The Hazardous Bride and I left the house - cautiously - today to go see JCVD, a movie we both really wanted to see. We are both unashamed and unabashed Jean-Claude Van Damme fans. We also like Steven Seagal movies, and are fascinated by Seagal's spiral down from not-quite A-list star to an international icon for the kind of folks who aren’t too fussy about the quality of their action movies. You know, like whether shots match or not. Or whether it’s convincing that a fat guy in a caftan could really take out five terrorists in a single take.
Lo and behold, JCVD is ABOUT all that. Jean Claude Van Damme plays himself, a verging-on-fifty action star, beset by divorces, child custody disputes, and past drug and media scandals, struggling not only to make a living but to justify his own existence. The plot involves him coming home to Brussels after making some crappy action movie shot in Bulgaria (or somewhere), directed by some bored young Chinese hot shot. JCVD is jet-lagged and slightly desperate, hoping for a payment advance on another crappy action movie, so he can pay off his lawyers. He goes into a post office, which (unfortunately for him) is being occupied by thieves and hostages.
Through an even more unfortunate chain of events, the outside world comes to believe that is JCVD who is committing the crime. The movie is funny, moving, and smart – especially with one astonishing moment (though many viewers have differed about the degree of this astonishment), when JCVD is lifted out of the scene of the crime (literally), up into the bank of lights illuminating the movie, and he talks to the camera about his life in an extended six minutes-plus monologue. Some have called this monologue “self-pitying.”
In a much more minor respect, I have been where JCVD has been, and knew EXACTLY what he was talking about. As a matter of fact, I think I know JCVD now better than anybody. I am going to camp outside his house. I have pictures of him. I want his autograph. I want to bear his children.
We also rented IRON MAN, which had value from the performances of Robert Downey Jr., Gwyneth Paltrow, and Jeff Bridges. I enjoyed it very much, until….
Until the movie ended like all of these movies end. ROBOCOP II is the prototype (I think). Robots slam each other into freeway barriers. One of them perishes in flames. Who the fuck cares.
The Hazardous Bride and I took the Thanksgiving occasion to watch the Stephen Colbert Christmas special. It was all right. We enjoyed it. It was funny enough. Wouldn’t care to see it again, really, but I could say that about a lot of things I have enjoyed over the years.
But then I read Brent Bozell (III), as I am wont to do, and I found myself becoming a boiling-with-rage liberal, which is a hard position to achieve, actually, as many of you no doubt know from personal experience.
Bozell writes: “Christmas is coming, which means it's time for Comedy Central to begin besmirching the holiday. This year's first salvo is ‘A Colbert Christmas,; hosted by the clueless ultraconservative buffoon persona played by Stephen Colbert. Colbert is so busy manufacturing his O'Reilly-esque right-wing jerk that it's impossible to tell where the real man and the cartoon diverge.”
Besmirching the holiday? Who uses the word “besmirch” any more? And what does Bozell mean when he says “that it’s impossible to tell where the real man and the cartoon diverge?” Being a right wing jerk cartoon himself, why would he object to that impossibility?
After eliminating any grounds for objection, Bozell (III) nonetheless goes through the show, objecting to Toby Keith’s song about the war on the war on Christmas, and Willy Nelson’s song about offering pot to the baby Jesus, and Feist’s turn as an angel who puts Colbert on hold when he offers up a heartfelt prayer (okay, make that “heartfelt”).
Bozell (III)’s critique concludes, based on the fact that Colbert is a practicing Catholic, “If Colbert doesn't believe that God judges people when they die, why is he teaching children at church? What has he been teaching? Certainly not the passages about judgment all over the Bible. More to the point: What Catholic parish in its right mind would allow this man to teach religion to its children?”
As to the first point, I have no idea where Bozell (III) took away the conclusion that Colbert doesn’t believe that God judges people when they die. Why would Colbert bring it up in the first place? It’s awfully, I dunno, Nietschean or something, for Comedy Central, isn’t it? This was a satirical program, making fond fun of old Andy Williams specials and their ilk, with a bit of a bite to it, but not much. I mean, this was a show where the big payoff was when Santa Claus disemboweled a bear, thus freeing Elvis Costello who had previously been devoured. There are a lot of reasons to deplore that in a television program, but the accusation of heresy is not among them.
As to what Colbert teaches children at church (does he teach children at church?), maybe it’s the old virtues like, “Love your neighbor,” or “Lighten the fuck up.”
New York Times
Kevin Kelly, from WIRED, writing in the Sunday Magaazine:
“Now invention is again overthrowing the dominant media. A new distribution-and-display technology is nudging the book aside and catapulting images, and especially moving images, to the center of the culture. We are becoming people of the screen. The fluid and fleeting symbols on a screen pull us away from the classical notions of monumental authors and authority. On the screen, the subjective again trumps the objective. The past is a rush of data streams cut and rearranged into a new mashup, while truth is something you assemble yourself on your own screen as you jump from link to link. We are now in the middle of a second Gutenberg shift — from book fluency to screen fluency, from literacy to visuality.”
So why didn’t he make a movie out of this vapid and obvious conclusion? Maybe because nobody would watch it? I noticed Mr. Kelly is working on a book, a “coming book on what technology wants.” Unless it’s a movie, why the hell would I care what technology wants? In a movie, after all, what technology wants is to kill Sarah Connor. That’s entertainment! It will end with robots slamming each other into freeway barriers! In a book, what technology wants is whatever Kevin Kelly says he kind of thinks it wants. So he can get another book deal farther down the line. Oh, how I hate us. I like movies though. As long as they’re as heartfelt, ironic, and thoughtful as JCVD.
I've noticed, because I listen to a lot of talk radio, and follow certain blogs, that hope is surfacing among right wing folk that Obama will be disqualified as President because his birth certificate is.... a forgery!
Accusations accrue that the Obama folks have "refused" to display the actual birth certificate, which would would supposedly prove that Obama was born in Kenya, and is some kind of Muslim/Commie mole.
Dream on, dear friends! Obama was born in Hawaii, in 1961. There's proof! The man exists! Deal with it.
Of course, John McCain went through this same nonsense, because he was born in the Canal Zone. Oh, how I hate us.