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Ed Wood (3) vs. Phyllis Schlafly

No great arguments or killer quips on either side of yesterday‘s bout. Keith has a story where someone wrote a computer program to write a fake Levi-Strauss article which was so convincing that Levi-Strauss thought he (Levi-Strauss) had written it himself. But Aron too got a bit predictable in his old age, so I don’t think this helps any. We can assume that whoever of these we invite for the seminar would be brought back in the prime of life.

The Modern French Intellectuals category doesn’t get a lot of love from this group. So it’s up to me to decide. Raymond Aron’s work is of more interest to me, but I’ll have to go with Levi-Strauss for the cool factor. From Wikipedia: “The Elementary Structures of Kinship . . . was even reviewed favorably by Simone de Beauvoir, who viewed it as an important statement of the position of women in non-western cultures. A play on the title of Durkheim’s famous Elementary Forms of the Religious Life, Elementary Structures re-examined how people organized their families by examining the logical structures that underlay relationships rather than their contents. While British anthropologists such as Alfred Reginald Radcliffe-Brown argued that kinship was based on descent from a common ancestor, Lévi-Strauss argued that kinship was based on the alliance between two families that formed when women from one group married men from another.” So Levi-Strauss advances. But, really, I’d eagerly go to a seminar from either of them.

For today we have a classic matchup, arguably the best pairing of the tournament so far. The director of what is said to be the worst movie ever made, vs. one of the most amazing political activists of the twentieth century. Before she made her name stopping the Equal Rights Amendment in the 1970s, Schlafly was an early supporter of Barry Goldwater and also wrote a wacky book in 1960 arguing that America needed bigger nuclear bombs. On the other hand, Ed Wood could have some excellent Hollywood stories. He directed Bela Lugosi’s last movie!

P.S. Fun fact: I first heard about Plan 9 from Outer Space in a book on the worst movies ever made, written by Michael Medved, who later gained some fame as the author of “Hollywood vs. America,” moved into a career as a conservative talk-show host and promoter of creationism. A quick google suggests that Phyllis Schlafly supports creationism too. It’s not clear if she has actual creationist beliefs or just supports the creationist movement on a general “the enemy of my enemy” principles.

P.P.S. As always, here’s the background, and here are the rules.


  1. Mike liveright says:

    Id like like an active, developing, page, linked to from your reports on the individual results, that shows the choices to date (perhaps by dark solid lines vs. Light dotted lines) and links out to the individual result pages. That way I could see the developing tree/graph as well as drilling down to the choices that seemed interesting.

    Thanks for the idea and implementation.

  2. Mike liveright says:

    My bad, sorry. I see that “yesterday’s results” points to the developing tree, so that satisfies my first thought, though it might be nice to remind readers of that at the end of the individual results page. The remaining request is to make it easy to find all the individual results pages. I like my idea of putting online into the “yesterday’s results” page, but if this is dufficukt, perhaps an appropriate search could by documented on these pages.


  3. Anonymous says:

    I’m fairly sure they’re the same person. Has anyone seen Ed Wood and Schlafly in the same room at the same time? If they are, this competition has done a Brian Williams (i.e. lost all gravitas).

  4. Jonathan (another one) says:

    I’m going to go with Schlafly here. In a seminar, you want fireworks, and I don’t think Ed’s special effects department is up to the task. The biggest problem with Phyllis would be trigger warnings every ten seconds interrupting the flow.

  5. Lisa says:

    Ed Wood. If it were Schlafly, I would actively seek to destroy her seminar session by joining the inevitably huge group of protestors that would descend upon the auditorium. “Controversial” may seem to be an effective draw in a speaker, but I have no interest in hearing her defend her insanely offensive positions (e.g., sexual assaults on campus are the result of having “too many women” in college).

    And Wood wrote/directed LGBTQ classic Glen or Glenda, which I’m sure would have made Schlafly’s blood boil. So there you go.

    • Anonymous says:

      I would destroy her seminar too. Most of the women I know are too delicate to listen to un-approved thoughts and decide for themselves what they thought about it. I consider it my duty to “descend upon the auditorium” with you to ensure all women remain free to think exactly what you want them to think.

      • Jameson says:

        This thread. Do you want to see its like again in round 2? Ed Wood.

        “Nice bracket you have there. It would be a pity if it became… polemical.”

        (Actually, if Schlafly wins, it would be more of a square bracket.)

        • Anonymous says:

          It would have been better to pair Ed Wood against Florence King. King had similar political views to Schlafly, but she lived a sordid scandalous adventurous life when younger, and grew into a curmudgeon later who hated everyone because they were stupid. She was kind enough to explain just how stupid in memorable prose.

          I would’ve gone to see her, since we may not see her like again anytime soon.

  6. Christian Hennig says:

    I’m not sure how many here know “Plan 9”. I do, and one of the things that makes it so funny and so bad is that there is a lot of clumsy and pointless talking in it. Whether Wood should win this one depends on whether in our presentation this would rather be funny or unbearable. Probably both. Schlafly for me.

  7. Nick says:

    Ed Wood. It really is something special to see someone who, no matter what exactly is the field, has a unique talent and a genuine love for what they do. And it is even more special, I think, to see someone who really loves what they do even though they have no real talent at it at all. Ed Wood didn’t *choose* to make bad movies, he wanted to make good, or at least entertaining, movies. And of course, wear angora. Phyllis would generally be considered to be a success at life, and while we need successes to make civilization work, we need failures like Ed Wood to keep trying so that we can also have “failures” like Einstein and Van Gogh.

    At any rate, I’d rather watch him talk than watch one of his movies.

  8. Manuel says:

    Beware not to videostream Ed’s seminar. He will take the webcam, distribute a script in lieu of a paper, and constrict all in the audience to act following the script. Improvisation will be encouraged.

  9. zbicyclist says:


    We have not yet voted in anyone who would produce lots of protesters, and we need to remedy this.

  10. John Mashey says:

    1) Plan 9 rose to greater heights as an operating system.
    SO +1 for Wood.

    2) But if it were Phyllis’s son, Andrew, I would switch my vote for the entertainment value.
    “It’s not clear if she has actual creationist beliefs”
    but it is clear for Andrew, not just creationist by YEC.

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