The Good, the Bad, and the UGGGHH: 2020 in a quick mess of movie and TV reviews

In the closing hours of this inexpressibly dumb year, I’m going to do my time-honoured thing of saying that I’m not going to write a whole bunch of review text, and then probably write a whole bunch of review text. I know myself a little better by this point.


The other day, Wump and Toop and I made the critical emotional mistake of watching Inside OutSoul, and the episode of Star Trek: Voyager where Neelix meets the inventor the space A-bomb and reveals that he is a space Hiroshima victim and a space draft-dodger. Anyway we won’t go into that. Also Mrs. Hatboy was along for the ride but she was mostly watching silent movies on her laptop with her earphones on so she missed most of it. She was along for the movie night, I mean. Not space Hiroshima.

Anyway, we watched the new Pixar movie for Disney+. And it was fine. The more I think about it, the more its message seems to resonate, but it wasn’t anything phenomenal. A man who had never dared to live meets an unborn soul in the same position, and together they … something. Learn about how beautiful life is. It was nice.

I … dislike that the ideas behind the world-building, and the story itself, took a back seat in popular discourse to the ethnicity of the main character. Is it important that Pixar made a black-centred story with African American characters? Sssssssure. Yes, yes it is. Black Panther was about a fictional African nation but it was good, and Luke Cage was fine too, more of all that.

I can’t comment on whether the story of Soul was a real one about the “black experience” or in any way a black-cultural touchstone. Is that what any Pixar movies are for any particular culture? I didn’t think so, but then maybe they’re all about white life and I’m white so I don’t notice. I’m not dismissing that possibility, I just … there’s fuck all I can do about it, so here we are.

I saw plenty of black folks online who loved the movie, so – good. Good enough for me. Everyone brings their own baggage to a movie.

“What if I close my good eye and it’s all blurry, can I pretend this is a story about the unifying human condition rather than the imperialist Pixar hegemony overwriting the African American sociocultural paradigm?”

What I can talk about is the idea of an obsession, a calling, a spark that gives your life meaning. And how that spark can seem utterly all-consuming while at the same time out of reach, frightening, and anticlimactic once you’ve grasped it. Because it was a fucking delusion the whole time.

In a universe that we know, intellectually, is random and uncaring, any and all meaning in our lives is a function of our big dumb overcomplicated brains. There probably is no higher plane, no Limbo or unreality where souls come from and go to. The things we love, the things we feel like we were put on this world to do, are nothing more than a result of our genetics, brain chemistry, environment and upbringing.

But the concept art was amazing. Genetics, brain chemistry, environment and upbringing can fuck off, this was pretty.

So, a man who has lived and breathed music his entire life, while being stifled by modern capitalism and expectations and an unrewarding job as an educator (seems like there was a message there that they could have explored, but I guess trombone girl was it), dies before getting his big shot. Then had literally soul-searching adventures trying to get back so he can have his big shot. Then screws over the cosmic order to get his big shot, and then goes, “huh, that was it?” and realises that there was more to it all.

And then … I don’t know, he goes on doing it. Come back again the next night. And the next, like Dorothea says. “This is water. What I want is the ocean.” He takes that lesson, but it didn’t seem particularly meaningful. It was nice, and the more I think about the ideas that were under discussion, the more I like it. But there could have been a final polishing, a final rewrite. I don’t know.

I guess what I’m saying is, it still wasn’t as good as this.

Inside Out

This movie really hits different when the kid you’re watching it with is pushing 11, as opposed to when she’s 5½. I’ve already said everything I feel I need to say about this movie here, five years ago, so I’ll leave it at that.


What if Inside Out and Soul took place in the same extended Pixar universe, and one dealt with psychology and personality, while the other dealt with higher abstract concepts and the before and after of it all? Not much of a stretch really.


Speaking of a stretch, what if Zardoz was part of an extended cinematic universe? Which Sean Connery universe would it be? James Bond? Indiana Jones? Highlander? The Rock? The League of Extraordinary Gentlemen? The Name of the Rose? Outland? It has to be Highlander, right? I’m going with Highlander. Zeist was overwritten to be the future, and “Zardoz” was a post-apocalyptic misinterpretation of The Wizard of Oz. So it practically writes itself. Zeist is clearly a misinterpretation of The Wizard of Oz IV: Time Heist. That’s what we’re going with.

We recently re-watched this horrible classic, not with Wump and Toop but with my good pals Linza and Mr. Bloom and Ilja the Music Man. It was considerably more coherent than I remember – I’m not sure how drunk I was the second time I watched it, or how other-substanced I was the first time, but this time I’d only had about four beers.

A chilling tale of human cultural stagnation and isolationism, Zardoz is just crazy as all get-out.


I remembered I already had two pictures in my archive for Zardoz, so why go looking for more?


Seriously, why?
This was the second picture I had.

This is another one that has more meanings the more you think about it, but ultimately depends on the luggage the viewer has stored in their overhead compartment. And ultimately is a statement about the mass quantities of top-shelf drugs available to filmmakers in the 1970s. If this is the future Juan Sánchez-Villalobos Ramírez came from, it’s no wonder he was happy to stand up under that fast-moving ventilation fan.

Moving on.

Batman and City Slickers

Yeah, I – I’m not sure where I was going with this one. I mean, I didn’t actually re-watch these movies, but I did a bit of ground-work in establishing that they exist in the same universe. Carl Grissom is Curly. Bob is Cookie. There’s obviously a witness protection double life thing going on but I have had too much sleep to blow the lid off it right now.

Oh, and it did definitely have a Zardoz-style mash-up that speaks directly to my 2020 sensibilities, so there’s that.

The Mandalorian

Let’s close out with a brief look back at a show I was pretty underwhelmed with (due to Star Wars fatigue) for the first season and a half, and then super duper mega excited about for like one episode, and then the season ended.

Spoilers, Luke Skywalker turns up at the end of the show and kicks a whole lot of robot stormtrooper butt, and I don’t even care about the spoiler because nobody should.

I already guessed where the show was headed because I saw a lot of reactions on Twitter. So, just to set the scene, we have a new Star Wars character doing mostly new Star Wars things. He dresses like Boba Fett but he isn’t Boba Fett. Some of the places he goes to are like Tatooine but they’re not Tatooine. He winds up looking after this fifty-year-old baby of the same species Yoda is from, but it’s not Yoda. Okay, so Boba Fett turns up and kicks some butt, and they do go to Tatooine, and Grogu does have Force powers and lived in the Jedi Temple and stuff, but damn it, it was almost a new Star Wars thing. They nearly had original writing and new stuff and a bit of creative integrity in there.

They brought in Ahsoka from animated TV version purgatory, and they said “Grand Admiral Thrawn” one time. THEY WERE SO FUCKING CLOSE.

But then, exactly like a small cock on a cold day, they shrunk back into their warm furry safety-crotch and brought Luke Skywalker in as the Jedi who comes to take Grogu away for training.

Okay, I’m pretty peeved about the whole thing but I have to admit a couple of points.

One, this was just after Return of the Jedi and Luke was just about the only outed Jedi going around attempting to train new ones. So it makes total sense that it be Luke.

Two, they seemed to walk a line between using a real-life younger look-alike of Luke, and mild face-altering CGI to bring him closer to post-Jedi Luke. It was still not exactly right, but at least it wasn’t uncanny valley. They did it fine.

And three, Luke’s butt-kicking scene was cool. It was cool. DAMN IT, IT WAS COOL. It actually reminded me really nicely that Jedi Knights are butt-kicking, name-taking space wizards and they’re fucking formidable. Ahsoka did the same in an earlier episode as well. It called to mind the panicked reaction of the Trade Federation Asian Stereotypes when they found out the negotiators were Jedi. One of the few things I remember, and enjoyed, in that trilogy.

All that said, ugh. UGH, I SAY.

I don’t know where they go for season 3. They’ve fan-fellated themselves into a fanboy-come-spackled corner and they fucking deserved it. The only solace I can take is that at some point between the beginning of The Mandalorian season 3 and Episode VII: The Force Awakens, Luke is going to screw the pooch and Grogu is either going to get killed, or leave the new school Luke makes, or else Grogu is a Knight of Ren with arm and leg extensions built into his goofy uniform.

Ugh. Enough.

Hey, that’s about as close to angry about Star Wars as I’ve ever managed to get. So apparently they can still bring it when they need to, eh? But for real, ranting aside, I’m just not invested enough to really care one way or the other. Never have been. I’ll still watch it, in the hopes that they’ll discover good writers one day. And Grand Admiral Thrawn the day after that. But one thing this year has taught me:

Nothing good ever came of giving the bitching crybabies what they want.

And I’m no exception to that.

Willems said it best a couple of years ago.

And said more this year.

That’s it, that’s all I’ve got. I used up all of my spare time to give this stupid year a send-off it hardly deserves. I hope you all have a most excellent new year’s eve and I’m looking forward to more fun and discourse in 2021.

At least it can’t get any worse!

About Hatboy

I’m not often driven to introspection or reflection, but the question does come up sometimes. The big question. So big, there’s just no containing it within the puny boundaries of a single set of punctuationary bookends. Who are these mysterious and unsung heroes of obscurity and shadow? What is their origin story? Do they have a prequel trilogy? What are their secret identities? What are their public identities, for that matter? What are their powers? Their abilities? Their haunted pasts and troubled futures? Their modus operandi? Where do they live anyway, and when? What do they do for a living? Do they really have these fantastical adventures, or is it a dazzlingly intellectual and overwrought metaphor? Or is it perhaps a smug and post-modern sort of metaphor? Is it a plain stupid metaphor, hedged around with thick wads of plausible deniability, a soap bubble of illusory plot dependent upon readers who don’t dare question it for fear of looking foolish? A flight of fancy, having dozed off in front of the television during an episode of something suitably spaceship-oriented? Do they have a quest, a handler, a mission statement, a department-level development objective in five stages? I am Hatboy.
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63 Responses to The Good, the Bad, and the UGGGHH: 2020 in a quick mess of movie and TV reviews

  1. stchucky says:

    And before anyone asks, there is no The Wizard of Oz IV: Time Heist. But there should be.

  2. I got to the part in Soul where the all-powerful beings are assigning personalities and character traits to all the new beings before they’re sent out into existence. One of them gets given a ton of mental deficiencies and baggage, and it’s treated like a joke. Then later they make a jab about how hedgefund managers don’t have purpose in their life.

    That fucking killed it for me. I get it that it’s supposed to be lighthearted and all, but man do I not want to hear normalizing gags about how if you have a mental condition like depression then it’s just fucking tough and you should smell the roses cause the otherworldly beings just gave you that, and you should be happy with your part in life.

    It’s my main problem with a lot of Pixar now that I’m getting older and more in tune of my own issues. Their worldview is really damn conservative and west coast bubble centric, and it just doesn’t speak to me anymore now that I’m looking for other stuff than just the quick endorphins that they, admittedly still, give.

    Groucho, out.

    • stchucky says:

      Oh, that’s a really good point. I kind of winced and ignored that part too, they could have done it so much more thoughtfully.

      At least in Inside Out, where puberty and other issues were dealt with in a comic way, there was that deeper foundation that made you think about the shit that had made each person like that.

      I was also uncertain of how the Lost Soul that the hippies freed … what, he’d been in the zone doing some kind of computer work, and then he … something, and then they saved him and he immediately jumped up and trashed his office? I mean, I can see that for a lot of desk / office jobs, it can be mind-numbing … but it can also be engrossing. And if you’re in the zone with it, your mind ain’t numb. And if your mind’s numb with it, then you’ll be in the zone with something else. Was that Lost Soul going to escape at closing time, or would that slump just follow him home?

      It really does raise more questions than it answers, and yeah – the designation of personality and “spark” was a problem, even before they tried to say it wasn’t really a life’s calling at some point in the middle of the movie. I missed that, but it seemed to undermine a rather critical point of the cosmos they’d invented.

      • stchucky says:

        They were definitely going for a lazy “office work is soul-crushing” joke, but despite having a perfect set-up for it, it didn’t work right. And I don’t think I’m being an over-sensitive wokémon by saying so. But a wokémon doesn’t know it’s a wokémon until it bursts out of its wokéball to do battle so who knows.

      • Ah, the Descartes of the 21st century. “If I lacked self-awareness, I think I’d know.”

      • stchucky says:

        I think it’s a bit much to expect self-awareness from people, but I’m going to allow this.

      • stchucky says:

        You know what would be fun to see, would be a sequel where 22 or some other old soul returns to Limbo and tears down those structures for instilling souls with mental issues. Or tries to, because they’re dickish and unfair.

        When you dig into it, what are they doing? Creating souls that will fit into organisms, right? So, there is a baby conceived that has X, Y and Z genetic factors. It is to be born into A, B and C economic and sociocultural background. Those will combine to give it those psychological traits. The soul providers are a scam, cookie cutters that take blank souls and imprint them so they’ll work in the bodies they’re “suited” to. They’re not doing it to be capricious or mean, they’re doing it because they have to, because of the meat world and how it’s going.

        Self-perpetuating spiral. So do you break it at the soul amphitheatre stage, or on Earth? There’s a story I’d be interested in exploring.

  3. aaronthepatriot says:

    Great commentary, especially about Soul. I haven’t seen it but it read “right” to me. I have to say though:

    “It actually reminded me really nicely that Jedi Knights are butt-kicking, name-taking space wizards and they’re fucking formidable.”

    Yeah but they’re not ninjas. XD

  4. dreameling says:

    I think I get your disappointment with The Mandalorian, but… Luke was just so cool. And all the other bits and beats, while often drawing on familiar things, at least drew on them and expanded on them in ways that made in-story sense and clicked nicely and consistently with the established lore (as far as I could tell). Also, Ahsoka.

    At this point, I’ll take good SW that looks back over bad SW that tries something new.

    They should (have) put Dave Filoni in charge of the movies, at least of the big picture (no pun intended).

    • stchucky says:

      The new stuff, in my experience, wasn’t bad. But therein lies a subjective opinion, so yeah. I think we can start 2021 on the same page.

      Just-post-Jedi Luke was cool.

      • dreameling says:

        I overexaggerated with my dichotomy. As discussed at length elsewhere, the new stuff is in the positive for me overall, even if there are (often large) chunks that I didn’t like or just felt “meh” (or even “enh”) about. On the whole, I guess I’m “OK” with the new trilogy, for example. (Even though I’ve yet to rewatch TRoS on BD. I actually got TFA on UHD BD months after getting TRoS, and I rewatched TFA almost immediately.)

    • stchucky says:

      In saying positive things about the new, Grogu had Force healing powers. That was nice. Precedent and canon! That’s how it’s done. Just because we hadn’t seen it before, didn’t mean it wasn’t a thing. It’s a big galaxy.

      You know, apparently. IGNORE BOBA FETT AND LUKE IT’S A BIG GALAXY.

      • dreameling says:

        Sure, the healing powers were a nice touch. And the Moff Gideon stuff is clearly building towards cloning Palpatine, so there’s that extra connection, too.

        Speaking of Boba Fett: I think his survival was logically pretty much a forgone conclusion already in Episode VI. Why? Well, here’s 3PO translating Jabba:

        In his belly, you will find a new definition of pain and suffering as you are slowly digested over a… thousand years.


        You’ll clearly die of thirst long before you have to worry about the acid doing anything to you. And if you happen to be geared up with body armor and advanced weapons when you go in, you should be just fine.

        (This has literally been my Sarlacc takeaway since watching the movie for the first time in the 80s. I’m so proud.)

        And speaking of a big galaxy, I like how in The Mandalorian the galaxy feels bigger than in the new movies, where everyone just seems to jump everywhere instantly (often courtesy of the editing). I think there’s just more travel time depiction in the show. (In the original and prequel trilogies, too, characters spend a good amount of screen time in hyperspace, if memory serves.)

    • But there’s the thing, Filoni hasn’t done anything with the franchise that isn’t fanservice. He’s great at putting things together that fans recognize. It’s fun and easy endorphins. But nothing about his work looks forward or is based on anything but Star Wars. And as much as I like fanservice in small doses, I’d hate it if a franchise I loved as a form of storytelling became nothing but a gallery of glory days without context.

      • dreameling says:

        I think you’re selling Filoni a little short there. I agree that he’s no bold visionary, and I’m not sure I’d actually put him in charge of directing any live-action movies (yet), but to label all of his work as fan service is, well, a bit much. I’d say he’s more of a Lucas apprentice who’s continuing on the course set by Lucas, but surpassing him in many respects.

        Filoni has the sort of solid grasp of the canon and lore that allows him to create stuff that respects and is consistent with what’s come before, which I personally find crucial, and which neither Abrams nor Johnson possessed. He should at the very least have been the story architect and lore consultant for the new trilogy (with actual authority to veto directorial brainfarts).

        Filoni is definitely better at, for example, dialogue than Lucas (which isn’t necessarily saying much), his sensibilities are more nuanced and adult, and he’s added plenty of new stuff to the canon, like Ahsoka, and refined existing stuff, like Anakin and clone troopers, that’s only made Star Wars better. (In my books, The Clone Wars TV show is better than the prequel trilogy. If only they’d made that live-action.)

        Ideally, you’d pair Filoni with a visionary. I don’t think Favreau + Filoni is that, as I don’t see Favreau as any sort of storytelling genius, but it’s certainly a step in the right direction. The Mandalorian is a testament to that.

        Now, Filoni + Waititi, for example, could be really interesting.

  5. aaronthepatriot says:

    Polls just closed in Georgia 23 minutes ago and both Democrats are ahead in the senate races! There better not be any massive dumps! I’m watching for massive dumps today!


    • stchucky says:

      Excellent! You Dems sure are getting good at rigging elections.

      • aaronthepatriot says:

        Looks to be the case! I think they won but damn it was a long night! I gave up at 1:30 am sure that Warnock would win and only estimating Ossoff would by the map of the places where votes remained.

      • dreameling says:

        Warnock won, and Ossoff remains in the lead (by a fraction). Please, win.

      • aaronthepatriot says:

        Yup yup, Ossoff currently has a larger margin than Biden. That one will be challenged I’m sure. Almost as many voters in this special election as in the presidential general election in November. Generally good news!

      • dreameling says:

        Google reports Ossoff as the winner.

      • aaronthepatriot says:

        There will probably be a recount still.

      • aaronthepatriot says:

        They just halted the election certification process in Congress and rushed VP Pence away because a MAGA chud armed mob stormed Capital Hill.

      • dreameling says:

        Yeah, just read about it in the news. The hell, US?

      • stchucky says:

        Apparently it was antifa, who knew the attempt would fail and so were willing to risk the electoral college certification being delegitimised in order to make the Proud Boys look bad. Or something like that.

      • aaronthepatriot says:

        Cops taking selfies, cops stepping out of the way, massively different cop response compared to BLM protests…. I want firings, arrests, insurrection charges, maximum penalties. Even though the US has some of the harshest prison sentences and worst sentences. I don’t care this time. Enough is enough.

        Listening to the Senators last night, even Republicans, it sounds like this might be possible. Whisper of a dream.

      • aaronthepatriot says:

        Between yesterday and the 37 minutes today, in spite of all of this (truly in spite, perfect time to use that), the stock market has gone up over 2 percent!

      • aaronthepatriot says:

        Go ham, Legal Eagle:

      • stchucky says:

        Wow, he sums it up as well as always. How fucking sad.

        Surely, surely, someone has to face consequences for this. The Confederates entered the Capitol.

      • aaronthepatriot says:

        You would think so. 4 people died, including one Capital Police officer. Because leadership told them to allow this riot. The chief resigned, but that’s not good enough. Every officer who acted unprofessionally must still be fired, no taking the fall for these fascists.

        Trump needs to be impeached or 25th’d, TODAY, NOW, those resignations better not have prevented the quorum for the 25th amendment from being met. I’m really worried they’re trying to do that, to make it impossible. Also that they’re waiting for the stock market to close today so the rich can squeeze out some more cash and the fallout from doing what needs to be done will largely occur over the weekend and not hurt their precious stocks. I’ve seen that so many times already the past year.

        The woman who died was a full-on QAnon MAGA looney. She got 2 articles written about her in my agency’s daily news, because she worked at one of our nuclear power plants! Good riddance, I’ll say, one less terrorist. And maybe more, as I said, 3 non cop deaths, potentially. It’s amazing how little information is coming out.

  6. Damon says:

    holy fuck! this is just insane!

    • aaronthepatriot says:

      I believe I predicted this, though I was off by about 8 weeks.

      • Damon says:

        All of the Congress people who helped foment this should be kicked out of the government and criminally charged.

      • aaronthepatriot says:

        1000% agreement. Treason can carry the death penalty. At a minimum this is sedition. Because. They. Have. No. Evidence. Therefore they have NO reason to “reasonably believe” there was fraud.

      • stchucky says:

        Holy fucking shit, USA. I’m just finishing off the epilogue of my book about the end of the world, you pull this scope change on me now?

        Just scrolling through Twitter, this is fucking madness. Stay inside my friends, I’m going to bed.

      • aaronthepatriot says:

        Yeah I’m not fucking going anywhere, that’s for sure.

  7. aaronthepatriot says:

    Poor Mike Pence, I hope his flight (from the US, literally) wasn’t scheduled too close to the certification or he’s going to miss it! XD

  8. aaronthepatriot says:

    *worst prisons I mean

  9. aaronthepatriot says:

    Info dump incoming:
    1. Woman fatally shot during riot at U.S. Capitol formerly lived in Annapolis, worked at Calvert Cliffs nuclear plant: The Associated Press and the Baltimore Sun (MD)
    7 Jan 2021, Lilly Price and Tim Prudente

    Two years have passed but Lauren Wither-Hannsen can hardly forget the frank and opinionated neighbor who lived next door to her in Annapolis.

    Their townhouses just outside the Cape Saint Claire neighborhood shared a back deck and the women would lean over the railings in the evening to chat.

    Still, she was shocked to hear the name of the woman identified as the person shot and killed by police while storming the U.S. Capitol with a mob of supporters for President Donald Trump.

    Ashli Babbitt, an Air Force veteran and fervent Trump supporter, lived with her husband and dogs in Annapolis and Southern Maryland before a divorce and move to San Diego in recent years. The 35-year-old died Wednesday at the hospital after she was shot by a U.S. Capitol Police officer.

    Babbitt owned a townhouse for five years near Cape St. Claire in Annapolis, according to state property records. She flew the American flag and stuck military plaques in the yard. Before that, records show, she lived in Huntingtown in Calvert County. She worked at the Calvert Cliffs Nuclear Power Plant from 2015 to 2017, according to a spokesman for the energy company Exelon Corp.

    Police shot her as the rioters bashed through the doors and windows, forcing their way into the Capitol where members of Congress were hiding, according to Steven A. Sund, chief of the Capitol Police.

    Sund, who agreed Thursday to resign effective Jan. 16, said the rioters attacked Capitol police and other law enforcement officers with metal pipes, sprayed chemical irritants and “took up other weapons against our officers.” Cellphone videos of the mob show men trampling officers as they pushed through the barricades.

    The scene was “unlike any I have ever experienced in my 30 years in law enforcement here in Washington, D.C.,” Sund said in a statement.

    Ashli Babbitt’s husband, Aaron Babbitt, told KSWB-TV, a Fox affiliate in San Diego, that he and his wife live in San Diego and that she was in Washington on Wednesday to support Trump. Aaron Babbitt sent his wife a message about 30 minutes before the shooting and never heard back.

    She had previously married Timothy McEntee in Fairbanks, Alaska, in 2005 and the couple moved to Maryland before their divorce in 2018. They had no children.

    She served active duty in the Air Force from 2004 to 2008, then in the Air Force Reserve and D.C. Air National Guard until 2016, military spokespersons said.

    While in Southern Maryland and separated from her husband, she became embroiled in a legal fight with a woman who previously dated her boyfriend at the time, according to court records. The woman alleged Babbitt chased her down the road and rammed her car.

    “She approached the passenger side of my vehicle, she was screaming at me and verbally threatening me. She was screaming at me to get out of my vehicle,” the woman wrote in a petition for a peace order.

    Babbitt, not yet married to her husband Aaron and named in court records as Ashli McEntee, was cleared of traffic charges. The woman sued Babbitt in Calvert County Circuit Court and the case was dismissed a year ago.

    By 2018, the then-named McEntee was listing her address as in San Diego. She sold her Annapolis townhouse the following year, according to state property records.

    A Facebook account with her name says she married Aaron Babbitt on June 25, 2019, and identifies her employer as Fowlers Pool Service.

    And a Twitter account under her married name identifies her as a veteran, Libertarian and supporter of the Second Amendment. She frequently retweeted comments by the president and his supporters about Wednesday’s gathering and their discredited claims of election fraud.

    2. Woman Killed in Capitol Embraced Trump and QAnon: The New York Times
    7 Jan 2021, Ellen Barry, Nicholas Bogel-Burroughs and Dave Philipps

    Ashli Babbitt had been preparing for this day, the day when world events would turn her way. When a discouraged friend on Twitter asked last week, “When do we start winning?” Ms. Babbitt had an answer: “Jan 6, 2021.”

    Her name will now be connected to that date, and to shaky footage showing a crowd of rioters smashing glass on the door leading to the Speaker’s Lobby of the Capitol.

    At the front of that crowd is the small figure of Ms. Babbitt, wearing snow boots, jeans, and a Trump flag wrapped around her neck like a cape.

    “Go! Go!” she shouts, and then two men hoist her up to the rim of a broken window. As she sticks her head through the frame, a Capitol Police officer in plain clothes fires a shot, and she falls back into the crowd. Blood starts pouring from her mouth.

    A day after Ms. Babbitt’s death, as part of a mob storming the Capitol amid counting of Electoral College votes, a portrait of her is taking shape.

    Ms. Babbitt had left the Air Force after two wars and 14 years, settling near the working-class San Diego suburb where she was raised. Life after the military was not easy. After briefly working security at a nuclear power plant, she was struggling to keep a pool-supply company afloat.

    As a civilian, she found herself newly free to express her political views. Her social media feed was a torrent of messages celebrating President Trump; QAnon conspiracy theories; and tirades against immigration, drugs and Democratic leaders in California.

    “You guys refuse, refuse to choose America over your stupid political party, I am so tired of it,” she said in a video message posted on Twitter, addressing California politicians. “You can consider yourself put on notice. Me and the American people. I am so tired of it, I am woke, man, this is absolutely unbelievable.”

    The people close to Ms. Babbitt have all responded with shock. Her husband, Aaron Babbitt, 39, told a Fox affiliate in San Diego that he had sent his wife a message about 30 minutes before the shooting, and she never responded.

    Her brother, Roger Witthoeft, 32, said Ms. Babbitt had not told her family that she was planning to go to Washington. But he was not surprised that she would protest.

    “My sister was 35 and served 14 years — to me that’s the majority of your conscious adult life,” said Mr. Witthoeft, of Lakeside, Calif. “If you feel like you gave the majority of your life to your country and you’re not being listened to, that is a hard pill to swallow. That’s why she was upset.”

    Ms. Babbitt, who had four younger brothers, was raised in a mostly apolitical household, Mr. Witthoeft said. Their father worked in commercial flooring and their mother in a school program. Ms. Babbitt enlisted in the Air Force after finishing high school.

    While on active duty from 2004 to 2008, she met and married her first husband, Timothy McEntee. She worked as an enlisted security forces controller, a job whose duties include guarding gates at Air Force bases, and was deployed to Afghanistan and Iraq.

    She then served in the Air Force Reserves and the Air National Guard. In the Guard, she was assigned to a unit based near Washington that is known as the “Capital Guardians,” because one of their primary missions is defending the city. Security forces in the squadron regularly train with riot shields and clubs for what the Air Force calls “civil disturbance missions.” She was deployed twice more, to the United Arab Emirates in 2012 and 2014, according to an Air Force spokeswoman.

    Ms. Babbitt left the military as a relatively low-ranking senior airman in 2016, several years before she would have become eligible for a pension and other benefits.

    By then, she had found another source of income, working in security at Calvert Cliffs Nuclear Plant in Maryland. She was employed there from 2015 to 2017, according to a representative for Exelon, the energy company that runs the plant.

    It was there that she met Mr. Babbitt, who had been employed at the facility since 2007 and left in 2017, the representative said. The two moved back to her native California. She filed for divorce from Mr. McEntee in 2018.

    The transition was not entirely smooth. In 2016, Mr. Babbitt’s former girlfriend applied to a court for a protection order, telling the court that Ms. Babbitt, then known as Ashli McEntee, had approached her on a roadway and had rear-ended her car three times.

    “She was screaming at me and verbally threatening,” the complaint says. The court granted a protection order. The following year, the former girlfriend again applied for a protection order, which the court granted.

    Shortly after that, Ms. Babbitt relocated to California, where she helped purchase Fowlers Pool Service and Supply, a company where her brother, Mr. Witthoeft, said he had worked.

    “We all worked together as a family — my other little brother, me, her husband, me, my uncle,” Mr. Witthoeft said. “It was kind of nice, a family affair.”

    Ms. Babbitt appeared to struggle in business. In 2017 she took out a costly short-term business loan. In effect, it meant her pool business would have to pay an interest rate that she later calculated in court filings to be 169 percent.

    Within days of signing the loan agreement, she stopped making payments, only repaying about $3,400 of the $65,000 borrowed from the lender, EBF Partners, records show. The lender soon sued her.

    Ms. Babbitt’s politics were emphatically pro-Trump. On the door of the pool-supply company, a poster declares it to be a “mask free autonomous zone, better known as America,” where “we shake hands like men, fist bump like homies.”

    “That was one of her things — for the first time in her life, she could actually say what she wanted to say, and didn’t have to bottle it up,” he said. She was frustrated, he said, with the number of homeless people in San Diego, and the difficulty of running a small business.

    “My sister was a normal Californian,” he said. “The issues she was mad about were the things all of us are mad about.”

    Her social media accounts suggest that she also, increasingly, embraced the conspiratorial thinking of QAnon, which has asserted that the 2020 presidential election was stolen by an elite Satan-worshiping cabal, and that it was up to ordinary people to reinstate Mr. Trump.

    She retweeted a post that promised a violent uprising that would lead to Mr. Trump’s second inauguration.

    “Nothing will stop us,” she wrote on Twitter the day before her death. “They can try and try and try but the storm is here and it is descending upon DC in less than 24 hours …. dark to light!”

    Her brother said she was passionate about Mr. Trump’s cause, and believed she was standing up for the American people.

    • stchucky says:

      These are victims, as surely as someone shot by Rittenhouse. They were useful idiots, pawns to be sacrificed, but they were still victims. Those responsible for their deaths must be held responsible.

      • aaronthepatriot says:

        I have to push back a bit. This woman, and so many of them, are clearly AWFUL, HATEFUL people. So they are victims in the same sense as a hardened criminal who died in the Twin Towers on 9/11 would be a victim. I refuse to allow victimhood to excuse this behavior.

      • stchucky says:

        It doesn’t excuse them. They’re not victims of the same sort. But they are ignorant and weak people who were used. Without the guiding hand of the agenda-driven criminals, she could have lived a long and blameless life.

      • aaronthepatriot says:

        OK well said on the victim thing, we are on the same page. If NO ONE ever tried to mislead her into hate she would have probably been fine.

      • stchucky says:

        This pretty much says it all:

        She’s still a victim and the true perpetrators go unpunished, but I have little sympathy for her.

      • aaronthepatriot says:

        Yup. Damn that was awesome.

      • aaronthepatriot says:

        AWW HELL NAH! A MAGA chowderhead at work who used to be in my branch just complained to my supervisor about the news articles and email I sent in my role as “reporter” for the branch. OK I should back up. Oh and don’t worry, my supervisor is on my side, she let me know she stamped this out and I am in no trouble, to carry on smartly. As she said I have been. She didn’t reveal the person but I know some things must be true about him. TL;DR to explain all that, let me focus on the “incident.”

        Since we started teleworking due to the pandemic, I volunteered (actually came up with the idea) and was given the role of looking for interesting/relevant news each workday and sending it to the branch. I came up with a fun gimmick of saying good morning in the different languages around the world, a different one each day. I’ve now run out of good mornings and am on to hellos, but people really like it.

        So today, I sent those 2 articles about the woman who died in DC, and one other article, and apparently he was triggered by my email, or maybe the mere fact I drew attention to the woman. But these articles are from OUR publication! My agency’s publication!

        Also, he knew what I was doing because I’ve been sending these reports for almost 10 months now. Never a complaint before, that I know of.

        Now, I don’t think I maligned that woman in ANY way in this email text. I am sharing it now so you can see what that CHOWDERHEAD SNOWFLAKE found offensive.

        “Lín-hó, RASB! OK, this is a tricky one, so I’m going to provide the articles with minimal commentary. There were two informative articles in the NRC Daily News regarding the woman who died at the Capital Hill prot—rio—whatever you want to call it. It turns out she worked at Calvert Cliffs for 2 years. See the attached for a lot more information on her life in the past 20 years. I could say a lot more, but will say no more.”

  10. aaronthepatriot says:

    Oh, final piece of the puzzle, he was in the branch but isn’t anymore, but is still on the mailing list. My supervisor is correcting that now.

  11. beer rot says:

    “At least it can’t get any worse!”

    ah…. so it was your fault.

  12. Damon says:

    I get the feeling that after listening to the politicians that incited this over the last month the “organized” groups decided to go, but told their people to hang back and see what happens while letting the naive believers lead the line. If things went in one way than they would participate, but if not they could claim they were just “protesting” and hadn’t overstepped. The front line’s lack of understanding that there would be consequences and that a “real” revolution/coup would require more than what an unruly mob could provide was conveniently excluded from the information given to them. Victims and “hopefully martyrs” to further swell the ranks was probably the goal at the end of the day for the “organizations”. Using the model provided by foreign terrorists that they claim to hate.

    • Hatboy says:

      That’s real dark, but very easy to believe.

    • aaronthepatriot says:

      I haven’t heard much about which leaders of terrorist organizations like the Proud Boys showed up in DC and which did not, but not having heard their names in the list of arrests is telling. I’m paying VERY careful attention to the arrests, which is pissing me off because EVERYONE IN THE MOB should have been arrested. Just as they do in DC when BLM protests, by the way.

      They are beginning to arrest politicians, actual sitting politicians, who were at those riots. One of our (VA) state senators was there. We’ve begun activism to have her removed from office here in my state. And it appears there were off duty cops there as well.

      I hope the FBI has seized all their stupid little Parler discussions and is planning a major crackdown on the organizers. It’ll have to be the FBI because clearly the cops are just not going to give these criminals consequences. We’ve seen the truth of that now and it’s damn scary. I don’t know how we can continue as a country of laws with this much disparity between criminal charges depending on which party you vote for.

      Did you see what happened to Mitt Romney at the airport? AND on the fucking plane? It was madness, by the end, and I believe those people would normally be ejected from the flight. But what do you do in these times, in light of how violent they are, and how MANY there are on the plane, and now seeing that cops just WILL. NOT. DO. THEIR. JOBS. ?

      Traitors chanting “traitor” at a Republican principled enough not to gets sucked into the MAGA cult, who believes in the bare minimum of Democracy and the Constitution. This is just unreal to me.

      And then there’s the Republican voter polling about the riot in DC that tells me Republican politicians are not going to do a damn thing to Trump over this. I can’t find all the polls that Cenk mentioned on TYT, but I did find the one where 52% of Republican voters blame BIDEN for the riots! For winning, I guess? Winning by steal, so he’s responsible for what Trump told the mob to do?

      Further proves most Republicans aren’t paying any attention to what Trump says. I’ve been pointing that out for 6 months now. I knew it had to be the case, and I think this is more evidence.

      All Republican politicians care about is what the base wants, that’s why they’re so insane in their actions, and because the base doesn’t blame Trump, we won’t see the 25th Amendment, or any better outcome from impeachment. Fox News didn’t even keep airing the election certification on Wednesday after the riots, like all the other media did. They went to their normal shows and began spinning. So all their viewers didn’t see that even Mitch McConnell denounced the mob and Trump! Keep them ignorant and this is what you get!

      There was another poll of Republicans Cenk mentioned where something like 80% said no consequences for Trump as a result of the riot. The sedition. The coup. So, nothing will happen.

  13. aaronthepatriot says:

    Another update in your blog post that has become the Treason Report, these two videos detail US Congressmen and women (Republicans of course), who were allegedly actively involved in planning this treason. Also, one Congresswoman was live tweeting where her colleagues (does she even think of them that way?) including Pelosi, were and were not. That’s mentioned in the second video, TYT had a whole separate video on it as well that I’m not including.

    Also in the second video, the horns guy has finally been arrested! He turned himself in to the FBI, apparently. I hope those fuckers remember even LYING to the FBI is a crime.

    Wait, no, I hope they DON’T remember that because fuck them.

    Someone has to stop the pardons though. GODDAMNIT Pence, you ball-less coward. Trump really did castrate you, didn’t he?

    • aaronthepatriot says:

      Oh also two Democratic (and hopefully therefore also some Republican) Congresswomen now have COVID, including my sister’s representative, and Pramila Jayapal, of the Justice Democrats. My demand for payback has just risen. Again. By a lot.

  14. aaronthepatriot says:

    Moron the FACT that this insurrection was ALLOWED by those in power. And coordinated, and participated in by those in power, too.

    This video has a couple of harrowing video clips from inside the capitol (not physical harm violence, don’t worry about that) showing just how organized and informed they were. This was a military operation, you see elements from every military force movie ever, like fire team commands and stuff like that. It’s like a military operation largely conducted by idiots dumber than your average military person.

    • Toon says:

      In a post of complete topic irrelevance and in stark mood contrast to Aaron’s much appreciated international political updates and because I didn’t know where else to put it….for the food lovers and tasters of the slightly unusual on this blog I am just going to declare I ate some truly superb kangaroo salami this evening. *Skippy whistle* They were all out of stock of emu salami so I shall have to try that one another time but I did buy some apparently usually difficult to get hold of crocodile chorizo to taste tomorrow. Very much looking forward to munching on some croc. As Hatboy knows, same as with shark and chips, I’d much rather eat a croc than a croc eat me….

      • Hatboy says:

        We usually grab a variety of native animal jerkies from the Freo Markets when we’re in town. Never had the salami, sounds like another one to look up next time we’re in the neighbourhood. Which will probably be … *checks notes* … 2022.

    • Hatboy says:

      I don’t often do this because he’s kind of shit, but Maher is right here. His smarmy comment about Islam is, smarm notwithstanding, completely correct. And it’s why we can’t really discount this huge number of people – as much as we’d like to. There has to be some other option.

      • aaronthepatriot says:

        Man, that was REALLY good and he was, finally, talking like a progressive again. I made the mistake, a long time ago watching “Religulous,” of believing I was seeing a kindred spirit. But he turned out to just be another establishment Democrat, terrified of Bernie and everything he stands for. Platforming Milo and Dave Rubin and whoever the fuck else of the fake swine that enabled the alt-right.

        I thought the smarm on the Muslim comment was pretty small, for Maher. He was making a good point and he knew it, and he reigned it in. I was pretty impressed by the whole clip.

        And talking about the failures in California by Democrats…wow. Never expected to see that from him. Thanks for sharing, this was great.

        Although, I gotta say, the answer to the problem is vote Bernie, so why couldn’t he have done this a year ago????

      • Hatboy says:

        Agreed on all counts, credit where it’s due on this one. It may err a little too on the “victim” side for the actual rioters, as we discussed before, but there is a big element of that in this issue. And the 70 million have to be salvageable, don’t they? Or we’re all as doomed as if every one of the 1.6 billion Muslims in the world were west-hatin’ acid-flingin’ jihad terrorists.

      • aaronthepatriot says:


        My problem is, ARE they salvageable? It’s like I “say” to you all the time about the science distrust, QAnon conspiracies, etc. They need to step back and realize, if the Deep State is that big and evil, if that many scientists are just lying, WE ARE ALREADY SCREWED.

        So find another answer!

        But I don’t know. When you find these people were Obama voters, and now they’ve become this, I lose all hope.

      • Hatboy says:

        Yeah, it seems absolutely hopeless. But we have to operate on the assumption that these loons are the outliers.

  15. Pingback: The Strange Case of Gina Carano (A Hatboy’s Lukewarm Sociocultural Events™ Special) | Hatboy's Hatstand

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