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  • Glenn Sonnenberg

Musings from the Bunker 3/15/21

Good morning, CANCELLATION Much has been written of late about “cancel culture.” It’s rampant and coming from all places on the political spectrum. Contrary to the pronouncements from those on the far-left and the far-right, there are people whose names should be purged and whose ideologies are unacceptable in a civilized society. I would include in this list Hitler, Mao, Stalin, Pol Pot, Charles Manson, Jeffrey Daumer, eugenicists, the Proud Boys, and, of course, Dr. Evil. But there is a lot of cancellation out there that should be, well, cancelled:

  • Purging names from buildings and places based upon modern interpretations of older times (I’m not talking about Jefferson Davis, who should not be honored; I’m talking about Abraham Lincoln, John Muir and Isaac Newton).

  • Intersectionality, which has been warped to suggest that people are either oppressors or the oppressed. If you’re an oppressor class, you have no voice. You can’t voice an opinion on the plight of the oppressed. It has been used as a means of categorizing the Israeli-Palestinian issues such that sympathizers with Israel on anything don’t have standing to participate anywhere. It is possible to acknowledge the plight of Palestinians, value the legitimacy and accomplishments of the State of Israel and support Black Lives Matter. These are not mutually exclusive ideas.

  • The Trumpification of the Republican party. If you don’t support the former president, if you don’t fully embrace him and his antics, if you believe the “stop the steal” was a lie (which it was), then you are to be excommunicated and “primaried.”

  • The public shaming of views with which we disagree, whether through cyber-bullying, shouting down speakers, blocking entrances to events, or seeking dismissals from positions at colleges because of perceived “incorrect” or insensitive beliefs (or, worse still, the occasional lapse in judgment or rhetorical slip).

Until we can break this cycle of vilification and cancelation, we will be consigned to a constant “zero sum game” where in order for a position to have legitimacy, it has to decry the illegitimacy of all others. It creates an environment of destruction rather than constructive dialog. This is dangerous to our body politic that is exacerbated and encouraged by Russian disinformation and the spread of lies on the internet. MOVIE EPICS Wow. A lot of comments on some great movies, as set forth below: “How can you not include the original Star Wars?” askes Jeremy Rosen. It is fair that the Star Wars saga purports to be an epic of grand scale. That said, is it truly epic? My definition suggests that there is a depth of character and its development, multiple plot threads and real conflict. The conflict of Star Wars essentially is a serialized “good versus evil,” with chase scenes and battle sequences played out in space. I would argue that the good guys stay good; the bad guys remain (or increase) their evil. Sorry, Jeremy, one of the few circumstances where we disagree. The Shawshank Redemption, suggested by Jessica Lebovitz. Here I think she may be right. As an aside, I believe this film is the example of a film with a so-so initial response that grew rapidly and that has had an amazing life in video rentals and streaming (I believe it is among the most regularly aired of all movies). Harold and Maude and any of several Woody Allen movies, suggested by Susan Sawasy. I agree that Harold and Maude is a seminal film (another Robert Altmann film, along with Nashville). Not sure it fits my (rather arbitrary) definition of “epic.” The Usual Suspects, recommended by Alan Rosenbach. He also notes that a friend who is a film historian concurs on the choice of Silverado. I think The Usual Suspects is a great example of building an entire complex plot with a surprise hook. Similar to the methodology of Get Out and The Sixth Sense. Not sure it’s an epic; but pretty sure it is a great film that started a genre. In the Heat of the Night, suggested by Bob Badal. He says it contains all the elements I set out and “it is capable of being watched no matter how many times it pops up on TCM.” Napoleon (from 1927) and Lawrence of Arabia (1962), “arguably the most important silent film epic and sound film epic, respectively, of the 20th century,” according to John Goldsmith. John is “in the industry” and should know. I agree. Finally, from the fount of all wisdom on cinema, the founder of “the Kroll Poll,” Howard Kroll, “I would throw in the David Lean movies Bridge On The River Kwai, Lawrence of Arabia and Dr. Zhivago in the epic category. And the Charlton Heston epic films Ben Hur, The Ten Commandments and The Big Country. And, most recently, 1917.” Agreed; but maybe not 1917. DAYLIGHT SAVINGS The debate continues. Stick with the year split between Standard Time and Daylight Savings Time? Go to Standard all year? Go to Daylight Savings all year? While I suppose I care, primarily because I lost an hour of sleep Saturday night, I don’t really care that much. I look forward to getting in nine holes of golf in the late afternoon and late sunsets. But I think what really gets me excited is contemplating that extra hour of sleep in November! Have a great day, Glenn

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