Everything Is Political—Even Star Wars, Apparently

Does watching a leftist activist dressed like an elf lecturing you about feminism for an hour sound like a good time? How about watching “Star Wars” dump on Donald Trump and the MAGA movement? If not, I’d recommend avoiding TV for a while.  

As much as it seems like parody, these are apparently plot points for two upcoming programs.  

The Lord of the Rings: The Rings of Power” and “Star Wars” spinoff “Andor” have both revealed they plan to revel in modern left-wing politics at the expense of good storytelling.  

During a recent appearance at San Diego Comic-Con, a yearly convention celebrating all things nerdy, one of the actresses from “Rings of Power” claimed her character on the show was an activist and that the show writers were giving her the opportunity to be a female character with agency. 

Nazanin Boniadi, who plays the character Bronwyn, is a prominent human rights activist focusing on women’s rights in Iran. She has previously advocated for expanding government action on LGBT issues and reauthorizing the contentious Violence Against Women Act.  

Boniadi told a group of gathered journalists at the convention, “What I love about the writers on this show is that they have given every woman on the show, every female character, such agency.” 

In a later interview with ShowBiz Junkies, Boniadi added, “I call Bronwyn the fantastical version of myself because she’s an activist; I’m an activist. She’s a healer, I was premed. We have so much in common.”  

Keep in mind that Boniadi’s character is in Middle-Earth, not 2022 San Francisco. Seems like she should be more concerned about orcs and Sauron than pushing radical feminism on TV.  

Then we have “Andor,” focusing on lead character Cassian Andor as played by Diego Luna. 

In addition to not being super creative (Andor is basically a cheap knockoff of Han Solo), the show is apparently going to be a Trump bash fest. 

Actress Fiona Shaw, who plays a character named Maarva on the show, raved in an interview with Empire magazine that writer/director Tony Gilroy “has written a great, scurrilous (take) on the Trumpian world.” 

Shaw adds, “Our world is exploding in different places right now, people’s rights are disappearing, and Andor reflects that. (In the show,) the Empire is taking over, and it feels like the same thing is happening in reality, too.” 

Wow, what a new and creative take! Donald Trump is, like, actually evil. And he’s basically Darth Vader.  

This is garbage, pure and simple. But it’s a frustratingly familiar type of garbage.  

Like a swarm of perpetually outraged locusts, the left devours cultural properties including “Star Wars” and “The Lord of the Rings.” The end result is always desiccated husk, devoid of any of the charm that attracted people to the show or movie in the first place.  

Dogma replaces fun, and each piece of media regurgitates the same tired talking points.  

And when fans of the original property are rightfully angry that their shows are being hijacked to disseminate propaganda, they’re accused of gatekeeping or bigotry.  

But it’s not gatekeeping or bigoted to expect your show based on “The Lord of the Rings” to, you know, resemble “The Lord of the Rings.” 

On that point specifically, the “Rings of Power” team has blatantly demonstrated they couldn’t care less about Tolkien’s story and are only interested in wearing the property like a skin suit.  

Last month, Amazon fired preeminent Tolkien scholar Tom Shippey from his consulting gig on “Rings of Power,” reportedly for frequently telling the showrunners they were “polluting (Tolkien’s) lore.” 

Shippey isn’t some nobody. His book, “The Road to Middle-Earth,” is widely considered to be the definitive work on Tolkien and his written worlds.

The radical left doesn’t care about the lore; it’s window dressing to the main message, which is political zealotry wrapped in a thin veneer of pop culture.  

None of this is to say that there’s no place for politics in media. When done well, shows and movies can be elevated by tying their stories to political issues and reasoned social commentary.  

Back in the 80s and 90s, “Star Trek: The Next Generation” deftly handled political issues by weaving them into the narrative. The show never got preachy, though, and U.S.S. Enterprise Captain Jean-Luc Picard was able to transmit a message or moral that resonated with viewers each week. 

But that’s not what modern shows are doing. Activists do not belong in “Lord of the Rings,” and attacks on Donald Trump definitely don’t belong in “Star Wars.”

The popular internet adage “go woke, go broke” hopefully applies here, and companies will realize that killing a property for leftist adulation is not a recipe for success.  

Middle-Earth and a galaxy far, far away are not the places to stand on your political soapbox. 

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It’s ‘Not Moral’ to Request Abstinence to Stop Monkeypox: LGBT Activists

New CDC data confirms that monkeypox overwhelmingly occurs in men who identify as gay or bisexual and who engage in risky sexual behavior—yet LGBT activists have said it is “not moral” to ask men to refrain from sex until the government can get the virus corralled.

Virtually all cases reported through last month involved men who have sex with men. “Among U.S. monkeypox cases with available data, 99% occurred in men, 94% of whom reported recent male-to-male sexual or close intimate contact” within three weeks before they developed symptoms, according to CDC report released on Friday.

Of that number, one-third of men said they had sex with five or more partners in the previous three weeks. In all, 27% had sex with one other male sexual partner; 40% reported two to four partners; 14% reported five to nine partners; and 19%—nearly one in five—reported 10 or more sexual partners within the previous 21 days.

The report also noted that monkeypox infections often took place in group settings: 38% “reported group sex, defined as sex with more than two persons, at a festival, group sex event, or sex party,” according to the CDC data, which cover May 17 through July 22.

The Biden administration’s survey confirms a study published in the New England Journal of Medicine last month, which found “98% of the persons with infection were gay or bisexual men” and that transmission “was suspected to have occurred through sexual activity in 95% of the persons with infection.”

While the CDC explains that “the best way to protect yourself and others is to avoid sex of any kind,” it also recommends having virtual sex or “having sex with your clothes on.” World Health Organization Director-General Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus also counseled “for the moment, reducing your number of sexual partners.”

Despite such a stark number of monkeypox cases tied to homosexual or bisexual activities, the notion that men who identify as gay should momentarily abstain from having sex hardly received a hearing from the LGBTQ community, the public health establishment, and the legacy media. At best, a number of men offered to restrain themselves to “sex pods”—having group sex with the same people. Some LGBT activists denounced the notion of chastity as immoral.

Public “messaging from the CDC and others suggesting gays people simply have less—or distanced —sex has been met with eye rolls by many in the community,” admitted two self-described “queer” writers, Chris Stedman and Aditya Chandorkar, in a recent GQ article.

They asserted that “calling for abstinence is not effective. It’s also, we would argue, not moral to tell queer people, who have been told time and again by the world not to fulfill what is a basic human need, to simply do so again.”

Christian conservatives say that response confirms their contention that public health often rests on public ethics. “This is not just a medical issue. This really is a moral issue,” said David Closson, director of the Center for Biblical Worldview at the Family Research Council, on Friday’s episode of “Washington Watch.”

He accused health officials of engaging in “moral evasion” in order “to avoid the unfortunate reality that there are certain types of behaviors that are making this disease so rampant in certain communities. It’s not bigoted to point out basic facts of science and epidemiology.”

Sexual continence would have prevented all but 6% of known U.S. monkeypox cases, yet The Washington Post reported: “Sex is a major driver of the global outbreak. But health officials and longtime HIV activists say calls for abstinence don’t work.” The paper quoted one such official, WHO advisor Andy Seale, urging politicians to share monkeypox data in “a stigma-free, moral-free, not-making-any-judgments manner.” Yet epidemiologist Dr. Andrew G. Bostom recently told “Washington Watch” that any honest analysis would reveal that the monkeypox “outbreak has been fueled … by gay bacchanalia.” 

Not only have leaders in the areas most affected by the virus refused to call on men who identify as gay to exercise self-restraint, they have not even canceled public LGBT events. On Sunday, San Francisco continued its annual “Up Your Alley Fair.”

“Located in front of the legendary Powerhouse bar, an anything-goes gay leather bar, nearly 15,000 fellow leather men and fetish enthusiasts engage in BDSM play at over 50 adult vendor spaces!” explains a gay website. “Spanking, punching, whips and floggers, bondage, domination and submission, creative water-sports, toys and so much more are in full effect.” The San Francisco AIDS Foundation advised the event is the place to “get your fill of hot hairy daddies, hungry pigs, BDSM babes and kinks of all kinds.” The foundation’s mascot—“Douchie,” an animated douche — shared “some hot tips for a fun and filthy weekend—free of anxiety.” None involved abstinence. It closed by telling readers, “You may choose to use one or two of these suggestions—or none at all.”

The foundation did not explain how taking no precautions would slow the spread of monkeypox.

The openness to willingly risk exposure to the extraordinarily painful virus shows the emptiness at the center of the gay lifestyle, said Joseph Sciambra, a former porn star and escort who left the lifestyle after his converting to Christianity. “Straight people wonder why gay men risk their lives in the midst of the monkeypox endemic, in order to take part in a sex fair,” he said. “Many Christians rightly wanted to attend church during the COVID-19 pandemic. It’s the same thing. For some gay men these events are religious experiences.”

California Democrats apparently regard the hypersexualized thirst for large numbers of anonymous sexual partners as deserving of greater protection than actual religion. California Governor and potential 2024 Democratic presidential candidate Gavin Newsom fought all the way to the Supreme Court to defend a COVID-19 lockdown order keeping churches closed in his state.

Yet the Bay City’s left-wing political leadership has greeted monkeypox with exceptionally lax personal demands. “If people want to have sex, they are going to have sex,” California state Senator Scott Wiener, a Democrat, told the Post. “People will make their own decisions about their own risk levels.” he tweeted, “Lecturing people not to have sex isn’t a public health strategy. It didn’t stop HIV—it made it worse—and it won’t stop monkeypox.” Wiener also called closing gay bathhouses in the 1980s “an epic blunder.”

That’s a significantly more laissez-faire attitude than he took toward the coronavirus. In February, Wiener and Assemblyman Buffy Wicks, a Democrat, co-authored a bill that would mandate every employer in California require every employee to receive the COVID-19 vaccination. “The path to normalcy is through broad vaccination. Period,” Wiener tweeted.

“It is difficult to follow the science, as we were repeatedly told to do [during COVID-19], when we consistently see the science so faithfully following the politics,” said guest host Joseph Backholm on Friday.

For its part, the Biden administration, which declared monkeypox a public health emergency on Thursday, has shared LGBTQ activists’ emphasis on finding a medical remedy rather than addressing the underlying behavior spreading the virus. While the U.S. has recorded 7,509 total cases of monkeypox as of this writing, the Biden administration plans to ship out 950,000 doses of the monkeypox vaccine by September.

Liberals’ hostility toward the free exercise of religion on one hand, and the embrace of anonymous group sex on the other, reflects America’s shifting sense of priorities and what professor Charles Taylor referred to as the building blocks of a modern identity. “Increasingly, whether you identify as gay or straight in America today, we now view our sexual behaviors, our sexual desires, our sexual urges as really at the core of who we are. It’s central to your being, to your self-identification,” said Closson. Any suggestion for you “to regulate your behavior” is seen as “an assault” on the most pivotal part of our being.

As the public response to the monkeypox outbreak shows, many American political leaders consider sexuality a far more central aspect of our lives—and their jobs—than the constitutionally protected freedom of religion.

Originally published by The Washington Stand.

The Daily Signal publishes a variety of perspectives. Nothing written here is to be construed as representing the views of The Heritage Foundation.

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The customer is always angry – here’s why | Letters

Gary McKillion, Christina Freeman and Louise Richmond on how bureaucracy and the erosion of society have dehumanised people and led to a customer service nightmare

Regarding your article (‘Don’t take it out on our staff!’: How did Britain become so angry?, 4 August), in the mid-1990s, when I was 21 and working as a software developer at a well-known burger restaurant chain, I was often sworn at by our customers. The company sent us on courses to help us deal with difficult customers and communicate more effectively. It really helped. Since then, I’ve been involved in the mass rollout of IT systems and seen the effects on society over the past 30 years. Recently, I’ve worked in customer service myself.

I believe that the increasing aggression to staff is driven by two major factors. The first has been a rise in bureaucracy, much of which is enforced by computer systems that can’t handle situations outside the norm, and the corresponding increase in processes and regulations. We are conditioned to expect rigid processes and inexperienced staff who are unable to show initiative. Diminishing margins mean that smaller companies simply don’t have the staff to deal with our problems.

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Are slowing house prices good news for Britain’s generation rent? Don’t hold your breath | Laurie Macfarlane

It’s tempting to think buying a home will become easier, but economic turmoil will make would-be owners worse off

Amid the gloomy economic data released last week, one statistic caught many analysts by surprise. Halifax, the country’s largest mortgage lender, reported that UK house price growth has not only slowed down but turned negative. Just one month ago, the same bank had announced that prices had soared to a record high. Could this dramatic shift mark the beginning of the end for the great British housing boom?

After years of watching homeownership slip further out of reach, it might be tempting for generation rent to greet the news of a house price slowdown with open arms. But it would be premature to reach for the champagne. Even if house prices continue to fall, any potential benefits will almost certainly be offset by other economic forces. There are also good reasons to treat this data with caution. The average price fell by just £365 in July – or 0.1% month on month – and still remains more than £30,000 higher than the same time last year. The figure also only reflects data from one lender, and represents an average of prices across the UK.

Laurie Macfarlane is an economist and writer. He is co-author of Rethinking the Economics of Land and Housing

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After years of torture, I broke free of the tyranny of calorie counting | Amelia Tait

Focusing on the calories in your diet is antiquated and destructive. I wish I could have told my anorexic teenage self

When science fiction writers imagine great, grandiose methods of social control – matrixes! Microchips! Really big bros! – they ignore one powerful form that already exists: the humble calorie.

Very little is more distracting, maddening, soul-destroying or totalitarian than the seemingly random number (egg: 155! Freddo: 95!) that is assigned to everything we eat. It is a number that will affect your body and – although it shouldn’t be the case – the way others around you value it. If you have ever counted your calories, and if you ever restricted them, then you have lived under a brutal regime. I’m really, truly sorry. I wish no one had ever told you that calories exist.

Amelia Tait is a writer on tech and internet phenomena

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