Criticism

Kevin Smith Might Reboot Buckaroo Banzai

Oh, my:

The cinema of the 1980s produced a lot of ambitiously strange genre fiction, but only one movie of that era (or any era) starred a particle physicist who's also a race car driver, rock star, and neurosurgeon: W.D. Richter's 1984 B-movie masterwork The Adventures of Buckaroo Banzai Across the 8th Dimension. It's a beloved-but-obscure cult hit, but it might be getting a high-profile reboot if Kevin Smith has his way. The writer, director, and podcaster told listeners of his Hollywood Babble-On podcast that he and MGM are developing a TV version of the story.

It apparently stemmed from Smith's recent turn directing an episode of the CW's The Flash. "Doin' that has opened up weird doors," Smith said in the podcast. "MGM said, 'Hey, we hear that you like Buckaroo Banzai.' ... So they called my agent and they were like, 'We think we'd like to talk to him about — y'know, we did — with Fargo, we took Fargo and turned it into a TV show and it's won awards and shit.' They were like, 'We have another property that we wanna do that with, and we were wondering if he's interested and has ever heard of Buckaroo Banzai.'"

He said he was interested, it having been a childhood favorite of his, and now he and MGM are apparently about to "take it out and try to find a home for it." Smith wants it to include the original cast — which featured Peter Weller, John Lithgow, Christopher Lloyd, and a young Jeff Goldblum — as villains, and wants the first season to reinterpret the plot of the movie before a second season that would go in a new direction. For those who disdain the idea of Smith helming this project, just remember the words of Buckaroo: "Don't be mean. We don't have to be mean. 'Cause remember: No matter where you go, there you are."

There's only one way to go with this--no self-referential bullshit. This is material that cannot be aware of itself. It has to be done straight and it has to take itself way too seriously. Anything else--anything coy, sly, satirical or winking at the audience through a busted-down fourth wall--and you've ruined it.

This Poor Kid

Isn't it time to ban the Disney Channel?

Debby Ryan, the 22-year-old star of Disney Channel show Jessie, was arrested for drunk driving in Los Angeles last week, TMZ revealed Wednesday. She reportedly hit another car, causing the other driver an injury. Authorities only charged her with a misdemeanor because the injury of the other driver was minor and Ryan only blew a .11 on a breathalyzer test.

The only reason why I even know who Debby Ryan is stems from the fact that I have children. And if you're like me, you watch what they watch so you can have an understanding of what it is they like. I did that then and I do that now--how did you think I ended up being an expert on Pokemon?

Plus, I was a stay-at-home dad when the kids were watching shows where Ryan appeared and I've always been uncomfortable watching what the Disney channel did with her as a performer.  Suffice it to say, they used to dress her to hide her figure. This was another example of cashing in on how a young girl looked without noticing that this is a really creepy thing to do because it tends to screw people up and make their lives unbearable.

The Disney Channel was happy to put her on television but refused to let her look like an actual person--kinda like what happened when Ariel Winter would show up in public to promote Modern Famly. They were happy with the fact that these actresses looked sexy but they were unwilling to be honest about it, and they weren't ready to deal with body shaming issues and things of that nature. In effect, they went with what they knew and they left these young women to deal with the consequences.

Does that mean Debby Ryan is screwed up? No, and this could be a one-off sort of thing. But, if you look back at all of the actors and actresses that have been eaten up by the tween show phenomenon, it's not hard to guess how this plays out. Yeah, I would regulate tween shows (they make 40 of these in a year? Really?) and I would make it so that there was a support mechanism in place to help young performers. And no kid of mine would ever be allowed within a thousand yards of whoever runs this industry.

Robert DeNiro is Tired of Your Nonsense

Piers Morgan is a name you probably haven't thought about in years, if at all. He's one of the many fools that Robert De Niro has avoided dealing with:
Piers Morgan has called on journalists to impose a "ban" on Robert De Niro after he walked out of a recent interview with a British journalist.

The legendary actor was promoting his latest film The Intern, a generation gap comedy in which he stars opposite Anne Hathaway, when he apparently became aggravated by Emma Brockes' questions about how he avoids slipping into autopilot during shooting and the growing number of bankers living in his New York neighbourhood.

Brockes reports in this week's issue of the Radio Times that De Niro asked her to pause her tape recorder and informed her that was halting the interview because of what he called a "negative inference" in her questions. An awkward exchange between Brockes and De Niro followed, in which the actor told the journalist on several occasions: "I'm not doing this, darling."

Sharing his views on the incident in the Daily Mail, Morgan writes that De Niro was a "bloody nightmare" when he interviewed him on CNN several years ago and criticises the actor's conduct towards journalists generally, saying: "It's as if he prides himself on being a total douchebag."


Later in the article, Morgan proposes that "it's time the world's media fought back" against De Niro's reportedly bad-tempered behaviour in interviews, suggesting: "Let's ban him. Every journalist in the world should agree, with immediate effect, never to interview him again."
If you're going to get back at someone, at least have a platform from which to do so. Morgan is circling the drain, hoping you'll pay attention to him and his grievances against celebrities. Maybe he should have hacked into De Niro's phone in order to get something on him, I don't know. 
The interview in question featured De Niro not putting up with a line of questioning that implied that he was phoning it in with his performance in a very specific kind of movie called The Intern. This is not a Scorsese film; this is a fish out of water story about transferring intergenerational wisdom and learning how to accept a massage at work. De Niro was right to walk out on the interview--it generated a lot of publicity and that's all that matters. You would think Morgan would be smart enough to know that.

The Sweethearts of Late Night Television

In particular, in an interview with TV Insider, Leno took time to praise Seth Meyers, Jimmy Fallon and Stephen Colbert (“a truly nice guy and decent human being”) before taking aim at Jimmy Kimmel, who has been a vicious and relentless critic of Leno over the years.
“The most [important] element you can have in doing a late night show is kindness,” Leno said. “Because the show makes you arrogant. I think that’s Jimmy Kimmel’s problem. I think he’s a talented guy, I think he’s funny. But he has a mean streak, and it comes across. He does this thing where he takes Halloween candy from kids and the kids cry. What am I missing here? It is funny I guess, but it’s mean-based. I think that’s why he’s not higher in the ratings.”
So, the most successful person in the history of late night television--Johnny Carson--was "nice?" 
Bushkin, who didn't return calls, says age didn't mellow Carson, who retired from "Tonight" in 1992. On a honeymoon cruise, his fourth wife, Alexis, made an innocent remark, prompting Carson to snap, "If you say something like that again, this marriage won't last another three weeks."
Though Carson's 20-year friendship with Bushkin ended around 1987, when Bushkin began to see Johnny's "cruel side" more often, Alex stayed married to the talk deity till his death in 2005.

You're Doing it Wrong



If this is the sum total of your criticism of a television show, you should probably try to learn to like television again:
And therein lies the rub: Colbert’s entire television career has been as a political satirist. He knows nothing else, which is why it’s no surprise four more presidential candidates will be joining The Late Show in the coming days (Joe Biden, Bernie Sanders, Ted Cruz, Rand Paul). Outside of Biden and a possible announcement, is a political late-night program the right course? Because outside of a very select few, most politicans are packaged, tedious, boring to the masses.
As for Colbert’s standing in the late night race, I’m sticking to my original bet from back in April of 2014 (when it first announced he would replace Letterman) on where he’ll ultimately end up when everything settles in and the curiosity factor fades: Third place, just like his predecessor in the final years of his career. No magical analysis or detail really needed here: Kimmel and Fallon are simply more talented, more experienced (in playing themselves), possess more range, connect with younger viewers better and are decidedly more apolitical than the 51-year-old Colbert, who was signed by CBS more because of cost-effectiveness than anything else after Jon Stewart was deemed too expensive to sign.
Maybe things can change and improve from a rookie debut (although doing this every night is far different than having almost a year to prepare). But it’s already clear that Stephen Colbert the person isn’t very different from Stephen Colbert the character, save for the sarcasm and edginess missing. And as a result, the new late-night host for the Tiffany Network better get used to seeing not gold, not silver, but plenty of bronze when the ratings books come out after the dust settles a few months from now.
Joe Concha goes on to highlight Laura Ingraham's quote from Twitter. Now, I don't want to indict someone based on a tweet or a citation, but if this is any indication of actual criticism, you're going to be let down when you realize Ingraham is a long-time partisan hack who doesn't read and has little or no talent or ability.
Given what we've seen after the first week of Colbert, I just don't think you can say that Kimmel or Fallon are better at interviewing people or making news. This goes back to the reason why Phil Donahue ended up getting canned from television--there is no legitimate reason why he was fired, other than the fact that he was "partisan" and "the most popular show on MSNBC," which coincided with him being against the Iraq War in 2003.
If there's one prediction I'd like to make, it's this--Colbert will be attacked, endlessly, if he shows any partisan slant because it is incredibly dangerous to be popular and liberal on television unless you act goofy once in a while and present to threat to anyone in power. This is how the media handled his speech at the White House Correspondent's Dinner:
Amy Argetsinger and Roxanne Roberts write in The Washington Post's gossip column: "The reviews from the White House Correspondents' Association Dinner are in, and the consensus is that President Bush and Bush impersonator Steve Bridges stole Saturday's show -- and Comedy Central host Stephen Colbert's cutting satire fell flat because he ignored the cardinal rule of Washington humor: Make fun of yourself, not the other guy.
" 'You have to have a great deal of confidence to do self-deprecating humor, especially when you're being attacked day in and day out,' said Landon Parvin, who helped Bush and Bridges write the jokes contrasting Bush's public voice with his supposed inner thoughts."
It's not entirely clear from whom, besides Bush's own joke-writer, Argetsinger and Roberts divined what they described as the consensus view. But it's a safe bet that, at a minimum, they were speaking for The Washington Post newsroom.
Paul Bedard writes for U.S. News: "Comedy Central star Stephen Colbert's biting routine at the White House Correspondents Association dinner won a rare silent protest from Bush aides and supporters Saturday when several independently left before he finished.
" 'Colbert crossed the line,' said one top Bush aide, who rushed out of the hotel as soon as Colbert finished. Another said that the president was visibly angered by the sharp lines that kept coming.
" 'I've been there before, and I can see that he is [angry],' said a former top aide. 'He's got that look that he's ready to blow.'
That was almost ten years ago and no one's getting over it any time soon. What is now considered one of the greatest examples of speaking truth to power (never mind being right about everything) was once considered rude and ill-mannered. Colbert not only brings actual danger and excitement to everything he does, he also represents a serious threat to the continuation of a media status quo that favors ignorant centrism and glib conservatives pretending to be fair.
Yeah, no one ever said anything like that about either Jimmy ever.

Hating Zooey Deschanel


With Gawker seeming to dominate the news this week, I thought I would dig up this rusty, worn-out old post about how they have relentlessly targeted Zooey Deschanel and serve it up like something I just found.
Even today, whenever Gawker posts about Deschanel, I usually just ignore it. However, in the comments, people are basically calling out the site and pointing out that bands like the Yeah Yeah Yeahs have similar bans on the use of phones. So, you know, blog fail or whatever.
This is the 'mean girls' aspect of Gawker that doesn't get enough attention. Why do they go after people like Deschanel and why is it newsworthy? She's a celebrity, she can probably handle a fair amount of attention, but Gawker usually goes above and beyond normal decency. We saw that last week and I think we'll see it again unless someone dismantles Gawker and fires everyone.
The gist of my original post centered around trying to get people to watch the show instead of taping it on their phones. Artists have begun trying to separate fans from their phones and from the practice of holding this rectangular plastic thing in front of them so that they can claim to have watched the show in person. How that translates into an experience is beyond my grasp. Why not enjoy what you are seeing without worrying about your phone?
If you have to record something just to remember it, your mind is already gone.

Tomorrowland

If you want to hazard your own guess as to why Tomorrowland was a huge flop, this is the blog where you can do so:
If ever there was a studio that could withstand a serious stumble, it's Disney, home of Lucasfilm, Marvel, Pixar and Walt Disney Animation Studios. And stumble it has with Tomorrowland, theBrad Bird-directed fantasy adventure. Sources say the film will lose $120 million to $140 million by the time it finishes its global rollout, becoming Disney's first major financial misfire since The Lone Ranger prompted a $190 mil­lion write-down two summers ago.
It's also the third big-budget original tentpole of 2015 to bomb after Jupiter Ascending and Seventh Son, highlighting the risky nature of nine-figure filmmaking at a time when relatively lower-budget hits such as Spy and Pitch Perfect 2 are causing studios to look closely at the costs of creating franchises.
Tomorrowland, which cost $180 million to produce plus a marketing spend of $150 million or more, had everything going for it: a hot filmmaker in Bird, 57 (Mission: Impossible — Ghost Protocol), and a global star in George Clooney, 54. But it debuted to weak reviews (was it for kids or adults?) and a soft $42.7 million during the long Memorial Day weekend. As of June 8, the film had earned $76.4 million domestically and $93.5 million overseas for a global total of $169.9 million. It might not gross much more than $200 million, far from enough to cover Disney's costs.
China, ravenous for American event movies, has been a particularly harsh blow. Tomorrowlandbowed to $13.8 million there in early June, getting trounced by the $38.3 million opening of the Japanese animated title Stand by Me Doraemon.
So, even though the film made a lot of money, it was a flop because it didn't pay for itself. Which is interesting because not every film can "pay for itself" and studios should always try to push the envelope and take risks with films that have something important to say.
I think what made Tomorrowland a flop was the perspective it offered, which is inherently a Baby Boomer thing--we're screwing up the world, only a chosen person can save it,. we have to fight evil, blah blah blah. This is why the Coen Brothers keep making successful films, both artistically and financially. They don't give a crap about any of that stuff. They would never in a million years make Tomorrowland. 
The thing that I have always encountered when writing about the Baby Boom generation is a level of narcissism and self-entitlement that people my age (post Baby Boom, of course) only possess when they're doing an impression of their parents. Baby Boomers aren't just the greatest waste of human potential in human history, they are the embodiment of it. When confronted, they just cite their resumes and cuss people out.
The Baby Boomers are done as an artistic force, and the things they handed to the culture are irrelevant. Their legacy is one steeped in personal hypocrisy and greed. Yeah, yeah. You were a minor associate of the Grateful Dead and you helped Tom Hayden do something no one remembers. During the 80's, you had a letter to the editor about Bob Dylan published in the New York Times. We got it. Now go away.

Whose Ordered Plan?


The British say this is a work of madness:
An eccentric architectural plan thought to have been drawn by George III during his period of "madness" has been discovered at the British Library.
It is part of a huge collection of papers put together by the King during his reign from 1760 to 1820.
The loose piece of paper was tucked inside a volume about the Palaces of Hanover in Germany.
The diagram of a building was drawn in ink over a pencil outline "in a rather savage way", according to experts.
Peter Barber, head of map collections at the British Library, said the drawing, scribbled on the back of an order of service from St George's Chapel in Windsor, was "not an ordered plan".
It looks like someone was working out some ideas; if this is what madness looks like, oh well.

We have to remember that this was drawn with a crude implement, dipped in ink, and probably not in the best of light. It could have been a sketch to work out some ideas or it could have been the work of someone trying to amuse themselves. It could also have not been drawn by George III at all and it could have been done by a servant or someone at his direction.

John Boyega and That Stormtrooper Outfit


Here's my first reaction to seeing John Boyega in a stormtrooper uniform on the surface of a desert planet.

Cinematically, this is a single reaction shot, designed to orient the audience/viewer to a new scene or the beginning of a scene. Boyega rises up, gives a solid reaction, and then moves in the frame to a new perspective that does not appear in the clip.

This suggests that the actor has been knocked out, incapacitated, or is recovering from being struck or disabled in some way. His shocked demeanor supports that.

The idea that he is, in fact a stormtrooper is a stretch for me because he is considered one of the "good guys." That would suggest the Boyega is wearing the uniform as a ruse and nothing more. He put on the armor in order to escape from a situation or to pass himself off as someone he is not. Where's the helmet? Removed because this is not who he is and this is not his actual uniform? Probably.

The Internet exploded with outrage; however, in keeping with the cinematic history, using a stormtrooper uniform to escape detection or deceive the real bad guys goes back to Episode Four, which, of course, begins with a crash-landing on the desert planet that has seen so much action.

I could be entirely wrong, of course, and I'll eat my words a year from now...

How Could This Show Have Failed?


The only thing Americans want to see on television involves New York City, young people, and quirky relationships. You can take that to the bank. Except when shows like this tank and get cancelled, of course.

I don't care about super heroes and I don't care about people from New York. Is that the most awful thing ever? Absolutely.

A Lifetime Achievement Award? For What?


Steve Martin is a very talented man. He's a very funny man. But he does not make good films.

Giving him a lifetime achievement award is like losing your way into the playoffs--how does that even happen?

What's more, we're fresh from the unthinkable loss of Robin Williams, and when you compare his film history with Martin's you can't help but ask yourself why there are so many really, really great films on Williams' side of the list and virtually none on Martin's. Don't even start by throwing in a comparison to Bill Murray, either.

In fact, line up the films of Robin Williams, Bill Murray, and Billy Crystal and then add in Steve Martin's. Then, ask yourself, why would you give a lifetime achievement award to someone who has made so many bad films and forgettable films and films that went nowhere at the box office.

Williams, Murray and Crystal had their clunkers, but their contribution to cinema outstrips that of Martin's by a country mile. Martin doesn't have anything as good as Mrs. Doubtfire, as memorable as Groundhog Day, or as funny as When Harry Met Sally. He doesn't have anything in his filmography that can compare to any of those three films, and those aren't even the best films that Williams, Murray or Crystal ever made.

Steve Martin doesn't have a Fletch, either, so he's your likable version of Chevy Chase on a good day, if that.

Every Film You Will See From Now On


I don't know if this is true or not, but there's a conversation out there about the future of film. There are some voices who are speaking out about the business side of feature films and the thinking is, most of the big budget films, if not all of them, are going to be produced and marketed to 19 year-old Chinese males.

That means more Michael Bay and a whole lot less David Fincher.

The business side of that makes sense--China is hungry for the soft power of Hollywood's entertainment complex and there isn't any sense in chasing an American middle class dollar that isn't there anymore. Emerging markets have a demand and, if you don't fill it, something else will.

Gary Busey Has Lived to be 70


I would say that Gary Busey living to the age of 70 (and let's hope for another 30 or more for this fine gentleman) is an accomplishment worth celebrating.

To me, the quintessential Busey role was his small piece of acting in Thunderbolt and Lightfoot. In the film, he plays a character named Curly who works putting lawn sprinklers into various rich people's yards. The way that Busey played that part suggested to me that he was very much into it, and that you could watch that film and see his performance and then not be surprised to see the character still installing lawn sprinklers to this day.

Busey is much derided and mocked, but no one sells a character like he does. He lives inside of the parts he plays and believes in what he's doing. He will chew up the scenery and roll in and out of dialogue like he was born to do what it is he does.

Amen for great actors. Gary Busey, contrary to what the shitheels and prudes and hipsters think, is what a great actor does, no matter how lousy the part. And, by lousy, I speak of course of Quigley, one of the strangest films you will ever see--one that involves Busey convincing everyone that he is, in fact, a dog who has been reincarnated as a human--or is it the other way around?--in order to atone for being an asshole.

Do not watch this film with children, even though it is one of the few family movies Busey made. Watch it alone, and then burn your memories.

Casey Kasem Was Not a Beloved Figure


There have been a lot of tributes to Casey Kasem in the wake of his death, but, really, they ignore the fact that he was not a beloved figure within his own radio community.

This outtake was leaked specifically because it was hilarious and showed the real man. He goes ballistic in the studio, yelling at his staffers, and they leaked it because he was a dick, plain and simple.

What will endure for Kasem is the voice work he did for animated shows. He will forever be the voice of Shaggy from the Scooby Doo cartoons, but no one will remember the various Top 40 programs in any substantive way. He was responsible for killing the franchise he created by leaving the program over money and then creating a rival show with the same format.

It was formula broadcasting--the host would record intros and bumpers and filler and then engineers would use the full three hour block to inject songs into the program wherever there weren't commercials. Radio stations were issued this program on vinyl records for decades, and I remember spinning them. The manner in which it airs now is irrelevant largely because it is in the hands of Ryan Seacrest and, because of that, it's all but dead in terms of cultural significance.

It was filler, and nothing more. Radio hosts like Kasem have gone the way of Arthur Godfrey.

I know. Who?

Your Kids Will Always Find a Better Way to Waste Time


Time wasters never go out of style:
I have a terrible feeling that the game “Animal, Vegetable, Mineral” is an endangered species. Granted, my evidence is strictly anecdotal—several kids I know had never heard of it—but this is nonetheless a cause for serious concern.
It’s not that I was ever so great at the game; on car trips, my heart always sank when anyone identified the category as “mineral” because my knowledge was so scant. And let’s face it, as guessing-games go, it’s a bit of a dud: with none of the urgency of Twenty Questions and none of the glamour of Six Degrees of Kevin Bacon, poor old Linnaeus can feel like a bore.
But I don’t think the game is in trouble just because it’s slow. The contemporary material world is complicated. Last night, I put myself to sleep going through the various objects in my bedroom and attempting to classify them. It did not go well; several times I had to cheat by looking up the component parts of my humidifier (mineral), the shell of generic ibuprofen (animal) and the filling of my knockoff Tempur-Pedic pillow (surprisingly, vegetal). Short of a degree in inorganic chemistry—or a bylaw prohibiting the inclusion of anything invented after, say, 1950—the game is nearly impossible. “Mineral ascendant,” I scrawled in my notebook.
You could wax nostalgic or you could accept change and roll with it. The best way to play animal, vegetable or mineral is to engage your kids in Minecraft.


Now, go explain Steampunk and Minecraft to someone. You'll wish you had it as easy as A, V, or M.

Who Cares What Lana Del Rey Was Paid?


No one would ask a male singer what he was paid to sing for a wedding, so why does it matter if Lana Del Rey was paid to sing for a private event?

There is a double standard out there for performers and for the arts--it only matters if a woman is paid for something (and thus, she must be some sort of a prostitute). A male can whore himself out--and Elton John, cough cough, the entire world is looking in your direction--and no one says anything at all.

Charles Taylor is Hilariously Wrong About Music


It's just too easy sometimes:
Music continues to be the prime cultural vehicle each generation uses to identify itself. It’s also the means each generation uses, no matter how hypocritically, to proclaim its superiority over succeeding generations. Nothing has ever summed up that attitude like the installment of Garry Trudeau’s Doonesbury that ran in Sunday papers on August 26, 1979, in which Mark, the radical DJ, is ordered by his station manager to play more disco. “Let’s start out with the Village People’s ‘YMCA’ and Donna Summer’s ‘Bad Girls,’” he says, “two exciting testaments to the social sensibilities of disco. One of them is about meeting adolescent homosexuals in a public gymnasium, and the other is a celebration of prostitution.” A strip to make William Bennett or Donald Wildmon smile. Trudeau is telling us that the drugs and sex he and his contemporaries engaged in was about changing the world. This new stuff? It’s just hookers and queers cruising the showers.
Music has lot a great deal of cultural importance over the last decade or so. And if you want to see where the culture is headed, look no further than the fact that I can find five Game Stops any day of the week but I can't find a single place to buy new music that isn't a severely over-priced retail outlet like Target or Wal-Mart that seems to actively shrink the size of their music department on a monthly basis.

Remember the days when Best Buy and Circuit City had a price war over CDs and that meant being able to find virtually every title available by damned near every good band for $11.99? Yeah, me neither.

I do think Taylor is honest about wanting to make the band Wussy relevant but there's no way to do that without coming across as being old and grizzled and out of touch. No matter how hard you try to get people to care, they just don't anymore. The last three albums of original songs by The Church, for example, were absolutely stunning works of art. If you stacked Untitled #23, Uninvited Like the Clouds, and Forget Yourself against everything out there and judged them fairly, you'd have to conclude that the Church are criminally ignored everywhere in the world, and have been so for over twenty years. People tuned them out and moved on, and nothing they do seems to catch on anymore, no matter how good the work and no matter how often they go on tour.

This is because music doesn't matter anymore. Entertainment has to be a video game or a television show to resonate with people. They have their throbbing beats in their ears but that's only to drown out other sounds and isolate them from weirdos on the street. How is it that Dr. Dre can get rich slapping his name on headphones with heavy bass built into them and virtually no one making the music played through those devices can ever count on a decent royalty check for providing the very thing that makes the headphones relevant in the first place? Device makers and streaming service providers are filthy rich--iPods, Spotify, Beat Sounds--you name it. If you are the maker of some product that can steal music from artists or change it in any way, you can count on making cash. But if you actually make that music, go fuck yourself for wanting to get paid. See Sean Parker on your way out the door for an explanation as to why you're stupid for thinking you should get paid for making him a billionaire douchebag.

For every ten listeners of music, is there one person who could engage something like Wussy? Good luck competing for that person's attention.

I get that people want to be in their forties and still get excited about bands and albums and vinyl and continue working retail jobs and not having kids, but when you actually grow up and pay attention to the world, stop condescending to anyone with a different path through life. The central conceit of the Baby Boomers was the supremacy of all of their cultural touchstones. On further review, none of their bullshit could stop wars, end poverty, end racism, or change the hearts of the record company execs who stood by and let Napster, et al, eat their business and shit it out before their eyes. Where there were once piles of cash and cocaine now sit pennies from Spotify. Suck on that and try to live.

My Whole Life is a Trigger Alert


Whoa, my friends, whoa!

Trigger warning--this post is not about dead parrots. Stop reading right now if you are terrified of being confronted with things that are readable:
Trigger warnings have become a common staple of internet conversations for years now, a means of alerting readers – especially those who’ve experienced trauma and especially women — to subject matter that could kick up intense reactions. And they are, depending on the things you tend to read and your perspective on healthy discourse, a useful tool for greater sensitivity or a chilling means of putting a fence around certain kinds of dialogue. Either way, they’re unavoidable. It’s already been two years since the Awl declared the phrase had “lost all its meaning” and noted “this useful thing has spread a litttttle far afield.” Yet unlike other phrases that have come and gone since, “trigger warning” has only grown more ubiquitous, more recently moving from online debates to cropping up on college syllabi. Salon observed the phenomenon earlier this year, calling them “an imperfect but sometimes necessary band-aid on the open and gaping wounds plaguing college campuses — rampant sexual violence, for starters.” And then the New York Times took on the issue this week, with a feature on how “The Literary Canon Could Make Students Squirm.” In it, writer Jennifer Medina reports that students at “Oberlin College, Rutgers University, the University of Michigan, George Washington University and other schools” have this year all requested trigger warnings accompany certain classroom materials. And at the University of California, Santa Barbara – where this spring associate professor Dr. Mireille Miller-Young had an altercation with anti-abortion protesters because she said she’d been “triggered” by their signs —  the Associated Students Senate and Office of the Student Advocate General has formally requested “professors alert students of class content that can potentially ‘trigger’ symptoms of post traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) in those who have experienced traumatic experiences such as sexual abuse or fighting in war.” Santa Barbara sophomore Bailey Loverin, a sexual abuse survivor, explained to the Times, “We’re not talking about someone turning away from something they don’t want to see. People suddenly feel a very real threat to their safety — even if it is perceived. They are stuck in a classroom where they can’t get out, or if they do try to leave, it is suddenly going to be very public.”
That whole paragraph should come with a trigger alert. But the problem with all of this is that we are trying to use sensitivity when we should be using the rule of law.

The fact that America's college campuses are teeming with rapists is entirely due to the fact that the police aren't arresting serial date rapists and that judges are not putting these men in jail. The law is failing people and, by extension, the foolishness of having campus police forces who do nothing about rapists means that failure will be common until someone successfully sues a university and takes millions from them.

Exposure to the culture should not require trigger alerts. It should include accountability and honesty. When those things fail to be applied to the very real trauma of rape or the indifference of society towards victims, the exposed wounds are incapable of healing. And, really, that should be the provision of mental health professionals, not amateur sensitivity cops. Mental health professionals should have, as one of their first tasks, a plan for helping people get past traumatic trigger events and help create a working method for mitigating exposure to elements of the culture that can trigger a negative response.

I am all for being sensitive, but let's assign blame to the incompetence of the people who should be righting wrongs by using the law.