Highlights: Trump’s North Korea gambit is a sham | I’m about to quit ‘Homeland’: SVU | An accordion’s cattle call & More

The modern-day rule of American politics: most roads lead through Russia.

At least the crooked ones do.

Russian oligarchs invested in U.S. social media; Russia has cultivated folks from the NRA, as well as America’s left and right wings; through Kaspersky Labs, RT America and phony social-media accounts they’re messing with our citizens’ belief systems and security; and tap-danced all over our voting infrastructure, which is of course not being protected in advance of the 2018 Midterm Elections.

And so, when Cletus announced “hey, I’m gonna have a sit-down with my bae Kim,” my bullshit meter started going off, again.

Trump couldn’t figure out how to order lunch off a Korean BBQ menu let alone solve the conundrum of Pyongyang’s nuclear arsenal.

And of course like clockwork our esteemed media started breathlessly declaring this and that about what this proposed meeting means. Can he solve the problem? Only Nixon could go to China! Maybe Trump can look this guy in the eyes and see his soul!

Fuck all that. This meeting will not happen. If it does miraculously come to pass, it will not come to affect our position—now or in the future. That is to say, when functioning adults are back in charge of government, we’ll return our State Department to normal operation and actually have legitimate dialogue with the Toddler Dictator. (The other one.)

A government that has 50% of its ambassador positions vacant—including the top-diplomat job in South Korea—cannot be taken seriously when it comes to declarations like this. So yeah, we should ALL be treating this news with skepticism.

 

(WARNING: EPISODE 4 SPOILERS)

I’m about to break up with Showtime’s Homeland. Hear me out.

What started as a groundbreaking series—serializing America’s political obsession with our country as a “homeland” rather than a constitutional republic—has devolved into a third-rate episode of Law & Order: SVU. Except with less-believable storylines.

I’ve written extensively in this space about how great the series has been in the past. From “Homeland Hologram” (CrankyYank Vol. 2):

At its core, Homeland is almost always an eery reflection of our war-weary times, a complex hologram that is all-too reflective of what’s happening right now, in real time, overseas and at home.

Later on, I wrote a post called “Homeland: The Quieting” (CY Vol. 48) which noted that the series took on a much more somber tone in Season 6, which was the start of the series’ downward spiral.

I especially loathe when filmmakers do multiple takes and try to make sense of them in post-production editing. A show so reliant on storytelling needs to tell the story in a single shot rather that stunt the emotional impact by cutting up 2-3 angles. Single, long shots ask more of the actors but, in the end, produce a way more convincing product.

(Writer’s note: I’m setting aside the crime against entertainment that Homeland’s show writers, producers and directors allowed themselves to treat a character the way they treated Peter Quinn. That alone is unforgivable.)

With Season 7 in full swing, Homeland is no longer a convincing product. The show is unrecognizable from its origins as dramatic parallel to our own country’s machinations. What sealed the deal for me is the current season’s Episode 4 where a young kid gets shot chasing after his runaway dog. (No explanation why the dog is running or why JJ, the young man, would decide to chase him when he knows he’s in the middle of a tense situation.)

After his dog gets shot and killed—because apparently the FBI would’ve felt threatened by a German Shepherd running toward them—we’re also asked to believe that the kid would get so upset as to reach for his gun.

Homeland‘s legacy is at stake here. After running the table in 2012’s Outstanding Drama category for the Emmys—with wins for male and female lead actor, writing and best overall series—the show has flirted with greatness but never really regained its footing. Now we’re knee-deep in a cartoonish version of InfoWars’ Alex Jones and Mandy Patinkin has been reduced to repeated bearded-scowls. Homeland is working an admittedly tense but not very relatable story, which is a far cry from its peak. I’m pretty close to being done, and that’s saying saying a lot after the impressive run the show has had.

 

This little video wins the internet in my book. If you need another example of how smart animals are—and how they respond to music—here you go.

 

That’s it from me this week. Have a great weekend and we’ll see you right back here next week!


Will Pollocksideways is an Atlanta-based freelance multimedia journalist focusing on pop-culture, politics, journalism & media, retail, real estate, travel, politics, and human interest.

He is the author of two books (Pizza for Good & Leaving Triscuit), with more on the way. Sign up for the mailing list, follow on TwitterFacebook and Instagram–and check out the book links below. Make sure to comment often–cranky loves company.

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