If you’ve been following my adventures in conservative politics and the new media, then you might know that this is my third website since last July. That isn’t ideal, of course– not if you want to draw readers to your blog. But my life changed so much in 2012 that the moves were necessary. To anyone who got lost in the shuffle, my apologies.
Between November of 2011 and November 6, 2012, I was a Herman Cain supporter, a Rick Santorum grassroots volunteer, worked for Restoring America Project PAC, wrote and edited at Tea Party Tribune then worked for Americans For Prosperity. In the meantime, I started writing for Integrity, which consists of blogging for their business clients’ websites.
Here at Lowering the Boom, you’ll find conservative-themed images, stories and commentary. But don’t expect to find a lot of snarkiness. It’s just not something I’m good at.
— Becca Lower
I need to see ‘American Sniper’, just getting that out of the way up top.
Many of the people reading this haven’t seen ‘Birdman’. That’s not faulting you: It was a small film, playing on a few hundred screens across the country. It wasn’t accessible or easy to market to the demographic that watches Jimmy Fallon or <insert trendy TV show>. It wasn’t built to win out over a colossal marketing juggernaut like ‘American Sniper’, nor a critical lovefest darling like’The Imitation Game’ (which I have heard good stuff about from people I respect — I promise to see it).
But it overcame those things. Here’s why.
When Hollywood looks itself in the mirror, as it was forced to do by the casting of Michael Keaton in the starring role, it recognized something true. It wasn’t a pretty image, just like in ‘The Picture of Dorian Gray’ (yes, the movie). Yet, it was an image that was truthful and fully-realized. It was a reflection of what the movie-going audience sees when it looks at Hollywood and its bloated and self-referential excesses, its vanity, its detachment from real emotion and real art.
The great triumph of Alejandro Inarritu’s ‘Birdman’ is that it won the Best Picture Oscar, the night when the throng of hypocritical do-gooders pats itself on the back for “feeling” for others, spouting slogans at the podium. And gives most of the awards to people it likes and “owes” something. There’s an echo of that in ‘Birdman’, for sure, in the person of a crusty, old, white Broadway critic who feels she’s above everyone else.
What an honest and rewarding film ‘Birdman’ is! It’s nothing if not an ensemble film. (Though I might have wished for Michael Keaton to win Best Actor, but he got recognized at Saturday’s Independent Spirit Awards for that.)
Not only is Keaton spot-on as the aging, former big superhero star, trying to resuscitate a career on the Broadway boards. But Edward Norton lights up (literally) on screen as the seasoned, Broadway talent who’s brought in to bring gravitas to what might otherwise be written off as a the former star’s vanity project.
Emma Stone gives a bravura performance as Keaton’s daughter, a young woman trying to come to terms with growing up with divorce and her own bundle of life issues. There’s one scene between Stone and Norton, involving a game, that you must see. And the surprise of surprises here — Zach Galifinakis kills in a straight man role as the agent for Keaton’s character. He’s the calm center that the craziness of this whirlwind of a film flies around.
If you’ve heard anything about this movie, it’s the editing. The first 20 (might be 30-seconds) of the movie look like one continuous shot, and it’s performed while looping down winnowed hallways, around stairwells. Your brain knows it can’t be one take, but it’s just superbly done. If for no other reason than to marvel at the cinematography (the first of three Oscars ‘Birdman’ took home Sunday), go see it for the way it starts.
Just see it.
This Editor’s note: On a personal note, please pray or send good thoughts for myself and my family over the next hours and days. God knows the details. Thanks.
It’s difficult to know where to start. Do I start with the story, the pinpoint in time from which the drama unfolded? Do I start with the tweet, the reaction, the verbal beatdown? Or do I start with some other, unknown point, the feeling that somehow allies are being asked to make dizzying and untenable choices, over something that will blow over in time?
Sometimes, I feel that, by having less experience in politics, less education in journalism or history or some other subject, less fiery passion when speaking on the subjects that others do — that these are signs I’ve taken the wrong turn. That I don’t belong here in this space, in the conservative blogosphere. Maybe that’s true.
But even someone who doesn’t have the background many others do knows something about people and their actions. One can learn about honesty and deception, about motives and desires, without spending a lifetime around politicians. And from that study, it’s clear that it isn’t always the words and actions which people in power say and do that discourage their fellow Americans to fall out of love with activism and with staying active in politics. Or political writing.
Often, it happens because of the words and actions of those who write about and engage with those same politicians and activists and their world. They poison the waters and make it unhealthy for many others to thrive and desire to remain a part of it.
What I experienced on January 20th on Twitter, surrounding Chuck Johnson’s story about Holly Fisher, made me want to leave politics entirely. Not just the GOP, or conservatism, or whatever term you like. I’m not exaggerating. It was that bad.
I used to think that the way Twitter shortens the English language was largely responsible for the communication problems that happen there. But I started thinking differently, after that day. The problem isn’t how many characters people have to talk with one another on Twitter. It’s how they choose to use that space.
But it does seem that, in teaching ourselves to communicate in smaller and smaller quarters, in tweets and Facebook messages and smart takes on our blogs so that the attention deficit crowd will bother to read it, we’ve stunted our ability to relate to one another as human beings. We’ve made it more difficult to intuit what someone really means, and why they say what they say.
Essentially, we’ve become distrustful and questioning of the motives of those who think differently from ourselves – even by the most minute of degrees. We make tribes and teams, and no amount of common sense will bear understanding among them.
Enough people have written intelligently about the controversy – the story at the center of Johnson’s expose. You can find a few options in the Related section below, if you’re interested enough to sift through them.
But that leaves me with the unknown, and with feelings — mostly, those I’ve expressed. As I said in a short rant on Twitter on the 20th, we make a mistake to think we can read the hearts of those we don’t truly know. We err when we think we are the authority on how someone else ought to live his life – someone whom we assume to know all about, but we do not know the first thing about them.
I fear that this trend will only get worse, the less we depend on long-form and in depth forms of communication. Face to face conversations, phone calls, letters and emails, books. More misunderstandings, more recriminations, more division and distrust will mount. And our culture and our lives will be diminished as a result.
It’s important, while we still have time, to look at ourselves. We’re better than this. At least, I think we are. When I was invited to write about this political world, only a handful of years ago, by R. Stacy McCain and Jimmie Bise and many others, I was excited that there was space for my voice.
Isn’t that why many of us started writing, blogging, podcasting? The right side of the sphere has more space for more, and different, voices. They aren’t always voices we recognize or even agree with all the time. But we at least respect them, while the left doesn’t.
It would be amazing if we could remember to expect that –sometimes — voices that are coming out of the unknown will bring something wondrous instead of something to shun out of fear. You might just be surprised.
Note: This post was written before Johnson published his article on Dana & Chris Loesch.
When you hear people talk about courage recently, it’s likely they meant someone who was standing on principle, or about a vote their favorite politician made against the majority of his party. But it’s a whole other thing to say you would stand in the face of evil and do what’s right.
As I was writing this post, one of my favorite bloggers, Virginia attorney Aaron Walker, shared his take on the murders and some other, related things.
In it, he quoted an amended version of the Mission Statement for his now-defunct website centered on the social media event, ‘Everybody Draw Mohammed Day.’ Walker mentions that Comedy Central hasn’t had the best track record on this issue:
Finally, South Park made a two part episode in which they took on the controversy and Comedy Central censored the image of Mohammed, explicitly citing the fear of violence. And for their 200th and 201st episodes, the guys at South Park did it again, and under threat from a bunch of idiots called Revolution Islam, Comedy Central censored them again.They even censored a speech about the need for courage.
It’s simple enough to see that some media outlets, in the wake of brutal, disgusting murders at the Charlie Hebdo magazine offices, have printed the work the vile murderers claim they were killed for printing. Others have not.
You can find analysis in articles and tweets on the distinction between the two – those places in the media world which understand that there’s only one lesson to be learned from what happened around noon in Paris yesterday, and those who do not.
What’s the lesson? That we are the civilized, and those who seek to silence opinions they don’t like with terror and death are not.
The truth is that they don’t deserve our respect or any hint of an apology. They don’t gain any victory with this abomination against all religions – yes, even Islam.
It didn’t go unnoticed.
I caught in Adams’s article that AP also had used images of the “offensive” cartoons from other sources – and cropped or blurred the images to remove any parts showing Mohammed. Where was this AP today?
Jim Geraghty of National Review Online noticed another institution (in the entertainment realm, though) that once stood strong against the barbarism that radical Islam unleashed on innocents today.
A place that belongs on Adams’ first list – the list of places that seem to understand what I mean by civilized and uncivilized – is Ricochet. One of their writers was accidentally on the scene just minutes after the killings, and it’s worth reading in full (as is this piece by their Jon Gabriel).
No censoring pictures or coddling evil here:
But for me, the best example of courage today was someone rather unlikely: Corrine Ray, a cartoonist for Charlie Hebdo who survived the attacks by hiding herself and her young daughter under a desk. She happened to be the first staff member to encounter the terrorists. You’ve likely heard the story by now: Corrine punched in the security code which opened the doors and allowed the madmen to do their evil work.
In that moment, the mother, the parent, chose what many of us would have chosen, if placed in her shoes. Corrine chose the protection of a loved one, and – in this case – the next generation, over what would likely have been a foolhardy attempt at bravado to save her colleagues. Because her daughter would have grown up without a mother to nurture her, to hold her, to see her start a family of her own one day, perhaps.
What a choice to have to make in a split second. But what courage – in whichever language you speak.