I saw Cormac McCarthy & Ridley Scott’s “The Counselor” on a flight recently. It had been really poorly reviewed, but I wanted to see a film where Cormac McCarthy had personally written the screenplay, rather than written a screenplay-length book (No Country for Old Men) for the purpose of being immediately turned into a screenplay by the Coen Brothers.
Anyway, most of the reviewers are wrong. However, I ABSOLUTELY don’t recommend it because it’s a hateful, nihilistic film. It is nothing other than a subtraction from the good of the world and you’ll be less of a person for having viewed it.
BUT - it is a well made film. Where The Coens’ NCFOM meanders on its way to hell, The Counselor is a bullet train. It’s a faster ride, on rails, to the same shithole Cormac McCarthy, a brilliant man who paints exclusively in black these days, wants you to die in. The script, filled with proper soliloquies, is more like a play than a film, which surely turned some morons off, but against Ridley Scott’s tableaux - and this is his best work since Gladiator - it is striking and aesthetic harmony is indeed achieved.
Regardless, fuck No Country for Old Men and The Counselor and The Coens and Ridley Scott, and most especially Cormac McCarthy. It isn’t enough for me that they’re all wildly, preternaturally skilled in their chosen disciplines. I just don’t understand why an artist would want to spend their time and talents in a world like that. No nuance, no possibilities, just hate and fear and constriction. I reject it!
Clearly this is me talking around the edges of my own personal manifesto(s), and I’m not “correct” in what I’m talking about here. It’s just how I feel and I wanted particularly to tell every reviewer who lauded NCFOM and slammed The Counselor to please SPARE ME as, seen from space, they’re remarkable similar. The only significant difference is that The Counselor doesn’t have a Tommy Lee Jones character roaming around saying, “Well geez, this sucks.” Perhaps that makes it the more compassionate film as it has led me to become that character and write this ridiculous post.
I first saw these because I read Ta-Nahesi Coates fairly regularly. He’s a very curious, very passionate, very intelligent writer and I love to see him take apart a subject, no matter what it is. Then I saw my name when he excerpted some sections of a piece by Amanda Hess from Slate. I was excited but then I saw that Hess is showing me as emblematic of the problem both pieces aim to illuminate, which is that actress (VERTIGO!) and Oscar presenter Kim Novak did not get her plastic surgery in a vacuum. She got it in a culture where aging, most particularly for women, leads directly to the shelf or the garbage heap.
They’re both great pieces and I recommend reading them. The joke of mine that they reference, which I tweeted while watching the Oscars, is certainly mean, and Kim Novak and those who get plastic surgery are certainly the butt of the joke.
Both the articles linked above are better and more useful to the world than the joke I made and I hope you’ll read them.
Just read that next month, March of 2014, Hispanics will become the largest population group in the state of California. No surprise, they’re all over the god damn place. And fine with me, as I know plenty of them and think they’re as good as any other flavor of person. I would also like to take the opportunity to congratulate them for taking such good advantage of state and national parks and forests. If you go hiking or camping in California, you are going to see a LOT of Hispanic people swarming the joint and having fun. And it’s a beautiful thing. You will also see a lot of Asian people Asianing around and being pleasant and curious and happy. Then you’ll see white people, many of them European. They too, will be galavanting about, white as can be, yodeling and such. What you won’t see many of is black people (though I know some great black park rangers, so I guess when black people get their park on, they don’t mess around). My personal observations suggest that the racial breakdown of park visitors is roughly 32% Hispanic, 32% Asian, 32% white and then 1% black. (The other 5% are the Druids who live in the parks.)
Anyway, I’m excited to be a minority for the first time in my life, and expect me to make a ruckus as I already feel quite persecuted. And first order of business is I want more black people in national parks and forests. Any black people who are already there are having fun and I want the same for the rest of my black family and friends.
After reposting that piece on Japanese internment camps in WWII, I wanted to say that if we’d like to foster a global environment where “good” will prevail over “evil,” it is critical that we acknowledge the sins/crimes/mistakes of everyone involved, most especially ourselves. Is it good that the Allies defeated the Axis? Yes it is. Is it a BLACK harmony in the symphony of human evil that Hitler studied American Indian reservations in his design of the Third Reich’s concentration and death camps? It most certainly is. We are right to vilify, fear, and study regimes like the Third Reich and their immeasurable crimes, but if we want to prevent nightmares like that from happening again, and we must, then please, please, may Christ, Allah, and Ares sit astride their ponies in Paradise laughing at us if we imagine for a second that the seeds for such evil aren’t in the ground, under our feet - right now - thirsty and genetically coded to wreak hell again and again, until the world is only soot and sewage and we are but memories in the minds of cockroaches that glow.
I will also add that what I’m writing here is how I do patriotism. I love the US and the people who live in it. I cannot be happier than when I walk down a street in an American city, from neighborhood to neighborhood, seeing ethnicities mixing and mingling and ameliorating and influencing and strengthening each other, in a beautiful living second verse to the Emma Lazarus poem which graces the tablet cradled in the left arm of our Statue of Liberty, which happens to be a gift from France.
The best way to pave the road for a new network of internment camps or death camps in your own country would be to look across the sea or across history’s gulf and imagine that’s the only place terrible things happen. The worst way to prepare, and the one I try to subscribe to, is to look in your own heart first, then your own family, your own neighborhood, and only then your government. You can often wholly ignore other governments.
To state it as explicitly as possible, if a people claim to not want internment camps on their soil, they should have their schools teach that there were internment camps on their soil quite recently and examine the behavior and beliefs that led to their widespread and methodical use.
I’m not nihilistic or even pessimistic, and a country of 314 million souls will, simply by existing, have problems that are correspondingly massive, but I urge you to choreograph a tongue ballet on my asshole if you don’t try to fix them when you see them.