Archive for October, 2010


Schoolwork and Terrible Movies

Happy Halloween, one and all. To celebrate, I’m not only going to a lovely woman’s birthday party tonight, but watching awful movies as I do my schoolwork.

Why do awful movies bring us so much joy? Maybe it’s the fact that it is so laughable that they exist in the first place. Maybe it’s the fact that they are expected to compete in a market with things that are Oscar winners. Or maybe it’s just… the fact that… well, they’re terrible. And sometimes involve some of our favorite actors. And make us go “DEAR GOD, WHY DID YOU EVER DO THIS AWFUL THING?”
Today’s example that inspired this ramble is what spawned the nickname of “Kung Fu Jesus,” Dr. Jekyll & Mr. Hyde, the Adam Baldwin version. It’s terrible, absolutely awful. What makes it so got me to wondering…

Script: Poorly written in a number of ways. Riddled with cliches, stereotypes, and utter failures at being funny, though there are some gems in a few places.

Characters/Plot: Also stereotypical. Guy only concerned about money drags his wife to Hong Kong to make money as a surgeon (wut?). When asked “why Hong Kong” he doesn’t quite have a reason… PLOT POINT. Oh noes, it happens that he’s the mystical Ninja the White Dragon. There’s some crap with a prophecy and blah blah, but the baseline is that once the Chinese mob kills his wife because he “lets” one of theirs die after being riddled with bullet holes, he almost dies, is dragged back from the brink of death by a mysterious Chinese-medicine-man-come-tour-boat-captain on the side, who just HAPPENS to have a mysterious book of prophecies. Wa-hoo. It’s actually more involved than that, but the basic formula is there: Materialistic+Great Personal Tragedy= Transformation into fighter for good and no longer materialistic, because that’s a crappy quality in a hero.

Shooting: While it doesn’t have that delicious “filmed with a home movie camera” feel to it, the shots are uncreative, mostly uninteresting, and composed poorly.

So why the hell am I sitting here watching it?!

Well, the reason I first bought it for, you know, five bucks, was the fact it has Adam Baldwin and I’m an insane Casey fangirl, even if I’m not a fan of the actor’s politics. And I like eyecandy, damnit. Even if the man himself at times annoys me, he’s got a pleasant outward genetic configuration. And in this movie, he’s shirtless for a decent while. Yes, I’m shallow. Shush. Why I keep watching it, however…

Honestly, it’s fun to watch this thing and pick it apart. As bad as I make it sound, it is good in spots, and I’m pretty sure that given more money and time, it wouldn’t have been nearly as laughable as it is. It’s an interesting take on the original story. It just tried a little too hard to be the Karate Kid with some what the fuck mystical bullshit thrown in. It’s one of those stories where I want to pick it up and see if I can fix it up, shine it a bit, and make it into something either insanely campy on purpose, or something less laughable and more convincing. I think it’s the fact that this could be good(ish), it just ended up deliciously bad thanks to ineptitude upon a number of people’s parts. Maybe not great, but at least slightly more respectable.

Some bad movies are brilliant because they relish in their insanity– See The Rocky Horror Picture Show. That wasn’t trying to be good… it was trying to be Rocky Horror. Nothing else. And that’s why it’s so damned FABULOUS! Same with Van Helsing (Hugh Jackman version), though no one likes that movie but me. That one’s delightful because it’s… something. Damn me if I know what it is, but the insanity draws me in. The list goes on with the likes of Evil Dead and Repo! The Genetic Opera, but the point is that you can take an idea as bizarre as two squares crashing a party at a castle of “rich weirdos” that turn out to be aliens and make it epic. You just have to either pour your soul into it, or just embrace the absurdity. Don’t try to be serious. Don’t try to live up to the Oscar winners. Deal with the fact that you’re the weird kid with the goofy hair by dying the goofy hair orange and wearing vampire teeth to school on Easter.

So, why are bad movies great? They bolster our ego (“God, I could do better than this and I’ve never held a camera.”), they have potential to be good, or else, they embrace their weirdness to the point it no longer seems like insanity, they take the madness to brilliant new heights.

For a great Halloween example: Look up “Trick ‘r Treat” with Anna Paquin, shown to me last night by friends. It’s that weird kid in the corner that chews his toenails, and knows it. Enjoy the ride, boys and girls. And the cult of stripping female Werewolves. Mm.

Gender

Watching House season five, episode where the kid has XXY chromosomes and the parents have been lying to him that he’s a normal boy for thirteen years while pumping him full of testosterone.

Gender is an odd, tricky thing. Not because we internally make it that way… not until society says we have to, anyway. I’m an odd gender twist myself, though I didn’t realize it until rather recently.

My mind wandered down this road because if a kid wants to be a boy or a girl, I’m of the opinion it shouldn’t matter. Why should it matter if an individual with a penis wears a skirt, likes dance? What does it matter? Why should you have to have a clearly defined gender? I know that having a biological problem like this kid does can cause all sorts of health problems, sure. But on the question of assigning sex at birth… aside from the “why don’t I fit in the binary?” question, I don’t see why it matters. Probably because I object to the binary as defined by society, not science.

We have come a long way, of course. Women can wear pants. But if a man wants to do ballet, cheerleading, be a stay at home dad, or something else “emasculating” we mock him. A woman doesn’t want kids, or puts her relationship with her husband/wife above her kids, or generally isn’t catering to her kids’ every whim, we mock her. Why? Why does it matter?

Yes, yes, biology defines certain roles. Men and women’s brains are wired differently. However, when we come across an exception to the rule, why does it matter? Because it’s abnormal?

People hate what they don’t understand, that’s all I’ve got. They dislike things that go against the norm. It takes some sort of brain capacity to try to realize not everyone is just like you. It takes valuable time you could be devoting to picturing your boss’s wife/husband naked or thinking about if Brad and Angelina are broken up yet. Such a pain in the ass. Plus, if a woman can be masculine, or a man feminine, it threatens YOU if you identify as one of those. Why? I’m still working that one out. Best I’ve got is that no one wants to think that a man can make a better cherry pie or that a woman can build a better Chevy. However, if that person, while they don’t fit the genetic map of male or female, but identify as a man or woman, is it still a problem? Yes. Why? The impression is that sex and gender should be the same. Is this the way it should be? Is this right? In most cases, probably, but in some it is not. Should we update the rule to suit the minority? Maybe not, since it’s most often true. But if we come across and exception to that rule, then we should accept that it is an exception and go on, not try to mash that exception into the same hole we put everyone else in and hit it when it doesn’t fit.

For my first trick I will pull a rant out of my ass on mental illness and the stigma attached to it.

“Oh, you silly little blogger, there isn’t a stigma against mental illness! Everyone is on Zoloft now.”

Yeah, yeah.  I’m not talking about that.  It’s fine to pop a pill for anything nowadays.  But popping a pill because you’re sad isn’t what I’m talking about.  It’s fine to knock back some anti-depressants if it makes it more pleasant for the world to deal with you.  However, what isn’t fine is admitting “Hi there, I’m ______, and I’m depressed/have a mental illness and working am on it.”

Why?

Why is because of the lovely idea that anyone that has a mental illness is going to use it as a crutch.  They’re going to lay back and whine and complain that “ooh, my life is terrible because I’m depressed” or “it’s okay for me to be an asshole to everyone, I have Aspbergers!” In this lovely politically correct, apologetic world we live in, if someone pulls that card, you’re not allowed to do much to them except passively aggressively get pissy at them and, of course, avoid them.  You are NOT allowed to say “Well, then you should go get your ass some help for it and stop trying to get special treatment.  Other people have problems too.”

Thus, a stigma, defined here as “a mark of disgrace or infamy; a stain or reproach, as on one’s reputation,” is born.  “All people that will openly tell you they have a mental illness want special treatment/are using it as a way to be excused for actions that we would not put up with from a mentally healthy person.”

Why is this not okay?  Shouldn’t we point out that, yes, in fact, some people use their illness as a crutch? Damn skippy we should.  However, you should point your wrath toward them and the fact they refuse to do anything about their condition, not the condition itself.  Subtle difference.  The mental illness may, in fact, be causing them to act like an asshole, but if they are making no effort to control it, you should treat them like just another asshole.  You should tell them to stop it. You should tell them it’s not okay to be insensitive to other people, that they are not, in fact, a special snowflake that has a free pass.  When they throw it back at you that “I HAVE A DISEASE!!!1111!!!!” ask them, “What are you doing to control it?”  If the answer is a dumb stare, or a “I TAKEZ THE MEDS MAH DOCTOR GIVES ME!” then yes, treat them as another asshole.

“WHOA.  Hold the fuck up.  They’re taking medication! They’re doing something!  You frigging hypocrite!”

Before you toss out everything I just said, let me clarify:  If your symptoms are NOT adequately controlled by medication, your illness still affects your relationships and actions, unconsciously or not, you need to be  doing something else.  I don’t care if it’s formal therapy or simply taking stock of potential actions before you act, you need to take responsibility and recognize that you are the only person that can control your mental illness, no one else.

Before those of you that are mentally ill chime in that that is harder than most people realize: Yes, it is.  I have been clinically depressed for years.  It’s easy to pop the pills, it is not easy to realize when I’m getting angry at everything, nothing seems to be going right, and that self-destructive behavior is perfectly justified because who the fuck cares anyway if things are this shit anyway that it my perceptions are skewed all to hell.  It is NOT easy to separate myself from those feelings and say “Okay, yes, I missed the bus, my friend is pissed at me for something not my fault and lashing out, I have more work than I can handle and almost no money, but that is not an okay reason to get angry at myself or others.  How can I improve this or prevent these things from happening next time is constructive, self punishment for simply having a bad day is not.”

“You arrogant twat, not everyone is you.”

No, no they’re not.  But in my tiny, screwed up little world, everyone should try their damnedest to fix their problems if they can.  Having to rework your whole way of thinking is not easy, especially under stress and the heat of emotion, but it can be done.  Go check out A Beautiful Mind for the best example of how difficult this is I’ve found.  It’s not that he made himself somehow un-schizophrenic.  He’s not cured.  He has to go through his every step of life checking “is this real? Is this a hallucination?” if it is, he has to ignore it, no matter how hard it is, how hard it fights for his attention.  Living with a mental illness is hard, very hard.  But it can, and should, be done.

“Why should they have to conform to social rules? Why?  Do you really think you can come in here with your holier than thou attitude and hold up the rules of society as being good things when you repeatedly fly in the face of them, are a self-proclaimed misanthrope, and anyone who knows you in daily life knows you act a hell of a lot like Gregory House did in the first four seasons of the show?!”

I do piss people off just to piss them off. You’re right.  Congrats. However, I am holding people to the niceties of society here only to the extent that I want to believe that yes, everyone, in fact, deserves to be treated equally.  The people around a mentally ill person do not deserve to be yelled at, cursed at, beat up on, the mentally ill does not deserve to be excused for their actions, they do NOT deserve to be excused from being a selfish ass to everyone around them and taking their own life.  Yes, yes, I said it.  Suicide is selfish, and it’s a self serving gesture that makes your life a hell of a lot easier by ending it and spits in the face of everyone that cared for you, tried to help you, wanted to help you, listened to you, and makes their life ten times harder because it made things easier for YOU. Suicide is never the answer, and not because I particularly care that you stay alive.  It’s wrong that you think you are special enough to make those around you miserable and question what they did wrong when it’s YOU that screwed up.

I uphold the idea that everyone deserves equal respect. That does not mean that if you are hateful to everyone else and happen to have a mental illness you have to still be treated with respect.  Those people you’re hateful toward deserve respect and aren’t getting it, therefore, you don’t get respect.

One last note on that:  No one is perfect. No one.  We all lash out at times.  But there is a big damn difference between saying “I should not have said that, I apologize, that was uncalled for.  What I said is not true and I know that.” And saying “Sorry I said you were worthless and nobody loves you, it’s just because I have a mental illness and lash out sometimes.”  One says that lack of self control is not okay and that it was the person’s failing.  The other says “I’m allowed to treat you badly because my mental illness makes me special.  I didn’t fuck up, the disease made me do it.”

No one makes anyone do anything.  Nothing made the people that committed suicide commit suicide.  They took the gun, the knife, the poison in a conscious act.  They did it themselves. If someone was forcing them, it isn’t suicide. It’s murder.

Stop lumping the people in that fight to swallow their pride and say “I need help. I’m sick, I need to work to get better,” with the people that sit on their ass and refuse to get help.  Stop lumping in those working to control their illness and sometimes screwing up with those that don’t work to control it at all.

Remove the stigma attached to the mental illness. You want to shame someone, shame them for thinking they’re too special to be treated like everyone else and should be excused from responsibility of solving their own problems. Not because their thought processes are damaged.

%d bloggers like this: