Tuesday, July 25, 2017

Wonder Woman co-opted

Linda Ford writing on Feminism being co-opted on Counterpunch.com:

She begins:

I am a retired history professor and historian of women, a socialist, and a radical feminist.  I know what feminism is, and I know it’s being co-opted.  What is feminism?  How is it defined?  Feminism is the belief in equality for women.  But feminism is being used now for unrelated, or even opposite causes, like war, transgender bathrooms, anti-Russia hysteria and political opportunism.

And, on the subject of Wonder Woman:

In a way, Wonder Woman also represents the contradictions of radical, egalitarian feminism.  Her creator, William Moulton Marston, wanted to show female superiority, and so placed her origins in all-female Amazon society.  I’ve—as a feminist—always loved the idea of Amazon society, whether as historical reality (there is evidence) or Greek and Roman myth.  In both cases, Amazon society is a women-run matriarchy, led by strong, capable women warriors, warriors who did go to war for more than self-defense, although they apparently were always up against stronger armies.  Marston’s superior Amazon society was also, although featuring women warriors, a peace-loving society. 
Hence Wonder Woman was tasked to bring her superpowers to the service of a peaceful world:  she would save the world from violence and evil.  She was also a female superhero, personifying Anthony and Paul’s feminism whose “ideal is strength,” as did the Amazons of history and myth.

So now we have Gal Gadot’s Wonder Woman, the movie, and again, feminism is co-opted, this time in the service of what Glen Ford of black agenda report calls the War Party.  The New York Times’ review of “Wonder Woman” said the movie highlights Wonder Woman’s “sacred duty to bring peace to the world,” although admitting it took a lot of killing to do it.  There is, therefore, this Orwellian “war is peace” aspect to the film.  The Wonder Woman I knew and loved was never this bloodthirsty, seeming to revel in the violence and the fight.  She was always the strong character—female superhero!—she did not, as goddess and superhero, have an equal and/or romantic relationship with Captain Steve Trevor, always portrayed as weak and in need of rescue.  I also had a problem with the actress Gal Gadot as Wonder Woman, a woman, in real life, very much in the service of Israeli aggressive military might, even when that might was turned against the children of Gaza in 2014.  Wonder Woman here, as Jonathan Cook recently wrote in an excellent piece on Mondoweiss, is disguised as someone practicing “humanitarian intervention,” à la neo-liberal imperialists like Hillary Clinton.  Wonder Woman, in this movie, is promoting aggressive western military domination.  Amazonian feminism, women warriors ruling their own world, or a superhero woman saving the world without bringing more violence to it, is co-opted.

Monday, July 24, 2017

14-year-old Balloon Boy is now pro-Trump

Poor Balloon Boy. Poor, sweet innocent little Balloon Boy. He's now 14 and pro-Trump, although you can't tell the depth of his political commitment. He probably feels some guilt over sending both his parents to jail. His idiot father still denies it was a hoax--he says he only pled guilty so his wife wouldn't be deported.

As you may recall, eight years ago, Richard Heene "accidentally" released a large, homemade helium balloon, then called 911 because they thought his six-year-old son, Falcon, might be in it.

Police and National Guard helicopters chased the balloon for a couple of hours. It was covered live on TV. The thing finally landed, but there was no Balloon Boy. Horrified police though he might have fallen out.

But, no, thank God---the little fellow was hiding in the attic the whole time.

The family appeared on TV a few times. Falcon threw up into a waste basket during one interview. The day before, his parents repeated a question to him that Wolf Blitzer asked. Why didn't he come out of the attic when he heard people looking for him?

"You guys said we did it for a show," Falcon said.

His father was trying to get a reality show about his storm chasing and amateur science crap. He made the fatal error of entering into a criminal conspiracy with a kindergartener.

Balloon Boy's father got 90 days in jail and his mother 20 days.

The family had already appeared on the show Wife Swap. One clip showed his father either in an incoherent rage or thinking he was being terribly funny or both:


My God, he's an idiot.

So, anyway, Balloon Boy and his brothers have some sort of heavy metal band now called "The Heene Boyz". Here's their tune about the Balloon Boy hoax:


And here (despite their mother being an immigrant with a criminal record) is their pro-Trump song:


Boy Missing, aka Secuestro, 2016

I won't give anything away, but a Spanish kid is found by a passing motorist staggering down a country road with blood on his face. The cops investigate. He's deaf. His mother, a prominent lawyer, translates sign language for the police. The kid says he was kidnapped as he went to enter his big exclusive private school. He describes the guy who did it and identifies him from a photo.

The mother is alarmed that police can't arrest the guy. She thinks for pretty good reason that he's a danger to her son, so she goes to her former boyfriend who also happens to be the kid's father and pays him to do something about it. But things go from bad to worse for a variety of reasons.

Other than the cops and the maid who gets hit over the head (that's a teaser, not a spoiler) the guy involved with the dog fighting ring was the most innocent one in the movie.

Generally, when there's a child involved, you know nothing's going to happen to him, but with the Spaniards, who knows.

Thought the ending was a bit much. But what do I know.

Actress playing the mother seemed a little old. I wondered how they filmed the dog fighting scene. 

It surprised me was how popular Chryslers are in Spain. It was a Citroen that broke down at a crucial moment. Public restrooms in Spain provide much more privacy than ours and their judicial system is different.

Available for instant viewing on Netflix.

Saturday, July 22, 2017

Camp Hollywood (2004)

When I see movies or news reports about people going to Hollywood hoping to make it in the movie industry, I'm always amazed if any succeed to any degree. There was a thing on some TV news magazine following a woman and her son she was trying to get into the movies. It ended with the kid on the set of either a Village of the Damned remake or something that may as well have been a Village of the Damned remake. The boy's estranged father put an end to it. He disapproved of his child being rich and famous and got a judge to order than he remain poor and unemployed.

Camp Hollywood is a documentary made by Canadian comedian Steve Markle about the Highland Gardens Hotel, a run down hotel that looks more like what you'd think of as a motel, where actors go as they wait for success. Canadians tend to flock there.

There's a Canadian alcoholic former high school drama teacher. He came to Hollywood after being fired for mooning his class. There's a Canadian former model, a Canadian TV star who wants to be an American TV star. The filmmaker himself is trying to become an American comedian. There are also a few successful actors including a couple who've lived there for 25 years, living wisely within their means among the young people.

Everyone there is good-looking. One Canadian guy seemed cartoonishly good-looking. He was good-looking in a way that didn't seem quite right somehow. Most are unemployed. But, amazingly, a few make it. They get hired for TV series.

When you're trying to be an actor, you have to be free to go to auditions and to perform the occasional gig. This means you can't do anything else. If you work, it has to be at a bad job you can freely take time off from. You can't go to college. So the actors mostly hang around slowly going broke.

There's a director called Monty who shows up with a cast and one-man crew filming a silent film at the hotel without permission. He's incredibly obnoxious. The cast and crew were working for free.

"It's amazing what actors will put up with to add a credit to their resume," Markle says.

"Go fuck yourself," the DP says as he walks off with his camera.

They had to stop filming. It started raining and the desk clerk came out and told them to stop because the hotel could be liable if someone slipped and fell.

Made me wonder about workman's comp for cast and crew who work on movies for free. I looked it up. It turns out that organizations commonly provide workman's comp for volunteers and it's not expensive.

I looked up the obnoxious director on line. His name is Alex Monty Canawati. He got money to finish his movie called Return to Babylon. The estimated budget was $2 million. Jennifer Tilly and Tippi Hedren appear in it. They publicized it with rumors that the movie was haunted the ghosts of silent movie stars.

Camp Hollywood is available on Fandor.

Friday, July 21, 2017

Small town violence

There was Bad Day at Black Rock, of course, pretty much a wide screen Technicolor film noir set in a tiny Nevada town. Seem like small towns have an untapped action movie potential. They often have higher murder rates than cities. In cities, you're more apt to be killed by someone who is robbing or raping you, or you might be murdered at random. In small towns, you're more likely to killed by someone you know who thinks you've insulted them in some way.

I worked with a couple of small town dwellers. One had been a witness in a murder case--one of his friends killed a man because he took a completely innocent snapshot of his sister. He and his stepfather are still in prison. The other knew an alcoholic 19-year-old who tried to murder his mother's boyfriend for being his mother's boyfriend. The man suffered a serious head injury and brain damage, but survived.

They tend to have more guns in small towns, everyone knows each other to some degree. A lot of towns have the same number of people as fairly typical high school----a high school where everyone has a couple of guns and will kill you if you offend them in any way. Might be able to remake a samurai movie in that setting.

The was the story of Ken McElroy who terrorized the tiny town of Skidmore, Missouri. It's surprising it took the townsfolk so long to finally shoot him. After he was dead, his widow filed a lawsuit against them so they burned her house down. Seems strange that people willing to burn down a person's house would have been so cowed for so long by a guy they could easily pick off with a rifle.

My mother's entire extended family came from a small town, but they're all gone from there now. The younger ones moved away and the older ones have died off. In that town, two brothers (unrelated to me as far as I know) got into an argument about something so one murdered the other with a homemade sword.

An elderly local minister thought that his church and the several businesses he owned were an independent country and that he wasn't required to pay taxes. I can understand some idiot thinking that his property SHOULD be an independent country and that he shouldn't have to pay taxes, but I can't imagine even the stupidest person thinking they could successfully argue this in court. He and his wife tried. They're both in prison.

I walked into a little restaurant there. They had a wall plastered with right wing Tea Party stuff, much of it explicitly racist.

Forty-five years ago, I was there walking around with my brother and our cousin. There was a rowboat sitting next to the river. For some reason, my brother desperately wanted to take the boat out onto the river. My cousin refused not because doing so would be theft, but because the guy who owned it was from a family known for physical violence.

Thursday, July 20, 2017

John McCain

John McCain voted against the Affordable Care Act, and wants to repeal it. He doesn't care if the rest of us live or die.

I have no idea what alleged liberals see in this scumbag. The "liberals" at MSNBC are outraged at attempts to repeal of Obamacare. Republicans delayed the vote on it until McCain returned from surgery, but Rachel Maddow, et al., continue to gush over him.

He's lied for years about being tortured as a prisoner of war in Vietnam. Even American prisoners who were there say it didn't happen.

McCain had to claim he was tortured because he was a traitor. His nickname was "Songbird" because he went in singing, telling the Vietnamese whatever they wanted to know.

The Vietnamese explained how they got him to talk. They knew who he was---they knew his father was an admiral and that his grandfather had a ship named after him. They knew he was used to getting special treatment. So they put him in a private room in a military hospital, they brought in Soviet doctors to treat him, and they had Vietnamese officers come to meet him, as if they were thrilled to finally get to meet John McCain. Like most morons, he was easily manipulated.

It's okay with me. McCain helped the Vietnamese improve their air defenses.

A Spanish psychiatrist examined McCain in Vietnam and diagnosed him as a psychopath.

When he was running for president, McCain told reporters, "I hate the gooks. I'll hate them as long as I live."

Which may not be much longer. It turns out he has brain cancer.

Wednesday, July 19, 2017

Doris Payne arrested again

86-year-old Doris Payne got arrested for shoplifting $86.22 worth of merchandise from a Wal-Mart in suburban Atlanta.

She was the professional jewel thief featured in the documentary The Life and Crimes of Doris Payne, more shoplifter than cat burglar, who had to overcome racism to succeed in this challenging field.

She didn't mention ever having a job and I can't imagine she was paying into Social Security all those years.

Her lawyer told local reporters, "This is a sharp contrast to all the cases in the past. We're not talking about high-end jewellery. We're talking about what an 86-year-old woman needs to survive on a day-to-day basis, food supplies and medical supplies."

She was wearing an electronic ankle monitor from a previous arrest.

I wonder if she's getting royalties from the movie. Because they mention it every time she's arrested. She's giving it some pretty good publicity.

I knew a middle aged homeless guy who resorted to shoplifting once. I don't think he ever did it before, but even he knew not to steal from a big store like Wal-Mart. They have so much security. In the documentary, Payne was awaiting trial for stealing jewelry from a department store. She discovered she couldn't get away with it anymore with security cameras everywhere.