American Elephants


R.I.P. Mr. Spock by The Elephant's Child
February 27, 2015, 5:45 pm
Filed under: Entertainment, Movies, Pop Culture, Television | Tags: , ,

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Leonard Nimoy, who we knew and loved as Mr. Spock, pointy-eared and always logical, died today in his Los Angeles home. He was 83.



Happy Constitution Day! by American Elephant
September 17, 2014, 3:23 pm
Filed under: Conservatism, History, Pop Culture, Television | Tags: , , ,

I’ve known the Preamble of the Constitution by heart since I was a little kid because of Schoolhouse Rocks, which used to come on in between Saturday Morning Cartoons–so they had a captive audience. Great Way to introduce your kids to our founding document. Can you recite the Preamble by heart? If not, you probably didn’t grow up with Schoolhouse rocks. Try learning the chorus. And teach it to your kids.



Who Was It Who Said Celebrities are Those Who are Famous Only for Being Famous? by The Elephant's Child

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I am not watching the Oscars. I am only grateful that it marks the end of the seemingly endless exercise of the glitterati congratulating themselves for the remarkable wonderfulness of their contributions to the world’s culture. Oscars and Emmys and endless awards, borrowed dresses and borrowed jewelery and borrowed makeup. I don’t care who wins what. I don’t care who wears what. I am not interested. There are more important things going on in the world. And it may be astonishing, but there are way more important people, more important ideas and more important events.



Super Bowl Sunday! by The Elephant's Child
February 1, 2014, 10:48 pm
Filed under: Domestic Policy, Entertainment, Pop Culture, Sports, Television | Tags: ,

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Had an appointment at the hospital yesterday, and it was fun to see all the receptionists in Seahawk tee shirts. There were some women, who clearly were not former cheerleaders, who seemed to be wearing extraordinarily large lime-green pompoms on their heads, and wearing a strange variety of homemade costumes. The grocery store was wall-to-wall appetizers, and beer of course.

Go Hawks!

43-8 !

 



Sherlock Mini-Episode: Many Happy Returns by The Elephant's Child

O.K. So how can he be still alive? You saw him fall off the building. You saw him dead.  A major tease from the BBC.



Movies, Violence, Hypocrisy and Real Life. by The Elephant's Child

In all the conversation about “assault weapons” most of the commentary has concerned the cosmetic appearance of guns, and the number of bullets in a magazine. Some small number of the comments have concerned violent video games but there have been no serious studies that show a connection to disturbed people committing mass shootings.

On the other hand, let’s admit that movies are violent, unnecessarily so.  Hollywood’s minor celebrities, always anxious to get their faces and names before the public rushed to make a commercial to advance the president’s efforts to ban gun violence and guns. Though he claims to appreciate the Second Amendment, Obama is on record saying that he does not believe that people should be allowed to own guns.

The Hollywood celebrity bunch made a forgettable commercial for Obama’s original campaign for the presidency, so this one was much in the same style — a little gag inducing. Conservatives re-did the commercial, inserting clips from each particular celebrity’s very own movie, celebrating the very kind of gun violence they were so pompously opposing. It’s fun to see hypocrisy exposed. Demand a plan. Heh.

The president, you will notice, said not a word about violence in movies. Hollywood people are major campaign supporters and celebrities flock to the White House. When the CDC studies the causes of gun violence, movies will probably not be included.

Commenters write about seeing World War II movies, which only demonstrates how superficial the thinking. Hollywood is in business to make money. When a movie is popular, they pay attention to what was different about the movie. It is not an accident that so many popular movies have been remade several times. (Think Superman or Robin Hood) Special effects have taken over. What was once a simple car crash, is now a major spectacle with dozens of flaming cars flung high over freeway overpasses. A real-life Volt bursting into flame isn’t really shocking any more.

There was a time when most gun violence was in cowboy movies, where the hero pointed his six-shooter in the general direction of the bad guy, sound-effects provided the necessary sounds, and the bad guy fell down dead. Gangster movies were about the 20s and bank robberies and prohibition and car chases. The gangsters were recognizable because they had tommy-guns, wore black and black hats and drove big black cars that had a back seat or trunk large enough to hold a body. But the story was about bravery and cowardice, honesty and dishonor.

Special effects have taken over, and each movie must top the last. Heads explode in pink mist, wounds rip bodies apart, limbs are amputated. Whole groups of people are torn to pieces. What make-up cannot create, technical wizards will create with their computers. The sad thing is that Hollywood has lost the art of storytelling. Movies are just not so appealing any more. More violence, more gore, more blood, more sex, more squalor, more evil, more vulgarity, more bad language.

Movies once concerned the human condition, not in its excesses, but in its ordinary foibles. People are very human and struggle to understand their own human failings. Good storytelling makes you laugh or cry as you recognize bits of yourself and your friends and realize that perhaps you’re normal after all. That’s what storytelling has always been about, from how to have courage, how to be a hero when you are frightened, how to cope with the death of a loved one, how to be a good person, how to survive.

Think of some of the great movies: High Noon, Gone With the Wind, Mr. Smith Goes to Washington, To Kill a Mockingbird, It’s a Wonderful Life, E.T., The Lord of the Rings, Star Wars, Harry Potter, Singing In The Rain, Lawrence of Arabia, It Happened One Night. Shakespeare told stories, Homer told stories, Aesop told stories — all about being human.

People use movies as examples in conversation and thought. They justify ideas, not by history, but with movie scenes. Movie dialogue has become an integral part of conversation and speech. I notice because it is not natural to me, and I have been surprised by its prevalence. Often notions of history come from the movies rather than from historians’ evidence from the past.  The behavior of celebrities in real life is influential and imitated. So to assume that violence in movies has no effect on violence in society is absurd. Will that connection be investigated? Not by Obama’s Executive Orders.



Tiresome Celebrities, Preaching to the Rest of Us. by The Elephant's Child

I don’t know, maybe you are so impressed with “celebrity” that you welcome advice from those who are modestly well known because they were once in a movie or got their picture in the paper. Somebody must be, because so many magazines feature “celebrities” on their covers. I am not, and find them tiresome. Their movies are increasingly uninteresting, and dominated by the same old special effects, and nobody in Hollywood seems to remember how to tell a good story.

Anyway, these tiresome pretty people, inspired by the shooting at Sandy Hook Elementary decided to tell the rest of us that we should dump the Second Amendment to the Constitution. Somebody else, who also found them tiresome, took the trouble to juxtapose the violent scenes from their very own movies with their preachiness.  Delicious. Love seeing hypocrites exposed.

Because we occasionally spend money to see a movie, and their agents tell them how wonderful they are, doesn’t mean that said minor celebrities have any expertise in politics that might influence the rest of us. I only recognized a couple of them.  If you care so much, stop making such violent movies.  You are a bad example. Please — just shut up.




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