean per se, just that I think once you involve heavy prosthetic makeup, you’re getting into something else.

    I do think Rowling is getting sort of a bum deal…she’s not like the KKK trying to deny someone to exist. But biology is biology. I worked for quite a time in Baltimore and knew a lot of transgender people, and worked with them a lot when a lot of other people would ask me how could I do that, I was like go fuck yourself about that shit. But you can chop off a penis and add a vagina and do al of this stuff, but you can’t change the underlying psyiology. The coolest Transgender I knew was like six and a half feet tall and carried huge amounts of equipment…starting off as a man gave her a certain advantage in that aspect the average woman would get (not that a lot of men are that tall). You look at that woman who was a man who fought in the MMA, she was DESTROYING people, because in the end, still kind of a man. Same with a transgender who was running in races, destroyed all the women over and over. There’s some natural strength advantage. Not to say there aren’t plenty of strong women, there are small women who could put a dude down EASILY.

    So do they feel threatened and attacked? Yeah, and a lot of times rightfully so, there are people looking to deny them all kind of rights or even kill them. The whole bathroom controversy was the dumbest fucking conversation ever, there have been more attacks by old Republican dudes in bathrooms than transgenders…give gives a shit if they use whatever bathroom or want to get married so they can share benefits like everyone else? But at the same time, not everything is a real attack either. I mean my dad was certain for a fact that Obama was going to rise the Third Reich and now he’s certain that in Biden wins it’s going to be socialism and Republicans will be hunted. From fucking Joe Biden? That dude basically IS a a Republican.

    But everyone wants to get on social media and screech about everything all the time, it’s ridiculous.

  76. burningambulance can you post the URL of that link? I can’t click on it.

  77. Muh – I actually couldn’t click it either for some reason, but I did a google for “nytimes da 5 bloods” and it was the first result.

  78. Ah, perfect Google search Kurgan, thanks! I shall check that out.

  79. Muh, I truly believe one day we’ll be past “biology is biology.” Sports leagues may have to figure out how to classify trans athletes because of the hormones they take and other factors related to transition, but that will hopefully occur in the spirit of normalizing trans people.

    Rowling isn’t talking about biological advantage in sports. She’s saying it’s dangerous if someone without a uterus or vagina is called a woman. When it has no bearing on her anyway. She’s a cis woman, how does it compromise her if more people are allowed into the spectrum of women?

    It’s actually dangerous to deny them because it supports all the trans violence that occurs.

  80. I think there’s a reasonable place in this world to say a trans person is not a genuine woman cause yeah…she doesn’t have a uterus. But also not be supporting violence on anyone, because humans are still humans.

    I mean I can say that a black guy is a different race than I am, that’s not a go-ahead for some KKK guy to go to their house and burn a cross.

  81. Fred, whatever one’s thoughts on sporting competition, bathrooms, or proper terminology, or about JK Rowling, her political views, her comments, it is a ridiculously irresponsible distortion of word and fact to state or imply that anything she says “supports violence” against transgender people. Not to mention equating it to holocaust denial or the KKK. Do you understand the difference between having discomfort about sharing a bathroom with a transgender person and supporting violence? Do you understand the difference between believing in biological sex as a meaningful distinction and not believing that 6 million Jews were rounded up and murdered? Violence is unacceptable. Equating dissenting views that nowhere support or condone violence in word or implication (and, indeed, which explicitly do the very opposite) is exactly the sort of Orwellian crazy pills double-speaking and slippery slope equating that impedes discourse. The upshot of your message is: Disagree with me on this issue and you support violence and that your actions are tantamount to those of violent crime that would lead to incarceration and/or functionally equivalent to holocaust denial or supporting the KKK.

  82. Skani I think you frankly underestimate the amount of violence and discrimination trans people actually encounter in everyday life. The things Rowling says are exactly the kind of thought processes that lead to denying trans people medical care, assaulting insufficiently “passing” trans folks, and out and out murder. Even as she claims to “love” trans people, she’s telling them that they’re wrong and she’s right and that’s that. That’s not love, it’s arrogance.

  83. Skani, do you understand the correlation between what you consider simple disagreement and what you can agree is irresponsible?

    I understand that the trans community is new to most of cis society because they’ve only recently been able to come out at all. I think denying them that they are the gender they say they are has parallels to all the other forms of prejudice that we fortunately evolved beyond throughout history, but agree to disagree I guess.

  84. I agree that we should respect calling transgender women women. I agree about bathroom rights (that feels like a goofy expression) and non-discrimination protections. I think I probably agree with you on most if not all of the substance of what rights should be afforded to LGBTQ folks and in terms of who to vote for. I disagree with JK Rowling about the bathroom use thing, and I do think trans women are women, in point of fact. But I don’t think that any of those positions or causes benefit from equating JK Rowling’s blog post or tweets to the holocaust or the KKK. It simply fuels the perception that the more vocal segments of online progressive activist culture are off the deep in false equivalences, gross overgeneralizations, and extremely dubious chains of logic. I think it unnecessarily and counter-productively divides progressive voters who fundamentally agree on a lot of the issues — or are at least open on them if still a bit behind the times.

    So, by all means, keep pushing on these things, but I don’t see how equating this to the holocaust or the KKK or saying that JK Rowling is causing or condoning violence is accurate, fair, or pragmatically useful.

    Now, is any of this as bad as any number of things Donald Trump does every day, the ecological crisis, voter disenfranchisement, our militarized and broken police system, the Trump administration’s complete ineptitude and intransigence in the face of the COVID, and the fact that most of the American public seemed to essentially yawn through the whole impeachment process. Of course not, but I don’t really feel like I need to harp on that here, because that’s all generally pretty widely accepted around here.

  85. She’s literally not saying they’re wrong to feel the way they want, but this is a more nuanced issue as I’m sure all of you cis men are talking about. You know reality actually matters. You can declare yourself anything you want, that doesn’t mean it’s true. My pops says Trump isn’t a liar, that doesn’t make THAT true. I hate mentioning this asshole but there was a rapper who declared himself a woman in order to beat the women’s deadlifting recod and did so easily with a lot of extra. Now he did it as a gag, but the example stands.

    And shit this isn’t because I have issues with anyone. Man I used to hang out at a gay club in NY with a hefty number of transgenders, and I was shocked the one day I realized there was one HUGE bathroom for literally everyone to use. Everyone in there doing their business, after the initial “that’s weird” because they didn’t even have a different one for women (that’s how I realized it when a woman walked by me as I was taking a piss), I got over it…when you gotta go you gotta go. So I can say unlike all of those politicians I have actually used a bathroom taking a leak standing right next to gay dudes and transgenders of both sexes and lesbians and a few straights and no one ever tried to touch me, it was all good.

  86. I would not say that trans women are simply trying to assert that they are women and “make it so” by saying it. I do not see it as the same as me saying that I am a tree or saying that I am God and therefore I demand for you to treat me like a tree or like God, simply because I am saying it. I think, like with being gay, it’s about saying that I have this complex constellation of feelings and desires and a sense of who I fundamentally am and am meant to live, and it’s not something I want to change or should change. I should be able to live and be recognized for who I feel I am, and after all, what I am asking for is not much. That is what I feel like Gay people and Trans people (just an analogy, not equating) are saying. Just let me be who I’ve always felt and known I am–I am not hurting anyone, how I feel and identify is not changing and is not something I can or should change or be ashamed of, so, just let me be who I am without shame, hiding, fear, or degradation. And get over your fear that suddenly the bathroom is going to be overrun with pedophiles or circus clowns or whatever the hell it is that people think is going to happen that isn’t already happening.

    Anyway, I don’t subscribe to the view that trans women (and same holds for trans men) are not “real women.” They are real women, but they are different in identifiable historical ways from those born biologically a woman.

    And this does go to practical areas, like, if you are a cis male, do you deserve to know if a woman you are dating was born biologically/anatomically male and in fact was anatomically male until some point in the recent past? I don’t think it makes you a bigot to say that you are not personally comfortable being romantically intimate with a trans woman. So, I think there are some nuances here. For me, it’s not as simple as saying “there is no difference between a trans woman and a cis woman,” but nor am I comfortable with saying that trans women are not “real” women.

  87. Skani – Sorry – I meant the KKK thing as a metaphor. I don’t know of a literal Klansman with a column. But many of these controversies are about people expressing bigoted views against immmigrants, trans people etc. in major newspaper columns and TV shows, being widely condemned for being a fucking asshole, and then the handwringing commences about if it would be censorship for the outlet to stop publishing that type of bullshit. Even though they could still stand on the corner and say it and be told to fuck off, as the Constitution promises.

    Netflix hasn’t pulled Chappelle’s specials, though, right? He made specials that got some bad reviews and some good reviews that mentioned parts they didn’t like. (And I still maintain that physical media is needed if it’s important to maintain access to all media.)

    I agree that there should be room for redemption and forgiveness in the world. But it’s not up to me to decide who’s redeemed for transgressions not against me, and I think we’re all familiar with the insincere apology and attempted comeback. I hope there will be some genuine ones.

    I want to confess that I struggled when I first heard of “they” pronouns. I heard it from one person and I thought, “You can’t be serious.” As trans people have become more visible and vocal in recent years I’ve learned alot from them and of course I should’ve known that first time that I don’t have to understand everything about anybody’s life to know that they deserve respect and empathy and freedom to live life the way they want to. It’s still hard for my brain to remember the pronouns sometimes (I tend to avoid using them, like I do if I’m not sure of somebody’s name). So what? It can be uncomfortable and challenging to face a perspective I’m not familiar with. But sometimes we talk about something like it’s an intellectual argument, not taking into account the people to whom it *has to* be personal and emotional, because it’s their life. Those people getting mad and speaking out shouldn’t be lumped in with prudishness or political correctness.

  88. I’m not saying trans people are saying “make it so” either. But either things mean something, or they don’t. I think someone who transitions from a man to woman or vice versa is whatever they transition to. Fair enough. But no one can say yeah, that’s pure nature right there. Hey maybe nature’s overrated, back in the day you’d get cancer and just fall over dead. I actually think you have it correct the way you put it. And some people might call you a bigot if you would want to know if the woman you’re marrying once was a man.

  89. So let me get this straight. We should back off cancel culture because it prevents people from engaging in debate with perhaps unfavorable ideas. But if Vern brings up the KKK or I point out that Holocaust deniers would also like to have a platform for their beliefs, that’s going too far. Expressing ideas like that are harmful to the nuanced debate.

    I believe ideas like “gender is nuanced and biology has to be considered” will go the way of ideas like “women shouldn’t be able to vote,” “black people and white people shouldn’t marry” or “gay people shouldn’t get married at all.” Those were all just ideas to the people who believed them. Those ideas didn’t go away either. People still believe them even though the laws changed.

    JK Rowling is saying “you may call yourself a woman and feel like a woman but technically you are not a woman.” That is dangerous enough. It is life and death for trans people to be acknowledged as the gender they transitioned to. It is vital to their healthcare which certain administrations would like to deprive them of. So I hope cis people who will never have to endure that will ultimately be able to see beyond their own confusion over reconciling biology with transition. It’s about much more than that to trans people.

  90. Vern, I absolutely agree with all of that. And your’e correct that Netflix has completely stood behind Chappelle. But what I’m saying is that some of these things happening don’t seem much different to me than a hypothetical scenario of Netflix pulling his stuff on grounds that it’s anti-trans.

    And I think Palermo was right that part of the problem is that we’re dealing with all manner of different things in these discussions, from Bill Cosby and R. Kelly and David Chappelle to Trump and Harvey Weinstein and Aziz Ansari and JK Rowling and Louis CK and any number of other things that have been floating around in the ether. It’s a given for me that Fox News and the Blaze and the religious right and pretty much every Republican in any elective office is beyond the pale on another planet of post-fact, racist, dystopian. I have actual people on my Facebook feed who devote most of their time to posting anti-mask-wearing memes and “BLM are the real racists” and all of that shit, and that is just a whole other twisted dimension of unreality that I can’t even hardly engage as meaningful discourse at this stage. It’s like talking to vile chatbots. And, as far as I’m concerned, Louis C.K. and his non-apologies and stuff can go get fucked, too. I thought he was fucking gross even before he got outted, and I think his true colors with his non-apology and his efforts to get back to performing without doing any work or amends or anything. I honestly didn’t think Ansari did much better on that score. That Spike Jonze special of his was such a phoney, performative “I’ve matured” set of choreographed moments that I about threw up in my mouth.

  91. Fred, either you are willfully misreading me and being a troll or you are just not reading me well. I don’t think any major outlet should be giving a KKK person or an Alex Jones a platform. My point is that an old episode of GOLDEN GIRLS in blackface or a cringey Jimmy Fallon impersonation of Chris Rock (that was intended as homage but just a very bad — and unfunny — miscalculation) or JK Rowling’s blog is on no planet in the same solar system as the KKK or the holocaust.

    If you want to view any cis male who is uncomfortable about the prospect of being physically intimate with a trans woman as a benighted bigot who deserves to have scorn heaped upon them not merely in 100 years from now, retroactively, but now, proactively, that is your prerogative.

  92. The “they” thing I’m not sure if I’m getting over. Sorry. but identifying as several people is mental illness. I was actually reading an article a few weeks ago about some fellow, I think he was discriminated against or something. And it kept referring to “they wrote a letter,” or “they talked and were upset” and I was like who the fuck is they? This article doesn’t make sense. And then at some point in the middle of the article the author said this person identifies as a group. And I was like Jesus fucking Christ, now I can’t even understand what ought to be basic writing.

    I mean it’s like if three guys wanted to fight with me in a bar and some three foot tall dude’s like no problem, I have eight strong muscular dudes who will back you up and then he said he was all of them, you’re about to have a real bad fucking day, because words actually mean something.

    Unless any of you want to argue that waterboarding isn’t torture because Bush and his lawyers said it wasn’t!

  93. I’m coming across as angry, which I’m not, and conflating points which is uhelpful so I apologize.

    My belief is that streaming services pulling episodes is reactionary, but also subscribers are not entitled to have complete seasons should the service choose not to provide them.

    I did not realize we were talking about being intimate with trans people. I thought we were talking about trans people playing sports and being acknowledged as their trans gender publicly. I’ve never dated a trans woman so I cannot confirm that I would be as open to her as I hope I might be. But who you date is your own private business. I wouldn’t judge that, but when people say they have a hard time wrapping their head around trans people because of biology and other nuances, it just makes me sad. Sad because it’s not about the cis people. It will never impact the cis person (unless they choose to date a trans person or not as Skani pointed out, which I would acknowledge is a private preference irrelevant to the public discourse). So why do the trans people have to make cis people comfortable with them? Why did black people have to make white people comfortable around them? Why did gay people, etc.? But all I’m saying is it makes me sad. It doesn’t make me hate Skani or Muh.

    I feel free speech means people are as free to express disapproval as the original poster was to express their controversial viewpoint in the first place. And companies are free to choose what sort of people they want to have represent their business, and publishers are free to decide who they want to give air to. It seems like a lot of people are complaining their free speech isn’t being welcomed with open arms, and that was never part of the bargain.

    I seem to recall when Griff started expressing his ideas that some of this feminist stuff was anti-male, many people on this board decided that wasn’t just a different idea. We were worried for Griff and tried to show him why he was going down a dangerous road, that would harm himself more than anyone else. It didn’t work, and it usually doesn’t because we all know it takes time to change the essence of a man (or woman). But I think that was the correct and healthy use of free speech, to push back on dangerous views (in this case, powerful right wing voices that were corrupting an innocent Griff). I believe J.K. Rowling is using her platform to amplify dangerous views, but that’s my prerogative to reply to her or use my smaller platform to counter hers. I’m not asking anyone else to follow suit.

  94. Well, it sounds like we agree on a lot. I would agree with virtually everything you just said about trans folks, and I have already said that I fully stand for pretty much everything I’m aware of that is on the trans people’s radical godless communist Islamic ANTIFA agenda. Trans women are women (there, I said it, again!), they should be able to use women’s bathrooms, there is no reason to fear them, there should be no aggressive attempts to change them, pathologize them, or imply that they are not “real” women. Transitioning procedures should be fully covered by healthcare plans. Etc. Abuse, violence, harassment, online, offline, etc.: wrong. Dave Chappelle’s jokes about them: tacky at best.

    I have to confess that I did not originally pay adequately close attention to JK Rowling specifically taking a stand against trans bathroom rights — I missed that part. I read it more in terms of her being uncomfortable with trans folks aggressively pushing on semantics and seeing certain biological characteristics or experiences as important to many women’s sense of womanhood, and concerns about people actually being pushed prematurely to embrace transitioning or something. Basically, a middle-aged woman in throes of rapid social-cultural change who doesn’t relate to all of it, it makes her anxious, and she has some real questions or issues. I don’t think all of those questions or concerns are just obviously evil and sickening and dangerous, even if I do strongly disagree on the bathroom thing, don’t share her particular energy in this direction, and I would strongly uphold trans rights and equality and sensitivity, as per above. At the same time, I do think her views warrant at least some good faith engagement, even if it’s in systematically rebutting them. I don’t detect a classically bigoted or demagogue-ish or otherwise old school reactionary quality in her post overall though, and I don’t think it’s helpful to lump her in with this large mass of baddies.

    Now, as for the “they” thing. I mean, when I first heard about that, it was a little jarring, because it seems to literally eliminate the singular first-person, and now we’re talking about a person not only as though they were multiple people but also talking about them in third-person and basically eliminating first- and second-person in those discussions. Is that right? I think that just seemed strange. Again, I don’t think I’d go so far as Muh here, but it is definitely a different way of communicating. Could be an adventure I suppose. They are still organizing their thoughts on that one.

  95. Ha ha, could you imagine a nice big Thanksgiving dinner where 20 people made reservations and then four actual people showed up because they each identified as a group and you’re like “goddammit I made three whole turkeys for this.”

  96. Skani, we also agree Aziz Ansari’s apology seemed a big vague and performative. I would have liked him to address the specific woman more, but women seemed to be happy with his self-reflection so who am I to demand more. It’s more than most people have been willing to take on publicly.

    I don’t actually know if Rowling has said something about bathrooms. She HAS expressed concern that kids are being forcibly transitioned. That strikes me as dangerous to trans kids who need that transition as soon as possible. The thing really blew up when she defended a visiting fellow at a British institute who took a stand against defining trans women as women. Then she started objecting to other studies that distinguished “people with uteruses.”

    It’s also sad because we can see how this plays out. This doesn’t end with J.K. Rowling convincing trans people they’ve been abused and it doesn’t end with Rowling convincing health and government to go back to old gender norms. At best it may end with Rowling evolving and understanding gender better, but that seems unlikely as she’s not really interested in that.

  97. Okay, thanks for the dialogue. Sorry for excessive pugilism or verbosity. I’ll tap out here, and others can pick up the baton or talk about Ike Turner or Mel Gibson or Charlize Theron or some other tangentially MAD MAX-ish stuff. Peace and love.

  98. I have a few friends that use “they”, and it makes ‘em happy so who am I to say otherwise?

    I also think it’s worth pointing out that “they” as a gender-neutral singular pronoun has been in use for hundreds of years (e.g. “oh the bank called today honey” “oh yeah? What’d they want?” Or “let’s ask the patient if they’d like some water”, just as a couple off-the-dome not terribly great examples). This is just a slight evolution of the grammatical principal, not some brand new concept.

    It can definitely get a little confusing in writing, but I’d usually blame that more on the writer. Like, is it really that much different than when I’m reading a paragraph about three dudes and they all get referred to as “he” and I lose track of who’s saying what?

  99. Anyway yeah FACE/OFF is Woo’s American masterpiece and I’ll defend it to the DEATH.

  100. Kurgan, a bank refers to an institution, and if you called back and they asked who called you so they can transfer you and you said “the bank” they might prefer you to be more specific.

    But eventually we’ll get to a place where they call in to a hospital and tell them to get ready for a patient who’s dying from a big car accident so they get one bed ready, but it turns out it’s 28 people and they all think of themselves as a singular person, except that will never happen because at some point we hit reality.

  101. Yes, that’s why it’s hard for me, because it is both the genderless term and the plural term. I wish there was a separate one. But if it’s what somebody wants then you try to do it, and if you can’t pull it off you at least avoid using incorrect pronouns for them. I don’t like people calling me “boss” and they don’t like me calling them “he.” Just be respectful of people. I accepted Prince changing his name to a symbol. I call him Malcolm X and not Malcolm Little. And Wez is a bad person but wearing the football pads and mohawk was a cool form of expression. Also the guy in THUNDERDOME who has the mask up over his head. I like colorful people and people who dare to be true to themselves. I want to celebrate them.

  102. If someone wants to be called they I really don’t see why it’s so hard to do what they ask. We can work through a little grammar confusion (I’m pretty sure you can tell from the context if a they is referring to a single person or multiples. If not, asking how many people they is adds 5 whole seconds to the conversation, then it’s settled.)

    Is being asked to learn a new word really that big of an inconvenience? I don’t expect people to get used to it instantly. It can be a work in progress. I just don’t get the resistance to it, like, “No, that’s my line in the sand. I’m not going to stop using he/she.”

    I just think about all the things LGBTQ people have to deal with. They’re discriminated. They’re shut out of health care (issues with same sex spouses and trans people), they can’t enlist, the government literally wants to misgender them (this whole gender you’re born with nonsense), they have to correct people every day about who they are and what they want… On top of this they have to BEG to be called they too. I can’t change most of those things alone, but one thing I can give them is “they.”

  103. Right. This was made most clear to me in grad school, when one of my fellow students who was African American was very clear about this preference for that label, and another was very clear about her preference for being called black. At the time, as someone relatively fresh off the rural American boat, my initial reaction was, like, oh, this is so hard, and I have to keep all this stuff straight, and everything I say is going to offend somebody, and I can’t win, and woe is me. And it’s just like, it’s not really that hard or that big of a deal, and it’s an invitation to understand people and their story or how they seem themselves and can be an invitation to get to know people better and connect. I don’t really care for the term “white fragility,” but it actually fits that mindset pretty well. I don’t want to be called a racist or corrected or be construed as insensitive, and this is just such an unreasonable burden, y’all. In the glass case of emotion.

    Anyway, in his case, he had a very strong Afrocentric kind of identity and took a lot of pride in that cultural heritage and history and understanding not just the black experience in America but the African experience running so far beyond and before that, all this great history and culture to draw from and explore and stand on. Sort of like the vibe of how Wakanda was realized. In contrast, he associated “black” with maybe a more American white person view, like “blacks want this” or something or just being defined in contrast to or relationship to whiteness vs. being defined by your own unique cultural heritage, ancestors, etc.

    In her case, she just felt like “black” was punchier, starker, stronger, and she connected it to badass things like “black power” or the black panthers or whatever. In contrast, she kind of found “African American” too foofy and academicky, pretentious, clunky with too many syllables or something. Didn’t like how it rolled off the tongue or what it connoted for her.

    At the end of the day, they both had their reasons, each was personal and had its own inner logic to it that I could appreciate it. It didn’t cost me much to learn, and it also taught me that there is plenty of diversity within people who might identify or be identified by the same demographic category. We can get really caught up in being abstractly right vs. being in relationship, which I think is the tough part about the internet and social media. There is inevitably an impersonal, limited-context and performative quality about it that loses that “on some level we are two human beings who have a lot of stuff in common and can learn from how we’re different.” A cliche, but it’s true.

    That is where i was coming from when I said the “they” thing — or whatever pet preference your interlocutor may have — can be an adventure. Just like Muh’s bathroom adventure. There’s something about actual embodied human contact and interaction that can break through a lot of bullshit and parsing of talking points, takedowns, and burnishing one’s identity.

  104. That’s a beautiful story, Skani.

  105. It’s interesting that a big ass non sequitur discussion about cancel culture is going on on a Mel Gibson movie and no one is talking about Mel. Personally, he was one of those celebrity’s revealed to be a horrible person that really hurt. Some you can just say huh and move on. He was one that I was very much disappointed in for not being what his image purported him to be.

    He’s also a good example that most celebrities don’t really face repercussions as they should. There was maybe a slight hiccup in his career but he has since been in a family friendly Will Ferrell comedy for chrissakes.

    Maybe that’s as it should be. I don’t know. He wasn’t convicted of any crime, so if people still want to see his work, I guess it’s up to them. I haven’t been able to watch any of his recent stuff and I get a little bit of a pit in my stomach watching his older stuff, some of which were movies I previously loved, so I tend to avoid them. It makes me sad.

  106. People going by ‘they’, for the most part, do not ‘identify as multiple people.’ They just don’t want to be identified, for one reason or another, as ‘he/him’ or ‘she/her.’ I don’t know what article you read, Muh, but my guess is you misunderstood what you were reading. It’s possible you didn’t — there are wacky individuals who self-identify as all sorts of outlandish stuff, tumblr used to famously be a hotbed for it — but I strongly suspect you did, since ‘they’ has been an increasingly common pronoun for several years now and what you’re describing would be anomalous. Your jokes about bar fights and Thanksgiving dinners and your seemingly credulous hypothetical about a hospital are bizarre and out of step with what’s going on.

    Yes, the ‘singular they’ is grammatically jarring. Like Vern, I initially balked at it myself. Ultimately, though, it’s really not that complicated, or hard to deal with, or get used to.

  107. I get anxious about this topic coming up over and over again, but this has been a good talk. I love all you guys. Thank you for taking the time to comment here. Also check out THUNDERDOME.

  108. And that’s a good point, Maggie – a million years ago I wrote a column arguing what Gibson had to do to be forgiven, and lots of fans got mad that I would criticize him at all. The larger world was angry at him, but it turned out he didn’t have to do anything except maybe lay low for a while. He did lose a part in a HANGOVER sequel and BLOOD FATHER (which I think is really good and plays like the closest thing to an apology from him) barely got released, but he was still able to get an Oscar nomination after that.

    I’m sorry you aren’t able to enjoy some of his movies anymore. I’ve for some reason been good about separating the art from the artist in this case. But it boggles my mind how many people try to tell me “What? He just got drunk. He didn’t mean it.”

  109. Skani has done a great job of expressing my opinions.

    I know lot of people here listen to Ice Cube, and listen to him. What do you think of his long history of anti-antisemitism? I don’t know if he is genuinely like that, or if he just wants to rile up people. But that shouldn’t matter. Are you ok if Spotify and other instances start removing his songs, and Twitter deletes his account, due to his recent anti-semitist remarks in there?

    I’m asking this, because censorship should be equal to all kinds of bigotry, if it is used. It would seem rather hypocritical to claim otherwise.

  110. Regarding Netflix’s censoring of BTTF 2, it doesn’t matter if they did it themselves, or if they bought a censored version. It’s the same thing – Censoring happened anyway, and it was shown in Netflix.

    As for Vern’s comment about racism and immigrants. I haven’t been called racist or Islamophobic, largely due to the fact that I do self-censoring (Also, I’m neither), but here in Finland it’s pretty normal that you are accused of bigotry if you bring up the ridiculous sex crime rates among our ever-growing refugee population. This is an issue where I have personal feelings, as I know many women and girls you have been raped (So do all of you, even if you might not know it).

    Iraqi’s for example commit rape 15 times more than Finnish-born people. But it someone says that aloud, you are accused of being racist and Islamophobic. This happens *all the time*. Practically it has lead to a situation where newspapers are rather careful to not to mention refugee-related crime. It has lead to a situation where for example if a police is looking for a rapist, they can’t publicly say that the perpetrator looks black, or looks like an Arab. It would be considered racist, even if it would help a great deal to catch the criminal, due to the rather small population of blacks and arabs.

    Obviously, this doesn’t mean that or refugees or muslims, or arabs or blacks are rapist. It’s just a small percentage of population. But there shouldn’t be censorship concerning issues like this, as it will make things more difficult to girls and women who are raped.

    Laws isn’t the only thing that matters. It’s obviously the most important thing that matters, when it comes freedom of speech. But if there is big amount of non-law censorship, it’s still censorship. And when the acceptance of censorship becomes a consensus, THEN you can change the laws as well. Here in Finland there are already politicians who are trying to push “improved” hate speech laws, that basically say that it should be illegal to disagree with them. It’s illegal to elicit to violence against a group of people – Which seems like a sensible hate speech law to me. But a lot of people want make the definition a lot more loose than that. They haven’t been able to do it successfully – YET – but things might change. That’s where we are heading right now.

    UK has several examples of where this kind of thinking can lead. Aguably worst example is Telford: An estimated 1000 underage girls were sexually abused, raped, gang-raped, forced to prostitution, and even murdered, yet the police didn’t want to investigate. Why? Basically because they thought it would be racist. The thing is still under investigation, as the police force is still hesitant to investigate. A lot of sourced information has been removed from the Wikipedia page since the last time I read it, for some reason (I think I could guess the reason). But it’s still intact, more more or less:

  111. Spotify just removed a few days ago a German rapper for being a Nazi asshole and honestly, even if it’s Ice fucking Cube, I would be okay with them or Twitter doing the same. I don’t know what exactly he recently said, but it’s 2020 and Nazis ideologies are becoming more and more mainstream again, so there is really no excuse to say shit, that already lead to a damn holocaust, without facing any repercussions.

  112. The Telford thing was an obvious case of “We got caught not doing our job, so we’ll blame it on P.C. culture.” I mean, seriously. The cops let sexual assaults go on under their noses for years, and they say it’s because they were afraid of being called racist?

  113. Matthew, there are MANY case like that in Britain. Always for the same reason. You can google them. Try not to paint this as something it is not. We can go into a detailed argument about this, but you will lose. I would prefer to not debate something that is obvious and well-researched.

  114. Also, I mentioned similar things happening here in Finland. We can debate about that as well, but you will lose again. I would recommend not trying to debate about something you are obviously clueless about.

  115. Looks like my Telford comment is being held up? Anyhow, as to the BACK TO THE FUTURE II thing, I’m at a loss to see how it’s Netflix’s fault. They asked for the movie, Universal accidentally sent them an edited print meant for Singapore or somewhere, and as soon as they found out about the problem, they fixed it.

    Honestly, these kinds of screw-ups are often nice. The Disney+ version of MELODY TIME is the full-length one where scenes with cigarettes are intact, though they’d been cut from most physical releases. And streaming seems to be the only way (except for a German Blu-Ray?) to get the theatrical edit of THE WARRIORS.

  116. Tuukka: Aha, my comment’s showing now. What exactly is your argument? That the police failures in Telford and elsewhere were primarily because the cops were terrified of being called racist, and not, say, because they were dismissive of crime reports from working-class women? If so, then yeah, that’s bullshit. I don’t care how many Daily Mail columns say otherwise.

  117. Matthew, you said that “The Telford thing was an obvious case of “We got caught not doing our job, so we’ll blame it on P.C. culture.” “. So you said that the cops at Telford accused P.C culture for not doing their job. Do you still stand by that statement? If you do, please provide evidence of police doing that.

    I can provide evidence to the contrary.

  118. Also, why on earth would Netflix order a censored version of Back To The Future 2 from Singapore to show it? That’s not how Netflix operates. I would be interested in seeing a link, as Google wasn’t of any help.

  119. Looking up Mel’s filmography one of his films in post-production is WALDO. Hopefully, this is the gritty, Todd Phillips-esque take on Waldo\Wally’s nemesis we’ve all been waiting for.

  120. Oh wait, that would be called ODDLAW wouldn’t it? One day

  121. Tuukka: I’m confused. You said above that “the police didn’t want to investigate. Why? Basically because they thought it would be racist.” But if you now want an exterior source repeating the claims that you already made yourself, I suppose you could try here:

    Ex-cop warned chiefs about Telford child abuse after murder but nothing was done

    EXCLUSIVE: Former detective constable Steve Williams was one of many officers who raised the alarm about child sex exploitation by a network of Asian men in the 'worst ever' child abuse scandal

    “The officer fears police were less robust in their approach for fear of being accused of racism. The cop adds: ‘I’m not aware there was ever any further inquiry and I wondered if ethnicity had anything to do with it. When white men were reported for similar crimes they were thoroughly investigated.'” I saw several similar comments from British police when these stories were current (though they might not all have been from Telford).

    It makes a good excuse. I might even believe it from a local councillor, say, who didn’t want to offend constituents. But if you really want to know why the cops ignored these cases in Telford and elsewhere, I think Margaret Oliver’s experiences are pretty instructive. Short version: The police were contemptuous of the victims, and didn’t believe their stories.

  122. (Separate post because I’m not sure that three links in one comment would go through. Embedding URLs here is always a crap shoot.)

    Netflix didn’t order a censored version of BACK TO THE FUTURE II. As I said before, Universal accidentally sent them some kind of foreign edit.

    'Back to the Future' Writer Asks Universal to Destroy Censored Version of Sequel

    Bob Gale says neither he nor director Robert Zemeckis knew the Netflix-streamed version existed.

  123. Well, that clears the BFFT 2 issue.

    But otherwise, I don’t see anything that would contradict my statement concerning British rape / forced prostitution issues. Care to point out what exactly contradicts them? I read the links you posted. They SUPPORT my claim. When police officers themselves admit that crimes committed by white people were better investigated, than crimes committed by Pakistani’s, then it’s pretty obvious that this is the case?

    I don’t think I even have to find links now, as you kinda did it for me.

  124. Couple things. First: No matter what that police source says, assaults on working-class women and prostitutes are often not “thoroughly investigated,” even when the attackers are white.

    Second: But yeah, he has a point! Ethnicity was a factor here! Ask yourself this, though. What’s the main way that it hindered the police work: (a) The cops knew very little about a community that was already suspicious of them, and were uninterested in learning more; or (b) the cops were afraid of being called racist?

  125. Damn, THUNDERDOME is great film!

  126. Obviously a lot of sex crimes, and crimes in general, are not properly investigated. But that’s not the point here.

    I’ve read numerous comments from police similar to what you quoted. The thing is, I see it as a proof that race played a factor in this, as the police themselves admit so. You seem to be using it as a proof that this is not the case.

    This is something I can’t really debate about. The more proof I would offer, the more you will take it as a proof that it didn’t happen. So we just have to agree to disagree.

    Here in Helsinki there was a recent case of a serial bush-rapist. I say “serial”, as two women reported the crime. Nobody knows what the actual number of victims is, as most women don’t report even bush-rape. When police was looking for information about the rapist, they reported that they are looking for a male, who spoke english. That’s it. Rapist wasn’t caught. When he eventually was caught via DNA evidence, it turned out that he looked like an arab (Iraqi), was a man in his early 30’s, and had black hair and a black beard. Those are very distinctive features here in Finland, as we don’t have many people looking like that.

    But police didn’t report those things, as they would have played into a racist stereotype. And there was no uproar about this, barely anyone noticed, because it’s how things work nowadays. It has become something of a joke, that if a police doesn’t tell the characteristics of a wanted criminal, you can automatically assume he looks like a racist stereotype. But the thing is, if police intentionally sabotages its own investigations, they are endangering the public. This is not acceptable.

    So if Finnish police is willing to sabotage criminal investigations due to fear of coming off as racist, I have no doubt that British police is capable of doing the same.

  127. Tuukka: I’m not taking the police quotations as “proof that this is not the case.” I’m taking it as proof that the police made comments about it, as you seemed to be disputing this a while back. Now you’re not. No worries.

    The evidence of what actually went wrong in these investigations can be found in stories like DC Margaret Oliver’s, linked above, or in Sara Rowbotham’s. Misogyny and indifference played a much bigger role than fear of cancel culture.

    I exposed the Rochdale scandal – Three Girls should be a catalyst for progress | Sara Rowbotham

    The new BBC drama made me cry. A national debate about child protection should follow, with emphasis on building resilient, confident communities

    (And yeah, THUNDERDOME is great.)

  128. Matthew, I was partially going to use comments from police as proof that race played a part. It never occurred to me this couldn’t be used as a proof. If I can’t use statements from police as proof, and this would also be the case for independent journalistic research, then there isn’t anything I can say. Regardless for what I would use as a proof, you could simply say that they are using excuses, or making things up. There is no discussion/debate to be had here.

  129. Yeah, I can’t really enjoy Mel Gibson as a straight ahead leading man, everyman, family man, good guy anymore. At best he can work for me in roles as a leathery, greasy, world-weary, morally compromised, broken down guy. Which seem like more or less what he is. For some reason, he ranks above Louis C.K. in the rogues gallery of cancelled or quasi-cancelled entitled creep jerks, but not much better. Some indication of personal growth and repentance would be helpful, especially for someone who spent the early 2000s posturing as one of Hollywood’s brave Christian voices or whatever.

    Ice Cube has a long history of anti-semitism, and, of course, so does Louis Farrakhan, who comes to mind as another powerful black voice who was particularly influential in the 1990s but whose pro-blackness was undermined by the accompanying anti-semitism. All of this stuff has a pretty complex history that I don’t fully understand. I think Ice Cube is maybe into some weird conspiracy theories, plus, there *is* a strong Jewish presence in the entertainment industry, and so, I think maybe Ice Cube has felt that certain stereotypes about Jews match his personal (confirmation bias-y) experiences. In any case, this is why I always shake my head when I hear someone say that African Americans can’t be racist (which I’m pretty sure is something Kevin Powell said to Eric Nies in Season 1 of the REAL WORLD). Really?

    Anti-semitism is an interesting one, because Jewish folks have obviously gone through a ton of hellish shit as a people, and yet they’ve been pretty successful in the American class system going way back, as far as income, white collar jobs, and representation at the top of financial, entertainment, and other sectors. So, it’s a different kind of minority experience that Jews have had in America.

    How income varies among U.S. religious groups

    Members of some religious groups on average have a higher household income than others, and those in the richest groups tend to be highly educated.

  130. I’ve also heard many people say that “blacks can’t be racist”, which I find ridiculous. I’ve travelled a lot in Africa, and there are certainly a lot of places, where blacks are openly racist towards other races, including white people. Same goes for Asia. In a lot of places they are very racist towards white people.

    I love Japan, Japanese people and Japanese culture, but damn they are racist. I know a guy there who’s father is caucasian, and he has a lot of trouble in his life simply because he is only half-Japanese. To tourists the racism can seem pretty invisible, as Japanese people are very polite. But if you live there, and especially if you try to work there, it can be very difficult. The guy will always be labeled as “not one of us”. Building a career in Japan as a white person is much, much more difficult than building a career as a black person in America. Probably even harder in there if you are black, thought. Then again, some Japanese girls really love big black men, so that’s a plus.

    Still a great country, despite the inherent racist attitudes.

  131. I was able to compartmentalize Gibson’s shittiness for a long time because it didn’t seem to bleed into his work. I was able to use Franchise Fred’s “His movies are about the hero he aspires to be, not the villain he is” approach, which allows him to keep watching Seagal movies. I could pretend Gibson was a broken man trying and often failing to claw his way out of the cage of prejudice and anger his upbringing locked him in. Then DRAGGED OVER CONCRETE came out and I realized he’s not trying to get better. He’s leaning into it now. That whole movie felt like one big dog whistle to the only audience not repulsed by his history: right-wing shitheads who see anyone getting away with being hurtful to any minority group as a moral victory. I’m not okay with that. I’m not saying I’m never gonna watch LETHAL WEAPON again but I think I might pass on any new product for a while. He’s still a great actor but it’s hard to trust the motivation of any filmmaker who casts him.

  132. I do think the point is valid that we can let the media narrative set the agenda for what we’re outraged about and who we’re cancelling, and then we kind of pile on, and the result is some inconsistency (i.e., inequity, injustice) in how we adjudicate these things.

    As I’ve mentioned, Ice Cube does have a history of anti-semitism going at least back to the 1990s, and since the N.W.A. chunk of my brain is lighting up, Dr. Dre has that history of abuse and violence with Dee Barnes and Michel’le. On the plus side, at least Dr. Dre did publicly own and apologize for that, finally, when he needed to sell the NWA biopic. And it’s similar with R. Kelly, where the public was able to largely forgive and forget all that shit with him for the 2000s until his latest fresh round of cancellation. The main thing I take away from that is that we tend to allow ourselves to be led around by the nose in terms of what we are told to be outraged about and what we are told to look the other way on. Then something garners more attention for some reason, and people tend to pile on a bit. But the net effect is that we might find ourselves condemning one person at one point while continuing to tolerate another person doing very similar things in “plain sight” (i.e., this stuff is on the record for anyone who wants to pay attention).

    The Chappelle example is another one. He has had his moments of getting dragged for being anti-trans, but none of it has really stuck, and he still seems to be held in very high regard. I don’t think he’s gotten it nearly as bad as JK Rowling, though he can retreat to the “it’s just jokes, man” posture, whereas JK Rowling is practically writing position papers over there.

    In any case, it would be great to see a more restorative form of justice where we see people actually sit down and work through their stuff and own it, and then there is some healing that happens. People tend to be motivated by ego (fear, insecurity, power-seeking, image-burnishing) and greed, so, it’s only natural that they will avoid facing up to their pasts until they absolutely have to, and that they will generally operate from a defensive position, because they feel they have a lot to lose by being honest and vulnerable — and often they’re right. Still, at least Dre did end up publicly owning his stuff, even if it did feel calculated and a little cynical. I thought that Devin Faraci thing on PBS was a better model. Closer to the “truth and reconciliation commission” concept. Our justice system (legal and cultural/psychological) has a hard time getting beyond retribution to achieve other objectives. And who wants to experience retribution, even if they “deserve it” on some level?

  133. I wouldn’t say his career hasn’t suffered at all though. Compare his career to Tom Cruise, or perhaps Robert Redford or other actors\creatives who had similar career trajectories and status prior to 2006. Granted, he did get to make HACKSAW RIDGE, but he isn’t in it, and I suspect it helped that it’s set during the near-automatic Oscar nomination period of history, and I suspect even that would not happen now (or at least not get nominated).

    I’m not saying he has or hasn’t faced sufficient consequences, but there have been consequences, even if it’s at no more than the base level of mass audiences not wanting to see him any more.

    In retrospect it was a very Todd Phillips move to try to cast Gibson in HANGOVER II when his public profile was at its lowest.

  134. With DRAGGED ACROSS CONCRETE, I thought the film ultimately portrayed Gibson as a piece of shit, basically casting him as what you hope he isn’t in real life. For me, the film did not portray him as awesome or heroic. It portrayed Tory Kittles and Jai White as much more winning characters. I do agree that Zahler is an an anti-woke edgelord who is “not political” in the sense of “I do not overtly identify as Republican but these SJWs are the worst and poor Mel gets a bad rap and I would never vote for a Democrat.” But I don’t think the film is racist (if anything, BONE TOMAHAWK is more racist), and I don’t think the film portrays Gibson as the hero or even the cool anti-hero. He’s a failed, racist asshole.

  135. Of course police comments are evidence. But when the testimony of victims, social workers, and even other police like Margaret Oliver says that there were more plausible reasons for their investigative failures, it’s probably wise to take that into account.

    Mel Gibson, now — for a while there, he looked like he was trying to clean up his act. His first post-exile movie was the EDGE OF DARKNESS remake, left-wing and anti-militarist, which in retrospect might have been a bit of cynical calculation on his part. I still liked it. Nowadays, yeah, he doesn’t care. I was surprised when the Winona Ryder story resurfaced last month, ten years after the world collectively decided not to care about it, but I doubt it’ll kill his career this time either. We’ll see. Maybe it’ll be like John Wayne’s Playboy interview, where each new generation gets to discover it and be shocked by the racism all over again.

    I’m with Mr. M., though. I don’t think I’ll be paying to see him in anything new. He’s still magnetic, but he used to play characters, and now when he’s on screen at least a little of the performance is Mel Gibson, The Edgy Jew-Hater.

  136. I think PacMan is maybe right that Gibson has experienced some fallout, though on the other hand, it’s tough to distinguish that from what most other middle-aged one-time-A-listers are going through. For example, the trailer for that Puerto Rico hurricane movie with Mel Gibson is a pretty depressing comment on the type of role he is willing to take on right now, which speaks to limited other prospects (and, also, it is tone deaf about Puerto Rico, underscoring other concerns about Gibson). However, John Travolta, Nic Cage, and even sometimes Stallone and Schwarzenegger spend a fair amount of time now in quickie, lower-budged VoD/DTV joints, and they aren’t on record saying super-racist stuff and generally ugly stuff in the last 10 years, so, I think a lot of that can be chalked up to aging and the film market these days.

  137. I like Thunderdome. I think reference the film a few times a week due to how memorable the Thunderdome part is. In fact my group chat for people living in our house is called Beyond the Thunderdome. Plus the Tina Turner theme still slaps.

    Oh and the scene in 30 Rock where the fireworks won’t spin so they look like swastika’s is hilarious and as a Jew I find it hilarious but do you think they should take down that scene?

  138. I have given a lot of thought for why in Finland the nation is so divided nowadays. Probably quite similar to USA, and many other Western countries. This is my personal conclusion, and not really backed up by anything in Finnish media, as it’s not a topic that is actually discussed:

    I think the current divided climate in mainly thanks to political power games. Politicians want to exploit and strengthen “Us Vs. Them” way of thinking, as it will give them easy votes. The word “racist” for example gets thrown around a lot in here, in politics, and usually in a context that has nothing to do with the actual meaning of the word. But it’s an easy way to paint someone in a negative light – Because who wants to side with a racist? And it will unite your base into a witch hunt.

    And of course it goes vice versa as well. We have a big populist party in here – One of the biggest parties
    – who’s main platform is to be anti-refugee and anti-immigration. That’s really their main play. And refugees or immigrants are not really that big of an issue here, they are blowing it way out of proportion. It *could* become a serious issue in the long run, as there are some serious integration issues with the refugee population – Much less so with the immigrants, who just come here to work, and do a pretty good job at it. But things like racially and religiously oriented ghetto’s are still a long way off in here.

    I think that most people in here don’t get it. They completely buy into the Us Vs. Them mentality, and do witch hunts on both sides, instead of actual discussion. They don’t realize that they are being manipulated, by both sides.

    One rather unfortunate result is that the words “racism” and “racist” are being diminished at a fast rate. When they get thrown around in arbitrary contexts, usually devoid of the actual, original meanings of the words, people get confused what they are supposed to mean in the first place. It leads to a lot that people getting puzzled when somebody calls them racist, as they don’t identify as racists at all, for completely logical reasons. So as a result a lot of people don’t give a shit about those words anymore, as they are just empty words used to demonize others for illogical reasons.

    That’s why I think it’s dangerous to use those words without proper context, simply to demonize others for whatever reason. It will HURT anti-racist agenda in the long term, as the word itself becomes meaningless. A lot of people trying to achieve short-term gain don’t seem to realize this. Or maybe they do, but they just don’t give a shit. Probably more likely that way.

    I have become disillusioned by the Finnish politics to an extent, that I don’t really want to vote in parliamentary elections anymore. And this is not only due to refugee issue, it’s everything. Everything gets divided into Us Vs. Them mentality in ridiculous lengths.

    There are a lot of *people* I would like to vote, but our system works in a way that your vote goes first to person, and if he is not elected, it goes to the party. So if you vote a person, your vote can can go to a person you would never want to vote. The only way to have a meaningful person-vote is to vote someone who is guaranteed to go to the parliament. But if he is already guaranteed, why vote? At least the presidential elections are still a person-vote.

    Anyway, this is how I see it. I follow international politics a lot, and it seems to me that you can make the same argument in most Western countries these days.

  139. As for Mel Gibson, I think he is a stupid drunk with serious anger management issues, and some bigoted opinions, but I still watch his movies. He is not even close to being as horrible human being as Roman Polanski, for example. So I guess one place to draw my line is serial child rape.

  140. I will also comment on Thunderdome: It’s been 25 years since I saw the film, but it was my favorite of the original trilogy. I was into science-fiction and fantasy, so I really enjoyed the elaborate world-building, and the mythic quality. I was not aware of how other people felt, so it didn’t affect my opinion in any way. I thought that the whole Thunderdome sequence in particular was amazing. I should probably re-visit the entire trilogy, as I haven’t seen any of them in over 25 years. I never *loved* any of them, but maybe that would change.

  141. Tuuka, if it walks like a duck and talks like a duck it’s probably a duck. You’re using the same rethoric as every other Scandinavian far right group. That’s probably the reason you can’t speak your mind in Finland without being labelled.

  142. In the U.S. at least, a lot of harm comes from the widespread belief that politicians and political parties are “all the same” when it’s clear that their policy actions and implications and general orientation toward science, reason, truth, social safety nets, militarization, international institutions, domestic institutions, obstruction of justice, etc. are just worlds apart. This has all been brewing for some time within the Republican party / Fox News / Rush Limbaugh Twilight Zone, and Trump is just its latest manifestation. He’s like a compute hacker, exposing the flaws in our Republic generally, which are rooted largely in the Republican party and the anti-reason folks it caters but more broadly to the neo-liberal project of failing to invest in robust social safety nets and income equalizing measures. A lot of it comes down to cowardice on the part of liberals who historically have gone along with a lot of Republican bullshit, including and especially Bill Clinton and those who supported the Iraq war and those who pretended that meaningful bi-partisanship can and should be a thing when one of the parties is crazy and evil.

  143. Pegsman, I will gladly accept any logical criticism of my writings. That won’t do it. If you can’t do any better, maybe better not to even try?

  144. Skani, if i were an American, I would obviously vote democrats. I would never vote a guy like Trump, Hillary was all the way my choice. But you have only two options, which is a pretty big failure in my eyes. If libertarians were a real option, I would likely vote them, depending on what kind of a party they would become, if they were bigger. They seem like the closest thing America has to classic liberalism. But me liking libertarians is probably largely due to the fact that they are outsiders on American politics, and not so much part of the “Us Vs. Them” culture.

    In Finland I would embrace a party with classical liberal values, and that would be economically centrist. Which means somewhat leftist by American standards. Democrats are in fact a pretty centrist party by Finnish standards. And a party which would base it’s actions on science and rational thinking. That would be a real deal-breaker for me. We don’t have party like that. We have *people* like that, but the election system makes it hard to vote for people.

  145. Skani- Good point but I will say Travolta, Cage, Stallone and Schwarzenegger weren’t really mass media golden boys like Gibson was in the 90s. Gibson did all the right stuff, making big populist but slick and “respectable” films like LETHAL WEAPON, WHAT WOMEN WANT and could also get Academy and Critic approval (while still getting decent Box Office) from BRAVEHEART etc. Travolta and Cage have both had a handful of well received movies in their careers, and survived by hitting the odd film which strikes the public’s fancy at the time, but their tastes and interests are “weird” and “tacky” to mainstream tastes. Sly, after ROCKY, and Arnie have always only been tolerated as long as they’re making money and there’s always been a weird schadenfreude following them every time they take even a slight fall.

    Of course “I think Gibson would have had a much better career if he had been or pretended to be a decent guy from 2006 onwards” is impossible to prove and even hard to theorise about extensively, because he didn’t.

  146. Tuuka, I’ve been fighting right wingers verbally and in the streets for 35 years. Your dubious statistics and familiar logics don’t impress anyone. So pack it in or pack it up!

  147. This talkbalk is turning into Twitter.

    Remember the guy in the chase that you keep thinking he is going to die but continues to get lucky. That always made me laugh.

  148. Sorry about that. But some things are just to serious to let slide.

  149. You know, not to derail the discussion onto yet another tangent, but if you guys haven’t seen OLD GUARD on Netflix, you should check it out. I really enjoyed it. The fight scenes are what you expect Action Charlize to deliver. I mean, it’s not too much of a tangent since it’s got Furiosa in it.

  150. It’s probably for the best to get back to movies again. Yes, I saw it last night. Sadly, I read a review who hyped it up to be the best action movie Netflix has ever produced. And of course, nothing can live up to that. But I liked it. Theron is always good.

  151. Theron may be a national treasure. I am really impressed by her recent work.

  152. It’s made well but I also found The Old Guard to be super boring. There was no life to the thing despite it being about immortal people.

  153. I absolutely loved The Old Guard, also realized this weekend Theron is a national treasure, and will save most thoughts for Vern’s review, but I’ll also point out it made me re-watch Hancock right after, and yeah, forget TheSnyderCut, we need to #ReleaseTheBergCut of Hancock because I forgot how slapdash and pieced together the last half of that movie is. People refer to things that didn’t happen, bring up things that are just dropped, and abandon rules they just established. It’s bizarre but I still think the first half of that movie (pre-twist) is pretty great (even though I appreciate the idea of a big summer movie daring to incorporate a twist like that).

    And yes, Mad Max Beyond Thunderdome is a bonafide classic and I’m happy to see the love for it here as opposed to “I hate the Ewoks, I mean kids. Hurrr durrrr”. I KNOW Fury Road is a “better” film in almost every respect, but Thunderdome is my favorite and the one I think about the most. Which is weird because I kinda hated it for maybe 20 of the 35 years it’s been out. It gets better and better every time I watch, and stuff like Vern pointing out the “cops” wearing Wez cosplay (which I just assumed was an easter egg or a mental shortcut since Wez’s look = Post apocalypse (see Weird Science)), is the reason why this movie has so much to chew on (whereas honestly I think The Road Warrior and Mad Max don’t really have ENOUGH to chew on).

    Also, I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again – the opening credit sequence of Thunderdome is in my Top 10, even though all it does is use Woody Allen-style white text on a black background and one of the best movie theme songs ever. The zooming text, the crazy character names (and actor names!) – it’s mysterious and propulsive and sets the tone for the rest of the movie perfectly.

  154. Looks like Old Guard is going to be the case where I don’t understand where people are coming from but at least I know I have one Vern follower that is going to have my back this time. :)

  155. I had a contentious conversation at my very liberal place of work at breakfast one day, with an extremely liberal gay guy, about pronouns. He is of the opinion that we all must learn every person’s preferred pronouns even if they make up their own new words. My opinion was that, sure I can learn who wants to be called he / she / they, but if you are going to make up some bullshit just for yourself then that is ridiculous and I am not going to play along. This did not go over well.

    I think the people who engage most vigorously in the “bathroom debate” are the types who have never actually met a trans person, and who have barely ever even ventured into a big city. I don’t know how JK Rowling fits into that but judging by some of her other recent weirdness it seems like she has decided that she shits gold bricks and everything that comes from her brain is worth spreading as gospel. Sometimes your first thoughts on a subject are not the best, and writing a novel with many revisions and editors to help you along is a lot different than spouting off your wisdom to the world, unfiltered. A lot of people just need to shut up about stuff that really has little to no influence on them, and never will.

    I am not gonna call a grown adult “sklee” though.

  156. Are you willing to call them by their names?

    What’s the difference?

  157. I think the one thing I find interesting is how society is starting to go away from “shades of grey” and starting to be more about absolutes. You’re either right or your wrong. You’re virtously good or your fucking evil. At least like on social media.

  158. I hope this is not making light of the discussion, but some years ago I had a young co-worker (a white woman, it’s relevant to say) who had a birth name she was okay with, but I was told she preferred the family nickname of “Bootsy.” My instinct was “I am absolutely not calling this person Bootsy,” because Bootsy Collins has been a god to me for most of my life, and it felt like if some random person wanted you to call them Prince or Madonna or Ice-T. But after a while I got use to it. I did indeed call her what she wanted to be called, and it was fine. Bootsy was a nice kid. And the other Bootsy was not affected.

  159. I have a gay coworker, whose spouse is a female to male transgender. One day among our colleagues I accidentally said “she” when referring to his spouse, and after a second I realized I had made a mistake and I was mortified, and as soon as I could I apologized to him privately. He smiled and laughed and said it was fine and thanks for apologizing.

    I am perfectly happy calling everybody by the name they want to be called, and trying to pronounce their names correctly (we have a lot of international employees) and learning if somebody prefers “they” instead of he or she. But there has to be some limit here. If a large group of people get together and decide on a new set of pronouns and we have some semi-official word from the people affected that these are the new pronouns and most or all of them are happy with them, then great I am more than willing to switch to using those pronouns for those people who wish to adopt them. But the stance that each individual is a unique snowflake that gets to invent their own pronouns if they want, and everybody should go along with this, is getting a little ridiculous.

  160. Agreed, I’m sick of all these snowflakes who are like “this is my name and you have to call me that.” There are two names I’m willing to use, Bob and Linda. Anything other than those, I refuse to recognize. There has to be a limit.

  161. It’s not ridicolous, it’s just us getting old. I have a transgender offspring, and if she tells my that that friend prefers to be called they or that that friend prefers he/she, it doesn’t take me a long time to remember it. It’s inusual, but not difficult.

  162. I get being frustrated with the million new ways to call someone but it’s also easy just to be nice to a person and their preference than go be a dick about it.

  163. rainman, do you have an example of someone insisting on a totally unique individual pronoun? Your position is understandable to me, but I’ve just never heard of such a thing.

  164. I don’t work with them, but one person at work wants to be referred to as “zie / zim”, another wants “sie”, a co-worker was reading a book with “xe”, and there are a bunch more. My gay coworker has friends who have invented their own pronouns, and he insists that they have every right to do that and insist that everybody learn these new words. People at work can choose their pronouns on the internal website and choose “they / them” if they want to. Nobody I have worked with has chosen “they”, even though I have worked with a bunch of LGBTQ people. I am perfectly happy learning if somebody wants to be called “they”, or if another alternative set of pronouns becomes a standard of some kind then sure, that works too, let’s all adopt another pronoun and make it official. Zie or whatever zie want (what is the plural of zie?).

  165. Even before the mainstream started to recognize non-binary people, English has had a pronoun problem. It desperately needs a gender-free third-person singular (“they,” while fine for informal speech, is imprecise and creates more problems than it solves, in my opinion), not to mention a viable second-person plural (and while we’re at it a completely new set of pronouns to differentiate between subjects and objects wouldn’t be unwelcome either). I hope this happens in my lifetime and I am more than willing to go along with whatever those most affected by this change decide. But there needs to be a consensus for the good of the language. I’m not convinced this is a thing that really happens, but if it does, allowing everyone to make up their own pronouns defeats the purpose of pronouns. Pronouns are a form of shorthand, but that shorthand only functions when every English speaker is aware of what the pronoun is meant to represent. A grab-bag of pronouns does not accomplish this task. Language is about expression, yes, but we often forget that expression without communication is worthless. I realize this is all very new to most of us so we’re in a transition phase right now, and transition phases are always painful and usually messy. Different options need to be tried out so we can choose the best (or at least most intuitive) one. There needs to be an official gender-neutral third-person pronoun that everyone agrees on if there’s any hope of it ever taking root in the vernacular. This represents a massive sea change in the way English speakers process language, which is a huge part of how we process thoughts, and for that to happen, it needs to be clear, simple, and universal. Whatever form that takes is fine with me, but a decision must be made.

    If I might make one humble little suggestion, though? Nothing that starts with X, please. I know it looks cool but it is just begging to be mispronounced. The point of this is to make English MORE user-friendly, not less.

  166. We do have subject and object pronouns, but I meant ones that make it easier to differentiate between them. I don’t know. It sounded good at the time. I just always hate writing stuff like “He punched him in the face and he kicked him.” Who are all these hes and hims getting kicked and punched and why isn’t this more intuitive?

  167. I mean, I think it’s a *nice* feature of English that we have so much goddamn incomprehensible slang and you can just make up words and if they catch on, they can become new “official” words. I like the chaos, it’s free-market expression. Definitely preferable to having some kind of La DGLFLF for English. The French aren’t making up a word as fun as “yeet” anytime soon.

  168. rainman, I hear you, I get that exact thing too. I’m sorry and maybe that makes me a caveman but that is ridiculous, it’s like dealing with a bunch of children who REALLY want to be special. And they have no problem wanting to correct if I get it wrong and inform me all about it. And I’m kind of like I get it, it works for you, but I have a fucking job here and I don’t really care about your own personal world you’ve created. I realize I’m not working exactly in the mainstream office thing so it’s not super relatable.

  169. Man, I guess I missed the deadline to just talk about Thunderdome and what a masterpiece it is. My only qualm with it, as a huge George Miller fanboy, is that it’s not as cohesive in its last third as the other films are – having read the script and been allowed to take a peek at some other production materials, there was a little emotional and narrative connective tissue cut out in relation to why exactly Max and the Children decide to go to Bartertown, and how traumatized Max was by so many years of pain. He was supposed to be having some very Fury Road-esque hallucinations and nightmares centered around loneliness and the people he’s lost that would reach their culmination in the 3rd act (insomuch as the film has a traditional 3-Act structure).

    But, besides all that, the film is completely awe-inspiring. Dense, mythic and classically epic, filled to the brim with anthropological ideas and some of the best worldbuilding ever put to screen.

    Also, on the subject of the Furiosa prequel. I’ve read the script. She starts off young, and the film follows her over something like twenty years. There’s no way Charlize could play her, at least to start. It’s a deep dive into the culture and world of Fury Road, from the bottom to the top, that uses Furiosa as it’s perspective.

  170. Interesting. I just got the novelization – I wonder if any of that will show up.

    I still wish we could see that Furiosa anime! I’m sure live action will end up being even better, but if Miller has stories he’s not going to get to it would be cool to see them animated. And I’m still in love with Immortan Joe having a rear view mirror.

  171. Just watched this again because I wanted to pay some kind of homage to Tina Turner *and* watch an action movie today. It’s been a long time since I would dismiss this one as just the least-good Mad Max, but it struck me as even more great this time. The absurd details of Bartertown, the beautiful wide desert shots, the cowhide dragster. Incredible. But I really dug the the ending this time – Max and Aunty Entity are both trying to survive and by the end they both probably fucked each other out of that option, but there’s still nothing to gain in vengeance and they part as equals. As unjust as Bartertown became they stick to its fundamental principal – personal conflict led to war and war led to apocalypse, so they don’t pursue it. There’s an almost Tony Jaa quality to that.

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