Thursday, June 12, 2014

Season Two of Fear and Loathing: A Review

I endured eleven episodes of the thirteen-episode Season Two of Orange is the New Black, which debuted June 6th. I can't watch the rest of the series. The whole series, Seasons One and Two, leave me numb. No. Indifferent.  See my first review of the series published last August, "Fear and Loathing are the New Freedoms," for a synopsis of this naturalistic, rubbish-tossing romp through the garbage bin of contemporary society and culture.

Orange is on its way to becoming a liberal cult classic, when it's simply drawn-out agitprop for the Left.

Set in a minimum security women's prison in Connecticut, it focuses on the conflicts of the female inmates as well on those of those of the security staff. There are no heroes, nor any heroines in the series. Staff and inmates alike, they are all criminals of one stripe or another. The series is purported to be based on Piper Kerman's book about her time in such a prison.

The series, both Seasons, boils over with graphic lesbian sex scenes (with a few heterosexual ones thrown in for "diversity's" sake), graphic violence among the prisoners, conniving, lying, and scheming by everyone, racial tensions between whites, blacks, and Latinos (who have now taken over the kitchen), competition among "queens" of the roost in bringing in contraband things like lipstick, cell phones, dope, and even junk food.

The word "f…k" occurs seven or eight dozen times in the dialogue, the term "c…t" perhaps half as often. Other obscene slang terms are sprinkled throughout for good measure, to make sure viewers understand that they're not watching Leave it to Beaver, or the old Perry Mason. Or even a James Cagney gangster movie. There's more "realism" in Jimmy Stewart's Call Northside 777 than in Orange.

I reached a point where I don’t really care if any of the characters resolve their external or internal conflicts. I could develop as little or no empathy for any of the characters as I could for Jeremiah Wright, Gloria Steinman, or Vladimir Putin. I felt as though I wanted to put every one of them out of their misery. Including the head of the prison, a tall, shapely brunette who is the prison's administrator and is as corrupt as the rest of the characters. Including one black inmate character, "Crazy Eyes," who is turned by a black witch, dope racketeer, and manipulator of feeble minds, called "Vee," from a harmless, mildly amusing whacko into a vicious thug and brainwashed toady who beats up a fellow black inmate on orders from Vee. Vee also sics her black girl thugs on the dethroned ruler of the kitchen, Russian"Red," whose contraband racket she wants to take over.

Black racism against especially whites is lovingly approved by Kohan in the series. Her own "white guilt" and "white privilege" in the series  is frowned upon in no uncertain terms. Vee and her thugs even pick on a helpless inmate who is undergoing chemo therapy – because she's white.

In the name of racial "diversity," the inmate cast is almost evenly divided between whites, blacks, and Latinos. There are English subtitles for dialogue between the Latinos. Most of the blacks are trash-talking, ugly, overweight, petulant, and in-your-face aggressive and mean-minded. It can't be that the writer, director, and producer of the series, Jenji Kohan, who herself resembles a cross between an alien from a low-grade science fiction movie and an apprentice clown, is waging a campaign to eradicate black stereotypes. The racism of her black and Latino characters is almost palpable.

In the name of realism, there are plenty of toilet scenes. Some scenes are so gross I won’t bother mentioning them. I'm surprised I've gotten this far in a review of this apex of cultural expression. As unsavory as watching this series has been, I still felt obligated to say something about Season Two, even in as brief a column as this one.

The most pathetic characters in the series are white males. I don't even want to "go there."

There has been much politically correct ballyhoo about Laverne Cox, the transgender inmate and house hairdresser. Time Magazine, now on its last legs as a weekly news vehicle, ran a cover story on him – yes, him, because he had his gender-defining equipment removed, but he still has male chromosomes, and a new review of Season Two. Deal with it, "Laverne." The Independent on June 6th asserted in its fawning review:

What OITNB does differently is simple; it bestows on all its characters the same depth, complexity and detailed back-story that is usually reserved for the lead. Thus, the show utilises a large, diverse cast to embrace issues of race, gender identity, sexism, income inequality, mental health and plenty else besides. Add to this the fact that it includes more interesting roles for women than all the other quality US TV dramas combined, and you have some television really worth getting excited about….

Orange is The New Black is great entertainment, but it’s also an elegant rebuke to those who grumbling resist on-screen diversity. They worry it will somehow stifle creativity, when in fact quite the opposite is true. As Cox told TIME: “There’s not just one trans story,” and the same is true of every other oft-stereotyped group on television. Here, then, is the stockpile of original, untold stories drama commissioners always claim they’re crying out for - and it was right underneath their noses all along.

Why should anyone care about the fate of these characters? No rational person would. Orange is the New Black is a clinical study of a cockroach nest, or of a colony of bagworms. That, however, is the state of the culture. But, don’t take my word for it. Here is a portion of Time Magazine's cultural and racial diversity lapdog-review review of Season Two:

Having built out dozens of colorfully named characters (Taystee, Yoga Jones, Black Cindy), the sprawling Orange is like Game of Thrones: Prison. In prison, after all, a few square feet becomes [sic] a world. One new subplot involves prisoners training cockroaches to carry cigarettes from cell to cell: in lockup, a hallway can be the vast Sahara and a bug a camel laden with riches. Like Thrones, Orange is partly a story of territory, allegiance and clans, here divided largely by race. This tension heightens with the arrival of Vee (Lorraine Toussaint), a magnetic, leonine recidivist who promises to restore the days when black women ran the prison. (The Latinas presently control the kitchen, Litchfield’s Iron Throne.)

New York magazine is so gag-ga over Orange that it has over twenty-five separate blog sites devoted to the series.

I end this review with a reader comment from Media Research on a mention of Hillary Clinton in the dialogue, in which the term "dictator" in reference to Clinton was edited out (before it was, I heard it). It appropriately captures the conscious, intended illiteracy of the series:

As people, I know that orange is old European's black color represented fascism regime in gypsy Hitler's time. Orange color represented flame that, greek fascists in Germany, root in a tribe origin from Crete Island, Greece would cover in a flame all the world. Orange color was created by 'them' mixed yellow with a red color (jealousy and a love). You can find to one picture ,who Bloomberg is handling two guns 'one red, one yellow' .You can find also orange color to NYC taxi, school bus and some cars or, motorcycles with a flame design. A gypsy's symbol is 'a duck' who has beak's orange, too. La,la,la,la....

I don’t know if it's true what the reader meant about the color's symbolism. It doesn't matter.

As I observed in the first review of Orange is the New Black last year, the prison society depicted in the series is the limit of Jenji Kohan's "vision" of what American society is and what she wishes it to be – permanently – so she can get a kick out of compressing all the wusses, deadbeats, gender-confused "persons," racists, and antagonistic tribes together and watch her notion of fireworks.

No thanks. End of review. I've had enough. Excuse me while I wash the cesspool from myself.


revereridesagain said...

I don't know how you stand watching five minutes of that rot, let alone 11 episodes, but thanks for having the fortitude to act as our early warning system. There is practically nothing worth watching as entertainment on tv now with the exception of a few quality movie reruns and the rare and elusive genuinely engaging "real life" series, which are usually short-lived because the couch potatoes would rather watch Bigfoot hunts. To use the term "elegant" with reference to this trash is to nullify the meaning of the word.

Nearly 50 years ago philosopher Ayn Rand summed up the "cultural value-deprivation" of the mid-1960s.

Compared to what exists today one can feel nostalgia for what was still available back then in entertainment and the arts. If we turn away from the madness unfolding on the news outlets today, we must pick our way through the minefields of horror, sleaze, and boredom that consitutie "entertainment" in an all too often vain search for fuel to keep our inner motors running.

Edward Cline said...

Revereridesagain: "Orange" was worth enduring because it represents the state of the culture. It is nihilism in practice. I reviewed Season One of "Orange" and thought it necessary to review Season Two, which is measurably worse than One. It is anti-man in the extreme. Speaking of which, the anti-man element -- in this sense, the anti-male -- was to be expected. All the male characters are pallid, sorry excuses of that gender. Looking at the writer-producer, Jenji Kohan, and her credits ("Weeds," "Will and Grace"), she is a freak and "Orange" will be emulated by other hacks and nihilists.