Thursday, January 26, 2017

Mr Brown Rambles #3 - The Oscars Edition

Here are just a few personal thoughts about the list of nominees for the 89th annual Academy Awards ceremony I'd thought I'd share (the full list of nominees can be found here).

* Amazing What a Hashtag Can Do: It shouldn't come as a surprise that three movies - Hidden Figures, Fences & Moonlight - all centered on African-American leads which do a terrific job telling stories about the black experience in America have now been nominated for Best Picture today. All three deserved the praise and accolades they have been showered with, but let's also acknowledge that the Academy would have been slaughtered by the press and by Twitter if they went a third straight year with a lineup that was all lily white, and rightfully so. Hell, I think Twitter would be screaming bloody murder had Moonlight not made the cut for Picture, along with its writer/director Barry Jenkins if he wasn't nominated for Director.

* Oh, Amy....: I'm ecstatic to see the sci-fi drama Arrival nominated for Picture and Best Director for Dennis Villeneuve (and a big shout out to Bradford Young for being the first African-American nominated for Best Cinematography - well done!!) but how do you honor the picture without giving its heart a Best Actress nomination? Amy Adams is a big reason why the film works as well as it does, especially with its opening and closing arc centered around her and her child. It's a quiet, intelligent, and graceful performance I thought would be honored, and it only confirms what has been obvious for a while now: Adams is the new Leonardo DiCaprio: a performer who has been in one terrific role after another, but still hasn't been given her due. Maybe she can star in a movie where she wrestles with a bear....

* Great Art vs. Douchebag Artist: If an artist makes a genuine work of art, but turns out to be a morally messed up piece of work, do we celebrate the work of the artist, or are his or her transgressions too great to look past? It's question that, in the film world, seems to be a focal point of conversation whenever the likes of a Woody Allen or a Bernardo Bertolucci are brought up. With Mel Gibson's war drama Hacksaw Ridge earning six Oscar nominations including Best Picture and a surprising Best Director nod, that debate of separating the artist from his art becomes a topic brought up in certain film circles. Some will say the film he made is more than deserving of the nominations it received, while others, like this article from Screen Crush which make the case as to why Gibson's past actions (including making anti-Semitic, homophobic and racist remarks, as well as facing charges of domestic abuse & battery) act as a blight on the work he has now been awarded for. I understand that Mr. Gibson is a shitty person in his personal life and I can't blame any one person for taking the position of not wanting to award a man for his hateful actions, but I, personally, can't get on board with shaming the art because the artist is a complete douchebag. If we started rendering the art as disqualifying because of the past action of the artist for the sake of taking the moral high ground, we run the risk of going down a dangerous and slippery slope in trying to purity an industry that's littered with folks who have moral failings.

* Overkill, much, Academy?: Look, I get the mad love for Damien Chazelle's La La Land, I really do. It's a gorgeous, sweeping love letter to Hollywood's era of big-screen musicals of the 50's and 60's, to the City of Angles and to the fools who dream of making it big in Tinsel Town, and it's on my shortlist of the best films of 2016. But going through some of the categories the film was awarded just feels like it's an overkill on the love it's gotten. For example, in the Best Original Song category, they could have just gone with either "City of Stars" or "Audition (The Fools Who Dream)", nominated something like Shakira's "Try Everything" from the movie Zootopia, or Twenty-One Pilots' "Heathens" from Suicide Squad and it wouldn't have made much difference in the state of that particular race. Or in the Sound Mixing/Editing categories where La La Land was nominated for both. Again, you could have subtracted both nods, gone with Patriots Day, Rouge One or Captain America: Civil War in Sound Editing, or given another nod to Sully, or Kubo & the Two Strings for Sound Mixing, and La La Land would still have a grand total of 11-12 nominations and still be considered to having a big night come February 26th!

Tuesday, January 10, 2017


Sometimes, in order to move on and forward, you have to look back and reflect. All this month and the next, thanks to January & February being the dumping grounds for terrible movies, I will be doing exactly that. There's dozens of stuff I've missed out on during the holiday rush, from Award-fare, to mainstream blockbusters everything in between, as well as my list for both the best and worst of 2016 and the Oscar race coming to its inevitable conclusion.

I'd also love to announce that I'm now a registered contributor for Write Out of L.A., the home of my film friend across the pond, Mr. Robin Write. If you haven't gotten to read his pieces on his site, please do. There is a good chance that I won't start reviewing new material until March, but that doesn't mean that (hopefully) I won't be writing. There's still my segment of The Netflix Files I need to revive from the doldrums as well as my editorials about current events, which I feel (and fear) will be becoming a frequent occurrence over the next four years, so I expect my fingers will still be busy typing away.

Wednesday, December 7, 2016

It's Fury Road All Over Again

The last time I talked about a film critics and audiences loved over but I couldn't get behind was George Miller's apocalyptic action-thriller Mad Max: Fury Road. In a nutshell, I referred to the film as one overlong, extended chase through the desert which got very repetitive, very quickly, in addition to me dubbing it as the most overrated movie of 2015. Now, in the year of our lord 2016, I must put my foot down on another movie critics are fawning over, but I couldn't fully get into: Disney's Moana.

Before, I go any further, let me state for the record my views on calling something "overrated" and what it means to me: When I call a film "overrated", I'm not saying it to stir the pot or to deliberately hold a contrarian point of view (that's Armond White's job!); I'm saying that there are aspects about it I feel other critics have glossed over which have stuck out like a blister from my perspective. When I write reviews like this, my goal is to not sound like a confrontational jerkoff who's itching for a fight, it's to explain why I feel this way about a movie, and hopefully, to have an open dialogue about it. Now that I've gotten that disclaimer out of the way, let's talk about what works about Disney's latest animated feature,

As for the course with the more recent Disney Animated fare, the design and animation of Moana is stunning. From the sweeping shots of the title character sailing beyond her island home, to the terrific dance between computer animation and hand-drawn shots sprinkled thought the movie, the mere look of the film is itself, a show-stopper, I applaud the filmmakers for making a story that highlights the rich culture of Hawaii, as well as its people and the respect it has for the traditions of its indigenous people (Editor's note: our government could learn a thing or two about respecting native culture and not spitting on it, especially today). The title character herself (voiced by newcomer Auli'i Cravalho) is a refreshing in of herself: she doesn't have the shape of her Disney Princess sorority brethren (think characters like Belle, Mulan, Cinderella, or Elsa), nor does she have a love interest. She's the daughter of a chief of their tribe and she's being groomed to take her place as leader on their island Motunui and she has a deep love of her people, as well as its traditions, save one: it is forbidden to venture outside the reef which surrounds the island. Moana feels the ocean is calling her - literally.

The legend states that reckless demigod Maui (voiced by Dwayne Johnson) stole the heart of Te Fiti, the goddess which created all life surrounding the islands of the South Pacific. As an act of vengeance, she separated the demigod from his magical fish hook, the source of his shape-shifting abilities, but lost her heart to the sea in the process. She is chosen by the ocean to force Maui to right his wrong by reuniting the emerald-shaped stone to Te Fiti, without being killed by Te Ka, the volcanic demon protecting the gateway to reuniting the goddess with her missing heart. On the surface, it sounds like a cross between a road movie & a coming-of-age tale told from the perspective of a girl becoming a young woman, and for the most part, it is that basic joining of film genres as the driving force of the movie. Cravalho's spirited, yet determined take captures the heroine of the story, her journey of her identity as a maturing woman, as well as grappling with the burden of being a leader for her people; and Johnson's arrogant and brash Maui make for a great pairing as the two characters bounce off one another: she doesn't have the patience for his braggadocios, alpha-dog bullshit, and the latter won't take orders from what he sees as a princess who's in way over her head.

Despite two fine voice acting performances, stunning animation, at times, a stirring soundtrack from Hamilton creator Lin-Manuel Miranda and the group Opetaia Foa'i ("We Know the Way" is the standout, as well as a shoe-in for Best Original Song come Oscar time) and the fact the picture proudly embraces its femininity, I don't believe Moana is as good as the critics claim it to be. The title character herself isn't the most interesting character in her own movie - that honor belongs to Johnson's Maui as his character arc feels more rounded and we see a change in him from where we saw in at the beginning. By contrast, the character Moana starts off as confident, can-do character, and ends there at the end of the film. Allow me to put this character in further contrast with another female lead character, Judy Hopps, from Zootopia: Like Moana, she's a confident, headstrong, 'nothing will get in my way!' lead. She's constantly dismissed by her peers for her size, her looks and for her being a rabbit, and even as she becomes the department's first rabbit officer, Hopps is still looked down by her alpha-male police chief as well as her fellow officers. It isn't until after she cracks a big case where predatory mammals become affected by a mind-altering drug where she sees that prejudice can cut both ways, that she can be just as seceptable to ignorant beliefs, just as she was because of her perception as being weak because of her species. With Moana, there's little sense of struggle during her journey - yes, she wipes out during her first attempt to sail out to sea, but those moments feel few and far between. The sea literally bails her out of jams, for crying out loud!

The music itself feels very hit-and-miss. For something stirring like "We Know the Way" or fun and catchy like "You're Welcome", the songs are just very generic and uninteresting. "Where You Are" and "How Far I'll Go" just feel like songs that were dusted off unused songs from the Disney animated musicals of the past; and the score itself, done by Mark Mancina, only highlights the feeling this isn't Disney's finest hour, music wise. (*Editor's note: this is the fist time I've come across Lin-Manuel Miranda's work, and I'm guessing on better days, we get better offerings like what he did on Hamilton). Lastly, and I don't mean this as a knock on the film itself - this year is stacked with deep animated features. Zootopia is an instant classic and the best film concerning race relations since Spike Lee's Do The Right Thing; Kubo and the Two Strings is a lovely, meditative and bittersweet Japanese story about a young boy grieving the loss of his mother and learning to carry on; Finding Dory tackles the subject of disability with grace and warmth; and Sausage Party is a side-splitting satirical take on Pixar and organized religion (complete with food fucking, I shit you not!). I feel that between those films I've seen and listed, Moana sticks to the shallows, while everyone else is hunting bigger game.

Again, I'm not trying to say it's a bad film, because as I've pointed out, it's just not the case. Nor am I saying that you shouldn't see this, because you should, especially if you want to see something that's empowering for little girls. From my perspective, it's a good animated movie. But I'm not convinced it'll be ranked alongside Frozen, The Lion King, Beauty and the Beast, and Zootopia as one of Disney's crowning achievements in the animation genre. But even on Disney's weakest days, I'd still roll with Moana than anything Illumination and Sony Pictures Animation can throw out on their collective best day.

** 1/2 stars out of ****

Wednesday, November 23, 2016

Men Are Still Good

I don't have the heart to write up what just happened three weeks ago. I don't have the stomach to hear from the far left about how Bernie Sanders would have clobbered the newly-elected President. I don't have the strength to voice all of my disgust about how a campaign built on exploiting the fears of white America and a rapidly-changing landscape and culture. The ugly reality that's staring us in the face is that come January 20th of next year, Barack Obama will exit the White House and Donald Trump, an unapologetic misogynist, xenophobic and racist man will become the nation's 45th Commander-in-Chief.

And honestly? I don't want to write that sort of piece. I'll leave that to better, more intelligent writers than myself. What's done is done, and the toothpaste can't be put back in its tube. Instead, I'd like to quote two characters who are speaking to us now in the coming storm that is Trump.

"Dark and difficult times lie ahead...And soon we must all face the choice between what is right, and what is easy." - Albus Percival Wulfric Brian Dumbledore
Yes, we all will be going through dark times. And the time will come to either stand up to an orange-haired bully, call him out and use whatever means we have at our disposal to block him from the terrible policies he and an Republican-led Congress might enact, or to stay silent and let him do what he pleases in the name of not being targeted as un-American or unpatriotic. I know we're feeling anguish, hurt, fear, anger, rage and even perhaps hate for the millions of voters who backed Trump. I would be lying if I felt the same way as well. But we can't respond hate with hate; it must be countered with empathy and understanding.

If there's a shred of a silver lining to come out of this storm cloud, it's the following: Donald Trump has done and will continue to unite all of us - blacks, Hispanics, Muslims, women, the young, the LGBT community, liberals, independents, etc - in ways he cannot begin to comprehend. I've seen it. And I'd like to share it as I quote the last, and most recent, iteration of a comic book character.

"Men are still good. We fight. We kill. We betray one another. But we can rebuild. We can. We have to." - Bruce Wayne
Despite the ascension of white supremacists (they can call themselves the alt-right, but I feel we are doing a grave disservice by not calling these people for what they truly are) who feel emboldened by Trump's capture of the White House and the fear many of us feel as we brace ourselves for what is to come, I am encouraged by the outpouring of figures - journalists, artists, organizations - that are refusing to bow down to the incoming bully-in-chief, refusing to give into hate and fear. And I'm confident in a simple truth: that we will rebuild. We're going to have to.

Sunday, October 23, 2016

A Tale of Two Liberals

I'd like to contrast two videos which talk about how John Oliver criticized Green Party candidate Jill Stein's platform on last week's Last Week Tonight segment on 3rd party candidates, and if you haven't watched the segment, I highly suggest that you do in order to understand the arguments both folks are saying. (watch here). The main arguments that Mike from The Humanist Report and current whipping boy for this site Jimmy Dore are making is that Oliver's piece was shameless propaganda to make the audience vote for Hillary Clinton in the upcoming election. Now while I disagree with both gentlemen about how to take Oliver's skit, I'm highlighting how both guys go about deconstructing the British comedian's claims. The first video from the host of THR breaks it down point by point and explains why he has this opinion.

Again, I may not agree with the overall viewpoint, but I enjoyed watching his take because the host didn't resort to acting like some loudmouthed jerk to argue his observations and his opinions, and I felt like, at the very least, I gained a new perspective from watching that I, otherwise, never would have gotten about his admiration for Mrs. Stein. Now allow me to show you the inverse of Mike's mostly even-tone argument against Oliver's segment with Dore's argument, which, if you've read the last two posts on this guy, you get why I don't like him very much.

I don't have to necessarily agree with with one's point of view, but I'm more inclined to listen to it and engage in a debate with Mike, than I would with a screaming, loudmouthed, obnoxious jackass like Dore is. And that's really my overall issue with the guy: I can't stand the yelling; I can't stand how he dismisses just about everyone who dares hold a different perspective than he does, especially when it comes to people on our side of the aisle, You're not winning over folks when you call everyone else a sellout, a corporatist, or just telling everyone to get stuffed if they aren't on the same level as you are, dude. It's also important to note that John Oliver has, over three seasons, used his format to discuss drone strikes, torture, government surveillancepolice brutality and income inequality, as well as various topics in our politics and culture. Oh, and here's this interesting tidbit I found out while researching for this latest rant: Oliver has full creative control on the content which airs on his show, including the freedom to go after corporations.

Did you miss all of that, Jimmy? Did you?

Of course you did, because we can't let a pesky thing like facts get in the way of smearing a comedian for having the audacity of taking a closer look at Saint Jill Stein's policy platforms....right, Jimmy? I mean, God forbid that someone like me catches and calls you out on your bullshit!

Friday, October 21, 2016

This Is Why I Don't Completely Miss My High School Days

WARNING!!!! This review will contain spoilers regarding the show's twist ending, as well as most of the plot. You have been warned.

I'm exhausted with the last few posts where I went political, so here's me taking a break from all that shit and making another venture into the land of the small screen. Unfortunately, I'm not recommending about a good show - no, this is me ranting about one of the worst Anime programs I've ever encountered in the form of School Days, a romantic drama/teen soap opera in cartoon form. Yes: in addition to film and TV, I like the realm of Japanese Animation, primary because of the various sub-genres and avenues it covers, from science fiction/dystopian settings like Ghost in the Shell: Stand Alone Complex and Outlaw Star, to slice-of-life comedies/harems such as Tenchi Muyo! and Love Hina. There's a genre for every sort of taste, and it's interesting to dive in and see what's there. However, in the case of School Days, it's a trip that will infuriate and frustrate the viewer to the bloody end.

On the surface, School Days starts off like your typical high school romance movie: our lead character Makoto Ito has fallen head over heels for the soft-spoken Kotonoha Katsura, only he's too shy to muster the courage to tell her how he feels about her. Makoto's tomboy, no-nonsense friend Sekai Saioniji takes matters into her own hands by befriending his crush and playing matchmaker between the two parties. Kotonoha agrees to give Makoto a shot and they go on a date, only for it to end badly due to the latter making unwanted advances, thus making the former uncomfortable around her. Thanks to a scolding by Sekai, telling him the way he went about trying to woo his date the wrong way and to consider her feelings, Matoko persuades Kotonoha to give him another chance, which she does. Sekai's advice takes, and because she believes him to be sincere, she gives our hormonally driven, but earnest lad a kiss on the lips, thus cementing their relationship status as an item, She invites his new boyfriend over to her house for a date later on, only to wind up babysitting Kotonoha's sister for the duration of the date.

So far, this seems like your mull-of-the-road courtship, right? Here's where we start going off the rails: Matoko calls up Sekai to tell her about the date, which can be summed up in his own words: "Dating Kotonoha is...tiring." I should probably tell you right now, because the rest of the plot won't make sense if I don't (not that it does in this series): School Days is meant to be a deconstruction of the harem romance genre where one hapless lad ends up romantically linked to two or more women, who, at the end, wind up confessing their love to said hapless lad and/or being his lover. I like the idea of turning the genre on its head to show us what's left once we peel away what's on the surface (see David Fincher's Gone Girl, the sci-fi crime drama Psycho-Pass and Alan Moore's graphic novel Watchmen), but if you're going to play the deconstruction card, the characters need to be developed (or at the very least recognizable by the character tropes confined within the genre) and/or likable in order to throw the world topsy turvy, and this is where the story and its execution goes seriously wrong.

Seemingly bored by Kotonoha and her unwillingness to put out for him, Makoto instead becomes romantically linked to his best friend, Sekai, who suggests that she and him have "special sessions" in order to get Kotonoha in the mood for knocking boots. Really - I'm not joking: The pair fondle and engage in heavy petting on top of the school roof as Makoto's girlfriend begins to worry about why the former has acted so distant towards her. If you think Makoto's actions made him into a jerk now, it only get worse as the series progresses. Kotonoha invites his boyfriend, as well as her other classmates to a water park, in the hopes of re-igniting the spark in their relationship; she even begins to show more suggestive attention toward Makoto, which only makes her boyfriend more uninterested and distant towards her, in addition to making him lust over Sekai further, despite her constantly telling him that they are just to be friends and nothing more. Eventually, both Sekai and Mokoto exchange their feelings for one another, along with body parts, and end up fucking each other. You can see why I don't like this show thus far, right?

Days pass since their lovemaking/backstabbing, and Sekai's guilty conscious begins to grow. She tells Makoto he needs to stop leading his girlfriend on before she catches them cheating and end the relationship before they can continue further. The cheating bastard doesn't, and Makoto continues to lead her on, as if there's nothing wrong between them! There are various reasons why I hate this anime, and right near the top is the atrocious characterization of Makoto and Sekai. To put it very bluntly: Makoto is one of the most uncaring, un-likable, selfish and just plain deplorable fictional characters I've ever come across. I get he's supposed to be this horny stereotypical teenagers (a la Jim, Stiffler and/or Oz from the American Pie movies), but those characters evolved and grew over the course of four films. Makoto constantly uses the gullible and forgiving nature of Kotonoha to continue to act like a cheating scumbag as he winds up two-timing both his first girlfriend and Sekai for her friends, Otome, Hikari, and any one first-year female who, inexplicably, ends up sleeping with Makoto. Again, I could at the very least, get past some of his behavior if the character began to have any sort of remorse or felt awful for what he's been doing, but he doesn't show it, and he never feel much guilt for letting his dick get the better of him until near the end, where his screwing around (sans condom, no less!) gets one of his schoolmates seemingly knocked up and the rest of the female population shunning him, *as well as getting themselves tested for STD's . It isn't until he sees a mentally broken Kotonoha that he begins to see the error of his ways, but by then, he's too much of an irredeemable prick for us to care for him. (*emphasis mine, of course)

Sekai isn't much better, to be honest.While she does tell him several times to keep it in his pants when it comes to Kotonoha, as well as to stop hitting on her so blatantly, and despite the fact she does tell him to break it off with his girlfriend to put her mind at ease, it's still hard for me to feel for her when she's as much in the wrong as Makoto. Her case for being a victim goes out the window once she lies about carrying the bastard's child and being shunned by Makoto completely, telling her it's not his problem and to go get rid of it (do you see why I hate this little shit so much?) as a way to keep him from going back to the now mentally unstable Kotonoha. How do you keep you man from staying too far? Why, you grab a chef's knife and stab your lover to death with it, of course! No joke - the final act of this tragedy becomes a bizarre mix of macabre and sleazy exploitation, but I'll come back to this part later on.

The one character the audience does have some sort of sympathy for is Kotonoha Katsura. She is this sweet, kind and caring figure, and yet this character is mostly written as a doormat, as she is constantly bullied by her peers in club activities, in addition to being mentally abused by her prick of a boyfriend. At one point, and as her fears of Makoto losing interest in her deepens, she buys him two cell phones - one for him, one for her, as a means to keep him close. He responds by eventually deletes her from his contacts and blocks her cell phone number though help of Sekai's most trusted confidant, Setsuna - again, what a fucking dickbag! The one time she grows a spine in this series is when she confronts her former friend, slaps her in the face, and then begs; no, pleads, that she stay away from her boyfriend. Driven further into denial, she is promised by Makoto that they'll share a dance, which never happens, as he ends up dancing with Sekai. Whilst the two end up dancing the night away, the poor girl ends up being stalked by Makoto's only male friend, Daiskue......who rapes her. They added a rape scene as the breaking point for Kotonoha to have her mental breakdown. Again, I've seen plenty of nasty things both in film and on TV, and this has to rank as one of the most shameless, vile and deplorable acts ever to put to celluloid; yet still, it somehow manages to get worse from there.

As you may or may not have noticed, the anime has many big events which, for the most part, act as a plot device to move the story forward even when it doesn't make sense in the context of the story. For example, the rape scene: the character of Daiskue can be boiled down to outright pervert: he constantly thinks about wanting to have sex and he pesters Matoko about reaching the stairway to adulthood. Even when he attempts to hit on Kotonoha in earlier pats of the show before the sexual assault, there's nothing to suggest he would force himself onto another woman. When he does force himself onto Matoko's girlfriend, the result feels like an out-of left field play, in addition to reaching the point of no return in being utterly reprehensible. Let's also take the resting room revelations that come to light. Apparently, the bitchy mean girls on the festival committee set up a camera to catch all the students get hot and heavy in a make-out room. Why did they do this? 'Who cares - they're a bunch of vicious cunts and that's what they do!' is something I can hear the writers of this garbage yelling during script sessions. By sheer coincidence, Makoto and Otome are caught doing the deed, much to the horror of Sekai watching the footage. Or how about when Setsuna takes advantage of a passed out Makoto and starts making out with him, only to be caught by Kotonoha. Her reasoning for doing what she does is explained in a flashback where Makoto finds her alone and crying over being bullied for her small stature, and shows her kindness by saying she's tough and should run for Student Committee; and while her motivation in that scene does make sense, the fact Makoto's girlfriend just happened to walk in on that moment feels forced. All these plot points happen because the story requires these chance situations to occur, rather than being apart of it. To quote Mathew Buck of Channel Awesome, these things happen "because the plot says so!"

Which brings us to the final third act of this dreadful story, where Kotonoha texts Sekai to meet her on the roof of the school building. There, she confronts her former friend and rival over the latter lying about her supposed pregnancy - how she knows this was a lie is anyone's guess at this point and makes her open a duffel bag containing the severed head of Matoko. Kotonoha then reveals she has a dozuki saw in her hand, which she uses to slit Sekai's throat, causing her to bleed out and die, as revenge for her killing Makoto Yes, you're reading all of this correctly: Kotonoha, the sweet, innocent girl from the beginning of the series, sawed off Matoko's head from his lifeless corpse, threw into a duffel bag and went into a murderous rampage. And as if that act wasn't disturbing or brutal enough, the sequence goes one further and, I shit you not, has her cutting open her stomach and uterus to see if her suspicion that Sekai's pregnancy act was bogus, which it was. The whole act itself is so bizarre that it feels like I've stumbled into a double billing of a Nicholas Winding Refn/Quentin Tarantino film, and not in a good way.

I'll keep this brief: watching School Days was a dreadful, joyless experience, one that I haven't encountered since my very first review of That's My Boy. The characters are mostly shallow idiots who lie, hurt and betray each other at random and the overall flow of the story just feels like one big plot point after another. Makoto is right up there with Bella Swan of Twilight in being an infuriating, careless and all-around awful character ever created for any entertainment medium, and Sekai ends up being just as selfish and cruel as her lover. Kotonoha does have a believable arc, but I hated how her characterization is being an abused victim by her peers, both in mental and sexual ways. All of this cultivates in a twist ending that's shocking, but not in the way the people who made this show wanted: instead of being a dark and twisted macabre tragedy of star-crossed lovers, the result is a cheap and grossly disturbing ending which borders on absurdly ludicrous at best and exploitative at worst. It's a show where even fine ideas can be undone by bad character writing and even poor storytelling.

Sunday, October 9, 2016

Enough is Enough!

For the past year, Donald Trump has gone out of his way to offend anyone and everyone in his path in his quest to obtain the White House.

Donald Trump has insulted and dismissed John McCain, a celebrated and decorated Vietnam War veteran, claiming that being captured didn't make him a hero.

Donald Trump made fun of a disabled journalist while the cameras were rolling.

Donald Trump openly accused a judge of Hispanic decent of bias due to his heritage. That judge was hearing a lawsuit against Trump's latest scam, Trump University.

Donald Trump accused Ted Cruz's father of conspiring to kill JFK during a primary debate. There is no evidence of this claim being true.

Donald Trump attacked Khizr Khan and his wife, Ghazala, two Gold Star parents who lost their son, Humayan, an Army Captain, serving his country. The patriarch spoke at the Democratic National Convention and attacked Trump for his his hateful attitude towards Muslim-Americans.

Donald Trump attacked Alicia Machado, a former Miss Universe winner, by criticizing her weight and calling her "Ms. Housekeeping" because she was Latina.

Donald Trump had referred to Mexican-American immigrants, on camera, as "rapists" and "drug-dealers".

Donald Trump has called for a ban from letting Muslims -- an entire religion of 1.6 billion people -- from entering the United States, along with calling for a database to monitor Syrian refugees & mosques, as well learn whether or not those refugees hold ties to the Islamic State.

This man has highlighted his xenophobia, his racism and his misogyny, as well as incite political violence at his rallies time after time during this unique and deeply embarrassing campaign season and each time Trump says something lurid and crass, it has surprisingly been brushed aside.

Until Friday.

Donald Trump, on a hot mic, made an admission that he can make unwanted advances on a woman; that he could kiss, fondle, violate, a woman if he wanted to and get away with it because he's a star and, in his own words, "they let you do it." For months, I've heard him say gross things, engage in dog-whistle racial politics and display his shocking ignorance on national security issues, from dissolving NATO, to letting countries build nukes, so Trump's vile and degrading comments towards wanting to have sex with a married woman and speaking about a woman like a overgrown frat-boy douchebag doesn't surprise me, but there are a few aspects that make this latest outrage even more disturbing.

First, it's how he and then-host of Access Hollywood Billy Bush talked about Nancy O'Dell -- Bush's colleague at the time.
"I took her out furniture shopping. She wanted to get some furniture and I told her 'I'll show you where you can get some nice furniture...I moved on her like a bitch, and I could not get there, and she was married. And all the sudden I see her and she's got the big phony tits, she's totally changed her look." 

Trump talks like O'Dell isn't even a person, but something for him to play with so he can get his jollies off, then discard when he's done. (Side note: who the hell tries to get a woman to sleep with them by taking her to buy a couch?!) It's even more creepy when you take into account that Trump was, by this time, ha just married his third and current wife, Melania. Despite that inconvenience to Trump, it didn't stop him from trying to hit on O'Dell, as he made it a point of reference.
"I moved on her actually, she was down in Palm Beach and I failed. I'll admit it. I did try to fuck her, she was married … and I moved on her very heavily..."
And then, there's the whopper that's been played ad nauseum on every cable news network for the past 48 hours.
"I've got to use some Tic Tacs, just in case I start kissing her. You know I'm attracted to beautiful -- I just start kissing them. It's like a magnet. Just kiss. I don't even wait. And when you're a star, they let you do it. You can do anything… Grab 'em by the pussy."
This time, Trump is referring to Arianne Zucker, a soap opera actress, but the language used remains the same: referring to her as "it", as if she's not a person, but a thing. The comments themselves reveal what we already knew about Donald Trump, but it's the apology, or lack thereof, of one, that is really disturbing to me:
This was locker room banter, a private conversation that took place many years ago. Bill Clinton has said far worse to me on the golf course -- not even close. I apologize if anyone was offended.
First: I've been around my guy friends. I've heard guys talk about girls, and I've been apart of the chatter. I have never, in my life, heard any guy talk like a sexual predator, nor have I ever spoken to a woman in such a manner. Second: There's no proof, no audio tape, no hot mic incident, that could back up Trump's claim, and given that he's falsely accused Machado of having a sex tape and Secretary Clinton of stepping out on her husband, his word is useless. Lastly: Donald Trump isn't sorry about this. He isn't sorry for trying to come on to a married woman & he isn't sorry for speaking like a predator. He's just sorry he got caught on mic for being the way he is. How do I know this? because if you're trying to express remorse for one's actions, the word "if" doesn't appear in your statement, and neither does the word "was". Of course people were offended - I'm offended that you, Mr. Trump, honestly believe that all guys like me are like you and behave in such a crude, despicable manner!

But the worst aspect of this story, by far, has been the defense of Trump's demeanor and language towards these women. From pundits pivoting to bring up how much worse Bill Clinton was to Scott Baio and Rudy Guiliani claiming that this is just locker room talk and that all guys speak like this when the women aren't around, it is utterly revolting that every time this man -- no, I'm not going to call Trump a man, that would be an insult to decent men everywhere -- that this spoiled 13 year-old little boy in adult form has been defended every time he makes a nasty sexist comment, every time he displays his ignorance on international issues, every time he utters some blatant dog-whistle racial remark, the Republican party has tried to normalize the individual that we see today.

This isn't normal. 

Befriending white supremacists shouldn't be normalized.

Making Mexican and Muslim immigrants feel frightened for their very being for the sake of catering to racist white Americas and the Tea Party types shouldn't be normalized.

Casually treating women as if they're merely eye candy and degrading them shouldn't be normalized.

Sexual assault shouldn't be normalized.

This cannot be who we are: a nation that says all the things I've mentioned above are totally acceptable in a modern society, because they're not. That's the risk we have taken just by merely having this narcissistic, privileged sociopath representing our values, our ideals and our beliefs as Americans. We all should be horrified that this walking, talking buffoon with cash has gotten to the level that's he's gotten, and we all need to tell him what he's told countless contestants on his own show:

You're fired!!!!