Catholic commentary on culture, media, and politics.

Monday, August 15, 2005

If I were dictator

If I were dictator (benevolent, of course) I would immediately outlaw the following bad things:

* Russian characters in movies would no longer be allowed to say the word "situation" in a thick Russian accent ("Seet-uAY-shun"). And can they please drink something other than vodka?

* If a movie scene takes place in France, you're not allowed to show an extra walk past with a long French bagette hanging out of their shopping bag. And enough with the tams. It's France; we get it.

* Sorry, but in action movies, the hero is no longer allowed to say, "I'm going in!" Even if he is going in somewhere.

* Movie scores, especially in romantic comedies, are no longer allowed to insert songs with lyrics that explain every last detail of what's happening between the characters during those bittersweet sequences when no one is talking. I hate that. Just tell the story, Herr Direktor. We're already holding our date's hand, we don't need you to hold it, too.

* In battle sequences, it's impermissible to show two huge groups of soldiers running angrily toward each other, then slamming chaotically into the opposing army. The standard for mega-battle sequences was set in Spartacus 40 years ago. But since then, Braveheart, Troy, Alexander, The Scorpion King and its B-movie imitators, The Patriot, all three Lords of the Ring, Gladiator, The Kingdom of Heaven, etc. have created a big fat cliche out of it. And no more shots of a zillion arrows whistling overhead, m'kay?

* When a character is very angry, or is threatening someone with a gun, he or she may not use the allegedly edgy, hip epithet, "sick f**k." Yawn.

* Movie main characters must immediately cease and desist sounding 10 times more poetic and profound than does the average person when speaking.

* During Mass, the celebrant is not allowed any references to professional sports during his introductory remarks or before the final blessing. Sorry, Father, but "Go Dodgers" is jarring, and the ensuing congregational chuckle doesn't really belong in the Mass.

* Liberals must now find a different word than "inappropriate." It's the law.

* No more invoking Hitler or the Nazi regime in an argument, unless the argument is about World War II.

* If you're disagreeing with someone, you may not begin a sentence with, "studies show" or "if you look at the statistics." We all know you're just grabbing at thin air.

* Unless your opponent actually hates Jews, the term anti-Semitic is no longer available for usage by the public. Also, unless your opponent actually hates Catholics, same goes for the term "anti-Catholic."

* Unless your opponent is actually afraid of homosexuals, he must not be called homophobic.

* Come to think of it, the word homophobic, too, must be replaced since it means "fear of things that are similar."

* The open-minded-sounding dualism "I'm spiritual but not religious" has GOT to go.

* Just so you know, the word is "regardless," not irregardless.

* Any allusions to the Crusades and the Inquisition(s) must be preceded by in-depth study of both historical phenomena.

* Any knee-jerk references to Islam being a religion of peace must first account for, and persuasively defend, the pro-violence passages in the Qu'ran and the blood-drenched history of the spread of Islam.

* The term "pedophile priest" is a thing of the past, since 999 abuse cases out of 1000 have involved gay priests with a penchant for adolescent boys and young men, not for children per se.

* No more bishop bashing if you're not prepared to pray fervently for the object of your bash for one month.

I'll be posting more as they arise. Venting pet peeves is fun, no? I'd like to hear from my loyal but heretofore silent Seize the Dei readers. What would you abolish if you became dictator?


Blogger Julie D. said...

Excellent list. I am going to think about this ...

How about making "approved for all audiences" trailers actually only have content that is ok for tiny children to see? Most trailers would have to be radically recut based on this; at least the ones I saw this summer.

Also, people who bring small children to PG-13 or over movies should be hauled away by the theater police.

7:14 PM

Blogger terryvnd said...

Doan get me started Seize.

How about the chair for people who fail to use their turn signals?

Or Shania Twain? I think her day has come and gone.

7:57 PM

Blogger Patrick said...

Julie: Just compare what a Rated R movie was 15 years ago. It's exactly what a PG-13 is today. No kidding. In 1973, The Godfather debuted with a huge controversial bang. Any episode of The Sopranos makes the Coppola flick look like Dora the Explorer.

Ter: The chair! Yes, bring back the chair! Shania is growing into a "forgotten but not gone" celeb...

But we can't say much because Canadians need a quota of celebs who make it big in the States to brag about. Canuck Man cannot live on Mike Myers alone.

8:47 PM

Blogger Julie D. said...

Yes, on second thought all movie rating systems should be redone. We rented Spanglish, rated PG-13, and there is a sex scene with the wife having an orgasm. I suppose the fact that any private "bits" were covered was supposed to make it ok but we couldn't believe our eyes ... to say nothing of the fact that we were watching with our 15-year-old which was less than comfortable to say the least.

6:29 AM

Blogger Patrick said...

Julie: The defense rests. Interesing that you mention Spanglish. What a disappointment beyond your very legit point about content about ratings. I also thought it was a study in unbalanced feminity. Accidentally so, I mean. The pretty Mexican girl has no husband. Why not? She's a knock-out and her daughter perfectly charming -- totally not believable plot point. Never explained. Cloris Leachman's an alcoholic, so we figure her husband left -- but he's completely invisible. Not one mention of the main character's father in 2.5 hours?

That leaves the only "normal" male to be Adam Sandler, and I'm sorry to say he's not able to pull off normal males, being able only to play *slightly* more serious characters than Happy Gilmore and Opera Man from SNL.

And did anyone notice the pro-illegal immigration sub-theme?

Glad I have no opinions on any of it.

7:32 AM

Anonymous Carol said...

I would ban the use of "I feel" before any statement of opinion, fact, or even made up fact. ie: I feel that he lied. I feel that you are wrong. I feel that the sky is blue. It is a passive/aggressive way of saying "you can't argue with what I am saying because it is how I feel....and I need no reason to back my statement."

Also, I would ban the use of the word "like" in any sentence in which it cannot be substituted by "similiar too"... I am like so cold! = I am similiar too so cold WRONG!!

8:13 AM

Blogger Julie D. said...

I guess our family is the only one that saw very positive themes throughout (there is a comments box discussion going on at my place right now about that).

As to why the husband left ... well, husbands do totally stupid stuff all the time like think there is a better looking woman who won't have her own opinion and they don't want to be tied down by having to support a family.

So you can see why I thought he left (this is based on a general cultural knowledge of stupid, deadbeat men and also on the woman's thought that she had never known a guy who had a soft heart before meeting Sandler's character).

10:36 AM

Blogger Maureen Martin said...

Hey Patrick,

Have you noticed in American movies, how when a woman comes back from the grocery store, she always has the tops of carrots sticking out her bag. Come on! We all buy carrots in the bag. How unrealistic can you get.

And, whenever movie characters are on the phone, they always hang up without saying 'bye.' No one would ever do that in real life.


11:03 AM

Anonymous Joe McCool said...

Those are a lot of peeves Patrick!

I've got one. All felt banners must be immediately removed from all parishes. You know the ones with slogans like, "We gather together" and "Joy, Alleluia, Mother Earth". Okay maybe the last one doesn't exist but you get the point.

11:35 AM

Blogger Patrick said...

Feelings are, like, feelings, too, Carol.

Julie: I'm not saying it had no positive aspects. I had my hopes up based on "As Good As It Gets" and "Terms of Endearment" both of which were directed by James L. Brooks (whom I met as a photographer briefly in 1997, small world).

Don't you think the deadbeat Hispanic male is playing to stereotypes, or at least throws a bone to feminism? I mean, Paz Vega is a voluptuously beautiful actress, and her character was so eager to please and love. I just didn't but the abandonment angle.
And the main characters were underdeveloped -- not a peepfromanyone aboutthe missing dad (Sandler's father-in-law), no resolution to the mother-daughter trouble over alcoholism, no satisfying end to the story. (Plus one more all-wise, flawless little girl character a la the Dakota Fanning paradigm.)

My opinions are coRECT I tell you!

Maureen: Carrots -- exactly. The phoen one isa goodies, too. Here's one more: I've noticed that soap opera chracters, when they get some terrible or scandalous revelation told them, before the commercial break the camera stays on them for WAY too long as they emote and take in whatever the news revealed, they look way pensively, they tear up, whatever -- but it goes on forever, way longer than in real life.

Joe: Next thing you'll want Marty Haugen to go to the chair. See you tonight, mi amgio?

11:44 AM

Anonymous Joe McCool said...

I don't know if I advocate the chair but we could throw him in a rose bush or something. We can throw in the St. Louis Jesuits while were at it.

"Here I am Lord"? Argh! What rubish.

1:14 PM

Blogger Patrick said...

Don't blaspheme! Or I'll set up City of God in your home as permanent muzak.

1:36 PM

Anonymous Joe McCool said...

Are you outing yourself as a Dan Schutte fan?

2:19 PM

Anonymous Shawne said...

If I was a dictator:

Russian characters in movies would drink White Americans or Black American, and both would be some form of cheap wine.

If you're disagreeing with someone the only way to respond is.. "Dhua!!"

I'm with you 100% on the irregardless thing. That would be such a serious crime. Punishable by cutting out the tounge maybe.

I don't understand why you gotta bash liberals on the
"inappropriate" thang. Seems like a nice fair word. ... but that's jus' me.

Trailor ratings should match movie rating or head should roll. Period. I've walked out when they don't.

8:30 PM

Blogger Patrick said...

Inappropriate is libspeak for unPC behavior. It's often used to defame soeone who is unPC.

How about horrific spelling....? lol.

8:52 AM

Blogger Der Tommissar said...

The standard for mega-battle sequences was set in Spartacus 40 years ago.

Actually, it is preceded by around 25-30 years by the works of Cecil B. DeMille. In particular, see "The Crusades" for the genesis of two big armies run into each other.

3:50 PM

Blogger Maureen Martin said...

Please don't tell me that is your review of "Spanglish."


4:28 PM

Blogger Patrick said...

Maureen: A "review" of Spanglish? No, I suppose not. Only off-the-cuff impressions on a film I saw months ago. It wasn't devoid of any good moments or positive messages, but I was disappointed for all the reasons mentioned. Don't know what you're getting at with your question.

Der Tom: Well, as soon as I posted on the battle-clash cliche, I knew someone could produce some earlier instance. Fine. I still think Spartacus created the more influential "visual template," so to speak, of that now-oft used scene. And it's not just generic big battle scenes I'm talking about. It's the running-into-each-other-so-all-the-combatants-clash-together aspect.

Besides, most people are familiar with Stanley Kubrick, but only feeelm students and people over 50 know much about CB DeMille.

7:06 PM

Blogger Maureen Martin said...


LOL, I was asking Tom that. I should have written, "Hey, Tom..." He is supposed to do a review of Spanglish and I was just making a joke about whether his post on here was the actual review.


8:37 PM

Blogger Patrick said...

Moe: Way too subtle for me! Hey, how was I supposed to know you know "Tom" lol.

8:50 PM

Blogger Patrick said...

And what a lovely profile photo. you say?...almost ivory beaty.

8:52 PM

Anonymous Ewaldo said...

Oh, my long lost fellow act-oner Patrick. I discovered your blog a few weeks ago and really enjoy it. It's amazing that it took a movie comment to ruffle my feathers. "Spanglish" was my favorite movie last year and Brooks reigns supreme in the movie and tv universe. The fact that you've met him means that I can never look upon your face again for it is too good, too pure, too right.

Deadbeat Hispanic males as a stereotype? Yes, but I don't even remember the girl's father even being addressed. People -- even beautiful people -- get abandoned. Not that I would know. I'm, howshallwesay, "successfully bland."

I agree that the main characters were underdeveloped. But only because I would like to see a long-running HBO series with these characters. The film spent 2+ hours developing the characters beautifully. How can I say this with articulation? The limitations of film are really limiting.

The missing dad? I guess Brooks could have thrown a line in or two. My assumption was that Leachman's character was a "boozer and a loser" (to quoth the world's funniest woman Amy Sedaris) and never bothered to introduce her daughter to one-night stand daddy.

The all-wise girl? Hey, let's rejoice in any casting choices that allow for regular-looking girls. Can I get a wha-wha for any actress who makes it onscreen with 5%+ body fat?

I think their was resolution to the mother-daughter conflict over alocoholism. Leachman gave Leoni strong advice about saving her marriage. For that character, good advice-giving was a major step forward.

The pro-illegal immigration sub-theme? I'll give you this, P.C. (great initials for you! God's funny.) Yes, they came here illegally and that wasn't addressed. But come on, give Jimmy some love. He lives west of Glendale so of course he's pro-illegals!

Sorry, but I thought Adam was sensational as a "normal" male. I haven't seen a guy on-screen be "the good one" in what feels like decades. Women always reign supreme in entertainment. Somewhere right now, Claire Huxtable is gyrating her head, lecturing Cliff.

My conclusion? I need a blog of my own. It's clear that MY opinions are correct, I tells ya.

Until then, I'll faithfully read yours, enjoying every minute of your smart-like smarts.

10:03 PM

Anonymous Patrick said...

Ewaldo of the wit and wisdom (tragically wayward Spanglish opinions notwithstanding):

Good to hear from you. Didn't mean to ruffle thy feathers. Spanglish let me down, thats all. It wasn't the worst 2004 movie, but it wasn't up to Brooksian snuff either. I thought it played gruel to the more feastlike quality of previous JLB films. If you adored it more than your own hair color (to quote Carrie Fisher) then who am I to douse acid on thy party?

Small correction: the movie didn't just "not address" the illegal immigration, it strongly endorsed it. Notice Paz Vega is a stunning woman, not a fat illegal drug dealer, or petty thief. Very sympathetic to the "plight of the downtrodden."

If illegal crossing of the sovereign borders of the US is okidoki, then I'm all wet. If it's a crime (illegal, bad, immoral, pick your euphemism) then movies ought not glorify it. There are 11 million (est) in this great country illegally. Especially in a time of terrorism, our borders are our achilles heel. We're soft on the issue at our peril.

My wife is Latina. I'm Canadian. It just galls me to picture sweet amnesty for criminals while millions of us waited in line, filled out forms, did it the right way. Thanks, Mr. President. It's disgusting, but thankfully I have no opinions on the matter.

PS Adam Sandler is very talented. But when I look at him trying to emote seriously, I just can't remove the super-epoxy of Happy Gilmore, Big Daddy/Opera Man, any more than I could unglue Batman from the face of Adam West.

11:07 AM

Blogger Der Tommissar said...

running-into-each-other-so-all-the-combatants-clash-together aspect.

Yup, he had that very thing done. I'm sure someone will find one even earlier than that. :)

Besides, most people are familiar with Stanley Kubrick, but only feeelm students and people over 50 know much about CB DeMille.

I am under 40, so I can't be over 50. I'm a registered Republican, so I can't be a film student. And really, it's all about Henry Wilcoxon, who DeMille used as often as he could in his films. I guess his most famous role in the modern era was the Protestant Bishop in "Caddyshack". He who offered that classic line to Danny:

Bishop: Why don't you come on down to our new Lutheran center?
Danny Noonan: I've often thought about becoming a priest.
Bishop: Oh, are you a Roman Catholic?
[Danny nods]
Bishop: Oh, then I'm sorry, but I'm afraid you can't come.

2:31 PM


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