Tuesday, December 31, 2013

2013 is dead. Long live 2014 (at least for a year).

I bet you the pyrotechnic guy started the fire. Just saying.
Well. What can I say? I started this year in San Francisco. In one hour, I am officially ending it in Canberra. That's Australia for those who can't be blamed for knowing.

Oh? Also? I'm married.

I could do a whole Joel song about the ins and outs of this year. About all the things that I went through to get here, about the struggle of six years to be with my wife. About the struggles of a writer trying to get a writing gig. I mean, how many awards did my screenplay have to win in order for it to get picked up (it won three, by the by)?
Truth is, this year has been a blur, pretty much like all years. There were ups, there were downs. There were those parts in-between that lagged forever.

At the end of the day you survived, humanity. By the skin of your teeth, but you hung in there. I was right there with you. I hope that we do better in every sense this year for the next.

We should be humble in our approach to what comes next. Tempered with humility for all of our faults from this year and the year before. And yes, smile, for the wonders that we achieved, even if it was giving someone a nod on the street to wish them a good day.

There are stories, movies, TV reality show endings, where people talk about new beginnings. One chapter ends another begins.

This past month. I moved to Australia.

I got married.

I was surrounded by a rainbow.

And today, I played with my beautiful niece.

I am the living embodiment of all good things to those who wait.

I welcome this new year and the new life I have. Best part about it? It's the first time I don't face it alone.

With five minutes to midnight, I wish you all a truly happy new year.

Sunday, December 29, 2013

An open letter to Kevin Smith

Hey Kevin,

I thought long and hard about writing this. I wondered what would be the point, it is more than likely going to get lost in the hullabaloo that is Twitter. But you said some words today that I felt I couldn't let slide lest it make less of the men we claim to be.

Over three years ago, you asked me to be moderator on your new message board. It was something completely unexpected. I mean, who the hell am I? I was just a fan of you. There were folks on your message board who were there longer, who have been to more events than I have, whose fingers were on the pulse of all things ViewAskew. At that time, I met you a total of once at WonderCon, and by "met" I mean you signed something for me and you were gracious enough to take a pic with me.

You said to me,
"I'll bring it back if YOU moderate it, sir. All you gotta do is keep the rape porn out of my backyard."
That was the first and last time we ever had a conversation about the board. We met several times after that, but we never talked about the board. I assumed that I was doing the job you wanted me to, but for every call I made, for every person I had to block or ban off your board, I always questioned whether or not this is what you would do. I had very little to go on as far as how you wanted me to maintain order. I took the "95 Thesis" that you wrote and ran with it. Some questioned whether or not that was the call, others felt that their "freedom of blah blah blah" was being impeded, and of course there were those who used the "But Kevin wrote..." defense. By this point you moved on to Twitter, the board was left to the fans and of course your wife to socialize in. The thing is, Kevin, your absence was noticed.

Flash forward a ridiculous amount of drama and in-fighting that is the norm of all message boards. To summarize, your wife's thread became the most active thread on the new board. To most, this meant that Jen was in charge, to a few very loud and ignorant personalities, this rubbed them the wrong way. But to all, I made sure that misogyny was not tolerated.

Then TellEmSteveDave 96 happened. To sum up, women were objectified and then dismissed as nothing more than a pair of tits.

To the credit of some of the guys, they apologized. The worst offender (Bryan Johnson), however, never did.

Your fans (obviously I don't speak for all of them, but it's fair to say that most of the message board felt this way) were left confused and took to looking for a way to respond.

It was Jen who answered them.

And lodge they did, at Bryan. On the board. Both men and women. And I felt it apt.

About a month went by, Comic Book Men came on TV. As all things, it was discussed on the board. Bryan was called out for picking on Ming and still pretty much for what he said about women.

Someone hipped Bryan to the page of the board where he was being discussed. He quickly banned two people, (one of which made fun of his beard), on the grounds that they broke the rules.

What Bryan did not know was that the discussion he was jumping into at the beginning of the thread was in response to what he said on TESD. Many people from the board tried to express this to Bryan on Twitter. He wasn't having any of it. And as you know, in a more public forum, all hell has a tendency of breaking loose.

Today (well, yesterday, I'm in Australia) you said,
"If my movies have made you feel it’s okay to reduce another human being by labeling them a “bitch” or a “cunt”, then I was an even worse filmmaker than I thought."
 Let me say something here, I don't think you're a bad guy. In fact, you're one of the nicest people I ever had the pleasure to meet. But someone as open as you are, you are going to attract some unsavories.

Most of them came to Bryan's defense in the way that unsavories do.

Bryan went on to blame the women of the board.

And when those women tried to reason with him and tell him that he's retweeting some really misogynistic people, he decided to call my wife a "skank".

During this time, I was messaging Bryan, telling him that we needed to talk, that he's getting part of a story and that he needs to understand what's going on. I gave him my number, first he said he'd call me, then he said he would not.

I told Jen (my only contact for anything) that Bryan was in the wrong, that we should shut the board down cause the guy is not listening to reason and it's only going to get worse.

She got the board to shutdown.

And it has stayed down, without a word from you to the fans.

At the end of the day, some fingers pointed to me.

Or to my wife, or the women of the board in general. And with your silence, there was no one to contradict them.

I kept quiet as well. Not sure if I was waiting for you to say something, but mainly, I decided to leave the ball in your court. It's a message board after all. There's a whole internet out there.

I'd be lying if I didn't say that I wasn't a little hurt by just being cut off without so much as a "thanks for all the fish". One could even argue that I am writing this letter to make this about me, or that I'm trying to get attention by putting you on blast. But this isn't about me. In fact, you know, that to this day, I have never said a negative thing about you.

This isn't about me, this is about what you said today.

"I will always apologize for any man who makes misogyny the manner with which he communicates his feelings. A woman-hater is just a woman-beater in waiting. If you wanna argue with words on my behalf (or EVER, for that matter), NEVER REDUCE/CURSE/HUMILIATE/HATE/DISMISS WOMEN IN THE PROCESS. I wouldn’t let you do it in front of me; I’m not gonna let you do it on my behalf in cyberspace."

Kevin, I'm holding you to this. There's a community that you left to the wayside that deserves an apology for the misogynistic comments made by your friend, Bryan Johnson. He did it in on your podcast network, he did it again to the members of your message board, he did it on Twitter using the Twitter handle that represents a podcast on your network.  The women he belittled on TESD deserve an apology, the women of the ViewAskew message board deserve an apology.

And I seriously doubt they will ever get one from Bryan.

Here at the end of this letter, I again question whether or not to send it. Or why even bother.

I guess I bother because I like you as a person, always have. I met my wife on your board, I am still friends with people I never met in person because of you. I am grateful to the kindness your wife showed me, and I was honored when you trusted me enough to try to do the right thing by you.

I volunteered to be your mod, and you technically never dismissed me as the moderator of the ViewAskew board, so I guess as a last gesture of trying to do the right thing for the board.

Kev, do the right thing.


Saturday, December 07, 2013

"Oh X-Mass Tree"

"Oh X-Mass Tree"

The dusk pulls its warmth from cold shivering trees,
The poor dears try to hold on as they stretch out their leaves.
For they know that when the sun fades on this cold winter night,
Florescent torches will fill their timbers with the iciest fright.
They come with the smell of their ancestors burned,
They come with the laughter of sap-thirsty children who yearn.
Not for the whisper of winds singing gently through the pine,
Not to get lost between memories that vein deep like a mine.
With a gargle of metal, blades, and a combustion of smoke,
The trees go down, one by one, not standing with hope.
They are tied, bleeding and raw, to the roofs of tin cars,
They are bought and sold, no longer graced under stars.
Forced into houses, whored with tinsel and light,
All to be glamorized for one Holiday night.
And as the night passes, as they are put out to pasture,
They choke on their last breaths, those poor prickly bastards.
But hey, at least they got that one awesome Christmas story,
And screw centuries of living, when you were some kid’s morning glory.

Sunday, December 01, 2013

I left my heart...

Fire sometimes pretty.
So you may not have noticed, or rather the ether that I type into might not care, but I have moved to Australia.

Not visit, not vacationing, but I have moved to Australia with my soon-to-be wife.

For most (mainly family) this came as a shock even though I have been telling them for a year that I was leaving. I just don't think anyone thought it was real. In fact, I think they think it's still not real, that I'm not there like I have been for the past thirty seven years.

I have come to be with my wife, I tried to get a career started in the States, but to no avail. My wife, who has been my biggest supporter in life and in work, has waited patiently for me to see if I can get something/anything in my field. It was time for me to be with her. I have been with her for six years, and that's six years too long not being able to turn to her every morning, to feel her feet tucked under my leg as we sit on the couch, to hold her in my arms for no other reason than I passed her in the kitchen. So when people ask me how I'm able to just up and leave the world I've known for so long, I tell them quite frankly, "It was easy, cause of her."

But to be clear, that doesn't mean it was a choice with no weight. I have loved every aspect of San Francisco, of all the places from around the world I have visited, there is no place like it.

And I'm not talking about the bridge everyone knows, the cable cars that people think we ride all the time, or the street that is really gay (and if you've never been, you should see it, it's quite happy).

No, what I love about that town is the people. The guy who works at McDonald's on Bayshore who remembers what you ordered last month you were there, the old couple who needed a ride to the bus stop to catch a bus going to the casinos, the homeless guy who offered me change when I needed one for the meter, the guy who gives my grandmother bags of free fruit just cause he can.

A city is made of the folks who truly live there, not in the buildings they reside in. I love that town. I will always love that town.

But I'm not married to that town. And as much as I'll miss it, I left my heart with my wife.

And between one of the greatest towns in the world, and the most amazing woman on Earth, that town stands no chance.
I'll miss you SF, I'll miss you my family, I'll miss you my friends. High on a hill, you all call to me.

But at the end of the day, I left my heart somewhere between a didgeridoo and that ridiculously enormous spider that is about to steal my comp...

Friday, November 01, 2013

So I'm traveling in a fried-combie...

I was watching TV today, Community was on Comedy Central, and at 12:36pm, I got this message.

Mr Alvarenga

I am pleased to inform you that your application for a Migration visa to Australia was finalised today.

I had to reread it again, I had to make sure that it meant what it was trying to say.

Six years ago, I asked Ruth to marry me.

In three weeks, I'll be with her forever.

We overcame ocean, time, internet, continental drift, a government shutdown, lack of me having any income, and phone bills (I have paid $150 minimum a month to call her, sh, don't tell her).

We had worse odds than these two.

There's this saying in Spanish, "Amor de lejos, felices los cuatro". Which translates to, "With long distance love, the four are happy".  Meaning that when a couple are apart, they are both happy with the folks they're cheating on.

I fucking hate that saying.

Truth is, nothing worth it is ever easy.  WE WERE ON THE OTHER SIDES OF THE FREAKING PLANET! You couldn't get any further until you started getting closer.

I say to anyone in a relationship this tough. Ask yourself if it's worth it, if it is? Don't let anything or anyone stop you from the person you love.

I have twenty-five days left in San Francisco, I counted down day one by going to a taco truck I really liked (you can't get a good taco in Australia unless I make it). It was a damn good taco. Gonna miss this town that I have spent the last thirty-seven years in, and I'm going to make sure I savor every last moment (I should probably head to Alcatraz, finally).

In the meantime, I'm going to get on Grand Theft Auto V and start practicing driving on the wrong side of the road, and I'll have this on repeat on the radio.

Saturday, August 17, 2013

Anniversary Overcoming Adversity

Six years ago, today. Ruth and I ventured into something that most people couldn't and still cannot fathom. We decided to try to make a relationship from opposite ends of the Earth work. And without hesitation, without a second thought, we both jumped in. Because the month or so prior to that, we quickly learned that doing so was way worth it.

In that time, we took to many methods of keeping in touch. The phone was our first method. That was expensive. Email was our goto when we couldn't be tied to the phone. Yahoo messenger quickly became our method of staying in touch when the phone was getting pricey. We kept on it for years. Eventually we adopted Skype, and to this day, it is our method of keeping in touch. I still call her on the phone and we love our iMessaging and Facetiming, but at the end of the day, Skype is just so much easier.

But in the past six years, there has been one thing that hasn't changed at all. My Sennheiser headset. These bad boys are clear and the noise cancellation is so choice, if you ever have the need to talk for hours on end on a headset, I'd recommend these in a heartbeat.

I've gone through two pairs in the last six years. Not bad for a $50 headset. And they continue to work just fine, the wire is pretty long and the volume rocker is a nice touch. All in all, I hate this sweet little piece of technology.

I hate it, cause every day, it's a reminder that the one I love is not next to me. I hate the fact that I have to turn her up because the mic went low. I hate that every night I have to hang up on her and there's that moment of lag right before it hangs up. I hate the feeling of taking off the headset every night, as it tussles my hair, as I drop it next to my chair, knowing that that's where it's going to be the next day, waiting for me to get back on Skype with the person that I never want to hang up on. With the woman that I never want to say goodnight to unless she's sleeping next to me. With my wife from across the world.

I blow kisses to her on the mic, every so often. She does the same to me. When she gets up to go to the bathroom, or kitchen, or whatever, and I have the headset still on, I blow kisses into the mic. My brain has linked the headset to an approximation with her, and so when it is on, it thinks that she's there even if she's not.

I appreciate and enjoy the tech that has allowed me to fool my brain into thinking that Ruth is with me.

But it has been six years, we are getting married as soon as our application goes through (fingers crossed sooner not later). And I cannot wait until I never have to rely on tech to talk, to see, or to anything the woman that I dreamt to hold, six years ago today.

Wednesday, July 17, 2013

Exploring The "Nigger" Mentality

If you're automatic reaction to the title above was thinking this post had to deal with the way Black people think; then you're not only way off-base, but you're pretty racist. Rather, this post is about you; or more to the point, this post is sadly about how the majority of this country perceives Black people.

"Party on, Garth!" "Not so much, Wayne"
Let's get on the not-so-way-back mobile
to 2005. Days after Katrina. Mike Meyers and Kanye West on the television. West says something that shocked a lot of people. Let me rephrase. West said something that was no fucking surprise to most Black people in America but flabbergasted people who have never heard it outloud before. "George Bush doesn't care about Black people". It was nothing new. Society has dismissed the sentiment for so long. The L.A. riots were in the 90's, the Black Panthers, the Civil Rights movement, all seem like a memory of a time people don't like to bring up. And besides, things are better now, right? I mean, Black people have taken the word "nigger" and made it their own! And Black comedians make us laugh, and hell, even White rappers are saying it! Hooray and Huzzah! We have grown as a culture! There's a Black President! You're welcome and America is not racist anymore!

Racist complacency has long set into the mind of America. A disgusting and bigoted perception that has plagued this nation from its inception. A Black man is treated differently because he's Black. This is an inarguable and truly sad fact that spawns across all cultures. White people assume that because Black people use the word "nigger" (which they don't, but I'll get into that later) that it's fair game. This permeates across our media and entertainment. Play Call of Duty, listen to your teenage kid spew some of the most racist shit you can possibly imagine just because he thinks it's funny, and because of the anonimity of the internet, he can get away with it. Latin cultures use term "negrito" (rough translation "little black one") as a term of endearment, but underneath the layer of "d'aww, you're so cute" stems the reality of, "d'aww why are you so dark?" In Asian cultures, mothers have scraped, scrubbed, and bleached the skins of their daughters to quite literally try to take the black off them.

This is the "Nigger" mentality. The notion that being black is somehow inherently a bad thing. That being black means you're uneducated, aggressive, and overall "less" of a human than everyone else.

But why call it the "Nigger" mentality? Why use a term that is probably the most offensive and cringe inducing word in the English language? Call it something else, you might say. That the only reason I'm using it is for shock value, you might say. Truth is, I find it apt. I find the most hateful and disgusting word in our language a perfect description for the horrid outlook people have against Black people. And it is cringe worthy, we should all cringe that this state of mind not only exists, but revels in our culture.

Racism is nothing new. Every culture has experienced it. But Black people get the honor of not only being at the exact opposite end of the color spectrum, they are also the oldest culture on the planet. Flash foward several thousand millenia, as humans moved away from the Fertile Crescent, their skin pigments changed. Not the case in Africa. A people who thrived and flourised in the original environment. One can only imagine the thoughts that a White person who returned to that mecca may have had, but I bet it went something like, "Dear God, these savages live in this heat? Look at them living in harmony with the land around them. Do they not know they can do more? Obviously they are inferior to me, they don't even believe in God! Well, say what you will about them, they seem to have strong backs."

"Ooh, this racism is killing me, inside."
Dave Chappelle did a sketch on his show a couple of years ago, where there was a White family with the last name, "Niggar".

In it, Dave explores, through comedy, how society would act with an upper class family so closely named after an offensive word. He removed the ethnic aspect of the word and all of a sudden, it became okay.

Later in the season, Dave addresses the fact that after he did the show, a couple of White kids saw Dave and quoted him the line he delivered in the sketch, "What's up, Nigga!"

Like those kids, society missed the point. African Americans in this country, through insurmountable odds, strived to overcome racial bigotry. They took a word that was used against them and adopted it as a colloquial greeting between themselves. The intent was never to make it okay for the rest of the world to start using it, but rather to lessen a blow, or rather blows, that Black people in this country suffer with on a daily basis. And it was a means of education, as well. Society never seemed to understand through verbal communication and through history that the way it treats minorities is really fucking wrong. So through media and entertainment, Black people tried to get through to the world.

Television brought us shows like "Sanford and Son", "What's Happening!!", "The Jeffersons", and "Good Times" to the living rooms of America. Shows that showcased lower class families ("The Jeffersons" being the exception, they were more middle class), and introducing America to Black families that were just trying to make it like everyone else.

"The Cosby Show" went one step beyond to show that African Americans can excel, given equal opportunity, the show did well. And America accepted Black people, as entertainers only.

In the 80's and 90's music was used as a means to communicate their plight. Groups like N.W.A and Public Enemy were pissed, and rightly so. Trying to bring to the limelight how America treats the Black community.

Again, America missed the lesson, all they got from it was some misconception that nigger (not nigga) was okay to use.

Have things changed? Yes they have. America has no shame now to treat and call a Black person a nigger to their face. Even in the media.

A Black man in silhouette on his own poster.
"Django" had an African American as a protagonist who ends up killing a bunch of overtly racist White people.

It was so over-the-top with prejudice that it made you wish death on every White person in that movie, minus the one White guy who had to help and teach the Black guy how to do it, cause god forbid he do it on his own.

And he needed that nice White man too, cause otherwise he'd be just another one of those "niggers" (Django calls, without hesitation, other slaves, "niggers") that he leaves to their own accord. Because a Black man can't teach other Black men to kill White men, that would be wrong.

We have an African American as President of the United States. And I swear, the media has called him Obama, not President Obama more than any other president before (I may be wrong on this, but I am willing to bet on it). Maybe it's too long to say President Obama, maybe I'm being oversensitive about how cavalier I see the Republican Party and a bunch of Democrats treat the President. But why does it feel that every time I hear them say "Obama" I hear, under their breaths, "that nigger"?

Trayvon Martin was recently murdered because he was Black. Jordan Davis was killed in his car after an argument. Both cases invoking the "stand your ground" law. Marissa Alexander was given a 20 year jail sentence for firing a warning shot in the air to scare off a man known for assaulting, she tried to use the same law, it didn't work for some reason in her case.

Have things changed? Can things change?

I have hope. But for now, it sickens me to no end, that our country continues to accept and act (maybe without realizing it, or realizing it but unwilling to do anything about it unless it directly affects them) like Black people are less than everyone else.

Saturday, May 11, 2013

Get Off All The Lawns!

Dreamt we had better clothes.
It was 1989, it was the first time I recall hearing it. The two Coreys were walking across Jason Robards' lawn in "Dream A Little Dream" and he yells at them to "Stay off the grass!"

Apparently, it was a bad thing, too much treading on the grass would kill the grass, and this man took pride in his lawn. I always thought it was kind of silly, it's grass. It grows back, right? There was obviously a lot I didn't know about gardening, but I was missing the point. Staying off someone's lawn became a euphemism for old folks yelling at kids. The thing is, it didn't favor the ones saying it, it was the younger generation mocking the older one. They turned it on them, and ridiculed them for saying it. It means, "Hey old man, you're no longer with it, cause you're old and are disconnected with what the 'cool' people are into!" But old people had one last weapon in their arsenal. One that the younger generation had no defense for other than their ignorance.

"Kids these days.."

And no matter how you ended that statement, it was true. Whatever you have to say about "kids these days" it's more than likely true. "Kids these days listen to crap!" "Kids these days wouldn't know a good game if it came up and slapped them across the face with a joystick!" "Kids these days have shit cartoons!" All true. Our generation had the coolest stuff ever! But we forget one very important aspect about us when we were their age. Our old folks were saying the same thing about us. And guess what? It was true!

Now this paradox might not be a surprise to some of you, and the younger generation might consider this as some kind of vindication for them and "woot" it up, as no one says.
Hey, look! A blog reader! That's an endangered species!

Truth is, your ridicule is well deserved. Not just because you're young, but because it keeps  you grounded. Your youth leads you to believe you know everything. Don't act like you don't or pretend otherwise; it's true. You take the advice of your elders with a huge grain of rock candy and dismiss it as blathering fodder of a generation that no longer has any connection with what's happening in the world.

A world that they built, a world that they setup for you, and that you have the audacity to claim it for yourself with little to no care or caution of what lies ahead. And we can't hit you, cause hitting someone for being stupid is pretty stupid. So we do the next best thing. We make fun. What better way to get under your skin than to mock the utter bullshit that you cling onto as the new mecca of what's to come.

And bullshit it is, kids. As it was bullshit in my time, it's bullshit in your time too. You have the worst taste in clothes, you have no regard for tech, your music comes from regurgitated nonsense that was created on a computer, run through a filter, and rhythmically setup to fuck you in your head to the point you become numb to it and just take it as music. And your movies?
Is this your fault? Not one bit. In fact. this is actually the fault of the generations before you. See, as much as there are those who try to steer you toward the good stuff, there are way more assholes out there that would prefer to profit on your ignorance, cause ignorance is not only bliss but it's really easy to bundle up in something shiny, put a couple of sparkles on it, and proclaim, "I am one of you! We're different, but that makes us better! Buy my shit!"
Blissfully Ignorant.
How do we combat this? Tough love. Sure, we could try to coddle you, but what fun would that be? Besides, that's what your parents are for, we are not they. We're just here to get you off our lawns.
We're not this bad.
But are we all noble hearted do-gooders just looking out for you? Of course not. Yes, our curmudgeonry stems from a place where we see what you do and are confounded by why the hell you would do or like that shit, when there's so much better shit out there. But it also comes from a place of fear. No one likes the world around them to tilt toward the unknown. It's cold and we're pretty sure there are wolves after us.

I will hate dubstep music, you can go ahead and play the one or two songs that are decent but I'll always consider the genre nothing more than what it must sound like when Transformers masturbate.

I will continue to believe that there's no difference between Fun., Deathcab For Cutie, The Format, and Vampire Weekend (If this is dated and none of those indie pop bands are around, then consider yourself fortunate).

But for every piece of shit rap song that gets airplay nowadays, there's an Eminem. Cream does rise, talent does shine. And I know this is two years in advanced, but I'm pretty sure the new Star Wars films will surpass the Original Trilogy (fanboys really need to get over it). Change is a multi-edged D&D die. With every roll, you will eventually hit that +Awesome roll that lets you win the game (there's no such roll, I'm stating this so no one else does). In the meantime, we have to dodge the heaping piles of dung that is being catered to you and that for the life of us, we can't understand why you're asking for seconds.

Just know we'll mock you for it, as we were mocked for ours. For your good, for our good, for the good to come when your child laughs at you when you can't figure out how to put on your self-lacing shoes. Just do us a favor, stay off the lawn while you're do it? It's the reason why we built the fucking path!

Sunday, April 21, 2013

This Ain't Your Daddy's Joke.

A Timeless Beauty
I have watched "Breakfast At Tiffany's" a total of three times in my life. The first time was when I was a kid, it was one of those movies that I happened to see when someone else was watching it. I paid it no mind, I dismissed it because it lacked Transformers.

The second time I watched it was in film school. Visually, it's a beautiful film. Blake Edwards captures some really stunning moments, Audrey Hepburn... Well... Come on... Look at her! This woman spews elegance, not just in her looks, but she had talent galore. And it was a movie about a writer, I'm a sucker for movies about writers. The story deals with the complexity of a woman and the man who falls for her. At the time, it was a bold film, in a society where women were just pretty things to look at, everyone misjudged Holly Golightly (great name) as that, but she was so much more.

The only thing is, this second time around, there was no way to not notice Mickey Rooney's blatantly racist portrayal of a Japanese photographer, Mr. Yunioshi. With films done so long ago, you pretty much had to excuse it for its backwards portrayal of ethnic characters. At least, that's what I used to think.
You should've protested harder
I recently watched this movie again, and I honestly cringed watching Rooney's scenes. Mind you, everyone has since apologized for this stereotypical portrayal of a Japanese man, and Rooney has said that if he knew everyone was going to react like this years later, he wouldn't have done it.

...Wait, what? So you're saying because no one you knew was offended back then, you were okay with it, but now that you find out people can't stomach it, you're like, "Well I wish I could go back and change it."

I seriously think Mickey meant no harm, but harm is the only thing you can derive from this. Sure, people laughed at it. Hell, a lot of people laugh at it today. The stereotype is so old that folks have become blasé about it and have dismissed it as an easy joke. The thing is, the joke has changed. Not necessarily the premise, but the punchline sure has. It's either self-deprecating, or part of a larger joke, or so over-the-top that you can't take it seriously.

But what happens when the person telling the joke is serious, what's it like when you try to pull A "Breakfast At Tiffany's" and you turn to the audience and say, "What? This is how they act!"?

In a movie where race poking wasn't the focus, "Breakfast At Tiffany's" couldn't be done today, at least not the exact same way. Because all you would see is the really fucked up racism, and you'd miss the story that they were trying to tell.

The old joke doesn't stand today, because the audience is not the same.

Imagine you're watching Saturday Night Live today (mind you it may not be Saturday when you read this, so bear with me), and Seth Meyers is sitting across Kenan Thompson in a skit about a job interview. And out of Seth's mouth you hear, "Negro, Tarbaby, Colored, Spearchucker, Jungle bunny, Spade" and finally, "Nigger".
This happened, but in a different time.
This skit happened, but at the time, it was bold. It was taking social inequities and putting it out on the table to make you see that shit ain't right. And it worked.

Now let's go back to Seth and Kenan's interpretation of this skit. Will the joke play out today?

Can Seth Meyers get away with saying "nigger" to Kenan?

Not in the same context, and therefore there's no way it can happen in the same skit. They were able to do it once, but society, for as much as we are ridiculously slow to make real change, has done so, ever-so-slightly. And that slight change has brought about growth. Not saying that racial humor doesn't exist, but we've seen a White man call a Black man a nigger in jest. We're ready to move on.

Comedy is a fickle beast. What makes one person laugh will offend someone else, no matter how unambiguous it is.

In "The Avengers" Thor tells the other Avengers to take care how they speak about his brother. When told that he's killed eighty people, Thor pauses for a moment and retorts, "He's adopted?"
Of course adopted children are all bad, that's what I meant.
Sure enough, umbrage was taken. And a small group of people assumed that the filmmakers were implying that adopted children are evil. Clear evidence that you can't please everyone.

When it comes to comedy I take the stance that it's either all fair game, or none of it is. We should have the right to make a joke about anything no matter how sensitive. Laughter is a great way to deal with the savagery of the human race. It's funny to me to think that a horsefly is the result of a sexual faux pas between a fly and a horse. But do I want to see a horse try to fuck a fly? I'm going to say no, just incase there's someone out there that believes I would.

This past week, a lot of bad shit happened. Two assholes bombed the Boston Marathon in a cowardly act of terrorism. One was caught, one what killed. When they were on the run, many people flocked to Twitter to keep up with the news, but also, and more importantly, be at each other's side. And there were jokes. Jokes about the lack of real news from CNN, jokes about how you should never fuck with Boston, jokes about the moronic dickhead who hid in a boat.

A lot of people thought that they were making light of a horrific situation. A lot of those people were safe in their houses, far away from everything, and probably the jackasses who started posting about how they bet the liberals in Boston wish they had guns, now.

Take one of these and in a really small dose.
Truth is, laughter is a great medicine. In really tough times, it reminds us we're alive. It helps us through the grief, it reminds us that there's still hope that we will feel better, again.

Problem is, EVERYONE thinks that they're the funniest fuck from Fuckington University, and they got their degree online, on their own time.

Take that, and half remembered jokes they heard their parents tell, plus whatever show they happened to gleam as they were channel surfing, and you have the recipe for some really bad jokes, some really bad timing, and the lack of judgment to tell the difference when and when not to open their maw.

Winston Churchill once said,
"A joke is a very serious thing."
Truer words...

Laughter is a weapon, a tool, a cure, an ice breaker, and a motivator. In the right hands, used for good, and oh what good it can do. In the wrong hands, it can be mean and vile. Full of hate and hurt.

And in the bumbling hands of someone who means no harm but takes no account into how it affects people, and doesn't seem to care? Well, you get this.

I'm a nice guy, bitches!

Thursday, February 21, 2013

Kill your heroes.

Up, Up, and Away!
You remember that time when you were a kid, the time where the world was ruled by titans? Mine was Superman. There was no light that shone brighter than the S on that shield. He was everything that was good in the world, incorruptible, fought for what was right. Stood for truth, justice, and the American way. As the years progressed, my heroes had to fit my interests. But Superman was always there. He was the guy I pretended to be as a kid, he was the guy that made me believe that you have to protect the little guy, he was in every sense of the word; a super man.

And then they killed him.

My brain couldn't fathom this. How can you kill off Superman? Let alone without even using kryptonite? This is where I learned that how I feel about a hero is not how others see him.

This was important.


Superman came back, but his shield was tarnished, he seemed diminished in stature. Also they did this whole Red and Blue nonsense and had about fifty dopplegangers running about.

It seemed like it was time to move on. It was time to try the heroes that influence me on a personal level. Bruce Lee became my guide through my high school years. His ability to do what he set his mind out to do, to overcome any obstacle in his way, to do what he did best, and to do it better than anyone else. Well, that's my kinda crazy.

Now this hero was perfect. There was only one Bruce Lee, you couldn't slap a suit on him and call him Bruce Li. Well, you could, but we'd know it was a lie.

It's a Lie! I mean, a Li.
But as much as I loved the guy, as much as every single story, candid and heard second hand (I knew a guy who trained with Bruce, I gushed all over him), motivated me to be a better me. The fact of the matter is, Bruce couldn't grow. He was a fixed point in time there would be no new stories, there would be no new movie. I could appreciate the life and times of Bruce Lee, but I could learn nothing new. I needed more heroes.
He broke the mold, then he took down the mold factory.
I garnered literary heroes for my writing. Whitman, Poe, Chaucer, Shakespeare, Dickens, Frost, and Twain just to name a few. But alas, fell to the same traps. Not one of them contemporary. All dead, legends, but dead.
Their pen much mightier than mine.
Not that I ever withheld from contemporary heroes, it just seemed that the death rattle of the 20th century was severely lacking in that category. But I found a couple, here and there. And for a time, it worked, and what's more? I was able to approach them! For the first time, I was able to meet my heroes! This was so important.

The future is... sexy?

With the advent of the social networking, the gap between fan and person of said fan's focus was closing to a forum post away. Finally, I don't have to speculate what "Joe or Jane Famous" (no relation) is thinking, they're blogging about it! Screw the director's commentary! There's a podcast of every step of the process.

The curtain has been pulled back! The wizard has been revealed! Huzzah!

Um... Why is Mr. Wizard (not that one, at least I don't think) sans pants? And when did he get all racist and think it's funny to bag on the opposite gender like it's his job?

It turns out, your heroes, were heroes the same way Superman was my hero. They were fictional characters. Of course the difference is, Superman had no control on who was guiding him, these douchetards do/did, and they went head first into their exposure.

Fictional Character Alert!
And oh, how the emperors' new clothes look just about right on them. All of a sudden, things begin to fall into place. The questions about their character, the way they wrote, the way they acted, the way they seemed to behave but fooled yourself it was all part of an act.

What do you do when Superman doesn't come save you? This is important.

This is important too.
I found myself, for the first time in my life, let down by a hero. Not through a fault of a super villain, or some bit of information that was just uncovered under The Cat in the Hat's hat (Turns out, Dr. Seuss? Cheated on his wife while she was dying of cancer? You believe that shit? Look it up!); but because they took off their super hero costume, and instead of being a mild mannered reporter, they were anything but mild mannered.

Sadly, you find out the hard way that they are flawed, like the rest of us, only more so, because their flaws are so blatant, in the limelight, and they seem to show no wherewithal that they care at all. And you are left with posters, action figures (or inaction ones), DVDs (because you were a fan before blu-ray and already have them signed), and books; watching the Daily Planet globe broken into pieces on the street below. Wondering what to do next. Well, this is what you do. And this is important. You've got to kill your heroes.

Now, I'm not saying to go Mark David Chapman on anyone, I'm obviously talking metaphorically. Kill the ideology that you have built around your hero. The idea that they are anything but human and therefore flawed. And most importantly, don't hate yourself for being absolutely wrong about this person. You are in good company.Ulysses S. Grant, one of the greatest strategic minds in history; the man, who as general, defeated the  Confederacy. A man, who as president for two terms, stabilized the United States after the Civil War. This incredible person, this man among man, was swindled out of all of his money by a guy who ran off to China, probably looking to build a monorail.
Grant was Ogdenville in this scenario.
If Grant could be fooled about a person's character, so can you, cause you are no Grant, and granted, neither am I.

So who do we look to, when the clouds roll in and the rays of light flicker out, our parents? Do we kill them as well, metaphor still holding?  Here's the thing, there are some people that are exactly as spectacular as they seem. I hear that about Tom Hanks, I have yet to hear a bad thing about Mother Theresa, Joss Whedon is awesome, I can say this because I met him all of one time, but everyone in the world seems to agree with me. But stay those monument building hands. As Joss once wrote in a series called Firefly. "It's my estimation that every man that ever got a statue made of him was one kind of sommbitch or another."
...his eyes keep following me.
With the bodies of all these heroes around me, hearts freshly removed (hey, they took mine first). I really had no idea what to do. And then I heard it. A low trumpet, a building fanfare, a song that gives me tingles, a song that as a kid I associated with the feeling of being able to fly. And I saw him, the son of Krypton, not held to whatever standard that makes the most money. But held to the ideas that I saw in him from the beginning. The hero I knew, the hero, that it turns out, they can't take away from me. Not because he's Superman, but because it's who I want Superman to be. It's how I want to be. I want to have his stance on always doing what's right. I want to have Bruce Lee's tenacity, I want to create worlds that these writers, filmmakers, and artists do, but my worlds. "All of them better worlds."

See what I did there?

So have your heroes, but realize eventually (not every time), you'll have to kill them. Because they should hold to the standards that they claim to have, and if they don't, take the best they have to offer, and be the hero you saw in them. Because that is what's important.