Here’s the latest from the crossroads of faith, media & culture: 05/03/21

CBS Sunday Morning declares Cancel Culture to be a new wedge issue. At the same time, Ted Koppel’s report on the issue notes that it’s been with us for generations and was once known as Political Correctness. I give the journalistic icon credit for making a genuine effort to cover the issue from all sides though, IMHO, his conclusion stated at the end of the report below pretty succinctly encapsulates the difference between how the corporate media frames the debate and how its critics do.

As I stated at the outset, IMHO, that was a fairly reasonable report from an actual journalist. If we saw more efforts like this, the media wouldn’t be held in such justifiably low regard by most of the general public. Still, Koppel’s conclusion at the very end of the piece suggests that he’s more or less in sync with the, yes, Politically-Correct line. First, he notes US Census data that forecasts that in less than 25 years 51% of the population will be non-white – a bit of superficial data if there ever was any. He then sums up by declaring “The issues at stake are about real political power. Who gains and who loses?” Cue the CBS This Morning sun rising over the capital.
The closing line sounds very intellectual and deep (especially when Ted Koppel says it) but it’s complete bunk to a large swath of Americans who don’t see this as a contest between demographic winners and losers. They know that, in a well-managed capitalist economy governed by the ideals enunciated (if not always lived up to) by America’s founders, everyone gains. JFK once said “A rising tides lifts all boats.” If he said as a member of today’s Democratic Party, he’d be issuing an apology less than 24 hours later – lest he, you know, be cancelled.
While, unfortunately, many Americans do fall for the divide-and-conquer demoralizing rhetoric of the left, many (I believe most) understand that the contest we are in is not about skin color but about ideas. The Marxist-sympathizing left can’t win the contest of ideas so they deflect by using our high moral aspirations against us through backward-looking America Shaming and the threat of Cancel Culture. But, with all our stumbles along the way, an honest examination of history is apt to lead fair-minded people of all backgrounds to conclude that America is on the right side of an arc of history that bends toward justice and liberty for all.
Review: Netflix’s The Mitchells vs. The Machines is Vacation meets Battlestar Galactica. That’s on one level – and it works! Beyond that though, the animated family comedy that dropped Friday is a refreshingly smart jab at the absurd power we’ve handed over to Big Tech. More after the synopsis and trailer below.
Synopsis: A quirky, dysfunctional family’s road trip is upended when they find themselves in the middle of the robot apocalypse and suddenly become humanity’s unlikeliest last hope! Featuring the voices of Abbi Jacobson (Broad City), Danny McBride (The Righteous Gemstones), Maya Rudolph (SNL), Beck Bennett (SNL), Fred Armisen (Portlandia), Eric Andre (Disenchantment) and Olivia Colman (The Crown). Directed by Michael Rianda (Gravity Falls). Produced by Phil Lord & Chris Miller (Spider-Man: Into the Spider-Verse) and Kurt Albrecht (The Proud Family).

I may be dating myself with the following analogies but… The Mitchells vs. The Machines is a laugh-out-loud absurdist satirical riot in the vein the classic Cold War-mocking Rocky and Bullwinkle cartoons of the 1960’s.  It can also be compared with more serious live-action shows of the era like The Twilight Zone and Star Trek which took on issues that were considered too confrontational with the power elite  of the time to comment on directly (i.e. racism and the Vietnam War). In the current moment, it’s the expanding power of Big Tech to monitor us, manipulate us and even cancel us that is the 1000-pound monster in the room. Like those aforementioned works of creative genius, Mitchells brilliantly couches its subversive commentary in fantasy escapist storytelling so effortlessly and stealthily that its targets literally may not know what hit them.

Its plot about a cell phone-led attempt to extinguish humanity is well underway before one of the characters actually says something about the craziness of handing all our personal data to power-hungry Big Tech monopolies that just maybe don’t necessarily have our best interests at heart. As the Mitchell family becomes the Machines’ unlikely last stumbling block to total world domination, an attempt is made to use their previously recorded out-of-context actions and comments to shame and divide them. They are told that even when they’ve been nice to each other they were only pretending and, therefore, they’re positive actions and growth didn’t count. If that doesn’t sound familiar, check out the item above this one. Spoiler Alert: It’s only through forgiveness and understanding that they manage to rise above the psychological gaslighting.

The Bottom Line is… The Mitchells vs. The Machines is creative, witty, thoroughly entertaining and has a good heart. It’s also bravely makes a very timely and important point with a narrative that is appreciated and likely to stand the test of time. For all of that, The Mitchells vs. The Machines is Highly Recommended.

Encourage one another and build each other up – 1 Thessalonians 5:11
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