Tuesday, May 3, 2016

"Deadpool" Wasn't That Offensive, and We're Foolish For Thinking It Was

Despite the great many things I liked about Deadpool, I didn’t much like how little it tried to make me dislike it.

This last Valentine’s Day weekend, a little movie called Deadpool came out to compete with another, even littler movie called How To Be Single. Why any typical Beatissima student would knowingly pay to watch an instruction guide on being single is an insoluble conundrum, as insiders will attest that undergrads at this and other luxury schools already have that skill set down pat. Nonetheless, I did notice at least one fellow Bea entering the showing room for How To Be Single, and this would be a cause of great discouragement if I hadn’t already figured the direness of her need for that particular film.

Singleness aside (though it really isn’t all that unrelated), if you have no idea what a Deadpool is, then the movie will explain it to you, but it goes without saying that Deadpool was just about the most anticipated movie at Beatissima since Star Wars. It also goes without saying that Deadpool is not a film that’d be endorsed by anybody within the Beatissima power structure, revolting as it does against all common standards of morality and public decency. As recent events lamentably expose, Beatissima is not an establishment to suffer indecency in speech or writing. The Author’s Files are never a publication to suffer stupidity in the same, and it was precisely for this reason that I found the first half-hour or so of Deadpool rather irksome and puerile and inane. “But that’s the point!” protests the Pool’s army of rabid fanboys. Still, for some reason I wasn’t buying the concept of a purposefully awful film consisting mostly of penis jokes and bad behavior and priding verbal asides about how awful it all is.

Somewhere down the line, Deadpool started to work as more than just a wacky pitch. Maybe it happened after he’s suffocated, impaled, and buried underneath burning rubble, a scene that’s brutal, intense, dramatic, and absolutely necessary to make us root for a protagonist who’s frankly gross and cruel and despicable to all but one person in his life (whom he’s disgusting to in a different way). Or maybe it happened as soon as the bad guys kidnapped his girlfriend, forcing him to round up a posse to go and fetch her back in the most excessively violent way. “I would go with you,” says his bartender friend Weasel. “But I don’t want to.” The Wade Wilson-woman romance really didn’t affect me, being based like much of the humor entirely on sex, but some part of me still wanted to see Deadpool beat the people who wronged him to a pulp, and this he does in extravagant detail throughout.

For better or worse, Deadpool appeals to the same baser impulses of hatred and merciless retaliation that made Kill Bill such an enduring hit with audiences, and when it sticks to its revenge tale core, it functions well enough. The “love story” is an incidental albeit well-timed bit of studio strategery to milk the Valentine’s Day weekend time slot, plus what ticket-paying adult doesn’t like to see kinky sex scene montages rammed into a comic character’s origin story? Nonetheless, by the final pull-out wide shot, I felt that I’d experienced a story which was oddly cohesive, complete, and satisfying.

Due to its highly referential shtick, Deadpool has a lot of random moments that will only make sense to Marvel fans or nerds who consume a lot of subpar entertainment. One of my favorite moments is when Wade opens the door on Negasonic Teenage Warhead and says excitedly, “Ellen Ripley from Alien 3!” The cringeworthiness of this greeting may only be appreciated by someone who’s seen and suffered through David Fincher’s conclusion to that series (we shall not speak of Alien: Resurrection). Drawing inspiration from the comics  or so I’m told –, the writers routinely mock the very storytelling conventions they rely upon, as when an important connection enters Deadpool’s headquarters seemingly at random and Weasel remarks nonchalantly, “He might further the plot.” This so happens to come after a 10- or 15-minute stretch of setup – a long time in a comedy this short – where just about nothing of consequence or entertainment value is occurring.

There were a great many things I liked about the execution of Deadpool. I liked how innocent Colossus was, avoiding violence wherever possible, shielding his eyes from a naked breast, and chiding Deadpool for his dirty mouth. I liked that he had a Russian accent, and I liked that he could talk even though the trailers made him out to be a hulking metal mute. He’s the only likeable person herein except for maybe the old blind lady. I didn’t really like that they made him give Deadpool an inspirational lecture on heroism right before the end, because I knew exactly how the scene was going to play out and the inclusion of it just reminded me what a murderous scumbag Deadpool is, but one ill-advised scene didn’t ruin the movie in this instance.

I liked the taxi driver and Pool’s efforts to transform him into another psychopath. I liked that Stan Lee only showed up in the most inappropriate place the director could have put him. I liked the action on the whole, the lightness of the fighting, the absurdity of the slow-mo bullet trick shots, and Deadpool challenging his nemesis, “Let’s dance, and by dance I mean let’s try to kill each other.” I liked that the name of his nemesis is Francis. I liked the resurrection of the catchy Salt N’ Pepa song, I liked that they acknowledged how similar the character is to Wolverine, and I guess I liked that Deadpool was fighting and killing for completely selfish reasons that had nothing to do with planetary conquest or destruction.

A bunch of clowns on Deadpool

What I didn’t like so much about Deadpool was how little it tried to make me dislike it. This was sold as the satirical comic movie which would finally take a sledgehammer to political correctness, but I left the movie with the impression that anybody could have enjoyed it just as much as I did; ergo it must have done something wrong. Deadpool does turn one random bad guy into a kebob, and makes no apology for it, but aside from that he stays away from skewering white people, black people, Jewish people, or people of any other ethnicity. He doesn’t mock conservatives or leftists, homosexuals or feminazis, rich people or poor, female female restroom users or male female restroom users. Simply put, Deadpool doesn’t aim to criticize or lampoon any gender, race, nationality, religion, disability, political leanings, or culture, and the only people who stand to be offended by his debut movie are those who don’t like sophomoric sexual humor and those who bear responsibility for pumping out the same exhausted Marvel movies year after year, forever. It also might offend Rosie O’Donnell, but there aren’t a lot of things that don’t offend Rosie O’Donnell.

I don’t know what parameters Marvel sets for what their comics writers can do with Deadpool, or whether Deadpool even has a history of propagating disparaging, politically unacceptable attitudes. Maybe Wade Wilson is nothing more than a foul-mouthed, oversexed mercenary who takes out his self-loathing on everybody equally without regard to any physical traits or lifestyles. My only acquaintance with him is through this movie, which I can say with certainty had nothing to do with mocking political correctness or the wussification of America. Thanks for the lies, Breitbart.

Does it really matter that Deadpool wasn’t the scathing political wake-up call to make America great again? Of course it does. The plebeians who spam about how offensive Deadpool was are the same pseudo-hipster poseurs who think that Human Centipede is extremely transgressive horror, that listening to Kendrick makes them smart or edgy, and that Bernie Sanders is an “outsider” candidate with a revolutionary new vision of government predicated on expanding government control and distributing stolen favors to voting interest groups, as opposed to the Democrat Establishment’s platform, which is conversely predicated on expanding government control and distributing stolen favors to voting interest groups.

These are the corporate-controlled utensils who are inadvertently dismantling our free country, and these are the doublethink-spinning drones Deadpool 2 most needs to liberate from the shackles of their own stupidity. Deadpool paves a path of destruction and dead bodies in his origin story, but at least he leaves our 1st Amendment rights intact. By the time the sequel rolls around, the constitutional republic we once knew and called unjust will be just another casualty of socialism, dropping from above into a historical freeway of brief, now-dead democracies, and Ryan Reynolds will look at our sad, mutilated corpse and say, “That guy was up there when I got here.”

Deadpool is not Offensive, and the fact that so many people think it is shows how ill-equipped we are to deal with thoughts and institutions and atrocities that truly call for our offense. God damn us, quoth the mentor of the president of the United States. “God damn America.”

2016 Trailer / Industry Reviews So Far
Free State of Jones – Goodie. Another Civil War movie with boring actors in it, straight from the boring director of Hunger Games and Pleasantville.
Hail Caesar – Another movie with tons of famous people in it, but at least it looks like the Coen Brothers had the decency to write an original script. I’ll check it out on DVD, because that’s the only format on which I can now check it out.
Pride and Prejudice and Zombies – I guess this happened.
Independence Day 2 – That they waited until 2016 to release this film proves that Independence Day: Resurgence of Independence will be the greatest comedy of the year. The question on everybody’s mind: Will ID4.2 feature veiled commentary on the European mass migration and the collapse of western nationalism? The answer to that question: NOPE.
The Nice Guys – This looks like a splendid Redbox rental. I like the part where the guy goes splat all over the tiles, and the part where the girl says, “Dad, there are whores here, and stuff.”
Black people parody of The Purge – I don’t remember anything about it, and the only reason I recall seeing it advertised is because I pulled out my phone in the theater and made a note of it.
Actual The Purge sequel Insidious and The Conjuring were OK, but man, do I hate Blumhouse Productions. These franchise movies are to the horror genre what Disney is to animation and Nicholas Sparks is to romantic dramedy, and it’s sad because those masks look really cool.
Hardcore Henry (originally titled Hardcore) – Saw it. May review in more depth later. If it’s still playing near you, you should go watch it because the makers put a lot of hard work and love into creating the best action film since Fury Road. If you’re a parent who’s concerned about the R-rating, you should take your kids anyway because you probably let them play video games that are just as profane and violent, without a satirical bent. If you’re a 16-year-old who’s concerned about the R-rating, just go because they’re not going to card you and turn away your money. If you’re a 13-year-old who’s concerned about the R-rating, tell your mom that it’s a superhero movie, like The Avengers, or like Deadpool.
Batman vs. Superman Episode 2 Attack of the Drones – What bugs me even more than the existence of this trash is that so many of my friends forked over good money to see it instead of an original idea like Hardcore Henry, which they thought “looked so stupid”.
The Brothers Grimsby – Sacha Baron Cohen said something about Ukrainian Ben Affleck, and his brother told him to stop shooting everything. Nobody cared.
Mike and Dave – I think there were jokes in the trailer. Anna Kendrick is dead to me after Pitch Perfect 2 and being a Democrat in general. I don’t watch Zac Efron movies.
Eddie the Eagle – The spot was about 30 seconds of an actor getting ready to ski off a jump, and I didn’t care enough to watch anything more.
Allegiant Part 1 – The teenagers have to bring down the bad government by flying through the desert in their space pods, or something. I feel like all these YA movies get pooped out on a script-generating conveyor belt, yet somehow they get respected actors to sell out and appear in them. Shame on Jeff Daniels, Naomi Watts, and the Whiplash guy.
Captain America: Civil War – As advertised at every movie showing over the last four months. I don’t get why Captain America is the rebel and Iron Man the defender of the status quo. Isn’t that ignoring every Marvel movie leading up to this point? Anyway, I don’t care that Spiderman is in it; I just want them not to repeat Avengers: Age of Terminator.
The Conjuring 2 – When are we going to admit the first one was really overrated? Forget it. All of these “based on a true story” haunted house movies are basically sequels to each other, at any rate.
Demolition – Eh.
Green Room – I liked Blue Ruin as much as the next indie horror hound, but this was a lame trailer. Find something other than blood or “shock and awe” to sell me on your film. Unfortunately, there now exists a half-hour Half in the Bag episode on something I was marginally interested in, so I literally may not have a choice in seeing it.
Ratchet and Clank: Just the Cutscenes – Apparently no one got the memo that the only thing amusing about the Ratchet and Clank games is their racy titles and the mindless catharsis of blowing everything up.
The BFG – Blech. Hideous Polar Express-like faces everywhere.
Harry Potter spinoff thingy – From J.K. Rowling and Eddie Redmayne comes a movie for children and adults still capable of tolerating J.K. Rowling and Eddie Redmayne.
The Angry Birds Movie – Introduce familiar imagery... recycle Astro Boy lasers-from-my-butt line, because kids think butts are funny. The saddest thing is they’ll probably make their money back.
Finding Nemo 2 – Featuring the boring animation and recurring dialogue of Finding Nemo 1.
The Secret Life of Pets – The pets are gay. Also, I hate kid films. The one thing I remember about this trailer is that it went through three or four different music tracks, all of which repeatedly cut out right when a character says or does something that we’re supposed to think is funny. This is condescending and obnoxious.
Ghostbusters – I don’t know if this is worse than the Fifth Wave trailer I saw at the beginning of the year. It’s pretty bad. Still, I would gladly watch this reaction video every day for the rest of the year. Angry Birds! Finding Nemo! These are things I know.

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