Friday, October 26, 2007

You repo men, you're all out to fuckin' lunch

This trailer for Repo: The Genetic Opera is getting attention because it features The Paris Hilton. But it deserves attention for being one of the most ludicrous things ever made.

It's not the concept of a horror musical that's notable. That's been done quite a bit. Phantom of the Paradise. Rocky Horror Picture Show. Can't Stop the Music. What makes Repo: The Genetic Opera stand out is that it looks like the storyboard to an Korn music video, only instead of that Korn idiot, you've got Paris Hilton - a person who, to the best of my recollection, doesn't so much sing as she does exhale in the vicinity of a microphone, filling in the actual singing via a sophisticated network of computers.

I'm not sure if "Korn music video storyboard", or even "Bargain Bin rehash of a Saw workprint" quite captures the aesthetic of Repo: The Genetic Opera (and what is with that name...putting "genetic" in the title of a movie featuring Paris Hilton is just asking for trouble. Perhaps they received a payoff from the Porn Titler's Union Local #290.)

Okay, first imagine that Brett Ratner directed a remake of Interview with the Vampire as a student film back in his NYU days, scored entirely by the campus glee club, while they were all in the midst of a 12-day adderall binge. Then, overexpose the film. Then cover it in vaseline and chicken shit. Now throw Goth Paris Hilton in there. That's the Repo: Genetic Opera trailer.

I hope it succeeds, though. If there's one thing we need, it's more campy slasher musicals. Tim Burton's Sweeney Todd means there's only two such films coming out in the next few months. I think we can do better than that...

Thursday, October 25, 2007

A Portrait of Authority

"Beat on the Braff", the second-most-trafficked post in Crushed by Inertia history, gets a lot of comments. Some are positive (towards me and thus negative to Zach Braff), some negative (- to me, + to Braff). Some I think may even BE Zach Braff.

So last night, I'm a bit tipsy, because I just got home from the Man Man show at the Troubadour. (Quick notes on the show: It was really good, because Man Man is amazing, but the place was way overcrowded and the attendees were largely smelly assholes. And I'm not using figurative language here...At one point, I had a really good look at the stage, but I had to go somewhere else because the man next to me smelled intensely awful, like the full, lidless dumpster behind the Franco-American factory eight weeks into a sanitation strike. And the crowd was moshing, during Man Man, which is just poor form, but did kind of take me back to my teenage years, desperately trying to get close enough to the stage to hear Lagwagon without being knocked over. By the way, if you're around my age and listened to Lagwagon in high school, don't click that link and see how old those dudes are now unless you want to get deeeeeeeeeeee-pressed.)

Anyway, I'm tipsy, and I find there's a new comment in the "Beat on the Braff" forum, from Anonymous:

Sir, I could not disagree with you more.

Sir? Right off the bat, he's not doing so hot with that kind of affectation. Who addresses a blog comment to "Sir," and particularly an insulting one?

I don't think Zach Braff neccesarily [sic] deserves the amount of praise and hype he's gotten, but he is talented.

I mean, how to respond to such a thing? I don't think the guy is talented. This guy does...We're at an impasse. Why not just leave it at that?

I don't know if you have any credentials to back up your assertions that he cannot direct or act, but I do.

OH NO NO NO NO NO. WHY? Why go there? Why imply that I don't have a right to an opinion? What is to be gained?

Nothing pisses me off more than the near-daily comments posted to this blog by strangers who want to insist that I don't have a right to feel things or express feelings publicly. This is the essence of living in a free society. It's the FIRST FUCKING THING they wrote in the Bill of Rights. Before OWNING A GUN, EVEN!

There's no logical reason anyone could possibly be compelled to shut me up because, let's face it, I'm reaching a few hundred people a day here...I have no impact...There's no greater geopolitical significance to my saying what I want to say.

Bill O' THAT'S a guy I'd love to be able to shut up, because he's genuinely poisoning our airwaves with ignorant lies and violently militaristic propaganda, spreading a message of hate and fear to millions of Americans daily. But, me? I'm a sarcastic Jew who dislikes a big Hollywood actor/director and enjoys sharing this opinion with others. The only reason this guy wants me to shut up is that he feels threatened by my opinion.

I don't know why...

Maybe, as an actor, he fears that audiences will feel liberated to dislike his work, in the same way I dislike Braff's. So he's putting himself in Braff's shoes and realizing that the sting of professional criticism may be more than he can bear.

OR perhaps his precious opinions on acting are the only things in which he can truly take pride, and as my strongly worded opinion differs from his own, he must either snuff me out or concede that he is worthless as a human being.

I suppose there are a few other possibilities. But needless to say, I don't like being told that I lack the credentials to voice an opinion. Perhaps you disagree with my assertions, and maybe you can even back up your rebuttal with evidence and win the argument, but you don't have a right to tell me I can't think what I want or make my voice heard.

Why anyone would even want to do such a thing is beyond me.

Furthermore, I think that you just want something or someone to hate. You probably spend so much time hating Zach Braff that you never objectively look at what he's done and what he's doing.

A lot of people make this argument in re: my opinion of Zach Braff. As if I had some sort of motive in hating him aside from...hating him. I just don't like the guy. Is it maybe a bit irrational, in that my dislike for his acting exceeds my dislike for the equally mediocre acting of his peers? Sure. I'll grant that.

But no one makes this argument. People instead come here and deny my authority to even make an argument in the first place, then they try to imply that my hatred of Braff is based on some irrational delusion. Like I just felt a desperate urge to hate someone one day, and his was the first face I saw, and now he's imprinted on my brain like a Mama Duck. No one behaves in this way. If I say I dislike someone, it's probably because I have seen what they do and am not a fan.

I, recently, harbored a blood hatred for Leonardo Di Caprio: upon watching Blood Diamond, I conceded that I may be mistaken. Back to the point: I don't idolize Zach Braff, but I do think he's talented, and I think he works harder than a lot of actor/directors.

Wow...a BLOOD hatred. I've never even gone that far.

But notice that this guy permits HIMSELF to hold these kinds of strong opinions (and unquestionably about superior actors to Zach Braff). I'm just not allowed. Because I lack credentials. Who actually thinks this way? Who could possibly be this smug? I mean, that isn't Bill Maher.

So, BEARING IN MIND, as I said, that I was a few beers deep at the time...I left this comment back for the guy:

Oh, last commenter, please elaborate. Tell me more of these CREDENTIALS you have for evaluating acting and directing. A degree in Advanced Academic Evaluationisticisms from the Sorbonne, perhaps? A G.E.D. from the Tuscaloosa, Alabama High School for the Performing Arts?

You know what, you goddamn waste of space? Your opinion has no more or less validity than anyone else's. That's a fucking FACT and you better start dealing with it. Your nonsensical parading around the Internet, ANONYMOUSLY claiming that you can lord your opinion over others like a weapon, kind of makes me want to throw up or hit you or both. (Maybe throw up on you whilst hitting you.)

Get off my blog.

And I meant it, by the way. Not that I want to shut this guy up...cause who really cares what he has to say...but because I hate this kind of energy on my blog, even on old posts that I could safely just ignore. If people are going to argue with me, I want a nice, solid, good-faith argument, not some sort of academic pissing contest. (The "waste of space" line may have been a bit far...but I've always liked that insult. It's kind of one of my go-to insults.)

Anyway, the guy came back and left a comment with his name. I won't reprint it here, but you can just go to original post and see for yourself if you're so inclined...

Ha! You call ME a waste of space?

Yeah, I guess that was a bit too far...

The irony is delicious. You are a pretentious, self-righteous ass, and I will not leave simply because you say so.

Bear in mind, this is the same guy who said I lacked the credentials to gauge Zach Braff's acting skills. He's calling me pretentious.

And, for the record, the credentials are a BFA in Acting from Southern Oregon University, an MFA in acting from Yale, and many years of acting experience. my face? I guess? I mean, SOU, you know...Fuck me...

Honestly, I just...I just don't know how to respond here. I mean, who takes degrees this seriously? I have a Master's Degree, too, and it was a massive waste of 2 years. That's not to say that everyone's grad school experience was the same. I know some people who got a tremendous amount out of their post-graduate education. But to imagine that a few extra years in some classroom grants you superior, elite wisdom, such that your opinion gains immediate and permanent supremacy over all's insane. This man actually thinks he's the Arbiter of Taste because he has some diploma up on his wall, or because he's been in some plays or "CSI" episodes or commercials for hand soap or whatever he means by "many years of acting experience."

I would also like to point out that I think it's funny that you feel you that your opinion on acting and directing, etc, is just as valid as mine, even though you have never studied it and probably don't know what 'it' is, or what makes 'it' good and bad.

I don't know what acting is? Really? Well, I'm not positive, but isn't it a lot like pretending...only with more accuracy? (Actually, I'm sure the writer of the comment would disagree with my contention that acting is essentially artistic pretending, but that would be because he is, as I mentioned above, a titanically massive bag full of douche, and I mean that in the least misogynist way possible).

I will use the analogy of acting to fine arts such as sculpture. You would know what you like an don't like, but I would hope that you're not so rash as to walk into a fine arts museum and start calling famous sculptures "bad" because you dislike them.

Anyone else reminded of our old friend, Brian Atene?

You wouldn't, because beyond what you like or dislike, you have no credentials on which to base an objective judgment of the piece's artistic worth. Yet, in acting, you feel you do have the credentials to judge an actor's work.

Did you follow that, or was that too many words for your miniature brain?

And since you have an issue with me posting anonymously, despite the fact that I don't think my name has anything to do with this, I will include me name. You cannot bully me.

For the record, here's what I said about Zach Braff's acting:

I mean, writing/directing aside, have you see "Scrubs"? It's a half-hour mugging session. The guy does more double-takes in an episode than Wile E. Coyote. That's acting? That's a performance? Bugging out your eyes or looking winsome? I mean, I guess it's not that hard to be the best sitcom actor around. You're competing in a field where Master Craftsmen are Jim Belushi, Kevin James and Ray Romano. It's slightly more competitive than winning a footrace against 3rd graders.

Seems to me that I'm just expressing a rather straightforward opinion. I may not have an MFA, but I know what mugging looks like, and I know that Jim Belushi is considered among the top tier of sitcom actors. One more time, for the record, we're talking about sitcoms, not the Collected Works of George Bernard fucking Shaw. They let Tom Shales review TV shows every day, and I'm pretty sure that guy's not allowed to ride the bus on his own.

Anyway, I'm just really gobsmacked that anyone would feel like they have this kind of authority or expertise, that they're free to visit the blogs of strangers and INSTRUCT them about the types of posts they can make and opinions they can hold. I left him a long, harshly-phrased comment to this effect back on the original post, not so much because I care about convincing this most-likely-hopeless case, but just because I occasionally need to vent. I have hopefully now gotten it out of my system.

Sunday, October 21, 2007

Like Eating a Hot Circle of Garbage...

"Office" fans may be interested to know that both pizza restaurants mentions on the show a few week's back - "Pizza by Alfredo" and "Alfredo's Pizza Cafe" - have websites online. They are not, of course, REAL, but you've got to admire the effort NBC's putting into turning the fake world of Dunder-Mifflin into an online reality. In addition to multiple character blogs and the Dunder-Mifflin Infinity destination, they're now getting into the phony pizza business.

(These new sites are so realistic, I actually almost believed they were legit until reading this debunking post from Best Week Ever.) I wonder if this strategy is actually having any effect whatsoever on the show's ratings. Do people who wouldn't otherwise watch "The Office" discover the hilarity via these web destinations? Just strikes me as unlikely...

Perhaps it's just about keeping the viewers they already have engaged and watching...Or maybe the idea is that they can get more viewers to log into, thereby discovering other NBC programming? Anyone actually know the strategy here?


Check out the "blog" of "unnecessary" quotation marks. Hilarious stuff.

[Hat tip, Gorilla Mask]

Kinky Wizards

This whole thing about Dumbledore from the "Potter" books being gay is truly outstanding. Very enjoyable fallout, J.K...we all owe you one for this essentially pointless but nonetheless highly amusing gesture.

Quick, quick backstory in case you don't follow fictional character outings...During a Q&A session, when asked about whether or not Dumbledore ever found love, "Potter" author J.K. Rowling revealed that the character was, in fact, homosexual.

"Dumbledore is gay," the author responded to gasps and applause.

She then explained that Dumbledore was smitten with rival Gellert Grindelwald, whom he defeated long ago in a battle between good and bad wizards. "Falling in love can blind us to an extent," Rowling said of Dumbledore's feelings, adding that Dumbledore was "horribly, terribly let down."

Interesting that this doesn't sound spontaneous - Rowling obviously had given thought to Dumbledore's personal history before - yet didn't find its way into any of the books. Why not bring it up within the text? Why wait until months after the publication of the final book to "reveal" a significant aspect of a character's personality and makeup? (Probably because it doesn't matter, but it's still interesting).

What does it mean when authors to just throw out appendages to their work after the fact? Should this information then inform future interpretations of their work? I'm not convinced that Dumbledore must be gay because Rowling says so. If I can read the books and come to a different conclusion (say, that he's secretly carrying on an affair with Professor McGonagall), must I be incorrect because my interpretation contradicts the author's thoughts on the subject?

Actually, you may not realize this, but Rowling is part of a grand tradition of artists introducing shocking relevations about their characters long after the original work was produced...



NEW YORK, NEW YORK - In a radio interview this morning on the McHutchin's Pork and Beans Supper Good Time Happy Variety Hour, filmmaker Orson Welles announced that his famed "Charles Foster Kane" character only wanted his childhood sled back because "that's where he hid his stash."

"I'm amused by the wild interpretations of 'Rosebud' in my film," Welles told rapt host Basil Wentworth "Johnny" Hazel. "He wanted the sled back because it was crammed full of barbituates and Benzedrine.



Animator Robert McKimson revealed yesterday at the first-annual Hollywood Awards that beloved Warner Bros. cartoon star Foghorn Leghorn was an active participant in the Ku Klux Klan before his 1946 debut, "Walky Talky Hawky."

"The fans will understand," explain McKimson. "He was a different bird back then. There's a lot of social pressure on a Tennessee rooster to fit in, and Foghorn's speech impediment already put him at a disadvantage."

When approached for comment, Leghorn declined to speak with the press, but did release this statement through a representative:

"I say, now, I say...This, this here allegation is about as nutty as a fruitcake. I may have, I say, may have attended a few meetings, but that hardly makes me a Grand Wizard, son. You're a nice boy, but about as sharp as a bowling ball."

McKimson suggested that Leghorn kept his secret by using the pseudonym "Robert Byrd" at all Klan events and gatherings."

So, those are the interesting ramifications of such an announcement, I think (if there are, in fact, any interesting ramifications at all.) Of course, to screeching homophobes, such a benign statement comes across as a declaration of war. Here's columnist Don Surber:

The author of the Harry Potter books told an audience at Carnegie Hall that Albus Dumbledore, master wizard and Headmaster of Hogwarts, is gay.

He’s also a fictional character.

So what? Are fictional characters not allowed to be gay? Someone tell Ann Rice!

Why would people applaud? Why would it be necessary to have this as a back story? Maybe the final paragraph in the AP story explains it: “Not everyone likes her work, Rowling said, likely referring to Christian groups that have alleged the books promote witchcraft. Her news about Dumbledore, she said, will give them one more reason.”

Yes, knock the Christians. That will sell books.

I wouldn't really worry too much about J.K. Rowling's ability to sell books. She's got to be among the wealthiest authors on Earth, right? (I'm too lazy to look this up, but if she was not in the Top 2 or 3 novelists on the planet right now, I'd be extremely surprised.)

But really, the whole comment here is just puzzling. It's nonsensical to ask "why" a novel would require backstory. It's a work of fiction! Why does any detail exist in any work of fiction! You might as well as why Scout lived next door to Boo Radley, or why Pip is so stupid that he doesn't realize it's Abel Magwitch, the convict he saved all those years back, who's acting as his benefactor, not crazy old Miss Havisham. Cause that's the goddamn story, you fucking meathead. You don't like it, write your own goddamn book, where no one is gay and Jesus is magic. Otherwise, just shut up.