Tag Archives: exploitation

I Don’t Give a Shit About Family

20 Feb

Like all good Americans, I was raised primarily by television. It was a component of my well-rounded education which also included Discoveries in My Brother’s Room and Outcomes of Interpersonal Manipulation. However, television was the primary caregiver, invaluably telling me what to consume and how to frame my opinions. That’s the kind of esoteric teaching you don’t get outside of a brainwashing cult. There was one point that television stressed in my youth that I’ve never been able to wholeheartedly adopt: the idea that blood is thicker than water.


I mean, blood is thicker than water. I know this, I have handled both liquids. But the concept that the bonds of family trump all is not something intrinsic to me. Sure, I love my parents, there are members of my family that I genuinely love. But I love them for the same reasons I might love anyone, because of our shared experience and some degree of respect and admiration. Most of my family I feel somewhat indifferent about. I am interested to know things about my ancestors, but detailing my genealogy isn’t necessarily going to make me like you. The whole idea of tracing a bloodline kind of creeps me out, actually. You’re just absorbing the history of some stranger because he fucked your great-grandmother or something. Why should I revel in this person’s accomplishments and regret his crimes? Who the hell was this person to me except for the hapless donor of some biological material?


When you really think about nepotism and what it implies, you begin to see the world in a whole new light. Exploiting family connections professionally or otherwise implies that we should value an arbitrary, random thing like shared DNA over acquired skills and technical knowledge. Nepotism happens all the time and it’s essentially the foundation upon which monarchies are built. So how often is someone who is less than fully qualified working in a position due to sharing an ancestor with the CEO? Could your friend have set you up with a better date that was not with her cousin? Being family becomes an unearned pass into whatever shit they’re all mixed up in–good or bad–and somehow there should be an automatic pride attached to it.


Makes me think of that Bill Hicks bit: “Am I proud to be American? I dunno, I didn’t have a lot to do with it. My parents fucked there, that’s all.” Existence itself is so improbable and the pattern is so complex, I guess there’s something soothing in the created, more manageable pattern of one’s lineage. Me, I don’t feel that ancestral heartbeat pumping the blood of my fathers through my hardened arteries. An old friend of mine points out, “Friends are the best kind of family, because they’re the ones you choose.” That about sums it up.

Have You Ever Heard of God?

18 Feb

I have about a hundred pages left in Rapture Ready! by Daniel Radosh. I mentioned the in another essay, but for those who didn’t read it and don’t like to click links, the book details a year of Radosh’s life among Evangelical Christians, soaking up their burgeoning pop culture. It’s a decent read, I’ll probably review it when I’m done, but reading the book has made me recall other brushes with Evangelism in my life.


One sort of funny incident happened when I was in my twenties and visiting a friend at a college in upstate New York. We were hanging out on a porch swing outside an ice cream parlor–yes, it was that innocent–when a kid about our age came over and asked, “Have you ever heard of God?” We all chuckled and I probably made a snide comment. Have I ever heard of God? What the fuck kind of question is that? Most people define themselves by which God, if any, they believe in. As I recall, we jeered him until he sneaked away bashfully into the night. Of all the nerve!


You know, I hadn’t thought about that incident in about fifteen years. I routinely chat up religious pamphleteers and proselytizers because…I don’t know why. I think it’s fun. I don’t try to poke holes in their beliefs, I don’t contest them, but I will lie and say I belong to a religion that I don’t. “I am a lapsed Lutheran,” I might tell a Jew for Jesus, “but I am looking for some kind of spiritual insight.” Part of me wants to hear the spiel, part of me wants to chortle inwardly at another person’s earnestness. However, there is part of me that wants to engage this person because I want them to know that people are listening, even if the chance that I will ever attend a sermon or even seriously consider the literature being handed out is so remote, it’s more likely that I am the son of God than I will ever accept a messiah. It’s sort of a strange tendency I have to prove that people are good when, in fact, all evidence points to the contrary.


I am like this with girlfriends, too. There have been more than a few women I’ve dated because their stories about being mistreated by men in the past touched me deeply, and I wanted to prove that all men aren’t the same. So I went through the motions of being a Good Boyfriend, offered lots of platitudes and promises for the future. Eventually, reality catches up with the facade: I can’t rightly pretend to be deeply in love for the rest of my life. The truth that I don’t really give a shit comes before too long. That’s usually what happens, and these relationships end with me ironically being the worst boyfriend that woman’s ever had.


But back to this kid who asked if we’d ever heard of God, in reading Rapture Ready! I’ve come to see this kid (who could be a pedophile meth addict now, I have no idea) as being particularly brave, if a little naive. “Have you ever heard of God?” is a pretty good ice-breaker, it makes people chuckle and puts them at ease for the bombshell about God’s wrath you’re about to disseminate. Another good opener might be, “Has anyone seen God? He was right here a second ago but I can’t find him.” There’s a lot going on in the question, “Have you ever heard of God?” It personifies God, implies that God is someone you can know, and also allows a dialogue where someone can begin telling their side of the story, i.e. “You’ve heard of God, but here’s the truth about the dude.”


The main problem with that kind of opener, and it’s a problem I see with a lot of witnessing in America, is that it’s only ready for a few types of responses. The best would be “Of course I have heard of God, I am a Christian.” That leaves the person asking the question a lane where he or she can start expressing what they think God’s about. However, that question isn’t ready for a response like, “I heard of God, he’s the guy who gave my grandmother cancer.” Or “I have heard of God, and what I’ve heard is a bunch of retarded bullshit.” Whatever the response to the question, the person asking it is only prepared to answer with the same shtick. You could say, “Yeah, God and I are butt buddies,” and the person asking can only reply with tales of creationism and God’s love, or they can walk away in disgust, a tacit win for the secular world.


I am a big fan of the Prayer Channel because much of the programming is so insipid and ridiculous. One of my favorite shows is The Way of the Master, which is a witnessing technique developed by some dude that looks like he deals pot to junior high school students. Kirk Cameron is the spokesperson for this thing and is heavily featured on the program, which consists of Christians stopping people on the street and harassing them. “Do you think you’ll go to heaven?” is often the first question, to which the person being asked responds in the affirmative. “Have you ever lied?” is the next question, which is also replied to affirmatively. The Way of the Master disciple then proves that the person being grilled is a sinner and is going to Hell, based on quoted scripture, and that they essentially aren’t being pious enough.


I suppose this works if the person being targeted considers themselves a good Christian. But what if they don’t give a fuck? Does Way of the Master’s way only work to guilt existing Christians into being even better Christians? If someone asked me if I thought I was going to Heaven, I would tell them that I don’t. I think it’s a stupid concept and its inconsistencies are so many that I have neither the space or time to go into them. What first needs to happen, then, is for me to be convinced about Heaven existing. Asking me if I’ve lied or if I’ve ever lusted is inconsequential. Of course I’ve fucking lied and I don’t give a shit. I lied to you at the beginning of this conversation when I said I was a lapsed Lutheran.


I guess my point is that I have to respect someone who can gather up the nerve to approach someone else and share their thoughts on theology. At the same time, it’s stupid for an interviewer to ask questions when they’re only prepared to deal with a certain set of answers. If Evangelists really want to convert people for their own good, then approaching them with such an obvious agenda is probably not the best idea. It’s like if I wanted to advertise a brand of cream soda, I wouldn’t approach someone drinking root beer and tell them they’re sipping it wrong. Instead, I’d point out that I have a drink they can use in the same way as the beverage they’re currently drinking, but it will taste a whole lot better! Only after I get them hooked on my cream soda do I ask for a tithing.

Who the Fuck Decided Ryan Reynolds Would Be a Good Hal Jordan in the Green Lantern Movie?!

17 Feb

I know what you’re thinking. “Who the hell are Ryan Reynolds, Hal Jordan, and Green Lantern?” If you’re part of the one percent of the world that cares about comic book superheroes and their characterization in other media, then you might be thinking, “Here we go again, another vitriolic blog about how untalented Ryan Reynolds is and how unfit he is to wear the emerald ring of the Green Lantern.” If that’s you, I’m picturing you wearing a plastic viking helmet and a tight Camel cigarettes t-shirt from 1992 while sipping a 64 oz. Slurpee from 7-11. Just so you know.


This is not another essay about how Ryan Reynolds is a talentless hack who isn’t fit to wear Green Lantern’s domino mask. I mean, Ryan Reynolds is a talentless hack, but that isn’t why he’s poorly suited for the role. It’s not like I expected Harrison Ford to get it, there’s no point in using a good actor for a role that consists mainly of feigning astonishment at the cgi objects your magic ring will create in post-production. No, my problem isn’t with Ryan Reynolds being Green Lantern at all, it’s with his being Hal Jordan. Because anyone that knows anything about Green Lantern would say that Ryan Reynolds would make a better Guy Gardner.


It’s not exactly common knowledge that there’s more than one Green Lantern. There are dozens, in fact, each belonging to the Green Lantern Corps, an interstellar police force that keeps people from parking spaceships in the wrong dimension or something. Space is divided into sectors, and each sector has one Green Lantern to patrol it, except (of course) whatever sector contains Earth. For some reason, our sector requires several Green Lanterns to patrol it, Hal Jordan being only the first (well, second really…but I’m not going to get into that bullshit again). There’s also John Stewart, a rare Black superhero that doesn’t have the word “Black” in his name, and there’s a relatively new Green Lantern named Kyle Rayner, who is a cartoonist or something. There was even a chick Green Lantern named Jade and a leprechaun Green Lantern who served for a special issue called Ganthet’s Tale.


You really have to wonder why unemployment is so high when the Green Lantern Corps is hiring left and right. Who isn’t a member of this goddamned space clique? Anyway, yet another Earthling member is named Guy Gardner. He’s kind of the hard ass of the Green Lantern Gang, he’s got red hair (and is therefore a fiery, temperamental Irish lad) and wears a leather jacket and generally clashes with authority. He’s kind of a wry prankster with a violent streak, which is exactly the kind of role Ryan Reynolds was born to play! He’d be like Van Wilder meets George Lutz from The Amityville Horror. His brand of quipping douchebag would fit the role nicely.


Why there are so many fucking Green Lanterns patrolling Earth is really beyond me. The Justice League cartoon switched over to John Stewart as their primary Green Lantern because the producers knew that his being Black is the only thing that makes the character remotely interesting. With this summer’s movie we’ve got a mediocre actor portraying a fairly boring white dude. I hope there’s a lot of space boob in this movie.

Potheads, Please Stop Promoting Pot

10 Feb

There’s nothing in this world that will make you want to smoke weed less than a pothead. These sorry souls get embroiled in their sad world of cartoons and counterculture stickers, and the most pathetic thing of all is they think that they are interesting and their opinions are valid. Look buddy, you may be a certified genius, but the day you catch me taking esoteric advice from some dude with tribal tattoos in a tam o’shanter is the day I can finally be checked in for a lobotomy. First impressions are everything, and the only impression I get from you is “I’m completely unemployable.”


See, I do smoke weed. I enjoy it. Apparently, a lot of people do. But I’ll be damned if I’m going to base a lifestyle around it. Hardcore potheads are annoying the same way that outspoken vegans or virulent racists are: they’re so focused on this one thing that they are not very well-rounded and become boring and redundant in about sixty seconds. Wow, you like to watch Pink Floyd’s The Wall when you’re high? Surprise, EVERY-FUCKING-BODY DOES. We can share these experiences as people that are high, but to go on and on about it as if something has been achieved, well that’s pothead logic for you.


I like smoking weed, but I don’t ever want to have a conversation with you about crunchy nugs, or kind bud, or hairy strains, or any other marijuana fantasies that you masturbate furiously over. I don’t want to debate the methods of smoking pot, I don’t want to see your skull bong with a double ice chamber that you call “Hootie.” Let’s smoke weed, watch this episode of COPS, and laugh together like a couple of stoned jackasses. And the very last thing I want you to do is debate marijuana reform with me. While I’m high.


The problem with marijuana reform in this country is that the organizations seeking reform primarily have potheads at the helm. You get your pot rallies where a bunch of stoner bands take the stage and a stoned crowd cheers because the lead singer lit up right on the nightly news, dude! and everyone’s getting baked in front of police officers and they can’t do a thing about it, bro! It’s a stone groove, man. Some white dude with neatly-packed dreadlocks takes the stage and yammers about medical marijuana for ten minutes, everyone cheers and returns to their salty snacks. And the day is saved! The potheads smoked weed in a public park one day and the society can return to spurning them the other three-hundred and sixty-four days of the year as usual. A lot was done, nothing achieved. Pothead logic.


I think marijuana reformers stick to legalizing medical marijuana because it’s the softest touch. Pretty much everyone has had someone in their lives who died of a painful, terminal illness, and the thought that their pain might have been eased by toking a little reefer makes us regretful. The problem here is that medical marijuana laws have already been abused so much in California and Denver, that mainstream society views “medical marijuana” as a euphemism for “freely available weed.” It doesn’t help that the people promoting medical marijuana aren’t normally doctors, but some guy in an afro wig wearing an ironic t-shirt and Elvis sunglasses. And no, calling yourself “Doctor Feelgood” won’t help matters.


As far as I’m concerned, the reason for legalizing pot is that it isn’t really that bad. It makes you kind of lethargic and corny, but that’s a small price when you consider the murder and crime committed to keep the illegal pot trade afloat. Not to mention the money we hemorrhage trying to curb the stuff both abroad and at home. Tied to any marijuana reform should also be a stipulation for the growing of hemp, that miracle plant that could really, you know, help us out. I do think marijuana should be legalized, frankly I think it should be as available as alcohol or cigarettes. But I’m not going to listen to Shaggy from Scooby-Doo tell me about it. Put on a fucking collared shirt and talk to your political representatives and stop using pothead logic, for crying out loud.

Motherfucking Dolemite

1 Feb

There are few entertainers as diverse and eccentric as Rudy Ray Moore, aka Dolemite. Rudy began as an R&B singer, but after a favorable reception while performing for his fellow servicemen in the Army, he developed a strong comedy routine, mainly based around raunchy one-liners and put downs. X-rated material kept him off television, but Moore developed a strong following, particularly in Black clubs around the country. He released around thirty albums combining music and filthy jokes which were wildly popular. One of his common routines was that his dick was somehow so mind-blowing, women would spontaneously shit when he slid it inside them.

Moore was also an accomplished actor, and was featured in about twenty movies, starring in most of them. Most of his recent features bear no scrutiny, but he was featured in the Insane Clown Posse’s movie Big Money Hustlas as Dolemite for was was the first time in twenty years. Then Moore shit in the Dolemite franchise by making real shitfests like Shaolin Dolemite. Really, when enjoying Dolemite–and you will enjoy Dolemite, I guarantee it–there are three movies to view. The Dolemite Trilogy, I call it, and it is as follows:


1. The Human Tornado, 1976
Mainstream America was introduced to the character of Dolemite in the 1975 movie Dolemite, a fairly serviceable Blaxploitation film about a pimp who gets set up and enacts his revenge. It’s a pretty kick-ass movie, but it doesn’t hold a candle to its sequel, The Human Tornado. The film isn’t easy to describe, the plot is about how Dolemite, while running from a racist cop’s homicide prosecution, saved his friend and club owner Queen Bee from slavery at the hands of a rival club owner, and also rescued her dancers from a torture chamber in Pasadena. That sentence doesn’t do the movie justice, however, really the movie has something for everyone: comedy, action, drama, sex, dancing, music, and even a Brazilian guy with nunchucks. The kung fu fighting is really something to behold, and the soundtrack is absolutely awesome. In fact, Landspeed records re-released it recently, so be sure to pick it up if you like dirty funk music.


2. Petey Wheatstraw, the Devil’s Son-in-Law, 1977
During a vicious lightning storm, a severely pregnant woman gives birth first to a watermelon, and then to a nine year-old boy who attacks the delivering doctor and then pounces on his own father for “stabbing me in my sleep.” And that’s all before the opening credits. Petey Wheatstraw, the Devil’s Son-in-Law is a more plot-heavy movie than The Human Tornado, and follows a similar structure to most three-act plays. Petey Wheatstraw makes a deal with Satan to best the rival comic team of Leroy & Skillet, and then tricks the devil who wants Petey to marry his hideous, demonic daughter. The real devil here is in the details (har har), as Moore showcases some of his best comedy as well as the talents of other Black comics in his circuit. FYI, this soundtrack is pretty fabulous as well.


3. Disco Godfather, 1979
I seem to recall this movie was called The Avenging Disco Godfather when I first saw it around twenty years ago (sigh), but all internet evidence points to the contrary. In any case, Disco Godfather is definitely the most esoteric of The Dolemite Trilogy, and has the most experimental camera work and what could pass for special effects of the three films. It’s about a retired cop who tears up the disco club and the streets, cleaning house of the prolific PCP dealers that got his nephew hooked. Or something like that. All I remember is the last scene, where Rudy Ray Moore is forced to take PCP via a gas mask and endures the longest, most surreal hallucination scene in any movie. It’s worth sitting through for that payoff alone. And the soundtrack? Surprise, it’s fantastic!

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