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Oddities of entertainment media


Movies are weird.  In particular, American movies.  Not movies like Sucker Punch or the Dark Knight Trilogy or Pacific Rim, those movies are pretty much dead on in what they’re delivering.  Pure, raw, entertainment.  Sure, those films may have some underlying message, but those films are also just a major rush to watch.

No, I’m talking about films like American Sniper, The Interview, and to an extent, The Great Escape and Captains of the Clouds.  American Sniper and Captains of the Clouds hold a very odd similarity.  Strange because one is about a sniper in the conflict in the Middle East (which mostly is pure fiction), and the other is about Canadian bush pilots joining the war effort in the Second World War.  Both are basically massive propaganda films.

Captains of the Clouds was a fictitious telling of Canadian pilots preparing for the war in Europe.  By 1939, Canada had entered the Second World War, only a few weeks after Britain had declared war on Germany.  By late 1941, the United States had declared war on Japan after an attack at Pearl Harbour.  The U.S. government was having a difficult time convincing the American public that a war with Germany was a good idea.  So they looked north.  Or, more precisely, Hollywood looked north, and created war films about Canadian soldiers going to fight for freedom.  Basically, it was Hollywood saying “our northern neighbours are going to fight against this enemy, so we should too”.

American Sniper is also a propaganda film.  Based on the book of the same name by former Navy SEAL Chris Kyle, the book has been noted as having completely fictitious events in it, and places where Kyle flat out lied.  And the movie is basically the same.  There was no enemy sniper that Kyle faced off against (which is basically a copy paste from Enemy at the Gates), and all Iraqis were portrayed as monsters and animals.  If anything, American Sniper solidified the fact that Kyle was a murderous psychopath.

But Hollywood is famous for twisting narratives.  Such as in The Great Escape, which was based on true events.  The movie states that a large number of British and Commonwealth soldiers planned and executed an escape from Stalag Luft III.  The focus is on British soldiers, but in reality, 150 of the soldiers who constructed the escape plan were Canadian, including Wally Flood, an RCAF pilot and mining engineer.  He was dubbed the tunnel king, and was a technical adviser for the movie.  At least in this movie, many of the facts were not twisted into complete fantasy.

And then we have The Interview.  A comedy with Seth Rogan and James Franco about two news show hosts who get a chance to interview North Korea’s glorious leader.  The CIA hears of this, and convinces the two to stage an assassination plot in an attempt to kill the dictator.  It’s a farcical comedy, and nothing more.  Rogan plays it straight and Franco plays the utter baffoon, especially with remarks in the movie where the dictator shows Franco’s character a tank and says Stalin gave it to his family.  Whereby Franco replies with “in our country, we call him Stalone”.  This movie never would have made any waves had it not been for one event.  North Korea hackers hitting Sony Entertainment’s servers and releasing information.  Followed by North Korea’s glorious leader banning the film.  A comedy, and a run of the mill one at that, became a target for freedom of speech.

In this day and age, movies should be about entertaining and maybe have an underlying message.  But even then the underlying message is screwed up.  Just look at the Hunger Games movies, which depicts incredible oppression against lower class citizens as children are made to fight to the death in an event built to appease the wealthy and powerful.  Yet, all the media cares about is the romance, completely ignoring the fact that children are killing each other.  Coupled with the fact that many of the characters have been white washed from the book (Katniss, for example).

But as I said, movies, and to a greater extent, the media that reports on them, are weird.

 
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Posted by on February 4, 2015 in Life, randomness

 

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So, this is year of the archer


Katniss Everdeen from Hunger Games.

Merida from Brave.

Hawkeye from Avengers

Three characters who have been noted as being a part of year of the archer.

And Legolas from Lord of the Rings that most fandoms say started it all off.

Well, if that’s the case, if this is the year of the archer, why is it that one other archer was never really seriously talked about for a movie?  Oh, there’s been discussion, hints and even suggestions.  But nothing really serious.  I think I may have an answer, and it’s rather disconcerting.  This archer happens to be from another comic book company.  That comic book company happens to be owned by Warner Brothers.  For some reason, Warner Brothers just can’t do anything that isn’t Superman or Batman.  Which is why I wouldn’t be surprised that a movie about Green Arrow would not amount to much at all.

It should be easy, really.  The main origin of Oliver Queen, rich kid who has a lacking of morals, becomes stranded on a desert island, learns to rely only on his skill with a bow and arrow to survive.  Comes back to Star City and assumes the role of Green Arrow.  A second movie might kick off a romance with Black Canary.

But, I don’t really have faith that Warner Brothers could do it.  I mean, they can’t get a Wonder Woman movie right, so why would I expect them to get Green Arrow right.

At least Green Arrow survives on in the cartoons and television series that get produced for other titles like Young Justice, Justice League Unlimited and Smallville.  Those television shows did GA some justice.

 
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Posted by on May 11, 2012 in Fun, randomness

 

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Same old, tired stories being told over and over again


Have we hit the bottom of the barrel in the movie industry?  I’m just wondering that.  I know that there’s a plethora of movies based on books such as Harry Potter, The Hunger Games and even such properties as Iron Man, Captain America and the Avengers, and even re-imaginings of such classic tales as Snow White, Jack and the Bean Stock that are coming out.  But mixed among all of that is the slough of remakes being announced.  Such as Chucky.
Remember Chucky?  The demonic toy that carried the soul of executed mass murderer and then went on a rampage of killing in his new form as a doll.  Well, that one’s being made.

The question to ask is why?  Why make (or remake, as the case may be) a film that, when viewed again in its original format, was pretty horrible.  I don’t mean horrible in the fact it was a masterpiece of horror, I mean it was horrible in the same way that a pile of garbage dumped on your front lawn is horrible.  Yet, for some reason we tend to cling to these film pieces like they were an important part of history.  History they are a part of, and maybe it’s that part of history that examines what kind of a culture we were back then.  But they don’t need to be dragged back to life as though Dr. Frankenstein was building another monster.

But why do we feel this need to remake films like Chucky, when there’s a number of properties out there that could stand the treatment of the silver screen.
Like, for example, Wonder Woman.  Her story isn’t that hard, but for some reason, producers and executives don’t know how to tell it.  It’s not hard, in reality.  It’s like 300, but with women (and a better story, to be honest).  Wonder Woman is the story of myth and legend, reaching back to the tales of the ancient Greeks.  How hard is it to find that cool?  How difficult is it to create that movie?  Instead, we are treated to attempts at modernizing the story, placing Diana in the modern age, either as a military personnel or the CEO of a major company.

I truly believe that the potential of a lot of really good stories is being wasted thanks to movie companies attempting to thrust tired and old story ideas, plot lines and characters upon a viewing public.

But of course, many of the really good and original ideas that are springing up now are actually quite difficult for movie companies to figure out.  Because the main characters are women for the most part.  Movie companies don’t know how to treat women as the main protagonist.  It’s no different than the fight that was had to bring Red Tails to the big screen.  It was an all black movie, with no white saviour in sight at all.  “How can we tell this story” some producers might ask.  I don’t know, but what I do know is you’re not even trying.

The same goes for women.  Hell, I’d love to see Black Mask and Pale Rider as a feature film, but Hollywood would go insane, because not only is there one female protagonist, there’s two lead female roles.  That might give them a brain hemorrhage.  Could I have written the story with two male leads?  Sure, but it would have been the same as every other wester, every other fantasy, and every other bromance movie that’s been done.  There would be nothing new about it.  With women as the lead characters, you suddenly have something different, something new, new places to go and new places to explore.

But the viewing public, it seems, fueled by Hollywood, wants to take zero risk with their entertainment.  They want things that are familiar, things that take no risks, offer nothing new.

Just the same old, same old.

Have we hit rock bottom?

 
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Posted by on March 30, 2012 in Fun, randomness

 

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Hunger Games can teach us a lot


I recently saw the movie, based on the book by Suzanne Collins.  Hunger Games, as a movie, is visually pretty good and does capture the main premise of the book quite well.  Granted, just as with any book to movie, there are some things that just don’t translate well from the written word into visual settings.  Still, read the book first, then watch the movie.  One will not detract from the other, and try to withhold the urge to scream at the screen “BUT THAT WASN’T IN THE BOOK”.  It is a method of self muzzling that I learned for myself many years ago.

Hunger Games is essentially a dystopian future where children are thrust into an arena to survive and fight to the death.  All of this broadcast on television for the viewing pleasure of the mass audience.  If that were suggested in today’s world, the person who suggested it would be carted off to the funny farm.  Though, the idea in Hunger Games isn’t too far off what we see now.

We do live in an MTV world, where reality television has taken hold quite fast.  Survivor, Britain/America/Canada’s Got Talent (and most likely other countries as well), American/Canadian Idol, Fear Factor, and many others that have become a mainstay of television.  Especially in the western world.  And most of our television viewing is pretty white washed.

So, you may inquire how did I go from Hunger Games and it’s MTV style gladiator arena pitting children against children to any issue like race?  If I have to fully explain, then some have been living under a rock.  Even I consider myself a hermit and I get out enough to realize what’s going on in the world.  But, seeing how this is an editorial, and before I fully dive into this subject there needs to be some clarification.  Some context, as one might say.

Hunger Games has many unique and varied characters.  Collins goes so far as to give detailed descriptions of the tributes that will take part in the games.  Including a young girl named Rue.  Rue, in the book, is described as such, which is found on Page 45 of the Scholastic Edition of Suzanne Collins’ Hunger Games (first printing Scholastic, copyright 2009 Scholastic Press, 2008 hardcover Scholastic Press), or my way of saying LOOK IT UP!:

And most hauntingly, a twelve-year-old girl from District 11. She has dark brown skin and eyes, but other than that, she’s very like Prim in size and demeanor.

Dark Brown Skin. DARK BROWN SKIN!  How much clearer does that need to be?  You might ask, why is that description needed about this one character.  Because Rue happens to be the target and subject of some of the most overt, stupid racism I’ve ever seen.  The Twitterverse is abuzz with how they were sad Rue died UNTIL THEY FOUND OUT SHE WAS BLACK!  HOW MORE FUCKING RACIST IS THAT?  It’s also not just a small incident retweeted by one or two people.  It’s so bad that there’s now a tumblr that displays these messages of ignorance.

This is not any different than what fans of Avatar The Last Airbender went through (no, not Avatar, Title That James Cameron Stole For Land of the Blue People).  The creators of the show had done a great deal of research into cultural backgrounds from China, Tibet, India, Viet Nam and the Northern Inuit.  When you watch the animated series, you get the proper feeling that these people are all from a different culture and you’re following them through their world.

Then came the movie.

Try to imagine that said in an ominous voice with something akin to a funeral dirge or the Imperial Death March.

There was so much white washing of the main cast, with the exception of the villains.  Is this what movie goers want?  Everything to be white?  Is that why it took so long to get Red Tails off the ground?  Because it was a movie about the Tuskegee Airmen?  The only black squadron of fighter pilots to fly during the Second World War?  How is that not an interesting movie?

And now we’ve got Hunger Games which includes this sudden apathy toward a character who dies because she happens to be black.  She’s 12!  And forced to fight in a televised event!  For her life!  KILL OR BE KILLED!  DID I MENTION SHE’S FUCKING 12?  Skin colour should be the absolute last thing a person thinks about.  This is a young girl, the youngest of all the tributes from a poor district in the book.  Forced to fight or die, all for the thrill of the upper class entertainment.

I’m not saying we should all become colour blind.  But we had damn well better become more aware of issues regarding race that surround us everyday.  When we (and I use the Royal We for me and all other white people, I don’t care if you have black/gay/lesbian/east indian/native american/mexican friends/relatives) make flippant, off handed comments about “oh, I was sad about Rue’s death until I saw she was black”, we need to check our privilege.  We need to understand that what we are typing/saying is incredibly racist, and we’re setting the bar back to the early 1900s (or in some cases even earlier).  How can we on one hand say that we’ve come so far since the civil rights movement of the 60s, and then spout garbage like that?  It only proves we haven’t come very far at all.

Hunger Games can teach us a lot.  But in a lot of cases, it’s what it can teach us about ourselves that matters most.

 
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Posted by on March 29, 2012 in Life, randomness

 

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Banned Books Week: The Hunger Games


 

Cover of

Cover of The Hunger Games

This week is Banned Books Week, and one of the books that seems to surprise many is The Hunger Games by Suzanne Collins.  The Hunger Games actually has been challenged in three categories, but the most publicized came from a case in New Hampshire, where a woman said the book gave her 11 year old nightmares and that the inherent violence would numb children to violence.

Hunger Games actually appears at number 5 in the top ten list for this year, which also includes Twilight and the children’s book And Tango Makes Three.

Here’s a look at the rest of this year’s list:

  1. And Tango Makes Three by Peter Parnell & Justin Richardson
  2. The Absolutely True Diary of a Part-Time Indian by Sherman Alexie
  3. Brave New World by Aldous Huxley
  4. Crank by Ellen Hopkins
  5. The Hunger Games by Suzanne Collins
  6. Lush by Natasha Friend
  7. What My Mother Doesn’t Know by Sonya Sones
  8. Nickel and Dimed by Barbara Ehrenreich
  9. Revolutionary Voices ed. by Amy Sonnie
  10. Twilight by Stephenie Meyer

(via Examiner.com)

 
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Posted by on September 29, 2011 in Life, randomness

 

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