Monday, September 25, 2006

This Film is not yet Rated

"This Film is not yet Rated" might be the most patriotic thing I've seen since George Clooney's staggering "Good Night and Good Luck." It's a riviting, well-researched account of the MPAA guidelines, which aren't required for films, but have become a "facist" monopoly between extreme lobbyists (fine, Republicans if you must know) and studio heads.

The system is completely arbitrary. There is no rubric, no explanation (film director Kirby Dick goes through a rater's garbage to get a glimpse of one of the review sheets) and the raters are kept secret, just like the CIA, so that "they won't be influenced by outsiders." Dick finds that the members are not "the average parent," but a crusty group of pushovers who maintain close connections or are those in charge of 95 percent of Hollywood. Indie films don't stand a chance.

After hiring a Private Investigator (who looks like a soccer mom...I would never suspect her!), Dick reveals the names of the board members and the appeals members, which includes two members of the clergy (!!!). A civil liberties attorney points out that this is indeed fascists and worse than the government, because at least we have the Constitution to keep the government in check.

In my ideal world, there are a few things that every consumer of media should see so that they are aware of what they are exposed to. I was infuriated that a small group of psychotic, special-interest power-mongers have been determining what I've been exposed to for decades. It's a perfect example of an issue that needs to be resolved, but probably won't get touched by any politician unless we make some noise. Seriously people, from every angle, the current system is whacked.

Unrelated: I've been Gawked.

Speaking of political activism, I'm now blogging my way to freedom for Unity08. Juicy.

Monday, September 11, 2006

Because everyone has something to say about 9-11

Rather than talk about 9-11 itself, which I think we all can agree was a) a tragedy b) a major turning point for America c) a tremendous shift in U.S. foreign policy and affairs, I'd like to talk about what really struck me today, perched here in lower Manhattan on the 5th anniversary: the flurry of media.

This morning, between 8 and 10 a.m., I biked down to the Financial District to my old apartment and place of work. The traffic was, as expected on a Monday morning, crazy, but before I noticed the NYPD in their dressy garb, I noticed the monstrous cable TV news vans with their extra-terrestrial satellite dishes. Not that it matters, but I literally couldn't see the mourners or "the pit" through the barrage of reporters.

As a fledgling reporter/journalism student, I empathize with the need to get the story. I also don't want to downplay 9-11. What happened then, the days before and the days after will, as cliche as it sounds, define my generation and those to come. But almost more interesting than 9-11 is our reaction to it, even how we choose to look at it in retrospect. Here are some highlights/lowlights:

-Oliver Stone's WTC. Do we really need the man from Con-Air to portray a NYPD firefighter? I think the story of 9-11 is compelling enough...why Hollywoodify it?'s coverage of the 9-11 anniversary frenzy. I'm glad that there's someone out there (think digital John Stewart) who is keeping checks on the ridiculousness of the media. Power to 'em for not holding back.

-The NY Times "five years later" retrospective is comprehensive, literary and features some stunning photos (and mediocre mini films). I know that it is the NY times and this is New York, but this almost borders on 9-11palooza. It almost feels like it was written for Joe and Jane suburbia who want to feel like New Yorkers this week rather than, well, New Yorkers. I don't think the coverage reflected the actual mood here, which was indeed reflective, but the Times gives the impression that it was ALL anyone could think of. In New York fashion, garbage was collected, subways were ridden and although there were moments of silence and mass Beatles' singing, by my account, most people refrained from waving American flags in each other's faces. The dude at Duane Reade today said "Good afternoon," like always, not "United we stand."

-BBC. The Brits may be getting boiling up the Atlantic with their hatred of Bush and Blair's friendship (does anyone else see some sexual tension there?), but their coverage was eloquent, tasteful and comes the closest to winning the accuracy award. A lift of the pinkie to the UKers.

-A graphic interpretation of the 9-11 report. A great way to get people engaged in one of the most important documents to pop out of U.S. government in decades. If you haven't read the real Report, you should. But until now, chew on the format that's friendlier to us comicophiles.

-Fox News' 9-11 Section. I don't even know where to begin here. It was hard to read any of the stories, the page was so crowded with freedom. Demonstrates the difference between America and Merica, if you catch my drift.

And on that note, I'm out. You'll hear from me on September 11th, 2011.

Saturday, September 09, 2006

Negelcted Blog: Crocs, snoops and evil

It's been forever since my last post! Nothing says "I'm sorry for neglecting my digital followers" like a bulleted rundown of why I've been so busy these last weeks...

-I'm mourning the loss of Mr. Steve Erwin (whose wife happens to hail from Eugene, OR) and thinking about how the man gave his everything for something that he loved. Even though I don't have a particular interest in swamp life, Erwin made me interested via his zeal. You see someone like him, totally pumped up about something, and you can't help but wonder what that something is. Erwin, you were the master of edutainment and a big tip of the hat to everyone's favorite Aussie in the sky. The Discovery Channel just got that much more boring.

-I've been warding off stalkers. The eerily massive website has added a "newsfeed" feature which gives the entire world a play-by-play account of all of your online activity. Does someone really need to know everything that's going on in my life every second it's happening? Or are we just fearing new technology? More at 11...

-I've been Gawked! My pricey education is paying off...I proved that there is a method to Ann Coulter's madness. Truly the pinnacle of my journalism career.

-School has begun. I'm swamped with a smattering of law, finance and stats courses. Summer has tragically slipped away...