Catching up with The Times

Three things I meant to blog about The Times this week, but I ran out of time each time:

* I was agog at Henry Blodget’s attempt to shrug off the stock bubble and the tremendous losses he helped cause and — apart from one smart-assed aside — his own responsibility with an op-ed for The Times. He tries to argue that the bubble was a natural — even biological — phenomenon (read: it ain’t my fault):

The growth of the Internet has paralleled that of most industries based on revolutionary technology. Canals, railroads, telegraphs, telephones, cars, radios, personal computers – all progressed (or are progressing) through four phases of development: boom, bust, mature growth and decay….

Sometimes, industry life cycles last a century or more (circuit-switched telephones); sometimes, only a few decades (Polaroid). But the repetition of the pattern – as well as its resemblance to biological evolution – suggests that the boom-and-bust phases should be viewed as far more than repeated examples of human folly. Rather, they should be seen as natural, inevitable bursts of trial-and-error adaptation, the mechanisms through which industries are formed.

What complete crap. But The Times doesn’t stop there. Today, Joe Nocera writes the apologia for his pal, Blodget: “Myself, I think it’s time to give the guy a break.”

Oh, give me a break.

: The paper tells the story of The Cell, a terrorist sitcom making the rounds of Hollywood — and meeting executives who do not have the balls to produce it. They should.

You might be surprised that I say that, being oversensitive about the topic.

But I say it’s time to make the terrorists into the absurd, stupid laughingstocks that they are. I think that is an appropriate insult to them. And, besides, the script is funny:

• Abu blends in by joining a bowling team, and becomes a fanatic: “We will dance in the blood of the losers from Hal’s Body and Paint Shop!” he vows. But he is a hapless terrorist. A fertilizer bomb in his trunk accidentally goes off outside when he is bowling for the league championship – toppling his last two pins and clinching victory.

: In today’s What’s Online column, there’s this snark at blogs:

Bloggers have made a valiant effort to collect money for victims of Hurricane Katrina. Sadly, though, they remain stuck in ideological camps, often listing only charities they deem “correct.”

And what’s wrong with recommending the charity you like and trust?

: And here’s my favorite: Whodathunk that The New York Times would report on the latest fashions in public hair?

  • John

    • Abu blends in by joining a bowling team, and becomes a fanatic: “We will dance in the blood of the losers from Hal’s Body and Paint Shop!” he vows. But he is a hapless terrorist. A fertilizer bomb in his trunk accidentally goes off outside when he is bowling for the league championship – toppling his last two pins and clinching victory.

    Short-term this might work, Jeff. But sitcoms have a natsy habit of humanizing even the most disliked characters after a few seasons, in order to offer the writers more varied storylines (look at the final few seasons of M*A*S*H for a perfect example of that trend).

    Of course, the show might not last more than a handful of episodes, but while Mel Brooks could humiliated Hitler and Nazis in general in “The Producers”, that movie/play ended after two hours. Make it into a TV show and you’d end up with lovable-but-inept hardcore Nazi Franz Liebken in a featured role after enough episodes. We really don’t need lovable-but-inept Islamic terrorists parading about on screen in 22 new episodes each season, especially since the threat from Islamic fanatics is a wee bit higher right now than from a buch of Germans with funny-looking arm bands.

  • http://www.agoyandhisblog.com/?p=88 goy

    Jeff, I think you’re absolutely correct that a terrorist sitcom would be appropriate, but you’d never get it past the CAIR censors.

    Despite that, I think this sitcom would be amazingly effective and we already have the numbers to back that up.

    Sitcoms have made the White American Male a laughingstock for years now — and just look what that’s done for “diversity”, political correctness and feminism!

  • http://robertdfeinman.com/society Robert Feinman

    Leave Blodget alone. If anyone wants to read his self justifying articles let them. Isn’t this what the first amendment is all about?
    If his writing is as inciteful as his stock recommendations he won’t have much of an audience anyway.
    Didn’t Milken “rehabilitate” himself, by giving away lots of money?

    Nocera’s remarks, however, are just a craven act.

  • http://hrsuccess.blogspot.com Tom O’Leary

    As witty as the snippets provided seem, I can’t buy into the comedic characterization of a terrorist. Should we do the same with rapists? Child molesters? There are certain behaviours that just shouldn’t be trivialized, if for no other reason than because it would be completely insensitive to those who were affected personally by the real-life characters. I am probably one of the most open-minded people that I know, but I’d have to draw the line here. Sorry for being a party pooper.

  • Jimmy

    I just don’t think a sitcom featuring terrorists would work for long. I also agree with the previous commenter. We don’t tackle rape, abuse, and murder with sitcoms. These subjects do not lend themselves to this type treatment. The only way something like this could work, I think, is if it was a one-time thing: a TV or feature movie, a series of 30 minute shows that didn’t last beyond a few weeks, something like that. Then, of course, for people to accept it, the show would have end with the terrorists turning their backs on extremism and embracing the wonders of America — then it just becomes a sell-out. Moreover, the way to fight terrorism is not to make it, or them, into “…absurd, stupid laughingstocks” because they just aren’t that. Murderers are not absurd or stupid, they are evil and you just can’t laugh that off.

  • chaneu

    I’m with the last two posters. There is nothing funny about an ideology that espouses mass murder, and that’s what terrorism is.

    “But I say it’s time to make the terrorists into the absurd, stupid laughingstocks that they are.”

    That statement is shockingly beneath your intelligence. I shouldn’t have to tell you about the danger of underestimating your enemy. Terrorists are not absurd, they are not stupid, and they are not laughingstocks. They know damned well what they are doing, their planning and execution has, for the most part, been meticulous, and, in case you haven’t noticed, they are winning. As of now the western world has been helpless in its attempt to control them, never mind stop them. We underestimate them at our peril.

    I see nothing, absolutely nothing, about this situation that is the least bit funny. The writers refer to this sitcom idea as “thinking outside the box.” A soundbite is a soundbite no matter who utters it. This sitcom is not even close to “thinking,” either inside or outside the box. It is “thinking abandoned” altogether.

  • pst314

    Robert wrote: “Leave Blodget alone….Isn’t this what the first amendment is all about?”

    The first amendment does not protect anyone from criticism. Nor should it. Sheesh.

  • pst314

    I tend to agree that a sitcom mocking terrorists is inappropriate, but if TV dramas can routinely portray white supremacists as depraved, twisted losers, why not islamists? On the other hand, if such a sitcom were to be produced, who do you think has the proper comedic mind to write such stories, Jeff? The creators of South Park come to mind, but who else?

  • http://www.mythusmageopines.com/mt Alan Kellogg

    Has it occurred to people that our insistence on hairless laps is closet pedophilia?

    BTW, should acceptance of public nudity grow Jeff’s typo may prove to be prophetic. :)

  • Greg T.

    ‘Public’ hair? Mine has never been public, except for one streaking episode in college. In winter.

    Never again if I have my way.

  • http://ambivablog.typepad.com amba

    Yes, I was going to say “Is not even THAT private any more?” but Greg beat me to it.

  • HA

    Jeff,

    The paper tells the story of The Cell, a terrorist sitcom making the rounds of Hollywood — and meeting executives who do not have the balls to produce it. They should.

    Amen. I have three words. BRING. IT. ON. If there is one thing this country is good at any more, it is mockery. Let’s mock our enemies mercilessly. It beats mocking each other.

    Maybe HBO will take it.

  • http://skipthelightfandango.typepad.com/my_weblog/ Howard Beale

    So, it’s Labor Day in a country where the number of unionized workers has dwindled to %13. Does this dilute the meaning of the holiday? Of course it does…chiefly because the last three generations of Americans have absolutely no knowledge of the history of the labor movement. It does not lessen the importance of those who struggled to organize labor in the last century and their impact on the invention (and brief dominance) of the American Middle Class.
    That Middle Class is now crushed under a debt inflicted on them by a corporate plutocracy. It also finds itself forced to contend with ever increasing pressures to conform to a social and politico-religious structure which more and more resembles the situation that drove our original settlers from England in the 17th Century.
    For your perusal and for purposes of edification and inspiring debate, I submit this from Howard Zinn’s A People’s History of the United States ;
    “How skillful to tax the middle class to pay for the relief of the poor, building resentment on top of humiliation! How adroit to bus poor black youngsters into poor white neighborhoods, in a violent exchange of impoverished schools, while the schools of the rich remain untouched and the wealth of the nation, doled out carefully where children need free milk, is drained for billion-dollar aircraft carriers. How ingenious to meet the demands of blacks and women for equality by giving them small benefits, and setting them in competition with everyone else for jobs made scarce by an irrational, wasteful system. How wise to turn the fear and anger of the majority toward a class of criminals bred -by economic inequity- faster than they can be put away, deflecting attention from the huge thefts of national resources carried out within the law by men in executive power.”
    Happy Labor Day.

  • HA

    Howard Beale,

    Last time I checked, the work force in this country is comprised 100% of workers. They don’t call it UNION Day. They call it LABOR day.

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