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Aug. 13th, 2013

Please Silence Your Cell Phones Now

NOTE: the original version of this post had a hyperlink in it to the article. I had to go take care of some personal business for a few hours before I finished editing this post. By the time I got back, the article had been taken down and I can’t find a cached version of it. I guess he realized how insane the whole premise was, although I do sort of wish it hadn’t been deleted, because that was some funny shit.

So, some crazy guy thinks that people complaining about other people yakking away on their cell phones and texting throughout a movie are being rude as fuck. Mind you, he doesn't think that's the case with regards to the people yakking away on their phones, he thinks that people who want the cell-phone users to shut the fuck up are the offensive ones. Apparently it's a cultural concept that's unique to Americans. He uses examples from other countries, of people who interact with the movie, laughing, cheering, singing along.

But that's possibly the worst example he could have used to back up his argument.

I've been to plenty of movies in my day. I've been alive for a while, and my family and friends like to go to the movies. There is a huge difference between laughing at a funny line in a movie, cheering when the bad guy gets pwned, or even, in some cases, singing along (when I went to go see Les Miserables, there were plenty of people who sang along with the songs). That is called reacting to a movie. Do you know what is not reacting to a movie? Complaining to your friend Stacey about how totally unfair Mr. Williams is for giving you detention because you were texting under your desk. Also not reacting to the movie is having a loud conversation with your cousin Bubba about that new truck he wants. Neither is texting your girlfriend. That is NOT reacting to the movie.

I am fully prepared to accept that different cultures have different movie viewing expectations. But I highly doubt anyone appreciates you being an obnoxious ass in the movie theater, no matter where on the globe you are. Also, this lunatic compared being told to shut the fuck up in the movie theater to slavery. Seriously, who does that? What kind of crack do you have to be on to think that’s even remotely comparable? That’s not just apples to oranges, that’s apples to the Death Star.

Aug. 7th, 2013

That Snail Is Fast

If you get the chance, definitely go see this movie- definitely one of the better ones I've seen this year!
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Jan. 28th, 2013

Benedict Cumberbatch as Julian Assange: Yay or Nay?

So apparently they're making a Wikileaks movie in the style of The Social Network. And Benedict Cumberbatch has been tapped to play Julian Assange. There's some pictures at the link, and I have to say- both men are fairly attractive in real life, but... no. That is the stupidest looking wig I have seen in years. Also, Assange is in poor health now, probably due to the fact that he's been locked in the Ecuadorian embassy for months without the ability to get fresh air, but he looked a lot healthier back when the whole fiasco started. Cumberbatch has the whole “sickly” look down-pat in these pictures, but again, I'm not sure how much of that is due to the doofy wig. Hopefully it will end up better for the final movie.

Also, for the love of all that is holy, please do not turn this into a debate about the morality of Wikileaks or the allegations against Assange. I've made my thoughts on the matter perfectly clear in the past, I do not feel like rehashing them, and I don't want an argument here. I don't think the moderators of the other blog do either. If you must debate take it to Reddit or something, they're always up for a good Internet argument.

Jan. 3rd, 2013

2013 Morals. 1813 Content.

On Christmas, my family went to go see Les Miserables in the movie theater. I'd never seen the play myself and I'd never read the book, although I had heard some of the music before. I will say this- that movie is really goddamn depressing, but it's still one of the best films I've ever seen. It makes you think about how society used to be, gives you a history lesson, all with catchy music. It's also a very complicated storyline- to paraphrase someone on the Internet, the movie starts with Wolverine finally going on parole for stealing some bread twenty years prior. He meets Catwoman, who is a prostitute dying of an STD, and he needs to go save her daughter from Borat and Bellatrix Lestrange. There's more singing, everybody gets shot, and the people who don't get shot die in the end. I dunno, it's a silly summary for a very serious movie, but it still made me laugh, because that's basically what my brother said while we were watching it- “hey, is that Catwoman? Why is she a prostitute now?”

Anyway, my brother's commentary is not what I want to talk about today. I kind of hate to start the new year off with such a serious, politicized post. I know it seems like I pick on feminists a lot here, but honestly, I don't have a problem with the movement as a whole. It's just the extremists I don't like, and that goes for anything. I don't like extremists, period.

This article appeared in the Washington Post. In it, the author complains that Les Miserables, the movie, Broadway show, and the book, are antifeminist and offensive. There's a couple of problems with this, for several reasons. The most obvious probably being that this is the year 2013. The book, the source material for the movie and play, was written over a hundred and fifty years ago. Things have drastically changed in the last 150 years. For one thing, they didn't have cars or computers back then, to state an obvious fact. Secondly, here in America, uh, we were kinda in the middle of the Civil War. A war which, among other things, had to do with whether or not it was okay to own other people as slaves. Which, obviously, rational people today agree was abhorrent. A major plot point of the whole story was that the poor people of France were starving to death while the wealthy couldn't give less of a shit. Today, France has a relatively liberal, some might even consider socialist, government. Clearly France today is different from France of 1863.

You cannot apply 2013 morals to something written in a different era. Things were different then, and even things that would have been ground-breakingly progressive back then are considered outdated, closed-minded, and offensive now. Even things from earlier in the 20th century can seem like that- take, for example, the crows in the Disney film Dumbo. Today, they would never have made it past the editing room because they are an offensive portrayal of African-Americans. I remember the first time I saw that movie, at age 16, my reaction was along the lines of “WHAT THE FLYING FUCK IS THIS?!” But my grandmother, who was watching it with me and my young cousin, explained that for the time it was created, those racist crows were actually pretty progressive. Yes, they act like ridiculous, offensive stereotypes. But in the 1940s, when the movie was made, the fact that those crows were the good guys was a step forward. It doesn't make them not racist- no one is denying that those crows are an offensive racial stereotype. But on the time period that that movie was made, they were progressive. Racist, but considering that the civil rights movement didn't happen until the mid-1950s/1960s, they were actually fairly... well, not inoffensive, but at least they were shown to be the “good guys.” Again, that is not to say that they are not racist, but they need to be considered within the context of their time.

The same thing applies to Les Miz. While in our modern context it could be considered sexist. Things sucked for the women in the story. But, at the time the story took place, things kind of sucked for everyone, unless they were rich. Yeah, Fantine was a prostitute. She was a prostitute because she was trying to provide for her daughter, who would have died without her, I fail to see how someone sacrificing themselves for someone that they love can be considered sexist- it's a common theme in lots of storylines. So is the love triangle thing- and it's not always two women loving the same man. Sometimes it's two dudes in love with the same girl, or two guys in love with the same guy/two girls in love with the same girl. Or, like in Sayonara Zetsubou-Sensei, you have a whole bunch of people in unrequited love with each other and end up with a chain of stalkers. Unrequited love is not necessarily sexist.

The article's writer also talks about how in the book the female characters were more developed. Uh, I'm pretty sure everyone was more developed in the book. I haven't read more than a few chapters yet, but that is a long-ass book. I don't have a hardcopy edition, but the e-book version is nearly half a gigabyte in size. That is a fuckton of text. The movie itself is almost 2.5 hours long. There is simply no way to have the movie include every single little detail of character development that is in the books. You'd have a week-long movie if you did that! A television drama might be better for that, but even then some things would have to be cut out for the sake of timing and expediency. No one really wants to watch hours and hours of nothing really happening.

My point is this: do not try to impose today's moral standards on stories that were written long ago- of course they're going to come up short. We've come a long way in 150 years. And we still have a ways to go, but that's not a reason to start judging art from the past based on our standards that we have today.

Aug. 21st, 2012

CapAlert Alert #2: The Avengers

It's been over a year since I did one of these, mostly because there weren't any movies that came out that had funny CAPReports. But on a whim, I decided to check out their review of The Avengers. I'm glad I did, the result is comedy gold. Now, I can't quote the whole article like I do for the Parenting for Sadists series, so I strongly suggest you visit the link and read it for yourself, since I've only taken a small percentage of the article here for quoting. As usual, colored text is quotes directly from the site.

The article starts out with the writer going on about how surprised he was that the movie actually did score a PG-13 rating on the CAPAlert model, because of how violent the movie was. There's some talk about how the scoring system is unbiased, and some more confusion as to who actually was in the Avengers (Hawkeye and Black Widow apparently weren't Avengers in the comic books. I can't answer that to whether or not that's true, since I've not read the comic books, but that's beside the point anyway).

There's some plot summary, and warnings for spoilers, and then we get into the real “meat” of this review. The following paragraph is the second paragraph in their “wanton violence/crime” section.

The violence content of The Avengers is clearly more than enough to warrant reminding mom/dad about God's Word regarding the influence of violence. God warns us of the influence of violence dozens of times from the Old Testament to the New Testament but Proverb 16:29 puts the issue rather succinct. In Proverb 16:29 God warns that violence is "catching": that it can lead one into the way that is not good. In addition to God "publishing His findings" about the influence of violence, four professional public health agencies has published findings which warn that viewing violence in and as entertainment can, among other things, lead the viewer, especially the young, into real life violence and can lead the viewer to believe violence is an effective means of settling conflict. Whom else needs to warn us about the influence of violence in and as entertainment before we start to believe it?

Um... the Chitauri were aliens that were trying to take over the world. OF COURSE they're going to be firing at the humans. And I've said it before, I'll say it again: watching The Avengers or another movie no more makes you into a violent person than standing in your garage makes you a car. It is an Action movie, after all.

From the “impudence/hate” section:

Thirteen times someone spews one or more of the three/four letter word vocabulary. One time what is claimed to be a British slang term of vulgarity which I will not explain was used. [Col. 3:8, Eph. 5:4] While none of them were the most foul of the foul words, 13 uses of profanity says more through an attitude of impunity, self-appointed absolution from accountability, than the words themselves. Additional matters of impudence and/or hatred include planning the extinction of the human race, forcing it into submission, lies and a brother stabbing his brother.

BWAHAHAHAHAHAHAHA. I'm assuming the “British slang term of vulgarity” was the “mewling quim” line. Honestly, though, the vast majority of people weren't aware of that word until the movie came out. I had to Google it, even though I had an idea, and I had to explain it to my brother. Also, again with the aliens. They're trying to take over the world. OF COURSE they're going to talk about how to subjugate the human race/cause the extinction of the humans. But I'm also pretty sure the Chitauri don't actually exist, and are not actually planning to take over the world and destroy all humans. IT'S AN ACTION MOVIE, NOT A DOCUMENTARY. If it was, we'd be in trouble. But it's not.

Moving on to the sexual immorality section of the review, there's some complaints about the Black Widow's costume, and the scene in the beginning where Captain America is in the gym, hitting a punching bag and the camera focuses on his ass. That scene has been made into gifs and have been posted all over the Internet. And hey, I can't really blame them. Chris Evans has a very nice physique, is it a sin to appreciate the assets God gave him, if you believe that? *snerk*

Then, they get to the Hulk's scenes, where he changes back into Bruce Banner:

Note that the following discussion is rather graphic but if your kids watch the film they will see it. Ruffalo, who played The Hulk is seen completely nude in two scenes. His genitals are conveniently hidden by his legs but he is nude and a crotch view is displayed. The "excuse" of the filmmakers to display such vulgarity in and as entertainment is likely that the Hulk, when he shrinks back to normal, would not have clothing that fit. Well, if such is "excusable" how and why did the Hulk find clothing large enough to fit his enlarged form that was previously covered by smaller clothing? It is adamantly obvious the filmmakers used this configuration of "excuses" to show nudity in a PG-13.

So what makes the display of nudity a sin? One might try to excuse nudity in and as entertainment with the argument that there is nudity portrayed in many Bibles and on the ceiling of the Sistine Chapel. Let me remind those who would try such an argument that God did not put the nudity in the Bible nor on the ceiling of the Sistine Chapel. Man did. God speaks darkly of "nakedness" 47 times in the KJV from Genesis to Revelation. He even warned the priests to not climb the steps to an alter lest the wind expose their nakedness to the people below

WAHAHAHAHAHAHAHA. I can't even form a coherent response to that. Just... just... I hope this guy never has to take an art history class. Lots of nekkid ladies in high art. In fact, most of the art you study in an art history class is either religious, or naked women. Lots and lots of naked women. And everyone knows the Hulk's pants are very stretchy, so they can enlarge with him. But if you stretch something out, it doesn't always go back to its original size. That's why Bruce Banner always had problems after transforming. The Hulk's pants were way too big for him! Duh! And if nudity is such a sin, then why didn't God give Adam and Eve little leafy pants to wear when they were in the Garden of Eden? Why aren't babies born in little suits? Please excuse me for being crude, but you don't come out of your momma dressed.

The Drugs and Violence category and the Murder/Suicide categories don't really have anything that wasn't covered in earlier sections or that I haven't already dissected, but the “Offense to God” category is where the real fun is.

While there is sci-fi action that would mimic levitation and creation of energy, there is no presence of Satanism, occultism, witchcraft or the like in this film. But God's name is abused once. And once is once too many. [Deut. 5:11]. The film (and the comic) depends heavily on polytheism through embracing Norse gods.

Um... yeah? Loki and Thor are Norse gods. There is historical basis for them being deities, since they were deities in the Viking religion. But, if you look at the Avengers universe, Loki and Thor aren't exactly gods at all, they're technically aliens. Aliens with god-like powers, sure. But they're aliens all the same. There's not really any mention of religion at all, except for the scene where Captain America intends to confront Loki and Thor, and the Black Widow warns him that he should probably sit this one out, since they're basically gods. Captain America replies, “Ma'am, there's only one god, and I'm pretty sure he doesn't dress like that.” You'd think the CAPAlert people would love this movie, since Captain America basically gives lip service to their religion. But I guess not.

All in all, the CAPAlert managed to pull out another hilarious gem of a review for a great movie. Cheers, CAPAlert!

Jun. 26th, 2011

A Day At The Movies

This weekend, I went to see two different movies- one with my friend, the other with my family. Because that's what I do during the summer when I need to get out of the house- I go to watch movies.

Anyway, I saw Pirates of the Caribbean: On Stranger Tides and Cars 2. And to be honest? I'm not really sure what to think of either of them. They were OK. Not the most amazing movies ever, but definitely not the worst I've ever seen. I don't know, I have conflicting feelings on both of them.


Jun. 6th, 2011

Childhood, books, and... thinly-veiled politics?

Books can make you dumb, at least according to this article. This woman apparently took her cues on how to become an adult from a bunch of books like Gone With The Wind, Wuthering Heights, and The Little Mermaid, and resents the fact that she got such a skewed idea of what it meant to be an adult (and ultimately, a woman) from these stories. And reading it got me to thinking- I consumed a LOT of media as a child, books, video games, television programs, and movies, but I didn't take any cues on how to become adult from them.

OK, OK, like every other kid from my generation, I really wanted my Hogwarts letter. But I was never under any delusion that I was actually a witch. When I was young, I was told the story of Eglė the Serpent Queen, but I never thought that I was going to be taken to the sea by a magical snake prince and marry him (and considering how that story ends, it's a damn good thing that wasn't a true story). When I was in preschool I wanted to go and solve mysteries like the characters in Scooby-Doo. When I was in second grade, I thought it would be awesome to be a Pokemon trainer, and when I was in fourth grade I wanted to be a Sailor Scout. It might have crossed my mind a few times that my stuff might come to life when I wasn't around, like in Toy Story. I totally wanted to go to the school in Regarding the Fountain and its sequels. When I was dealing with some really difficult times in my childhood (and up until about a year ago), The Magic Faraway Tree was always there for me. But you know what? I never thought that the stories I read and watched were real. Because my parents taught me from a young age that what you read in fiction and see on the television isn't real.

When the Roadrunner drives the Coyote off a cliff, it's fake. When Scooby and co. take down a fake monster, that's definitely fake. Hogwarts, sadly, is fake too. The Magic Faraway Tree doesn't really exist. You cannot go outside and catch Pokemon.

And when it comes to taking role models from literature, which is also part of what this article is about, I have to be honest with you- growing up I identiied with several characters, but honestly? It didn't matter to me whether or not they were female or not. Yeah, I wanted to be like Velma from Scooby-Doo, but I also wanted to follow in Harry Potter's footsteps. When I got a little older, and dealt with some serious issues that affected me, it really helped to think “what would Neo do?” But I also found Mulan inspiring.

The thing is, this article could have been really good if it hadn't come across to me as a way to berate people who didn't feel the same way about the books that she did, or the same way about the characters. Personally, I absolutely despised Wuthering Heights and thought Cathy was an insufferable bitch who I'd love to punch in the face if I ever met her IRL. Another book that was highly touted (but not mentioned in this article) was The Awakening, by Kate Chopin. The best part of that book was when Edna drowned herself in the ocean, and I said so in my essay exam on that book. If those are the kinds of things I'm supposed to prize over the other things that had a larger effect on my life, like the movies, video games, and television shows that I liked, then I'm sorry, but I'll take Pokemon, The Matrix, and The Magic Faraway Tree any day, and I don't much care whether or not that's the “politically correct” choice. It actually is rather disturbing, that we're now trying to assign people's sense of self-worth to the characters they identified with as children. Should I be worried that I'm going to start thinking I'm a Pokemon or something?

Another thing- when I have Kaboomlets, they're going to get the same stuff I got growing up- I'm going to buy them Regarding the Fountain and its sequels, The Magic Faraway Tree, Harry Potter, Pokemon, my favorite Disney movies, Scooby-Doo and Looney Tunes. And if I can manage it, The Penguins of Madagascar. Of course, they'll be exposed to more “classiC” literature as well, but I'm not going to say that's the ONLY media they can consume.

In conclusion, don't feel bad if your choices of entertainment growing up don't feel bad. You take inspiration from whatever source you want. And if you want to pretend to be Catherine Earnshaw, that's great. I'm going to be over here pretending to go on adventures with my Pikachu.

May. 31st, 2011

The funniest movie ever?

I have a confession to make: until two days ago, I had never watched The Hangover all the way through. For almost two years now, it's been on my to-do list, but every time I was ready to watch it, I couldn't find a DVD at the video store, or there were no seeders for the torrent, or it came on television when I just didn't have time to sit down and watch it. I'd seen clips of it on the Internet, and watched part of it at Best Buy on the giant televisions they were selling, to show the picture quality.

So now my friend is coming back from his first year at USMMA, and he wants to go see The Hangover, part II. Because I'm one of those people that hates seeing sequels without first having seen the first one, I decided it was high time I watched the first one all the way through. And after all, it was the highest-grossing comedy of all time. So I found a rental on iTunes for $2.99, and settled in to watch it. I was expecting a laugh riot, since almost everyone I knew who'd seen it all the way through thought it was great.

Now, don't get me wrong, there were many funny moments- Alan finding the tiger in the bathroom while peeing, Eddy the wedding-chapel guy, the guys walking back into their hotel room to see Mike Tyson playing the piano, Alan counting cards, and at the end, when Stu finally breaks up with his horrid, bitchy girlfriend, and the photo montage at the end- those were the best parts of the entire movie. While it was hilarious, there were long parts in the middle where it just... dragged.

When I Googled to see if anyone shared my opinion, that The Hangover was good, not great, kind of funny, but not the funniest movie ever, I learned that I didn't. People seemed to fall into one of two camps: either it was the best movie ever, or it was horribly offensive and should never have been made. So just like politics, our movies are on the lines of partisanship. You can't just think a movie is OK, you either have to love it or hate it.

I don't know whether to laugh or cry.

That said, I probably will be going to see The Hangover, part II, because my friend wants to. From what I've heard, don't expect much more than a mildly funny movie, pretty much like the first one.

Mar. 24th, 2011

Good news, everyone!

Mr. Popper's Penguins is going to be a movie!

I loved this book when I was a Kaboomlet, and I'm thrilled they're making it into a movie. I'm not the hugest fan of Jim Carrey, but this movie looks like such good fun. As far as I can tell it deviates quite a bit from the book, but it still looks adorable. My only complaint? There were twice as many penguins in the book than there are in this trailer. But still, I'm so excited, I am going to watch the shit out of this movie.

Yes, I'm a giant dork, this has been well-established already. A giant dork that likes penguins.

Nov. 27th, 2010

The Deeper Meanings in Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows

I didn't actually think I was going to get to go see this movie while I was in town this week. Every theater I tried to get tickets to was STILL sold out, weeks after the premiere. Usually, that never happens, but I guess enough people had relatives in town that wanted to see the movie, and so we had a hard time getting tickets. I ended up going with my parents to a very small art theater a ways away. It was still good, and possibly even better than a mainstream theater (YUM. Lattes and marzipan candy are delish), since the crowd wasn't as bad. It was still packed, though.
As I was watching the movie, I started to realize something. It had occurred to me before, but being slightly dim, I forgot about it. The Harry Potter series is a metaphor for the Holocaust as well as the current War on Terror. Before anyone starts yelling that I'm a moron for not getting that, or that I'm reading politics into something that doesn't really have politics in it, hear me out.

The WWII messages are slightly more obvious- the rounding up and registering of the Muggle-borns, the way that the Hogwarts students are indoctrinated, and the pure-bloods' obsession with making a best society for themselves are all very reminiscent of the Nazis. Voldemort kills everyone who disagrees with him or gets in his way, those that pose a threat to his rule. The Death Eaters have all taken control of the government by worming their way in and slowly swaying the beliefs of the people toward their side. Yeah, everyone's freaking terrified that Voldemort is rising to power, so what better way than to get them all loyal to said Dark Lord than provide a convenient scapegoat for all of the terrified witches and wizards, maybe someone that they don't totally trust in the first place: the Muggle-borns. Add in the segregation and subjugation of other "undesirables"- werewolves, house-elves, etc. Yeah, that bit's not exactly difficult to miss. Even if you don't interpret it as a metaphor for WWII, it's still there, and it could be a metaphor for a lot of other things throughout history, unfortunately.

But what might not be so obvious to some people is the metaphor for the War on Terror. Suspected Muggle-borns are taken and dragged before a jury made up of people predisposed to believe that they are out to get them. And the snatched people are either dragged before the Ministry of Magic, or they are sent to Malfoy Manor's basement dungeons without a trial. I interpreted it as a metaphor for Guantanamo Bay, where suspected terrorists (as well as real terrorists) are sent. But the similarities don't stop there. The Ministry of Magic cultivates a sort of "us vs. them" mentality against Muggles and Muggle-born witches and wizards, which shows similarities between the "OMFG!!!!!MUSLIMS!!!!!!" panic that hit the US (and to a lesser extent, Britain) after 9-11. People who bought into the propaganda started seeing evil Muggle-born wizards that wanted to destroy their way of life lurking behind every corner, just like people in the real world saw terrorists everywhere.

To me, the Harry Potter series as a whole, but most notably the last book and last two movies are a metaphor for not only the past, but as well as the present. Be aware of what you do and what you believe, or you might find yourself facilitating something evil by doing nothing.

All that is necessary for the triumph of evil is for good men to do nothing. -Edmund Burke

And that's my ridiculously over-thought, pretentious post for the day. Hopefully I'll have time before I need to catch my train back to university tomorrow to post my Christmas-decorating pictures.