Morning Ed: Society {2017.08.16.W}

[So1] Will Truman’s coming back! The other Will Truman, I mean. In any event, they’re basically going to have to retcon the ending of the TV series.

[So2] Luz Ivonne Ream didn’t get the memo that respecting people you disagree with is so yesterday.

[So3] I think the criticism of Lena Dunham was overwrought. She named no names and if employees were badmouthing trans people while in company uniform, companies would want to know.

[So4] This sounds legitimately horrifying.

[So5] The Munsters returning to TV? Who likes the Musters better than the Addams Family anyway?

[So6] It really was interesting watching this unfold in realtime. I confess that I was a sourpuss about it and ended up contributing to the pile-on that I regret.

[So7] The future of arcade restoration looks bleak, as CRTs are getting harder to repair. (Also, this article has an awesome title.)

[So8] Zaid Jilani is right: Television really is about rich people dreams.

[So9] I’m inclined to agree with this. After a point, killing off characters just prevents our bonding with them in the first place. There has to be a happy medium in there somewhere.


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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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82 thoughts on “Morning Ed: Society {2017.08.16.W}

  1. So4: During the 1980s there were a few movies about television creating some very sadistic shows to satisfy people’s more negative impulses. There was a movie starring Arnold where criminal justice became an American Gladiator type game show and Videodrome. Some actual television seems to becoming like this. This can’t be good for people in general or society in aggregate.

    So5: There has to be some original ideas out there for network and cable television. Besides the Internet nostalgia culture, my guess is that a lot of the real new ideas are more likely to end up on streaming services because they offer a lot more freedom in what you can present and how you can present them.

    So8: Entertainment tended to feature wealthy people over working class or even middle class people forever. The late 1960s and 1970s were something of a unique time in how many working class people with working class issues were on the small and big screens in the United States. Americans generally preferred to see the lives of well-behaved, polite wealthy people or salacious wealthy people.

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    • Americans generally preferred to see the lives of well-behaved, polite wealthy people or salacious wealthy people.

      I agree with the important caveat that a well-done show about working class people struggling and making it, even if just barely, will generally be successful. That’s been true from The Honeymooners to Rosanne.

      Folks on the far left really overestimate how much, if at all, most Americans are interested in poverty porn. The show Good Times is a pretty good example of how these things work. According to Esther Rolle, Norman Lear originally conceived the show with her character as a single mother, but Rolle refused to play the role unless they gave the family a father/husband.

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  2. So1 link is bit wonky, the p on the end makes it go to a short 1995 article on Johnny Dep and his attempt at a music career.

    but the real article bothers me in this sense: The desire to go back and maintain a fixed point in the past, discarding all potential for change and growth – well, that is how we got Trump.

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  3. [So2] Respect is EARNED. I need not respect anyone to treat them decently.

    [So3] Pfft. There”s no evidence the incident even happened. And going on social media? Coward move.

    [So6] God. Right…it’s “society” that makes men dislike “curvy chicks” That’s why AA women have probs on dating sites–“society” and “racism”. Is it society that tells me to think asian women are hot or that australian, nordic, and french accents are hot in women? Methinks it”s a bit more complex. And if you are going to go online and praise something–prepare for the trolls. Protip–stay offline. And you know–she does look fat.

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    • So6,
      Damon, humans have a great deal of ability to fuck with their instincts. I can show you the ideal standard of beauty in the Dark Ages, or in Victorian times, and they were both significantly fatter than that woman. South Africa (apparently, according to Time magazine) has a real butt fetish, and by that we mean large.
      There’s the bone deep “you smell hot” (which is about people’s immune systems, believe it or not)… but that’s pretty easy to override, when you get right down to it.

      She’s not fat. She’s “naturally chubby” (which is my way of saying that yes, she could lose a few pounds, but she’s not “oh, my god, her forehead is fat”. She’s not even zuftig — which, that word is a compliment!)

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      • Oh that standards change? No doubt. Is thin and skinny “in” at the moment? Yep. Why do I prefer who I prefer? Some of it is cultural, some me, some probably has to do with the shape/size of the woman I married being “locked” in for 25 years.

        Fat / Naturally chubby. Whatever. To buttress my claims I’m not just a “skinny” biased guy, my ex used to be 98 pounds forever and about 5 feet tall. When she hit her 40’s she “got fat” as she calls it, and ended up 135 pounds. She started looking healthy then. :)

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        • Damon,
          Instinctively (and it’s always guys who get upset when folks start talking about it), the young (12-15) prefer older people (18-25), and older people (17+) prefer younger people (12-15).

          With guys, because they’re pretty visual about things, this is the change between “guys prefer boobs and curves” to “guys prefer lanky long legged girls.”

          With girls, this shows up with young girls having crushes on older men… and older women preferring bishies (and other ‘girly’ men — the lanky subtype, rather than heavily muscled).

          But, you know, then we put culture over it all.

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          • Indeed. Funny thing is, that I’m NOT a boob guy. My ex was small in that area. I always told her “a handful was enough”. Too much was udderly unacceptable. :)

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    • So6 – The response can basically be boiled down to “People are shite”.

      Seriously, the man wrote a love note to his wife, and tossed in a bit of shade at the part of society that ridicules women who are fat, and people pile on for what? What possible value does that add? Do they honestly think it’ll cause him to what, achieve some nebulous ideal?

      Or are they piling on because they get to feel witty, and snarky, and oh so smug? Good for him for ignoring most of that.

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      • My comment then was “#HasTrippLandedYet

        I am down with us seeing this callow knucklehead and thinking “what a callow knucklehead”.

        I am somewhat less down with the whole “If I do not say something to Robbie Tripp, I am complicit in his callow knuckleheaditude” thing.

        Which is now making me wonder if there is a “Robbie Tripp, James Damore, Richard Spencer, and #gamergate” thinkpiece out there…

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      • “Good for him for ignoring most of that.”

        OFC, but he’s only not ignoring it in the sense of not responding to the posts. He’s probably reading the posts though. Like I said, write the letter offline. It’s just like humblebraging. No one needs to see the letter other than the wife, and it keeps the trolls away.

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        • How many followers did the guy have prior to the post? Probably a number that easily represents his friends and family. If it was a humblebrag, it was likely intended for a limited audience.

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  4. So4: What Lee said.

    So6: Here is what I want to know about clickbait writing. How did it always become an imperative of should, must, and need?

    So8: One of the things that I think a lot of American liberals/leftists (aka my side) have trouble dealing with is the materialistic aspirationalism of American culture/society. I think that the issue of “insulated upper-middle class writers writing what they know” is true but so is the limits of what was called “poverty porn” above.

    So9: This article was kind of dumb. There is a difference in killing off a character because the actor dies suddenly, the actor is fired because of a contract dispute (Valerie Harper in the 1980s famously), and then killing off a character as part of the plot or to move character development forward.

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    • Zaid Jilani is an exceedingly special case because he really seems to believe that deep down what most Americans want is Marxist Communism despite all evidence to the contrary. More moderate liberals have even less of an excuse though. You probably have the right of it, many of them are simply not that consumerist or materialist in their aspirations and can’t conceive why somebody might really want these things.

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      • I think it boils down to what you consider an asperational good. Many people think a home in the city, with the ability to easily walk to work, groceries, maybe a garden plot, etc. is not a luxury. Others find all of those to me highly bourgeoisie. Considering the cost of a house
        or condo in the city where one can raise children, as opposed to a cramped two room for a whole family,its not too much a stretch to see this. I think both you and your brother, along with my wife for that matter, are a little more realistic in this regard.

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        • I agree somewhat. There are plenty of TV shows that take place in super-fabulous urban housing but there are also plenty of suburbs that take place in the higher end of the suburban landscape. Not all suburbs are equally affordable.

          Even sitcoms that take place in Queens like Everyone Loves Raymond tend to take place in the toniest parts of Queens. Sitcoms about blue-collar guys tend to feature schlubs with hot wives.

          The goods on TV shows are generally high end.

          So yes aspiration is different but it is still towards a more materialistic vision that the writer wants.

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            • Only inadvertently but there is a fantasy element to all fictional TV shows (and to many “Reality” shows as well) but a lot of schlubs on TV hit way above their league in terms of the spouse department. I’m hardly the first to notice this.

              But for all the slack Girls got, it is probably the most realistic depiction of the apartments of 20 something college grads in NYC.

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              • Didn’t somebody on LGM post a theory that the shlub with the hot wife might fall under right what you know. People trying to get into show business on the acting side of things tend to be good looking. This means that people on the non-acting side of things have a lot of opportunity to get to know very attractive people that somebody with a more ordinary job doesn’t have. Since a lot of romantic relationships still begin at work, ordinary people with an attractive partner might not be that unusual.

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    • Reminds me of the wave of recycling my state, and other states, got into a while back….until the market for the recyclables crashed. All those laws passed requiring recycling, separating out the various components, only to have the state/county pick it up on recycling day and dump it into the landfill since no one wanted it anymore.

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  5. So2/So3: Maybe it is because I am in a dark and cynical mood but I see limits and impossibilities and a lot of pearl-clutching here. I’ve talked about how I sometimes think there is a kind of Pollyanna attitude that people can show towards debating political and social issues. The Pollyanna attitude is that all conversations can be had in the tones of an exceedingly polite tea party. This simply isn’t true because there are times when someone’s ideas/ideals can be an existential threat to someone else. I’m pretty sure that those screaming white nationalists and Nazi-lover wannabes in Virginia would want to beat me to a tar or worse because I’m Jewish.

    I see no point or reason or moral imperative as to why I am supposed to maintain a polite and civil discourse with Nazi-loving bigots. We also saw people here soft-peddle to outright defend the rioting White Nationalists because of Cleek’s Law and/or agreement that they are too cowardly to admit out right.

    Conor F is “privileged” to use a loaded word here. He grew up upper-middle class, white, Christian of some sort, and in deeply conservative Orange County. He might not like Nazis or White Supremacists but if he is on the chain of people to be gotten rid of, he is very low down. He can pearl clutch for civility all he wants because of this.

    The other option for heated political debates is strict time limits and then move on to talking about something absolutely non-political.

    *An early Conor F essay talked about “Your National Review reading grandfather” like everyone had one.

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    • Saul,
      The point of staying civil to degenerates is that they don’t think you’re human.
      You can either prove them right, or not.
      It is still your choice.

      Ideas are never an existential threat to anything, except other ideas.
      Actions, on the other hand.
      But you knew that.

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    • This simply isn’t true because there are times when someone’s ideas/ideals can be an existential threat to someone else.

      I guess you’ll allow folks to kill others because they feel threatened by ideas? How liberal of you.

      I see no point or reason or moral imperative as to why I am supposed to maintain a polite and civil discourse with Nazi-loving bigots.

      Then why do liberal keep claiming that want civil discourse and a civil society? I guess they are just lying as usual.

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    • — +100

      Those people marching — they really want me dead. They are quite clear on what should happen to “degenerates,” when any reasonable person can see that they’re the degenerate freakshows. (Seriously just look at that guy. He is not the high point of genetic achievement.)

      Blah.

      Anyway, anyone who carries water for these chucklefucks, including the current president, is carrying water for my death.

      It’s funny the number of people who are just seeing this now. It was obvious from even before the election, what was happening.

      It is also funny the people who refuse to see it — which of course, they see it. It’s just, they approve.

      I have no illusions about what these people are. Neither should you.

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    • I think your analysis is fair and largely accurate. The caveat to me is that there’s a strategic trade off that comes with abandoning civility and crying wolf all the time and thats what we are seeing. Freddie has written a lot about this.

      Maybe what I’m about to say is Pollyanna-ish but I think a large plurality of white people, even those with some latent racism or conservative views do not support the political vision of sieg heiling neo-nazis. What you’re going to have trouble with is getting them to make common cause against racist groups when the perception is that they’d be standing with the type of Calvinist (to use your phrasing) SJWs on college campuses and elsewhere we’ve been talking so much about lately.

      I don’t think your average person sees this as small-l liberalism of the kind our Republic was founded on versus fascism. They see it as crazy/stupid versus stupid/crazy.

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        • I think that if historical trends continue, it’s more likely to be:

          2020: Another middle-of-the-road Democrat vs Kid Rock. Kid Rock will win because people who voted for Elizabeth Warren in the primary felt insufficiently inspired.

          2024: Another middle-of-the-road Democrat vs an collection of YouTube comments brought to life when somebody spilled Mountain Dew on a laptop. YouTube Comment Monster will win because people who voted for Kamala Harris in the primary felt insufficiently inspired.

          2028: There will be no 2028.

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          • @troublesome-frog

            I think Lee is right that Senator Gillibrand (sp?) is a much more likely candidate than Elizabeth Warren. Elizabeth Warren is also much more of a Bernie Sanders economic lefty than she is a identity politics leftie.

            Harris is plenty liberal but she is not a raging communist.

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          • 2020: Another middle-of-the-road Democrat vs Kid Rock. Kid Rock will win because people who voted for Elizabeth Warren in the primary felt insufficiently inspired.

            I am not exactly sure how middle-of-the road is meant to function in that statement. I do find it odd, though, that centrist has become a bit of a pejorative among the chattering classes, while the majority of the population probably falls into a category best described as pragmatic with populist sentiments. If that is the case, then why the feeling that the only way to beat a right-wing extremist is with a sufficiently radical leftist? And if we the voters are only inspired by extremists, is that a problem with politics or a problem with us?

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            • The idea is that there are no undecided or swing voters anymore, or there are so few that it’s swamped by the numbers of extra votes they can get by revving up the base with a more aggressive agenda.

              The first was actively disproven less than a year ago. The second one is speculative and could be true or could be false. HRC would have won by winning over more swings or by increasing minority turnout. But it’s not clear which would have netted them more votes.

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        • I think Senator Kirsten Gillibrand has a realistic shot of being the Democratic nominee for 2020. She is clearly positioning herself to run for President by trying to be in the front and center of the opposition. This indicates that she really would like to run for and be President. She has the advantage of being a non-Baby Boomer.

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      • Lee uses the term Calvinist not me.

        I think we are more highly atuned to the more hardcore elements of the left and right though because we are politics junkies.

        I agree with your last sentence largely.

        But the issue goes beyond social politics. Even with someone like Hanley, I need to call it quits after a while because neither of us is budging that much. I can admit that there are aspects here that have moved me kind of more free market but not completely.

        A friend posted a meme on facebook that said “Kindness costs nothing, spread that shit around.” My immediate thought that remained unposted was “Do we need to talk about opportunity costs?”

        But I still largely agree that we can strive for more kindness.

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        • Kindness is also an incredibly vague term. Some people define tough love to friend or family member that hit rock bottom through their own fault as a type of kindness because your helping them get their lives back together hopefully. Others see tough love as not kind under any circumstances because kindness should be every gentle. The latter every gentle type of kindness requires a lot of emotional reserve and if you feel depleted your not going to have the ability to be kind for the moment. These are your opportunity costs.

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        • Apologies on the error in attribution (same to you ). And yea, as hard as it is to imagine that there are people out there who aren’t following every political development so they can eagerly go debate it I must concede that they do exist and vastly outnumber the likes of OTers.

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        • I think we are more highly atuned to the more hardcore elements of the left and right though because we are politics junkies.

          If it weren’t for major conservative media outlets having fun with every bit of stupid SJWs do, I’d agree with you. But those media outlets jump on each incident that should be a local issue and boost the signal to 11. This has the twin effect of not only making mountains out of molehills; but of also making small, very local issues seem like they have a much larger impact and significance than they really do (then the local activists think they are more significant, which just encourages the stupid).

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      • I’m the one that refers to the more ardent Social Justice types as Calvinist, not Saul. I think your right that many Americans see this as crazy/stupid versus stupid/crazy rather than the forces of truth and justice versus fascism. Outside the activist set, many non-Whites in the United States might likely see it as crazy/stupid versus stupid/crazy because most people are apolitical.

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    • Here’s the problem in a nutshell:

      “I see no point or reason or moral imperative as to why I am supposed to maintain a polite and civil discourse with Nazi-loving bigots. We also saw people here soft-peddle to outright defend the rioting White Nationalists because of Cleek’s Law and/or agreement that they are too cowardly to admit out right.”

      The first sentence is sound. Nazi-loving bigots are beyond the pale. But that leads into the second sentence, in which you broaden the category to people you feel weren’t sufficiently anti-Nazi. By invoking Cleek’s Law, you’re pretty much using it in reverse, saying that anyone who doesn’t support liberals must also belong in the same category. If I saw you effectively making the distinction between Nazis, non-anti-Nazis, and conservatives, then I’d say it’s just a rhetorical blip that put those two sentences together like that. But you haven’t shown the ability to understand those who disagree with you, and you do make assumptions the “other side” that I can’t even follow. So theory and practice both line up here.

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    • Your (later) comment about opportunity costs was very on point. If you’re not getting something out of the interaction, you shouldn’t engage. Why bother?

      For my part, I am intellectually enriched through my interactions from different ideological walks of life and having a better understanding of their view and seeing them as something beyond cartoon characters. Understanding and balancing different points of view is something that interests me in particular. If it doesn’t interest someone else – and it’s not a failing on their part if it doesn’t – they should pass.

      For that matter, if they have as accurate an understanding of the perspective as they’re ever going to get, that’s a pretty good time to disengage. I used to read Amanda Marcotte religiously. Her point of view was fascinating! Well, until it wasn’t fascinating anymore and it became – for me – tedious. So I don’t read her anymore, even if I am glad I read her as I did.

      And it’s quite fair to stick in points about how it’s easier for me to do as a WASP and it’s a pretty fair point. Especially compared to someone like Veronica.

      Generally speaking, the further someone’s views are from my own, the less I do read. That, too, is not a failing on my part. That’s the opportunity costs things. If you’re really right-wing or really left-wing, you have to be a lot more intelligent, interesting, or articulate for me to bother with you. That’s especially true when dealing with people that have views that I don’t just disagree with but find objectionable.

      I like to keep a wide band in part because it helps me appreciate how narrow my comfortable band is. One of the dangers to not treading outside of one’s comfort zone is that they start getting an exaggerated sense of extremism. If you don’t talk to any Democrats, than liberal Republicans can start sounding like Communists to you. Or the other way around. And if your only exposure to a point of view are from blowhards on television sets, you’re likely to get a distorted view of who else might hold that view and why.

      In some cases, though, “I just don’t need to know” is a pretty reasonable answer. That’s probably not a good attitude to have here at Ordinary Times, but participants in here self-select to a degree that it’s not an altogether common attitude. (Our operational band here is not nearly as wide as we like to think or would prefer, but it’s pretty wide for a website of this size maintaining the degree of dialogue as we do.)

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    • They can go through the political motions like everyone else.

      The 10 commandments monument a few weeks ago, now this… sorry folks, you want a monument removed, go through the damn motions.

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      • The 10 commandments monument a few weeks ago, now this… sorry folks, you want a monument removed, go through the damn motions.

        You mean run it down with a car or just topple it over and damage it?

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        • The political motions. Start a petition, gather signatures, get elected to office, lobby officials, whatever.

          A political process put it there, and the only way you get to use force to remove it is if the current political process in play is open war.

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    • The amusing part is that Stephen Douglas (one “s”) was born Stephen Douglass ( with two). In any event, the slaves were in his wife’s name, he just shared the profits, but when Lincoln won the Presidency, Douglas vocally supported him 100%.

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    • Keep pushing back, I’m sure it won’t rile people up any further.

      As for Douglas, like a lot of non-slave holders, it’s only true on a technicality. The slaves belonged to his wife and then to “the estate” when his wife died and he ran it on behalf of their children. Only the money that they earned for the plantation belonged to him. I’m willing to have the discussion about whether complicated historical figures are complicated, but I’m not so big on straight up whitewashing.

      When I look at these questions, I primarily ask myself, “Why is there a statue of this person?” which usually means, “What is this person most famous for in the eyes of the public?”

      Robert Lee would probably be unknown to most of the public if he hadn’t led the Confederate army against the Union. So if that’s the case, what is the statue commemorating? Probably not his gentlemanly ways.

      Stephen Douglas is known primarily for the Kansas Nebraska act and the fact that he ran for president against Abraham Lincoln and attacking the idea that slavery was a moral issue and should be prohibited at the federal level in newly admitted territories. I suppose he’s known secondarily for opposing secession and siding against the Confederacy. But again, what’s the primary symbolism of the statue?

      If we put up a statue of OJ Simpson and said, “Look, there’s that one thing he did, but he did a lot of other stuff that he should be remembered for,” that’s technically true, but one still has to ask, “What are people going to see when they look at this? What is this man known for?”

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      • “Why is there a statue of this person?”

        Stephen Douglas was the most prominent national politician from Illinois up until the time he held Lincoln’s hat for Lincoln’s inauguration. He was from Chicago, and he has the second most prominent statue at the Illinois State Capitol. I get what your point here is, but this is not the situation of someone erecting confederate memorials in Arizona in the 1960s.

        “What is this person most famous for in the eyes of the public?”

        The problem with this popular-sovereignty view of historical significance is that its a race to the bottom.

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        • I do see the irony in arguing against a statue of Douglas on a popular sovereignty basis, but I also don’t think that it’s 100% wrong to do so. Without arguing for or against Douglas specifically (as you point out, it’s not nearly as clear cut as the original case), I think we should ask what the point of statues in public spaces really is.

          If we’re talking about a specific place of high relevance and something worth educating people about (Hamilton in front of the Treasury building–of course Hamilton is famous now, but I don’t think most people could have told you much 10 years ago), that’s one good argument for it. That seems like a good context for a Stephen Douglas statue, depending on the place.

          If they seem to be there for no other purpose than vague symbolism, it seems relevant to ask what that statue represents to the majority of the people who are going to see it. A statue of Hitler in a museum exhibit of paintings by historical leaders with a plaque saying, “Did you know that Hitler painted?” would be one thing, but plopping down a context-free statue of Hitler in a public park would be another.

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          • Memorials are reflections of both the past and of the moment it is erected. Destroying memorials doesn’t erase the past at all, but it does conceal the secondary history of people’s interactions with the past.

            I think there is an odd sort of white-washing going on. To give an explicit example, the expressly racist memorial, the White League Obelisk commemorating the Battle of Liberty Place, reflects the white supremacist view of an attempted racist military coup of the State of Louisiana. I certainly don’t think it closely reflects actual events and certainly does not reflect well on the city or the U.S. (And former Confederate General Longstreet led a multi-racial defense of the Reformed Government, that certainly won’t save his monuments from decimation) This event happened, and the City erected a racist monument in its defense, which I don’t think should be swept under the rug. The context should be provided like all historical markers, so that people understand that history is not a blank slate between 1865 and 1965, things happened.

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  6. So8: The live-action network sitcom is dead. Why write an article about it? But that’s not my biggest problem with the article. It purported to be about poor/middle class versus rich, but if you look at what it said, it was really about political versus non-political. The author doesn’t care about how big Maude’s house was, only that she was a feminist. It’s only when shows stopped being explicitly political that he’s bothered by the class lines. The author doesn’t even notice that modern shows are very political, just about sex issues rather than class. You can’t show a poor person with out-of-wedlock kids because it’s a tragedy, but wealthy people can more easily get away with it.

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    • I’m a try the thing Boggs did yesterday and see if it fits:

      So who opposes the destruction of the Washington statue, because now nobody remembers who he was or what he did?

      Ha, yard sale of the vanities. The y-axis shift may be coming sooner rather than later.

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  7. {S07] If you are talking about American Sitcoms, and then start talking about Dallas and Dynasty, you are no longer talking about American Sitcoms.

    Plus, looking at a couple of the lists of most popular TV shows in the late 70s, the biggest hit, bigger than All in the Family or any of its spin offs was Happy Days. Story of a upper middle class nuclear family where – esp in the 1st half of its run – the ‘working class’ was potrayed as vaguely ethnic and vaguely dangerous.

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  8. [So5]: As much as I usually loathe the concept of “dark gritty reboots” and the fact that so many things have been treated that way, I admit I kinda want to see a “Munsters” reboot done dark gritty style, since the whole trope of the original was how “normal” the monsters were. (Even moreso than in the Addams Family, where there was some weeeeeiiiird stuff going on with Morticia and Gomez, at least as far as the censors let be showed).

    I’m not sure what form a “dark gritty” Munsters reboot would be, but I think it would be better than either a straight reboot or the standard played-for-winking-irony mining-of-past-beloved-properties reboot.

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  9. So1: You bummed me out. I was thinking of Will Tippett, and thought you were talking about Bradley Cooper returning for an Alias revival.

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