Tag: Kim Jong Il
In Britain, where acerbic humor rules the roost, it was inevitable that the venerable London School of Economics would be rechristened the “Libyan School of Economics” the instant it embraced the financial largesse of the Gadhafi family.
In recent years, the LSE has been readily co-opted into the process of rehabilitating the Libyan regime from its rogue status. Last December, Colonel Gadhafi himself addressed LSE students via a video conference. That appearance was secured by his son, Seif, who obtained his doctorate at the School and whose Gadhafi International Charity and Development Foundation donated $2.4 million to the LSE’s Global Governance department.
In a decision that could have been scripted by the Monty Python team at their darkest moment, the Gadhafi Foundation’s funds were directed toward researching the growing power of “civil society” — the area of public life which is controlled by citizens and their voluntary arrangements, rather than the state — in North Africa. Which is precisely why, when the Gadhafi regime launched a wave of bestial violence against its own people, the LSE found itself squirming.
By Sunday night, the in-box of LSE Director Sir Howard Davies was inundated with emails from alumni, myself included, urging that the School transfer the funds received from Gadhafi to a relevant charity, in the name of the regime’s victims (continue reading…)
It is disturbing to read about the continued tensions between North and South Korea. Tens of millions of people live near the DMZ. The center of South Korea, Seoul, is within range of North Korean artillery and military assets. The North would surely face overwhelming destruction should any full-scale engagement occur. At present, a dangerous cycle of stupid provocations by the North and placations by the South has entered a new phase. The Lee administration and South Korea, backed by the United States, have signaled that further provocations will be met with a direct and unmistakable response. The North speaks of a “sacred war,” and recent reports indicate that it has further fortified its military border.
What is going on, one might ask? The transition in leadership to Kim Jong-un, likely a weak choice and a vulnerable one after Kim Jong-il dies, might prompt adventurism on the part of the North. The North is a past master in the game of brinksmanship-for-concessions, an irrational long-term strategy, but one that its economically marginalized and ideologically hyperbolized state and elite seem to depend upon more and more. The leadership in the South is making continued strides among the alpha class of nations, recently hosting the G-20 summit and working toward greater autonomy in military control with its American partner. This juxtaposition cannot but embarrass the few who do not have their minds brainwashed in the North.
China has an especial role in remonstrating with Pyongyang. It appears to have activated this potential, somewhat late and to the disappointment of the national community. Nonetheless, the South’s live fire drill a few weeks ago did not result in a North Korean response. This summer saw China conduct its own military drills and engage in a series of diplomatic wrangles over disputed territories with Japan and Taiwan may have contributed to emboldening Pyongyang. China’s giving cover to North Korean adventurism through blocking and distancing itself from U.N. condemnations is not in keeping with the promises of peaceful regional and international leadership. We should all be calling on China to do more.
The situation is nothing if not serious. Where we are headed at present, and perhaps that is where we must head, is a world where Korea will become the next nuclear frontier. Anyone who has not learned from watching a host of historical examples, of which Iran and North Korea are only the latest examples, that any nation with sufficient resources and resolve will develop nuclear energy and nuclear weapons with or without international approval is stupid, full stop. The irrationality of nuclear powers thinking that they can forestall other nations from having the same power potentials, in particular if the nations are rising or declining powers, goes against the social science of the last century.
The current situation begins to remind me of the MAD era of bygone Soviet-American days — even though the world still exists under mutually-assured destruction, and the Obama administration has just concluded a new nuclear arms treaty with Russia. I mean, what is going to come of all of this? Does anyone really think that the North, paranoid and destitute as it might be, would go to war with the South? They could cause a lot of damage, and they themselves would be destroyed. There is no first-strike plan or intention on the part of the South or the United States. No one is planning to “take over” North Korea. The spectacle of a backwater state and nation, proudly propping up its weapons and military whilst languishing in pre-modern conditions and deifying its national leaders so as to maintain a totalitarian society is not just a joke. It’s eerily familiar. And that’s the point.
One grows weary of posturing by American leaders at the borders, at rostrums of regional meetings, at press conferences, and amongst friends. One equally grows tired of seeing special envoys trotted out and over to do the takeaways for momentary satisfaction. Of course, they should go, but such triage efforts only prop up the status quo. All the United States will accomplish is to institute what it claims to have transcended, a MAD world, in the Asian theater. All of our ability and power cannot undo the rot that the end of the Korean War froze in space and time. All of power will not prevent China from growing more powerful, and its ally retaining geostrategic protection. As we continue to live on and rely on a divided Korea, it will grow to cost the world in time, money, and danger of mass destruction. And just as Americans looked on while South Koreans fought to develop their democracy in the 1980s, as a kind of games-and-spectacle looking glass, we can pat ourselves on the back for being the new Rome again in this instance. That is unless we start to do things differently.
We are heading slowly to a time when North and South, plus all comers, will have to nuclearize and militarize further the DMZ, their nations, and the region. The game of build to deter will see a new instantiation. And in the end, the North will be disrupted, either out of its poverty or mendacity, but not without decades of wasted expense, wasted instability, and all that goes with it.
What is needed is a mature use of the technologies of peace. All interested parties should work to open up economic relations with Korea, so as to create economic markets that require the maintenance of peace. The game of isolating nations doesn’t really work to create peace. In time, American and South Korean leaders need to start their versions of nuclear arms negotiations. Many more people in the world need to study the occult society that is North Korea. It can become the next area studies program for the 21st century.
The dream of unification is being set back by decades with each grain of sand that drains out of the hourglass these days. Not to be cynical about it, but perhaps there is no other way. We’re heading to a new Cold War, if things remain the same. But I still see a day when the two Koreas will be one. It will occur without further warfare, and it will occur on democratic terms, but it won’t occur on anyone’s timetable in particular. And it won’t occur if the emphasis of the world’s “mature powers” amounts to mutual conduct of military exercises as the major events for regional relations each year. Here’s hoping 2011 sees major efforts by all nations concerned to bring the two Koreas to the path of peace.
On behalf of the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea, I extend our mighty, nuclear capable seasons greetings! While I myself do not ascribe to your decadent primate behaviors of tree decorating and red-bellied fat man worship, I comprehend that this holiday holds significance in your feeble American minds. I have seen your malls. In winter, you battle over plastic totems of Tickle Me Elmos and Big Mouthed Billy Basses — useless drivel designed to soften and placate you into docile cows. Such gifts are pathetic, and pale in comparison to the island Yeonpyeong, which I must have. It is the top item on my Christmas List of Demands.
Your whole nation bonds in an uproar of holiday spirit. Let me assure you: I command a matchless army that delivers far superior Christmas cheer. Now, you might ask, “Kim Jong Il, doesn’t your nation persecute Christians more than any other country on earth?” This is all one hilarious misunderstanding. Ha ha.
I’d love to engage a Christian in honest, open dialogue on religious-freedom… if I could find any. They keep disappearing on me. I mean, one moment there’s a seditious Christian — and poof — he’s gone. Just like that; hide-and-go seek. These Christians keep vanishing and holding charity bake sales at KYO-HUA-SO REEDUCATION FACILITY.
As for the unprovoked sinking of the South Korean warship, Cheonan, you will never find a more prominent and joyous display of Christmas merriment. Did you know that all forty-six traitorous sailors aboard that ship were naughty? Yes, very naughty. They intruded on our weapons testing exercises.
Here’s an analogy for dim-witted American apes: it’s Christmas morning. You rise out of bed in your pitifully inferior flannel pajamas. Peering out your window, you see your neighbor skating on the south side of your sidewalk. You torpedo his warship. Your children rejoice because your household has united in an indomitable display of Christmas Power.
With North Korea leading the world in technology, culture, health care, economic growth, government efficiency, media freedom, military force, and comedy Youtube videos, it is difficult to fathom what our perfectly content citizenry would actually want for Christmas, besides Yeonpyeong, which I must have. There is, of course, one thing: peace on earth. And peace on earth is possible! After unwrapping the uranium high-speed centrifuges from my friends in China, (re-gifted from Russia) we can all enjoy peace on earth. Yes, six hundred feet below sea level in a gingerbread, candy-coated thermodynamic laboratory, I’m brewing a Christmas Miracle!
Some people call me a Grinch; others call me a Scrooge. Those people have been killed. But please, Americans, celebrate your holiday. Engorge your fat faces on succulent honey-glazed ham, and rest your horrifically distended asses on sleds, singing carols of joy. North Korea will and shall always have a Merrier Christmas. Our trees are greener, presents nicer, and smiles 1.3 times brighter, as mandated by the State. Competition is futile. The People shall reign supreme.
Until then. I’ll see you in a Nuclear Winter-Wonderland
Kim Jong Il
There may be no method to North Korea’s madness, but the world’s response to its episodic outrages has settled into a familiar pattern. It’s a dangerous pattern, and one likely to recur as long as China keeps enabling Pyongyang’s belligerent behavior.
First comes an utterly unprovoked attack on South Korea. Seoul reacts angrily and threatens unspecified consequences. Washington firmly backs its ally, and solicits global censure of North Korean aggression. The Chinese, however, decline to assign blame and instead urge resumption of direct talks with Pyongyang. South Korea eventually backs away from confrontation, on the perfectly rational premise that living with the North’s occasional spasms of violence is preferable to an all-out war that would devastate both countries.
The latest crisis began last week when the North shelled a South Korean island. South Korean President Lee Myung-bak called the attack, which killed two civilians and wounded 16, a “crime against humanity” and warned that Seoul would not tolerate a direct attack on its soil. The United States dispatched an aircraft carrier, the George Washington, while China called, irrelevantly, for a resumption of the long defunct six-party talks aimed at dismantling the North’s nuclear weapons program. And yesterday, Seoul moved to dampen war fever by canceling live-fire artillery drills on the stricken island.
Essentially the same cycle played out last spring, when North Korea sunk a South Korean patrol boat, the Cheonan, killing all 46 sailors aboard. Pyongyang paid no price for this act of war, either.
Pyongyang’s behavior may look like a classic case of winning through intimidation, except that it’s not clear what it gains from such brutal tactics. The North is as isolated and poverty-stricken as ever, and, with dictator Kim Jong il preparing to hand off power to his son, no relief is in sight for its thoroughly regimented society.
One explanation is that the regime from time to time must manufacture external threats to justify the extreme sacrifices it demands of its people. Another is that its assaults are part of an elaborate shake-down racket meant to get the world’s attention — along with bribes for good behavior. Except that it seems to be having the opposite effect. Last week’s shelling, along with the Cheonan incident, have driven the final nail in the coffin of the South’s “sunshine policy” of economic and humanitarian aid to the North. Nor is Washington eager to reward Pyongyang’s bellicose conduct by rushing back into the six-party talks.
This latest outrage throws a spotlight on China’s role as North Korea’s enabler. Not only does Beijing shield Pyongyang from the consequences of its disruptive behavior, it also helps to keep the regime afloat by supplying fuel and other economic assistance. Perhaps it’s too facile to assume — as Republicans like John McCain and Lindsay Graham do — that China can bring the mercurial Kim regime to heal just by threatening to shut down oil shipments or cross-border trade. But is it really too much to ask of China that it at least not cover up the North’s crimes and collude in its ludicrous lies?
Beijing wants very badly to be accorded the respect that its growing wealth and power implies. It wants a seat at the table where global decisions are made. Yet on issue after issue, China is proving to be a free rider. Beijing takes maximum advantage of an open world economy while contributing little to strengthening the system that has made it rich. Instead, it pursues a mercantilist policy that creates enormous imbalances in world trade and investment flows, while keeping its currency artificially high to make discourage imports from the U.S. and elsewhere. Instead of trying to tamp down tensions on the Korea peninsula, it feeds them by shielding its delinquent ward in Pyongyang from accountability. Instead of throwing its weight behind international efforts to restrain rogue regimes from Khartoum to Tehran, it seeks commercial advantage while hiding behind the supposedly sacrosanct principle of non-interference in other nation’s internal affairs.
China’s amoral and selfish behavior increasingly engenders doubt and fear, not respect. Its failure to accept the responsibilities that accompany its growing power undermines global cooperation and stability. It’s time for the Obama administration to move China’s free-riding to the center of its engagement with Beijing.
This item is cross-posted at Progressive Fix.
EAST KOREA (The Borowitz Report) – The situation on the Korean peninsula became more precarious today as the little-known nation of East Korea, tired of being overlooked, declared war on both North and South Korea.
Saying it has grown weary of being “the forgotten Korea,” East Korea said it hoped that declaring war on the two more famous Koreas would establish a new reputation for the often-ignored country “as the angriest and craziest Korea out there.”
“The world ignores the People’s Republican Democracy of East Korea at its peril,” said East Korean strongman Bong Jung Hee. “Those who fail to take notice of us should prepare to feel the full fiery fury of East Korea’s savage might.”
Minutes after East Korea issued that statement, North Korean president Kim Jong-Il offered this response: “North Korea really needs to dial it back a little.”
Intelligence experts believe that East Korea might be adopting its bellicose posture in an effort to get food, but that its threats ring somewhat hollow since the country is believed to possess absolutely no weapons.
If, however, East Korea could somehow convince the world to give it weapons, it would then use those weapons to get additional food, such as dessert.
In a sign of just how insulated it has become from information about the outside world, East Korea also demanded that the European Union pay it a ransom of 10 trillion Euros.
Speaking for the EU, German chancellor Andrea Merkel said, “Obviously, we don’t have that kind of money, but we’d be happy to give them Ireland.”
In Washington, Secretary of State Hillary Clinton explained the administration’s delay in issuing a response to East Korea, saying American officials were still having trouble locating the obscure country on a map.
“Frankly, we’re not even positive it exists,” she said. “But we’re checking WikiLeaks to see if we badmouthed them.” More here.
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Attn: Kim Jong-Il
From: Vladimir Lenin
Re: The United States
Dear, Dear Leader:
Probe with bayonets. If you encounter mush, proceed; if you encounter steel, withdraw.
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SEOUL — With the shelling of our island in the sea of Korea, North Korean military ventures have gone beyond the stage of the terrorist acts of the past, in which they mostly had denied their complicity. Now they are openly flexing their muscles, knowing full well that this kind of behavior will make it next to impossible for the South Korean government to pursue a conciliatory policy toward the North.
The latest attack came, no less, after South Korea had just shipped rice and cement as relief aid to flood victims of North Korea — and even after North Korea had asked for more rice and fertilizer on a larger scale.
Are we witnessing an overweening confidence resulting from North Korea’s buildup of its military capability? Are its leaders finally desperate enough to resort to strong-arm tactics as the only way out of their economic straitjacket? Do they feel unconstrained in their adventurist course because they are confident that China will always be on their side whatever they may do?
All of these may well explain the latest incident.
However, what concerns me above all are the internal dynamics of the North Korean regime that have led to this worsening state of affairs, namely, the “military first” politics it has upheld for so long.
I count myself among those who, while understanding North Korea’s dire difficulties, have been alarmed at the increasing pace of its militaristic turn. Privately, even some advocates of the “sunshine policy” initiated by former South Korean President Kim Dae-Jung as a way to get North Korea to moderate and open up also share this concern.
Military virtues have become the dominant values of the society. Military language has taken over political life completely. Any undertaking, whether constructing a building or bringing in the harvest, is addressed in a military manner as if it were a campaign in battle. Leaders are invariably “generals,” although never having served visibly in the military. History reminds us that militarism of this sort that displaces civil society and dominates politics inside a country usually ends up displacing diplomacy with military adventures in dealing with the outside world.
Am I going too far in thinking of Imperial Japan in the lead-up to the bombing Pearl Harbor, that foolhardy venture in which the military leaders convinced themselves of their own supremacy after the country had poured so much of its resources into building up its arms, particularly its navy? Because the military had excessive influence in the Japanese government, the logical way out of the straitjacket of sanctions imposed by America appeared to be a foolhardy military challenge.
I worry that the overweening political influence of the military establishment, combined with North Korea’s dire economic problems, may make it difficult even for Kim Jong Il and his family to control the internal dynamics of the regime. Arnold Toynbee used to call this kind of phenomenon the “intractability of institutions.” Under certain circumstances, governments and people tread down the slippery road to catastrophe in full knowledge of the certain results.
The North Korean leadership cannot wriggle itself out of its present dilemma because of its fateful rivalry with South Korea. Even the very reality of South Korea itself is a threat to its existence, as a well-known scholar and a leading advocate of the “sunshine policy” recently remarked.
Here is the danger to everyone in the region, not only to South Korea: that the North Korean regime has nothing left in its arsenal for survival but its weapons, leading it to resort to unreasonable acts of violence or the threat of violence.
To be sure, South Korean governments have not always been right and sensible in dealing with North Korea in the past. But they have tried in their own ways to address the problems of the country, to engage its leaders in talks, to help the people with basic necessities and to build a regime of stability on the peninsula — all without much success.
China bears a special weight in dealing with the North Korean problem. It is unfortunate that, in the view of most Koreans, China’s leaders tend to still look at North Korea as a strategic asset in the context of its relations with America. Its intervention in the Korean War is still important not because of North Korea itself but because of China’s relative success in confronting America on the battlefield.
I myself do not entirely share this impression. But I believe that China should pay more attention to the internal problems of North Korea, especially the militarization of its society, because the domestic dynamics of any country are inevitably linked to its external behavior. One cannot just ignore what is going on inside a country with the excuse of “non-intervention in others affairs,” particularly if that country is going through an exceptionally critical phase.
In this context, North Korea’s actions are not only a challenge to our security in the region, but also to our insecurity. The artillery attack on South Korea has brought front and center the issue that is increasingly on everyone’s mind: the respective roles of the U.S. and China in our regional security as power shifts eastward.
Not long ago, against the background of the sinking of the South Korean Navy ship Cheonan Ham, and then the clash over an island between China and Japan, I was interviewed by Chinese television. “Why should America, an external power, intervene in the affairs of this region?” my questioner asked. “Why do they still maintain such a military presence on the Korean peninsula?”
I gently reminded her that America came to be involved in this region as a result of the Pacific War, which it entered after being attacked by Japan, and has maintained its presence ever since. As for its military presence in Korea, America had withdrawn from the peninsula but had to return when war broke out less than a year after its withdrawal.
As East Asians, we may have objections to foreign military presence on our lands. But it is an undeniable fact that there has not been a major military conflict on the peninsula or in other parts of the region for more than a half a century since the Korean War. Without doubt, dating back to the time of the Japanese invasion of its neighbors, America has become a stabilizing factor in the region mainly because we have not been able to manage our own affairs.
In the current crisis, we cannot simply sit back and say that the North Korean problem is ultimately only resolvable by America and North Korea, while arguing at the same time for less of an American presence in the region.
If we want to be on our own and would like to see less of an American influence around us, as the Chinese in particular claim they want, then the countries of the East Asian region must be able to address our problems to a greater extent by ourselves.
The successive crises provoked by North Korea, each more dangerous than the last, may well bring that imperative closer to reality.
GLOBAL VIEWPOINT NETWORK/TRIBUNE MEDIA SERVICES
Here is an admission that you probably won’t hear from many television-news talking-heads and newspaper columnists these days: I don’t know and I’m not sure about a lot of things, especially those that are happening in North Korea.
I don’t know, for example, what illness North Korea’s “Dear Leader” (or is it “Supreme Leader”) Kim Jong-il is suffering from and when exactly he is going to join his dad, “Great Leader” Kim il-Sung in heaven (or hell). And I certainly don’t know how old is the ailing leader’s son, Kim Jong-un (it has been reported that he is the youngest among three legitimate and a few illegitimate children), although I have no reason to doubt the speculations by respected Korea Watchers that Kim il-Sung is Kim Jong-il’s apparent heir.
I also admit that I’m not sure why the North Koreans launched an artillery attack on a South Korean island of Yeonpyeong on Tuesday, leaving two South Korean marines and two civilians dead, and more than a dozen wounded, or for that matter, why they decided to publicize their new uranium enrichment plant in Yongbyon which could produce fuel for making nuclear bombs.
In fact, these two most recent aggressive moves by Pyongyang seem to be just two more dramatic scenes in a North Korea Groundhog Day-like production. In March, North Koreans torpedo sank a South Korean warship the Cheonan, (according to the conclusions of international investigators, killing 46 sailors, igniting an international crisis, recalling the responses to North Korea’s nuclear test in May last year which followed an earlier ballistic missile tests in April.
One thing is sure. The North Koreans know how to draw a lot of attention. But why are they doing it? Again, those who (pretend to) know speculate that some members of the political-military clique that rules the North, including members of the Kim Dynasty are apprehensive about, if not opposed to, the choice of the young and inexperienced Kim il-Sung as a successor. So perhaps Kim Jong-il is trying to secure the loyalty of the military by demonstrating that his son is not a wimp who will try to appease the Americans by giving-up the country’s cherished nuclear military program?
That makes some sense; although I doubt that a military dictator like Kim Jong-il has kept alive any potential challenger to his rule in the military. More likely, the North Koreans have been misbehaving and making sure that everyone takes notice because they want, to make sure that everyone — the South Koreans, Japan, the U.S. — takes notice and responds to their pressure for financial assistance and food (the country’s population of twenty-five million is starving) and diplomatic recognition (renewing talks with the U.S. and the rest of the international community).
In a way, if that is what the North Koreans are doing, they are acting in a somewhat rational way. Former U.S. President Richard Nixon described such behavior as the Madman Theory, explaining to his aides in 1968 that he would have to demonstrate to then North Vietnam that he had reached the point where he might “do anything” to stop the war in Vietnam. “We’ll just slip the word to them that, ‘For God’s sake, you know Nixon is obsessed about communism,” Nixon explained. “We can’t restrain him when he’s angry — and he has his hand on the nuclear button.’”
But again, I’m not sure if that is what the North Koreans are trying to prove to the world — that they are “crazy” and that unless they get what they want, they would return the Korean Peninsula back to the stone age.
What I do know is that U.S. was drawn into the Korean Peninsula during the Cold War and as part of an effort to contain the threat of Communist military aggression — in the form of Communist China — in Northeast Asia. Despite the fact that the Cold War ended a while ago (that I also know) U.S. military commitment that was formalized through a security agreement with South Korea and is demonstrated by the continuing presence of 37,000 U.S. troops in that country is still in place.
The main threat that is being raised as a way of justifying this U.S. military commitment and presence is that of North Korea. In particular, Pyongyang’s drive to develop nuclear military capability has become the main rationale for U.S. military intervention in the Korean Peninsula. Ironically, one of the reasons that North Korea has taken the nuclear military direction has to do with legitimate concerns — considering U.S. policies in Iraq and elsewhere — over a possible U.S. attempt to do a “regime change” in Pyongyang.
In any case, the main threat that North Korea is posing today is to its neighbors in northeast Asia. There is the long-term concern over the economic problems, including the flow of refugees into South Korea and China that could follow the collapse of North Korean. And there is no reason why Japan and South Korea should not be worried over the rise of a nuclear North Korea.
Indeed, these worst-case-scenarios reflect what should be seen as direct threat to the core national interests of South Korea, Japan — and China — and not to that of the U.S. It is not difficult to imagine the U.S. response if the central government in Mexico disintegrates and/or if Chavez’s Venezuela goes nuclear. But Korea is not in America’s strategic backyard but in China’s. A China that is trying to project itself as a responsible regional power in East Asia should be concerned that Japan and South Korea would have no other choice but to develop their nuclear military capability — an idea that has been opposed by Washington — in order to deter a nuclear North Korea ruled by the Kim Dynasty.
So in a way, the most effective way for the U.S. to help achieve a stable balance of power in the Korean Peninsula is not by sending more war ships to South Korea but by providing incentives to the Chinese to stop making excuses for the North Koreans — not to mention honoring Dear Leader during his visit to Beijing — and to start “doing something” about North Korea. Washington could help by working with Seoul and Tokyo — and Beijing — in drawing an outline for a timeline for a nuclear military disarmament of North Korea as part of a package deal involving economic assistance to the North as well as process of diplomatic dtente with that government, including ties with Washington (and perhaps eventually the peaceful reunification of the peninsula).
There is no doubt that it is China, as Pyongyang’s only regional (and global) patron, that would have to play the main role in forcing North Korea to accept such a deal. The alternative should not be an all-out war in the Korean Peninsula involving U.S. troops, but an American “green light” to Seoul and Tokyo to take all the necessary steps to protect their security — including the nuclear military option. And while I don’t know many things, I am quite sure that the prospect of Japan and South Korea going nuclear will make it more likely than not that China will finally start acting like the responsible regional power that it claims to be.
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What looks like a romantic comedy, plays like a romantic comedy – but lacks the laughs of a romantic comedy?
Morning Glory, the newest film from director Roger Michell (Notting Hill), fits the description. It’s a romantic comedy in all the ways that matter except the most important: It rarely provides the humor it promises. It’s like a souffl that never rises.
Not that it doesn’t try. Its rhythms, its flavor, its set-ups – they all have the look and feel of a film like Tootsie or, more appropriately, Broadcast News, the film that Morning Glory so desperately wants to be. The problem is writer Aline Brosh McKenna: She doesn’t know how to pull the trigger on a punchline, it seems, no matter how hard she tries.
That makes sense. McKenna’s most famous script was The Devil Wears Prada, whose best material was drawn from the book by Lauren Weisberger. More typical were her scripts for the dreadful Three to Tango, and the similarly humor-challenged 27 Dresses, the Katherine Heigl dud. Morning Glory would seem to clinch it: Prada was funny because of the original material – but McKenna isn’t particularly funny as a writer.
Not that she doesn’t have a feel for the romantic-comedy form. She just can’t craft a punchline to go with the romantic moments she weaves through the script.
Morning Glory certainly has the other assets of a solid romantic comedy: a strong cast with unexpected chemistry, dealing with material that’s actually about something. So why doesn’t it work better?
Rachel McAdams, one of the cutest and most likable actresses working today, plays Becky Fuller, whose lifelong dream has been to produce the Today show. As the film opens, she’s the ultra-upbeat and inventive producer of Good Morning, New Jersey, with no social life because her days start with a 3:30 a.m. alarm.
When her boss calls her in, she assumes it’s because she’s gotten the call up to the majors – the network. Instead, she’s been downsized, in favor of a newbie who has an MBA and can find ways to save the station money, in addition to producing the early morning show.
Becky, however, is no quitter.
Click here: This review concludes on my website.
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