Archive for April, 2010

Random Excellent Item of the Day
April 29, 2010

Inspired by last night’s South Park, which spoofed characters from Warner Bros. old Looney Toons/Merrie Melodies shorts as retards, enjoy this.

South Park has nothing on these old cartoons when it comes to hilariously offensive shit.

I have seen the light
April 29, 2010

I’m going to become a conservative. And I’ll tell you why, if you’re curious: because they are a peaceful, freedom loving, fiscally responsible people.

Now, you may be surprised to hear that, as I was. You may, as I once did, believe that conservatism as presently constituted actually stands for:

– spending lots of money
– running up enormous deficits
– starting wars of questionable necessity
– buffoonishly managing those wars
– teaching kids creationism in science class
– disregarding habeas corpus whenever convenient
– spying on its citizens without showing cause
– illegally torturing

and that the “Tea Party” people in particular seem to favor:

– closing the border with Mexico
– extending Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell from the military to society in general
– that black people sit down, shut up and do as they’re told
– that if you can’t afford health care, sucks to be you, leave the rest of us out of it
– that we shouldn’t tax rich people a lot because this is America and one day you’ll be rich and you won’t want the government taking your money, Rush Limbaugh told me so
– no Muslims allowed
– that everyone must actively acknowledge at least once a day that America is the greatest thing in the history of things, and if you don’t like our country you can just geddout!

Like I said, you may believe that, as I did. You may think that conservatives insisting that society is depraved because we don’t place enough limits on what you can read on a newsstand, or what you can see at an art exhibit, or what you can show on television, or who you can shack up with, or whether you can burn the American flag in protest, while at the same time getting positively apoplectic at the thought of regulation when it comes to the deadly concealed firearms they want everyone to be able to carry around, you may think that’s unfailingly ridiculous and unworthy of any serious consideration, but you’d be wrong. And how do I know this?

Because this fine, upstanding citizen told me so.

Sorry, it’s just been way too long since my last hitjob on Beck.

Going Overboard
April 27, 2010

“This is Alabama. We speak English.”

There are so many things wrong with this, I don’t even know where to start.

– the hilariously sappy, Cider House Rules-esque music
– the theatrical pause/looking down in deep thought at 23 seconds in
– the fades
– no one who loves English as much as this Tim James guy thinks he does would ever feel the need to insert a period after every 3-5 words that come out of his mouth
– how the fuck is taking offense at the availability of multilingual tests at the DMV an actual platform for a prospective governor to run on?
– the “English” they speak in Alabama makes ebonics sound good

Honestly, this is just about the most blatant example of using a total non-issue to gin up the racist/xenophobe crowd I think I’ve ever seen. It’s crass, moronic, dangerous and, oh yeah, completely acceptable in today’s fucked up political climate, where one of the most surefire ways to win an election is to conjure up the bogeyman minority figure, fanning the flames of intolerance to fuel your own selfish ambition.

Or, with a little tweaking, as Michael Douglass’ character put it so well in The American President:

We have serious problems to solve, and we need serious people to solve them. And whatever your particular problem is, I promise you (Tim James) is not the least bit interested in solving it. He is interested in two things, and two things only: making you afraid of it, and telling you who’s to blame for it. That, ladies and gentlemen, is how you win elections. You gather a group of middle age, middle class, middle income voters who remember with longing an easier time, and you talk to them about family, and American values and character… and you scream about patriotism. You tell them (the minorities) are to blame for their lot in life.

Easy, isn’t it?

What kind of person buys into this shit? So they have multilingual tests at the DMV. What is it to you? Who is it hurting? Why do you care? These are in some sense rhetorical questions, and in another sense not. It really is unfathomable to me, the kind of baseless, nonsensical hatred someone must have roiling inside them to let this become an issue.

Every once in a while I get second thoughts on how routinely rough I am on the south. Thanks, Tim James. It’ll be a long time after this one before I get those thoughts again. If slavery was America’s original sin, as it’s been called, the south is America’s original and current shame. In no other place, in no other place in the civilized world of Western democracies does this shit fly.

Racist fucking toolbag.

Art, artists and not getting the joke
April 26, 2010

(Spoilers for Kickass littered throughout, for those who care. (you shouldn’t, the movie’s nothing great)

Ever since Roger Ebert returned to film criticism after an extended hiatus spent dealing with throat cancer he’s been noticeably softer on the subjects of his reviews. He doles out four star ratings like they’re going out of style and is far, far more likely these days to give an overall up thumb than a down one. A movie really, really has to piss the guy off these days for him to pan it.

Kickass really, really pissed Roger Ebert off. Choice quote:

Shall I have feelings, or should I pretend to be cool? Will I seem hopelessly square if I find “Kick-Ass” morally reprehensible and will I appear to have missed the point? Let’s say you’re a big fan of the original comic book, and you think the movie does it justice. You know what? You inhabit a world I am so very not interested in.

Ouch. Don’t hold back or anything, Rog – tell us what you really think.

Now, this is insulting (although not to me, since I’ve never read the comic and wasn’t a huge fan of the movie), but it’s nothing really new. I’ve seen critics question, to put it mildly, the type of audience that would appreciate a film that so offends their sensibilities. But I don’t think I’ve ever seen a mainstream critic all but accuse the creative team behind a film of being morally bankrupt, which is what he then indirectly but, I believe, unmistakably proceeds to do.

This movie regards human beings like video-game targets. Kill one, and you score. They’re dead, you win. When kids in the age range of this movie’s home video audience are shooting one another every day in America, that kind of stops being funny.

See what he did there, invoking the proverbial/supposed cultural desensitization to violence. In not so many words he pretty much accused movies like Kickass of, if not enabling school shootings, then certainly making light of them.

Ebert’s ethical outrage stems almost exclusively from a storyline involving Big Daddy, an ex-cop who’s trained his 11 year old daughter to be a superhero. And by superhero I mean a weapons-proficient, all but unstoppable assassin; Hit Girl will fuck your shit up. She also gets fucked up herself, by a mobster who administers a pretty brutal beating at one point.

Two things with this. One is that Ebert just plain missed the forest for the trees. Kickass is a satire of the preoccupation that people like Roger Ebert have with blaming the cultural landscape for violence in our society. It shows the absurdity of young, impressionable kids actually taking their cues in real life from superheros and becoming vigilantes themselves. The film is so cartoonishly over the top in its violence and tone that for anyone to seriously make the argument that it has any more influence on the “climate of violence” than slapstick stuff from the likes of Bugs Bunny and the Three Stooges is just asinine.

Secondly, artists aren’t their art and content isn’t theme, despite our friend Mr. Ebert just about saying as much with this:

A movie camera makes a record of whatever is placed in front of it, and in this case, it shows deadly carnage dished out by an 11-year-old girl, after which an adult man brutally hammers her to within an inch of her life. Blood everywhere. Now tell me all about the context.

Context. You can practically *feel* his disdain for the very idea that someone would depict such images if they didn’t on some level approve of them.

Throughout my own screenwriting I’ve written a character who wanted affirmative action programs stopped on constitutional grounds. I’ve written a gay makeout session. I’ve written a character who blithely committed fraud. Trust me – getting affirmative action programs overturned, hooking up with a dude, and massively defrauding the government are not on my to do list.

Maybe the last one.

But despite not personally sympathizing with those characters and situations I did empathize with them. I tried to write them with the same sincerity I call up for characters and situations that more closely align with my personal feelings and interests, because that’s the only way a character will ever feel genuine and real. Similarly, and I could be wrong here, but I’m gonna go out on a limb and guess that neither of Kickass’ writers, Matthew Vaughn or Jane Goldman, have any interest in seeing any child raised to be the next Hit Girl. Nonetheless, they infused the Big Daddy character with precisely that interest in the service of verisimilitude, which is necessary even in an over-the-top satire.

Look, artists of course have to take responsibility for the message their work sends. But they should also be free to stretch their creativity without the likes of Roger Ebert twisting the content of that work into misrepresenting the theme. Yes, Kickass has an 11 year old girl who spills peoples’ blood by the bucketload. But that’s only content, not a message in and of itself. The movie’s theme is not “Hey kids, do this”, but rather, “Look at how ridiculous it is when you take the ‘media violence breeds real life violence’ canard to it’s ultimate conclusion.”

That’s the joke, Roger. Lighten up.

Apologies for the sloppiness of this post. I probably bit off more than I was prepared to chew with it right now, and it’s somewhat of a disservice to a subject very much worth discussing. But hey, it’s a jump-off point if nothing else.

We now return you to your regularly scheduled pompous snark.

(I should add that, while I was very tough on Ebert here and definitely believe he’s gone soft in his criticism, he remains a wonderful and worthwhile writer who runs a far better blog than this one could ever hope to be. His recent account of losing his ability to eat really is the stuff of legend.)

Because stupid never takes a day off, and neither do I
April 24, 2010

Two updates in one day. This may be a first, but I gotsta do what I gotsta to.

The following is paraphrased, but I think I’ve done a good job of capturing the essential cosmic wrongness. A viewer of the afternoon Angels/Yankees game made the mistake of asking a question of someone who does not know anything about anything, and certainly not baseball.

Viewer: Do you think (Yankees 2B) Robinson Cano can hit 40 homers this year?

Broadcaster: For the Yankees sake, he’d better not.

That’s from Eric Karros, a former mediocre baseball player and current awful broadcaster with a very large head that grossly misrepresents the size of the cerebral cortex encompassed within.

Karros then went on a (mercifully brief) inane spiel decrying “swinging for the fences”, because it’s totally not like a home run is without exception the single best possible outcome of any plate appearance, ever. No, those Yankees better pray that Cano does not hit what would be the most home runs by a second baseman in the history of the American League.

For more reading on the noxious veneration of “smallball” see here, and for more reading on the overall Stupid, Ridiculous Thing that is sports analysis today see this classic piece, both of which are poignant, lucid and just generally awesome pieces of commentary that just so happen to be written by me.

What is the point of this?
April 24, 2010

This is not snark. This is not rhetorical.* I’m honestly asking, why on earth does this exist?

What insight can possibly be gleaned with regard to influence from TIME putting up a poll that basically asks frequent internet users who their favorite people are? Rain? Roger Federer? Billy Graham, who is no longer, um, alive, not in any real sense of the word. Betty White?

Betty White?

Betty White????**

This list is- ooooooh.

Sorry, my bad. I got distracted by yet another roving band of short-track skaters that just went by my window, no doubt due to the prominence of the 20th most influential person in the world, Apolo Anton Ohno.

What a joke. The only commonality shared by the people on this list with regard to their degree of influence is an active and/or passive ability to inspire slavish devotion from people who are clearly spending far too much time on the internet if they care enough/take even the smallest amount of time to vote in this poll, which has just about the most fantastically retarded methodology behind it since, “Which is better: Hitler or the Bloomin’ Onion?”

*It’s totally both.

**Betty White is hilarious and by all accounts a very nice old lady. But Christ on a bicycle, influential? Come the fuck on.

Is this the best thing ever said? (UPDATED)
April 23, 2010

Oh my god. Yes, yes it is.

Stupid, angry Muslim leader complaining about South Park treating their prophet the same way they treat every other faith’s prophets:


“(You are) Darwinist faggots who are as despicable as the rest, walking around eating your Triscuits.”

Darwinist faggots, walking around eating your Triscuits.

Untoppable. Not even gonna try.

UPDATEGawker investigated the really pressing matter in all of this: why Triscuits?

When pressed on his choice of Triscuits as a snack-based insult, he was curt in his response. “It doesn’t matter what your favorite crackers or cookies are. They are not more important than the hegemonic wars the West is fighting against Islam.”

What a load of malarky. My favorite crackers and cookies are far important than the hegemonic wars the West is fighting against Islam. Who does this guy think he’s fooling?

Watch This Shit
April 21, 2010

What do you think about assisted suicide?

Fuck that, it’s not important. What’s important is, what do I think about assisted suicide?

No, wait, fuck that too, because holy shit Al Pacino is playing Jack Kevorkian in an HBO movie this Saturday and that’s what’s important.

There is no possible way that this can be anything other than awesome. TV work is just about the only thing that can get Pacino to do anything other than sleepwalk through a role anymore (see: Angels in America – this bit of acting is as good as anything you will ever see). Also, John Goodman’s in it, which automatically makes something better by a factor of infinity.

Saturday, HBO, 9 PM

Is this really that surprising?
April 19, 2010

I mean, when I first read this I was pretty fucking flabbergasted at the utter lack of shame and self-awareness that one must be afflicted with in order to put out statements like this one

RightNetwork is going to be for people who work for a living, people who break their backs paying more than their fair share of taxes, for people who believe in this country and believe that we do not have to apologize to anyone. RightNetwork is for people that live in what they call “flyover country,” and what we call, “America.” RightNetwork, because what we’ve been seeing on TV, isn’t all of America.

with a straight face. But thinking about it, the surprising thing isn’t the attempt to actually outfox Fox News, by shedding even the bullshit pretense of impartiality that Rupert Murdoch’s cash cow/golden goose/any other analogous mythical money-making animal you can think of clings to. No, the surprising thing is that it took this long for someone to try.

Best of luck to RightNetwork. As far as I’m concerned, the further fracturing of the television audience is not necessarily a bad thing. Let a segment of the television establishment cater to the troglodytic teabaggers of flyover country, and let another segment cater wholly to the real “Real America” – you know, the places where people are more likely to stimulate themselves intellectually than by jacking off into the barrel of their gun, and shit of, like, actual consequence tends to happen.

Also, you’re welcome.

Not so fast, Colonel
April 13, 2010

By now I’m sure most of you have heard of KFC’s new Double Down sandwich, the latest attempt by an American chain restaurant to garner publicity with a deliciously unholy abuse of the culinary process. But give the Colonel and his team of artery-attacking alchemists some credit for ingenuity – it takes a certain kind of depraved genius to cook up the idea of a sandwich where the “bread” is… fried chicken.

However (and I’m not sure if this is a good thing or a bad thing) they didn’t take this concept and run with it like they could have. See, the whole “chicken instead of bread” thing is disingenuous – it naturally implies what KFC has done is to simply use chicken instead of bread in the creation of an otherwise normally constructed sandwich. This is not the case. Instead of the sandwich being filled with a good amount of other stuff, as per the usual, the Double Down has but a paltry few strips of thin bacon and slices of cheese nestled between its chickeny exterior.

That is not a sandwich, not in any meaningful definition of the word, anyway. That’s just a pile of chicken with a bit of other crap mixed in. And so the Double Down is not the first shot in the consumption revolution that will one day usher in a new age of gluttonous greatness, where bread has been exposed as the filler it is and rightfully replaced by the charred flesh of the fowl or bovine, but a disappointing, if interesting (and tasty), half-hearted step toward that inevitable future.

One expects better, Harland. Even if you are dead.