You Are The Next Domino

Aside from heartbreak and rage, what more can be said about Vladimir Putin’s criminal attack on a sovereign Ukraine, a blatant attempt to annex a free, democratic nation under a demonstrably false set of manufactured pretexts? I watched translated versions of the nauseating farce of Putin’s “cabinet debate” and his rambling speech establishing his “rationale” for invasion, a pitiful reminder of the pathetic theater that authoritarians undertake to mimic the democratic process as they desperately seek credibility for their criminality.

In the wake of that performance, what to make of the hard work of the American political right to sow a domestic rationale for consent, to continually launder Russian propaganda in an effort to bolster their place in an international authoritarian movement? Or the deliberate attempts by the Republican Party and Trump and their propagandists on right wing media to undermine and weaken NATO, to refuse to lift a finger to support democratic movements for the people of Belarus, or their slavering love for Orban’s control of Hungary, or bringing literal authoritarians into the White House and sending them around the world on missions to undermine democratic institutions? Or Trump’s attempt to withhold military support for Ukraine unless Zelenskyy manufactured lies in order to interfere in our domestic Presidential election? Or, in the wake of Russia’s unilateral annexation of Crimea, modifying the Republican party platform in order to remove military aid to Ukraine because the annexation and Russia backing Ukrainian rebels was “really a problem that affects Europe a lot more than it affects us”? Or taking the stage in recent days to praise Putin’s strength and a 24 hour propaganda TV channel brainwashing generations into believing democracy may not be such a great idea after all?

And what to make of the media making every effort to ensure the “politics” of this movement are seen as legitimate, normal discourse, just one of an equal pair of political ideas that deserves credible engagement, a platform, the benefit of the doubt? Or the leaders on the so-called left and the middle, who refuse to use the power of their institutions to expose the obvious, to give us justice, a counter narrative, or to fight back, despite the fact that, once those institutions are forfeited, they will be leveraged to dismantle the left and middle in favor of authoritarian minority rule?

We are in the midst of a war against democracy, not just in Ukraine, but globally, here, now, and it seems that everyone is under the delusion that Ukraine is someone else’s problem and politics at home is business as usual. But it most certainly is NOT and unless there is real action to stop the authoritarian right, we’ll all find out what the true stakes are soon enough, just as the people of Ukraine are finding out tonight. I cannot stop thinking about them, about how we all failed them. And for that, I am truly sorry. 💙🇺🇦💛

Welcome To My New Home

Tonight, I received an email from my friends at indieWIRE alerting me that my blog of seven years, The Back Row Manifesto, was being discontinued as a part of an upgrade of the indieWIRE blogging network. Fair enough; it’s rarely updated, draws low readership because of the infrequency of its publication, it is not really a part of the new indieWIRE blog community hierarchy (which is focused on news gathering and reportage) and it’s not, nor has it ever been, a professional blog. I’ve never made a single dollar blogging (not that I’m proud of that *ha*) but when indieWIRE allowed me to launch a blog back in 2004, that was never the point. Things change and that’s how it should be. I am forever grateful to indieWIRE for giving me a platform for all of those years. Not only was it a fair decision to discontinue the original Back Row Manifesto, but beyond that, indieWIRE has promised to archive the blog, which, incredibly generous.

So, before I go any further, a huge THANK YOU to everyone at indieWIRE for having me. It was an honor to be a microscopic piece of the family for all these years and I wish the site nothing but continued success.

As for me, well, for some reason, I’ve decided to keep it going here at my own domain, using WordPress. So far, so good; I feel much more free here, able to say whatever I want without worrying so much about the industry taking much notice. It’s also a very simple design, vertical, a nice template to focus on images and words, a literal clean slate. To get started, I’m going to replicate my favorite pieces and a few recent posts from the indieWIRE version of the blog on here, in the hopes it will give me a good foundation for the future and let me figure out how to execute my preferences using this platform. Think of it as a “Greatest Hits” collection to help christen the new place. One a day for the next couple of weeks… stay tuned.

I hope that I can continue to write about the films that move me, talk to the artists who inspire me, and share my passion for the cinema with those who will follow me here. I hope to make the new place as homey as the old place, but I also hope I can grow here as well. So, update your bookmarks; this is my new home. Time to unpack and get myself situated…