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March 15, 2009

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Max

Am I the only one reminded of that scene in 25th Hour when Brian Cox outlines what Ed Norton could do if he went on the lam?

Glenn Kenny

Exactly. Only as re-imagined by Peter Lawford.

DVA188

I can only say... why no booze?

Tom Russell

"I think this post should earn Jeff Wells the Nobel Prize for Literature. Seriously."

Seconded. Too bad the Nobel people have their heads so deep up their own asses: http://www.slate.com/id/2201447

Campaspe

I am in love with the first comment: "Or just sign with my agent... you'd disappear instantly."

bemo

GK, you have awesome taste.

dogandpony

Ever hear Camper Van Beethoven's "When I Win the Lottery"?

bill

Wells should then have his Nobel taken away for his weasely, arrogant "obit" of Ron Silver.

Glenn Kenny

@bill: Seconded. But did you expect any less?

bill

No, not really. But I remain disgusted.

Dan Coyle

If history's going to judge Ron Silver harshly for anything, it's gonna be that hideous Crossing Jordan episode he did, quite possibly one of the worst hours of television I've ever seen.

And his cameo in Spike Lee's Girl 6.

Dan Coyle

Actually, let me amend that: EVERYONE who was involved in Girl 6 will be judged harshly by history.

Max

Are there no depths that Welles won't sink to? It's clear he only wrote that Silver piece to criticize the man. How edgy he is, criticizing not only a dead man but also GEORGE BUSH. And all that appreciation of Silver rings so false. Shameless.

bill

Max, you know what I love most about Wells's Ron Silver post? The title: "Sorry About Silver". I mean, Jesus Christ. Go fuck yourself, Wells. Sorry, Glenn, if I'm bringing something here that you don't want, but this really made me angry.

Glenn Kenny

No apologies necessary, Bill. I'm not down with Wells' post about SIlver either, and I'm not down with the fact that were a leftist actor were to drop dead tomorrow before his/her prime, the obits probably wouldn't get into his or her political leanings in any detail until the fifth graf or so.

Now, the conservatives who want to embrace Silver as their own are guilty of something similar, in a way—see the "one of us!" gushings from Goldberg, Lopez and Podhoretz—but for Wells to sniff about his inability to "forgive" SIlver is, really, imperious bullshit of the highest order. Let's stop watching Ginger Rogers movies while we're at it, and ban Adolph Menjou and Eugene Pallete from the canons. Or, on the other hand, condemn the works of Dashiell Hammett. That we're even having this conversation is a sad measure of how poisonously divisive things have become in this country. I STRONGLY disagree with the views Silver held after his 9/11 road to Damascus moment, but I like to think I would defend to the death his right to hold them. And in any case, none of that ever interfered with what the man brought to his work on screen. He didn't thoroughly rock my cinematic world, except in "Enemies" (the best thing Roger SImon's ever had his name attached to, incidentally) and "Reversal of Fortune," but he was a consistently powerful and committed performer all the same, and to relegate him to some personal gulag because you didn't care for his politics is to give in to a narcissistic myopia beyond all reckoning.

bill

"Now, the conservatives who want to embrace Silver as their own are guilty of something similar, in a way—see the "one of us!" gushings from Goldberg, Lopez and Podhoretz..."

I won't argue that. The entire point is that the man has died, and to pay your respects. I actually haven't read the gushings you cite -- I read fewer and fewer political opinion blogs these days -- and I don't like the idea of Silver's death, of ANYONE'S death -- being used as a way for the writer to try and yolk themselves to the deceased. But, you know, at least Goldberg, et al, are being NICE. Still, it's a fair point, and I agree with you.

You said everything sayable about the trash Wells posted. If I added anything else, I would go off even more than I already have. On another point -- you're "poisonously divisive" one -- Richard Dreyfuss, to my understanding, is about as lefty as they come, but when Charlton Heston passed away he wrote one of the classiest and most touching obits I've read in a long time. That's the kind of thing that humane and empathetic people do. And I don't see very much of it anymore.

Campaspe

Wells' valedictory is crabby and mean-spirited, and the really irritating part is that it will almost certainly be seized upon in certain segments of the Net as proof that liberals have no "class." This, despite the fact that if one took a vote in the liberal film blogosphere I doubt many of us would elect Mr. Wells to speak for anyone but himself.

However, I can't get too worked up over Wells' lack of decorum, because Ron Silver spent a great deal of time putting his face on his politics, from the 1990s when he supported Clinton to his later years as a Bush fan. When an actor -- any actor, from Clooney to that guy from the A Team who just showed up on Big Hollywood -- puts his politics out front for public consumption, he risks being judged on those grounds. If Silver kept his politics out of his interviews and public appearances, I'd say bringing his politics into the first grafs of the obituaries was low. But like I kept saying after Heston's death, when you speak on the hustings for a candidate, or give the keynote at an NRA rally, or visit Iraq, or make a commercial condemning stem-cell research, or invest in a famously left-wing magazine, you are putting yourself in a position to be criticized for your views. I'm sure the highly intelligent and cultivated Mr. Silver knew that very well.

bill

Campaspe, I don't mind people bringing up Silver's politics. I don't even mind people judging him for holding certain views, in the long run, because everyone does that (which is unfortunate, but I don't exclude myself from that, which is also unfortunate). I object to A) doing it right after he died, and B) taking this sanctomonious, disgusting stance of "not being able to forgive" a guy who just died after two years of suffering from a terrible disease, and who, in any case, never presented his political opinions in the form of personal attacks. Neither Silver nor his family ever asked for or needed or wanted "forgiveness" from a rat like Jeffrey Wells. No, I didn't know Silver, or his family, but I think that's a safe bet.

As for this:

"the really irritating part is that it will almost certainly be seized upon in certain segments of the Net as proof that liberals have no 'class'."

That may happen, but Ann Coulter is often judged by the left to be the spokesperson for the right, and I know that I never voted her into that position, and wish people would quit telling me that's what she is. It goes both ways, and will continue to do so. I would advise you to "get used to it", but since I haven't, who am I to advise anybody?

Campaspe

Bill, the Coulter/Wells comparison won't fly. Wells is a critic and journalist who runs a popular blog, but whose name is known to a certain segment of film fandom and just about nobody else. Coulter is a household name, the author of several bestsellers, a nationally syndicated columnist, a fixture on the lecture circuit and I can barely turn on a talk show without her defacing my TV set. While many conservatives, including you, consider her a blot on the landscape, she is a far more plausible candidate for a spokesperson than a film journalist--until Wells makes the cover of Time.

As for Wells' timing and tone, I am not defending it, just saying that death doesn't automatically place certain topics off-limits. I think death should mean all aspects of an actor's life are treated with reason and tact, but neither quality is a particular hallmark of Mr. Wells' writing style, even when he isn't writing obituaries for conservatives.

MovieMan0283

I'm not sure which I like more: that he demands his prostitutes be "highly educated" or that he pivots from sailing with hookers to moving to Darfur and "using his money" to "help the poor" there.

bill

Who cares if Coulter is a bestselling author? That doesn't make her a spokesperson for anything. Is Michael Moore the spokesman for the left? He won an Oscar! How does being on the cover of "Time" elevate someone to spokesperson? Kate Winslet was just on the cover. Is she the spokesperson for movies? If the right can't name the spokespeople for the left, then you can't name them for the right.

And I never said Silver's politics were off limits. What's off limits is judging him for them. The man just died. Because he disagreed with you on one topic, then it's okay to let the judgments fly?

PS - Glenn, sorry if this comment shows up twice...

Campaspe

If millions of people were paying millions of dollars to hear Kate Winslet's views on the movies, buy her books and see her lectures, yeah, that would pretty much make her a spokesperson for at least a segment of film. No one on the left made Coulter a spokesperson; that was the job of the people who bought what she peddles. The same is true, on the opposite end, for Michael Moore.

You are clearly getting more upset than I intended, so I am bowing out here. And anyway, I see that no one is paying much attention to Wells, except us, so there is no need to be squabbling over hypotheticals. I assumed his post would get plenty of indignant linkage and to my genuine delight and relief, that hasn't happened.

Glenn Kenny

Yeah, break it up. It simply won't do, to have two of my favorite commenters squabbling.

In other news, I trust the two of you noticed the highly sensitive headline Our Jeff put up for his piece on poor Natasha Richardson's mishap: "Slam."

bill

And I'm in a bad mood anyway. Finishing "The Dying Animal" on your lunch break will do that to you.

bill

Ack! I had another comment that got lost. Something about not being that upset and agreeing to let it go and thinking that Wells' "Slam" headling might be even worse than his Silver posts and wondering why I go to his site anymore. Along those lines.

Glenn Kenny

Bill, my advice to you after finishing the Roth is to just pick up the first Wodehouse book you come across.

Campaspe

No hard feelings, Bill. I had my own conciliatory post, lost at the same time (Typepad hiccup?) wherein I thanked Glenn and said something along the lines of how the "Slam" headline just shows that in these lowbrow times, it is good to know writers like Wells are standing sentry at the portals of good taste. Something like that.

bill

Glenn, that's funny, because I was just thinking that Wodehouse would be an appropriate follow up. Or I just bought the first three "Fu Manchu" books... But I'll probably end up with Westlake or Goodis or Willeford instead. Oh, I don't know. I can never plan these things.

Yeah, no hard feelings, Campaspe. There's more than enough of those floating around as it is (not here, specifically, but you know what I mean).

Dan Coyle

Now he's changed the headline to "Trauma". Well, at least he didn't work in a "So she finally watched The Phantom Menace" joke...

dogandpony

It wasn't a band plug. The CVB song directly relates to the tragically sad empty fantasy undertone of the Wells post and to the issue of greater relative harm imposed by past/present/future American politicians. Thought it might strike a chord with you Glenn, since you have shown an interest in semi-obscure music allusions/ties.

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