Monday, February 04, 2008

Comments on Art and Culture, With a Movie Review Buried Within

It is no doubt that I am officially an old man. This is not new. Neither is it new that I am cranky and crotchety and generally peeved about a number of things. At no point was this more apparent than at three points this weekend.

1. On Saturday when a video by MIA shook me out of what I was reading before I went to the gym. I had furrowed my forehead when her debut dropped a few years back but this latest offering made my eye twitch, and the following came forth from my lips:

"Jesus Christ, this singsong bullshit is what got everyone's drawers wet last year? You know, I don't give a damn if you wear shiny tights, I don't give a damn if you're from Sri Lanka, if this is the sound of the global village, I'm paving over the medicine hut to build a Starbucks. At least they play Feist there."

2. Also on Saturday, though in the evening when the spine of a bright yellow book with sharp typography I hadn't seen before jumped out at me from the shelf. It was a short story collection entitled 'No One Belongs Here More Than You' by Miranda July.

Now the name alone was enough to deflate my interest. Miranda July? Dreadful. Just walk around wearing sandwich boards that read 'I BE A SERIOUS ARTIST! SERIOUSLY!' to make the same point. Now, being fascinated with author photos like I am, I wasn't totally unsurprised to see that's essentially what Ms. July did.

OMG, could her eyes be any more doe-y? So fragile, so sensitive, begging the reader to look kindly on her precious little stories. Oh Miranda July, with your porcelain kewpie looks and your eschewing of quotation marks, save me from myself so that I may never know pain again.

Yawn. The jacket informs us that Miranda is the latest McSweeney's type to be wrapped up in post-ironic praise and trotted out for the hipsters to fawn over, which they are doing with alarming frequency. Hell, I've had an amazing anthology of love stories borrowed from work [which I will discuss at a more seasonal juncture] and imagine my surprise to find the young sprite alongside Alice Munro, Raymond Carver, Joyce and Checkov. And I think, "Preposterous! You have done nothing, yet you are trotted out with some of the greatest writers ever? Really?!

I've read a couple of July's short works by now, and while they aren't without artistry, I fail to see her as the visionary others want me to. To me, it just seems like a giant put on.

And lest you think I'm just a big dumb penis hating on a powerful woman's artistic endeavours, I'll have you know I flipped through Mark Danielewski's 'Only Revolutions' today and found it to be the biggest exercise in masturbation I'd ever seen committed to paper.

3. When I walked out of the theatre after seeing Juno. A few months ago I had posted the trailer to the film because I thought it looked pretty good and I wanted to give it some exposure. Turns out I didn't need to, as the thing became a mini cultural phenomenon netting Oscar nods for damn near everyone involved.

So what didn't I like? Well, put it like this: remember when Dawson's Creek and Scream and I Know What You Did... came out, and everyone was all gaga over the smart and sassy dialogue [written by Kevin Williamson] until someone pointed out that teenagers don't talk like that! Because by and large, they're stupid! That's kind of what I felt like when I watched most of Juno.

The script, by stripper/blogger/'journalist' Diablo Cody [tell Miranda we need her sandwich boards again] just seemed so utterly false to me for 2/3 of the movie. And this is nothing against Ellen Page, I thought she played the character brilliantly, I just thought the character was a turd 90% of the time. That and the adults were infinitely more interesting to me than the title character. Swear to God, Cera should have slapped that pipe out of her gob.

I mean, 'Wizard'? Who the eff says 'wizard'? And that line about the girl who smelled like soup getting big laughs? Mike Myers did that joke fifteen years ago. I wanted to like the movie, I really did, but it just didn't even click for me until she finally effing wised up and realized she didn't know everything. Which very well might have been the point but, as Lady Trail put it, 'she should have dropped that kid twenty minutes ago.'

Clearly, I am not the target audiences for any of these things, and perhaps that's the point I'm trying to make. I don't care. So all the Diablos and MIAs and Julys and Poseidons and whoever the hell else out there wants to ride a wave of buzz, knock yourself out. I've learned my lesson.

Next time I'm seeing 'No Country for Old Men.' Because books by reclusive septuagenarians are what it's at, sugah!


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