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Skippy Prejudges The Movies!: “Joyful Noise” January 1, 2012

Posted by Skippy in Movies, Observations, Popular Culture.
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Fig. 1: The Worst Movie of 2012.

I’ve been seeing commercials for this cinematic abomination for nigh unto three weeks now and have either changed the channel with extreme alacrity or have had to take an insulin shot to prevent going into a diabetic coma. I generally loathe “feel good” movies that are this shallow, this poorly written and this nakedly manipulative.

Clearly, this movie is an attempt to capitalize on America’s love affair with Glee—which would mean that this movie should have been released two years ago (and probably not even then). Anyway, this movie appears to feature Dolly Parton and Queen Latifah as parental figures in a “small town” who are in contention for the directorship of a church choir. You have to love movies like this; they are always set in “small towns,” most likely in Alabamanianatuckyssippiennessee. And the church that both Parton and Latifah attend has a “council”—I’d bet good money that this church is as non-descript as the small town in which this celluloidal putrefaction is set.

Apparently, the “plot” of this movie revolves around Parton (looking freshly Botoxed, pulled, and shellacked) and Latifah’s rivalry. Latifah is staid and old fashioned, which means that the choir never wins the Joyful Noise choir competition of WTF? Enter Parton’s grandson, some Taylor Lautner-adjacent boy who can sing and Latifah’s daughter, some poor child who really wants to break into Hollywood. They’re supposed to be Romeo and Juliet, bringing fresh ideas to church choirs…like shaking your ass for Jesus.

Fig. 2: Jesus don’t like ugly. And this movie is U-G-L-Y.

Blah, blah, blah, you’re supposed to plunk down upwards of $11 plus the cost of refreshments to watch Parton and Latifah trade stupid barbs and you’re supposed to go “Oooh” and “Awww” as two totally non-descript younglings have a love affair so boring, even Edward and Bella look interesting by comparison. I don’t think it’s a spoiler to speculate that Latifah learns the error of her staid and boring ways and allows the non-descript church choir to sing some stupid ass-shaking song and then the choir wins and the non-descript younglings go off to Who Gives A Fuckistan to pursue their dreams of having sex.

Skippy’s Pre-Judgment: Kill it with fire.


Skippy Hates Men’s Cologne Commercials December 19, 2011

Posted by Skippy in Popular Culture, Rants, Television.
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As you all know, I hate commercials. Well, who doesn’t? After all, commercials are the reason the DVR was invented. However, there are times in which I for some reason cannot avoid commercials. At any rate, I happened to see a commercial that simultaneously befuddled and irritated me:

Fig. 1: Someone, kill me now. Correction: someone kill him now.

I don’t think I’d ever heard of Paco Rabanne before seeing this commercial; now that I know this “fragrance” exists, I wish I had the power to drive this company out of existence.
1. The music is just so garish.
2. Why do men’s cologne commercials have these emaciated emotwinks? Is this what is allegedly “sexy”?
3. Wearing this fragrance will not grant you massive telekinetic powers–and even if it does, you shouldn’t use those powers to strip off women’s clothes.
4. Also, wearing this fragrance will not immediately transform you into a jet-setting nouveau rich emotwink.

To be fair, this isn’t limited to this Paco Rabanne. It seems this weekend was “men’s cologne commercial weekend,” so I saw commercials from brands like Giorgio Armani and Bleu De Chanel:

Fig. 2: This was actually directed by Martin Scorsese.

“I’m not going to be the person I’m expected to be”?!? What? What does spritzing yourself with an overpriced alcohol-based concoction have to do with this emotwink being…an apparently self-indulgent emotwink? If I need to have read Deluze, Irigiray and Derrida to try to make sense of your commercial pushing cologne, then you have missed the fucking point. I get it—you want to present a “high class” image for your stink oil. You want viewers to associate your particular brand with wealth, glamour, and…a certain kind of emaciated masculinity, I guess. Guess what? So does Acura and Lexus and Infiniti and Mercedes-Benz and BMW. What’s the difference? Their commercials actually sell luxury without being ridiculous. How about doing that?

Fig. 3: Don Draper is not impressed with your cologne commercials.

It’s A Conspiracy! In 3D! November 15, 2011

Posted by Skippy in Movies, Popular Culture, Rants.
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Children, I have a few words about 3D movies and the apparent conspiracy to make me pay more to see a lot less. This weekend, I was all geeked to go see “Immortals.” As always, I’m a sucker for special effects-laden movies featuring ridiculously hot guys, so I fired up the Intarwebz and went to Fandango to find out what time this movie would be showing.

Here’s what I got:

Fig. 1: Huh, what?

Only two times for this blockbuster to be seen as a regular movie? Um, okay. And basically, the 2:30 time is open only to people who either a) have no job and lots of free time and money or b) really don’t give a flying fuck about their jobs so that they will blow off a day to see this movie, but not in 3D. Ah, well, I thought. Perhaps I’ll go see this movie in 3D, annoying 3D glasses over my glasses be damned. So I clicked on a matinee time—how much more expensive can a movie at four in the afternoon be?

Fig. 2: THE FUCK?!?

Movie theaters are basically strong-arming people into paying more. Again, I know that movie theaters have to compete with Netflix, Dish, DirecTV, and a generally FUBAR’d economy, but this is not the way to go about making more money. And don’t give me a bunch of bollocks about “choice”—there is virtually no choice in this scenario. If I have a 9-5, M-F job, I have to wait till Saturday or Sunday to see this movie at non-crazy prices. However, I can only see one matinee of this movie at non-crazy prices, and if I’m on a date…well, fuck all that. I’m probably going to be stuck with the 3D—and nothing I’ve read about this movie suggests that I must see this in 3D. Add in the Milk Duds I’m going to sneak in, plus the bottled water I’m going to buy, and I’m paying damn near $20 to watch a movie one damn time, when I can wait a couple of months and buy that fucker on Blu-Ray and watch it over and over again without the aggravation of a malfunctioning ticket kiosk, long lines at the concession stand, and idiots in the theater who won’t shut off their damn bright phone or their damn fool mouths. If this is the way movie theaters are going, I expect them to be extinct within a few years—and deservedly so.

A New “Reality” Show: Just What the World Needs August 16, 2011

Posted by Skippy in Popular Culture, Rants.
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Fig. 1: More vapid famewhores!

This will not be a full recap of the first episode of Bravo’s new “reality” show “Most Eligible Dallas”—what the hell kind of name is that for a show,anyway? I don’t want to get your hopes up in thinking I would spend an hour of my life every week watching this unconscionably awful putrefaction. I do, however, want to record my impressions from having watched part of this excrement.

So, apparently, some meth-addled execs at Bravo wondered which major American city hadn’t yet been sullied by reality television. As they sat around on the pipe and tweaking or whatever it is meth-heads do after a four day meth binge, one of them momentarily popped out of his drug-induced haze and slurred, “Dallassss!” And thus, “Most Eligible Dallas” was born.

This show is allegedly about the “lives” of six allegedly “beautiful” and “rich” and “young” Dallas humanoids and their petty, vain, useless thoughts about the things that preoccupy all beautiful and rich and young humanoids: drinking, sex, more drinking, and being beautiful (externally, not internally). As with introductory shows, we have to first lay the groundwork for “who” these petty, vain and useless humanoids are. Like I said, I only watched part of this abortion, but what I did see made me want to get a posse together to go to Dallas and beat these fools into a coma. Believe me, that would be an improvement.

Let’s meet the famewhores!

Glenn Pakulak is A has-been who never really was. He’s a punter for the Oakland Raiders…
[Skippy spends a few minutes laughing uncontrollably]
…who fancies himself a model.
[Skippy spends a few more minutes laughing uncontrollably]
Ok. So, yeah. This fool really thinks he’s a model. He even says that he totally has the goods to be a model. Yeah, Glenn. You and the five hundred other younger, more attractive and more experienced guys out there. Better stick to what you know, dude. Oh, and he fancies himself a “player,” as evidenced by his predilection for putting together outfits that scream, “I’M A DOUCHEBAG!!!” He probably singlehandedly has more Ed Hardy T-shirts than all of the Metroplex.

Neill Skylar: Aside from having a name that came straight from “Dynasty,” this humanoid’s only real purpose is to be the “girlfriend” (i.e., fuckpuppet) of the one person douchier than Glenn…

Matt Nordgren: This guy fairly screams, “I HAVE A TEENY, TINY PENIS AND NO BRAIN.” He’s worse than Glenn in that he tries to act like a player, but then denies acting like a player. He appears generically pretty, but like a Monet, the longer you stare, the more you realize that he’s quite ugly. He’s all ears and forehead and duh face. And then you stare into his blank eyes and realize that the only thing going on behind them is him scheming how to get you into bed and wondering if you’ll give him head.

Oh! And he has a giant balding spot that looks more like Jupiter’s Great Red Spot. He can act all cocky and say dumb shit like, “I consider myself the total package for sure. … Everything in my life, I’ve been groomed to be a great man. … If you want to hate on me for being a single and 28 … Fine. Do it,” but at the end of the day, he’s losing his hair at 30 and doesn’t have the kind of looks that will carry him into 40, much less 50.

Courtney Kerr: She’s the frumpiest humanoid in this sorry lot. She wears a lot of bumpits and doesn’t seem to know how to create a hairdo that doesn’t add ten years to her age. She’s a killjoy…and worse, she’s obviously lusting after the aforementioned Matt. She’s such a doormat, that when Matt the Balding Douchebag calls virtually every fake blonde in his contact list and Courtney to find some folks to hang out with at some tiresome bar, she fairly jumps at the chance to be around her last, best hope for impregnation. And then she’s pissed as hell when the fake blondes show up. But the shade she throws at the tiresome bar pales in comparison to the SHADE she throws Neill when Matt the Balding Douchebag shows up with her in tow at some chi-chi-frou-frou restaurant. Of course, Matt’s such a Douchebag that he clearly sees what’s up and stokes Courtney’s ire. She’s an idiot for playing like his “friend” and he’s an idiot for stringing her along.

Finally, we have the only gay guy in the group, Drew Ginsburg. Children, I have never seen a sadder gay in my entire life. He’s all braggadocio and self-hate and overcompensation. He’s the scion of some high end car dealer and acts like he’s the freakin’ heir to the Throne of Gondor…until the mask slips and you get to see just how much he hates himself. Boy howdy! Ok, so he used to weigh 450 pounds, but lost the weight through discipline, hard work, and an honest evaluation of self a gastric bypass…and doses of a female hormone. Seriously. We watch as he pulls out a syringe filled with the hormone and injects it into his flank. What’s it supposed to do? I don’t remember, but I do remember him telling the assembled famewhores that if he took a pregnancy test, it would register positive. Awesome! And by “Awesome!” I mean, “Are you out of your Vulcan mind?!?”

Oh, and Our Drew is gay. But he’s not like those other gays, what with their feather boas and lipstick and self-respect, no siree, Bob! Our Drew is a manly man and he proves it by being homophobic at nearly every turn. Here’s an example:

I’m not your stereotypical gay man. Gasoline runs in my veins. To me there is nothing more exciting than hearing the roar of that engine. … I live in one of the most expensive, prestigious addresses in uptown Dallas. I’ve got a view that’s a panty dropper. When I need something, I just press a button. … People look at me and say “How the f*ck are you gay? You sell cars! I don’t know. I’ve broken the mother-f*cking mold all my life.

Okay. For those you who didn’t get it, here’s what we’ve learned about The Gays from Our Drew:
1. We the Gays don’t drive cars and if we do, we sure as hell don’t know the difference between a four-cylinder and eight-cylinder engine.
2. Living in a prestigious address in uptown Dallas has everything to do with your sexual proclivities and masculine carriage.
3. Selling cars totally means that you’re straight, because no gay man has ever, in the history of cars, ever sold one.

You know, if you took out “gay” and replaced it with “woman” or “Black,” you’d have groups like NOW or the NAACP blowing up Bravo’s voicemail in protest. But with the mere “inclusion” of this self-loathing reptile, Bravo thinks they’ve done us a huge favor. Compare Drew to the other two troglodytes: Drew went to Georgetown for law school and has a legitimate career and options should he decide to not continue selling expensive cars. But because he (and by extension, Bravo) has an extraordinarily low opinion of himself/other gays, we will be treated to looking at him as a sideshow freak standing on the outside looking in while the other heterosexuals get the majority of the screen time. Way to represent, Drew!

Skippy’s Got Some Words About “The Help” August 7, 2011

Posted by Skippy in Black folks, Observations, Popular Culture, Racism, Rants.
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Fig. 1: The White Lady’s Burden

I’ve seen commercials for this movie every time I turn on the television. I’d heard about the book, but then when I heard they were making this book into a movie, I knew this would be yet another in a long line of movies that revolve around The White Man’s Burden and/or The Magical Negro.

Figs. 2 & 3: Hollywood loves this shit.

Hollywood loves crap like this because it allows producers of this tripe to think that they’re being all liberal and shit. What pisses me off about “The Help” is that the black women in the movie become the vehicle by which The White Lady achieves self-actualization. To me, it’s the rankest form of Hollywood racism; shitfilms like this make Hollywood whites feel good about themselves (“Look at us! We’re so liberal, we made a movie about them darkies the African Americans and how we helped them not be so backward/forgotten/mistreated! We’re awesome! Let’s give us an Oscar!”); at the end of the day, the movie isn’t about African Americans at all. These movies wind up being about white people…and their burden.

Fig. 4: Starring Emma Stone and a bunch of Black women!

Skippy Hates Romantic Comedies August 4, 2011

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Children, there is an epidemic in this nation that I need to address. It is the epidemic of romantic comedies. It seems like this summer has seen a lot of stupid romantic comedies—I guess we either get loud, insanely stupid movies, or dumb shit supposedly written for women. What tipped it for me was this:

Fig. 1: Dear God, make it stop!!

I hate romantic comedies. They’re just so damned stupid. They epitomize pretty much everything that I think is wrong with American moviemaking:

1. They’re whiter than white bread smothered in mayonnaise.
Have you noticed that 98% of the “rom-coms” feature white folks as the leads? Oh, sure, there’s the Sassy Black Friend, but she’s usually there just to prop up the stupid, simpering “heroine.” She goes shopping with the Simpering Heroine and occasionally lunches with this intolerable heifer who only talks about and thinks about herself. She’s there to listen and provide comic relief and present the illusion of diversity in an otherwise whiteout of a movie. Yeah, they’ve even started doing the Hip Black Friend—the male counterpart to Sassy Black Friend. His job is to prop up the stupid bohunk. You see them playing basketball together and discussing why Stupid Bohunk a) hasn’t had sex with Simpering Heroine or b) how Stupid Bohunk is now Developing Feelings for Simpering Heroine. Again, he’s there for the Stupid Bohunk and is never developed beyond that. Basically, you can’t have too many people who aren’t white in a rom-com, or else it gets marketed as a rom-com…for non-white people.

Fig. 2: What? Black people fall in love too? Where’s the guns and the violence? Oh, it’s about sports. Whew!

2. They’re formulaic beyond sense and reason.
Even if there’s a rom-com with Black folk in it, it still has to follow the stupid formula of nearly every damned Hollywood romantic comedy:

a) Douchebag Meets Douchebag
Usually these two wastes of skin meet accidentally and sometimes, they take an instant disliking to each other. The female douchebag is usually a go-getter of some sort (and is usually played by Katherine Heigl, who inherited the crown from Julia Roberts) and she can’t stand the sexist pig bastard male douchebag (Gerard Butler or Ashton Kutcher…or maybe even Justin Timberlake), because the sexist pig bastard male douchebag is just so douchebaggy.
b)The Douchebags Must Work Together!
Enter the plot contrivance. Due to work or other unforseen circumstances, the douchebags must work together, or cooperate to avoid some other problematic plot development. Now, these douchebags must try to recreate the on-screen chemistry of Spencer Tracy and Katherine Hepburn…which they never do, so they just wind up looking dumber than before. It’s at this point that you should probably eject the DVD or walk out of the theater in shame.
c) The Douchebags Fall In Love!
The idiots have boring, impossibly chaste sex.
d) Something Stands in the Way of True Love!
More plot contrivances occur, usually in the form of misheard conversations, emails not received, or the ubiquitous Evil Ex. The Evil Ex shows up to really fuck shit up. Hell, sometimes the Ex really isn’t that evil, but the Stupid Bohunk overhears Simpering Heroine having a conversation with the Ex and then sees them hugging. Oh, noes! Now, a regular, normal human being with half a gnat’s brain might ask, “Hey, why were you hugging Stupid Bohunk?” No. Not in the rom-com. This will lead to a major blow up and then the relationship is off and then the two idiots go their separate ways and we have to sit and watch a montage of their sad, sexless lives…set to the music of some insipid bastard.
e) The Idiots Find Their Way Back To Each Other
Even more plot contrivances occur to bring the stupid idiots back into each others’ orbits. The Truth of the misunderstanding is revealed, and the two plastic, shiny happy idiots fuck off into the sunset, and white heterosexuality and fantasies of monogamy are preserved and reinforced, as Aretha Franklin or the Temptations or some other Motown act sings about love and happiness and I choke back enough bile to fill a small lake.

3. They’re heteronormative retarded fantasies that reinforce male privilege.
The obvious question is this: if these movies are so awful (they are), then why does Hollywood keep churning them out? First, I think that Hollywood would implode if a studio exec had an original thought. Plus, rom-coms are easy. They’re not big budget affairs, so you can make your money back on the damn thing after one or two fairly decent weekends. That doesn’t bother me so much as this next thought: I think that Hollywood makes these offensive pieces of drivel because Americans love indulging in fantasy worlds where men are “Men” and women are “Women.” Much like the science fiction adventure flick or any episode of “Law and Order,” the romantic comedy gives the viewer a ridiculously simple version of the world. The Men and Women in these movies are overwhelmingly heterosexual—we gays only show up to prop up heterosexuality, much like the Sassy Black Friend or the Basketball Playing Black Friend.

The Men and Women either know or eventually learn their proper place. Like any shitty Tyler Perry movie, the romantic comedy reinforces the “Cinderella” fantasy implanted in girls’ heads by doll manufacturers, the wedding industry, religious institutions, and TLC. Yeah, Barbie can have a job. Yeah, Barbie can be self-sufficient. But we all know that what will make Barbie complete is a tamed man! What Career Barbie needs is “love”—well, not the kind of love that people find in the real world. No, the “love” proffered by these ninety-minute shitfests is so banal, so trite, that it’s hardly deserving of the word. However, that doesn’t matter to Hollywood. “Love” is merely the schtick that is proffered to sell the dreck that is a romantic comedy. It is a fantasy rooted in male dominance, female submission, and the complete assimilation and obliteration of difference into a hazy, Motown soundtrack-backed upper middle-class dreamworld. We go see this schlock and walk away with all sorts of foolish bullshit in our heads that reinforces the foolish bullshit we’ve been programmed with since birth.

First Look: Henry Cavill as Superman August 4, 2011

Posted by Skippy in Comics, Movies, Popular Culture.
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Are you ready for some awesomeness? Of course you are!

(Image: www.joblo.com)
Fig. 1: Yes!!

I’d write more, but I’m busy having a nerdgasm.

Ok, I can write more now. What I find interesting about this suit is—if it is indeed the suit we’ll see on-screen—that it borrows from an older interpretation of the “S” shield. I like the metallic/leathery look of the suit; it retains the familiar elements of the uniform (thank Spock that they didn’t follow the color palette of the “Superman Returns” uniform), while adding some touches that make it look distinctly “alien.” It will be fascinating to see more shots of Cavill in the suit—if I have any nitpicks (and honestly, what kind of nerd would I be if I didn’t), it’s in the form of a question. Where’s Superman’s trademark spit curl?

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.

Oprah: A Post-Mortem May 27, 2011

Posted by Skippy in Observations, Popular Culture, Uncategorized.
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So the Oprah Winfrey Show has aired its final episode. I decided to watch Oprah’s final episode and see how she’d end 25 years of being on television. Certainly, the promos for the final episode presented it as the End of All Things: she had clips from M*A*S*H, The Cosby Show, Cheers, and other beloved television shows and asked, “Where Will You Be?” Presumably, she was equating this final episode to those other television moments. I note she didn’t include any of the Star Trek series finales as “Where Will You Be?” moments. I am bummed. Anyway, I sat down and thought, “I can do this. I can watch an entire episode of Oprah.”

Turns out, I couldn’t—at least, I couldn’t watch it in one sitting. That was an hour of self-indulgent treacle the likes of which I don’t think I’ve ever seen on television. She was right about the finale in one respect; I would never forget it, but not because it was good or anything like that. You see, Oprah decided that she would spend her last episode preaching at her audience. Her grateful audience. Her audience of largely middle-class white women who do nothing but Oprah okays it. Her supplicants, happy to have gotten a ticket to the taping of this, her Final Episode, should have been as happy to hear from her as the supposed multitudes who flocked to hear Jesus of Nazareth—especially if it might mean they get Something(tm) from the Great and Powerful Oprah. So powerful and great is Oprah, that she was able to…um, persuade the Chicago Bulls to move their playoff game so that Oprah might make use of the United Center in order to trot out every celebrity in the known world to pay tribute to the Great and Powerful Oprah. Hell, she gave some of her devoted a trip to AUSTRAAAAALIAAAAA, so wouldn’t you expect to get something from Oprah on her final episode? Something memorable?

Well, folks, you did get something memorable. You got a forty-five minute sermon. You got Oprah virtually erasing the tabloid talk-show history of the show (she mentioned it briefly and dismissed it as her not knowing any better). You got Oprah spouting lame platitude after lame platitude and, at at least one point, dramatically pausing as though she had said The Most Profound Thing in the World and you would rapturously applaud. You didn’t. Your mistake, for your television savior would then go on and on and ON with Oprah’s Beatitudes.

After mangling a principle in physics, she told you that you “are responsible for the energy that you bring into a space.” Really? This is what Oprah thinks Newton’s Third Law of Motion means? Anyway, she then went on to tell you that you are responsible for your life. No one will save you. Or give you a free car in exchange for listening to this pedantic psychobabble. But wait—Oprah told you no one will save you, but she proceeded to subtly contradict that assertion with a brief clip show of many people disclosing Deep Dark Secrets…on The Oprah Winfrey Show.

You see, that’s the “genius” of the Gospel of Oprah and we saw that genius encapsulated in Oprah’s Sermon on the Mount. She spent the better part of twenty-five years telling you that “you” were responsible, you were capable, and you were special. However, you could only achieve such responsibility, capability and specialness via Oprah. Oprah’s Book Club, O Magazine, and, to the delight of shows like MadTV, Oprah’s Favorite Things promoted a gospel of consumption in which you could achieve all that specialness by buying stuff Oprah likes. As she ended her show, she dispensed more pop wisdom in the form of “you’re worthy.” Indeed, I saw Facebook status updates that contained some of the Beatitudes dispensed by Oprah. People responded as though those statements were the very soul of wisdom. I wanted to ask these people, “Did you really need Oprah to tell you that?”

Ah, a defender of Oprah says, she gave glory to God and Jesus! That proves that she’s humble enough to give glory to something larger than herself. Indeed. But God–that “presence bigger than herself”–deemed it so that a sperm and egg united and gave the world Oprah Winfrey! Applaud, meager supplicants! In this moment, if you were not clear that you were being preached at, it became unmistakable. The show and its history now becomes the inevitable result of divine providence.

What’s the word for that? Oh. Yes. Hubris.

By this point, a follower of the Gospel of Oprah becomes fairly indignant. “Oprah funded scholarships for young Black men!” “Oprah has done many charitable things–why do you need to tear her down?” “Oprah is one of two Black billionaires–we should honor her for her trailblazing success instead of acting like crabs in a barrel!” To all that, I say, “Poppycock!” Cultural criticism is not a zero-sum game. Oprah’s followers—and everyone else—are clearly aware of Oprah’s charitable giving, primarily because she’s let the world know that she’s engaged in charitable giving. I am much more concerned about the sheep-like devotion to Oprah I’ve seen in people. I’m irritated by statements that begin with “Well, Oprah says” as much as I’m irritated by statements that begin with “Well, pastor/bishop says,” because they are both devoid of any critical thinking. They are evidence of a slavish preoccupation with letting someone else direct, letting someone else provide pithy, one-line answers instead of doing the hard work of being honest with one’s self. Her extensive charity work doesn’t absolve her from a critical assessment of the show and the way in which she promoted a gospel of consumption and cheap self-help.

It’s interesting to note that, as she spent the hour preaching and using the twenty-five year history of the show as the focal point of her sermon, Oprah didn’t mention the controversies, the moments in which she was revealed as fallible (or, in my words, full of bullshit). What about her giving airtime to people like Jenny McCarthy, the anti-vaxer? What about her own promotion of pseudoscientific nonsense (i.e., “The Secret” or fad diets)? Oprah’s Sermon on the Mount now functions as a way of rewriting the history of the show itself and the leaving of the stage was full of religious symbolism; Oprah has now finished the course (of doing a daytime talk show) and is now ascending into her own private Heaven (control of a network). All praise your digital savior.

Skippy Goes To The Movies!: “Thor” May 12, 2011

Posted by Skippy in Movies, Popular Culture, Science Ficton, Uncategorized.
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Verdict: The best superhero movie since “Superman: The Movie”

Children, I think I’m on record for not being a big fan of movies based on Marvel Comics superheroes. While I liked “X-Men” and loved “X-Men 2,” I absolutely despised each and every one of the “Spider-Man” movies (especially that third abomination), loathed “X-Men 3,” and found the “Iron Man” movies merely tolerable. The less said about both of the “Hulk” movies, the better. This, of course, is part of my DC Comics partisan fanboyism. A Marvel superhero movie has to be awesome for me to like it (see the aforementioned “X-Men 2”).

That said, “Thor” was absolutely awesome. Director Kenneth Branaugh took a story written by J. Michael Straczynski (I was surprised when I saw his name pop up in the credits) and crafted a thoroughly delightful and visually arresting summer flick. Throughout the movie, I kept thinking, “THIS is what a superhero movie should be!”

The story is fairly simple: Thor (Chris Hemsworth) is a cocky son of god Odin. Because of his arrogance, he nearly starts a war with the Frost Giants; as a result of his arrogant disobedience of Odin (Anthony Hopkins), he is banished to Earth. On Earth, he meets astrophysicist Jane Foster (Natalie Portman) and her band of merry scientists; meanwhile, his brother Loki (Tom Hiddleston) is causing all sorts of trouble back in Asgard. Needless to say, Thor’s time on Earth humbles him and he learns how to be a hero just in time to save the day and set up the impending Avengers movie. Unlike other superhero films, this isn’t about a human (or alien who finds out he’s an alien) coming to terms with superpowers. This is a simple story of redemption—Thor has been cast out of a heaven and has to reclaim his rightful place as heir to Asgard’s throne. As such, the movie flows fairly smoothly. There aren’t any spots in the movie where the narrative begins to drag and feel padded, even at an hour and fifty-four minutes. Frankly, the near two-hour running time flew by.

I have to say, I love how Marvel has structured their movies so that each movie (Spider-Man and X-Men excluded) is part of a shared universe. I think a major flaw in DC’s movie-making strategy is separating each movie franchise. For example, the upcoming Green Lantern movie will have nothing to do with Batman which has nothing to do with Superman which has nothing to do with either Batman or Green Lantern. On top of all that, Warner Brothers (the company that owns DC Comics) wants to do a Justice League movie! And as far as I can tell, they want different actors to play Batman and Superman in the JL movie—how stupid is that? Anyway, even though this movie is part of a shared universe, it doesn’t at all require having seen the Iron Man or Hulk movies. Frankly, I am interested to see how the Avengers movie turns out. How will they integrate all these superheroes in one movie without it turning into an incoherent mess? I guess time will tell.

While this movie will not be submitting any Oscar reels, I think that Branaugh got serviceable performances out of the actors. Anthony Hopkins didn’t have much to do, so there were times in which he seemed rather…listless. Natalie Portman shines in this movie; when she’s got a good director, she brings it. So, basically, her performance in the Star Wars prequels? All George Lucas’s no-directing fault. Anyway, she has amazing chemistry with Chris Hemsworth—it was reminiscent of the chemistry between Christopher Reeve and Margot Kidder in “Superman.” Portman and Hemsworth’s rather chaste romance was actually believable and not (too) corny.

And can we talk about Chris Hemsworth?

Fig. 1: Well, hellooooooo, Thor!

Ok, let’s talk. While Hemsworth might be something of a putz in interviews, onscreen he has a magnetism that is…wow. He was an inspired–nay, perfect choice to play Thor. And it doesn’t hurt that he’s GORGEOUS. Seriously.

Basically, this movie is going to be the second Blu-Ray DVD I own.