This morning I read about the controversy surrounding GoDaddy pulling its Super Bowl ad because of a kerfuffle about puppy mills and animal cruelty. Which of course, is something we should all be concerned about, yes, yes. I hear you. But what bothers me about this, whether it’s actually true or just a GoDaddy-staged publicity stunt is that while you can get this kind of action for the rights and dignity of animals, you can’t really say the same thing about the rights and dignity of women. Seriously, just try complaining about the objectification of women in ads like the ones for
Carl’s Jr. or any of the other myriad Super Bowl ads, or almost any ad (one of my favorites is the one where the guy is watching the game on his phone under the table because obviously it’s more interesting than anything his woman has to say from across it…but I digress…) for that matter, and you won’t hear anything about the ad being pulled for a reason like that. If anything, what you will hear is the sound of crickets chirping.
I could go on, but that ‘s not really the story I wanted to tell you. No, this is a story about parenting. A story about how I would like for my boys to grow up understanding that women are human beings, not slaves or sex objects, and that the way women are portrayed in the media has an immediate effect on how men view them in the real world. And I made my point, in the car on the way to school this morning, by relating it to Congress’s recent refusal to pass the Paycheck Fairness Act and the fact that women in the United States of America on average earn seventy-eight cents for every dollar that a man earns, even if they are doing the same jobs with the same amount of experience. It’s 2015. The 21st century. The new year came and everyone was bitching about how we weren’t getting the hoverboards that Back to the Future II had promised us. I’d just be happy if they gave us the 22 cents. I mean, can you imagine what would happen if people whined more about pay inequity than they do about the injustice of not getting hoverboards??
But again, I digress…I’m a stay-at-home mom. Basically, as I’ve said before, that means I am a cook, a laundress, a chauffeur, a judge, jury and jailor, janitor, a pet sitter, a nurse, a cop, a safety monitor, a teacher, a gardener, a comptroller, head of purchasing, a cruise-director, appointment secretary, and all-around shit-doer. So when I mentioned to my sons this problem of the pay gap, I was a bit incensed when the one in the back seat said, “Yeah, but you don’t work.”
That’s right. He said it. After asking me this morning where he might find his freshly laundered gym uniform, and then packing the lunch I had prepared for him into his backpack, this son of mine had the stones (though admittedly not the brains) to say to me, “But you don’t work.”
But the funny part was that he had said this as we were pulling into the parking lot of his school, and not a minute later, he realized that he had actually left his gym uniform back at home. “Can you bring it to me before 8:30?” he asked. (This was at 7:50, and I still had his brother to drop off at another school.)
“But, Clooney,” I said, “I don’t work.”
I took one of those BUZZFEED quizzes the other day that’s supposed to tell you what to give up for Lent, thinking it would be kind of funny, but it turned out to touch a bit of a nerve for me. Not that I watch that much TV, but what I do watch, I’m quite passionate about, and it’s a very exciting season in the world of television. I’m not talking about any of that so-called reality crap. Instead, I want to focus on well-scripted, thought-provoking hour-long dramas. The things that are filling the void left by Breaking Bad for me. So here, in no particular order are the series that I am currently watching and simply cannot give up for God or anyone.
1. True Detective – HBO
Sunday night the finale to this 8-episode season will air. All this time wondering who the Yellow King is, if in fact the Yellow King is the murderer. I can’t just stop watching now. Plus Matthew McConaughey and Woody Harrelson are just riveting in these roles. It’s dark and it’s vicious, and totally worth watching.
2. The Americans – FX
Last season was really good, but when it was over, I wondered how they were going to keep the idea of Russian spies in 1980’s suburbia in play. Well, this season, the whole family is in danger, not just the spy parents. Add in that the daughter is starting to suspect something is up with her mom and dad and you have one taught thriller.
3. Game of Thrones – HBO
Season 4 starts April 6th, a full two weeks before the end of Lent, and I’ve got to tell you, I freaking LOVE this show. There are so many characters, so many layers. It’s so well-written that I can forget that there are dragons and white walkers, which aren’t usually my thing. But still, those things are intimidating. So many great performances, so many plot twists. I know I could read the books to find out what happens, but I don’t want to ruin the surprise of the show. It’s simply the best thing on television right now. (Well, right now starting April 6th.)
The best season was the second one, but still, I could watch Timothy Olyphant just walk across the screen all night long. Damn. Oh, oh, oh, and there’s some witty dialogue in there too.
I realize this series has yet to air. In fact, it starts on FX on April 15th. But I loved the Coen Brothers movie upon which it is based, and if the series has any kind of the same dark humor as the film, I will be hooked. Also, what a cast!! Billy Bob Thornton, Martin Freeman, Bob Odenkirk, Colin Hanks, Oliver Platt, and many more. I can’t wait.
6. Mr. Selfridge
PBS has been churning out some great TV via the BBC for many years, and for anyone going through withdrawal from Downton Abbey, Mr. Selfridge provides a fine fix. Jeremy Piven, formerly of HBO’s Entourage plays the title character, who’s part P.T, Barnum, part Don Draper. He’s interesting and all, but the other characters (and there are quite a few) are just as compelling. Miss Agnes Towler (Aisling Loftus) is like an Edwardian Peggy Olsen, smart, ambitious and hoping to find a true career. If you haven’t seen Season 1, I highly recommend you catch up before Season 2 premiers March 30th.
7. Mad Men
Well, I’ve been with Don Draper from the beginning, so it’s too late to give up now, right? Seriously though, the end of Season 6 saw Don setting off in a new direction, and it will be very interesting to see where he ends up. My only complaint is that AMC is breaking up the final season into two mini-seasons, with the first part beginning April 13th. Not sure I like this new trend. It’s as if TV executives saw the marketing potential in splitting Breaking Bad into to two seasons, so now every long-running series will have its final one milked into two. Kind of like how Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows was cut into two movies, so then so was Twilight: Breaking Dawn, and now Mocking Jay will follow suit. (Don’t get me wrong, Deathly Hallows needed two movies to be done right. Not so sure about the other two.) But I digress. However many episodes they stretch Mad Men into, I will watch every one.
And mind you, these are just the dramas. There are a few sit-coms that are worth watching out there too, but I will save them for another post. In any case, the DVR will be working overtime this Spring, and reading books will just have to wait for Summer.
Before you read any further and get your Batman Underoos in any kind of bunch, I want to tell you two things. First, this post will probably contain spoilers, so if you haven’t seen the movie yet, and you want to see the movie, come back another day. Secondly, remember that everyone has an opinion of their own; it’s what makes us individuals. We are entitled to have our own opinions, and
I will respect yours only if you respect mine; but bear in mind that I am not the target audience for The Dark Knight Rises. I am an American woman, in her mid-forties with young children. I have never played an action video game, and the last comic book I bought was probably a Richie Rich or an Archie. I have never owned or thought about purchasing an action figure for myself…well at least not since the first Star Wars movie was released…the first time.
That being said, last night, after weeks of excited anticipation, my husband, Manfrengensen and I went to see The Dark Knight Rises. We greatly enjoyed the first two installments of this franchise, have been fans of Christopher Nolan, its director, since Memento, and even watched Batman Begins on Thursday night to heighten our sense of anticipation. I procured a babysitter for Friday night, opening night, and we made plans to have dinner and see the film.
On Friday morning, I woke up, made my coffee, and checked the computer. One of my friends on the Facebook mentioned something about prayers going out to Colorado, so I went straight over to the New York Times to see what she was talking about. And my heart just sank, right from the headline. I felt sick as I read the story. How do these things happen? We always ask that when these things happen, but the fact is, they happen all too often. (See a great article written about that by Roger Ebert here.) I don’t want to debate gun control in this country, I have been doing that since I was in high school. It goes nowhere. Ever. And that’s sad. Manfrengensen said the best thing I can think of about the Second Amendment. He said, okay, we have the right to bear arms, so you can have a musket, because that’s what the Framers had in mind. They never thought of assault rifles and the kinds of combat weapons we have turned into the monsters of today. Good point, I think.
But I digress; back to Batman. Of course, Colorado was on our minds as we entered the multiplex last night. We got there a half-hour early, and the theater was already 3/4 full. There were no open spaces left in the stadium seating, so we had to sit in the fourth row of the ones down on the floor. Manfrengensen pointed to the exit door, which is something he has never done at the movies before, and we talked about how that guy must have bought a ticket, gone in and propped the door open before going out and getting his weapons from the car.
The lights went down and the movie started, after about a dozen previews for others. And right out of the gate, I was cringing at the violence. Mind you, I don’t think that violence in movies is the cause of shootings like these. Lots of rational people see movies like this one and don’t go out and shoot people, so there’s definitely something wrong with the people who do, not the culture itself. But the film still made me feel…I don’t know…uncomfortable.
There’s a lot of shooting and automatic weaponry in the film. There’s also a lot of hand-to-hand combat, complete with extra-loud sound effects of bones crushing on every hit. I wonder…which bones are they implying are being crushed? Are they the bones in the hands of the puncher, or in the bodies of those being punched? Either way, the fight scenes are too long. How many times can one punch with a broken hand? I doubt it would be too many. Even for Bane.
The movie is dark. Darker than any of the others in the series. There’s corruption, cowardice, degradation, nuclear weaponry. The entire infrastructure of the city is destroyed. The one percent get pulled from their homes and thrown out into the streets. There are times when Bane is still unintelligible. And for a Batman movie, there’s nowhere near enough Batman in it. Not enough Batman, and too much Matthew Modine. Why did we need Matthew Modine exactly?
And don’t even get me started on Anne Hathaway’s skin-tight Cat Woman costume and the way they had her ride the Bat Cycle with her rounded can in the air.
Plus, can I tell you something else? Edna Mode has ruined Batman for me. The whole time he’s fighting Bane, punch after bone-crushing punch, I’m thinking, are you kidding me, Bane? Just grab that cape and pull! That would be the end of that.
But seriously, I’m not saying that The Dark Knight Rises is not worth seeing. Technologically. it’s brilliant. As far as the script goes though, it’s not as good as the other two. And I didn’t find Bane to be that great of a super-villain. He’s all mitts, mask, and diabolical philosophy, but he lacks the style and theatricality of The Joker, Spiderman’s Green Goblin, or even Lex Luthor. Bane’s less super villain, more semi-super villain.
I didn’t think any of the acting was anyone’s best, except for Michael Caine. But you know what? I don’t want to see an old man cry at the movies. There are only about three things I can think of that are sadder than an old man crying. Don’t you think? I don’t want to see an old man crying. Who wants to see an old man cry? But he was great. So great, that I was sorry there wasn’t more Alfred in the movie. I would seriously like to see Caine nominated for an Oscar.
Overall, it had the feel of a third and final installment for me. Way too much going on. Bruce Wayne gets laid, there’s more than one villain, just too many ideas that needed tying up before it was over. I haven’t hated a film this much in years, and to tell you the truth. I wanted to walk out and tell Manfrengensen to meet me later in the lobby. But again, I admit, I am not a member of the target demographic.
Now, would I have had any of these feelings if not for what happened in Colorado? I went to a dark movie, already feeling pretty dark. The thing is; yes, it’s just a movie. It’s entertainment and we are meant to enjoy it. But that’s really hard in a world that can sometimes be so angry and dark. When reality feels futile — I mean, what can you do about the crazy murderers of the world? There is no Batman who will come to our rescue. It is up to us to learn from events such as these, not just say, oh well, isolated incident, so don’t change anything. To not think about it until the next time it happens, when we all say, why didn’t we do something about this last time this happened? Maybe we could have prevented it happening this time? Is that even a possibility in today’s political climate? Wouldn’t it be great if it was? If we could make this the last time something like this happens? Then we can all go back to enjoying our entertainment.
1. Saving Private Ryan
3. Stalag 17
4. Full Metal Jacket
5. The Deer Hunter
6. Apocolypse Now
8. Empire of the Sun
11. The Hurt Locker
12. Black Hawk Down
13. A Midnight Clear
14. A Very Long Engagement
15. The Red Badge of Courage
AND The Mini-Series:
Band of Brothers (Big surprise, but it is an awesome series. I mean, I’m a girl, and I think it’s awesome.)
Here’s a great story that I heard about this week:
How cool is that??
I took the kids to see The Lorax yesterday. I really wish I had read the reviews before I had promised to do that. I was going to write a lengthy review, but A.O. Scott of the NYTimes said most of what I wanted to say, and I feel, said it more eloquently than I ever could have, so I’m sharing that with you.
I don’t mean to seem like I hate things, or that I am no fun, but I must tell you that as I sat in that darkened theater, I felt sad. Mostly sad for Dr. Seuss. I kept thinking that if he were alive, he’d go out in his yard, dig a grave and practice rolling over in it.
As Scott mentioned in his article, Theodore Geisel exercised tight control over his work, which his heirs have abandoned. That’s why we get these overblown adaptations that have little to do with the original story. These tales are perfect for the ten-minute-long animated shorts we got in the 1970’s. They don’t need all these added-on backstories that muck them up and make them run for 90 minutes.
Another thought that kept occurring to me was an article I’d just read about how folks today, for the most part, really aren’t that green. That everyone likes to use the buzzword “green” but in practice, we still keep consuming and discarding and leaving the saving of the planet to others who are too few to stem the tide. We need the latest smartphone, the latest TV, what all the other kids are wearing, and we feel better about ourselves when we throw our plastic bottles into a conveniently placed recycling bin, but overall, we can’t be bothered to carry our own reusable bags into the mall.
While the message of “save the trees” is still there, pretty much everything else Dr. Seuss stood for is not. Sure the little kids will walk away with that idea about saving the trees, but they will also come away feeling like they laughed a lot — at things that were kind of mean-spirited. Language is used to cut other characters down, and slapstick is what really gets the laugh. For some reason there’s also a fat bear that’s played for laughs as well.
Dr. Seuss was a genius, I’m not going to deny that. But his genius was his simplicity. The way he used his children’s books as allegories about racism, environmental issues and war is a great thing. But it’s not like he was the only one. I see a lot of Dr. Seuss’ words everywhere these days. They are plastered all over Pintrest, quoted on Facebook, painted on library walls. But you know, Theodore Geisel is no more the world’s greatest philosopher than Shel Silverstein is its poet. We are wise to use Dr. Seuss as a starting point to talk to our kids, but we need to back that up with more complex ideas — and follow through on those ideas ourselves.
Sunday was the Super Bowl, so we DVR’d this week’s episode of Downton Abbey. Yesterday, Manfrengensen sent me this text:Love you too. Can’t wait for downton abbey tonight! Maggie Smith is a luminary. I could watch her in a reading of wiki entries on bugs!
Gotta say, that man, he’s all romance, baby. Really knows how to smooth-talk (or in this case, smooth-text) his lady. Manfrengensen didn’t watch Season 1, but he has quickly caught on for Season 2.
And of course, Maggie Smith is The Bomb.
I have greatly enjoyed the series in general. Season 2 has been compelling, but I have to wonder if it’s going to go Desperate Housewives on us, like it’s really just an Edwardian soap opera rather than the high-brow drama we believe it to be. Not that it’s not still absolutely delicious, but a few aspects of this week’s installment have me concerned. (And if you have yet to watch, Spoiler Alert.) (Or, if you are reading this from the UK, please do not confirm or deny my suspicions.)
1) The Burned Soldier – long lost cousin/true love of Lady Edith shows up claiming to be the heir, but how can this be proved when Patrick Crawley is supposed to have died on the Titanic? Why hasn’t he come forward earlier? Amnesia. Amnesia? Of course, it’s a real thing, lord knows people suffer amnesia all the time, but you have to admit, it’s also quite the convenient plot device.
2) Mrs. Bates is Dead – Mr. Bates has a curious cut on his temple. Will suspicion be cast upon him? Do I see a trial in his future to prove what has surely got to be the inevitable innocence of so empathetic (though still a little shady) a character? Perhaps, but I hope not.
3) Matthew is in a wheelchair – So noble, he won’t allow any woman near him out of his duty to their inevitable futures as breeders and loving spouses. He feels he has nothing to offer them without his body. Both Mary and Livinia love him desperately, but he’s dead inside…but wait…did he just feel something below the waist? We’ll just have to wait and see.
No matter, like many fans, I can’t wait for next week’s installment and am sure to suffer withdrawl when the season ends February 19th.