Monthly Archives: March 2012

15 Thoughts on the Trayvon Martin Case

I’ve been gathering thoughts on this for awhile; here are some observations:
1. I think there’s been a loss of focus here. This case is about the death of an unarmed 17-year-old who shouldn’t have died, and about how the man who shot him should’ve been arrested and was not. With all of the various media sideshows, it can be easy to forget that, but that’s what happened and that’s what this is about.
2. Is the case about race? In many ways, yes. Even if George Zimmerman didn’t go out that night thinking “I’m gonna shoot me a black guy,” the fact is, if you’re black in this country, you have to worry a lot more about someone being “suspicious” and shooting you than if you’re not. It’s not “playing the race card” to say so, it’s just the truth.
3. The smear campaign against Trayvon Martin is one of the most disgusting, hateful things I’ve ever seen, and it’s 100 percent evil to its very core. Think about the thought process here: We have bloggers seeing the story of an unarmed 17-year-old being shot and killed, and they feel the need to investigate his tweets, his old pictures, his school disciplinary record, and everything he’s ever said or done, to prove what? That he deserved to die? Is this now a conservative value, to question the notion that a dead black kid could conceivably have been innocent? I don’t believe the notion that conservatism equals racism, but when people jump to that conclusion, this sort of thing is the reason why.
4. Great point by Spencer Ackerman: “Can any of our teenage years withstand this type of scrutiny? Mine cant.”
5. I’ve frequently heard the question asked: “Why so much attention to this case? Why aren’t we concentrating on [so-and-so case where white people were the victims?] The biggest reason the Martin case is in the news that is that we know who the shooter is but he hasn’t been arrested. Most other recent homicides cited in such examples, either the perpetrator has been arrested, or the case remains unsolved.
6. There was absolutely nothing wrong with President Obama’s comments on the case, and if you think there was, that says a whole lot more about you than it does about him. He didn’t try and convict Zimmerman, or even call the case an injustice, nor is he “leading a lynch mob.” He said Trayvon’s death was a tragedy, that he’d like the investigation to lead to justice, and that if he had a son, he’d look like Trayvon. How that justifies the Drudge headline “Obama enters racial fray” is beyond me.
7. Then there’s the conservative assumption that Democrats will use this case to push for gun control, which would be true except that the Democrats have attempted no such push nor shown any indication that they will. In fact, gun control has all but disappeared as a national political issue, as Democrats appear to have concluded that the issue is not a political winner. None of those fears about Obama taking away everyone’s guns as soon he got into office ever came to pass, although I’m sure it’s right at the top of his agenda for the second term. That said, it might be time to rethink “stand your ground” laws.
8. “But Jesse Jackson and Al Sharpton!” I’m no fan of Sharpton, but he’s actually broken several stories in this case, including interviews with Martin’s family. He’s certainly covered the case much better than his MSNBC colleague Lawrence O’Donnell, who interviewed an empty chair last week. And again, even if Sharpton were injecting himself into the case for pure self-indulgence and fame-whoring, doing so wouldn’t be a bigger tragedy than Martin’s death itself.
9. Fox News’ initial impulse was to ignore the case, and their second was to talk about it, leading to Geraldo Rivera blaming Martin’s death on hoodies. The first instinct had its merits, I guess.
10. Geraldo later later doubled down by tweeting that “most minority moms back me because they want their sons to live long and prosper,” which I guess is true in the sense that Vulcans are a minority.
11. Of course, it was horrible for the New Black Panther Party to put a bounty on Zimmerman’s head. But that said- can the media please stop paying attention to the New Black Panther Party? They’re not real, and they have no following. They’re four or five idiots who play dress-up and appear regularly on Fox News as human straw men. Let’s start treating them like the Westboro Baptist Church or the LaRouche people, and stop giving them airtime.
12. Yea, Spike Lee, might not want to talk for awhile. Tweeting Zimmerman’s address- not the correct one, it turned out- was the stupidest thing Spike has done since “She Hate Me.”
13. “But George Zimmeran was Hispanic!” So what? Does that make Trayvon Martin any less dead?
14. Reasons Mitt Romney should name George Zimmerman his running mate: He’s from a crucial swing state, he has the opportunity to appeal to many demographics, with both white and Hispanic ancestry and a Jewish-sounding last name; he’s tough on crime; he has impeccable credentials with gun owners; right-wing blogs are full of praise for him; he’s very good at pissing off Al Sharpton; unlike Romney, he has no history of publicly supporting tax increases, abortion or gay rights, and he’d be the second consecutive Republican vice president to shoot a man and not go to jail.
Unfortunately for Mitt, it looks like Zimmerman is a Democrat.
15. Even if every right-wing charge were true: That “the left” had exploited the case for personal gain and/or gun policy, even if they’d “played the race card,” even if this proved every single charge ever made about liberal bias in the media- it wouldn’t matter as much as the fact that an unarmed 17-year-old is dead.

Review: “Mirror Mirror”

“Mirror Mirror” is the first of two revisionist “Snow White” films arriving on screens this year, and while it sports fine chemistry between its leads and a unique, creative look, it’s considerably uneven and not especially memorable.
Directed by “The Cell”‘s Tarsem Singh, “Mirror, Mirror” sports that the elaborate production design and visual world-building that’s typically associated with the director.
It’s certainly competently directed, although the script (credited to Melissa Wallack and Jason Keller) is poorly paced and not especially clever.) It periodically drops in snarky, satirical dialogue that doesn’t fit, and most attempts at humor fall flat.
The new film follows the usual beats of the familiar Brothers Grimm story and the 1937 Disney version. Snow White (Lily Collins) is a princess locked up in the castle by her evil stepmother (Julia Roberts), who she battles with the help of the Seven Dwarves, on the way to winning the heart of the prince (Armie Hammer.)
Roberts plays a full-on villain for once, and in the process sucks most of the oxygen out of her scenes, using an English accent that comes and goes. She’s playing evil but it’s really not that far from her usual performance- the evil queen really wasn’t that much more loathsome than Roberts’ character in “Eat Pray Love.”
Lily Collins is a true find as Snow White, and by far the best thing about the movie. The daughter of Phil Collins and an actress best known for playing Sandra Bullock’s daughter in “The Blind Side,” Collins lights up the screen in every scene she’s in. Her chemistry with Hammer- the former Winklevoss who was born to play a live-action Disney prince- is very good as well. Hammer also has the advantage of not spending half the movie behind grotesque old-age makeup, as he was in last year’s “J. Edgar.”
The supporting cast is taken up mostly by talented actors- Nathan Lane, Mare Winningham, Michael Lerner- not getting a whole lot to do, although the dwarves (led by Cosmo Kramer’s old sidekick, Danny Woodburn) have some moments. And Disney legend Alan Menken is a welcome name in the credits as the composer.
Despite the strong Snow White, good love story and competent direction, “Mirror Mirror” is ultimately a bit too slight. However, it’s unlikely that the more action-oriented “Snow White and the Huntsman,” coming this June, will improve upon it.
“Mirror Mirror”
Directed by Tarsem Singh
My rating: 2.5 stars (out of 5)

Quote of the Day

Paul Waldman:

The most important feature of contemporary conservatism isnt distrust of government, or belief in free markets, or dislike of taxes, or devotion to a large military. Its hatred of liberals. Much of the time that hatred manifests itself in ways that are relatively harmless, like Rick Santorum cursing out a New York Times reporter (the media are all liberals, dont forget) and then celebrating his courage for having done so (If you havent cursed out a New York Times reporter during the course of a campaign, youre not really a real Republican, is the way I look at it, he said). But at other times, the conservative hatred of liberals is manifested in far uglier ways, and this is one such case. When they saw liberal outrage at Trayvon Martins killing, some (not all, but no small number either) conservatives just couldnt keep silent. If liberals think this was a terrible thing, then they are just going to decide that it wasnt. And trying to assassinate Martins character was about the only way they could think to fight back.

The Case Against

A great piece by Tom Ferrick, a former Inquirer columnist, on the awful, imitation-Huffington, boobies-slideshow-dominated Philly:

The problem with Doing dumb stuff is that you draw dumb people.
I don’t know the average IQ of the folks who dip into, but to judge from the comments section on the site I’m guessing low 80’s. To be fair, not all of those who comment are morons; some are psychopaths, others are chronic misogynists and a large number of them are haters. Whenever they read the word “black” or “African American” their hands shake, they foam at the mouth and they take to the keyboard to spew. At times, the comments section on resemblesa virtual Klan meeting.
Anyone who is sane, reasonable or mildly intelligent runs the risk of being verbally raped by commenting on the site. The trolls rule, man. Not a good thing. It scares away good people and just leaves the droolers.

Quote of the Day

Salon’s Mary Beth Williams on that awful article (and upcoming book) about the mom who bullied her daughter into losing weight:

So thats how you get a book published, ladies. Just write an article about what a mean mommy you are, get a lot of sexy media attention and hate mail for it, and watch the bidding war commence! That way, we can be intergenerationally negative toward females the fat little girls we put on diets, the daughters we call garbage, and the mothers who behave in such frosty, neurotic and controlling ways toward them. Want a bestseller? Try being a contemptible bitch.