Thursday, April 30, 2009

There is Nothing to Talk About

This week in class was the last movie. I admit that it will be sad not getting to watch an awesome movie a week and get a grade for it, but what a movie to end it on. We watched the 1999 new classic movie Fight Club. The movie is the story of the recent life changing experiences of a man. We never find out the name of the man played by Edward Norton, which really upsets me. In any movie where the main character has no name there is usually some other strange happenings, and this is definitely the case in Fight Club. There are so many strange plot devices, camera angles, and just strangeness in general, but this is one of the reasons why I love this movie.

The movie deals with a schizophrenic office worker that has one bad ass imaginary friend, which is not revealed as being imaginary until the end of the film, but this is not one of the movies that is bad the second time you see it, you know who I'm talking about Number 23, but I found that I was able to see more of the movie this time I saw it. I had already seen it once before and liked it, but this time I loved it. I guess the first time I was not looking for the subtle humor or did not catch the oh so awkward moments between Marla and "the guy". It is strange how this movie can also make jokes about the way it is made. It has jokes about the dramatic irony of the movie, and also about the nonlinear time line of the movie. There are jokes about how Marla and "the guy" are both faking in the different support groups. Fight Club is definitely a funny action movie.

The part of the movie that I like the most would have to be the way it is shot. The dark shadows, the sometimes 3d shots that are given, the way that things just happen to pop up in the shot like it is a catalog, and most of all the gore that just looks very real. I like everything about the visual appeal of the movie. The story drug me into Fight Club, but it is the visual stimulation that makes me love the movie, and what sends the movie over the top of cool.

Tuesday, April 28, 2009

Understanding Cool...

With the movie of the week being Reservoir Dogs, I expected the theme of cool to be "Cool Heist" because of the nature of the film, or possibly "Cool Inspiration" because of how Quentin Tarantino was able to shape how action movies are shot. But when I saw that the theme was "Cool Literacy" I was confused. I was wondering how a movie full of violence, expletives, and awesomeness had a theme of literacy. It was then that I remembered that literacy can mean something other than the ability to read and write. Literacy can be defined as knowledgeable and educated in one or several fields, as in the phrase Computer Literacy. In this context, I can see how Reservoir Dogs is considered as Cool Literacy.

The characters in the movie all have there specialty, and they all know what to do. They are definitely literate in there respected field. This type of literacy is also seen in the movie The Italian Job. Each member of the team in that movie has a certain job. They are all literate at some aspect of the job that they are pulling. Charlie is idea literate, Stella is safe cracking literate, Lyle is very computer literate, Left Ear is explosive literate, and Handsome Rob is automotive literate. Each of these characters all have a certain literacy that definitely add to, and even define there cool. Another movie that shows literacy in this definition is Sweeney Todd. Now I chose this movie primarily to get out of the heist movies and try to convey the "Cool Literacy" thought in another form. Sweeney has quite a literacy in two things: being a barber and being crazy. He is the best barbor in London. He has mastered his trade and the speed that he can shave a man's face is amazing. The literacy he has in his craft is really one of the only things that makes his character cool. When literacy is seen as apptitude and skill, the trancedental properties of cool come into context, and many people can be seen as cool.

When looking at literacy as the trancendentaly cool aspect of a person, vast posibilities are opened up to what "Cool Literacy" could be. It is anyone that is good at there job, to kids that game so much. But when a person achieves that ultimate level of skill at something, they are cool. Wether that is the ultra-computer literate hackers, or a woman that can draw super realistic pencil sketches, or even a little kid that can read and write when they are four, they are cool.

Thursday, April 23, 2009

Its Hip to be a Square

The North Face_______Members Only
Nintendo 64_________Sega Dreamcast
Star Wars___________Star Trek
Family Guy_________ South Park
SNL ______________Mad TV
The Wiggles_________ Barney
LEGOs____________ Linkin Logs
Erector Sets_________ K'nex
Humanism ________ _Catholicism
Raiders of the Lost Arc_ Kingdom of the Crystal Skull
4d movies __________ 3d movies
Rock Band__________ Guitar Hero
Domestic Partnership__ Same Sex Marriage
Marijuana__________ Meth
Lunch Box__________ Brown Bag
Mr. Furious_________ White Goodman
Apple _____________ Linux
Ottoman ___________Foot Stool
Wikipedia___________ Encyclopedia

I would like to start out by saying that I do not agree in the order that some of the things in my list are placed. Some things are labeled as HIP just because most of the main stream culture says it is hip (THE NORTH FACE), but that is not what this first paragraph is about. The first thing that I want to examine in my list is Erector Sets and K’nex. Now, both of these toys have been around for a while and they are both cool in there own rights, but one is more hip than the other. Erector Sets are hipper because lets face it, they are more dangerous. They are metal, come with lights and motors, and you can build so much more with them. K’nex have pre-cut pieces of plastic with pre-spaced gaps where you have to put the pieces together. Now both of these toys are fun, but K’nex have more constraints and less you could do with them, and they are safer which, to me, makes them less hip.

ow the second pair of items that I am going to discuss is Family Guy and South Park. The two are both cool, but society has deemed Family Guy to be hip and South Park to be square. Now the reason for this escapes me sometimes. The only thing that Family Guy has going for it is cult comedy. There are large breaks where random objects and jokes are stuck into the story line at any point. Now South Park has been nominated, and received awards for some episodes because of there content and subject matter, where it is viewed as square because of the humor that is used. One is seen as hip because it is “family” oriented, and the other uses harsh language that hits hard to viewers. Even though South Park conveys important messages, it is seen as square because of the level of “dirty humor”.

Tuesday, April 21, 2009

Obsession by Calv.... sorry wrong one

With the movie of the week being Paris is Burning, we saw many young, and older, drag queens that were obsessed with the ball seen, the fashion that went with it, and being seen as a legend in around their pageant community. The dictionary defines an obsession as an unhealthy and compulsive preoccupation with something or someone. I have to say that I do not agree with completely with this definition. Yes to be obsessed you have to focus on one subject so much that nothing else seems to matter, and yes sometimes obsessions take up your life (at least for a little while), but an obsession does not have to be unhealthy. But can an obsession be cool?

Now, by no means am I assigning an equality to obsession and cool, but they do not have to be different. There are many people that are obsessed with many different things. One of my favorite obsession-based groups is a rag tag bunch called Cyclecide. They are so obsessed with bicycles that they have reinvented them. They have made some awesome contraptions, and even a pedal powered circus. There obsession has definitely turned into something cool. Also, so many that are obsessed with the same thing that they made an MTV series about it, True Life. Now this series has some people that are suffering from diseases like turrets, autism, and acne. It also has the stories of people going through hard times like being a single parent, looking for there mother that gave them up for adoption, living in harsh places, and even alcoholism. But some stories are of different people that are all obsessed with the same thing, where it is being super competitive, loving to shop, or people that don’t fit in because they are obsessed with something. The one that sticks out in my mind is a high school student that is so obsessed with Glam Rock that the other kids at his high school won’t accept him. Now, I am not advocating Glam Rock by any means, but there is a part of cool in the story. The guy dresses how he wants, listens to the music he likes, and above all else he is true to himself. I know that sounds a little cliché, but I find it very cool that someone can be who they are no matter what.

On the other side of obsession it the kind that completely conquers your life, but in a bad way. This is the case that is shown in a show that I am currently watching, Avatar: the Last Airbender. In the show, Prince Zuko is obsessed with finding and capturing the Avatar, the world’s last hope for peace. Through the entirety of the series, no matter how much you think Zuko has learned and became a better person, he falls back because of his obsession. He hurts many, betrays his uncle, and just goes down the wrong path in general. Obsession is a tricky thing. To some it can bring ingenuity and self conviction, where in others it brings selfish greed. Obsession can be cool, but that is up to the obsessed.

Friday, April 17, 2009

Real Cool?

This week in class we watched a documentary film, Paris is Burning. It was made in 1990 by Jennie Livingston. The movie is a show all behind the scenes story of the fashion obsessed New York gay and transgender culture that created voguing and drag balls. It shows the stories of legendary drag queens and the upcoming legends of the new generation. At first, I did not know if a documentary could be a "cool" movie, I was also skeptical about the subject of the film. I did not know if I would classify dressing in drag would be cool, and I still don't know if I would call the drag outfits cool, and the way that they act wouldn't be considered cool, especially the arguments that were seen. Even though I don't know if that was cool, I do think that the way that each of the queens could do what they felt and had a place to be themselves. The idea of the different houses that the teenagers found to find understanding and a role model that they couldn't at home is a very cool idea. It is like the hippies of the 60s did, but these houses have different criteria to enter them, they are not just hang outs or hotels to the houses, they are families.

A large part of the movie is focused on "realness." In the movie they say that realness is the ability to pass for what they want to. In most cases, that is looking as much as a woman as possible. Some of the people in the movie were gender ambiguous. If I did not know that it was a male, I would not have been able to guess. And this could definitely be considered very cool. These people are being who they feel that they are, and this is cool to me because it is respectable. To be who you want to be and have a group of people to be there for you and understand you, no matter what, this is cool. However, there was another example of realness that I find less cool. The idea that real is being able to pass for something that you are not is less cool. The idea that if you can pass for what you are not, then you are a great actor, but if you are your not being yourself then I do not think that you are cool. The people like Pepper, Angie, Ninja, and the others that are who they are might be unique, but they are cool.

Tuesday, April 14, 2009

Cool in a Different Sense

With this week's film being RoboCop, the theme of cool is 'Cool Satire'. Now you might ask yourself why the theme is 'Cool Satire' and not just 'Cool Coolness'. Let's face it, RoboCop is one cool movie, but in class we found out that the movie is a satirical look at the way that big business is in the 1980s. Now most people can see why someone would speak out about the way that the businesses were trying to just grow bigger and bigger. When it comes to satires in media, I see that there are two types:satires, like this one, that have a back meaning to the story that they are telling, and satires that deliberately poke fun of the subject that is being shown.

RoboCop is definitely the first type of satire. It uses its excellent action movie tricks to draw people in, then... POW satire. This type of satire has gone back far into history, from aincient Egypt and continues to today. Writers such as Jonathan Swift, John Dryden and Alexander Pope wrote satires in early England. Novels have been written by Orwell, Dickens, and many more, but my favorite would have to be Animal Farm. I believe I have mentioned this novel in the blog before, but it would have to be one of my favorite all time books, and definitely my favorite saterical work. It is one of the first political satires ever written. Orwell wrote it after the Spanish Civil War, and was pointed at critiquing Joseph Stalin. This book showed the horrors of the Stalinist regime. By sticking the story behind the story of animals on a farm overthrowing their owners, the message is out front, but not at first thought of. This is one of the best satires of all time.

The next group of satirical movie is one that comes out and makes fun of there subject right out. Such movies include the "Scary Movie" type of movies that are not cool by any means, but they get there point across by being as cheesy as they want to be. The point that they make is that [insert movie genre here] is getting to over the top, and they make no sense any more. Other movies/ TV shows such as Airplane, History of the World, part 1, and The Colbert Report use a direct satire, normally as comedy, but they get there point across. Sometimes there point is only comedy, but I think about one of my favorite cartoons of all time, Histeria!. The show uses satirical humor to allow people to learn history. Believe it or not, I have learned more history from this show than from most history teachers. Satire is a powerful tool in the right hands, and it can be cool.

Thursday, April 9, 2009

Big Business is Evil

This week in class we watched the epic 1980s movie RoboCop. This is an awesomely cool movie. With the amount of action and violence that is shown throughout the movie, it is hard to believe that there is more to the story than shooting and explosions. The movie was written and directed as a satire of the US in the 1980s. The story starts off with a news report, a death at a large corporation that is seen only as a set back, and a new transfer to the Detroit police force, Murphy played by Peter Weller. The Sergeant welcomes him to hell. On his first day out, Murphy and his partner Lewis, played by Nancy Allen, follow a group of bank robbers to their hideout where the are at. They shoot Murphy many times with shotguns. First, they shot off his hand, then they opened fire on his chest, blowing off his arm in the fire. Lewis comes up to see him almost dead. He gets taken back to the hospital where they half heartedly try to bring him back to life with no avail. This is when we see the true evil that the director Paul Verhoeven is trying to depict... dun dun DUN big business corporations. They take the dead body of Murphy and turn him into RoboCop. They take away every piece of humanity that he has, even going to the lengths of removing his undamaged arm and replacing it with a mechanical one. The only part of humanity that is left is the basic organic functions of a body that keeps the RoboCop on the beat.

Even though the movie is a great example of an action movie that has gun shots, loosely connected plot points, and splosions (a splosion differs from an explosion in that it an explosion has a purpose and a splosion just happens for no reason (notice the tin shacks)). The movie is a satire on how the privatization of what are suppose to be public works will lead to greed and corruption of the people running the hospitals, prisons, and police to name only a few. When you look at the film as a satire, it works very well. The parts can be dissected to mean probably exactly what Verhoeven wanted it to say, but I feel if you do not look at the film as a satire, it turns into just an awesome action film. There is nothing wrong with either prospective, but I do not know if someone that is looking at an action movie would be struck by “Oh my god, business is evil.” Either way, RoboCop is cool.

Tuesday, April 7, 2009

Now You See Me, Now You Don't

This week in class we watches Saturday Night Fever, a classic blockbuster from 1977. This movie has it all, cool music, camaraderie, action, and much more. The movie stars John Travolta as Tony Manero, a misunderstood nineteen year old young man who seems to get crapped on by everyone until he steps onto the dance floor. There he is a god. He is in his own little world filled with big polyester collars, disco music, and flashing lights. When he is dancing he escapes to his own little world where the sky is the limit and the disco ball is his sun. This thought of being able to go off to another place and be who they want to be is done by everyone that has ever been trapped in the middle of a daydream while sitting through a lecture, any little kid that has ever made a space ship out of an empty box, and even many people that get lost in the middle of an exciting movie. Being able to be in a different place while sitting on the real world is a luxury that must be not taken lightly.

The practice of real world escapism is something that is seen in most parts of what humans do in there lives. People do many things to escape from everyday life. People read novels, play games, watch movies and TV shows, and many other personalized activities. The good thing about doing this is that you are safe in your room experience an out of the world adventure somewhere else. The genre of sci-fi embodies the ability to escape to another dimension. Being able to be side by side with a 30th century captain of a space ship fighting aliens from some other planet, what else could you ask for. Science fiction escapism is cool.

People also find escapes from the world by using drugs. Although the use of some drugs is illegal and definitely more dangerous than escaping from the world by dancing, books, or movies it still lets people escape. Now when psychedelic drugs combine with movies or music, then the escape from the world can be truly out of this world. This was first seen in the 1960s with some collegiate research, and continues to this day but now it is not legal. The mixture of music and hallucinogens can still be seen in the Rave culture. People role on ecstasy and dance to bass thumping music. They escape from reality with there counterculture like many other groups did before them. Drugs are questionable, but escapism is cool.

Thursday, April 2, 2009

In Defence of the Internets

Lets all be honest with ourselves right here and now, there is nothing else that can take enthrall you like the ever growing Internet. Anything that one wants to find to do is on the Internet, from LOLcats, to tons of demotivational posters, to this wonderful blog. Your imagination is the limit, at least here in America (I will speak about this later). There is a virtual world where people of many countries and cultures can interact with each other in many ways, be it Facebook, MySpace, HCOL, and many others. People and Ideas that were once worlds away are just a Google search to me. I have been told that I spend too much time just surfing the Internet, but that is fine with me. My tanks for random knowledge are just now getting started filling, and they are quite deep. I don't mind being called and Internet junkey because the Internet is the coolest.

There was once a point in my life where I did not have the Internet, these were dark days indeed. I now cannot imagine not being able to StumbleUpon many wonderful things. Ever since I was a child, I was compeled to know how to do, make, and build things. Of course, I had a few books that I learned from, and TV had a few shows, but these few devices did not have what I was looking for. I wanted to know more, be it that what I have learned will not get me far, but I love the randomness of what is possible to be made. When I first found Instructables, I was in love. The treasure trove of information that I found was wonderful. I have made many projects from that site, and continue to visit it religiously.

Now I know that I am making it seem like the Internet can do no wrong. This is not the case at all. With everything that is good comes equal evil, and possibly more. But with power comes responsibility. Everyone knows that you can download illegal movies, meet strange people, and even watch illicit materials, but this is where common sense comes into play, and if you are under the age of 18, parental guidance, and parents if you say "Well I'm not able to watch my kids 24/7... blah, blah, blah" a net nanny comes in handy. But you should not say that the Internet needs to be censored. Yet another reason why I have come to enjoy the Internet is it embodies the freedom of speech that needs to be allowed for a free society. There are many places that censor the Internet to there citizens, and I feel that this is not right. Anyone should be able to freely post what the wish on the Internet without government interference. The Internet is an extremely large entity. There are good and bad, but for the bad that is had so much more good can come from it. Knowledge should not be censored, cool is about not being censored, I have been to the top and the bottom of the Internet, and I love it.