Tuesday, February 27, 2007

Did Somebody Say Democracy?

There's a story on the AP wire today about the fight to get a North Dakota anti-cohabitation law off the books. Basically, the law says that it is illegal for a man and a woman to live together unless they are married (presumably this means that two homosexuals can shack up with impunity). This in itself is not that big a deal. It's just one of those "wacky laws" that everyone ignores but no one wants to waste government man hours to change.

What makes it interesting is the following quote, by Senator Tim Mathern:

"I think the majority of people think they ought to be married if they're living together."

Maybe that's true, and maybe it's not. It depends on who the majority of the people are. The majority of the couple's neighbors? The majority of the state? The country? The world? I'm guessing the majority of people don't even know about this (until they read this blog of course). The point, however, is that when I was in school, we were always taught that the beauty of American democracy is that majority rules, but minority rights are protected. Meaning, essentially, if the majority of people think a man and a woman living together ought to be married, then they can get married to someone they want to live with, and leave the minority who don't agree alone.

This concept seems to have been totally lost in the current political climate, which seems to suggest that if the majority of the people think that something is morally wrong, then it is wrong for everyone. That pretty much goes against everything America stands for. What grates on me about social conservatives is that whereas I'd like to believe that for most people, if they are asked whether they want someone they don't know to be happy, and it doesn't affect the interviewee one way or the other, the person asked would say yes, or at least not care. In the case of social conservatives, they actually want people they don't know to be unhappy when it doesn't affect them, and feel like good Christians when they espouse this attitude.

I have news for these people. If you want someone to suffer, especially when their happiness comes at no cost to you, you are not a good Christian. In fact, I would go so far as to say you are not a very good person.

If you want people you don't know to be prohibited from getting married, or to be forced to get married, whether it's because they're gay, or black, or they live together, or they're communists, or whatever, you are not a good person. You are in fact, a bigot.

If you would rather see a clump of microscopic cells that cannot think, feel or sense anything go in the garbage rather than be used for scientific research to save millions of pepole who can think, feel, and sense everything, you are not a good person.

If you think people of a certain race or religion should incur additional police scrutiny for no other reason than that race or religion, you are espousing an attitude that is positively unamerican, according to the first amendment.

Some might argue that this "live and let live" attitude is a slippery slope. They say, for example, cannot we extrapolate from this that people who think slavery is wrong shouldn't own slaves, and leave the slave holders alone? If it's okay to abort an eight month old fetus, why not a two day old baby?

I personally do not think it's okay to abort an eight month old fetus. I think a mother has a right to expel her fetus at any time, but if the fetus is viable, every effort should be made to save it. However the issue is not about personal feelings. It's about respecting both the majority and the minority opinion, and I think it gets down to what is in dispute. Nearly everyone can agree at this time that slavery is wrong, and at the very least it is not in dispute that slaves are human beings whose rights are infringed upon. Even if the first part is in dispute, the second is not, and the rights of human beings to be protected should rule. In the case of abortion, everyone can agree that the mother is a human being whose rights should be protected, whereas the rights of the fetus in this case is what is in dispute. Again, the rights of human beings must be protected.

By the way, the couple who are the subject of this piece are in their 80s and in ill health. Even the hardest hearted among us can't possibly want these people to be unhappy, can they?

Wednesday, February 14, 2007

CAA? ICM? William Morris? Who Will Be the Lucky Winner?

I've been selected as a finalist for the 2006 Scriptapalooza TV Awards, in the 1 hour spec category.


My second time as a Scriptapalooza TV Finalist, and yet, still no agent. Where are you guys? Get me while I'm hot!

Tuesday, February 13, 2007

Turning the Other Cheek

There's a new trend popping up on television shows these days; the Conservative as victim. Aaron Sorkin's "West Wing of Late Night Sketch Comedy" Studio 60 on the Sunset Strip, features a character named Harriet Hayes, who is (in theory) creative, artistic, good spirited, funny, and *gasp* a fundamentalist Christian. She faces persecution from all sides, whether it's from Christian groups who accuse her of not being Christian enough, to people on the street who unfairly accuse her of being a soulless bigot, to her own colleagues, who have to bite their tongue to keep from mocking her (in their eyes) neanderthal religious views.

In a recent episode of Law and Order, Charlotte Ross plays a thinly veiled Ann Coulter who is the victim of a homicide attempt. At the same time that we are meant to revile her hate filled speech, we are consistently reminded that extremism from the other side of the political spectrum is just as dangerous.

What's this all about? Has the hopelessly left leaning Hollywood machine which controls all dramatic media finally come around? Is this an olive branch in response to the recent power shift in Congress? Or are writers just running out of victims to save in their dramas?

I'm not sure. For one, I think it is dangerous to assume that everyone in the television industry are liberals to begin with. I think it does make sense that there are a lot of liberals in Hollywood and the television world, simply because the left wing has always been more protective of the right to creative expression than the right. However any talk of "liberal media" of any kind tends to degenerate into ad hominem arguments and anti-semitism.

That having been said, there is some extent to which these representatives of the right are shills. While Harriet Hayes is portrayed as thoughtful, kind, funny (she does funny voices anyway) and intelligent, in the end, verbal jousts with her Jewish, rationalist boss Matt Albie always seem to leave her at a loss for words. Charlotte Ross' character may be a victim, but she is also unapologetically bigoted, belligerent, and much more interested in being inflammatory in order to sell books than in bringing people together through rational argument.

The problem is, so is the real Ann Coulter. The problem is, people whose credo is to put faith over reason are not ever going to win a rational argument convincingly. I applaud the efforts of these television producers to present a wide range of viewpoints, but I suspect that most people who identify as Christians or Conservatives will not identify with these characters, and in fact will see liberal puppet masters pulling the strings.

I personally do not object to the portrayals I have mentioned. As someone on the left side of the political spectrum, they ring true to me. However, if the television powers that be really wish to bring the entire political spectrum under one big umbrella of television watching consumers, I think there are other ways. I think they can present Christians who identify as Christians because they are nice even to people who are jerks (which would put them at odds with the current "Christian" administration). I think they can present Conservatives who believe that an overly active Federal Government stunts the ability of individuals to grow and succeed in the business of their choice and thereby undermines capitalism (also putting them at odds with the current administration).

Maybe those portrayals are not dramatic or interesting enough. On the other hand, maybe it's a crawl before they can walk situation. Portrayals of minorities on television went from non-existent, to stereotypical, to (at least in some cases) realistic. Perhaps portrayals of Conservatives will go the same way. In the meantime, I guess we can all sit back and enjoy the show.

Monday, February 05, 2007

Super Bowl Wrapup

Well, the big game has come and gone, and a few observations can be made:

The Game:

I remember for years people complaining about what a blowout the Super Bowl always is and how it's not worth watching, except for the commercials. The final score (Colts 29-Bears 17) may not have been close, and the game was a bit ugly (the NFL managed to make sure that there was no rain during the Super Bowl for 40 years and now we know why) but for more than three quarters the two teams were separated by no more than a touchdown (with conversion).

The AFC Dominance:

This makes 8 out of the last 10 Bowls going to the AFC. They've got a long way to go though, prior to that, the NFC won a whopping 15 of 16 Bowls. These things are always streaky; 11 of the first 15 went to the AFC.

The Winners:

Good for Peyton for finally getting his ring, but couldn't you feel a little sting behind Dan Marino's smile at the post game wrapup?

The Losers:

Lots of credit to Lovie Smith, since it seemed like these Bears got to the Super Bowl through smoke and mirrors a lot of the time. I'd like to note though, that now my NEW YORK JETS share a perfect winning percentage in the Super Bowl with only the 49ers, Buccaneers and Ravens.

The Halftime Show:

I took a nap, but my girlfriend tells me Prince should have danced more.

The Commentary:

No complaints, Phil Simms is a class act.

The Commercials:

Ah, the infamous commercials. Every year, the fans complain that the commercials "aren't as good as they used to be." But I'm not sure they've ever been as good as they used to be. I think every year, there have been one or two groundbreaking commercials (Thanks Mean Joe, Apple Computers, etc.) that people remember as representing a slew of brilliant ads. The fact is I think most of the ads have become more disappointing the greater the hype. Also, the years when the games themselves were so abysmal probably cast the commercials in a better light.

That having been said I actually thought this was a pretty good year for commercials. The Robert Goulet commercial had me laughing my ass off (you've got to give someone props for going to Robert Goulet and saying "OK, in the end, you'll be crawling away like Spider Man on the ceiling" and to Bob for saying "Sure, why not?"), but maybe a lot of today's viewers don't know who Robert Goulet is. The Bud Light hitchhiker commercial similarly had me in stitches. I'm not sure how I feel about these talking animal commercials, since they seem like an original idea that has been beaten to death, but people seem to love them, so what can I say? If we can just put the talking babies to rest though, that would be great.

Well, time to put away our football hats for another season (after the Pro Bowl of course). Good luck to all the guys who don't have a clue what to do with their Sundays for the next 6 months. May I suggest starting a blog?

Saturday, February 03, 2007

Political Philosophy

You know when the terrorists win? When we happily hand over our civil liberties to authoritarian leaders because of fear, when we turn innocent people into pariahs and diminish our own humanity to avoid an ethereal foe, THATS when the terrorists win.

Also when I get dealt KK on the button and the big blind gets AA.