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Congratulations New York! June 28, 2011

Posted by Skippy in Gay and Lesbian Issues, Observations, Politics.
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Fig. 1: New York, New York, it’s a helluva town!

As is my usual, I am late to the party, children. As pretty much everybody in the Western Hemisphere knows, New York became the sixth state to legalize gay marriage (or, as I like to call it, “marriage”). Six Republicans voted for the bill, and some pundits wondered if this signals a shift in the Republican party. I’m not holding my breath, for as long as dumbnuts like Newt Gingrich exist, the GOP will likely continue to pander to the bigots and oppose equalizing marriage.


Figs. 2, 3: And then there’s these fools.

Children, I realize that Teh Ghey can bring out some crazy reactions in people. If I had a dollar for every crack-headed comment I got from some blighted, blinkered moron regarding homosexuality, I’d be rich enough to buy a 2011 Acura RL.

Fig. 4: We should start a “Get Skippy an RL” fund. For every homophobic jackass comment, I get a dollar. I’ll be driving that car in no time flat!

Anyway, in the days leading to the state senate vote, imbeciles came out of the woodwork to oppose the bill. Their hyperbole was…astoundingly stupid. First up, New York Archbishop Timothy Dolan. He took to his blog, arguing that if Teh Gheys can get married, then the United States will become a communist state! You think I’m kidding, don’t you. Well, here you go:

Last time I consulted an atlas, it is clear we are living in New York, in the United States of America – not in China or North Korea. In those countries, government presumes daily to “redefine” rights, relationships, values, and natural law. There, communiqués from the government can dictate the size of families, who lives and who dies, and what the very definition of “family” and “marriage” means.

But, please, not here! Our country’s founding principles speak of rights given by God, not invented by government, and certain noble values – life, home, family, marriage, children, faith – that are protected, not re-defined, by a state presuming omnipotence.

Please, not here! We cherish true freedom, not as the license to do whatever we want, but the liberty to do what we ought; we acknowledge that not every desire, urge, want, or chic cause is automatically a “right.” And, what about other rights, like that of a child to be raised in a family with a mom and a dad?

Wow. This guy is a bucket of FAIL. His histrionics are so absurd, I hardly know where to begin. First, he claims that China and North Korea…do something bad. He’s not really clear. He doesn’t seem to have quite a grasp on logical argumentation. Without going into his overweening reliance upon a bigoted understanding of “natural law,” his whole assumption that the United States would turn into some totalitarian communist regime with the extension of marriage rights to gays and lesbians is utterly backward. The expansion of rights is the polar opposite of totalitarianism. Apparently, totalitarianism means something completely different in Dolan’s lexicon. Also, “rights” must mean something different in Dolan’s world. Then again, I’m fairly loath to take any advice regarding marriage or sex from a guy who thinks his deity says he can have neither.

Next up, we have David Tyree. He’s a retired NFL player who thought it in his purview to offer an opinion about gays getting married. He recorded a video for the National Organization for Marriage in which he outlines just how Teh Gheys getting gay married will destroy the fabric of our space-time continuum:

Fig. 5: Anarchy as defined by a moron.

Ok, really? This is the best that NOM could do in order to counter pro athletes who were coming out in support of the marriage equality act? Tyree seems to think that the extension of marriage rights to gays and lesbians leads to…something bad:

It’s about what’s right. It’s about how can marriage be marriage for thousands of years and now all of the sudden, because a minority, an influential minority, has a push or an agenda and totally reshapes something that was not founded in our country, not founded by man, it is something that is holy and sacred. I think there is nothing more honorable, worth fighting for, especially if we really care about our future generations.
What I know will happen if this does come forth is this will be the beginning of our country sliding toward, it is a strong word, but anarchy. The moment we have, if you trace back even to other cultures, other countries, that will be the moment where our society in itself loses its grip with what’s right. Marriage is one of those things that is the backbone of society. So if you redefine it, it changes the way we educate our children, it changes the perception of what is good, what is right, what is just.

Wow. What? Gays getting married will mean society will all of a sudden lose a grip on what’s right? Really? The thing about these bigots is that no amount of logical argumentation will work with them, for they will always invoke “nature” and “God.” Someone like David Tyree is incapable of presenting a argument against two men or women getting married that doesn’t rise above “Ew, icky!” However, he tries his best when he makes some sort of appeal to history. The only problem is this: his understanding of the history of marriage is woefully inadequate and ignores previous moments in which other familial arrangements were considered a “threat” to society. What does he think about single parents? Divorce? Blacks and whites getting married? Damn them for creating anarchy!

Oh, and David? Protip: Marriage hasn’t been the same for “thousands and thousands” of years. So, you might want to think about that the next time you’re pimped out by an organization of bigots.

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Why Did I Watch “Why Did I Get Married, Too”? June 20, 2011

Posted by Skippy in Movies, This Week In Netflix.
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SPOILER ALERT: The below missive will have many spoilers. If you do not wish to know major “plot” points of this movie, discontinue reading.

The “joy” of watching a Tyler Perry movie is knowing that I will not get anything other than a treacly, self-indulgent, badly written and directed two-hour tour de force of misogynistic tripe. So, Perry’s thoroughly unnecessary follow up to 2007’s “Why Did I Get Married?” completely fulfilled me. And by “fulfilled,” I mean “It enraged me to the point of apoplexy.” How his movies haven’t been brought before the Hague on charges of human rights violations is beyond me.

Anyway, so we return to the stupidly sordid world of four self-absorbed bourgeois African American couples and watch as they spout platitude-laden dialogue that could have been written by Oprah Winfrey or Deepak Chopra. This time, the stupid, self-absorbed bourgeois Buppies are jetting off to the Caribbean for their annual marriage retreat. Must be nice to go to the fucking Caribbean for a marriage retreat. Mind you, the first one was pretty fucking disastrous, so nothing says “smart” like doing the same damn thing again, right?


Fig. 1: Yeah, because these retreats are nothing but success!

You’d also think that these fools wouldn’t have much to be all angsty about after the first movie, right? Well, in order for there to be a second movie, Perry has to completely wipe away any character development that occurred in the first one. Angela (Tasha Smith), the Loud, Angry Black Woman has returned—if you remember, she supposedly had calmed the fuck down and had quit drinking. Well, not this time! She’s back, and louder and angrier than before. Her husband Marcus (Michael Jai White) is still cowed by her—the only difference is that now he has a job as an on-air personality (a job that Angela nearly gets him fired from). Gavin (Malik Yoba) and Pat (Janet Jackson) are still the picture-perfectly fucked up couple…and the death of their kid that you thought they had worked through in the first movie is still tearing them up. I guess Gavin wasn’t strong enough for the both of them. Terry (Tyler Perry) and Dianne (Sharon Leal) appear to be the picture of happiness…until we find out that Dianne is “emotionally cheating” on Terry. And finally, we have Sheila (Jill Scott) and Troy (Lamman Rucker), whose marriage is floundering because, at Sheila’s insistence, the couple has moved to Atlanta and Troy can’t find a job. Oh, and Snidely Blacklash (or, Mike, as he’s played by Richard T. Jones) returns, because he has a timeshare in the Caribbean and just happens to be there at the same time as the four buppie couples.

After yet another disastrous bit of sharing during which Pat announces to the group that she and Gavin are getting divorced, everyone abruptly returns to their fucked up lives. I won’t even bother with the tedious details of their stupid storylines, because they can all be summed up thusly: the marriages are all fucked up because these Black women are evil and will do evil shit. Let’s examine this, shall we?

Angela: Loud, obnoxious, abrasive, emasculating. Doesn’t trust “her man.” As of the first movie, she had been “domesticated” so that she had even quit drinking. Now, she’s back on the sauce and is always yelling at Marcus, driving him further and further away. A Good Black Woman would trust her man and not drink, for drinking is the sure sign of an Evil Black Woman.

Sheila: Selfish. Wanted to move to Atlanta, uprooting Troy from his job as a sheriff. His joblessness is all her fault. A Good Black Woman would have let Troy be the Only Black Sheriff in Colorado and not dragged him to the apparently jobless wilderness of Atlanta.

Dianne: Slut. In the first movie, she gets her tubes tied without telling Terry, knowing full well that Terry wanted a boy. Now, she got them untied and the couple has a boy and a girl. Only now, she’s having “an emotional affair” with some dude at work. And because women are more emotional than men, this is worse than having gotten some sweet, sweet lovin’—this wisdom is from the mouth of Terry. What an unbelievable slut. A Good Black Woman would shoot Dianne and then marry Terry and provide him with all the babies he wants.

Patricia: Evil Harpy from Hell. Her emotional disconnect from the death of their cross-eyed kid plus her selfishness leads to her declaring a divorce from Gavin. Further, she tries to hide assets from Gavin, leading to an acrimonious divorce, which ends…in Gavin dying in a fucking car wreck. A Good Black Woman would have taken care to properly strap their cross-eyed kid into the car and would have shared the profits from her book with her deserving husband.

This time around, nobody actually deals with their issues—after Gavin dies, all that happens is Patricia bellowing that everyone should get over their issues. And voila! Everybody does.

What?

Oh, and to add insult to (fatal) injury, a year after Gavin gets pancaked by a rental van, Patricia is introduced to a “wealthy donor”…played by Dwayne “The Rock” Johnson. The grin on Patricia’s face was all “Fuck mourning! Helloooooo, Mr. Hottness!”

Y’all, I don’t even.

Skippy Goes To The Movies!: “Green Lantern” June 18, 2011

Posted by Skippy in Comics, Movies.
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Verdict: A minimally passable superhero movie with far too many plot holes.

Clearly, Hollywood is banking on the success of superhero movies in order to sustain box office receipts during the summer blockbuster season. This summer alone, we’ve had three superhero movies with at least one more on the way. So, now we have “Green Lantern.” What is there to say about this movie?

Well, it is not as bad as some reviewers have made it out to be. However, it is not as good as I had hoped it would be. The story is fairly simple: wiseass Hal Jordan (Ryan Reynolds) receives a ring from a dying member of an intergalactic police corps and must overcome his own self-doubt (and fear) in order to save the Earth from a powerful threat. Actually, he must save the Earth from two threats–Parallax and Hector Hammond. As with most superhero movies, the chief concern for the comic book fan is how closely the movie hews to the source material. This movie borrows largely from Geoff Johns’s revival of Green Lantern in “Green Lantern: Rebirth.” It was Johns’s narrative that introduced the villain Parallax (and, in that story, served as the rationale behind Hal Jordan’s prior bad acts…it’s a long, long story). It should also serve as little surprise that Johns also was a co-producer. Marc Guggenheim, who has some experience with the genre, was one of a handful of writers.

As a DC Comics partisan, I went in to this movie hoping that it would be suitably epic—after all, all the elements of a space epic are there: a relatively ordinary person receives a call to extraordinary adventure and is thrust into events that are far outside his/her normal experience. However, despite the epic possibilities, the movie seems rather…flat. Reynolds’s portrayal of Hal Jordan has the requisite charm. The story attempts to afford Reynolds some “character development” in that he (spoiler alert!) overcomes his fear in order to fight Parallax and its pseudo-henchman Hector Hammond. The viewer is also supposed to believe that Jordan is in a romance with Carol Ferris (Blake Lively), but the romance as we see it on the screen appears fairly juvenile.

Of course, I didn’t go to this movie looking for a well-crafted romance. I went to see action…and we got that. Any superhero movie must have the Big Save—the scene wherein the hero is revealed to the world. Green Lantern’s revelation to the world seems oddly anticlimactic. It’s played almost as an afterthought. Even the climactic battle with Parallax seems, well, not to overuse the word, but it seems fairly flat. Perhaps it’s because Parallax doesn’t feel like a credible villain. I would put Parallax on par with the movie version of Galactus in the Fantastic Four. I don’t understand the recent trend of turning galactic villains into amorphous clouds (Galactus, Parallax, Darkseid). There is a maxim in superhero movies: the movie is only as good as its villain. How good can a superhero movie be if the main villain is a giant tornadic cloud of evil? To try to combat that, the writers (of which there were many) felt it necessary to make Hector Hammond a minion of Parallax (which he isn’t in the comic books). The problem there is that there are now two too many villains.

I mentioned plot holes. Here’s one. After the third time that Hal decides to quit being a Green Lantern (not once do the GL Corps come and get their ring), he decides to go all the way to Oa…to tell the Guardians that he’s going to fight Parallax. That’s it. He just shows up and gives this ridiculously boring speech about how humans are worth saving. Well, allllllrighty then.

Here’s another one. When Hal first gets the ring, he’s whisked off to Oa for training. He’s there for what seems to be like an hour or two, gets his ass kicked by Kilowog and Sinestro (who, sadly, gets very little character development), is told that he and the human race suck ass, and then comes back to Earth, having quit the Corps (but he’s allowed to keep the ring?). Nevertheless, after Carol and the forgettable sidekick/best friend tell Hal to get his head out of his ass and save the world, he acts like he’s a fully trained Jedi Knight. What the frak?

Frankly, if you don’t go see this in the theater, you’re not missing anything. It might be a good idea to wait for this to come out on DVD (it’ll probably look far better on Blu-Ray at home than in a theater). They tried to make an epic sci-fi superhero movie, the ingredients were mostly there, but sadly, “Green Lantern” missed the mark.

Perhaps the sequel will get it right.

Nerdrageous! June 14, 2011

Posted by Skippy in Comics, Observations.
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The images surrounding DC Comics reboot/revamp of their comics lines have all been released. Children, the nerd rage over the past couple of days has not been pretty. But then again, neither have the revised versions of Superman:

Fig. 1: Who is this? Hipster Superman? (h/t to Rima)

Fig. 2? Is this Superman? Why does he have kneepads and crazy boots?

Children, I have no idea what DC Comics is doing. Sadly, I don’t think they have any idea either. They’re claiming that these redesigns and revamps isn’t a rebooting of the DC Universe. However, as the rumors are flying fast and furious, it is, for all intents and purposes, a reboot. Concerning Superman, here are two more troubling rumors:

1. Superman might be shacking up with Wonder Woman.

I cannot begin to count the FAIL in this. Now, I’ll be a good fanboy and eat my words with broccoli should they find a way to do this and not make this suck harder than when Marvel magically erased Peter Parker and Mary Jane Watson’s marriage, but as of now, if that rumor is true…wow. The next worst thing is to let David E. Kelley start writing Superman.

2. There will be no Kents. Superman will be a government agent (of sorts).

Frankly, that’s like changing the Jesus myth so that he’s no longer born of a virgin, but is instead an agent of Pontius Pilate. No Kents? Now, I know that DC has been in a battle with the heirs of Superman creators Jerry Siegel and Joe Shuster and that in 2013, some of the rights to Superman will revert to them. I know that DC is trying to find ways to hold on to as much of Superman as they can—this really saddens me. For all of Superman’s history—73 years and counting—Superman has been a stranger from a distant world, raised from childhood by a kindly couple and instilled with the values that would eventually make him the world’s greatest superhero. And for most of those 73 years, that kindly couple was Jonathan and Martha Kent. These people are at the core of who Superman is—I think John Byrne (whack job though he is) got it right in 1986 when he was tasked with revamping Superman. He emphasized the “man” over the “Super” and used the Kents as that touchstone of humanity. Losing that, you have an alien who may look like us, but isn’t at all connected to us. And why would that person even care about saving humanity?

Up until now, I’d been pretty optimistic about this relaunch. Frankly, there needed to be some good old-fashioned housecleaning. Superman’s origins had gotten too muddied, thanks to idiots like Dan Didio, Jeph Loeb and Joe Casey who had such a hard-on for the Silver Age, they kept allowing dumb shit that was best left in the 50s and 60s back into the comics. The revolving door of writers in the early 2000s left the Superman comics an incoherent mess. Even when there was a story arc in which Superman seemed to be getting some solid storytelling, the writers would be lured away from DC and we’d be back to square one. I won’t even touch the inconsistent artwork. You’d think that Superman was some third-tier superhero that people worked on just to get some experience, not DC’s flagship character.

Ah, well. Life is change, so I and all the other Superman fanboys and girls will get over it and move on with our lives. That’s the thing about myths; they change—sometimes drastically—but, if they’re rooted deeply enough, they endure.

Skippy Goes To The Movies!: “X-Men: First Class” June 11, 2011

Posted by Skippy in Movies, Popular Culture, Science Ficton.
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Verdict: An excellent superhero movie that surpasses its predecessors.

I have to admit that when I saw the trailers for “X-Men: First Class,” I put this movie on my “wait for Netflix” mental list. After the abominations that were “X-Men 3: The Last Stand” and “Wolverine,” I was ready to write off the X-Men movie franchise. Further, this movie was sandwiched between “Thor” and “Green Lantern,” two movies for which I was/am infinitely more excited, primarily because both movies have not hesitated to play up the beefcake factor. And for that, my shallow ass is eternally grateful.

However, I am pleased to report that “X-Men: First Class” is far and away one of the best superhero “origin” movies in recent years. It deftly balances weightier, philosophical issues with action pieces. At a running length of just over two hours, it doesn’t feel like it drags. Some critics have claimed that this movie is “too talky”—to that I say, balderdash. Do not pay those reviewers any mind. While I think it would have fared better at the box office had it been a late summer/early fall release, it is not so ponderous as to leave the viewer wanting more action and less talk (e.g., 2006’s “Superman Returns”).

One reason this movie works so well is that, even though it is a movie that revolves around a team, we focus only on two characters, Professor Charles Xavier (James McAvoy) and Erik Lensherr (Michael Fassbender). Picking up from the first scenes in the first X-Men movie, we see young Erik Lensherr, the future “villain” Magneto, come into contact with this movie’s antagonist, Sebastian Shaw (Kevin Bacon). Shaw is a sadist who is working for the Nazis; he wants to unlock Erik’s power, so he tortures young Erik. Meanwhile, in the United States, Charles Xavier meets another mutant, the future Mystique. Charles takes Raven (Jennifer Lawrence) under his wing, and they grow up together, but Charles appears rather oblivious to the fact that Raven loves him. This movie presents Charles as a brash, arrogant figure—and if you had his ability to read people’s minds and influence them to do what you wanted, wouldn’t you? We see that Xavier’s views about human-mutant coexistence emerge from his youthful naivete and arrogance; he does not take into account that he is able to “pass,” a point that both Raven and Erik point out to him. Erik especially functions as a counterpoint to Charles’s views about human-mutant coexistence. A survivor of the Holocaust, Erik has seen the worst of humanity and knows that humans would and could not tolerate this evolutionary leap. This is a nice nod to the way in which the X-Men comics have functioned as an allegory for, first, the Civil Rights movement and the tension between Martin Luther King’s arguments about integration and Malcolm X’s arguments about separation and self determination and second, the emerging gay and lesbian movement, the problem of “passing” as a heterosexual, and the question of “nature vs. nurture.”

Eventually, Charles and Erik meet (Erik has become a Nazi hunter in pursuit of Shaw, Charles is working for the government). They learn that Shaw and his band of mutants are trying to incite World War III in an effort to eradicate the world of the sub-optimal homo sapien. So Charles and Erik attempt to recruit more mutants—leading to a cameo that is hilarious and ten kinds of awesome. Again, there are some critics of this movie who say that it is short on humor. And again, I think they’re dead wrong. This movie has more of a James Bond feel than a strictly comic book movie feel—and that works in this movie’s favor. Thus, the humor in this movie has a decidedly dry wit to it. However, that humor doesn’t overwhelm the seriousness of the situation. Indeed, we see how Xavier is injured so that he is confined to a wheelchair—and it is appropriately tragic. Director Matthew Vaughn and the bevy of screenwriters (Bryan Singer being one of them) have crafted a rare gem: a superb, action-packed superhero movie that doesn’t insult its audience.

DC Comics Decides to Reboot Everything…Again. June 4, 2011

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Well, children, it looks like DC Comics has decided to change everything. Again. Recently, Geoff Johns and Jim Lee said they had a bombshell announcement that would change the course of DC Comics. They also said that the announcement would come down on June 11, at the Hero Complex Film Festival. Well, the Internet being what it is, fanboys and girls were all atwitter with expectation. Would this be an announcement regarding the new Superman movie? Would this be an announcement concerning the Wonder Woman movie, which has been in development hell since forever?

Nope.

Starting this summer, the publisher will re-number its entire DC Universe of titles, revamping characters such as Batman, Superman, Wonder Woman and others from its 76-year history for a more modern and diverse 21st century.

The first book to be released under this new era: Justice League No. 1, out Aug. 31. The series by writer Geoff Johns and artist Jim Lee reunites the famous lineup of Batman, Superman, Green Lantern, The Flash, Wonder Woman and Aquaman.

Johns promises a focus on the interpersonal relationships within DC’s trademark superteam. “What’s the human aspect behind all these costumes? That’s what I wanted to explore,” he says.

In September, an additional 51 first issues will make their debut, introducing stories that are grounded in each character’s specific legend but also reflect today’s real-world themes and events. Lee spearheaded the costumes’ redesign to make characters more identifiable and accessible to comic fans new and old.

(source: USAToday)

Fig. 1: Costume redesigns will totally make you buy new comics!

Of course, the announcement along with the first picture of what the core characters of this redesigned DC Universe will look like has set the Internet commentariat ablaze. As we all know, fanboys hate change. Every fanboy with a computer and a high-speed Internet connection has weighed in on this:

1. This is doomed to fail—remember what happened when Marvel did this?
A few years back, Marvel comics decided to kinda-sorta reboot their core characters…by killing them and then bringing them back for a “new generation.” It was universally loathed. Incidentally, Jim Lee had a hand in that clusterfuck as well.

2. This is going to screw up the longest running comic books! (to wit, Detective Comics, Action, and Superman)
Just last month, Action Comics hit a milestone when Action Comics #900 hit the stands. Assuming no interruptions, in about twelve years, Action Comics would be the first comic book to hit its 1,000th issue. With this reboot, every comic goes back to #1. Make no mistake: for fanboys, this is a very distressing prospect. Renumbering comic books for those of us who are avid/rabid collectors has something of a psychological impact. But I’ll discuss that later.

3. Change is bad!
Fanboys tend to loathe changes in their favorite comic books. If you change the costume or the origin story in any way, expect a firestorm of angry Internet chatter. Mind you, a number of superheroes have had their costumes change over time and have had their origin stories change, but fanboys tend to accept those historical changes as part of the evolving mythos of the character. Should sweeping changes occur currently, it is not an evolution of the character, but a betrayal.

Now, for the record, I am approaching this reboot/revamp cautiously. I am a fan of the John Byrne-era Superman (1986-2003ish) and DC universe. The stories were more interesting, stripped of unnecessary artifice, and the art was spectacular…and consistent. DC during this period had a fairly stable roster of artists and writers who turned out some awesome Superman stories. Unfortunately, the last ten or so years have seen the dilution of Superman via multiple competing origin stories, inconsistent artwork and tepid storylines. If this revamp gets Superman back to being Superman, and not some whiny, constantly grieving/crying/moping imbecile, then revamp away!

Oh, and before I forget, let me address comic book numbering. Like I said, collecting comics is something more than just a hobby for some. And we—I include myself here—find some sort of psychological satisfaction when a favorite comic reaches a milestone. For example, I posted about buying Action Comics #900—usually, those milestone issues are “special issues.” They can be the culmination of a storyline or the launching point for a whole new direction. I remember when Action Comics #500 came out. I was eight years old and getting my hands on this issue was a number one priority. Of course, back in the 70s and early 80s, comic books weren’t quite the serious affair that they’ve become. Even still, a milestone issue was a milestone issue. And, after hundreds of issues, I think that the comic book becomes part of a person’s life—in a sense, you become invested in the character, and the comic in which that character appears. A reboot in which years of previous continuity is erased might be traumatizing for some comic book fans.

But, as they say, everything changes. Including Superman.