the liberal media


I wouldn’t say I was shocked when the some subset of Star Wars fans got up in arms about the Rogue One trailer. Is there a word for “tired and incredulous”? What’s the emotion you’re feeling when you roll your eyes and mutter “are you fucking kidding me?”

This is all pretty well trod ground at this point, and at twenty-two days after the fact, I’m not exactly trying to cover the subject in a way you haven’t seen. All the salient points have been made:

  • There have been seven Star Wars movies thus far, of those we have one woman co-lead, and six instances of third-billing or lower.
  • We can probably safely concede a single sci-fi adventure movie to the female gender without the patriarchy immediately crumbling.
  • All of this arises from the fact that, to people with unexamined privilege, equality — even decreased inequality — feels like oppression.
  • The assertion that a woman with agency is somehow aberrant in the Star Wars universe is nonsense on the face of it.
  • Jesus Christ, aside from Mon Mothma, EVERY OTHER CHARACTER was a man anyway, so maybe fucking relax, movies are still insanely bad at representing women.

That fourth point there, that’s the one that comes closest to what I want to talk about in the first place. Star Wars, despite what terrified misogynists might claim today, was never a boy’s club in the first place. I’m not saying it was a feminist manifesto, or that there’s nothing problematic about how the movies dealt with gender and sexuality (Anakin is a virgin birth? F’real?) they were, without fail, ahead of the curve on putting women in positions of authority, and letting them engage directly in the action of the film.

What’s more important is that while there may not have been as many women buying Timothy Zahn novels, and maybe there weren’t any girls in the West End Games Star Wars: The Roleplaying Game campaign you played in, women have always liked Star Wars. Movies don’t make the kind of money Star Wars has made without some of that money coming from the lady half of the population.

I’m not really writing this to talk about Star Wars though, that’s just the recent thing that came up that brought all of this back to the surface. I’m getting to my point, but to get there, let’s talk about the CW.

They are back for a family Reunion, Jim is back involving his marriage with Michelle and needs to learn how to be a father. So he gets Stifler to help out with his newborn son who will be in the fraternity house of the Beta”s in his further life! First he gets baptized in a church where he learns his family heritage from inside The Bible of East Great Falls where he learns his father was also was in virginity. Paul Finch happens to go from a virgin to a catholic where he baptized little William and Kevin learns his past involving his relationship with Vicki. Michelle is still talking about Band Camp and will be the new Macro, Kevin will get back with Vicki, Oz will become Captain of lacrosse and will be in touch with his girlfriend Heather. Things will change as their Reunion ends, Will this be the last slice of the pie.

It occurs to be that it’s probably pretty weird being the Didn’t Get Famous guy from:

  • Bill and Ted’s Excellent Adventure
  • That Show Tom Hanks Was on Where He Lived Part Time as a Woman
  • Wham

I really like horrible movies. I own Crossroads and Showgirls, I’ve seen The Room more than once. I’ve been a fan of Mystery Science Theater 3000 since well before I actually had Comedy Central. My friend Mark and I once went to a video store specifically to rent It’s Alive 3: Island of the Alive, the final part of a trilogy about mutant, killer babies.

I’m establishing a little background here so that you can understand that I know from awful when I tell you that Vampires Vs. Zombies is the Worst Movie I’ve Ever Seen, and a hot contender for Worst Movie Ever.

I would try to give you a capsule description of the film, but I totally can’t. The plot has so many flashbacks, and nightmares, and waking up from nightmares into another nightmare, but they’re both flashbacks that it’s impossible to tell what was actually happening, what was imagined, and what order they might have happened in. There is no cause and effect. It’s like a really shitty version of Jacob’s Ladder. Add in characters who show up for one scene, do something that makes them seem important, then vanish, or show up several times, do nothing at all, then vanish, and I’m left assuming bit parts were given out to investors in exchange for a scene or two that doesn’t really impact the overall “plot”.

The movie is supposed to be a modern adaptation of Sheridan Le Fanu Carmilla, a Lesbian Vampire novel that predates Stoker’s Dracula by 25 years. There are several elements of the original story present, but none of them are coherently explained, so to anyone who isn’t expecting a General to show up out of nowhere, they’re just one more shitty broken bit of plot. There is all the lesbian sex, which one would thing would improve things, but it’s so clumsy and awkward that it’s just kind of boring. The zombies don’t seem to have anything to do with the vampire plot, and in fact, mostly come out of nowhere. I’ve got a theory that the producers realized they couldn’t afford many extras, so they put the few they had in zombie make-up, it would explain why every location in the movie was more or less abandoned.

If any of this made the movie sound fun, or sexy, or so bad it might be fun to watch, it’s not. It’s just boring, frustrating and stupid. Mark, the friend who so happily laughed his way through Doomsday with me, got so frustrated after one of the “this character is safe. NO IT’S A DREAM. No, that was a hallucination, they really are safe. NO THEY AREN’T.” sequences that he stood up, flipped off the screen, said “Fuck this.” and left the room until the movie was over.

I’ve had cable TV for a couple years now, but generally, you wouldn’t know it. If you were to track the signals on our television you’d see a lot of movies, a lot of stuff streamed from the computer, a lot of movies and, really, only one channel. Food Network. I could easily blame my wife for this, and wouldn’t necessarily be lying, but it would be dishonest not to admit that I do enjoy the hell out of Alton Brown and Chef Duff.

What I don’t enjoy is shitty advertising. There are a lot of terrible ads on Food Network, both sponsored spots, and house ads promoting the network itself. Then there’s the Competition shows on Sunday ad. I can’t claim the ad is the worst, but it is the one I hate the most. And it’s not the ADHD* quick cut edits, or the obnoxiously red color pallet, it’s the mother fucking song. Even that’s not true, because it isn’t the whole song, shitty as it is. It’s one part. AHEM:

Come on baby,
you can walk the walk
you got to move it on up
can you talk the talk?

Oh my shit, WALKING THE WALK IS THE HARD PART. Being able to talk the talk is stupid, and should not be the challenging question part of the song! How can you have a job like this and not know whether walking the walk or talking the talk is supposed to be the impressive part? Who the fuck are you people?

On the up side, sometimes Giada de Laurentiis wears low cut tops, and you can see her boobs, which are pretty awesome.

It should be noted that this picture is a link to a much bigger picture, and that despite her intense over-pronunciation of all Italian words, she pronounces jalapeño “hala pea no.”

*I was diagnosed with ADHD at age 17, and am allowed to make jokes about it, because I actually know what it feels like.

The Bad News Bears is the best sports movie ever. It established a lot of the tropes that would go on to define the Underdog Makes Good genre for years to come, but at its core, there are some key differences. Sure, the worst team is able to add a couple new players, build confidence, and confound expectations, but for The Bad News Bears, that’s not the focus.

The movie isn’t about winning so much as it is about the kids being treated with enough respect and compassion that they develop enough confidence and self respect to actually enjoy themselves. I know Matthau’s Buttermaker is kind of a drunk asshole, but his brusque nature and refusal to coddle the kids is the first time anyone has respected them enough to expect them to do anything but fuck up.

The other major theme is that sports parents are assholes. People usually remember that, counter to the eventual standard, the Bears lose their big game against the Yankees. What people forget is that they lose by choice. Buttermaker pulls the best kids and puts the benchwarmers on the field. He does this because seeing the Yankee’s coach slap his kid jolts him into realizing he’s turning into the kind of person who tries to make up for his failures by pressuring kids into success. Success doesn’t matter. Winning won’t make you a happy person. Assholes with trophies are still assholes.

…I just want to throw down another example of Secret Proof Our Culture is Misogynist. Take these names: Evelyn, Gertrude, Tracy, Carol, Beverly, and Robin. What do they all have in common? They are all historically masculine names that have been adopted by (I would argue, have been abandoned to) women. Culturally speaking, we have no problems with girls having boy’s names. I have a cousin named Wallis, a variation on the popular popular men’s name from the 1920s. The Television show Pushing Daisies features a female lead who goes by the name Chuck. My step-sister is named Cameron. All historically masculine names, all totally acceptable. Now try to imagine a guy in 7th Grade named Evelyn. This kid is not having an easy time.

Why?

Because men are something to look up to, and admire, and of course we would give women men’s names, it’s cute for them to try to live up to standards of masculinity. Of course, naming a boy after a girl is nothing short of child abuse. It’s the same reason tomboys are cute and feminine guys are played for laughs or revulsion. When a female takes on male characteristics, she’s impersonating dominant role. When a male acts in an effeminate manner, he demeans himself.

Our culture still doesn’t respect women, and doesn’t hold them as equals to men. If you don’t believe me, suggest that someone name their son Susan.

AND NOW AN EXCERPT FROM AN ALTERNATE POST WHERE I FELT LIKE TALKING ABOUT RACISM INSTEAD OF SEXISM

The simple fact of the matter is that giving a child a distinctly urban black name, like Terangelo is going to impact the way they are perceived throughout their entire life, and will in all likelihood lead* to a lower average level of education and income. As long as this country is racist, having a name that constantly re-identifies you as urban black will probably be an impediment.

Our current president being named Barack Obama is an incredible fluke.

I’m aware of studies already attesting to a correlation between these types of names and things like education and salary, but I’ve never seen one that corrected for initial income and education of parents. As it stands, I realize I’m somewhat guilty of the post hoc ergo propter hoc fallacy, but I would counter that post hoc ergo propter meus balls, which my or may not translate as “after this, therefor because of my balls.”

In response to the alarmingly world wide concern about the fact that a rich, famous, attractive man was fucking around on his wife (oh man, that never happens), I have one thought that actually seems meaningful.

If we switched the roles here, and Tiger’s wife was cheating, and he had chased her out of the house while wielding a golf club, causing her to crash her vehicle, the story would not be so focused on the horrible transgressions of a cheater. Blame would be distributed a little differently.

I have been asked a few times by friends and acquaintances from nations with a more civilized form of health care funding the following question:

“Why the hell are so many Americans mad about getting something that will only benefit them?”

Easy enough to answer. The Conservatives, especially the Neo-Conservatives, with the philosophical guidance of people like Leo Strauss and his “Noble Lie” have been functioning with the understanding that in order to perpetuate their agenda, they would need to convince the nation’s poor to vote against their own economic and social interests. The most effective way to do this has proven to be with a carefully cultivated, constant and largely directionless state of fear. The upshot of this is that the fear can be directed toward almost any issue with the use of a few key words like “socialism” or “terrorism”. This technique is being actively applied toward a tax payer funded health care system. As a result the people who have been told to be afraid of a public option for health care are angry at the people who are supporting it, effectively seeing them as the people responsible for scaring them.

It occurs to me as I write this that we have a word for using a state of constant fear to advance a political agenda. The irony of the fact that I am loath to apply this label to the Neo Con movement that would not hesitate to do the same to someone like me is not lost.

I own a lot of movies. Nothing record breaking, but a quick estimate puts feature films around 300, with another 200 of TV, short films, and ephemera on DVD. Out of all of these, very few of the movies bother my wife. She is largely unflappable, regarding Naked Warriors AKA The Arena, Hercules and the Babylonians and Showgirls with either mild affection or bemused disinterest. There are a few though, like National Lampoon’s Van Wilder and Satan’s Little Helper that draw her ire. The two movies I just mentioned probably deserve it, actually, despite Ryan Reynold’s incredible charm. I just wish she’d give Jason X a chance.

It is with people like her in mind that I begin this exercise, an annotated re-viewing of the film. I will be accompanied by a 23 year old Rum, and a 1.5X fast forward that still plays all the voices. It is my assertion that the film is, when watched properly, not a mediocre horror movie, but a brilliant comedy.

We begin:
Released in 2001, it had been 8 years since the previous Friday the 13th movie. That was part 9, Jason Goes to Hell: The Final Friday. It’s interesting, at least to me, that it was quickly followed by Freddy Vs. Jason in 2003. Apparently it’s easier to make Jason movies when Republicans are in office.

The film opens with what appears to be footage of hell. Slowly, it it turns into the opening credits from Spider-Man. This is Jason from the inside. They’re doing science to him at the Crystal Lake Research Facity. He’s being frozen. You know, to get him to the future. Before that though, he has to kill some dudes. Fortunately some Meddling Guys in Suits show up with expendable soldiers. They don’t want to freeze Jason, but study him. They die. Jason mortally wounds A Resourceful Woman, who then freezes them both.

Now it’s the future! Jason is discovered by, no shit, some kids on field trip. They’re visiting the ruined surface. The stoner is played for easy laughs, including Jason, still frozen, cutting his arm off.

They save the woman and start (THE FOOLS) doing science on Jason. They also use badly explained nanotechnology to put the stoner’s arm back on.

A Resourceful Woman wakes up, and starts Dr. Loomis-ing all over the place about how Jason is gonna kill everyone, and, of course, they ignore her because she’s from the past? And everything probably would be fine, but all over the ship people start doing it, which of course wakes Jason up. They literally start inter-cutting one couple boning with Jason stirring and have him wake up right as the woman climaxes. Genius.

Jason grabs the woman doing science to him, shoves her face in liquid nitrogen and then, because she isn’t dead enough, shatters her head.

The murders are hot and heavy now. There’s post coital trauma where one person is left alive for no real reason. Two guys in a holodeck who Jason kills twice. Overzealous soldiers doing property damage, then being picked off by a new, more Batman-y Jason. The best is when Sarge is impaled on a giant screw (why do they have that?) and slowly spirals down.

Of course the Future Meddling Guy in a Suit will hear nothing of A Resourceful Woman’s warnings. Soon all the actual soldiers are dead and it’s up to the Terrified Teenagers (and a robot?) to save the day.

None of this really captures the tone though. It’s a slasher movie, sure, but it’s also a comedy, an affectionate parody to be precise. There are two levels of jokes throughout: The cheesy, obvious jokes, and the more subtle (but not that subtle) self referential jokes. Jason X is a real parody, unlike the Scary Movie series. While those are just the tropes and ostensible setting of horror films used as a frame work for crappy dick jokes, Jason X actually works within the conventions of the slasher genre to comment on that genre. Specifically, it’s riffing on the long running franchise slasher flick that can no longer do anything but comment on itself. It’s like the winks and nods have their own winks and nods. The X in Jason X isn’t a Roman Numeral. It’s a nod to all that has come before.

This is perhaps epitomized by the second holodeck scene. In order to stall Jason, he’s tricked into a simulation of summer camp in the 1980s, but that’s not accurate. He’s in a cheesy ’80s movie version of summer camp in the ’80s, but even that isn’t right. He’s in a loving send-up of a cheesy ’80s summer camp movie. Two girls offer him beer and pot. They then take off their tops and shout “We love premarital sex!” in unison before climbing into their sleeping bags.

Jason picks one of them up and uses her as a bludgeon to beat the other to death.

Which is a reference to part 7.

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