The Good Guy with a Gun Myth, Debunked

Hey, Fickle Readers! I don’t normally like posting a lot of video clips. There are plenty of web sites that used to be actual news outlets until at some point they decided it was much easier to slap together a bunch of clips of Stephen Colbert and Larry Wilmore. (I’m looking at you, Salon.) But this segment of the Daily Show is really worth watching. In it, Jordan Klepper shows how completely impossible it is for the casual, well-intentioned gun owner to stop an active shooter.

While you’re watching this, remember: video clips and arguments may not change minds, but the goal of representative democracy is only to change POLICY. Get lawmakers to do what you want, and if they ignore you, send their asses home.

A Liberal Speaks: Why Should I Care If You’re Offended If You Offend Me?

 

[To my regular readers: all of these links have been generated through donotlink.com. They will not generate page views for any of the web sites mentioned below.]

Dear Matt Walsh,

I have to admit, I don’t really know who you are. You are one among many angry voices of Christian conservatism nowadays, and as I’m not a Christian conservative, I don’t tend to keep track of you all. Your message is pretty much the same: hate, hate, and more hate for everyone who doesn’t believe what you believe, or act how you want them to act, or live how you want them to live. I’m not sure how that encourages people to support your movement or your religion, but hey, other groups have recruited by uniting people in hatred, so why not you?

I did want to bring up a Facebook post of yours that came to my attention. Apparently, you were offended the other evening by an episode of the TV show “Scandal.” You write that “many people have informed me that last night the show depicted a woman having an abortion.” Then you go on to describe how the main character has the procedure while “Silent Night” is playing in the background. Then later she has a glass of wine by her Christmas tree and looks “satisfied and content.” It would strengthen your argument a lot if you’d actually gone to the trouble of watching the episode yourself. “Many people” may not have accurately described to you the moment in question. I’m not a regular watcher of “Scandal,” but I did happen to catch this episode, and if you gave me the names of your sources I think we could have a productive discussion about what really happened during that scene. I, for example, don’t think she was looking satisfied or content in the slightest.  But this blog post isn’t really about analyzing a TV moment, so never mind.

What I wanted to talk about was your offense over the moment–your feeling that (as you write) “THIS IS OPEN ADVOCACY OF CHILD MURDER ON A MAJOR NETWORK” and (perhaps) your outrage that a beloved Christmas carol is playing in the background as the abortion is taking place. Believe it or not, I can see how such a scene would be profoundly offensive to you. You believe that abortion is child murder. I don’t, but I support your right to that belief. You’re offended not only by seeing an abortion being performed on TV, but also by hearing a song from your own Christian canon linked to an offensive image. You may even believe that the scene was an implicit attack on you. (I don’t believe it was intended that way, but I will admit it’s open to debate, and whether or not the intent was to offend doesn’t make a difference, anyway. But never mind that either.)

So right now, I’m empathizing with your position. You, Matt Walsh, represent a religion that finds abortion offensive–an abomination, in fact–and a popular TV show has just dramatized an abortion scene with a Christian soundtrack. Yes, that seems pretty offensive.

Here’s the problem, though: for decades upon decades in this country, the Christian conservative movement has been saying and doing things that are personally offensive to me, my family, my friends, and the beliefs that I hold dear. I happen to be a liberal. You are the folks who have helped make “liberal” into a dirty word. You fling the most bilious, contempt-filled, rage-inducing language my direction every day, and you don’t even know who I am. You probably didn’t guess that I might see your point about the “Scandal” scene, did you? And yet you wrote me off long ago and attack me continuously, I guess because you think I’m your enemy.

Did you ever bother to ask me if I consider you my enemy? No, I didn’t think so.

Now you might be ready to tell me, “You liberals started this!” You might be ready to ask, “Where’s your proof?” I’m not going to get into a debate about who started what. That’s the sort of thing that children do, not mature adults. But as far as proof goes, I don’t need to go anywhere outside of your own web site to find examples of that. In fact, Matt Walsh, I don’t even have to read the content of your posts to be offended by your statements. Your headlines are plenty offensive: “With The ‘Transgender’ Movement, Liberalism Has Finally Descended Into Total Madness”; “If You Don’t Want Your Kids to Be ‘Assaulted’ by the Cops, Teach Them to Respect Authority”; “Planned Parenthood Murders Children — None of Their Other ‘Services’ Matter”; “Democrats Are Godless Heathen Tyrant Maniacs Because That’s What Voters Want”; “#ShoutYourAbortion Proves That Modern Liberalism Is A Satanic Death Cult.”

I could go on, but my hand is already aching from copy-and-paste strain. Also, I’m pretty sure you don’t care that you’ve offended me. You think I’m a despicable minority, that America is on your side and my voice doesn’t matter. But I think that the response to your own call for a boycott ought to be enough to disprove that belief.

So far I haven’t seen a big groundswell for boycotting “Scandal.” You want to know why I think that is? I think you inadvertently hit the nail on the head in your own remarks. In your Facebook post, you speak of the “humongous media corporations” like ABC, which airs “Scandal,”  and you claim that you and your fellow Christian conservatives make up the main demographic group that keeps these corporations afloat. “If we didn’t support them, they wouldn’t exist,” you say. Really? Because from what I’m seeing, you’ve only gotten the attention of entertainment journalists who like to comment on people’s reactions to TV shows. Hell, you say yourself that you don’t even watch “Scandal.” Should ABC think that other people like you are watching? Of course not! You can’t boycott a show you don’t even watch, so why should ABC listen to your grievances? 

ABC’s in business to make money. You, Matt Walsh, don’t matter to ABC’s bottom line. Christian conservatives do NOT support corporations like ABC.

Do you know what that makes you, Matt Walsh, and your fellow Christian conservatives?

It makes you a minority.

You may be a vocal minority. You may even be an entertaining minority to a cynical political or entertainment reporter or two. But you’re a minority all the same.

And do you know what minorities need to affect change in America?

Allies. Particularly political allies who believe in the rights of minorities in this country.

Sadly, I think your chances of making allies out of us liberals are slim to none. I think you gave up that possibility 35 years ago when you decided to fling mud at us 24/7. You have nothing of value to offer me or any other liberal. So why should I care that you find one scene in one episode of a fictional TV show offensive? No laws have been broken. I wasn’t offended. So I ask you again: why should I care if you’re offended?

I’ll say that I do have some Christian conservative friends. I care about what they think and feel, because they care about what I think and feel. We are human beings to each other.

I am nothing to you, Matt Walsh, and so you are nothing to me.

 

Thank You, Mike Thomas –and, Once Again, Godspeed Jan Hooks

Howdy, Fickle Readers!

Unfortunately (or, as Little Fickle would say, unfortunarily), I don’t have time to give this piece the thorough analysis it deserves. But I did want to let everyone who’s been following my modest Jan Hooks coverage know that Mike Thomas, the journalist who published a biography of Phil Hartman in 2014, has just published a lovely retrospective article in Grantland on Hooks’s life and death. In the piece, he fully discloses the details of Hooks’s struggles with anxiety, isolation, and illness, as well as her rocky relationship with her own fame and talent. It’s an eye-opening piece. In this day and age, when fame is one of the be-all, end-all life goals for many, when someone invented not only the selfie but the selfie stick (hopefully someday God will forgive us for that monstrosity), Hooks seemed to be searching for a middle ground–one that would let her be herself and pursue her creative interests without having to get entangled with the demanding, draining constraints that showbiz puts on its actors. I’m not sure that she ever found it, but she did seem to find some peace being able to control the work that she took on and (maybe) being able to be herself when no one was all that interested in her quirky take on life.

I don’t know. I’m trying to glean a positive spin on her largely sad ending. Thomas works very hard to show that Hooks lived and died on her own terms. Many in modern Western society might deem those terms tragic–an early death in a remote location, far from the eyes of critics and fans alike–but Thomas insists that she made all her own decisions, and one of those decisions was that the limelight wasn’t for her. One wonders if the reason why she disliked the entertainment world so much was because there was no place for an original voice like hers.

I hope that Thomas or others will continue the discussion on Hooks. I hope this article means that there may be a new biography coming out. Hooks deserves her own space, despite the fact that she decided to abandon the very thing that placed her in the public eye. In an age when Julia Roberts is the gold standard for the ambitious actress, it behooves us to examine what fame means to women who are not the ideal and, moreover, don’t want to be.

[UPDATED]The One Year Anniversary of Jan Hooks’s Death: She’s Still Funny

UPDATE: Astute reader Elizabeth points out that Kevin Nealon confirmed that Hooks had cancer in a December 2014 Howard Stern interview (see the link in the comment below). Nealon and Stern also discuss how Hooks moved out of the city after 9/11, and how Hooks had recently gotten a laptop before her death (Stern sort of fishes around, asking whether Hooks was “off the grid” in her final years.) All information I’ve never heard before, and all “tantalizing,” as Nealon might say. (He uses the word over and over in reference to his friendship with Hooks that turned into a relationship and then back into a friendship. I’m not quite sure what Nealon meant by it. Either he was trying to put off Stern’s more probing questions or he kind of doesn’t know what “tantalizing” means. You readers can have a listen and see what you think.)

Thanks for the heads up, Elizabeth!

 

Hey, Fickle Readers! A year ago today, the great Jan Hooks passed away at the age of 57. A year ago tomorrow is the one year anniversary of the post I wrote about the loss of this wonderful yet underrated actress. To this day, there’s still no official word on what she died of. The only article online that mentions her cause of death is from the Daily Mail, and they got their information from random neighbors and the head of the co-op building where she lived. No go-getting milennial journalists have gone out and tracked down Hooks’s story. As far as I can tell, no one has even done a retrospective of her life, although a few of us, like blogger Little Kicks Dance and Austin (who contributed a guest post to my site), have been cobbling together what pieces we can find online and elsewhere. Mostly, you can find stories about her in interviews and biographies of fellow actors and friends. It’s kind of a shame, though. She really ought to have her own corner in the pantheon of modern actresses and comedians. We shouldn’t have to go scrounging and filling in the gaps to know who she was.

One thing we know for sure: she was really damn funny. Today, I found yet another SNL sketch–one I don’t think I ever saw before–of her performing as Bette Davis’s living will. Not only is this a nicely preserved portion of the late 20th century (Phil Hartman, who plays Davis’s son, acts shocked when he hears he’s going to “see” his mother speaking to them), it’s another fine example of Hooks’s over-the-top kookiness. She never stops with one or two gags–she always pushes herself to come up with something new. Also, it seems like she does the fast-forward noises on the VCR herself. Really goofy fun.

Above is a picture of Hooks as Davis. The link to the video is here. Enjoy!

 

A Little More Jan Hooks

Every time Jan Hooks re-enters the pop culture blood stream, I get a tremendous spike in my readership. Last Saturday, it happened again. SNL reran an episode that included a tribute to Hooks, the “Love Is a Dream” sketch, now a bona fide tear-jerker since both Hooks and Phil Hartman are gone. Apparently, people are still searching for information on what happened to her last October. (There’s still no new information, by the way. Only Wikipedia citing a single Daily Mail article, which cited the head of her building’s co-op as their big source on Hooks’s cause of death.) I, too, wish we knew more, but I also wish we had more of her and her work. She was so very, very funny. And she disappeared from the public eye far too soon.

But we’ve been all been saying the same thing for several months now, so here’s something I never saw until Salon mentioned it in a recent interview with Nora Dunn:  a clip of Dunn and Hooks as the Sweeney Sisters, opening the Emmys in 1988. The video quality is pretty bad, but the show Dunn and Hooks put on is a little snippet of lunatic brilliance. Possibly the best part happens when the Sweeneys leave the stage and start accosting all the celebrities in the audience. (Think famous actors like being messed with when they’re the ones watching something onstage? Think again.)

Enjoy the clip, everyone! And be sure to check out this exhaustive essay on Hooks’s career from blogger Little Kicks Dance, who pulls together an amazing amount of material on Hooks’s life and personality as well. My hat’s off to you, Little Kicks Dance. A big, giant virtual bottle of tequila for you in honor of collecting, like, ten times the amount of quality material than the Daily Mail’s “let’s interview the head of her co-op” reporting staff did!