March 17, 2006

It's Been A While...

While I was waiting for my plane to LA yesterday at JFK, I took advantage of the fact that my firm provided me with a laptop (so I can really take work with me WHEREVER I go) to catch up on a little online reading. As I was perusing a few of my favorite blogs, started clicking around in their blogrolls, until one landed me here. And it struck me: Holy Shit! I have a blog! I totally forgot!
Not really, but it makes for a better opening than "Hi everyone. I've been working like a six-year-old Korean in a shoe factory, and haven't had time to write anything at all in over two weeks. But fear not, I'm in LA, it's raining, and Alex's neighbors have a relatively insecure wireless connection. So until they catch on, I'm back, baby!"
So looking back on the month that has been thus far, I'll hit a few of the more prominent events.
My oldest friend in the world, the one I met in 3rd grade, at whose house I had my first kiss, with whom I used to play on the swings in fourth grade, who has seen me through better or worse (mostly worse, and occasionally drunk), who never forgot my birthday, who sent cookies for every occasion and care packages whenever she felt like it, whom I find to be one of the most dynamic and amazing people in the world, who was busy in college running marathons, editing magazines and falling in love all before I woke up and figured out where I was on any given Sunday morning, gave birth to her first child on March 5, 2006 (Oscar Sunday, but we'll get to that in a minute). Mom, Dad and Baby Audrey are all doing wonderfully.

And despite the fact that I feel incredibly old knowing that the girl woman who used to write plays with my in the coat closet of Mrs. Donnigian's class is now a mother, I couldn't be happier. LJ is one of the best people I know, in every sense of the word. And she's going to be an incredible mother. Congrats LJ and Mr. H. Hi Audrey!

OK, I've had a few emails from friends and readers asking for my thoughts on the Oscars, particularly the upset of Brokeback Mountain for best picture. Frankly, I was much more interested in what was going on with Charlize Theron's dress, but that's another matter entirely.
Let me start by letting you all know what I think about the Oscars. I love them for the spectacle that they are, but I'm entirely cognizant of one thing: they are completely, utterly and absolutely meaningless. Let's look at who the Oscars matter to most, shall we: The Gays and the Theater kids. That's right. The High School outcasts. And what are the Oscars other than the one night where the outcasts, all grown up, can basically shower each other with acceptance. Trust, kids: The Oscars are right up there with being invited to sit at the cool kid's table. I know, because A) I've held one (I dated a Best Actress winner's nephew, who kept it in the bathroom. I made it a point to pee when he took me to her house. And yes, I gave my acceptance speech in the mirror. And no, you weren't thanked.); and B) I never got to sit at the cool kids' table.
With that in mind, consider this: What effect does Brokeback's losing have on the film itself? None at all. In point of fact, 2 weeks later, now that the alleged dust has settled, who can quote Crash for me? Or give me an example of the effect Crash has had on the social consciousness other than as "the movie that beat out Brokeback". Brokeback got people talking. It changed some minds. It pissed off the Religious Right to no end. And isn't that the real reward? That Focus on the Family hates your guts? The Oscars are a zero sum game. They may determine who gets paid more next year and who gets to jerk off his fellow film makers as a presenter at the next ceremony, but that's about it. The Oscars did not close the door opened by Ang Lee and Brokeback Mountain. Remember: more people saw Brokeback than Crash. More media attention has been paid to Brokeback than Crash. And no film in recent history has stirred the public to attention like Brokeback. The fact that Jack Nicholson didn't read its name off that little card on March 5 means absolutely nothing. So Thank You, Brokeback.

Was Crash a good movie? Meh. I think it was totally unbelievable plot-wise. The acting was good (Thandi Newton was particularly heartbreaking), but I think it was heavy handed. REALLY heavy handed. When I first saw it, it took my breath away, made me guilty and sad and made me basically want to get off the couch and hug a minority. And that feeling went away after about 2 hours. Because it was a manipulative film that makes us care by putting little girls in danger and throwing Sandra Bullock down a flight of stairs (Yeah, that part was OK). Not to mention it was about as subtle as Margueritte Perrin on Amphetamines.
Go Ahead. Google Her. I'll wait.
Seriously. I'm relatively sure that after Crash won, Lion's Gate hired a team of people to actually take to the streets, raid their local Blockbuster for copies of the film and physically beat people over the head with them. Racism = bad. I get it.
Brokeback was a great movie, And it stayed with me. For a long time. It was powerful and heartbreaking and yes, it spoke to me on a different level, because I've been to some of the places they go to during the course of that film (Emotionally. Not Wyoming.).
But you want to know a dirty little secret?
I wish Good Night and God Luck had won.
Because I rented it last week, expecting to be bored, but feeling that I would be remiss if I didn't see it. And it was one of the most galvanizing pieces of film I have ever seen. There's no action sequence, no fires, barely any cursing, and no nudity. It's just the story of the type of man who no longer exists in this country: an honest man with integrity and balls, who stood up in front of the whole country and put his own freedom in jeopardy to throw light on the darkest recesses of what flourishes when narrow-minded and power-hungry men are allowed to terrorize the people of this once-great nation. A journalist who realized that the government was out of control, and instead of slinging mud or making jokes, stared directly into the camera week after week and presented the unslanted, indisputable truth, unflinching in his dedication until the world began to change around him.
Murrow wouldn't have stood for Fox News. Murrow would have thought John Stewart a clown prince at best. He would have thought Michael Moore a grandstander with no follow through. Murrow certainly would never have been a blogger. Men like Murrow don't exist any more, at least not in the public eye. If they did, I don't think we'd be this far down the rabbit hole.
And without men like Murrow, Brokeback Mountain and Crash would not have even been remotely possible.
Sorry, ya'll. All that Oscar Shit's been building for a few weeks. Not to mention that I was QUITE perturbed that Dolly lost. Cause Travellin' Thru is a great song. And you know her acceptance speech would have been filled with homespun metaphors : "I'm as happy as a pig at a frog stompin' contest in Joo-Lie!" Whatever that means.
So that's about it. Back to work on Monday. Posts when I can.
Until Then: Good Night, And Good Luck.


Blogger Calderon said...

Dear Dan,
THANK YOU for the sage comments re: Brokeback! ~ Read a Blog earlier from a London BBM fan,Robt. Courtney's "Yet anothet BM tribute" in which he acknowledges that the film "changed his life;rattled the cage of a closeted gay man!" Hallelujah! And lo, BBM HAS done so much more. Thank you for your observation. Calde (at

10:29 PM  
Anonymous bradders0201 said...

Good Night and Good Luck; now there's a great film! Saw that in NYC last Halloween and gave a nice incite into the McCarthy Witch-hunts for this Englishman. The original newsreel interlaced with the monochrome film gave it an authenticity that most movies lack. It excelled for all the reasons you stated plus the relevance it still has today considering the current political climate in the USA. As for Brokeback, I really liked it for the stark style over the subject matter. It didn't hit home because my coming out has been easy, so no raw nerves hit, but it's importance can not be underestimated for those who still live with the struggle of a "double life". It leaves a few questions, If gay boys leave Brokeback touched by some resonance, do black people, or indeed any ethnic minority feel similarly, touched, saddened, enraged by Crash? Or do they forget about in 2 hours as, I suspect, most people did with Brokeback if they are honest? Did either film see an increase in lobby and pressure group numbers or charity donations, or did we all go back to our lives as soon as we'd gotton the popcorn from between our teeth? Cynical? Realist? Or perhaps I just forgot what an impact Torch Song Trilogy had on me when I was 18....

11:06 AM  
Blogger allison said...

Look who it is! How was LA?

Yes. Good Night and Good Luck was incredible.

1:22 PM  
Blogger Laura Jeanne Hammond said...

i'm in your blog!! yay!! so sweet. audrey says hi, and she can't wait to come visit you. LYMI -LJ

2:03 PM  

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