Sunday, December 20, 2009

Live blog of my impressions from Avatar in IMAX 3D... posted 16 or so hours later. SPOILER CODE RED!

This is my live blog of the movie Avatar. I'm here to see it in IMAX 3D in order to fully give this movie a chance (a home court advantage if you will) and I'm live blogging to address the mythos this movie has created around itself as "revolutionary." Also to annoy the people around me.

10:30 pm: 5 minutes before start of Avatar and I've already heard my first racial slur. This movie is going to be awesome! ;D

(Next day note: The person who uttered it sat behind us and was commenting on how upscale the snack bar was as he said, "They even have fresh baked kikes!" This was followed by some awkward stuttering then finally, "I mean they have fresh baked cakes and pies." The slip was accidental, yet hilariously Freudian. Sean's and my muffled laughter displayed how we are at the height of maturity.)

10:38: Disappointed by Alice and Wonderland trailer. Only 2 3d gags? Tim Burton, you owe us more than that.

10:40: IMAX has convinced me to think big

10:43: protagonist's name is sunshine

(Next Day Note: His name is actually Jake Sully, but fuck that, his name is Sunshine.)

10:46: Movie claims that the economy is still bad, Obama to blame?

10:50: see first naked blue cat person, not aroused. James Cameron has failed me.
Sunshine is doing science

10:52: holy shit! The 3d subtitles seem so real!

10:54: we're here for "unobtainium"

(Next day note: Idea for DVD extended edition: After uttering the word "unobtainium," the whole room bursts into uncontrollable laughter. Wiping tears from their eyes, someone says, "What? We already harvest all the "space oil"?)

11:00. Inspirational avatar scene about running reminds me to work out tomorrow

11:01: hey it's the sassy lady from resident evil
colonial scar turtle is sufficiently stereotypical

11:05 I recognize helicopter things from Terminator. Same continuity?

11:08 plants are pretty

11:12: action sequence is so blurry I think I need glasses for my 3d glasses
how did sunshine know that was flammable?

11:17: blue cat lady kills space hyenas, now I'm aroused.

11:22: glowing jelly fish seeds eat sunshine, movie continues anyway
haha sunshine fell, hilarious!
Only took 45 minutes for Native American style whoops, movie shows admirable restraint

11:28: training time! Cue montage and eye of the tiger

11:30. Notice all the racist words wormy business guy is using? That's how you know he's an evil capitalist.

(Next day note: Seriously, this guy all but pulls out a "Free Trade, Malevolence, & You" phrase book and just goes wild. He stops just short of mentioning Manifest Destiny, but the viewer gets the idea. He would be hate worthy if he weren't such an obvious strawman).

11:36: lulz super altruistic scientists and flux vortex
hey movie, final fantasy wants its mountains back

11:43: prediction: sunshine will no longer see this as tree hugger crap, will use failed leaf falling technique to save hot blue lady

11:54: sunshine tames kite dragon, level up

11:56: oh no! Feral hot rod kite dragon!

11:58: prediction: sunshine will ride hot rod kite dragon, Sean predicts the planet will hit an iceburg

12:00 am: colonial scar turtle keeps empty promise for dastardly double agent deeds, threatens world tree, seems really disappointed that he can't shoot it from here

12:05: predictable, obligatory love scene leaves me super aroused

Breakfast metaphorically linked to man's expansionist evil?

12:09: Scene where video is scaled up, enhanced at 1.5 hr in, movie shows incredible restraint!

12:12: damn you evil col. scar turtle

12:14: if only the Native Americans had religious beliefs that were scientifically verifiable as opposed to simply "paganistic savagery", wait still doesn't matter to wormy business guy

12:18: tying knots around traitors wrists is a big deal to the navi

12:22: Cynacism doesn't save me from hating the military during falling action

12:29: the end... Wait no

(Next Day Note: In the Rawson Marshall Thurber Director's cut version, the movie ends with all the fiery death and destruction, Sully's name is still, well, sullied, and Colonial Scar Turtle is victorious.)

12:30: security taking a nap, mutiny goes unpunished sometimes?

(Next Day Note: Why is the person who deliberately left the field claiming, "Screw it, I didn't sign up for this" not only allowed to walk around apparently repercussion free but given a chance to get near the prisoners who are her friends and whose point of view she obviously agrees with?)

Scar turtle a terrible shot... Wait

Segourny Weaver is incredibly understanding of alien life forms considering her past experiences.

12:35: sunshine is going to, unironically, take it to the next level! attacks hot rod kite dragon, called it

12:38: huge displays of ultra man hood always make everything ok

(Next Day Note: especially duplicity that leads to one's father's death and the forced exodus of an entire people)

12:43: sad nature matrix fail... Or is it?

12:44: but they cannot take our freeedooom!

12:51: scar turtle death march

1:02: Aiewa HAS heard you, and has responded at the dramatically appropriate time!

(Next Day Note: You know, after enough of your friends have died.)

1:06: over the top awesome is happening detail later

(Next Day Note: Running along giant bombers chucking grenades into their engine intakes, hammer head rhinos, kite dragons, and giant peacock panthers killing many people and robots, and Col. Scar Turtle jumping from an exploding sky turtle/dreadnought in a robot suit. Destruction porn at it's finest! Eat your heart out Michael Bay. Also, Sunshine does use the leaf falling technique to save himself from falling to his death, so I only half called that one).

1:08: why does the giant robot need a knife?

And that's where my log ends. Spoiler alert: good guys win, white guilt fantasy fully realized, James Cameron is shown to be revolutionary when it comes to hyping a movie. Now I'm not saying the movie is bad or good at least not yet. A fuller review must be left for a soon to come update.

Friday, December 11, 2009

I'm all over this like White on a Tea Party protest!

I received an (faux) urgent call from my friend Jeff at 10am today. He wanted my opinion as to whether something he had said was racist. It's my belief that phone calls of this nature only occur between Novo Collegians and Alumni. Anyway, Jeff told me the story as follows. He was with his lab advisor when she asked him to go do science to something that desperately needed science done to it. He firmly stated that he was "on it like white on rice." She then (in my mind) gasped and told Jeff that this phrase is racist. Jeff was caught off guard. He disagreed since he had never heard this before but his advisor stuck to her claim. He went on about his business but was still confused by the seemingly non-sequitur social critique of his idiom.

You see, no one wants to be even remotely considered racist, least of all White people. In fact, I think that in the generally clear field of effective racial slurs against Caucasians the only real stand out epithet is "racist." Call a white person a honky, they'll just laugh and think of geese and the foi grois they'll have for dinner later. Call them a racist on the other hand and be prepared for a spit parade of indignation and the names of all their minority friends. Sweeping generalizations are fun aren't they?

Back to the story, this is where Jeff decides it's a good idea to call me, Captain Aryan, to see if I possessed knowledge of this phrase's possible racist connotation. I told him I had no recollection of the phrase "being on, or sticking to something like white on rice" being racially charged in any way. We discussed possible ways the phrase could be utilized to serve a dark and inflammatory purpose but we both came up blank. We thought that the key might lie in the phrase's origin. Maybe "being/ sticking on something like white on rice" was originally used by plantation owners who referred to particularly attractive female house slaves in code as "rice" so as to make secret bawdy jokes in public? I don't know, White people are always up to crazy, secretive, backwards shit. We both had to get back to work, but I told him I'd look into it when I got the chance. I conferred with the internet for about an hour on the history of the phrase in question and really didn't find that much.

It seems no one knows where it's from. I figure that if its origin were steeped in racial controversy or if there was a closer racial connotation it would be easier to find more information on the phrase. For example, the phrase "to call a spade a spade" is thought by many to be a racial slur since spade can be used as a derogatory term for a Black person and I was able to find a bunch of info on its etymology. Other interpretations of the phrase interpret the spade in question as the playing card suit, a shovel, or even a eunuch (a spayed person). Truth be told, the phrase actually came from a Greek play by Menander, which contains the line, "I call a fig a fig, and a spade a spade" where "spade" means something along the lines of bowl or trough or boat. None of those things are Black people. Again, I'm pretty sure that the reason the phrase "to call a spade a spade" has more info on its origin than "stick to something like white on rice" is that the former phrase has a much clearer racial connotation in the current vernacular. Granted, it could be that history is mostly written by upper class, educated White people and therefore the real secret and dastardly meaning has been covered up, but I feel that conspiracy theory is so contrived and banal that we would need Robert Langdon to investigate it.

To play Devil's Advocate: As with meaning in general, a phrase's racial connotations can change over time. As in the case with "to call a spade a spade," it's origin becomes somewhat irrelevant as society as a whole begins to view the phrase in light of "spade's" 20th century racist connotation. If for some reason the ancient Greek word for bowl or trough or boat happened to be "nigger" then clearly we wouldn't use the phrase "to call a nigger a nigger" since the term is now part of a particularly vile heritage and imbued with about as much disgusting hate as 6 letters can contain. Zeitgeist is a bitch huh?

Here's the thing though, the phrase " being on/ sticking to something like white on rice" is not associated popularly with any sort of racial connotation. The only thing it's got going for it in this vein is that "white" is a term for Caucasians, but it's clear that the phrase purely refers to the color since it doesn't say, "a white on rice" and that the popular societal conception for the color of rice is that it is white. Yes, there are other colors of rice and perhaps there is underlying racism in that society views all rice as white and can't see the veritable rainbow of browns and blacks that rice can come in. But, seriously? Anyone trying to glean negative racial connotations from this phrase using that rationale is is just silly and trying too hard. Saying that "sticking to something like white on rice" is racist due to it's lack of rice-color-spectrum-inclusiveness or any other reason I can think of is like saying the phrase is racist because it includes the word "rice," which invokes an Asian racial stereotype. It seems that in order to interpret the phrase as racist, you would have to twist the connotation of the words within the phrase outside of their meanings or purpose within the phrase. The only way for this phrase to become a racist phrase is for people to continue needlessly attaching such negative meaning to it.

Besides, it seems that the phrase was popularized by Ike Turner in the Ike & Tina song Baby Get It On. Personally I'd say that since Ike Turner said the phrase, it's much more sexist the racist anyway.

On a final note, Jeff has decided to say "being on something like a white on rice" from now on and I fully endorse this course of action. If the phrase is going to be interpreted as racist, best to turn it on a group that has the least slurs against them. It's like Affirmative Action for racism. Besides, I'm white and I personally love rice of all colors.


PS: I promise to start blogging again! We all pretty much know this is a lie!