Oh, Chuck Norris, Don’t Talk
November 19, 2008

I saw this this morning, a quote from Chuck Norris on the passage of Prop 8:

“The truth is that the great majority of Prop. 8 advocates are not bigots or hatemongers. They are American citizens who are following 5,000 years of human history and the belief of every major people and religion: Marriage is a sacred union between a man and a woman. Their pro-Prop. 8 votes weren’t intended to deprive any group of its rights; they were safeguarding their honest convictions regarding the boundaries of marriage.

On Nov. 4, the pro-gay community obviously was flabbergasted that a state that generally leans left actually voted right when it came to holy matrimony. But that’s exactly what happened; the majority of Californians — red, yellow, black and white — voted to define the margins of marriage as being between one man and one woman. California is the 30th state in our union to amend its constitution in doing so, joining Florida and Arizona in this election. Like it or not, it’s the law now. The people have spoken.”

I’m struck by the unbelievable hypocrisy of this. Not the unbelievably hypocrisy of the mere position of demanding that marriage be ONLY between a man and a woman, but the staggering hypocrisy of those final two sentences: “Like it or not, it’s the law now. The people have spoken.”

Sure, Chuck. I’m sure you feel that way about all laws, right? Like, say, my right to choose?

If the right wing and hatemongers really want us to believe that they support the law because it is law, then they have to stop spouting this nonsense about taking away our right to choose. If they want to topple that law, then they have to articulate that one can and one should actively oppose the laws they don’t support, and shut up about our protest of Prop 8, which will hopefully be put up to ANOTHER vote, or simply declared unconstitutional, since it is so incredibly discriminatory. Either way, they can’t have it both ways, and I am so, so very tired of listening to them try to.

Can we please, please, put the right wing on mute for a couple months? Please?

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Movie Madness
November 18, 2008

mad-hatter

K: Goddamnit, the chick who’s writing Burton’s Alice in Wonderland wrote Homeward Bound and The Lion King and the Teen Wolf television show and My Little Pony and Friends. The Lion King, I suppose, is better than your typical Disney movie (at least since ’94), but all Burton really needs to do to get awesome again is hire a good fucking writer.

S: I feel like the movies have really, really minimized what they think the role of the writer in a good movie is. As if you can get by on having a recognizable cast, a noteable art director, and a whimisical director who will make the movie visually appealing despite it empty characters, and gutted story. I can’t tell if it’s ignorance of arrogance. Whichever it is, I really wish they’d stop it.

K: It’s both. That’s exactly what it is. And when so much money becomes involved of course it’s the writing that suffers first. The ten thousand suits who threw in their money want the broadest appeal possible and the biggest return on their investment.

The second thing Burton needs to do to get awesome again is make a small movie.

S: K’s Plan for Rehabilitating the Career of Tim Burton. I like it. It’s like the New Deal, for one very small slice of Hollywood.

I just don’t understand where the disconnect between quality and quantity happened. Because the good writers are reduced to working on very small “independent” (I put quotes around that because buying independent film houses has become such a Hollywood executive pastime that I really no longer know whether I’m truly watching an Indie film or not anymore) films in order to get enough creative control to properly tell a story, the executives tell themselves over and over again that said writers don’t have “broad appeal,” despite the fact that the market (through the whims of the execs) is determining where the talent goes, not the other way around. So when the opportunity to put a Good Writer on a Big Movie comes around, the execs think it won’t have any mainstream appeal and instead focus on casting and money and names and art direction as if it’s enough to make up for the lack of plot.

As the consumers of movies, I feel like there should be a way to demand to have quality put back into films — I mean, as recently as 15 or so years ago you had big summer blockbusters that, while not the most contemplative pieces ever committed to celluloid, were well written, well-crafted, well acted, and awesome. I don’t understand why we can’t just go back to that. I don’t understand how to convince the Hollywood bigwigs that we are really, really, really tired of having to watch great stories be gutted by bad writers.

K: To be fair, there are interesting people making big movies now. Take Favreau and Iron Man, Nolan and The Dark Knight, Del Toro and Hell Boy, Marc Forster and Bond, but these are all slightly older guys who started out making smaller movies in the 90s. Same with the other big names who make more personal films like P.T. Anderson, Wes Anderson, Linklater, Fincher, etc. All these guys either write their movies themselves or demand a good script, but they’ve been adopted by the studios. There hasn’t been a boom of talent like the one that gave us these guys in ten years, so we’re not seeing any young dynamos making smaller pictures that blow us away. We need some fresh talent, young blood.

And here’s the quality control strategy: skip High School Musical and go see Slumdog Millionaire.

S: Well, I’ve never seen a High School Musical movie, though I still think it might be a truly hilarious drunk/stoned adventure one cold, cold winter evening.

Slumdog Millionarie looks awesome. Really awesome.

And you’re right. You are. But it feels like Hollywood is no longer interested in fostering talent whatsoever. It’s frustrating because it keeps the entire industry stuck in a kind of forced inertia. The guys who have worked and earned their right to hire great writers, or who have become great writers, do what they can do, but if you’re not nurturing the next generations of standout talents, how can you ever hope for the industry as a whole to survive and thrive? Which is, I guess, why we see television taking such a marked turn in a positive direction; writers who are frustrated with their inability to get anyone in the movie industry to listen to them and their ideas are turning to the small screen instead, where the plethora of channels and time slots (because, really, let’s be honest with ourselves, there is a LOT of crap TV that gets put on air for an episode or two every season) give them far more opportunity to experiment with their ideas and more time and leniency, if they can get past the initial chopping block, to develop intricate plots and characters. The question, as I see it, is whether the movie industry can ever get back to a place where it’s willing to give these guys (and girls) a chance again.

LOOK AT THIS.
October 8, 2008

That is all.

–S

Martyr Mystery Solved: Email to K, 3:46 p.m.
October 7, 2008

From: S
To: K

Muslim martyrs will not go to heaven and marry 72 black eyed virgins. This idea stems from a mistranslation: the Quran says martyrs going to heaven will get “hur,” and the word was taken by early commentators to mean “virgins.” But in Aramaic, hur meant “white” and was commonly used to mean “white grapes,” which the Quran compares to crystal and pearls, and contemporary accounts have paradise abounding with fruit, especially white grapes.

Dude. There are some suicide bombers up in heaven who are pissed.

That Ain’t Mouthwash, Y’all
September 18, 2008

Gawker called the following ad (from Belgium), “perhaps the single best piece of televised sex ed [they’ve] ever seen.” I find myself agreeing with them. Great ad, great message.

And for the worrywarts, it is NOT EXPLICIT.

–S

Travels and Losses
September 15, 2008

So S went to the idyllic town of Ithaca, NY, for the weekend to visit her sister A, and damned if David Foster Wallace didn’t off himself over the same weekend. Ithaca was absolutely beautiful and wonderful; coming home to this news was a real downer.

Sigh. It’s too sad. With each dying author, so dies the words themselves. And David Foster Wallace was very, very good with words.

I didn’t know him, though I did read him, so I believe I’ll let those who knew the man mourn him and I will go back and enjoy his work all over again. Perhaps the only consolation when a great writer or artist is lost is that, though they may not make anything for us ever again, they have given many, many things for us to enjoy for the rest of time.

So, then, some links:

The Uncollected DFW — this site has links to a handful of uncollected pieces Wallace did. They’re readable for free, unlike the rest of his ouvre, so go go go!

2005 Kenyon Commencement Speech — this was collected in the 2006 Best American NonRequired Reading, but thank goodness it’s available for free. One of the best commencement speeches, those lucky Kenyon kids. We got a crown prince at my graduation, but he wasn’t nearly as entertaining or insightful.

–S

5 Quick Thoughts from the VMAs
September 8, 2008

1. MTV totally screwed Britney out of VMA awards while she was making videos that were, if not original and compelling, totally giving every peri- and post-adolescent male a 24-hour hard-on, and then double-screwed her last night by giving her 3 pity awards for a drugged-out video that was 1/8th as fun to watch as any other video she’s ever put out (including that weird one with Stephen Dorff and the semi-suicide).

2. Russell Brand got totally cheated out of mainstream American success (at least for the moment) by doing an award show for a crowd that used to applaud for Marilyn Manson’s cross-dressing performances and now can’t take a purity ring joke.

3. Based on the nominees, winners, and people in attendence, MTV now caters exclusively to prudes.

4. I can’t believe this is the same awards show that I used to watch religiously in the 1990s, that used to do its thing at Radio City Music Hall every year (and one time at Lincoln Center, and with legitimacy at Lincoln Center, at that), that had controversial performances and really hilarious hosts (Chris Rock, I miss you!), that gave people like Nirvana awards, that had cadres of real music celebrities in attendence, that actually set lasting music and performance trends. How far the mighty have fallen.

5. Oh my god, I’m old. (And, seriously? I’m 23. On the verge of 24. MTV should not be making me feel old yet.)

–S

Thanks for the Heart Attack, Showtime
July 29, 2008

So I go over to the Onion AV Club TV Club section this morning because I do it all the time, especially now that they’re recapping/reviewing old episodes of Buffy and X-Files (I have a TV recap addiction which started back in the late 90s when I discovered Mighty Big TV, now known as Television Without Pity), and I see the above picture under their Weeds recap, and the first thing I think is:

Oh my god, A REAL TELEVISION SHOW HIRED HEIDI MONTAG! The world is ending!

Then I realize it’s not her, and am relieved. But thanks, Showtime, I needed an outrage-induced heart attack at 9:38 a.m.

–S

What is Different, What is Strange
July 28, 2008

There’s a pretty interesting discussion going on at Jezebel.com right now, in a post about the Fundamentalist Church of Latter Day Saints, who were featured in a photo-heavy article in the NY Times today.

I like Jezebel a lot, and spend a lot of my time at work on the site. The girls (and boys) who comment are articulate, interesting and intelligent, at least most of the time. And when commentors getting into fights, man it gets epic.

I took myself out of this discussion because I simply do not know enough about the Church, their practices, and their abuses to make a fully-cognizant opinion about them. But the discussion over there centers a lot around the rights of and abuses to these women, many of whom are married by 12 and birthing children by 13. It’s deviant and strange behavior, to be sure. But what if they’re doing so of free will? Participating in an oppressive, sexist religion seems to me to be total nonsense and absolutely deplorable, but who am I to say it feels the same way to them? What if they like it? What if they believe in it?

If these women and I were to have a confrontation, the gist of my message would be that they need to leave me alone to live my life as I please, in peace. Shouldn’t I have the same respect for them and the choices they make in their lives? Or do they truly not have a choice, is this truly child abuse?

The scope of human history makes it harder to put into perspective. The idea of child brides is somewhat new — even at the beginning of the 20th century, to make it to 17 without being married made you a social monstrosity. Even now, women in the South especially feel pressure to be married young. Feminism told us this was the way the patriarchy was holding us down, was limiting our freedom and our choice, and was treating us as second-class citizens. I find myself agreeing with that instinctually. At 23, I have no desire to get married anytime soon, and I certainly don’t feel stigmatized by my single-ness. But to marry at 13 was not unusual for many, many centuries, and I don’t doubt that people younger than me can love and love fully.

I don’t know. I don’t know. I want to condemn it, call it bad, demand these girls be freed from their oppressive religion and cult-like community. But is it my stone to cast?

–S

Madonna: Workout Icon or Food-Craving Trigger?
July 28, 2008

From K:

this makes me want to take up yoga.

From S:

Funny, it gives me a craving for turkey jerky.

–S