So…Lock Her Up…?

One of the more bizarre battlecry’s from the 2016 Presidential campaign was “Lock her up!” The chant was championed by various Republican personalities, and used at Trump rallies. The ‘her’, in the ever-so witty chant, referred to Hillary Clinton. Her crime? Using a personal email to conduct government business.

It was revealed yesterday that Ivanka Trump has spent the last year doing the exact same thing, in what is only the ninth biggest act of hypocrisy from the Trump presidency so far.

I always go on about how difficult it is to talk politics with a die-hard Trump supporter. I can always get beyond the hate to address the person behind the opinions, because as awful as it is, there’s usually a reason why they’ve started thinking about people that way, and it’s usually not entirely their fault. I do struggle with the logical inconsistencies though.

Hillary using a private email for government business was the epitome of the “swamp” that Trump talked about during his campaign. You know, the one he wanted to drain, but instead he has offloaded a quagmire of corruption into American politics. The swamp, now 45% more swampy.

To Trump and his merry band of bigots, Hillary was the epitome of a corrupt swamp politician, and one who needed to go.

So let’s assume those opinions are true for a minute, because there is something a little off about using an account that can’t be documented when working for the public. My opinion at the time was that she shouldn’t have done that, but compared to Trump’s crimes it was a drop in the ocean.

I never have and never will be a supporter of Hillary Clinton. She was simply the lesser of two evils in a horrible campaign, one filled with all the elements of a corrupt and poisoned democracy.

But Trump supporters died on the hill of sending Hillary to jail because of her emails. And so therefore, for them to remain principled and hold-true to the beliefs of their established political perspectives, they should also demand that Ivanka be locked up.

The timing of this Tweet made yesterday is unbelievable. “Quick, I need to help incarcerated women right now, in case I end up in there with them!”

Now, I’m not calling to lock Ivanka up, at least not for this anyway. She made a shady mistake, but it’s one that politicians have made for the last couple of decades — People in power have done worse things.

It’s Trump supporters who should be calling for Ivanka to appear behind bars. I would certainly have a lot more respect for them if they did. As it would prove that they aren’t just about following a populist figure to the bitter end.

It would prove that Trump genuinely spoke to them in 2016 about the issues they were concerned with, but that they’re smart enough to recognise when one of their own breaches that trust.

I don’t want any jokes about that not being likely, and that I shouldn’t hold by breath. We need to put more faith in them to do the right thing, because I still believe that they can.

Not all of them, some are too far gone of course. But most were caught up in a wave of populism, and found themselves having to defend their party, despite who it offered up as its leader.

Some will have to realise, especially in the dying days of this first term, that none of the promises made were kept. I mean, thank God we don’t have an inhumane wall, or we haven’t started locking people up for no reason (well, unless you’re a minority, but that was happening long before Trump).

But really, the Trumps are no different to your average, highly corrupt politician. They’re Nixon, but with all the folds tucked away and stapled into the skin. Ivanka’s email incident is proof that they’re still the swamp-folk who they claimed they wanted to cull.

The cries and shouts of “lock her up” didn’t come from Trump himself, they originally came from men like Steve Bannon and Roger Stone. Trump simply applied them to his brand, because he liked how much support and power it gave him.

Roger Stone has always followed the Nixon MO of “accuse your opponents of the crimes you commit”. I mean, Nixon wasn’t the first to do that, but Stone has a massive tattoo of him on his back, so I’m going to go ahead and assume he’s the inspiration here.

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This incident likely won’t be the straw that breaks the camels back. Because migrant children in cages, mass-shootings by known Trump supporters and stripping freedom from the press wasn’t enough.

So why on Earth would it be the emails? Matt, you absolute simpleton, you didn’t think this through!

I just thought I’d try and make the argument, because it was an issue that they’d previously rallied against. People love it when you point out their hypocrisies, right?

Wrong. I guess I just have to hope that every time the Trump administration does something they originally accused opponents of, another person falls away from the deep red crowd.

I have to hope because I have to believe that people can be better, if we don’t have that then we’re not going to get very far as a species.

The way I see it, Trump supporters have three ways of reacting to this situation:

  1. Admit they were wrong when calling for Hillary to be locked up, that she didn’t commit a crime, but Roger Stone and Steve Bannon should be blamed for the rhetoric. Lock them up?

  2. Condemn Ivanka as they condemned Hillary, because this is their principal and they’re sticking to it.

  3. FAKE NEWS, Ivanka did not use a personal email to conduct government business, despite hard evidence from several independent sources.

Options one and two take a big person, and would earn them a lot of respect from non-Trump supporters. Option three is why we’re slowly and collectively walking into the scalding surface of the sun as a democracy.

I know what you think, but like I said, I have to believe that people can be better. I really do.


Today is Tuesday, November 20th and The Sunset Tree is a terrific album.

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Discussion w/ Ben Eckstein About His Movie, Zero Fucks

It’s not often you read about a movie that features a talking, anthropomorphic cat, who also happens to be a certain presidential psychopath. In this independently made, post-apocalyptic satirical film you will see just that, and more. Much more!

In my search for all things Twin Peaks, an addiction I’ll never quite shake, I stumbled upon an article about Zero Fucks. After silently rooting for this movie from the sidelines for a week or two, I received an unexpected message from director Ben Eckstein and was fortunate enough to have a quick chat with him about his creation.

I’m a big supporter of independent cinema, original and surreal concepts, and healthy helpings of political satire — All elements that makeup Ben’s production. He has made this film with a fantastic team of people, and has now launched a crowdfunding campaign to secure its future.

I wish I had some cool story and location of exactly where Ben and myself met. You know, like in the proper articles by proper people. Alas, we simply conversed online, like the digital children we are. But it was a wonderful chat, and if I hadn’t said anything a couple of sentences ago, then you (the reader) could’ve imagined that we’d met in person.

Actually, for the purposes of establishing a “mood”, can you just pretend we had this conversation in an LA cafe or something? You’d be doing all of us a favour.

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In your words, could you briefly explain the premise of this film?

Zero Fucks is a dark, subversive, post-apocalyptic political satire exploring what might be the motivations of a mad man pursuing power and what might happen if he actually got it…

Personally, I’m incredibly interested in the film’s blend of surrealism with satire — What made you combine these two genres?

I’ve been involved in theatre most of my life and always fascinated by the works of Antonin Artaud, Samuel Beckett, Bertolt Brecht, Eugene Ionesco and other surrealist playwrights. I really couldn’t get enough, and probably read close to everything these men ever wrote. It just seemed to fit with how my brain works and they felt more realistic than surrealistic to me. Satire is a natural side effect of seeing things from a different point of view, and it comes across as satire to the audience, but as the writer, I’m dead serious.

Do you have an active interest in politics? Are you trying to make a statement with this movie?

Yes. I’ve been an political activist throughout my life and seen whole movements crumble into nothing and got my ideological heart broken many times. I don’t carry signs in front of town halls anymore, but use story as a vehicle for change instead. If we think differently we act differently. I’m tired of arguing, I want to inspire. So this movie is not about slipping on a banana, it is still funny, but at the end I hope you’ll feel a little fear and you won’t know how you got there, but the that feeling will be possessive and hopefully it will motivate people into action.

What do you think the real Donald Trump would say if he saw this movie?

It’s going to be his favorite movie and he’ll watch it all the time…but he’ll never admit it.

I loved Twin Peaks: The Return, in which John Pirruccello played the detestable Chad. Now he’s playing Donald Trump as a cat, so I have to ask — Is Mr Pirruccello a nice person in real life?

John Pirruccello is the nicest man you’ll ever meet. He is sensitive, intelligent and superbly talented. John has given a nuanced and irresistible performance as Donald Pump, the trash talking cat. I can’t wait to share it with the world- if there is justice in these things- he should clean up come award season.

Thanks for chatting with me Ben! Before you go, could you tell anyone reading why they should support this movie?

There is so much goodwill and interest surrounding this project, but we simply can’t self-fund the final step of post production. If you believe in bold, original, independent stories- this is your chance to stand up for one that hopes to make a difference and add something to the conversation about our future. Come join the Zero Fucks movement and make this movie with us! Go to our crowdfunding page at zerofsmovie.com to donate now!

I just want to echo Ben’s closing statement and encourage you to support this movie. It’s so clear to see that he and his team are passionate about this project, and we always need more content that shines a spotlight on the underbelly of the establishment.

There are a multitude of reasons to support this movie, but if you only back it for the sole reason that Donald Trump might one day be aware of this film, and hate-watch it out of fear of the destruction of his fragile ego — Well, then I’m sure Ben and his team will respect you just the same. I know I will.

Support independent film!


Today is Monday, October 29th and I finished the latest draft of my dystopian novel and I cannot wait to share this world with you.


I normally put a tip jar at the bottom of this page, but you should check out zerofsmovie.com instead! Have a great week everyone, look after yourself and each other.

C**tgate

On Wednesday satirical comedian and Daily Show alumni Samantha Bee, called the first daughter of the United States a cu**. I’ve made the choice to censor the **nt word in this piece, if only for the humour in shifting which individual characters are covered by an asterisk.

Welcome to C***gate!

I’ve seen a lot of people compare this insult, made on Bee’s weekly TBS show Full Frontal with Samantha Bee, to the one tweeted out by Roseanne Barr earlier in the week. With many prominent figures, including the president himself, calling for Bee to be fired, just as Barr was.

At the time of writing, Bee has issued an apology, but no further action has been taken. Which, I think, is the right call.

Let’s talk about context, the balance of power and the importance of open criticism of the government. These are all key factors when comparing the two separate, yet seemingly related, incidents.

Bee is host to a comedy show that satirises politics. Everything she said about Ivanka Trump before calling her a “feckless c*n*” was absolutely justified. She highlighted the hypocrisy, and blatant lack of awareness from Ivanka, of posting a picture online of her with her daughter, in the aftermath of a report of the US government “losing” nearly 1,500 migrant children.

Even her comment about Ivanka being able to convince her father to change his immigration policies if she “put on something tight and low-cut” is a justified comedic statement. The man himself has made public pseudo-incestuous comments about Ivanka. There’s no need for satirists to resort to simplistic insults, when they only need to use the material they’re given by the president.

Speaking frankly, comedians don’t go far enough in the US when it comes to openly picking out the flaws and hypocrisies of their government. No matter if the government is Republican or Democrat, the first amendment protects the rights of citizens to freely speak out against their actions. It’s a crucial right that keeps a country free.

One of the areas that the first amendment actually protects freedom of speech without lawful consequence, is when it comes to criticising the incumbent government. Again, the first amendment doesn’t clearly state that you have the right to be racist, but it does specify ones right to petition grievances against ones government.

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But name calling? That’s another issue.

I can’t defend Bee calling Ivanka a c**t simply because it’s a joke. We’re beyond the point of simply saying “well it’s just a joke, so it’s fine”. I’m not so sure that’s a strong-enough line of defence anymore. It used to be, and it should be, but it’s not.

In recent years we’ve had open acts of racism, homophobia and general pig-headed bigotry thrown around in the public sphere with the defence of “I wasn’t inciting hate-speech, it was just a joke.” Take Count Dankula and his nazi pug as a recent example. People in positions of power and influence often forget that what’s a joke to them, can stir up something else in genuinely hateful people.

So if I can’t defend Bee’s comments as ‘simply a joke’, then why do I find myself rushing to her defence over Barr’s?

Well, for starters, Barr has a history of making grossly bigoted and misinformed comments publicly. Her racially-charged tweet on Monday was just the latest in a pattern of behaviour. We have evidence to suggest that Barr is racist, whereas very little to suggest that Bee is misogynistic. If we’re to treat this as a legitimate grievance and not a case of Whataboutism, when we’re to assume it’s the sexist undertones of the word which have caused offence.

The word (*un*, for those who have forgotten) can be used as a term of endearment between friends in other countries, but I want to focus on the US. A place where it’s still defined as a disparaging or obscene way to refer to a woman. I’ll admit, when a man hurls this word at a woman, with a venomous tone and intent to belittle, it sounds abhorrent.

We live in a patriarchy, one where the scales are beginning to balance, but given recent scandals and revelations, we’re still clearly far from an equal society for all genders. Therefore, a man calling a woman a c*nt is “punching down”, from the perspective of most societies.

Samantha Bee is, as far as I know, a woman. She’s using a word that has historically been used to oppress her own gender. So coming from her, the word has less malicious intent than if, say, John Oliver had called Ivanka a ***t.

otters
It turns out no pictures associated with the word ‘cun*’ are appropriate for this blog. So here’s two otters cuddling.

For me, good satire is when someone “punches up”. Comedy should be used to mock the powers-that-be whenever they make a mistake, or say something stupid, no matter which political party they are affiliated with. If we only look at the insult through the context of gender, then Bee’s insult to Ivanka was simply “punching sideways”.

So, we must look at the positions of power these women have in society.

One of these women has a cable TV show that’s watched by less than a million people each week. The other is the First Daughter of the United States and Special Advisor to the President. Ivanka Trump was placed #19 on ForbesPower Women 2017 list. Samantha Bee doesn’t even have a Forbes profile page.

Ivanka is clearly in a higher position of power and influence, when compared to Bee. So the insult was “punching up”, she (crassly) criticised someone in a position of more power than herself. And silencing such comments would set a dangerous precedent for when it comes to citizens openly condemning the government.

Even if we ignore the fact that a white person firing-off a known racial insult at a black person is infinitely worse than one woman using misogynistic language towards another; Using the same logic as above we can see that Barr is currently in a greater position of power and influence than Valerie Jarrett, who is no longer a member of the US government and is simply a citizen. A citizen who, unlike Barr, does not have nearly a million Twitter followers and (until recently) a TV show watched by ten million a week.

Words can hold a lot of power, but we must always consider the power of the speaker before passing judgement.

Personally, I think if we’re to be the sane, rational counterpoint to the Trump-presidency, then we don’t need to stoop to his level when it comes to name-calling. The backlash to Trump-era politics shouldn’t be more mindless name-calling, it should be the careful picking apart of his actions and policies by using facts and statistics.

Is Ivanka a cu*t? That one can remain up for debate. The conversation should really be focused on the fact that America has lost track of nearly 1,500 children. As we can see from the internet in the last twenty-four hours, name-calling distracts from the real atrocities of our time.

That messed-up family does enough that we can comedically mock, without having to resort to throwing the **** word around.

Yes! I managed to censor all of the letters in the word ‘cunt’ that time!

Damnit.

Today is Friday, June 1st and there’s a lot of politics in TV-land at the moment. It probably has something to do with a TV star being in the white house.

What do you think about c***gate? Was Bee right or wrong? Is this situation as bad as Barr’s? I’d love to know in the comments below.
Differing opinions are welcomed, this is an echo-chamber-free zone!