Culture postsWednesday May 13, 2015
The 5 Best Quotes from Chris Rock's Recent Guardian Interview
On movie comedies: “Most comedies aren’t really movies – they’re just vehicles for the funny person that’s starring in them. No one cares where the story’s going, and if it doesn’t work, they’ll just throw in another set piece. But with 2 Days, the jokes come out of the drama. Woody doesn’t make comedies – he makes sad dramas with jokes.”
On Scott Rudin, Rock's “Top Five” producer, whose Sony-hack emails included jokes about Pres. Obama's watching typically black films such as “The Butler” and “12 Years a Slave”: “He had my back the whole time so I was able to go into a bubble and write the movie I wanted without dealing with anyone else. Scott Rudin's not racist. Scott Rudin hates EVERYBODY.”
On Bill Cosby: “I haven't talked to him in a long time. The whole thing is just sad. What can you say? I'm not gonna defend him and I'm not go Judd [Apatow] on him. You do still have to wait, he hasn't been convicted. But it's sad.”
On being black while driving: “I've always been stopped by the cops. Cops stop black guys who drive nice cars.”
On Pres. Obama: “Oh yeah, he's been good. Great, even. He wasn't going to solve America, but the country was off the rails and he was like Alec Baldwin in Glengarry Glen Ross, you know? He really sorted shit out.”
Really just another excuse to upload another photo of Rosario Dawson.
New Answer to an Old Riddle
Jordan started giving Ryan and I lateral puzzles he had been doing in school (like riddles) on the way to play rehearsal. I came back with the only one I remembered from my childhood. A father and son are in a car accident. The father is killed. The boy is rushed to the emergency room and the doctor says, “I can't operate on this child, it's my son!” The answer I remember is the doctor is the mother, which, at the time I learned it, exposed my own biases. Ryan, without skipping a beat, shouts from the back seat, “The fathers are gay!” Yep, worked for me.
Junk Mail for the Elderly
Last year my sister and I bought my mom, now in her 80s, a condo in a 55-and-over building in south Minneapolis. It's both in my name and my mom's name, so I assume that's the reason my mom received some junk mail from the Neptune Society at my home in Seattle. It came in a pale yellow envelope with her name mock-typed on the front, so at first glance it seems like personal mail. At first I thought someone sent us a card.
Inside there's a return envelope and two small, pale yellow pieces of stationery with a lavender banner. One of the pages is a letter from Tim Nicholson, President/COO, using a cheesy, near-cursive font. Here's how it begins:
For a variety of reasons, more and more people are choosing to plan for a memorialized cremation over traditional funeral arrangement—and the numbers are increasing every year!
The other page includes a quote from Eleanor Roosevelt about today being a gift (which is why it's called “the present”), a photo of an elderly man playing ring-around-the-rosie with his grandkids at the beach, and an offer to WIN A PRE-PAID CREMATION.
- You mean over *a* traditonal funeral arrangement?
- I would've lost the exclamation point.
- I seriously doubt Eleanor Roosevelt said that.
I have other thoughts, too.
To Like and Be Liked in Return
Last night I watched “Generation Like” on PBS's Frontline and wanted to kill myself afterwards. It's about the online world, and social media, and how corporations pitch to kids and kids pitch to each other, and how little starlets are made from all this. And how money is made from all this.
A lot of it is obvious—your likes are added to the pool of likes and constitute market research which is monetized—so why did it depress me so? Perhaps because it shows some aspect of my own desires (attention, fame, hits) turned to 11. Perhaps because it reveals how bad I am at this game. (Of course, I still think people want to read.) Perhaps because there doesn't seem to be anything else. It's just this airless, clueless world.
I think the most depressing moment was when author Douglas Rushkoff asked kids about being a “sell out” or the concept of “selling out” and they didn't know what it was. They couldn't define it. They had no clue.
Identifying yourself by what you like is an old concept. Milan Kundera wrote about identifying yourself by the method of addition (likes) or subtraction in his novel “Immortality” but he goes further:
Here is that strange paradox to which all people cultivating the self by way of the addition method are subject: they use addition in order to create a unique, inimitable self, yet because they automatically become propagandists for the added attributes, they are actually doing everything in their power to make as many others as possible similar to themselves; as a result, their uniqueness (so painfully gained) quickly begins to disappear.
Wanting to be liked is an even older concept. But that's all there appears to be in this world. To like and be liked by dozens or hundreds or thousands or millions. For doing what? Skateboarding? No, harassing girls. For singing? No, just talking. For pushing this or that corporate product. For being the person with 300K likes. It's all turned up to 11. It's icky.
After it was over, and not learning my lesson, I tweeted something about it, and that tweet was immediately “favorited” by someone else. But it was one of those fake Twitter accounts, with the pretty girl on it, and the garbled tweets, and a decided lack of followers. It was someone pretending to be human. There was no one there.
The State of the Union ... Contains 'A Deep Seated Dislike for Most Things America Stands For'
Three days ago The New York Times offered us this headline: “Obama Pursuing Modest Agenda in State of the Union,” which, since the address is tonight, shows us once again that the news isn't what's happened but what's about to happen. Shame. The news should be so five minutes ago.
Today, the Times is offering us ... well, us: user-generated content. How Would You Describe the State of the Union?: “Please share your opinion with us on Twitter by adding the hashtag #TellNYT to your tweet.” Friends on Facebook are doing the same. “The state of the union is ___________” one asks. Since he lives in Georgia, he's getting all kinds of answers.
Here's my answer. I came across it last night reading on the planeride home from New York:
Seems to be a deep seated dislike for most things America is and stands for.
That's not the current state of the union; that's FBI analysis of the movie “State of the Union,” as reported in John Sbardellati's book, “J. Edgar Hoover Goes to the Movies: The FBI and the Origins of Hollywood's Cold War.” The movie stars Spencer Tracy and Katherine Hepburn and was directed by Frank Capra.
Of course, to the FBI, Capra, a Norman Rockwellseque figure today, who made movies steeped in Americana and schmaltz, was suspect. Among other FBI reviews of Capra movies:
- Mr. Deeds Goes to Town: “Gary Cooper sides with the underprivileged.”
- Mr. Smith Goes to Washington: “First Hollywood movie to show tie-up between Congressmen and Big Business.”
- It's a Wonderful Life: “The picture represented a rather obvious attempt to discredit bankers.”
Plus ca change. You can still be suspect by siding with the underprivileged, showing the tie-up between Congress and Business, and attempting to discredit bankers. And now more people are taking notes.