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2008/02/28

Resolved: The Breakfast Club is Fascist Propaganda

The 1980's. The decade that gave us such classic films as Return of the Jedi, Raiders of the Lost Ark, and Goonies. Alas, it is also the decade that gave us the evil of John Hughes. Now, I know a lot of you are going to say, "Hey, Ferris Bueller was cool!" and "I liked Weird Science." Well, I have news for you: you've fallen victim to John Hughes' brainwashing. Hughes' films present a distorted portrait of America, with disturbing undertones about the individual's place in society. Hughes' almost fascist view of America has helped create a culture where you must fit in -- or else.

Right now, let's focus on The Breakfast Club, Hughes' allegorical film about an American high school. One Saturday morning, five teenagers show up at school for detention. Now by coincidence, each student represents a major social clique in the school. The characters are so archetypal that they don't even need names, just titles: Molly Ringworm is the prom queen; Emilio "The Forgotten Sheen" Estevez is the jock; Judd "Rodimus Prime" Nelson is the tough guy; Anthony Michael "Type Cast" Hall is the (surprise!) nerd; and Ally "What Happened to My Career?" Sheedy is the freaky girl. At first they all hate each other, but as the day progresses they bond, get stoned, destroy each other emotionally, and have lots of wacky adventures (all set to catchy pop-tunes).

Typical '80's teen-comedy, right?

That's where the subversive elements come in. The movie is funny. Funny enough that you don't realize the insidious message until much later. You see, as with most comedies, The Breakfast Club ends with the characters forming couples. However, simple math shows that the five characters can only form two couples, with one person left out. Now, most people who've survived high school would expect for the prom queen to hook up with the jock and the freak to hook up with the nerd, or, maybe, the tough guy. After all, freaks are usually nerds who got teased too much in elementary school and started wearing black.

But Hughes doesn't fulfill these expectations, instead offering a twist with disturbing, almost McCarthyesque undertones. You see, the prom queen gives freak girl a makeover in the last five minutes, making her look beautiful (well, as beautiful as Ally Sheedy can be). Suddenly the jock falls in love with her, completely forgetting her kleptomaniacal tendencies, inability to tell the truth, and use of dandruff in art. The lesson here girls: if you style your hair and wear the right clothes, you can get a date with a big brawny guy who has the brains of ... well, Emilio Estevez. No one cares if you're insane, so long as you look normal and do your best to fit in.

The nerd, at least, has the brains to recognize the situation. He notes that when they get back to school, no one will talk to him, pretending they never bonded with him. He rails against the unfairness of the system, but no one offers to give him a makeover, and he's left, in the end, writing the assignment the group had been given at the beginning of detention. So, here we're told that the duty of a nerd is to do the work of everyone else. The lesson Hughes offers in The Breakfast Club is essentially that personality and intelligence don't matter, just superficial qualities like appearance. Compare to Starship Troopers where the beautiful fascist kids are glorified, and Doogie Howser is tolerated only for his psychic powers.

Thundercats vs Silverhawks

An old article I dug up from my days on the college newspaper:

Cartoon Network, which is the coolest channel for drunken college students to watch while pretending they're still ten years old, has recently started showing Silverhawks. For those of you reading this who were too young to enjoy the great cartoons of the '80's, the Silverhawks were a group of cyborg space cops in the Limbo Galaxy who fought the evil Monstar. The show was produced by the same people who brought us the Thundercats - oh, wait, if you don't remember the Silverhawks, you probably don't remember the Thundercats, you cultural philistine! Okay, the Thundercats were a group of space refugees fleeing to Third Earth, where they fought the evil Mumm-ra. As you can tell, the two shows are completely different.

But, as I was rewatching some old Silverhawks episodes this last week (Man, this is what college is all about!), I noticed how much cooler the Silverhawks are, even though they never quite achieved the popularity of the Thundercats. Let's break it down:

Quick Silver vs. Lion-o - This is no contest. Both were leaders of their groups, but Lion-o was a wimp who couldn't find his Sword of Omens if you shoved it through his puny little chest. Quick Silver came up with plans. Quick Silver could actually win fights without someone coming to his aid. Quick Silver wupped ass.

Blue Grass vs. Panthro - The technical geniuses of both teams are well matched in terms of intelligence, but Panthro has to win for two reasons. (A) He came up with the Thundercat vehicles on his own, while Blue Grass was a glorified mechanic, and (B) Panthro didn't have a guitar-laser he used to play country music, unlike a certain mohawked cyber-redneck.

Iron Heart & Steel Will vs. Tygra and Cheetara - The male/female pairs of both teams. Now, I know a lot of boys had crushes on Cheetara, the leotard clad babe of the Thundercats, but let's face it, Tygra was wuss. In the Silverhawks, both of the male/female pair had the ability to kick mucho butt. But, there's an added twist: Iron Heart and Steel Will are brother and sister, making the duo (and anyone who's watched the show should agree with this) incestuous. Five points right there for subverting the minds of America's youth.

Copper Kid vs. Wily Kat and Wily Kit - The annoying children in the Silverhawks and Thundercats. The Copper Kid has the added annoyance of being from the planet of the freaking Mimes, but there are two Thunderkittens, and no single character in the history of cartoons can be as annoying as Wily Kat and Wily Kit.

Stargazer vs. Jaga - Both Quick Silver and Lion-o had a mentor/boss character. Stargazer was the head of law enforcement for the Limbo Galaxy, and thus told the Silverhawks what to do, and not much else. Now, it wouldn't take much for the Thundercats to top him, but they don't. Why? Because their mentor character was a glowing blue ghost. Yes, that's right, the Thundercats relied upon an Obi-wan rip-off to help them through trouble. Dude, that is not cool!

Monstar vs. Mumm-ra - Admittedly these two could be long lost twins, but I have to give Monstar a slight edge in coolness. When Mumm-ra transforms, he goes from a decrepit mummy, to a strong mummy, while Monstar changes from an ugly psycho guy, to a psychotic cyborg. I mean, who's cooler, a mummy or a cyborg?

The Evil Henchmen of Monstar vs. the Mutants - Any cartoon of the '80's stands on how good the villains are. Now, no show ever quite matched Megatron and Starscream (Woo-hoo!) from the Transformers, or even Cobra Commander (Yeah!) on G.I. Joe, but they still had to try if they wanted to be cool. Now, the problem with the mutants on Thundercats was that they were the biggest set of bumbling idiots outside of a Pink Panther movie. But Monstar's henchmen, while bumbling, at least had brains. The only reason the mutants were ever a threat to the Thundercats was that they took orders from Mumm-ra. But Monstar's henchmen actually thought for themselves, and were able to pose credible threats to the Silverhawks on their own.

So as you can see, the Silverhawks are far superior to the Thundercats. On almost every point, the Silverhawks prove better. If you don't believe me, let me just add this: The Silverhawks had no Snarf character.

2008/02/26

Fear for the Future -- Fear for Us All

Cali Lewis giggles with glee as she announces that the world is one step closer to a fully functional coin-operated boy -- the Beijing Bubby Robot Technologies Co., Ltd. has unveiled their new breast massaging robot. The inventors claim this device is for, the "female who is having the period, want to release the swelling pain of breasts," "women, who are under pressure, want to relax themselves," "Women who want to improve the quality of their sex activities," "women who want to have pretty breasts," and "girls who are reaching or having reached puberty, hope to improve the growth of breast," but this is clearly cover for their real purpose -- the elimination of men. This device comes less than a year after scientists announced that they had successfully transformed an ova into sperm. If scientists invent a robot that can open jars of pickles, fix leaky faucets, and be manipulated into going to expensive restaurants for vague promises of sex, women will have further need for men.

2008/02/24

Cameron Diaz Should Never Open her Mouth

Listening to Cameron Diaz present the Oscar for Best Cinematography and talking about Sunrise, the first film to win in the category, it's quite clear that she doesn't know anything except what's on the cue cards. "Ooo, the characters in the film were called the Man and the Woman. Isn't that crazy!" I'm reminded that the Anna Farris character in Lost in Translation was based upon her. I wonder if she knows the difference between F.W. Murnau and Evelyn Waugh?

2008/02/23

Does Anyone Know ...

...where Barack Obama was on 22 November 1963? I've looked all over the Internet, and I can't seem to find anything on the subject. I find it a highly suspicious omission. What is his campaign trying to hide?

2008/02/21

Live in Boston? Want to Earn Half a Million Dollars?

Man, American celebrity scandals suck in comparison to Hong Kong's.



It's been called the equivalent of the 9/11 disaster for the Hong Kong entertainment industry.


Just as the Fatty Arbuckle scandal was the equivalent of the Somme.

Sexually explicit pictures and a steamy video shot by Cantopop icon Edison Chen with female singers and actresses who have shared his bed have spread like wildfire around Asia over the past few weeks.

In a business that carefully grooms starlets with innocent, virginal images, the scandal is threatening to destroy careers and fortunes.

More than 1,000 stolen pictures are circulating of the 27-year-old Chen and eight well-known women, including Maggie Q, Bobo Chan, Cecilia Cheung and Gillian Chung of the Twins duo.




Lucky bastard.



Really lucky bastard.



God damned lucky bastard.



Sonuvabitch.

This week, the Beijing Association of Online Media censured Baidu.com (nasdaq: BIDU - news - people ), China’s dominant search engine, for delaying taking effective action to block the availability of the images to Chinese Internet users, who have caused a spike in traffic in their zeal to find them. It called for Baidu to make a public apology for the harm it has done to the society.

Shot with a Samsung digital camera and stored on an Apple laptop, the photos weren't intended for public consumption by Chen, who has appeared in over 20 Hong Kong movies, including the popular Infernal Affairs trilogy. The pictures were reportedly swiped from his computer when he took it in for repairs at a shop in downtown Hong Kong.

The photos quickly became favorite fodder during the Chinese Lunar New Year holiday, causing a surge in Internet traffic across China, Taiwan and Hong Kong as the curious rushed to download them.

The affair has proved to be a shocking revelation of the private lives of a new generation of celebrities, many of whom have been portrayed by PR agents as models for today’s youth.

A survey in Hong Kong found more than 30% of high school students have passed the pictures around among themselves and 74% of them brought the issue up with their parents.


"Daddy, what are you looking at?"

"Nothing"

"Is that a picture of Maggie Q?"

"Um ... yes."

"What type of lollipop is she licking?"

"It's a ... testcicle. But they don't taste very good. Or so I hear. You wouldn't like them. EVER."

A lingerie producer on the island of Hainan has rung up roaring sales of knockoffs of the lacy underthings worn by Maggie Q in the pictures, according to the Guangzhou-based Southern Metropolis newspaper.


Maggie Q should've taken a lesson from Britney Spears -- slimy businessmen can't sell knock-off knickers if you don't wear undies.

For Chen himself, the price he pays for the episode might be far more than lost sponsorship deals.

Hong Kong criminal groups, which are deeply involved in the local entertainment industry, are said to be upset by the damage done to the singers they have cultivated. On Wednesday, the Apple Daily newspaper reported that an underworld figure is offering a reward of half a million Hong Kong dollars to anyone who hacks off one of Chen's hands.


But I guess Britney and Lindsay should be grateful they don't live in Hong Kong.

2008/02/06

"I Should Be in a Museum"

I've been trying to keep an open mind about the new Indiana Jones movie, but really ...



... Indy shouldn't look like he's yelling at kids to get off his lawn.

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Better Sex Through High Heels

Finally, a scientific explanation for why high heels are sexy.

Experts found the high heels toned women’s legs and strengthened pelvic muscles.

In tests, Dr Maria Cerruto, of the University of Verona, Italy, discovered that wearing a pair
of ‘‘moderately high heeled shoes’’ had beneficial effects for a woman’s sex life.

‘‘Heels work the pelvic muscles and reduce the need to exercise them.

‘‘Wearing heels during daily activity may reduce the need for the pelvic floor exercises necessary
to keep that part of a woman’s anatomy toned and elastic,’’ Cerruto said.


She asked 66 women under 50 about their sex lives, exercise regime and shoes.

In tests, their pelvic muscles were more relaxed in higher heels, increasing their strength
and ability to contract.

‘‘Women often have difficulty in carrying out the right exercises for the pelvic zone and
wearing heels could prove to be the solution,’’ Cerruto said.

Manolo Blahnik, whose shoes are worn by Sex and the City’s Carrie Bradshaw, said: ‘‘This is wonderful news. I’ve been hounded for years about how bad it is for posture, but
. . . when you put on a high heel it makes life more exciting. For women, it’s a way to appeal to
the male species.

‘‘There’s a limit. Anything over 11.5cm, you can’t walk properly; it’s no longer elegant.’


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