Teen Movies. There are a heck of a lot of them out these days, aren't there? And just when I thought "Not Another Teen Movie" heralded the end of the latest spate of them, I was very, very wrong.
As long as there are teenagers who believe media targeted at them is shiny and brand new and wholly original to the universe as it enters their experience, a dozen or so of these flicks are getting cranked out a year. And the funny thing is, the critics spend a lot of time justifying these movies instead of simply writing them off. But the review always has the haunting quality of a 16 year old girl whose parent simply don't understand her...
The review of the teen movie always goes something like:
Being a teenager is hard. Every high school is the same. There are cliques. The cafeteria blah blah blah. We all hated it, right? Right? This movie is about a girl who is sad because she is not popular in the cafeteria. Something magical happens to make her popular but then she does not like herself. This thing tests her identity about who she wants to be, and she decides to be who she was at the beginning of the movie and the bitchy girls get their comeuppance. This movie wasn't very good, but it had a few funny jokes. Breakfast Club is good. In spite of all the shit I put on other, better movies, I liked this movie. The End.
You know what?
If you really thought that life would be great if you ditched your friends, it means you're an idiot and kind of a horrible person. Seriously. You don't deserve the fairy tale story where you learn to accept your friends. You were probably a jerk then and, more than likely, you're a jerk now.
And, kids... High school is easy. High schoolers don't really work and they live the dream lives of the characters on Friends where you pretty much pal around with your buddies all day, and then go pal around with your buddies some more, and nobody is ever at work or worrying about a mortgage or anything. This is why my favorite high school movie may well be "American Beauty".
Of course, I came into my high school as a sophomore, so maybe I missed the day freshman year we were given "A TV Viewer's Guide to Your High School". And thanks to TV and movies, I remember thinking high school was going to be this horrible place where I was going to have to win ski competitions and dance-offs to impress girls. Really, the worst thing about high school is that you have to go see a lady in the principals' office when you are "tardy", even if it's because you dared to use the bathroom between classes.
I suspect movies and TV are written by people who always secretly wanted to be IN some crowd they thought would make boring high school more interesting, instead of watching these other folks from afar like the characters always do on these shows. Which pretty much means two things to me:
1) the writers may have dedicated their whole lives to feeling superior to Jessica Schwartz once and for all, and their whole professional life is some sad revenge fantasy 2) The critics need the same visceral indication and are still getting it from these movies at age 40
With movie after movie coming out like this, clearly it's reaching the intended audience (whether the decision is to go with the hot, rich prince, or whether to go back to hanging out with your admittedly lame friends you had in Act 1).
My high school movie would be painful and boring to watch as the great drama unfolded as my dad and I debated whether mowing the lawn early or late on Saturday was a better idea. Or the drama of the bad haircut. Or the story of the time the pump took a really long time at the Chevron. Or the saga of the really bad pair of Bugle Boys. Or the time I jumped off my roof into the pool. If we wanted to get really exciting, we could investigate the mystery of why we never had any damn soda in the house unless guests came to visit. Hollywood, I am ready to sell any of these ideas.
I'm still not sure what prompted Edward's ouster, but I am betting whatever we were told about wanting to skew younger is hogwash. I bet Edwards and Montagne got into a knife-fight in the parking lot.
9:16 AM |
Apparently some a-holes in some a-hole hate group managed to get top billing when you Google for "Jew." Google has posted an apology if this is what you find while searching, but has stated they cannot change the findings without compromising the validity of their process. Or something.
Apparently, as a web-publisher guy, I can help a bit by linking to this site. If enough people link to it, and I say Jew on my website, it may help derail the hate group. I have no idea if this will work or help or not, but you have to try, right? So, here I link to the definition of Jew.
7:56 AM |
Says Koppel, "I didn't expect that. I thought it would get attention, but did I think it would become so controversial, did I think that people would feel the need to question the patriotism of those who are putting it on the air? Did I think that it would descend to the depths of some people suggesting we were doing this because the networks are going into a sweeps period when ratings become important? You start to wonder after a while. I've been doing 'Nightline' for over 24 years, I've been at ABC for 41 years, if that's really the impression I've left with people then I have failed in such a colossal way that I can't even begin to consider the consequences of it."
7:38 AM |
Last night when I was going to bed, I turned off the light and then turned on a flashlight to try and be funny and surprise Jamie. No go on surprising Jamie.
However, Mel (who likes to sleep by the foot of our bed) suddenly began scrambling around, terrified out of his mind by the flashlight.
Superman #204 hit the stands yesterday, and I can't encourage Loyal Leaguers enough to get on board Superman with this issue.
I had been very excited by the previews DC had posted on their website, but the preview doesn't actually show what's in #204. Sure, the dialogue is the same for the first two pages, but it's actually different art. It's a greater establishing shot. I'm kind of curious to know what happened and if the art will turn up again... But who cares. Superman #204 rocked my socks off in a way the other two (very nicely done) relaunches have failed to do.
Brian Azzarello is better known for his crime-fiction, and the story will be the largest "whodunit?" in comics in a long time. Indeed, while Superman was lending a hand to Kyle Rayner Green Lantern a million miles from home, something happened back on Earth. Superman returned to discover that about 1 million people were missing. Just gone. Among the missing was Lois Lane, intrepid reporter for The Daily Planet and wife to Superman.
Anyway, the story has almost no action. It's a huge prelude of things to come. But the art is phenomenal, and the writing is excellent.
You can wait 18 months for the collection to be released, or you can jump on-board now. I know what I'd do.
Speaking of Green Lanterns... Looks like Hal Jordan will officially be DC's boy in green once again. I like John Stewart, myself... But that's mostly based on only the cartoon of Justice League and a brief run called Cosmic Odyssey and a few good issues of Joe Kelley's JLA. We'll see what happens.
10:45 AM |
Karen Skloss and I worked together at the Instructional Media Lab (now the FIC) at the University of Texas. She was lead editor and cinematographer on a few of our projects while I was there. I knew she had talent, but I am ashamed to now admit we got into a row or two over editing decisions. Clearly, she is now more in the right than I. Karen, wherever you are, I am sorry i wanted that pan shot cut.
Karen is an A+ kind of person, and I am thrilled to hear about her success.
Irony of ironies... Karen is not a grad student in the RTF department. She's a Fine Arts grad.
Wednesday, April 28, 2004
Today is the 4th Anniversary of my wedding to Jamie McBride Steans.
We got married on a lovely Friday afternoon in South Austin under the watchful eye of many of our friends and loved ones and some random friends of my parents. Jamie was amazingly lovely, and the whole thing mostly went off without a hitch.
Here's to four great years of me being the luckiest guy on earth.
Tuesday, April 27, 2004
Everyone wants to be naked and famous.
I got a post-card in my mail-slot at work today for some sort of drama camp being held at my employing university. It looks like it's for middle-school or high-school aged kids, and is designed to aloow them to try out their acting chops in an environment other than the annual Christmas Pageant (I, myself, am a three-time veteran narrator of the Christmas Pageant. I was not allowed to narrate anymore after I flubbed the phrase "Prince of Peace" during the horrid production of "The Christmas Alphabet". There are a lot of letters after P, and X wasn't even included, so it wasn't much of a play. But I sure saw those angry stares from the parents when I screwed up "Prince of Peace". Which made me start laughing. Which made my brother start laughing. Which made Todd start laughing. Which didn't help with the angry stares. And I thought Christmas was supposed to be merry...).
At any rate, the post card shows about five kids of varying ethnicities pulled from some pay-per-photo website. They might be singing. They might be yelling. I can't tell. I kind of don't like kids, so I didn't pay too much attention. What caught my eye was the phrase, "Where every child is a star!" Parents: That is physically impossible. Not every child is a star. The world if full of us chorus type people. And if your kid stinks, your kid stinks. furthermore, Parents: just because your kid is an obnoxious lout, doesn't make them the next Katherine Hepburn. Trust me. And, no... there's no such thing as precociousness. It's almost invariably obnoxiousness through the filter of parent's doting eyes. And then it becomes obnoxiousness which receives positive reinforcement, making it all the worse for the chorus kids.
Can little kids be good actors? Sure. I guess. And so can chimps and dogs. Even Dolphins can act, if you've seen Flipper.
But the point is, not EVERY child is going to be a star. A lot of kids will go to camp and end up way back in the chorus, or play "shopkeep #5" in an atrocious rendition of Hello, Dolly! (I am actually reminded of a former co-worker of mine who told me her 5th grade class performed MacBeth. I said "God, that must have been awful for your parents!" and she said "No, we were really good." To which I said "You were 10. Whether you knew it or not, the best you could do is memorize your lines." To which she insisted "well, we were in the gifted class." To which I said "Weren't we all. It sounds like a freaking nightmare. I pity your parents." To which she said "Well, kids at my school were probably smarter than at your school. This was in Philadelphia." Which pretty much went against everything I ever knew about Philadelphia, but I let it drop.)
Now there's nothing wrong with kids doing drama, or adults doing drama. And I don't want that confusion to play out here. But the point is: iWhere Every Child Is a Star!
Which got me thinking about Reality TV. It's fairly easy to see the connection and if you see where I'm going, stop reading now. Reality TV is the long-awaited dream of all of us untalented chorus people. It's the final resting place of the morbidly un-cast to be famous for being famous, to let dignity and due process fly to the wind. It casts off any preconceptions about skill, or working for years before getting a break, or having talent. It's your chance to fulfill the highschool popularity contest of being universally known and loved just for existing.
But, like everything else, this stardom is fleeting. Just the length of the season of the show, and then someone even nutsier comes along on a show you never heard of before. But by then you've got an agent, you've ditched your girlfriend and moved to LA to have a go at making it in the movies (which, honestly... you know jack-shit about...). You get a role in a commercial playing a pre-scripted version of yourself (who is kind of an ass, but it's hyperbole for TV, right...?) and then... VH1 calls to ask you about how bitter you are because you're not in the next Spielberg picture the way you hoped... and can they put you on camera to talk about it? Well, says you agent, it would be good for your exposure (which is limited to the local bar right now). So, yeah, go ahead. 15% of blood money is better than 15% of nothing.
And forget about the kids who go to LA and are starring in movies like "The Sopornos 18" a year or two of bad decision making after their arrival. Or the sea of people who don't happen to have fathers and mothers who can get them a job... Or the demeaning role of "chubby girl #2" or the best story they have is that it turns out Alan Thicke can be a real moody bastard on set...
We want our kids to be famous. We want them to be known and harassed and stalked and photographed and adored... screw it if their only skill is showing their teeth when they smile...
And if they do become a star, they decide you abused them and sue you for all you've got once they turn twenty-one and meet a coke-head stripper looking for a handout. Hell, if the story is horrific enough, you can get on VH1 and talk about with out without a 15% representation fee. And, hey... that makes you semi-famous, right..?
Monday, April 26, 2004
I have to admit a fondness for MTV's globe-trotting "nature" program Wildboyz.
While I am sure that the good folks at PETA probably flip out at the very notion of putting an animal on camera without a signed consent form, the folks at PETA should really give the show a second-look... because the primary attraction of Wildboyz is getting to see grown men mauled by wild animals.
Steve-O and Chris Pontius from MTV's gleefully brain-dead Jackass have taken the show on the road, and decided to involve the peoples and animals from across the world. No longer content just to ride grocery carts downhill into a brick wall, Chris and Steve-O swim with man-eating sharks, get bit by toucans and get zapped by electric eels. Really, the show is an investigation into all of the aggressive tactics of animals you've heard about, but never got a chance to witness at the zoo. Luckily, Chris is not above poking a jaguar to see if it IS the dealiest cat alive.
Granted, Wildboyz is deeply rooted in the scatological (and here, my PETA friends, you may quit reading before you bust an artery). Steve-o is pee'd and pooped upon by elephants, and Chris might use his thong as the location where he's concealing feed for a guinea hen. And, of course, the male nudity. Neither Chris nor Steve-O will wear much more than a thong, given the chance. In some cases (like when they jumped in the water with a Great White Shark) they've had on even less.
Have I learned anything from Wildboyz? I have learned that Chris and Steve-O should be dead about fifty times over, but somehow live on, with all of their fingers, toes, ears and eyes intact. I also have learned that undomesticated animals WILL in fact attack you in pretty much the worst ways imaginable (see last nights episode with the Sloth Bear incident), and your crew will stand off camera and laugh as you get really messed up.
The amazing part of the spectacle is that Chris and Steve-O go back again and again. It wasn't enough when they dressed up as two parts to a zebra and ran across a veldt in front of hungry lions, only to be mauled. No, next episode they plan to test the stories surrounding the electric eel by standing in runnign water and grabbing electric eels.
I won't watch The Swan, but, God help me, I will watch these two guys get beat up by every creature on the planet.