Who’s Johnny?

When, as an adult, you watch a beloved film from your childhood, you must resist the temptation to cringe and apologize on behalf of your younger self. Such is the case with many movies; personally, no film was as disappointing to me as an adult as Spielberg’s Hook (“Rooooooooooo-fee-ooohh!” “Run Home Jack!”), which went from dearly loved classic to exhausting pablum before the second act break.

This was not the case for Short Circuit 2.

As a child, I cried when the crooks beat viciously beat Johnny 5; as an adult, I wondered how much cocaine fueled the arc of that particular scene (SNORT–“And then he uses that radio thing, which totally looks like Brent’s dick–ha ha, fuck you Brent, shrimp dick!–to call a radio airplane and then he runs the airplane up the guy’s ass!” SNORT). A child can probably be forgiven for thinking this movie was awesome because it has a fucking talking robot in it; only the most boring and annoying kid would be like “I hate robots.” And, according to the Wikipedia page for the film, which contains useful links to some old reviews, some of the critics of the day viewed the film charitably (not the case for Mr. Canby of the New York Times, who claims that Johnny 5 is “singularly charmless”), and thus forgave what was essentially a children’s film for sucking so hard. I mean, this is a movie that relies upon the idea that an advanced robot with artificial intelligence would not be able to keep its memory if turned off, which was something even my piece of shit Apple IIe could do (if only I had the 16KB of my amazing mystery stories from that period to prove it).

Yet I think they may have missed something. Stupidity and plot-holes aside, this film is dark. Sure, it’s dressed in children’s clothing, and the robot says and does comically stupid things, but upon further inspection its rather like the time that Kramer got Mickey to stand in for the kid he was supposed to be babysitting. That is to say, it’s a cynical, gruff-voiced man with several divorces behind him and not much of a future in medical acting.

The entire film is an affirmation of consumer capitalism, which is not evil in itself and only solidifies the movie’s cred–seriously, check out Michael McKean’s Gordon Gekko impression at the end of the movie and then try to argue that they didn’t know what they were doing–but the real problem is that the movie presents as its thesis the idea that the individual must subsume their identity to the flow of capital. Johnny 5 “dies” to protect the assets of a faceless banking corporation (and, in a feudal touch, the aristocratically named Vanderveer Collection of diamonds) that would have insured the assets anyway; moreover, his death is rendered completely pointless by the simple fact that the police already knew Oscar had stolen the diamonds–there was a very low probability of Oscar successfully fencing the diamonds or leaving the country. Thus, Johnny 5’s sacrifice was largely pointless (literally pointless, as it turns out, because he didn’t actually sacrifice anything). Symbolically, however, his “death” is important for two reasons: 1) it serves to demonstrate that the proper approach toward the protection of capital is human sacrifice, and 2) it serves to resurrect Johnny as a fully-functional piece of the capitalist machinery. Why, he’s even proclaimed a human by the U.S. government at a citizenship ceremony! This proclamation (odd in its own regard and reminiscent of the federal government’s other rather problematic attempts at defining what constitutes a human being) retroactively affirms the humanity of his sacrifice and subsequently affirms the idea that such sacrifice is the proper relation one ought to take toward capital.

The film is consistent in its thematic treatment of the individual vis-a-vis capital, as the first time we see Johnny 5 he’s been reduced to a consumer product–a toy for sale to the highest bidder. The highest bidder then enters in the form of Sandy, who works for a toy company and will try to get her company to buy the toy (this also serves as an awkward way to shoehorn in a romance; personally, my adult self thinks the more progressive choice would have been to make the romance between Johnny 5 and Michael McKean’s character, Fred; also, the funnier choice). Alas, Benjamin and Fred run into production troubles when they find their warehouse has doubled as a thieves’ den, and they can’t meet their production goals until Johnny 5 arrives and rapidly constructs an idol of himself, which he quite admires. Johnny 5 is alive and appreciates the replication of his likeness for profit. The accumulation of capital is incompatible with any sense of ethics.

Arguably, the entire film is a weird critique of consumer capitalism; one need only assume the writers’ intention was to demonstrate the flaws with reducing humanity to a vessel for the accumulation and distribution of capital, and the subtext converts itself into a progressive, fly-under-the-radar piece of cultural criticism in the guise of summer entertainment. Yet I do not think a straightforward reading of the film supports this idea, and I find myself wondering how a film so cynical and dark could possibly have been pushed through as a light, summer sequel.

And then I remember: cocaine is a hell of a drug.

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Not Technically News, But Still: Transporter 2 is a Seriously Shitty Movie

I mean seriously shitty. Like, Jason Statham should time travel and prevent his agent from agreeing to allow him to do this film. And I’ve only seen 10 minutes so far.

However, I have come to a realization: Jason Statham is the Steven Seagal of the ’00s (aughts). He’s a white dude who knows kicking and punching skills (for no reason), he’s in terrible films that make no sense, and dumb storylines follow him around. It’s like Steven Seagal did a magic ritual and resurrected himself into Jason Statham’s body, even though he was still doing shitty DTV films, and they’d have to split time between their crappy film careers. In fact, this is probably the reason they weren’t in either of the “Expendables” movies together! They are the same person! My headline undersold this.

STEVEN SEAGAL AND JASON STATHAM ARE THE SAME PERSON!

Critic’s Corner with Zod: “Man of Steel”

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This is Zod, and she is undoubtedly one of the most incisive film critics I’ve ever met. Thus, in an effort to share her genius with all of you, I’ve decided to publish recaps of our discussions about film and television. I figured that since Man of Steel is currently on HBO, and she’s named Zod, it would be apropos to start with her thoughts on last summer’s most controversial (well, controversial in a way that’s totally unimportant) film.

Undoubtedly, Man of Steel inspired quite a bit of nerd fury last summer when it hit the theaters. Why do you suppose this film created such a negative reaction?

(Stares silently)

I absolutely agree–the ending can definitely be seen as a complete betrayal of Superman’s core ethos, but it’s a revision that arguably suits modern tastes. I mean, we’re dealing with a post-9/11 Superman that’s not a love letter to the Donner films, so perhaps it’s to be expected that moral ambiguity might reign.

(Yawns)

I suppose that’s a valid point. In an age of morally ambiguous villains, and in a world where you don’t necessarily know who’s really bad, and who’s really good, maybe you want a hero like Superman to represent the questions we’re struggling with. Which I suppose brings us to the central villain, General Zod.

(Blinks)

I’m not quite certain what to make of General Zod either. Really, he’s presented as a victim of circumstance, which I think ultimately makes his death at the hands of Kal-El much worse, but I also think there’s a sense in which his goals of recreating Krypton on Earth make no fucking sense whatsoever. Do you think this sort of mischaracterization speaks to the overall flaws in the plot?

(Stretches)

I could not agree more; I also think the plot holes defeat the film’s integrity. I mean, first of all, once Zod realizes Earth is liveable, and would give him super-powers, why the hell wouldn’t he just start making new Kryptonians? Which raises an entirely new point, and one that’s worth addressing I think–and you and I have discussed this at length–Kryptonians are the fucking worst. Now, I know you have some sympathy for them, but I just can’t help but wonder how an advanced civilization such as theirs turned to shit so fast. Terraforming and space colonization leads to population control? I mean, if you’re building new worlds, why the hell would you need population control? And why would genetically engineering everyone for a job make sense? And how the hell would you even do that? Surely in the 100,000 years of their civilization someone did a study that showed a person’s environment has some influence on their psychological makeup. But now I’m ranting.

(Meows for a treat)

I know, I know–I’m being unfair. The movie is not about Krypton. But seeing as how that’s a central component to the mythos, I think it’s worth considering. Also, perhaps a bit off topic–why the fuck would anyone think it’s a good idea to create an artificial black hole on Earth to send about 4 Kryptonians to their doom? I mean, that just seems excessive. And don’t get me started as to why the Kryptonian High Council would send Zod to the Phantom Zone instead of letting him die on Krypton. I mean, what the fuck was that about?! I’m ranting again.

(Leaves the room)

I guess you’re right. Sometimes it’s not worth getting upset about these things. I mean, the film has definite positives: Superman does things Superman would do (like fly and punch aliens), and Henry Cavill looks pretty badass as Kal-El. Overall, the film is well-acted, and the score is superb. So, I guess I’ll just leave it at 50/50: it’s worth watching, but not really worth thinking about. Thanks, Zod!

There Is No Fate But What We Make For Ourselves

And on this point Sarah Connor nailed it. Because SkyNet was really her fault.

Now, I know this sounds pretty crazy, but let’s consider the facts, starting with The Terminator:

1) SkyNet exists and sends back a Terminator to kill Sarah Connor, the mother the successful human resistance fighter John Connor.

2) The resistance sends back Kyle Reese to protect her; he fathers John Connor.

So, the causal chain here might be interpreted that SkyNet is responsible for John Connor, because had SkyNet not threatened Sarah in the past, Kyle Reese would have been unnecessary; no Terminator, no Kyle; no Kyle, no John. That’s all well and good, and we might be inclined to just accept the traditional (and paradoxical) “SkyNet ensured its own existence by existing” argument.

But let’s not be so hasty. Remember the outcome of Sarah’s first confrontation with a Terminator? Kyle died to protect her, and she survived, ultimately killing the Terminator by crushing it. When she did this, and did not pick up the pieces, she guaranteed the existence of SkyNet. Had Sarah bothered to grab the detritus from the Terminator she crushed, Cyberdyne would never have received the microprocessor and skeletal hand from the T-800.

Undoubtedly, some of you might be questioning my sanity (for a variety of reasons). But I urge you to consider this: after Sarah defeated the first Terminator, we have the only possible moment in the trajectory toward August 29, 1997 (side note: hahahahaha!) where divergence was possible. Had Sarah made the correct choice here, SkyNet’s future would have been impossible. Imagine the following timelines, where a is the timeline envisioned by the films, and b is my hypothesized timeline where Sarah takes a minute to pick up some shit off the floor:

a) Sarah kills the Terminator and runs away —-> cops hand over weird shit to Cyberdyne, events of Terminator 2 —-> 8/29/1997

b) Sarah kills the Terminator and cleans up the mess —-> no evidence for Cyberdyne to use —-> boring future we live in now

Sarah Connor was responsible for the Apocalypse, and thus correct when she claimed that there is no fate but what we make for ourselves. Way to go, Sarah.

Good Lord, I’m Bored

Seriously, there is nothing to read on the Interwebz. Once you’ve exhausted your porn and stock quotes, what the hell is there? Femblogs? God no. Gossip blogs? Shoot me. The fucking New York Times? Maybe before they went paywall. Remind me to kick them in the virtual testes for that. I’d like to think that once upon a time I provided something else to read, but perhaps I’m just being optimistic.* In fact, I’m pretty sure I’m being optimistic. So I think I should consider adding some new shit. Because here’s the thing–I am pretty sure I’m smarter and wittier and definitely more clever than any bullshit clickbait blog you’re going to find begging for your hard-earned wrist motion. So I’ll try to bring some of my insightful, superior-intelligence driven (KHAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAHHHHHNNNNN!) observations back to this domain that I pay for. Look for it, friends.

 

*I’m definitely being optimistic on that one–I just linked to their shit because I figured the five of you still reading hadn’t read it yet.

Rick “The Trick” Promises a Newer, Cleaner Santorum for America

Well, it looks like the Lenny Bruce of the GOP presidential pack is going to tone down his act. That’s right, Rick “The Trick” Santorum is going to offer a kinder, gentler discursive environment for his followers. Or, at the very least, an environment where he won’t comment on the relative qualities of a Romneybot presidency:

After several highly publicized remarks that left many in his party questioning whether he had crossed the line in attacking a fellow Republican, Mr. Santorum has struggled to find the balance between being a tenacious underdog and leaving himself open to criticism that he is just an embittered also-ran.

Nevertheless, he still has some harsh criticisms for his opponent; Above the News was able to obtain this unedited draft transcript of a Santorum speech attacking Mitt Romney (I’ve censored it for your protection):

“Mitt Romney can suck a d**k, folks. Yes, that’s right: Romney’s nothing but a f**king c**ks**king a**clown. First he’s over here, then he’s over there; he’s like a f**king retard. He just can’t make up his mind. ‘Duh, I like health care–it nice. I wear magic panties!’ And speaking of magic panties, what about his wife? Have you ever seen such a b****y looking c**t in all your life? I bet her p***y’s as cold as a glacier. And probably as big, too. The magic of her panties is that she can fit her oversize c**t in there.”

It only gets worse, folks, I can promise you that. But as the Times article noted, Santorum is aiming to clean up his act; thus, speeches like the above will become a thing of the past.

Though he may be Wal-Marting his speeches, Santorum still has some vague criticisms of Romneybot, as well as some reiterations of his credentials on battling health care:

“I’ve got a long, strong, consistent record on the issue of health care,” Mr. Santorum told a group of more than 100 supporters at a campaign rally in Janesville on Tuesday night. “No wobbles, no bobbles.”

It is unclear whether Santorum weebles; nevertheless, he does not fall down.

But some Santorum fans are upset that he no longer spits hot fire:

Paul Kurtz, a high school social studies teacher from Janesville who was at the rally, said he thought Mr. Santorum seemed to be repressing his trademark tenacity.

“I think Rick tempered what he could have said,” said Mr. Kurtz, 36, who was sipping the dregs of a beer as the crowd filed out of the Armory in Janesville. “I think he was really close to going there. I was waiting for the personal attack on Romney.” But Mr. Kurtz left disappointed.

Yes, Mr. Kurtz is responsible for educating the youth of America. I’ll give you a moment to cry.

What remains to be seen is whether Santorum can maintain this pretense of civility. Oh, wait–

Mississippi Loves Jesus; Jesus to Mississippi: “I Thought We Were Going to Keep it Casual!”

Yes, it would appear that 60% of America, and especially Mississippi, has really fallen head-over-heels for that rebellious black hippie who probably didn’t exist:

The latest Gallup Poll finds Mississippi is the most religious state, with Vermont and New Hampshire ranking as the least.

Overall, Gallup says, “America remains a generally religious nation, with more than two-thirds of the nation’s residents classified as very or moderately religious.”

Poor Jesus; just off a bad break-up with some whore and now a majority of Americans want to jump on his dick. Can’t a guy just talk about plucking out offensive eyeballs and not masturbating without a bunch of crazy bitches wanting a commitment? Apparently not in Mississippi:

Gallup found that 59% of Mississippians described themselves as “very religious,” followed by 57% of Utahns and 56% of Alabamans. Louisiana, Arkansas and South Carolina came in at 54%.

Ha! Suck it, Utah–those bible-thumping hillbillies in Mississippi have got you beat!

Not surprisingly, the Godless northern states in New England were among the least religious. Whether this is because of education, wealth, or possibly immigration patterns is certainly up for debate; nevertheless, we now know where Jesus will hide when Mississippi starts texting him at 2 a.m. looking for some late night “prayer.”

Ron Paul Kenobi and Romneybot Tag Team the GOP Debate, Smearing Santorum Everywhere

I’ve always found it odd that Republicans compete with one another over political rigidity; seemingly, they believe that the candidate who is most inflexible will be the best president. Because no president has ever had to compromise, ever. Also, in their competition they seem to forget that they also govern those who did not vote for them. But fuck those guys, am I right?

In any case, last night’s GOP debate was no different, save for the fact that Ron Paul Kenobi and Romneybot’s budding bromance turned into a WWE-style tag-team effort, which definitely ran wild over poor Rick “The Trick” Santorum:

It was Mr. Santorum’s first time in the cross hairs as a leading candidate, an uncomfortable position that has set back other Republican challengers. He did not recoil or wither under pressure, but he was placed on the defensive again and again, with Mr. Romney and Representative Ron Paul of Texas acting as a tag team in critiquing his record in Congress.

Their power moves were varied:

They criticized his earmarks [BIFF!], his vote for a provision that financed Planned Parenthood [POW!] and his support of the No Child Left Behind law [CRUNCH!], President George W. Bush’s signature education plan now out of favor with conservatives. By the end of the night, the scrutiny seemed to wear on Mr. Santorum, who was taunted with boos when he said he had voted for the education program even though “it was against the principles I believed in.”

Since Santorum has been surging all over Romney’s face in recent weeks, this debate was critical for Romney; thus, he wasted no opportunity to point out Santorum’s flaws. Moreover, despite the fact that most Americans are worried about finding a job, or whether they’ll be able to send their children to college (they won’t), the Republitards took this opportunity to sound out their conservative bona fides on immigration, healthcare, and Romney’s ability to balance a budget:

Mr. Romney played up his status as the only candidate on the stage who had never served in Washington, but Mr. Santorum would not let his rival take credit for balancing the budget as governor of Massachusetts, which is required by state law.

“Don’t go around bragging about something you have to do,” Mr. Santorum said. “Michael Dukakis balanced the budget for 10 years. Does that make him qualified to be president of the United States? I don’t think so.”

Personally, I don’t think a man whose claim to fame is a humorous neologism has much to stand on when criticizing other people’s credentials, but who am I to judge?

Santorum didn’t stand much of a chance against the Iron Bromance, and the night’s most hilarious moment came when Ron Paul Kenobi defended his television ads criticizing Santorum’s legitimacy:

When the moderator asked Mr. Paul why he was running a new television advertisement calling Mr. Santorum “a fake” conservative, Mr. Paul answered simply, “Because he’s a fake.”

“I’m real, I’m real, I’m real,” Mr. Santorum said, shaking his head.

Somehow I don’t think he was quoting J-Lo. Cogito ergo santorum, Rick the Trick.

Russian Expedition Reaches Vast Underground Lake; Unleashes Unspeakable Horrors from Beyond the Stars

Drilling some 12,000 feet beneath the Earth’s surface, a Russian expedition has reached a vast freshwater lake roughly the size of Lake Ontario. Confirmation that the drill had reached the lake came on Sunday, and the Russian team’s predictions that pressurized lakewater would rush forward and freeze, plugging the bore hole and preserving the pristine lake, were accurate. Valery Lukin, director of the Russian Antarctic Expedition, compared this achievement to other great moments in science history:

“For me, the discovery of this lake is comparable with the first flight into space,” he told the Interfax News Agency. “By technological complexity, by importance, by uniqueness.”

Lake Vostok (as it has been dubbed) is one of many subglacial lakes that have been sealed off for millions of years; pressure and warmth from the Earth below keep the lakes liquid. What was not know was the size of this particular lake, and what intrigued scientists was the possibility the lake might contain microbes, or perhaps ancient beings from the beyond the stars who fled their homeworlds to escape the threat of an unstoppable horror. Russian scientists declined to predict whether this heralded the coming of a prophesied Elder God. Instead, they concentrated on completing the project before the Antarctic summer ended; temperatures during the winter make it near impossible to conduct scientific work.

Fortunately, the lakewater filled the bore hole as expected, thus preserving the pristine sample for further study. Scientists noted that preservation of the sample is extremely important, as the conditions of this subglacial lake are similar to conditions found on Europa, one of Jupiter’s moons.

Breaking News: Santorum Collects in Colorado

This is breaking news, people (well, as breaking as the New York Times updates I get, anyway). Apparently Santorum just covered the Colorado caucus and emerged victorious; no doubt this will force Skynet to reconsider strategy.

Also, I’m going to bed, so feel free to do your own Goddamn research as to what this might mean for the future of the GOP.

Bonus alternate headline: Colorado Caucus is Deep into Santorum

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