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Ricochet Podcast #75: Shape and Contort

That the left is all pervasive in Hollywood is not debatable. But how much does that really affect the culture at large? That’s the question we banter back and forth with guests Andrew Klavan and with Ben Shapiro, whose book Prime Time Propaganda: How The Left Took Over Your TV is a provocative look at this issue. It’s one of our liveliest podcasts, and one that should incite a lot of comments on Ricochet. Have at it!

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Tele-links:

  • Peter Robinson’s sleep habits have been an ongoing theme for a while now on the podcast, however this is the first time we’ve heard anything about a faux antique bed frame. Perhaps Peter will post a photo of it?

  • The Elgin Marbles, also known as the The Parthenon Marbles,&nbsp;are a collection of classical Greek marble sculptures (mostly by Phidias and his pupils), inscriptions and architectural members that originally were part of the Parthenon and other buildings on the Acropolis of Athens. Thomas Bruce, 7th Earl of Elgin, the British ambassador to the Ottoman Empire from 1799–1803, had obtained a controversial permit from the Ottoman authorities to remove pieces from the Acropolis. The debate has raged on ever since as to whether or not they ought to be returned to Greece.
  • Nassim Nicholas Taleb is the author of Black Swan&nbsp;and Fooled by Randomness.&nbsp;“Greece is peanuts” The U.S.? “A time bomb,” he says in this article in the WSJ. But, Taleb adds that “This is not an insoluble problem,” he said of the U.S. debt crisis. “You can fix it with some fiddling here and there. But you need the will to do it. And you need consciousness about the importance of debt. I don’t see that. Politicians are good at getting elected, not at solving problems like this.” Sunny side up, Nick.&nbsp;
  • The state budget crisis in California&nbsp;is an ongoing comedy. Unless you live here. But no one is talking about a shutdown unlike&nbsp;in Minnesota.&nbsp;
  • Department store heir and Minnesota governor Mark Dayton did indeed sell&nbsp;a painting by Renior (as well as another by Toulouse-Lautrec), that he inherited from his mother to help finance his campaign for governor of Minnesota. He claims he sold them for less than they were worth.
  • Thomas Nast (September 27, 1840 – December 7, 1902) was a German-born American caricaturist and editorial cartoonist who is considered to be the “Father of the American Cartoon.” Among his notable works were the creation of the modern version of Santa Claus, Uncle Sam (the male personification of the American people), as well as the political symbols of both major United States political parties: the Republican elephant and the Democratic donkey. His archives are housed at Ohio State University and are accessible online.
  • Rob is partly correct: the port of Houston is ranked first in the United States in foreign waterborne tonnage (14 consecutive years); first in U.S. imports (19 consecutive years); second in U.S. export tonnage and second in the U.S. in total tonnage (Long Beach is number one). That’s only a few of many “firsts” the port has conveniently posted online.&nbsp;
  • A couple of years ago, Rob and Mike Murphy hopped a container ship in Seattle and rode it all the way to China. He blogged about it at the time on his now defunct personal blog (this was way before Ricochet), and you can still read the remnants of those posts here. Perhaps if there is enough interest, he’ll re-post them on Ricochet.
  • Joel Kotkin was described by the New York Times&nbsp;as America’s “uber-geographer. He wrote recently in Forbes&nbsp;that the “Gulf is destined to emerge as the most economically vibrant of our three coasts.”
  • Andrew Klavan is referring to this post&nbsp;by Peter which features a video produced by the Charles Koch Foundation.&nbsp;
  • Ben Shapiro’s book Prime Time Propaganda: How The Left Took Over Your TV&nbsp;is available for purchase&nbsp;everywhere fine books are sold or downloaded.&nbsp;
  • James Burrows is a veteran TV director. His credits&nbsp;read like a museum of&nbsp;broadcasting, Any show that was a hit in the last 30 years, he directed at least some of the episodes if not the pilot itself.&nbsp;
  • The late Bruce Paltrow&nbsp;was a producer and director on both The White Shadow&nbsp;and St. Elsewhere. He’s also Gwyneth Paltrow’s dad.&nbsp;
  • Steven Crowder is a comedian who recently found himself in a public tiff with a producer from The Daily Show, who let it be known in an email that they “never hire conservative commentators.” It’s been good for business though, as the views in his YouTube channel&nbsp;have increased sharply.&nbsp;
  • The Mary Tyler Moore Show&nbsp;ran from 1970-1977 on CBS. The first three seasons are available fo free on Hulu. Was the show really advancing a liberal agenda? Tell us what you think in the comments.&nbsp;
  • Vin DiBona&nbsp;is the visionary behind America’s Funniest Home Videos. In other words, he made a ton money from clips of guys getting hit in the crotch. More importantly, Di Bona was a leading member of the Caucus for Producers, Writers and Directors was censured for standing by his remarks that he accepts Hollywood’s discrimination against conservatives, causing fellow member Lionel Chetwynd to publicly resign from the Caucus the following month.
  • A posthumous congratulations to Jimmy Stewart. You sir are another member of a very elite group:&nbsp;personalities&nbsp;that Peter Robinson does a voice impression of. Other members include Richard Nixon, Ronald Reagan, and some Russian dude.
  • All In The Family&nbsp;ran on CBS from 1971 to 1979. It was a groundbreaking and hugely influential series that reflected the culture and the issues of it’s day. Ben says the series is no longer seen because of it’s politics, we’re not so sure. Tell us what you think in the comments.
  • Ben Shapiro’s interviews of of Hollywood executive and producers should not be missed. The Hollywood Reporter&nbsp;published them&nbsp;a couple of weeks ago.
  • Huzzahs to Ricochet member Scotty Pippen&nbsp;for getting the Ricochet Podcast Member Post of The Week for his post What are the Best War Films of All Time?&nbsp;He wins a copy of Three Felonies a Day:&nbsp;How the Feds Target the Innocent&nbsp;by Harvey Silverglate. Watch your email, Scotty.&nbsp;
  • Bernard Hermann was one the greatest composers in movie history. The scores of Vertigo, North By Northwest, The Day The Earth Stood Still, and Taxi Driver&nbsp;are a small sampling of his work. However, it was Fred Steiner who composed that fight theme from Star Trek&nbsp;that Lileks sings. He died last week.&nbsp;
  • Back in May, Peter Robinson wrote a post soliciting summer reading suggestions&nbsp;for his sons. Andrew Klavan helpfully responded.&nbsp;

Music from this week’s episode:

The&nbsp;direct link&nbsp;to this week’s episode (great for mobile devices!).&nbsp;But be telegenic and&nbsp;subscribe. Don’t use iTunes? Visit our&nbsp;Feedburner&nbsp;page for a number of other subscription options.

The Ricochet Podcast is proudly sponsored by Encounter Books. This week’s featured title is Three Felonies a Day:&nbsp;How the Feds Target the Innocent&nbsp;by Harvey Silverglate.&nbsp;Available in all formats at&nbsp;EncounterBooks.com.

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  1. Trace

    Much of the premise behind this podcast really bugged me, starting with hearing Ben Shapiro, who is not yet 30, intone about what “we conservatives” believe.

    There is a world of difference in my mind between the politics of an auteur (if TV writers can be considered such) and what is evident and available in the “text.” 30 Rock is not “balanced” or “unbalanced.” Rather it is funny or not funny. It is successful when it goes for a laugh irrespective of politics. Likewise, when politics (right or left) interferes with a joke, any show fails. All In the Family was a staple in my parents’ Republican household because it was funny, not because of its politics.

    Finally, the notion that liberals in Hollywood have brainwashed the American electorate and that it is “amazing” that 50%+ of the American people lean right “in spite” of the leftist media is ridiculous and offensive. We all — right and left — deserve a lot more credit than that. That very notion that “emotion” laden media sways the mob is exactly the sort of elitism that is a staple on the left but which our side should studiously avoid.

  2. r r
    Trace Urdan:

    Likewise, when politics (right or left) interferes with a joke, any show fails.

    Like the Daily Show….?

  3. Midget Faded Rattlesnake
    Trace Urdan:&nbsp; Rather it is funny or not funny. It is successful when it goes for a laugh irrespective of politics. Likewise, when politics (right or left) interferes with a joke, any show fails. All In the Family was a staple in my parents’ Republican household because it was funny, not because of its politics.

    Trace, you’ve probably nailed the real reason why I dislike All in the Family: I just don’t find it all that funny. More like loud and rude, and that’s simply not my style.

    I rarely find name-calling humor funny, for one thing — too obvious. And Edith’s voice could so&nbsp;peel paint.

    I have perhaps similar problems with South Park. South Park has moments of comic genius that are tough to beat, but enduring the rude language and annoying voices during the times it’s not being incredibly funny often just isn’t worth it for me.

  4. Jimmy Carter

    Mighty Blue Yeti, Yer links are off by one, I think.

  5. I. raptus

    Does no one have the intestinal fortitude to point out to Mr. Lileks that he’s mixing up the volume and number with regards to which one you’re supposed to recite in Roman numerals?&nbsp; (He’s obviously doing it sarcastically since he pointed out that he thought it was silly when he took over the introductions, but still …)

  6. Brian Watt

    Would like to add my own Bernard Herrmann recommendation – his appropriately haunting score for The Ghost and Mrs. Muir (available on iTunes or thru Amazon). It was the first time that the studio (20th Century Fox) allowed a film score to begin over its logo replacing the studio’s famous fanfare. Of course, the soundtrack from Fahrenheit 451 is superb as well. The man was a genius.

  7. Pseudodionysius

    Memo

    To: Rob Long

    From: The Cat

    Subject: Monkeys going rogue and attacking clowns

    Mr. Long. Please reprise your column/radio spot from KCRW and your now defunct blog about the monkeys snapping. Funny, funny stuff. Were I Pat Sajak, I would say: “Its gold, Jerry. Gold!”

  8. r r
    Pseudodionysius: “Its gold, Jerry. Gold!” · Jun 29 at 9:05pm

    Kitty,

    Did you just compare Pat Sajak to Kenny Bana?…. for shame Kitty, for shame.

  9. Pseudodionysius
    Samwise Gamgee

    Pseudodionysius: “Its gold, Jerry. Gold!” · Jun 29 at 9:05pm

    Kitty,

    Did you just compare Pat Sajak to Kenny Bana?…. for shame Kitty, for shame. · Jun 29 at 9:10pm

    Sajak did that to himself in that YouTube video. I directly quoted him.

  10. r r
    Pseudodionysius

    Sajak did that to himself in that YouTube video. I directly quoted him. · Jun 29 at 9:24pm

    Why do they call it Ovaltine?&nbsp; The glass is round, the container is round.&nbsp; They should call it Roundtine.

  11. r r

    You know Rob Long et al.,

    The reason that there are no conservative movies is not for a lack of hilarious conservative writers or conservative rich people.&nbsp; There is just nobody to lead the expedition and bring it all together.

    Why doesn’t one of you smart guys up on the 39th floor get somebody to fund a movie, gather up a few hilarious conservative graduate students trying desperately to quit their programs and actually make something?

    As a little sample of what can be done, for example, today I came up with a great idea for a bumper sticker that says, “Let them eat Cats.” It’s a commentary on how liberals supposedly love poor people yet treat their cats better than anybody who is poor…

    …I’ve got better stuff too.

  12. Midget Faded Rattlesnake
    Blue Yeti

    • All In The Family&nbsp;ran on CBS from 1971 to 1979. It was a groundbreaking and hugely influential series that reflected the culture and the issues of it’s day. Ben says the series is no longer seen because of it’s politics, we’re not so sure. Tell us what you think in the comments.

    I loathe the character of Archie Bunker. He is such&nbsp;a caricature. Too much what leftists must’ve imagined non-leftists must be like: too ill-educated and dim-witted to be aware of their bigotry.

    Mind you, I’m young and wasn’t around then. But the older conservatives I know who were around then say the same thing — they couldn’t like Archie, either. He was too fake.

    Oh, and I can’t stand Edith’s voice, either. Auditory torture.

    Actually, if I go to Hell, I expect to find endless reruns of All In The Family waiting for me. Worse than an endless loop of Pachelbel’s Canon (hey, at least it’s easy to improvise to Pachelbel’s Canon).

  13. laserguy
    Midget Faded Rattlesnake

    Blue Yeti

    • All In The Family&nbsp;ran on CBS from 1971 to 1979. It was a groundbreaking and hugely influential series that reflected the culture and the issues of it’s day. Ben says the series is no longer seen because of it’s politics, we’re not so sure. Tell us what you think in the comments.

    I loathe the character of Archie Bunker. He is such&nbsp;a caricature. Too much what leftists must’ve imagined non-leftists must be like: too ill-educated and dim-witted to be aware of their bigotry.

    Yet Archie Bunker’s prejudices concealed a core of decency, and he could usually be counted on to do the right thing in the end.&nbsp; And his liberal son-in-law, though acting as the mouthpiece for the “right” views, was often portrayed as vain,&nbsp;stubborn,&nbsp;and annoyingly self-righteous. This show was far more nuanced than&nbsp;some of its&nbsp;conservative critics give it credit for.&nbsp;

    And, contrary to what Ben Shapiro claims, it’s never been out of syndication since the 1970s.

  14. genferei
    Trace Urdan: Much of the premise behind this podcast really bugged me,…&nbsp;· Jun 30 at 7:21am

    You nailed it. +1 and all that stuff.

    (This was one of those posts that you read and think ‘I didn’t know I thought that, but that’s exactly what I was thinking.’)

  15. wilber forge

    &nbsp;Re, Peter Robinson,

    Regarding the film Ben Hur, which I saw as a child when it was first released. And paid for the privelage with my own funds. Silver Dollars I got for my birthday no less.

    The point here is, Did you know it was a remake from&nbsp;the silent film version ?

    C.B. DeMille so&nbsp;loved the original, it was redone nearly shot for shot.&nbsp; The chariot race scene in the DeMille version is identical to the original, save color.

    Watch the silent version and compare the two masterpeices if you can.

  16. laserguy

    &nbsp;Another thing:&nbsp; Archie Bunker’s unspoken generosity in supporting his freeloading son-in-law year after year, allowing him to live under his roof despite their constant clashes.

    The show’s overt social criticism aside, the overarching theme of the series is how family ties and responsibilities&nbsp;trump political and generational differences.&nbsp; Surely that’s something conservatives should appreciate.

  17. genferei
    wilber forge: &nbsp;Re, Peter Robinson,

    The point here is, Did you know [Ben Hur] was a remake from&nbsp;the silent film version ?&nbsp;· Jun 30 at 11:18am

    And the 1925 silent version was actually the second film (first in 1907) of the 1880 best-seller that had been running as a stage production for a quarter of a century!

  18. Peter Robinson
    C
    wilber forge: &nbsp;Re, Peter Robinson,

    Regarding the film Ben Hur, which I saw as a child when it was first released. And paid for the privelage with my own funds. Silver Dollars I got for my birthday no less.

    The point here is, Did you know it was a remake from&nbsp;the silent film version ?

    C.B. DeMille so&nbsp;loved the original, it was redone nearly shot for shot.&nbsp; The chariot race scene in the DeMille version is identical to the original, save color.

    Watch the silent version and compare the two masterpeices if you can. · Jun 30 at 11:18am

    Edited on Jun 30 at 11:32 am

    Yes, I was aware that “Ben Hur” was a remake–but I’ve never seen the original. &nbsp;Is it available on Netflix or some such, do you suppose? &nbsp;The novel, btw, was published all the way back in 1880, by Lew Wallace, a remarkable figure. &nbsp;A darned good novelist, obviously, but also a Union general in the Civil War and territorial governor of New Mexico.

  19. Edward Dentzel

    There is something, well, several things about Ben Shapiro that turn me off and he kind of ruined this podcast for me. My points are both subjective and objective. Subjectively, he talks like a used car salesman at about 200 words a minute. I don’t know if he is usually like this, he’s nervous, etc. but his delivery is unlistenable . . . I don’t think that’s a word. I always get the feeling that people who talk that fast have something to hide.

    Objectively, he is COMPLETELY off on his facts. He says All in the Family isn’t in syndication. But, I can’t flip by Nickolodeon in the evenings without seeing Archie Bunker. I believe there are other channels where the show is played as well.

    In addition, Ben is wrong and Rob Long is exactly right. To say that Cheers is a “liberal” show is preposterous. If we as conservatives are going to so tightly define what is and what is not conservative entertainment, then it’s no wonder there are so few conservatives in entertainment. I mean, who wants to bother trying to please conservative people who see anything non-conservative as automatically liberal?&nbsp;

  20. Rob Long
    C
    GOVICIDE:&nbsp;In addition, Ben is wrong and Rob Long is exactly right. To say that Cheers is a “liberal” show is preposterous. If we as conservatives are going to so tightly define what is and what is not conservative entertainment, then it’s no wonder there are so few conservatives in entertainment. I mean, who wants to bother trying to please conservative people who see anything non-conservative as automatically liberal?&nbsp; · Jun 30 at 1:29pm

    Nicely put. &nbsp;And I think that’s often the problem with conservatives when they talk about popular culture. &nbsp;It’s this everything is liberal&nbsp;mentality that makes us seem, frankly, nuts. &nbsp;When characters behave in an immoral or craven fashion — like, for instance, when Sam Malone of Cheers tried to bed every attractive woman he met — that isn’t liberal. &nbsp;It’s funny. &nbsp;And, frankly, ancient. &nbsp; Since when does being a conservative mean you’ve got to be a prude and a bluestocking and a scold? &nbsp;