“Requiem for the American Dream”–A Pending Nightmare?

 

chomskyThis eerily prescient documentary (2015) narrated by Noam Chomsky was in development before the official announcement of Donald Trump’s candidacy. Yet, in the “Ten Principles of the Concentration of Wealth and Power” the viewer sees the redesigning of the US economy.

Perhaps the most disturbing insight in “Requiem for a Dream” is the historical analysis of the US constitution, the drafting of which protected the major landowners from losing political power. Slowly the “protection”evolved into “corporate tyranny” and ultimately “financialization of the US economy”. Job insecurity through weakening unionization created an environment of conquer and divide, of hate and fear for each other, with an ever-growing and unfocused anger and vulnerability on the part of the general workforce. What Chomsky calls “the residue of democracy” is now upon us as the engineering of elections through the concentration of wealth results in paid politicians governing a “bewildered herd”.

“Requiem for the American Dream” is indeed sobering. Chomsky, known for his activism during both the Civil Rights Movement and the Vietnam War, bemoans the state of “an uninformed electorate making irrational choices often against their own self-interest.” This is a documentary that is a must-see for all of us trying to make sense of the election three weeks ago. The historical perspective is an eye-opener.

Note:  This documentary is available on Netflix.

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4 comments on ““Requiem for the American Dream”–A Pending Nightmare?

  1. Noam Chomsky is the brightest of us. I first read one of his works back in the late 1960’s, when I attended university. I haven’t always understood every concept or all the logic… I’m bright but not in his league. And, I haven’t always agreed with everything he says. But, this piece is his pinnacle essay. Read, and think…

  2. I haven’t seen this documentary but it sounds like typical Chomsky, out of his depth, as usual. He’s a linguist, not an economist, not a historian, and lacks the methodology of both professions, although that has never stopped him from pretending to be both. And unfortunately, because he’s intelligent, he can sound like he knows what he’s talking about when he doesn’t really. The American Constitution, with its incredible balance of powers between the three branches of government, and between the states and the Federal government, did not protect “BIG” landowners, but private property itself and the right of ownership, the very foundation of our country and our rights. He in fact describe himself as a socialist and an anarchist, by the way. His attitude toward “a bewildered herd” and “an uninformed electorate making irrational choices often against their own self-interest.” are truly elitist. If elections are “engineered” at all, it’s because of gerrymandering.

    Also disturbing- which perhaps he doesn’t touch upon explicitely in this documentary – is his well-documented anti-Semitism. Perhaps this is what he is saying between-the-lines in this documentary. He said, in 2002 for example: “By now Jews in the US are the most privileged and influential part of the population. You find occasional instances of anti-Semitism but they are marginal.” and “Anti-Semitism is no longer a problem, fortunately. It’s raised, but it’s raised because privileged people want to make sure they have total control, not just 98% control.”

    It’s valid to look at the state of democracy in America, and to look at the roots of hatred and fear in America, and the source and effects of the widening gap between wealth and poor, but he frames the question to get the answer he wants. How does Chomsky explain, then, how a poor lawyer named Abraham Lincoln could become our 14th president? Or Barak Obama our 44th?

    Burying the American dream? Perhaps Chomsky’s dream would be to see it buried, because it “proves” his socialist theor and his own prejudices. Not so fast, Mr. Chomsky.

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“The Crown”–Glory to Her Highness

the-crownThe anachronistic British aristocracy must sensitively negotiate its relationship with its public. “The Crown”, the November original series released from Netflix, is the story of a conflict between private and public, between the personal feelings of a wife, mother, and sister and the queen (Elizabeth II).

At its core “The Crown” is a character study and a family drama. Do you put personal fulfillment over political duty and obligation? That is the question. “The Crown” is a family saga, particularly between sisters. Conflicts with personal fulfillment and romantic love hide behind a curtain of pomp and circumstance. We are allowed behind palace doors to witness a struggle of personalities.

Elizabeth’s drama begins with the abdication of Edward VIII in 1936, which forces his reluctant younger brother George VI to ascend to the throne. His oldest daughter, Elizabeth (in a remarkable performance by Claire Foy from “Wolf Hall”), is a witness to all the regal drama. With the death of King George VI, Elizabeth must suddenly transform from a loving sibling and shy young wife and mother into a queen.

And at the moment of her father’s death, it becomes clear that Elizabeth — unlike her tearful mother and sister — is able to suppress her desires and emotions in order to assume the throne.

Perhaps the most compelling drama in “The Crown”, however, is the conflict between sisters. Her younger and more glamorous sister, Margaret, asks for permission to marry a recently divorced officer whose ex-wife is still living. This love affair, ironically, is similar in circumstances to that of her uncle (King Edward VIII) who was compelled to abdicate the throne for marriage to a divorced woman (Wallace Simpson). At that time remarriage under those circumstances was strictly forbidden by the Anglican Church. First promising to stand by her sister, Elizabeth is compelled by those in power to recant as she chooses duty as queen and defender of the Anglican Church over her love for her sister.

The popularity of “Downton Abbey” reveals an American fascination with the British royal family and aristocracy. Why is the monarchy this crucial to the nation? Queen Mary (played by Eileen Atkins), the grandmother of Elizabeth, reminds her granddaughter: “Monarchy is God’s sacred mission to grace and dignify the earth, to give ordinary people an ideal to strive towards, an example of nobility and duty to raise them in their wretched lives.”

A superb family saga with the machinations of politics as its undercurrent!

Posted in Television reviews, Unhealed Wound | Tagged , , , , | 4 Replies

4 comments on ““The Crown”–Glory to Her Highness

  1. You’ve made the series sound interesting. Right now I’m pretty busy with book work. I’m not watching much TV, except for the new show WestWorld which raises interesting questions about consciousness. What does it mean to be human. Thanks for the review.

  2. Sounds as though you are not real wild for the Crown, but too kind to pan it, leaving it up to the viewer…The Crown is on my list, but, after reading your review, it has dropped. Thanks for another good review…The Good, Bad, and So, So.
    I also started looking at WestWorld…waiting to read your thoughts on the many themes.

    • I did like The Crown, more for a story I didn’t know and for the historical footage. It was saggy in the middle but the acting is first-rate and the unsympathetic characters are always a treat for me to behold. That being said, I thought it would have been better to have referred to Edward VIII’s Nazi sympathies. (A great PBS documentary on Edward VIII as the Nazi King should be The Crown’s companion piece.) Don’t drop seeing it!

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David Bowie–Connoisseur of Art

[Guest blogger, Ray Hecht, has provided a post on David Bowie’s private art collection in Hong Kong.   Ray now resides in China.  For more photos, please visit his website: www.rayhecht.com]

Originally posted on the Ray Hecht website on October 24, 2016

 On my last trip to Hong Kong, I was lucky enough to go to the exhibition from the late David Bowie’s private art collection. Although I didn’t bid on the auction any of the pieces, it was a great experience to be able to witness works of art that Bowie had personally owned!

Really fascinating works. The man had an incredible aesthetic, as we all know. The Basquiat pieces particularly stood out:  20161013_163532

And there was even a work of art that Bowie collaborated on with Damien Hirst:

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More information can be found at Sotheby’s blog.

Unfortunately, the exhibition was only on for one week before moving to London for November 10-11. During the London weekend festival, Sotheby’s hosted five talks with a panel of curators, writers, designers and producers – all with a connection to Bowie and the art he collected and loved. Held in the galleries and then videotaped for Facebook,  the discussions were hosted by Sotheby’s specialists in Modern British art, Contemporary art and 20th Century Design  allowing audiences a unique opportunity to ask questions about the objects surrounding them in the galleries, and Bowie’s creativity in the art world and beyond. At the heart of the auction is Bowie’s collection of 20th-century British Art, which moves from Damien Hirst from the 1990s to Henry Moore, Graham Sutherland, Eduardo Paolozzi, Patrick Caulfield, Frank Auerbach and Leon Kossoff. The selection includes key works by Marcel Duchamp, a major influence on Bowie.

Enjoy the Facebook site and have a vicarious visit!