Sunday, January 12, 2014

We like Harry Potter because there is no Internet in it.

I mean, your mail comes from birds.

Saturday, January 11, 2014

The Romantic through time.

Two romantics (regardless of stripe) put together in a stressful situation, will quickly become obsessed with one another. Even if the episode has concluded and/or conditions changed, the relationship shall be regarded in a halo of fiercely bittersweet nostalgia regardless of the length of time passed. No amount of mere minutes to hours to years can diminish it.  And that nostalgia is cherished; something that will never be far for either person, even unto the end. It is the nature of the personalities involved.

Tuesday, June 11, 2013

Sometimes...

Anger is the good and appropriate response.

Monday, July 09, 2012

Monday, Monday.

If I feel thing hungover, I should have something to show for it.

Wednesday, June 27, 2012

Our Brutalism is Now Documented. Repeatedly. Will this lead to a SuperGranny? Movies say yes.

An unedited ramble:

There is much ado of this older woman and the treatment she received on a school bus.




First off, let me say that I have not watched the video. It's too difficult. As to why, I will relate further down. Regardless, I almost never watch these sorts of videos since they make me feel like I'm watching someone getting raped or murdered without anyone offering any assistance. Having said that, and only having read about the video plus the voluminous amount of reactions to it, I do have a few things to note in regards to this whole thing.

If we live in a culture where this sort of behavior is going on, something is seriously wrong. I don't think anyone reasonable or with a mammalian body temperature would disagree.

At least, we all roundly say we think this is terrible. And yet it keeps going on. How is that possible? Surely at this point, every parent in America has taken their child aside and explained that Bullying is Bad?

Clearly, they haven't. It does beg the question of where exactly have parents and their (hopefully) civilizing influences fled to?

They haven't fled. They are watching and not doing anything. Why? Because we like Bullying. It is my belief we allow kids (and adults) to Bully because we think it leads to greatness. One must have something to "overcome" in order to Become Great.

A great example of this idea in comic form, especially the "P.E." part: http://theoatmeal.com/comics/senior_year

So, the Bus Grandma. I'm sure the woman is lovely and didn't deserve to be treated like that, but we do have verification, yes? She reminds me far too much of my now-dead third grade teacher whom I loathed (and still do), so I have to admit that I unfortunately bring that to the table. It's an odd feeling when you understand you are glad someone is dead. But, then again, in America we REALLY want to believe that we all "get over" things and leave them in the past, and become magically better people because of the process. I don't think this is odd, since every form of popular narrative entertainment these days in film or television is predicated on the main character/protagonist having some sort of bullying-related trauma in their past. Or abandonment. One of the sideways forms of bullying (at least having the same effect psychologically) is the event of emotional neglect/abandonment by parental figures, either by death or simply Not Paying Attention. Here's a quick list of just a few:

1. Luke Skywalker - Mom's dead, Dad's an evil Cyborg working for The Man.

2. Harry Potter - Mom and Dad are dead, foster family sucks and terrorizes/bullies him.

3. Chronicle - Akira meets Columbine. No parents in sight during the entire film, except the bullying father.

4. Wanted - Main character is abandoned by father and has mean/bullying boss.

5. Alien - Nostromo crew fucked over by "The Company" as revealed in the third act by the computer named "Mother".

6. Aliens - In a deleted scene, we are shown that Newt's whole world is shattered by her parents choice to ignore common sense and to trundle out to the Space-Jockey's (now *Engineer's*) ship. Death and abandonment ensue; world (and culturally defined "meanings") collapse. Newt's question to Ripley as to why parents lie to children as to the existence of monsters is the red flag of this particular sort of systemic (discursive) collapse. In an inversion of the abandonment trope, the director's cut of the film includes a scene where we learn Ripley has missed her child's entire life while she was in hypersleep. An argument can be made that Ripley "Post-LV426" herself is a creation of the Alien queen (mother) revealed in the sequel. Further peversions/abjections (Kristeva) of the mother/child bond and pregnancy state are continued in the 2 following films.

7. Batman - Bruce Wayne left abandoned by parents. Yes, they were shot in front of him, but in current bat-mythology it was because they were at the wrong place at the wrong time because Bruce couldn't handle how scary an opera was, so they left early, and then they got shot.  Child's psyche at that point in development would see that as parents removing themselves from his life due to disapproval of weakness; punishment.

8. Spiderman - When Peter Parker uses his newfound abilities to make some money (instead of something altruistic/Heroic), his surrogate father is killed as an indirect result. See Batman model above. In this case punishment is based on Parker's greed. (Newt's parents)

9. Seven of Nine from Star Trek: Voyager - Parental hubris in studying the Borg ends up with the whole family being assimilated (living death), including their six year-old daughter (The "Newt" trope, yet again), who ends up as the drone Seven of Nine, the only interesting character from the whole cast of that show. Not because of the Cat Suit, either.  She's the one with the anger issues to overcome. Even after her liberation from the Borg Collective, she is still partially cybernetic, which thematically translates roughly to "you can't get that fucked over by your insane parents without it leaving some scars, hello."

10. Detachment - Public-School-Is-War story with teachers working in a high school fetishistically portrayed over and over again as an empty series of rooms and hallways. We actually get a character saying the line "where are the parents?" out loud. No parents in sight except for screamers and bullies themselves.

11. X-Men - Magneto is a Jew. Parents were killed in  Auschwitz. This is the bullying/abandonment 1-2 punch that creates a super-villain.

12. Ferris Bueller's Day Off - all three leads are fucked up because their yuppie (baby boomer) parents are too busy to know what's going on or care. 

And the list goes on and on. I came up with the list above in about five minutes. The "wound" must be healed in order for our heroes to succeed; and we've started to believe that about ourselves as film/tv functions now as less than a mirror and more of a instructional device as to who we are now as a culture.

OK. So why can't I watch the Lady On The Bus video? Here goes:

My own experience with being physically bullied in school and the school bus was (thankfully), for the most part,  very limited.  It's one of the advantages of always being one of the biggest kids in class: even though I was very *different* from a young age than most of the other kids, my larger size meant that for the most part I was left alone. The qualifier "most" is there for a reason. I've had my own run-ins with jerks on the bus on and off in my time.

There was one incident where I was terrorized by an older boy with an earthworm he had colored acid yellow with a high-liter. The end result of this affair was me laying on the floor of the bus with the cosmetically altered invertebrate in question being dangled in front of my face while the older boy had me pinned down, and me feeling like I was about to vomit.

I'm not really sure how long this all went on for, but the nausea is what I remember the most. At some point it ended and I was back in my seat, shaken and enraged. The homoerotic subtext of the moment didn't become apparent to me until later in life. All adolescent boys will try to rape one another (no, not always literally) to establish pack hierarchy if not monitored closely.  If you don't want to believe me in terms of what your little darling is capable of, ask any member of the British aristocracy, and/or watch how 12 to 15 year-old boys interact with one another when they think no one else is around to see what they are doing. Rape is mentioned in the Grandma Bus Video.

For my money, this hierarchy-drive is also the source of homophobia amongst human males, but that's a whole other side of it to discuss later. In middle school, there was another older boy who liked to pinch my (then slightly squishy) mid-section quite a bit in front of his cronies, until one day I had had enough and threw him down to the pavement, choked him, and slammed his head against the pavement a few times. The order of my actions may have been a little different (memory is tricky after time) but that was essentially what happened when I finally snapped. It's never an "if" a bullied kid will snap, it's "when." Columbine. After my hands had been around his throat, The Poker left me alone.

As an adult,  I am known for my acidic tongue in both conflict and humor, and I can directly attribute that ability/proficiency from spending five years sparring verbally with a "Mean Girl" who just wouldn't leave me alone all through middle school and junior high bus rides. After a few years of being told you're dirty and have no friends, you have to learn how to hit back, at least with words.

Consequently, I am now able to skewer someone to their core in two sentences or less, to the point that a friend once told me that when she first met me in college she was terrified I was going to rip her apart verbally, since she had overheard me do it before. At the time, it wasn't even something I was aware of doing - it was just habit by then. I had learned a form of cruelty while defending myself from incessant verbal attacks. Of course, the "Mean Girl" in my past who was my crucible was in remedial reading and all that, so it may have just been have been another case of that "I hate you and your ability to quietly enjoy a book!" thing that "remedial readers" have. I'm putting that in quotes because I've never believed she had a learning disability, rather that she was just dumb and mean. (Affluent and dumb mean white kids get put in "remedial reading" in private school instead of just being labeled stupid, which is something I call Bullshit on.) Anyway, instead of ripping people reflexively now as an adult, I just try to be funny. Sometimes I can control it, sometimes I can't. It's PTSD on simmer.

But here's the rub: I KNOW for a fact that my ability to withstand incredible amounts of pressure in my personal and professional life is because of going through these experiences and coming out on the other side in one piece, at least physically. And that's the problem. I know I can survive, since I did it already. And since I went through it, I have an INCREDIBLY low threshold for people when they whine about their circumstances. Of course, what is whining and what isn't is subjective, and in my case, anyone who bitches about anything more than once is whining. I'm sure people who know me are picking their jaws up off the floor considering how quickly I can transform my problem-of-the-day into an aria. Even so, I still get wicked judgey when it comes to others and how they handle their lives.

But coming back to the professional life part of the equation: because of my experiences on the school bus,  I can withstand (and find ways to thrive) in the Industry that is widely-known as being amongst the  nastiest and competitive around because it's old hat to me. It feels familiar. And most people I've encountered in this business have similar stories to mine, unless they were just rich and bored and thought making movies seemed like a fun way to pass the time and spend Daddy's money. For the rest of us, we seem hellbent on transcribing our struggle to overcome bullies onto screens both large and small. We always win, unless it's a quasi-tragedy like the movie "Detachment".

So what does this have to do with School Bus Granny?

I had to turn off the video because I was angry that she just sat there and took it; that she didn't put those kids in their place. Like I eventually learned to do. Turns out she did the right thing, because one of those dumb little bastards put the video on the internet, and now she's up 650k+ for taking some outrageous insults for the length of a bus ride. I'm not saying what she went through wasn't traumatic; clearly it was horrible. But since I live in the land of movies I wanted to see her slap the hell out of those kids and shame their parents with pithy comments, delivered with flair. She didn't. But I was pleased when I heard that some of the children involved are now afraid for their safety since other members of the community (the Internet) have been calling their homes and threatening them. Does that make me a terrible person? Perhaps. But if you haven't been through this particular gauntlet, your opinion is not germane or even welcome here. Apparently this woman will now go on to fight bullying, presumably as a public speaker or something. I suppose that's the real-world version of becoming a superhero. Maybe.


P.S. to all of this: My "Mean Girl" is now an elementary school teacher. Isn't life funny?  I sometimes fantasize about the smart gay kid in her class handing back her corrections to his compositions with her spelling and grammar mistakes circled in red, with a nice "please see me" at the bottom of the page.  Don't even try to tell me you don't get it.


Seven of Nine will kick your ass. And she wouldn't be able to without her parents having been completely narcissistic morons putting their career interests ahead of their child's, directly leading to her assimilation by the Borg, which transforms (and scars) her forever. The Sad Truth. Borg = Galactic Bullies Sine Qua Non. Lame Academic Parents following the Borg in an unarmed shuttle = dipshits who deserved what they got. People, don't have kids if you aren't going to keep them away from a unrelenting cybernetic trans-species menace.

Monday, May 14, 2012

It's been such a long time.

Hi friends.

A lot of life has happened since I last typed anything here. I tend to let this lie fallow for months at a time if you are anyone who reads this with any regularity. Sorry about that. I seem to be always distracted. I don't think I am alone in that.

Rebeck wrote a play called "Distracted", about our current situation with information overload. I don't think anyone saw it.

Thursday, February 10, 2011

An agoraphobe's take on today's world. And movies. Inchoate.

I love Joe Wright's "Pride and Prejudice". Although I didn't grow up in rural 19th (?) century England, I did grow up in a small town, verdant and venomous in its own ways. As I have aged and moved towards that blank field known as "middle-age", I wonder what would be made of me back then? Did the term "confirmed bachelor" exist? Did it have the connotation that it carried until the recent mass de-closeting of most people? Possibly for some of the more intellectual set, who have always had a unstable relationship with the concept of Inversion.

I think this is another one of my examinations of social media and the need for small communities. I work in an incredibly insular business, one that guards itself so obsessively that even breaking into it on the administrative/"business" side of it remains absolutely opaque until you are actually in it. Making it in on the studio level without a family connection or attending one of the Los Angeles schools is a feat unto itself. Navigating that system has been lampooned for generations now, most famously in Altman's "The Player" and it's indie counterpart "Living in Oblivion", a movie I still cannot watch because it gives me Vietnam-style flashbacks to my own experience in no-budget filmmaking in NYC during the 90s. Bringing it back to topic: the film business really is a very small business, in terms of how many people actually work in it on a full-time basis. There are many, many more industries with much larger numbers of bodies involved. And then even in that small community there are sub-communities that divide along lines of success, length of relationship, or even just (heaven forbid) who gets along with who.

So, in some ways I have moved from a small town to another small town, in which everyone is separated by barely two degrees.  The comparisons to high school is an endless thing; as the cliques are duplicated in Hollywood - although I have never come across the dumb straight-boy jock clique, I'm going to assume it's alive and well at the agencies since that's where most straight guys in the business work, i.e. sales. Writers remain the quiet art-kids, and directors remain the megalomaniacs who intern for politicians in the summer. Producers are the kids no one was friends with, and could possibly go a little spooky at any given moment.

And everyone talks. Talks, talks, talks. Like, all the time. This business is really about the manufacture of conversation, and the end result is a movie. Sometimes. It's truly shocking and interesting how many movies that are NOT made, but developed for years, and are the subject of intense conversations amongst the parties involved. It almost feels like prom committee, except 9 times out of 10 the prom never happens.

I need to think about this more.