Jimmy Kimmel’s Crocodile Tears

A day or two after the massacre in Las Vegas, American talk show host Jimmy Kimmel went on stage with a passionate plea to “do something”. Political commentator Ben Shapiro took issue with this, and made a video dissecting Kimmel’s words. Below is Shapiro’s video which includes clips of Kimmel speaking. I’m not going to ask anyone to watch the whole thing unless they’re really interested, but please look at it between 1:10 and 2:30.

Shapiro says he believes Kimmel is sincere, but I think he’s being rather generous: to me it looks like bad acting, hamming it up for the camera.

Since I’ve been living in Paris there have been two gun-massacres: Charlie Hebdo and the Bataclan Theatre. Both were shocking and induced a numb, almost surreal atmosphere in the place but neither reduced me to tears. Now Kimmel was raised in Las Vegas since the age of nine, but still, I don’t think news of a shooting in Pembroke would have me blubbering in the office. Now if Kimmel lost close friends and acquaintances in the attacks, I would understand. I’d also understand if he was there at the time: the trauma of being involved in these things can reduce ordinary people to a gibbering wreck. Now perhaps Kimmel listened to or read the accounts of the survivors just before walking on stage: they can be both harrowing and heartbreaking, even decades after an event, but even then I doubt they’d make him cry in the middle of doing his job.

That’s not to say men don’t get emotional. I lost my best friend last year and talking about him still brings me out in tears, that’s just the way it is. And I occasionally find myself choking up at a particularly moving scene from a film or book: the writers of the Toy Story sequels had an exceptional talent for this. A scene where Woody’s horse is told he can’t go with his master is emotional manipulation on a scale that ought to banned outright. My point is not that men don’t get emotional, it’s that men don’t get all teary over the murder of people they don’t know and didn’t witness. Women might, but then women cry over damned near anything. Men, when faced with news of a terrorist attack or mass murder, get angry not upset. They want to go out and exact a terrible revenge, not weep in public. Kimmel has gone on stage without deciding whether he wants to be upset or angry which suggests he’s neither, he just wants to score political points and virtue-signal.

Earlier this year Kimmel’s newborn son received life-saving medical treatment, which he used as the basis of his opposition to the Trump administration’s healthcare reforms:

During his opening monologue on Jimmy Kimmel Live on Monday, host Jimmy Kimmel cried openly.

His eyes welled up first, as he described the recent birth of his weeks-old son. And then Kimmel struggled to speak, as he recounted how, within hours of Billy’s birth, a nurse noticed that he was purple and whisked him away for observation.

“Now more doctors and nurses and equipment come in, and it’s a terrifying thing,” Kimmel said, the emotion obvious in his voice. “My wife is back in the recovery room, she has no idea what’s going on, and I’m standing in a room full of worried-looking people—kind of like right now.” The team discovered Billy had a congenital heart defect. He was rushed into emergency surgery.

Now it is perfectly normal for a man to get emotional and cry when talking about the near-death of his newborn son. Whether it is appropriate to do so on national television in order to make a political point is less certain. I’d say no, frankly. That sort of stuff should be kept private unless specifically related to the subject at hand, and especially not wielded as a political club.

I reckon after the episode about his son, Kimmel thought it made him look better – more “passionate”, “vulnerable”, and “human” – and so he’s decided to make it his shtick. Now it might be popular among women and the legions of rather wet men that inhabit the modern west, but most men ought to be retching over the back of the sofa at this performance. I wanted to slap his silly face and tell him to pull himself together. Men don’t cry over this sort of thing, and if they do – well, God help us.

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Nocturnal Animals

Last night I watched Nocturnal Animals, starring Jake Gyllenhaal and Amy Adams. If you haven’t seen it and wish to, you might want to skip this post because SPOILERS FOLLOW.

The film concerns the owner of an art gallery (Adams) who’s made a right hash of her life. Severe Mummy and Daddy issues drove her as a young graduate to marry her childhood friend (Gyllenhaal) who’s a budding author but seems to be hopelessly naive about what that entails. For example, he complains his wife criticises his work, into which he’s poured his heart and soul. Well, wait until it hits the shelves pal, then you’ll know what criticism is. After two years of marriage she bins the author for some hot-shot Adonis she works with. The film takes place 19 years later when the Adonis is cheating on her with a younger, prettier woman and her gallery is failing. Cue lots of shots of her sitting in the dark, alone and weeping. The only thing missing was her securing an order for half a dozen cats down at the local pet shop.

I think the lesson we’re supposed to take away is that you should always follow your heart and stand by your first true love no matter what. The lesson I actually took away was that spoiled brat women in their twenties acting like stroppy teenagers in dealing with their parents are likely to make catastrophic decisions which will leave them alone and miserable later in life. That’s not really the point of this post, though.

Instead I’m going to talk about lazy plot devices. Early on in the film Adam’s character receives a manuscript from her ex-husband, who she’s not seen in decades, and reads it. The film then becomes a story within a story, and we see the tale in the manuscript being played out. The idea is that the author’s new novel is so brilliant that his ex-wife will see she made a mistake in dumping him all those years ago.

The problem is the novel doesn’t seem very good or original. It concerns a man who is run off the road by rednecks (of course) in Texas after which his wife and teenage daughter are raped and murdered. The man survives and seeks revenge. This story has been done a million times already, so I wasn’t persuaded it could induce a change of heart in his ex-wife. What they needed was a really clever story, not a by-the-numbers rape-revenge yarn, but I guess if they came up with one they’d probably just make a film of that rather than use it as a sub-plot in a film about a lonely, ageing woman.

But my main issue is with what this tweet complains about:

I’m not alone in finding rape increasingly being used as a plot device, and not liking it. I’ve complained before about bad guys in movies and TV series being made into cartoons, and the audience battered over the head with all the subtlety of a sledgehammer to ensure we’re left in no doubt who is good and who is bad. Making the bad guy a rapist appears to have become the default way of going about it, and I find it lazy. Rape may induce feelings of disgust and hatred, and make for intense scenes the audience won’t forget, but it’s akin to the shots of emaciated African kids with flies around their face you see in TV adverts begging for money – it’s cheap, emotional blackmail. Some years ago my sister noticed the frequency with which rape is used as a plot device when writing for the F-Word:

James Patterson’s 1996 bestseller Kiss the Girls features two male serial killers who keep beautiful, intelligent young women in a basement and sexually abuse, torture and kill them.

Before Patterson there was Dean Koontz, another immensely popular US thriller writer, whose 1986 book Night Chills features a string of graphic rape scenes alongside a female lead character who outsmarts a male military officer at every turn.

In short, male novelists have for decades been selling graphic capture-rape-torture-kill novels by chucking in ‘strong’ female characters for balance, and have even gained plaudits for highlighting violence against women in the process.

The Spectator’s Gary Dexter is in no doubt about the reason for Patterson’s appeal: “Patterson likes rape, torture, mutilation and death. So do his readers. Who doesn’t? It has been estimated that Patterson’s lifetime sales of thrillers have now topped 150 million, and that one in every 15 hardbacks bought in the world in 2007 was a Patterson novel, which means that we must all like rape, torture, mutilation and death, perhaps with extra rape on the side, and then some child rape, child torture, child mutilation and child death, then some more rape, more death and more rape, and finally some rape, death, rape and death.”

Ken Follet’s The Pillars of the Earth was another bestseller which had the bad guy raping women with such frequency I’d roll my eyes wondering why the editor didn’t point out he’d used this scene already.

It may be necessary to include a rape scene in a film or novel – The Accused would hardly work without it, nor would I Spit on Your Grave – but in most cases it is necessary only because the writer lacks the skill or imagination to come up with anything else. You might forgive the writers of Game of Thrones frequently throwing in rape scenes because that particular series relies heavily on torture-porn, but others don’t have that excuse.

Prompted by a friend, I recently watched the pilot of the TV series The Americans. Sure enough, the female lead gets raped by her superior in a flashback, just to make sure the audience knows that this guy is evil and deserves everything that’s coming to him. The fact that his raping her is absolutely ludicrous both in terms of historical accuracy and the plot doesn’t seem to matter: the important thing is we get to see a woman being raped, thus ensuring we all talk about how serious, edgy, and thought-provoking the series is. For me, it simply showed the writers are so lacking imagination the script might as well have been created by a piece of software.

Nocturnal Animals wasn’t a bad film, and I liked the ending, but lazy writing using rape-revenge as a plot device let it down badly. I look forward to the day when authors and scriptwriters quit doing it. It’s probably one of the few subjects on which I agree with the feminists.

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Doctor who?

I confess I don’t know the first thing about Doctor Who, and have only heard of it through the background noise of popular culture and the occasional reference to daleks. I have absolutely no idea who he is or what he does, which is why I care not a damn that the character has been switched to a woman played by actress Jodie Whittaker.

I don’t know if this switch will be good or bad, but the early signs are that it is highly politicised which rarely makes for good programming. The media – including the BBC which owns the Doctor Who rights and makes the programmes – is full of people saying how important this is, how glass ceilings have been broken, and how this is unprecedented, none of which is likely to be true. There is absolutely no reason why a female lead in a sci-fi series cannot be excellent, but it is more a question as to whether the demands of the SJWs in charge at the BBC and their cheerleaders outside can be satisfied while making the damned thing watchable. Somehow I doubt it.

I’ve already expressed my opinion that House of Cards started well, sucking in audiences with a strong male performance, before the feminists hijacked the script and made it all about his damned wife. I suspect the same thing will happen with Doctor Who, only from a much weaker position. From what little I have read about Doctor Who on various blogs, it’s gone from naff but popular with kids to rather wet and overly keen to push the BBC’s preferred brand of politics. Having not seen a single episode that might be an unfair summary, but it would hardly be surprising if accurate. I expect a female Doctor Who will be used to push lefty agendas even further, alienating core viewers, delighting a gaggle of feminists who will blame collapsing viewing figures and poor reviews on misogyny, and wrecking the brand.

The problem is as I described in this post:

 A female lead these days needs to be one of the following:

1. An innocent victim of some more powerful force (such as a violent husband, or asshole boss) who she eventually overcomes through perseverance and/or being much cleverer than her adversary. (A Goody)

2. A ripped, kick-ass chick straight out of comic-book fantasy who beats up Samoan extras and can throw knives through chipboard.  (Can be a Goody or a Baddy)

3. A sassy, independent, fuck-you-in-your-face, policewoman, soldier, politician, or CEO.  (A Goody)

4. A woman who saves her husband/boyfriend from his own stupidity. (A Goody)

Laurie Penny has weighed in with a New Statesman article which, as David Thompson observes, is largely about her:

When I told my mum that Doctor Who was a woman now, I wasn’t sure how she’d react. In fact, she was remarkably accepting. “After all this time,” she said “I’m just happy for you. I know you’ve thought about it a lot, and it’s practically normal now. I hear they’ve even got female Ghostbusters these days.”

I wonder how many takes that took before Ma Penny finally said something which Laurie could use? It has all the authenticity of the raspberry flavouring in a bright blue Slush Puppy. But on this point she’s right:

Even now, female protagonists are still rare enough in popular culture, and most of them tend to win the day by showing up in undersized perfect hair and kicking people in the face. This is the sort of female hero we’ve learned to tolerate, the “fighting fuck-toy”, in Anita Sarkeesian’s immortal words – damaged but sexy, a stock figure for whom “well-rounded” is a strictly physical description.

She’s describing No. 2 in my list above, and I find them as annoying as she. But Laurie and her ilk think the answer is to make female characters like No. 3 instead, despite what she says here:

Doctor Who is a different sort of hero. The Doctor solves problems not by being the strongest, the fastest or the one with the biggest army, but by outthinking everyone else in the room. Far too many female characters are two-dimensional.

Feminists think a character has depth if she upholds values they agree with. For instance:

I’m ready to watch a woman save the world again and again by being very, very clever and very, very moral, without having to have a man sort anything out or come and save her.

Does that sound like a multi-dimensional, complex character to you? To me it sounds more like a woman trying to play a dull man. I find overly moral male characters painful to watch, which is why I don’t like Tom Hanks’ films much. I prefer to watch characters that have major flaws like the rest of us, or those that are generally assholes but we like them anyway. Decent female roles are almost impossible to come by thanks to the very same SJWs that are now complaining they are two-dimensional. Which producer would dare sign off on a character like Scarlett O’Hara these days?

Jodie Whittaker might be the first female Doctor Who, but she runs a real risk of being the last – of any sex.

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More Travels & House of Cards

Sorry folks, I’m off travelling again, this time to Nantes for a few days. Friday is Bastille Day and a public holiday in France, so I’m turning it into a 4-day weekend.

To keep you entertained, I’ll leave you with a post from last July on what I thought of seasons 1-4 of House of Cards. It may explain why I’ve not bothered watching Season 5 (spoilers follow).

I recently finished the fourth and most recent season of the American TV series House of Cards, starring Kevin Spacey and nobody else who can act.  Several people had recommended it to me, with one or two saying it was “amazing”.  Perhaps I should have been forewarned by the fact that two of these people were women of a feminist persuasion.

Seasons 1 and 2 weren’t bad, and depicted an utterly unscrupulous and ruthless Kevin Spacey manipulating situations and people as he wormed his way from Democratic party whip to Vice President and finally to President of the United States.  What I found most interesting about the first two seasons was that it showed what I suspect is the true nature of politics, i.e. politicians making decisions which affect millions of people purely to further their own personal ambitions.  The series lays bare the corrupt and unprincipled nature of politicians and politics for all to see, yet the show is loved by people who favour big government and believe politicians should have ever-more involvement in people’s lives.  I know at least one fan who decries the antics of Kevin Spacey’s Frank Underwood yet intends to vote for Hillary Clinton in November.  Go figure.

But somewhere between Seasons 2 and 3 the feminists got hold of the script and effectively made the show all about Frank Underwood’s wife, played by Robin Wright.  She played a reasonable supporting role in the first two seasons, ably assisting her husband in his rise to the top (but also betraying him in more ways than one), but during Season 3 she revealed her own political ambitions and contrived to land herself the position of US ambassador to the UN.  During the nomination process her opponents pointed to her utter lack of experience yet she obtains the position anyway thanks to her husband’s prerogative to just appoint somebody of his choosing – whereupon she promptly makes a complete idiot of herself and the United States by being played like a fiddle by the Russians.  I thought at this point she’d be relegated to a supporting role again, her character having been shown to lack experience or competence in a political role –  as her opponents were saying (and any reasonably viewer thinking) all along.

But no.  The feminists who had hijacked the script were having none of it.  Season 4 saw Frank Underwood lying in a coma having been shot in an assassination attempt, a weak VP in temporary charge, and First Lady Claire Underwood running about doing what she likes as though she had some constitutional authority to do so.  A strong, experienced, and somewhat ruthless female secretary of state allows herself to be bullied by Claire into submission, to the ridiculous extent that it is Claire who is sent into a room alone with the Russian president to negotiate a solution to some strategic issue of vital importance.  And of course, Claire gets the notoriously stubborn Putin-a-like to capitulate by browbeating him in a manner in which I suspect feminists think women should speak to their husbands.  As the season advances, Claire finds herself able to order members of the presidential staff around on whim, involving herself in matters of national security even to the point of being in the situation room, and not a single person in the administration raises a squeak in protest.

This wouldn’t be so irritating were it not for the fact that each scene of Claire’s brilliance takes on exactly the same form.  She wears the same arse-hugging style of dress or skirt in every shot, she manages a single facial expression throughout the entire series, and for each pivotal scene the only thing that changes are the words being spoken.  It quickly becomes repetitive, and not a little tedious.  But not content with that, the feminists have to ramp it up by making Claire the object of seemingly every key man’s sexual desire as well.  In Seasons 1 and 2 she is shagging a rather hip British photographer who is world famous, the type that would in real life be hanging around models from Eastern Europe.  But in House of Cards he’s pining after the ageing wife of a US senator.  She finds herself fending off the advances of the (divorced) Russian president, who tells Frank that she is truly beautiful, or something like that.  Because prominent Russians are well known for flattering American women and have difficulty picking up stunners back home.  Uh-huh.  In Season 4 Claire is shagging a famous author, a younger man hired by Frank to write their speeches or biographies, or something.  When Frank finds out he doesn’t mind, and this ruthless motherfucker who committed two murders in his ascendancy to the White House doesn’t just accept it, but gives the couple his blessing.  Again, the idea that a famous author would fall in love with the older wife of the US president instead of having a beautiful, loving partner of his own doesn’t even get questioned.  Despite various betrayals on her part of her husband’s political maneuverings plus the aforementioned infidelities, Frank wakes from his coma praising her to the heavens, forgiving her in full, and stating in unequivocal terms that she is the most important person in the entire series.  Even the wife of the Republican presidential nominee is forced by the scriptwriters to shower her with gushing praise during a visit to the White House.  Season 4 ends with her being nominated as the VP on her husband’s ticket, having seen off seasoned and ruthless female opponents by making hackneyed speeches in a figure-hugging dress.

The audience, by having it rammed down their throats every episode, is expected to unconditionally accept that Claire Underwood is a brilliant politician, responsible for every success her husband has achieved, desired sexually by every man who meets her, and is easily capable as a president herself (there is a Season 5 on the way).  By contrast, despite a brief affair with a young journalist in Season 1, her husband Frank is a greying, cuckolded, semi-invalid who owes her everything.  It is the definition of tedious, and I almost didn’t make it to the end of the series.  Watching this rubbish during the current buildup to the US presidential election, I got the feeling that the scriptwriters were fantasizing about what Michelle Obama could do in her position as First Lady.  Now I see the progressive media praising her speech at the Democratic National Convention for all its worth, I am wondering if a section of the American liberal left haven’t confused real-life politics for a TV show.

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Tucker Carlson

Via ZMan I came across this speech by Fox presenter Tucker Carlson which he gave to the International Association of Fire Fighters a few months ago. The first ten minutes are well worth your time, and he makes several points that I’ve made on this here blog over the last year or so.

I like Tucker Carlson, both his political views and presentation style. He is refreshingly honest about the sort of people who inhabit Washington DC and he freely admits that he is very much one of them. His career seems to be soaring – he took over the prime 8pm slot when Bill O’Reilly got the boot – and I hope that, when the ruling classes eventually turn on him and start looking for dirt, they can’t find anything.

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Erdoğan Tackles the Major Issues

Fresh off the back of his referendum victory and becoming the next Ottoman Sultan, Turkish president Recep Tayyip Erdoğan gets to work:

The Turkish government has sacked almost 4,000 more public officials in what appears to be the latest purge related to a failed coup last July.

They include more than 1,000 justice ministry workers, a similar number of army staff and more than 100 air force pilots, officials said.

Which comes as no surprise. This does, though:

In a separate decree, Turkey banned TV dating shows – a move previously mooted by the government.

I have it on good authority that nobody who has ever watched a Turkish TV dating show could possibly object to this on any grounds whatsoever. But what is ironic is that the bulk of the audience for these sort of shows would have most likely voted Yes in the recent referendum. The UK equivalent would be chavs voting Labour thus handing them victory, and then finding the incoming government wants to ban Jeremy Kyle.

I wonder how long before online dating sites are banned, too?

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Pence, Dinners, and Mythbusters

I’m back from Budapest: more on that later.

While I was away the US Vice President Mike Pence seems to have subjected himself to ridicule and outrage from various quarters due to a confession that he will not dine alone with any woman other than his wife of 32 years.

Some people believed that this may harm the careers of those women who interact with Pence professionally:

Social-science research shows this practice extends beyond politics and into the business world, and it can hold women back from key advancement opportunities.

So, is dining alone with a boss or colleague a necessary condition for professional success? The answer can be found in a rather unlikely story:

Adam Savage and Jamie Hyneman have worked closely with each other for 14 seasons on “Mythbusters,” but that doesn’t mean they were close.

Possibly the biggest myth the duo has busted is the belief that you can’t work with someone you don’t get along with.

I say unlikely because when you watch Mythbusters (and being a mechanical engineer who has spent a period unemployed, trust me when I tell you I have) the dynamic between the two is such that you can’t believe they are not friends in real life. But apparently not, and the article is worth reading because it shows how they moulded two conflicting personalities into a show that worked. So what’s this got to do with Pence? This:

“We don’t get along very well together on a personal level. In 25 years we’ve known each other, we’ve never had dinner alone together.”

So one of the most successful working relationships in modern times occurred between two people who never had dinner alone together. At this stage one is entitled to ask why some think women’s careers will suffer under Pence’s cruel no-dinners policy and, more importantly, what they believe women would do alone with Pence that they would not do in company. It seems to me those complaining about it either have a rather dim view of women and how they progress in their careers, or they’re projecting from how they advanced their own.

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Musing on Mythbusters

The Bayou Renaissance Man has been blogging about Mythbusters, a TV show I love but (like a lot of people, I suspect) watched far too much of it at one point in my life.  This got me clicking around on the subject, and I came across this article:

Adam Savage and Jamie Hyneman have worked closely with each other for 14 seasons on “Mythbusters,” but that doesn’t mean they were close.

Possibly the biggest myth the duo has busted is the belief that you can’t work with someone you don’t get along with.

“[Our relationship has] radically changed, but it’s also stayed the same. Jamie and I make no bones about the fact that we’re not friends,” Savage told Business Insider recently, as the Discovery and Science Channel show approaches its series finale.

“We don’t get along very well together on a personal level. In 25 years we’ve known each other, we’ve never had dinner alone together. We do not choose to hang out if we don’t have to be in proximity, and yet, there’s a couple of things that happened, and they’re pretty remarkable.”

I must confess, I never got an inkling of that from watching the show.  Also from the comments under BRM’s post I came across this article, written in a style I like:

I wonder which member of the “Mythbusters” production team was told to go to a nice suburban California house and ask: “Can we have our cannonball back, please?”

You see, it seems as if there was a slight miscalculation on the part of the science-meets-stunts show when it fired a cannonball on a bomb disposal range in Dublin, Calif., yesterday.

According to the San Francisco Chronicle, the projectile was supposed to hit some rather large trash cans filled with water before piercing a wall.

Strangely, it missed the trash cans, tore through a cinder-block wall, bounced its merry way down a hillside, barreled 700 yards through a suburban California neighborhood, smashed through the front door of a house, bounced up the stairs of the house and, without knocking, penetrated a bedroom door where a man, woman, and child were sleeping.

They were only woken after the cannonball had passed through. There was a little rubble and dust.

Was it done? Of course not. The cannonball then bounced its way out through the wall of the house, crossed a road, smashed a few tiles that were carelessly lying around on the roof of another house and finally took a seat inside the Gill family’s Toyota Sienna, which they had thoughtlessly parked in the driveway of their home.

Whoops!  The episode is called Cannonball Chemistry.

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Posted in TV

Philistines!

This amused:

Film director Ken Loach has criticised the current crop of TV period dramas for indulging in “fake nostalgia”.

In response to a question about Downton Abbey in a Radio Times interview, Loach said: “This rosy vision of the past, it’s a choice broadcasters make.

Loach said nostalgic dramas were “the opposite of what a good broadcaster should do, which is stimulate and invigorate”.

Allow me to translate that for you:

How dare those awful oiks watch things they enjoy rather than the artistic masterpieces I am paid handsomely to create with taxpayers’ money!

As an additional point, Downton Abbey must seriously grate with the BBC chiefs.  The BBC was always considered the global leader in “costume dramas” and in theory it is they who ought to have spotted the opportunity for Downton Abbey and reaped the millions its extraordinary success has generated.  But that fell to ITV, their bitter rivals in the ratings wars, who are dependent on getting eyes on the screen rather than simply lifting billions from British owners of television sets on threat of imprisonment.

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House of Cards: Feminist Shite

(If anybody doesn’t want to read spoilers of Seasons 1-4 of the American TV series House of Cards, don’t read this post.)

I recently finished the fourth and most recent season of the American TV series House of Cards, starring Kevin Spacey and nobody else who can act.  Several people had recommended it to me, with one or two saying it was “amazing”.  Perhaps I should have been forewarned by the fact that two of these people were women of a feminist persuasion.

Seasons 1 and 2 weren’t bad, and depicted an utterly unscrupulous and ruthless Kevin Spacey manipulating situations and people as he wormed his way from Democratic party whip to Vice President and finally to President of the United States.  What I found most interesting about the first two seasons was that it showed what I suspect is the true nature of politics, i.e. politicians making decisions which affect millions of people purely to further their own personal ambitions.  The series lays bare the corrupt and unprincipled nature of politicians and politics for all to see, yet the show is loved by people who favour big government and believe politicians should have ever-more involvement in people’s lives.  I know at least one fan who decries the antics of Kevin Spacey’s Frank Underwood yet intends to vote for Hillary Clinton in November.  Go figure.

But somewhere between Seasons 2 and 3 the feminists got hold of the script and effectively made the show all about Frank Underwood’s wife, played by Robin Wright.  She played a reasonable supporting role in the first two seasons, ably assisting her husband in his rise to the top (but also betraying him in more ways than one), but during Season 3 she revealed her own political ambitions and contrived to land herself the position of US ambassador to the UN.  During the nomination process her opponents pointed to her utter lack of experience yet she obtains the position anyway thanks to her husband’s prerogative to just appoint somebody of his choosing – whereupon she promptly makes a complete idiot of herself and the United States by being played like a fiddle by the Russians.  I thought at this point she’d be relegated to a supporting role again, her character having been shown to lack experience or competence in a political role –  as her opponents were saying (and any reasonably viewer thinking) all along.

But no.  The feminists who had hijacked the script were having none of it.  Season 4 saw Frank Underwood lying in a coma having been shot in an assassination attempt, a weak VP in temporary charge, and First Lady Claire Underwood running about doing what she likes as though she had some constitutional authority to do so.  A strong, experienced, and somewhat ruthless female secretary of state allows herself to be bullied by Claire into submission, to the ridiculous extent that it is Claire who is sent into a room alone with the Russian president to negotiate a solution to some strategic issue of vital importance.  And of course, Claire gets the notoriously stubborn Putin-a-like to capitulate by browbeating him in a manner in which I suspect feminists think women should speak to their husbands.  As the season advances, Claire finds herself able to order members of the presidential staff around on whim, involving herself in matters of national security even to the point of being in the situation room, and not a single person in the administration raises a squeak in protest.

This wouldn’t be so irritating were it not for the fact that each scene of Claire’s brilliance takes on exactly the same form.  She wears the same arse-hugging style of dress or skirt in every shot, she manages a single facial expression throughout the entire series, and for each pivotal scene the only thing that changes are the words being spoken.  It quickly becomes repetitive, and not a little tedious.  But not content with that, the feminists have to ramp it up by making Claire the object of seemingly every key man’s sexual desire as well.  In Seasons 1 and 2 she is shagging a rather hip British photographer who is world famous, the type that would in real life be hanging around models from Eastern Europe.  But in House of Cards he’s pining after the ageing wife of a US senator.  She finds herself fending off the advances of the (divorced) Russian president, who tells Frank that she is truly beautiful, or something like that.  Because prominent Russians are well known for flattering American women and have difficulty picking up stunners back home.  Uh-huh.  In Season 4 Claire is shagging a famous author, a younger man hired by Frank to write their speeches or biographies, or something.  When Frank finds out he doesn’t mind, and this ruthless motherfucker who committed two murders in his ascendancy to the White House doesn’t just accept it, but gives the couple his blessing.  Again, the idea that a famous author would fall in love with the older wife of the US president instead of having a beautiful, loving partner of his own doesn’t even get questioned.  Despite various betrayals on her part of her husband’s political maneuverings plus the aforementioned infidelities, Frank wakes from his coma praising her to the heavens, forgiving her in full, and stating in unequivocal terms that she is the most important person in the entire series.  Even the wife of the Republican presidential nominee is forced by the scriptwriters to shower her with gushing praise during a visit to the White House.  Season 4 ends with her being nominated as the VP on her husband’s ticket, having seen off seasoned and ruthless female opponents by making hackneyed speeches in a figure-hugging dress.

The audience, by having it rammed down their throats every episode, is expected to unconditionally accept that Claire Underwood is a brilliant politician, responsible for every success her husband has achieved, desired sexually by every man who meets her, and is easily capable as a president herself (there is a Season 5 on the way).  By contrast, despite a brief affair with a young journalist in Season 1, her husband Frank is a greying, cuckolded, semi-invalid who owes her everything.  It is the definition of tedious, and I almost didn’t make it to the end of the series.  Watching this rubbish during the current buildup to the US presidential election, I got the feeling that the scriptwriters were fantasizing about what Michelle Obama could do in her position as First Lady.  Now I see the progressive media praising her speech at the Democratic National Convention for all its worth, I am wondering if a section of the American liberal left haven’t confused real-life politics for a TV show.

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