The political drama shines a scathing light on the toxic atmosphere at Fox News.

I’ve been wanting to watch Bombshell, the film that depicts the precipitous fall of Roger Ailes of Fox News, for quite some time now but just didn’t seem to get around to it. When I did watch it, I found it an enjoyable film, one that is surprisingly effective at showing the toxic atmosphere of Fox News as well as how such an ethos can soak into even those that it victimizes.

It’s a relatively lean film, with a running time of under two hours, but it manages to accomplish a great deal. It primarily focuses on three characters, two…


Why a political culture that focuses on charisma is bad for democracy.

My late grandmother and I had many disagreements about politics. I was a staunch Democrat; she was a rock-ribbed Republican. I loathed George W. Bush, and she thought hew as a good president. She didn’t like Nancy Pelosi, and I loved (and love) the Speaker. Obviously a lot of these disagreements were based on ideology; we had two different views of the world and the way it should work. However, we also had radically different approaches to deciding which politician we should support. I based my political opinions on the issues; my grandmother was far morel likely to support someone…


Adam McKay’s brilliantly flawed film demonstrates the folly of idolizing the Bush years.

For some reason, I’ve been on a bit of a political drama kick of late, and so I thought I’d finally get around to watching Vice, the searing film written and directed by Adam McKay. An unsettling hybrid of satire, dark comedy, and biopic, it follows the career of one Dick Cheney, the man from Wyoming who, as a result of his dedication to power, eventually becomes the power behind the throne during the Bush presidency. …


The new book from acclaimed British historian Alison Weir sheds light on the fascinating lives of England’s medieval queens.

I’ve been a fan of popular historian Alison Weir’s work for quite a long time, ever since I picked up a copy of her magisterial biography of Elizabeth I way back in the year 2000. For the most part, I’ve enjoyed the light that she sheds on the queens of the past, though there have been times when I’ve gotten a bit frustrated with both her pedestrian prose and her tendency to get lost in the details of material life (she’s prone to giving exhaustive documentation of what people were wearing, how much they were spending, and how they were…


And so at last we come to the finale of the first season of Shadow and Bone. What a ride it’s been! While I wasn’t sold on this show at first, it slowly and steadily grew on me until I couldn’t wait to see how the whole thing panned out. The finale was as exciting as one could wish, with Kaz and the Crows finally making their way back home to Ketterdam, Alina and Mal having a climactic confrontation with Kirigan, and Nina and Matthias captured and on their way to trial.

I’ve wondered from the beginning whether Alina was…


The imminent disgrace of one of the GOP’s most prominent women is a warning of things to come.

I recently watched the 2018 film Vice, a strange mix of satire, dark comedy, and biopic, and I was struck by a scene that happens near the end, in which Liz Cheney, running for Senate in Wyoming, has to contend with her opponent’s weaponization of her sister’s homosexuality. Given that she’s a Cheney — and thus, in this film’s eyes, a servant to power — she does the necessary thing and disavows her support of same-sex marriage on national television, devastating her sister but earning the support of her parents.

Watching that scene, I couldn’t help but think of Liz…


Warning: Spoilers ahead.

We’re now closing in on the finale of the first season of Shadow and Bone, and boy, was it an episode. After a lull in the previous episode, the action starts to heat up as Alina and Mal come face-to-face with the stag, only to have the meeting brutally interrupted by Kirigan and his soldiers, while Kaz and the Crows conspire to find a way across the Fold. Just as importantly, we get a glimpse into exactly what made Kirigan the monster that he is in the series’ present.

To start at the beginning, I was pleasantly…


Far too often, the pundit class lets its yearning for normality distort its presentation of reality.

Like a lot of other people, I’ve been struggling to envision what “normal” might look like when the pandemic is, at long last, under some measure of full control. After all, how can you go back to feeling the way we did before COVID-19 changed all of our lives — before millions were infected, before half a million died, before the Trump administration bungled its greatest challenge? More importantly, how can we hope to return to “normal” (whatever that actually means), when health experts have now come to the horrifying conclusion that we will most likely never achieve herd immunity…


As readers know, I was truly blown away by the fifth episode of the Netflix series Shadow and Bone, which showed once and for all that this is very much a fantasy series to be reckoned with. The sixth episode was a bit calmer and more restrained than its predecessor, which makes sense, given how much “Show Me Who You Are” reset the game a bit. Alina manages to escape from Kaz and his companions and, after fleeing into the forest, she reunites with Mal and decides to set off to find the stag. …


Democratic politicians and voters must work together to prevent a total Republican victory in 2022.

Well, the census data is now in. The population in the US is slowly shifting from California, the Northeast, and the Rust Belt to the South and the West (in other words, from blue or blue-leaning states to red states). As The Washington Post reports, this presents Democrats with a bit of a problem, especially since many of the states gaining in representation happen to be under unified Republican control. This means, in turn, that they can control redistricting. …

Dr. Thomas J. West III

Ph.D. in English | Film and TV geek | Lover of fantasy and history | Full-time writer | Feminist and queer | Liberal scold and gadfly

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