Monday, September 19, 2005

The Large Flightless Blog

What is hip?
I just finished HIP: THE HISTORY by John Leland, a reporter for the New York Times. It was interesting and insightful, I thought, on issues of race, culture, and the nature of hip (Miles Davis is the mold to break, by the way).

Towards the end of the book, he had this to share:

“When hipsters challenge the taste hierarchies of the mainstream, it is not to argue that there should be no taste hierarchies…. The Net, by contrast, is an operating system that does not need alphas. It defeats authority. Its consensuses are micro – within subgroups rather than between them. We visit Web sites to learn about things we are already interested in. If the experience on any site does not confirm what you already believe, you are probably out of there.”

I found this true, and depressing. It is why music sales are down, why books are so anemic, why the Bush administration is the way it is, why Democrats don’t have a clue, why politics are so vicious, why political spin is so successful, and why – though they’re not mentioned in the book – we have so many blogs.

Nobody wants to LEARN anything any more. We just want to reinforce what we already believe.

It looks like MARCH OF THE PENGUINS is about to overtake FAHRENHEIT 9/11 as the highest-grossing documentary of all time.

I haven’t seen either movie, but this has never stopped me from having an opinion before.

I didn’t see FAHRENHEIT 9/11 because Michael Moore irritates me. Yes, I’m a liberal, but I find his prankishness irksome. I hate pranks. I REALLY hate pranks. I understand that FAHRENHEIT 9/11 is relatively prank-free, but past work of his does not dispose me to want to see anything further by him. I also don’t like his blue collar pretenses, and the general assumption by him, and others, that just because he made a goddam movie or two he’s an expert on anything except making movies and self-promotion.

I haven’t seen MARCH OF THE PENGUINS, but probably will, because – hey, I like to look at penguins, and so does the Child Bride. We may watch it with the sound off, however. My understanding is that the narration is not only mawkish, it is done by Morgan Freeman. I love Morgan Freeman, but somebody needs to stop him before he narrates again.

So okay, this is a movie about large flightless birds. An offensive amount of anthropomorphism is apparently involved. Well, I grew up with Walt Disney movies, narrated by Rex Allen (“Wal, ol’ Mr. Badger was getting’ pretty worried ‘bout now” ), so I can probably tolerate that.

But since when did a movie about large flightless birds become a conservative rallying cry? Michael Medved in an interview with the New York Times (or at least in an interview quoted by the Times – the Times was not clear) declared, "MARCH OF THE PENQUINS… is the motion picture this summer that most passionately affirms traditional norms like monogamy, sacrifice and child rearing."

Speaking of audiences (i. e. evangelical Christians) who feel that movies ignore or belittle such themes, he added: ‘This is the first movie they've enjoyed since THE PASSION OF THE CHRIST. This is THE PASSION OF THE PENQUINS.’”

Much ridicule has been heaped on his claim already. (And why is a Jewish movie critic taking up the cudgel for evangelical Christians in the first place?) Apparently most Emperor penguins change mates yearly. Some Emperor penguins are gay. None of them have mortgages. None of them are Jewish, or Christian.

Andrew Coffin, in the Christian World Magazine, wrote about the penguin struggle: "That any one of these eggs survives is a remarkable feat — and, some might suppose, a strong case for intelligent design. It's sad that acknowledgment of a creator is absent in the examination of such strange and wonderful animals. But it's also a gap easily filled by family discussion after the film."

(George Will wrote, in response to this sort of argument, "If an intelligent designer designed nature, why did it decide to make breeding so tedious for those penguins?" To which I would add, "family discussion?" Gag me.)

In Sidney, Ohio, minister Ben Hunt has organized trips to the movie; he told the Times, "Some of the circumstances they[the penguins] experienced seemed to parallel those of Christians. The penguin is falling behind, is like some Christians falling behind. The path changes every year, yet they find their way, is like the Holy Spirit."

It’s a movie about PENGUINS! Even if they were put on this earth by intelligent design, they were not put on this earth to teach moral lessons to Christians. Good grief.

This sort of thing really irritates me. Like “nature’s fury.” Or when people compare political corruption to cancer. As if personal moral choices had some kind of “natural” genesis. If they were NATURAL, they wouldn’t be CHOICES.

Watch the funny suffering birds, and shut up. Insert the Rex Allen narration of your choice.


Anonymous Anonymous said...

My favorite movie to watch with the sound off is "Winged Migration." I wish, on the DVD, that they'd included an option to get just the video and soundtrack, with no narration.

10:56 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

I recently came accross your blog and have been reading along. I thought I would leave my first comment. I dont know what to say except that I have enjoyed reading. Nice blog. I will keep visiting this blog very often.


7:33 AM  

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