Archive for the 'homeland security' Category

District 9 movie marketing- will the political/ cultural allegories resonate?*

I have many (mostly) male friends, nerdboys of the highest order.  Like me, they collect action figures, watch Star Wars on a regular basis, debating the merits of the chapters, characters, arc and colors of the light-sabres and generally revel in the outright fantasy without guilt or embarrassment.

And rightly so.  They are some of the smartest, most successful people I interact with and I’m proud to stand in line with them for hours to get in to see Iron Man’s first showing.  However, they tend not to know too much about international politics, or at least don’t discuss it.

So when one of them, JET, came to me and insisted I watch a preview for District 9, I was struck by the plot and setting.  Aliens have landed, neither to hurt nor to help, they are refugees and are being kept away from humans in tin roofed shacks in a contained area in Johannesburg.  I didn’t need to wait to see the credits, hear the accents or even the remaining 90 seconds of the trailer to know that I was looking at Soweto.  It kind of hit me in the stomach- I wasn’t expecting this from what is clearly a sci-fi/ action film aimed at young men.  But the setting was striking.

It’s not a coincidence, the title refers to the District 6 township in Cape Town.  I wonder if the “9” is a nod to the ward in New Orleans.  The director is South African and the set design, terminology and visuals are striking to anyone who has even set foot in South Africa- during or after apartheid.  The psychic sucker punch were nearly identical images broadcast from the  Soweto riots of a year ago, where frustrated, unemployed black South Africans, afraid for what little they’ve been able to gain in the 13 years since Apartheid ended, began attacking the refugees from Angola, Mozambique, Zimbabwe and Nigeria… anyone who might take their potential jobs, or recognition they’d so long been denied.

I’m still unsure as to why this unsettles me so much or surprises me.  Comic books and science fiction have always been social and cultural mirrors disguised in fantastic situations and characters, but mainstream studios making the connections more obvious (think Iron Man, Stark Industries and Afghanistan) is intriguing.

I suppose there are several questions which I will chew over before and after seeing this film (I’ve never been accused of under-analyzing anything, including action movies).  The question I am mainly interested in opening for discussion is this:  are the studio execs putting their money where their mouths are in making some aspect of more mainstream movies politically relevant, are they not thinking about it, or do they think their audience won’t notice, or worse, won’t care?

Click here to see trailer.

*or am I imagining all of this?

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fording the rio grande

oh, where to begin, where to begin.

we got to barca around four or five in the afternoon: hot, tired and thrilled to be amongst spaniards.  we grabbed some fabulous food and went up and checked into our hovel.  i mean hole.  i mean hostal.  we grabbed some rest, went out for a bocadillo in a sandwich chain (shut it.  it had air conditioning, which was desperately needed at this point).  then, we decided to hunt for a decent pub.  true, the proverbial bar had been lowered to the point we could shuffle over it, but we were in barcelona and we meant business.  this, of course, left only one choice: hogan’s, an authentic australian bar squai on las ramblas.

a pint of fosters here, a pint of fosters in an irish bar and the hunt continued.  we happened upon- get this- another irish bar.  ok, a few more.  but that’s not really the point.  the point is people, that we were in an irish bar.  which means the trouble was a-brewing.  i asked cs at the beginning of the trip what the over/under was on us being in the middle of stag party at some point.  we should have made some points, because before you could say “yes, i’ll have that fifth pint of fosters, please” there we were. 

they were even easier to identify than usual because they were all wearing matching soccer (ok.  football.  they were brits) jerseys with a picture of the groom as a four year old and their nicknames on them.  before i could say “how much do i owe you for that drink?,” we were in the midst of four of the eighteen members.  let’s call them herbs, plan b, rio and mark.  because that’s what they were named.  at least according to their shirts. 

quite quickly, and without warning, i had entered into a transaction with, um, rio, to meet up at three am at the hard rock cafe for a little action if neither of us got lucky before then.  i was totally kidding and not taking him seriously, of course.  i think he sensed this so he broke out the big guns: the pinkie swear.  now i was legally bound.  it was for serious a true blue straight up transaction.  no flirting or leg work.  it was a five minute once over from either side and then a contract.

alas, as chance would have it, we never got to frequent that fine, movie-themed establishment because we kept chatting at the bar.  rio asked if i’d like to accompany him to get some fags (cigarettes, not homosexual men).  i told cs i’d be back in ten seconds as i hadn’t yet decided what my involvement would be with this gentleman, but when we got to the newstand and he asked me how to say condoms in espanol, i figured what the hell?  he’s totally full of himself and british, but really hot (think jason statham) and i’m young, white and single.  so, i told the man “un paquete de condons” and off we went.  i rolled my eyes when he told the shopkeep “the big ones, please.” let’s come back to this later.

after a brief stop at my hovel (it was closer) during which we were kicked out and i remembered that i am far too old and well paid to be staying in places that don’t allow guests, we headed off to his fancy pants hotel and headed straight upstairs.  i think it was around the point that he held the door open for me that i finally decided that i’d probably hook up with him.  alright.  ok.  it was when he told me that he liked the cut of my jib two hours before, but let’s pretend.

anyhoo, all you need to know:
seriously.jpg
(seriously. more or less, this is what we’re talking about)

without getting too graphic, let’s just say that his little throwaway comment at the newstand was not only not a joke, but an understatement.  i thought we were going to have product relevancy issues.

he taught me several handy phrases in egyptian arabic which revealed that he was, in fact, egyptian arabic and quite pleased by my earlier statements regarding the US and UK’s treatment of muslims.

i was called, in all seriousness, a ‘naughty minx.’

i am totally hooking up with more self-centered playboys.  good god did that guy know what he was doing.

finally, i LOVE this transaction thing.  no nonsense, no time wasted.  which rocked, because it meant more time for play.

when i was ready to leave at seven am, he got dressed to walk me home, much to my surprise.  he was insulted that i even conceived of the notion that he wouldn’t be a gentleman.  i was like “take no offense, in new york, i’d be like ‘bag of peanuts,’ i’m getting on the subway.” 

he gave me his email and told me to tell him when i’d next be in london, which i readily, though very wearily, agreed to. 

cs lewis was happier to see me than anyone had been in my life.  my “ten seconds” had been more like four hours and she was concerned.  for a hot second.  then we hi5ed ourselves to sleep.

just because you’re paranoid doesn’t mean homeland security isn’t writing all this down

LOS ANGELES, May 10 — Michael Moore, the provocative filmmaker who has made a career out of skewering automakers, gun enthusiasts and the Bush administration, is being investigated by the Treasury Department over a trip he made to Cuba for his new film, “Sicko.”

This month the department sent a letter to Mr. Moore saying it was investigating whether he had violated restrictions on travel to Cuba when he accompanied sick workers seeking free medical care as part of a documentary on America’s health care industry.

Treasury Department representatives did not return phone calls seeking comment. On Mr. Moore’s Web site, the film’s producer, Meghan O’Hara, called the department’s actions a “politically motivated investigation.”

The ailing workers shown traveling to Cuba in the film had helped clean up the World Trade Center site after the Sept. 11 attacks.

The letter from the Treasury Department asked for detailed information about the trip, including evidence that Mr. Moore was employed as a journalist. Journalists can secure permission to go to Cuba.

The government also sought the name and address of the travel agent who made the reservations, and receipts, and the names and addresses of all of those who went on the trip. News of the letter was first reported by The Associated Press.

Chris Lehane, who was press secretary to Vice President Al Gore and has been retained by the Weinstein Company, the film’s distributor, said the Treasury Department had been aware of the trip for a long time.

“We feel comfortable with the terms with which we went to Cuba,” Mr. Lehane said.

Harvey Weinstein, a co-founder of the company, said the timing of the letter suggested an attack by the Bush administration meant to discredit the film. But Mr. Weinstein said: “They are only causing more publicity. It’s so ironic. They should let sleeping dogs lie.”

He said he was concerned that the Treasury Department would try to prevent the part of the movie shot in Cuba from being shown. “We have the resources to fight,” he said.

“Sicko” is set to open at the Cannes Film Festival on May 19 and nationwide on June 29.

If past behavior portends the future, Mr. Moore and his backers will most likely use the government inquiry to the film’s advantage.

In May 2004, Mr. Moore and his agent, Ari Emanuel, went public with complaints that the Walt Disney Company was refusing to distribute the film “Fahrenheit 9/11,” causing a ruckus in Hollywood and Washington. The movie earned $220 million at the box office worldwide.


truth

“I've learned that people will forget what you said, people will forget what you did, but people will never forget how you made them feel.”

truth

Upon common theatres, indeed, the applause of the audience is of more importance to the actors than their own approbation. But upon the stage of life, while conscience claps, let the world hiss! On the contrary if conscience disapproves, the loudest applauses of the world are of little value - john adams
December 2017
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from the man who taught me everything:

“Be who you are and say what you feel because those who mind don't matter and those who matter don't mind.”

bygones