Tuesday Reads: Hitchcock, Hearing Aids, and Republican Delusions

Good Morning!!

I’m really looking forward to seeing Hitchcock, the new movie about the making of Psycho. Unfortunately, the film may not come to Muncie, IN, so I might have to just hope it will still be playing in Boston when I get back home sometime in December. If you have a chance to see it where you are, let me know how you like it.

Last night the Wall Street Journal posted an interview with Helen Mirren, who plays the great director’s wife Alma Reville Hitchcock in the new film. Mirren is one of my favorite actresses!

Alfred Hitchcock once said that there were four people who helped make him who he was—one was a film director, one a script writer, one a cook and one the mother of his daughter. “Their names are Alma Reville,” he said of his wife of 44 years, who performed all four roles. In the new biopic “Hitchcock,” Helen Mirren rolls Reville’s many facets into a singular performance.

The movie, which opened in the city over the weekend, traces Hitchcock’s (Anthony Hopkins) effort to make his 1960 classic, “Psycho,” from his struggle with Hollywood studios to finance the picture to Reville’s pivotal role in the movie’s—and her husband’s—success. “I was surprised to find out about the importance of Alma,” Ms. Mirren said recently.

Read what Mirren had to say at the link.

And here’s an interview with Anthony Hopkins, who plays Alfred Hitchcock at “Vulture.”

Do you remember the first time you saw Psycho?

When it first came out in Manchester on a wet September evening and I was knocked out by it. That was the most terrifying film I’d ever seen. I couldn’t believe it: Where’s Janet Leigh? She’s got to come back. She’s the star of the movie! I thought she perhaps escaped from the trunk of the car. So I’ve been watching these films over the years, long before I knew I was going to play him.

Did you talk to anyone who worked with Hitchcock? What insights did they share?

I met Janet Leigh in New York, and then later in Hollywood at a function. She said, “Mr. Hitchcock was one of the funniest men I’ve ever worked with. My ex-husband Tony [Curtis] and I used to go to his house in Bel-Air, and we’d laugh ourselves sick, because he was so funny, so wicked, a great practical joker.” She said he wasn’t an easy man to get to know, but she got on with him.

Read lots more at the link.

Psycho came out in 1960, when I was only 12 years old. My parents wouldn’t let me see horror movies, which is probably why I love them so much now. I don’t remember when I first saw Psycho–it must have been on TV, probably in the late 60s or 70s. By then the shock value wasn’t as huge as when the movie first came out.

Entertainment Weekly has a “look back at the mystique of ‘Psycho’” by Owen Glieberman

Alfred Hitchcock’s Psycho was released in the summer of 1960, and in the half a century since, it has become the rare movie in which every image and detail and motif is now, more or less, iconic. Every moment in the movie is a piece of mythological Americana.

In a way that I couldn’t quite say about any other film, I feel as if I’ve spent most of my movie life thinking — and writing — about Psycho. Part of the film’s mystique is that no matter how many times you’ve seen it (and it may be the ultimate movie that you can watch over and over again), it keeps coming back to provoke and tantalize and haunt you. Its power of revelation never wears thin or gets old. It’s one of the only films in Hollywood history — the others, I would say, are The Wizard of Oz, Citizen Kane, The Godfather, and Star Wars — that is so alive, its experience so vivid and immediate and larger-than-life, that it effectively transcends time….

In the infamous shower scene, when that big, fat kitchen knife, wielded by a mysterious Victorian shrew named Mrs. Bates, came slashing down, over and over again, into the body of Marion Crane, it was also slicing through years — decades, centuries — of popular expectation that the hero or heroine of a fictional work would be shielded and protected, or would at least die (usually at the end) in a way that made some sort of moral-dramatic sense. In Psycho, murder made no sense at all; the suddenness — and viciousness — of it tore at the fabric of our certainty. What it suggested is that none of us, in the end, are ever truly protected. Hitchcock seemed to be pulling the rug, the floor, and the earth right out from under the audience. He opened an abyss, exposing moviegoers to a dark side that few, at the time, could ever have dared to imagine.

Eeeeeeeeek!

In other news, I had a big day yesterday. I’ve had moderate hearing loss since I was pretty young–at least since my early 30s. When I first found out I had nerve damage, I was told there was nothing that could be done. My problem was that I had trouble making out words, and hearing aids would only make the garbled words louder.

Technology has advanced over the past 30 years, and yesterday I got some hearing aids, thanks to the generosity of my mother. Suddenly I can hear things that I never heard before. I can hear the words people are saying even if I’m not looking at them and watching their lips. I can hear people when they whisper–previously I couldn’t make out whispering even if the person’s mouth was right next to my ear. It’s just amazing. I hope you don’t mind me sharing that.

Now some national news. Republicans are still trying to figure out why they lost the presidential election and, as Lawrence O’Donnell pointed out last night, they still don’t want to give President Obama any credit for beating them. No, it’s all about demographics, fooling Latinos and women into thinking Republicans actually care about their issues. But what about Asian-Americans, another group that voted for Obama by a lopsided percentage?

Right wing racist Charles Murray argues that the problem (with both Latinos and Asians) is that the Republican Party has tied itself to socially conservative issues (no kidding!)

My thesis is that the GOP is in trouble across the electoral board because it has become identified in the public mind with social conservatism. Large numbers of Independents and Democrats who are naturally attracted to arguments of fiscal discipline, less government interference in daily life, greater personal responsibility, and free enterprise refuse to vote for Republicans because they are so put off by the positions and rhetoric of social conservatives, whom they take to represent the spirit of the “real” GOP….

Asians are only half as likely to identify themselves as “conservative” or “very conservative” as whites, and less than half as likely to identify themselves as Republicans. Asians are not only a lot more liberal than whites; a higher percentage of Asians identify themselves as “liberal” or “extremely liberal” (22%) than do blacks (19%) or Latinos (17%). And depending on which poll you believe, somewhere in the vicinity of 70% of Asians voted for Barack Obama in the last presidential election.

Something’s wrong with this picture. It’s not just that the income, occupations, and marital status of Asians should push them toward the right. Everyday observation of Asians around the world reveal them to be conspicuously entrepreneurial, industrious, family-oriented, and self-reliant. If you’re looking for a natural Republican constituency, Asians should define “natural.”

And so on… bla bla bla…

At the American Prospect, Jamelle Bouie explains to Murray How Not to Appeal to Asian Americans. Hint: cut out the racism.

As with Latinos, Asian American movement to the Democratic Party has a lot to do with with the explicitly anti-immigrant stance of the GOP, as well as the overwhelming sense that the GOP is a party for hidebound whites, and actively hostile toward nonwhites of all stripes.

There’s a policy component in this as well; the Asian American community is highly diverse (ethnically, economically, and otherwise), and there many who would benefit from the core Obama agenda of health care reform, stronger social services, and investments in education and other programs. Still, even with that in mind, it’s fair to say that Asian American support for Obama is as much about inclusion as it is about policy.

Which is why this piece, from conservative scholar Charles Murray, rankles. Rather than consider Asian American political preferences on their own terms—or even acknowledge the range of experience among different Asian American groups—Murray lumps them all into a single, undistinguished mass of model minorities, and then wonders why they don’t vote for Republican candidates.

But Murray’s argument is based on a false premise:

It’s worth noting the implicit contrast here. Entrepreneurism, industriousness, family-orientation, self-reliance—these are things that Murray sees as unique to Republican constituencies. Which must also mean that these are thing that go unvalued by Democratic constituencies, namely, African Americans, Latinos, young people, and single women.

Furthermore, as Bouie notes today’s Republicans actually are a bunch of fundamentalists who are anti-gay and anti-woman. That’s not just a perception, it’s the reality that Charles Murray doesn’t want to accept. It’s not that Latinos, Asians, and African Americans are deluded about the nature of the Republican Party. But what else would you expect from the author of the racist screed The Bell Curve?

Today Susan Rice will begin facing down her Republican critics on Capital Hill.

With congressional opposition softening, U.N. Ambassador Susan Rice could find her name in contention as early as this week to succeed Hillary Rodham Clinton as secretary of state. It’s a step that may signal greater U.S. willingness to intervene in world crises during President Barack Obama’s second term.

As Obama nears a decision on who should be the country’s next top diplomat, Rice has emerged as the clear front-runner on a short list of candidates that many believe has been narrowed to just her and Sen. John Kerry, despite lingering questions over her comments about the deadly Sept. 11 attack on a U.S. Consulate in Libya.

According to congressional aides and administration officials, Rice will be making the rounds on Capitol Hill this week for closed door meetings with key lawmakers whose support she will need to be confirmed. Those appearances follow her first in-depth explanation of her Benghazi remarks that Republicans seized on as evidence of the administration’s mishandling of the attack that took the lives of the U.S. ambassador to Libya and three other Americans.

Acting CIA Director Michael Morell will join Rice in her meetings with lawmakers.

Today Rice will meet with Senators John McCain and Kelly Ayotte. When asked about the meeting, McCain was his usual testy self:

McCain said he would ask Rice “the same questions I’ve been talking about on every talk show in America.” Asked whether he thinks she’s still unfit for secretary of state and what he was hoping for, McCain interrupted and said, “I’m not hoping for anything. She asked to see me and I agreed to see her.”

What a jerk. I’d love to be a fly on the wall in that meeting.

I’ll end with this amazing artistic depiction of Republican delusion, Grover Norquist as the Wizard of Oz (via Buzzfeed).

Artist Michael D’Antuono has painted anti-taxi activist Grover Norquist as a Wizard of Oz-like disembodied head with Republican politicians bowing before him as an elephant burns, to symbolize Norquist’s powerful position in the Republican party.


Now it’s your turn. What are you reading and blogging about today?

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34 Comments on “Tuesday Reads: Hitchcock, Hearing Aids, and Republican Delusions”

  1. surfric says:

    Nice post, BB.

    As soon as I started your exposition of Murray’s thesis, I thought of the Bell Curve. You mentioned it in passing, but for those who aren’t familiar, let me explain a little. In that book, Murray maintains that a gap in IQ scores between blacks and whites is due to a relative lower inherent (read genetic) intelligence among blacks. But if he believes that, he also must believe there is something genetically superior about Asians, since they score higher than whites on the same tests by a similar amount. He claims to control for socioeconomic factors by noting that the black white difference happens in many countries, but of course it really just means that racism is a worldwide phenomenon. Now if Asians are so smart, and therefore educated and successful, they would HAVE to be Republicans, since the Democratic party is for losers and idiots. It bug the hell out of them that it isn’t true.

    Of course, he has it completely backwards. There is not enough genetic difference among the races to account for such a large distinction in intelligence, even if you believe that genetic factors have a lot to do with intelligence. The cultural emphasis on family and education among Asian cultures relative to whites and blacks account for some of the observed differences, and lower SES status in dark skinned people all over the world can help account for blacks’ observed relative lower scores.

    In short, Murray is a racist hack, and his book is the worst sort of pseudo social science (which has a tendency to be pseudo in the first place). It never should have gotten serious attention except as an example of how NOT to make an argument based on statistics.

  2. Greywolf says:

    Congratulations, BB, on the new hearing aids. I’m glad they work well for you.

    • bostonboomer says:

      Thanks, Greywolf.

      • RalphB says:

        Ditto, congrats on the hearing aids. I have hearing loss and need them myself. You may have pushed me to get them now that I know they work for you. :-)

      • bostonboomer says:

        Ralph,

        It’s just unbelievable what they can do now. They are digital, and each hearing aid has a computer chip that can be programmed for your individual needs. She set it up on a computer, and they can be readjusted if necessary. Even if my hearing changes, the ones I have can be reprogrammed.

      • BB, I love all of this…so happy for you now that you can hear conversations and things better.

      • jawbone says:

        Impressive improvements. My mother had to leave teaching at 67 because even with hearing aids she couldn’t quite hear well enough to be as effective as she felt had to be.

        She never was comfortable with them as they bothered her by picking up ambient noise, loud noises would hurt her ears, etc.

        I’ve been told that people really need to get hearing aids as soon as hearing loss is detected, that it is much more difficult to become adjusted to them once hearing loss is greated or been that way for a long time.

        These sound fantastic. I fear the cost is as well…?

      • bostonboomer says:

        They were fairly expensive, around $3000. But not everyone needs the same technology. Mine are comfortable, and you can get different sizes of the tips that go in your ear. I have a small piece behind my ear and a tiny wire goes to the tip in my ear.

        Back in the ’80s, I was told that a hearing aid would only make everything louder but not make the words clearer. I’m also sensitive to loud noises–that is typical of nerve damage–so I they told me not to bother with hearing aids. The ones I have now are programmed individually for me. They only make the frequencies I have trouble with louder. At first I was surprised by the small sounds I heard that I missed before. It was kind of startling, but the audiologist told me your brain is stimulated by the small sounds at first and after awhile you begin to filter them out.

        So far the extra sounds haven’t bothered me at all. It’s great getting the extra stimulation. Before I hated to go to a party where I would miss so much of what people were saying. I’m looking forward to finding out how it will be now.

      • Riverbird says:

        I’m glad about your hearing aids. I need them but have been putting off getting an exam.

      • NW Luna says:

        Another congrats on the hearing aids. IIRC, the average person –tho this is for age-related hearing loss — goes at for least 7 years with hearing loss before getting hearing aids. I’m glad the aids are so much better now.

      • BB, my mom has the same type of hearing loss, they told her at the time hearing aids would not work on her either. Then some years back she had some work done on her ears, and that doctor mentioned that they were working on hearing aids with computer chips in them. I am so happy for you.

    • Fannie says:

      Glad your hearing has improved BB…………….I didn’t know Hitchcock was now in the movies…I’ll have to check it out.

  3. janicen says:

    I’m so happy for you getting the hearing aids. You must be overjoyed. I love when technology makes life better.

    • bostonboomer says:

      I’m thrilled! My hearing problem is one of the reasons I didn’t want to teach anymore. Now maybe I can reconsider.

    • Beata says:

      This is great news, BB. I am so pleased for you! Enjoy all the benefits the new hearing aids give you. xoxo

  4. Joanelle says:

    So happy you have hearing aids that work well for you! Psycho was the movie I saw on the first date with my husband. He was exceedingly shy, and had wanted to ask me out for to years (he later told me.) the only movie around when he got the courage to ask me out was Psycho- that was in August 1960. Four years later, after completing my degree, we married, yep, we’re still together, best friends and enjoying the ups and downs together!

  5. jawbone says:

    Suggestion — substitute “earned benefits*” every time you hear or read pols talking about SocSec and Medicare as “entitlements.”

    Use “earned benefits” yourself in discussing the fake propaganda term “fiscal cliff*,” which is only an excuse to go after earned benedits. OUR earned benefits. Which are as nothing to the Uberwealthy, but existentially important for most of US.

    Entitlements is exactly correct since it means a benefit someone has paid for or is lawfully a right to receive, but the conservative right –and especially now Corporatists, Repubs and Dems both, are denigrating SocSec and Medicare by using “entititlements” to mean things people receive but don’t deserve or haven’t earned. Something UNearned, something provided for free to undeserving moochers and takers.

    Yeah, lookin’ at YOU, Obama!!!

    Anyway, “earned benefits.” Try it out on your friends and at other blog sites.

    Especially try it out on your elected officials, up to and including the prez.

    As in, “Elected Pol, if you cut our earned benefits in SocSec and Medicare, which we pay for over our working lives, I will never ever vote for your political party ever again. Capiche?” (Note: Obama will not care, he’s got his reelection. And may well want to end the Dem Party….)

    And scrutinize any “news” report using the terms “fiscal cliff” and “entitlements” in close proximity. It’s pure propaganda.

    As Dave Johnson writes, merely using the term “fiscal cliff” is taking sides. Or, at the very least, it means using the term the enemies of the great Democratic social programs of earned benefits want you to use. It’s a scare term, designed to make people stop thinking.

    This morning on WNYC, NYC public radio, the local annoucer teased a program segment by saying it would include a segment about Obama trying to prevent the economy from “careening off the fiscal cliff.”

    This is a “reporter” doubling down on the propaganda part of the term, and trying to double or quadruple the scare factor by adding the scare verb “careening.” WOW.

    Really. Just WOW — public radio, a member in good standing of the Mainstream Corporate Media (MCM). How could it be otherwise when so much of their funding comes from Big Bidness and the Uberwealthy?

    *A commenter at Corrente suggested using “earned benefits” instead of “entitlements.” The right loves to destroy the connotations and even meanings of perfectly good words and has done so with entitlements. Even now it takes at least a minimum explanation as to why “earned benefits” fits! So, the right and Corporatist have scored pretty highly in this part of the game.

    • dakinikat says:

      I wrote about calling them ‘earned benefits’ right before the election. I’m tired of what’s basically an insurance plan that we pay for being treated as some kind of burden on taxpayers … which it is not.

      White House says Social Security should NOT be on the table for ‘Fiscal Cliff’ talks http://thkpr.gs/Rgmr2x

      • jawbone says:

        Thanks, Kat — I was totally off line from 10/29 through 11/7, late at night. Sandy effect: No electricity, no heat, no stove, no phone, no internet, cell phones next to useless. And a whole passle of Kodak batteries that didn’t work altho’ years within the best use by date. Plus, Sandy’s arrival led to an appt for my friend with the stroke at Kessler Rehab to be postponed. Bad storm!

        I have lots of catching up to do and so little time. I’m still working on emptying the side-by-side. When electricity came back on, on the melted stuff in the freezer froze in place.

        Working on getting my friend with the stroke into Kessler took a lot of time, so I didn’t do anything but clean up things in the sidewalks in driveway. I actually had to drive over to Kessler to make the appt since the phone system was so messed up I couldn’t get through to the doctor’s office.

        Someone suggested calling SocSec and Medicare “deferred income,” as in deferred compensation, but I think Medicare is much more an insurance program. But all have been earned by having FICA taken out of our checks. I really like “earned benefits,” and think it might have a chance of halting the rush over the fake fiscal cliff –er, make that fake fiscal curb– and setting us into a bog of penury for generations to come. It will be easy for Obama to cut benefits and extremely difficult to get them back, if ever.

        Plus, we already have the most meager pension system in the developed world, I heard today on the radio. Obama wants to his innermost core to make it even more meager. What a guy, that pseudo-Dem prez.

      • dakinikat says:

        I can completely relate … Issac and Katrina still are having an impact on my life. It seems to never end. The problems with utilities and getting supplies is just the worst but then trying to chase down some one to help fix things goes on forever.

    • NW Luna says:

      I correct everyone whom I hear use “entitlements” or “fiscal cliff.” It’s not an entitlement since we pay in, and there’s no cliff. NPR has long since turned into Nat’l Partially Republican.

  6. RalphB says:

    Speaking of Republican delusions, they need digital aids to hear the electorate…

    Daily Beast: The GOP Faces Years in the Wilderness After 2012 Election Losses

    Sensible Republicans seeking to renew the viability of a conservative party that seems out of touch after a stinging defeat at the polls are being denounced as ‘heretics.’ Robert Shrum on why the party might never find its way back.

    • jawbone says:

      Unless Obama hands them victory on a golden platter of cuts to SocSec and Medicare, all due to the Democratic Party.

      It’s one thing to overlook a political party quietly, in arcane language, in fine print of legislation and (de)reregulation, transferring wealth more and more to the upper income quintile, or better the tippy top Dot Zero One Percent, but it’s quite another for that party to cut off its base where they literally live. Without SocSec and Medicare,or with damaged and curtailed social safety net programs, it will be Hurry Up and Die time for many, many seniors.

      If the Dems are paintable –and will be if Obama succeeds– as the party that ruined SocSec/Medicare, I predict they will be a dead party. The main principles of the Dem Party was to protect SocSec and Medicare, along with funding Medicaid. If they refust to honor that principle, they are as good as dead to the voters.

      • bostonboomer says:

        Dems are saying Social Security is off the table because it doesn’t affect the deficit. I think Obama learned a thing or two during the campaign.

    • dakinikat says:

      You can tell it’s never going to get better by what’s happening in states like mine. The base is completely hostile to anything but purity on certain issues and they’ve worked hard at the 80s to purge any voices of reason from the party. They wont give up control.

    • NW Luna says:

      Boo-hoo if they don’t find their way back.

  7. dakinikat says:

    I can add one more big reason to why Asian Americans don’t vote Republican from having children of Asian-American heritage (Japanese) and a son-in-law and many friends of Asian-American heritage (Indian) and having my mentors being also of Asian-American Heritage (Bengladeshi) and most of my colleagues falling into the same category (add Chinese here). Plus I practice an Asian belief system (Tibetan Buddhism) and my research area is basically in the developing East Asian region of the world. None of their religions are exclusive of science. Most Asian Americans are highly educated and they go into science and technology and places where math is valued as well as scientific reason. They dominate finance, medicine, and computer sciences these days. No one can be successful in these fields if they cling to the notion that the earth is 8000 years old, or that evolution is a ‘belief’, or that voodoo economics works.

  8. Riverbird says:

    Bostonboomer, you’re lucky your parents didn’t let you see Psycho when it came out! I saw it in a theater when I was a young teen and for years I had to take tub baths instead of showers. Seriously. The movie affected me so much that years later when I got married I made my husband promise never to come into the bathroom for any reason when I was in the shower.

  9. ANonOMouse says:

    Good post BB. Psycho was one of my favorites, but I like everything Hitchcock did, My favorites are North by Northwest, Rear Window, Bell, Book and Candle and Vertigo.

    Also glad to know the hearing aid is working well for you and that the technology has improved so much. I have some hearing issues caused by tinnitus, haven’t found a solution to it yet (not even the latest meds) although I continue to try. I’ve had if for so long that I’ve normalized it and forgotten what silence is like.

  10. NW Luna says:

    Psycho — (shudder) I’ve never seen it and never will. Life has enough nasty events as is.