The lies the government and media tell are amplifications of the lies we tell ourselves. To stop being conned, stop conning yourself.

— James Wolcott

The most colossal James Wolcott quotes to discover and learn by heart

A typical 'Larry King Live' is a pastiche whose absurdism defies parody.

Wearing his trademark suspenders and purple shirts, he looks as if he's strapped to the chair with vertical seat belts, unable to eject.

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As music migrates into our iPods, CD collections require less and less room, residing in our heads rather than resounding off the walls. The protracted labor of amassing a personal music library has lost its detective zeal.

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Historically, Hollywood comedy has arrived in skinny envelopes.

From fence post Buster Keaton to herky-jerky Jerry Lewis to wiry nerve-bundle Woody Allen to hung-loose Richard Pryor to whippy contortionist Jim Carrey, its comics and clowns have tended to be sliced thin and bendable.

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Popular culture no longer craves archangels and new dawns.

Pop culture traffics in vampires and deads of night.

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Book-jacket design may become a lost art, like album-cover design, without which late-20th-century iconography would have been pauperized.

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In 2008, Barack Obama did get Democrats hyperventilating, whipped up to a creamy froth, while John McCain creaked ahead like a cranky granddad whom Republicans let move to the front of the buffet line, deferring to seniority, as they had in 1996, when Bob Dole turtled to the top of the ticket.

8

At 'The Village Voice,' there were all these fevers inside the offices, that would break out into full-scale rumbles between writers.

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What a turnaround in sentiment 'Glee' exemplifies.

It was only a few years ago that pursuing the dream of a Broadway career or cabaret stardom relegated some poor yearning dope to a lavender ghetto of losers, self-deluders, and social rejects.

5

With 'Black Swan,' the ballerina saga flips its tiara and goes on a hallucinatory bender, a scary acid trip where transfiguration and disfiguration meet.

4

Paris Hilton and Kim Kardashian would have left little more than lipstick stains in their passing had it not been for the sex videos that lofted them into reality-TV notoriety. Once notoriety has warmed into familiarity, celebrity itself becomes one big 'Brady Bunch' reunion, or a therapy session with Dr. Drew.

3

Bad acting comes in many bags, various odors.

It can be performed by cardboard refugees from an Ed Wood movie, reciting their dialogue off an eye chart, or by hopped-up pros looking to punch a hole through the fourth wall from pure ballistic force of personality, like Joe Pesci in a bad mood. I can respect bad acting that owns its own style.

3

Like Andy Warhol and unlike God Almighty, Larry King does not presume to judge;

all celebrities are equal in his eyes, saints and sinners alike sharing the same 'Love Boat' voyage into the dark beyond, a former sitcom star as deserving of pious send-off as Princess Diana.

3

About James Wolcott

Quotes 61 sayings
Nationality American
Profession Critic
Birthday October 16

It isn't that NPR is matriarchal but that it has dedicated itself to not being patriarchal in its outlook and presentation, stipulating from the outset that its headline voices would not resound across the fruited plains from big male bags of air sent from Mount Olympus.

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A lost election can have the jolt of a drop through the gallows door, leading to a dark night of the soul in which the future presses down like a cloud that will never lift.

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Being raised Catholic in a pressure-cooker household besieged by alcohol and bill collectors enforced and heightened a sense of sentry duty in me, the oldest of five children and the one most responsible for keeping everything from capsizing. Wild indulgence was for other people, the non-worriers.

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After a decade this glum, we deserved a shot of 'Glee,' a show that restored our faith in the power of song, the beauty of dance, and the magic of 'spirit fingers' to chase our cares and woes into somebody else's backyard.

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Mitt Romney - he had a Rock Hudson thing going, shoeblack hair and a well-hung resume, but even for a shameless, position-shifting phony he seemed a trifle insincere.

2

It's one thing to fight for what you believe in, another thing to fight for what others believe in.

2

Used to be, conservatives revered the Average American, that Norman Rockwell oil painting of diner food, humble faith, honest toil, and Capraesque virtue.

2

On August 28, 2010, Fox News messiah Glenn Beck hosted a 'Restoring Honor' revival meeting featuring sexy guest star Sarah Palin, much as Bob Hope would roll out Raquel Welch in white go-go boots on his U.S.O. tours to give our fighting men a morale lift in their khakis.

2

What's happening to movie critics is no different from what has been meted out to book, dance, theater, and fine-arts reviewers and reporters in the cultural deforestation that has driven refugees into the diffuse clatter of the Internet and Twitter, where some adapt and thrive - such as Roger Ebert - while others disappear without a twinkle.

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What had brought me to New York in the autumn of 1972 was a letter of recommendation written by Norman Mailer, the author of 'The Naked and the Dead' and American literature's leading heavyweight contender, to Dan Wolf, the delphic editor of 'The Village Voice.'

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In the first weeks of the Obama administration, 'bipartisanship' was the reigning buzzword, and when the Beltway thinks 'bipartisan,' it pictures President Reagan and Democratic Speaker of the House Tip O'Neill putting aside their differences and forging a legislative partnership, a ruddy pair of genial patriarchs bonding over the Blarney Stone.

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Telling writers to shut up is a sure way to keep them talking.

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I understand that one of the purposes of bipartisanship is to cram something difficult and necessary down the American people's gullets for which neither party has the fortitude to assume full responsibility. It's a way of turning a possible gangplank into a teeter-totter.

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One of the mistakes they often make is the designers over-accessorize or over-elaborate. So you realize: this would work if they removed X and Y. And actually, that's the sort of thing that translates into writing, because a lot of the time you realize, I feel I need to add something here but actually what I need to do is subtract. And then there's always the psychodrama and the tears and the rage and the feuds.

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Broadway purists may deplore the influx of movie-spinoff musicals in recent years, wishing someone would turn off the popcorn machine and let more imaginative brainstorms blow through.

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The advent of DVD/Blu-ray reissues of classic Hollywood and foreign films has been a boon to film buffs, who can now study their favorites in all their glistening detail and restored palettes.

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Since I'm a fan of collections and anthologies, believe that the best writing often shines in shards and galloping stretches, I never find myself lobbying for a writer I enjoy reading regularly to hole up in Heidegger's hut for four or five years to bring forth a mountain.

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Wisdom is for statues. Humor uncaps our inhibitions, unleashes our energies, seals friendships, patches hurts. Laughing is probably the most alive you can be.

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I think ambition is a desire for recognition.

People want to be special. I think ambition can take in a whole package of things, power or sexual excitement.

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I understand the people-watching, but I've never done it where people have to race to three different shows, from here to there. I mean, the biggest zoo I ever faced was Comic Con, and Comic Con takes place in one big hangar.

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A new political-entertainment class has moved into the noisy void once occupied by the sage pontiffs of yore, a class just as polarized as our partisan divide: one side holding up a fun-house mirror to folly, the other side reveling in its own warped reflection.

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My high-school papers, my college-application essays, read like Norman Mailer packed in a crunchy-peanut-butter sandwich.

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People want somebody to be a daredevil, even if they're not going to be a daredevil themselves.

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As we divest ourselves of once familiar physical objects - digitize and dematerialize - we approach a 'Star Trek' future in which everything can be accessed from the fourth dimension with a few clicks or terse audibles.

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The days when the words Hollywood actor framed Ronald Reagan like bunny fingers as an ID tag and an implied insult seem far-off and quaint: nearly everybody in politics - candidate, consultant, pundit, and Tea Party crowd extra alike - is an actor now, a shameless ham in a hoked-up reality series that never stops.

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High expectations weren't nurtured in my neck of nowhere back then - children weren't fawned over from an early age as 'gifted' and groomed for a prizewinning future; self-esteem was considered something you had to pick from the garden yourself.

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Everyone is entitled to his own nostalgia.

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I remember reading about police arresting this filmmaker making this freaky movie and his name was John Waters. And I was like, wow, someone in Baltimore is doing something creative? I didn't know there were people running off and making eight-millimeter movies. Then I got to New York and realized, oh, there's a whole world of people who do these things. I was utterly bored being in the suburbs, but I didn't know why I was bored.

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The unhappy irony is that, while 'Glee' is hitting the heights, school arts funding is being slashed across the country due to the steep recession and declining tax revenues.

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Who elected Larry King America's grief counselor? We, the viewing public, did, by driving up his ratings whenever somebody famous passes.

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Feature-length film comedy is harder to pull off than the episodic sitcom - it doesn't have the same factory machinery up and running, teams of writers putting familiar characters through permutations - but that doesn't explain the widening quality gap that makes movie humor look like a genetic defective.

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Today a celebrity sex video isn't a stigma that requires penance and smarm removal; it's a branding device, a platform enhancer, a show reel.

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Even the most piddling life is of momentous consequence to its owner.

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With Barack Obama as president and the super-happening Michelle Obama as First Lady, you would think a new tone, a new tune, a kicky new jazzitude, would have entered Washington discourse, but it remains a landlocked island unto itself, held captive by its tribal fevers.

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'Hairspray' was a movie turned Broadway musical turned Hollywood remake, and that is the 'Lion King' circle of life as we know it in Times Square, the creative loop that swings for the stars and sometimes crashes into the upper deck.

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Robert Pattinson is rebel cool incarnated -- the James Dean of the undead.

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Slashing its way to the finish line, Black Swan is the first ballet movie for highbrow horror fans for whom ballet itself signifies little to nothing. Those of us who know and love ballet can only look on it with a different kind of horror.

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