December 21, 2008

NYT’s City Editor Rips Into ‘It’s a Wonderful Life’; A Rare Window Into a Deeply Cynical Media Mind

Filed under: MSM Biz/Other Bias,MSM Biz/Other Ignorance — Tom @ 9:28 am

It's a wonderful lifeOn December 18, in an item that appeared on Page C1 of its December 19 print edition (the graphic at the right is a scaled-down version of what appears at the top of the online version), the New York Times’s Wendell Jamieson provided us his perspective on what has became a Christmas staple, Frank Capra Jr.’s “It’s a Wonderful Life.” I would suggest that the piece reveals a lot more about the author and Old Media’s mindset than it tells us about the film.

Jamieson’s title gives a preview of the awful attack that is on the way: “Wonderful? Sorry, George, It’s a Pitiful, Dreadful Life.”

It turns out that Jamieson is the Times’s city editor. I find it telling that the Times chose not to inform of this “little” fact at the end of the piece.

There is really no substitute for reading, or I should say enduring, the whole thing. But here are some samples of what the person who decides on a daily basis what Times readers and probably a large percentage of the country will learn about news and events in the nation’s largest city thinks of Capra’s classic, and of James Stewart’s town:

Wonderful? Sorry, George, It’s a Pitiful, Dreadful Life

….. Lots of people love this movie of course. But I’m convinced it’s for the wrong reasons. Because to me “It’s a Wonderful Life” is anything but a cheery holiday tale. Sitting in that dark public high school classroom, I shuddered as the projector whirred and George Bailey’s life unspooled.

Was this what adulthood promised?

“It’s a Wonderful Life” is a terrifying, asphyxiating story about growing up and relinquishing your dreams, of seeing your father driven to the grave before his time, of living among bitter, small-minded people. It is a story of being trapped, of compromising, of watching others move ahead and away, of becoming so filled with rage that you verbally abuse your children, their teacher and your oppressively perfect wife.

….. When he returns to the “real” Bedford Falls, George is saved by his friends, who open their wallets to cover an $8,000 shortfall at his savings and loan brought about when the evil Mr. Potter snatched a deposit mislaid by George’s idiot uncle, Billy (Thomas Mitchell).

But isn’t George still liable for the missing funds, even if he has made restitution? I mean, if someone robs a bank, and then gives the money back, that person still robbed the bank, right?

…..  Now as for that famous alternate-reality sequence: This is supposedly what the town would turn out to be if not for George. I interpret it instead as showing the true characters of these individuals, their venal internal selves stripped bare. The flirty Violet (played by a supersexy Gloria Grahame, who would soon become a timeless film noir femme fatale) is a dime dancer and maybe a prostitute; Ernie the cabbie’s blank face speaks true misery as George enters his taxi; Bert the cop is a trigger-happy madman, violating every rule in the patrol guide when he opens fire on the fleeing, yet unarmed, George, forcing revelers to cower on the pavement.

Gary Kamiya, in a funny story on Salon.com in 2001, rightly pointed out how much fun Pottersville appears to be, and how awful and dull Bedford Falls is. He even noticed that the only entertainment in the real town, glimpsed on the marquee of the movie theater after George emerges from the alternate universe, is “The Bells of St. Mary’s.”

Now that’s scary.

I’ll do Mr. Kamiya one better, though. Not only is Pottersville cooler and more fun than Bedford Falls, it also would have had a much, much stronger future.

Jamieson’s final paragraph, where he reveals that he still choked up at the film’s ending, is hardly redemptive.

It’s hard to believe that Jamieson’s bad-is-good, good-is-bad worldview revealed so starkly in his critique doesn’t affect how he does his job as city editor, and his decisions about what Times readers and much of the rest of the nation need to know about Gotham.

One suspects that Jamieson’s mindset is not atypical in many other news departments at the Times, and perhaps in many other newsrooms across the nation. If so, it would go a long way towards explaining the politically correct, insufferably biased product so many of them produce on a daily basis.

I could say so much more, but commenters can take it from here.

Cross-posted at NewsBusters.org.

Positivity: Italian chapel honoring dead of World War II rediscovered

Filed under: Positivity — Tom @ 9:11 am

From Italy:

Dec 16, 2008 / 09:51 pm (CNA).- A “lost chapel” honoring those who died in southern Italy during the Second World War has been rediscovered in an Italian building’s storeroom. It had been dedicated as “a perpetual monument to the ideals of chivalry and the brotherhood” which inspired the soldiers.

Former British soldiers who took part in the landings at Salerno in September 1943 had told Harry Shindler, a spokesman in Italy for the veterans’ group “Star Association,” that they had built the chapel to honor those who died in the landings, the Times Online reports.

The soldiers said they named the chapel for St. Martin and St. George and painted frescoes in it.

Schindler told the Times the soldiers remembered that the chapel had been carved out of a former wine cellar but the landscape had changed so much they could not recall its exact location.

An appeal to residents of Salerno was published in La Repubblica, resulting in the discovery that the chapel was now being used as a storeroom in Pontecagnano, a town located on the sea south of Salerno.

According to the Times, the chapel retains its vaulted walls but the frescoes have been painted over.

A 1944 report said that the chapel was built on the initiative of army chaplain Father H.P. Hansen and blessed by the Anglican Bishop of Lichfield.

In the chapel, 15 “truly outstanding paintings” reportedly were painted by Corporal Harold Addenbrooke from Sheffield, who had been a commercial artist in peacetime.

The chapel was built by soldiers who had been bricklayers before the war, while individual soldiers provided chairs with their names and their own places of worship carved on them.

The chapel could hold 300 worshipers and had a brick floor and an altar made of stone, marble, and quartz.

Its entrance was marked by an oil painting of Jesus painted by a local Italian. The painting’s canvas bore bullet holes from the fighting, the Times Online reports.

A marble plaque for the chapel, inscribed in English and in Latin, read “This chapel of St Martin and St George has been raised to the glory of God in remembrance of those who fell in the landing on the beaches in this area in 1943, and as a perpetual monument to the ideals of chivalry and the brotherhood which inspired them.” …..

Go here for the rest of the story.