Hillary Clinton Is Not A Monster – And Why That Does Not Diminish The Challenges We Must Confront When She Is President


The questioning of Hillary Clinton and her political and financial ties via the Clinton Foundation and other sources is nothing new. This conversation and its concerns have been happening for some time (see Hillary Helps a Bank—and Then It Funnels Millions to the Clintons and The Problem With Hillary Clinton Isn’t Just Her Corporate Cash. It’s Her Corporate Worldview, both from 2015), It is not a plot to discredit Hillary. Nor is it a strategy to give Trump more votes. Or Jill Stein, or any other candidate. It is about questioning a political worldview that deserves scrutiny, attention and challenge. It is not about painting anyone as evil or a monster. I, personally, don’t believe in such things. What it is about is addressing our decisions as human beings trying to do right by ourselves and others and looking closely at the choices we make and the repercussions and effects of those choices.

I understand that many people are concerned about criticisms of Hillary. I don’t point them out because I want to see people not vote for her. I keep the conversation alive because I believe Hillary will be the next president of the United States and – though we’ll be spared a Trump presidency which is no small achievement – we will nonetheless have a president whose approach to politics is via a corporate worldview that became popular in the Reagan era and, via Bill Clinton, also became part of the Democratic political landscape.

I believe deeply that it is an immensely unstable and detrimental approach that desperately needs to change if we are to avoid the wars and military actions already in the making that I believe Hillary Clinton will likely lead us into. If we are to build a thriving middle class, offer Americans a genuine profit-free health care option, and – maybe most importantly and dire – tackle Climate Change in the precariously short window we have left.

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Hillary Clinton Is Not A Monster – And Why That Does Not Diminish The Challenges We Must Confront When She Is President

“GODZILLA” And The Masquerade Of Modern Hollywood Storytelling

GZA_1SHT_MAIN_ONLINE_INTLThe great jazz guitarist, Greg Porée, once noted, “Los Angeles hires the world’s greatest musicians to play the worst shit.” 

I feel like Hollywood does the same with actors. The combined talents of the individual actors that make up the cast of 2014’s GODZILLA would, in any other place other than Hollywood, warrant some serious attention. But here, the sound of paychecks being cashed drowns out even Godzilla’s monstrous roar.

I will admit, however, that the film — while offering a truly dimensionless script and uninspired dialogue –does harken back to those all-star Hollywood disaster films of my youth: THE POSEIDON ADVENTURE, THE TOWERING INFERNO, EARTHQUAKE… And in so doing, it does stir some nostalgic memories for me, but mostly of the worst elements of those films. I was also, I should add, a huge Godzilla fan as a boy. All monster films, really, but Godzilla held a special place, so much so that familiar pangs of youthful anticipation crept in from time to time while watching my old, familiar friend recreated.

However, my adult needs are a bit different and I have avoided the majority of monster films that have been tossed out of Hollywood for several decades now. There’s a life that has been stripped from these tales, a social consciousness, a humanity. GODZILLA does indeed have some truly visceral moments and when seen in 3D, those moments can be enhanced greatly. But there’s no heart to this tale. Whatever Godzilla and the other monsters destroy, be it buildings or lives, it all feels hollow, a pretense that squanders the potential of cinema. Open-mouthed expressions of fear and loss do not take the place of actual emotions. The only actor in GODZILLA whose performance seemed to rise above the others for me was Elizabeth Olsen. Wherever she took herself, it transcended the movie despite the fact that they gave her appallingly little to work with and was only a minor character with no real story arc. Sadly, the fact that she was able to nonetheless be present in her performance, shone a light on all the grey, washed-out, lifeless areas of the film in stark contrast. For a movie that seemed to consciously want the characters’ stories to build up to and justify the monsters’ ultimate showdown, they did a shockingly poor job of using that time to create anything with resonance.

I don’t know if director Gareth Edwards wanted the film to retain some of the “cheesy” storytelling qualities that had become part of the landscape of Japanese monster movies, but I maintain that the original GODZILLA (GOJIRA, 1954) stands up as a far stronger, more impactful piece of cinema than this 2014 revisitation.

With all the technological tools at their disposal, it will never cease to amaze me how good writing does not seem to hold the same level of importance, the same value. Why is it so difficult to combine these two things into one? We either have groundbreaking special effects (GRAVITY) OR we have good screenwriting (not GRAVITY). Rarely do the two come together in modern Hollywood cinema.

It’s a shame as the teaser trailer for the film actually gave the impression that GODZILLA might have been a truly cinematic and interesting take on the genre. A deep-rooted social nightmare culled from the subconscious. A film with a little more vision behind it, a sense of tone, a more authentically involving experience. Turns out, the trailer just utilizes the single best moment in the film, the one moment that hinted at what might have been. It also, like Elizabeth Olsen’s performance, reminded us just how weak and uninspired the rest of the film was.


“GODZILLA” And The Masquerade Of Modern Hollywood Storytelling

Ronan Farrow and the Woody Allen Witch Hunt


Let me start by saying I have no idea if Woody Allen is guilty or innocent of molesting his daughter. And to that point, neither do you.

We don’t know these people. What seems to be clear to me is that there is a lot of anger, hurt, sorrow, fear and dysfunction among the Farrow/Allen group. As there is in any family. What concerns me far more than anything Woody Allen is accused of doing, is the reaction of the public to the tweets and statements of Ronan Farrow and family. The constant commentary on social media that Woody Allen is a monster, that he is evil, that we should stop supporting him as an artist, the call for his head (or his balls) on a stake… This is dangerous and far reaching. It doesn’t effect just one person or one family. It reaches out and envelops something far deeper, far more nefarious and destructive.

Now granted, my reaction here comes from my own fears and doubts, my own dysfunctions. My personal fear of being misunderstood or misrepresented, my fear of a mob-mentality, my fear of people who know what’s right not stepping up out of their own fears of attack or retribution… These are some of the things that drive my emotional reaction to the media circus playing out right now. And I can’t take them with any less seriousness than I do the actions and reactions of others.

History has shown us that people’s fear and hatred can be quite easily manipulated. Whether it’s the Salem Witch Trials or Nazi Germany, the war in Iraq or the Tea Party, people can be rallied with relative ease into forgoing truth or facts and replacing them with pitchforks and torches. The vitriol that I have witnessed against Woody Allen in the past few weeks has left me shaken. Not out of concern for Woody Allen. Again, I don’t know if he is a victim or a victimizer. What frightens and concerns me is that Ronan Farrow and family seem to be on a dangerous mission. And people, from the ignorant to the well-educated, are falling in line to back the hatred and anger (far more than the sadness and hurt) based, not on facts or reality, but on their own personal fears and dysfunctions. And Ronan (and whoever else may be behind this) knows exactly what to say and where to say it to create this tidal wave of misguided loathing. I say misguided because we simply do not know the truth or even anything vaguely resembling the truth. Woody Allen is being tried in the media, not by a jury of his peers, but by a jury of easily manipulated emotions and misinformation or, as one commentator observed, “a media psychodrama with the verdict handed down by random members of the general public.” This whole fiasco goes well beyond the question of Woody Allen’s guilt or innocence. The only thing here that comes close to encapsulating the word “monstrous” in my opinion is the behavior of the public in this matter. It is historically and socially monstrous. Have we learned nothing?

What adds to the horror of the scene for me is not only that people are gathering to stir one another’s dread and hostility, but that so many of them (most, I dare say) are completely ignorant of any of the actual facts of the case. I have read and heard so much information and accusations in discussions and tweets and chats and posts that are completely and absolutely false. Factually incorrect. Robert B. Weide‘s piece in The Daily Beast, The Woody Allen Allegations: Not So Fast, is the first sane piece of writing on the issue I have read to date. There is more than enough information out there to, at the very least, suggest the possibility that Woody Allen did not molest his child. In fact, there is just as much evidence to suggest the possibility that Mia Farrow may have coached her daughter into believing this. But no one seems to be up in arms about that possibility. Now don’t misunderstand me here. I am not suggesting that any of the above is true or false; I am not trying to do to Mia what Ronan is doing to Woody. All I am pointing out is that people are reacting, not to facts or evidence or truth or reality, but to what they want/need to believe to fuel whatever fears and desires they have surrounding this issue. And people like Ronan Farrow are igniting that fire every chance they get. Again, I understand that he is hurt and outraged. I understand that he may need or want others to share in that rage. I understand that it must be extremely painful to watch this man you believe to have done something horrible to you and the ones you love being celebrated with lifetime achievement awards and accolades. I get it. That must be extremely painful and frustrating. But to act out that rage on social media knowing full well that the people he gathers there do not care about truth or justice, to use their dysfunction as a means to rally them to his side, to enact his fantasy of a mass rejection of Woody Allen, to essentially mark him as a monster… THIS is something worthy of a public discussion. THIS is something playing out right here in front of us, something we ourselves are a part of. NOT the private matters of a family none of us know or could possibly know.

The witch hunt that is taking place, the ease with which the Farrows have stirred mass hatred by using the public’s ignorance as a tool to soothe and satisfy what is, essentially, a family tragedy, is frightening to me. And to see it reach those I know whom I considered intelligent and thoughtful people, to see them pick up their hangman’s noose with such fervor and conviction shows me that we have not evolved very far at all. Certainly not far enough to avoid future tragedies. We have proven once again that we are out here, waiting to be duped, lied to, tricked, or simply misguided with good intentions by those with an agenda, be it innocent or nefarious. We are the masses happy to point fingers at what frightens us all the while shying away from pointing that finger at ourselves. We gather and yell “monster” never seeing the monster that stares back at us in the mirror, the real monster we should be facing, the real monster we should be working so diligently to bring out into the light.

Ronan Farrow and the Woody Allen Witch Hunt