Friday, March 15, 2013

Yankee Doodle Breakfastbrandy

All right, Brandon, I'll try my best to keep this going...

"On the Oscars again.... I think that McFarlane elicited chuckles at best from me. I've made it no secret that the Family Guy shtick was nearly DOA, though I have to admit that I dug it for a year back when it first surfaced, mostly because I was younger and found some of the jokes just shocking enough to milk me for cheap laughs." Note: I'm a fan of cheap laughs from time to time but when that's your thing you immediately become a one trick pony, which I suppose is better than a no trick pony."

Yeah, as much as I seem to enjoy shitting on Seth McFarlane's work, I won't hide the from the fact that, at one point in my life, I enjoyed watching Family Guy. This was after the show had already been cancelled (and not yet revived) and re-runs were airing on Adult Swim and the Vol. 1 DVDs were making the rounds. I remember hating a few episodes from the first season, but many of them had me cracking up. But like you, I was younger and found some of the jokes "just shocking enough to milk me for cheap laughs." Then I grew up and started revisiting The Simpsons, and goddamn am I much wiser and happier now.

As I've stated before, my beef with Family Guy is summed up perfectly by Eric Cartman in the "Cartoon Wars" episode (ironically, though, I no longer consider myself a fan of South Park fan either). The parodies in that episode are also pretty spot-on as well. Family Guy has a lazy formula, and as Jeff and I have discussed before, much of it is anti-comedy. I can't even muster up a meager compliment for shit like that, especially since that well appears endless to McFarlane and his writers. Agreed, though, I don't have a problem with cheap laughs or low-brow humor from time to time. I'm no foil for a Rodney Dangerfield character.

And some people love Family Guy, and/or the two other shows/copies Seth McFarlane has on Fox, and that's fine. It's not as if that South Park episode sunk Family Guy or helped people to see how poorly it's written. McFarlane writes what he wants without giving a shit about people like me. You definitely need thick-skin to be in the public eye and I'm sure he has some. And believe it or not, but I don't hate Seth McFarlane. My frustration boils down to him not being what I look for in a comedy writer/comedian.

"I guess I found his hosting gig about as good or bad as anyone else's, though I did enjoy Fey and Poehler as well as Ellen a few years back. Basically he was as good as Gervais if not a little better, which is sad considering the fact that I kinda liked that guy for a while. I didn't really find the roasting all that funny, nor do I generally find it funny."

It has to be a hard juggling act to host, lampoon, entertain, and sprinkle actual jokes within a short time slot. Oh well, fuck em all.

Agreed, Seth was in no way the worst Oscars host...not even close. The ceremony did bore me a bit and I didn't find myself laughing at all, but I can say the same of many Oscar nights of the past. To pay Seth McFarlane a compliment, he has great presence and charisma. He looks and sounds like he belongs on television. For those reasons, he was a good host. And luckily for all future hosts, James Franco officially set the bar very low. I did enjoy Ricky Gervais more, but that's because I am a fan of his. He's the kind of comedy writer I like and his stand-up amuses me. But you're no longer a Gervais fan? I really love the show Extras, which I just finished re-watching. Great stuff that I'd recommend, if you haven't seen it.

But a few days before the Oscars this year, Jeff and I talked about what kind of jokes Seth McFarlane would do. I expected him to be very similar to Gervais, and aside from the singing, he was. Getting Tina Fey and/or Amy Poehler would've been something new...although Tina has apparently ruled out hosting the Oscars, apparently. And maybe it's going to be harder and harder to recruit comedians to host the show now; most of them realize what a thankless chore it seems to be. To put it mildly, people are way too hard on the host (I have been, too, at times) but some people are blatantly dumb and vicious. And one last thing on Fey and Poehler - I loved the fake nominee joke they ran with. Again, something new and hilarious. I wonder who will host next year. Many people probably think they could do better, but if they were handed the keys to the thing, they'd probably shit their pants.

"Interesting point about the "bro humor," though I have to say that part of me is feeling kind of bad about how much I hate that general demographic. I've certainly met some good dudes trapped in bro bodies. My problem isn't necessarily with the individuals who declare themselves bros, but rather the culture itself. While it's completely unfair to go the route of bro=misogynist, homophobe, racist, douche... it's kind of hard to disregard connecting dots."

Yeah, you'd think that with all of the bro-bashing I do that maybe there was a point in my life where I was habitually picked on or pranked by a pack of bros...not the case. I, too, have met some good dudes trapped in bro bodies, but exactly...and the end of the day, it's too hard to disregard connecting the dots of bros equating to misogynist, homophobic, racist, douchebags. A bro on his own might have good odds of being a decent human being, but as we know, when they travel in packs, as they almost always's pretty ugly. The bro culture is obviously more of what we speak out against anyway. When I think of bros and the culture, it's everything I think a man should NOT be. I'm all for parties - drinking, smoking - have at it. But bro culture preaches that life is a party. It's not. So many of these people go through life lacking maturity and feels as if  they don't need any. For me, being a man is knowing when to be mature. And that's also part of not being a douchebag. And like you said, the rampant misogyny, homophobia, and racism is sickening and disgraceful; bro culture also preaches zero empathy, something I think all people (not just men) should have.

"I have NO problem blaming Tosh however, simply because his brand of comedy begs for such declarations. The funny thing is, he's probably not a fan of the culture himself but has no problem cashing in on it. It's despicable for sure, but there's no denying it's driven by profit, and the host himself (as well as his hack writers) only goes this route because he's too stupid or lazy to do otherwise. It's affected our culture, I'd be in denial to suggest that our icons aren't molding our youth. They always have, they always will."

Yeah, again, I'm slightly curious about what goes on inside Tosh's head. How much of this persona is him and how much of it is just an act to keep people interested in him. You're right, though, there is no denying it's driven by profit...and kudos for calling out his writers as well. McFarlane's writers are also to blame, concerning his body of work.

I read an interview with Anthony Jeselnik on the AV Club website recently, and did so with the feeling that Jeselnik was similar to really, for me, this was an attempt to gain more insight on something/someone that I probably don't like. While I'm not a Jeselnik fan, I did find some of what he said to be interesting.

When I wrote recently about Comedy Central handing out shows left and right to stand-ups, I almost wrote that they were handing them out to nobodies. Luckily I cut that part out, because I realized shortly after that that the reason why I've never heard of these people because I don't spend time at comedy clubs. It's really not fair for me refer to nobodies, because hell, at one point, Jerry Seinfeld was a nobody. Anyway, just wanted to mention that.

 Back to Jeselnik...who was recently given his own show on Comedy Central. Again, I didn't know much about the guy, but sort of knew that he was a bit of an insult comic with a dark sense of humor. Turns out, yes, his raise began with the Comedy Central Roast of Donald Trump. I'm sure if I watched it, I would laugh because of my hatred for Trump. Everyone should take shots at that guy, in my mind; he's a real piece of shit. Anyway, I mostly avoid those Roasts, and again, I'm starting to see Comedy Central as a bro-friendly channel. You, Jeff, John, and I are pretty old school guys, so I've seen a few of the Dean Martin Roasts. The tone is noticeably different from what is done today. And back then, they would roast someone with dignity and a respectable career - Jimmy Stewart, Bob Hope, Lucille Ball, etc. Today they roast people like Trump, Larry the Cable Guy, and David Hasselhoff. And the goal in all of it is to be as mean as possible.

I watched David Steinberg interview Don Rickles recently for Showtime's Inside Comedy, and in the interview, Rickles admits that while his act consists of insulting anyone and everyone, he's never mean-spirited. And I get it, comedians today don't want to be Don Rickles, they want to have their own identity...but you do get the sense that many  young comedians today are popular because of how offensive and mean they are. I find that interesting, and while I do bring it up, I also recognize that I am guilty of liking some of these meaner comics. As noted, I like Gervais, though there's a hell of a difference between him and someone like Jeff Ross. I mean, really, Robert Downey Jr. has some pretty thin-skin.

Anyway, I'm also a big fan of the Onion and by a country mile, they had the most offensive joke out all of the ones said/written on Oscar night. We haven't really discussed that joke, but I'll go on record and say that I don't approve. I wasn't outraged, though, because I did understand what they were trying to do. If you missed the "joke," you can probably find it easily by googling "Onion Oscars." They have their moments displaying the shock humor we both hate, but there are a handful of other Onion headlines and articles that brilliantly done and make me laugh. There's a great one about a death row inmate reading the entire Harry Potter series. They absolutely needed to apologize for the Oscar joke that got them in hot water, though, and  they we can all move on, right??

"That being said, I find Ansari almost worse, if only because he deserves to perform to crickets. He's painfully unfunny to me."


No...if you don't like Aziz, that's fine. I like him on Parks and Recreation, and I like his sense of humor. The guy has a joke about having an ex-roommate who thought he was possessed by Scar from the LION KING. He later references the Iceland team from D2: THE MIGHTY DUCKS in that joke (to give some of it away). He also has jokes on the TNT shows no one watches or knows like Leverage and Las Vegas. That's how easy it is to win me over, apparently. Haha. I also like Human Giant (which maybe you hate) and I like the other two guys in that sketch comedy trio - Paul Scheer and Rob Huebel. Huebel does a good job of portraying douchey bro-esque characters in things, I LOVE YOU MAN, for example. Anyway, this all probably sounds like a sales pitch you could give a shit less about. Ha, my bad. And so we don't like all of the same things. That's cool.

"I don't necessarily hold Affleck's current output in such high regard ... but I'm far from considering him a hack."

Yeah, I understand being influenced by the groupthink. Again, I mostly stay away from that within the world of critics. I'm going to have a hell of a time answering the critic questions in your quiz. But in certain ways, reading critics has beneficial results. I don't ignore it because I think I'm above that shit or anything. You, Jeff, and John are aware of so much more than I am when it comes to film. I have plenty of admiration for the three of you. And yeah, I don't mean to kiss Ben Affleck's ass too much. His movies are good and everything, but I haven't seen anything that I truly love. Given who he is and what he's done in the past, the work he's done is a bit surprising (in a good way). Agreed, he's nowhere near the most talented directors in the business (he's too safe/conventional for that kind of thing) but he can/should definitely be labeled as a good director.

"I promise that your Curtiz experiences will leave you with a smile on your face. I'd recommend you go the MILDRED PIERCE, ROBIN HOOD, ANGELS WITH DIRTY FACES... aka the familiar route first."

I have gone the familiar route a bit already. I've seen ROBIN HOOD and ANGELS WITH DIRTY FACES, though I should revisit ROBIN HOOD again soon; haven't watched the whole thing since I was a kid. One of the only cool things about my dad is that that's one of his favorite films and he watched it with us a ton when we were younger. I have not seen MILDRED PIERCE yet but I will see it soon. I also added CAPTAIN BLOOD, THE SEA HAWK, and DODGE CITY to my Netflix queue. I think Jeff owns the Curtiz film I referenced in the title of this post, so I'll watch that as well. But I definitely plan on becoming more familiar with his work. Thanks.

"I feel weird saying this but Scorsese can be sloppy; or rather he can work with  some sloppy scripts. I know a lot of people really fall off once the rat appears in THE DEPARTED..."

Right, it's weird to say, but fair. When Jeff and I came over to visit last weekend, you started talking to us about the bullshit behind "auteur theory" and you were starting to realize that no director is/was flawless. Again, this is more than fair and I'm sure many of these auteurs wouldn't consider themselves infallible. It goes back to that quote Jeff paraphrased for us on his blog about the existence of the perfect film. We can use the words "essential" and "masterpiece," and because most of this is subjective, we aren't wrong in saying such things. Marty has had one hell of a career and we're obviously both very much interested in what he'll do next, but he absolutely has worked with some sloppy scripts over the past decade. And more than likely, he approved every word in those scripts. Do I plan to hold that against him? Nope.

On AVATAR: "In the end I think it's one of the hardest films to defend if you are a fan because the ammo is so endless on the other end, but I can't really deny my great first experience, it would be unfair."

This might close the book on our AVATAR discussion...unless we both watch it again and delve into the specifics. Agreed, it is a hard film to defend. I think as soon as the movie ended, the nice experience I had watching it left me as soon as I discarded my 3D glasses. It wasn't a film that sat with me at all afterwards.

"Let me be clear, I think AMOUR might just be my favorite Haneke film, a compliment that probably seems flippant. I guess I don't mind his cruelty as much, as I've said too many times before, I'm not a fan of his this is gonna hurt me more than it hurts you daddy moments. AMOUR is essentially devoid of these, though the message seems to be "we will all be humiliated in death." It's a really good film though, undeniably powerful from moment to moment."

Audience participation is pretty important with regard to Haneke's work. Whether you like him or not, his films will elicit emotion in you. It's one of the traits of a good film/director. Dissimilar to Ben Affleck, here is a guy who'll take plenty of risks in his films. Some of those risks are shitty - I refer to BENNY'S VIDEO, though I have not seen it. I'm basing that on what you've brought to my attention about it. So yeah, fuck that.

But the Haneke films I have seen - FUNNY GAMES, CACHE, THE WHITE RIBBON, and now AMOUR were written and shot with plenty of intelligence and skill, in my opinion. I completely understand not being fan of his "this is gonna hurt me more than hurts you" moments. From the little I know about him, I wouldn't make the argument that his intentions are always honest or clear.

But John has a nice write-up on AMOUR stating that Haneke is too clear at the end of the film. My memory sucks, because I don't even remember what happens after Georges kills his wife. I do remember feeling a bit distracted toward the end of the film, though. And that's probably why the pillow scene didn't really get a big rise out of me. And again, if you're at all familiar with Haneke, you can't say it's much of a surprise. He's gonna have this poor old woman smothered and he'll have her fight back and resist it. I noted Emmanuelle Riva's body movement during that scene and there's nothing peaceful or lovely about her passing. And that's why I'm not sure that I'd argue that Haneke calls suffocating your sickly significant other "love." It is more of a homicide than an assisted suicide...and the scene is as violent as it should be (I don't mean to say that in an "I'm a twisted person" kind of way, I hope that's clear).

But I'll also be honest in admitting that I don't know too much about Haneke either. I know you're not calling me this at all, but in no way am I a loyalist. I'm a coward - I only see the films of his that won't piss me off. FUNNY GAMES could've pissed me off easily, and it did a little, but I feel the shock tactics in it are transparent. Not to the point of ruining the film, though, or to the point of saying anyone who hates this film is an idiot. I'm definitely not a Haneke snob...and I probably wouldn't want to meet one. This also isn't to suggest Jeff is one of those. Although, I could call him one right here...there's no chance he'll read all of this....that damn snob. Now that I think of it, there's a chance no one reads this entire thing. Sorry for making it so long. "Is anyone even listening to me?".....

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