Friday, September 13, 2002

Ted Barlow linked to a site yesterday called “50 Reasons Why ‘Lord of the Rings’ Sucks”. He cites a few of the reasons and says

Anyway, this got them literally hundreds of angry emails from dipshits, who immediately took off their comically oversized "Gandalf #1!" foam fingers and typed semi-coherent emails about how the books are, like, totally old, and elves do too behave that way, and so on.

A few months ago, I wrote a less-than-generous review of LOTR on a message thread that started something like “Never mind that the cover photograph makes Elijah Wood look like someone’s just thrust an enormous pole up his exit zone...”. I was immediately barraged by an ad hoc, squillion-man army of science fiction geeks, frothing at the mouth and out for blood, asking “how can you write something like that?” and calling me heartless for not getting the fuzzy-wuzzies for hobbits. One person even called me a “vicious (rhymes with ‘punt’)” and threatened physical violence. Because of something I wrote about a MOVIE.

I can write something like that for a few reasons. For starters, the Constitution says I can. Second, I know how to spell. It’s only one person’s opinion about a film. It’s not like I’ve declared fatwa against all those who adored the movie. I’ve just said that mystical fairy-talk like “thy destiny is forged with those who would bring evil to Middle Earth” can get tiresome after three hours.

Now, I hate curry. I mean, really hate it. The smell of it alone makes me gag. But I have never met a person who likes curry that would suggest that I should be punished because of this. Why is it that people are so sensitive about the pop culture crap that they digest? Say you think Journey sucks, and people call you a freakin’ so-and-so and say bad things about your mother. Say John Waters makes the stinkiest movies in the film sphere, and someone suggests that you should be killed. Personal tastes vary. These people need to get over themselves and start acting like the adults that they claim to be.

But that’s just my opinion.

First off, it hardly makes your point to observe exaggerated patriotism by exaggerating the extent to which it exists. Take this, commentary staff of the Independent, the Guardian, and the broke-ass folks over at Salon – attacks like the one we saw a year ago tend awaken pride and inspire cooperation and a sense of togetherness. Deal with it. We do not have imperialist intentions. We simply want to punish and eradicate our enemies. This is not about oil. If push comes to shove, we’ll just brush off the enviro-weenies and dig some holes in ANWR. We don’t need to invade some third world craphole in order to satiate our lust for petroleum products. We have plenty of alternatives available to us.

For those of you observing from outside the U.S., let me assure you that our civil liberties have hardly been infringed. Patriotism is not required by law. It’s expected from most of us, but it’s hardly irrational to want to count on the allegiance your family and neighbors in times of crisis. As I mentioned below, I don’t even own an American flag, and the Heavy-heavy jingo death squad has yet to knock down my door. In the days and weeks following the attacks, when those little car flags and “United We Stand” bumper stickers were as ubiquitous as water, I did not have either. Nobody accused me of being a bad American. Perhaps I am currently under investigation by some government agency with three initials as a result, but I suspect that this is not the case.

There have not been any state-sponsored gulags erected. There is no oppression or media censorship. Pointing out that a person’s argument is tacky and/or illogical does not equal forcing them quiet. As far as I know, noone has been ripped from the company of their droogs, strapped to a chair with their eyes plied open, and forced to watch “Birth of a Nation”-style propaganda films.

We are proud of our way of life and our freedoms. From time to time, we are reminded, painfully and appallingly one year ago, not to take those freedoms for granted. We count ourselves lucky while bearing in mind that a lot of people are not afforded the same. We are willing to fight, some of us to the death, if necessary, to preserve them and our way of life. Yes, following September 11th, we believed that if you were not with us, you were against us. This is because anyone – ANYONE – who believes that such an attack was warranted or deserved is a monster. Yes, it really is that plain.

The Independent sucks. This is why.

In America, where they have always been more formal and serious about swearing allegiance to the flag, love of country has taken on a dangerous, revivalist fervour.

Yep. Pledge allegiance or die. That's the way we do things around here.

There, if you are not with us, you are against us; if you do not love America, and love it without conditions, you may be aligning yourself with its enemies. A flag not only expresses pride in one's country; it conveys faith, defiance, threat.

Hell, even I don't love America without conditions. Little conditions like separation of powers, the Constitution, the Bill of Rights, and all that pursuit of happiness stuff. If they go, so do I. Flags can express a lot of things - and their use as symbols is not limited to America. Take a walk around some parts of Belfast, pal. People there have been killed for the sake of a flag.

In a recent interview, Norman Mailer...

i.e. "world renowned idiot"

...actually held up our kind of nationalism as a model from which his own country could learn.

We did learn. Where does he think we got our start?

America, by contrast, has become riven by a compulsive, uncritical, self-serving patriotism, in which civil rights are easily sacrificed to security and democracy itself is imperilled.

I know. I sacrificed some civil rights just the other day. But that's only because I live in L.A., and virgins over the age of 12 are hard to come by.

Mailer says:
"In America, it's as if we're playing musical chairs, and don't get caught without a flag or you're out."

I don't own an American flag. I never have. I shouldn't have admitted that. The FBI will probably be waiting on my couch when I get home.

There is certainly a striking contrast between the pride in their way of life, so frequently and tediously expressed by Americans, and the disgust and disappointment so many Britons seem to feel for their own country.

There's a corollary here somewhere, buddy...

Thursday, September 12, 2002

File under “totally random and kind of pointless”:
Unless you are looking for a dark place to take a nap, I can’t recommend enough that you avoid the film “Possession”. In case you’re not willing to take my word for it, I’ll provide a brief synopsis: a bunch of Victorian literature geeks bounce around England on a hunt for clues, hoping to learn if two dead poets were doing it with each other in the 1860’s. I cannot provide the “Rosebud was just a stupid fucking sled” spoiler and give away the ending, since I wasn’t awake when it finally came. This movie was so bad that, had I actually paid to see it, I would have stormed the box office and demanded my money back.

You’re welcome for the tip.

So, I was planning on writing a long, Pejman-esque screed about censorship and intimidation entitled "Hey, Joseph Stalin, get off of my dick, will ya?", but as it turns out, 1) I'm not smart or eloquent enough to pull something like that off, and 2) I don't have a dick.

But I've got something to say to my little friend before I consider the matter officially closed: just because I live far away from you, doesn't mean I don't have friends and friends of friends right in your back yard. The next time you spy one of your neighbors from the trailer park where you live limping past one of those butt-awful murals devoted to King Billy and Mad Dog, celebrating your country's history of terrorism and death, ask him if you can have a good look at his knees. Then remind yourself that I had more than a few offers to do you the same. I know your name, and I know who you are. Thank your God - a God I'm embarrassed to say we have in common - that I'm not that kind of person anymore. If you have anything further to say to me, I'll be in your neck of the woods come next March, and will be more than happy to make arrangements for you to say these things to my face.

Until then, get off of my dick. Loser.

Right, then, kiddies. It's over. Back to blog as usual.

Stop whining, America
It's now been a year. If you lost somebody you love or were injured on 9/11, okay - whine as long as it takes for you to find comfort. Everybody else, you've had plenty a day to lick your wounds. It's time to put some steel in our spines, toughen our resolve, and show our enemies what we're made of.

I don't care if that makes me sound mean.

Wednesday, September 11, 2002

Thank you, Great Britain.

This is lovely. (Scroll to "A very British way of remembering 9/11")
This is inspiring.
This is moving.
This is perfect.

Click here.

Happy Patriot Day, everybody. Take care of each other.