Cancel This

Women who claimed abuse or even bullying used to be seen as fragile, suspect, or asking for it.

Men who even claimed they were bullied were seen as weak, pathetic, not one of the boys and, well let’s just say it, GAY.

And in some neighborhoods, dinner tables, and as we now know, New York State governor’s offices, this is still true.

This time… maybe try to do something?

But we’ll get to NY’s 63-year-old Andrew Cuomo’s “flirting” within the confines of his lair with a young female aide who is a sexual abuse survivor (Note: Meaning asking about her dating and sex life while confessing he was lonely) in a moment.

Not so long ago, the right to speak out and be heard about any of the above subjects, and others, was viewed as one positive way our society had evolved into a more inclusive and just era.   A more perfect union, to quote our Founding Fathers.

Not close to perfect but not bad for a society that was founded on slavery and didn’t even allow women to vote until less than 100 years ago.

Forget about what it did to the gays and still hasn’t done for non-whites.

Doing my best Pete Campbell here

Yet here we are, backing into 2021, and finding ourselves in still yet another age.

One in which continuing to speak out on any of the above subjects has been officially slapped with this new and relentlessly un-clever phrase – CANCEL CULTURE.

This is a term founded on a proposition that it will stop us dead in our tracks and prevent us from achieving anything close to what our forefathers envisioned for us nearly 300 years later.

You, the accusers, want to tell us, nee order us, how to behave and if we don’t adhere to your strict set of politically correct guidelines, you want to EXTERMINATE US!

Cue the audience heads exploding!

In other words, you claimers, you complainers, are no better than Nazis.  In fact, YOU are the Nazis of freedom of speech and behavior.  Not us.

You want to tell us how to speak, what to do and even what to eat.

Well, I guess it’s no accident the Trumps plowed down Michelle Obama’s White House vegetable garden as soon as they could. 

Just as it’s not a coincidence House Minority Leader Kevin McCarthy posted a video of himself this weekend reading Dr. Seuss’ Green Eggs and Ham.

Oh the places you’ll go!

Never mind that it was Dr. Seuss Enterprises, the late author’s own family company, that decided to pull six of the least popular of his hundreds of books for racial stereotyping the good doctor himself recognized during his life.

Rep. McCarthy had a cancel culture point to make and gosh, darn it, he was gonna make it even if he had to read from one of the books that WASN’T cancelled.

In essence, it’s that anyone who complains about racism, sexism, homophobia or anything of the like in the public sphere wants to rub out American life as they’ve always known it. 

BYEEEEEE

They want to cancel American history, cancel American freedom and soon cancel the very definition of the American Way.

Well, if it means we cease to evolve as a country and stay mired in racism, sexism, homophobia and the way things have always been done then um, yeah, Kevin, sounds good to me.

As Nike, one of our great American corporations you love to brag about to the world (Note: Their embrace of Colin Kaepernick, not withstanding) tells us, JUST DO IT!

This works too

I’ve been writing this blog for 10 years and here is what someone named Neil Brown wrote in the comments section just this past week:

Mmm, another LGBTXYZ “person” who thinks they have anything good to add. Sorry, kid, but you don’t…

Interestingly enough, this comment was not directed at any particular subject I had written on.  Instead it was posted in the About section where, among other things, I define myself as an opinionist, screenwriter, writing teacher and… gay man living in L.A.

Imagine if I had listed the gay part, first?

Live images from Neil’s house

By the way, if you’re looking for Neil’s contribution you won’t find it because I blocked him.  I’m all for discourse, especially with those who strongly disagree with what I have to say, but it occurred to me a few years ago it’s not worth what precious time we have here arguing with morons.

Yet Neil does have the distinction of reminding me for the umpteenth time of what I’ve known practically my entire life.

As a gay person there is nastiness, marginalization, hatred and if one is really targeted, violence around every corner.

You’re throwing softballs here!

This is not even close to being the worst thing I’ve been called over the decades.  It’s just the latest minor example in a slew of major comments and actions I’ve been experiencing about my, mmm, “personage” since I was about 10 years old (Note: That I know of).  Certainly, it wouldn’t even make it on a list ofthings others in the LGBTQ community have experienced in their lifetimes.

Yet if the mere notion of a gay person speaking on anything is enough to so ruffle Neil’s feathers that he is motivated to sit down and actually vent his ire on a blog that he rarely, if ever, reads, what happens when one of those persons says something within shouting range, or does something that could potentially affect or alter he and his brethren’s way of doing things?

You see where this is going.  Or has gone.

Me, everyday?

Gov. Cuomo is not as bad as Harvey Weinstein or Bill Cosby. 

There’s no proof that Woody Allen committed the crime of abusing his then 7-year-old daughter, even though she says so.  And even though he is now married to her stepsister, who he met when she was a teenager and bedded when she was barely the legal age of consent and was writer-director-star of a quite famous box-office hit, Manhattan, centering on a forty something writer who has a very intense love relationship with a not yet legal 17-year-old girl, back in 1979.  What does that prove? 

That Mr. Allen was just past the age of his fictional doppelganger when he had sex with his stepdaughter and was accused of abusing his daughter?

So?????

(Note: Read about the normalization of that movie romance from a very good female writer here)

Does not pass the smell test

Andrew Cuomo never touched that young female aide in his office and the photo that captured him touching the face of a different female NY state employee at a wedding who said she didn’t want to be touched and didn’t welcome his accompanying question of, May I kiss you, doesn’t mean HE did anything wrong.

Though certainly, it’s not very strong evidence that he did anything right, either.

Which brings us back to the subject of what is wrong and what is right, what is legal vs. illegal and how we act on, speak about and rectify our beliefs about these issues. 

Well, I’m no judge and was only once a member of a jury (Note: Where we ruled an insurance company had to pay this poor family they had turned their back on millions of dollars.  So don’t get me started). 

How I see myself on a jury

But it seems to me that even if we adopted the cancel culture mindset the pink slip cuts both ways.  If you’re engaging in status quo behavior others object to and you feel right to air your grievances against them, you can’t cancel those others from speaking out on what they think.

That wouldn’t be fair, that wouldn’t be just and it certainly threatens us with an entirely new cultural definition – one of the imperfect union. (Note:  No, this is not directed at Woody and Soon-Yi unless YOU choose to SAY it is).

I don’t pretend to know the way forward.  But what I am sure about is that any time your only essential retort back at criticism is you’re being too sensitive, I didn’t realize or that’s the way it’s always been you’re on shaky ground. 

And will wind up cancelling yourself before too long.

Paul Simon – 50 Ways to Leave Your Lover

Check out the Chair’s newest project, Pod From a Chair , now available on Apple Podcasts and Spotify!

Is The Irishman why we go to the movies?

After spending three and a half hours seeing Martin Scorsese’s The Irishman, financed by Netflix, at a screening at the Writer’s Guild Theatre in Beverly Hills, there are lots of thoughts and feelings to be sorted out.

None of these have to do with the future of film exhibition or whether Netflix is justified in its release pattern for the new Scorsese film.  For those who don’t know, that would be only eight theatres in NY and LA this week, followed by additional movie screens in more cities seven days later and, finally, its streaming debut just ten days after that (Nov. 27) for anyone with a Netflix subscription or the ability to hop on to someone else’s account.

Netflix is so needy #validation

Scorsese, who turns 77 years old on Nov. 17, is one of THE best American filmmakers of the 20th and 21st centuries, or any century.  Yeah, he’s publicly expressed his disinterest in superhero films and sounded the alarm bells about a money guzzling, tent-pole-driven, market-researched-to-death movie industry obsessed with the Marvel/DC Universe at the expense of cinema dealing with humans and the complexity and nuance of their emotions.

But, for the record, he’s right about that.  Most of us would tire of potato chips and chocolate bars if we ate them 75% of the time.  Even if we didn’t, think of the affect it would have not only on our bodies but our souls, assuming it already hasn’t.

Avengers: Age of Gluttony

Point being, Scorsese not only has a good argument about what passes for present-day cinema but has earned the right to grouse.  For Taxi Driver, Mean Streets, Raging Bull, Good Fellas, New York, New York, The Aviator, Casino and The Departed alone, he can opine from now until the end of time about what displeases him and/or makes him happy about any one group of films or the movie industry in general.

also thank you for this gif

Which makes one wonder if the same goes for his audience.  If you’ve been a Scorsese admirer and mostly loyal fan all these years, do you have the right to be disappointed in the latest entry into the master’s oeuvre that everyone else seems to be calling brilliant?

Well, of course you have the right.  This is still a free(ish) country.  But is it called for, or even worth it to bring up?

Yeah, it is.

Oh there’s more…

Movies by their very nature are a communal experience.  Sure, many of us now too often watch in the confines of our own homes, and too often do it alone.  But the cinema Scorsese makes and presents is shared with others in a dark room where it’s then debated and dissected afterwards.  It’s part of the gift he’s given us for over half a century and to ignore real life discussion of a new Scorsese film would be like negating the very existence of the artist himself.

So here’s the thing…

Is that Ray Romano?

The Irishman is extremely well made, brilliantly acted and doubtless couldn’t be directed better by anyone else on the planet.  But it’s as cold as a tray of ice cubes on a bleak winter’s day and about as revelatory and/or insightful.

Ouch, Chairy!

After 209 minutes it’s difficult to not wonder aloud, Why did I just spend all of this time watching this?  What did this film tell me that I didn’t already know?  In what way was I touched, repelled or even slightly moved by the lives of these “wise guys” and the people around them?  (Note: Not to mention, I already knew the Mob murdered Jimmy Hoffa!!!).

This is especially true if you’ve ever seen a mob film by Scorsese.  Or watched one in that genre by his friend and contemporary, Francis Ford Coppola.  Or even binge watched the HBO series The Sopranos.

Don’t drag me into this! #cuttoblack

It’s unfair to say that with The Irishman Scorsese has made his version of a sequel to a sequel of his latest superhero film.  The Irishman has many flaws (Note: Despite what the critics are saying), but once it reaches the three-hour mark it forges some new ground.  In its last half hour, one begins to realize why the director spent all of these years trying to make this story and why it is likely the final chapter of every mob story he has ever told.

You can trust the Chair

But suffice it to say that dark and foreboding as it might be, that third act ending doesn’t so much surprise as simply…play out.  It takes you down a road you didn’t expect to see onscreen but pretty much could have imagined would have happened exactly that way off screen.

Would you have imagined it, if left to your own devices?  The answer is probably not if you weren’t a contemporary of Scorsese.  So in that sense, it does play in to the director’s own definition of cinema and, in its way, far surpasses anything you will see in the latest Marvel/DC superhero film.   Which is not to say it is Scorsese, or even cinema, at its best.

God, he’s so rich

There are many different reasons why we go to the movies.  Though let’s qualify that to reflect a 2019 reality.  There are many different reasons why we watch movies.

Escape comes to mind.  File this under the category of general entertainment.  We want to laugh and forget or, if we are addicted to catharsis, we want (and need) to cry and commiserate.

I already know I’ll be a disaster during this movie

Perhaps we want to feel superior to a person or class of people being portrayed onscreen.  Taken one step further, we might even joyfully hate watch something we know will be hopelessly dumb, awful or not to our taste just because we can, especially if we’re the type that has no empathy for its own highly overpaid craftspeople boring us.  (Note: Rest assured the latter also includes ALL of its above-the-line talent [nee actors, producers, writers AND directors] despite what they might say or admit to in interviews.  Though this should never, ever include Scorsese or anyone of his caliber).

But mostly, many of us go to and/or watch movies simply because we are true blue fans, Scorsese or otherwise.

… and for the popcorn #arteriesclogging #delicious

We hope for the best, realize we may be disappointed and yet still are pleased that we saw it.  Some but not all of us in that category can usually find something to like in almost anything, even if it’s the good intentions of those who might have let us down.   (Note: See a few paragraphs above). More importantly, there is always a chance we will see something we like, perhaps even love, and be transported.

And for that experience, we will be grateful, perhaps forever grateful.

With so many other ways to spend our time these days there is still nothing quite like sitting in the dark (or semi-dark, or even light) and watching someone else’s idea of life unfold.  For a short time we get to feel something we might have never felt before, or in that particular way

I have a lot of feelings, OK?!?!

There are Scorsese films where we have that for a few fleeting moments, for numerous moments or, sometimes, all the way through.

You (okay, I) want The Irishman to be the latter even though the best you can say about it is that it’s in the former.  But like all great cinema, the movie and its director contain some moments where you feel as if you are in the presence of screen super heroes.

And that says something.  Actually, it says a lot.

Muddy Waters – “Mannish Boy” (from soundtrack for The Irishman)