I am not a member of the media. Nor am I a great writer. Finally, neither do I have editors and proof-readers checking my work to make sure what I say is grammatically accurate and will flow in a manner that makes it easier for the reader to consume.
And having said all that, even I can write something more accurate and truthful than the average media "professional"; Right or Left! I have this thing those of us in the real world call "common sense," and "perspective." I, like many Americans, know media crap when I see it.
And Michael Gerson's article, The religious right's scary, judgemental old men, is a perfect example of media crap!
Why is it crap? First and foremost, because Gerson gives just a single name in the article; Michael Dobson, previous head of Focus on the Family. One, "scary, judgmental old man," and someone who was ousted from Focus on the Family years ago and is no longer a media voice as far as I can tell.
Further, Gerson notes that Dobson was defending, not all those accused of sexual misconduct, but just one political candidate; Judge Roy Moore. I don't think anyone should defend Judge Moore, but we all know that in the 1990s most of the media establishment worked very hard to defend Bill Clinton from numerous allegations of sexual misconduct, assault, and rape. So how is Dobson any different from members of the media? From my perspective, they're all very good at defending people who do not deserve a defense.
Mr. Gerson, if you want to accuse Dobson (and all those other "scary, judgmental old men" clustered in that brain of yours) of standing in the way of societal progress, perhaps you shouldn't write articles telling President Trump he has things to learn from President Clinton. Clearly, when it comes to accusations of sexual harassment, Trump has indeed learned from Bill Clinton. He's learned that, when accused, you deny, belittle, and, as much as possible, ignore all accusations. Behind the scenes, you send out your political operatives to attack both the press and your accusers, as the Clinton political machine so effectively in the 90s. And you use your personal wealth and power to silence your accusers, one way or another.
Would you like to see the Clinton machine in action? Nothing is more instructive than watching a young George Stephanopoulos bully a member of the media into not publishing a list of those who had accused then-candidate Bill Clinton of sexual misconduct, harassment, and assault.
You wonder why women, and some men, have been too afraid to speak up against their accusers over the past decades? They know, as we all now know, the media has actively aided and abetted those who have tried to hide the truth.
Why is the media finally, at long last, willing to stand up for the victims? President Trump, of course.
What was not allowed in the 1990s and early 2000s, for Clinton, Weinstein, or anyone else, was suddenly allowed in light of Trump's ascension to the position of POTUS. Suddenly, the media establishment itself was willing to get behind long-suffering victims and give them a voice, rather than remaining silent or, worse, defending those accused of sexual misconduct.
And let's face it, all the rest of us are guilty too. While we have been more than happy to go after people on the other side of the political spectrum for their abusive behavior, we have been perfectly willing to ignore those on our side of the political spectrum. I think, at worst, this is what you can fairly accuse Dobson of doing in the case of Judge Moore.
It's time to remove the political and ideological blinders, acknowledge that the sexual harassment of innocent women and men is a major and longstanding problem in business, politics, and media, and DO something about it as a collective society.
We know for a fact that:
Should we fall back into this pattern of political and ideological partisanship, the victims will be our daughters and sons, our friends and neighbors, or ourselves. No more victims. No more passes just because your political ideology might agree with my own. If you are an abuser, then you will pay the penalty.
What do you think Mr. Gerson? Shall we try something that actually works?
Recently, during a conference in Boston, Michelle Obama said that "any woman who voted against Hillary Clinton voted against their own voice." And if that weren't enough, she went to say "what does it mean for us as women that we look at those two candidates, as women, and many of us said, that guy, he's better for me, his voice is more true to me. Well, to me that just says you don't like your voice. You like the thing you're told to like."
So women in general, many of whom voted for Trump, did so because they were told to like Trump? What then does it mean that the Obamas, as well as the entire Democratic establishment, allied themselves closely with Harvey Weinstein? A man who arranged settlements with no less than eight women to silence them, and who now stands accused by numerous women of rape and sexual assaults over, at the very least, a 20-year time span?
It's being said now that Weinstein's predatory behavior was an "open secret" among those who knew him and, likely, among liberal elites. I think of the media storm caused by the release of Trump's comments regarding grabbing women's genitals; and the media was right to pursue this story! I left the Republican Party because of his misogyny in general and those words in particular. This is not who we are.
So why was Harvey Weinstein allowed to continue to prey on young women for so long? If such behavior is so abhorrent to liberals, as I hope it is, then why? The Obamas must have heard some of the rumors swirling around Weinstein, yet not only did Michelle Obama call Harvey Weinstein a "good friend," and a "powerhouse," and continue to accept his money and political support, the Obamas sent their daughter to intern with him!
Clearly, for liberals, those who have media power and money exert a major influence over their behavior. What is considered intolerable behavior on the part of one person seems perfectly acceptable when exhibited by another. To hold power in the media, to have great wealth, to lend support to liberals in general and Democrats in particular, is to be offered a pass when it comes to criminal behavior. These three characteristics, media power, wealth, and liberal ideology, made Weinstein a "leader" amongst Democrats, not the predator he apparently has been for decades. This is not the first time we've seen this kind of double-standard for improper behavior.
So now we know what I have strongly suspected for months, the new Doctor will be a woman.
About a week ago, right after Wimbledon concluded, the announcement went out. And there were heard gasps of astonishment, moans of disappointment, and squeals of excitement.
As for me, I gasped in astonishment. Not because the Doctor was a woman - I confess I would have been slightly disappointed had it not been - but because it was Jodie Whittaker. Now, if you had asked me who Jodie Whittaker was even five minutes before I saw the Doctor Who reveal, I would have been clueless. If, however, you had asked me if I knew of "that woman" who played the mother of the murdered child on the series "Broadchurch," I would have known instantly who you were talking about.
"That woman" I had begun watching just two months ago when I binged the first two seasons of Broadchurch. In the series she is, quite honestly, amazing and powerful. The show itself is riveting. So, when I saw her revealed as the next Doctor, I was astonished.
I'll tell you right now what I know to be true; Jodie Whittaker will be an excellent Doctor.
I know this, not because I have a daughter is an ardent Doctor Who fan as well. Not because, during the AwesomeCon convention in nearby Washington DC, my daughter created a gender-bender version of the 4th doctor - which I thought, with fatherly pride, was a great costume. I know this because Jodie Whitaker is a wonderfully talented actor. And, yes, I use the term "actor" for both men and women.
I remember speaking with my daughter about the possibility of the next Doctor being a woman. I'll call her "M" for privacy reasons. M is in her early teens and she knew before I did that Capaldi was going to be leaving the show this year. She has seen every episode of the revived series at least once, and many of them more than once. So, two weeks ago - before she went off to camp for two weeks - I asked her what she thought of the rumor the next Doctor would be a woman. She hesitated. She was unsure
Why unsure? Not because she has a problem with the Doctor being a woman, but because it's a big change to a show we all love. A show that I've loved since I was only a few years older than she is now.
And she's in good company. Peter Davison, the 5th Doctor was disappointed that Whittaker was chosen. At the San Diego ComicCon he was quoted as saying, "If I feel any doubts, it’s the loss of a role model for boys who I think Doctor Who is vitally important for. So I feel a bit sad about that, but I understand the argument that you need to open it up." Colin Baker, the 6th Doctor, disagreed, saying that it was "absolute rubbish." He went on to point out that "you don’t have to be of a gender of someone to be a role model." Can’t you be a role model as people?” I think Baker has the right of it. Davison's objection I think is more about a gender change for the Doctor and less about role models.
The Doctor is a role as well as a role model. It doesn't matter if the Doctor is male or female. The only real qualification, in my humble opinion, is the one that the vast majority of fans also really really care about.
Because it's vital. It's important to the point that, if this qualification is not meant, it will break our hearts.
We want the person playing the new Doctor to care about the series. We want you, Ms. Whittaker, to love this show. To care about its vital history, to understand that you are, in our minds, the next in line to a royal title. And it's a title that, even after you leave the show, you'll carry for the rest of your life.
While at AwesomeCon, M had her picture taken with David Tennant, a man who hasn't been "the Doctor" for the past seven years - excepting the 50th anniversary special of course. But fans thronged to the convention to see him. It was standing room only in a room equipped to handle thousands of people when he had a Q&A session.
Ms Whittaker, once you become the Doctor, You will always be the Doctor. And in many ways - along with the TARDIS key - you hold our hearts in your hands. That is where most of the anxiety comes from. At least for those who feel anxiety over the change. We only care that you care.
Assure fans of that, and I think most of the anxiety will settle.
Please love the show. Love your role, and we will love you. That's because your love for the show will be apparent, and that's all that matters to us.
Good luck Jodie Whittaker. Godspeed.
PS: I hope in some years ahead to bring M to a convention to have her picture taken with you, the 13th Doctor.
PPS: Not too soon, however, unless you're still the Doctor when you visit the convention. This habit of changing Doctors every 3-4 years drives me nuts. But that's another post.
In case you hadn't noticed, all Hades broke loose this weekend, and it wasn't caused by a random tweet. At least, not this time.
Rather, it came from the spectacular launch of the new DC Comic, Warner Brothers collaboration, Wonder Woman. This movie is all the rage on social media and RottenTomatoes, and the effusive praise coming from all directions is well earned.
With its charismatic star, Gal Gadot, and excellent supporting cast, the movie is a wonderful adventure, appropriate for viewers of all ages. Even more important to DC and Warner Brothers, it reverses a recent trend of expensive superhero movies which have significantly under-performed. Movies such as Suicide Squad and Batman v Superman: Dawn of Justice.
Wonder Woman, for its part, has over-performed both in ratings and in box office receipts. In its opening weekend, Wonder Woman earned over $250 million dollars worldwide, over $100 million of which was earned in the US. Which means, not only is the movie a spectacular success, it broke several records along the way; including being the first superhero movie with a female lead, the first superhero movie with a woman directing, and the most money spent on a movie led by a woman director. Patty Jenkins, the director of the movie, will undoubtedly be tapped for planned sequels.
Executives in Hollywood must be beaming with the pride of their accomplishments. The question is, why?
Or perhaps a better question is, what took them so long? After all, Hollywood seems to enjoy chiding everyone else when it comes to issues of equality. So, after preaching for decades the need to give women equal standing in this society, why are we just now seeing these firsts?
Wonder Woman, which will almost certainly exceed the billion dollar mark when all is said and done, is a runaway success. So what does this say about audiences? Simply that viewers were more than happy to watch movies with female directors and women in lead roles, no matter what genre! The glass ceiling that we all hope is now shattered was not one imposed by audiences in America or Europe, it was imposed by studio executives who lag culturally behind society in general. And there's no excuse for it!
This is an example, yet again, of Hollywood hypocrisy.
Let's hope, with the success of Wonder Woman, with it's newly minted success stories in Gadot and Jenkins, studio executives will rethink some of their assumptions about what works and does not work in the superhero movie business. The beauty of this genre is its potential to reach audiences well beyond traditional comic book fans. Wonder Woman is a perfect example, and beyond a doubt, this is the beginning of a great new superhero franchise.
Let's hope it's the beginning of a better, more equitable trend in Hollywood as well.