Hey, Roger Ebert, consensus #1 film critic, author of classic reviews of North and Jack Frost, how’s life been treating you?
Oh, I see you’ve answered with a blog post titled Things fall apart; the centre cannot hold. I’m down with the W.B. “Mason” Yeats, man. I knew you had good taste. Let’s see what you got for us in the post:
It’s all coming to pieces, isn’t it — the world we live in, the continuity we thought we could count on, the climate, the economy, the fragile peace. The 20th century was called “the American Century,” with some reason. I do not believe the 21st century will belong to anybody, and it may not last for 100 years of human witness. There are nuclear weapons in the Middle East and on the Indian subcontinent, and if one is used, more will follow and who can say when the devastation will end?
Um, yeah, I mean, I guess you could look at it that way if you want to be the “half-empty” kind of guy. But it’s only a few days after Christmas and the Eagles just unexpectedly made the playoffs, and I dunno, I don’t really want to have a downer of a conversation.
The weather is unhinged. It is no longer a question of global warming. It is a question of what in the hell is happening? I do not have to rehearse for you the details of this horrible American autumn, and a winter not yet half over. The tornadoes, the hurricanes, the floods, the blizzards, the wild fires, the heat waves, the water shortages, the power blackouts. The White House declares “a state of emergency” and the federal government sends money. How many states of emergency are we still in? How much more money is there?
Um, okay, but this is sort of vague nonsensical alarmist bullshit, the kind of thing you’ve probably bashed in a hundred reviews. If you’d like to talk about specific issues, I am certainly willing to listen to a man whose opinion on movies I highly respect.
The economy is going to get worse. We may have no idea how much worse. The greed and corruption at the economy’s core reached a scale unimaginable at the time of the Great Depression. Even responsible banks are threatened, because they cannot borrow and are fearful of lending. The world seeks safe havens for wealth, but the dollar is weaker, the yen is also surrounded by Recession, and if we park our money in China, a risky notion, what will happen with their money, parked here?
Ingredients for apocalypse: Greed, corruption, weak currency, Recession (I assume this is the name of an angel of doom or something, otherwise this doesn’t make any sense), uncertainty of money’s future.
Earlier this year, reviewing a bad movie named “Sex Drive,” I wrote:
As they motor South, they pass through Amish country. Luckily it’s the day of the annual Amish sex orgy, and Ian meets sexy Mary, who falls in love with him, flashes her boobs, etc. The director, Sean Anders, should be ashamed of himself. Lucky the Amish don’t go to movies, or he’d be facing a big lawsuit. Better be nice to the Amish. In a year we’ll be trading gold bars for their food, haha.
Haha, indeed. The Amish can grow their own food and heat their own homes and feed their own horses, and where does that leave us? Many of my readers right now are living in the middle of vast urban areas, 50 miles from farmland One partner has been laid off, the other fears the same. There are children and mortgage payments. What will they do on the level of survival? I’ve been reading a memoir by Larry Woiwode, who farms his own land in North Dakota and may not have foreseen disaster but seems prepared to deal with it.
Haha, indeed, indeed. Okay, Roger, I stuck with you through three stars for Never Been Kissed, but, I mean, threats of the apocalypse and back-to-the-land idealism? I don’t know.
I would also like to point out Ebert’s post is illustrated with three black shapes, and then a stop sign at the end. Ooh, creepy!
How will my family fare? Yes, we’ve earned some nice money in our careers. But I have found that nothing cures wealth like illness. Few people in this country can afford to get seriously ill, and many cannot afford to take a single day off from their job–or jobs. Under Bush we doubled our national debt in only eight years. Now the experts say Obama will have no choice but to increase it even further, with “bailouts” of an increasingly leaky ship. That means spending money we do not have–printing it, in the final analysis. That leads to inflation. Inflation leads to legends of fortunes in pre-war Germany reduced to worthless paper, of people trading shopping bags full of banknotes for a loaf of bread. What does money mean when it is backed only by debt?
What if war in the Middle East cuts off oil, even if OPEC wants to sell it? What if the shipping lanes are blocked? What will happen then? Less developed countries may paradoxically be better off. The closer to the land and to subsistence a family lives, the better-equipped it is to survive. The unemployed family in the middle of a city will have savings, unemployment insurance, maybe government and private assistance of various kinds, and may be able to just get by, but how long will that last? Everybody can’t move in with the relatives. Some people have to be the relatives.
Is it Roger Ebert’s lifelong regret that he didn’t become an Amish puppy mill farmer? I mean, I know everyone has their weird ideas, but I don’t really see this scenario playing out. And if even psychics can’t predict the future, it seems like it’s best to stay away from vague calls of impending doom and stick to bashing Air Bud: Golden Receiver.
I dreamed, we all dreamed, for years that the future held vague visions of progress and prosperity, and that our problems would be “solved” by science. How many of us are so sure about that now? I wonder if we are living in the End of Days. I do not mean that in a biblical sense.
Believing in impending apocalypse due to the Book of Revelations or a charismatic preacher: Silly.
Believing in impending apocalypse due to the question, “What does money mean when it is backed only by debt?”: … Less silly?
I mean that we seem to be irrevocably screwing things up. In the case of the global warming problem, we may have already done so.
Oh, yes. An actual reason for apocalypse. Yes, there is a chance we have already released enough pollution in the air that we, as a planet, are done for. That sounds like a fun article to read, exploring that idea. Let’s see what scientists or academics or conspiracy theorists or even politicians Ebert quoted to talk about this fascinating issue.
Please, please, don’t tell me global warming is Al Gore’s fantasy. I am reminded of a great line by Saul Bellow. A dying man tells his brother: “Look for me in the weather reports.”
Al Gore, the guy from the hearing about how rock music was turning our kids into Satanists, and a writer. Well, at least it’s not Michael Crichton.
Earthquakes. Tsunamis. Typhoons. Volcanoes. Melting icecaps. Dead zones in the sea. Barack Obama’s family and everyone else on Oahu was trapped in a power blackout, after ferocious lightning storms struck the power grid. I googled “power blackout Oahu” and found only 17,000 hits. If you know anything about Google, you know this was a freak weather occurrence. But the sun came up the next morning, and in less than a month Obama will be President.
I totally had a power blackout in Oahu once, man; the next thing I remember I woke up and Obama was president!
Not to trample on that airtight “number of google hits” statistical theory of the apocalypse — APOC.RATE = ( google hits for “power blackout Oahu” * number of pages in Larry Woiwode memoir ) / money-valuation crisis of faith rate — but I got several hundred thousand results.
Oh, no, does that mean we’re even more likely to have an apocalypse! Hey, did you guys know Ronald Reagan times Barack Obama minus Roger Ebert is 666!
What a daunting situation he will face. How well can he possibly “succeed” when so many of the problems, starting with the climate, cannot be cured by the actions of man? How can he lead the economy back from a pit of unbridled, unregulated greed–when we learn that CEOs protected their own $100 million bonuses as part of the bailout package we all paid for? How will he bring world peace between peoples who have hated each other for decades?
I mean, look, CEOs are pretty greedy. Damn those Wall Street fatcats! How, exactly, is some rich and powerful dude getting away with doing whatever he wants — which has been the case for all of human existence — going to destroy the earth? Hey, weirder things have happened, but I could use a little more explanation. I mean, there’s a whole book of Revelation, and even that doesn’t ramble on about world peace. (Note: Right? It’s all war and dragons and horseman and 666, really, it’s way more convincing than Roger Ebert’s blog post.)
If you are a member of the U.S. Congress, you should not give a damn if you are a Democrat or a Republican. You should discard ideology and partisanship. You should be searching only for what works, or gives promise of working. You should be listening to the best counsel of the wisest people you can find. This is no time for playing to the crowd. That is all over with. This is the hour to seek what might lead us back from the brink.
Oh, I see, this was a locker room motivational speech to Congress, from Roger Ebert. His message: Work hard, do your job, don’t be greedy and prepare for the impending apocalypse. Uhm, if the world is ending tomorrow I’m going to start looting right now. (I’ve wanted a Playstation 3 for a while now.) Come to think of it, this Ebert blog post sounds like the plot for a horrible action movie he’d trash about a group of politicians who get together and save the world from global crisis.
Ebert has made several responses in the comments, too; he’s also received lavish praise, which is fine, whatever. But remember when I wondered if Ebert had anything concrete to discuss, maybe any facts to mention? Probably not, that was like 1500 words ago. Anyway:
Ebert: The last thing I wanted to do was start up a discussion about any specific situation.
Yes, yes, no specific situation except the end of existence as we know it.