Monday, February 29, 2016

Happy Leap Day

Well the Oscars were last night. I didn't watch because I was working and have lost interest in award shows over the years. But I watched Chris Rock's opening monologue about #OscarsSoWhite, and I'm glad he tackled the issue of Hollywood being "sorority racist", in that white liberals will be nice to you, but still exclude you when it comes to hiring and casting decisions. It's the old boys' club atmosphere. However, I do think he unnecessarily focused only on blacks, not on other minority groups who don't have opportunities, and he was kind of dismissive, saying that blacks never protested this much before because of bigger problems like raping and lynching. I think that's simplistic, because we still have an issue with police brutality now (as shown by the great Black-ish episode last week) but Hollywood still has a diversity issue. I also know that Disney's release of Song of the South in 1946 was widely criticized by the NAACP and others for its racially offensive cliches. So yes, even in the midst of more pressing dangers, it's perfectly legitimate to also criticize pop culture for lesser evils; when wrong-headed enough, some films can become a sort of dangerous propaganda.

There was a recent New York Times article containing interviews from many actors and directors in Hollywood showing how discrimination, sexism, and homophobia still plays a role, keeping many minorities out of power. That's how pervasive "soft racism" is in the system, where people think they're our white liberal allies, but they continue to be unconsciously biased and close-minded. Sure it's entertainment, but it does matter to society, because movies and TV shows carry powerful messages. Why, the Oscars demonstrated it just last night, with all the talk of diversity, and Lady Gaga's performance of a song from a documentary on campus sexual assault. Movies do matter, so don't belittle the issue. And don't groan and be smug idiots like the damn Coen brothers. Sometimes it seems like Hollywood wants to have it both ways, that films are great artistic achievements that touch the soul, yet when criticized, films are just silly fluff and detractors are taking things way too seriously.

Friday, February 26, 2016

Good but imperfect Race

I saw the Jesse Owens film on the weekend and felt somewhat conflicted about it. It was very moving, and I liked the family drama and sports story. The depression-era setting, along with segregation on buses and such, seemed detailed and realistic. I also liked the conflict when Jesse was pressured by the NAACP to not go to the Olympics. He struggled with his feelings for a while, argued with his coach, and even discussed it with a rival athlete who got injured and would never get to go. We got to see a lot of different opinions on the topic, though Jesse's final decision doesn't seem to stem from any particular moment of epiphany.

Wednesday, February 24, 2016

Damn elections

It appears that Trump truly can't be stopped from winning the nomination, and it's so horrifying. (Some people say he'll be easy to beat in the general election, but I'm still disgusted with him and not amused.) Meanwhile, now that Super Tuesday is coming closer, I'm seeing a lot more TV ads for Republicans and even heard a radio ad as well. It's so annoying. I'm going to early vote tomorrow, when I have the day off from work, though I'm still conflicted about who I'll vote for in the Democratic primary.

Obama released a plan to close Guantanamo, which shows he's still trying, but fucking Congress is still vowing to obstruct him. Somebody had the nerve to compare it to the Trail of Tears. They are such cowards and liars! Guantanamo was not used because the prisoners were especially heinous (many were accused on faulty evidence); it was because the prison's location meant the administration could do nasty stuff like torture without being held accountable to laws. So moving the prisoners does not mean we have supercriminals ready to escape and terrorize the country. It means we as a country can stop terrorizing them and finally treat them within our fucking regular justice system!

Surprisingly, this point was made this week in a great episode of Supergirl called "Truth, Justice, and the American Way" the old motto for Superman. James Olsen brought up Guantanamo and criticized Kara for supporting the DEO's imprisonment of Max Lord. He's a villain, but he has rights, like any other citizen; besides, they could not keep his kidnapping a secret for long. It was so great to see emotional, moral conflict, and to have James advocate for them not to be hypocrites. If only we could get real politicians to live up to American ideals of truth and justice too. Not while they're voting to block a new Supreme Court nominee, apparently.

Saturday, February 20, 2016

TV lately

I was somewhat disappointed in the latest Apocalypse episode, because Rhonda was still on the run, and Jamie and Dave spent too long breaking Mary out of the mental ward. I wanted to see more about Jamie's wife and the giraffe girl, but apparently they've gone home, while the priest and the nun work some other false Messiah case which was pointless. I really hate the fact that the priest gets so much protagonist stuff to do while the nun just reacts to him. She doesn't get to have an emotional journey or story other than "wow, I was wrong, and you're so awesome after all." I'm afraid that, with those henchman getting the priest's blood, we're just going to keep following his story and not hear much from the nun. Ariel really went full villain, at least, so maybe some plots will start moving forward.

Last night's Second Chance surprised me by not being as creepy and gross about a serial murder/mutilation case as I feared; too many CSI-type procedural shows seem to glorify the violence and titillation of the exotic. The visible gore was kept to a minimum, and even Jimmy held back from assaulting a guy while interrogating him. The writers handled the escort Jilly as a strong survivor rather than a victim, and she got to talk to Mary about other stuff unrelated to her case. Jilly got kidnapped twice, was treated respectfully by Jimmy, and was allowed to have emotional conflict about whether to kill her captor in revenge. She got a lot of character development for a one-episode character. The show also surprised me by revealing that Mary's assistant is not as loyal and ditzy as expected, and we don't know if the old man is the reason for her betrayal of her boss. Does she know the truth about Jimmy, and is hoping to save her elderly friend too? I hope the show keeps airing out its full plot before it's cancelled.

The Muppets has been improving lately, with more skits and fun moments, though I think their first episode back wasn't a good choice. The ratings haven't improved really. The other sitcoms I watch are uneven lately, and I may drop Grandfathered.

Monday, February 15, 2016

Political Upheaval

I was rather stunned by Antonin Scalia dying over the weekend. The Republicans were quick to say that Obama shouldn't nominate a replacement, and I don't know what's going to happen while the Supreme Court only has 8 justices. There are a number of court cases still pending that affect Texas, such as the abortion law, affirmative action, and immigration, and I read contradictory statements about what will happen to those rulings in the case of a tie. It's really worrying, and I just want to know everything will be all right. It's especially annoying that we keep having to use voter IDs, when I hoped they would be gone in time for the 2016 elections.

Though I certainly hated Scalia's votes on the Supreme Court, I recently watched a PBS special on Italian Americans, and there was an episode giving a non-partisan viewpoint on Scalia. Apparently many Italian Americans were happy with his historic appointment as an Italian American on the court; they felt it gave their group a better role model than the Italian mafia stereotype in so many movies and TV shows. I guess I'm sad for them to lose that, but maybe we'll get a more liberal justice this time.

As for politics in general, early voting starts this week for the Democratic primary, and I'm still deciding what I'll do. There are local offices I should vote for, and I'm researching the candidates on the League of Women Voters website. As for the Presidential race, I really do not want to vote for Hillary due to her anti-BDS stance on Israel, but then again, I am still really pissed off with Bernie's conspiracy crap. Maybe I'll cast a vote for Martin O'Malley even though he's out, or one of several other people on the ballot for some reason. I guess these no-names are only on the Democratic primary ballot, not the official general election ballot. I'm just so sick of this campaign, especially the endless debates now that the DNC sanctioned more. Hope you're happy for getting what you want, Bernie lovers. It's so fucking boring and stirs up shitty animosity like on Daily Kos.

Wednesday, February 10, 2016

Hail, Caesar

It was an okay movie, amusing in parts, but more slow and dramatic than I expected. The movie trailers made Hail, Caesar seem like a broad parody full of jokes, but it was quiet, gentle spoofing. Before I went, I did hear bad word of mouth, but I foolishly trusted the critical reviews that were so positive. It's not terrible; it's just a low-key, understated kind of comedy where you smile and chuckle softly rather than laugh out loud. Sort of like Wes Anderson's style, where you need to have the same quirky tastes as the director(s) to love it. (I've only watched a couple of Coen brothers' films before, Fargo and The Big Lebowski, so I'm not really familiar with their works.) So it wasn't as fun as I hoped, even with the self-important narration.

Monday, February 8, 2016

Happy New Year

It's Lunar New Year, celebrated by many Asians around the world, not just the Chinese. There was a pretty good Fresh Off the Boat episode about the holiday last week, though it's a continuity error that no other Chinese people live near them. (Jessica enrolled the kids in a special Chinese school, after all, when she wanted them to do extra homework last season.) I'm lucky to have this day off from work, so I'll probably go see Hail, Caesar later today. I also hope to see the Jesse Owens movie The Race when it comes out soon. The trailer looked good.

As for TV, the second episode of You, Me, and the Apocalypse was pretty good. When the US President learned of the top secret survival bunker, I thought the show was being feminist when they said that 15 women would be chosen, but no men, because they could just use a sperm bank to repopulate the world. However, then the guys suggested that the President could join the women and be their "leader" making it into a creepy harem situation. Why couldn't one of the women be their own leader? Ugh. So sexism might survive the apocalypse. However, I did find the UK plot with Jamie and Dave interesting. I also liked that Rhonda realized that White Horse was lying and rotten; she needs to go save her son, and I hope there will be more from the nun soon.

In its fourth episode, Second Chance improved somewhat by letting Otto show some emotions and interest in the case, with Mary giving Jimmy some family advice. There were some flashbacks and fun interaction with Duval's family, to help round out some characters. Now Jimmy's going to be an official FBI consultant? I still don't know where the show is going. Sleepy Hollow came back, and they thankfully toned down Betsy Ross to dress appropriately and be business-like instead of flirty. I hope Abbie comes back soon, though.