CSotD: Self-Owns, Own-Goals and Unforced Errors

Mike Smith (KFS) offers a common though often dubious critique, that the Republicans are flooding us with criticism of the Biden administration without proposing any solutions of their own. I say “dubious” because sometimes an act is so clearly foolish that you only need to point it out; you don’t need to specify the non-foolish alternative.

However, this is an election year and the GOP has not simply avoided alternatives but has shied away from crafting any formal platform beyond negativity, division and fear-mongering. They’re bold to denounce both Democrats and democracy, but silent as to what we would get by putting them in power.

And, as RJ Matson describes it, when one of them does come up with an actual policy proposal, it is seen more as a misguided disaster than a bold move.

Note that nobody believed that early aviator “Wrong Way Corrigan” had accidentally crossed the Atlantic rather than flying to California, but he stuck to his story anyway.

By contrast, “Wrong Way Riegels,” cited in Matson’s cartoon, had made a true blunder that cost his team the game and left a talented athlete with an undeserved reputation for lousy judgement.


Lindsey Graham’s declaration to abandon the GOP’s support for states rights in favor of a national restriction on abortion leaves him somewhere between the show-off and the unintended fall guy, and where he stands on that continuum can perhaps be shown in Clay Jones’ piece, noting that McConnell and other Republicans have spoken up, not so much to deny what he said but to say he shouldn’t have said it.


But Bill Bramhall declares that there’s little doubt how Graham’s announcement was greeted on the other side of the aisle, a reminder that Georgia Tech fans welcomed Roy Riegles’ wrong-way run, which ultimately led to their narrow Rose Bowl victory over his UC Berkeley team.

His erstwhile opponents even blocked for him as his desperate teammates attempted to stop him.


Meanwhile, as noted, Dennis Corrigan’s wrong-way flight was an intentional, show-off grab at publicity which succeeded in making his name a household word but did cost him his aviation license.

Michael de Adder suggests a similar Pyrrhic victory for Ron DeSantis’s adventure in human trafficking.

Granted, he never tried to fool us into thinking it was unintentional, though his reasoning depended on the theory that people crossing the border in Texas were naturally headed for Florida. But others have noted that a lot of people illegally crossing Florida’s border are Cuban and he’d be a damn fool to start picking on them.

In any case, while GOP Twitter Trolls are praising the move, it resulted in a heart-warming outreach by the people of Martha’s Vineyard, who rallied to provide their unexpected guests with housing, food and welcomes.

The rightwing response at the moment seems to be pledges to send more, but, since it won’t be a surprise the next time, those welcomes will likely be faster and more complete.

And I don’t know who the Texans and Floridians expect to pick their fruit and vegetables or shine shoes at Mar A Lago, but there are plenty of jobs for willing workers elsewhere in the country.


The leftwing response, as Steve Breen (Creators) indicates, is that migrants are seen as pawns, not as people, and that it’s more proof that the cruelty is the point.

How that will play out in the midterms will be an interesting revelation of who in this nation is headed in the wrong direction.

Juxtaposition of the Day

(Drew Sheneman)

Meanwhile, all the misguided outrage is not entirely on the right side of the aisle, as the left continues to defend Disney’s further Disneyfication of Hans Christian Andersen’s classic story.

Sheneman takes a relatively nonpartisan view of the kerfuffle, while Dr. MacLeod pins it directly on the Republicans. I agree that the GOP has been quick to dredge up foolish examples over which to be outraged, but I’m not so sure this one is entirely theirs.

As noted here before, it’s important to differentiate between declaring that no mermaids can be non-white and recognizing that this particular mermaid was not only described by the author as white but became emblematic of a nation that was predominantly Caucasian in 1837. Her race was assumed, but, if he’d pondered it, he’d have made the same choice, just as Cervantes “decided” Don Quixote was Spanish.

To which I would add that cartoonists who become furious when someone crops their signature off a cartoon, then changes the caption and reposts it, should be defending Andersen, not Disney.

I would also add that, having been raised on the Mary Poppins books well before the movie, I felt it had nothing at all to do with Mary Poppins, as did PL Travers, despite Disney’s fictional, self-praising movie on the topic.

Which is particularly bizarre, given that Travers hated the ending of Andersen’s story, as Sur La Lune reports in its extensive footnotes to the tale:

This amuses me because the appeal of Mary Poppins stories was that she was mean and harsh and kind of scary, but fascinating enough that you’d follow her anyway.

And my bottom line on the whole thing remains that, if you want to inspire young children of non-European backgrounds, how about telling stories from non-European sources?


Hend Amry, a Libyan-American who tweets as @LibyaLiberty, posted this picture and I don’t know where it came from, but I love the image.

Someone replied with Suvannamaccha, from the Indian epic, Ramayana. If the first pic is an act of imagination, this is a statement about the universality of mermaids throughout the world cultures; someone commented that there are also mermaids in Brazil.

As for the notion that nobody offers these things, three minutes of looking around reveals mountains of kid-lit starring racial minorities, kids with disabilities, kids with gender dysphoria and so on. Much of it is relentlessly preachy and dreary, but Rick Riordan, who made Greek mythology cool with his Percy Jackson stories, has branched out into guiding and producing modernized folklore books from a variety of cultures.

The notion of colorizing European tales has more to do with Photoshop than with diversity.

It’s a case of running the wrong direction and scoring for the opposition instead of for your own team.


13 thoughts on “CSotD: Self-Owns, Own-Goals and Unforced Errors

  1. I don’t mean to defend the choice to cast a black woman in the remake per se, as ‘defend’ would imply I intend to provide any specific reason for it to happen rather than comment on the people who are angry about it. However, it seems to me that the only criticism that even approaches being reasonable is your point that the original original source material (a book so old that not even the parents of anyone alive today were alive when it was published) pretty firmly established her as a white woman. To which I say: so what? I bet that 90% of the people who watched the movie have never read the original book, and most of those likely don’t know it even exists (or at least only learned about it because people are making a fuss). At this point the character is far more Disney’s than Andersen’s, and it’s hardly the only one.

  2. One must also mention that many noisy conservatives are doing their best to erase those “mountains of kid-lit starring racial minorities, kids with disabilities, kids with gender dysphoria and so on.”
    And of course THEY claim to be the ‘victims of Cancel Culture’.

  3. True dat, Louis.

    And, Nicholas, don’t worry. I just heard of a K-2 school where silent reading is used as a punishment. Naturally, the kids hate it. A few more years, they won’t even know that authors write books and create characters. The World will belong to Disney!

  4. Mike, could you add a link so I can be properly indignant?

    Wouldn’t have worked for me, even in K-2. What, I’m being punished by making me read? If I pee on the floor will you send me to the library?

  5. There’s certainly a case to be made that the Disneyification of old stories has drawbacks, but please don’t turn it into the “kids today don’t read anything anymore” nonsense. You yourself have made more than one post about that kind of attitude going back as long as we have records. Not to mention that “did you know kids hate it when you force them to do something” is hardly a revelation.

    Can you provide a reason why this new version /should/ be a perfectly faithful retelling of the original story down to details that are not crucial to the plot? I’m not sure turning it back into a tragedy would really excite people, but the race of the main character is entirely trivial in the story that was told (either version).

  6. Not to mention that Andersen probably heard a story, filed down the serial numbers, then wrote his version.

  7. “As noted here before, it’s important to differentiate between declaring that no mermaids can be non-white and recognizing that this particular mermaid was not only described by the author as white but became emblematic of a nation that was predominantly Caucasian in 1837.”

    Why? Disney has made many changes to the story already. Why is skin color a step too far?

  8. Fred, not sure I’d go quite that far, since a little bit of research seems to indicate he wrote the story after his own (unrequited?) love married someone else, and the mermaid was somewhat of a self-insert. It is fair to say that it wasn’t the first story about someone loving someone else and losing them in some fashion, but that’s a bit too reductionist to really comment on.

  9. I’ll let this one slide, but Disney had better not try recasting The Little Match Girl as a cute little robot from outer space who saves the townspeople from an evil baron who is trying to blot out the sun

  10. Fred, no link because it was a private conversation with an involved (and indignant) parent. Quite a change from 20 years ago when a teacher I know was ordered to stop letting kids have free reading and make them take bubble tests instead.

    As for artists and respecting their work, I’d have no issue if Disney had made a film called “Ariel’s Song,” given, as Paul said, how Disney had butchered the original. As he did Pooh. As he did Mary Poppins. There’s a reason that “Disneyfication” doesn’t trip my computer’s spell check.

  11. If you want to argue that the original movie shouldn’t have taken so many liberties with the source material, go ahead. If you want to argue that bringing it back for a live action remake at all was a mistake, by all means. But there is no room left to argue only that they shouldn’t have changed her race – if literally everything about the new version was the same except they cast a white woman, the point about ‘respecting artists and their work’ would not have any less validity. She was white because he was white and so was everyone he interacted with, not because it informed anything about her character or the plot.

  12. The original story was a cautionary tale about dating outside of your place.

    The Disney version turns it into amor vincit omnia.

    In either case mermaidness is a proxy for whatever otherness the society is anxious about.

    We are learning from this froofraw just for whom the veneer of fabulary otherness is no obstacle to True Love, but actual interracial love must be fought at all costs.

    Mike you are absolutely right about HCA’s Mermaid, but I’m hard pressed to imagine that either Disney work is relevant to the Danish National Identity.

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