Obama lets the dogs out.

Barack hangin' out with the homegirls of "The View" crew.

Is it beneath the dignity of the President of the United States to appear on a morning talk show like The View?   Not really.  Most of us have grown comfortable with politicians putting themselves into potentially embarrassing situations.   It’s not as if a lightweight like Elizabeth Hasselbeck or a giggle box like Sherri Sheppard are going to put Barack Obama on the spot when Hillary Clinton and John McCain couldn’t. 

However, every word a president utters is recorded for posterity which means even the well-spoken and lucid Obama can lurch into a momentary lapse of articulation so bumbling it makes Alvin Greene sound like James Earl Jones. 

Obama’s lapse came in the process of making a cogent, but ultimately clumsy observation of how impurities coarse through the bloodlines of the genealogy of the American public in general and African-Americans in particular.  

NEW YORK — President Obama waded into the national race debate in an unlikely setting and with an unusual choice of words: telling daytime talk show hosts that African-Americans are “sort of a mongrel people.” 

The president appeared on ABC’s morning talk show “The View” Thursday, where he talked about the forced resignation of Agriculture Department official Shirley Sherrod, his experience with race and his roots. 

When asked about his background, which includes a black father and white mother, Obama said of African-Americans: “We are sort of a mongrel people.” 

“I mean we’re all kinds of mixed up,” Obama said. “That’s actually true of white people as well, but we just know more about it.” 

The president’s remarks were directed at the roots of all Americans. The definition of mongrel as an adjective is defined as “of mixed breed, nature, or origin,” according to dictionary.com. 

Obama did not appear to be making an inflammatory remark with his statement and the audience appeared to receive it in the light-hearted manner that often accompanies interviews on morning talk shows

Mixed up, Mr. President?  I can’t argue with you there

When the President of the United States refers to African-Americans as a “mongrel “people it strikes a raw nerve of a racially dubious term.   It  would have sounded no better if Bush or Clinton had said it.  It just grates a little bit more coming from a biracial President whom self-identifies as Black.” 

"Bo, you understand what I was trying to say, don't cha?"

Now I know the O-man didn’t mean it a racially insensitive way, but if ANY White politician had said the exact same thing, the NAACP, Jesse, Al, and everyone in the mainstream media would be on their butt like a bad rash and that is the absolute truth. 

That was NOT cool by the O-man.  He’s way too smart and far too articulate to say such a dumb thing.  We can’t hold White conservatives to one standard and suddenly go deaf, dumb and blind says something this stupid.   Maybe Obama has been hanging out with Joe Biden too much because this kind of brain fart is his stock and trade.  

Obama needs to apologize.  You don’t have to be a Rush Limbaugh Ditto head or a Fox News freak to know giving the president a complete pass on this the suspicion there’s a double standard for liberals and conservatives really begins to stick.  What would be the reaction of Black folks if Rush Limbaugh or Glenn Beck or Sarah Palin had said the exact same thing? Or if a member of the Tea Party showed up at a rally with those remarks written on a sign? 

Is there a nice way to call someone a mongrel? 

I’m wary of saying “these words over here are bad and must stay in the corner” but “these words over there are good and we can all play with them.” Kind of the way White kids who love rap ga” then want to know why can’t THEY say all the cool words. Call a woman a “bitch” ten years ago and it’s going to be an all-day fight. Call her that now and she might consider it a compliment. where everyone is called “nigga” then want to know why THEY can’t say all the cool bad words too?  Call a woman a “bitch” ten years ago and you better get ready for an all-day fight.  Now some women consider it a compliment. 

Words change over time.  A word in the time-out corner today might be the next cool pop culture reference tomorrow. 

When Obama uttered that word it sounded strangely familiar. Going to You Tube, I found the reason why and if you fast-forward the video to just shy of the five-minute mark you too can share in the rapture of enlightenment. 

We are a nation of mutts, not thoroughbreds. There are precious few blue bloods among us whose bloodline can be described in any way as “pure” and that probably doesn’t bug most folks. 

But double standards do bug me because I’ve called out enough people for their relaxed standards and obvious hypocrisy. I know quite well if a Palin, Limbaugh, O’Reilly or anyone on the Right side of the political spectrum had said African-Americans are a mongrel people, they’d be marinated, roasted and served up as an example of the worst kind of racial insensitivity. 

The President’s intentions were clear.  It’s his phrasing that was muddled and in a highly charged and volatile time where racial discussions are already difficult the language we use must be both cautious and precise. 

Attorney General Eric Holder caught flak when he proclaimed America had become “a nation of cowards” in discussions of race.   Perhaps the next time he’s at the White House Holder should have a little chat with the boss on how that grand debate can be easily derailed when the wrong word betrays the right sentiments. 

Blade Runnings

It all began with a guy who killed vampires but wouldn't pay his taxes...

Super heroes don’t exist in the real world, but Hollywood sure believes in them.   At this year’s Comic-Con the buzz wasn’t about comic books as much as it was comic book movies.   There was much raving and drooling by fanboys over the upcoming Green Lantern, Thor and Captain America films in 2011 and Marvel’s biggest gamble yet, the super-hero mash-up of The Avengers with Robert Downey Jr. as Iron Man , Samuel Jackson as Nick Fury joining Chris Evans’ Captain America and Chris Hentridge’s Thor with Jeremy Renner, fresh off an Academy Award nomination playing Hawkeye and Mark Ruffalo replacing Edward Norton as the  Hulk.

With The Dark Knight grossing a billion dollars and the two Iron Man movies pulling in nearly $700 million, comic books heroes are no longer simply a part of a studio’s summer hopes for success, they ARE the biggest part of a studio’s strategy.    Where once dressing up in spandex and being suspended from wires held little appeal to serious actors, many of them are now looking for those parts.

Marlon Brando and Jack Nicholson, two of the greatest actors of their generation,  happily accepted big paydays to slap on wigs and makeup to play respectively Superman’s father, Jor-El and the Batman’s worst enemy, the Joker.    At the time they were being called “sell-outs” for working in such an unworthy genre as comic book movies.   Today Brando and Nicholson look smart.  There may be a small degree of embarrassment into squeezing into a silly costume or playing a comic book character,  but top directors (Christopher Nolan, Bryan Singer, Sam Raimi) and talent (Sir Anthony Hopkins, Christian Bale, Angelina Jolie, Robert Downey Jr., Nicolas Cage,  Don Cheadle, Kevin Spacey, Gwenyth Paltrow, Samuel L. Jackson,  Morgan Freeman,  Jeff Bridges and Gary Oldman) are  among those lining up to cash in on an easy role in big summer movies.

Comic book movies have become cash cows for movies studios and even when they stink (Daredevil, Catwoman, Spider-Man 3,  Jonah Hex) Hollywood keeps cranking them out and making witless sequels.   The  Fantastic Four, Daredevil and the last Spider-Man flick  all made money and in the case of Spider-Man 3, even a muddled and overstuffed entry in the series grossed well over $300 million.  These properties are much too valuable to be abandoned so studios replace the director and casts, overhaul the stories and relaunch them  for another bite of the apple.

There’s one glaring omission here and that’s you don’t even mention the success of Wesley Snipes as Blade, the vampire hunter.   This almost forgotten movie may be most responsible for revitalizing the superhero movie after Joel Schumacher and George Clooney killed it off with the wretched train wreck  that was Batman and Robin.

Made for a relatively cheap $45 million, Blade grossed $70 million domestically and $131 million worldwide and spawned two sequels (one very good and one very bad) and a lousy TV series.

But Blade as it’s Wikipedia entry shows had a greater impact than just its minor success:

“Blade was one of the first successful comic book based films to be released after the disastrous performance of Batman & Robin. Its success convinced Marvel to develop the X-Men film series as well as the Spider-Man film series.”

It's a lot easier killing vampires than fighting the IRS.

It’s not an overstatement to suggest had Blade died an ignoble death at the box office, the super-hero franchise might have remained  dormant.   Marvel saw how an obscure supporting character from their Tomb of Dracula comic could be reimagined for the sliver screen.  Blade as played by Snipes was faithful to his comic book roots to an extent, but abandoned them completely in other ways.

No matter. Between Snipes’ martial arts ass-kicking of vampire butt and an underrated direction by Stephen Norrington, Blade was  a very cool interpretation and gave Snipes his biggest success as an actor.    Too bad it didn’t carry over to his good sense because his IRS problems are sending him away for three years.

Though Snipes is a jail-bird now due to his problems paying his taxes, it’s not too far off-base to suggest it was Blade that has made all these following super hero flicks possible.  Unfortunately, with Snipes locked up for three years,  barring recasting another actor in the role, Blade may not be returning soon to the multiplexes on his mission to kill “suckheads” wherever he finds them.

Too bad,  because I’d really like to turn Blade loose on those wimpy Twilight vampires.   Now those are some suckheads that really could use a social call from the Day Walker.     Blade is underrated and overlooked for its importance in the dominance of comic-book movies at the box office, but there’s no denying its impact upon it.

Barring an early release, next year while audiences settle in their seats to watch Green Lantern and Thor doing their thing, Snipes will be cooling his heels in a federal prison fondly recalling his time as a vampire killing hero.   He should take some small comfort in knowing the success of Blade helped make everything that has followed possible.

Armond White Gives the Finger to Roger Ebert’s Thumb

There are  minor irritants in my world whom like a pesky mosquito buzzing around my ear, I don’t really want to be bothered with because they’re needy attention whores and when I write about them it only gives them the attention they crave and do not deserve.  But because they are writers like me (well, not exactly like me because they’re better known and bigger assholes than I am), and offend me with the damage they do to the craft of journalism  Armond White makes a return trip for another verbal waterboarding.

White, appearing on a SlashDot.com podcast set his sights on America’s most popular movie critic Roger Ebert as the target of his withering scorn:

I do think it is fair to say that Roger Ebert destroyed film criticism. Because of the wide and far reach of television, he became an example of what a film critic does for too many people. And what he did simply was not criticism. It was simply blather. And it was a kind of purposefully dishonest enthusiasm for product, not real criticism at all…I think he does NOT have the training. I think he simply had the position. I think he does NOT have the training. I’VE got the training. And frankly, I don’t care how that sounds, but the fact is, I’ve got the training. I’m a pedigreed film critic. I’ve studied it. I know it. And I know many other people who’ve studied it as well, studied it seriously. Ebert just simply happened to have the job. And he’s had the job for a long time. He does not have the foundation. He simply got the job. And if you’ve ever seen any of his shows, and ever watched his shows on at least a two-week basis, then you surely saw how he would review, let’s say, eight movies a week and every week liked probably six of them. And that is just simply inherently dishonest. That’s what’s called being a shill. And it’s a tragic thing that that became the example of what a film critic does for too many people. Often he wasn’t practicing criticism at all. Often he would point out gaffes or mistakes in continuity. That’s not criticism. That’s really a pea-brained kind of fan gibberish.

What’s White’s problem?  Nothing but a serious case of jealousy of a better known and far more respected competitor..  It really gets no more complicated than that.  He’s become the Jason Whitlock of film criticism and if you know anything about sportswriting you know how much of an insult that is.  If you don’t, here’s what it means.  White and Whitlock make their daily bread by writing hatchet pieces designed to inflame and not inform, heap scorn on the abilities of competing writers and spend countless hours gazing lovingly in mirrors at their own reflection.

"Why yes, I AM egotistical and arrogant. That a problem?"

Ebert, along with his colleague Gene Siskel, took film review out of its haughty, rarefied air of elitism and they made it about two guys that just liked movies.  Their PBS program, “At the Movies” streamlined movie reviews to  three-to-five minute summations and a “thumbs up” or “thumbs down” rating system.   It wasn’t profound or scientific, but it wasn’t trying to be.  What’s so bad about that?   Andrew Sarris and Pauline Kael were better writers and more important critics than the Chicago based duo, but far less popular or imitated.   Siskel and Ebert helped make film criticism cool and fun, two words that have never been associated with Armond White.  White makes a mistake common to a pompous braggart: He thinks what he does as a film critic is important.  It’s not.  Film criticism is to films what a bun is to a hot dog; an accompaniment, not the main ingredient.    No one ever stood in line and plunked down nine bucks to watch a critic read his latest review.

White is perfectly within his rights to believe the Internet has allowed too many amateurs and wannabees to crowd into the movie reviewing pool.  He is welcome to dog out Ebert if he believes the guy is a lousy critic, but he makes himself look small and petty when he says “…he does NOT have the training. I’VE got the training. ”

Who else doesn’t have the training? Mr. White is happy you asked and even happier to tell you.

We got film critics who are employed professionally by legitimate publications, and we have the world of the internet film writers. The internet has become so pervasive and overwhelming that the internet has stolen the impact and prestige and effect that traditional professional film criticism used to have. As a result of that I think that people who are now employed by the mainstream media are so intimidated by the internet that it seems, when you read mainstream published film critics, that they’ve simply given up being film critics, because they’re afraid of losing readership, because they’re afraid of losing their jobs, probably because publishers and editors simply want to get readers and appease readers, rather than inform and instruct readers. And I think that leads to a kind of anarchy where there are very few people writing about film who know what they’re talking about and who are rigorous about having standards in film. The anarchy, I think, comes from the fact that in mainstream media and the internet, most people who are writing about films are simply writing from a fan’s perspective instead of a truly critical perspective. So what used to be termed “film critics” now is almost meaningless, because you just got a free-for-all of enthusiasms rather than criticism.

Chew on the irony that a guy whose reviews are primarily read on the Internet is slamming the Internet for ruining film criticism by opening up the field to more film criticism. Hypocrisy is the greatest luxury isn’t it?

Criticsm can and should aim higher than whether a movie is four stars, two thumbs up,  or better than sex evaluation.   A review can invoke emotion, thought and a depth that goes beyond an arbitrary scoring system.   While film criticism isn’t essential to the enjoyment of a movie, neither is it worthless.   It is pure elitism to state only a chosen few are capable of properly critiquing the cinema.   White can whine and bash critics more popular (and better) than him if he wants, but this is one bell that can’t be unrung.

You guys might have perhaps come across something I wrote/said somewhere, where I said that I think no one should be allowed to make a movie before they’re 40, although there are obviously a whole lot of exceptions to that. We’d have no Citizen Kane if that were so. But I kind of feel that way, and I certainly feel that way about criticism. I think really, there should be no film critics – okay, let’s change the age – there should be no film critics younger than 30. Because before that you don’t know enough about art, you don’t know enough about life.

Got that, all you aspiring young film students? Go do something else for the next 20 years or so and don’t come back until you’re not so wet behind the ears and get off my lawn, you damn kids. As for you punks with your blogs and You Tube videos, you don’t know nothin’ about nothin’ either, so you can get lost too!

It’s not as if White has about anything to say about movies that is particularly important or even very interesting. This is a man who thought Precious, was the worst portrayal of Black Americans since The Birth of A Nation but says Norbit is a gem and despises Christopher Nolan’s Inception and praises Michael “Transformers” Bay as unfairly maligned auteur. It’s  really kind of funny to watch an angry, bitter man flail around impotently and sneer at the very people who could make him as popular as Roger Ebert ever was if he wasn’t busy being such an insufferable DICK.

Haters gonna hate.

Roger Ebert and Gene Siskel and their evil thumbs.

Inception Perception part I

Your mind is the scene of the confusion.

The first rule of Inception is you do not talk about Inception because you do not understand what the hell Inception is about.  

It is almost impossible to write any sort of review of Christopher Nolan’s caper flick meets head trip without giving away some key scene or plot point and I’m not going to even try.   Most of all because I’m going to see it a second time just so I can be confused all over again by the parts I didn’t get the first time.   

When we walking back to the car my better half Vanessa observed sagely,  “I don’t know if I liked it or hated it.  The last time I felt this way about a movie was after we saw, Blue Velvet.    You can see the obvious artistry of the director and the vision a David Lynch and Chris Nolan bring to their work, but dammit if they don’t make movies that strain the brain.   

As much as I’ve argued against brain-dead entertainment that fills up the mind with empty computer generated imagery, big explosions, and cartoon characters, I can’t hate on Inception simply because it is a demanding, complex and sprawling movie.    Maybe too much so for audiences numbed and dumbed into insensibility based upon a steady diet of Iron Man 2,  The A-Team, and  Shrek Whatever.   Maybe the ballsiest thing about Inception is while it has all the expected money shot scenes you’d expect from a $160 million summer movie, it’s got more ideas than a dozen  Transformers minus the suck factor of Michael Bay, Shia LaBeuf and Megan Fox.   

Anybody expecting me to try to explain “the dream within a dream with a dream” theme of Inception had better look elsewhere.  The film’s Wikipedia page is lousy with all the spoilers and exposition you could ever want.    Proceed at your own risk.  

My expectations for Inception are probably the highest I’ve had for a film of its type since The Matrix. which was a similar alternative reality that required several viewings to get the point.   That’s something I don’t mind because I’m going to have to give some serious thought as to what in the age of DVD dominance was a movie I felt a need to see in theaters more than once.    What I can say is, the maturation of Leonardo DiCaprio into serious leading man is pretty much complete.    DiCaprio still looks like he’s dressing up in his daddy’s suit and tie, but eternally baby-faced he plays grown-up really well.   Now he’s teaching Joseph Gordon-Leavitt that trick because Third Rock from the Sun was a while ago.  

However, Ellen Page is going to be a munchkin no matter how many movies she makes.   

Leonardo demands everyone admire his funny faces.

Barack’s Black Woman Problem

Give up a fist bump for the sistas, Barack.

WANTED: A few good Black men who will stand up and defend Black women whenever and however they are under attack.  We all came from a Black woman.  When are we going to give something back if nothing more than a little love and respect?

I think Barack has a Black Woman problem.

Yes, I know Barack didn’t come from a Black woman and wasn’t raised by a Black woman.  That might explain a lot in how he’s acting now, but let’s not do the amateur psychologist thing.

Yes, I know Barack is married to a beautiful Black woman and is raising two little Black women of his own.  That’s great, but this problem goes beyond his immediate family.

He could have chosen several qualified sistas for positions in his Cabinet. He didn’t.   He could have chosen several qualified sistas to replace John Paul Stevens on the Supreme Court.  He didn’t.  He should have been on top of this Shirley Sherrod situation.  He didn’t.

Two days after Mrs. Sherrod was served up as a sacrifice by a scum bag right-winger named Andrew Breitbart, the President of the United States finally took time out of his day to apologize to her.   I understand there’s not enough minutes in the day for everything you gotta do, Barack, but seriously brother, that is weak.

Barack is so busy trying to avoid being seen as “the Black President” and just a President who is Black, that he runs like a scalded dog from anything remotely resembling race after the Skip Gates situation blew up in his face.

The great Greg Tate,  journalist supreme and one of best brothers out there writing, fightin’ and holdin’ it down said on Facebook,  “The flagrant unka tommery seen in the Shirley Sherrod saga reminded why i still gotta kinda love hiphop–where none will ever be snookered into disowning The People for allegedly embarrassing the bourgeoisie. One day they’ll learn–stop trying to prove Africans are human to mufuhs who hate Africans. ‘You don’t catch hell because you’re a Democrat or a Republican’….”

Barack can’t play the Angry Black Man.  I get that.  But if he can’t be the point man on race, neither can he be a conscientious objector standing on the sidelines watching the parade go by.   A  Black woman was lynched by the Right-Wing media machine and while the Obama Administration did not string Shirley Sherrod up, they sure  helped hold the rope.

Treating Black women badly is a game politicians, athletes, rappers and politicians learn how to play early on.   Now the haters on the Right wanna get in on the fun.

Barack is both liberated and imprisoned by his race.   But he can never escape race and I don’t know why he keeps trying to rise above it.  He needs to do right by the Black women that did right by him.

Yo, brutha, let me pull your coat for a minute.  Let me tell you something.  These people who are working 24-7 to make your life hell don’t just “disagree” with you.  They HATE you, man.  That’s Hate with a capital “H”.    You can’t reason with them.  You can’t fix this  with them over a beer.  They don’t want any part of any “hope and change.”    They want things the way they were and they want your black ass OUT.

When you can’t be loved, you have to settle for respect–or fear.  Give them a reason, a really good reason to fear you, Barack and make them respect you.    The next time Fox News or Rush Limbaugh or  the Republicans  start barking at you, give ’em a good swift kick where it counts.   Stop trying to appease people whose  rooting  interest from the time they go to bed to the first thing they think when they wake up is, “How can I mess up Barack Obama’s life today?”

The O-man meets the O-woman.

Oh, and pretty please with sugar on top, stop listening to Rahm Emanuel and David Axelrod or whomever is giving you this horrible advice to dummy up for two days while a good Black woman is torn apart, spat on and dragged through the mud for the entertainment of mouth-breathing idiots.

Black women love you Barack.  They really do.  The bruthas are justifiably proud of you, but it’s the sistas—-the super Pro-Black, got your back, hold up half the sky, get no respect and taken for granted SISTAS who deserve  better from you.   You let them down when you passed on a chance to put the first Black woman on the Supreme Court.   You let them down again when you sent your spokespersons and Cabinet secretaries to say what you should have said a lot sooner to Mrs. Sherrod.    Black women love you, Barack.    How about giving them some back?

STAND UP for Black women, Barack because God knows they have stood up for you even when you haven’t given them much reason to.

The Lynching of Shirley Sherrod

Hunted and skinned by the right-wing propaganda machine

Now this is what a hi-tech lynching for uppity Blacks looks like!

Shirley Sherrod, the United States Department of Agriculture (USDA) state director of rural development in Georgia became a viral sensation when a video of her speaking to the NAACP in March making bigoted remarks about a White farmer whom had come to her for help 24 years earlier.   The video which depicted about two minutes from a 30-minute speech spread through the right-wing blogosphere, talk radio and Fox News.   Sherrod was forced by USDA officials to submit her resignation.

Does this latest obvious, and failed attempt at moral equivalency and media manipulation by Andrew Breitbart and Fox News means the New Black Panther Party voter intimidation “outrage” is starting to lose steam?

All this drama from an obviously heavily edited video that’s not even time-stamped? Where’s the full video and why hasn’t Breitbart released it?

No credit to Cheryl Cook, the USDA undersecretary who demand Sherrod’s resignation or Tom  Vilsack, the cowardly Obama Administration officials whom ousted Sherrod without so much as a hearing.  The NAACP didn’t cover themselves in glory either by issuing a late apology for an incident that occurred in March.  Both parties rushed to judgment no doubt heightened by the highly charged political season looming even nearer and cravenly threw Sherrod to the yelping right-wing wolves.

The NAACP later backtracked from their condemnation of Sherrod saying they had been “snookered” by Breitbart.

“Having reviewed the full tape, spoken to Ms. Sherrod, and most importantly heard the testimony of the white farmers mentioned in this story, we now believe the organization that edited the documents did so with the intention of deceiving millions of Americans,” NAACP President Ben Jealous said in a statement. “The tape of Ms. Sherrod’s speech at an NAACP banquet was deliberately edited to create a false impression of racial bias, and to create a controversy where none existed. This just shows the lengths to which extremist elements will go to discredit legitimate opposition.”

But Agriculture Secretary Vilsack refused to reconsider Sherrod’s dismissal.

“First, for the past 18 months, we have been working to turn the page on the sordid civil rights record at USDA and this controversy could make it more difficult to move forward on correcting injustices,” Vilsack said. “Second, state rural development directors make many decisions and are often called to use their discretion. The controversy surrounding her comments would create situations where her decisions, rightly or wrongly, would be called into question making it difficult for her to bring jobs to Georgia.”

Real profile in courage there, Secretary Vilsack. The President should step up and overrule Vilsack by reinstating Sherrod.   News reports indicate Vilsack is “reconsidering” reinstating Sherrod.

It hardly absolves the obvious media manipulation by Andy Brieitbart or those who perpetuate his propaganda.  He appears to be far more skilled in slicing up videotape to serve a partisan agenda than presenting a honest retelling of events.

Andrew Breitbart: An Unreasonable Man

Just to be clear here, the proper term for what Brietbart has done is not “editing,” but “doctoring”  the video.   “Editing” is the proper term when footage is trimmed for time restraints, to cut extraneous material or to get to the point faster.

This was a “doctored” video and Breitbart deliberately cut it at the point where Sherrod says she had realized the error of her ways and needed to see the farmer as a person in need of help and not a White man.   The wall between news and newspeak has been breached. Mr. Orwell would be very proud of Mr. Breitbart.

Poor Shirley Sherrod. Sacrificed on the altar of the right-wing media machine’s clumsy and overt effort to scrub the Tea Party’s tolerance for racism by attempting to smear the NAACP as hypocrites.

What’s the long-term lesson to be learned from this relatively trivial story that will be a one or two-day “controversy” with no long-term impact except for the damage to Sherrod’s career?

That the Right will dig up and blow up any minor incident into a national disgrace and if that includes doctoring a video tape to eliminate the bureaucrat nobody’s heard of before following up her “controversial” and “racist” remarks that’s okay even though she said she had seen the error of her ways and not only helped the farmer, but is now regarded as a friend?

…or that like birds carrying off bread crumbs there will always be those eager to take a deliberately doctored video, falsely pronounce someone a “racist” when there is no proof of it, and preen hypocritically how they absolutely abhor racism except when it serves their own interests.

…or that the Obama Administration is so hyper-sensitive to even a whiff of “reverse-racism” that they will swiftly and with extreme prejudice force the offending bureaucrat out of a job without so much as a “don’t let the door hit you in the ass on the way out” thus reinforcing the “Obama throws another under the bus” meme?

…or that when all is said and done at the end of the day the plight of the farmer is a subject nobody really gives a damn about. Except for Shirley Sherrod and all the other previously faceless bureaucrats being slimed by a slick operator like Andrew Breitbart?

The Back Stabbers: Hillary vs. Barack in 2012?

The Pantsuit vs. the Pit Bull in Bitchslap 2012?

Here’s a sure sign it’s getting into the hottest days of the summer:   the professional pundits are going crazy from the heat and as their little brains fry like eggs, they begin making up stuff  to entertain each other and confuse everyone else.

Everyone knows the Democrats are going to get smoked like sausage in the fall Congressional elections with President Obama following in 2012.   The polls show it.  The experts believe it.  Fox News is cackling  about so it must be true, right?   Not so fast, says columnist Charles Krauthammer, hardly a charter member of the “Black for Barack” support group, but a believer in the theory Obama is willing to accept Democratic losses now for his own gain later.

“For Obama, 2010 matters little. If Democrats lose control of one or both houses, Obama will probably have an easier time in 2012, just as Bill Clinton used Newt Gingrich and the Republicans as the foil for his 1996 reelection campaign.   Obama is down, but it’s very early in the play. Like Reagan, he came here to do things. And he’s done much in his first 500 days. What he has left to do he knows must await his next 500 days — those that come after reelection.   The real prize is 2012. Obama sees far, farther than even his own partisans. Republicans underestimate him at their peril,” Krauthammer cautions cocky conservatives.

I’m a great believer that underestimating Obama is one reason he’s sleeping in the Lincoln Bedroom instead of Hillary Clinton or John McCain, but he’s certainly looked better to both his friends and foes than he does now.  This too shall pass, but to hear it told if Sarah Palin doesn’t beat him in 2012, Obama will have to put down an insurrection on his Left flank led by no other than–wait for it–Hillary Clinton!

Remember what I said about pundits and talking heads making up stuff?    Bernard Goldberg is chillin’ with his homey Bill O’Reilly and they’re just kicking it on Fox News and Goldberg plugs his homepage while dropping a little nugget on Big Bill’s head.

What I said on the website is I’m going out on a limb. I think she will challenge in 2012, but I understand this is a long shot. All I’m saying is that it is no longer a crazy idea. Here is why. Independents one year ago – just one year ago – supported Barack Obama with 56% of their vote. Today, it’s down to 38%. African-American voters will not forsake Barack Obama, we know that. White Liberals normally would never abandon the first black president not if it means voting for some vanilla liberal democrat white guy. But, if they get a chance to vote for Hillary Clinton, they can make history twice. The first time they elected the first black president. The second time it will be the first woman president. and if this will go a long way in easing their white liberal guilt which normally knows no bounds. Now, if things change, if the economy takes off, if unemployment drops, if the tooth fairy leaves, you know, a couple of trillion dollars under Barack Obama’s pillow, type. But if miracles don’t happen all I’m saying is keep an eye on Hillary.

Not destined to be a collector's item.

This is technically known as “a wild guess.”   The non-technical term is “talking out of your ass.”

Incumbent presidents don’t traditionally face serious challenges from within their own party but the Wall Street Journal joined Goldberg in advancing the  Hillary in 2012 rumor.  They are figuring Obama is not only a possible one-term and done like Jimmy Carter,  but could be challenged by the liberal wing of the Democratic Party the way Ted Kennedy went after Carter in 1980.

Let’s ignore the fact that Hillary still is in debt from the 2008 campaign and has said she has no interest in running again for president.   Idle speculation beats digging for hard fact.

A drunk in a bar could make the same prediction that a dissatisfied Hillary would heed the call of disgruntled Democrats and backstab Barack in a last desperate bid for the  Oval Office.    There are about a million questions Hillary and Bill Clinton would have to ask themselves before  they would even dream of making  such an improbable  move, but the first one they should ask  is when exactly did Rupert Murdoch (owner of both Fox News and The Wall Street Journal) get so interested boosting the career of Hillary?

These are the same folks who hated the Clintons for eight years and wanted to beat the snot out of her in 2008.   Fast-forward two years and now they’re saying, “Oh, she’s not so bad” and she looks good because Obama looks bad?   Is it dumb in here or is it just me?    Don’t believe the hype or anything you hear or read from The Murdoch Fantasy Factories.

When pundits get bored they don’t exactly make up stories.  They make up scenarios and then shape the facts to fit their created narratives.

I have a scenario I think is just as possible as the ones the right-wingers dreamed up.

Looking for something to get the base excited in 2012, Obama pulls Clinton and Joe Biden into the Oval Office and suggests they swap jobs.  This would set up 2016 as the 68-year-old Clinton vs.Palin in a showdown between the Pantsuit and the Pit Bull.  Clinton in her late 60′s would not be young, but younger than John McCain was in 2008 or Ronald Reagan in 1981. Hillary seems to be in good health and since women live longer than men, why couldn’t she run in 2016?  As Obama chosen successor she would avoid a civil war between the Clintonistas and the Obamaniacs, unite the Democrats and still make history as the first woman elected to the presidency.

If the Republicans want to run a former mayor and ex-governor who quit through her only term against a former First Lady, U.S. Senator, Secretary of State and Vice-President, that’s a battle on “who’s got the most experience?”  they can’t win.

So, here’s the new rumor:  Obama dumps the gaffe-prone Biden for the smoother Clinton and sets her up as his successor in 2016.  Got it?  Good.  Now spread it around as irresponsibly as possible.  I can be just as bad as Fox News when it comes to unsupported supposition.

I don’t purport to have any special insights that make my fairy tale any more probable, but  I like my path to a Hillary Clinton presidency better than Goldberg’s.

"Oh Barack, I never dreamed it could be like this."

The Audacity of “Audition:” Sex as a Weapon

Boy meets girl. Boy loses girl. Boy finds girl. Girl tortures boy.

People being tortured in movies is nothing new.   Even mainstream movies don’t flinch at allowing the hero to kick some bad guys ass when the ends justify the means.  When Batman whomps on The Joker in The Dark Knight we don’t mind because Batman is trying to save innocent lives and if he’s got to kick some pasty white ass to do it,  it’s no biggie. 

But when torture isn’t for laughs it’s usually confined to clumsy “horror” flicks like the Saw and Hostel splatterthons.   Watching dumb teenagers and nobodies die in gruesome ways just doesn’t entertain me.  These are gross-out movies where the “kills” are the only thing that matters.  Story, plot, acting, dialogue, characterization and just plain common sense all go out the window in these flicks.  The only reason to see another Saw sequel is the sick pleasure of watching  someone’s arm ripped off . 

I hope the trend of taking Japanese horror movies and adapting them into neutered  PG-13  garbage like The Ring, Dark Water, One Missed Call and Pulse skips Takashi Miike’s Audition.    The hacks of Hollywood lean on special effects for scares.  Other filmmakers lacking the budget find ways of horrify you instead.   

The description of Audition from IMDB.com sounds like the kind of “describe the movie in 25 words or less” pitch an agent makes to a producer over lunch in an upscale L.A. eatery: 

Widower takes an offer to screen girls at a special audition, arranged for him by a friend to find him a new wife. The one he fancies is not who she appears to be after all… 

“Sounds kinda of bland, but if we can get Cruise to play the widower,  Rogan or Black as the nerdy friend and Diaz as the girl who is not what she appears to be, we might make a few bucks,” the producer might reply.     Audition, a 1999 film by Miike, is one of the scariest films I have ever seen and  deserves its place on TIME’s top 25 horror films.  It’s not that Audition would be hard to remake for American audiences.  It’s more that it’s just too weird and far too dark for mainstream movie audiences.  Most scary movies are content if they can get you to jump in your seat.  Audition buzzes in your head leaving you feeling uneasy for days after in a “Did I really see that?” kind of way.  

The bland premise of Audition belies its unsettling creepy execution.   Miike is famed for his unsparing approach to gory violence and upsetting themes.   He shares with the Canadian director David Cronenberg a fondness for making audiences “watch the unwatchable.”   Cronenberg has moved slightly closer to the mainstream in later years, but has never been  fully embraced by or been totally accepted by the mainstream.   Miike, as a foreign filmmaker, is even more of a loose cannon than Cronenberg and  remains decidedly outside of the Hollywood system, perhaps after witnessing how John Woo’s reputation diminished instead of flourished when he started cashing fat checks from American studios.    

I watched Audition one night when I still had  the Independent Film Channel (IFC) and it thoroughly freaked me out.   Miike tells a seemingly simple story of a guyabusing his position as a producer to score with willing young women.  Then he meets one woman who is not only beautiful, but confident, and falls for her hard.  Awww….true love.  Ain’t that sweet?     Uh no.   Miike turns the simple premise from the vaguely unsettling to the  absolute “HOLY SHIT!” 

There used to be a video store in Columbus with the strange name of Aardvark Video, but the oddball name fit with the movies they stocked which featured everything from foreign films listed by country and director  to documentaries and obscure cult flicks.   Any Blockbuster Video can carry 50 copies of Transformers 2.    It takes a speciality shop like Aardvark to feature the hard-to-find/harder to watch flicks such as Man Bites DogHenry: Portrait of  a Serial Killer and Men Behind the Sun .   Movies like Audition were made to be found on the lowest shelf in the darkest corner of  dimly lit stores like Aardvark  so  you could discover them, take them home and have your mind throughly screwed by their subversive stories.   All the more shame that while Netflix, cable and streaming video online will still offer a means to watch movies, it’s more likely to favor the big, bloated Hollywood blockbuster than the ballsy and gutsier smaller film. 

Audition isn’t the type of movie you admire as much as you congratulate yourself from being able to watch all of it without peeking through your hand covering your eyes.   Unlike Irreversible, which I’ve written of as a throughly depressing experience, Audition takes the time to get you interested in the characters before dropping them into hell.   (SPOILER ALERT!) If you don’t mind having your head fucked with Audition is worth the watch.   IF you can get through an unnecessarily disgusting vomit scene and a helpless, paralyzed man having his foot sawed off with a thin wire by a woman giggling like a schoolgirl.    This isn’t one of those movies you can invite a bunch of the boys over to watch while slamming pizza and brews.   Miike has something to say about how older men exploit naive younger girls, the myth of the compliant and meek Japanese woman, and the anticipation/fear men have how intimacy can turn into emasculation.   He just expresses it in a crazy way. 

I get it why people give unsettling movies a wide berth.  Most of us would prefer to leave a movie feeling mildly entertained instead of shaken and stirred.  An Iron Man 2, Toy Story 3 or  Shrek 4  are perfectly acceptable fare, but they don’t challenge the viewer, don’t offer a single twist or turn and the happy ending is assured.   There’s no ambition and little risk involved in the bulk of movies churned out by Hollywood.   There’s no mystery or sense of adventure  to any of it.  What makes Audition  a movie I enjoyed to some twisted degree is I have an appreciation for something different that doesn’t take the well-worn path of least resistance to the safest conclusion. 

 I want to be challenged every so often and  Audition provides an ample one with genuinely well-made filmmaking, a throughly bizarre execution and  its scary as all get-out too.   It makes a welcome departure from the relentless onslaught of lazy sequels, lame super heroes and safe as milk sludge usually offered up as must-sees.   God bless Audition’s  mean, black little heart. 

It's the quiet ones you have to watch out for.