Saturday, March 7, 2009
Watchmen is a mixed bag. What I think bothers me most is not the film, but the mildly to grossly homophobic reactions I hear from the boys going to see the film. It's no wonder we have such inane sexual euphemisms like vajayjay, because these twits can't process anything that is uncomfortable about biology. And, Coyote, despite the title of the post, there's very little ball - its' all unexciting penis, hon. It's not anything to get worked up over - but it does lead me to a small criticism of Dr. Manhattan's CGI body, Doc Manhattan looks like he could wrestle for the WWE when rendered in the movie. (except he's too well endowed to be on the 'roids.)
The book has always struck me as too dense for one movie, but I think this movie is probably the best we'll get. Most of the right notes were there, even though the speed at which they assault you is tremendous. Nothing is perfect, but the tone of the film is certainly in as much step with the original material as the Watchowski's version of V for Vendetta.
V was carried - rightfully - by Natalie Portman. Hugo Weaving is a good actor and voice actor, but acting behind a exaggerated plastic mask against Portman playing her full game? Marcel Marceau would even get his butt kicked.
Oddly enough, the opposite happened in Watchmen -- Jackie Earle Haley owns Rorschach, and consequently the rest of the film, even though he spends the large majority of it behind a mask that constantly shifts patterns. (A bit too much, IMO) Jeffrey Dean Morgan, as the Comedian, is an equally forceful presence. Billy Crudup's voice for Manhattan was good, but I didn't sense the withdrawal from humanity well, perhaps because I expect that withdrawal to be more deadpan in delivery. Patrick Wilson & Malin Akerman would have been serviceable, but the tittering and lack of emotional connection I heard from the audience reinforced my opinion of the film; even with a bunch of geeks with infantile sexual maturity, a better film could have kept them from outright laughing at a bare naked male ass or from laughing at all the wrong points when said ass was getting it on. What grounded the original story was the relationship between Laurie and Dan and their status as flawed human beings - Snyder's need to develop events over charcter really cast the film adrift and choked off any chance of these two actors making a serious connection with the audience and keeping the Beavis under control.
Matthew Goode as Adrian Veidt/Ozymandias was a mixed bag. Veidt a should be a pretty boy; Goode isn't quite good-looking enough, and he's certainly too thin to be Ozy and supposedly kicking everyone's ass. Goode had an awesome command of accent and dialect - except when he inexplicably didn't. And keeping in mind the director's openness to inflicting obnoxious race or other bias when found in the original work, Snyder really made Ozy an obnoxious characterization of an androgynous overly pretentious European, when Ozy is an androgynous overly pretentious American. :)
All in all - Watchmen is a mediocre film with occasionally great moments in a whirlwind of tepid plot based off of a great piece of fiction writing, which makes it a decent way to spend 150-some minutes of your time. If you haven't read the comic, don't - you may enjoy the film more.
Friday, March 6, 2009
Wednesday, March 4, 2009
The first "pop" performance of [The Star Spangled Banner] heard by mainstream America was by Puerto Rican singer and guitarist Jose Feliciano. He shocked some people in the crowd at Tiger Stadium in Detroit and some Americans when he strummed a slow, bluesy rendition of the national anthem before game five of the 1968 World Series between Detroit and St. Louis. This rendition started contemporary "Star-Spangled Banner" controversies. The response from many in Vietnam-era America was generally negative, given that 1968 was a tumultuous year for the United States. Despite the controversy, Feliciano's performance opened the door for the countless interpretations of the "Star-Spangled Banner" heard today.
The YouTube video I linked is reflective of my point; it's a statement about how willing we are to accept, even honor, artistic reinterpretation now. It's a post-modern deconstruction age, baby. While the video author was conscious of the history behind the video and considered it another depth of his affection for the music, it wasn't more than an acknowledgment. It was a good track to match his photos.
But when you consider the written history of the time, it was almost a, "get a bodyguard, we're fatwa-ing your ass", uproar that was drowned out by other uproars. The bloody Democratic convention of 1968 was scarcely 5 weeks past. NOW and other Women's liberation causes staged a massive protest outside the Miss America pageant in New Jersey in September; we still talk about 'bra-burning' because of it. And scarcely 5 days later, Tommie Smith and John Carlos held the blck power salute during the Star-Spangled Banner at their Olympic Games medal ceremony.
Most of us forget about Feliciano and his uproar because Hendrix 10 months later really set the Closed-Minded Bunch's underwear on fire, with his electric guitar belting out literal sonic bombs and rockets.
There's a YouTube link of Feliciano talking about the anthem and the event, but it has him talking through most of the clip. I always considered Jose just the guy whom did "Feliz Navidad" - but his expression then and his thoughts now show him to be real musical artist. I've been schooled. Big.
But was the anthem mangled?? I take issue with the inclusion of the artistic renderings and their controversies alongside the horrific train wrecks of forgotten words and poor pitch. Does Marvin Gaye compare to Rosanne Barr? I don't think so.
For a country who's post-modern image has shaped much of the world, the reinterpretation of the national anthem should be welcomed, if not expected.
"When it comes to adult entertainment,it seems people are more the same than different," says Benjamin Edelman at Harvard Business School. However,there are some trends to be seen in the data. Those states that do consume the most porn tend to be more conservative and religious than states with lower levels of consumption, the study finds." "Some of the people who are most outraged turn out to be consumers of the very things they claimed to be outraged by," Edelman says.
"The biggest consumer, Utah, averaged 5.47 adult content subscriptions per 1000 home broadband users; Montana bought the least with 1.92 per 1000. "The differences here are not so stark," Edelman says. Number 10 on the list was West Virginia at 2.94 subscriptions per 1000, while number 41, Michigan,averaged 2.32. Eight of the top 10 pornography consuming states gave their electoral votes to John McCain in last year's presidential election – Florida and Hawaii were the exceptions. While six out of the lowest 10 favoured Barack Obama.
"Residents of 27 states that passed laws banning gay marriages boasted 11% more porn subscribers than states that don't explicitly restrict gay marriage. To get a better handle on other associations between social attitudes and pornography consumption, Edelman melded his data with a previous study on public attitudes toward religion. States where a majority of residents agreed with the statement "I have old-fashioned values about family and marriage," bought 3.6 more subscriptions per thousand people than states where a majority disagreed. A similar difference emerged for the statement "AIDS might be God's punishment for immoral sexual behaviour."
"One natural hypothesis is something like repression: if you're told you can't have this, then you want it more," Edelman says.
Monday, March 2, 2009
Given that I live in community that is quite wealthy and retired, the death of Paul Harvey was a big thing. We even had requests for prayers for him and his family in church this weekend.
Paul Harvey's golden days were long past. He was where America was in the 1960's and 70's, and even the 1980's to a degree. As the rise of talk and shock radio came along, he really became a legacied sideshow that the station manager inherited and couldn't get rid of. And his opinions and attitudes were becoming highly racist and classist as he got older - much like my beloved Mike Royko. Both Paul and Mike embodied a white middle-class that was compassionate when younger, but certainly less empathetic as they aged and became reflective of our culture's obsession with self-importance.
Perhaps some of it was more Rush than not. I only occasionally heard Harvey on the radio growing up - my parents never listed to news radio or talk. I heard Harvey the most in college as the news radio station played his syndicated broadcast at noon, and the shop radio was always on so the knuckle-draggers could listen to Rush immediately after. But before Rush, there was Paul Harvey, propagandizing on God & Country and for Joe McCarthy and for the War in Vietnam - even though Paul turned with the rest of the country when the bodies were stacked too high and the blood began to flow in our own streets. But in 2003, he was right alongside the administration in declaring that there were no civilians any longer, and that 9/11 must be bloodily avenged.
My only hope is that in the decades to come, our culture might revere Rachel Maddow or Amy Goodman as much as Harvey when their time comes to pass.
Sunday, March 1, 2009
"Tax money should not be used to fund any radio or TV shows, esp. those aimed at adults. Get sponsors or commercials. I'm taxed to death already here in NYS. I resent my money being used without my permission to spread opinions I don't always agree with."
"Unless you can get the same funding for Michael Savage's show, I think they should have to find their own sponsors. Sorry! To me this seems like another liberal media outlet that is funded by my tax dollars. And I think the media is too liberal to begin with."
"None of my taxx dollars for the anti-american broadcast system !! "
"Stop public support for biased, anti-American and anti-Israel reporting. NPR has outlived its usefulness and the need for public funding. Let Moveon.org fund it!"
"As a concerned taxpayer, I would like to see all funding cut for NPR. They are nothing more than smear agents against everything this country was founded on. If they want to spout their hate speech and left biased views, let them do it without my tax dollars. The money would be better spent for additional channels for AFN for our fighting men and women serving our Nation." (I guess he means like FOX News).
>Once again the Right-Wing Conservative Yahoos are trying to destroy PBS/NPR. A petition to stop NPR is circulating yet again. I guess freedom of speech only applies to the Yahoos among us.