Monday, March 18, 2013

Committing Blasphmey for Nerds or Why I am Buying the Stars Wars OT Blu-Ray Set

    So I have decided to buy the original Star Wars trilogy on Blu-Ray despite the seemingly blasphemous (at least to Star Wars nerds) changing of the original films by George Lucas. I did not do this without paining about it for at least a week. Why did I eventually cave? Mainly because it costs $40, but also because when in came right down to it, the improved visuals and sound outweighed the scenes that Lucas changed. When you come right down to it, all the scenes that everybody made such a big fuss about are either not as bad as everyone makes them out to be, or so short it doesn't matter. I will address some of the individual scenes below, leaving the most egregious ones for last
  1) The CGI Jabba/Han Solo scene: Not as terrible as everyone makes it out to be. Yes there's a crappy CG Jabba the Hut and a really weird edit where Han has to CGI step over Jabba's tail. This is because in the original scene Harrison Ford walks behind another actor who is subbing for Jabba. But you all knew that already. Plus to this scene (or another minus if you want to be really pissy about it)? Five second shot of Boba Fett mugging at the camera.
 2) Weird added animals to Mos Eisley spaceport and the extra Stormtrooper scenes on Tatooine: Also, not as as as everyone makes it out to be, and all the scenes last like 5 seconds at post. This applies to a lot of the little extras added for the re-release for the Trilogy in the late 90s. So release your asshole and get over it
3) Replacement of the "YubYub" scene at the end of Jedi: I have been very open about never liking the original song all that much to begin with. So sue me.
4) Really aggressively stupid musical scene in Jabba's Palace scene: Yeah, I agree with all of you, it's as bad as you made it out to be. Still, not enough to overrule the $40 pricetag
5) Putting ghost Hayden Christensen at the end of Jedi: Yeah, fuck that, that's some sacrilegious shit. I mean if you're going to do that, why not replace Alec Guinness with Ewan McGregor while you're at it? God-fucking-dammnit!
6) Greedo shoots first: Do I really need to explain this? This is one of the few of these that actually fundamentally changes your introduction to a major character. Plus, the edit is so fucking awkward looking.

  But ultimately there's two factors that make this decision for me: 
1) Even the most horrible of these scenes is at most only a few moments long and for the price, I can actually live with them and still enjoy the rest of film. I've reached a point in my life when I just can't be on board with nerd detail bitching anymore. Mechanical web-shooters versus organic? I don't give a shit. Is the core of the characters and the film intact? Yes? Then everything else is just a minor detail. With the changes to Star Wars, the only change that qualifies as a major change is Greedo shooting first, and even that scene is what? Three seconds? I can skip over it and pretend it never happened.
2) I am really, really tired of all this "recapturing the feeling from my childhood" shit. What I've discovered is that when you actually come back to those things as they were originally conceived, nine times out of ten that thing wasn't as good as you remember it. The original Star Wars movies are great, enjoyable, popcorn films. I love them, we all do. I love me some Extended Universe shit too. I own five lightsabers and a giant Millennium Falcon toy. But are they masterpieces of modern cinema? No, they're actually kind of derivative of a lot of stuff that came before them, especially Kuroswa's films. Return of the Jedi is actually kind of a lame rehash of the first film (Also, remember the  Ewoks? I rest my case). Any of you who tries to argue otherwise needs to release your hopelessly tight nerd assholes.

Look, I know a lot of you fellow nerds are going to jump down my throat for all this. And that's fine, you have the right to disagree with me. I'll even grant that some of my points may be flat out wrong, I'm okay with that. But when you come right down to it, when it's only $40, I think you're getting exactly what you pay for.

I'm still never going to buy the prequels, because those just suck big fat elephant scrotum...

Thursday, March 7, 2013

In defense of live comedy


Have I known you for more than a couple years? Do we spend enough time around each other that you understand where I'm coming from? Yes? Good, we can have a discussion about where we disagree. No? You don't know me well enough to comment or judge anything I say. Period. Hurray me, hurray you, let's all be adults about this. Kay? Thanks.

   I am getting really, really tired of defending live comedy just because people in general don't understand context. I am especially tired of people misunderstanding that defense of a form is not the same as approval of a point of view or specific joke. It annoys me that I end up in the position of defending someone like Daniel Tosh - who I don't think is particularly funny - by proxy by having this opinion. I also tend to find a LOT of stuff that other people find offensive funny. I find offensive stuff funny in general, regardless of what is being joked about. 
   Case in point: rape jokes. This is one of those topics that many people say you can't joke about. I fundamentally disagree with the idea that any topic can't be joked about. However, the big exception to this is context. There is a fairly large segment of the population that will never, ever, think these jokes are funny. And that's fine. It's an appropriate response. What the comic performer needs to understand is that you will never be able make these people accept your rape joke. Ever. Period. There is no argument you can make that can justify your material to them, even under the auspices of freedom of speech. You can also be wrong in understanding your own context as a performer. I.E. If you are a man you need to be very aware of the context in which you talk about a issue like rape comically.  Race issues present a similar conflict.
   Often my first response to something fucked up is to immediately laugh at it. This recently happened at a show I performed at where some extremely racially insensitive improv sketches were done. While not condoning the material, I laughed at both, but that is mostly because my context for the material (i.e. being a white male, liking offensive shit) is completely different from the people who were offended. I refuse to be apologetic about the initial reaction to the sketches. I do, on the other hand, understand the reasons why other people were deeply offended. I also understand I am speaking in a position of privilege here. I also think the improv troupe either did not understand, or was not fully aware of the context they were performing in. If they had, they might have understood that certain subjects were inappropriate for them to broach. I.E.: If you are in a venue or a show that prides itself on its spotlighting and/or promoting minority issues and artists, its probably a bad idea to be a white person making slavery jokes.
   However, by extension, any audience member needs to understand that a live comedy show (most especially a comedy club) is a context in which anything can be joked about at anytime. In addition, one of the comics may fuck up a joke that night, or have a inappropriate response to a heckler. It will be a singular event that happens that night and may never happen again, and it will offend you deeply. Fine. Be offended. Tell the performer you were offended if you must. Engage in a conversation in person ideally. But don't post a video of it on YouTube from your phone or write a Facebook bitchfest about it. I'm of the opinion that the experience of a single night of live comedy on a certain  level should remain a singular experience only between the people involved. I know that on some level this is idealistic and naive, but I don't care, it's how I feel. Having a honest discussion on a complicated issue with the people involved is not the same as flaming about it on the internet. Also, and I'm painfully aware of how stupid this may sound, its probably not a good idea bring your rape survivor friend to the comedy club.
  Making fun of or making jokes about these issues is how we come to realize how absurd or wrong these things are. But the context in which these jokes are made is always what seems to be ignored. I have repeated this so many times is has become a mantra: CONTEXT IS EVERYTHING WHEN IT COMES TO UNDERSTANDING COMEDY. You can not and should not try to control content, but you can make a greater effort to control and prepare for context.