Tuesday, March 27, 2012

Let's declare war on the MPAA!

Post-apocalyptic tweens killing each other
in a state-sanctioned Thunderdome on the
other hand is story that must be told: PG-13
The producers of the upcoming documentary 'Bully' are releasing their film without an MPAA rating. Who cares? We all should. 'Bully' follows the lives of five teenage victims of bullying in order to raise awareness of a legitimate social pandemic (suck on that Rick) that affects kids across the nation. The MPAA wanted to give it an 'R' rating which means that the film's most important demographic (kids in middle and high school) can't see the movie without a parent or guardian.

Trust me MPAA, kids have heard it all.
So what's the MPAA's beef? Why should a documentary about a serious problem affecting millions of children be rated R? Swearing. Yup, the MPAA wants to protect America's youth from the language they hear and use every fucking day of their life. Apparently the Motion Picture Association of America and parents everywhere are blissfully unaware of Xbox Live and the terrifyingly racist, homophobic and misogynistic putrescence that spews forth from the mouths of children. Like seriously: Halo, teenagers and anonymity are a terrible combination.

'Your movie shall be rated...J and no
one under 6'3" shall be admitted.
What do you think of that?'
Have you ever seen This Film is Not Yet Rated? Well, you should. It's a totally excellent exposé about the people who rate movies. It turns out they're a group of self-appointed censors who can arbitrarily hand out ratings based entirely on there own personal standards. They're not elected, there's no oversight or accountability and while you can release a movie without them, no major movie theaters will pick it up. This effectively gives them unlimited power over the movie industry (and possibly time and space, but I can't prove it...yet).

The issue isn't so much that a ratings board exists, but that it's broken. In theory the entire thing is designed around what the board feels is appropriate for children, but sex, nudity and swearing send the rating much higher than violence. Machine guns, murder and 'splosions? Fun for all ages. Someone utters a curse word or there's a nipple? You're in R country. What's up with that?

Both of these movies are rated 'R.' Both of them. See the problem?

Saturday, March 24, 2012

Michael Bay just told us to shut up.

+10 to your dork roll if you get this one.
"Fans need to take a breath and chill. They have not read the script...Relax, we are including everything that made you become fans in the first place. We are just building a richer world."
-Michael Bay telling us all to shut the hell up

"Michael Bay made Revenge of the Fallen."
-Me, on why we're right to be concerned 

Yeah, I'm talking about this again. Michael Bay had to know that making some crazy town statement like: 'These turtles are from an alien race' was going to piss fans off. That's why they call us fans: if we were reasonable people we wouldn't be having this discussion. And yes, I did notice the cleverly revisionist use of 'Ninja Turtles' instead of 'Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles,' well played, well played.
My problem with the Watchmen movie was that there weren't enough aliens.
The lesson to be learned here is that I'm going to hate whatever they do.
Michael Bay: A master of
rich, complex storytelling.
Oh, and just to be clear: my problem is not that aliens are being introduced into TMNT. There have always been aliens in TMNT. Krang, Triceratons, and sometimes even The Shredder. My problem is the suggestion that Bay is somehow improving on the subject matter by adding a 'more complex backstory.' Poppycock I say. Ninja Turtles is basically about ninja fighting and pizza, it's not Shakespeare. Why do the people who make adaptations of comic book characters always insist on putting their own needlessly complex spin on the origin story, Christopher Nolan? Just mutate the damn turtles before the title credits and then let them spend the rest of the time beating up the Foot Clan and cracking wise, that's what everybody came to see.

Feel free to check my ninja math here, but I'm pretty
sure the Turtles are already awesome.

"Behold: the power of nerds
complaining on the internet!"
Check out this interview Collider (via io9) did with the reboot's director Jonathan Liebesman. In it, he reminds us that the ooze that mutates the turtles is alien and that they're still 'sitting in a room figuring everything out.' The ooze being invented by aliens is true in most versions of the origin story and is not at all the same thing as the turtles themselves coming from another planet. This means that either Michael Bay doesn't know what he's talking about or they're caving to fan outrage. I suspect that both are a little true.

Friday, March 23, 2012

What I want to know is how fired is Geraldo?

Far be it from me to dispute the wisdom that dribbles out from under Geraldo's mighty stash (see below), but I'm going to go out on a limb here and suggest that the inexplicably armed neighborhood watch guy who gunned down a teenager for absolutely no reason is exactly 2000% more responsible for Trayvon Martin's death than the hoodie he was wearing.

-Geraldo Rivera opening his damn mouth 
See? Kittens! And
they're in a basket!
Huffington also posted some Tweets Rivera, uh, tweeted, including this amazing douchefecta in which he manages to blame the victim, the victim's parents and minorities in general:

'Its sad that I have to be the one reminding minority parents of the risk that comes with being a kid of color in America--channel the rage'

That emotion you're feeling? I call it 'vomitus ultra-fury.' Don't be alarmed, it will pass. In the mean time, look at these kittens (right) to calm down. 

Thursday, March 22, 2012

NARTH is neither national, nor research nor therapy: discuss.

A friend of mine whose job includes keeping tabs on terrible people and their hobbies, kicked me this link and I though I'd share. It's an article about the National Association for the Research and Therapy of Homosexuality which I had never heard of before but apparently they're huge in the world of right-wing propaganda. NARTH's goal is to provide a counter to the increasing acceptance of gays and lesbians in our culture because if there is one thing Jesus absolutely can not stand it's when people get along and treat each other like brothers.

NARTH's argument is that homosexuality is a mental disorder and, if this was 1950, they wouldn't be alone in that opinion. But despite every reputable physiological organization abandoning that stance decades ago, NARTH is still clinging to it like old people on AOL.
"Anyone who doesn't want to crank out five or six of these
 little disease carrying, money sponges is obviously a lunatic."

-NARTH logic
Put these guys in lab coats and
they'd still be assholes.
So what's the big deal if a bunch of medieval dickweeds want to pretend that gayness is a form of crazy? Well, I'll tell you the big deal. This article is from The Intelligence Report, the publication of the Southern Poverty Law Center and it's their job to track hate groups in America. NARTH, as a leading fountain of anti-gay horseshit falls into that category. They are to the LGBT community what the Klan is to everybody who isn't white and crazy except they do it under the pretense of science and therapy and this is where my biscuits get oh so thoroughly burnt.

NARTH presents itself as a non-partisan group that supports the notion that homosexuality is not a choice (which is true) but is 'curable' (which is not). Rhetorically, calling something curable implies that it's a disease so right off the top these guys have an agenda.
Although there is hope for members of NARTH as
scientists are making great strides in the fight against stupid.
"Vote for me! I hate
everyone you hate."
Science is science and science says that gayness is just a human trait like eye color or being Canadian. What pisses me off about NARTH is that they package their homophobic vitriol as science which is then picked up by groups like Focus on the Family who then turn around and endorse people like Rick Santorum. It's not so much that I care about who FOF is endorsing, but it's really messed up that actual hate groups can endorse Republican candidates and no one so much as bats an eye.

 With endorsements from Focus on the Family and Glenn Beck already in hand,
all Rick Santorum needs now is a nod from Westboro Baptists Church and he can build a hotel.
(incidentally, the pool at the Santorum Inn and Motor lodge is 'Whites Only')

Tuesday, March 20, 2012

What about Robotech? Has anyone ruined that yet?

We're you a kid in the late 80's early
 90's? Then this man HATES you.
Joel Schumacher put nipples on the Bat-suit and we fell back. J.J. Abrams blew up Vulcan and we fell back. The line must be drawn he-yah! Michael Bay must not be allowed to screw up the Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles. Behold this thing he said:

"These turtles are from an alien race, and they are going to be tough, edgy, funny and completely lovable."
-Michael Bay, assassin of joy

Fuck you. The Turtles are mutants, not aliens. It says so in the goddamned title: Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles. They don't need a new origin. Kevin Eastman and Peter Laird did not make a mistake when they created these characters. I pray to Lloth that this is all just a misunderstanding and that Bay was simply coked out of his mind and misspoke. 

If this is for real, mark my words Michael Bay: your movie
will rank below TMNT 2. And that one had Vanilla Ice.

Can you name this Autobot? If yes,
then you are geeky enough to procede.
Why would he want to change such a big part of the Turtles' mythos? To answer that we need look no further than Bay's Transformers movies and the way none of the characters really resembled their cartoon counterparts. I complained about this a while back, remember? This wouldn't normally be a big deal, but it's a symptom of a bigger problem. Buckle up now, because from here on out it's gonna get nerdy(-er). I'll understand if you want to bail out. Still with me? Swell. Now let's talk mass-shifting (told ya so).  

The TARDIS, for example, is bigger
on the inside and powered by whimsy.
Mass-shifting in Transformers nerdom is the rubber science explanation for why a thirty-foot robot like Soundwave could turn into a 1980's tape deck: all the excess matter gets stored in sub-space. Does it make any scientific sense? No, of course not, it's preposterous, but so are robots from space disguising themselves as Volkswagons. We willingly accept it despite the fact that it's bullshit because we enjoy the characters and love robots that turn into stuff. Some things are more Fi than Sci and that's ok. 

When making the live-action movies, Bay insisted that the mass of the characters in robot form corresponded to their alt-modes. That's why Megatron turned into some kind of lame space-jet instead of the disturbingly realistic handgun we all played with as kids.
Decepticon Leader Megatron® is fun for ages 10 and up. Do not point at cops.
-from the toy's packaging

The villain will be Dr. Ted 'The Shredder'
Wells, an evil dentist and part-time ninja.
It kind of felt as though the director thought that the premise was kind of silly and needed fixing. Same thing with TMNT. It's like he thinks the audience won't buy the idea that the Turtles were someone's mutated pets and that space ninjas are somehow more plausible. But if Bay hates the source material so much, should he even be involved in it? I mean, hand it off to someone who's down with the Turtles, or if he's really bent on telling the story of edgy, lovable alien ninjas then create something new. People have been known to come up with new things you know.

The only good to come out of all this is that it looks like the film industry has finally run out of ways to ruin growing up in the...oh, son of a bitch...

"In this version, Link, a spunky robot with a heart of gold (literally!), must rescue
Grand Duchess Zelda from Gannon, a talking pig-wizard from the future. Also it's in 3-D!"
-Michael Bay on how he'd ruin this too

Monday, March 19, 2012

Let's declare war on porn!

Finally Helen, someone who will
think of the children.
Did you know that we, as in America, were suffering from a pandemic? Well, we are according to Rick Santorum. Yeah he's not referring to a real pandemic like HIV or malaria, nope, he's referring to porn. It's a porndemic, and Rick Santorum's got the cure. In an effort to clinch the votes of the kind of people who use phrases like 'traditional values' as a euphemism for 'straight white Evangelical Christian values,' Rick Santorum has vowed, if elected, to wage a war on porn.

Rest assured we have our top
men working on it. Top. Men.
On his website he says hilariously un-sourced and unsubstantiated things like this:

'A wealth of research is available demonstrating that pornography causes profound brain changes in both children and adults...'

What research? Where is it? Can we see it? No? Ok, I guess we'll just shut up and trust Rick Santorum on this one.

Paleo-porn: Niche, but perfectly legal.
(note: these T-Rex's are over 18)
He also talks about the widespread distribution of 'illegal obscene pornography' without really explaining what that means. Is he talking about regular porn? Is that illegal? When did that happen? Maybe he's thinking of furry-porn, you know, when people dress up like animals and get it on. Of course, I'm pretty sure that's legal too (I mean, I heard it is...). I'm not a lawyer, but for something to be illegal, doesn't there have to be a law against it? If you're going to wage a war on something, shouldn't you know a little something about it? Not that that's stopped anyone before (oh burn! see what I did there?).

Ok, so I guess I'm willing to cut him a little slack here. After all, like most Republicans, Rick Santorum is sexually aroused only by stock portfolios and Tom Clancy novels. When it comes to porn he can't be expected to know anything about it, but that's kind of the problem isn't it?
No conservative's porn stash would be complete with out C.I.A. analyst Jack Ryan's
taut, erotic forays into the steamy world of international politics...aw yeah...levy those sanctions...
Careful, that's load-bearing smut.
What I don't think Santorum is considering is exactly what would happen to the internet if all porn were suddenly removed. At last count, the internet is something like 70% porn. Leaving aside the fact that except for certain material (which should be and is illegal) porn isn't against the law, and forgetting for a moment that Rick Santorum is again pandering to ignorance and fear to win votes you can't just tear out that much of the online world, the whole thing could come crashing down.

Remember when Walter Peck shut down the containment grid in Ghostbusters? Yeah. It'd be exactly like that.

What? There's a wealth of research available saying that this is exactly what would happen.

Sunday, March 18, 2012

Tripping on L

Yeah, they frown on a lot of things.
Remember a ways back when a Catholic Priest denied communion to a woman at her own mother's funeral? Well, it happened. I should explain for those not as well-versed in the subject of theology as I am that communion is a Catholic sacrament (important holy-thing) by which Catholics commune with the almighty. Basically it's a big damn deal. So what's the Father Marcel Guarnizo's problem? Why couldn't Barbara Johnson receive communion with everybody else? Well, it turns out the Catholic Church frowns on lesbians. Who knew right?

During the ceremony, Catholics receive communion wafers. These wafers are a
power-up they use to protect themselves against the Holy Ghosts that chase them
around mazes. What? Are you going to waste valuable seconds googling this or
are you just going to trust me on this one? ...Well? Yeah. Thought so.
This dude just needs to get laid.
Anyway, in a surprisingly hip move the Catholic Church actually apologized for the priest's actions and then suspended him-for which he should be grateful given the Church's penchant for thumb-screws and inquisitions. Here's his explanation as to why he couldn't give Leviticus a rest for two minutes and just be a mensch: 

"If a Quaker, a Lutheran or a Buddhist, desiring communion had introduced himself as such...a priest would be obliged to withhold communion. If someone had shown up in my sacristy drunk, or high on drugs, no communion would have been possible either."
-Father Marcel Guarnizo

Yeah, he just compared being gay (or Quaker, Lutheran or Buddhist for that matter) to being drunk or addicted to drugs because nothing says 'God is love' more than 'get out of my sight you hell-bound sodomites, I don't care if it is your mother's funeral.'
In fairness, Lesbians are drug addicts.
Their drug of choice: Ladies.
Lighten up, why is everything
an abomination with you guys?
The worst part is he's probably right, at least technically. It probably is against the rules, but that just means the rules suck. Whether they like it or not some people are gay, some people will get divorced and condoms really are a good idea. Maybe it's time to loosen the collar a little? Like for real, Father Guarnizo's profession is in serious danger of going the way of Betamax, is this really the time to turn people away because some 3000 year-old homophobe wasn't down with shellfish and gay people?

Sorry Betamax fans, I realize it was the superior format,
but let's face it: it's not coming back.

Thursday, March 15, 2012

It is now officially known as: Pennsyltucky.

'...you just have to close your eyes.'
-Governor Tom Corbett,
sounding like a rapist
Yup, the Governor of Pennsylvania really said that (see right). And yes, it's in reference to a bill which would, among other things, require women to undergo an ultrasound (in some cases an invasive intervaginal ultrasound) before being allowed to have an abortion. Which is like, legal. The proposed bill is part of a new craze sweeping the nation whereby Republicans, frustrated by the fact that women can exercise control over their bodies, are trying to make it even more difficult both physically and emotionally to have an abortion.

"We don't hate women. We just don't
trust them to make decisions on their own."

-Rick Santorum*

This is one of the reasons people think Republicans hate women. Abortion rights is one those areas where left and right should totally be on the same page. Democrats are all about respecting women and their rights, and Republicans are supposed to be all about individual rights and self-determination. I mean, look at Ron Paul, he doesn't even believe in roads or public school. In the venn diagram of political philosophies the right to control one's body should be firmly situated between liberal and conservative. So can someone tell me why everyone in the GOP is so interested in running for President of Your Vagina?  

What? They like guns and tea bagging.
*I mean, it sounds like something he'd say.

Tuesday, March 13, 2012

Hey everyone, it's Year of the Jackass!

"Oh yeaaaah! Drink this in
remembrance of me!"
Oh man, what is it with athiest groups anyway? Like, can they even hear themselves? Before you ask if I drank the communion Kool-Aid, I should clarify that I'm not leaping to the defense of Bible-thumpers because I fear the wrath of some all-powerful cloud-jockey in the sky and I'm not talking about individual atheists or their perfectly valid observation that if there is a supreme being it's gone way out of its way to remain anonymous. What I am talking about is a group of Atheists who got together and put up a billboard suggesting that religion is a form of slavery. Because that's constructive.

"We're just comparing everyones most cherished beliefs to the centuries of
 slavery endured by millions of people. What's offensive about that?"
-Americanatheists.org's head of Public Relations
about three minutes before clearing out his desk 

"C'mon seven! Baby needs a
carbon-based life form!"
Guys for real, we've talked about this. If you want to make a case for why you think the universe is a cold, godless expanse with no more meaning than a cosmic crap shoot, then do it. More often than not, the evidence is on your side. On the other hand if you want to come off like a pack of smug douchebags then by all means keep doing what you're doing. Isn't atheism supposed to be about science and rationalism? Insisting that you know for an absolute fact that there's no higher power and that people are wasting their time 'doing unto others' kind of undermines your point.

Of course Pennsylvania Jesus-fans aren't completely blameless themselves. The group, Americanatheists.org, was upset by the Pennsylvania House of Representatives declaring 2012 "The Year of the Bible." Sure, the resolution doesn't have the force of law, but it is like the entire House got together to tell non-Christian Pennsylvanians that they're going to hell. Because that's also constructive. Sigh.
"Look, as legislators it's our job to pass laws, levy taxes, manage the State's budget and
to remind everyone that Jesus is the King of America and all who oppose him will
writhe in the Lake of Fire for all eternity. I don't see what everyone's problem is."

-Rick Saccone, Pennsylvania House of Representatives, 39th District
on why the bill he sponsored is a valid use of the Government's time. 
Ben Franklin: 18th century fex-machine 
The bill's sponsor, Representative Rick Saccone, points out that many important figures in American history have been keen on the Christain holy book and that's super. But the fact that Benjamin Franklin kept a Bible in the nightstand while banging French prostitutes is not a liscense to use the apparatus of Government to shove religion down our throats. Atheists in Pennsylvania have every reason to be outraged. So do Pennsylvania's many Jews, Muslims, agnostics, Christians and really everybody who understands that church + state = shit like the Crusades. What did Rick think would happen?

That's how you win hearts and minds.

Similarly, Americanatheists.org has to understand that people tend to get upset when you put up a 14' by 48' billboard announcement about how they're wrong to believe in things. What about that ad made those behind it think it was a good idea? Was it the racial overtones? Was it the implication that religious belief is a relic of the bronze-age and that only non-believers are intellectually mature? Yes, the 'Year of the Bible' bill is a dick move, but so's the ad.

I'm not saying I think either side is right here, or that one side started it but I would suggest that maybe the reason Americanathiests.org is acting like a petulant teenager thumbing his nose at religion is that religious folks are kind of asking for it by setting themselves up as an out-of-touch authority figure on a power trip. Maybe everyone involved could try acting like adults here?
If Americanathiests.org is Judd Nelson and religious people are Mr. Vernon, does
that make Molly Ringwald Scientology? Oh, and Ally Sheedy would be the Agnostics.
Also, on a side note... 

2012 is already the Year of the Dragon. It can't be two things so if it came down to a fight, who are you going to bet on? A highly-flammable book of rules about how you should stone your wife to death if she wears the wrong kind of cloth or eats shellfish on Sunday? Or is your money on the flying lizard with sword-proof scales and a penchant for burning down villages with its fire-breath? 
It's also important to note that Dragons are awesome,
and that's why people play D&D instead of Bibleopoly.

Saturday, March 10, 2012

Nice telescope Azeem, does Hans Lippershey know you have it?

The moral of the story: The quiet, smart kid
will fucking murder you 'cause he's jealous.
Hey guess what non-believers? We've got Morgan Freeman. Yeah, that's right, Morgan Freeman has joined the ranks of people who have publicly declared their belief in aliens. Whatta ya think of that? Because he's able to read anything and make it sound interesting (honest to god I'd listen to him read John Knowles' A Separate Peace), Freeman hosts a series for the Science Channel (not the SyFy Channel, just to be clear) about space hilariously called "Through the Wormhole." This week's episode asks the question: Are there aliens? At the risk of spoilers, the answer is: Of course there are, what are you, an idiot?

He's always been ahead of his time.
Sometimes 400 years ahead.

Comfortingly, Freeman also takes a moment to remind us that aliens are nothing to worry about, unless of course we piss them off. Here's what he told the Huffington Post:

"Whoever shows up here may be a totally benign force looking for life in the universe...But if we show up someplace and they think of us as hostile, then they may be hostile. And that's another kettle of fish."

-Penguin narrator Morgan Freeman

Morgan Freeman is also SAG's Secretary of Understatement.
Did you think this ran on unleaded?

This is what I've been saying all along (except for the fish part). Aliens aren't out to get us. If they were the violent sociopaths movies make them out to be then they'd still be stuck on their own planet fighting petty wars with themselves over fossil fuels and conceptions of the afterlife. Even if they were warlike, there's no reason to attack our backwards little world. It's not like the Earth has any valuable minerals or compounds that aren't freely available elsewhere. It would be like sending the Army to invade a Hess station in Jakarta instead of going to the Mobil up the street. 

Look, any life form smart enough to build a warp drive or whatever they use to cross the lightyears between stars would have to have evolved past the 'kill you and take your stuff' phase so let's all settle down and welcome the benevolent rule of our galactic overlords. Sound good?

Of course, they'll also have progressed beyond what we earthmen call 'love,'
so it will be up to our doughy-est space captains to teach them.