Law and Order: Zorch Unit

I like the adage write what you know because I’m not the kind of writer who can make up fictional worlds on the planet Zorch. 

Though I might have fun introducing you to a few Zorchian characters and amuse you into believing there is life on other planets.  But that’s only because my Zorchians would seem like Earthlings, probably Americans and likely with an attitude since that is my worldview.

We all have attitudes.

Sing it, sister!

In other words, we are more alike than we are different, as I’ve written before and actually stole from a writing mentor, who in turn likely pilfered it from someone else.

That doesn’t make it any less true.

As we watch what looks like World War III beginning to unfold with the unprovoked, slow decimation of Ukraine and its 43 million people at the hands of crazed Russian dictator Vladimir Putin, it’s hard to not feel like we’re on the planet Zorch. 

Or Ukraine is the planet Zorch. 

OK.. I’m following…

Or planet Zorch is an evil place led by a crazed dictator bent on destroying Ukraine, or daring us and other NATO nations to stand up to it.

It depends on your worldview.

The constant is people are more alike than different. 

How does the image I saw this weekend on CNN of an 18-month old baby boy dying in a blood-soaked blanket in a Ukrainian hospital in the city of Mariupol after intense shelling by Russian bombers relate to all this?

It doesn’t.

All I could focus on were his very much still alive Earthling parents. 

We must.

How did his father, who carried him in, ever make it to the hospital amid the shelling? 

How was that hospital even open? 

What will the life of his hysterical mother – and that Dad’s wife – be like if she even manages to make it out of this unprovoked, needless war?

When I think of that little boy who will never grow up…  Well, I can’t think of that.  I mean, I do but then there comes a point where I walk away or somehow the subject gets changed in my head. 

As it does for so many of us.

Click the pic for links!

In my case it made me once again think of the structural engine behind the indestructible Law and Order franchise.

We earthlings need to believe that at the end of the day our laws will more time than not give us order.  As if real order was possible to ensure and laws were the one imperfect way we had to ensure them.

Well, that might work on Earth but not here (Note: Or there) on Zorch.

There is no Benson and Stabler on Zorch??

Zorchian reality, by contemporary definition, is an environment where the rules don’t apply and our meager laws don’t fix much of anything.

This is especially the case when we don’t have the courage to enforce them or the right logic to forestall impending cataclysmic catastrophe and thus ensure a truly moral order.

Not that we aren’t presently courageous or devoid of any logic whatsoever.

After all, we haven’t reached the end of this episode, or perhaps season arc, quite yet.

We’ll see. 


Here’s a short, easy to read piece written by nuclear and foreign affairs expert Tom Nichols in The Atlantic that explains better than I can our mixed emotions on how to proceed in helping the people of Ukraine.

And this is a news report about two college roommates at the University of Delaware – one from Ukraine and the other from Russia – who led one of the many large protests to the war this week by college students all over the country.

Though truly, they’ve been taking place all over the world and are often led by the young.

If you want to know more about what college students, nee our future leaders, think click here and what you might find is the smallest glimmer of hope.  It’s a random series of thoughts and responses from them compiled by the NY Times.

Meanwhile, I’ll be the college professor in the corner trying to make some sense of Zorch so I can write about it in a more effective way.

Attitude only gets you so far these days.

Zorch – “Zut Alore”

Change for the Good

America is part of a global multi-racial community whether the insurrectionists of Jan. 6 like it or not.

This is a fact and it’s not going to change.  Ever.

Get used to it!

If anything, thanks in part to social media and social revolution, we are only going to get more multi-racial and more global.

Despite all the bellyaching from those preferring to benefit from our traditionally white, male heterosexual power structure.

Numbers don’t lie no matter how many times those doing their best to suppress the truth tell us a fork is actually a spoon…or a salad bowl.

If you want to put politics aside, and who doesn’t right now, one way to consider just how much things have changed is to look at this year’s Oscar nominations.

Huh? Chairy?

Flee, a mostly animated movie that tells the harrowing story of a young gay Afghan refugee’s nail biting escape from his war-torn country, was nominated for best documentary, best animated feature AND best international film.

That’s a first.

OK… good start

Japan’s Drive My Car received four nominations, including breakout ones for best picture and director, and Norway’s The Worst Person in the World nabbed an unexpected screenplay nod aside from the one it got for international film.

In the acting categories, four people of color received nominations (down from last year’s record high of nine).  But among those are top contenders like Will Smith in King Richard and Ariana DeBose in West Side Story, both of whom are favored to win in their categories.

Bonus points for the openly queer nominees!

Though before we start to believe we’ve truly toppled the Oscar Confederacy and, in turn, the international Confederacy of straight white, American maleness (Note: Don’t worry guys, we still want to include you always), here’s a very brief recent history of Oscar numbers to chew on.

The Academy of Motion Pictures Arts and Sciences began a real diversity push in earnest more than five years ago when #OscarsSoWhite became a shameful international hashtag due to the lack of diversity among that year’s nominees and winners (Note: Not a single Black actor was nominated in either 2015 or 2016 in any of the 20 possible slots).

But this had a great deal to do with the voting members in the Academy.  At that time 92% of the membership was white and 75% was male. 

You know… him

After a push to recruit a more diverse membership, these days approximately 84% of the members are white and 16% are non-white.  Its female membership also increased to more than 32%.

The statistics among new members are a lot better.  For example, of the 819 new people who became Oscar voters in 2020, 45% were women and 36% were people of color.

If the Academy keeps going at this rate, who knows, it might not even be news when a woman receives a nomination as best director (Note: Jane Campion actually became the first female in history to be nominated twice in that category this year for The Power of The Dog, following last year’s nomination and win for Chloe Zhao (Nomadland), the first female POC to be so recognized).

Yes queen!

Though it still might break a few insurrectionists hearts when Ava DuVernay or use your imagination finally, finally, FINALLY gets their turn at the podium.

Still, we digress.

The real story of this year’s Oscar contenders, and inevitably surprising winners, really lies in the number of new international members welcomed into the Oscar voting fold during the last five years.  For a deeper dive, check out these stories in the Hollywood Reporter, Vox and Slate:

But if you want to truly understand the slow but steady shifting tide of one of our top entertainment cultural signifiers – the Oscars – and, in turn, all the kicking and screaming and spitting up from Fox News watchers– here is one simple way in.

The membership of the Academy has swelled to just about 9400 active members in 2021 compared to the 6261 it had in 2016.  That’s a 47% increase.

Consider me intrigued…

But even more interesting is that a significant portion of those new members came not only from a minority population but from outside the U.S. 

In 2022, more than 25% of all Academy members (nee voters) are from countries other than America, vs. a mere 12% just six years ago.

This gives deeper meaning to what Oscar-winning writer-director Billy Wilder was famously quoted as saying to the cameraman on one of his movies way back when: 

Shoot a few scenes out of focus.  I want to win the foreign film award.

Closeups remained in tact, Norma, don’t worry.

Now I love Billy Wilder as much as the next movie fan, perhaps even more.  But he was speaking at a particular place and time.  And as a European immigrant who embraced the style of American cinema while helping to significantly redefine it with lacerating wit, strong characterizations and unrelenting social commentary.

The Academy these days has wisely decided, though long overdue, to actively move forward from his now somewhat provincial, though still cringingly funny, dated point of view.

Its slow, somewhat steady embrace of international cinema (Note: Starting with South Korea’s Parasite best picture win in 2020), as well as its recognition of various minority and female viewpoints among this year’s nominated crop of films and members, is a welcome change and, yes, love overdue.

Meryl approved

And though I clearly can’t be sure, I’d bet, as an immigrant, even Wilder would fully endorse it.

Because ironically, when you think about it, it’s just about the most American thing the Academy, in its new and present form, can do to move the industry and the culture forward.

Evolution vs. insurrection.

Sebastián Yatra – “Dos Oruguitas” (from Encanto — Disney’s first Spanish language song nomination, second in the history of the Oscars)