Category Archives: politics

Lost Hits of the New Wave #28

“Wot” by Captain Sensible

Honestly I had never really thought of this one as lost, but as more of a classic, but it’s been pointed out to me recently by someone who really knows his music – this was something new to him. New, but properly loved, as it should be.

“Wot” is one of my favorites of the new wave era, and could be listened to on a loop for maybe hours, grooving every moment. I love it. And the fact he namedrops and disses Adam Ant in the song just makes all that much cooler.

Captain Sensible goes way back in the punk and new wave movements. He founded The Damned, was in the supergroup Dead Men Walking, and was the first of many to record “Jet Boy, Jet Girl,” which I am sure we’ll cover here at some point. Last I heard, the Captain had formed his own anarchist political party over in the UK. Still punking after all these years.

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What This Blog Is About

Yesterday, I received two messages, one on Facebook before I posted the Miley Cyrus piece, and one by email after it went up. They were both of the same ilk, and I’m not talking about the hideously bad spelling and grammar. Both folks thought I was adding fuel to the apathetic fire by writing about Miley Cyrus. One gentleman indicated I was un-American and didn’t care about politics because I wasn’t writing about Syria, and worse than that, writing about Miley instead of Syria. Both of them threatened to stop being readers of mine.

It bugged me at first. I am political, and I care intensely about the Syria situation and the lost lives both present and future. But you know what? That’s not what I’m about here. Welcome to Hell is a blog, just a blog, and I talk about pop culture here. I talk about movies, television, comics, music, books, the industry in general, basically anything that turns my crank, in either direction, in entertainment. This blog is not about politics. Surely these two folks wouldn’t want me to talk Syria over at French Fry Diary or The Non-Gamer’s Gamer’s Blog, would they? Then why should I do it here? Stay on topic.

My take yesterday on the Miley Cyrus thing was not one of exhibition or hedonism. If you read carefully, it was one of concern. The woman is on a path of self-destruction. If she shows an entire nation, no, the entire world, that she is crying for help – why isn’t anyone helping her? Yes, she put on a freakshow, but that wasn’t my message, like it was for many in the entertainment news business.

For the record, my views on Miley and Syria are pretty much mirrored by one of my favorite bloggers, Liz Henry, over at The Broad Side. You can read it here. I love her writing, I love her voice, and you should too. I’m just the comics and fry guy, she takes on the tough stuff.

To my two upset readers – I hope you keep reading, but I’m sorry, I won’t be talking politics here. It just ain’t happening, folks.

Duck and Cover

Duck and Cover ~ Everyone knows about the classic civil defense film from 1951, but how many of us have actually seen it? I admit that while I have seen huge chunks of this thirty-two minute documentary, I don’t think I had seen it in its entirety until recently.

At the beginning of the Cold War, our greatest fear was nuclear attack from the Russians. This was a short subject shown in theaters to teach folks what to do in case the unthinkable happened – they dropped The Atomic Bomb. Talk about hysteria! They’d never do anything like today, it might upset someone’s sensibilities. Thank goodness for political correctness. Sarcasm mode off.

It’s got some great animation with Bert the Turtle, a very cautious (and very hysterically paranoid) fellow very good at ducking and covering. Very good at it, because, well, he’s a turtle. The thrust is if you heard the air raid sirens, you should duck and cover. This film urged school kids to crawl under their desks and cover their heads in case of attack. We did know what atomic bombs were capable of, right? That’s not going to keep anyone from being vaporized.

This instructional film is definitely a product of its time, so filled with paranoia and hysteria that it probably was a self-fulfilling prophecy, causing as much paranoia and hysteria as it itself was filled with. Probably the scariest thing for me was how scared the kids in this film looked. Both an entertaining and frightening time capsule.

One Million Time Bombs

I’m taking a break from the usual stuff I do here on The Non-Gamer’s Gamer’s Blog today to reply to something Tennessee Senator Lamar Alexander said today. You probably know what’s coming because it’s been all over the news.

“I think video games is (sic) a bigger problem than guns. Because video games affect people. But the First Amendment limits what we can do about video games and the Second Amendment limits what we can do about guns.” He said these words in a discussion, on MSNBC’s “The Daily Rundown,” laying the blame of recent school shootings on guns and video games, but noting that video games were a bigger societal threat than guns.

My reply is simple. You, Senator Alexander, are ignorant and misinformed, and should learn to think before speaking. If you are right however, we have a huge problem in this country, and the entire world.

The video game industry is gigantic. Certainly not as big as the gun lobby or the tobacco lobby, but still very big. Their profits range into the billions yearly. Do you know what that means? Somebody is buying a lot of video games. Millions, tens of millions, buy and play video games every single day, for hours and hours at a time. Many of them could be considered obsessed with their chosen hobby. I’m not judging, I’m just saying.

If video games truly do affect people, and cause them to go on shooting rampages at schools, we as I said, have a huge problem. If even a fraction of these people as affected as the Senator says, there are at least a million time bombs out there. Ready to blow at any minute.

But that’s not true. After all, what were the violent video games that Hitler played? Or Caligula? Was Al Capone a big Call of Duty player? It’s not true at all.

The NRA used to have a slogan they were proud of – “Guns don’t kill people, people kill people.” it’s partially true. Guns help, but it is people who kill people. And let’s face it, if you give a psychopath a butter knife, somebody might die. Do we outlaw butter knives? No. But there are better ways.

I grew up around guns, hunting specifically. I had to take a course before I could use a gun. In my father’s home the guns and ammo were stored separately, and locked away. And I grew up as not a gun guy, but I’m educated, and have ideas how we could make this better.

First, get over yourselves, you don’t need automatic weapons to hunt. And guns should not be available at gun shows or Wal-Mart. If you want to collect guns, you’re not allowed to own ammo. You’re just a collector, remember? If you want to own a gun, take a three week gun safety course, that’s what I had to do. Also I would take a hint from Chris Rock, and tax ammunition. A lot. If one bullet cost $100, you will think before you shoot. Have the money go to victims of shootings.

And Senator Alexander, get off of video games, they are not to blame. And please start thinking before you open your mouth, because if you’re right… I would guess you’re surrounded by Halo players, who are also potential time bombs…

When Film Incites

The recent nonsense in the Middle East with the murders, attacks, and protests against American Embassies is not the normal fodder for content here on Welcome to Hell, but it kinda is when it’s caused by a film. The film, and I use the word loosely, is called Innocence of Muslims by filmmaker, once again a term I’m using loosely, Sam Bacile, who we have since learned is an alias for Nakoula Basseley Nakoula.

Based on what I’ve seen of the man, and the film, he is a hate criminal, and responsible for the deaths so far in our embassies. And that’s not just because it’s a bad movie. It’s more and less than a bad movie. Horrible acting, sets, and writing, and created specifically to incite the Islam world to violence. This is something even Uwe Boll never did.

Notably this is not the first time film has been used as a mind weapon. The gangster films of the 1930s were said to bring about, among other things, juvenile delinquency. Violent movies have always been said to make kids more violent. The trend continues today. I think the documentaries of Michael Moore have fanned the fires, if not lit them initially, of the bipartisanism that threatens to tear our nation apart.

I think this will be a first. We’ve had music and videogames supposedly make people kill, we’ve had books do it, most notably with “The Satanic Verses” by Salman Rushdie, now I guess, it’s film’s turn. Still these things bother me.

While I do wonder what Ozzy song was Genghis Khan’s favorite, and what Call of Duty game Hitler played the most, this movie was a deliberate assault on a faith, in my opinion. I hope this furor dies down soon, and people realize that this was just a bad movie…

French Fry Diary 395: Chick-fil-A and Choice

Game Change

Game Change ~ I always have trepidations when liberals make a movie about conservatives, especially in the vicious and hostile environment the two sides have existed in the last few years. And I’m not taking sides either, I feel the same way about movies made by conservatives about the liberals. The problem of course is that the latter films are never really that good or get that much exposure. An American Carol might be the exception to that rule, but even it is very heavy handed.

I have discussed several times the sheer quality of the programming on HBO, and Game Change is no exception. The story of Governor Sarah Palin’s rise and fall during the 2008 Presidential Election is an amazing rollercoaster ride, and by amazing, I mean it in both the good way and the bad way. The film does well in showing that, we see the good and the bad, but sometimes, just sometimes the humor in the script can be quite cruel. I think that was a bit unnecessary. It’s all about show don’t tell, folks, I think we all know what kind of person Sarah Palin was during the Election.

Other than Woody Harrelson, who I have trouble keeping a straight face whenever he’s in a movie, the cast is first class. Julianne Moore is great as Palin, except when she goes over the top, which is thankfully not often. Ed Harris and the rest of the ensemble cast turn in admirable performances. Well worth watching, just don’t take it, or your own politics that seriously, when you’re watching it.

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French Fry Diary 241: Freedom Fries

Frost/Nixon

Frost/Nixon ~ Often memories are powered by significant news events. Everyone remembers where they were when the towers fell. When they heard about Kurt Cobain and about John Lennon, and of course, the granddaddy of such events – where were you when JFK was shot? This movie is like that for me.

Richard M. Nixon, and I’m giving my age away obviously, was the first US President I was aware of. I remember the turmoil of the war protests, and the Vietnam War itself on the news, the Watergate hearings that pre-empted all programming during the day, and the man’s frequent speeches to the nation in prime time. I specifically remember the day Nixon resigned; it was the same day of the first time my parents ever took me to a mall. I remember reading his memoir “R.N.,” and I remember watching the David Frost interviews on which this movie was based.

The film is an interesting duel between two men who each have their admirable qualities and serious flaws as well, but I think the words of Kevin Bacon, in the minor role of Nixon bodyguard Jack Brennan, best sum it up as boxers squaring off verbally. This is a duel, not an interview, with two combatants who have underestimated each other tremendously. The intense performances from Frank Langella and Michael Sheen in the title roles make this a must-see film. Recommended.

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W.

W. ~ There’s no way around this one, so I’m warning y’all up front – this is going to be messy, and worse than that, this is going to get political. And in reviewing W., I think I need to make my political standings clear.

I voted for George W. Bush once, and quickly soured on that decision in light of his behavior in both a post-9/11, and a pre-9/11 world. I didn’t make the same mistake twice. The following election brought me to independent candidates and in the most recent I was a major Barack Obama supporter, even when my faith in him wavered during the election, I still proudly gave him the vote. I believed in the man, and even though we remain in a war (or wars) we shouldn’t be in, I still do. Nobody’s perfect.

The point of bringing up President Obama is that I wonder if director Oliver Stone would ever make a similar movie about Obama in the same way he made W. I wonder this because W. is character assassination, pure and simple. I also can’t help but wonder why make such a film about a man that quite clearly is and was pretty much hated anyway. And it’s one thing to make a film, admittedly based on fact, that makes a man look bad, but another thing entirely to have nothing that makes him look good in the whole film. I don’t like the junior Bush myself, but I’m sure he has a soul and treats animals well. Heck, even Hitler was fond of dogs and liked to paint. I’m not asking for anyone to make a bad man look like a saint, but at least half the voting citizens of this country voted for him twice – he must have some good attributes.

Oliver Stone is also someone I dislike, but for different reasons. He makes movies based on real events, but frequently, in films like JFK, The Doors and Nixon (just three examples out of many) he depicts scenes that really no one could know about. Scenes of people alone doing things they would never admit to. How does anyone know about this?

All that said, technically it’s a well made film. Well shot, well written and Josh Brolin is impressive. Brolin should have asked Stone for some sympathetic scenes however, so he might have gotten an Oscar nod. But as I said, no sympathy here. And I sure would like to see footage of the real press conference that last scene is based on, ‘cause I must have been asleep that newsday. I can’t wait for Stone’s Obama and Hitler bio-pics, so I can compare and contrast.

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