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Tirade of the Week


7.26.99

Ten Things That Piss Me Off This Week


You'd think that after two weeks of vacation, I'd come back refreshed and mellow.

Fuck, no.

Herewith, a list of things I'm extremely sick of lately.

(1) THE U.S. WOMEN'S SOCCER TEAM

"Oh, they show girls that they too can be strong and competitive." First of all, shouldn't that be the parents' job? Second, just because they have estrogen doesn't mean I have to put up with the incessant hype and merchandise deals (I fucking hate that dentist commercial where they all get fillings) any more than I would put up with it from male athletes. I'm sick of hearing about them. I'm sick of Mia Hamm. I'm sick of women's sports and men's sports and every sport in between. Aren't you glad I'm back?

(2) JFK JR.

Okay, he's dead. Boo hoo. Another one bites the dust. I have no idea why the Kennedys have somehow gained what I call "royalty loyalty." The number of times I heard that last week: "They're the closest thing we have to royalty." So? Excuse me, didn't we come to America in the first place to escape from royalty? I'm a Massachusetts Democrat and I'm still fuckin' sick of the Kennedys. Every time one of 'em goes down, my response is a shrug. JFK Jr. was a failed lawyer who started a magazine -- big fuckin' deal. I feel for the Bessette family, who lost two of their own just because Carolyn and Lauren were flying with an arrogant Kennedy, a rookie pilot who thought he could fly his own small plane under questionable weather conditions. Just like Ted thought he was okay to drive that night in Chappaquiddick. There were many safer ways for them to reach their destination, but John-John wanted the macho rich-boy cred of being able to tell people at the wedding, "Yeah, I flew us here on my plane." That machismo -- and the misplaced faith Carolyn had in her husband -- cost two women their lives.

(3) PARENTS (especially of teenagers)

You don't have time to raise your own children, so you expect us all to do it for you one way or another, and you think that showing deep concern about the violent media will amount to a solution. The reason your kids walk all over you is because you let them. Grow up. Be parents. Say no once in a while. If you're worried about your kid watching violent TV in his room, take the TV set out of his room. If you're worried about your kid surfing harmful sites on the Internet, take the computer out of his room. If you're worried about where your kid is at night, don't let him go out at night. Enforce some fucking discipline, for Christ's sake. Don't expect the rest of society to do your job for you. While you're at it, try raising your kids with healthy values from day one so that you don't have to worry about all this stuff in the first place. Lead by your own example; show your kids how to be, don't tell them. And if you can't lead by example, you shouldn't have children. Boy, I'm glad I'm back, aren't you?

(3A) PARENTS WHO TOOK THEIR KIDS TO SEE THE 'SOUTH PARK' MOVIE

I understand now why kids are getting dumber -- because their parents are fuckin' shitheads! Any way you look at it, this is stupid and inexcusable. "Oh, I thought it was going to be like the TV show." Check the R rating, shithead. "Oh, it's a cartoon, I thought it would be suitable for kids." Yeah, like X-rated Japanese anime is suitable for kids just because it's animated -- take your kids to that, too, shithead. "Oh, my kids were bugging me to see it." Again: Two letters in the alphabet between M and P. Use them, shithead! What's so fuckin' hard about that? "Can we go see SOUTH PARK?" "No." Very simple. If you can't say no and make it stick, you shouldn't have children.

And for the record, every single review I read of SOUTH PARK took great pains to point out that it's way dirtier than the show and it's not for kids. Do parents just not even bother to take 2 minutes to read a review of a film they're going to take their children to see? Or are they too busy rushing their kids to soccer practice?

(4) PHANTOM MENACE

Everyone's seen it by now, so it really needs to die and go away. Nobody's even really talking about it any more, pro or con. The stores have scaled down their sections devoted to STAR WARS junk. It's over. It's finally pretty much safe for sane people to poke their heads out again. Only the STAR WARS freaks still believe it was anything more than a May distraction. Look how quickly AUSTIN POWERS replaced it.

(5) INDIANA LUCAS AND THE TEMPLE OF GREED

A major bitch-slap goes to George Lucas, or whoever made the fuckheaded decision to rename RAIDERS OF THE LOST ARK for the upcoming video re-release. My sentimental favorite movie of all time will now be known as INDIANA JONES AND THE RAIDERS OF THE LOST ARK. Predictably, fans on INDY message boards are going ballistic about this, though some have suggested it's purely a business move: A web search for "Indiana Jones" (and related products) never turned up RAIDERS because "Indiana Jones" wasn't in the title...until now. What a slap in the face to true INDY fans, to make us wait this long for letterboxed VHS editions of the INDY trilogy and then mar the classic first movie with an unnecessary retitling.

I have all three movies on letterboxed video anyway, taped from laserdisc, so I'm not about to buy these new tapes -- or the DVDs to follow (assuming that ever happens, knowing Spielberg -- see below) -- unless they have some serious bells and whistles to make up for the bad taste this has left in my mouth. I know Lucasfilm and Paramount own these movies, but doesn't Spielberg have any say in this? I mean, if he has the clout to keep all his films off of DVD (what is his fucking problem with DVD?? will someone please just show him the DVDs of THE THING and L.A. CONFIDENTIAL and reassure him that the format is here to stay?), he certainly has the clout to say "Uh, George, the movie is fine with the old title." If Spielberg approved of the change, my respect for him just dipped a lot more. Even if you are an INDY die-hard and have been waiting breathlessly for letterboxed tapes of the trilogy for years -- I cannot in good conscience recommend that you buy these new tapes. Vote with your wallet. You're not sheep, you're not Pavlov's dogs, even if Lucasfilm thinks you are.

(6) VULGARITY

It can be funny in the hands of Parker/Stone, the Farrelly brothers, or the Weitz brothers. But I have a feeling that we're going to see a lot of copycat AMERICAN PIEs or THERE'S SOMETHING ABOUT MARYs in the next couple of seasons, and most of them will just be gross, not funny (for a preview, check out Fat Bastard, who is very gross and pretty much very unfunny). Vulgarity needs to be done with a modicum of wit; otherwise, it's just overgrown boys trying to see what they can get away with. For another example, check out two of Trey Parker's earlier movies -- ORGAZMO, which is pretty damn funny, and CANNIBAL! THE MUSICAL, where the idea is funny but the execution falls short.

(7) THE R RATING ENFORCEMENT

When I saw SOUTH PARK for the second time, they had an usher inside the theater going around asking to see ticket stubs if you didn't look 17. If you didn't have a stub for SOUTH PARK -- i.e., if you bought a ticket for another movie and then sneaked into SOUTH PARK -- you got booted. Which is fine, but the usher took a lot of shit for it, as if it were his idea to do this; as if he wouldn't rather just let kids stay in the theater and not have to deal with the hassle and confrontation of booting them. If theater execs choose to have their chains enforce this dumb rule, let them come down to the plex once in a while and get verbally abused by disgruntled teens they're trying to boot.

(8) THE DIGITIZATION OF 'EYES WIDE SHUT'

By now you've all heard about the scene where digitized figures had to be inserted to block our view of copulating couples in the background. It's only 65 seconds out of a 155-minute film and I can overlook it -- and look forward to a possible unobscured version on DVD -- but if kids under 17 are going to be carded to keep them out of this R-rated movie, why alter it to make it appropriate for them? If anything, the stringent carding rule should mean that the R rating can now be a lot more open, right? Theoretically, nobody under 17 is getting in unless they're with someone older.

I also, as ever, question the mentality of an MPAA system that allows the 25-minute splatterthon at the beginning of SAVING PRIVATE RYAN but recoils at a few distant glimpses of sex in EYES WIDE SHUT. As Roger Ebert pointed out, a great director's final movie, starring Tom Cruise and Nicole Kidman, would have been the perfect opportunity for Warner to flout the MPAA and go with an NC-17 or no rating at all. How many kids under 17 are likely to be interested, or able to sit through this long and difficult film, anyway?

(9) RICKY MARTIN

I remember this pretty-boy lame-o when he was on GENERAL HOSPITAL. And guess what? He's still a pretty-boy lame-o! Every time someone like this comes along and crosses over, you see a dozen magazine articles about the new hip Latino culture, but I would guess that a lot of Latinos look at Ricky Martin and say "Fuck this clown -- bring back Ricky Ricardo." I hadn't even heard "Livin' la Vida Loca" until just a couple days ago; it was every bit as inane as I thought it would be. He's on the cover of ROLLING STONE now, which makes me all the more glad I let my subscription run out. First Jar Jar, now Ricky. Sorry, Jann, that's where I get off and walk. Buh-bye.

(10) THE BLAIR WITCH HYPE

The buzz about this Z-budget horror film has graduated to full-fledged hype. Granted, it's a small movie from a small distributor and needs all the push it can get, but after about 12 articles extolling it as the greatest thing to hit the horror genre since Michael Myers put on a mask, I start resenting the coverage telling me how scared I'm going to be. As a result, I wonder if the movie will scare me at all when I finally see it. It's like if you're going to one of those cheesy haunted houses on Halloween and all your friends keep telling you it's gonna scare the living shit out of you; your anticipation will be more intense than the experience itself, which will surely leave you disappointed. I hope I'm wrong about BLAIR WITCH. I hope it cuts through the hype and haunts my dreams. But it just goes to show that you can't come to a movie fresh and innocent any more. You can't just stumble onto a movie and be knocked out. These days, the closest you can come is to go to a movie with low expectations and then be surprised if it doesn't suck. Depressing, huh?