Morning Ed: The Arts {2017.08.09.W}

[A1] I think comic books might benefit from letting the characters age and rebooting every 20 years, character aging presents its own problem as time flies so fast you barely get to know the characters (except those like Batman or Superman that have weekly adventures).

[A2] An audioplay of Bradbury’s Martian Chronicles.

[A3] Scientifically comparing Radiohead songs on the gloom index.

[A4] Art audiences in the US have chosen contemporary over classic.

[A5] Sandy McDowell makes the case for why audiobooks are awesome.

[A6] Raymond Cummings is not quite a fan of Hotel California.

[A7] Mapping Dante’s Inferno.

[A8] Noah Berlatski is worried that maybe some Hitler haters and fascism opponents are hating Hitler and fascism out of a sense of decency rather than the appropriate ideological commitments.

[A9] I don’t know… I’d be more likely to buy this if they hadn’t tried to shoehorn the extra syllable into “Serengeti.”


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Will Truman is a former professional gearhead who is presently a stay-at-home father in the Mountain East. He has moved around frequently, having lived in six places since 2003, ranging from rural outposts to major metropolitan areas. He also writes fiction, when he finds the time. ...more →

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60 thoughts on “Morning Ed: The Arts {2017.08.09.W}

  1. [A4] Meh, I’m not a fan. I’ve been to the Hirshorn several times with a friend, but I’ve gone because the exhibit is something outside my “zone”, she wanted to go, and I enjoy spending time with her. I’d rather see. I’d rather go to the Freer or the Walters. Who can pass up an exhibit on the Scythians?

    [A7] If you want a fictionally account of Dante’s hells, try Inferno. And it’s sequel, Escape from Hell. Both pretty damn good.

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    • The Walters absolutely rocks! And it’s free! It is Baltimore’s best claim to a great cultural institution. Messrs. Walters had excellent taste, whether innate or purchased. The official line is that they came by it naturally. I also appreciate that Walters pere made his money the old-fashioned way: as a wholesale liquor dealer. In any case, the Walters is my go-to when I have a couple of hours to spare while downtown.

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    • I should say that while my interpretation of that article differs from Will’s gloss (assuming I have the right article), I find that the argument implied in Will’s gloss–that people oppose fascism more out of a sense of decency than out of the “appropriate ideological commitments”–rings true to me.

      To me, at least, that’s a good thing. “Decency,” or whatever passes for decency, can be a check against our baser impulses and inclinations. I have done a lot of things I’m proud of, or at least not ashamed of, out of a sense of “decency” that I would not have done out of principle. If we take our principles undiluted, we can end up doing some pretty horrible things.

      Can “decency” be bad? Probably. Maybe definitely. But I wouldn’t want to simply jettison decency for all that.

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      • Out of curiosity, what is your interpretation of the article? I have a sense that Will’s characterization doesn’t quite capture what Berlatski was getting at, but I also cannot identify a more coherent argument in the piece. I admit that I’m biased, because I’ve never read an article from Berlatski that I didn’t find completely hackneyed and terribly uninteresting.

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        • I couldn’t identify a coherent argument in the piece but I guess what the article was getting at is that a lot of opposition to fascism is shallow and basically worn as a piece of clothing. Its almost a fashion statement. During dystopia week, Tod Kelly had a piece mocking the resistance in YA dystopian novels. That’s how many people seem to embrace anti-fascism, as a way to signal that they are part of the hot young things who are opposed to the ugly authoritarians. This means that it is something that could be easily abandoned if a person or group of people find it in their interest to abandon it.

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          • Fascism is like feudalism, its of historic relevance, not contemporary and any serious attempt to describe it is doomed to F. varying significantly based upon time and place.

            (And no I didn’t read the piece)

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        • Another way to put it is that a lot of opposition to fascism is fundamentally unserious. People are willing to do it as long as it seems easy but anything resembling hard work will be abandoned.

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          • In America and maybe the western world in general, there is probably an under appreciation of the role that the Soviets played in defeating the Axis powers. But that doesn’t seem to be what Berlatasky is talking about. Rather, I take Berlatsky’s point to be something like serious anti-fascism has to be coupled with explicit socialist or leftist politics.

            If that’s the case, I guess there are a whole lot of American, Canadian, British, French, etc. men and women who died in their unserious opposition to Nazi Germany.

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            • I don’t see Berlatsky making an argument that serious anti-fascism needs to be coupled with explicitly leftist politics. Its really not a well-written article but I see the argument that serious anti-fascism needs to have a more sound basis than these people are uncool douchebags.

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              • I now realize that I was reacting to another Berlataky piece (this one: http://www.splicetoday.com/moving-pictures/nazi-super-villains) which I got to by altering the original link.

                In particular, this bit here:

                Super villain Hitlers often rant about world conquest, and/or threaten to kill lots of people, and/or mouth some sort of quasi-eugenic ideology. But those elements of fascism are scrambled and spliced together on film, which makes it difficult to see how the pieces fit, both historically and in situations where fascist threats might be currently politically relevant. As just one example, the manic, sweeping anti-leftism of fascist movements is hardly ever represented on screen. People don’t know that the main internal German resistance to Hitler came from communists and socialists, and Hollywood isn’t eager to tell them.

                The heroes who fight fascism in Hollywood are non-ideological, centrist American do-gooders, whose vision of freedom and justice involve a vaguely capitalist status quo…

                By the way, reading through the list of Berlataky’s pieces is like reading the though the output of some SJW algorithm.

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            • [A8] showed amusing ignorance. Fascism wasn’t anti-leftist, it was wildly leftist. Mussolini was a former communist who was editor of the Italian Socialist Party’s newspaper, and a string of other socialist newspapers. The point of Fascism was to create a third-way Marxism, blending socialism with anarcho-syndicalism, futurism, and nationalism. It was stridently anti-racist. The nationalism was a result of Marxist revisionism that started in the late 1800’s to explain why workers weren’t rising up, but were instead still loyal to king and country. Their correction created a concept of national socialism to contrast with international socialism. Italy’s nationalism was also an opposition to exploitative Anglo/American capitalism, as Mussolini recast the Marxist class struggle as a struggle between working class nations like Italy and capitalist nations like America.

              And America was never very anti-Fascist. FDR was a Mussolini fan. Mussolini liked FDR. When FDR was elected, New York Times reporter Anne McCormick said “The Roosevelt administration envisages a federation of industry, labor and government after the fashion of the corporative State as it exists in Italy.” And Mussolini agreed, writing a review of Roosevelt’s 1933 book (Mussolini was a newspaper writer and editor) “Reminiscent of Fascism is the principle that the state no longer leaves the economy to its own devices.… Without question, the mood accompanying this sea change resembles that of Fascism.”

              Everybody pulling together for a fair minimum wage, paid vacations, workers’ rights, and good retirement. We rolled through Italy and hardly bothered “de-Fascizing” the place. Many of the Fascist party members stayed in office, and we didn’t care.

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                • Well that’s the thing about leftists. They violently compete with each other. Look at Stalin’s purges or Germany’s Night of the Long Knives for examples. Mussolini went after the leaders of the Italian Socialist Party because they’d stiffed him out of the party’s leadership position. He swore revenge and got it. He also sat on the right side of parliament to be as far away from them as possible, thus making him “right wing”.

                  Also, the Fascists didn’t do very much torturing and killing of leftists, because they were further left than just about everyone but the communists. Mussolini himself was a former communist agitator/propagandist. They mostly killed Libyans and other North Africans, and later some Jews and Croatian and Slovene partisans and the like. You might get to 10,000 or 15,000 deaths if you include those.

                  Of course Mussolini did imprison Gramsci (who fathered cultural hegemony theory). Gramsci was a communist who used to write for Mussolini, who was his editor. The Italian Communist Party that Gramsci headed was outlawed in 1926. Mussolini didn’t like rivals. He also outlawed the Unitary Socialist Party, which became the Italian Workers’ Socialist Party, having had its leader assassinated 11 days after Mussolini’s victorious 1924 election for questioning “irregularities” in the voting.

                  As for the Fascists, we only put a few of them on trial, executing one for murdering a British POW and another for murdering an American POW. One of the Italian extremists in the Italian Social Republic (formed in northern Italy) killed hundreds of partisans, so Mussolini had him arrested, and the Italians executed him.

                  The Italian resistance was called forth by the King of Italy and his top generals, who ordered Italy’s surrender to Eisenhower and the arrest of Mussolini, who fled. Mussolini was also dumped by the Grand Council of Fascism.

                  Hundreds of thousands of Italian soldiers were taken prisoner by the Germans, and tens of thousands of them died because they stayed loyal to the king instead of Mussolini. The modern Italian government is the heir to those who fought in the resistance, though the rebranded fascists are still around and still winning a few seats.

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                  • I hesitate to weigh in because I’m not an expert on Fascism or Soviet Communism. But this is the internets, and I’ll chime in anyway.

                    1. I agree with JR that discussions about whether Fascism is really left or right are not useful. Fascists violently suppressed opponents of their regime when they could get away with it, and that meant suppressing opponents who represented the various flavors of what you and I would call leftism.

                    2. I do think, however, that it’s useful to look at the history–both practical and ideological–of Fascism/Nazism. I think we’d find that elements of leftist ideology (depending on how you and I are defining leftism). I am aware of at least one scholar who argued that syndicalism informed the rise of fascist ideology in Italy. (The Birth of Fascist Ideology, by Zeev Sternhell. I’ve read only about 1/5 of that book, so I can’t really vouch for it, but that seems to be the argument, and the argument seems at least credible.)

                    3. I also think it’s worthwhile pointing out the various correlations between the New Deal and Fascist Italy. Again, I’m not an expert on Fascist Italy. But the idea of creating business-controlled cartels under state direction, and using the state to enforce the rules of those cartels–which is what the National Recovery Administration tried to do–strikes me as similar to what I understand Mussolini was trying to do. (It also strikes me as non-leftist, by the way. If the NRA codes had managed to survive and become quasi-permanent, larger corporations would have benefited.) Commissioning artists for the WPA smacks of state propoganda even if the artists were technically barred from doing “political” works. And the CCC, for all the good it did, embraced a strange and in my opinion discomfiting element of militarism.

                    4. While I believe no. 3 is worthwhile–especially because it helps demystify the New Deal and forces New Deal nostalgists to realize the good old days had a little bit of bad to them–I also believe it’s a mistake to say the New Deal was simply Fascism, American style. That some Fascist ideas gained currency does not necessarily mean that the US was edging toward totalitarianism. Also, other elements of the New Deal, such as the SSA and the Wagner Act, strike me more as non-Fascist. You and I could debate the point–and I might lose! But while I see those laws as problematic, I have a harder time seeing them as Fascistic.

                    5. It’s very hard to define “Fascism.” I’m not sure I can. This fact puts in question much of the foregoing that I wrote .

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                • Fascists detained, tortured, and killed lots of leftists for an allegedly pro-leftist philosophy.

                  So what? Bloods shoot at crips and vice versa; that’s not a sign of some meaningful ideological divide.

                  These conversations about whether fascism belongs to the left or the right are pretty stupid. The answer depends entirely on how you choose to define the terms. Here is what we can say: when you go far enough to the left or the right on the political spectrum, you end up somewhere that looks almost exactly like the extreme version of the other side. And both sides of that political spectrum are opposed to the center space occupied by liberal democracy.

                  There wasn’t a whole lot of difference between how Hitler ran Nazi Germany and how Stalin ran Soviet Russia. Totalitarianism is totalitarianism, whether it’s justified with myths about the ascendancy of a social class or myths about the supremacy of a particular ethnicity.

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                  • People who argue that fascism is a leftist political ideology are doing so for an explicitly ideological motive. They are simply trying to discredit anything even slightly to their left by tainting it with the fascist brush. Its a “Democrats are the real racist” sort of argument, a manipulation of the historical record to make a disingenuous point.

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        • Sorry, I’ve been away all day and am just now getting back to my blogs. I think part of our issue is that I was referring to one article (apparently not the one Will wanted to link to, because he’s since fixed it), and you were reading the article he actually wanted to link to. I haven’t–but will–read that one.

          For the article I actually read, he was reviewing a movie I’ve never seen or heard of about a fake Hitler going around Ali G style and seeing how everyday Germans react. I should say I usually like Berlatsky’s writings (what little I read of them), but I’m not sure exactly what he was getting at in this particular piece. I think he was arguing that too many Germans are still pro-fascist?

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          • Now that I’ve read the actual article, I share your confusion and think I agree that Will’s gloss didn’t quite get at what Berlatsky was trying to say, whatever that was. This part, which you partially quoted above, might explain the gloss:

            The heroes who fight fascism in Hollywood are non-ideological, centrist American do-gooders, whose vision of freedom and justice involve a vaguely capitalist status quo—they’re people like Humphrey Bogart in Casablanca, motivated by generic decency, rather than by any actual left commitments.

            I *think* Berlatsky was saying that fascism’s anti-leftism gets obscured in popular culture and that we should remember the role leftists played in opposing it? That’s the best I got.

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            • “I *think* Berlatsky was saying that fascism’s anti-leftism gets obscured”

              I would argue it is properly obscured to the extent leftism means communism, which is what I think he is saying. Fascism to the extent it had some cohesive ideology across the various European states was as a criticism of liberal democracy. It is certainly true that Communist were early and violent opponents of NAZIs, but (a) they were also early and violent opponents of the social-liberals who more reflect leftish politics today, (b) their embrace of Stalinist communism frightened the middle class to support the NAZIs, and (c) their leadership mostly fled to the USSR in the wake of the coup making the movement largely irrelevant thereafter.

              “Rick” didn’t join the war for lofty purposes, but won the war all the same for the messy middle.

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              • Fascist’s anti-leftist stance targeted more than the Communists. Social Democrats (who were more radical back then), liberal intellectuals, and anarchists were also targeted. Berlatsky is also protesting how the anti-intellectualism of fascism gets toned down when he writes about fascism’s anti-leftism getting obscured. Most of the early and most ardent opponents of fascism had ideological reasons for going against it.

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            • I *think* Berlatsky was saying that fascism’s anti-leftism gets obscured in popular culture and that we should remember the role leftists played in opposing it?

              If that’s the case, then maybe we should all remember that the Soviet Union signed a non-aggression pact with Nazi Germany in 1939 and the Soviet position (and therefore, the Comintern’s position) at the start of WWII was that the war was just a fight between bourgeois factions and that communists should refuse to support it and to continue the struggle in their respective countries.

              Here, for instance, is the leader of the Communist Party of Germany writing from exile in Sweden:

              The German government declared itself ready for friendly relations with the Soviet Union, whereas the English–French war bloc desires a war against the socialist Soviet Union. The Soviet people and the working people of Germany have an interest in preventing the English war plan.

              So while centrist Britain was fighting the Battle of Britain, the Soviets were taking advantage of their peace with Nazi Germany to trade agricultural supplies for weapons and to expand their control over the Baltics. But once Hitler broke the Molotov-Ribbentrop Pact and commenced Operation Barbarossa, the Soviet position switched to actively aligning with the Allies, going so far as to disband the Comintern and direct the various communist parties to actively support the Allied war efforts in the name of fighting fascism.

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              • Also, the German Communist leadership believed that the rise of fascist governments was the last, dying gasp of the capitalist order, from which Communism would be the inevitable victor. On April 1, 1933, the the Executive Committee of the Comintern resolved:

                Despite the fascist terror, the revolutionary upturn in Germany will inexorably grow. The masses’ defense against fascism will inexorably grow. The establishment of an openly fascist dictatorship, which has shattered every democratic illusion in the masses and is liberating the masses from the influence of the Social Democrats, is accelerating the tempo of Germany’s development towards a proletarian revolution.

                The Communists did not increase the tempo of their opposition to the NAZIs as they rose to power because of a dogmatic belief that they would be the inevitable victors of fascist dictatorship, while they continued for years to circulate underground pamphlets attacking their historic enemy, the irrelevant Social Democrats.

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          • The movie he’s reviewing in that first link is Er ist wieder da which is based on a German novel. The basic plot is that Hitler for unexplained reasons wakes up in modern day Berlin and people mistake him for a method actor. He uses the controversy he causes to rise to fame and political fortune.

            There are a few scenes where he does the Ali G thing but overall its plot driven. The movie doesn’t have to do with fascism as an ideology, its more of a satire of mass media culture and to a lesser degree the hubris of the elite political class. I thought it had some effective moments but also some predictable ones.

            The review is another example of Berlatsky coming up with a thesis then cherry picking something that maybe has a superficial resemblance of evidence supporting it even though it doesn’t. But then he’s a bad writer and thats one of the things bad writers do.

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  2. [A8] your dedication to open mindedness and receiving all points of view has been admirably demonstrated by reading all of the Berlatski’s fascism in film series and linking to half of them. I myself would have bailed after Casablanca

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  3. [A6] there are plenty of people that disdain the Eagles, and the overlap between that group and those they disdain Clapton is fairly sizeable.

    I’ve never seen though, overlap between those groups and people that don’t like Simon & Garfunkel. (Now, Paul Simon solo, yes, but not the duet in their prime)

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  4. I just can’t stand Clapton. I like the Eagles, but don’t love them.

    Simon and Garfunkle: I couldn’t get enough of them during my young adulthood. Now I can’t stand their music.

    Not that you asked my opinion. Just offering myself as a datum.

    ETA: That was meant as a response to kolohe above.

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  5. A8: “Hitler” is a theological concept now. We’re all too sophisticated to believe in the childish ideas of a cosmic deity or a cosmic enemy these days (what? like Galactus?) and that sometimes leads people into dangerous ideas like “good and evil are social constructs”. The best way to protect against that is a lodestone. Given that what is “good” changes from week to week (in the 90’s, for example, a strong gender constructivism was “good”… now it’s TERFy), you need a negative lodestone. Something that, no matter what, is always bad. Something that you can *ALWAYS* say “Don’t Be Like This!”

    Enter “Hitler”.

    You don’t even need to know anything about WWII. Why would you?

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  6. A4: The article states that art education has declined around the country. Perhaps people who are educated in the arts (by any means) are more interested in contemporary art but can’t afford to buy it. The Brod in LA is doing well.

    A8: The link did not work but I don’t see anything wrong with Bertlasky’s view based on your blurb. A lot of opposition to despicable characters is because they are seen as vulgar and not necessarily for the ideas and policies those despicable characters push and promote. It is the don’t say the quiet types loud thing

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  7. A1, Not a lot of compelling examples for pro-aging of characters.

    Captain America debuted in 1941 as a war superhero and then when the war ended, the title was revamped as a domestic supernatural, mystery title. I don’t see how the war stuff is an example of aging, and the latter is not. A non-aging Cap would still be fighting in support of WWII. (I think the word being looked for here is “topical”)

    Conan. He aged 10 years? How would one know (other than the change in artist)? That Roy Thomas adapted Howard stories and others wrote their own stories, doesn’t change the fact that story follows story..

    Englehart: Topical, not aging. And even stuff as on the nose as Watergate, disguised the identity of the President and involved a suicide that did not take place in reality.

    Claremont/Byrne X-Men: Byrne would disagree with this, at least as reflecting his time on the title. For example, Kitty Pride didn’t age until after he left.

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  8. A4: As is so often the case with Aeon articles, the piece feels like the first section of a good article, which would be about three or four times longer.

    As for the contrast between contemporary art music and the visual arts, I take a pretty cynical stand. The difference is that a visual artist produces a (usually) single discrete object. A composer produces a score which, while it is a tangible object, is not itself the artwork, but rather a guide to the production of the artwork. In other words, the music is the art. Nobody cares if the musicians are reading off the composer’s original autograph score. That autograph score may have value as a collector’s item, but this is a different phenomenon.

    To put it bluntly, if Joe Rich Guy wants to stash his money somewhere while displaying his good taste, buying a piece of art can do both. Patronizing music cannnot.

    There is, of course, a lot more than just this going on. But when we try to understand why (a tiny fraction of) contemporary visual art sells for fantastic sums, while contemporary art music is (mostly) entirely disconnected from the classical music mainstream, this goes a long way to explaining it.

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    • Well someone could buy a hand-written or at least signed score by a composer but that is probably a niche market.

      I don’t think anyone can doubt that there is a financial angle to contemporary art but I thought the essay was more about museum goers.

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      • That would essentially be the “signatures of famous people” market, which explains why legal filings by Abraham Lincoln have largely disappeared from Illinois courthouses. This market is a thing, but it is a different thing from the “works of famous artists” market.

        And I don’t buy for an instant the notion that museum attendance and the financial angle aren’t connected. “Hey, hon. There’s an exhibition down at the modern art museum of [living artist]. I was just reading how his work sells for a gizilliion dollars. We should go check this out.” There isn’t really a music version of this.

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  9. [A8]
    Ha. This is a bit comical.
    To even get to fascism you have to generally have a left wing authoritarian population grouping, ripe for a fascist leader. There is no mention there of a WW2 practice of socialistic dictatorship that held guns at the backs of their troops in order to keep them from defecting out of battle ON BOTH SOCIALIST SIDES.

    That Hollywood doesn’t jump at every opportunity to paint the leftist authoritarian mob on screen is a matter of practicality. If people actually could see what that was about they would recoil in horror.

    All that said, america is rather centrist. No particular quadrant has much deviation from center other than the lower anti-authoritarian right. The authoritarians you are seeing aren’t far right, they are only slightly right of center.

    For the last eight years in america the left embraced authoritarianism to an extreme. (or at least seen by the right as extreme) The down side of authoritarianism government was displaced on screen (or at least watered down) for a time in Hollywood other than the cheering movements of social agenda/policy. The natural response of that could have went one of two ways:

    1.)The bulk of the right to shift towards anti-authoritarianism and fight on that basis.
    2.)The bulk of the right shift to authoritarianism.

    Since american factions are more centered, it was much easier to shift from center to slightly more authoritarianism than to span the distance to anti-authoritarianism. That the right embraced social authoritarianism scared the hell out of the social left. That is typically the power structure of the left and to see the right weaponize it, yeah, I can see how that would be some scary stuff. For just a few degrees of change though, the fear generated is massive. That we can’t make screen bad guy evil enough, or generate the social goodness wizardry prevalent enough is predictable. You can’t motion picture your way out of fear.

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  10. https://www.cnbc.com/2017/08/08/disney-will-pull-its-movies-from-netflix-and-start-its-own-streaming-services.html

    This is why I think conversations about cord cutting and the death of cable are short sighted.

    Yes, legacy cable providers and the model they employ will likely cease to be the dominant form of disseminating content. But I don’t think people will be happy when they have to subscribe to two dozen streaming services and pay more than they had been paying for cable.

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    • The assumption is that picking individual services will cost less, overall, than a big single bill to get All The Channels (consider that a lot of the things people are going for are premium-channel content, which sometimes costs as much as the basic cable bill does.)

      You’re right that “cost less” is different from “cost little”, and that the atomization of providers might lead to “now I need to have twelve different accounts just to watch the stuff I want to watch, and half of them require spyware for me to use their service at all”.

      Although this atomization does suggest that the Net Neutrality people were right all along–but that it might be used *against* Netflix and Amazon, rather than *for* them!

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      • It seems likely the price differential will diminish over time, but I don’t expect dispersal to result in its complete collapse because a significant chunk of our existing cable and satellite bills goes towards delivery mechanisms. Dedicated cables, hardware, and so on. Just getting rid of that should result in savings and likely significant savings.

        That’s where I expect most of the savings will ultimately come from. I don’t expect content costs to drop because that stuff costs a lot of money to make and they are *going* to make their money somehow. We save money by not paying for the channels that we don’t watch, but then have rate increases because other people who don’t watch my channel aren’t paying for it anymore.

        The only way I see savings are through (a) the delivery of less content (we pay a little less for a lot less content) and sports (You can pay the ACC or Pac-12 a whole lot less money and the games will still be paid and televised… it’s just that coach will get paid less and facilities won’t be as good).

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        • “Dedicated cables, hardware, and so on. Just getting rid of that should result in savings and likely significant savings.”

          But don’t we still need all that so long as we are streaming primarily via internet cables or whatever?

          Cutting the cord really just means cutting the cord from your cable box to your TV. You’re still running a cord into your home to get your content.

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          • But don’t we still need all that so long as we are streaming primarily via internet cables or whatever?

            You need some, but nowhere as much. The big thing you need is broadband, which most people are going to have (If you don’t, then it won’t be a value). Once you have that, all you really need is for your TV’s to be smart TV’s or to buy something to make them smart. You can get a Roku device for $30, and unlike the proprietary receivers that are chained to the satellite or cable company (Sling gave me one for free with a two-month deal).

            Either because they have to or they can, cable and satellite companies require a lot of money for proprietary equipment and long contracts. They have satellites in space, their own equipment, their own delivery channels. Meanwhile, the slim package options (Sling, Vue, etc) don’t, so they have to sell closer to the margin. There is simply more competition. They can’t afford the markups on DVR and receivers and the like.

            While the content producers, such as Disney, CBS, Viacom, and so on, all have roughly the same advantages (they own their content) and therefore should be able to command a similar amount, the same really isn’t true for the intermediaries.

            The only exception there are the ISPs. They could theoretically jack up prices, start metering usage, and so on. That’s always been true, though, and there are reasons that they generally don’t meter usage and I think price-wise they’re already extracting what they can without getting outsiders (regulators, Google Fiber, or municipal systems) involved.

            But if this blows up in consumers’ faces, it’s likely because the ISPs do manage to pull something, or the bottom falls out of content production. Both are possible, but neither seem likely.

            Right now satellite runs me roughly $150/mo. A basic slim package plus Netflix and Hulu cost me $55 (not including broadband costs, which I am paying either way). When all is said and done, I expect them to meet at somewhere around $110/mo for me and people ;like me. More for some, less for others.

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            • It will be interesting to see what the loss of the cable providers as “collective negotiators” does to content pricing.

              Right now, even if ESPN wants to jack up prices, the cable company is there to say, “Slow your roll.” They may be only so effective, but they are going to be a hell of a lot more effective than I would be individually. Similarly with Netflix and Disney. Right now, I pay $9.99 to Netflix and enjoy some Disney content. Disney will leave in 2019, I’ll probably still pay $9.99 to Netflix and then I’ll have to pay whatever Disney wants me to pay if I want to watch their stuff. At that point, “the market” will decide… but the market was already deciding prior just via different mechanisms.

              And while $110 is less than $150, you are getting considerably less content than you were prior. That isn’t an issue if the content you desire is localized to those two services but I’d venture to guess that would make you more minority than majority if that is the case.

              I also am not quite sure why people are paying so much. I’ve never paid more than about $125. Granted, I haven’t lived in any particular place more than a few years so often am able to take advantage of “new subscriber” deals. And for the past several residences, I had multiple options for cable (not satellite) providers so I could go back and forth once my initial deal ran its course. So the lack of competition — which is a very real issue in many places — clearly is a problem.

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              • .The $110 is an assumption that what I get will be analogous to the $55 now, give or take. It’s both less content and more content than satellite, depending on how you look at it. Bigger libraries but with substantially less airing-right-now options.

                The programming on my bill is/was something like $100. The remaining $50 was all of that equipment fee, insurance, and tax charges. Since my service is presently suspended I can’t look at my bill, but in a few weeks when it’s back on I will do a more complete breakdown.

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                  • It’s the cable industry — it’s never that simple. The purpose of the cable company per se is to hoover up cash from tens of millions of subscribers. Then as much of that money as possible is funneled into the hands of the families that run the industry (the Robertses, the Hostetters, the Cox sisters, the Rigases, John Malone, etc) while minimizing the tax bills. The $12 covers not just the cost of the box, but a variety of service fees the cable company front pays to businesses owned by the families. A well-run cable company is never profitable — the industry invented EBIDA* as a metric — but the families are. The industry structure is usually described in terms that include “convoluted” and “incestuous”.

                    Earnings Before Interest, Depreciation, and Amortization. Basically, enormous cash flow that’s never profitable because of paper losses.

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      • I’m just not sure that the assumption is correct. As I say, it strikes me as short sighted.

        Especially if Verizon can now say, “Well, fine, you aren’t paying for Fios television any more but you’re downloading 5x as much content so we’re going to start charging you for internet by the GB.” Or whatever.

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        • “you’re downloading 5x as much content so we’re going to start charging you for internet by the GB.”

          Well. Not only can they say that, but they already do–all user contracts now have bandwidth caps and throttling in them.

          Per Net Neutrality, what they can’t do is say “you will pay three times as much for each GB that comes from Netflix as you do for each GB that comes from Twitter or Facebook”.

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