Sunday, November 24, 2013

Advice for Panem Despots

Korra was disappointed that he wasn't
as wise as he seemed.  I was disappointed
that he wasn't as deep/nuanced as he
Something that really bothers me about cinema is the tendency of their tyrants to be such incompetent tools.  In order for there to be any drama in a story, the antagonist has to seem remotely capable of winning. That means he has to be a person and not a plot mechanism. The President Snow character in Catching Fire is another in the long line of totalitarian antagonists that does not help achieve this drama.

Just watch Jodi Foster's monodimensional callous as she blows border-runners out of orbit, or Unalaq shark-jump his way from an interesting character who teeters between madness and enlightenment into pure evil for absolutely no apparent reason.

Catching Fire's president character was the most frustrating in this regard because of how little effort was vested into making him seem at all like a workable despot.  Having stopped reading the series after the first novel, I can't really say whether the fault rests in Collins' lap or the movie producers' but given my experience, it wouldn't surprise me at all if the answer were "both."

President Snow, I would like to offer you my services as a consultant in how to maintain a stable authoritarian regime.  I've seen you and so many like you do your jobs so pathetically that pity drives me to offer these services pro bono.

Orange shorts: Sure sign of free thinking.
You never praise your plebs as the noble working class -- but you should. You need to tell them that their poverty and suffering are a product of District 13's extreme views on Capitol, or how your work in the capitol is part of a generations-long attempt at restoring justice to society after the horrific rebellion.  You gotta admit to not being perfect but convince people that if they just work harder at whatever it is they're doing to keep you fat and wealthy, that a change in mind-set will eventually happen and society will just be brighter for it.

The Tributes in your hunger games need to be the extremists.  Dissentors.  Rebels.  But they also need to be any Peacekeepers that get out of hand.  They need to represent the scary people in the pro-Capital and anti-Capital fringe that are easier to dehumanize and thus, harder to sympathize with when they murder each other. Then, when they die, no matter which side they're on, the masses can say that they pretty much deserved it and then go back to feeling comfortably ambivalent towards your rule.

You need to label dissent as anti-social, unhinged and calloused to the sad situation that most people are enduring.  Paint yourself as making the noble, painstaking attempt to fend off all these selfish extremists for the sake of the people.  You're the cool, even keel, stable, middle-ground.  Those that disagree with you are basket cases who will probably shoot-up a mall some day... assuming the next Games take place in a mall. (Which they should).

Headline: District 12 Tribute under arrest
for eating her baby.  Gamekeepers say this
does not disqualify her from the Hunger Games.
When tributes try some lame scheme like "OMFG! THIS ONE'S PREGNANT" you need to call them out on it.  Do an ultrasound.  Have her pee on one of those little sticks.  Perform some tests.  It's amazing how much ground you'd have gained at painting Katniss as a liar if you'd actually exposed the lie of her pregnancy!

Even if she's not lying, you can still beat the whole thing by saying "we tested the child and believe that it is not a viable fetus.  It will probably miscarry before the games -- it will certainly not survive to full term."  Or you could just abort the pregnancy like the Chinese do and say (like the Chinese do) that it's for the good of society.

Never do live broadcasts.  Seriously.  Editing is the propagandist's best friend.

When detractors attempt to spread their own propaganda, hold them to ridiculous standards of proof.  Use your educated partisans to label such detractors as being dishonest, unwilling to subject their claims to scientific rigor, and especially of being hateful or calloused of people from other districts who depend on Capitol's wealth redistribution mechanisms to survive.  You can discredit all sorts of people in the eyes of the public without ever having to gamble on their actions when in your holodeck thunderdome.

Autonomy and Identity
You know Nazis held hands, too.
Just sayin'
One of the biggest mistakes you make is dividing society so strictly into the districts.   This gives each district its own identity and its own autonomy.   This sense of identity is always one of the main driving forces behind insurrection.  When those who dominate are far removed in both geography and in cultural properties, the dominated get to feel sharper resentment.

You should do far more to help people feel like each district is just a convenient compartment but all of the people are part of one, great Panem collective.  When they are all proudly waving the same flag, it's harder for them to dehumanize you, their dictator, as a separate entity because you wave the same flag they do.

Make rail travel freely available. Or at least super-cheap.  The expense will not be negligible but the benefit will be a society without the closely-knit communities that are needed to form a real, effective rebellion.  Small, compartmentalized cultures keep secrets better, identify one another more easily, and share values; all of these things are the enemy of a sprawling dictatorship.

You should make it a point to try to engineer good-cop-bad-cop routines among your Peacekeepers.  Find a sociopath inside one district, nurture his cruelty and indifference, and place him in charge of law enforcement for his home district -- all for the glory of District 12!  Meanwhile, you should also have kinder, more compassionate law enforcers under him who also happen to be from the Capitol -- accents and all.  This way, the natives associate their own kind with barbarism and your way with benevolence.

Diabolicaltude is directly
proportional to the twirlitude of
the mustache.
Really, president, you don't need to feel threatened by hope.  It is really an immaterial thing when you have the monopoly on guns and media.  Rather than trying to quell it, you should turn peoples' hope against them.   Convince them that they have a shot at improving the world by playing by your rules.  Try establishing a parliamentary legislature made up of Victors.  It'll give you a great shot at weeding out the natural leaders and free thinkers.  Open up your media.  Put on a show about tolerating difference of opinion by having brainless partisans make fools of themselves in pretend debates.

It really seems to me that you have no reason to lose to the uppitty hillbillies in District 13.  If you ever bothered to look at the cards, you'd find that the deck is stacked in your favor.  Do us all a favor and man-up!  Be a real, honest despot!  One that we can be afraid of, one that could actually defeat the plucky little resistance.  Would you do that for us, sir?

Thursday, July 4, 2013

The Dude of Steel

How is it that Superman is
"the man of steel" when this
guy exists?
After Krypton blew up, I spent a lot of time fantasizing about how much better Man of Steel would be if it were written by the minions from Despicable Me. What else was I supposed to do? It's not like Kevin Spacey was in this show or anything.
The movie itself is generally pretty vapid so I'm just going to transcribe a direct dump of what my brain did through the show.

So Paul Ballard and Boyd Langton are incarcerated in The Attic where they are forced to work in the most hellish place that a Rossum employee could be sent: Canada. Which is also the afterlife that Capricans go to as punishment for mutiny.
Actually this afterlife thing is starting to make more sense since this is also the kind of Hell I'd send anybody from Waterworld to; "You wanted to find land so much? WELL HERE YOU GO! LAND THAT IS BORING AND HAS TORNADOS!"

Holy crap, this entire film is a montage of unnecessary flashbacks.

Okay, I'm willing to suspend all sorts of disbelief on the "gravity is weaker" thing but very much of this is clearly not a matter of just jumping really hard. Further support of the afterlife story as this smacks of the dream-like logic of a near-death experience…. whereupon, Superman isn't a messiah as he works to keep people in this afterlife. Also, why's there that rumbling and gust of — IS HE PROPELLING HIMSELF BY FARTS?

"On my planet, it means hope." Because suddenly a farm-boy from Kansas is an expert on a culture from kiloparsecs away that's been extinct for thirty years.
Why doesn't Superman go for Faora? She's prettier and probably way more likely to … um… be able to keep up with him. Being his species is also a plus. When my in-laws ask "How was the Superman movie?" I'm pretty sure my wife would slap me if I told them it was a story about bestiality.

"The slow blade penetrates
the shield."
If Colonel Hardy actually gets into a knife fight, he and Colonel O'Niell can start the "Airforce Officers Who Discovered Blades Work Better Than Bullets On Aliens" club. We know this because Zod killed Jor not with his pewpewlayz0r but with a shiv. Whoops! Nevermind. Superman ruined that interesting possibility, too; back to the fruitless, brawling.

OoooOOOOooooh! Yeeeah. She just got a line and… yeah, I totally understand why Kal's not into Faora-Ul now. Anybody who says crap like that is not worth continuing the species with. I'd go panda, too if I were him.

Man, if I were a Keynesian, I would want for nothing more than to live in a comic book movie universe as a window salesman.

Wait! Is this a flashback to a previous scene in the movie? Oh, I guess not. It's just that Lois falls a lot. Wait! Is this a flashback to the fight from five seconds ago? … I can't tell.

"I killed you too quickly
the first two times.  A mistake
I do not mean to
duplicate tonight!"
They need to find another slot to cram that USB stick into just so we can watch Jor have a third defiant death. Little does Zod know that when everyone takes off their Fawkes masks Jor will be standing there in the crowd.

Oh, hey! It's the ending I wished that Michael Dante DiMartino and Bryan Koneitzko were man enough to write.

"Welcome to the planet!" So punny!

They need to round-off the flashback thing in this ending by cutting to Lois and Superman's 25th wedding anniversery party and having them say to the crowd "and that's how we met!"

Monday, May 27, 2013

A letter to Arrested Development

Dear Arrested Development,
I am so disappointed in you.  My hopes were high and now their crashing through the Earth to the center where you should burn in lava!  I don't know what happened, be it Netflix, directors, writers, etc.  But, you are better than this!

An angry fan

Friday, May 24, 2013

Our You Tube show Pussy and Hooter!

My husband and I are starting our own you tube channel where we talk about movies and such.  Written by him, puppetry by us.

Pussy and Hooter show

Sunday, January 13, 2013

Home made Toy Story movie

Also, this is just awesome!!

Bourne Legacy

This movie takes place during the last Bourne movie-Bourne Ultimatum.  Because of the sudden and inevitable destruction of the Blackbriar and all those programs-because of Bourne; they decided to tie up all loose ends.  

Meaning killing all their current agents, scientists and anyone else who knows too much...but the guys on top are okay, yeah.

I was confused for the first half hour, this guy just swims in freezing cold water and shows up in some shack, and something about blue and green pills, he was just addicted.  He luckily survived the bombing of the shack, and knowing now that his boss is out to kill everyone he goes to get revenge or something.  So, he goes all Bourne style, go figure.

So, the lady from 'The Mummy' was a scientist and somehow survived a psycho colleague going crazy and shooting everyone, but since she's a loose end they try killing her.  

Surprise!  Bourne mark 2 comes and saves her life!  Their stuck together going to the Philippines to get his drugs and chases ensue, etc, etc.  

Okay, I love the Bourne movies, I do.  I can't read the books, but the movies kick butt!  And this movie, although not much different, it was nice to see new faces and I think that Jeremy Renner is perfect for this role.  He seemed to be more human than Bourne ever was.  He actually had feelings!  And was less blood thirsty, I don't know, but my hubby's favorite scene was when he put his tracking device in the wolf's mouth. So they blew the wolf up instead of him.  

Anyway, if you enjoyed the Bourne movies, you'll like this one as well.

Oh, and I just can't take Edward Norton seriously...ever.