New in Theaters: ‘Mad as Hell’

Cenk Uygur getting ready for his closeup in 'Mad as Hell' (Oscilloscope Laboratories)
Cenk Uygur getting ready for his closeup in ‘Mad as Hell’ (Oscilloscope Laboratories)

Never heard of Cenk Uygur? Well, at one point, his two-fisted shouter of a program was the most watched news-ish program on the Internet. Then, a few years back, when MSNBC was looking for new faces, they tried him out. Things didn’t work out so well.

Mad as Hell, the documentary about Uygur’s unusual rise to media sort-of stardom, opens this week in limited release. My review is at Film Journal International:

Cenk Uygur doesn’t have a typical biography for an online news sensation. Brought to America by his Turkish parents at the age of eight, Uygur started down a path that would make many immigrant parents delirious with pride: first getting his business degree from Wharton, and then a law degree from Georgetown, before moving into corporate practice. According to Uygur’s many friends interviewed in Andrew Napier’s chummy documentary Mad as Hell, in college he was “annoying” and a “loudmouth” who loved spouting off and starting fights with his in-your-face opinions. The Uygur who appears in the film, a forward-thrusting type with a casual approach to fact-checking and a bullying-football-coach approach to debate, fits that description to a tee. A love-or-hate kind of guy, in other words…

Here’s the trailer:

New in Books: ‘What’s the Matter with White People?’

The new book What’s the Matter with White People? falls prey to the desire for clever/provocative titles that don’t necessarily have much to do with the subject matter at hand; it’s not quite the racial jeremiad that one might imagine. My review is up now at PopMatters:

Salon editor-at-large and MSNBC analyst Joan Walsh grew up a working-class Irish Catholic on Long Island in the ‘60s, with plenty of cops and firemen and construction workers in her extended family. It was a good vantage point to study what she terms the “destruction” of that decade. Walsh was perched on the verge of a rapidly imploding city, surrounded by relatives who fled the boroughs’ increasing crime. She uses her relatives as examples of what were once termed “white ethnics”, taking shelter from the societal chaos in the assurance of something that felt more concrete and protecting than the wispy liberalism that they blamed for it all. In other words: Nixon…

What’s the Matter with White People? is now available in finer bookstores everywhere.