Friday, April 20, 2012

A Real Man Makes His Own Luck

 - Billy Zane, Titanic

First of all, I really enjoyed reading your Titanic stories, Adrienne and Brandon. Unlike the both of you, I did not see Titanic when it hit theaters back in '97; I was 10/11 years old at the time, so I only went to the movies when my parents took me. I guess they were unfazed by the craze (those hipsters), or they went without taking me, Jeff, and our older brother, Brent along. Perhaps the smart thing to do, given all of Titanic's hardcore nudity.

I think my first viewing of the film came at the hands of that double VHS box set, when DVDs were still young. I wanna say that I've never watched all 194 minutes in one sitting, instead opting to watch it in bits and pieces. And again, because I wasn't quite a teenager yet, the part of the film I was most interested in was Kate Winslet's nude modeling scene. I don't feel embarrassed in admitting that, because I know it's true of most of the males my age. This was also a time when Leonard DiCaprio was cool to hate. It's funny to think back on that now, considering he's the best actor of his generation.

America's fascination with the actual Titanic is interesting, to say the least. I remember first hearing the story in third grade, and for a short time, I was even fascinated by this story of an "unsinkable ship" that sank. So I'm sure the hubris of man has a lot to do with the story's appeal. Not to mention all of the mistakes and coincidences that needed to happen for that ship to rest at the bottom of the ocean.

Like Brandon I wasn't a fan of the film when I was younger because it wasn't cool to like it; it was The Notebook before there was The Notebook. Now that's it back in the theaters, in 3D of all things, I haven't felt the need to revisit it. I'm sure it's a solid film, but if I do re-watch it to find out what I really think, it'll probably be years down the road; I've got other movies that I want to watch and re-watch first. Also, while I do think it's cool to bring back movies to the theater, bringing Titanic back (in 3D) absolutely screams, "we love your money."

Anyway, I can't imagine being on the Titanic while it was sinking. I can't imagine being in the lifeboat knowing that everyone on the ship would drown or freeze to death. This is my segue back to our horror discussion, by the way. I guess I'm also not a huge fan of disaster films. Watching people die under shitty circumstances really gets to me. Jason says that he likes to put himself in the shoes of these characters; I do too, but I don't seem to approach those situations with any sort of optimism. The only foolproof way to survive the various situations in these films is to be in the leading role.

I don't think you need to walk away from every movie "changed," or with a new mindset. Sometimes we just need/want to be entertained. I realize most people seek entertainment from horror films, first and foremost...but I never seem to get entertainment from them. Again, I feel Jason's roller coaster comparison is extremely accurate. I can count the number of roller coasters I've been on in my lifetime with one hand; I've never enjoyed them, and I've never enjoyed horror films. If I want a rush, I'll play hide and seek in the dark. No downhill bike rides for me.

In other topics of recent conversation, I do think the usage of the word "hipster" has become too liberal nowadays. Great points from everyone. Similarly to what Brandon wrote about, seems like I hear someone being called a hipster almost every other day. While the word has been around as long as jazz, it has probably never been this widely used. A lot of that has to do with the age we live in, where we love to label things and people. Of course, young people will always conform to trends. Also, social media shines a light on everything.

Having said all that, I would not say John uses the word too liberally. Okay, no one is saying that, but the point is that I agree with the idea that many people (who aren't named John Owen) use the word as a pejorative to denigrate that which they find unusual or different or bearded. On a similar note (if you're still following me), I think people will often call something "pretentious" as a way to lazily criticize it.

Haha, Brandon, if I were to twist my nipples while watching Garden State, wouldn't that make me emo? Time to break out my old Dashboard Confessional CDs. Also, I always use "haha" when I think something is actually funny. I never use LOL (shit!), and if I'm ever bitter about something, odds are, I won't grant you a "haha."

John, I love your points about "nerd" culture being on the rise. As usual, style seems to be one of the driving factors. Nowadays NBA players wear Woody Allen/Jeff Howard glasses and dress in bow-ties and dress shirts. It's become fashionable to look nerdy, so of course there's going to be plenty of posers out there. Jeff brought to my attention a while back that many non-poser nerds are happy with the accurate nerd portrayal of Ben Wyatt (played by Adam Scott) on NBC's Parks and Recreation. I know for me, he's the kind of character that I can appreciate. Fuck The Big Bang Theory.

Lastly, it's time for some Girls talk. I told Ben that I wouldn't be watching HBO's Girls because I hated Tiny Furniture so much. I meant to hold on to that hate, but yesterday I gave in and watched the pilot. My reason: I began to read all of the criticisms that were being leveled at it. One of the main criticisms is the lack of diversity on the show. Fair enough; Girls does feature an all white cast. In fact, the only black character on the show is a homeless person (yeesh). Honestly though, I can understand where both sides are coming from here. The show is called Girls (not White Girls) and it takes place in racially diverse New York City. (I was thinking earlier today that a show like Girls with an all-black cast would be probably be a much better show.) Anyway, having said all that, I absolutely believe Lena Dunham when she says that it is an innocent mistake.

I don't dislike Lena Dunham; I wish the best for her...especially now, given the number of people who want to see her fail. I mean, I can understand where the film snobs are coming from with the Tiny Furniture Criterion Collection controversy. But that's mainly due to the fact that I didn't find Dunham's film to be all that interesting.

Another criticism of Girls is that the self-entitled characters aren't very interesting to watch. I actually don't agree with this point as much as I thought I would. This was my main criticism of Tiny Furniture. There was nothing redeemable about the characters; Dunham's character made a string of dumb decisions and I came away from the film with nothing. The knowledge that girls want to hook up with douchebags is something I learned back in middle school. Anyway, surprisingly, I feel that the show Girls does actually offer something and the relationships between the characters are more interesting and are more fully developed. This is positive because it tells me that Dunham is growing as a writer, director. Again, I'm rooting for her.

BUT...I still maintain that it's tough to get behind everything she writes. She's a pretty good comedy writer; I like her tone. But again, there's still too much self-entitlement here. New York City is one of the best cities in the world and it's difficult to garner any sort of sympathy for someone who gets to live in Manhattan for free. Another point is that Dunham's character, Hannah, is writing a memoir. If a 24-year-old gave me his/her memoir, I would probably throw it in the trash. And sure, this could be a commentary on the fact that everyone among the Facebook generation seems to think he or she leads an interesting life. But even if that's the case, Dunham will only end up preaching to the choir. That type of moron only watches Jersey Shore, and won't ever tune into Girls on a weekly basis.

The third criticism of the show is's also the stupidest criticism. I guess if you're a lazy critic, you'll focus on that. Although, I will say that I think much of the hate for Lena Dunham probably comes from the fact that she's Laurie Simmons daughter. I imagine certain people believe Dunham's success has always been handed to her. And yes, there's definitely some sexism behind all the hate, and it's unfortunate. But since I won't be able to solve the problem of sexism in this post, I'm gonna move on. I didn't hate the show. I'm not sure if I'll keep watching, but I am glad to see that Dunham has improved as a writer/director.

How's that, Ben?

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