Nice cover, but this one is more tweaked

Left to right, “Dress Your Family in Corduroy and Denim” by David Sedaris, and “White Guys: Studies in Postmodern Domination and Difference” by Fred Pfeil.
Make of that what you will.


Carlos D. is ripped!



Inappropriate (and very, very decontextualized) “gallows humor”

From “Pentagon Finds More Prison Abuse Photos”, Associated Press, May 20, 2004:

Photos of two American soldiers posing with thumbs up near a body packed in ice at Iraq’s Abu Ghraib prison were shown on ABC-TV.
The photos showed Army Sgt. Charles A. Graner Jr. and Spc. Sabrina Harman, both of whom have already been charged in the prisoner abuse scandal.
The detainee, whose badly bruised corpse was in a body bag packed with ice, died in the prison’s showers while being interrogated by the CIA or other civilian agents, ABC reported Wednesday. It said the Justice Department is investigating the death.
[Graner’s lawyer, Guy Womack of Houston,] told ABC News the photo of his client represented inappropriate “gallows humor.”

Ohhhh, I get it. Let me give it a try, too! (But below the fold, I mean, cos it is “inappropriate.”)

Grave Unintentionally Hilarious

Unintentionally Hilarious Photo of the Moment, vol. 20



Baby, it’s just you and me against the world

From President Bush’s address to AIPAC (President Speaks to the American Israel Public Affairs Committee), Washington, D.C., Tuesday, May 18, 2004:

The Israeli people have always had enemies at their borders and terrorists close at hand. Again and again, Israel has defended itself with skill and heroism. And as a result of the courage of the Israeli people, Israel has earned the respect of the American people. (Applause.)

The very next day, from “Explosion rips through crowd of Palestinian demonstrators, killing at least 10”, San Francisco Chronicle, Wednesday, May 19, 2004:

An Israeli missile and four tank shells ripped through a large crowd of Palestinians demonstrating Wednesday against the Israeli invasion of a neighboring refugee camp, killing at least 10 Palestinians. Hospital officials said all the victims were children and teenagers.
Israel’s military acknowledged that soldiers fired four tank shells, a missile and machine guns to stop 3,000 Palestinian demonstrators it said were heading toward a battle zone in the Gaza Strip.
“There were armed men in the midst of the demonstration,” Brig. Gen. Ruth Yaron, the army spokeswoman, told Israel TV’s Channel One.

For what it’s worth, there are some additional reports indicating that some of the demonstrators and protesters were throwing rocks, which I guess makes the whole “missiles” and “tank shells” response fair enough.


But, realistically, Michael Moore would, no, could have never made this film

From a sampling of reviews for Morgan Spurlock’s “Super Size Me”:
Portland Oregonian, Karen Karbo:

In the tradition of the contemporary muckraking documentary — of which director Michael Moore is the most recent accomplished practitioner — “Super Size Me” entertains serious sociological and political questions.

Boston Globe, Ty Burr:

Morgan Spurlock’s outrageously amusing “Super Size Me” is the redheaded stepchild of Michael Moore and “Jackass,” a low-budget nonfiction stunt with a sharp point of view, a sheaf of alarming statistics, and the willingness to entertain us until we cry uncle. Like “Bowling for Columbine,” it’s less a documentary than a provocumentary, and, like Moore, Spurlock is a born showman.

Chicago Tribune, Mark Caro:

Spurlock is a lanky thirtysomething Manhattanite taking a Michael Moore-type approach to a subject previously surveyed in Eric Schlosser’s non-fiction bestseller “Fast Food Nation.”

USA Today, Claudia Puig:

Riveting and darkly comic Super Size Me is a whip-smart documentary in the tradition of Michael Moore‘s Roger & Me.

Dallas Observer, Robert Wilonsky:

The movie was a big hit at Sundance and beyond; it’s turned Spurlock, an aspiring filmmaker and graphic designer, into Michael Moore, an agit-prop star proselytizing about the greed of a company that doesn’t care about the content or impact of its unhealthy and potentially deadly product. Like Moore, he tries repeatedly to talk to someone at McDonald’s corporate headquarters about the nutritional value of its food, and of the results a monthlong diet has taken on his body. But he’s given the brush-off in a game of never-ending phone tag, and it feels like a page lifted from the Moore playbook of how to make a company look decidedly evil.

The Onion (A.V. Club), Nathan Rabin:

An irresistible combination of muckraking activism and populist entertainment, Super Size Me takes a page out of the Michael Moore playbook by using a David-vs.-Goliath-style personal quest as a starting point for an irreverent and impassioned critique of a pressing social issue.

Village Voice, Dennis Lim:

Indeed, Spurlock, whose affable-doofus persona is somewhere between Johnny Knoxville and Michael Moore, was responsible for MTV’s cash-for-stunts series I Bet You Will, and is preparing an SSM-modeled show called 30 Days.

Washington Post, Michael O’Sullivan:

A gonzo documentary in the Michael Moore mold — but without Moore’s grating presence — “Super Size Me” is an anti-junk-food screed that manages to entertain even as it informs and alarms.

New York Times, A.O. Scott:

Mr. Spurlock, originally from West Virginia, works in the good-natured, regular-guy populist style of documentary rabble-rousing pioneered by Michael Moore. He is a bit less confrontational than Mr. Moore (as well as thinner), but he similarly relishes letting polite, well-scrubbed corporate flacks entangle themselves in bureaucratic doublespeak.


No, write your own column

“Write your own Thomas Friedman column!”
Michael Kubin, The New York Observer, May 19, 2004
Michael Ward, McSweeney’s, April 28, 2004


“Cannes-Do” Marketing

In preparation for the film’s July release date, Paramount has begun to reveal its marketing materials for Jonathan Demme’s upcoming “The Manchurian Candidate”, which is, of course, an oh-so-necessary remake of the John Frankenheimer-directed Cold War original.
Their campaign includes the release of teaser ads for the film appearing at the currently-in-progress 2004 Cannes Film Festival, as shown here and re-created above.
Advertising for a summer blockbuster at the Cannes Film Festival, alongside what was once ostensibly a gathering for artsy films…something seemed very “off” about this particular marketing ploy, until we stumbled upon the solution, below.


Idol hands, frenetic fingers

This week’s issue of Broadcasting & Cable breaks a scandal that most assuredly affects America’s core values of fairness, equality, and democracy. (NB: if that lead sentence had been published in the entertainment section of some mid-level newspaper reaching a metropolitan audience of about 50,000 people, you might have seen a greater effort to unimaginatively give the impression that this “scandal” is in some way connected to recent events in the Abu Ghraib prison, but alas, you’ve instead been subjected to this awful, self-reflexive introduction. Sorry.)
Deborah Starr Seibel’s American Idol Outrage: Your Vote Doesn’t Count” offers a fair share of anecdotal evidence that, contrary to the seemingly democratic voting process promoted by the producers of the beloved show, millions of fans’ votes are disappearing into the ether. And speaking of vacuousness, the article, subtitled “An in-depth look at America’s most popular show reveals a seriously flawed voting system,” might have better read, “An in-depth look at America’s most popular show reveals a seriously flawed America.”
How else to explain some of the quotes and actions attributed to one Dee Law?

But as the show speeds toward its May 26 conclusion with three songbirds left, the 40-year-old Pennsylvania homemaker couldn’t care less about the outcome. A Clay Aiken fan, she lost faith in the process after making a shocking discovery last year: No matter how often she tried, she couldn’t place her vote.
Law says she tried to dial “five or six hundred times” on the final night of competition but hasn’t tried since. “I’m not gonna get suckered into voting again,” she says. “Why should we sit here and waste two hours of our time when our votes aren’t going to be counted?”

Anyway, putting aside a range of misanthropic feelings for the moment, we at low culture would like to take this moment to actually assist (yes, help) those poor sad-sack losers who have chosen to devote two nights of their week to feverishly clutching their handset while shrieking inconsolably as Diana Degarmo erupts into so-called “song”.
Below, we’ve coordinated (all in one place, and sorted by manufacturer or service provider) a series of links to speed-dialing instructions at various telephone manufacturers’ websites, such that hardcore Jasmine Trias devotees (or fans of Fantasia Barrino, or Diana Degarmo, or Crystal MacAzure, or Jacinta DuPres, or who-the-fuck-ever) can learn to get more votes in during those precious two hours.
Cavalier Telephone
Meridian Digital
SBC Communications
Oh, fuck it. However immoral this may be:
Cool Ways to Kill Yourself


Hysterically blinded by the Sun

abe-rosenthal.jpgOn some indeterminate date between A.M. Rosenthal’s leaving his position at the New York Times in 1999 and subsequently penning his column for the Daily News, Crazy Abe really lost it. I mean, totally, completely, lost it.
How else to explain the tormented editorial screed appearing (via Romenesko) in today’s New York Sun? In reading Rosenthal’s psychotic litany, we’re privy to the Times’ former executive editor’s musings on the media’s coverage of the prisoner-abuse scandal at Abu Ghraib and, in particular, the manner in which the media failed to provide proper context for the abuses and the concomitant photos.
What context, you ask? Perhaps some Sy Hersh-esque examination of abuse-related directives having come from the top down? No? Well, maybe some broader examination of a climate of governmental deception, in the tradition of Rosenthal’s own 1960 Pulitzer Prize-winning Times coverage of Poland’s misdeeds? No, you are soooo wrong, young whippersnapper!
That prisoner-abuse context that the media failed to provide over the past few weeks was Saddam Hussein and his since-toppled government’s having used “poison gas on civilians they wanted to eliminate, like the Kurds.” Thank you for the refresher course, Abe Rumsfeld.
Furthermore, Rosenthal continues, “We are uneasy even at the very idea of bringing up the mass Iraqi torture and murder. That is an insult to all those murdered masses of Iraqis, Kuwaitis, Jews, and Iranians. It is essential that we remember, ourselves, and the young members of the American armed forces know that they are fighting a government that is fascist in organization and in its slavering sadism.”
Bear in mind, then, that the next time you see images of prisoners of war chained to bedframes with panties on their heads, the reason these sundry havoc-wreakers, as well as uncharged shopkeepers and wives of Ba’athist officials, are naked and/or have undergarments covering their visages is due to Saddam’s having gassed 100,000 Kurds during the Reagan and Bush I administrations fifteen years earlier. And on a factual basis alone, please disregard Rosenthal’s assertions that America’s armed forces (his tense, not mine) “are fighting a government”, contrary to the image of American forces having helped to famously topple Saddam’s statue one year ago, and their current occupation of the Republican Palace in Baghdad.
And back to that “litany” idea again, Rosenthal repeats, “Since the latest torture story, many editors have failed to present background stories about the millions killed by Saddam.” That’s right, “millions”, even though the heretofore-most-liberal estimates of deaths under Saddam’s regime maxed out at 300,000 or therabouts. But, much like Deputy Defense Secretary Paul Wolfowitz’s being drastically off the mark a few weeks ago in his own detailing of the number of American military casualties in Iraq, numbers are notoriously flexible when you’re trying to provide support for an otherwise reprehensible idea.
Finally, there’s this indignant gauntlet from Rosenthal: “In the years before World War II, officials of the New York Times shamed the paper by squeezing stories about millions of Europeans suffering and dying in the Nazi concentration camps, into meager and insufficient space. Years later, the paper tried to find out exactly who made those decisions. It could not, but it published an apology from its heart.” Except, as far as “context” is concerned, those were current events at the time.
Dear, sweet, Abe: perhaps newspaper editors can feel comfortable about revisiting the events of the late 1980s on their front pages as they pair those particular Kurdish history lessons with coverage of that era’s U.S. government support for both Afghanistan’s various insurgencies and Saddam Hussein himself in his war with Iranian Shiite fundamentalists.
See, that’s the problem with “context” and “history”: unlike President Bush’s war of Good-vs.-Evil, there are no absolutes.