Thursday, January 1, 2015

Hop Aboard the Washington Pineapple Express

“I think it says something interesting about North Korea, that they decided to have the state mount an all-out assault on a movie studio because of a satirical movie, starring Seth Rogan and James Flacco. I love Seth. And I love James. But the notion that that was a threat to them I think gives you a sense of the kind of regime we're talking about here.” ~ U.S. President Barack Hussein Obama

I’ll preface this token end-of-year review by saying that I too would profess a liking for Seth Rogen and James Franco. The two are often shredded by critics for an overreliance on unfettered profanity and male anatomical gags, but as far as there’s a niche for such a sordid blend of humor, the dudes are easily some of the lowest/greatest in the trade. I for one thought that This Is the End was one of, if not the funniest apocalyptic stoner comedy of all time, which is really saying something. Rogen and Franco’s collaboration is widely celebrated by college students, many of whom relish the opportunity to flex their vulgarity under the pretense of quoting a modern American masterpiece, but the movie’s also noted in larger circles for mercilessly skewering the decadence and narcissism of Hollywood while (probably inadvertently and) most irreverently ridiculing the heresy of buying one’s way into heaven with good works. And who could forget Rogen’s gripping portrayal of Mantis in Kung Fu Panda? Huh huh huh. Mantis pun. Huh huh huh.

That said, I doubt our president looked that deeply into This Is the End, and certainly not into the Rogen-starring mall cop movie Observe and Report, which in spite of its inconsistent tone and clich├ęd narrative arc is a mostly effective black comedy about an arrogant, entitled, and immensely unlikeable guardian figure whose ill-entrusted power begets some surprisingly violent consequences but nonetheless wins him the reputation of a hero in the eye of the media. Actually, I’m skeptical that Obama has ever seen a single movie by Rogen or Franco, and if he even has an opinion regarding the actors, I’d wager he probably views them as a couple of useful idiots who will shamelessly lobby for his party every election cycle and then return to their necessary function of appeasing the uneducated masses with mind-dulling entertainment. The now infamous “censorship” of their North Korean “satire” also poses the kind of welcome crisis over which Obama advisor Rahm Emanuel once salivated, a “crisis” that in reality affects nobody but the artists and producers of the studio’s voluntarily stillborn project but which handily serves as a cover for real, government-orchestrated crises that affect every citizen in the country—crises such as increasingly unaffordable health insurance premiums, soaring education costs; a national debt that just passed $18 trillionl unelected bureaucrats who govern, intimidate, and spy upon the people without congressional oversight; lawless judges who coerce private businesses into violating their religious beliefs for hurting the feelings of homosexual couples; and the president’s absolute unwillingness to ward foreign dependents and the diseases they carry from the country’s borders.

I’m really not as interested in this whole unfolding Sony debacle as I am in what it says about our reigning officials. In spite of the media’s incessant bombarding of speculations that the hack would be the costliest in history, I don’t think anyone will forgo a Sony movie because they read a scary story about the company’s ordeals in the paper or (more likely in the most illiterate generation of this country’s history) saw a scary headline about it on social media. I certainly don’t think anyone will avoid the next James Bond movie because an early screenplay wound up on the internet, mainly because the only people who took the time to read it were already going to watch it opening night or pirate it anyway. Nor do I expect there’s going to be a significant fallout over anything the company’s executives wrote in private correspondence. After all, did these emails reveal anything about the nature of Hollywood we didn’t already know? The only people these leaks should astonish or offend are those who’ve been melting their brains with celebrity tabloid magazines and stewing in a fantasy bubble wherein one’s glamour is entirely indicative of one’s virtue. I already knew that Hollywood’s leading actors, producers, and directors were a bunch of conceited, petty children who have to hide behind the masks of their characters or art to get by in the adult world. I didn’t need a North Korean hacker to shoot me a bunch of emails to tell me that. If anything, the North’s Great Leader has only bolstered the film he conspired to destroy by securing it ten times the coverage it’d otherwise receive and driving part-time patriots to support what’s apparently become a symbol of 1st Amendment rights.

But that’s assuming it was exclusively a North Korean actor who blessed the film, a frankly ridiculous fable which multiple professional hackers have vehemently and thoroughly debunked. So why are our president and the FBI going out of their way to sell us a poorly evidenced and logically suspect story about a destitute foreign nation planning and executing devastating cyberattacks against a U.S. corporation over a stupid Seth Rogen comedy? Harkening back to the “crude and disgusting” Youtube video censured by every sitting Democrat or serving diplomat almost seems too easy under the circumstances. “The future must not belong to those who slander the prophet of Islam,” remarked Obama about the Benghazi attacks in an address to the United Nations, pulling out all the stops to feed Muslim President conspiracy theories. Two years later, though, with American interests supposedly under fire from communist demons, Obama has stood tall and sent a headstrong message to the cyberbullies.

(Imperfect, official transcript provided by the White House) “I think that [Sony] made a mistake… We cannot have a society in which some dictator someplace can start imposing censorship here in the United States. Because if somebody is able to intimidate folks out of releasing a satirical movie, imagine what they start doing when they see a documentary that they don’t like, or news reports that they don’t like. Or even worse, imagine if producers and distributors and others start engaging in self-censorship because they don’t want to offend the sensibilities of somebody whose sensibilities probably need to be offended. So that’s not who we are. That’s not what America is about… I wish they had spoken to me first. I would have told them, do not get into a pattern in which you’re intimidated by these kinds of criminal attacks.”
Not exactly “Give me liberty or give me death!” but we’ll take it for the sake of argument. Where do we even start wading through this great American oratory from our first articulate, clean, good-looking African-American guy? Should we ask why the president is pretending that Sony didn’t contact him about the matter when Sony claims they did indeed speak with a White House advisor and the State Department prior to yanking (and then reinstating) the film? Should we ask why the president thinks it’s any of his concern whether Sony releases their own junky comedy or not? Should we inquire as to why Obama is rallying behind a critically maligned and likely highly offensive Rogen comedy in the name of free expression and patriotism (“censorship is not what we’re about”) after he vocally and relentlessly reviled an unreleased documentary about one of history’s most influential religious figures, also in the name of free expression and patriotism (“anti-Islam Youtube projects are not what we’re about—the United States had nothing to do with this video”)?

I think the main question at hand is why Obama’s even talking about The Interview at all. Much though I enjoyed This Is the End, in the event that Columbia Pictures hypothetically canceled it to mollify the Catholic Church, I’d hardly think it the president’s responsibility to rescue the film from limbo, nor would I consider the cancellation a national emergency warranting the attention of politicians who have far more pressing, mostly self-created issues to rectify. Naturally it piques my curiosity when the leader of the free world holds a press conference to answer questions about an asinine movie when his nation is falling to pieces around him.

Rush Limbaugh has frequently advanced the hypothesis that America’s mainstream media is but an undercover extension of the Democrat Party, laboring under the pretense of fairness and objectivity but blatantly regurgitating the same polished talking points and disproportionately peddling disproven folk tales about chokeholds, college sexual assault, Global Warming, and “hate crime”. I think the converse statement—that modern federalism is merely a more debilitating extension of the press—bears just as much truth. America’s spokesman-in-chief moves restlessly from one imaginary crisis to the next, abandoning any motion towards reform as soon as a new “national conversation” crops up. More often than not, this motion consists largely of calling for Americans to create change at the local level by renouncing their own unconscious prejudices and regressive habits: to cut back on microaggressive gestures towards minorities, to leave the underpaid, marginalized woman alone when she’s walking through New York City, to stop blaming the victim, to freaking check their privilege already. As the man from the inside quipped, you just can’t change Washington from the inside anymore.

America today is a depressing fulfillment of several dystopian visions; we have a people intellectually softened by mind-numbing programming, federal ministries that knowingly misdirect the proles from matters of real truth and import, and inner party elites who rally their gullible idolaters into chorus lines of uninformed protest while poisoning them with the soma of contemporary entertainment. The closing of 2014 brings with it the revelation that Obama’s is essentially a pop culture presidency, a hyperactive daytime talk show based on spectacle and pound signs and whatever trending topics clutter the sidebar of your homepage.

Sometimes I feel like saying to this guy, “We’re the guys doing our job. You must be the other guy.”

More Author’s Musings
* Putting aside everything I just wrote, why were all the brain-dead media zombies scrambling to show us the ending scene of The Interview, 1) as if it was news, 2) as if they obtained it legally, 3) as if nobody actually cared to see the movie, and 4) as if everybody actually cared to know the ending of the movie.

* Why did so many people complain about getting that free U2 album again?  It’s pretty dang good. Better than anything they were spending their own money on, at any rate.

* In case you needed further proof that Disney is nothing greater than a pound sign a$$wipe.

* Why does Michael Sam think we need to see him kissing all the time? Is this something normal celebrities or sports players do for the camera? And he wonders why he got pound sign released.

* I love how the Yahoo comments section never shows up in the articles that are total BS. I also love how the advertisement in the video player on so many “news” articles plays automatically even when I don’t want to watch the featured video and just want to read the words that give the exact same information as the annoying narrator or politician in the video is going to read out loud. But most of all I love how the mainstream internet journals dissect their end-of-year highlights lists into galleries you have to click through in order to read one entry and one set of advertisements at a time, rather than just putting all the entries on one page so people can scroll from one to the next without loading a new page. Pound sign first world problems.

* Yeah, Wes Anderson is basically a cult leader by this point. A more tasteful-than-average cult, but a cult all the same.

* Remember the day when you bought something on the iTunes store and the digital file immediately started downloading to your hard drive, from which you could watch it at any time you wanted? Now when you buy something it automatically gets stuck in the “iCloud”, a nebulous mass of suspended water pixels serving no use to you until you successfully establish an internet connection and manually cause digital condensation. Do you also remember the day when you signed it into iTunes on another computer and you didn’t have to wait 70 days to sync all the files you’ve purchased with your money?

* Pitchfork is such a joke of a website. Unless you like boring electronic or rap music.

* 11:45 ABC Time. Taylor Swift is wearing too much makeup and not enough clothes. And man, I hate this Google commercial.

* I thought the Exodus movie looked kind of like this.

* If you’re not yet watching The Librarians on TNT, you ought to be watching The Librarians on TNT. Granted it’s not particularly groundbreaking or thought-provoking fare like Nic Pizzolatto’s True Detective on HBO. It also doesn’t have any sex, swearing, cocaine, or graphic violence like True Detective. This is good old-fashioned, often cheesy, always optimistic fantasy adventure led by a cowboy who’s secretly an art history nerd, a British-accented thief with a heart of gold, a Rebecca Romijn kicking butt, and a cute fake-redhead super-genius who waves her arms at holograms like Sherlock and happens to have synesthesia, which means that to her science sounds like music and math smells like food, which doesn’t make a lot of sense the way that she explains it but you probably won’t be concerned with listening to anything she says anyway. You’ll be all like, “I think I got it, but just in case, tell me the whole thing again—I wasn’t listening.” Oh, and she has a tumah.

Aside from a bothersome but predictably Claustian-themed Christmas special, Librarians has an innocence and self-conscious silliness about it that’s rare in television nowadays and deserves a huge shout-out. It’s almost bound to be the next Doctor Who, Orange is the New Black, Big Bang Theory, or whatever else people are into today for no discernible reason, so you should definitely jump on board before it blows up and you look like a pound sign lemming who only enjoys it because everybody else does.

* No, I totally don’t web-search every attractive redhead—pound sign redundant—I see on screen to verify if she’s the real deal or just a poseur wearing make-down in her hair. That’s stupid, and I’ve got so many more important things to do with my time.

Speaking of fake redheads, remember the stupid Emma Stone Spiderman movies I said at the time I didn’t want to watch but got suckered into viewing anyway? Don’t even bother with them. Because she dies.

1 comment:

  1. This is where I make a crack about Lindsey Stirling's natural hair color not being red, purple, peanut butter, whatever it is now. #tooeasy #ouch

    - Robert Robbins


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