Culture, Hollywood, Movies

Michael B. Jordan promotes Fantastic Four by pulling race card on long-time fans

FF movieMichael B. Jordan is understandably frustrated. The new Fantastic Four movie looks like it will be a fantastic flop — not necessarily due to his efforts — but because it’s likely to be a melancholy and boring iteration of what should be a fun film. It looks like Fox hired the ghost of Edgar Allan Poe to be the cinematographer, and fans know it. In order to salvage some form of respect, Mr. Jordan has pulled out the handy-dandy race card.

The Hollywood actor writes in Entertainment Weekly:

Some people may look at my casting as political correctness or an attempt to meet a racial quota, or as part of the year of “Black Film.” Or they could look at it as a creative choice by the director, Josh Trank, who is in an interracial relationship himself—a reflection of what a modern family looks like today. …

Sometimes you have to be the person who stands up and says, “I’ll be the one to shoulder all this hate. I’ll take the brunt for the next couple of generations.” I put that responsibility on myself. People are always going to see each other in terms of race, but maybe in the future we won’t talk about it as much. Maybe, if I set an example, Hollywood will start considering more people of color in other prominent roles, and maybe we can reach the people who are stuck in the mindset that “it has to be true to the comic book.” Or maybe we have to reach past them.

To the trolls on the Internet, I want to say: Get your head out of the computer. Go outside and walk around. Look at the people walking next to you. Look at your friends’ friends and who they’re interacting with. And just understand this is the world we live in. It’s okay to like it.

Notice what Mr. Jordan does: he essentially lumps all critics into one group. Racists and trolls occupy the same tent as those with legitimate gripes (i.e., fans who want the on-screen Human Torch to match the one who they’ve read about in the comics for decades, and fans who are tired of politically correct pap). Mr. Jordan then tries to turn himself into a cultural martyr sent from Hollywood to save us all.

What group do guys like me fall under, Mr. Jordan? I belong to an interracial family and I generally like the big screen versions of the comic books I read as a kid to be faithful to the source material. I also find it weird to editorially mandate things like gay Ice Man and She-Thor when creating new and interesting characters is an option.

Michael B. Jordan would not be writing op-eds like this for entertainment magazines if he thought Fantastic Four was going to be a huge success. One reason why no one cared that Samuel L. Jackson was the big-screen version of Nick Fury in 2008 was a.) because when he was cast he personified “cool,” and b.) Marvel Studios hit a home run with Iron Man.

Michael B. Jordan is not an American icon of cool, and Fox does not look like it will hit a home run with Fantastic Four this August.

As I have said before: it would annoy me if Blade or Rhodey were suddenly turned into white guys, but that’s not good enough to Hollywood actors or politically correct comic book creators. I and many others have to be on board with everything they come up with or be lumped into a category with racists and “trolls.”

The only way to stop this kind of tactic is to push back — hard — every time. If you do not define yourself, then guys like Michael B. Jordan will do it for you. When they pull the race card, you will be labeled a racist or a cultural dinosaur who needs to “go outside” more often.

In short, Fox’s Fantastic Four looks so flawed that the race of Johnny Storm is at the bottom of the list in terms of things to gripe about. The studio needs all the fans it can get at this point, because the buzz on the film seems to be, “Please let this bomb so the rights can go back to Marvel!” Opinion pieces that rely heavily on the race card are not helping Fox in its promotional efforts. If anything, the studio just looks desperate.

Obama Administration, Security

America has no strategy for Islamic State because America doesn’t know what it stands for anymore

Islamic State flagThe Islamic State group has taken control of Ramadi and political pundits want to know why Iraqi forces have fled — again — despite training by U.S. troops, an abundance of U.S.-supplied weapons, and the assistance of U.S. airstrikes. The short answer is that the Obama administration has no strategy for Iraq. Dropping bombs on people is not a strategy. Regardless, here is the big picture: the U.S. has an incoherent foreign policy because it no longer knows what it stands for. America’s foreign policy failures are symptoms of a much deeper problem.

To provide a quick example of just how bad things are going in Iraq, first read Wednesday’s reporting by The New York Times:

WASHINGTON — The United States is rushing 1,000 antitank rockets to the Iraqi military to help combat the massive suicide vehicle bombs that Islamic State militants used in capturing the provincial capital of Ramadi, a first step as the Obama administration weighs a range of difficult options to help its beleaguered ally. …

Obama administration officials have called the fall of Ramadi a huge setback, but they have sought to quell critics in the region and on Capitol Hill by portraying the defeat as a temporary blow that will not change the overall strategy for fighting the Islamic State or lessen the administration’s support of Mr. Abadi’s government.

Then read Tuesday’s reporting by The Associated Press:

Iraqi troops abandoned dozens of U.S military vehicles, including tanks, armored personnel carriers and artillery pieces when they fled Islamic State fighters in Ramadi on Sunday, the Pentagon said Tuesday.

A Pentagon spokesman, Col. Steve Warren, estimated that a half dozen tanks were abandoned, a similar number of artillery pieces, a larger number of armored personnel carriers and about 100 wheeled vehicles like Humvees. He said some of the vehicles were in working condition; others were not because they had not been moved for months.

This repeats a pattern in which defeated Iraq security forces have, over the past year, left behind U.S.-supplied military equipment, prompting the U.S. to destroy them in subsequent airstrikes against Islamic State forces.

Got it? The U.S. is supplying Iraqi forces with antitank weapons just days after Iraqi forces let U.S.-supplied tanks fall into the Islamic State group’s possession. As AP noted, there is now a pattern of Iraqi forces losing U.S. equipment to the terror organization.

Here is what White House Press secretary Josh Earnest told ABC News’ Jonathan Karl when he was essentially asked if this kind of pattern constitutes success:

JONATHAN KARL: On the overall track record of military operations, and the president’s strategy on this, you said we’ve seen periods of progress and success. Would you say that overall the strategy has been a success?

JOSH EARNEST: Look Jon, yeah, overall, yes. That doesn’t mean there haven’t been areas of setback as we saw in Ramadi.

KARL: Is it the exporting terror to Libya? Taking over the capitol of Iraq’s largest province? This is overall success?

EARNEST: We’ve also seen a coalition of 60 nations around the world join the United States in this fight. We’ve seen a new Prime Minister take office in Iraq and unite that country and deploy a multisectarian security force against ISIL that has succeeded in liberating important areas of Diyala, Ninevah, Babel, Kirkuk provinces. …

Translation: We’re “doing something” with a coalition of 60 nations and security forces are “doing…stuff…and things.”

Here is what I said September 13, 2012 regarding President Obama’s foreign policy:

At best, I consider it “Finger Painting Foreign Policy,” in which he takes a globular mess, rubs his hands in it, makes a bigger mess and then smiles with what he’s accomplished — while the media likens him to Jackson Pollock.

Syria has no functional government. Libya has no functional government. Yemen has no functional government. Iraq has a dysfunctional government. It seems safe to say that time has shown the finger painting analogy to be an accurate assessment, which is probably why Secretary of Defense Ash Carter is nowhere to be found.

Nancy Youssef TwitterFormer Secretary of Defense Robert Gates, however, is willing to talk. Here is what he told CBS News on Monday:

“I think first of all we need to change the rules of engagement for our troops. I think we don’t need a significant increase in troops in my view, but how they’re used needs to be changed.”

The sad news is that Mr. Obama is not likely to change the rules of engagement for American troops in any productive way because, again, he has not articulated a strategy. He reacts to world events based on political calculus, but does not try to shape them based on a core set of principles.

Even if the president had an epiphany in the final leg of his presidency, it would matter little. The collective mind of the American people is no longer moored to its founding principles. We are fractured. We are splintered. We are not united. The greatest strategy in the world cannot succeed when its implementation depends upon a nation that has stewed in moral relativism so long that it no longer knows right from wrong — or even cares to learn.

If you believe in God, then I suggest praying for the future of America. Strange days certainly lie ahead.

Politics

Marco Rubio asked ‘dum-dum’ questions by Chris Wallace playing The Great Gazoo

Chris WallaceAnyone who watched The Flintstones growing up remembers The Great Gazoo. He was an annoying green alien who had all sorts of magical powers. He called Fred and Barney “dum-dums” when, in fact, he was usually the dumb one. The media’s recent obsession with asking Republicans if the Iraq War was a “mistake” — as if we all had Gazoo’s ability to travel through time, or that the Iraq we see today was inevitable based solely on one decision — is absurd. It’s infantile. Marco Rubio tried to use logic and reason to bust through Mr. Wallace’s Gazoo skull on Sunday, but failed.

Mediaite reported Sunday:

In perhaps the closest cable news has ever come to a genuine Abbott and Costello bit, Fox News Sunday host Chris Wallace attempted to get an answer out of Senator Marco Rubio (R-FL) over whether he would have invaded Iraq, and also who was on first.

Wallace repeatedly asked Rubio whether he would have invaded Iraq knowing what he knows now, and Rubio continued to answer according to the intelligence available in 2002. They went around this loop about half a dozen times.

In short, Mr. Wallace was unable to see the difference between the question “Was it a mistake to invade Iraq in 2003?” and “Would you have invaded Iraq if a little green alien told you beforehand that there were not huge stockpiles of weapons of mass destruction in Saddam Hussein’s possession?”

Marco Rubio has answered “no” to the first question and “no” to different variations of the second question, but for some reason the media refuses to acknowledge the difference between the two.

What would Iraq have looked like if President Obama had secured a Status of Forces Agreement with Iraq? Even former Defense Secretary and CIA Director Leon Panetta has criticized the president for how he handled the draw down and exit of U.S. troops in December, 2011.

What would Iraq look like today if Mr. Obama didn’t treat the Islamic State group — which he called a “J.V. team” in June, 2014 — as a “local” problem? What would Iraq look like if on September 9, 2014 — when Mr. Obama said he didn’t have a strategy for dealing with the Islamic State group — he was actually prepared?

Chain reactionThe point isn’t to put all the blame on Mr. Obama for what Iraq looks like today — the point is to show that the premise of the “Was it a mistake?” question is incredibly flawed. The popular answer is to just say “Yes. It was a mistake, and I would not have invaded Iraq if I was president in 2003,” but that isn’t the answer any serious presidential candidate would give.

Some reasons include:  a.) intelligence work on tyrannical police states is by its very nature based on murky evidence, and b.) no one running for president at this time received the intelligence briefings George W. Bush did (in a post-9/11 world, no less).

To add insult to injury, this is the line of questioning Republicans can expect to receive as long as Jeb Bush hangs around. The media would love nothing more than to talk about George W. Bush from now until election day. It may not be fair, but that is political reality. It is rather selfish for Mr. Bush to run for president when he knows that the media will keep everyone — particularly the Republican Party — mired in the past in order to assist its preferred (Democratic) candidate.

If Marco Rubio wants to win the Republican nomination, then he needs to do a better job swatting down the media’s multitude of Great Gazoos. He survived Chris Wallace’s weird line of questioning, but it was awkward. Let’s hope that he has learned from this experience and comes up with a strategy for navigating future minefields of inane questioning.

Politics

Stephanopoulos exposed: $75K donation to Clinton Foundation not disclosed prior to grilling author

George Stephanopoulous ABC Clinton CashA few weeks ago I flew out to my parents’ place to look after their dog while they were out of town. Before they left, my dad was watching George Stephanopoulos grill “Clinton Cash” author Peter Schweizer (who handled himself quite well, all things considered). I told my dad that it irritated me that guys like Mr. Schwizer don’t call out Mr. Stephanopoulos out on his close ties to the Clintons (George was Bill’s campaign manager) because young voters and your run-of-the-mill ABC News viewer is not familiar with such details.

Yesterday my rant became moot. The Washington Free Beacon revealed that Mr. Stephanopoulos donated $75,000 to The Clinton Foundation. When the Beacon asked ABC for comment, the network then ran to Politico to make it look like it was out in front of the story.

Politico reported Thursday:

Former Clintonland insider George Stephanopoulos, who has excelled at both politics and journalism, appears to have failed both professions with a single transgression.

As my POLITICO colleague Dylan Byers reported today, ABC News’ “This Week” and “Good Morning America” host Stephanopoulos has donated a total of $75,000 to the Clinton Foundation, something he had not previously disclosed to viewers or his employers. In a statement to Byers, Stephanopoulos apologized for not disclosing the gifts. ABC News called the oversight an “honest mistake,” a sentiment Stephanopoulos amplified in an afternoon interview with Byers. …

In shelling out $75,000 to the politically identified Clinton Foundation, Stephanopoulos has […] torched the journalism-cred he has acquired in the past two decades, and obviously forgotten the lessons in political savvy he learned as a member of Bill Clinton’s inner circle. He knew going into ABC News that his reporting and his personal actions would be extra scrutinized for bias. I find it implausible that he did not understand in 2012, 2013 and 2014 (the years he gave the Clinton Foundation cash), that his contributions would be an issue with his employers and his viewers once discovered—even if they were just sitting there buried on a website for anyone to stumble upon.

Something like this used to be a big deal. ABC’s host is seen by millions of people. He professes to be a fair and impartial journalist. His failure to disclose $75,000 in donations to The Clinton Foundation — prior to roasting a critic of The Clinton Foundation — is not an “honest mistake.” There should be repercussions, but yet it appears ABC is reluctant to hold its talent accountable for his behavior.

Clinton Cash StephanopoulousHere is an excerpt from Mr. Stehanopoulous’ apology, which The Daily Beast rightly called “a passive-aggressive non-apology”:

Those donations were a matter of public record, but I should have made additional disclosures on air when I covered the foundation, and I now believe that directing personal donations to that foundation was a mistake. Even though I made them strictly to support work done to stop the spread of AIDS, help children, and protect the environment in poor countries, I should have gone the extra mile to avoid even the appearance of a conflict. I apologize to all of you for failing to do that.”

Indeed, George’s donations were all public record — for all those casual ABC viewers who dabble in investigative journalism in their spare time. According to George, it is also not about journalistic integrity anyway because it’s really about “children,” AIDs victims, the environment, and poor people.

The story only gets better, because it turns out the producer who tried to do an end-around the Washington Free Beacon — Heather Rileyalso worked for the Clintons. Do you still think the media isn’t biased? I hope not.

On April 17, I wrote on the “Rings” of Washington, D.C. The nation’s capital is a professionally incestuous city that I’m happy to have left behind one year ago (I work remotely from my secret underground bunker these days). Regardless, the point is that George Stephanopoulos is in many of the “right” rings and will therefore have very powerful people working overtime to protect his career. If he survives professionally at ABC, then it is incumbent upon future guests to remind viewers about this scandal when appropriate.

If ABC had its way, then it would keep millions of viewers in the dark to a very damning fact: its star talent, which is covering Hillary Clinton’s run for the presidency, wants desperately for her to be elected.

Culture, Movies

‘Dad bods’ explained using ‘Bloodsport,’ Van Damme’s 1988 classic

Frank Dux Ray Jackson“Dad Bod” articles keep popping up all over the place, which apparently means that women are attracted to men with soft midsections. Due to the wide variety or responses these articles seem to be generating in mainstream newspapers, there is only one way to break it down so red-blooded American men everywhere can understand: I will draw from Jean Claude Van Damme’s 1988 classic, Bloodsport.

Bloodsport JCVDFirst we have the Frank Dux body. In 2015, anyone can be fat. Poor people in the United States are more likely to be fat than malnourished (note: Doritos and Ding Dongs are cheaper than guacamole). The chiseled male frame obviously telegraphs strength, but it also signals discipline, consistency, control, commitment and focus. The downside is that it can also be an indicator of vanity, narcissism, obsession and a variety of other negative traits.

Ray Jackson BloodsportNext we have Ray Jackson, the beer-swilling, Harley Davidson-loving tough guy who works hard and parties hard. He’s a small-time bad boy with a big heart. He’s tough. He’s manly. He’s rebellious and loyal — but he doesn’t count calories. In short, he’s a good time and a man you want around in bad situations. His negative qualities are that his carelessness and sloppiness can inadvertently get himself or others hurt.

Bloodsport Forest Whitaker At some point we come to the bodies of by men like Norman Burton and Forest Whitaker, who play the soft-bodied government officials sent to bring home Frank. Their “dad bods” are definitely not like Ray Jackson’s, although they still probably are what writers from The Washington Post imagine when try to describe the physique to readers.

These men care more about their careers than whether or not any muscle definition is visible when they go to the beach. They’re not obese, but they probably would get winded if they chased a guy like Frank Dux around Hong Kong. For the woman who wants to raise a family, the Whitaker-body might say “I’m non-threatening” or “I bring home more money because I’m not spending it on protein supplements.”

The bottom line is that most young men would be perfectly fine imaging themselves as either Frank Dux or Ray Jackson; they would not easily opt to play “Helmer” or “Rawlins” as portrayed by Messrs. Burton and Whitaker. Women, however, could be attracted to any of them, depending on what they were looking for in a man — emphasis on “man.”

BloodsportFinally, we have the possibility that some women are just like Janice Kent (Leah Ayres), the reporter whose motivations are not quite what they seem. Just like the woman who wants to get close to the fighters — all so she could take down the tournament that means so much to them — some women are probably “attracted” to “dad bods” because then they become the more attractive one in any relationship.

Many insecure women wouldn’t want to be in a relationship with a man sporting a Frank Dux-type body, if for no other reason than to fight off the perception that they are the less attractive mate. Beauty often brings power, and one way to wield power over a man is to be his physical superior.

As you can see, dear reader, the “dad bod” debate offers armchair psychologists, sociologists, gym rats, and cultural critics hours of material. It can also be as deep or as shallow as we want it to be (feel free to go either direction in the comments section, as long as you keep it clean).

In full disclosure, I must admit that I really only used the topic as an excuse to once again talk about Bloodsport, because it should be required viewing for all American boys — along with Rambo: First Blood Part II, Rocky IV, Predator, Terminator 2, and The Dark Knight.

If you have read this far, then congratulations: You likely grew up in the 1980s and are a healthy American male specimen who still has testosterone pumping through his veins (or a really cool woman). I salute you. No matter what body type you have, I think the key to attracting a good woman is to exude manliness. For further reading, I suggest heading on over to (surprise): The Art of Manliness.

See you at next year’s kumite.

Doug

Culture

It’s okay to let friends go when they wish you were like Han Solo frozen in carbonite

Lando Han Solo CarboniteHere is a bit of advice for younger readers of this blog: One day you will have friends who will wish you were like Han Solo frozen in carbonite. You will meet these individuals at a young age, and as both of you become older they will always identify you with a very specific time and a very specific place. They will refuse to accept that people mature and change over the years, and their attempts to keep you in a mental and spiritual state of suspended animation will leave you puzzled as to how to properly respond. If tactful attempts to show them that hanging on too tightly to the past is unhealthy, then you must move on — not necessarily in dramatic fashion — but you must move on.

Han Solo CarboniteCells die in your body every single day. Over the course of many months, all of your cells are replaced with new cells. Physically, you become a different person. Mentally and spiritually, you also go through changes over the course of your life. The “core” of your being (the “you” behind the “you”) basically stays the same, but for all intents and purposes you are a different person. Some of your friends will become attached to the 2015 version of you and, like a favorite car, they will do anything they can to keep you just as you were when you first rolled up their driveway. If you want to become the best version of yourself possible, then placating this desire among those friends must be avoided at all costs.

Although there are probably countless variations of the Boba Fett-type of friend, my own personal experiences come in two varieties:

  • The friend who wishes the “old” me (i.e., immature prankster) still existed.
  • The friend who wishes the less knowledgeable version of me still existed.

In an ideal world, the friends we make early on in life would understand that knowledge is a virtue. Everyone would grow and expand at comparable rates, but they would respect the different ways we all branch out. Sadly, that is not the case.

When faced with these situations, you will feel the need to “act the part.” You will feel the need to “go along to get along.” Don’t. It would be weird for frogs to revert back to tadpoles, fish to roe, or butterflies into caterpillars — so why would you ever try to be a version of yourself that no longer exists? If you put on a fraudulent face to make someone happy, then you are doing both yourself and the person who cannot let go of the past a disservice. Only by being true to yourself can you achieve what you were truly meant to achieve and live life without regrets.

Life is much too short for living lies — even little ones that seem well-intentioned. If you have friends in your life who seem to want you to be their personal Han Solo frozen in carbonite, then it is because on many levels they are mentally and spiritually paralyzed. The biggest favor you can do for them if they refuse to see that truth is to walk away.

Comics

‘Douglas Ernst C.R.O.N.I.E.S.’ shirts given out to celebrate 1 million page views

Douglas Ernst blog 1 million page views

Douglas Ernst Blog has hit 1 million page views, and to celebrate I’d like to send out “Douglas Ernst C.R.O.N.I.E.S.” shirts inspired by Marvel writer Dan Slott’s personal attacks on anyone who agrees with my analysis of his work on The Amazing Spider-Man.

If Dan Slott wants to call you my “cronies,” then I need to get you some gear. My biggest concern before having them made and shipped out is to make sure that a.) the shirt is made of quality material, and b.) the printing quality isn’t something reminiscent of an “iron-on” kit for children.

Douglas Ernst Cronies longsleeve

Since I am a man of my word, I would like to offer a shirt to Magnetic Eye:

Douglas Ernst Magnetic Eye

I would also like to offer shirts to Carl, Hube, Nate Winchester, Truthwillwin1, and up to three others who will promise me they will try to take a picture next to Dan Slott wearing “Douglas Ernst C.R.O.N.I.E.S.” apparel. The design is subject to change, but the general look and feel will be as displayed in the image above.

If you are interested in receiving a shirt, then let me know and I will contact you via the email address that I see on the back end of WordPress. Once I get your address, then a package will randomly show up at your doorstep in the coming months (i.e., “free” stuff ships based on my work schedule and the condition of my bank account).

This blog started five years ago as a creative outlet. When I first began, I had perhaps five people read a day. Over time that number has grown significantly, all while writing when time allows. I have met really good people while blogging, including a few who I now feel comfortable calling friends. I am incredibly proud of hitting the 1 million mark on what can best be described as a side-project, but it means nothing next to the relationships I’ve formed with a few of you. I mean it when I say that I care about you, the trajectory of your lives, and that I try to find time to pray for you.

As I said when I hit 1,000 blog posts, I cannot thank my regular readers enough for taking time out of their day to entertain my missives. It means a lot to me, and I will never forget your kindness and generosity. You give me time — time you can never reclaim — and for that I will always be grateful.

Best,

Doug