“By seeking to tear down opponents and pander to voters, the Clinton campaign is playing just the kind of politics that Americans say they detest. We need a president who can forge consensus and compromise among ideological foes. Barack Obama is that kind of Democrat; Hillary Clinton is not.” — from the Chicago Tribune‘s 5.4 editorial “Indiana, Go With Obama.”
I truly admire the talent and effort that goes into writing an obliging review that sounds so smart and aware that you’re not aware what’s actually going on. Seriously — it’s not easy to do this right. I can think of no one better at tapping out intelligent critiques of this sort than Variety‘s Joe Leydon. At the same time, I would be less than honest if I said I fully trust Leydon’s take on films such as What Happens in Vegas. I’m saying this with respect.
“Some trend-conscious wags won’t be able to resist describing Vegas as Judd Apatow Lite, since it’s about a self-involved slacker who becomes more directed and/or responsible as a result of his relationship with a more mature woman. But, really, that set-up already had whiskers long before Apatow became a brand name.
“In fact, the roots of this new pic can be traced back to screwball comedies of the ’30s and ’40s. The big difference — well, okay, one of several big differences — between Vegas and those fast-paced comedy classics is that Vegas actually becomes more enjoyable as it tamps down the over-the-top helter-skelter of its early scenes.”
Leydon’s use of the words “okay, one of several big differences” is the Big Giveaway. Judgment slips out! You don’t need to read any further than this. On these words hang all the law and the profit.
HE reader Dan Revill has passed along a frame capture of Aaron Eckhart‘s post-disfigurement Harvey Dent, taken from the high-def Dark Knight trailer. “Judging from the slight scarring seen, I’m gonna say that’s not fire-induced,” Revill says. “Unless [fire] leaves him charcoal faced.” Down with that. I’ve always been an acid-in-the-face type of guy.
“Is there still a strain in the culture that struggles with the idea that intelligence isn’t just wasted on girls?,” the Independent‘s Deborah Orr wrote yesterday about the lore behind New Line’s Sex and the City (opening 5.30). “Why is it that a group of clever, ambitious and successful women, sitting around chatting about their tiny troubles, should be such a comedy goldmine?
“It’s because, isn’t it, they’re all bright enough to live life on their own independent terms, but still, despite their occasional protests, can’t stop projecting their ideas about themselves and their status on to men?
“That’s why Sex and the City is really about stupid men. Men who are too stupid to bag these fabulous women. Men so stupid that their heart’s desire is a life partner who is not an alpha-female, but an even-more-stupid-and insecure-than-me foil. Men who are so stupid that it is contagious and dangerous, because its virulence stupefies women too, like sleeping sickness.”
A special amendment needs to be added to the Constitution stating that all citizens have to pass a short general education and political literacy exam before being allowed to vote. Something analagous to the 25-question quiz that everyone is required to take at their local DMV in order to get a driver’s license. Nobody squawks about this because driving carefully and responsibly is a life-or-death matter. But then so is voting. Much more so, if you ask me.
And so I’m asking myself a simple, fundamental question, to wit: why shouldn’t voters have to prove they have at least a somewhat educated awareness of basic political and social issues before being granted the power to vote? This seems to me like a completely reasonable suggestion. Really. Tell me why it’s not fair.
As Bill Maher mentioned two or three weeks ago, the shitkickers who voted for George Bush in ’00 and ’04 because he seemed more personable and prole-friendly than Al Gore or John Kerry (which he was…I’ll give him that) screwed things up badly for the rest of us. Look at the mess we’re in! We’re in a bad recession, caught in a ghastly no-win war that’s going keep draining us and lead our nation into even worse debt, the dollar is worth nothing overseas, gas is over $4 a gallon.
And — face facts — it’s all the fault of the social conservatives who swallowed the Karl Rove bait — the idea that Republicans are (a) better at looking out for the nation’s safety and (b) care more about bedrock values than the Democrats — hook, line and sinker. It was a bullshit line and they fell for it. And they screwed us all in the bargain.
Democracy can’t work and in fact can bring great harm to a nation as long as people with demonstrably flawed judgment — people who refuse to consider candidates and issues in a grown-up, semi-educated way, and who insist on voting for candidates as if they’re contestants on the Dating Game, or as if they’re running for church pastor or Boy Scout leader.
There’s a sizable percentage of people out there — 10% or 12% of respondents in a poll I read recently — who apparently believe that Barack Obama is a muslim. In all sincerity, our nation would be much better off if somehow these people could be disenfranchised as voters. People like that woman who asked Obama during the Philadelphia debate why he hasn’t worn a flag pin — her voting rights need to be cancelled for life. There are millions like her out there, and they’re a menace.
I’m not saying voters have to vote for Democrats or support liberal values, but there should be a rule that they have know their shit and not plan on voting based on emotional concerns about community values. Is it such a bad idea that prospective voters would be tested to see how dumb they are, and if they don’t get 70 % of the questions correct, they don’t get to vote? Seems pretty fair to me. I’m not trying to provoke people by doing one of my nutter rants. I’m completely serious.
Social conservatives who vote over bedrock moral values rather than political and economic realties (and some kind of shrewd assessment of the leadership abilities and allegiances of presidential candidates) are going to kill this country. They’re the children in the room…the fools, the drunkards. Things have gotten too serious and we really can’t mess around with these people any more. For the sake of our country, an effort needs to me made to thin our their ranks in terms of voting eligibility.
Here’s a discussion from a discussion board that I found this morning. http://www.gupshupp.com/forums/sitemap/t-1532.html
“In our idea of democracy we have one person one vote. A professor of political science or economics has the same vote as a 18 year old apprentice. Say your vote depended on your level of education. 1 vote for all but an extra vote for an A-level education — 2 for degree level — 3 for postgratuate, etc.” Another excellent idea!
“Would this change politics? Would we still have the same personality-based politics we now have? Would it change the balance of power to the right or to the left? Or would it not make a difference at all? Would it be acceptable and if not, why?”
Anne Thompson alerted me this morning to A.J. Benza and Neal Gumpel‘s “Real Guys” series — obviously a concept riding the coattails of Marcia Nastair and Lorenzo Semple‘s “Reel Geezers.” Here‘s their riff on 21.
I agree with Thompson that the Geezers offer more interesting insights and issues, but Benza and Gumpel feel like the real thing to me. They process and talk about movies in the manner of “real guys” (i.e., men who enjoy saying it straight but at the same time have some sort of trepidation about being too intellectual). It’s culturally valid, it’s fairly unpretentious and it adds to the national dialogue so I don’t see a problem. Are they Andre Bazin and James Agee? No, but are they pretending to be?
If Iron Man makes $100 million by late tonight, fine. Obviously good news all around, particularly for Jon Favreau (who will now be offered the grade-A material along with the other cream-of-the-croppers), Robert Downey, Jr. (whose career was on the ropes ten years ago) and the Marvel guys, who were probably driving around town last night in ostentatious babe-magnet cars and lighting their cigars with $100 bills.
And I’m not going to rain on everyone’s mood parade this morning by repeating the old maxim about the success of superhero movies being a direct reflection of feelings of impotency (or a sense of being overwhelmed or crushed by tumbling tides) among 45-and-under males. Because it’s not true!
Except it kind of is. Around the fringes, sorta kinda. I know that real men have their own inner and outer power, whatever that may amount to or however they may define it, and that every day them wake up, grim up and live with that thing.
I liked Iron Man — it gave me no pain and only a little remorse — but let’s have no illusions about what’s really going on here. Apart from the pure enjoyment of Downey’s hipster attitude, some excellent dialogue, high-quality CG, the joy of killing Middle Eastern terrorists and all that.