Open Thread for July 17, 2009

OMG Harry Potter!

Signs of the apocalypse:

The Jacksploitation continues.

The Harry Potter movie seems actually to be good. (Even people who have read the books like it.) Emma Watson is doing sexy photoshoots and collaborating with Marilyn Manson.

The Emmy Nominations have come out and the fantastic final season of The Shield has been completely snubbed.

The mediocre zombiefication of Jane Austen has spawned a sequel.

What new horrors will the weekend visit upon us? Make guesses here, your open thread.

(By the way, half of the links above are from the WSJ’s relatively new—to me, anyway—Speakeasy blog, which I am liking a whole lot.)

20 Comments on “Open Thread for July 17, 2009”

  1. Dan From Canada #

    I’m a little annoyed that now, finally, years after writing my own versions of various pieces of literature with silly additions that made no sense, it’s become popular and profitable.


  2. Trevor #

    I was all set to re-do “Pride and Prejudice” with Mr. Darcy played by the xenomorph from “Alien.”

    Walter Cronkite passed away, he retired from the evening news desk before I was even two years old yet I feel like I know him like a grandpa that you always hear about. He was one of those guys who, even if you never watched him doing a broadcast, you knew who he was.

    Not to be snarky, but the Jackson funeral/celebration at the Staples Center really raises the bar for celeb funerals. One can only wonder if the Cronkite family might want to contact Madison Square Garden for just such a festival. (I’m-a gonna go to Hell when I die…)


  3. dock #

    Possible overthinking topics- 1. Mary Jane Watson (in Spiderman 1): All American Girl or Total Slut? 2. The hidden racist message behind white celebrities adopting poor African babies. 3. Quint and the Greatest Monologue in Cinema History

    Just 3 things I have been kicking around to myself, but am unable to Overthink quite on your guys level.


  4. Amy #

    I can’t believe no one mentioned anything about Walter Cronkite’s death yet.


  5. mlawski OTI Staff #

    @dock: Are you asking if MJ is a virgin or a whore? Tsk tsk. You’ve made my feminism bells go off. Ding ding ding ding! :)


  6. Trevor #

    MJ is Peter’s idealized girl made real by the urban jungle of New York. Of course she’s a slut.

    One thing: after the whole “upside down kiss in the rain” sequence, I always wondered if Spider-Man should’ve left her alone just then. Sure, the attempted rapists are all knocked out, but they ain’t dead, and they sure as heck aren’t going to stay knocked out forever. Unless MJ is making a call to the cops, I’d say she’s technically still in danger. But that’s just me.


  7. Matthew Belinkie OTI Staff #

    I am a little confused that The Shield is eligible for this Emmy Awards – seems like that went down a million years ago. But yes, it’s just plain silly that Chiklis and the gang got snubbed. I don’t put much stock in awards shows, and this just cements it.


  8. dock #

    @mlawski- No, no, no. Lol. No bells necessary, I think I misrepresented myself. If I may explain…

    I was watching Spiderman 1 when I noticed that throughout the movie, MJ is going from guy to guy pretty quickly. At the start of the movie, she is going out with Flash. When they are on the field trip that eventually leads to Peter getting bit, both Flash and Mj are there, however she spends her time alone with first Harry, then Peter. Then, when Peter beats up Flash, she gets all gooey with him in the back yard- while shes waiting for Flash to pick her up! They eventually break up and she and Harry connect. So, shes going out with Harry, but when Peter meets her outside her audition and they banter back and forth, she turns the conversation flirtatious (knowing Peter and Harry are best friends). Then, a few minutes later she is attacked and Spiderman saves her, so what does she do? She pulls up (down?) his mask and makes out with him. This is now 2 people (as far as she knows) that she makes the first move on, while having a boyfriend waiting for her elsewhere!

    I would condemn the same behavior from a man. Treating your boyfriend/girlfriend like that is not acceptable.

    So I posed the question- is she “The All American Girl” as her character is seemingly portrayed, or is she a “Slut”? Or maybe just confused? Its really an opinion piece so I thought maybe someone would want to take it on.

    And I’ll resist ringing my man bells :p


  9. Trevor #

    Judging from her home life (of which we get a glimpse in the first film), MJ seems like the kind of girl who naturally hooks up with men just like her father (controlling, potentially abusive, or just plain dickish), so having someone like Peter show her attention might be a bit distracting. If all you’ve ever known of love is that kind of rough, inconsiderate treatment (and we don’t know the extent of her relationship with her father, but it can be inferred that he at best isn’t supportive, at worst abusive), it can be a shock to the system when someone treats you decently. I think MJ can be said to evolve from her original place in the universe (unapproachable object for Peter, doormat for her boyfriends) and into a confident young woman.

    That, or she’s a slut ;-p

    As much as Peter is struggling to define himself (how much of him is Spider-Man, how much is Peter, and what does he have to sacrifice), Mary Jane is going through that same sort of identity debate. She’s been pigeonholed by her family and past experiences as someone who doesn’t do right by herself in romantic relationships, and Peter poses a real challenge in that he stops idealizing her in order to help her realize her potential.

    Hell, I may take you up on the idea of turning this into an article :-)


  10. Gab #

    You know what gets my goat? How “slut” would, if the English language had gender, be considered a feminine noun, but there is no male equivalent (I don’t count “male-slut” because it isn’t its own word!!). There are also “skank” and “whore” (or “ho”) (and “man-whore” doesn’t count, either), and “tramp” has become associated with the female gender more than male in the past decade or so (a kids’ movie entitled _Lady and the Tramp_ would never fly nowadays because the word has taken on such a sexual connotation since then). So you have all of these various ways of labeling a woman as having too much and/or illicit sex, but where are the words for the men?

    Then I remembered Mlawski’s article about “douche” and saw Fenzel’s comment, and I think he answered for me. “…women who have sex with lots of men are sluts, but men who don’t have sex with lots of women are weak.” That’s how American society treats sex. There isn’t a male equivalent because men are *supposed* to have sex all the time and with as many women as possible. Duh, Gab.

    Of course, there *is* still the fact that a woman that doesn’t sleep with a guy on a first date is a “prude” or a “cock-tease” or something- and I can’t come up with male versions of those, so either way, women are going to lose.

    As for MJ specifically, I think she’s an example of a fictional woman that can’t exist outside her relationships with males. Not that she’s a “slut,” so much as she just has a constant, perpetual need to be “protected” and “saved.” She goes from her father to Flash, who can protect her physically, to Harry and his financial security, and then Peter because he’s, well, Spider-Man, for f***’s sake (I’m not even counting the times where he does, indeed, come to her rescue, either). PETER-Peter was offering emotional stability, but I got the impression from the movies that she wasn’t *really* serious about him until after finding out he has two identities.

    And I take issue with her either just being “all-American” or “slut.” Perhaps on an individual level, we can see how a man operating like her (in terms of fidelity, i.e. flirting or switching) would be just as immoral as she is interpreted as, but, basically, because of the standards Fenzel pointed out in what I quoted, a man can be “all-American” while still getting around a lot (and he’d be called a “ladies’ man” or something equally praise-giving) (and I’d also argue that this is almost part of the criteria- maybe not so explicitly as other aspects, but definitely more common than not). In order for a woman to be all-American, she must also be hopelessly devoted to ONE all-American man and wait for him to come home with dinner on the table, a scotch in one hand, his slippers in the other, and an apron around her waist, to boot- and God forbid *she* flirt with a man she runs into, or, gasp, date more than one man at the same time.

    Just throwing that out there, since Mlwaski can only do so much on her own as the official “token female.” Not to say I don’t think you can hold your own, Shana…

    Brevity, I laugh at thee.


  11. Gab #

    And I spelled your name wrong at the end, Mlawski. Mea culpa.

    Bed time, before I piss more people off…


  12. Matthew Belinkie OTI Staff #

    Oh noes, I forgot to post something on the blog last month! June 21, 2009, was the birthday of Baby Diego, the youngest person in the world (from Children of Men).

    And if any of you haven’t seen Children of Men, you just have to. I’m generally not a person who insists that people watch certain movies. But Children of Men is just jaw-dropping. Everytime it’s on TV, I can just kiss the next two hours goodbye.


  13. Matthew Belinkie OTI Staff #

    @Gab – You know what gets MY goat? How Mary Jane is kidnapped by the villain in ALL THREE MOVIES. To paraphrase Ian Fleming, “Once is happenstance. Twice is coincidence. Three times is lazy screenwriting.” Yes, I know “bad guy has girlfriend in dangerous location” is a very easy setup for a finale (hell, that was Iron Man, right?). But there are other ways. I’m sure of it.

    It’s a related issue to the “slut” question. No, I don’t believe she’s a slut, although she literally runs away from her own wedding, which might make her an inconsiderate asshole. However, she IS defined entirely in relation to the men in her life. On the other hand, the movie is called “Spider-Man,” not “MJ Takes On NY.” Her character’s hopes and dreams are important only insofar as they impact Peter Parker.

    Personally, I think Rachel Dawes, Batman’s special lady friend, is a stronger character, by at least a little bit. Sure, she’s ALSO largely defined by the men in her life, but she’s also a D.A. She has a role in the story beyond looking cute. Not to mention, she has strong feelings about the sanity of the whole Batman thing. She’s NOT going to pull down his mask for a quick makeout session.


  14. mlawski OTI Staff #

    I agree with Belinkie. Watch Children of Men. While it’s not the best movie ever, it is truly one of a kind. I wouldn’t say it should have won Best Picture, but it at least should have been nominated. The cinematography and special effects are absurd–I mean that in the absolute best way possible.

    And thanks, Gab, for picking up the feminist mantle. Sometimes I just feel like ringing the bell and moving on. For the record, though, I like Mary Jane, Rachel Dawes, and Pepper Potts. Hell, I’ll even throw Lois Lane in there. They may be damsels in distress, they may be stuffed in fridges, but at least they have moxie. And that’s something.


  15. Gab #

    @Belinkie: My knee-jerk reaction in defense of the “girlfriend-gets-kidnapped” climax is that each time, it’s by a different bad guy, ergo a new person to discover the hero’s love for her. But I’m more on your side.

    And yes, _Children of Men_ is an awesome movie. Those long, one-shot sequences make me react physically in a way they wouldn’t have, had they been done with multiple cameras and cuts, for one thing.

    @Mlawski: ::salute::

    Oh, and I think Rachel deserves a good long rant about how awesome she was and how sucky that fridge-stuffing of her made me feel. Maybe I’ll play with that on my own blog in my oooooooodles of spare time. I did like how she even kept turning down her D.A. boss in _Batman Begins_, too, which gets rid of any theories about boss-humping to have her position as assistant D.A.


  16. Matthew Belinkie OTI Staff #

    @Gab – How many times do we need to see MJ hanging from something and screaming, while Spider-Man yells “Hang on, Mary Jane!”

    I can understand you disliking how Rachel died. She’s the one female character, and she gets taken out just to give the men something to get all riled up about. BUT… it works. I mean, The Dark Knight is a great movie. So yes, her death is kind of a cliche, but that doesn’t mean that it can’t be effective, good storytelling. Right? Go ahead and let me have it if you must.


  17. mlawski OTI Staff #

    @Belinkie: We had a similar discussion on one of the recent Lost threads. It’s a cheap trick to introduce a likable love interest, only to kill that person off for some quick drama. But it works. It’s certainly worked on me.

    The problem occurs when you aggregate all the instances of fridge-stuffing in a certain medium. The Nolans’ choice to kill of Rachel Dawes isn’t necessarily misogynistic on its own. It’s only when you realize that this kind of thing happens in basically every superhero movie or comic ever, and it general happens to women, that it gets creepy.

    A commenter suggested the same thing was happening to the minority characters on Lost. At first I didn’t believe it, but now from my place in the middle of the third season, I’m starting to think it might be true. The cast is certainly getting whiter as the episodes progress.


  18. mlawski OTI Staff #

    @Mlawski: You meant to say “the Nolans’ choice to kill OFF Rachel.” You also meant to say “it GENERALLY happens to women.” Dumbass.


  19. Gab #

    @Belinkie: I had to re-read your first paragraph a few times because, sadly, I thought you meant Michael Jackson.

    Now THAT would be an epic movie.


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