Jesse Bullington and I have (perhaps foolishly) decided to embark upon a quest: watching “classic” adventure movies that informed one or both of our childhoods. This week I know I talked up the film and that’s always a recipe for everyone on the internet being like “it’s not so bad! wtf?” but I don’t care. I hated this movie.
The Film: Ladyhawke (1985)
Also known as: The Movie That Broke Molly (2010)
WHOSE RESPONSIBLE THIS??? Story by Edward Kharma (The Quaid epic Enemy Mine), screenplay by Kharma and three co-writers who boast such credits Blade Runner (David Peoples), The Hunger (Michael Thomas), and the Dragnet movie (Tom Mankiewicz). Oh, and Michael Thomas also co-wrote Molly’s favorite movie ever, Countryman, so check that out if you get the chance and remember to pass it on. Direction by Richard Donner of The Goonies fame, which could explain Molly’s allergic reaction to Ladyhawke. Painfully dated soundtrack by Alan Parsons Project alum Andrew Powell and, well, Alan Parsons, of all people. We were specifically warned about this element by Clint Harris and it still kicked our brains in the genitals, if you can imagine such a thing. Just awful. Oh, and acting by Catwoman (Michelle Pfeiffer), Ferris Bueller (Matthew Broderick), Lothos from the Buffy movie (Rutger Hauer), the super-genius-turned-hermit from WarGames (John Wood), Number Two from the old Prisoner show (Leo McKern), and a rather grungy looking Doc Ock (Alfred Molina).
Quote: “This is not unlike escaping mother’s womb. God, what a memory.”
Alternate quote: “Do you know that hawks and wolves mate for life? The Bishop didn’t even leave us that. . . not even that.”
Molly’s reaction to hearing both of those lines, and most others: “What? What?! FUCK!”
First viewing by Molly: Last week.
First viewing by Jesse: Probably around seven years old.
Most recent viewing by both: Last week.
Impact on Molly’s childhood development: Blissfully unaware of its very existence.
Impact on Jesse’s childhood development: Moderate. Even as a kid I think I subconsciously recognized that the concept was much cooler than the execution and so my Ladyhawke make-believe was far superior to the actual thing. I mean, when you’re seven year old Jesse I don’t know if it’s possible to get a cooler scenario than knight-in-black-armor-with-rad-sword-who-is-also-a-werewolf-and-also-is-Michelle-Pfeiffer’s-boyfriend when it comes to running around the woods stabbing trees with a stick.
(Molly Aside: I keep saying this to Jesse but he won’t fucking listen: RUTGER HAUER IS NOT A WEREWOLF. He might be a gentlemanwolf or maybe a knightwolf but he is sure as fuck not cool enough to be a werewolf.)
Random youtube clip that hasn’t been taken down for copyright infringement:
Molly’s thoughts prior to watching: I admit I was intrigued. Several years ago a friend alleged this movie was pretty cool. I like falconry. Whatever could go wrong? OH, WAIT. EVERYTHING.
Jesse’s thoughts prior to re-watching: There’s a reason I hadn’t gone back and re-watched Ladyhawke since I was a kid, and that reason is that I suspected it would not withstand the test of time. I couple of times I’d come across Ladyhawke DVDs in the bargain bin at stores retailing for $1.99 and always put it back down, thinking it best to leave this particular film as a fond memory instead of a painful contemporary viewing experience. But Molly had never seen it, and when she heard the premise there was no going back—I suspected she would hate it, but hoped the nostalgia factor would be high enough to keep me from gouging my eyes out.
Molly’s thoughts post-viewing: Fuck. Fuck and shit. Fuck and shit and I hope everyone involved with this movie got bunions. I loathed this movie. I loathed it from the moment I heard the inexplicable and troubling musical score during the opening scene. My loathing grew when Ye Olde Matthewe Brodericke showed up onscreen. I still loathe it, a week after watching it. Jesse was not exaggerating: this movie broke me. It hurt something precious inside my heart and soul that I don’t think I’ll ever get back.
For starters, it is criminally miscast. Matthew Broderick is goddamn wretched in it—he is exactly everything I despise in a movie character (twee-ly annoying, wisecracking, cowardly, comic-relief-that-isn’t, ugh). His phony stupid accent made me want to die. His haircut made me want to break things. Michelle Pfeiffer is terrible, as well, starring as a classic MPDG, and, as I have now learned, this trope is even more repugnant when placed in a fantasy setting. And then we come to Rutger Hauer, an actor I have a distinctly love/hate relationship with: I love him as the creepy vampire Lothos in the Buffy the Vampire Slayer movie, and I fucking hate him as I do everyone/everything that was involved with Flesh and Blood, a movie that is definitely another candidate for Most Hated Film in The Book of Tanzer. Let me just say this: I don’t mind adventure-movie dudes who are, you know, slightly less ‘roid-raged out than Conan. I mean, honestly, the standard of all adventure-movie dreamboats for me is Cary Elwes in The Princess Bride, dirtstache and being unable to actually fight the badguy at the end and all. I only mention this because I don’t want to be taken amiss if I say that Rutger Hauer’s character Etienne Navarre in Ladyhawke is such a god damn do-nothing wusspot boring piece of garbage that he makes Bow from She-Ra look hard. Jesus. What the fuck is he even doing in this movie?! Fuck, fuck, FUCK! I mean, OK seriously, seriously, when his fucking trueloveomgforeverz girlfriend—the titular and inexplicably old-timey extra e-ed Ladyhawke—is wounded by an arrow and needs medical attention, what does our brave knight errant Navarre do? OH SHIT. Well, fuck, instead of taking her for some first aid himself, he decides, for no reason whatsoever, to send her away with his coward dipshit sorta-squire Matthew Fucking Broderick. Really? How fucking noble! I’m sure she appreciated it! I’m sure she understood that he was just too goddamn busy hanging out in a field or something! And also! His character can’t fight good unless he has his dad’s sword! Call me crazy, but I’m really more awed by heroes who can pick up just about anything and kick ass—I’m not sure who Navarre’s swordmaster was, but he seriously dropped the ball.
And that’s just the casting—the plot sucks so hard I think all the trees around Jesse’s apartment are now permanently angled toward his windows. Fuck. NOTHING HAPPENS. I was so disengaged while watching this movie that it never even occurred to me that Navarre was disappearing at night and turning into a wolf (wolfe?)—when we see Ladyhawke (who has a name but I’m not going to look it up because I don’t care and I remember it sounding stupid) kinda petting the black German Shepard they cast as a wolf I just thought she had a way with animals cuz she’s the ladyhawke, after all. Nope, it turns out he’s cursed, too. So, OK. Whatevs? Gawd.
So here is the plot, for the record: Matthew Broderick (AKA “the mouse”) is a crappy thief who escapes from Azkaban, but he’s being pursued by an Evil Abbot (what other kind of religious figure is there in a fantasy movie, other than an affable drunken priest? Don’t worry, he shows up laterz). The Evil Abbot is sorta-kinda in charge of Azkaban and wants Broderick back because otherwise. . . uh. . . other people? Will try to escape? Or something? But things become even more “complicated” when Broderick falls in with Hauer/Ladyhawke because it turns out that Hauer/Ladyhawke are. . . both, uh, under a spell. . . that the Evil Abbot put on them? With the help of (really!) the devil. The spell is that she is a hawke in the day and he is a wolfe at night. For the middle part of the movie Broderick/Hauer/Ladyhawke run around for a while doing absolutely nothing, and then Ladyhawke is injured and they take her to the Drunken Affable Priest who has decided that there’s a way to break the curse when. . . an eclipse happens? Because it’s a day without a night and a night without a day? FUCK AND SHIT. So they go to confront the Evil Abbot, and fucking Hauer tells fucking Drunken Affable Priest to straight-up murder Ladyhawke if he fails to slay the Evil Abbot. This is, of course, the best part of the film, because ol’ Ladyhawke definitely never really mentions she’d rather die than live without Hauer’s milquetoast bargain-basement wannabe-Lancelot angst-filled bullshit; in fact, she seems to think that Broderick’s character is pretty OK and I’m guessing she would prefer to live a long and happy—if nocturnal—life together if Hauer got iced, instead of, you know, being murdered and stuff. But oh fucking noes Hauer can’t fight anyone adequately because Broderick lost his special sword in a ridiculous icy-lake scene I’ve forgotten, but it turns out that OH SHIT the sword is actually still around because Broderick just. . . hid it? Instead of giving it back? For no reason? So, using the ol’ fantasy-movie “I’m wearing a robe and thus no one notices I’m not really a priest” trick he retrieves the sword. . . from under their cart. . . and throws it to Hauer, who then throws it through the abbot’s chest because that’s all he can do as a hero and everything is OK because Ladyhawke turned back into a Lady instead of a Ladyhawke during the eclipse and she and Hauer kinda spin each other around and it’s OK! THE END! EVEN THOUGH ALL THE OTHER PRIESTS ARE HANGING AROUND JUST SORTA STARING AT THE PEOPLE WHO MURDERED THEIR ABBOT AND YOU THINK THEY’D BE PISSED! But they’re not! And also everyone kisses and touches Matthew Broderick on the face and it’s weird and uncomfortable to see Broderick and Hauer having A Moment Between Men while Ladyhawke looks on all like wheeeeeee my boyfriend told a priest to murder me but it’s OK because he’s handsome (?) and I’m not a bird!
I hated this movie.
Jesse’s thoughts post-viewing: As it turns out the nostalgia factor was high enough to keep me from gouging my eyes out. My ears, however, were not so lucky—whoever thought fusing Gregorian chants with an Alan Parsons jam session should be publically flogged. That said, the movie itself was, while decidedly not good, really not so bad. In all fairness, I was paying more attention to Molly’s reactions than to the movie itself because it was far more interesting but the snatches I caught of the film between Molly’s outbursts looked like they were shot on location, which is cool, and Alfred Molina was looking all kinds of skeezy, which is also cool. Plus I think Kintaro Miura modeled young Gatsu’s armor on Rutger Hauer’s, which is maybe a point in its favor. Maybe?
Ladyhawke apparently has a large cult following, which makes less sense than the actual movie itself. It’s way too tame to appeal to the flesh and blood/Flesh and Blood audience, and seemingly way too fucked to appeal to a more romantic crowd—as Molly pointed out, the scene where Hauer orders Number Two to murder Ladyhawke if Hauer’s quest fails is downright creepy. Nice romantic lead you got there.
So the dialogue was spotty, the plot nonsensical, the motivations baffling/nonexistent, the soundtrack dreadful, the pacing slow, the action boring, and the overall tone dull. . . big deal. I’ve seen worse; I’ve seen a lot worse. And really, witnessing Molly’s suffering was both a hoot and a holler, as they used to say back in Pennsyltucky—though it did stretch a two hour movie into a four hour one as Molly kept pausing the film to scream at the television. Trust me, the diatribe above is positively restrained compared to the IRL meltdown this movie brought on. So while I agree with all of her points, I must say that re-watching it was a helluva lot of fun. Now, if I’d watched it by myself I might have a different opinion but this project is all about the experience of viewing it together.
High Points: None at all, according to Molly. Jesse liked the sets and filming locations, and Hauer’s sweet double-action crossbow.
Low Points: Every element of the film, according to Molly. Jesse would like to single out the music. The music, oh the music. For example, check out the opening credits, where the first minute or so is strictly whatevs but by minute two yours ears will be rupturing:http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=70_3pFmlpKE
Would you send a thief to guard your treasure?
Final Verdict: A split! Jesse says he’s seen far worse and the movie is made of flesh and spirit, whereas Molly says it is made of pure sorrow (actually, I said “pure shit” but apparently Jesse’s on a cussing diet).
Also known as: King of Destroyer: Conan Part 2 (Japan)
WHOSE RESPONSIBLE THIS??? Conan created by Robert E. Howard, who deserves better. Story by Roy Thomas (Some episodes of the cartoon Thundarr the Barbarian) and Gerry Conway (some episodes of Law and Order, G.I. Joe, and My Little Pony N’ Friends. Huh.), and execrable screenplay by Stanley Mann (Damien: Omen II). Direction by Richard Fleischer (Red Sonja. Enough said.) and soundtrack supposedly by Basil Poledouris, though it sounds more like producer Dino De Laurentiis let a stoned nephew go crazy remixing the excellent score from Conan the Barbarian into a warmed over symphony of half-hearted crap. Acting by Grace Jones, hackting by Arnie and Sarah Douglas, mugging by Tracy Walter and Mako, passable wooden golem impressions by Olivia d’Abo and Wilt (sigh) “the Stilt” Chamberlin, and André the Giant as the grumpy awakened Dreaming God who, alone of all the cast, was uncredited and thus allowed some shred of dignity.
Quote: “The horn is his life! Tear out the horn!”
Alternate quote: (If one desires the companionship of a gentleman) “Grab him! And take him!”
First viewing by Jesse: Not sure, but I was young enough to think it was watchable.
First viewing by Molly: Maybe a month ago?
Most recent viewing by both: Maybe a month ago? Frankly, we’ve been putting off reviewing it.
Impact on Jesse’s childhood development: Low. I was more familiar with the first Conan movie and Red Sonja as a young’un, but I do have vague memories of the Dreaming God Dagoth and the Evil Queen (Sarah Douglas) being awesome in the way that rubbersuit monsters and vamped-out villainesses are intrinsically awesome to kids of a certain genetic code.
Impact on Molly’s childhood development: Nil. Thank goodness.
Random youtube clip that hasn’t been taken down for copyright infringement:
Jesse’s thoughts prior to re-watching: Goddamn it sums it up pretty well. I knew as soon as Molly got the big-eyed “oh hells yes” look on her face during Conan the Barbarian that we would end up watching Destroyer, and that Destroyer would be a piece of shit. It’s kind of like being a kid and being so excited when you’re parents take you to the mall to meet Santa Claus and it’s so frickin cool that you have to go again next year, but when December rolls around again this year’s Santa has a drinking problem and a thin beard and grease stains on his sleeve and as soon as you get off his lap the rent-a-cops handcuff him to await the real police because to finance his gambling debts to a local mob boss he’s been illegally dumping toxic waste in your favorite public park. And kicking puppies. That’s what going from Barbarian to Destroyer is like, and I knew it, and I agreed to re-watch is anyway, Crom forgive me.
Molly’s thoughts prior to re-watching: I was excited, because I really, really enjoyed Conan the Barbarian, and I knew Arnold and Mako would be returning, and Mr. Poledouris did the score. My exact thought was how bad could it be? I was warned by Jesse, warned by my uncle Glenn, warned by the friggin’ video store dude, but I remained optimistic. I called bullshit on Jesse’s theory that the fact that it was PG made all the difference, since it was made the year the PG-13 rating was just being adopted and, and, and. . . I was wrong.
Jesse’s thoughts post-viewing: Total bullshit. We actually got a formal protest not to review this movie given just how wretched it is but intentionally hurting ourselves comes with the territory. Conan the Destroyer is so stupid it makes TheBeastmaster look like a nuanced and clever film (Molly Aside: I’m not so sure about that sentiment; they are awful in different ways. At least the protagonist of Destroyer looks like a goddamn barbarian instead of some surfer-dude in a leather skirt with some weasels. OK, back to Jesse.). I’m going to try to tone down my hating on director Fleischer this time around since Molly pointed out that he’s dead and I can’t think of a single ghost I’d like to be haunted by less, but for the love of all that is holy he made one stinky, stinky fucking movie. Well, two, counting Red Sonja, and three counting Amittyville 3-D, and—you know what? Never mind. This movie sucks for a host of reasons, only some of them we’ll have time to explore, and lest repeating Fleischer’s name affects some sort of Candyman resurrection the less we say about him the better. Maybe that last bit was a little harsh. . . but he made Conan the DestroyerandRed Sonja, so the Candyman warning stands.
While the first film certainly deviated from Howard’s source material all over the place it at least captured certain elements of the original stories and had a lot to love in of itself. Destroyer, by contrast, feels like a monotonous journey on Dungeons and Dragons Railways, with only the occasional stop to let off painful jokes and pick up plot contrivances, plodding ever closer toward the forgone conclusion we all predicted the moment dungeon master Fleischer let out a Mountain Dew belch and informed us we would be escorting the princess on a perilous journey. Worse still, instead of simply having an obvious plot we also have a chronically stupid plot, with such idiotic sequences as the adventuring party of Conan N’ Friends spending the night camping just outside the island-bound ice palace of the evil wizard they’re intending to jack in the morning without keeping watch, whereupon the evil wizard, not being completely fucking worthless, sees them and kidnaps the princess. When Conan and company find the princess missing they promptly board the boat that is inexplicably waiting for them and row across to—forget it, forget it, just repeating the stupidity that is this movie’s plot is making me want to break priceless vases with my face.
One of the most painful elements of Destroyer is the forced humor, courtesy mostly of Tracy Walter who I liked quite a bit in Repoman but is just awful in this—he basically does here what the annoying kid does in Red Sonja, which is make a bad thing worse through inane one liners. Hell, most of Conan’s new sidekicks are painful to watch—Wilt and the princess just can’t act to save their lives, but Mako, as with Arnie, is obviously trying to act, and in both cases the result is a decrease in quality from their performances in the first movie. Oh, and as for added skin-crawling horror on a Friday afternoon the Wikipedia page for the movies describe then-15-year-old Olivia d’Abo as “playing the petulant teenage princess with sexy innocence” when she is, in fact, a perfectly terrible actress and, as the same person noted a few words earlier in the sentence, a fifteen year old one. The only thing this has going for it that Barbarian doesn’t is Grace Jones, and the absence of Subotai (Gerry Lopez) is sorely felt every time one of Destoryer’s side characters fails at life—Subotai knew how to sidekick, for reals.
Molly’s thoughts post-viewing: Fuck this movie. It sucks. It sucks in the same way Red Sonja sucks, which is to say, relentlessly. Literally the only thing I enjoyed about it was watching Grace Jones. She was having such a good time I couldn’t hate her—the way she mugs for the camera, the way she is totally OK with wearing a barbarian outfit with a tail on it, the way she’s just happy to be there and in a movie and holding a spear and being all fierce and stuff. Everything else is completely worthless. I mean—fuck. Poledouris didn’t even write a new score for this pile of turds. Why bother? He just sped up the tempo of the Conan the Barbarian movie soundtrack and cashed his fucking paycheck, which I hope was padded by royalties from the original Conan movie. Jesus. Jesse was all like “you will hate his sidekick so much” and I was like, really? But I knew the minute Tracey Walter (AKA Truly the Worst Sidekick of All time in Conan the Destroyer, AKA one of the hideously annoying Ferengi in the season oneST:TNG episode where that race first appear, AKA the dude who has appeared in some of the worst entertainment war crimes of the 20th and 21st centuries including, no joke, ALF, City Slickers, Melrose Place, the Beloved movie,Mighty Joe Young, and Masked and Anonymous,) spoke his first line I was in for deep hurting.
Here’s the thing: a while ago Jesse and I were working on a project together and I called him out on something that made no sense. Jesse responded, “it makes fantasy sense.” He was right, and I have a hearty respect for “fantasy sense” (you know, like how in Conan the Barbarian, when Conan is a pit fighter? And making his owner a ton of money? And then his owner lets him go—without a sword—because “he was like an animal that had been caged too long” or whatever. . . that makes fantasy sense). But nothing in Conan the Destroyer makes any sort of sense at all, not even fantasy sense. To wit: why do Conan’s pants keep disappearing and then reappearing at random? Why do they make camp outside the evil wizard’s palace in plain sight, unprotected, for an entire night? Why does the wizard touch a gem only the princess can touch that he’s had foreverz and clearly knows how to use? You get my point. This movie is a quintessential Idiot Plot film and I hate it.
I’d also like to say this about swords in movies: if you’re going to use big fucking broadswords, please have people use them properly. No one in his or her right mind will swing a broadsword around so it makes those oh-so-nifty “shwoop shwoop” sounds (a la any comedy movie featuring a scene wherein a Western Dude defeats an Asian Dude by shooting him in the face after the Asian Dude swings his swords around in a vaguely martial-artsy manner while saying “ahhhhhhhhhh so!” or whatever). It would probably sprain your wrist. Also it is stupid. It is far more effective to hack at a person with a big fucking sword if you are trying to hurt them. But you know, if you’re making a kid-friendly fantasy movie, I guess it’s a decent stand-in for actually hurting someone? Ugh.
I really, really wanted to like this movie. But I didn’t. I hated it. I didn’t hate it nearly as much as next week’s movie—I’m deliberately holding back the title for the Ultimate Reveal—but I hated it quite a bit. I think I hated it mostly for its utter blandness. They excised pretty much everything that made the first Conan movie awesome: big fucking swords used brutally by big fucking dudes, a sense of epic gravity to the proceedings, an interesting female character, a sidekick who is awesome and cries for Conan because Conan will not cry, battles that are actually cool, a plot that makes some sort of sense, a good soundtrack, a hero who’s man enough to wax philosophical about picking berries with his dad, a dead girlfriend coming back valkyrie instead of a weird blue ghost or something, and of course, a wizard who actually has chops (I’d like to see the wizard in Destroyer turn a snake into a goddamn arrow. . . the worst evil wrought by that doofus was, what? Turning into a cartoon bird and stealing a girl in plain sight? Having an ape-monster who can be killed by shattering a mirror? Come the fuck on). Instead we get. . . a stupid movie with nothing interesting and a final scene that is just a bargain-basement redux of the sort-of crappy ending of A New Hope, but instead of Chewie making everyone force a chuckle with a final “NNNNGGGGAAHHHHHHH” we just have Conan just walking away from some babe, without, I think, even bagging her doughnuts. . . wtf.
High Points: Grace Jones. The credits.
Low Points: That embedding was disabled for this stellar clip of Conan and the caped Goliath. That the rambling but still-engaging narrative of the first movie was traded for the most bone-headed “you all meet in a tavern, where a local king hires you to retrieve the three crimson orbs of the rumpshakers” style of plot imaginable. The attempts at humor, which are as frequent and forced as they are idiotic and often out of character. The myriad attempts to borrow elements from the first film in hopes of bettering this one, such as the camel punch, almost as if the filmmakers knew they were crafting an inferior picture and naïvely hoped that by lifting from Barbarian they could recapture the charm that is utterly absent from this goddamn pile of human waste. The tail they put on Grace Jones’s costume—the definition of an ORLY? decision on the designers’ part. The jingle bell sound effect they added to Grace Jones shaking said tail—Jesus fucking Christ. The fact that they somehow found a way to make Conan of Cimmeria swinging a sword, getting his mack on, butchering redshirts and monsters—doing his thing, basically—so utterly, irredeemably boring.
Final Verdict: A big ol’ fuck you, Conan the Destroyer.
Bonus: I found this image while searching for Conan the Destroyer images:
OK OK OK. I was going to stay out of the whole Lierre Keith getting a pie in the face thing because (1) Lierre Keith is probably (and hopefully, gawd) at 14:54 in terms of her 15 minutes of fame, and prolonging that seems like a disservice to critical thought and also the world as a whole; (2) I’ve admittedly only read of her book what’s available free on the internet and/or been quoted on the PPK; (3) I’m not entirely convinced the whole thing wasn’t simply a publicity stunt and, finally, (3) I have a reasonable suspicion she has Google Alerts set up for herself and in case she’s a reader of FM/thinking about purchasing Running with the Pack I wouldn’t want to discourage her. Don’t second-guess yourself, Lierre! The werewolf story I wrote has an ex-vegetarian as a character! You’d love it!
The Claim: “Understand: agriculture was the beginning of global warming. Ten thousand years of destroying the carbon sinks of perennial polycultures has added almost as much carbon to the atmosphere as industrialization, an indictment that you, vegetarians, need to answer. No one has told you this before, but that is what your food—those oh so eco-peaceful grains and beans—has done.” (P. 250)
The Reality: Much of Lierre’s book is borrowed from Richard Manning, a well-respected environmentalist and author. Manning understands that human dependence on grain monoculture is not a result of the small percentage of concerned people who decide to be vegetarian, but is rather a historical mistake of which we all share the burden of repairing. Despite Lierre’s insistence, vegans do not need to eat grains nor any sort of annual crop. Why did she target vegans when compared to average corn-fed Americans, vegans consume much less grain?
On the topic of climate change, Lierre fails to address that regardless of type of feed or forage, ruminant animals emit an abundance of methane. She, along with other grass-fed proponents, point out that growing pasture sequesters carbon in the subsoil and claim that farms like Polyface are carbon-neutral. However, she ignores the fact that soil only retains a limited quantity of carbon—once pasture is healthy, it is carbon stable. Any pasture-based livestock production contributes, pound-for-pound of meat, to climate change as much (if not more) than conventional livestock production—an indictment that you, Lierre, need to answer.
Yeah. I think the best part is how reasonable the authors are while discussing the outrageous misinformation presented as fact in Lierre’s Weston Price-sanctioned screed (a “fair and balanced” source to be sure, coo-coo-claiming as they do that the ideal diet contains such things like brains ground up into your casseroles and adding heavy cream to infant formula, no joke). So check out the link above of the first chapter of her book. Read it for yourself. There’s all sorts of wisdom-nuggets like:
Despite what you’ve been told, and despite the earnestness of the tellers, eating soybeans isn’t going to bring [chinooks, bison, grasshopper sparrows, grey wolves] back. Ninety-eight percent of the American prairie is gone, turned into a monocrop of annual grains.
Shit. Pretty much every single vegan site promotes that fundamental tenant of veganism: eating soy brings back extinct/endangered species! With such a devastating critique of “the vegetarian myth” I think I’ll go right out and eat a burger! See, before I discovered Lierre Keith, I thought that a ton of the grains grown in America fed livestock, not people. . . oh, wait, that’s actually true. But who cares? Moving on:
By turning from adult knowledge, the knowledge that death is embedded in every creature’s sustenance, from bacteria to grizzly bears, they [vegans] would never be able to feed the emotional and spiritual hunger that ached in me from accepting that knowledge. Maybe in the end this book is an attempt to soothe that ache myself.
Probably so, Lierre. In the meantime, I’ll remain here in childlike-reasoning-land, where I make a distinction between living creatures who cannot feel pain (bacteria) and living creatures who can (um, grizzly bears), and make informed decisions based on that infantile assumption. Actually, why am I even still talking about this? The folks who wrote the above .pdf already covered it:
The Claim: “I built my whole identity on the idea that my life did not require death…Did the lives of nematodes and fungi matter? Why not? Because they were too small for me to see?” (P. 18, discussed throughout the book)
In Reality: This is a straw man argument. These views are not held by most vegans. The goal of veganism is to eliminate direct, unnecessary suffering at the hands of humans–not to magically end all death. Why shouldn’t the cow with its undeniable ability to suffer take precedence over plants and organisms with limited or non-existent nervous systems such as the nematodes Keith frets about in this book?
I’m working on a project involving Atlas Shrugged. This means I am re-reading Atlas Shrugged. I shan’t be saying a lot about this project here, it’s still in its infancy. I will, however, post a quote from the book that I read today, a quote that filled me with the sort of dread and horror the characters in this book supposedly feel when faced with the moral outrage of, say, charity:
The boy had no inkling of any concept of morality; it had been bred out of him by his college; this had left him an odd frankness, naive and cynical at once, like the innocence of a savage. (AS 342)
I know that’s what college did for me! And it’s certainly what I tried to do when teaching college! Woooooo! Let’s all hear it for savage innocence!
Actually, let’s talk about “savages” for a moment. Who’s a “savage,” according to Rand? Well, Native Americans, for one (all quotes from a lecture at West Point Academy in 1974):
[Native Americans] had no right to a country merely because they were born here and then acted like savages.
What were they fighting for, in opposing the white man on this continent? For their wish to continue a primitive existence; for their “right” to keep part of the earth untouched–to keep everybody out so they could live like animals or cavemen. Any European who brought with him an element of civilization had the right to take over this continent, and it’s great that some of them did. The racist Indians today–those who condemn America–do not respect individual rights.
Uh? So what did the whites do, when dealing with these savages living “like animals or cavemen” all over the place?
The white man did not conquer this country. And you’re a racist if you object, because it means you believe that certain men are entitled to something because of their race. You believe that if someone is born in a magnificent country and doesn’t know what to do with it, he still has a property right to it. He does not. Since the Indians did not have the concept of property or property rights–they didn’t have a settled society, they had predominantly nomadic tribal “cultures”–they didn’t have rights to the land, and there was no reason for anyone to grant them rights that they had not conceived of and were not using. It’s wrong to attack a country that respects (or even tries to respect) individual rights. If you do, you’re an aggressor and are morally wrong. But if a “country” does not protect rights–if a group of tribesmen are the slaves of their tribal chief–why should you respect the “rights” that they don’t have or respect?
Holy mother of fuck.
So the question “who is John Galt?” is asked repeatedly in Atlas Shrugged for various reasons; I think a better question is “who is Ayn Rand?” Well, friends, these quotes do a lot to answer that question. This is Ayn Rand.
No no, I’m not pregnant, I just was, you know, reading The Handmaid’s Tale a few news articles about how women should probably avoid living in Utah altogether these days, since if a woman miscarries there, she’ll likely be tried for murder. . . if the governor signs a new bill that would criminalize miscarriage if it is determined (?) the woman acted “recklessly” (?), even if she was not attempting to terminate her pregnancy. Penalties are up to life in prison! Fucking awesome! From the article linked above:
“This statute and the standards chosen leave a large number of pregnant women vulnerable to arrest even though they have no intention of ending a pregnancy,” Paltrow said. “Whether or not the legislature intended this bill to become a tool for policing and punishing all pregnant women, if enacted this law would permit prosecution of a pregnant woman who stayed with her abusive husband because she was unable to leave. Not leaving would, under the ‘reckless’ standard, constitute conduct that consciously disregarded a substantial risk,” Paltrow explained.
Well, such a provision would be just goddamn unreasonable! Especially according to the bill’s sponsor, a (big fucking surprise) Republican by the name of Margaret Dayton (source: The Salt Lake Tribune):
“I know it’s well-intentioned,” Dayton said of the attempt to lift “reckless acts” from the bill, “but I don’t think we want to go down the road of carefully defining the behavior of a woman.”
What? You mean like, defining a miscarriage as homicide and deciding to prosecute women for miscarriage when, like, drinking coffee, or horseback riding, or not knowing you are pregnant and taking a hot bath can cause a miscarriage? And something like one in four pregnancies ends in miscarriage just for whatever random reason? Well here’s something good about it. . .
The bill does exempt from prosecution fetal deaths due to failure to follow medical advice, accept treatment or refuse a cesarean section. Bird said this exemption was likely because of a 2004 case where a woman who was pregnant with twins was later charged with criminal homicide after one of the babies was stillborn, which the state deemed due to her refusal to have a cesarean section.
OK! Cool! Good thing, because if they hadn’t, then it might not have had the added bonus of protecting Quiverfull types who ignore medical advice constantly in favor of prayer and keep pumping out babies because apparently it’s God’s will and stuff for ladies to risk uterine prolapse so we can have one more potential Christian on Earth. Wouldn’t want them to be punished, they’re God-fearing.
Basically, what it comes down to is this:
Paltrow says this bill puts a lie to the idea that the pro-life movement cares about women.
“For all these years the anti-choice movement has said ‘we want to outlaw abortion, not put women in jail, but what this law says is ‘no, we really want to put women in jail.'”
I stopped caring about the much-lauded but in-reality-questionable entertainment value of Super Bowl ads after the year I saw a beer commercial featuring horses farting on a woman (hilarious!), but this year the blogosphere went up in a explosion of righteous feminist WTF after several mind-bogglingly sexist commercials aired, so I took notice. By which I mean I thought to myself “huh, it seems like people are really unhappy about the Super Bowl ads this year.” I didn’t bother watching the YouTubed versions of the commercials intelligent folks like Cat Valente critiqued because, again, after seeing those horses fart on that woman, what really was there for me to be annoyed by?
Well, a lot, it seems. After noticing that the A.V. Club posted a feminist video response to the now-notorious Dodge Charger ad that aired during the Super Bowl, I watched the original (holy fucking shit) and the gender-bending one (nicely done). Ugh, ugh, ugh. I am so very glad my TV broke years ago and now I watch shows I care about on Hulu or on DVD, years after everyone else. It’s less depressing that way.
Cat Valente was not exaggerating when she described the world alleged by these commercials as “hell.” It really is. And it makes me feel like I’m insane, because I like men. And there are men who like me. We like hanging out with each other despite the differences in our chromosomes. I do not find their presence infuriating and they do not find my presence to be soul-crushingly emasculating. Maybe it’s just that most of the men I know (hetero and homosexual) like to read stuff and talk and make food and eat that food and sit around and watch movies and argue intelligently about things like genre or politics or racism or whether Reign of Fire was a good dragon movie or whether or not we should go see The Wolfman even though the reviews are shit. Most of the men I know think it’s fair to split chores so that no one works a second shift, and most of them also think it’s fair to trade off movies or activities so both people get to do stuff they like if there are dramatic differences in taste with their female friends/girlfriends/wives. They do not feel such things as carrying lip balm or wiping down the sink after they shave or eating fruit (?) to be the equivalent of having their balls hacked off by a knife shaped like a vagina.
I dunno. Maybe I just hang out with a bunch of queerbos in disguise? I guess advertisers think so. That’s why I broke up with TV a while ago. . . and it seems pretty obvious we’re not getting back together anytime soon.
I had a lot of stuff in the queue to blog about today, including, but not limited to: some musings brewing about the recent debate over the alleged (in some people’s minds) knife fight going on between genre writers/editors and literary fiction writers/editors; my utter failure to keep off the internet though I had very much intended to do so; my delight over my switch to Scrivener; the news that Merriam-Webster’s has been pulled from some crazy fucking county in CA because it contains the definition of oral sex; the vastly depressing depths ex-vegans will sink to in order to discredit current vegans because. . . OK, actually, I can’t figure out a reason for such behavior, because vegansim isn’t anything like the Quiverfull movement or something that stands to be “discredited” after “insiders” break out and resume their normal lives as. . . as, uh, I guess as meat eaters.
But! I must burn those bridges; I will crush the ideas, drive them before me, and hear the lamentations of their women, because there is something more important out there: someone on the internet tried out the product called, horrifyingly, My New Pink Button, the temporary genital dye that I first heard about over on the PPK, but sourced back to Jezebel. For those of you still woefully blissfully unaware of “My New Pink Button,” it is, according to the instructions that come with it, “an Adult Novelty Cosmetic product and its use is to promote beauty of a woman’s genital area by restoring natural color.” Before hearing about this I always thought the color a woman’s genital area was by nature was its natural color, but as always, silly me.
Says SJ of “I, Asshole” (not S.J. Chambers, who I have mentioned on this blog in slightly different contexts than genital dye):
An overpowering sweet smell rose out of the vial as I sprinkled the powder. The ingredients say it is made from about every fruit that has been trendy for the past ten years, and includes cinnamon. There is also an ominous warning in the instructions that “for some, a slight ‘irritating’ feeling may occur upon application and last for about a minute.” An irritating feeling? Like the cosmetics industry telling me I should be self-conscious about yet another body part? Oh, wait, a different kind of irritating.
I heartily recommend reading about her experience trying a product which fills a insecurity-based market most women likely have never even considered because it is insane. I think (because I am a nerd) I appreciate most her posting the instructions so everyone can note the poor spelling and questionable grammar in them. See the instructions here. My personal favorite “bit” (heh) is right there in the introductory paragraph:
Occasionally, a woman is self-conscious of her Labia since childhood. A common concern amongst women about their Labia Minora (inside vaginal lips) and genital area, is the color loss and color change due to age, health and many other factors. When the question is put to the female population about what color is most appealing to the eye, for their Labia Minora, the answer is “Pink”.
What? I would love to get my red pen out and deal with this mess, but I’ll settle for publicly pondering why ‘labia’ is capitalized in every instance, what the sentence “Occasionally, a woman is self-conscious of her Labia since childhood” means (Since childhood what? Teasing on the playground about labia color? Since childhood viewing of pornography featuring waxed ladies with pink pussies? SINCE WHAT?!?), and why the author in question decided to treat commas as if they were punctuation’s equivalent of salt, to be sprinkled at random over a text. But let’s get to the true reason why this product was developed– it’s right there in the instructions; in fact, it follows the quoted paragraph above. While I will not deny that perhaps “occasionally, a woman is self-conscious of her Labia since childhood” (Who’s to say? I’m sure someone is worried about that), the makers of My New Pink Button have got ladies in the corner– even if you’re not yet “self-conscious of your Labia since childhood” you damn well should be, because:
[Pink] is also the majority response amongst males for what is appealing to the eye of their sexual partner.
So, ignoring that the grammar of sentence could be implying both that men want or maybe think women want their sexual partners to have conjunctivitis (just touch your eyes after being on a bus, people, you don’t need to shell out thirty dollars for that!), let’s talk about what the author is trying to tell ladies: that “males” want pink pussy lips (research source: the titles of some porn flicks at the local video store, maybe), so women better pony up for some of that there twat dye.
There’s a site called Topless Robot that I visit occasionally. The only reason I mention it here is because one of the tags the author uses is “things that make me drink.” Frankly, the fact that My New Pink Button exists should be enough to make me drink, but I’m too jaded. The atrocious grammar in the instructions for My New Pink Button, however. . . well, let’s just say it’s been a while since I considered going on a bender before lunchtime.
I agree mostly with Nick Mamatas’ review of Doctor Parnassus but I’d like to do some of my own raking-over-the-coals because I just wasted a buy one, get one free pass to see it. Actually, scratch that– I didn’t waste a buy one, get one free pass, because this way, Terry Gilliam, who I was already loath to fund out-of-pocket because he signed the Free Roman Polanski petition of ’09, got less of my money.
Well, whatevs. The whole thing is essentially a carnival redux of Lady in the Water, in that Lady in the Water was a pointless, onanistic allegory about how misunderstood– nay, how veritably Christ-like– M. Night Shyamalan is for making movies as brilliant as Signs and, uh, The Village. The Imaginarium of Dr. Parnassus is basically the same movie even down to its hilarious racist stereotypes, except that it was vastly more boring, and also it casts Christopher Plummer as Terry Gilliam instead of Gilliam playing himself, which I suppose is a level of allegory-hiding I should appreciate since such, ah, nuance wasn’t deemed acceptable by Shyamalan.
The movie as a whole was bloated beyond excusability, coming in at 122 minutes according to the IMDB, and saying the film had 90 minutes of adequate material would be a stretch. There was not a single scene that couldn’t stand trimming, most notably anything involving CGI, because damn, even such films as Dragon Wars: D-War and Van Helsing looked better, if memory serves. There is a scene featuring a CGI Tom Waits as a sort of naga-ish thing that looked barely passable enough to be a villain in Charmed, and there is a scene featuring a CGI Christopher Plummer that would’ve been better-looking if they had gotten the animators from Monty Python to just draw the damn thing and just stuck it in there without rendering it. Jesus.
Moving from general problems to more specific ones: well, since I already mentioned the fact that Gilliam signed the Roman Polanski petition, let’s just say I was reminded unhappily of last summer’s traumatizing news cycle when shortly into the film the young-looking heroine proclaims loudly that she’s “16: THE AGE OF CONSENT” (direct quote). Awesome! Actually, best part is that as far as I could tell she was actually turning 16: THE AGE OF CONSENT, which would make her only 15, slightly under THE AGE OF CONSENT for most of the film, but that doesn’t stop Heath Ledger and Andrew Garfield leering over her.
So, that. And also: midget jokes, jokes about “politically correct” terminology for midgets, racist stereotypes of Russians, a midget in blackface, sexist stereotypes of women (what do women want? SHOES; also, to be home-makers), midgets cracking wise, a white dude playing an “Eastern” (?) sage, midgets making midget jokes, the age-old hilarity that is a man in a woman’s dress (a fat woman, no less!) and some incredibly subtle political commentary when a bunch of police officers roll up in miniskirts, fishnets, and high heels singing and dancing about how the racist Russian stereotypes should “join the police, [they] love violence.” Good fucking times.
On top of that, there’s an even weirder moment when the just-deflowered-by-Colin-Farrell-on-her-16th-birthday heroine proclaims angstily that “it’s a child, not a choice!” when looking at some sort of orphan. WTF? Was that a joke, or is Terry Gilliam sincerely a member of the pro-life movement? Neither option is particularly appealing, frankly.
What this all boils down to is that the film falls epically flat for a number of reasons. One, Gilliam spectacularly failed to make me care about any of the characters, thus why would I be invested in the deal-with-the-devil, the sacrifice of the shrill daughter, the romantic outcome? Two, the entire allegory of “a lovely man with such wonderful visions is tragically ignored by the masses because they just don’t appreciate what he has to offer” made my teeth hurt because Gilliam deserves pretty much every single piece of negative criticism he’s received regarding this film and much of everything else he’s done (my intelligence is still kind of hurt after the insults Gilliam hurled at it during The Brothers Grimm). And, given his uneven track record, he also kind of deserves to have studio executives be wary of giving him millions of dollars to make movies like, oh, say, THE IMAGINARIUM OF DOCTOR PARNASSUS because he has shown himself to be completely willing to blow fat wads of cash doing things like hiring Robin Williams to ruin The Adventures of Baron Munchasusen which was otherwise a perfectly lovely little confection of a film as far as I recall.
I really think Gilliam needs to wake up to the fact that racist stereotypes aren’t as amusing as I imagine they were felt to be during the Monty Python years, along with but not exclusively: shrill portrayals of women, cross dressing, slapstick, Robin Williams, people with lisps, people with limps.
I also think Gilliam needs to wake up to the fact that he is completely brilliant when it comes to set design, to spectacular visuals, baroque costumes and sight gags and lavish whimsical concoctions of sparkling, ethereal beauty. Doctor Parnassus had these, but it also had no plot, wooden characters, and a host of other problems. It hurt, because I was rooting for him. I wanted to like it, and I want Gilliam to do better than this because I know he can.