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W.C. Fields chats up Mae West, she of the "hothouse cognomen"

“Some scientists claim that hydrogen, because it is so plentiful, is the basic building block of the universe. I dispute that. I say there is more stupidity than hydrogen, and that is the basic building block of the universe." – Frank Zappa

While we're on the subject, let's talk about Sony Pictures' The Interview.

Let's stipulate from the start that free speech means just that: free. But some people, maybe many people, maybe most people, still put fences up at boundaries they choose. Remember Piss Christ? Offensive as hell in my book—way beyond my fence—but its creator had every right to make it. My disgust with it and works of similar ilk is the price I pay as a citizen to ensure free speech.

But am I the only one who feels our entertainment culture is pushing the fences farther and farther back? It seems every gross-out movie tries to outgross the one before, and in a financial sense, many of them succeed. Maybe I'm just a 20th century trilobyte, a species on its way to extinction, in the pop culture sea. But I'd rather watch W.C. Fields leer at the voluptuous Mae West and ask a bystander about her "hothouse cognomen" than watch a modern movie with the sexual subtlety of a flying cinder block. (And for readers who don't know what "cognomen" means, my Webster's defines the word as "any family name, surname, last name." I had to look it up myself.)

With the fences of offensive so far back today, it must be the directors of The Interview, Seth Rogen and Evan Goldberg, felt they had to go a long way indeed to draw attention to their movie, so they decided it would be a good idea to depict the assassination of North Korea's iron-fisted Kim Jong-un. Let's not forget: The Interview is supposed to be a comedy. Let's not forget: the North Korean government is known for many things. "Comedy" doesn't even make the list.

And the topper: The Interview was originally scheduled for a Christmas Day release. Peace on earth, good will toward men, and a dictator's exploding head, complete with flying brain chunks.

The extensive cyberattack at Sony and, just this week, the attackers' threats of violence at theaters that show The Interview are well known enough that elaboration here is not necessary. (Update: The New York Times has just reported that the North Korean government played a central role in the attack.) And while the film's apologists are saying, "Hey, it's all just a joke," shouldn't we give the North Koreans the same benefit and say, "They're just joking too"?

Sony Pictures' decision to make The Interview gives new meaning to the phrase "mindless entertainment." But what I haven't seen speculation on yet is whether the film's directors actually tried to offend North Korea to the point where it would make threats of terrorism against the movie, resulting in massive publicity and huge success in DVD sales and streaming internet revenue here and abroad?

In which case, stupid wins again, and in the great recording studio in the sky, Frank Zappa is throwing back his head and laughing.


( 2 comments — Leave a comment )
Dec. 18th, 2014 02:34 pm (UTC)
Kiddo recently posted similar thoughts on fb. The first time I saw a trailer for this movie, I thought, "Holy crap, are you people so f**king desperate for a plot line that you thought THIS was a good idea? How in gawd's name would anyone - ANYONE - think that using a real-live, batshit-crazy, currently-alive-and-well dictator WITH NUCLEAR WEAPONRY as the assassination target in a comedy was a movie goer's dream?

Thanks, but I think I'll skip any theater complex that's showing this movie, if any decide to actually do it now, that is.
Dec. 18th, 2014 03:07 pm (UTC)
You just said it better than I did but with a few hundred words less.
( 2 comments — Leave a comment )

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Wish I'd Said It

Nota bene: “Fear has governed my life, if I think about it. ... I always feel like I’m not good enough for some reason. I wish that wasn’t the case, but left to my own devices, that voice starts speaking up.” – Trent Reznor

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"The path's not yours till you've gone it alone a time." – William Carlos Williams

“Filling this empty space constitutes my identity.” – Twyla Tharp

"My definition of peace is having no noise in my head." – Eric Clapton

"The wreckage of the sky serves to confirm us in delicious error." – John Ashbery

"We are all here by the grace of the big bang. We are all literally the stuff of the stars." – Dwight Owsley

"For my part, I know nothing with any certainty, but the sight of stars makes me dream." – Vincent van Gogh

"It is only with the heart that one can see right; what is essential is invisible to the eye." — Antoine de Saint-Exupéry

"Forget about being a perfectionist, because entropy always wins out in the end." – Darren Kaufman.

"Impermanence. Impermanence. Impermanence." – Garry Shandling

"Fame is a vapor; popularity an accident; the only earthly certainty is oblivion." – Mark Twain

"There is no realm wherein we have the truth." – Gordon Lish

"Actual life is full of false clues and sign-posts that lead nowhere." – E.M. Forster

“Some scientists claim that hydrogen, because it is so plentiful, is the basic building block of the universe. I dispute that. I say there is more stupidity than hydrogen, and that is the basic building block of the universe." – Frank Zappa

“I try to leave out the parts that readers tend to skip.” – Elmore Leonard

“The secret of being a bore is to tell everything.” – Voltaire

• Journal title and subtitle: Ian Hunter, “Man Overboard”


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