Hate & Fear

As ever, there are essentially two kinds of people in the world: Thinkers and Believers. This is a truth, and one that has little to nothing to do with religion, spirituality, education or lack thereof. It’s a simple boiling-down of how one ultimately chooses to approach the world: Through a prism of logic, reason and rationality… or through the other thing.

Below, a YouTube piece that’s been making the rounds courtesy the charmingly-named “MIke Hunt” that intercuts the “Demand A Plan” video – in which various celebrities stumped for new gun legislation in the wake of the Sandy Hook massacre – with scenes of the various celebrities appearing participating in movie/TV scenes where they use guns. This is meant to be an “ironic” (the #2 word that both The Internet and American Conservatives tend to not know the actual definition of) exposure of “hypocrisy” (that, of course, would be the #1 word) on behalf of those appearing; because apparently Mr. Hunt occupies a dimension where the laws of physics differ such that fiction and reality are equivalent in some meaningful way…

It ends, as you may expect, on another declaration about the “Culture of Violence” – the shameless buzzword of the moment propped up by The Right and The NRA to be parroted by their willing sheep in the hopes of deflecting the issue from real guns to imaginary movies, books and video-games:

I am, as I’ve said before, a supporter of both sensible, reasonable gun laws (more reasonable than the ones we have, to start with) but also of the right to gun ownership by sensible, reasonable people; largely on the basis of logic and pragmatism but also because a good number of my friends and relatives are gun owners (I myself am certified but do not have a license or own a gun) and so I have what I feel is proper perspective on the matter.

That having been said… THIS bullshit (here’s some folks on a “mainstream” website gleefully fantasizing about “armed resistance” against, well… guess) is getting to the point where I feel like I could see myself supporting a so-called “assault weapons ban” or somesuch just on the basis of getting to watch these bastards sob impotently into their Chik-fil-A. Is it really possible that I share a basic DNA profile with these people? And that there’s nothing I can do about that?

Dyson on "Django"

This past week, Dr. Michael Eric Dyson had been subbing for Ed Schultz on his MSNBC show – which, for one thing, meant that Ed Schultz otherwise unwatchable show was actually pretty watchable for a change – and offered up one of the more enthusiastic and incisive critiques of Quentin Tarantino’s holiday hit (it’s currently out-performing “Les Miserables,” which NOBODY was expecting) “Django Unchained” and the controversy over Spike Lee’s one-man “boycott” of the film, alongside colleague Dr. Eric Peterson.

For his trouble, Dr. Dyson has earned a scathing “open letter” accusing him of needing a “cultural pride transplant.” Charming.


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We Almost Got a (Horrible) "Hong Kong Phooey" Movie

Hat tip: BAD

Hey, entertainment industry? Y’know what’d be just great? If something – anything! – could happen between Christmas and New Years so I’d have some content to post between shows other than celebrity deaths and offbeat scoops linked from bigger websites. Just sayin’.

Anyway, Badass Digest has posted what is apparently authentic test footage director Alex Zamm put together as a proof-of-concept for a proposed live-action/CGI comedy based on “Hong Kong Phooey” with Eddie Murphy in the lead role. You’ll be unsurprised to learn that the clip is light on the kung-fu, heavy on an extended joke about dogs drinking from toilets:

Also included: Another video pitch by Zamm for a similarly hideous-looking “Marvin the Martian” feature.

What’s odd about this is, I feel like there’s actually some real potential being wasted here. “Hong Kong Phooey” was an oddity even for 70s Hannah-Barberra in that it was one of their less cringingly tone-deaf attempts at coopting current cultural trends, in this case the burgeoning blaxploitation genre and the import kung-fu cinema craze that were already beginning to cross over into one another at the time: Scatman Crothers voiced Phooey, and the series was set in a version of gritty(ish) Disco-infected New York:

A modernized version of that – a Hong Kong Phooey whose attitude was perhaps more hip-hop than funk, with action riffing on the Matrix/Jackie Chan/Crouching Tiger iconography rather than Bruce Lee – might well have been a unique and even interesting cartoon hero for today’s kids. But, instead, here’s The Voice of Donkey eating a urinal cake. Terrific.

RIP: Charles Durning

Bummer. We lost a legend early this morning: Charles Durning, legendary character actor of stage and screen. You may not know his name, but you’ve seen him in movies and probably enjoyed him.

Durning was one of the great self-made men of modern acting. Born into poverty, he left home of his own accord to ease the financial burden on his mother, traveling and taking odd jobs as he found them. While working as an usher in a burlesque house, he found himself standing in for a no-show stage comic and got bitten by the acting bug. But, before he could fully commit to theater, World War II broke out and he enlisted.

Though he seldom ever spoke about his military service, Durning was a decorated hero: He was the only survivor of a first-wave troop that charged Omaha Beach on D-Day only to be ambushed by machine gun fire, he was taken prisoner while fighting at the Battle of The Bulge and was one of only three P.O.W.’s to escape the notorious Malmedy Massacre. All told he was seriously wounded three times, recieving three Purple Hearts and the Silver Star for Valor; and after all but the final injury returned to combat. One of those injuries included being stabbed eight times with a bayonet during hand-to-hand combat with a German soldier in Belgium. He lived through the fight by ultimately bludgeoning his attacker to death with a rock; and would later cite his own horror at the realization that his enemy was only a teenager as a reason he preferred not to discuss his time as a soldier – it was only in the final decade of his life that he became comfortable speaking of it publically, as in this 2007 appearance at the National Memorial Day Concert.

Upon returning to the U.S., he spent a long period going through the veterans health system for his physical and psychological wounds (he’d later state that he still suffered from nightmares into old age) and also training as a dancer, singer and professional boxer; he returned to the stage and established himself as a hardworking and sought-after performer of classical and modern American dramas. In the late-70s and early-60s he broke into the movies as an equally sought-after character and voice actor, lending his unique cadence and feisty energy to films as diverse as “The Sting” and “The Muppet Movie.” He was nominated for two Oscars, multiple Emmys and Tonys throughout his career.

Durning passed away of natural causes, in the presence of family. Below, his signature scene from “The Best Little Whorehouse in Texas,” a role which netted him one of those Oscar nods:


As ever, there are two kinds of people in the world: Thinkers and believers.

I just watched the head of The National Rifle Association – one of the most powerful and influential corporate lobbying groups (though they play at being a citizen’s rights outfit for gun owners, of course) in the United States – hold a press conference to say, effectively: Guns don’t kill people, video-games and Hollywood kill people.

The depressing amusement of the head of The NRA calling anything else a “shadow industry” aside, I’m actually grateful for this kind of public insanity. One thing Mr. LaPierre and I have in common is that we’re both fans of clarity – he likes to talk about “good guys with guns” vs “bad guys with guns;” and I like seeing him (a bad guy with guns) come out so strongly in favor of game/movie/etc censorship, because it helps unmuddy the waters: Weak-willed so-called “progressives” who might otherwise have been willing to give ground on “violent” media (instead of keeping the debate laser-focused on the gun lobby, where it belongs) will hopefully be less so when they see it means agreeing with the distraction-tactics of LaPierre and his ilk.

So, this is to be a (political) fight, then. Games, films, entertainers, artists and the people who value them… versus The Right-Wing Gun Lobby. Good. Let’s have it, then.


Sometimes all you need is a killer premise: In “The Incredible Burt Wonderstone,” Steve Carrell is an oldschool Las Vegas stage magician whose status is threatened by Jim Carrey as a David Blaine-esque usurper. Yeah, that could work:

If they both ran into Morgan Freeman at one point and he seemed to know both of them, I’d laugh.

"Blame the Playmakers!"

Today, as ever, Quentin Tarantino is – within his medium and within his ability – a hero.


As reflexively incensed as I generally get about the “violent media” crusading (particularly when it’s raised as a deliberate diversion from the real of what to do about gun violence, as is becoming the case on some ends here) I’m not terribly “worried” about the prospect of anything “bad” happening legislatively in the wake of this. The way “and also video games, and Hollywood” keeps getting dropped in during speeches about gun regulation by both Obama, congressional Democrats and left-of-center pundits reads to me as rhetorical “cover;” i.e. “we’re going after the REAL problems and the REAL problem-makers, but hears an empty finger-wag at the movie/video-game boogeyman so The NRA can’t say we’re singling them out.” I’m fine with that, politics is a game of double-talk and misdirection especially when in service of the good.

Team Obama is not stupid: They know that their (read: Democrats) overwhelming support among the Youth Vote would be horribly jeopardized if they threw-in full-force behind censorship the way they did (mistakenly and to disasterous political effect) in the 1990s. They know that the full-throated support of the “immoral” entertainment industry makes up their deficit in financial support from GOP-favoring corporate America. Most importantly of all, no matter how many white-haired Boomer liberals or “Blue Dog” Democrats in the senate actually do believe in a nonexistant causal-relationship between violent media and real-life violence; The President (read: their boss) belongs to a younger generation (and is highly in-tune with the psyche of an even younger one) that knows better.

The real danger to the arts is, as ever, the craven cowardice of the people running them. It’s unlikely we’ll see anything legislatively come of things like Sen. Rockefeller’s useless proposal, but that Hollywood studios and game publishers might scuttle the release or promotion of this or that otherwise worthy work as a “sacrifice” to public anger? Very possible, and already somewhat in effect. That sort of gesture is not only empty and unhelpful – all it does is distract attention from where it ought be otherwise focused.