Did you ever have one of those weeks where every big issue in the news and pop culture is annoying? No, the answer is not every week – even if that is the case. If you live your life perpetually annoyed then you are not annoyed at all – what you are is a malcontent curmudgeon. What I’m talking about is a convergence of issues in one weekly cycle of what’s what that has you weighing the possibilities of turning it all off, packing up a slew of books and going underground to become a survivalist.
Since the latter won’t happen to me in this lifetime in that I need to call in experts to hang a picture properly and recently failed twice at reading Proust (it was me, not him), I have made peace with the fact that I will forever dwell in the weekly cycle. And perhaps you have also. But that doesn’t mean we have to live here happily during each seven-day period. In fact, it might just be that weeks like this – particularly SUCKY periods that are so annoyingly dumb and cloyingly stupid – actually make us appreciate all the other wonderfully happy ones. At least that’s what I’m telling myself right now.
Again, perhaps you are too. After all, misery loves company. And remember, it isn’t real misery if it only happens once every few months. Think of it more as a healthy cycle of intellectual binge and purge. Or the alternative to living in the woods for a year with several boxes of classic literature and enough food and water to get by.
As much as you might think that’s appealing, how much Proust or even Shakespeare can you read in a row while eating prepared vittles from a package or can? Not much, that’s how much. Plus, a world where you literally had no one else to complain to could be even worse than this one.
So let’s review those things that had me in a snit… and made me want to scream OMG STOP IT!
1. ROLLING STONE MAGAZINE COVERS ARE NOT A NATIONAL ISSUE
One of the top news stories this week is Rolling Stone’s cover photo of Boston Bomber (do we need to say suspect?) Dzhokhar (Jahar, to friends) Tsarnaev – all tousle-haired, doe-eyed and sporting the come-hither look and dark chin scruff of a teenager stoner. Mr. Tsarnaev is, indeed, all of those things, and also, as the magazine clearly identifies him in very large black type, THE BOMBER.
I have actually read the 11,000 word article that the cover promises is about how a popular, promising student was failed by his family, fell into Radical Islam and Became a Monster. It’s a very good read, a simultaneously awful and fascinating story – which is what good magazine writing is all about. Does it answer all of the questions its headline promises? Well, as much as most magazine or even newspaper pieces fully do. Which is to say mostly, though not exactly. And, in the world of journalistic reportage, which is always left open to interpretation, that’s sort of the point.
So what’s the problem??? Well, the Mayor of Boston says using this picture is “insensitive” to the people of Boston and still others claim that the story, placement and accompanying image makes Dzhokhar a sort of — rock star? Never mind Rolling Stone has used images of Charles Manson and O.J. Simpson as cover draws in the height of their notoriousness.
The entire point of the article is that what makes this kid particularly scary is that he has the non-descript visual image of a sort of iconoclastic cool kid. Hence, the cover image, which has been used on the cover of the New York Times previously, would seem to be the right one. Would it be more appropriate if Jahar had a long beard, a turban and was wearing white robes? Well, it’d obviously make many in the US more comfortable. Among that group are corporate chain stores like CVS, Rite Aid, K-Mart, Stop ‘n Shop and Walgreen’s – all of whom have not only removed the current issue of Rolling Stone from their shelves but have refused to even sell it in its stores.
Here’s what would make me comfortable. How about K-Mart refusing to sell guns in its stores? Yes, I know Jahar and his brother didn’t use K-Mart rifles to set their homemade bombs off at the Boston Marathon the way the teenagers in Columbine did. But at least it’d be one small actual step to curbing future domestic terrorism. Refusing to sell a magazine, one that chooses to do a timely story that some people might disagree with, is not.
Those who cannot remember the past are condemned to repeat it
– George Santayana, philosopher (1863-1952)
2. KATEWAIT – WHEN A ROYAL BIRTH IS A ROYAL PAIN
It’s a Boy! But admittedly, I will never understand the fascination with royalty. You’re bowing before a person born into privilege who wears a diamond studded crown or fantasizing about having millions of your own subjects who want to touch your garment because of your innate talent or ability to….do what exactly?
Now before you take away my chair (throne?) or refuse to ever let me use the word queen again, let me explain. I have the utmost respect for the service that the Royal family of England gives back to their country and to the world. It’s worth admiring. But why are thousands of reporters from all over everywhere camped out in front of Wills and Kate’s home/castle/car/palace/estate and speculating about a birth, and then a name, that has a 50-50 chance of being either male or female? (Note: Okay, I suppose they could choose the name “Pat,” but instead went with George Alexander Louis. How dull. I mean, my parents even came up with Faith Bari for my sister!).
As Holly, my cohort at notesfromachair, pointed out to me several days ago – NBC’s Today sent Natalie Morales to London several weeks ago for KateWait and she had been reduced to knitting on camera waiting for the baby to arrive. Not only was this not a good strategy for boosting Today’s lagging ratings, it did little to honor the service of the Royal in question. If you’ve ever known a pregnant woman – and all of you have known at least one – do you think her idea of fun is to have gaggles of photographers and supporters surrounding her as she tries to maneuver her enlarged self out of the house and onto the hospital delivery room table? That was, and is, a royal pain in its truest form. And it’s not even unusual or salacious – two of the essential elements for news coverage these days.
To repeat: a boy – George Alexander Louis – 8 lbs., 4 oz. That’s it. I’m done. Any further questions…
3. EMMY AWARDS ARE FOR SISSIES*
In the last few years of her life Bette Davis enjoyed posing in full makeup on a couch, next to a pillow that said, Old Age Ain’t No Place for Sissies. Being a sort of gay icon she can use the latter word, as can I* (no – most of you cannot). As for the Emmy nominations announced this week, the term should be used to describe some of the TV Academy’s choices this year in several categories.
There are lots of omissions but let’s cut to the chase – no writing nomination for the best-written show on television, Mad Men. By eliminating the series that has been nominated every other of the six years it has been on the air (including four wins), the blue ribbon panel of choosers or perhaps other writers who nominate are saying what – that this year Mad Men wasn’t even the fifth best written drama series on TV? Haha – that would be as funny as you telling me that they’re going to actually let Kim Kardashian’s mother host a new television talk show in 2013, or…..oh – never mind.
Kander & Ebb famously wrote the lyric: …Everybody loves a winner… for the song Maybe This Time from Cabaret but that’s actually not quite the case in the entertainment industry. It’s actually more: Everybody hates a winner who wins too many times the way Mad Men creator Matt Weiner has.
Which is to say nothing of the fact that the most Emmy nominated series this year, American Horror Story (17 nods and one of my favorite not so guilty pleasures) is going against the very overpraised and retrofitted Liberace biopic Behind the Candelabra in the best miniseries and movie category. AHS is likely to lose, because as we established in our previous #2, this country and the world can’t resist a queen. (and yeah, I can say that, too).
Emmy night is Sunday, Sept. 22. Look for all of my Steven Soderbergh DVDs (including Magic Mike) flying out the window in the hills of Los Angeles at the very moment this injustice is announced – that is if you’re interested in some free and only slightly damaged swag.
4. PRES OBAMA IS NOT A RACIST FOR SPEAKING OUT ABOUT RACE, YOU MORON
The country is in uproar because a mostly White female jury in Florida found an adult male carrying a gun, who stopped and eventually shot and killed a Black teenager armed with nothing but a bag of Skittles and some iced tea, a. not guilty and b. back onto the streets with the eventual return of the gun he used in the killing. We have a Black (well, half-Black – which, fyi, means he’s also equal part White) president and a country with a really checkered history on racial issues. What’s He supposed to do – say nothing? What year is this – 1923? ‘33? ‘53?
All our Black (or half White) president did several days ago was try to explain the reason for the outrage about the verdict among the African American community by noting said verdict needs to be seen in historical context when he said: “Trayvon Martin could have been me 35 years ago.”
Uh, does anyone doubt this is true or truly thinks that this is a controversial statement? Then why is he getting pillared for it? And why is Fox News letting people like Sean Hannity tell millions of viewers that Trayvon Martin was stoned on marijuana the night of the shooting and clearly capable of aggression (not munchies, dude – like, fighting) when that whole theory has been clearly debunked.
Why Barack Obama wants to bear his soul on this issue to the inevitable vitriol of a vast right wing machine/conspiracy is beyond me – and probably the reason this hopeful guy should be President. It’s just that…well…when exactly did it become wrong for the president of the US to open a conversation on sensitive issues? And not even a Liberal conversation. There has not been a real liberal in the White House in at least 50 years – which should make one wonder if perhaps we could do even better.
The night before Pres. Obama made his remarks I had dinner at the Beverly Hills Hotel where I spotted an overly made up middle aged woman with dyed blonde hair and too much jewelry sashay out of her milky white Bentley (approximate cost: $200,000) as she handed her key to the valet. Taped to the inside passenger side window of her vehicle was a large printed white sign with black lettering that read: OBAMA SUCKS. This, alone, tells you what he’s up against.
SMALL ANNOYANCES ADD UP TO ONE BIG ONE
1. The barrage of incessant news from Comicon is working my last nerve. Isn’t it enough you’ve taken over the movies? Why, oh why, are Superman and Batman going to be in a new tent pole film (sans Christian Bale) directed by Zack Snyder? And why do you need to rub it in all our faces, over and over and over again. Wake me when its 1968 again. Please?
2. The Way, Way Back is the kind of movie I should love, love, love. It’s a coming of age piece about a nerdy but too smart for his own good kid being raised by a divorced, single mother. And it’s got some of my favorite quirky film actors – Steve Carrell, Toni Collette, Allison Janney, Sam Rockwell, etc. So why, why, why was it turned into an actor fest of predictability with characters that felt written and not real? I don’t know the answer to these questions any more than I know how the television works or why the earth is round and not flat – though all have been explained to me numerous times.
3. Cold Case is a television series that ran from 2003-2010 that I thought I was too superior to watch until several weeks ago when I was looking for yet another reason to procrastinate on some writing. It was created by Meredith Stiehm (she wrote for Homeland and now does The Bridge) and each week tackles a decades (sometimes many decades) old unsolved murder – alternating seamlessly between period flashbacks of then and now in genuinely compelling fashion. Well, guess what? This was a pretty freakin’ great network television series. If you haven’t seen it, catch up with it in reruns on your DVR because it’s not available on DVD due to its music budget – the largest ever for a TV series. The producers were smart enough to realize that even with good, taut writing and acting, nothing can bring back memories of the decades past than actual recordings from Bob Dylan, the Rolling Stones, Pearl Jam, the Police, Journey, and Cyndi Lauper, just to name a few. Maybe one day the movies will start to do this again, or better yet, try to discover someone or something exciting, original or even new. At this point, I’d even settle for a group of the studios to STOP and simply take a long hard look at what they’re doing now – and how it bodes for their – and our – futures. Like the president…
I can dream, can’t it?