The Thing That Wouldn’t Leave?

On his HBO show, Real Time, comedian Bill Maher has repeatedly asked his interview guests about the possibility that, should he lose his bid for re-election in 2020, Donald Trump might refuse to step down as President. By and large, his guests have tended to pooh-pooh the idea as alarmist or paranoid. MSNBC’s Lawrence O’Donnell, Jr assured Maher that there are institutions that would take care of such an eventuality and forcibly usher the vanquished former president out of the building.

I have to say, and this isn’t often the case, but I’m with Maher on this one, in that I don’t find such reassurances to be, well, reassuring. There may be institutions with that purpose, but exactly how much exercise have they gotten in the last 200-plus years? Is there really a playbook in case a defeated president refuses to relinquish power?

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Hollywood and Digital Frankenstein

Since the release of TRON: Legacy, the 2010 sequel to the 1982 pioneer in computer-generated filmmaking, there has been an ominous specter lurking on the horizon. That film featured a digital version of 1982-era Jeff Bridges, and it was unconvincing in a way that audiences found off-putting. Even with the relatively unsuccessful effort to digitally recreate a realistic human, many people saw the handwriting on the wall. As technology advanced, someday it would be possible to convincingly recreate a realistic human character with CGI.

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HBO’s Confederate Problem

In my post about Green Book, I outlined how I thought mainstream Hollywood, as represented by the Academy Award voters, is often content to congratulate itself for its liberalism on racial issues rather than move the discussion forward. Another sign that Hollywood still has much to learn is that the two very talented but very white guys behind Game of Thrones are developing a new project for HBO called Confederate, an alternate-history series in which the Confederacy survives the Civil War and lasts into the Civil Rights era with slavery still intact. Personally, I hope that Benioff and Weiss have so much fun making their Star Wars film trilogy that they forget to circle back to this project.

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A Non-Conforming Take on the First Amendment

I frequently hear, when someone feels they are being unfairly silenced, wholly specious claims that their First Amendment rights have been violated. A celebrated example was when, Phil Robertson, one of the guys from the reality show Duck Dynasty, made appalling remarks about LGBTQ+ people and atheists and the A&E network (very briefly) removed the show from their schedule. People who largely share Robertson’s homophobic views cried foul, claiming that A&E had violated his First Amendment rights. Many people pointed out that this was bullshit, but some for what I think are the wrong reasons.

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Russia Derangement Syndrome

The #MAGA crowd has a nickname for what they see as the irrational hatred liberals have for their Lord and Savior, Donald J. Trump. They call it “Trump Derangement Syndrome.” In their eyes, the left is inexplicably apoplectic because their Great Leader is somehow making America great again by giving away trillions to billionaires, bankrupting the treasury, and by not making Mexico pay for a wall.

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Bill Maher vs. Stan Lee

When Marvel Comics creative force and nerd-culture icon Stan Lee passed away in November of 2018, Bill Maher marked the occasion with a snarky dismissal of Lee’s cultural relevance, suggesting that the popularity of comic book movies and the election of Donald Trump to the presidency are both signs of the dumbing down of American culture. Needless to say, comic book nerds lost their shit.

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