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George Clooney is no Hero

Peggy Noonan has an interesting article today about movies and the Oscars and their declining audience. She cites several reasons, one of which is this:

Orson Welles was an artist. George Clooney is a fellow who read an article and now wants to tell us the truth, if we can handle it.


More important, Orson Welles had a canny respect for the audience while maintaining a difficult relationship with studio executives, whom he approached as if they were his intellectual and artistic inferiors. George Clooney has a canny respect for the Hollywood establishment, for its executives and agents, and treats his audience as if it were composed of his intellectual and artistic inferiors. (He is not alone in this. He is only this year's example.)

And because they are his inferiors, he must teach them. He must teach them about racial tolerance and speaking truth to power, etc. He must teach them to be brave. And so in his acceptance speech for best supporting actor the other night he instructed the audience about Hollywood's courage in making movies about AIDS, and recognizing the work of Hattie McDaniel with an Oscar.

Was his speech wholly without merit? No. It was a response and not an attack, and it appears to have been impromptu. Mr. Clooney presumably didn't know Jon Stewart would tease the audience for being out of touch, and he wanted to argue that out of touch isn't all bad. Fair enough. It is hard to think on your feet in front of 38 million people, and most of his critics will never try it or have to. (This is a problem with modern media: Only the doer understands the degree of difficulty.)

But Mr. Clooney's remarks were also part of the tinniness of the age, and of modern Hollywood. I don't think he was being disingenuous in suggesting he was himself somewhat heroic. He doesn't even know he's not heroic. He thinks making a movie in 2005 that said McCarthyism was bad is heroic.

How could he think this? Maybe part of the answer is in this: The Clooney generation in Hollywood is not writing and directing movies about life as if they've experienced it, with all its mysteries and complexity and variety. In an odd way they haven't experienced life; they've experienced media. Their films seem more an elaboration and meditation on media than an elaboration and meditation on life. This is how he could take such an unnuanced, unsophisticated, unknowing gloss on the 1950s and the McCarthy era. He just absorbed media about it. And that media itself came from certain assumptions and understandings, and myths. (Emphasis mine)

This is some of the most interesting analysis I've read on the arrogance and ignorance of Hollywood. The rest of the article is just as interesting.


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Comments (8)

Hmmm.People forget... (Below threshold)
ed:

Hmmm.

People forget the previous generation of Hollywood stars mostly had all fought in WWII or some other war. I.e. they really had to face reality.

I kind of tuned in and out ... (Below threshold)
DaveD:

I kind of tuned in and out of the Oscars this year. Instead I chose to watch ( a movie) "8 mile" which was on a competing channel. I had read an article (I believe it was also in the WSJ) a day or two after the Oscar telecast that said Jon Stewart missed the boat as a host because he did not play to the egos of the audience in attendance, ie, Hollywood. I guess Noonan backs that up by mentioning Stewart's comment insinuating that Hollywood is out of touch. Maybe comments like Stewart's, no matter how brief or subtle, causes confusion and maybe anger in the minds of Hollywood elite. Their wall of omniscience and self-importance crumbles just a bit. Clooney is simply acting like the therapist who tells them they really are important beyond their craft, their insight is crystal clear and their espoused causes are right and noble. (Pay no heed to that man in the tuxedo hosting the show - he's not one of us.)
I also liked her comment about Jack Nicholson.

You know....<blockqu... (Below threshold)
SCSIwuzzy:

You know....

Hollywood is not writing and directing movies about life as if they've experienced it

There's a Brokeback Mountain/sodomy joke (or 3) in there that proves the rule by exception

I thought Clooney made the ... (Below threshold)
Red Fog:

I thought Clooney made the McCarthy film because he was countering Ann Coulter's provocative best seller 'Treason' which reexamined the now declassified records of top-ranking U.S. officials working as double agents for the Soviet Union. Problem for Clooney was that his film offered nothing but the same 60-year-old propaganda in support of a regime that collapsed over a decade ago. SO, WHAT'S THE POINT? He didn't counter Coulter's perspective and nobody in Holyweird reads Coulter anyway ...Noonan missed Clooney's now embarassingly overlooked motive: To stand up to Coulter's intellectual might. He failed entirely to make any point and the MSM and Noonan missed his pea-brained attempt to rebut the book.

Red

Boycott all of Clunny's fut... (Below threshold)
RA:

Boycott all of Clunny's future work.

Speaking of Orwell<a... (Below threshold)
Wake Up Call:

Speaking of Orwell
http://www.fas.org/irp/facility/menwith.htm
Welcome to Orwellia
Lemme see SIGINT since 1956 up to and PAST 1995. And now George sells the 'SKY is Falling'
Crowd more fear Factor. And you KNOW what?
You dumbasses are gonna spend BILLIONS on some crap Bush and his Neo-Cons are SELLING you. Please PEOPLE wake up and get some Technical HELP. YOU FEAR mongers are selling your own rights away and you don't realize it.
I am a Technician and I work on NETWORKS I know these things. Please Stop and read this Above.
We fight Wars for Freedom not Wars for Rights Reductions!

Menwith Hill in the UK is the principal NATO theater ground segment node for high altitude signals intelligence satellites. The facility, jointly operated with the UK's Government Communications Headquarters (GCHQ), is now capable of carrying out two million intercepts per hour.

Menwith Hill Station was established in 1956 by the US Army Security Agency (ASA). Menwith Hill was operated by ASA from 1958 until its turnover to NSA in June 1966. The Army 713th MI Group remains the Executive Agent for the NSA Menwith Hill field site, which was awarded the NSA's "Station of the Year" prize for 1991 after its role in the Gulf War. The Air Intelligence Agency 451st Intelligence Squadron (451 IS) as an integral part of Menwith Hill Station (MHS). Inside the closely-guarded 560 acre base are two large operations blocks and many satellite tracking dishes and domes. Initial operations focused on monitoring international cable and microwave communications passing through Britain. In the early 1960s Menwith Hill was one of the first sites in the world to receive sophisticated early IBM computers, with which NSA automated the labor-intensive watch-list scrutiny of intercepted but unenciphered telex messages. Since then, Menwith Hill has sifted the international messages, telegrams, and telephone calls of citizens, corporations or governments to select information of political, military or economic value.

The official cover story is that the all-civilian base is a Department of Defense communications station. The British Ministry of Defence describe Menwith Hill as a "communications relay centre." Like all good cover stories, this has a strong element of truth to it. Until 1974, Menwith Hill's SIGINT specialty was evidently the interception of International Leased Carrier signals, the communications links run by civil agencies -- the Post, Telegraph and Telephone ministries of eastern and western European countries. The National Security Agency took over Menwith Hill in 1966. Interception of satellite communications began at Menwith Hill as early as 1974, when the first of more than eight large satellite communications dishes were installed.

In 1984, British Telecom and MoD staff completed a $25 million extension to Menwith Hill Station known as STEEPLEBUSH. The British government constructed new communications facilities and buildings for STEEPLEBUSH, worth L7.4 million. The expansion included a 50,000 square foot extension to the Operations Building and new generators to provide 5 Megawatts of electrical power. The purpose of the new construction was to boost an cater for an 'expanded mission' of satellite surveillance. It also provides a new (satellite) earth terminal system to support the classified systems at the site. With another $17.2 million being spent on special monitoring equipment, this section of the Menwith Hill base alone cost almost $160 million dollars.

Menwith Hill Station is an extensive complex of domes, vertical masts and satellite dishes, as well as more than 4.9 acres of buildings. There are 23 spherical domes and three satellite dishes, one of which is sixty meters in diameter, all pointing in an easterly direction. The tall radio masts appear to be high frequency radio supports. Since 1985 the number of domes and dishes at the base has increased from four to 26. Current expansion plans for the base include building two more radomes, and an earth-sheltered uninterruptible power-supply bunker and a Mission Support Building. The two 16-meter domes will require moving the site boundary, including fencing and lights, around 160 meters closer to the A59 Harrogate-Skipton road to the south. The base now constructs radomes before dish construction begins so that observers cannot determine which satellites the dishes are targetted against. The expansion is to establish a European ground relay system at Menwith Hill which will be part of a new generation of satellite communications. In addition, an initiative to address security deficiencies at Menwith Hill includes fencing the perimeter of the site.

In addition, the PUSHER High Frequency Direction Finding (HFDF) system at Menwith Hill monitors radio transmissions covering the HF frequency range between 3MHz and 20-30MHz, including military and civilian embassy, maritime and air radio communications. As with other HFDF stations, PUSHER consists of three concentric rings of monopoles, each ring having a total of 24 monopoles.

Initially, tapes containing data collected at Menwith Hill were returned via air to the United States for analysis. The Post Office installed two wideband circuits to Menwith Hill in 1975 which were connected to the nearby Hunters Stones microwave radio station, a part of the country-wide microwave network which carried British long-distance telephone calls during the 1970s and 1980s. Starting in 1992 British Telecom [BT] added digital optical fiber cables, which by 1996 were capable of carrying more than 100,000 simultaneous telephone calls.

RAF Menwith Hill is a Crown freehold site belonging to the Ministry of Defence. The designation RAF Menwith Hill came into effect on 19 February 1996. This was simply an administrative change to bring the base into line with other RAF sites made available by the Ministry of Defence to the United States Government. There is no security of tenure agreement in place at RAF Menwith Hill. The assurances that were given to the US authorities in 1955 and again in 1976 that the site would be made available to the US Forces by Her Majesty's Government for a period of 21 years, and which are known as the security of tenure arrangements, were given to facilitate the commitment of US funding to the station. They were an administrative mechanism, and did not constitute any form of renewable lease for the site.

Women have been permanently camped at the Menwith Hill Women's Peace Camp for several years to draw attention to the facility. The camp is at Kettering Head lay-by on the A59 about 7 miles west of Harrogate. In the early 1990s, opponents of the Menwith Hill station obtained large quantities of internal documents from the facility. The activists routinely climbed over the fence and go wherever they can inside to gather as much intelligence as they can about the activities and what is going on. In the past, this did not violate any British laws, even the trespassing law, as long as they leave at once whenever they are found by the guards. However a new 1996 military lands bylaw criminalized trespass on the site. In September 1997 a judge at York Crown Court ruled that the new military bylaws at the Menwith Hill US-NSA spy base were invalid because they took in land which was not being using for military purposes. The ruling was based on the fact that facility's lands were 70% occupied by sheep. The Ministry of Defence subsequently announced that the decision would be appealed to the High Court.

On 23 April 1997 Leeds peace campaigner Tracy Hart was sentenced by the High Court in London to 42 days in Holloway Prison for breaking an injunction banning her from Menwith Hill. The injunction, imposed in March 1996, bans Tracy from crossing an invisible line surrounding the Menwith Hill base. Tracy has trespassed onto the base at Menwith Hill over 300 times in the last 2 years and is only the second peace campaigner in five years to have been served with a restraining order following protests at the facility.

In 1995, in addition to funds otherwise available for such purpose, the Secretary of the Army was authorized to transfer or reprogram funds for the enhancement of the capabilities of the Bad Aibling Station and the Menwith Hill Station, including improvements of facility infrastructure and quality of life programs at both installations. This provision would permit the Department of the Army to use up to $2 million of appropriated O&M funds per annum, at Menwith Hill and Bad Aibling, to rectify infrastructure and quality of life problems. It would in no way obviate or modify current law or practice with regard to reprogramming amounts in excess of $2 million. Previously the Army was prohibited by 31 U.S.C. section 1301, from using appropriated funds to support an NSA installation, notwithstanding the fact that the Army has become the Executive Agent for these field sites. Although the Director of Central Intelligence could use his special authorities under section 104(d) of the National Security Act of 1947, the procedures available under that law are extremely time consuming and were not intended to accommodate relatively minor transfers of funds.

An example of the problems this is intended to rectify was contained in a memorandum prepared by a joint NSA/Army inspection team entitled. `DoD Child Development Program Inspection Report' dated June 23, 1995. The memo, which describes the childcare facility at Menwith Hill station states:

The Child Development Center (CDC), originally constructed as a office building, is a 35 year old dilapidated structure with major health and safety violations. The CDC capacity of 89 children cannot accommodate the increasing demands for child care. The current station population includes 289 children ages four and under. As a result of the conversion from a civilian to a military facility, the demographics are changing to younger, junior enlisted personnel with many single parents who will rely on based-provided child care.

This legislation was requested by the Department of the Army and enjoys the full support of the Director of the National Security Agency.

In the early 1960s Menwith ... (Below threshold)
Wake Up Call:

In the early 1960s Menwith Hill was one of the first sites in the world to receive sophisticated early IBM computers, with which NSA automated the labor-intensive watch-list scrutiny of intercepted but unenciphered telex messages. Since then, Menwith Hill has sifted the international messages, telegrams, and telephone calls of citizens, corporations or governments to select information of political, military or economic value.

The official cover story is that the all-civilian base is a Department of Defense communications station. The British Ministry of Defence describe Menwith Hill as a "communications relay centre." Like all good cover stories, this has a strong element of truth to it. Until 1974, Menwith Hill's SIGINT specialty was evidently the interception of International Leased Carrier signals, the communications links run by civil agencies -- the Post, Telegraph and Telephone ministries of eastern and western European countries. The National Security Agency took over Menwith Hill in 1966.
--------
So you see there is no REASON for Bush to KNOW who your talking to, its already being done since 1960s.
CMon Guys help me keep the Republic.
You keep acting as if its the Dems vs the Pubs
and its not.
Its the people versus the Liars
CLinton Lied
Bush lied
They LIE. thats what polticians do, the sooner you realize that the sooner you will see the false claims of Bush about warrantless taps...

Dear Wake Up Call,... (Below threshold)
Red Fog:

Dear Wake Up Call,

Your rants are an utter disconnect. We were talking about George Clooney, remember?

Is your feed tube kinked?

Red




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