Tag Archives: dark

Fame Day: Hannibal

A while ago, I showcased one of my favorite shows, American Horror Story. One of my key talking points was that AHS‘s success was going to blaze the trail for other, similarly dark and horrific shows.

Ladies and gentlemen, I believe the first of those has arrived.

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Fame Day: All The Little Things

I’ve always had a rough time with Fame Day posts. I’m a generally dispassionate guy, and the things that I do like either aren’t around anymore (good rock, for example) or don’t have much to be said about them (beer is good, that is all).

Bitter cynic that I am, it’s a lot easier (and more fun) to rail on things I despise (which is a lot of things) than make a case for what I enjoy. That issue is only compounded by the simple fact that at the end of the day, it’s really just all the little things which get ya.

With that in mind, today’s Fame Day [in lieu of the usual Shame Day] will not be spent dedicated to a single person or group or trend, but rather to a number of things which deserve some recognition, even if it’s just a little.

Middle-Eastern Jesus:

Even with a better understanding of history and geography, portrayals of Jesus are still pretty much limited to the fair-skinned, flowing-haired images of the Middle Ages. Even if we are, at the very least, keeping away from the blonde hair and blue eyes, we still have a long way to go. That’s the reason it’s always so refreshing to see Jesus portrayed with a stocky build, dark skin, dark hair, and a beard one would sooner associate with an Al-Qaeda commander.

He is not gonna tan well…

For everyone portraying Jesus as something more like that below, and less like this above- thank you.

PFC Bradley Manning:

In retrospect, I could’ve simply dedicated this Fame Day to saluting Bradley Manning, the young American soldier who leaked a massive number of documents to Wikileaks. Inevitably however, such an attempt would have simply devolved from a round of applause for Manning into a vitriolic diatribe against the increasingly Orwellian US government. Heck, even here I’m gonna be tempted to do so. Better just keep it short and to the point.

Included in the footage Manning leaked was video of a strike by American forces on targets they mistook for combatants, but who were in reality journalists and civilians. This footage would have doubtlessly been suppressed, as would similar  information PFC Manning leaked, and kept from the public eye, perhaps forever. Rather than being given a medal, Manning has been arrested, imprisoned, intimidated, and presented with a host of charges, including “aiding the enemy,” which carries the death sentence. Again, I’m tempted to run off into a wild condemnation of this entire farce, so let’s throw PFC Manning a round of applause and our wishes for his speedy release.

Chill Parents:

In our paranoid world, we have a tendency to attempt to control and protect our loved ones- kids in particular- from any possible harm or danger, no matter how minor. You’ve probably seen it in some form or another. Loading the kids down with every imagine medication, drilling the idea of “stranger-danger” into their disproportionately large heads, heck, even tracking phones or school IDs  is viewed as just a logical move in this chaotic and evil world.

I guess that’s why it’s  always good to see parents who are okay with their kids getting a little dirty and scraped-up, or even view such things as a healthy part of development. I’m not talking about neglect, mind you, but rather an understanding that keeping kids penned up inside a house or wasting away in front of a TV is just as bad- if not worse- than having to liberally apply the iodine after Jack and Jill fall down some hill.

And there you have it folks- a grab bag of things worth nodding your heads at. Be sure to check in tomorrow for a new installment of “Evan and Gordon Talk,” and Free Bradley Manning!

Nolan, Jefferson, and The Batman

Keep on reading, this’ll make sense.

In the year 1820 Thomas Jefferson shared with a number of his friends a book
he had put together entitled The Life and Morals of Jesus of Nazareth. It was, in essence, the four gospels [Matthew, Mark, Luke, and John] in chronological order. What truly differentiated it from the Bible was the omission of all references to angels, prophecy, references to Jesus divinity and resurrection, and miracles.

In the year 2005 Christopher Nolan’s film Batman Begins made its way into theatres, spawning a trilogy and getting the ball rolling for dozens of “grim and gritty” remakes. In an interview with The Guardian the director said that he “[tried] to do it in a more realistic fashion than anyone had ever tried to [do] a superhero film before.”

The parallel I’m trying to make should be obvious to any Batman fan, either of the comics or the animated series. Having finally seen The Dark Knight Rises this Tuesday and finishing the trilogy, I can finally say this with confidence that Nolan has done to the Batman canon what Jefferson did to the Bible.

These two men have something against the improbable.

To make things clear, I like Nolan’s Batman movies. He took a concept as seemingly ridiculous as a vigilante crimefighter who dresses up like a bat and somehow grounded it. On top of that he forced us to accept the fact that comic book movies can be more than entertaining, they can be awe-inspiring as well.

An issue that I had with Christopher Nolan and his films was the staunch inability to embrace anything even vaguely fantastical. The problem with that being that the concept is, as I just mentioned, a vigilante crimefighter who dresses up as a bat. With that in mind, maybe the imagination can be stretched just a little more to accommodate a psychopath whose makeup can’t wash off, or a badly scarred man with a deeply split-personality.

Furthermore, by thinning the line between reality [that of the audience] and art [the film being watched] questions are forced to arise. If this is the real world, why didn’t the kidnapping of a Chinese national from his homeland spark an international debacle [The Dark Knight], and <SPOILERS> how is Bruce able to make the jump to escape the prison given the damage in his legs [The Dark Knight Rises]? The films lower our suspension of disbelief, and with our guard down we become quick to ask why.

In his film Captain America fought pseudo-Nazis with energy weapons and tanks as large as houses. The audience never questioned this because although the film had some sort of anchor in a real-life event [World War II], we still understood that this was a world with one foot in the fantastic. If we can believe that a scrawny kid from Brooklyn ingesting a “super solider serum” can help the Allies win the war then we can just as easily believe that Hitler’s “deep science division” is led by a man whose face looks like a red skull.

Taking the “magic” out of the Batman mythos was no easy task, and Nolan threw a lot out when he decided what his approach to the canon would be. Scarecrow’s fear gas got the go-ahead, but not the Joker’s laughing gas, or the Venom that Bane uses to grow stronger. Batman could be called by name, but not Catwoman. Batarangs can be seen, and used, but the Batmobile must be free of any visual associations with the character.

Nolan was free to pick and choose what he wanted, and in many ways simply used Batman and his world to tell the stories that he wanted to tell. This is somewhat lost in the third film due to its connections to actual events in the comics [Knightfall and No Man’s Land, though that’s a post for another time], but for the most part he co-wrote the stories and screenplays for all three films. In another interview he states that “I don’t think our Batman, our Gotham, lends itself to that kind of cross-fertilization,” in response to a question about heroes co-existing between films akin to the Marvel Cinematic Universe.

Having stated that, I must admit that I have to view Christopher Nolan’s trilogy of Batman films as- something else. Something not Batman. Batman would never kill purposefully [letting someone die, Batman Begins], accidentally [tackling Harvey Dent, The Dark Knight], or not react to the deaths of others [all throughout The Dark Knight Rises]. I guess I view them as Batman movies about as much as I view the apocrypha part of the Bible. They can be good, and even beneficial, but ultimately miss the mark somehow.