Opinion: Seinfeld’s spoof riles up the critics

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In France, it’s croissants, with butter and jam. In the UK, the “full English” is fried eggs, fried tomatoes, fried mushrooms, fried bread, with sausages and rashers of bacon. In America, the iconic breakfast is … Pop-Tarts?

Well, not really, but you might get that impression from the Jerry Seinfeld-directed Netflix movie, “Unfrosted.”

Pop-Tarts, the ready-to-toast pastries with more than 24 different filling flavors, are actually a billion-dollar business for Kellanova, an offshoot of Kellogg’s, which was split into two companies last year. But Americans spend many billions more on the ready-to-eat cereal category. It includes such treats as Frosted Flakes; probably no one can enunciate Tony the Tiger’s slogan (“They’re grrreat!”) as memorably as Hugh Grant does in the new Seinfeld film.

Seinfeld spoofed the business biopic genre as well as 1960s culture to tell a largely fictional version of how Kellogg’s developed Pop-Tarts, edging out the “Country Squares” of its rival Post. While the gentle humor of the movie lacks the misanthropic edge that Larry David helped contribute to the “Seinfeld” sitcom in the 1980s and 1990s, it has still managed to rile up some critics. The Chicago Sun-Times’ Richard Roeper called it “one of the decade’s worst movies,” while others gave it mild praise.

To Gene Seymour, writing for CNN Opinion, “such negativity was stirred by expectations of depth or comedic complexity that ‘Unfrosted’ never intended to meet in the first place. I took director-co-writer Seinfeld’s amiably goofball pastiche at face value and bought into its faux credulity over the power struggles of fictionalized cereal magnates … It suggested to me, in an entertaining way, a sixth-grade classroom project to replicate with brightly-colored construction paper and paste a grand mosaic of shared early-1960s mishigas…”

“Seinfeld isn’t about unsettling his viewers and I’m in no way suggesting he should be. Still, his lightly-worn insistence on steering clear of controversy has hit a couple of telling snags lately, as when he submitted his methinks-he-doth-protest-too-much gripes about ‘political correctness’ killing comedy while promoting ‘Unfrosted.’”

Clay Jones
Clay Jones

He has spoken out in support of Israel and against antisemitism. Will people “miss having an apolitical Seinfeld slipping through controversy the way his sitcom alter-ego often seemed to slip away from long-term trouble”? Seymour asked.

The 1960s were not just a time for goofy TV characters, sugary snacks and Silly Putty; it was a decade of cold and hot wars, wrenching social change, political protest, technological advances and tragedy — not unlike the 2020s we’re living through.

A trumpet. A record player. An arcade game machine. A piano. Paint cans. Camera lenses. A sculptural bust. All of them crushed. As if to sum up our particular cultural moment, Apple released an excruciating ad, for which it quickly apologized.

“That ad for the new iPad Pro with the all-powerful hydraulic press squeezing every element of culture and human experience into one wafer-thin device may have been a tad ill thought out,” wrote Bill Carter. The point of the ad was “that all these elements of art and culture can be condensed into just one light-as-a-feather item you can carry around like a paper plate.”

The ad only further alarms much of the thoughtful world, already on edge due to  advancements in artificial intelligence, which threaten creatives — as well mankind at large — in ways even its most ardent purveyors don’t seem to fully fathom. Will we all wind up players in the ultimate ironic episode of ‘The Twilight Zone?’ Conquered by our own creation?”

“Given that ongoing uncertainty and trepidation, the Apple ad is not merely tone deaf, it’s stone deaf. As in, it feels like it is relegating human achievement to the Stone Age: Forget all that music, art, literature.”

Or as Hugh Grant said on X, “The destruction of the human experience. Courtesy of Silicon Valley.”

Biden shifts course

President Joe Biden, who has staunchly supported Israel since the Hamas attack on October 7, made his biggest change in course Wednesday in an interview with CNN’s Erin Burnett. He said that if Israel mounts a full-scale invasion of Rafah, the US will not supply some bombs and other weapons that could be deployed, because of the likelihood of civilian casualties. The president’s remarks outraged the GOP and some Democratic supporters of Israel and seemed unlikely to sway the young protesters angered by the US’ stance in the conflict.

Fareed Zakaria wrote that this dynamic is one of the reasons Biden’s re-election bid is in trouble. “Perhaps the most worrying new trend for Democrats is that far from being the more unified party, they are now bitterly divided over the war in Gaza. Vermont Sen. Bernie Sanders has said the eruption of pro-Palestinian protests could be ‘Biden’s Vietnam’ and even invoked the specter of President Lyndon Johnson choosing not to run for reelection in 1968 because of the public opposition to that war. The analogy is farfetched — America was itself sending hundreds of thousands of troops to Vietnam, with more being recruited from college campuses every week. But there is no denying that the party seems more openly divided than it has been in decades. Only 33% of Americans say they approved of Biden’s handling of the Israel-Hamas war, which is criticized both by people who think he is too soft and people who think he is too hard on Israel…”

“Things could change. … But trendlines are not working in Biden’s favor. He needs to do something bold and dramatic to seize the initiative — on asylum policy for example — and reverse these numbers.”

“The one that troubles me most concerns the question of who is more competent. Biden led Trump by 9 points in 2020, but Trump leads by 16 points in 2024. That 25-point shift could be a reflection of people’s sense that the president’s age is affecting his capacity to govern. If so, there is very little that Biden can do to change that perception.”

Dana Summers/Tribune Content Agency
Dana Summers/Tribune Content Agency


Weeks of negotiations aimed at pausing the fighting in Gaza and swapping Israeli hostages for Palestinian prisoners failed to result in a deal, and Israel began a military operation on the eastern side of the city of Rafah, where many have taken refuge.

“The yo-yoing of positive developments in negotiations toward a ceasefire-hostage deal only to have them fall apart just adds to Palestinians’ mental anguish,” wrote Arwa Damon, the former CNN correspondent whose charitable organization has worked with children and families in Gaza.

“Like the children they are tasked with trying to protect, adults cannot process the pain, fear and anxiety that crush their psyches, threatening to push them over the edge and into insanity,” Damon wrote. “No one can make sense of what Gazans have endured for more than half a year. It is in people’s faces — especially in their deadened eyes — and in their lethargic, mechanical movements when you see how the last seven months have gouged at everyone’s soul.”

Frida Ghitis wrote, “The suffering of the population in Gaza is heartbreaking, horrific. And Israel may not have done everything it could to minimize the civilian death toll. But the leap to brand its military campaign as a genocide — the depth of humanity’s depravity — is unconscionable.

“Those repeating the word genocide over and over, turning it into a mantra that penetrates the public consciousness, smearing Israel and anyone who supports it, ignore the facts of this war.”

“This is not an unprovoked war, like Russia’s against Ukraine. It’s not a civil war between rival militias, like the one raging in Sudan…”

“No, Israel was attacked. On October 7, Hamas launched a gruesome assault on Israeli civilians, killing some 1,200 — including many women and children — and dragging hundreds of them as hostages into Gaza. Today dozens — including many women and children — remain in captivity.”

Richard J. Davis, an official who served in President Jimmy Carter’s administration, wrote that “if we are to fight against antisemitism, promote the long-term security of Israel and remember the horrors of the October 7 Hamas attack we must also recognize and speak out against a dangerous failure of Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and his government.”

That failure is his inability to understand one of the basic requirements to establish long-term security for any society: those living there need to believe they have a stake in that society and can enjoy its benefits. If they do, they will want it to be as safe and secure as possible. If, however, many believe that they have no stake in a society and that they have no real hope of sharing in its success, then turning to violence to create a place in which they believe they can meaningfully participate is far more likely.”

“If Netanyahu understood this principle, his government would not include dangerous extremists and would not pursue policies involving the significant expansion of West Bank settlements and the recognition of illegal settlements which deny Palestinians hope for a better future.”

Nick Anderson/Tribune Content Agency
Nick Anderson/Tribune Content Agency

Trump trial

The New York criminal trial of former President Donald Trump shifted into higher gear Tuesday when porn actress Stormy Daniels took the stand. As legal analyst Norm Eisen noted in his courtroom diary, “It’s hard to imagine two more different days at trial than Monday’s dry but necessary accounting evidence and Tuesday’s consistently gripping — and at times lurid and even out of control — testimony from Stormy Daniels.”

“Daniels, the adult film actress who received a $130,000 hush money payment in 2016, is a witness to the heart of the felony false business records case against Trump.

Eisen noted that Daniels “testified in detail about meeting and having sex with Trump in 2006, establishing for the jury that the alleged encounter happened — and that she is credible. Daniels provided details right down to how uncomfortable her gold shoes were that night and how hard it was to get them back on after the alleged sexual encounter because her hands were shaking. “I felt ashamed that I didn’t stop it,” she testified. Judge Juan Merchan eventually started upholding defense objections to her sometimes rambling answers that were unflattering to Trump, but the point had been made: the degree of detail meant the witness was believable.”

Phil Hands source Tribune Content Agency - Phil Hands/Tribune Content Agency
Phil Hands source Tribune Content Agency - Phil Hands/Tribune Content Agency

The judge warned Trump last week that he could face jail if he continues to violate a gag order barring him from speaking publicly about witnesses, the jury, court officials and others. W. James Antle III suggested that the former president might have reason to risk a brief lockup. “Jailing Trump could give him yet more ammunition for rallying his base against what he calls a witch hunt and describes as a form of election interference. It could also be a fundraising boon, which Trump sorely needs to pay legal expenses and keep up with Democrats. … His campaign says it raised $7.1 million from his booking and mug shot alone in the Georgia election interference case. The windfall from this imagery could be even greater.”

For more:

Casey Michel: Menendez and Cuellar cases sound the alarm on foreign influence on Congress

Dean Obeidallah: Why Trump slamming Biden for having a ‘Gestapo’ presidency is laughable

Walt Handelsman/Tribune Content Agency
Walt Handelsman/Tribune Content Agency


At least one bit of suspense remains in the lineup that voters will face in November: the identity of Trump’s vice presidential running mate. “Lots of Republicans seem to be auditioning for the role in very public, and sometimes cringey, ways,” SE Cupp noted.

Gov. Kristi Noem’s confession to puppy-killing probably sunk her chances, Cupp said. Sens. Tim Scott and Marco Rubio look like credible candidates, along with Arkansas Gov. Sarah Huckabee Sanders, she added. And then there are some longshot choices like Rep. Elise Stefanik and North Dakota Gov. Doug Burgum.

‘There’s no crying in flying’

Here’s the sad truth about reclining airplane seats, according to veteran flight attendant Heather Poole: “A recliner is allowed to recline, and there’s nothing anyone can do about it. If you kick the seat or threaten to punch someone in the face, you’ll be the one removed from the flight — not the person who moved their seat back two inches…”

“Sure, everyone feels cramped in coach seats. But the bigger you are, the tighter the squeeze, so consider glancing back before you adjust your seat. If it’s Shaquille O’Neal behind you, maybe give the guy a break.”

If there’s one thing I’ve learned flying the unfriendly skies it’s this: you can’t please everyone. Somebody is going to suffer, somebody is going to have a miserable flight, somebody will be assigned the last row, or a middle seat, or will have to come into contact with a child. Now I’m going to tell you what I used to tell my son when he was little every time we traveled together: there’s no crying in flying. Toughen up.”

RFK Jr. and the brain worm

When independent presidential candidate Robert F. Kennedy Jr. experienced memory loss in 2010, a brain scan revealed a suspicious dark spot. As Kennedy said in a 2012 divorce case deposition, a doctor attributed the anomaly to “a worm that got into my brain and ate a portion of it and then died.” Kennedy, who is 70, said he has fully recovered, but historian Julian Zelizer wrote that the story once again raises questions about the health of candidates running for the nation’s highest office, especially given the age of the two major party contenders, Biden, 81, and Trump, 77.

“While the two major candidates have not released extensive health records this campaign cycle, a six-page summary from the White House in February concluded Biden is ‘fit for duty.’ Trump’s doctor released a three-paragraph statement in November saying he was in ‘excellent health.’”

“Many critics claim this is not enough,” Zelizer observed. “The majority of voters think both Biden and Trump are too old for another term, and there are always concerns that the physicians signing off on these statements are more eager to protect the public image of the candidate than to share the full and unvarnished truth about how that person is doing.”

Bill Bramhall/Tribune Content Agency
Bill Bramhall/Tribune Content Agency

Immigration’s impact

America’s population “will —  for the first time ever — shrink after 2080,” Justin Gest wrote.

“Only one thing is preventing the nation from reaching this milestone next year: immigration.”

The consistent arrival of newcomers is expected to keep America from aging as rapidly as Japan and other major economies. … All countries’ populations change with trends in birth rates and life expectancy. And like many high-income nations, the US has witnessed a drop in fertility over the last half-century. Combined with longer life expectancy, this has contributed to severe demographic aging.”

“Aging is problematic for two reasons. It promises insolvency when too few working-age people pay into pension and health care funds that have obligations to support higher numbers of retirement-age seniors. Population decline also spells the decline of economic power and market size — one of America’s greatest geopolitical assets.”

Man v. bear

“You’re walking through the woods alone. What would you rather encounter: A man or a bear?”

As Jill Filipovic wrote, “That question has gone viral on social media, as woman after woman says: bear. Bears, after all, kill and assault far fewer people than men. And these answers have predictably stirred up a response (what on social media doesn’t?) as some men complained about the ‘misandry’ of women’s answers.”

Something these responses largely miss is the palpable, rational and profoundly depressing fear women have of men. I also couldn’t help but wonder if the responses divided in any way along political lines, with progressive women being more willing to state the obvious fact that men pose a larger danger to women than any other mammal, with conservative women caught in more of a jam — needing to avoid the appearance of some latent anti-male feminism, while also wanting to prove that they’re as tough as any guy.”

“We have seen this tough-as-nails persona exemplified by South Dakota Gov. Kristi Noem,” who incidentally, hunts bears.

For more:

Kara Alaimo: Your life shouldn’t depend on your doctor’s gender

Holly Thomas: Anne Hathaway — sober, sexually powerful and no longer pleasing others

Jack Ohman source Tribune Content Agency - Jack Ohman/Tribune Content Agency
Jack Ohman source Tribune Content Agency - Jack Ohman/Tribune Content Agency

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Mom’s day

Being a mom is a job, and a challenging one.

As Kara Alaimo wrote, “This Mother’s Day, HeyMama, a community for working moms, is calling on moms to add the title of ‘mother’ to our resumes by including it on our LinkedIn titles and openly explaining career gaps due to caregiving in the hiring process. They’re right to tell us to do so. If all of us moms embraced this role on the documents designed to capture our qualifications, skills and work experience, we could help upend ugly stereotypes about the motivations and worth of moms who work in the paid labor force.”

Happy Mother’s Day!

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