Tag: popular culture

Popular Culture 20100409: The Big Valley

The Big Valley was a popular throwaway TeeVee show in the mid 1960’s.  Does anyone remember it?

It starred Barbara Stanwyck (who insisted on being billed as “Miss Barbara Stanwyck, and I wonder what the “Miss” meant), Peter Breck as Nick Barkley, Richard Long as Jarrord Barkely, and Linda Evans as the prototype “10” as Audra Barkely.

Adverts: Love, Hate, or Indifferent 20090216

There seem to be more adverts on the TeeVee than content.  I guess that is why it only costs from $20 to $50 a month for “free” TeeVee.

Some adverts are amusing, some are less than amusing, and some are just insulting.  Please keep with me as I look at a few that I find in each category.

Book Review: Environmentalism in Popular Culture

This is a review of Noel Sturgeon’s (2009) Environmentalism in Popular Culture, an interesting book of feminist cultural criticism.  Environmentalism in Popular Culture offers the most readily-accessible critique of an American mythology of the environment that I’ve read yet.  Though it makes some rather quick connections between its identity politics categories and environmental analysis, it maintains the reader’s interest throughout.

(crossposted at Big Orange)

Torture and the theater of cruelty

We seem to have lost sight of a fundamental motivating factor in the torture controversy: torture made good political theater. The theatrical dimension of the punishment of America’s foes was made plain to me when I first saw pictures of Guantanamo captives kneeling in their orange jump suits. At first I thought that they were kneeling in prayer. Then I realized that they were in two lines facing in opposite directions. They were being made to kneel to humiliate them. (Later, I learned that they were also blinded and deafened by sensory deprivation gear.) Americans did not recoil from the humiliation of these prisoners (a clear violation of the Geneva conventions). No, most Americans delighted in the vengeance inflicted on the “worst of the worst.”

Not coincidentally, at the same time that the Bush administration’s theater of cruelty began its productions, the FOX television network launched the popular series “24,” which regularly featured the torture of terrorist captives. This torture was consistently depicted as successful and appropriate to dealing with the terrorist threat. Thus, the case can be made that Bush, Rove, Cheney, Rumsfeld and their whole sick crew were using torture of captives to enhance the political popularity of the Bush administration. The mob was howling for vengance, and Rove, Bush, and Cheney gave it to them.

But mobs cool down, and in the cold gray light of dawn, as we survey America’s tattered reputation, the unavoidable question is “What were they thinking?” I submit that the answer is that Bush and Rove were thinking about the political gains to be achieved from feeding retributive violence to a bloodthirsty mob. It would be a grand reprise of an ambitious young Texas governor earning the praise of his savage constituents by setting a national record for executions. Bush used his record of eagerly killing convicts to rise to the Presidency, and he intended to increase his power by brutalizing captive “terrorists.”

The theater of cruelty has closed, temporarily, but many Americans have fond memories of its exciting productions, and they resent Obama for questioning the quality of its shows. Theaters can’t exist without an audience, and the torture scandal is ultimately a reflection of the blind, vindictive cruelty of the American people.

George and Dick’s Excellent Adventure


Dudes! Where does the time go? After eight short years, two stolen elections and our best job to turn the Constitution from a ‘goddamned piece of paper’ into a stinky, rotten, used piece of one-ply toilet tissue, we still somehow are obliged to leave office in a few weeks. Dude, that totally sucks!

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