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Culture War Roundup for the week of November 6, 2023

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Time for current culture war item, reviving 20 years old controversies in much different world.

Ayaan Hirsi Ali is now a Christian

Some feel it as betrayal, some as vindication, but all see it as big thing. But is it a thing of any importance?

Reading through the manifesto, it seems strange. First, it does not contain the word "Jesus", not even once. Neither the word "salvation".

So what it talks about?

Threats to precious Western democracy, freedom, rules based international order and Judeo-Christian tradition

Part of the answer is global. Western civilisation is under threat from three different but related forces: the resurgence of great-power authoritarianism and expansionism in the forms of the Chinese Communist Party and Vladimir Putin’s Russia; the rise of global Islamism, which threatens to mobilise a vast population against the West; and the viral spread of woke ideology, which is eating into the moral fibre of the next generation.

But we can’t fight off these formidable forces unless we can answer the question: what is it that unites us? The response that “God is dead!” seems insufficient. So, too, does the attempt to find solace in “the rules-based liberal international order”. The only credible answer, I believe, lies in our desire to uphold the legacy of the Judeo-Christian tradition.

historical facts as accurate as "Cleopatra was black"

To me, this freedom of conscience and speech is perhaps the greatest benefit of Western civilisation. It does not come naturally to man. It is the product of centuries of debate within Jewish and Christian communities.

and mid-life crisis. Permanent Middle Eastern crisis is child's play compared to eternally recurring middle life crisis.

Atheism failed to answer a simple question: what is the meaning and purpose of life?

So why Christianity?

In this nihilistic vacuum, the challenge before us becomes civilisational. We can’t withstand China, Russia and Iran if we can’t explain to our populations why it matters that we do. We can’t fight woke ideology if we can’t defend the civilisation that it is determined to destroy.

How is Christianity supposed to help in fighting "China, Russia and Iran" is left unclear. Of these coutries, Russia explicitly claims to fight for Christianity against Western Jewish Nazi homosexual Satanism.

How would AHA answer Putin, how would she prove that his interpretation of Christianity is wrong and her "Judo-Christian" faith is the true Christian tradition and true message of Jesus?

And for wokeism, Christianity hadn't proved not to be very effective in fighting it.

(and if you need Christianity do defeat something so absurd as wokeism, you already lost)

SENIOR: What would you like for your birthday, son?

JUNIOR: I want to chop off my dick, dad.

SENIOR: Do not do it, son!

JUNIOR: Why?

SENIOR: (long pause and head scratching) The Bible! The Bible forbids it, son!

JUNIOR: Where?

SENIOR: (fast and frantic searching through book) Wait, son! It must be here, somewhere!

That is why I no longer consider myself a Muslim apostate, but a lapsed atheist. Of course, I still have a great deal to learn about Christianity. I discover a little more at church each Sunday. But I have recognised, in my own long journey through a wilderness of fear and self-doubt, that there is a better way to manage the challenges of existence than either Islam or unbelief had to offer.

Curious what exact church AHA joined. Churches that simultaneously reject wokeism and support "civilization war" against Axis of Evil, churches that fly Ukraine, Israeli and Taiwan flags but lack rainbow, trans and BLM flags tend to be rather thin of the ground.

SENIOR: (long pause and head scratching) The Bible! The Bible forbids it, son!

JUNIOR: Where?

SENIOR: (fast and frantic searching through book) Wait, son! It must be here, somewhere!

Strawman Senior really, really doesn't know his Bible. Sad! It's on page 1 or maybe 2, depending on your copy.

Genesis 1:27

So God created man in His own image, in the image of God created He him; male and female created He them.

As far as the text is concerned, there are just sexes, gender as a separate idea doesn't enter into the conversation. Under Levitical Law crossdressing is a capital crime.

There are plenty of infertile women and eunuchs (by birth and those made so by other humans) and men who lay with men (not recorded positively) throughout the Bible.

As far as self-mutilation is concerned, Jesus advises cutting off your own hands or feet or plucking out an eye if it leads you to sin, but this is after talking about tying a millstone to the neck + throwing into the sea to anyone who leads a child into sin. He does talk about making yourself a eunuch for the Kingdom of Heaven, but Origen, who is rumored to have taken it literally, says it would be very foolish to take this mechanically literally.

I'd be fascinated to see a thriving church (Nicene affirming, biologically reproductive, retaining generations, active missions) that is trans-affirming.

Nicene affirming, biologically reproductive, retaining generations, active missions

How many of these are there, though? Even the Mormons (who I understand don’t fully affirm the Nicene creed, but still) are facing a big drop off. Evangelicalism only does ‘OK’ because so many Catholics (and other Prots) continue to convert to it.

I dislike people dancing around the issue.

There is a massive population of white Americans, mainly Evangelicals, who had been indoctrinated with this meaningless Judeo-Christian gibberish that just means "everything good in the world". Invoking «Judeo-Christian» is the master key to getting their cooperation in literally any matter: they'll automatically recall "everything good" (freedom, democracy, tradition, civilization, antiwoke, diversity, LGBT rights, Christ, Rapture, our Middle Eastern allies – doesn't matter, details of what counts as goodness will be prompted by the context of the Current Year, they don't really have stable moral doctrines) and associate it with you, then go and kill or die for whatever cause you propose… Or, at least, that seems to be the theory driving Republican politics (and politicking on Republican-coded but in actuality bipartisan issues). The problem is that these people were a little bit too successfully dunked upon in years where great power conflict seemed less probable, and warm bodies less needed, than in the near future. They've been somewhat jaded and demoralized and alienated and their demographic representation has simply shrunk. New Atheism has been complicit in this.

So now we will be having New Atheist influencers peddling this stuff harder (and old fighters for Pure Reason like Gad Saad will be asked to pipe it down with habitual anti-whitey remarks). We'll also be seeing more "based" recruiting ads for the Army. As Trump has proven, the Republican base only asks for tokens of respect, nothing more, so I expect this vulgar pandering to work well.

So now we will be having New Atheist influencers peddling this stuff harder (and old fighters for Pure Reason like Gad Saad will be asked to pipe it down with habitual anti-whitey remarks). We'll also be seeing more "based" recruiting ads for the Army. As Trump has proven, the Republican base only asks for tokens of respect, nothing more, so I expect this vulgar pandering to work well.

That this is what they will be trying to do seems to be the consensus in the dissident sphere, whether it will work is a subject of some debate. Between the crazy activist types already being in positions of influence, and people already throwing jokes like "welp! there's white guys in military recruitment ads, looks like we're going to war!" around, the result doesn't look obvious to me. The failure of Bud Light to do damage control might be the blueprint for what's about to happen to the American establishment.

The problem is that these people were a little bit too successfully dunked upon in years where great power conflict seemed less probable, and warm bodies less needed, than in the near future.

Right, and the problem with reversing course is that while they don't require more than a few tokens of respect, the dunking may have gone so far that there might also be a "we're sorry" needed to bring them back into the fold. It's not a lot, but I doubt it's possible to provide without having the blue tribe rebel.

the result doesn't look obvious to me

It’s more of a dilemma, though. You might not want to join an institution that you perceive as hostile to you, but you also probably don’t want your military, which is also the most powerful military in the world, to be staffed by your enemies.

If the US military goes blue top to bottom, any kind of red tribe insurrection in the US becomes substantially more difficult.

In any case, all they need is Donald (upon returning to office if he makes it back) to say that they should join the military and it’ll be fine, as Dase said.

If the US military goes blue top to bottom, any kind of red tribe insurrection in the US becomes substantially more difficult.

Wouldn't you argue that optimizing for insurrection conditions, by adding your body to the mutiny pile at that, is a ludicrous political agenda in any case? I would. Like, this is some 1907 Russian sailor shit.

I don’t know if they still do, but a few years ago French nationalists were very concerned about the ever growing numbers of Maghrebi soldiers in the French military (it’s France, so data on how many there actually are is extremely scarce). Germans are constantly hand-wringing that the Bundeswehr essentially consists of BND/BfV agents and neo-Nazis with little in-between (but plenty of overlap). US red tribers have trusted certainly since the early-mid Cold War that the military is if not a conservative organ then certainly a red-adjacent organ, at least in the enlisted ranks.

but you also probably don’t want your military, which is also the most powerful military in the world, to be staffed by your enemies.

I might. What good does it do me to "staff" the military if people like me are cannon fodder, and all the officers are my enemies?

If the US military goes blue top to bottom, any kind of red tribe insurrection in the US becomes substantially more difficult.

Thing is - if they could achieve that, they already would have. Arguably that was the whole point of these weird woke military recruitment ads. The fact that they're reversing course shows it was not a viable strategy.

It's also interesting to consider if blue tribe grunts would even remain blue for very long, if they had to do a tour of duty in a war zone.

In any case, all they need is Donald (upon returning to office if he makes it back) to say that they should join the military and it’ll be fine, as Dase said.

Maybe, maybe not. Trump was also very pro-vaccine.

Trump was also very pro-vaccine.

Trump was out of office by the time the vaccine became widely available. I think the counterfactual where he’s constantly tweeting about how great the vaccine is and bragging about it in every daily press briefing is quite different.

Again, it's possible, but you're way to certain of this, and you're fatally misunderstanding the entire Trump phenomenon if you think this is a sure thing. It's not a cult of personality, he's popular because he's good at pandering. There was a brief period where it looked like his base might turn on him, and it was when he had some Iranian guy killed. Nothing came out of it, so people moved on, but I'm really not sure if he could get people to reenact the Bush era.

There was a brief period where it looked like his base might turn on him, and it was when he had some Iranian guy killed.

You mean the immensely popular decision that 85% of Trump’s voters approved of (vs 70% disapproval from Democrats)?

Very online dissident rightists aren’t ‘the base’, boomers in MAGA hats who care about Israel, abortion, bringing jobs back from Jyna, The Wall and trans bathroom policies are.

Again, you're talking about the attack itself, and I'm talking when people thought this meant another war.

More comments

One important difference today might be the lower percentage of young Americans eligible for military service. 77 percent of Americans age 17-24 can’t hack it, an increase from 71 percent six years ago.

That stat becomes a lot less alarming when you remember that 50% of Americans that age are women.

So now we will be having New Atheist influencers peddling this stuff harder (and old fighters for Pure Reason like Gad Saad will be asked to pipe it down with habitual anti-whitey remarks).

Right on cue: now the problem isn't Whitey from Nebraska, it's unassimilable migration that is causing the Death Spiral of the West. These Jews adopting 2016 alt-right talking points for their immediate benefit aren't going to convince anyone.

Jews say things you disagree with: Perfidious, deceitful

Jews say things you agree with: trickery that won’t convince anyone

The irony (and I say this as someone who doesn’t like him) is that half the people clowning on Saad for saying hardcore white antisemitism still exists in the US are literally hardcore white antisemites such as yourself on dissident right Twitter. Saad says “yeah midwestern whites can still be antisemitic” and then some midwestern white American in the tweet replies says some implicit or explicit version of “this treacherous Jew is so wedded to his destructive leftism and hatred of whites that he doesn’t recognize that white antisemitism doesn’t even exist anymore”, which is an interesting way of disagreeing with him.

In the end, every donor cent that no longer goes to progressive causes is good for the American right. Getting upset about Jews turning against mass immigration because they have the temerity to acknowledge your own (real) contempt for them seems cheap. The only thing these dissident rightists would accept from Jews is crying, apologetic prostration along with maybe ritual suicide after tearfully admitting all the wrongs they have done to the Huwhite race.

Come on now. Gad Saad's long-running beef with the archetypal "Roscoe" is entirely motivated by Roscoe being a rural white hick on whom it's acceptable, fashionable and fun to dunk, not by him buying into SS-style politics.

I don’t know who Saad is other than that I suppose I vaguely typecast him into that generic midwit-bait Israeli pseudointellectual category like Yuval Harari. Nevertheless, I thought the linked tweet did not seem particularly unreasonable.

Expecting Jews in general to become wignats overnight after brave DR types ‘call them out’ on apparent hypocrisy over ethnonationalism is clearly hostile. Here is Saad realizing, just as rightist whites (although far from all whites, of course) have, that mass immigration from the third world is a bad idea, and all SS can imply is that he only did it because he finally realized they’re a threat to him and his kind. This is true, but that same logic, of course, applies to many a gentile white anti-immigration activist too.

Ok but he's literally having some fixation on this Roscoe person, I had to check https://twitter.com/search?q=roscoe%20from%3Agadsaad&src=typed_query

I defer to you as someone with more knowledge of his posting history. Still, surely you understand my point? It's as if someone on the left says "well, you know it's just ridiculous to say that most progressives want children to be able to have gender reassignment surgery without their parents permission. Oh, me? Well, I actually do believe that, sure, I was speaking in general terms". This may be true, but it's still a strange argument, and one that would get rather a lot of pushback from many here.

Perfidious, deceitful

Gad Saad is unable to hide his contempt for ordinary white people, but in his next breath he's a stalwart defender of Western demographics. No he isn't, he's a Jewish ethnonationalist trying to give permission to White people to be racist towards Arabs on behalf of the war being fought by his tribe.

It's similar to the sentiment "Britain is finished if Jews no longer feel safe here". So Britain isn't finished when there are no more British, or when British are denied their identity and claim to particularity and self-advocacy. It's finished when Jews don't feel safe. When Gad Saad and Ben Shapiro start adopting these alt-right talking points, the Neocon grift is obvious.

I like Zach Snyder's film 300, but it's not lost on me that Hollywood producing such a sincerely fascist film took place at a moment time when many were beating the war-drum for America to go to war against the Persians. Fascism is a white interpretation of Socialism, and Neoconservatism is a Jewish interpretation of Fascism. The resurgence of 2003 neoconservatism with the assimilation of dissident right rhetoric is not something I agree with, even if they are able to say some things I agree with- no, I'm actually not falling for it and I can see clearly what they are doing. I strongly oppose the resurgence of 2003 neoconservatism. It's predictable they would try to steer the energy of the alt-right towards opposing their own enemies in endless Middle East conflict. But they won't allow that energy to be used to actually advoacte for white people.

Getting upset about Jews turning against mass immigration because they have the temerity to acknowledge your own (real) contempt for them seems cheap.

Jews are turning against mass immigration because they now perceive some parts of it to be against their own ethnic interests. So their (highly limited and far-too-late) turnaround is perfectly aligned with complaints about their behavior: they support what's in the interest of Jews, even at the expense of White people. When mass immigration is at the expense of White people but benefits Jews, they have no problem with it. Now they have a problem with it because of their war against the Arab world, and I'm supposed to pretend that this means their interests are now aligned with mine?

Nathan Cofnas is an example of a Jew engaging in some honest self-reflection (although he makes some dubious assumptions). Gad Saad and Ben Shapiro and others trying to make their religio-tribal war a matter of "Judeo-Christian civilization" hanging in the balance is perfidious and deceitful no matter how much alt-right window dressing they try to throw on top of it.

The irony (and I say this as someone who doesn’t like him) is that half the people clowning on Saad for saying hardcore white antisemitism still exists in the US are literally hardcore white antisemites such as yourself on dissident right Twitter.

Gad Saad felt compelled to dunk on the demographic that might be the most pro-Israel on the entire planet. Maybe it's Dissident Right Twitter's fault that Gad Saad hates the average White person from Arkansas. But Dissident Right twitter wasn't around for the 2003 Neoconservative era, where working class White Christians were helplessly manipulated into supporting Israel, and that didn't spare them from the ethnic contempt of Jews in academia, popular culture, and political policy. Their demographic decline has been celebrated.

When mass immigration is at the expense of White people but benefits Jews

How did the mass immigration of Muslims into Western Europe (or indeed Mexicans into the United States) benefit Jews? It is not enough to respond by citing Barbara Spectre or some other Jew saying that diversity keeps Jews safe or Tikkun Olam or something, I mean seriously, if you think it benefits me (a rich Jewish New York banker, the kind of person who matters in this thought experiment) then tell me how.

It seems rather more likely that Jews bought into the progressive, enlightenment, democratic narrative of universal progress upon which the United States was founded by gentile men. This is why there are also gentile whites of the kind who celebrate their own incoming minority status, for example, and indeed many of them.

I'm supposed to pretend that this means their interests are now aligned with mine?

Why do most white conservatives oppose mass immigration in practice? It’s not out of an esoteric quasi-spiritual reverence for Yamnaya ancestry or the legacy of Greece and Rome, or ethnic purity (and it mostly never was). It’s about the fact that they don’t want to live in a dirtier, poorer, more violent, culturally foreign society peopled largely by people who don’t like them (I don’t, for what it’s worth, think any large percentage American Jews ‘dislike’ whites).

That is the realization most anti-immigrant whites have had; that is what Saad seems to have had. His interests may or may not align with yours, certainly it’s unlikely they do on every issue. But if the issue is mass immigration from the Islamic world (which is by orders of magnitude the number one issue for the European right and Europe in general), then he and them would appear, on this issue, to want it to stop.

Well, as ever, the tragedy of Jewish assimilation is that we tried too hard and were too good at it. Too good at capitalism, too good at liberalism, too good at socialism. Jews took liberalism, fundamentally a gentile invention, too literally, bought into it too wholly, took its premises to their logical conclusions too honestly and too directly. I think of this often. Peter Singer, for better or worse, could only be Jewish; like Marx with Hegel, he is guilty only of extending a gentile ideology - that of Bentham and Mill - to its logical conclusions. It is no surprise that many of the ‘Jewish’ elites far rightists decry (along with many far right Jews like BAP and Moldbug) are only ‘half-Jewish’, because assimilation rates for secular Jews are at 70%+ and have been since at least the 1980s in the US, again in part it’s the extreme rate of Jewish assimilation that leads to such overrepresentation, because Jews had and have the temerity to get rich and then marry the existing elite rather than their own.

This is the grand irony of rightist antisemitism. The greatest charge is hypocrisy, that Jews do unto others (diversity, moral degeneracy etc) what they do not do unto themselves. In reality, precisely the opposite is true, far from cynically exploiting Western enlightenment ideas, (Ashkenazi) Jews tried too hard to implement them. They gleefully expropriated Jewish capitalists in Russia, gleefully embraced the sexual revolution of Hugh Hefner et al (for all the kvetching about Jewish pornographers preying on innocent blonde girls, Jewish women are actually extremely overrepresented among female porn actresses (Casey Calvert, Abella Danger, Nina Hartley), it’s not as if they spared themselves sexual modernity), and gleefully promoted refugee rights, socialism and a generous peace with the Palestinians in Israel even after multiple humiliations (and were only, ultimately, rebuffed because they were demographically swamped by Sephardim, Mizrachim and 1/8 Jewish Soviet immigrants.

The problem, which I think we have always failed to understand, is that the gentile writers of the enlightenment were less revolutionary than they appear from their writings. They were thinking in the context of an established civilizational structure whose boundaries they wanted to test, but which they did not wholesale wish to upend - even if they wrote as such. Freed from the metaphorical and sometimes literal ghetto by this ideology, the mistake we made was thinking it was SO great that we should take these ideas of universalism, of rights, of equality, of peace, of personal and communal liberation to their logical conclusions. We didn’t understand that the gentiles, writing in the context of their own worldview, their own educations and faith and so on, did not mean that themselves.

I really think this is the tragedy of the Haskalah.

Why not? Aren’t you glad they’ll use their unstoppable ‘narrative-crafting’ powers for the good of civilization?

I don’t see why a newly discovered personal stake in a subject should make one a hypocrite for changing one’s mind (and I don’t even know if this guy changed his mind, or if you just assimilate him to a collective, jewry).

There is a massive population of white Americans, mainly Evangelicals, who had been indoctrinated with this meaningless Judeo-Christian gibberish that just means "everything good in the world".

Not only Americans, strongly Zionist Evangelical churches are spreading worldwide, from Brazil to Finland. One of lesser known American cultural exports.

Maybe the future is two moron mobs beating each other heads with rainbow and Israeli flags, all over the world, for all eternity.

So now we will be having New Atheist influencers peddling this stuff harder (and old fighters for Pure Reason like Gad Saad will be asked to pipe it down with habitual anti-whitey remarks). We'll also be seeing more "based" recruiting ads for the Army. As Trump has proven, the Republican base only asks for tokens of respect, nothing more, so I expect this vulgar pandering to work well.

We might also see greatest American allies moderating themselves and stopping spitting on and assaulting Christians in Israel, at least the American ones.

It is something going on for a long time against local Arab Christians, but recently Western and even American Christians became targets too and even Western press began noticing.

edit: more links

While I am personally sympathetic to rejecting Christianity, I still think your post is in large parts a "boo outgroup".

Also, not all of us were here since New Atheism. According to Wikipedia, AHA was a central figure in that movement, where she mostly criticized Islam, I guess?

I remember the lesser AHAs of the aughts too. Ibn Warraq, Irshad Manji. But haven't heard their names in years.

As always I'm thankful not to be cursed with such absurdities as a God-shaped hole, or a drive for someone to hand me "objective" meaning instead of being perfectly content in deriving my own as I see fit.

At any rate, I've never heard of this woman, even if I am familiar with the usual thought-leaders in the early 2000s New Atheism movement, even if that was before my time really. I don't mourn it, it managed to do its job before it died, or was subsumed into proto-Wokism as Scott suggests.

Frankly speaking, I find this intellectually dishonest and a bad idea overall, I doubt her beliefs are sincerely held, and I agree with you that Christianity, nor any other major religion, is a solution to the problems of modernity. Belief-in-belief rarely stands for much, and I regard anyone who can intentionally subvert their own cognition and better judgement of reality to adopt it with scorn. I respect people who take their religion seriously more than I do such wishy-washy Cultural Catholics, "moderate" Muslims and the like. If the clear and obvious demands of your religion are to go on Jihad against the infidels, then that's what you should do, even if I find that a terrible act. If you think your holy books are the Word of God, then why the fuck are you cherry picking the aspects you find convenient rather than doing your best to sincerely adopt all of it, even if it's incompatible with modern civilization?

At any rate, I think this is more of a grift/attempt at seeking attention from a C-list intellectual than anything worth taking seriously, but it is illustrative of a certain minority of people who decide that adopting the trappings of a religion and mouthing some of the lines might fill the void in their hearts. Won't work, and is a bad idea either way, while modern Western society is far from ideal, it's not going to be improved by a RETVRN.

AHA absolutely was a major figure in the 2000s New Atheism / Counterjihad era (I associate her more with the latter than the former), though it's also possible she was more visible in Europe than in the US during the peak of her influence.

At any rate, I've never heard of this woman, even if I am familiar with the usual thought-leaders in the early 2000s New Atheism movement, even if that was before my time really. I don't mourn it, it managed to do its job before it died, or was subsumed into proto-Wokism as Scott suggests.

If you missed the Great Atheist-Christian War of the noughties, you missed the peak of the internet. All went downhill since then.

And if you were there, you would know that the "proto-woke" side was the creationist intelligent design one.

At least the better part of them - while the dumb ones tried to scientifically prove that six day creation and Noah flood were literally real, the smarter were loud antiracists and antifascists who were roaring how Darwin was racist colonialist genocidist and how "Darwinism" is source of all evil in modern history.

You got things like From Darwin to Hitler, Darwin's Plantation: Evolution's Racist Roots or even this.

STALIN'S FAITH--WHAT WAS IT?

Often an individual's faith is firmly attached to a book of some kind. Muslims have the Koran; Hindus, their Veda; and Christians, the Bible. Writings of Confucius, Buddha, and indeed, Mao Tse-Tung, serve similar purposes for other groups. In Stalin's case, the writings of Marx, Engels, and Lenin incited him, but to stop here would be premature. There is one man-book amalgam which may have been even more determinative for Stalin, especially during his youthful, impressionable years.

The man was Charles Darwin.

The book--his The Origin of Species.

To document this, appeal is made first to a book published in Moscow entitled, Landmarks in the Life of Stalin. It was written during Stalin's "glory," and was designed to set him in a positive light. Note in the selection cited, that faith in Darwin and his "book" contrasts markedly with faith in a supreme being:

At a very early age, while still a pupil in the ecclesiastical school, Comrade Stalin developed a critical mind and revolutionary sentiments. He began to read Darwin and became an atheist.

G. Glurdjidze, a boyhood friend of Stalin's, relates:

"I began to speak of God, Joseph heard me out, and after a moment's silence, said: "'You know, they are fooling us, there is no God. . . .' "I was astonished at these words, I had never heard anything like it before. "'How can you say such things, Soso?' I exclaimed. "'I'll lend you a book to read; it will show you that the world and all living things are quite different from what you imagine, and all this talk about God is sheer nonsense,' Joseph said. "'What book is that?' I enquired. "'Darwin. You must read it,' Joseph impressed on me"

They failed to cancel Darwin and all of his work, but not for the lack of trying.

I don’t remember antiracism/anti fascism having much sway over the narrative. I’m sure some authors were trying to pick at Darwin from any angle, but the real emphasis was Biblical literalism, no? Hence “teach the controversy,” the relevant court cases, and so on.

The creationists ranting about ‘Darwinism causes x’ has to be seen in the context of, well, ranting about how Darwinism causes x. Yes, ‘belief in evolution was an inspiration for Hitler’ was one of a family of arguments they used about that, but the reason behind talking more about Darwin=Hitler than Darwin=Margaret Sanger is because Hitler is 1) recognizably evil and 2) the causal link there is easy to explain.

Remember that the whole Atheist Armageddon was started by Christians who were feeling emboldened in Dubya's time and began to push intelligent design into schools. It was symbolic thing like most things about school curriculum, but it spooked lots of people and provoked strong and unexpected reaction.

It was only secondary about Islam and Middle Eastern issues.

Why they chose this particular form of offensive? Did they really believed that evolution is cornerstone of atheism, did they believed that if they succesfully demolish "Darwinism" the whole tower of unbelief will collapse and whole nation will return to church?

They hadn't got their wish, but no one from this time had.

Interestingly enough, a lot of the pushback against trans only really started gaining ground once the gender/trans/DQSH stuff was pushed so egregiously as to break through into normie awareness. If it hadn't started hitting people close to home, it may have consolidated even more cultural power. Again, it's a case of a (different) group that was feeling emboldened in their time and tried to push for the complete educational/cultural victory.

And if you were there, you would know that the "proto-woke" side was the creationist intelligent design one.

idk, Scott makes a compelling case that the proto-woke side was the atheists. That coheres with my personal experience as well. https://slatestarcodex.com/2019/10/30/new-atheism-the-godlessness-that-failed/

proto-woke side was the atheists Well some of them at least. Like a third? Maybe a third-ish. There were the atheists who hated their dad and then there were the atheists who were too autistic so they made the unfortunate mistake of actually reading the bible. The atheism+ side disintegrated into a million little pieces mostly by canceling each other and purity spiraling, but not before killing the fun for everyone else.

To add to this, as one of the "dumb ones" on the pro-Christian side (though for the record I've never been a Young Earth Creationist) I don't recall seeing many people on the pro-religion side making arguments along the "evolution is racist" angle.

How is Christianity supposed to help in fighting "China, Russia and Iran" is left unclear. Of these coutries, Russia explicitly claims to fight for Christianity against Western Jewish Nazi homosexual Satanism.

How would AHA answer Putin, how would she prove that his interpretation of Christianity is wrong and her "Judo-Christian" faith is the true Christian tradition and true message of Jesus?

How did Protestants answer the Catholics?

SENIOR: (fast and frantic searching through book) Wait, son! It must be here, somewhere!

This sort of thing seems like how it'd go when you're positing an already moribund religion (and a weak proponent of that religion)

Do you think this is how the discussion would go in a traditional Islamic household?

If New Atheism didn't die from Dawkins aging, Harris contracting terminal TDS, or Hitchens dying, this is certainly the final nail in the coffin.

Or it was never really alive as a "movement" in the first place. It was a bunch of people writing books at the same time.

It was a bunch of people writing books at the same time.

What's the difference between that and an intellectual movement?

A movement can start with a few people it has to have a living intellectual tradition or a way of life or unified purpose.

The New Atheists, in terms of beliefs, were not meaningfully separate from the ratskeps that preceded them/overlapped with them (is Matt Dillahunty a New Atheist?) and almost none of their stuff was really original nor did it create any sort of succeeding tradition imo. Atheism wasn't really even the central intellectual focus of most of them. Dawkins and Dennett had distinct and successful careers out of that and even Harris, who may have been the least prominent in his field before the association, admits he finds "atheism" a very limiting box. I don't think any of them have really engaged with any responses to them on the topic in further publications?

And, in terms of a movement to create a way of life, I don't know if I can say they utterly failed because they didn't really try. It's pretty telling that one of the moments of tension (Elevatorgate) led to an attempt to create a more substantive political philosophy for left-wing atheists and it didn't come from them.

Four people just happened to write books when the Anglo world was secularizing/dealing with 9/11 and so someone came up with a pithy title and then people tried to make it bigger than it is. Like if there were a couple of (very different) hot Indian directors and someone coined "New Bollywood" and everyone kept trying to make it more of a thing than it was. The BRICS of atheism.

Hmm, personally I think that sets too high a bar for constituting a "movement" at least in the intellectual or cultural sense. Sure, a handful of books doesn't constitute a political movement - for that you need crowds, voting, candidates (though note that this definition also means the "alt right", such as it ever was, was not a "movement") but I think the bar is different/lower for an intellectual or cultural movement.

It's a consistent cliché in intellectual history that some group strongly disavows belonging to a single movement, while then spending the next 200 years being taught and studied as one. French New Wave Cinema, the Vienna Circle, etc.

My suspicion is that, (if there are such things as essays and undergaduates a hundred years hence) a student writing in the future about how American religiosity collapsed to European levels in the first decades of the 21st century will mention "the new athiests". Before of course talking about the triumphant rise of Zensunni Catholocism in the 2030s, which fuelled the Butlerian Jihad.

So she wants cultural Christianity back? And this is converting?

I think stating that she goes to church, and emphasizing the religion's role in answering ultimate questions makes me think she's actually talking about converting.

Just about every Boomer Evangelical church I've seen is anti-woke and anti-axis of evil.

Just about every Boomer Evangelical church I've seen is anti-woke and anti-axis of evil.

Point taken, such people would support even Ukraine (if only because they still see Russia as communist), but these churches would demand confession of faith in literal resurrection of Jesus Christ and literal truth of the bible, not Dubya era National Review editorial.

They’re usually pretty chill if people are ‘struggling’ with their faith, I thought?

None of the reasons she gives for why she now considers herself a Christian are anything even close to "I have come to believe that Jesus Christ is the son of God and literally rose from the dead". In other words, by my outsider's understanding of Christianity, she is not a Christian.

I don't see why I would have to be a Christian in order to enjoy the various good ways in which Christianity changed Western Civilization. There is no contradiction when a man enjoys the fruits of democracy without also adopting an ancient Athenian's entire political worldview. It is fine to take the good things from Christianity but ignore the rest. Indeed, just as modern democracy is much more actually democratic than Athenian democracy, it is possible that we can figure out how to extend and improve on the benefits that Christianity brought to the West, but in a secular way. Indeed, I would say that this is already happening. In some ways modern secular societies are politically much more to my taste than the much more heavily Christian societies of, say, 100 years ago.

I guess she is saying that Western society needs some real spiritual belief to unite it against its enemies, but I don't see how one could manufacture such a belief on a mass scale and I don't think that it would be desirable even if one could. Part of what makes Western modernity good is the respect for truth as opposed to belief, and I think that adopting Christianity is in contradiction to this.

Yeah, I'm not a Christian either but reading her article makes me go "Nicene Creed or GTFO..."

modern democracy is much more actually democratic than Athenian democracy

The Athenians took the word "democracy" to mean one thing, and modern Western politicians take it to mean [almost anything they want]. It's small-minded to claim one particular state of affairs is more "democratic" than another - very many political system can fairly lay claim to the term.

It's a defensible position to describe as "democratic" any that involves a reasonable number of people voting on what's to be done/whom to rule them.

Beyond those bare bones, it's like arguing which of Louisiana and Utah is the more American, or Pentecostalism and Anglicanism is the more Christian. Ie, a futile endeavour to rile up true believers

I am using the common notion of "more democratic" in which the larger a fraction of the population has the franchise, the more democratic the system is.

My understanding is that about 10-20% of ancient Athenians could vote, so by the common notion it was much less democratic than the modern US system, for example, in which maybe about 70-75% or so of the entire population can vote. I say about 70-75% based on some quick rough research about how many of the humans who live in the US are citizens older than 18, but I could be off a bit.

Would the USA be "more democratic" if toddlers could vote?

Obviously yes.

It wouldn’t be better, but it would be more democratic.

I guess she is saying that Western society needs some real spiritual belief to unite it against its enemies, but I don't see how one could manufacture such a belief on a mass scale

She doesn't think you can, which is why she abandoned secular humanism and New Atheism (which was very optimistic about how easy it is to do so). The point is to try to regenerate the old one. I think it's likely impossible too but it's a better bet.

Part of what makes Western modernity good is the respect for truth as opposed to belief

There're plenty of illusions in modern "rational" Western society too. Maybe it's pick your poison, because "a spectacularly unsuccessful Jewish agitator is looking out for you in heaven" as a belief system - at least the liberal version - is less worrisome than some of the secular nonsense I've seen.

‘The Marvels’ Meltdown: Disney MCU Seeing Lowest B.O. Opening Ever At $47M+ — What Went Wrong

SATURDAY AM UPDATE: The last-minute push for The Marvels with an appearance by star Brie Larson on The Tonight Show and at a theater in NYC post-actors strike have not moved weekend grosses any higher for Marvel Studios‘ The Marvels. The film is seeing a Friday in the vicinity of where we expected it at $21.5M, and a weekend opening between $47M-$52M, the lowest ever for Disney‘s Marvel Cinematic Universe.

Oh, also, The Marvels gets one of several post-pandemic B CinemaScores from audiences after Doctor Strange in the Multiverse of Madness (B+), Thor Love & Thunder (B+), Eternals (B), and Ant-Man and the Wasp: Quantumania (B). Comscore/Screen Engine PostTrak exits are worse at 3 1/2 stars and a 73% positi

It's even worse after factoring in double-digit inflation since 2021 or so. Disney, however, is the master of 'Hollywood accounting' and squeezing every drop of water from a franchise installment, such as licensing or merchandizes for years after the movie is discontinued from theatres. Also the "Disney‘s Marvel Cinematic Universe" is comprised of 24 movies. Some of these movies are expected to be underwhelming or loss-leaders and are not given an equal marketing push. It's assumed that Iron Man sequels will do better than stuff like "Ant-Man and the Wasp".

Richard Hanania blames gender pandering/wokeness, but it's worth noting that the 2017 Wonder Woman did well ($800+ million gross total , $100+ million open) despite obviously having a female lead. Also, having a pretty (by conventional Western standards) blonde lead does not also fit into the wokeness paradigm either.

I think "wokeness" is the wrong way to think about what's happening.

It has more to do with women who have worked their way up in the entertainment industry with the help of some affirmative action and are now in important decision making positions.

As they approach the end of their careers they want to be remembered as groundbreaking feminists and give talks at women's conferences and that sort of thing. But they can't get much attention for that sort of thing if they are producing content that's mostly popular with males.

There are other contributing factors. Advertising driven TV networks produced content mostly aimed at women. Women make most household purchasing decisions, so they are what advertisers want. Subscriber funded content naturally has a more even male-female split. However the back catalog is more female focussed.

So the marketing numbers tell them to produce more male focussed content. The lady execs resent that and push back. It feels wrong to them.

There was that famous quote from an Amazon exec who complained that if they based their decisions on focus group results they'd make nothing but movies about white men with guns.

Which strikes me as false. I'm open to other races. I'm sure they could find an American Chow Yun-fat.

Sci-fi / fantasy genre content has another issue. Making content nerdy men enjoy feels low status. After a few comic con panels they want to try to attract young women.

There also seems to be a thing where men who have daughters start wanting to make their content more appealing to young girls. However they overestimate the crossover appeal of their stories and end up producing things no one wants.

Wonder Woman is a hyper sexualized Amazonian played by the top model of Israel who wears skimpy clothes while being a bad-ass and falling in love. It is literally the opposite of woke. Her rogues gallery (villains) are also women and she was never gender swapped.

A strong woman != woke movie.

If wonder woman had been made in the 90s, it would not have been THAT different.

An interesting specification here:

a pretty (by conventional Western standards) blonde lead

Is the detail in the brackets really necessary? Is there really any hetrosexual man who wouldn't, in his heart of hearts, grant that this woman is at least "pretty"?

I mean perhaps there are some freaks who'd demur - but they'd simply be wrong. This is "pregnant people" hair-splitting.

If the word "pretty" means anything, and if there are any moral/æsthetic truths at all, then it's just simply true that this actress is "pretty".

To my eyes, Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez is physically attractive enough that she could transition directly into modelling/influencing at the end of her term in office with no loss to her income. While Zendaya is by no means the most physically attractive actress of her generation, I have a hard time understanding how anyone could find her ugly. And yet, I've seen hundreds of memes and jokes about how both of these women are ugly - not merely "mid" or "not as hot as they're made out to be" but actively ugly - usually taking the form of asserting that AOC has a "horse face" or representing Zendaya using the "mutt" wojak. It's baffling to me, but there you go. Not quite as baffling (but in the same ballpark) are those people saying that Margot Robbie is "mid", when to my eyes she's easily one of the most beautiful people alive, even speaking as someone who doesn't normally go for the blonde blue-eyed type.

Beauty really is in the eye of the beholder I guess.

I've also never understood the "Zendaya is ugly" thing (I haven't even really seen people call AOC ugly that much). Most people arguing it seem to mainly refer to still images of her from "Dune", a movie where she's deliberately portraying a somewhat unkempt desert nomad.

Of course, many claiming this are the sort of lady-doth-protest-too-much white nationalists going "Well, I CERTAINLY would never find a nonwhite attractive! Not me! That's something I would never do! I consider them all ugly as sin and none of their women would certainly cause me to pop a boner!"

They also played down her looks for a lot of scenes in Spider Man Homecoming because they wanted her to be more of an outsider type.

She got her start as a child model and she definitely has a look better described as striking and distinct instead of bombshell.

There are women where a certain number of men will find her very attractive but another group of men will find absolutely hideous. See this blog post about the mathematics of beauty.

Data is a bit old and from OkCupid blog, but this shows there are men that would rate women a 1/5 even if in my opinion they are fairly average. These same women get a lot of men that would rate her a 5/5. It goes on to show that being divisive on how attractive you are is an advantage compared to being a 7/10 to everyone (at least on OkCupid circa 2010s).

It's also possible that a lot of the people calling AOC/Zendaya ugly are influenced by their personal dislike of the individuals rather than by actual attractiveness of the two.

It's also possible that a lot of the people calling AOC/Zendaya ugly are influenced by their personal dislike of the individuals rather than by actual attractiveness of the two.

That was my assumption. Sort of the mirror image of leftists who deny that Elon Musk can possibly have any good qualities whatsoever because they dislike his politics.

I read it as saying that it's evidence of non wokeness that the lead is pretty and blonde, not in some interesting, scissor kind of way that heterosexual men have mixed feelings about (but people generally enjoy watching act) like Sarah Jessica Parker or Tilda Swinton, or in a clearly Very Pretty and rather charismatic way, like Scarlett Johansson, but in a conventionally, even generically pretty way.

For instance, an article that starts out talking about how nobody recognizes Bri Larson in person https://www.harpersbazaar.com/celebrity/a43340909/brie-larson-captain-marvel-interview-2023/ "'I don’t get recognized,” she told comedian Mike Birbiglia on an episode of his podcast. “I get ‘Are you friends with my cousin?’ I am the classic face of ‘friend of your cousin.’ ”"

Maybe I'm weird, but the knowledge that someone holds me in contempt takes a big chunk out of my aesthetic appreciation of them. Plus, maybe this is my bias talking, but she never looks happy or joyful in any of the photos I've seen of her. People in general are more attractive when they're happy than when they're scowling.

I wouldn't call Brie unattractive, but I definitely don't find her attractive for precisely the reasons you stated.

She was quite comely in Kong: Skull Island, lol

it's worth noting that the 2017 Wonder Woman did well ($800+ million gross total , $100+ million open) despite obviously having a female lead.

Woke is defined by presentation, not by having a female lead. Also, the female lead in Wonder Woman is Israeli and Jewish which the woke have really mixed feelings over (as has recently become obvious).

got dogpiled so badly here. even SBF got easier treatment at his trial. I dunno. I feel like if this were 2020 and I made this same comment few would have disagreed so strongly. I am not even sure what people are disagreeing with. i thought my commentary was unopinionated and was not expecting such strong rebuke. feels like a minefield posting here lately.

There's been a lot of heavy news and discussion about Gaza lately. I think there was an appetite for something lighter and you just stumbled into it with some pop culture discussion.

I think the reference to Wonder Woman as a counter argument to the claim that gender pandering/wokeness is killing movies suggests that Wonder Woman is a gender pandering, woke movie, which implies that you think wokeness isn't a leading cause of the failures of the recent movies.

Maybe Wonder Woman is a gender pandering, woke movie (I haven't seen it), but is it as woke or pandering as the movies that are failing today?

There does seem to be a general societal trend against wokeness nowadays. Maybe people are looking to bash anything woke so anything that might go against that narrative can cause more friction that it would have years ago.

Probably should also take into consideration that the economy was doing much better in 2017 and superhero movies were in general doing well. Except for Barbie and Oppenheimer, I'm struggling to recall a recent movie that did well, so perhaps the movie industry as a whole is struggling right now.

Yeah. Woke is not casting a female. Woke is casting a female lead and then making her perfect and the villains exclusively male.

That's just one form of Mary Sue. It's not actually woke until the character herself points this out.

I’ve seen it. The first half felt, I kid you not, just like watching the local college women’s basketball team.

My family loves the Lobos of the University of New Mexico. I’ve gone to many games at The Pit, our basketball arena, and watched both men and women play. With the men, it’s about the almost martial precision as they dribble, shoot, pass, and execute plays. With the women, it’s about watching them put in the effort and the emotion, feeling their drama as they play.

The Marvels is a superheroine movie, a different beast than its spear counterparts. The emotions are more important than the scenarios; issues of identity, status, duty, wants and fears are what matter. Kamala is a teenager worried about her family, Carol is an unaging guilt-ridden mess, and Monica is an orphaned grownup working through her grief. Their punches and zaps don’t hit as hard, though that may be the directors’ fault. They want to convince, not to fight, but their appeals aren’t to logic, they’re pleas of emotion.

They’re, quite simply, beta Avengers in a made-for-TV movie trying to be postmodern and flailing back into modernity for money shots.

It’s worth sitting through the first half to get to the second half. Ironically, it’s when they get to the Bollywood planet that things come together. Once that fight finishes, however, the movie seems to delight in swapping them into other scenarios where their swift action is necessary, making the point that women’s lives are all about multitasking. Samuel L. Jackson’s Nick Fury stuck in Earth orbit but available by ear comms makes the whole thing Charlie’s Avengers.

(Culture war angle: the villain looks uncannily like VP Kamala Harris.)

All in all, I watched it for the Marvel continuity, and enjoyed it, but I was moved more by the movie I watched directly afterward: Five Nights At Freddy’s.

Out of curiosity, what movies would you say capture that male, high-octane, martial precision?

I didn't think of it in these terms, but I think DuplexFields captured exactly what I was feeling when I watched The Matrix: Resurrections, compared to the original The Matrix, vis a vis the action scenes. The first film was full of that high-octane martial precision, famously so. Almost down to the individual punch, each action of each character in each fight scene seemed like another paragraph in the story being told, holding intent and purpose that communicated the flow of how the particular fight was going, what emotions the combatants might have been experiencing, what sorts of risks and rewards they were seeking, etc. The soft reboot, directed by one of the two original directors, had none of that, and the fight scenes looked like little more than people waving their hands at each other while explosions went off in the background, along with super-ugly slowmo.

Now I'm wondering how much, if any, of the transition of the gender from male-to-female of the one director who directed both films played into this. The soft reboot also didn't hire the same martial arts choreographer (or perhaps any martial arts choreographer? I don't recall) that they did for the 1st 3 films, which obviously must have played a factor, but that just moves it back a step of why did the director decide that she wanted her Matrix film not to make use of an martial arts choreographer, or was okay with putting her name on the film if she was prevented from hiring one by executives?

My interpretation of Matrix 4 is that it's a giant FU to the Hollywood exec who came up with the idea to make one. The hints aren't exactly subtle. From that perspective it's no surprise they were half-assing the fight. Other than the fights Keanu Reeves looks like he was specifically directed to look like he doesn't care, and doesn't want to be there.

I'll recommend the Chris Hemsworth Extraction flicks.

I remember reading that Hemsworth was tapped for a US adaptation of The Raid films. I didn't think it would work because American fight choreography wouldn't capture the appeal of silat.

Suddenly I'm watching a prison fight in Extraction 2 that feels very similar to Raid 2's. And it works! Sure, the protagonist has merc gear and guns, and it dodges direct comparisons to the Indonesian films since it's not an adaptation. But without knowing anything about Extraction's production history, it feels like vestiges of the old pitch made their way in.

I was specifically thinking of the gold standard in cape flicks, the big Iron Man/Thor/Captain America fight in Avengers, although the fights in Iron Man 2 choreographed by Genndy Tartakovsky are tremendous. I could pick through a half-dozen good Marvel fights with high stakes and high emotions with good choreography.

The first fight in The Marvels had a lot of spectacle, but like Black Panther 2’s big fight, it just became too over-choreographed, dance-like, and blatantly stuntperson-reliant, and the cameras were zoom-and-pan messes. The second fight was CG-heavy and bounced between several sites, and with better direction could have been a classic Marvel fight.

Inception. Any Christopher Nolan movie really. People say he can't even write female characters.

Mad Max: Fury Road?

Master and Commander?

Crank 2: High Voltage

Fury Road was exactly what I had in mind. Or maybe something like Bourne Identity or John Wick.

I still haven't seen Master and Commander, actually.

I still haven't seen Master and Commander, actually

2003 saw the release of two big naval films, Master and Commander and Pirates of the Carribbean. It is a sad indictment of our fallen world that Master and Commander stopped at 1 film (despite having a huge amount of written book plots that could easily be turned into movies) while Pirates of the Caribbean became a huge franchise.

I guess I'll just leave people with this...

In some ways I think it's better they didn't make a millions sequel movies. Knowing how cinema developed now, there's a decent chance they would have ruined what is truly sublime source material.

With respect to your link, the score and sound were top notch. I'm still impressed how much justice they did to the role music plays in the books. Midshipmen Geoghegan appears something like three times in The Yellow Admiral, but I still think about his tragic death whenever I hear the Oboe Quartet.

I still haven't seen Master and Commander, actually.

Worthwhile. It's like a manly and warm-hearted 19th British century writer, such as Walter Scott, Robert Louis Stevenson, Rudyard Kipling, or Rider Haggard somehow travelled through time and made a big budget film, with a talented cast and astounding craftsmanship by the crew.

Master and Commander is so effortlessly high quality it makes me weep remembering it was basically an “average” excellent movie that we simply took for granted that we would be treated to up to a dozen times a year for like basically 15 years between 1993 - 2008.

It’s also, hilariously, completely bereft of female dialogue. I find it to be a very funny coincidence but frog twitter and their world see it as a sign akin to a burning bush.

It’s fucking rad, A+ would recommend.

Watched it. Liked it overall, but I just can't get myself to like Russell Crowe. Not sure why exactly. I'm somehow under the very vague impression that he's too full of himself and not half the actor he thinks he is, but I can't actually pinpoint why I see him that way.

Still, nice movie. 1 out of 1, did not regret giving two irreplaceable hours of my finite, fleeting life for it.

Oh yeah I’m very aware, my wife loves the movie too.

You gotta watch it. If only for the hilarious french accents.

The main problem, other than the general trend lately of MCU movies losing steam, is that the first one wasn't any good. Nobody walked out of that theater wanting to see more of Carol Danvers. This simple fact was extensively covered-up. With Rotten Tomatoes changing it's rules not once, but twice in order to prop up the audience score.

Yeah the first one was awful. Jude Law was atrocious in that movie, and I usually like him. I think that was the last Marvel movie I saw in the theater and stopped because I hated it so much.

despite obviously having a female lead.

Nobody has a problem with "a female lead". Sarah Connor and Ellen Ripley were anchoring movies before I was born. Nobody had a problem with Black Widow. Nobody was annoyed by the original Charlie's Angels movies, even if they hated the recent woke abomination

I would say the problem of "wokeness" is beyond that now. Things like Rachel Zegler's comments on Snow White or the replacing of the dwarves had nothing to do with the mere presence of women in a fairy tale about a woman. It often just feels hostile to the existing IPs, general beloved tropes and stories and even the legacy audience (which matters since they drive hype)

That sort of wokeness applies in two ways here: Brie Larson is seen in a similar light as Zegler by the sorts of males who love this shit and (more importantly) the original movie was "woke" in the sense that Larson's character was so bland (most of her struggle being essentially against social forces telling her she's not good, fitting wokeness) that there's nothing to be loyal to. Middle class people will go watch that movie when they're told it's The First , and it's right before Endgame. But they don't love the character the way people love Stark or even Black Widow and so they have no reason to stick with her when the MCU's brand is collapsing.

Besides that, the problems are:

  1. This "phase" is dead so there's nothing to be excited for. Between Ant-Man fumbling Kang and Johnathan Majors allegedly beating women right around the time two movies of him being an intimidating boxer were in theaters it's clearly going to have to be rejiggered. So what's there to be excited about?
  2. Too much Disney+ material fatigues people.
  3. Audiences know they can get mediocre Marvel movies on Disney+ eventually, especially since they're no longer event movies due to the first two points.
  4. Feige clearly seems stretched thin by all that extra material he needs to produce, and Marvel's ad hoc style (decide after we film) apparently doesn't work if someone doesn't have their hands around everything.

I would say the problem of "wokeness" is beyond that now.

"Woke" is them not making the movie you want, but the movie they think a better person would want, on the theory that their audience will live up to their expectations.

Nobody had a problem with Black Widow in the original run of the MCU. Her movie was quite woke and legitimately awful.

Fair enough. I spoke too strongly. Let me correct...a Black Widow led movie wasn't that controversial as a concept.

The problems with the film we got was that it was too late , it was derivative (the ending was basically The Winter Soldier) and it frankly sucked beyond the actors' charisma.

I only watched the first link to conclusion and The Critical Drinker, who is one of those anti-woke guys, basically says as much: it's disappointing because he actually wanted a good movie. Not true for a lot of "woke" stuff that crosses his path. I'm inclined to believe him because his reaction to the trailer was negative, but a lot of that was because of the tardiness

Too much Disney+ material fatigues people.

It's clear Loki and the Wanda thing should have been full feature films, I guess they had to "degrade them" into being tv shows due to covid?

Marvel plans it's films/movies five years out. These were effectively finished pieces before Covid happened.

Worth noting this same general timeline is abused to make it seem that Bob Chapek is responsible for the Disney flops that were well underway when Iger was still in his first run as CEO.

I think at least Loki was always planned to be a show. A lot of content was mandated to get Disney+ going as a Netflix competitor. Why not go with Loki, who is one of the second-stringers with a fanbase?

They overestimated Disney+, something I was pretty sure of at the time. It flattens out Disney's product line putting classic Cinderella on par with Brandy's Cinderella or Little Mermaid with Little Mermaid 2-4. There's no distinction between television, direct to DVD and big budget film projects. They screwed the pooch on planning and execution and IIRC, this is mostly under Bob Iger's leadership.

It's insane that Iger caused a huge mess, ducked out for a break during COVID and is now coming back as savior.

He's also to blame for the entire Star Wars fuck-up.

Disney/Marvel's current predicament is best expressed by describing their post-Endgame plan.

  • Drop all of the well-known characters who are portrayed by popular actors.
  • Ignore most of the established continuity that normal people will recognize and remember from other films.
  • Replace the well-known characters with obscure, unlikable characters.
  • Replace the popular actors with cheap actors that fill out the DEI bingo card.
  • In an effort to lower the barrier to entry (and thus cost) for new writers, throw away existing continuity with something something multiverse something something.
  • Create dozens of low-budget tie-in properties and make the entire edifice look like a massive effort to follow.

Suddenly, in 2023, Disney is surprised that people don't want to spend a ton of time and effort to watch movies:

  • That may or may not jive with what they know
  • Starring actors who acted in a soap opera and a cereal commercial once
  • Are written by bargain-bin writers
  • About characters who aren't interesting
  • That probably won't make sense without watching 40+ hours of content on Disney+ for $14.99/month.

Is anyone surprised that sales are down?


On a related note - where was that movie even marketed? I'm not the most "hip" or "plugged in" person, but even I knew that movies like "Avengers" or "Iron Man" were being released. When a friend of mine first told me about "The Marvels", I thought that it was a soon to be released streaming TV show. That's probably a sign of an absolute marketing meltdown.

The sequel came too late, Captain Marvel (female version) was too obscure a character, Brie Larson went around shooting her mouth off after the first movie and made it actively unpleasant to even contemplate watching, and when they finally released it, it had been downgraded from the sequel to Captain Marvel to "The Marvels" which was (1) a character you probably didn't like from the first movie (2) a character you probably didn't remember from the small parts she had in the other movies and (3) a teenybopper from a Disney+ TV show you may have watched. Or not.

The irony here is that the audience which is going seems to be predominantly men, but they've failed to get the Young Female Demographic they may have been going for. I haven't watched any of the Marvel movies in so long that I was honestly shocked to learn they had killed off Iron Man. An understandable move because the actor would be too expensive to cast in new movies (as well as aging out of the part), but a stupid move because the characters that comics fans know and want are Iron Man, Captain America, and so on.

Not "So she used to be Ms. Marvel, but when Captain Marvel became Shazam, now she's in his boots and Ms. Marvel is now a teenager and it's all different and worse".

Disney and Marvel Studios went one too many times to the well, and milked the cow dry (to mix my metaphors). The golden goose has stopped laying. They need to give it all a rest, then come back in a couple years and reboot with a new Iron Man (but please God don't update too much and make it bad). Find a halfway decent actor to replace Robert Downey, write a script that isn't "Rings of Power" level stupidity, and ditch the cheap costuming and awful CGI. If the movie looks cheap even though you spent the GDP of a minor European nation on it, nobody is going to like that.

a stupid move because the characters that comics fans know and want are Iron Man, Captain America, and so on.

I think the issue was a bit different:

  • Iron Man, etc. became popular because of the MCU movies. Back when Marvel was broke, they sold off the movie rights for all their most popular characters (Spider-Man, X-Men, Fantastic 4, Hulk), and Iron Man and Captain America were the most popular out of the ones they had left.
  • Captain America wasn't even popular in the first 2 movies he appeared in. I remember in the Honest Trailer for The Avengers[1], they called Captain America "no one's favorite character". He only got popular after The Winter Soldier came out because that movie was really good.

My point being, the MCU could have been just fine without Iron Man and Captain America. They made those characters popular, so they could have done the same thing again—introduce some new characters to the film-going audience and make them compelling. The problem wasn't that they brought in unknown characters, it was that they didn't make those characters compelling.

[1] This is a tangent but re-watching this video reminded me of how when they switched from their old narrator (who does this video) to the new one, tons of people complained that the old one was better. Which was crazy to me? The "new" narrator (not really new at this point, he's been doing it for >10 years) sounds like an actual movie trailer narrator, the old one sounds like a guy who can do a decent impression of a movie trailer narrator.

The irony here is that the audience which is going seems to be predominantly men, but they've failed to get the Young Female Demographic they may have been going for. I haven't watched any of the Marvel movies in so long that I was honestly shocked to learn they had killed off Iron Man. An understandable move because the actor would be too expensive to cast in new movies (as well as aging out of the part), but a stupid move because the characters that comics fans know and want are Iron Man, Captain America, and so on.

Random aside: given that the MCU audience is and will almost always be mostly male, I'm wondering if there's an alternate universe where The Marvels film was more like a Charlie's Angels wearing a Marvel skinsuit. You've got 3 young women as heroines, along with Nick Fury who's been the "Charlie" sort of figure for the Avengers for a long time already, and the MCU franchise is already known for its rather irreverent sense of humor. What if they'd leaned into that and sexified the ladies, maybe it would've been more successful. I'm pretty sure Cameron Diaz doing booty dances in her underwear helped sell the Charlie's Angels film to men, who knows what Brie Larson doing the same could accomplish.

And on Iron Man, I had thought Iron Man had become so popular because of the MCU, and so perhaps Marvel thought they could elevate another hero from their comics to take his place? As someone who wasn't big into superhero comics, pre-MCU, I would've said Iron Man was probably a tier below Captain America in terms of stature or popularity, who in turn is a tier beneath Superman and Batman (with Spiderman and X-Men probably flirting with both tiers). Still, that's several tiers above characters like Ms. Marvel or even Captain Marvel, I suppose, whom I had never heard of before the film or TV show.

They need to give it all a rest, then come back in a couple years and reboot with a new Iron Man (but please God don't update too much and make it bad).

That makes sense, but it might not make sense financially for them. They seem to have planned on the assumption that comic book movies and Star Wars were IPs that would keep paying dividends every year. Can they afford to leave those fields fallow?

If they're blowing huge budgets on movies no-one is coming to watch, it makes more sense to find out what is the new up-and-coming popular genre. Horror? Romantic comedies? Chick flicks? Good old fashioned action blockbusters?

Then again, they can always cancel movies for the tax write-offs, as Warner seems to have done. Allegedly (but who knows?) this movie had good previews so should have been successful if released, but they needed the tax breaks much more:

In another maneuver by the David Zaslav-run Warner Bros Discovery to kill movies, we hear on very good authority that Warner Bros will not be releasing the hybrid live-action/animated Coyote vs. Acme, with the conglom taking an estimated $30M write-down on the $70M production. We understand the write-down for the pic was applied to the recently reported Q3.

This reps the third time that Zaslav’s Warner Bros has pulled the plug on a movie greenlighted by the previous Warner Media administration, the other two being the Max-destined Batgirl and the animated Scoob Holiday Haunt!

The difference here is that Coyote vs. Acme is a completed movie with very good test scores, 14 points above the family norm. We’re told that the cash-strapped Warners finds that it’s not worth the cost to release the film theatrically or to sell to other buyers (and there are parties who are interested for their own streaming services; we hear Amazon kicked the tires). After reporting a mixed third quarter, the best means for Warners money is a tax write-off. At one point, Coyote vs. Acme was dated for theatrical release on July 21, 2023, before getting pulled; that date was taken by Barbie, which went on to become Warner Bros’ biggest hit of all-time at $1.4 billion worldwide.

All that being said, I had to laugh as I read this review of The Marvels, given that it's bombing at the box office.

A Cosmic Triumph Grounded In Sincerity And Humanity

The Marvels ignites Phase 5 of the MCU with an emotional sincerity and vibrancy that penetrates through the formulaic façade of much of Phase 4’s offerings. Every facet of the production — from the thoughtfully designed costumes to the immersive set pieces — feels meticulously crafted, a far cry from the often over-relied-upon CGI of its predecessor.

At the heart of The Marvels is a trio of realized heroines. Larson’s Carol Danvers is afforded a complexity and depth that showcases Larson’s acting range, delving into the hero’s cosmic journey and the dual impact of her actions — both the lives she’s touched and the unintended damage she’s caused. Parris’ Monica Rambeau exudes charisma and nuance, while Vellani’s Kamala Khan brings a refreshing innocence and humor to the table. Together, they transcend the contrived “girl power” narrative, instead shining through the strength of their individuality and agency. This authenticity extends to the soundtrack, which eschews on-the-nose anthems for a more nuanced score that resonates with the narrative core.

Uh-huh. I thought (but this is just impressions from the trailers) that the costumes looked cheap, dull, and plastic; the characters were kludged together with no reason why they're linked, and the movie can't figure out if it wants to take this seriously or be a comedy (jellyfish on her head, really?) and ultimately, nobody cares about the characters. I don't care about Photon, I don't care about Ms Marvel teen superheroine, and I certainly don't care about Captain Marvel.

That excerpt looks like AI written content (I'm expecting a "It's important to note that" or "In summary, Libya is a land of contrasts" at the end of the review) but I suppose LLMs like ChatGPT were trained on such dreck, so it's hard for reviewers like that to avoid such an impression.

Then again, they can always cancel movies for the tax write-offs,

Am I the one terribly misunderstanding tax write-offs, or is seemingly every person that talks about them? Like, sure, you can add the money you spent to your costs, but you're only getting $cost * $tax_rate from that back. You're still losing money.

From what I've seen, the idea is that they have such debts, they need the $30 million write-off now even if the movie cost $70 million to make.

I have no idea if that's true or not, but that's the explanation I've seen for it. The $70 mil has already been spent a couple of years back; the $30 mil will reduce their debt repayments (or whatever it is) right now. They've offset the tax against their recent Q3 earnings, so they've got the benefit of that.

There's a thread here discussing what is going on; basically the movie cost somewhere around $70 million to make. Okay. But if they release it, they need to spend as much again on marketing, and then the cinemas take their bite of the profits, and so on. So they'd need to make about $170 million to break even, and even if they do that, that return is spread out over the next financial year. Meanwhile, they have to pay taxes etc. on their earnings now, so taking the write-off makes more financial sense.

I dunno, I'm not an accountant or an economist 🤷‍♀️ But this Variety article from March of this year say Warner Studios (or whatever name they're going by this minute) are drowning in debt:

Warner Bros. Discovery, which is struggling with billions of dollars in debt, is willing to pay more money to executives who might be able to help reduce it.

...Warner Bros. Discovery has been under extreme pressure to lower its debt, and the company has cut staffing levels, scuttled major plans like the CNN+ streaming service, and taken $3.5 billion in content writedowns.

It has $45 billion in debt, and if I go by this breakdown, its assets don't cover its liabilities in the short term.

It's true that you're still losing money, but you're losing less money than you are if you release it and it does poorly. In order for releasing it to do better than writing it off, you have to make $cost * $rate after paying the expenses of releasing it, profits to other people in the chain, etc. They've probably also got a limited number of slots to release things in and it's probably not going to make $cost * $rate * $expenses more than the thing whose slot it replaces. They could release it to streaming, where they don't have a limited number of slots but if they do, it'll make no money at the margins, and zero is still less than $cost * $rate.

It seems clear that it’s Marvel fatigue rather than wokeness or the casting. That doesn’t help, especially in some international markets like China (where the movie has also done poorly iirc), but it’s not the cause. After all, Black Panther and Ms Captain Marvel both did very well.

If I were Iger I’d be annihilating the upcoming Marvel slate right now and cancelling as much pre-production stuff as possible. The only MCU properties that can survive now are Holland’s Spider-Man and RDJ’s Iron Man, so Bob should probably call the latter up and ask how much it’s going to take to bring him back.

The more interesting question is what the next big Hollywood trend is going to be.

RDJ’s Iron Man, so Bob should probably call the latter up and ask how much it’s going to take to bring him back.

After how they ditched him for cost-cutting, Downey should ask for the moon on a stick. Depends whether or not he wants to go back to playing the part, of course. But I couldn't blame him for getting a little revenge in, if they do come back cap-in-hand to him.

It seems clear that it’s Marvel fatigue rather than wokeness or the casting.

Not quite. There were extensive reshoots - and a lot of anti woke critics that I follow (specifically the critical drinker) note how surprisingly low woke the film is. So it may have been tone down since Bob Iger came back, but maybe it was just not possible with project already in motion.

Also Capitan Marvel was designated to be the feminist woke banner bearer.

From my understanding the problem with the movie is that it is just dull and weak.

From my own perspective, as someone rabidly anti woke and very ready to criticize “cape-shit” and every opportunity, it’s definitely not that.

Because all that being said, I absolutely adored the last two animated Sony Spider-Man movies, “Into the Spider-Verse” and “Across the Spider-Verse”.

We’re they “woke”? Oh absolutely, noticeably so.

But they were extremely high quality, clearly made with passion and drive, absolutely gorgeous, creative almost to a fault, stylish, full of interesting characters with tons of personality, compelling, and often hilarious.

I watched them both with my kids multiple times. No regrets.

I watched them both with my kids multiple times. No regrets. someone rabidly anti woke

And that "spiderman-but-black" shit didn't crawl up your ass and bite your spine hard enough? The animated spider things were fine but very much inspite of the diverse characters. Like the race swap with morales has always stunk to high heaven.