Sunday, May 25, 2008
aliens? you're really serious? asassination, really?
The vast majority of people who go and see Indy 4 are probably going to be utterly satisfied by what they see. They'll get lots of explosions, Harrison Ford donning his iconic fedora, and space aliens. Yes, space aliens. I thought Indy 4 was pretty much the epitome of everything that is wrong with "summer blockbusters". Whereas the first 3 Indy films grounded in some sense of reality, from the opening frames of Kingdom you'll be like "wait a minute, how can a couple dozen KGB agents take out an entire top secret military base? Everything in this movie is supernatural. From Cate Blanchett's psychic mumbo jumbo to aliens with skeletons made out of crystal, the entire film feels like George Lucas read Chariots of the Gods and decided to throw Indiana Jones into it.
You may say "well, even Raiders had the supernatural Ark", and you'd be right. But the earlier films only tossed in a spattering of supernatural elements. Raiders was more about Indy fighting Nazi scum and it was only the last scene where we finally got to see the power of the ark. Kingdom is nothing but CGI overkill in set piece after set piece of ridiculously over the top scenarios. I love Indiana Jones, but watching him stand and look upon a giant mushroom cloud that he just lived through by hiding in a lead lined refrigerator was one of the dumbest things I've ever seen (that whole set piece, by the way, was recycled from the original draft of Back to the Future). The film is just so void of any charm or substance. Cate Blanchett plays a stupid villain. Shia LaDouche is put in scene after scene of Lucasinian banal comedy. Oh look, Shia just got hit in the balls by a tree branch! How funny! Oh look, Shia is swinging through the trees with the help of CG monkeys! How cute! Harrison Ford fares no better. Does he do anything in the last third of the movie? Almost every scene involves some sort of nostalgia shout out in place of actual development. And Karen Allen? She shows up to say "Shia's your kid" and have some unfunny comedic bantering and then basically disappears from the film.
"But there is action", you say! Too bad we've seen all of it before. Everything in this film was done and done better by Raiders without being a glorified ILM demo reel. And even then, I can't say that the CG was that good. Every shot in the film has a fake gloss to it, even down to horizon backgrounds. Its like George Lucas decreed that no film should ever have a normal, realistic sunset. Kingdom is two hours of bad acting, dialog, comedy, structure, pacing, plotting, coherency, and set pieces. It's pure spectacle excess that places its illogical storyline and massive plot holes front and center. There's no fun here. It's just an empty, hollow excuse to capitalize on a franchise that should have stayed finished.
Now that that is off my chest, what else am I doing? Way back when I quit Bear Eats Fish one of my major reasonings was that we only ever played the same 10 songs over and over again. I had multiple new songs written but it got to a point where nobody really wanted to spend the time to practice new stuff so we'd just play through our set a couple times and then head our separate ways, always with big plans to work on new material that would never come to fruition. Since we're having a BEF/THC reunion show late next month, I've been trying to remember some of my old stuff and have 2 completely new songs ready to go. I plan on forcing us to practice them :)
So the big news story of the past weekend is Hillary Clinton invoking RFK's assasination during an interview session. The quote exploded all over the internet and it has effectively given many Obama supporters the justification to unload on Hillary in a fashion that wasn't occurring before. There's a lot of bad blood between both groups of supporters. Hillary's forces are straight out pissed that she's lost, something they never would have foreseen since, you know, they've got that whole concept of entitlement. Barack's idealistic supporters are infuriated with the constant barrage of negative comments such as Hillary praising John McCain and saying he's ready to be president while implying Barack isn't, Bill Clinton's South Carolina Jesse Jackson moment, etc. Her assassination reference comes on the heels of her meltdown about the Florida votes being equivalent to civil rights, slavery, and women's suffrage and reports that Bill Clinton is trying to force her onto the ticket. Rightly or wrongly, that last report about Bill Clinton has been seen amongst Obama supporters as nothing less than blackmail, a sort of "Put my wife on the ticket or we'll make sure her voters don't vote for you in November". So you can see how Obama supporters were already in a heightened state of agitation when Hillary decided to drop her assassination remarks into the boiling political landscape.
First let me say that I don't honestly think that Hillary Clinton is waiting around for Barack to be assassinated. Hearing her comments, it is extremely easy for people to come to that conclusion though. For better or worse, the political climate is crazy right now. You can't expect any candidate to go through a 15 month process, with the media focusing on every single thing, and not say something stupid. I can't imagine how difficult it must be for a politician running for president to constantly be on guard about every thing you say. It almost seems like they have to constantly be self-censoring themselves just to make sure nothing comes out wrong and infuriates some group of people. But all these candidates are human and stuff is just going to come out wrong sometimes. I can give Hillary the benefit of the doubt on this.
But should she get off easy? You'll remember that when Barack said his now infamous "bitter" comments, Hillary took that opportunity to try and destroy him, turning herself into a Republican and pulling a page from their playbook. A lot of Obama supporters want him to give her the same non-courtesy, seeing it as a way in which to literally destroy her political career and permanently taint the "Clinton Legacy" within the Democratic party. A lot of people want this as revenge for everything she has done in this primary and probably more subconsciously as a way to permanently separate the Clinton's from the democratic party of the future, led by Obama. Piling on and keeping the story alive would definitely please the sadistic part of me. Karma is a bitch, after all, and I won't deny that with all the emotional highs and lows of this campaign, a part of me would like nothing better than to see Hillary knocked off her holier than thou soap box.
But of course, we don't need to pile on. Obama did the perfect thing by saying that it was an unfortunate statement, that he takes her at her word that she didn't mean it, and that the world should move on. He doesn't need to make this an issue because Hillary has screwed herself over on this one. Every Obama supporter in this country, myself included, lives with the frightening possibility that he may be assassinated. For a rival candidate to even mention an assassination, even in a historical context, is just stupid plain and simple. Hillary could have pointed to any number of Democratic primaries that lasted into June. Why did she bring up RFK's death as one of them? The reason there is such cynicism towards these latest statements is because she is the definition of "say anything, do anything" politics. Everybody remembers Tuzla and every Obama supporter thinks she's nothing but a habitual liar, so of course when she comes out with a pseudo-apology, people are going to look at it skeptically whether that was how she meant it or not.
A word of advice to Hillary Clinton: when you're in a historical race with an african-american candidate, don't ever use the word "assassination" in any context. You're just asking for trouble, especially in our hypo-politically correct world. Personally, I think the fallout from her comment is going to be felt far into the future. In the short term I think it will make a lot of those Hillary supporter holdouts shift to Obama. I think it effectively ends any leverage Bill Clinton was using to try and force her into the VP slot. The long term consequences may heal over time but that rift with the african-american community was probably damaged beyond repair. A future run for Senate or Governor of New York will now depend on whether or not the NY african-american community will forgive and forget. At least she's got a few years to work on penance.
But Hillary has a bigger problem. She absolutely cannot be perceived by the media and public as the person who took down Obama's presidential aspirations. This is an election year that the democrats should have no problem winning. If Hillary is seen as keeping her loyal voters from Obama in some way out of spite, there will be hell to pay in the future. The party is in transition right now. Half loyal to the old guard, half to the new. Whether Hillary likes it or not, Obama's people will be running the party in the coming decade and the last thing she wants is a party establishment that would like nothing better to muzzle her at every opportunity. And believe me, the grassroots liberal wing of the party won't forget and will probably salivate over the chance to take down her political career when the opportunity arises. They probably still will even if Obama wins the presidency.
So fair or not, what Hillary's "assassination" remark will do is force her into doing whatever she can to get Obama elected. People like to talk about the idea that Obama's sheen isn't as great as it was when he got into the race, but in relation to the Clinton's reputation, it's downright sparkling. The Clinton's have badly damaged their credibility and perception with millions of democrats across the country. They have effectively caused a rift and brought about the divisiveness that Obama and his supporters have been trying to end on a broader level. If Hillary goes out blazing, history will not treat her or her husband kindly. She has to help Obama succeed, else face the long prospect of being a leper in her own party. But this is also conditional on Obama giving her the olive branch. Telling, and convincing, his supporters to take in the person they've considered the enemy for the last 5 months.
Time will tell whether he'll embrace the Clinton's when this is all over, or tell them to screw off and take his chances.