Filed under: Entertainment, Politics, TV | Tags: andy samberg, Cell Phones, digital shorts, Health care, lonely island, Mobile phone, Politics, Saturday Night Live, Science and Technology, snl, Tea Party, Tea Party protests
I have officially lost my mind: I am starting to perceive deep thematic arguments on political and emotional themes in Andy Samberg “Saturday Night Live” videos. First it was the relevance of “I Threw It On the Ground” to the health-care debate and the Tea Party movement — people so infuriated by the attempts of others to give them something nice that they could really use that they hurl it to the ground, taking the offer as an insult to their status as responsible adults and proclaiming “I ain’t a part of your system, man!”
Then it was the sequence at the end of “Like A Boss” where Samberg straight-up denies that he said he sucked his own dick — something he just said, with graphic representation, ninety seconds earlier. It occurred to me that the appropriate ending for this skit would be for the interviewer to ask: “Are you seriously going to sit there and deny that you said something to me which I heard with my own ears just ninety seconds ago? Because if you are, then you’re hired!”
And now it occurs to me that the sequence in “I Threw It On the Ground” in which Samberg protests “This ain’t my dad! This is a cell phone!” is actually a pretty authentic representation of society-wide angst over relationships that are increasingly mediated by technological go-betweens.
Like I said: I’m out of my mind. Time to go to sleep.
Filed under: Entertainment
Jim Nolte on Andrew Breitbart’s site for oppressed Hollywood conservatives rails against this big-budget sci-fi blockbuster everyone thinks may flop because, he says, it’s “a simplistic, revisionist revenge fantasy” that’s secretly about hating America. In the film, an elite human warrior ends up on a backward world that’s being exploited by imperial powers for its resources, but he ends up falling in love with a native princess, joining up with her tribe, becoming the tribe’s greatest warrior, and finally leading them in a successful revolt against the technologically superior foreign oppressors.
Who knew conservatives interpreted “Dune” as an anti-American allegory? Whatever. Or was it “Pathfinder”?
It’s pretty shocking to find that Republican infighting has now progressed so far that even a GOP stalwart like Roger Sterling is now being attacked by conservatives as a RINO.
And after all he did for Nixon! Will this finally make a Democrat out of Don Draper?
Filed under: Entertainment
George Packer has a pretty good reading of “Mad Men” in the New Yorker. But for me, you can’t really begin discussing the show without also talking about “North by Northwest”: Don Draper as Cary Grant, and Betty Draper as Eva Marie Saint. It’s not really fair to call the Draper switched-identity backstory a “spurious premise”, as Packer does. It’s improbable, but it’s also mythically American: the self-invented advertising man who creates his own reality by imagining it, and his constant anxiety at the prospect that his identity might disintegrate. Draper’s look and affect are drawn from Cary Grant’s Roger Thornhill, the self-confident businessman at the beginning of “NxNW” in the back of the taxicab dictating a note to his secretary: “Remind me to think thin.” In “NxNW” this facade of confidence is intimately linked to the switched-identity plotline, the discovery of the empty suits in his size, the existence of an alter ego that turns out to be empty, and the gradual stripping away of his own identity that forces him to flee incognito, to lie to Eva Marie Saint on a train, and finally to end up as a blank figure in a suit, running through a cornfield, pursued by a murderous crop duster. The return from the self-willed false identity of the New York advertising man to the empty, identity-less desperation of the Midwest, is the mirror image of Don Draper’s flight from Midwestern anonymity to self-willed New York advertising man, but both films are enacting the same structure of anxiety about the impermanence of identity in a mass advertising society, the flimsiness of the stories we invent about ourselves, the shakiness of romantic love between people who are each acting out a role of themselves. Add: check the bit where Grant pulls out his matchbook to light a cigarette, and explains the monogram: “Roger O. Thornhill. ‘Rot’.” Eva Marie Saint: “What’s the O stand for?” Cary Grant: “Nothing. I made it up.”
The Betty Draper as Eva Marie Saint analogy is more limited, partly because the Eva Marie Saint character in “NxNW” is less fully developed. But there’s still a lot there that’s similar: initially, in the anonymous meeting-on-a-train scene, the way that ironic conversation becomes so strongly performative because it has to fill in for the enforced anonymity and uniformity that repress any other kind of identity expression, to signal “I am more than the dully perfect grey exterior you see.” And the complex silent signaling she’s trapped in, trying to communicate her sincerity to Cary Grant but unable to be verbally frank because of overarching commitments to other players. And the gender-determined unfairness that allows Grant, who is lying about his identity, to become furious at Saint for lying about her identity — to essentially call her, as Don does Betty at a heated moment in the Mad Men season finale, a slut.
Anyway, there’s a lot more going on there and you also have to consider Betty in light of “An Imitation of Life.” But check this out:
CG: “Oh, you’re that type.”
EMS: “What type?”
EMS: “Not really.”
CG: “Good, because honest women frighten me.”
CG: “I don’t know, somehow they seem to put me at a disadvantage.”
EMS: “Because you’re not honest with them?”
…who’s been getting just about everything wrong most of the time for the past sixty years, and apparently still is. His track record of predictions is woefully low-average. You can always get a few hits being relentlessly cynical, because things really are pretty ridiculous most of the time. But the things is, most people actually do care how things turn out. So if you’re a wit and bon vivant who doesn’t care about anything, you’ll generally get them quite wrong.
Filed under: Entertainment, TV | Tags: Audrey Hepburn, Bronx, John McWhorter, Madmen, New York, Peggy Olson, People, Robert McNamara
John McWhorter is right that Peggy Olson’s line “I’m in a good place right now” is probably anachronistic, though I’d be curious to hear more about beatnik lingo of the late ’50s and early ’60s. But McWhorter is wrong about this:
In Sunday’s Mad Men episode, therefore, when Jennifer Crane gets up and takes her husband over the Drapers’ table saying “I want to” see how they are, crisply pronouncing want separately from to, it’s false. That woman, even with her poise and aggressive social aspirations, would have said wanna just as we all do when we are not reading from text or laying down an answering mcahine message. The want to would have been all the more unlikely from someone who had had a drink or two (especially the stiff ones still ordinary on Mad Men as opposed to today’s Chardonnay).
The clear pronunciation of the final “t” and the separation of the two words are exactly the way my mother talks. She grew up in the Bronx in the ’50s and would have been 21 in 1963. I’ve subsequently met other women who grew up working-class Jewish in New York in the ’50s, like Jennifer Crane, and many of them have exactly this deliberately crisp elocution. That’s because they wanted to sound like Audrey Hepburn. It’s aspirational pronunciation, and it is exactly what one would have expected to hear from someone like Jennifer Crane trying to fit in at a country-club dinner in 1963. (My mother also tried to teach me to pronounce the “h” in “whale”, to enunciate the “t” in “forty” rather than letting it slide to a “d”, and so forth.)
On the show, Roger, Don, and the other men are less crisp and artificial in their pronunciation than the women. And that’s right on, too. Men, like JFK and Robert S. McNamara (in the example McWhorter uses), didn’t have to be quite so careful about how they talked. Women did.
Filed under: Entertainment, World | Tags: Al-Qaeda, Daniel Drezner, Dawn, Islamism, Red Dawn, Society and Culture, Soviet Union, US
For what it’s worth I disagree with Daniel Drezner’s contention (Why is Hollywood messing with my childhood? | Daniel W. Drezner) that the idea of remaking “Red Dawn” with Islamist extremist terrorists as the enemies is particularly stupid because “The one thing actors like Al Qaeda can’t do terribly well is secure and hold territory”. Seems to me the idea of Al-Qaeda attempting to seize and hold territory in the continental US is every bit as reasonable today as the idea of the Soviet Union sending paratroopers to invade Colorado was in 1984.