James Bond’s Future

by Shelt Garner

The world is descending into fire and brimstone at an alarming rate, to the point that we may not live to see the next James Bond come out. But, just for fun, let’s mull how we might revamp the storied franchise.

A new Lisbeth Salander in the Bond universe?

The obvious “woke” answers are — a female James Bond. Or a black James Bond. Or an Indian female James Bond? But I think all those ideas kind of miss the point and might even kill the franchise.

What we need to do is for three movies turn Bond into the bad guy — sorta.

Use his status as the ultimate “legacy brand” to allow you to wallow in all the unwoke elements of his character one last time before even Bond is finally enveloped by the all powerful embrace of Hollywood wokeness.

Here’s how I would do it.

Have Bond up against a woman who wants the same McGuffin that he wants — or whatever. Someone who is his equal. While I think it would be neat if his foe was a Indian woman named Raj, I still believe that pulling Lisbeth Salander into the Bond universe would be a great way to juice the franchise in an interesting way.

My favorite Bond.

Get some young, tiny actress to play Salander and then let these two de facto superheroes have at it for three movies. I could see the whole thing being based on some sort of misunderstanding between the two of them. Bond does his usual Bond shit with a Bond girl…but…he’s a little too rough with her maybe? And this accidently roughed up Bond girl complains to Salander who decides to come after Bond with everything she’s got. Throw in them both wanting something from SPECTER then you really do have a three movie franchise on your hands. It would be so cool!

Given Salander’s absolute mortal code, having her fight it out with the old school, rakish Bond would be very entertaining. Salander could be a proxy for “woke Hollywood” sensibilities. Or something.

Anyway, the point is, doing something to put Bond in a bad light and then have him fight it out with the equally alienating Salander would be really fun because you could have people who took Bond’s side and people who took Salander’s side. In the end, of course, the misunderstanding is fixed and the two former rivals come to respect each other as they go their separate ways.

Paint ‘The Town’ Woke

by Shelt Garner

One of my favorite media industry podcasts is The Town. It’s great. I really enjoy it and I recommend you listen to it. And, yet, this most recent episode left me thinking, “What the what?”

So, our intrepid media reporter Matt Belloni had his good buddy from CNBC Julia Boorstin on to talk about gender inequality in Hollywood. So far, so good. I was going to do some blogging this evening and that sounded like something fun to listen to while I did some writing.

And then.

Boorstin comes out swinging, saying that it’s all Hollywood’s fault that starting around 1983 smelly boys took over the software industry because of the popularity of movies like Wargames. Now, some context, as I understand it, most “computers” before the rise of personal computing were, well, people — women, specifically.

And I was a horrible college student and even I know that “correlation is not causation.” Maybe it’s not that Hollywood drove women out of the software industry, but rather Hollywood was picking up on changes in not just society, but all the wealth being generated by successful programmers. And it’s a pretty high level of “presentism” when you assume that given such a development that Hollywood execs would suddenly show a 2020s level of wokeness and decide they were going to produce all these movies showing how great it would be for young women to be programers.

Of course the did what they would always do up until Woke Hollywood — try to tell stories that got people (specifically sweaty young people who needed a dark movie theatre to make out in) into theatre seats. Again — I just don’t think you can blame Hollywood for “driving women out of the computer industry.” Hollywood is reactive, not proactive on a lot of social justice issues — and everything else, for that matter.

But, back to the story. No longer was a human “computer” using brute mental force to get us to the moon. Now, it was male programmers who were doing a totally different type of job with a totally different value in the eyes of society. And I just don’t see any scenario where Hollywood back in the day was going to say “THIS WILL NOT STAND” and be go out of their way in 1983 to make sure women continued to be “computers” only now called “programmers.”

It’s all very murky and could be interpreted in a variety of ways. It all depends on your agenda and if you want to sell books about the gender gap in high profile industries or not.

First — does pointing this out make me “problematic” and “canceled?” Probably. But, in my defense, I point all of this out because “wokeness” — specifically in Hollywood — is really, really hurting that industry. As the popularity of Top Gun: Maverick attests, sometimes, people just want to see a movie without any ulterior motive.

And, I will note, that I’m writing a six novel series with a lot of representation and a lot of empathy. And, yet, of course, given that I’m a middle age CIS white male and a lot of Leftists will probably freak the fuck out that I would do such a thing — even if I try to be as empathetic as possible to women, the LGBTQ community and POC.

Given how many non-male, non-white, non-straight characters I have planed for these six novels I’m working on, it’s going to be pretty ironic when I’m attacked when I don’t fit the media narrative on this specific issue.

And, really, like I said, this is all a matter of interpretation. It’s easy to spin the particular in either direction. But at least, even I, someone who sees himself in the center-Left spectrum of the political debate, have to admit that “woke Hollywood” exists and it’s poorly serving the audience.

What Does ‘Woke’ Mean?

by Shelt Garner

Because the “woke cancel culture mob” has become such a massive abstract fear on the part of Traditionalist conservatives, and the idea of “wokeness” has been demagogued a great deal, it’s rather difficult to come up with a coherent definition of “to be woke.”

It really boils down to if you watch a lot of Fox News or not. If you watch a lot of Fox News, then your definition probably is something like:

Woke: the idea that all white, straight Christians — especially men — are evil and as such everyone should be Godless, gay and take their toddlers to drag shows.

Think of this as the “Red Pill” definition. This is the definition that is loosely used by Ben Shapiro and other leading conservatives.

Meanwhile, here’s the definition I would use.

Woke: a tendency to conspicuously note that America is browning and while acknowledging an increasing acceptance of LGBQ individuals in American society.

This is a far more accurate description of what “woke” means. But, of course, everyone wants easy, pat explanations to the complicated problems facing America. So, I don’t know what to tell you. Either you’re “Red Pilled” or you’re not.

‘When All Else Fails, Start WW3’

by Shelt Garner

You see a lot of dumb hot takes on the Left about how people have been complaining about “effeminate” men and “masculine” women since dirt. And all of that is very true. And, yet, a part of me thinks that most of the social problems facing America would be solved by, I don’t know, bringing back the Draft.

Or, more specifically — unisex National Service.

This will never happen, of course, because the fucking GQP MAGA Republicans know that National Service would probably close the tap on ignorant, crazed young white men wanting to join their deranged movement. So if something like National Service ever happens, it’s going to be the Draft and it’s going to be because of either a civil war or WW3 or a combination of the two.

The reason why a Draft would fix a lot of America’s problems is one, it would force people from all over the country to have to deal with each other in the real world. It would give even the poorest white boy in West Virginia something akin to the college experience where they might have to bunk near a dude from New York City.

But also, it would force young people to face an existential choice in their late teens and early 20s. They would no longer have the luxury of worrying about their fucking pronouns, or safe spaces, or micro aggressions or whatever fucking dumb thing the “woke cancel culture mob” has come up with of late. The very real prospect of being cannon fodder would focus their minds on concrete things like getting married, having babies and just surviving long enough to get stuff like that.

Excuse me, I’m feeling old and crabby.

It just seems to me that a lot of the things that are so important to the “woke cancel culture mob,” the things that the Right harps on and what is so corrosive to the country as a whole will no longer be important when we either become an autocracy or we have a civil war. When you’re struggling to survive on a day to day basis that does tend to focus the mind.

I thought maybe the pandemic would do the trick, but it wasn’t bad enough, it wasn’t apocalyptic enough. It was too easy for the two sides to spin the reality of the pandemic for their own crass, shorterm political needs. But if WW3 or a civil war happened, well, that would be a different matter altogether. I don’t want a civil war or WW3 to happen — obviously — but it sure would force fucking Leftists to pull their heads out of their smug asses.

A Sly Way To Make $1 Billion In Hollywood

by Shelt Garner

If you wanted to make a quick, massive return on an investment and you happened to be MAGA Republican oligarch, here’s a way to both stroke your conservative ideological cock and make a lot of money — finance a series of middle-tier “anti-woke” movies with big name stars.

America can’t even agree on what’s funny.

But the key issue is you can’t be conspicuous about how you are actively being “anti-woke.” Not only is there a huge, huge audience for natively conservative songs, TV shows, movies and, hell, even comedy, but the country is tearing itself apart at such an alarming rate that all you have to is build your conservative media and they will come.

It’s not like this sort of sly messaging hasn’t happened before. As I seem to recall, there were a series of movies — Blood Diamond among them — that each addressed some sort of political cause as the basis of their plot. So, what you do is you, maybe find someone like Clint Eastwood and give him a three picture deal to essentially make a series of “anti-woke” movies that would be designed from the ground up to appeal to MAGA Republican (fascist) sensibilities in such a way that is so subtle that the average person isn’t alienated.

I’m not advocating this, but I am pointing out that money is being left on the table by Hollywood by not doing this.

Why MAGA Republicans Get So Upset About Gender ‘Pronouns’

by Shelt Garner

The issue of “pronouns” is a sticky wicket for a number of reasons because it’s a prime example of the two sides talking past each other. MAGA Republicans get really, really upset about this issue and they are often ridiculed by people on the center-Left because they use context to explain what makes them mad. So, instead of saying what they mean, which is “I hate *gender* pronouns neologisms,” they just say “My pronouns are kick ass.” (Or whatever) Or they say The Bible doesn’t use pronouns and so forth.

I’m no expert, but I do come from a bedrock conservative family and so I have some sense of why this particular issue enrages MAGA Republicans so much. I think some of it is it’s an easy-to-understand wedge issue. The idea that there would be more than two genders is something so alien to the your typical conservative that it’s easy for dipshits within the MAGA Republican ranks to demagog it.

And, you have to admit that the center-Left doesn’t do itself any favors when it gets prickly about the proper use of gender pronouns. And that’s why MAGA Republicans love to wallow in their hatred of the concept because it’s something they know will easily “trigger” the libs that they crave to “own” so bad.

I have to mention the talented writer Brock Colyar of New York Magazine when I talk about this. I read his great piece about the use of pronouns….and yet I feel as though there was something that the reader was meant to read between the lines. He goes on at great length about how he knows the use of gender pronouns is alien to a lot of people and he has gone out of his way to be a “safe space” for such people to talk about their use.

He wraps it all up by saying maybe just call him by his name.

Ok, that’s good writing, but it dodges the issue at hand — the use of gender pronouns is controversial because it’s something of a shorthand for MAGA Republicans about how much they hate libs and why they want to own them so bad. The use of gender pronouns ties into the general “gay scare” the United States is going through and the battle over trans rights, etc, etc. So for him to just end any discussion of a subject that he’s well known for by simply saying, “maybe just call me by my name” sees….like a cop-out.

It seems like something you write when you want to avoid confronting your audience with the obvious conclusion of “Yeah, I use unconventional gender pronouns, either accept that or fuck off.”

I will be the first to admit that I’m rather envious of Brock Colyar for being young in NYC, something I will never, ever have the chance to be. And Brock Colyar is obviously an excellent writer. I just wish Brock Colyar had not given his piece such a trite ending. What he wrote about really fucking riles some people up and maybe he needed to address that a bit more directly. And, he did address that some in what he wrote — but I guess I was expecting a more direct, full throated defense of his use of non-traditional gender pronouns.

Anyway. Just had to get that off my chest. But the issue of gender pronouns is really a prism into the forces that are tearing the United States apart. The distain for the use of gender pronouns is a shorthand used by MAGA Republicans to easily distinugish between the “them” of libtards and “us” of “real America.”

The United States is careening towards a very, very dark future. Between now and spring 2025 we’re either going to have a civil war, turn into an autocracy or have something akin to a military junta. Then the last thing any of us will be worrying about is our gender pronouns.

Of JK Rowling & ‘Cancelation’

by Shelt Garner

While I’m aware that there is more to what makes JK Rowling “problematic” than just her status as a TERF, that specific issue is what I want to talk about. I want to address it because the debate over TERFs can grow so heated that it’s difficult to talk about it at all.

This is the definition of a TERF that I found.

a feminist who excludes the rights of transgender women from their advocacy of women’s rights. “they accused the protester of being a TERF and transphobic”

What is confounding about the issue of a TERF is you find a situation where conservatives side with TERFs — feminists — against people who are trans right advocates. This is a very sensitive, touchy situation for a number of reasons — especially when children are involved and that, of course, makes it red meat for MAGA Republicans who want to wallow in it as a wedge issue that will drive people into the arms of fascism.

The point is — a Leftist can be so aggressive in their hatred of TERFs and anyone who doesn’t agree with their general media narrative about trans gender rights that the thing we all need at the moment — for our politics to function so we can sort this situation out that way rather than through fascism — gets short circuited.

If we’re going to have a functioning democracy we have to be willing to have the marketplace of ideas where people who disagree are able to hash things out so some sense of the collective understanding of things can be determined. When you’re so beholden to a Leftist orthodoxy that you attack even people on your own side, you got a problem.

All of this plays into the MAGA Republican fascist agenda. It’s why the United States is going through an unpreceded “gay scare” long after we all thought some basic gay rights were established. A lot of Traditionalists honestly believe that the “woke cancel culture mob” is trying to “turn everyone gay.” They really honestly believe that.

I personally am indifferent to this particular battle. It’s difficult for me to come up with any opinion one way or another because would prefer this be settled through traditional democratic politics, rather than political violence of any sort.

I suppose the issue for me about Rowling is it’s too easy for Traditionalist to point to her as an example of someone being “canceled,” and, as such, that feeds into their overall believe that the woke cancel culture mob is going to come after THEM for not following the “woke agenda.”

I just wish there was some way to tell everyone to cool it so we can figure out what’s best for the country. But, alas, I fear this is yet another example of how we’re pass the event horizon for autocracy, civil war or a military junta at some point around 2025.

‘Something to Cry About’

by Shelt Garner

There continues to be a false equivalency between the soft power of the “woke cancel culture mob” and the rise of MAGA Republicans. This happens, of course, because we are “both sidesing” ourselves into autocracy. We simply can not, will not address the rise of fascism in the United States because fascism is popular.

The idea that the “woke cancel culture mob” is just as bad as what MAGA Republicans want is going to be very quaint when MAGA Republicans start murdering people like me for political reasons en masse. In fact, I would go so far as to say that if we somehow manage to make it to the other side of history and have some sort of Second Reconstruction in the United States that one of the things we’re going to all be the most sheepish about is how much weight we gave to the “woke cancel culture mob.”

Now, let me be clear — there are definitely some illiberal elements to the center-Left and it really is easy to frame all our problems as a battle between the “woke cancel culture mob” that wants to “turn everyone gay” and MAGA Republicans. But, in the end, we have to also accept that the soft power of the woke cancel culture mob in no way compares to the inevitable political violence that will come about when MAGA Republicans either turn the United States into an autocracy or force us into civil war. (There is the third option, of course, of a military junta.)

And, yet, I suppose that such conflation between soft and hard power is inevitable. It goes with how modern American journalism feels absolutely compelled to be “objective” to the point that it’s complicit in the rise of violent fascism.

I believe that in the end, the worst of the woke cancel culture mob will simply burn off as a result of us taking one of the three options I mentioned above. It’s difficult to be worrying about your gender pronouns when things are suddenly far more existential.

Or, to put another way, when push comes to shove, history, as my father would say when I was a child acting up really will give us “something to cry about.”

Of ‘Problematic’ Authors

by Shelt Garner

As someone who has rarely done anything “normal,” I find myself dwelling upon my fate should I actually overcome the odds and sell a pop novel in the vein of Stieg Larsson. I’ve done a lot over the years that if you rooted around in it not knowing me or the context that could definitely get my ass “canceled” by the “woke cancel culture mob.”

It’s with this in mind that I think of J.K. Rowling. I don’t have a vested interest in either her or the controversy that now surrounds her, but I do have Traditionalist relatives and I find myself torn. It’s Rowling’s “cancelation” for being a TERF that, well, is very difficult for me to defend to my Traditionalist relatives.

I’m aware that there is more going on with Rowling than just her being a TERF, but it’s her status as someone who has a more traditional belief on what a “woman” is that is the thing that MAGA Republicans latch on to because it’s simple to understand.

Out of spite to the “woke cancel culture mob” I bought Rowling’s latest self-indulgent tome out of curiosity as to how she managed to write a 1,000 page novel about herself.

So I continue to ponder my own risk of being “canceled” should I ever become a public figure because, oh boy. I was a drunk idiot for a number of years and there is plenty of bad behavior to rummage through if the occasion arose. And, of course, there is the cold hard fact that I may never even get that far, never be given an opportunity — apparently, in general, literary types think I’m too bonkers to associate with.

But all of this points to a broader issue, which is how illiberal some elements of the Left are in the United States. I continue to be dubious about the idea that the “woke cancel culture mob” even exists. I think it’s more a matter of changing social expectations between generations combined with something of a “soft Singularity” taking place.

I say all that, of course, before I get canceled because of some dumb thing I did 20 years while I was drunk in Seoul.

MAGA Vs. The ‘Woke Cancel Culture Mob’

by Shelt Garner

In my discussions with my Traditionalist relatives, one thing that is at the forefront of their minds is the idea that their lives will be ruined just because they’re conservative. Whenever I point out that that is “soft” power as opposed to the “hard” power that MAGA is rapidly accumulating, all I get is a hand wave.

In their minds, the issue is settled — the all powerful Left has all the power and it’s a struggle for oppressed MAGA people to survive without being “canceled” just because they don’t follow the media narrative. A prime example of this thinking is what has happened to J.K. Rowling over her anti-trans stance. (Out of spite, I’ve bought her latest self-indulgent book for no other reason than I want to see how she pulls off talking about herself for 1,000 pages.)

This is very alarming to me. It sets up a false equivalency that is very dangerous and corrosive. And, I think, it says more about how the United States is careening towards autocracy or civil war at some point between now and, say, spring of 2025. Something’s gotta give.

But there doesn’t seem to be much we can do about this particular situation. The sides have hardened to the point that there’s just no point in trying to clear up the difference between hard and soft power. White Christian (men) have their talking points and their ideology and that’s that.

The thing we don’t know is the endgame. Are white Christian (men) all talk, or will there reach a point when they’re going to follow MAGA Republicans off the cliff into political violence? It’s a forgone conclusion at this point that the United States is going to become an autocracy unless we have a civil war during the final transition.

Don’t know what to tell you. We’re on our own. The era of pining the entire fate of the United States on “hope” that things will work out is over. Time to prepare for something dramatic happening at some point between now and spring 2025.