Thursday, September 30, 2010

Alan Greenspan: I Saw Black Jesus' BMW

Note: we, the good people of Et tu, Mr. Destructo?, like to broaden our coverage of the national discourse by occasionally turning to voices and viewpoints not represented by our regular contributors. To address a luxury automobile of potentially divine provenance, we turn to former Federal Reserve Chairman Alan Greenspan, who previously wrote about his sexual adventures with Ayn Rand, explained our Ten Favorite Albums of the Decade and offered Birther Queen Orly Taitz asylum in his bedroom.


I Will Holy Ghostride This Whip
by ALAN GREENSPAN

The other day, I'm rolling through a neighborhood I don't normally visit, keeping the car kinda slow, worrying about pre-teens ripping out of driveways on motorized scooters, piece-of-shit teenagers throwing crap into the road and trying to fuck up my ride, idiot toddlers crabwalking into traffic, the usual bullshit.

I'm a good driver. I roll like fucking velvet. I'm cautious on narrow residential streets, especially when there are bigass trucks blocking half of them and making it even more likely than I'm gonna pancake someone's HONORS STUDENT AT PICKNOSE ELEMENTARY. I'm cautious, but I'm sexy. I'm playing Otis Redding at the time.

Just as I'm keeping my fingers on the wheel all clit-slippery supple and coasting past another car parked way off the curb, I spot something. It's this:


Like, holy shit. HOLY SHIT. What the fuck is that? I dunno, so I turn to my co-pilot, Jesus, and I'm like, "Yo, is that your car, Man, Son of Man?" and he's all, "Fuck no!"

Wednesday, September 29, 2010

Frank Gaffney Returns on an Arabian Horse Made of Bullshit

Frank J. Gaffney, friend of the site and the president of the Center for Security Policy, is in the news again. You might remember his "center" as being the "Center of Abstracted Flaming" or the "Center for Torch-Bearing Yahoos." Frank Gaffney is ready to defend America from Islam with aggressive imagineering and bleak forebodings, like a fatal Disney ride set to a Peter Murphy record.

His credentials allowed him to testify in court that the Islamic Center of Murfreesboro, Tennessee would represent a beachhead of Islamicism in the heartland of America, beating the drums of a tidal wave of Sharia against the cradle of our Christian hearths like a wolf in a velvet glove. Here's the fun stuff (emphasis mine):

Wednesday, September 22, 2010

NFL Week One Thoughts: The Tardy, Musical and Doomed

(Continued from last week's delayed Super Bowl retrospective and Drew Brees loathing.)

Of course, the 2010 NFL season would have to open with Drew Brees facing off against Brett Favre, which offered viewers a coinflip of morally repellent shitbags. Rooting for Brees over Favre felt like choosing polio to defeat pellagra.

Just five years ago, I wouldn't have breathed a negative word about Favre as a person — as a quarterback, plenty, namely "GUNSLINGS" — but four years of demanding that teams openly woo him away from retirement, reneging on his own promises and throwing fans in multiple cities under a bus, and I can't think of anything nice to say about him.

I understand that all sports fans to a certain extent are only rooting for laundry, but Favre's decade and a half in Green Bay, plus the citizens' ownership of the team and thus greater example of the democratizing of fandom, felt like there was a legitimate relationship there. Seeing him discard all that adulation and patience without anything but the most cursory of Thank Yous and with open enthusiasm for playing for a direct rival eroded all sympathy for him. He's an incredible narcissist whose only excuse might be that he never developed beyond the emotional maturity of a child. As one friend described him, "Ladies and Gentlemen, the anthropomorphized penis, Brett Favre."

Friday, September 17, 2010

Fuck Drew Brees: Leftover Thoughts from the Super Bowl

For years I coped with the inescapable fact that, deep down, I liked Peyton Manning yet enjoyed watching him lose. His anger and frustration made me cheer during the game, but during commercials, as soon as he yelled "CUT THAT MEAT," I thought the guy was fun. And I felt guilty. Bad. Why did Peyton Manning have to be likable?

He's incredibly gifted, intensely dedicated to improving himself and fanatically devoted to the game. I couldn't mock that, because that's what I'd like from any player who played for a team I supported. The advantages he enjoyed certainly weren't his fault. He didn't build the dome he played in and give himself the comfort of a climate-controlled environment that favored passing or the astroturf that sped up the game and aided his downfield attack. He didn't draft the players surrounding him or create his unbelievable luck in having guaranteed or potential Hall of Fame wide receivers and tight ends to hit in the slot and with deep balls. (The preceding will be the gayest sentence in this piece.)

Friday, September 10, 2010

The Emmys Are for Idiots, Part II: Outstanding Drama Series and Actor, Lead Actor/Actress in a Comedy

Continued from Part I.

It might not seem like it when watching them, but the Primetime Emmy Awards are far from the most meaningless in Hollywood. For that distinction, you can choose from any number of more qualified candidates.

Of the major ones, the Grammys easily come to mind, for being a joke that gave Jethro Tull a "Best Metal Album" award over Metallica, for giving Pink Floyd no awards until 1995 and for being so worthless that Homer Simpson's bellhop once threw one off a balcony before an angry bystander hurled it back at him and knocked Homer out. The Oscars deserve a whole column on their own, so it's best to skip them here. It's an open secret that votes are for sale at the Golden Globes. And the Tonys — nobody cares about them.

Then you have the awards obviously created to give awards to people and product that would never win any in a mainstream competition. The Cable Ace Awards were ginned up back before most cable channels even made anything. The Teen Choice Awards have an obvious institutional bias toward content so shitty that teenagers will like it. Finally, you have awards that were created not to give recognition to creative endeavors that couldn't earn distinction on their own but to further brand the award-givers themselves: the ESPYs or any MTV award for anything.

Think of all the children in this world who one day hope to grow up and win an award from the basic-cable tastemakers of the lowest-common denominator, having the shiny thing placed in their hands by MTV VJ Sway wearing a diaper on his head — or by someone with one eye that wanders off like a GUNS/BUTTER demand curve and an IMDB "Memorable Quotes" section that has four different entries, all of them "BOOYA!" spelled in different ways. Okay, you can't, because there aren't any, but it's important that we tried.

So, really, the Emmys aren't that bad, which is why its interesting how they feel so consistently idiotic. They're by no means the dumbest awards, but I always read the results with the expectation that they're going to fuck everything up. As I said last week at SomethingAwful, largely the fuckup is institutional. The Academy of Television Arts and Sciences (hereafter, "the ATAS," the people who award the Emmys) tends to back itself into a corner with nominees, where any person or show that garners multiple nods eventually almost has to win an award or else risk making the ATAS look foolish for suggesting their excellence so many times.

The Emmys Are for Idiots, Part III: Oustanding Actress in a Drama, Outstanding Comedy Series & Epilogue

Continued from Part II.

Outstanding Lead Actress in a Drama Series
Pointing out Emmy fuckups shouldn't get easier, but it does. And for some reason, it gets a lot easier with women drama nominees. Maybe the ATAS is just filled with men who make decisions based on dick response, because in some cases it can't be because of any interest in art. Take Mariska Hargitay, who becomes covered with more liquid eyeliner and foundation every season but who also is always supposed to be one sleepless hour away from "losing it" on this next case. There isn't a man in America who would complain about his wife's sleepiness if she managed to tumble out of bed as "exhausted" and fuck-me coiffed.

Maybe this explains the excuses made to get Hargitay's Detective Benson into undercover hooker garb, or a scene during this last season where she, like, totally legally got evidence out of a guy by recognizing that he was a submissive S&M practitioner and ordering him to worship her. Even as a nearly 20-year enthusiast for Law & Order shows, Hargitay hasn't acted a real moment relative to her role for over half a decade. She's makeup, cheap beats and once-a-year Emmy moments written specifically to be Emmy moments. Still, all that Lancôme artifice and over-written crap has to be better than being January Jones, who in interview after interview and in her Emmy talks revealed that, while the willowy blonde nothingness of Betty Draper might be a great character, she might also not be an act.

Damages is a show that continues to elude me, so I can't comment on it. That said, from the ads it appears that Glenn Close plays a brittle hardass, and if there's any role she's owned for 20 years now, it's that one. Despite reviewers' enthusiasm, The Good Wife is more the way it looks on paper, but Julianna Margulies pretty good in it as Nurse Hathaway older and married to someone who's not Doug Ross and a lawyer and victim of adultery, Alicia Florrick. She gets angry about cases and has tension with male counterparts and lives in a supposedly empowering fantasy world of wealthy-person setbacks without real consequence, artificial stakes and constant rescue. Full credit to her, though, for never breaking character, screaming, "BUG!" and trying to smash Christine Baranski with a rolled-up magazine.

Wednesday, September 8, 2010

Criterion Recollection: 9/08/10

Note: We, the good people of Et tu, Mr. Destructo? are proud to present Criterion Recollection, an analysis of the popular Criterion Collection of historic and unique achievements in film. Your guide is Mark Brendle, a former media critic for BarnesandNoble.com and a short-fiction writer. Brendle lives in the Pacific Northwest in a small post-recycled yurt adjacent to America's largest family-owned retail video and book store, Art Trough. When not writing or staring purposefully at culture, Brendle works as a fair-trade coffee beanist. You can follow him on Twitter.


Gimme Sex, Drugs, Rock & Roll and Shelter: Spine #99, Gimme Shelter (1970)
by MARK BRENDLE

Gimme Shelter frequently carries the label "the Anti-Woodstock." Many viewers and critics claim it documents the exact moment that the peaceful, innocent 1960s came to an end. Those simplistic interpretations of a complex documentary miss the point entirely. What Gimme Shelter accomplishes isn't the depiction of a turning point at all. Rather, it reveals the hidden underside of the entire hippie movement and shows that beneath the love-all, carefree surface, there was always an extreme violent tension. The dynamics at work at the Rolling Stones' Altamont concert are so complicated that multiple viewings of this movie are crucial in order to begin to sort out the apparent chaos and understand exactly what was going on.

Gimme Shelter is the cinema verité (or direct cinema, if you want to nitpick) rock documentary extraordinaire by the famous Maysles brothers, Albert and David, along with collaborator Charlotte Zwerin, about the Rolling Stones' 1969 US tour and its disastrous culmination in the poorly planned free concert at the Altamont Speedway in northern California that led to several deaths, the most remarkable of which was the stabbing of an (armed) African-American by a member of the Hells Angels.

The film's structure consists of three main parts: live footage of the Rolling Stones' performances during the tour, documentary footage of the process and happenings of the concert, and finally the most interesting piece, footage of the Rolling Stones watching the other two parts of the film in an editing bay, with their initial reactions to the material. This meta-layer of the documentary provides a whole different tone to the film than if it were omitted. However, like all aspects of direct cinema, it provides at best only a partial glimpse into reality.

It's no news that observing something changes it, but this simple fact renders the entire idea of direct cinema and documentary filmmaking in general a kind of imaginary concept. Sticking a camera in someone's face is a surefire way to modify their behavior. If the directors' goal is to capture truth on film, he works against his own interests the minute he pulls out a camera. But what's really important to understand is that people are always acting as if a camera is rolling. Jacques Lacan's concept of the Other (with a big "O") is the arbitrary, third-party gaze of the social-symbolic system. It is for this abstract entity that people "perform" their daily lives. So documentary film isn't just one step removed from reality, it's two: it's people pretending to be a certain way, different from the way they normally pretend to be.

Friday, September 3, 2010

SomethingAwful: The Emmys Are for Idiots, Part I

Unless you're the low man on the totem pole at William Morris or Creative Artists Agency and hoping a darkhorse-candidate client is about to walk away with the gold, you probably have no business caring at all about the Emmys. (Well, maybe you design atrocious-looking dresses.) They're historically hidebound, arbitrary and mostly gutless. So, if you're a sophisticated person with intelligence and taste, you've probably been having pointless, impassioned and highly detailed internet arguments about them for the last week anyway.

The Emmys are for idiots, and because I love television and so easily get sucked into arbitrary and pointless evaluative contests, they're just the thing for me. Click below, on the last remaining BORT license plate in stock, to find out why the history of the Emmys has me thinking about torture, Night Court, edelweiss and a centuries-old pandemic of Helen Hunt. Then check back next week for Part II, in which I explain why the 2010 awards were just as bad as every other year.


Continued in Part II.

Thursday, September 2, 2010

Mother Always Said to Say Thank You

The most recent "White America's Inconvenience Tantrum" piece yielded a lot of new readers and positive attention from various outlets, and it seems fitting to stop to say thank you. I don't know anything about the readers personally, but I do know that the websites linking to us were, in general, more intelligent and mature and far less apt to make casual jokes about genitals. Luckily, all of them happen to be quite good, so I don't feel the slightest shame in encouraging all of you to return the favor and check them out:

The Poor Man Institute
This site sort of unsettles me, since the images at the top are all recognizable from message boards, and because of that I associate them with a couple of people I know. Obviously, the people in charge over there aren't people I know — although they seem like nice people anyway. Especially curv3ball, the only guy who's doing the linking. Actually, you know what?—screw the rest of them; I have no way of knowing if they're cool at all. Anyway, between the images and the out-of-the-blue good words, I still have to wonder what their game is. (There's not really an "about" section.) Are they trying to make me think that they're people I know? Do they like hockey and cosplay? Is that what the pictures mean?