It’s Labor Day! Our nation’s most ironically-titled holiday. Hooray!
As it’s Labor Day, I really should celebrate by not-laboring. So someone else really should come over here and do my laundry, dishes, housecleaning, and write today’s blog entry, so I’d be free to finish the book I’ve been reading for two weeks, watch a little television, and make my lunch appointment without rushing around like a maniac. WHY AREN’T YOU ALL JUMPING IN TO VOLUNTEER. This is a fantastic opportunity.
Let’s talk about things that are upsetting. How is this different from what I do on any other day? IT ISN’T.
First: True Blood.
(spoilers, so if you’re not up on, and caught up to, last night’s episode, skip ahead. Or just read, because you know what? IT ISN’T WORTH YOUR TIME.)
True Blood was one of my favorite things when it first came out. I’d read the series; other than the silliness quotient (rather high at times), it was entertaining and enjoyable. Season One was one of the best shows on television. Alan Ball, I was convinced, could do no wrong. Yes, Sookie was a complete numbskull and Bill annoyed the piss out of me, but the cast of supporting characters was amazing enough that you could ignore the two of them and just daydream about Pam and Eric when they were on doing their “Sookeh! Beeel!” bullshit and all was well.
Season Two was a crapfest, and no one understood really what was going on there. Orgies! All the time! So many orgies! Bloody orgies with old people whose bodies were not enjoyable to look upon! Supporting cast was still fun, but the orgy thing (which I’m pretty sure was Alan Ball thinking, “People? They like the nudity! Let’s have lots! Plot? Eh. Whatever”) was exhausting.
Season Three was better – not back to the glory that was Season One, but better.
And now we’re in Season Four, and it is not only a crapfest, it is an ENTIRE CRAP ALL-YOU-CAN-EAT-BUFFET. Witches – which aren’t a bad idea – have taken over the plot. And they are ridiculously stupid and the plot is poorly written with holes you could pilot the Titanic through and none of the previously saving-grace supporting characters are even acting like they’re supposed to and are being given enough screen time because IT’S ALL ABOUT THE EFFING WITCHES. Someone asked me if they should watch an episode they had DVR’d and I told them the best thing I had to say about the episode was that Jessica’s hair was shiny and sometimes Jason was funny, a little. And that was being kind, because Jessica’s hair wasn’t that shiny and Jason wasn’t that funny. Alan Ball checked OUT for this season. It is AWFUL. An example: last night, the witches were attempting to kill all the vampires (as they have in almost every episode this season.) Sookie didn’t want this to happen so she decided to use her magical fairy hands to stop them and flashed the witches with fairy light. OK, fine. But the head witch got angry and put Sookie in a ring of flames that kept moving in closer to her as punishment, attempting to kill her. Sookie – whose magical hands can restore memory, erase curses, knock people off their feet, etc. – just stood there, whining for help, crying out for “Beeel! Eric!” over and over, and not doing anything to help herself. OK, so you’re able to save all the vampires one second, but unable to save yourself immediately after? Why is that, exactly? Pam asked Eric and Bill why they were going to risk the entire vampire race for “a gash in a sundress” last night and I completely agree (and I heart Pam because apparently she is the only voice of reason in the entire town.) Seriously? Sookie has NO PERSONALITY. She just sits there looking pretty, puts out, and once and a while yells at people and has fairy hands. Wow. Totally one-in-a-million! Unfortunately, the fire did not kill her, so we’re still dealing with her nonsense and whining and inability to choose between lovers and whatnot.
Also, they FINALLY killed off the head witch, who has been the most annoying character alive for the entire season, and then BROUGHT HER BACK TEN MINUTES LATER. Alan Ball! I kind of want to punch you in the throat right now.
Next: J.C. Penney.
Last week, J.C. Penney – totally on the pulse of fashion! – came out with this shirt for children and teens:
The tagline on the website read: “Who has time for homework when there’s a new Justin Bieber album out? She’ll love this tee that just as cute and sassy as she is.”
After Twitter went utterly and completely bugshit over it, J.C. Penney discontinued the shirt, but the point is – IT MADE IT ONTO THE WEBSITE. This was marketed to young girls.
If it didn’t result in so many people being furious at the store, I’d assume J.C. Penney (who, let’s face it, really isn’t super-hip or buzzed about at the moment) had done this in a trolly, “it will get people talking and any publicity is good publicity” way. And maybe they did? They seem like they’re run by old people. And maybe old people think “Oh, the Tweeter! We have to get people Twitting about us on the Tweeter. This will do it!” I don’t know. It doesn’t seem like this could be for real, does it? I mean, this looks like a joke t-shirt. Like something you’d see on a super-ironic hipster, or a homeless person who found it in a dumpster.
We had Teen Talk Barbie in the 90’s with her “Math class is tough!” and we have Maggie Goes on a Diet coming out in October which is rumored to encourage our teenage girls right into eating disorders and, in real life, we had my freshman year science teacher, when I had trouble understanding a concept and had asked for further help with it, telling me not to bother – “Girls don’t have a brain that’s wired to understand science” and my Physics teacher, a few years later, telling me a variant on the same thing: “Physics is for boys; it’s ok that you didn’t do as well on the test, because you’re a girl, and physics is too hard for girls.”
Stand still, young girls. Look pretty, young girls. Be quiet, young girls. Smile big, young girls. Don’t fight, young girls. Don’t try, young girls. Don’t worry, young girls. Be perfect, young girls. Be nothing, young girls. Be empty, young girls. Don’t bother, young girls.
Young women of the world: society is going to continue to put you down. It is up to you to fight that. Guess what? You are just as capable as a young man of doing well in school. You are just as capable as a young man of doing well in stereotypically MALE courses – math, science, computer science, effing WOOD SHOP, if that still even exists? – as a young man. Until we no longer accept things like this, they will keep happening.
Also, Justin Bieber? Really? Sigh.
Now, to balance out the negative: two things that are shiny-awesome:
First: hope for a new generation.
Banned Book week is fast approaching, and we’ll discuss that more when it gets here, but I found this the other day and it just made my heart soar.
There are kids who are making a difference out there. There are kids like this one who are running an illegal banned-book library out of an empty school locker. (And, even better? She didn’t include Twilight in her secret library. You know, because it isn’t literature. I love this kid.) She’s probably going to get caught, but you know what? She did it. She believed in something and she did something about it. This kind of kid is the reason I don’t completely despair about the state of society. Her parents are raising her right, too. I don’t want kids? But I’d want this one.
Second: Red State.
As mentioned in the past, I’m a huge Kevin Smith fan. His new movie, Red State, is out on VOD this week, so last night, when I couldn’t sleep, I rented it and watched it.
It’s not a typical Kevin Smith movie, first off. There are Kevin Smith touches – dialogue is dense, well-written and crisp; monologues are typical Smith (which some people might hate, and he can be a bit heavy-handed, but I love them); camera work is beautiful (which may not as much be Smith as the cinematographer? I have a theater background where it’s all the director, so I’m not sure.)
It’s not a comedy, though. I’ll try not to be too spoilery, but if you want to remain completely spoiler-free, probably go to your barbecue now?
At heart, it’s a thriller. Three boys are lured into a cult-like fanatic religion and the ATF shows up on rumors of automatic weaponry being amassed. It’s upsetting. Really, really upsetting. Bloody and gory-upsetting, yes, but crazy fanatacism upsetting, which I find scarier any day than clowns or zombies or creepy children jumping out from behind things with knives.
The cult leader is based on that nutbar Phelps from the Westboro Baptist Church (but ISN’T him, as Phelps is actually mentioned by one of the law-enforcement officers.) And if you think Phelps hates homosexuality…wait until you meet this guy. You might think it’s over-the-top – but it’s not, not really. There are people like this. And that’s horrifying. It frightened me to the point of tears.
The violence is realistic and very bloody. If you have an issue with that, don’t watch it. There’s a little humor, but not much. Lots of stars – Kevin Alejandro from True Blood, John Goodman, Melissa Leo, Kevin Pollack, apparently Marc Blucas but I never saw him or recognized him, Kyle Gallner from Veronica Mars, Stephen Root, Betty Aberlin from Mr. Rogers’ Neighborhood, Jennifer Schwalbach.
It wasn’t what I was expecting at all – but it was very powerful. And very upsetting. I recommend it. But don’t go into it expecting it to be like anything you’ve seen from Kevin Smith before.
Happy Labor Day, all! Enjoy the day off. Barbecues! Alcoholic beverages! End of summer! Last day for white pants! (I can’t imagine even owning white pants. That would be such a mistake. Can you IMAGINE the things I would spill on them? Disaster! Waiting to happen!)