Accountability can be fun!

I have a confession to make to all of you.  I have failed to stay to true to my Mission Statement.  Recently, when I had the opportunity to comment on a video of Olivia Munn practicing her katana routines for her upcoming performance of Psylocke, I had nothing nice to say.  Beyond just being negative about it, I let my personal feelings for the actress herself taint my whole opinion of a performance I haven’t even seen yet.  It doesn’t matter what I thought about her, what I know about her is very little and my negative opinion was based on hearsay.

Based on what little information about Olivia Munn I possess, I actually don’t have the right to have anything but a superficial opinion of her.  Classifying the opinion as superficial, I am admitting that my opinion is completely without merit and I might as well not hold it in the first place.  So, I’m abandoning the opinion.  Here you have it.  I am holding myself accountable for my own mistakes and grievances.  Objectively, Olivia looks as much like the comic book character as I would have ever imagined and based on the video that inspired my negative comment, she’ll be able to pull off the performance physically, at the very least.

I have to thank a very good friend of mine for this change of heart.  Kristin Kreuk was another recipient of my unnecessary ire and he routinely gave me a proper amount of shit for it.  I hated her for years!  If you’ll recall my “Heath Ledger can’t be the Joker” rant, I had a similar problem with Kristin’s casting in “Smallville.”

“Lana Lang!” I objected.  “Lang isn’t an Asian surname, it’s Jewish!  And she’s always been played by a redhead!!!”  From that point on, I irrationally poured my ire and distaste upon every role she played.  Fiona in “Euro Trip,” Tenar in “Earthsea” and then(!) they cast her as my first fictional crush, Chun-Li in “Street Fighter: The Legend of Chun-Li.”  I’m not sure I can articulate how much I hated her except that the only person I hated more in my life was my second ex-girlfriend who was absolutely vile to me.  Nothing my friend would say could change my mind and while he gave me shit for my opinion, I routinely gave him shit for defending her.

Then a few weeks ago I convinced my wife to watch the pilot of “Chuck” with me as it was on my Netflix streaming list.  Then, a couple episodes into Season 3 she shows up as a recurring guest star.  I had no idea she was on this show and despite myself, I went into this performance with no preconcieved notions.  She was delightful.  Acting or not, her character was lovely and it was impossible not to like her.  I must now go back and rewatch other performances, especially “Smallville” and “Street Fighter” and reevaluate.  The first thing I did when I realized my error was to text my friend and inform him that I was wrong and I took back everything I ever said about her.

Not long after, pictures of Jared Leto on the set of “Suicide Squad” were released and once again the internet lost its mind.  Promotional photos of Leto in makeup and covered in tattoos were released for Batman’s 75th Anniversary and there was an uproar.  Hyperbolic fanboys insisted that the character was unrecognizable and held onto this opinion even after an official statement was released explaining his appearance in the photos was not representative of his appearance in the film.  Fanboys were quick to compare the two in order to call Warner Brothers’ bluff and the negative comments continued to flow.  Of course, you’ll remember my aforementioned rant which I was forced to retract two years later.  I attempted to explain to everyone who wanted another performance like Ledger’s that his Joker fit the tone of Nolan’s films.  A sillier or more clown-like version, like the one from “Batman: The Animated Series” which I wanted, wouldn’t have worked.  For now, the only “tone” we have to compare the Suicide Squad movie to is “Man of Steel” because we know they exist in the same universe.  Of course, no one knows what kind of contribution “Batman v Superman: Dawn of Justice” is going to make to that world either.

Then this morning I heard an internet reviewer, MovieBob, unleash on the latest Adam Sandler vehicle from Happy Madison production, “Pixels.”  The YouTube video is ten minutes of some of the most vitriolic and language-stretching metaphors I have ever heard.  I’m sure I don’t need to point out that if it’s an Adam Sandler film there’s already a certain sense of humor and theme involved.

Here’s what I will point out.  Beyond the obvious of angry internet trolls hating Adam Sandler because he’s Adam Sandler being in the minority, Happy Madison films make money because plenty of people want to see what he and his regular players will do to make them laugh.  Call it lowest common denominator if you want to, but what angry fanboys tend to forget is that the majority of the planet would qualify.  Now, before anyone takes offense to that, let me explain.  Fanboys, geeks, nerds and the like spend more time thinking about this stuff than 99% of the world.  The 99% can be entertained by things fanboys hate because they’re not overthinking it, over-analyzing it, comparing it to the source material, and so forth.  When someone asks the question, “How could anyone like that?” the answer is, “Because they have no preconceived notions and therefore can enjoy, or not enjoy, at their leisure because they’re objective.”

This is where people tend to get offended because shorthand for that is, “They don’t know what they like.”It doesn’t mean, “They have no taste.”  It doesn’t mean, “They’re an idiot who doesn’t understand.”  It means, “They haven’t spent hours, upon days, upon years obsessing over it, therefore they aren’t going into their experience with their mind made up.”  Do they like it or don’t they?  They won’t know until they’ve seen it.

Something else the reviewer doesn’t expand upon, though he clearly has the knowledge to do so, is that the film is based on a book.  I don’t need to remind anyone what that means, first of all.  Secondly, anyone who read the book and was following production of the movie shouldn’t have been surprised by the final product when Happy Madison was the production company.  If you read the book and didn’t follow the production of the movie and were disappointed to learn that the adaptation wasn’t going to be faithful to the book, then this movie wasn’t for you anyway.  That sounds very disappointing in itself:  the movie based on a book you enjoyed wasn’t for you, but it’s the truth because Happy  Madison films are made for that much larger, much less informed group of people that outnumber us all.

I get MovieBob’s anger, I really do.  I’ve been there.  “Lost World: Jurassic Park” shares very little in common with the novel it’s based on.  I was very disappointed because not only was my favorite scene in the book not in the film, at thirty minutes in the film deviates so much from the book that nothing onscreen comes from the book at all.  Not to mention that “Jurassic Park III” and “Jurassic World” weren’t based on books at all.  [Ed. I must also apologize for never releasing a review for “Jurassic World.”  Accountability!]  I firmly believe that if MovieBob knew the film was a poor adaptation of a book he needed to articulate that.  He has a responsibility to do this if he’s going to be so confident in his anger to release a video review as passionate as that.  He needs to make it known somehow, by footnote or asterisk or something, that his opinion is based on that knowledge.  He does at least do the proper things for a movie reviewer to do which is specify things about the film that he thought were poor, except that was less than thirty seconds of the video, with the rest of it focusing on how colorfully insulting he could be.

Obviously, who am I to critique someone who has 800,000+ views on YouTube, which doesn’t even count the number of people who heard his review via morning radio like I did.  My biggest blog post didn’t reach 100 people, but what kind of FanMan would I be if I didn’t make it a point to be accountable to myself and at least try to hold others accountable to themselves.  So I’ll close by reiterating:  It is ok to be wrong sometimes!  I’ll also add, anger and hate and other extreme emotions are certainly normal things to feel when you experience disappointment, but if you’re going to share those emotions with the world with extreme statements, you better be prepared to defend them.  I’m not doubting that MovieBob is willing to defend his position.  I am wondering how many views of his video are people laughing at him, and not with him, which completely negates his intent to convince people not to see the movie.

FanMan, out!

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I love driving!

The following is an expanded version of my bumper sticker joke from my stand-up routine.  Scroll down if you want to see it, I posted it a couple months ago.  I don’t know if I’ll ever get a chance to do this whole routine on stage, so I want to share it.  That and I’m already 3 days behind on my weekly post and I don’t have anything else prepared.  My planned piece is still in progress, I hope to have it done by my next regular posting time.  Feedback on the jokes is always appreciated.

“I used to drive all the time for work.  I still do.  *beat*  I actually love driving because I have ADHD and I always have to be doing multiple things at once and driving helps because it is the definition of doing multiple things at once.  You have your hands on the steering wheel, that’s one activity.  Then you actually have your eyes on the road, that’s another activity.  Then you have your feet on the pedals, that’s a third activity.  For most drivers that’s where it stops I think.

I mean for me you would add, paying attention to speed; paying attention to what lane I’m in; paying attention to the other drivers on the road; using my turn signals appropriately; but I find there’s so many people out there that don’t do these things. 

They’re just all over the road, doing whatever they want. 

Maybe in their lane. 

Maybe in mine. 

Maybe they’ll give the shoulder a try, “That rumble strip doesn’t bother me, no, Sir!

I’m already in the left lane doing fifteen over trying to pass a tractor-trailer and they’re riding my ass; go screaming past me as soon as there’s a gap.  “I’M DRIVING FASTER THAN YOU!”

Or worse, they’re in the left lane doing the speed limit, just craaaaawling around a slower vehicle while faster traffic just stacks up behind ’em.  Usually an elderly person.  I always imagine them going, “Beep, buh-beep, buh-beep-beep-beep, I’m-a driving in the fast lane Eustice, look out!”

Young lady in a little black Toyota went flying around me at a light the other day and disappears up the mountain.  A couple miles later at the next light, guess who’s right in front of me?  Then I see her license plate cover, it says,  “Princess,” and I thought, “Where’s Angelina Jolie when I need her to curse this girl with a fiery crash on her 18th birthday!”

You can learn so much about people from the crap they paste all over the back of their cars too; useful tidbits of information delivered in short, perfect packages.  Like the guy in pick-up with the NRA window sticker and one on his tailgate that says, “OBAMA:  One big ass mistake, America.”  You think there’s ever been an Obama voter who saw that and went, “WHAT?! He was?”   Then they go whipping their car off the road, hands shaky, eyes wide.  “What have I been doing with my life?”

Or the young lady in the huge, beat-up Mercury Grand Marquis with a sticker that says, “I love me some Jeff Gordon,” “Number 18 sucks,” and “You call me bitch like it’s a bad thing,”  as if these are things she really wants people to know about her.  You think she goes speed-dating and drops down in front of the guy and says, “I love NASCAR, I’ll leave your ass for Jeff Gordon in a heartbeat, that number 18 can suck a dick and I’m a bitch and you just gotta deal with it.”  *full impression here*  Actually, she probably does.

Then I saw one the other day that got me really excited because it said, “Americans don’t eat horses!” and I thought, “Yes, I can finally sell that line of bumper stickers with totally obvious statements on them!”

You got one that says, “Water turns to ice when it’s cold!”

Or, “Blind people can’t see!”

Or my personal favorite, “This is a car!”

You can have some real fun with that one, maybe put it on a truck, or even, better a motorcycle.

But then I really got to thinking, what is that person trying to say with a bumper sticker that says, “Americans don’t eat horses!”  Is that really a major concern for this person; do they believe that Americans do eat horses?  I think it’s worse than that; I think someone told them when they were very young that cows were just (retarded) fat, slow horses and they’ve been walking around their whole life mad at Americans for picking on those poor horses that weren’t good enough to get picked for horsey rides.

Or it’s a bumper sticker from the future and we all need to be on the lookout for cheap, lean ground meat at the grocery store.”

Fanman, out!

Selfishness and You

So I hope everyone enjoyed their Independence Day weekend as much as I did.  I had a long one granted to me by the federal government which is why this is going up so late.  Sadly, I was one of those people on July 4th, I took my son to see “Jurassic World” on Saturday.  I do not usually go out on holidays because I used to work in the same industry as most of the poor souls that work those days and though it’s not much, I try not to contribute to the mass hysteria.  Unfortunately, as I was trying to do a favor for someone close to me, I failed to realize what day it was.

First, I loved the movie and I will have a set of reviews up later this week.  Second, I may have been a little hasty in taking my son to see a movie about dinosaurs run amok and I hope my wife doesn’t read this.  A couple of the more suspenseful scenes were a little too much for the poor little guy who had crawled into my lap around the ninety-minute mark.  After it was all over however, he did say he enjoyed the movie and I hope by the time it comes out on video to have shown him the first three films in the series.  Third, I was surprised that the movie evoked some pretty powerful memories.  Some of these memories weren’t exactly welcome either, but they returned anyway.  This brings us to the point of today’s entry.

“Jurassic World” marks the third time I’ve seen a film in this series in the theater.  The only one I never saw in the theater was the original actually.  My best friend in grade school, whom I’ll call “A.J.” here, had seen the movie in the theater that summer and while I was just as excited about it, my family wasn’t big on going to the theater to watch movies.  Our movie night was homemade hot dogs and french fries with a video from the rental store.  I bought the “junior novelization” from the Scholastic book order program at our school in fifth grade.  In sixth grade, both AJ and the school library bought copies of the Michael Crichton book, which he and I read as fast as we could.  I had only read the forty-something page kid’s book before and found the novel to be the most amazing thing I had ever read.  I was eleven years old and yet everything in the book made perfect sense to me.  This would be the start of a lifelong appreciation of Crichton’s work as he has a very distinct style that makes even the most complex and impossible science seem totally believable.  AJ loved the book too and even though it was very different from the movie, the movie was still really good too.  This still being the early nineties, though I can’t explain why, some movies didn’t make the transition to VHS tape as quickly as others and JP was one of them.  When it finally came out, AJ had me and his neighbor friend over as his parents were going to rent it.

So, while I’m sitting in the theater Saturday afternoon with my son, blown away by amazing visuals of the very park I dreamed of for twenty-two years, I’m suddenly reminded of how at AJ’s house I talked through the whole film.  Those of you who know me personally can probably relate, but I will never forget how irritated AJ sounded when he told me to shut-up at the part where Dr. Grant and Lex are trying to escape the T-Rex just as it pushes the electric Ford Explorer over the concrete barrier.  This one memory brought back a flood of others that are not movie-related in any way.  Over the next year, I would continue to act in such a way that I pushed AJ completely out of my life.  You see, my talking during the movie was just one small way that a much bigger problem manifested and without going into too much detail, suffice it to say, AJ wasn’t the only one who had grown tired of my behavior.  This same behavior made my life in high school more unbearable than it needed to be and yet I couldn’t figure out why everyone else was being such assholes to me.

This would be an ongoing theme for much of my life over the next twenty-years.  I repeatedly, and consistently, acted in such a way that got me picked on, targeted, ignored and even fired multiple times.  Yet no matter what, I always managed to blame everyone else instead of myself for the situations that ended poorly for me.  It’s very easy to identify today, but at the time I couldn’t see the common denominator in all of these circumstances was me.

I used to wonder all the time what my life would be like if I had changed schools the year that I read “Jurassic Park;”  my parents gave me the option to stay where I was or go to the public middle school.  While I’m sure I would be on a vastly different path from the one I’m on if I had changed schools, simply by virtue of the butterfly effect (thank you Dr. Ian Malcolm), I used to believe that my life would have turned out better for it.  Today I know that it was my behavior that typically put me at odds with everyone else and while the venue may have been different, my behavior likely wouldn’t have changed much and I would just have different people who were irritated by me for the same reasons as before.  By that I mean, AJ wasn’t the only one I pushed away.  Another close friend from grade school, whom I’ll call Wayne, still talks to me today although considering the things I did to him too, I can’t explain why.  Though AJ and Wayne are probably the two that got it worst from me, there are other friends from those days too that I have to thank for being mature enough to realize that kids are idiots and being gracious enough not to hold some of the stupid things I did back then against me.

It didn’t end at childhood either, I was an “annoying little weirdo” in Army basic training too.  At most Army schools I would attend later I was still that guy.  Though I have always managed to make friends easily, pretty much every job I’ve ever had as an adult still found me making friends with people only to quickly make some of them regret having ever been nice to me in the first place.  One in particular because he stuck his neck out for me more than once, though the things I did certainly didn’t warrant that amount of kindness, which only speaks to the character of the person I hurt even more.  That sounds rather harsh and I’m probably being hyperbolic about how they actually feel about me, but I certainly would not blame them for thinking it, as I can see now looking back that I did some pretty indefensible things.

Twenty-two years later, between medication and therapy, I have indentified what I was doing that was just so obnoxious and irritating.  It’s actually rather embarrassing because I know at least one occassion where I recognized the same flaw in someone else and called them out for it.  I have always prided myself on my self-awareness and my ability to step outside of myself once-in-a-while and try to look at things objectively, yet for some reason I was unable to do that in this one area for years.  What’s worse is that I’m now aware how hypocritical I looked to people close to me, which makes the guilt I feel over my ridiculous behavior even worse.

In the end, there are three people specifically that I want to apologize to for my behavior, two of whom I mentioned here under pseudonyms, and one didn’t get a pseudonym but still deserves an apology.  If they’re reading this, I’m not sure they’d know I was talking about them or not but I’m pretty sure that two of them will never read this because I’ve talked to neither in years and I highly doubt they’re following this nor do they care about my progress as a writer.  Wayne might be reading this, but since I didn’t mention specifically what I did to him he may not realize that Wayne is him.  Still, I want it known that they are the three that I hurt the most and the three that deserve my sincerest apology.

The reason I am posting this on my “nerd and pop-culture blog” is because in my years as an internet user I have seen many people engage in much the same behavior.  While I won’t defend them, I can at the very least say that I understand.  There are people out there, like me, who for whatever reason think just differently enough that their worldview is a very self-centered and egotistical one for no more reason other than they believe that everyone else thinks like they do.  They have no reason to believe otherwise because no one has ever taken the time to explain it to them.  It’s not that they lack empathy, it’s that they lack the motivation to be empathetic.  Some of you might be wondering why it’s necessary to explain something so blatantly obvious and the reason is to someone like me, people like this, it wasn’t obvious; it’s not obvious to them.

So, to everyone reading this, let me say that if I ever acted selfishly and/or obnoxious to you, please know that from the bottom of my heart I am deeply sorry.  Certainly if I had known better I would have never done it and I’m ashamed of it today.  Even if I don’t know you personally, accept my apology on the grounds that my selfish behavior only contributed to making this planet a worse place to live than a better one and I intend to spend the rest of my life doing the opposite.

Fanman, out.