Hosni Mubarak gets life.
Kathryn Joosten, star of The West Wing and Desperate Housewives, has died.
Researchers Joshua A. Tabak and Vivian Zayas explain "the science of gaydar":
... our finding clarifies how people distinguish between gay and straight faces. Research by Professor Rule and his colleagues has implicated certain areas of the face (like the mouth area) in gaydar judgments. Our discovery — that accuracy was substantially greater for right side up faces than for upside-down faces — indicates that configural face processing contributes to gaydar accuracy. Specific facial features will not tell the whole story. Differences in spatial relationships among facial features matter, too.
Consider, for example, facial width-to-height ratio. This is a configural physical feature that differs between men and women (men have a larger ratio) and reflects testosterone release during adolescence in males. Given that stereotypes of gender atypicality — gay men as relatively feminine and gay women as relatively masculine — play a role in how people judge others’ sexual orientation, our finding suggests that cues like facial width-to-height ratio may contribute to gaydar judgments ...
Chris Mooney explains the science behind the the media giving his book the shaft.
Bryan Fischer explains why discrimination's great.
Victory: The Triumphant Gay Revolution -- was it misnamed?
The Pope says some nonsense about the beauty of priestly celibacy:
“The shining light of pastoral charity and a unified heart is sacerdotal celibacy and enshrined virginity,” Pope Benedict XVI told hundreds of clergy members in Milan Cathedral during the 7th World Meeting of Families.
“Without a doubt, Jesus’ love is for all Christians but takes on particular significance for the celibate priest and for those who take up the vocation of a life of devotion,” he said on the second day of his visit to Milan.
This psychiatrist feels the need to explain that there won't be a zombie apocalypse.
Newt Gingrich isn't a very good Romney surrogate:
“[F]rankly, the Romney people did the only thing they could [against my campaign]. They used their strengths — which were money and the super PAC and a willingness to go after me very aggressively — to offset my strength, which was an ability to define a larger, better future,” Gingrich said. “It’s not bad to say [Romney] has proven he will do what it takes to beat Obama. It’s the nature of our current political culture that cynicism trumps idealism,” the former speaker added, coming very close to calling Romney cynical.
GOP congressional spokesman Jay Townsend thinks acid-attacks are hilarious.
Kim Stanley Robinson's 2312 sounds pretty amazing:
A very few writers can at length sustain both the nothingness where characters, where lives, happen and also the tech and thrill where adventure occurs. Iain M. Banks, yes, almost always. And then there's Kim Stanley Robinson, whose new novel, 2312, is his boldest trip into all of the marvelous SF genres—ethnography, future shock, screed against capitalism, road to earth—and all of the ways to thrill and be thrilled. It's a future history that's so secure and comprehensive that it reads as an account of the past—a trick of craft that belongs almost exclusively to the supreme SF task force of Le Guin and Margaret Atwood.
YOUR FEATURE PRESENTATION
"Fairy tale revisionism" has been rapidly climbing the Hollywood Idea Chart. In the past few years we've seen Alice in Wonderland, Rapunzel in Tangled, Red Riding Hood, and Snow White in Mirror Mirror (reviewed here). There are several more on the way including Angelina Jolie as Maleficent terrorizing Sleeping Beauty Elle Fanning. This weekend Snow White returned to theaters for the second time in three months. Her timing is apt since the apple-munching princess is celebrating her 75th big screen anniversary (Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs premiered in 1937). Why so many fairy tales? Modern Hollywood thrives on branding so the more familiar the movie before it arrives the better. And what's more familiar than fairy tales?
Tale as old as time. True as it can be… ♫
Oops wrong fairy tale. Regret to inform that SNOW WHITE AND THE HUNTSMAN does not have a theme song sung by Angela Lansbury but let's borrow that song anyway since its such an earworm. This new Snow White movie does have a theme song but it's a less catchy dirge-like ballad. One of the seven dwarves coughs it out at a funeral until Florence and the Machine take over on the soundtrack as the heroes rise up against evil Queen Ravenna (Charlize Theron) in montage.
But we're getting ahead of ourselves.
If you can suspend your disbelief that Kristen Stewart is "the fairest of all them all" in a beauty contest with Charlize Theron, READ ON AFTER THE JUMP...
Wow. Surprised you're still here! Charlize wins all beauty contests. Don't you have eyes?
The movie insists that Ravenna's beauty is the product of dark magic but if movies are elaborate magic tricks than it’s definitely Kristen Stewart as Snow White that's benefiting from studio sorcery. The gifted new cinematographer Grieg Frasier (Bright Star, Let Me In) carefully shoots Kristen Stewart with warm magic hour light so that even when she's wet, beaten and terrified, her dark locks frame her half lit porcelain face just so; she’s never looked better.
Barely even friends. Then somebody bends
To be fair to the film and the ladies in question, the screenplay muddies the water a bit with what the "fairest of them all?" question means. The question is about physical beauty until it's not; Snow White's innocence, purity and kindness are eventually directly equated with her "fairness". It’s almost as if the Magic Mirror is guiding the story and changing the rules, sabotaging the Queen. This makes one of the film’s last images, Snow White reflected in the evil artifact, a curious winner.
The rivalry between stepdaughter and stepmother is handled with more ambiguity than we usually get in these circumstances with a fair bit of sympathy for the devil. Snow implicitly senses Ravenna’s tragic backstory even though it’s only the Queen and her Lurch like brother (Sam Spruell) and the audience (via flashback) who know it. Otherwise though this princess's love stories are a touch too ambiguous. Does she love the Huntsman or her childhood Duke Charming (Sam Claflin)? The movie plays coy here, which adds a bit of intrigue to the “love’s first kiss” business but has an unfortunate effect on the movie’s heart, deromanticizing the iconic fairytale. Kisses are usually heroic in fairytales but any and all sexuality, even the purest kind, is as poisonous at that infamous apple this time around.
Just a little change. Small, to say the least
Both a little scared. Neither one prepared
Beauty and the Beast ♩
Point being: Snow White and The Huntsman is handsomely made and even pleasantly if unsuccessfully ambitious. This makes it the best of the recent live action fairy tales though that's not a tough bar to clear. The fairest of them all is the excellent costume design work on Theron’s mesmerizing Queen Ravenna (courtesy of three-time Oscar winner Colleen Atwood). But it takes more than costumes and one major diva actress to sell a movie. Especially when they’re sidelined from the main action.
Theron tries hard (too hard?) to revive the movie’s frequently failing heart with much needed shots of adrenaline but the movie’s relentless sobriety brings too many unintentional laughs. Most classic dramas aren’t shy about having a healthy sense of humor but when genre films want to be taken seriously they tend to err in the opposite direction. First time director Rupert Sanders uses Ravenna quite oddly reducing her to a walking visual effects ad to liven things up (briefly) during commercial breaks from the duller Snow White adventure. The storytelling gets as muddied as Snow White after escaping the castle through its sewers. Worst of all are the overhead aerial shots of the heroes recall The Lord of the Rings to such an absurd extent that it almost feels like stock footage with beefy Chris Hemsworth CGI'ed over Aragorn and new Dwarf faces superimposed over The Hobbits.
Ever just the same. Ever a surprise
Ever as before. Ever just as sure
As the sun will rise ♫
All in all this familiar but interestingly reworked fairy tale movie will play better on DVD where its choppiness will feel more organic to the viewing. There’s a lot of Beauty here and four actual beauties (Theron, Hemsworth, Stewart, and Claflin) but revising fairytales is a Beastly task. Queen Ravenna is right in her own sick way. It takes a strong beating heart for any story to achieve immortality. Snow White and the Huntsman’s heart beats faintly and arrhythmically, even when its body is shouting, fighting and otherwise magically engaged.
Brian Clowes, noted Catholic commentator, contributor to The American Spectator, and top exec with Human Life International, published an annoyingly hand-me-down expose on the "gay agenda" this week, trotting out, like so many angry anti-gays before him, the gay rights manifesto After The Ball as a kind of gay Protocols of the Elders of Zion. From Clowe's essay at LifeSiteNews:
... Homophile strategists are very adept at manipulating public opinion with an arsenal of six tactics that are based upon deceptions and half‑truths:
- Exploit the “victim” status;
- Use the sympathetic media;
- Confuse and neutralize the churches;
- Slander and stereotype Christians;
- Bait and switch (hide their true nature); and
... Marshall Kirk and Hunter Madsen clearly laid out this agenda in the marching orders of the movement, After the Ball: How America Will Conquer Its Fear & Hatred of Gays in the 90s. This volume is an absolute treasure chest of information for those pro-family stalwarts who are actively engaged against the homosexual rights agenda.
By far the most popular homophile tactic is the claim to victim status, which is a very powerful, almost paralyzing, weapon that gives them a distinct advantage in the public square ...
Just for the record: I have never read After The Ball, and I've never heard it discussed by actual gay people. Only by gay-obsessed bigots like Brian Clowes.
Meanwhile, I wonder if Clowes is sufficiently self-aware to note the irony in accusing LGBTfolk of claiming "hiding their true nature," claiming "victim status," and especially of "slandering and stereotyping Christians." Virtually every piece of anti-gay legislation to be passed in the United States in the last decade has squeaked through the polls by "hiding its true nature" beneath tricky legalese. And if that's a stretch, Clowes should at least realize that his entire career, at this point, consists of pleading special "victim" status for conservative religionists, and of "slandering and stereotyping" gay people. Why, in this very piece Clowes writes:
[Homosexual activists] have lulled people into thinking that the wider society will not be adversely affected by their radical social agenda. Homosexual strategists have, in many cases, toned down their extreme rhetoric and have cloaked their agenda in soothing language.
... engaging, in other words, in a massive conspiracy. Apparently, Clowes doesn't object to stereotype and slander in general, but only to stereotyping and slander against those with whom he happens to agree.
Andrew Belonsky reported on Thursday that New York courts will no longer consider it "slanderous" to falsely accuse someone of being gay.
The story Andrew linked to didn't go into detail on the ruling -- who had been accused of what, when, or why. But it turns out Towleroad has covered this before.
The situation was this: Four years ago, Jean Mincolla of upstate New York falsely accused told Mark Yonaty of being a closeted gay man. She said this, it seems, because she wanted Yonaty's girlfriend to break up with him -- possibly because Mincolla wanted Mr. Yonaty for herself. Ms. Mincolla told her lie to Ruthanne Kaufman, who repeated it to the mother of Yonaty's girlfriend, who then broke up with Mr. Yonaty, just as Ms. Mincolla had hoped.
This probably doesn't say much for the integrity of Mr. Yonaty's relationship, but never mind -- Mr. Yonaty was aggrieved, and sued Ms. Mincolla. A judge decided the case in 2009, and another reaffirmed it in 2011, when Andy first reported the story. Mark Yonaty had indeed been slandered.
As Andrew explained Thursday, a "mid-level appeals court" has now reversed that decision, citing shifting public perceptions of gayness. It now seems Mr. Yonaty was not slandered by Ms. Mincolla, because slander requires defamation, and calling someone gay isn't defamatory. From the New York Daily News:
“These [previous] appellate division decisions are inconsistent with current public policy and should no longer be followed,” stated the unanimous decision written by Justice Thomas Mercure of the Appellate Division’s Third Department based in Albany. While the decision sets new case law in New York now, it could still go to a definitive ruling by the state’s highest court, the Court of Appeals.
... With Thursday’s decision and similar ones in several other states, calling someone gay is eliminated as defamation, just as being called black is no longer grounds for slander, said Jonathan L. Entin, law and political science professor at Case Western Reserve University Law School in Ohio.
“It doesn’t mean this is the universal view of the country,” he said. “The traditional view of being called gay was like being called an evil person. The state of public opinion has changed, but there are still people who feel that way.”
Nice as it is that courts no longer think being called "gay" is so awful, it still seems that Mr. Yonaty was treated poorly. So far as I've seen, media aren't reporting why, in this case, the "gay" allegation doesn't count as "defamation per se," which traditionally includes charges of "unchastity." Insinuating that someone in a heterosexual, monogamous relationship is gaying it up on the DL would seem to apply. Anybody have any insight?
On Friday, Gallup published the results of a poll which probed American opinions on the origins of the human species. The results: 46% of Americans believe in straight-up creationism, 32% believe in so-called "intelligent design," and a mere 15% believe humans evolved via natural selection.
Gallup conducted the poll with a random sample of 1,012 Americans. The demographic breakdown for responders was neatly summarized at CNN.com:
Nearly 70% of respondents who attend church every week said that God created humans in their present form, compared with 25% of people who seldom or never attend church.
Among the seldom church-goers, 38% believe that humans evolved with no guidance from God.
The numbers also showed a tendency to follow party lines, with nearly 60% of Republicans identifying as creationists, while 41% of Democrats hold the same beliefs.
Republicans also seem to be more black-and-white about their beliefs, with only 5% responding that humans evolved with some help from God. That number is much lower than the 19% of both independents and Democrats.
Over at Gallup, a helpful chart shows the evolution of Americans' opinions on evolution over the last 30 years. It's not pretty. Very little has changed since 1982, when 44% of Americans were creationists, 38% believed in "intelligent design," and 9% came out for natural selection.
Lest you think the Gallup results are mistaken, take a quick peek at the comments section over at CNN's coverage of the poll. It's a proud and appalling parade of ignorance.
From Entertainment Weekly:
“That definitely wasn’t the case,” she tells EW. “I’ve never dealt with the question of my personal life in public. It’s just not gonna happen.”
Although she insists she hasn't and won't come out, Latifah did refer to the assembled LGBTfolk in Long Beach as "her people." She also said, presumably of performing at a pride celebration, "I've been waiting to do this a long time."
Though Long Beach was Queen Latifah's first pride event, she's performed for all-gay audiences before. In EW, she shares this anecdote:
“My first show that paid more than $10,000 was in a gay club on New Year’s Eve in San Francisco. Tupac happened to be in town, so he came to kick it with me. This was the early ’90s. And the boys were like, ‘Take your shirt off, Tupac!’ He wasn’t doing that. But we had a blast in there.”