Tuesday, August 11, 2009

Shout Them Down

Lately I've been lamenting the effectiveness of the tactics of the astroturf teabaggers who have been disrupting the town hall meetings on Health care reform between members of congress and their constituents.

I think I have the solution.

You see, tonight, I watched my favorite movie, Casablanca, again.

My (and many other people's) favorite scene in the movie (and perhaps the best scene of the whole movie)is when an inebriated group of Nazi officers in Rick's cafe have commandeered a piano and are loudly singing "Die Wacht Am Rhein"(Watch on the Rhine). Victor Laszlo, the resistance leader, storms into the room and orders the cafe band to play the French national anthem "La Marseillaise". With the tacit approval of Rick, the band begins the song, and the largely French refugee patron crowd begins loudly singing along. The Nazis are drowned out by sheer numbers and are forced to sheepishly sit down. It's a truly stirring and touching scene, and it's the scene that makes it my favorite movie of all time.

It has also given me an idea. So here is my plan: If you happen to attend one of these town hall meetings, find a group of people who are with you. Then, pick out the astroturf hecklers and surround them. Then, when they get up, simply stand up around them and out-shout them with any variation of "Sit down and shut the hell up".

There are a lot more of us than there are of them. It's time we showed it!

Saturday, August 08, 2009

G.I. Joe

I have been to see the new movie G.I. Joe.

I enjoyed it.

It was fast-paced, stupid, explosive, stupid, silly, stupid, cliched, stupid, fun, stupid, and just all-around entertaining.

An aside: My biggest laugh probably came when the character of General Hawk gave the line "Knowing is half the battle". I cracked up for a full ten seconds, while people around me stared like I was nuts. I should point out that the people around me were mostly under the age of 25--they had no experience with the PSA's that appeared at the end of every episode of the G.I. Joe cartoon series that aired back in the 80's that ended with the line.

I acknowledge that the acting was wooden, the characters forgettable, and the exposition was mere filler in between the mind-boggling action sequences. What did anyone expect from a movie that features Dennis Quaid as the lead?

With a few rare exceptions, you cannot expect more from a summer blockbuster. You expect cheap entertainment, while the major studios expect strong opening box office returns that they can use to finance the "art films" that gain them the Oscars. They will then make up any losses from the movie by releasing the expanded 2-disc DVD of the movie 6 months later, with enough contained extras that people will want to own it. How else can anyone explain why 3 versions of Pearl Harbor were released on DVD?

Meanwhile, these movies, that often are the People's choice award nominees, typically outperform the Oscar nominees at the box office by a figure of more than 5 to 1. Sensing a trend, anyone?

We go to the movies in the summer to be entertained, and to spend a few hours in air-conditioning that we don't have to pay for. If we get a little education from it, that's just a bonus.

If critics complain that the new G.I. Joe movie wasn't screened for them, well maybe that's because the producers didn't want it to be savaged by the critics who panned Transformers 2 for being the exact same thing that this movie is.


Ask the folks who come out of G.I. Joe and Julie and Julia how much fun their movie was...

Thursday, August 06, 2009

It's Official (Again)

Well, if I needed any proof that Hollyweird has run out of ideas, I've gotten it.

You may recall a few months ago that I pointed out ABC's remake of the series Cupid. At the time, I laughed at it, because it was a remake of a show that had failed spectacularly less than a decade earlier. Of course, I ended up liking the show, mostly because it was well-written and well-acted, a rarity in this day and age of reality TV

Well, now ABC has announced a remake of "V", a miniseries and then TV series that aired about 25 years ago on NBC.

The premise of the show was simple enough: A large number of giant spaceships appeared over Earth, with the inhabitants looking to loot Earth's natural resources. The miniseries and series was eerily similar to the movie Independence Day that appeared about a decade later, only instead of dropping giant blue beams of antimatter that obliterated entire cities prior to stripping the planet of its resources, the aliens in question infiltrated our society by disguising themselves as humans and pretending to come in peace and goodwill.

The show failed of course, mostly because it was poorly written and acted, and was prohibitively expensive to produce. Not unlike NBC's previous Sci-Fi series Battlestar Galactica (the original series).

Nowadays, of course, hi-tech Sci-fi shows are easier and cheaper to make, mostly because of advances in digital technology.

But this does not change the fact that this new show is still a remake of a failed TV series that lasted less than one season, and only originated in the first place due to the minor success of two massive miniseries that were successes because there was little else to watch at the time.

I have long held this theory: Decades ago, at the dawn of Hollywood, thousands of writers, directors, producers, and other film and TV people created this giant vat full of ideas. As movies and TV shows were created, those ideas were drained out of this vat and used as necessary. And new ideas would be tossed into this vat by others, thus keeping the vat full.

But as more and more movies were made, and television went from four networks broadcasting eight hours a day to 400 networks broadcasting 24 hours a day, that massive vat of ideas got drained faster than it could be filled.

And then the ideas ran out. And the remakes began. Expect to see movie versions of Happy Days, Laverne and Shirley, and Mork and Mindy within a decade.

I blame our education system for this. Our education system which has systematically cut funding to art and music education, which are the keys to stimulating imagination, which in turn is the key to creating new ideas.

Imagination has died here. When I was growing up, the books I read in elementary school envisioned a world where today we would be driving flying cars, colonizing other planets, and moving from one side of the planet to the other as easily as we walked across the street. Tell me: How much of that is true today?

Tuesday, August 04, 2009

It's Insidious

Yesterday, you the 3 readers of this blog read my report on the teabagger disruptions of the Town Hall meetings on health care reform.

I dismissed them as a lot of Sound and Fury and signifying nothing.

Today I'm not so sure.

You see, these disruptions are having a profound effect on the reporting of these events. Notice that I do not say the events themselves, but on the reporting of them.

Because at the many events that I am sure are being held around the country with no disruptions, there are no reports made of them. Because it's not sexy. It's not news. It's not something that will grab attention.

No, the disruptions of these events by the teabaggers are being reported because they make for great ratings.

Of course, the worst part is that the people who disrupt these meetings are utterly clueless to the fact that they are being manipulated by the corporate entities that are desperately trying to keep health care reform from being enacted in the first place. Sad, really.

You know, it is unfortunate that these sad people are getting so much attention. I am beginning to see eerie parallels forming between our nation and 1930's Germany. A minority party, using the tactics of fear and rhetoric, somehow managed to seize control of an industrial nation by taking advantage of the complacency of the working class. They hijacked the government and plunged the world into a war that it took decades to recover from. And it was all because good people stood by and did nothing.

So if any of you the 3 readers of this blog are at one of these meetings in the future, find one of these disruptors and stand next to him or her, and when he or she gets up to shout, start singing "We Shall Overcome". Hopefully, they will be so surprised that they will stop and sit down, if only in confusion if nothing else.

It's the only way we can overcome this threat.

Monday, August 03, 2009

The Teabaggers are Back!

Yes, folks, those crazy teabaggers are back again!

The tens of tens of people who protested the stimulus plan on April 15th are back, protesting at town hall meetings with members of Congress who are there to talk about the proposed health care reforms blundering their way through the government.

By the way, all I can say about Health care reform legislation is this: It's in the hands of Congress. God help us.

The strategy of the teabaggers is apparently this: Show up at the Town Halls, spread out as widely as possible, shout pre-arranged slogans designed to disrupt speakers, and generally cause as much distraction as possible. In other words, to paraphrase Shakespeare, Tales told by idiots, full of sound and fury, signifying nothing.

You see, these people have no ideas of their own. They followed the teachings of a happy idiot for 8 years, and the world watched as this country fell deeper and deeper into a quicksand lake of economic ruin and destructive wars overseas, all while the rich elite who pulled the strings sat back and laughed as they got progressively richer.

And now that there is a man in office who is trying to fix all the problems caused by his predecessor, they can do nothing other than try to disrupt his planned reforms any way they can. Of course, they have no ideas of their own on how to fix things. That would require thought on their part, something for which they are not known for.

It's simple, really. These. People. Are. Idiots.