Sunday, February 23, 2014

Even More Records Broken And Phony Outrages

Articles written by George Stefano Pallas.  Bigotry, blasphemy, bestiality, and bad writing expressed by the author are his alone and do not necessarily reflect nor should be construed as those of the Author. Graphic photos of God have been filtered out for readers’ convenience so that they won’t be struck dead. Thanks anyway, George.

God Commands Hollywood To Return Bible Stories

God saw all that he had made, and it was very good.  And there was evening, and there was morning – the sixth day.  By the seventh day, God had finished the work he had been doing; so on the seventh day he rested from all his work and watched the man he created in his own image do his own work, and he saw that it was not very good at all.

Humanity has been blaspheming its Creator and defiling the talents bestowed on them ever since the days of Noah, Babel, Sodomy and Gomorrah, and South Park, sometimes to stern rebuke, other times to near total annihilation, but they may have pulled the very last straw with the dawning of the 2014 movie season. While the past ten years have borne witness to plagues of similarly themed projects including penguin-centered family films, superhero origin stories, Abraham Lincoln movies, and, just last year, teen-oriented paranormal romantic flops based on YA book series, 2014 is shaping up to be the year of the Bible according to analyst Nick Allen at The Daily Telegraph.  The newspaper recently highlighted an ark’s load of upcoming feature-length films based on God’s bestselling novel, from Al Gore’s executive-produced “Noah: Eco-Warrior” this March to Ridley Scott’s “Exodus From Earth”, a hotly anticipated landmark in geek fandom which stars Sigourney Weaver and the director promises will imaginatively retell the Biblical epic while illuminating some of all of the questions he left unanswered in his other more vaguely religious head-scratcher “Prometheus”.

God is not amused.  The Lord of the universe spoke to Hollywood producers through religious leader Mark Burnett last Thursday, saying, “Our book is to be called a book of prayer, but you have turned it into an Imax 3D den of thieves!”  To prove that secular film studios are exploiting his book for material profit, God singled out both of the aforementioned movies as well as “Gods and Kings” by Ang Lee, a Pontius Pilate movie starring Brad Pitt, a “mystery thriller” about the resurrection called “Resurrection”, and a Will Smith-directed sci-fi retelling of Cain and Abel that will somehow involve vampires. “That last one I’d verily vomit at if My divinity allowed,” said the Father.

One of his main objections to the unholy onslaught of adaptations, aside from the obvious drawbacks of vampires and werewolves, is that all are being directed, acted, written, and otherwise created by a bunch of rabid Atheists and psycho-babble whackos, from ambiguous None Darren Aronofsky, former director of the Academy Award-winning gay porn flick “Black Swan”, to All Of The Above Spiritualist Ang Lee (“Life of Pi”), also director of an Oscar-winning gay porn flick, to closet Scientologist Smith.  “You have been told that whether you eat or drink or do anything, you should do all for the glory of God.  But how can one glorify God in denying His very existence or replacing Him with false idols and space aliens and undead nightmares of one’s fabrication?”

Evangelist leaders sprung to dismiss the controversial claims, adamantly stressing that “Jesus Christ’s views are hardly representative of Christianity at large, as most Christians embrace the ideals of love and compassion and tolerance espoused by Christ.”  Influential pastors of mega-churches like Joel Osteen, Rick Warren, and Billy Graham stated that believers should welcome and support any faith-themed movie to enter the cinemas if it might bring any people to Scripture. “If heretical, effects-driven, fantasy movies like Noah, Exodus, and Vampiric Genesis can inspire even one person to accept Jesus Christ as their personal savior, then they’re worth it.”

Since God leads an especially reclusive life and tends to avoid the paparazzi associated with People and TMZ, the media was quick to disseminate and analyze his remarks, with most commentators concluding that the divisive condemnation of free speech and intellectual diversity would hurt rather than improve the ruler’s poll numbers.  Regardless, newly crowned king of the late-night Jimmy Fallon invited God to slow-jam the news with him on the Tonight Show and answer several questions about his 2000-year retreat, including which political party he supports, if any.  God declined to affiliate himself with either of America’s major progressive parties, saying that he forms his own beliefs on an issue-by-issue basis instead of kowtowing absolutely to any party’s dogma, a revelation which was met by roars of applause from self-declared Independents in the audience who are too ashamed to admit to doing just that.

God also refrained from speaking too much about the ground-breaking History Channel miniseries of the epic saga he has written.  As successful as it was, “The Bible” was subject to significant controversy and legal challenges, one being that it infringed on copyrighted material and another being that it inadvertently compared President Obama to Satan through some unfortunate facial similarities in Moroccan actor Mehdi Ouzaani.  God did confirm that he was just as offended by the casting decision as anyone else, with Burnett interpreting: “Have I not forbidden you to make an idol in the form of anything in the heaven above or earth beneath or waters below?  OmiMe!  This is an insult to the devil.”

Producers Burnett and his wife Roma Downey have since moved to defuse the crisis, removing idolatrous images from the upcoming film version with the explanation that “the devil gets no more screen time” and they “sincerely regret making a mockery of God’s Holy Word by erecting so shallow a caricature of his enemy Lucifer.  As Christians, we believe the Devil is a real force of evil both subtle and powerful, who in no way should have been personified as such a dunce and a clown.  In the future we’ll make sure to consult Satan face-to-face before going ahead with any moves that could unfairly substitute his evil genius with incompetent insanity.”

In spite of that one complaint, God wholeheartedly endorsed “Son Of God” as a reverent and textually faithful alternative to all the blasphemous golden bull that’s coming out elsewhere.  When asked by press representatives if he was qualified to serve as an impartial messenger for the voice of the Lord, Burnett vowed that he would humbly take up his cross and shoulder any burden his God gave him to bear, even if it helped to increase his box office gross.

“Son of God” opens this Friday and is expected to sacrilegiously outsell every other current release in the faith-based, conservative-leaning, non-3D demographic.  Due to the challenging breadth of the original source, it will be split into two parts, the first adapting Genesis through Song of Songs and the second continuing from Isaiah to Revelations.  The Author plans to post a review of Part 1 as soon as he conceives a way to do it that won’t potentially make Lindsey Stirling or other female readers blush.  He’ll probably just wait to rent the second part.

As Olympics Winds Down, History Still Being Made

Progressives cheered as barriers to social equity were broken down yet again at the Sochi Olympic Games in Russia, a nation that’s been embroiled in negative repute ever since Prime Minister Vladimir Putin enacted what critics call cruel and unprecedented and unfair adoption laws in 2013.  The Sochi Games have already attained symbolical significance among many minority groups, giving particularly strong representation to Korean- and American-Russian ethnicities while bringing awareness to the global plight of pinkeye sufferers, but Friday’s results in the males’ 5000-meter short-track relay posed the greatest victory by far to sports equality advocates, making history not once, not twice, but thrice.

Bob Costas gave a clear rundown on what audiences may have overlooked in the momentous moment, explaining that one of Russian skaters, Harvey Zirus, was actually the first openly orange, closet-straight orangutan to take home the gold in an Olympic game.  “Forget the gays,” he said.  “This guy, this it, is the real star of the show.  Never before have we seen an Olympian medal in this event, let alone compete, who openly wore his orangeness, hid his straightness, and embraced his subhumanness.”

Zirus was barraged with interview requests by both opponents and supporters of his widely disparaged lifestyle, most of which he shrugged off under the rationale that he wants people to respect him as an athlete instead of hunting for opportunities to defend or attack him as a victim of discrimination.  “My mate is my own business; I don’t think the public needs to know that.  We can play sports without making love. This Olympics isn’t a political zoo or anything.  You know?  It’s not like we’re animals.”

Many would beg to differ, though, if the latest 140-character blurbs from random angry people on Twitter are at all indicative of larger ideological or political patterns.  The key-word #GodHatesApes erupted across the social networking platform after Costas shed light on the hero who would otherwise have gone unnoticed.  Former inspirational Olympic celebrity Oscar Pistorius gave a particularly scathing rant on which said in part that “Zirus is obviously a loose gun who can’t control his baser instincts.  Sooner or later he’s bound to go off and somebody’s going to pay in blood.”   Even more offensive, one of the Russian torch-bearers, Irina Rodnina, promptly tweeted a photoshopped image of the athlete eating a banana that COG-rights groups saw as having heterophobic and speciesist undertones.

But for all the hate that he’s been receiving, the star athlete has seen just as much vocal approval from the other side of the aisle.  Ryan Lochte reportedly texted the fiercely private ape to “party on, whoever you laying – one night stands ROCK,” and President Cecil Ayers of the Simian Liberation Front praised him for his fearless commitment to represent the openly redheaded, suspected heterosexual orangutan community, even though he gravely speculated that society has a long way to go before “Zirus is home” and total acceptance has been reached.  He confirmed also that members of the Front were ready and willing to defend their own with lethal force if hate crimes and arrests in Russia escalate into full-scale war.

Professional ice dancer and diversity activist Johnny Weir also applauded Zirus for his courage but reflected grimly that “our straight brothers and sisters in the animal population will never comfortably stand on the same platform as the rest of society until the Olympic committee allows them to perform skating routines together with humans and until they can come out of the closet without fear of being ostracized, ridiculed, and hated upon.”

The Olympics closing ceremony airs at 8:30 tonight on NBC.  Based on preliminary reports, it appears that only same-species couples will be married at the show, although that may change if Putin does indeed seize the opportunity to seal marital bonds with his supposed girlfriend Alina Kabeyava.

Note from the Author: You may have already noticed a recurring motif in some of the more recent Files. We’ll be trying to incorporate this motif wherever possible and contextually appropriate, not so as to increase traffic to this website but because we are genuinely concerned with promoting truth, beauty, and virtue as slavishly obnoxiously effectively as we are able.

Correction: The original version of this article incorrectly identified Harvey Zirus as a chimp, which made more sense to Mr. Pallas at the moment because Zirus is a traditional surname in chimpanzee tribes, because chimps are humanity’s closest, most intelligent relatives in the animal kingdom (probably even our evolutionary superiors, according to scientists), and because there’s a new movie starring literally thousands of actors in the chimpanzee community coming out this summer that’s expected to pick up a lot of Oscar nominations.  We regret the analogically negligible but politically unacceptable error of confusing an irrational, socially downtrodden and victimized animal of dark fur with an irrational, downtrodden animal of light fur.  In the future we shall take extra precautions to ensure that one mindless fourlegs is never mistaken for another mindless fourlegs.

Friday, February 21, 2014

Pretty Much Everything Is Awesome

Darn right.  Mroww.

Up until The Lego Movie released two weeks ago, every one of the company’s visual productions, from its somewhat tolerable made-for-TV shorts to its less tolerable made-for-Legoland 4D-fests to its completely unacceptable made-for-DVD disgraces to Bionicle, had been nothing more than a mostly plotless and sometimes amusing kiddie cartoon fraught with pop-culture references that kiddies won’t understand and strategically designed to sell toys.  So just imagine my surprise when rave reviews started to pour in for this somehow different feature-length Lego Movie, downplaying its commercial agenda and specifically praising it for telling an original, meaningful story.  Imagine my further surprise upon going to see what all the buzz was about and finding that The Lego Movie is also an extended Lego ad set to a very skimpy plot, fraught with pop-culture references, and very obviously designed to sell toys, video games, theme park tickets, and whatnot.  Oh well.  Maybe someday Lego will grant an independent filmmaker the rights to make a philosophical, morally ambiguous, adult-oriented drama with its “sophisticated interlocking bricks system”, but for now we’re stuck with this consistently funny, eye-popping, witty, and completely bubble-headed CG comedy.  Unlike the works of Batman, it’s not exactly what I’d call true art, dark and brooding and serious, but under the circumstances it’ll do just fine.

I LOVE this song.

The first of many celebrity voice actors we’re introduced to are Will Ferrell and Morgan Freeman, the former playing an evil overlord named President Business who obsessively regulates all Lego worlds to his idea of perfect order, the latter a blind and elderly (he prefers “experienced”) Master Building guru who hopes to one day liberate the realms of Business’ tyrannical micromanagement and prophesies that a powerful figure called the Special will eventually save the brainwashed masses as the “most important, interesting, and extraordinary person of all times.  All this is true, because it rhymes.”  This chosen one will be none other than Emmet, an unremarkable, outwardly generic construction worker who leads an utterly simple existence in Bricksburg.  Like most residents of the almost dystopian metropolis, which runs entirely on Octan technology and is littered with giant propaganda posters celebrating President “Because He Said So” Business, he devotedly follows a repetitive but hilarious sitcom entitled “Where Are My Pants?” (in which a man asks his wife just that, over and over again), gorges himself on ludicrously overpriced coffee, never tires of playing the city anthem Everything Is Awesome without end (you probably won’t either), and abides so inerrantly to a set of instructions on how to live his life that he’s effectively incapable of expressing a single original idea, let alone building a model from his own imagination, a talent held in highest regard by the Master Builders.  The first half-hour of The Lego Movie is probably the most intriguing, evoking a lineage of thought-provoking stories like Brave New World and The Truman Show that concern individuals being squashed in conformity to collective expectations, creative thought being stifled in the name of balance, and people going about daily routines with nary a thought as to why they indulge such drudgery in the first place.  At its core, though, bar some latent, half-fulfilled theological references to “the man upstairs” and a pretty cool twist revelation about the Legoverses at the ending, it’s just a fun adventure movie about foiling the Emperor, saving the galaxy, and getting the girl.

And there is a girl, going presently by the moniker of Wyldstyle, which predictably provokes many confused queries as to whether she’s some kind of D.J.  Rather like Lindsey Stirling, she rocks a dash or two of strikingly dyed hair, and much like Lindsey Stirling, she sets the young guys’ hearts aflutter without even trying, which is exactly what happens to our dreadfully average hero one evening at a construction site.  Unfortunately for him, she’s already taken, by a really serious and growly dude named Batman, and in the process of chasing after her Emmet accidently falls down a rabbit hole, landing himself right in the clutches of an emotionally divided SS officer, Good Cop Bad Cop.  GCBC, being a bad guy with a leg up over the protagonist, typically relishes the opportunity to spill the beans on his master’s plans for world annihilation, but doesn’t get to finish his job with Emmet before Wyldstyle bursts onto the scene, karate chops a lot of robot minions into pieces, and bails out the clueless construction worker.  “Come with me if you want to not die,” she intones, and come he does, which leaves the conflicted cop nothing to say but: “DARN, DARN, DARN, Darney-Darn!”  As Wyldstyle and Vitruvius explain to the bumbling protagonist, his sole calling as the Special-in-making is to stick this one thing, “the piece of resistance”, into another thing so as to prevent Lord Business from coating the universe in “Kraggle”, a gel that immobilizes figures on the spot and plays a central role in his scheme to eliminate all chaos that derives from individuality.

Will the woman get the man that she deserves?  Will an eventual heist go according to Batman’s plans, or will the good guys have to wing it?  Will Emmet and the rest of Brickburg’s mindless slaves forego their instructions to build something “only they can think of”, or are they forever fated to live as mere parts in a larger set?  How do Dumbledore and Gandalf, Superman and Green Lantern figure into this hodgepodge of settings and themes?  Such are a few of the questions you’ll be asking yourself should you go to watch The Lego Movie, a movie so light-hearted and comical for the first hour and a half that when the plot twist finally unfolds and we’re supposed to start taking things seriously, the tone doesn’t shift nearly as smoothly as it ought, but that’s really the greatest complaint I can muster against the most technically impressive and well scripted animated film I’ve seen since, well, nothing that came out last year or the year before that.

It certainly towers over the abysmal Cloudy With a Chance of Meatballs that co-directors/writers Phil Lord and Christopher Miller made in their younger days.  As familiar as the ideas of rebellion, believing in yourself, and teamwork are, the animation style used herein to relate those ideas is unlike anything yet attempted in a mainstream blockbuster, appearing to be a mix of stop-motion animation and highly detailed CGI that replicates the same look.  All the explosions, lasers, clouds, and waves are animated as if they were composed of individual bricks, and the minifigures usually gesticulate in stiff, awkward movements that reflect their true flexibility or lack thereof, much as Disney poked fun at the primitive, staccato animation of older video game characters in Wreck It Ralph.  Both effects contribute to an appearance that’s unexpectedly photo-realistic and appropriately plastic, though it doesn’t resemble a low-budget project by any means, being filled with action sequences so complex and tremendous in scale they could have been borrowed from The Avengers’ finale or any Transformers movie.

Still, however pretty the animation may be, it’s the script that ultimately carries the film, delivering humor for children and adults in equal measure, just like the expensive toy sets you can and probably must succumb to compulsively buying in the Lego shop located outside the theater.  I’ve already commented on its surplus of allusions to other movies, mainly Megamind (whom Ferrell seems to be deliberately channeling as Business), the LOTR and Dark Knight films, The Matrix, Clash of the Titans (probably the remake, which I haven’t seen, over the original, which was laugh-out-loud horrendous), and maybe the Spongebob Squarepants movie with David Hasselhoff.  Even the Despicable Me minions have a not too subtle audio cameo, but The Lego Movie also keeps up a constant stream of genuinely clever jokes apart from its immersion in pop-culture.  Some of my favorite lines (paraphrasing) besides those recited earlier:

Wyldsyle: [After Emmet proudly demonstrates his single original design, a bunk-bed couch] “That’s literally the dumbest idea I’ve ever heard in my life.”
Vitruvius: “Let me handle this, Wyldstyle.  That idea… is just the worst.

Emmet: “You’re an amazing person, Wyldstyle, and if your boyfriend can’t see that, he’s as blind as… a person… whose eyes stopped working.”

“We awe fwum the planet Duplo, and we awe here to destwoy you.”

If Lego can maintain this same standard of quality for the inevitable #2, I can’t wait to see how the embattled minifigures repel the Duplo invaders from their home baseplate.  The Lego Movie doesn’t have a very deep meaning like Toy Story 1, Toy Story 2, Toy Story 3, Toy Short Stories, the Toy Story Halloween Special, or some other movies based on and made to sell toys, but it is superbly entertaining, delightfully hammy, blissfully nostalgic, consistently funny, occasionally romantic, and most of all awesome.

There.  I think I covered it all, but just in case, could you show me the whole thing again?  I wasn’t listening.

Grade rating: B+

Trailer Reviews
Mr. Peabody and Sherman – The one thing about this that looked remotely sufferable was Patrick Warburton as a Greek soldier, but he’s only as funny as the lines that writers give him, all of which weren’t.
Earth To Echo – This is likely an early teaser because it didn’t reveal many plot points, but it looks like a mashup of Super 8’s better parts with the aliens and floating things and Chronicle or Cloverfield with the handheld camera.  And y’all know how I feel about shaky cam.
Muppets: Most Wanted – “Lights out.”  *Crash*  “Turn them back on.  Ugh.  You ’ave to vait until I’m LIKE out of the hallway.”  Huh huh.  Tina Fey smashing Russian and valley girl together.  That’s a good one.  I think I’ve liked approximately zero of the Muppet movies I’ve seen so far, but maybe this one will change that record.  On DVD.
The Amazing Spider-Man 5, or is it officially 2? – Another year, another special effects extravaganza about an arrogant, unlikeable teenager who zips around the big city and wisecracks along the way, except this time the villain is Jamie “Every single thing in my life is built around race” Foxx and the most special effect on display is Spidey’s girlfriend Emma Stone.  A noble effort from Industrial Lights and Magic, but that’s not music enough for my ears.  It’s time for this string of cash-grabbing sequels to bow out.

He he.  Get it?  I worked really hard on that one.
The Box-Trolls – If I’m not mistaken, this is the one that made a small stir for being gay kiddie propaganda dressed up as a stop-motion monster movie.  “Families come in all shapes and sizes…”  Whatever the case, it doesn’t look nearly as inventive visually as Coraline or The Nightmare Before Christmas.
Another Wizard of Oz movie – Soooooooo bad.

Monday, February 17, 2014

Squeamish Girl Nation

A gruesome photo.

“Did you hear the big news yesterday?”

“It depends on how you define ‘news’.”

“Apparently a Pentagon official ordered that the photos of Osama Bin Laden’s body be destroyed or handed over to the CIA for sakekeeping not two weeks after the Navy Seal raid.  I really hope they followed through; we definitely wouldn’t want such gruesome photos circulating around and causing trouble.”

“By ‘gruesome photo’ you mean…”

“They shot him in the head.  There’s a lot of blood and skull and brain matter and yucky parts.  Really graphic and gruesome.”

“Have you actually seen these gruesome images?”

“No, and I’m pretty sure I don’t want to.  I trust my political leaders that they are perfectly gruesome.”

“Why would you judge something you haven’t seen with your own eyes, let alone something that you have no proof even exists?  I thought Jesus tells us not to judge.”

“True, but these photos will only increase the United States’ judging pandemic, encouraging bigots to judge Osama Bin Laden and Al-Qaeda to judge the United States.  And what do you mean I don’t have proof the photos exist?  Are you a right-wing conspiracy theorist?”

“If by ‘conspiracy theorist’ you refer to somebody who doesn’t unquestioningly believe everything he’s told, especially by corrupt and power-hungry politicians who’ve built a track record of lying to people for their own advancement, and who expects magnanimous claims to be supported with some hard evidence besides empty testimony, then Yes.”

“You’re crazy. Even a major Republican, Senator Lindsey Graham, confirmed that Osama Bin Laden is dead and declared we don’t need to verify it with tangible evidence because all the political leaders will vouch to its truth.”

“See, that’s where you make the error of assuming that all conservative-leaning Americans support all Republicans all of the time, when in reality we form our own judgments based on proof and logic instead of on what wussy, half-witted ‘moderates’ tell us to think.  I really do not like Lindsey… eh, what’s his name? Graham.  Don’t like Graham.”

“I agree.  His record is far from stirling.  But we also have pieces of paper saying that we killed someone with Osama Bin Laden’s DNA, and have you seen the Situation Room photo?”

“The one that was supposedly taken while Obama watched a live feed of the Seals’ infiltration which Leon Panetta later revealed not to have been live or very coherent because the footage blacked out for the 20-25 minutes during which the raid actually took place and the Seals actually shot bin Laden?”

“Yeah, that one.  Did you notice how Hilary Clinton was clutching her mouth in apparent shock at the events she was witnessing on screen?  Obviously the team must have been watching very gruesome and disturbing events to upset such a normally tough and composed model of feminine strength.”

“Clearly.  But we’ve gone on a rabbit trail.  Why are you acting so intimidated by pictures that merely acknowledge human mortality and preserve a historic moment in the War on Terror?  Does Osama Bin Laden’s dead corpse scare you?”

“I’m not scared at all.  I just don’t think these explicit photos are fit for public consumption.  We don’t need to glory in the fact that we’re cold-blooded killing machines by showing off gruesome images of our kills.”

“Whoa, whoa, whoa.  First of all, how does one ‘consume’ a still image of a wartime casualty, and secondly, you do believe in a woman’s freedom to choose whether or not she murders her offspring, don’t you?”

“Absolutely – the Supreme Court said it exists, so the debate is over, although my guilty, politically correct conscience prefers the term ‘fetus’.”

“To be clear, you support the fundamental, human right to ‘choose’ to slaughter a defenseless, innocent child, but you don’t support the right to choose to look at an inanimate, soulless picture of a fully matured, monstrous, mass-murdering jihadist who has already been slaughtered?”

“That’s a distortion of my argument.  What I’m saying is that demanding to see portraits of violence and bloodshed is really sick and pointless and, and, and mean.”

“Do you think Obama was being ‘mean’ or ‘sick’ when he ‘gave the order’ to take out Osama Bin Laden?”

“No, he was just doing what he had to do to keep our country safe and bring those behind 9/11 to justice.”

“So wannabe gung-ho cowboy Obama was neither mean nor sick when he directed his posse to shoot down without trial or warrant an unarmed noncombatant who posed no imminent threat, or when he told his professional video gamers in the C.I.A. drone division to Hellfire-blast U.S. citizens dining in cafes abroad, but anyone who requests indisputable proof that the president did indeed issue such directions to shoot is a sick and cruel pervert who disrespects human life and obsessively lusts after a kind of macho vengeance that would reaffirm his own manhood?”

“All I’m saying is that releasing indisputable proof of something we already know for certain helps nobody and would only please those needing to quench a sadistic thirst for gruesomeness.”

“How can you know something for certain without possessing indisputable proof of it?  How would we know that tens of thousands have died in the Syrian conflict if the news media refused to print ‘graphic’ pictures of those women and children bombed, shot, and sarin gassed into the dirt?  How would we know that millions of Jews were brutally exterminated in the Holocaust if contemporary journalists, investigators, soldiers, etc. burned, censored, and redacted their findings on the basis that they were too horrible and heart-wrenchingly ugly for the eyes of average people?  How could we point to any records of human history if those records were written entirely by weak-hearted, spineless utopians who run from humanity’s sinful, self-destructive nature and attempt in vain to cover up atrocities that offend their fragile sensibilities and effeminate aversion to the sight of violence?”

“Look, documenting the good and evil of history for our children’s children’s children is all well and good, but when it might cause the mistakes of history to repeat themselves, that’s not something we should encourage.  Gory photos of Osama Bin Laden’s bullet-riddled body would only inflame anti-American sentiment and motivate even more attacks against us by Islamic terrorists who just want to put old holy wars behind them and start getting along as citizens of one united world people.”

“Right, because the circumstances of Obama gunning down Osama within his home and gloating about his great military victory afterwards hardly ruffled Al-Qaeda’s successive leaders; what really infuriated them was that the American, capitalist demons snapped a couple profiles of bin Laden without permission, not that they blew his face to shreds and fed his remains to the fishes.”

“It doesn’t matter.  We should just take the word of our dear leaders for granted and stop indulging this archaic obsession with violence.  Everyone who has seen the photos that no one has seen agrees they’re too gruesome for the majority of grown Americans – too gruesome for you and me.”

“You are such a little girl.  Are you really allowed to cast votes that decide the fate of this free nation?”

“Afraid so.  Sorry, gotta go.  I have a movie to catch in an hour.  Machete 3 with Danny Trejo, Charlie Sheen, and Lady Gaga.  This one’s directed by Quentin Tarantino.  It’s gonna be AWESOME.”

Friday, February 14, 2014

Valentine's Day Review About Some Inglourious Basterds

Some people write their loves romantic letters on Valentine’s Day.  Being a novel fellow who kind of forgot about Valentine’s (but most definitely not his valentine) until the night before, I hastily wrote my love a romantic review of one of the most definitively unromantic movies ever made.  This is for you, my dear.  I am truly the luckiest basterd in the world because of you.

A German colonel waltzes up to a secluded countryside farmhouse in France and politely asks its owner to show him in for a friendly talk.  The father of three daughters, the Frenchman sees little choice but to comply, sending his family outside to the other officers when requested and unconvincingly trying to ease into the progressively more illusory comfort of his own home.  The German maintains an outer calm and gentility throughout the unexpected meeting, baring mild frustration but once when he insists that the two assume the King’s English for the remainder of their conversation.  If the situation wasn’t already unsettling enough, the atmosphere now becomes oppressively sinister; the room is silent but for the periodic ticking of a clock, providing Colonel Hans Landa the perfect setting to pursue his relentless questioning and torture his cornered victim’s mind.  He’s already searched this house once to no avail, and yet he knows that someone has eluded him.  Called the “Jew Hunter” by his nemeses, he muses at length about the difference between a rat and a squirrel in human perception, how the former is reviled and driven off as a rodent while the latter, its cousin, is regarded without any malice of the sort.  How would the Frenchman react if a rat were to scurry along the floor at this very moment?  “You don’t like them.  You don't really know why you don’t like them.  All you know is you find them repulsive.   Consequently, a German soldier conducts a search of a house suspected of hiding Jews.  Where does the hawk look?  He looks in the barn, he looks in the attic, he looks in the cellar, he looks everywhere he would hide, but there’s so many places it would never occur to a hawk to hide.”  As it so happens, a pack of that human vermin the German hawk despises currently hides beneath the very planks supporting them, listening intently as the two men debate in an alien tongue what sentence most befits a rodent that intrudes on one’s property.  Without uttering a single threat directly, the colonel eventually obtains the information he seeks and promptly reverts to French, thanking the farmer for his time and inviting the “ladies” back into the house.  The music of Ennio Morricone swells to a roar, chips fly from the floorboards, a single, blood-soaked woman darts from the scene, and the colonel smirks maniacally at her flight through the fields, letting her run to fight another day.

If not for its protracted, gripping, and ultimately horrifying opening scene, Inglourious Basterds could quite easily have been a failure of a movie, both morally irredeemable and pointlessly brutal, but the Nazis’ systematic and unhesitating extermination of the Jewish family makes a pretty compelling defense of the heroes’ righteous brutality.  Though I was totally oblivious of its authorship until the very end, Basterds may just be remembered as Quentin Tarantino’s magnum opus, perfecting essentially every move in the director’s playbook – from his penchant for disrupting long periods of extreme suspense with extreme acts of violence to his deft hand for witty dialogue and vivid characters – while framing all these signatures in a sometimes harrowing, sometimes funny, and always tantalizing tale of revenge and the savageries of guerilla warfare.  At times the movie is jarringly comical and weightless in its depiction of bloodshed, at others very heavy-handed and purposely dark; whether this divide in tone was an intentional and artistically reasoned design of the writer or a result of severe mental deformity a la The Lone Ranger will probably be debated by do-nothing college film majors for eons to come, but I for my part think Tarantino is dealing in an ingenious blend of satire and subjective storytelling while at the same time gleefully celebrating the punishment of cruel deeds by cruel means.  Anything but another cautionary message story exhorting us to treat our enemies mercifully lest we stoop to their level, Basterds keenly glorifies the inglorious pursuit of vengeance in all its bloody, animalistic fury, and it does so impeccably.

The plot generally concerns two intersecting conspiracies to assassinate Hitler and his closest Nazi goons at a showing of a propaganda war film, one orchestrated by the theater’s headstrong owner Shosanna, the same girl whom Landa suffered to escape the farm as a teenager, the other by a ragtag group of Jewish Allied special forces united under the banner of Inglourious Basterds and command of a Lieutenant Aldo “The Apache” Raine, portrayed with a humorously strained southern drawl by Brad Pitt, though it would be faulty to call him the protagonist or to approach Inglourious Basterds as one would a conventional action picture, as Tarantino doesn’t really focus on any one character over the rest and the individual parts of his script were apparently written to be much greater than the whole.  Unlike the vast majority of his competitors in the industry, Tarantino doesn’t strain himself to jump hectically between separate parties so as to keep his audience hanging, nor does he organize the story such that every scene has to propel the narrative towards its inevitable climax.  In contrast to something like Lord of the Rings or 24 (no disrespect meant to either on this basis – OK, 24 kind of sucks) which break up chronologically overlapping scenes into innumerable bite-size pieces, leaving each character dangling on a precipice before switching back to another, Basterds is more akin to a minimally edited stage production divided into five acts, each being further divided into two or three lengthy and uninterrupted scenes.  Instead of undermining the audience’s connection with the characters, some of whom will fade into absence for well above a half-hour, this technique only augments the intensity of the on-screen exchanges, compelling viewers to share the Allies’ anxiety whenever their alibis crumble, to feel their impulsive rise to action whenever they are exposed.  In Basterds, one cannot just escape to another scene when tension reaches a peak; like the characters, spectators are usually glued to a chair, forced to endure for 10-20 minutes at a time the unrelenting interrogation of dangerous men far more quick-witted and observant than themselves.

So written that the looming threat of violence is always more prominent and terrifying than violence itself, the script occasionally underlines the viciousness of both “Nat-sees” and Basterds with moments of shockingly ruthless bloodshed, but it’s a very talky picture overall, brimming with witty dialogue, punchy one-liners, and dramatic monologues that potently reveal the speakers’ character.

Aldo: “You said [the rendevouz] was in a tavern.”
Hicox: “It is in a tavern.”
Aldo: “Yeah, in a basement.  You know, fighting in a basement offers a lot of difficulties, number one being: you’re fighting in a basement!”

Hicox: “There's a special rung in hell reserved for people who waste good scotch.  Seeing as how I may be rapping on the door momentarily… [taking a chug] I must say, damn good stuff, sir.  Now, about this pickle we find ourselves in...”

Sometimes the dialogue has blatantly modern touches, from casual remarks about “kicking ass” (in the presence of women, no less) to ridiculous mexican standoff threats like “Say ‘Auf Wiedersehen’ to your Nazi balls”, and the unusually idiomatic captioning of French and German lines clearly suggests an English film translated into foreign languages, rather than the other way around, but those complaints bear little weight in the presence of such a competent cast.  In the role of the dreaded Jew-Hunter, Cristoph Waltz rightly ran away with an Oscar and numerous other prizes for freakishly embodying a kind of sadistic mentalist who delights in toying with his prey and constantly exudes menace even in the course of feigning civility.  The impossibility of reading how much he knows at a given point or anticipating how he’ll act upon that knowledge is one of the most impressive achievements on display in the film.  As a British soldier, Michael Fassbender of Prometheus and X-Men: First Class turns in another fine performace that’s not as enigmatic as David or as conflicted as his Magneto but just as compelling regardless.  Brad Pitt is accorded a vastly different part as the Basterds’ over-the-top leader, but fulfills the comic relief position admirably all the same.  One of the more surprising turns comes from relative unknown Melanie Laurent as the emotionally hardened and unrevealing Shosanna, a warrior in the guise of a madam, bent on the ruin of her family’s murderers, resolute and composed in the face of her most loathsome enemies.  One of her later scenes particularly stands out, wherein she lathers her face with makeup prior to starting the central movie-within-a-movie.  For certain it would be a disturbing sight under any other circumstance, but Tarantino so directs the scene that the image implies much more than simple vanity; Laurent is a soldier readying herself for battle, donning war paint to strike awe in the hearts of her foes.

The whole movie is filled with cinematic tricks like this, basking in another universe where mortal titans proudly embrace their Homeric epithets, where the good guys don’t waver to give the bad guys what they deserve, and where the hero may rattle off such forward and fiery rhetoric as: “We will be cruel to the Germans, and through our cruelty they will know who we are.  And they will find the evidence of our cruelty in the disemboweled, dismembered, and disfigured bodies of their brothers we leave behind us… And the German will be sickened by us, and the German will talk about us, and the German will fear us.  And when the German closes their eyes at night and they’re tortured by their subconscious for the evil they have done, it will be with thoughts of us they are tortured with.”

Neither fully dramatic nor fully comedic nor partially historically accurate, this is an intelligent kind of film that defies all stock classifications and avoids the quandaries of overtly moralizing about war, revenge, or anything else, except perhaps to show that justice is painful and that – try as he might to bend history to his favor – no man can wipe away the scars his own sin has seared upon his brow.  He may change his uniform and disappear in a crowd, but every one of us has “a little something we can’t take off” of our own accord.  Like the film’s final point-of-view shot and Aldo’s final act of Injun violence, Inglourious Basterds is a “masterpiece” of filmmaking, a superbly executed, immensely enjoyable, and occasionally reflective work of R-rated artistry.  If it isn’t the best date movie of all time, it’s easily one of the best spaghetti western, WW2, black comedy, extensively subtitled, alternate history revenge movies of all time.  Maybe one of the best movies, period.

Grade rating: A.  That’s a bingo!

Clarification: And, no, in case you’re inured against sarcasm, I did not write this stupid movie review as a Valentine’s Day gift, unless you didn’t get candy hearts or a letter or anything else and you really want to take this as a gift instead, in which case you’re welcome.  Having never attended public school, I fear I’m a little untrained in this whole lewd and lurid business.  However my card writing skills measure up, the only valentine I’ve got to my name resides in my head, and she deserves way, way better than this.

Addendum: If you seek proof that Harvey Weinstein is a hypocritical ass, look no further than this production.  “I don’t think we need guns in this country.  And I hate it.  I think the NRA is a disaster area.  But I have no problems whatsoever financially supporting the profiteering of filmmakers like Quentin Tarantino who deliberately sell moviegoers outrageously gory “gun violence” and graphic depictions of women getting shot at point blank, strangled or otherwise brutalized.

Sunday, February 9, 2014

Socialist Public School Alcohol Education, Lying, and Living By Crises

In which I argue a point that nobody else will argue, make lessons in sobriety look decidedly nonsober, and once again malign the idea of combating a problem by raising awareness about it.

Anyway, if you’re reading this expecting me to bash something for being socialistic, psych.  I’ve been meaning to write another of those critiques ever since somebody really close to my heart* requested more, but this, this is not that day.  That title is but an arresting lure to engage you in an issue of public interest that, like most issues of public interest, is utterly dull and idiotically conceived by social engineers who consider government a vital force to shield people from making their own decisions.  In contrast to EV tax credits, the Game of LIFE, hotel newspapers, your morning cup of Starbucks Joe, and many popular songs, the Every 15 Minutes scam can hardly be spun as a component of the vast left-wing conspiracy.  At an estimated $7-10k cost per participating school, what difference, at this point, could it make?  Socialistic power grab, this is not.  It is, however, an incredibly stupid waste of young Americans’ time, so stupid that you’d virtually have to be a socialist in order to imagine and implement it.  Incidentally, the policy did originate in Canada before being imported to the United States along with some other expensive and counterproductive policies, so the author of the E15M more likely than not was invested with socialistic leanings.  Still, there are far better reasons to abolish this annual tradition than the mere circumstances of its genesis, specifically that it’s a theatrical fraud and a solution without a harm, an indulgent vanity project for elitists and attention whores.  Like the notoriously pathetic administration of the DMV which introduces most teenagers to the defects of big government, it is the epitome of bureaucratic inefficacy, perfectly symbolizing every phoney statist answer to a phoney problem that ultimately spawns many more problems of its own.

In case you are among the uninitiated (and you probably are, as my web stats indicate that the Files’ readership is largely insulated from the lunacy of government schools), allow to me explain the basic premise of the Every 15 Minutes program.  According to the website of the organization that helps schools coordinate the events, “Life’s lessons are best learned through experience.  Unfortunately, when the target audience is teens and the topic is drinking and texting while driving, experience is not the teacher of choice. The Every 15 Minutes Program offers real-life experience without the real-life risks.”  The one overarching problem with this claim, aside from the wholly unsupported and airy points about “learning through experience”** and accompanying equation of sober driving habits to something far grander-sounding like “life’s lessons”, is that nothing about Every 15 Minutes can be construed as “real-life” by even the loosest definition of the word.  E15M is about as “real-life” as Santa Claus or the bogey-man whom so many exasperated parents threaten to sic upon their disobedient darlings, with the key differentiation that this bogey-man is aimed squarely at grown 16-18 year-olds instead of toddlers, making him all the more embarrassing a fantasy.

This fantasy, this laughable attempt to scare legally underage kids out of drinking, this false reply to a false crisis engineered by a revenue-hungry industry dependent on falsities to stay above water, is usually conducted over a period of two days and rests on several planks that will vary slightly from school to school.  The first of these is to transform the high-school classroom into a gothic send-up of zombie flicks and Bill and Ted’s Bogus Journey; in accordance with the event’s title, an actor made-up and adorned as the fake Grim Reaper of pop culture intrudes upon the students’ learning every quarter-hour to yank a pre-selected student from the assembly and escort him away to be coated in white face-paint.   After the departure of the fake drunk driving victim, a real, taxpayer-funded police officer enters the room and reads a fake obituary reiterating that the student did indeed die in a fake “alcohol-related” vehicle collision.  The fake deceased will soon return as one of “the living dead” but must refrain from acknowledging his peers until the next day, at which time he will be resurrected from the fake grave and called upon to recite fake letters to and from his parents at an inspirational school gathering convened to share fake stories about fake people who suffered indescribably fake pain in consequence for their fake actions.

As if that deception wasn’t already intricate enough, students are also provided the opportunity to observe a fake car crash on campus around the middle of the day, complete with comically unrealistic quantities of fake blood and fake broken bones courtesy of a professional make-up team that watches too many slasher D-movies.  However, it’s worth noting that all the police officers, firefighters, paramedics, and emergency vehicles wheeled on scene to assist the fake injured parties and arrest the fake drunk teenager are anything but fake, are mostly paid for by you, and are irresponsibly shirking their duty to prevent or answer real accidents in the process of attending to a fake one.  For every law enforcement officer who sullies his badge to appear in this heavy-handed stage production, society has one less officer monitoring the streets for incapacitated drivers who might wreak severe injuries on themselves and on others.  For this reason alone, Every 15 Minutes has probably done more to exacerbate the United States’ fake drunk driving epidemic than to alleviate it.

In any case, the point of bringing all these real emergency responders to answer a fake emergency is ostensibly to make the fake situation portrayed look as realistic as possible.  In fact, the California Highway Patrol cites “realism” as one of the E15M’s most important goals, describing at great length how to make the scene look as credible as possible.  Among other things, its 120-page manual on the subject recommends that organizers:

* “Wash the vehicle.” (so as to more effectively contrast the drunk’s violent disorder with his sober vehicle’s relative cleanliness… or something like that.)
* “Remove layers of dust and dirt.” (again, because cars involved in accidents are never dirty; this is rather like correcting the make-up of an actress playing a dying character in a movie.  A glamorous dead corpse is no less a dead corpse than a plain one.)
* “Vacuum any glass from seats to avoid unforeseen injury.” (as important as realism is, it’s a secondary priority to safety in this lame excuse for a “simulation”.)
* “[ensure that] each major action, i.e., extrication, DUI investigation, helicopter landing etc., take ‘center stage’.  Center stage should be an area where the view is not blocked by personnel, equipment, or vehicles.  Make sure the crash is close enough… if students are too far away, they will lose interest and may become disruptive.” (in order to more fully witness our stunning realism, students must be provided an unrealistically clear view of everything that proceeds.)
* “Provide ample audio equipment.  You will need at least four large speakers.  Stage the crash so personnel are not talking over one another.  Students should hear conversation between officers, victims, rescuers, dispatchers, etc.” (again, to appreciate the realism of our display, students must temporarily be endowed with unrealistically acute hearing and have an unrealistically near proximity to the events as they play out.)
* “Do not plan the crash during lunch.” (someone is purported to die every 15 minutes by this program’s doctrine, but hey, even drunk drivers have to take lunch breaks. Perhaps we should revise the moniker to “Every 15 Minutes Except ‘During Lunch’”.)

Regardless of all its proponents’ vain and contradictory measures to dress up a patently unrealistic scene as something that merely resembles reality, there’s nothing remotely realistic about Every 15 Minutes, and the make-believe doesn’t even stay at school, as the student actors are eventually whisked away to real hospitals and jails where they’ll be treated or detained according to whatever fake pre-existing conditions brought them there.  Meanwhile, budding high-school filmmakers will have documented the whole fake catastrophe as it plays out, often prefacing shots of the actual wreck with fake footage of a fake rowdy party where good kids succumb to that well-known monstrosity called peer pressure and drink fake alcoholic beverages, subsequently faking their own drunkenness and careering headlong into a fake collision.  In a way, this conceited, “awareness-raising” festivity is exactly like an amateurish, teenage-produced message movie, embodying a shallow fiction and a sham, but its faults go far beyond even that lowly form of community organizing.  Unlike all the obviously scripted short films that are produced in association with it, Every 15 Minutes presents itself as an accurate recreation of reality and deliberately uses tactics of shock and awe to manipulate and misinform teenagers.  The whole program, in principle and execution, is a sickening lie, however extravagant, sensory, and entertaining it may be to pull together.

Disregarding the total dishonesty of all the imaginary proceedings, it uses statistics that are either entirely false or flagrantly misleading.  Its title is an archaic construct, harkening back to a time several decades past in which studies erroneously showed that someone died in an “alcohol-related” accident every 15 minutes – and not even that, as Wikipedia states that the National Highway and Traffic Safety Administration had approximated the rate at one fatality every 30 minutes back in 1996, when E15M was first being rolled out.  In the most recent data available for the year 2012, the NHTSA sets the same empty number at approximately one death over 51 minutes, more than thrice the value touted by the institution, and so we see that the overseers of this charade are intentionally feeding students outdated and factually incorrect numbers for dramatic effect, twisting reality in order to garner a more emotional response.

Advocates of E15M might dismiss this ‘little lie’ with the claim that 50 minutes is still far too frequent a period and that their minor distension of reality is true ‘in spirit’, but where do they draw the distinction between an acceptable falsehood and a wrongful one?  When does lying infact cease to be justified with delusions of planting a deeper knowledge inspirit?  What is the brightline?  Or has speaking honestly and supporting your statements with hard, verifiable evidence fallen out of fashion?  Heaven forbid that public policy makers should be permitted to spew whatever ideological BS they want and never be held accountable to the truth.  And yet that’s exactly what the NHTSA and, by extension, E15M champions do out of practice, for even the 1 fatality/50 min statistic is a poor reflector of the actual death rate due to drunk driving. 

On the one hand, the NHTSafety Administration – one of way too many – used to assess the quantity of “alcohol-related” deaths by counting any collision in which a driver or non-driver had any measurable alcohol in his bloodstream, whether or not the ability of the driver involved in the accident was at all compromised or whether the dosage was substantial enough to constitute drunkenness.  The institution once said that it “defines a fatal crash as alcohol-related if either a driver or a non-motorist had a measurable or estimated BAC of 0.01 g/dl or above.”  According to a member of the National Motorists Association (which doesn’t mean anything, but he makes sense), “For their own reasons, NHTSA has chosen to define an alcohol-related crash as an accident in which a driver, passenger, bicyclist or pedestrian had any measurable alcohol in their system… cause, fault or circumstance are not considered.  For example, a winter chain reaction crash on black ice on I91 involving 10 cars and three deaths would be considered alcohol-related if one of the drivers had taken some cough syrup medication that morning… refer back to the May 5 OLR study that uses the same example.”  Wikipedia elaborates on this premise by explaining, “If a person who has consumed alcohol and has stopped for a red light is rear-ended by a completely sober but inattentive driver, the accident is listed as alcohol-related, although alcohol had nothing to do with causing the accident.  Furthermore, if a sober motorist hits a drunk pedestrian, the accident is also listed as alcohol-related.”

In other words, for the purposes of gauging how large a factor alcohol plays in traffic casualties, the NHTSA’s non-discriminating, all-inclusive methodology was essentially worthless, signifying absolutely nothing, but the Every 15 Minutes executives long persisted in deferring to it as if it reliably modeled fatalities due to intoxicated driving.  The NHTSA appears to have thankfully abandoned this approach in recent years, shifting to a more concentrated and illuminating model of “alcohol-impaired crashes”, which it defines as “any crash involving a driver with a BAC of .08 or higher… The term ‘driver’ refers to the operator of any motor vehicle, including a motorcycle.”  Even this method, being based on an arbitrary legal statute that doesn’t intrinsically prove drunkenness and ridiculously presumes all human bodies react similarly to the same stimuli and substances, is imperfect by the administration’s own admission that, “The term ‘alcohol-impaired’ does not indicate that a crash or a fatality was caused by alcohol impairment.”

The already exaggerated data look even more insignificant and contrived when one notes that only 758 or 18% of the 10,322 “alcohol-impaired drivers” fell under the 16-20 age bracket, which should in theory be the object of the high school program’s discussion.  To cite the larger, scarier number of driving fatalities instead of the more specified and relevant one is roughly the same tactic that Democrats employed to ram Obamacare through Congress, when they continually peddled the completely unfounded assertion that 48 million Americans or however many hadn’t purchased health insurance, an unspeakably deceiving calculation which entailed among other things hordes who weren’t permanent or legal residents of the States, the young and physically stalwart who had no need or want of insurance, and any high-earning people who had decided they would be more financially secure without making such an expense.  Cranking out the numbers for teenage casualties alone, we arrive at a rate of one death for every 693 minutes, which is only 4620% of the rate at which students are yanked out of their classrooms to play zombie dress-up in this solemn and deeply moving funeral rite organized for since departed people who most certainly will never rise from the grave.

Willfully and unapologetically the sponsors of E15M lie to the youth of America so as to trap them in a state of fear and ignorance.  Don’t misread my argument here as an endorsement of hedonism and debauchery; far be it from the duty of public educators to encourage drunken stupors among their protégés.  Schools should no more deny the risks and moral shortfalls of imbibing alcohol to excess than they should deny the same of committing adultery or of poisoning one’s minds with drugs or of doing anything that might lead one astray from the righteous path.  Nor should schools teach students to justify lying under pretenses of protecting the vulnerable or conditioning the young for virtue, for virtue cannot be instilled by example of vice and well-meaning deceits are the favored tool of tyrants.

This – more than the $10,000 cost to local taxpayers (which is itself a low estimate postulated by some random internet person, discounting expenditures for the wages of teachers and public workers who effectively take a day or two off), more than the negligible increase it might precipitate in traffic injuries, more than the 13-some hours lost to students who must undergo this lunacy, more than the repulsive theatricality of the whole affair, more than any other factor – is why we should commission Grim Reaper to escort the E15 Minutes theater away to the inferno of ideas which is its lot.  A fanciful tragedy masquerading as an actual one, it belittles the losses of real drunk driving victims, making their stories look like Hollywood melodrama and desensitizing onlookers to true disasters of the past and future.  An invention of overprotective liberal nannies dressed up as an educational experience, it propagates data that’s both grossly exaggerated and scientifically baseless, inciting teenagers to dread specter dangers while imbuing them with false senses of awareness.  Like any visually flashy mainstream propaganda film that emphasizes messaging over storytelling, be it Avatar, The Day The Earth Stood Still, White House Down, etc., it’s a fiction on at least two accounts, firstly because it’s a made-up scenario controlled by a director and secondly because its premise is a total crock.

To be fair, the advocates of Every 15 Minutes probably have the noblest of intentions and sincerely believe they’re taking necessary steps to resolve a genuine crisis.  Every generation wants to feel that it’s leaving an indelible mark on history, that it’s changing the world for the better.  Humans naturally long to be remembered, more so perhaps than they long to live, for death eventually claims us all, but time, the masses think, only claims those who stood by idly when evils reared their ugly head.  Hence we revel in manufacturing false crises and ethical battles, applauding ourselves for electing a (half-)black president in an unjust and racist country, taking immense and poorly considered strides to repair the nation’s “broken health care/immigration system”, begging our wise and compassionate rulers to relieve our neighbors of deadly, military-style assault weapons that altogether comprise less than 2% of all murders by firearms, assuming in paranoia that terrorists roam all about us and that every citizen poses an equal threat to the public peace, and framing the agenda to legalize homosexual marriage as a “civil rights” movement, comparable in gravity to that led by Martin Luther King Jr., Thurgood Marshall, Dwight D. Eisenhower, and other figures in the middle of the 20th century. It’s petty and narcissistic and fatuous, lessening the accomplishments of real heroes and blinding people to the presence of real travesties elsewhere in the world, where people are more likely to be run over by an armored tank than a rebellious young adult.

Now that I’ve finished the 150th page of this 150th or thereabouts post for the Files, I must return to writing a fake screen story about fake teenagers wrestling with the realization of their fake existence and braving first love in a fake dystopian society that feeds the populace fake drugs to ensure that everyone is basically fake.  I really should be honing it more than this blog since my friends and I could actually make some money on it, whereas anyone can read this mattress for FREEEEE.

* Closer to me than anybody else, actually.  As in me, though I earnestly wish it was somebody else.
** Should young adults try to learn the value of maintaining their purity by engaging in impure acts?  Should high-schoolers learn the dangers of gang association by joining a gang?  Should we give communism a chance and learn of its fiscal and moral costs the hard way, through ‘experience’, before using our brains and studying history to arrive at the same conclusions?  Should… ach, the stupidity!