Star Wars, The Hero’s Journey, and Multiculturalism

My new piece about the #BoycottStarWarVII “movement” and the alt-right is up at Ordinary Times. Here is a bit:

This wasn’t the first time this group of Internet activists made a stink about a popular motion picture. When the new Mad Max film was released, the very same group complained that making the film’s protagonist a woman was just Hollywood feminizing a “man’s film” for the sake of cultural acceptance and appropriation. (Oddly enough, I found Fury Road to be rather antifeminist in its themes and arc, but that’s for another day).

Richard Spencer of Radix Journal has always been a sharper tool in the white nationalist arsenal than his blunter (and denser) allies. I’ve followed his rise on the Right for some time, and I’ll admit, I find myself agreeing with some of his points from time to time. Responding to the media storm that descended on #BoycottStarWarsVII, he argued against those shunning the film. However, he did write:

Liberals are getting mad at people for noticing something that is manifestly true—and something that was, no doubt, discussed in detail at the all-White and Jewish productions meetings in which the Force Awakens script and casting were hashed out. The galaxy is being diversified. And Hollywood is selling a post-White future, not through revenge fantasies like Django Unchanged, but through the nostalgia trip of a new Star Wars movie.

Clearly, there is a difference between recognizing the multicultural veneer present in Hollywood films and boycotting said films on principle. JJ Abrams has affirmed explicitly that he wanted a more racially diverse cast and the marketing of the film has capitalized on this element of it.

Read it all here.


Ann Coulter: Donald Trump’s Brain?

My new piece is up at Ordinary Times Magazine, and it’s about the role Ann Coulter plays in shaping Donald Trump. Here is just a bit:

While Trump reminds us ad nauseam of his superior intellect, I would wager he has not thought long and hard about his current crop of positions. Anti-immigration rhetoric is nothing new on the right; a slew of prominent sites like American Renaissance and VDarehave spent the last few decades beating this very drum. But these sites have a limited appeal beyond their immediate base of readers, and I doubt Trump would have spent late nights poring through articles disparaging immigration and migrants. These ideas needed a simplified, media-savvy repackaging Trump could proclaim and refashion for use in a political campaign. Trump unquestionably knew Ann Coulter, and her new book was just the kind of text Trump could use as the philosophical core of his campaign.

Read it all here.

Rethinking White Identity

My new piece on building a positive white identity is up at Ordinary Times. Here is a bit:

Unfortunately, the only people talking about white identity in a positive sense are activists on the far-Right. This leaves white Americans looking for a discussion or affirmation of their own identity exclusively in the realm of these individuals. The awakening of his “racial consciousness” inspired Dylann Roof’s terrorist attack; we cannot allow the far-Right to monopolize the conversation on what being conscious of one’s race means.

Those of us on the Left have to come to terms with our own identities, and discuss them openly, if we hope to take momentum out of the radical Right’s sails.

Read it all here.

(Image: Van Leyden: The Chess Players – c.1510)

Films That Could Have Been

My new piece was posted to Ordinary Times last week. Here is just a bit:

Perhaps more than any other genre, the science fiction realm has had to stomach some of the worst adaptations of its superlative works. I was a big fan of Robert Heinlein’s Starship Troopers in middle school, and was thrilled to hear the film was being made into a full-length feature. Obviously, as a committed fan of the book, I was disappointed when I finally saw the final product. While the film has become a cult favorite, and the special effects still hold up, the social commentary inherent in the novel were glossed over in favor of B quality monster movie scripting. With my fellow nerds, we contemplated what could have been if the text was treated as the high art we deemed it to be?

Read the rest here.

Sweden’s Education Privatization Failure

My new piece at Ordinary Times is about the lessons we should learn from the failure of Sweden in privatizing their education system. There is just a bit:

The lesson I took from the Sweden’s privatization failure is its contrast with its neighbor Finland. Finland has long been celebrated for its successful schools, with countries around the world attempting to borrow what works from their system. The Finnish system is centralized yet community centered; only the best university students are recruited into the profession, and are paid well for their services. But more importantly, trust and autonomy is placed in the hands of each school’s administrators and educators. Outside corporate and political figures are not given reign to muck with the workings of the school as they see fit (Joanne Barkan has an excellent piece about how philanthropists in America, while celebrated, are doing harm to our schools). Their schools do not shift direction aimlessly as educational fads come or political figures look to make a point.

Good national school systems serve a purpose that exceeds efficiency concerns. They help unite a people and a nation around a community framework, both implicitly and explicitly. While distinct, the Korean and Finnish education systems demonstrate a united vision for a society that the individuated corporate schools attempted in Sweden cannot achieve.

Read it all here.

(Image: Nikolaos Gyzis, “To krifó scholió”, Oil painting, 1885/86.)