Going unnoticed amid this week’s entertainment news — the various selfies and jokes of jester-in-chief Barack Obama — came news that, according to a Harris poll, John Wayne is currently the seventh most favorite actor in America. Yes, you read that right. And while it’s true he was mostly the pick of conservatives and the “mature,” it is surely a measure of his greatness and longevity that he is the only actor who has been on the list every year since its inception in 1994.
What’s Still Great
On March 16, Whit Stillman's debut comedy, Metropolitan, left the Netflix streaming library. Such changes are routine—doubtless, Metropolitan will return. Still, I mourned its departure, and I wasn’t the only one.
Metropolitan, on paper, is not an especially lovable movie. “When I think about it,” wrote a friend as he recommended the movie to me, “this Metropolitan movie is sort of awful in most respects.” And it is. It’s awkward, often at odds with itself, and pretentious. It’s a comedy, but a major subplot is about date rape. It’s a character-driven film, but half the cast is forgettable. It’s all about the dialogue, but the dialogue is incredibly artificial. Some of the actors can’t really act.
What everybody forgets about the Smiths is how much fun they were.
And not just fun: The band careened through the '80s putting out four studio albums which were joyful, sexy, funny, self-deprecating, silly, and even sometimes compulsively danceable. The myth of Morrissey and his mopey muse has some truth to it—and he made the jokes first, in song titles like “Miserable Lie,” “Heaven Knows I'm Miserable Now,” “Pretty Girls Make Graves” and the rest—but the band mocked by the Pet Shop Boys for their “Miserablism” spent most of their time whistling past the cemet'ry gates.
As the American left puzzles and prattles over the “homophobic” remarks of Duck Dynasty’s Phil Robertson, what’s remarkable is how unremarkable the remarks actually are; that is, once you remove the vivid vernacular by which they were expressed. At their essence, the thrust of Robertson’s remarks are merely a defense of Biblical and Natural Law—albeit inelegantly expressed. Even carefully trained secular progressives will sense a flicker of familiarity in Phil’s observations.
There are two core elements to Phil Robertson’s unpolished exposition.
“Don’t be deceived,” he admonished GQ. “Neither the adulterers, the idolaters, the male prostitutes, the homosexual offenders, the greedy, the drunkards, the slanderers, the swindlers—they won’t inherit the kingdom of God. Don’t deceive yourself. It’s not right.”
Phil didn’t cite his source, but it’s the New Testament. Biblical scholars and exegetes can debate the nuances of Phil’s interpretation, but modern secular minds ought to at least know where Phil is coming from. It’s hardly new. Prior Biblically literate generations wouldn’t have raised an eyebrow.