Tag Archives: rightonline2011

The Undefeated: a review

I saw a rough cut of The Undefeated, the much-discussed “Palin documentary,” at RightOnline last month. I skipped the first part—I was socializing!—with the montage of insults. When I walked into the screening they were already talking about her early days in the Alaska state government.

If you’ve read Going Rogue, you would already know most of the facts presented in the show. If you get your news from the “Lamestream Media,” you would hear the facts presented with what you would think is “spin.” If you get your news from The Daily Show, you probably won’t be interested in seeing this movie anyway, and you would probably have a fixed, firm belief about Mrs. Palin and this movie probably won’t do it for you (unless you want to do a “Daily Show Viewer goes to the zoo” feature, then I hate to burst your bubble but that’s been done by The Atlantic).

What I like about the film: it’s a fair treatment of Mrs. Palin’s record in the Alaska state government, in that it cuts through the negative spin added by the media’s coverage of her time back then. She’s been spun as a vindictive, spitful betch—it’s “bitch,” but you just have to inflect and pronounce it a certain way to empasize the frivolty of those saying so—who uses bipartisan methods to “get back” at her “enemies.” Or maybe she was just doing her job and doing what she believed she was elected for. You know? Because that’s what government officials do. (Heck, consider our president now, who continues to believe he has a mandate despite the results of the 2010 elections, which in his mind doesn’t even seem to be a signal for him to change course.) It skips over a lot of details that we’d consider “recent memory,” such as the 2008 election.

The participation of Andrew Breitbart, Tammy Bruce, Mark Levin and Sonnie Johnson added a very passionate, spirited presentation in addition to the voice over narration.

What I dislike about the film: man, is the pacing languid. A viewer’s time on film is currency, and this one spends it like Obama does our money. I have heard that the theatrical release has addressed this isssue, so I won’t beat it up for that.

The tone of correcting the record in the first two thirds of the film gives way to a  bit of “woe is me” in the final acts. This was unncessary. This was the documentarian’s chance to end on a high note; and the title may be The Undefeated but the wrapup made me feel just a little beaten down.

The participation of Andrew Breitbart, Tammy Bruce, Mark Levin and Sonnie Johnson had one drawback. With the exception of Sonnie Johnson, whose testimonial style was relaxed and steadfast, the other three seemed a little too wound up for camera. I understand that this is serious business and that yes, we should be wound up with the way the media has treated Palin, but, the problem with having people do this on screen for you is that you no longer feel the need to.

In the film, A Time To Kill, Matthew McConaughey’s character definitely won his defense case by placing the jurors in the shoes of Samuel L. Jackson’s character. It roused the attention of everyone in the courtroom in what was considered a hopeless case. Without the lawyer preaching to the jury how they should feel and decide, he gave them every reason to decide in his client’s favor, and they did.

It’s an odd, odd cinematic paradox: if the characters you are watching are already feeling an emotion on your behalf, you no longer feel emotions for them or whoever it is you’re supposed to feel for.

Takeaways: this isn’t “propaganda” so much as it is “my side of the story.” It will correct the record for viewers who think they know about Palin, but for those who believe they already know everything there is to know, well. There’s no shaking that.

Finally, while I support the filmmaker’s commercial efforts, if they want this message out to as many people as possible, they need to be far more lax with copyright enforcement. I don’t know if any segments have been leaked yet, much less the whole movie, but Conservative treatment of the media has to be through disintermediation and circumvention. Perhaps after a while, maybe the documentarian himself should release this in 10-minute segments, for free, on YouTube. Maybe 30-minute chunks on Vimeo. Maybe seed this film across multiple torrent trackers. I don’t know. I know it’s sold out in Texas, but what about everywhere else, where there aren’t that many supporters but perhaps enough open minds to make a difference?

And lastly, The Undefeated should serve as a warning to all Conservatives. We can not let the media dictate the narrative. Many players bungled her rollout, even she herself. But we know better now. I am not a fan of cultish defenses of a candidate, but neither do I believe that we should merely let the media present “facts” about someone, unchallenged.

A “glitterbomb” isn’t funny, ironic, or harmless. It’s a threat.

This weekend at Right Online, Michele Bachmann was “glittered” by gay rights activists. Newt Gingrich and Tim Pawlenty got a similar treatment before, too. As a result, Bachmann canceled any further media appearances at the event (more than a few wanted to interview). Some considered this to be an overreaction. I do not. On Saturday night I went to the GOProud happy hour at the hotel bar in the event, and some of those invited were a few attendees of Netroots Nation. There I explained to one why a glitterbomb isn’t a good thing.

At its heart, a glitterbomb is a proxy for whatever object that, when flung at a person, would lead to charges of assault, or worse. It’s a projectile, one that replaces spit—assault with a bodily fluid, anyone?—or something else. It’s a replacement for pies, which also leads to charges of assault. But no matter how E.B. Lang may describe it, it isn’t as harmless or light hearted as she claims. A pie attack foreshadowed Pim Fortuyn’s assassination.

What these assailants know and won’t admit in public is that flinging objects at someone, even as innocuous as glitter, is degrading to the flingee. It’s an act of humiliation, one that’s been used to great effect using other materials (pie, water, spittle, blood, name it). When you degrade someone like that in public, it becomes a sign that the victim is fair game for even more dangerous material.

What these assailants know and won’t admit in public is the power of the third participant* in causing a cascade of activity. When glitterbombing someone gets “cool” and “hip” enough, someone, somewhere, is going to get carried away. If you think the sentiments behind glitterbombing Bachmann and others are funny and lighthearted, remember that when they think no one is looking, these are the same people who call Bachmann, Palin, others, the wost possible epithets. (I’m trying to find a link tweeted out yesterday about how someone wanted to shoot Michele Bachmann in the face for being so stupid. On their tumblr blog.) Glitterbombing is a refusal to engage your opponent in an exchange of ideas, even if the only goal is to publicly prove that their ideas are wrong, hateful and bigoted. It’s something you do because you know and accept that this person you’re glittering is someone you hate, but feel is undeserving of the time to discuss anything with them.

Maybe I’m overreacting, but I think people you disagree with deserve more than having stuff flung at them. At the GOProud happy hour, I spoke to Pam Spaulding, Ian Finkenbinder, and a few other folks from the gay left. They were total sweethearts and we had an exchange of ideas that you’d never see happen on a blog, or on Twitter. Naturally there are issues we agree and disagree on. We also share common ground. It was just another human and humane interaction. This is how it’s done; not dehumanizing them by throwing stuff at them.

(* – The “power of the third participant” can best be seen in this video from the Sasquatch festival. One person out of norm is weird, the second is dismissed as his friend, and a third participant causes the cascade.)

Rightonline general session recaps: Friday and Saturday


(It may be odd to have an opening session in the middle of the day, with breakout sessions in the morning, but when one remembers that there are people flying in from all over on Friday who couldn’t take off on Thursday because hello, we Conservatives work, then, yes.)

I missed the first few comments; I saw Erik Telford from Americans for Prosperity introduce the Mayor of Minneapolis, who made notorious waves yesterday in greeting Netroots Nation because we at Rightonline were “to be tolerated.” Mr. Mayor was quick and emphasized commercial support for Minneapolis business and thanked us for our money despite our principles.

Ann McIlhenny took the stage and introduced herself as a “recovering European.” Hers was a passionate speech, one where she lists all the many issues Republicans and Conservatives compromise on when they really shouldn’t: energy, drilling for oil offshore and on. And while Conservatives may be obsessed with what happens in the bedroom, Liberals obsess over every other room in your house, and then some.

John Hinderaker talked about the deficit, and his early roots as a low-traffic blog, and how it is now one of the more significant blogs out there. One recurring theme in this conference is the reassurance that the Internet is a huge place, and that there’s much room for everyone to make a name for themselves and make a difference.

Marsha Blackburn closed Friday’s general session with a warning on the dangers of growing government. One of her main causes is what she calls “net neutrality,” and one of my main issues is that the phrase has changed meaning depending on who you’re discussing it with. It really does depend on the regulations that the FCC is pushing and the debate is a challenging one to have.


The speakers today all had words for encouragement to the attendees. Right Online is, at its heart, a conference for Conservative activists, and while the breakout sessions are great to learn something, the big name speakers at the general sessions are great for inspiration. Michelle Malkin placed great emphasis on the president’s rule by executive fiat, citing crushing regulations that increase costs for business. (Sidebar: Bush2 may have exercised the executive’s powers to a great extent, but our president today has turned it into an art)

A surprise video address from Glenn Beck ended abruptly due to a bad video file.

Erick Erickson came with unscripted comments. He reminded us that while the founding principles and ideas of our country are important, it is more important to engage people on practical terms.

Other speakers included Jim Hoft of Gateway Pundit, Jason Lewis, Guy Benson of Townhall, and SE Cupp, and they all struck the theme of being able to make a difference no matter how insignificant one is at the time one starts.