Google+ Cinema Viewfinder: The Mohawk Memoirs: Decade of The Unfunny

Wednesday, October 13, 2010

The Mohawk Memoirs: Decade of The Unfunny

by "Rooster" Clayborne

When was the last time you saw a REALLY funny movie? Don’t say The Hangover. If you even think The Hangover then don’t continue reading this. I’d rather you didn’t. Oh, before the Mohawk, I tried to convince myself that it was as laugh-out-loud funny as most everyone claimed just so I could feel connected to the general populace. But screw the masses. I’m done with you and what you think the benchmark of comedy should be. I saw The Hangover over twenty years ago when it was called Bachelor Party, which featured a then rising star Tom Hanks—now that was MUCH FUNNIER.


Excluding a few successes (Meet The Parents, Blades of Glory, Sideways, and a few others that have escaped my porous memory bank) the past ten years have been as sidesplitting as Precious: Based On The Novel Push By… oh, whatever lady! Major hits like Superbad, Juno, Mean Girls, Harold and Kumar Go To White Castle, Tropic Thunder, Old School—or anything else starring Vince Vaughn’s alter ego (the redundant Vince Vaughn)—have barely squeezed out a chuckle if certainly a somnambulant stare from yours truly. The bar of comedy has been so lowered that it’s almost difficult to remember what tickles the funny bone. Witty, wry, clever dialogue has been replaced by smug, brutal tongue-lashings by either precocious teens you’ve never experienced growing up or by loquacious, pop-cultural-referencing hipsters with a penchant for dropping profane zingers. The sophomoric didn’t-take-itself-too-seriously has been supplanted by the sloven, outrageous, everyman-is-a-geek humor of Judd Apatow and his protégés Seth Rogen and Jason Segel. Their collective works are mirth inducing, but they are definitely not the tear-streaming laugh factory some believe them to be. The only ray of light, Ricky Gervais, continues to be eclipsed by those who consider Tina Fey—particularly the members of the Academy of Television Arts & Sciences—a comedic genius, and the standard by which to follow.

Sorry folks, 30 Rock is as funny as Jimmy Kimmel is entertaining. (Thankfully, in the realm of TV, as we chart a path to this upcoming decade, at least there is Modern Family to lead the way.) Not funny are the plucky, violin musical cues ubiquitous in family comedies staring John Travolta, or the “dope,” radio-friendly movie soundtrack to clunkers like Get Him To The Greek—another snooze-fest. I admire Betty White, but could we do away with the trope of the elderly person smacking wise to the Now Generation’s vernacular (as exemplified in the recent You Again). And while we are on the subject of Betty White—who was recently praised for her appearance on SNL—until Lorne Michaels replaces the entire cast and writers of that show I refuse to tune-in, unless, of course, I need help falling asleep (notwithstanding the two of three Andy Samberg digital shorts which, admittedly, were very funny.)

I long for comedies like The Fortune Cookie, Dr. Strangelove, Bedazzled (with Dudley Moore and Peter Cook), Animal House, Airplane, Caddyshack, Fletch, Vacation, Sixteen Candles, The Naked Gun, A Fish Called Wanda, Election, Something About Mary, Swingers (the origination of "Vince Vaughn") and a little seen nineties howler, Flirting With Disaster.

Adam Sandler, whom I refer to as the Grim Reaper of comedy, some how infected the world with an idiot’s laugh during the nineties that continues till today. Life would be so much more pleasant if I found hilarity with the current standard of what comedy has evolved to. Why have I been spared by this malady? Where is that alien pod so I can fall asleep and wake-up with a dopey smile on my face?

I don’t have a lot to be happy about lately: I've discovered gray hair in places I'd rather not mention; I'm realizing my five-year-old is way smarter than me; and my wife thinks I’m lazy, unmotivated, and irresponsible for keeping this Mohawk—especially since I’m still searching for a job. All I needed was a pick-me-up, a laugh, and perhaps Emma Stone’s fetching face to do the trick; so Easy A seemed a no-brainer: it featured sharp, break-out-the-thesaurus inspired dialogue, short skirts, plunging necklines, and an easy-on-the-eyes—though contrived—burlesque musical number. Easy A was a spry, easy-to-consume flick, and totally up my alley.

Unfortunately, I DIDN'T LAUGH!

I did get a good laugh from my wife when I told her I applied for a job at a theater. That was until she realized I was serious.

"Rooster" Clayborne documents his moviegoing experiences here pretty often in The Mohawk Memoirs.

20 comments:

Jeremy Richey said...

It bugs me when a writer criticizes someone's work for being "smug and brutal" while they are adapting that same tone for their piece.
Count me in as someone approaching forty (who does consider Tina Fey a comic genius) who will take the last ten years of comedy over nearly anything from the seventies, eighties and nineties.
Do I miss the classic comedies of the forties, fifties and sixties? Absolutely! Do I also consider works like SUPERBAD, JUNO, MEAN GIRLS and TROPIC THUNDER extremely funny and brilliant works? Absolutely on that as well.
Count me in with the folks that will take on THE HANGOVER over BACHELOR PARTY as well.

LEAVES said...

I think if you really hate the Apatow folks so much... you should probably stop watching their films. Just my take on the matter.

Today, as always, there are terrible films. Today, as always, there are a lot of terrible films that make a lot of money. Today, as always, there are great films. Today, as always, there are great films that make no money and few know about them. It'd be nice if someone went to the trouble of aggregating them into a useful list rather than watching the same films from the same actors and directors they already despise and then complaining about it. Or at least it seems so to me.

I think the funniest film of the decade is Shaun of the Dead, and it doesn't get much better ever, as far as I'm concerned. I'd throw in other films from the decade like Kung Fu Hustle, Devils on the Doorstep, The Life Aquatic, Zoolander, Borat, There Will Be Blood (hilarious as comedy), Vicky Cristina Barcelona, Punch Drunk Love, Igby Goes Down, Super Troopers and I'm certain there are more as I haven't even been keeping up. I actually greatly prefer this decade's crop of films to the ones you listed, although somehow you left out Rushmore and Being John Malkovich from your list of the recent past, so I don't really know if our tastes align at all.

As far as TV shows go, why mention the abhorrent 30 Rock when you have Arrested Development? That's the one to mention. Game, set, match. There are others I enjoy watching, and others I've heard rave reviews of but haven't gotten around to checking out (and comedy tends to vary widely by taste), but Arrested Development. That's all one needs to say

theoncominghope said...

It's true, your examples leave a lot to be desired. Arrested Development and Parks and Recreation are side splittingly funny, while 30 Rock is a bit more oddball.

This is where I really took issue though, you can't say fans of Tina Fey are opting for a newer, less funny form of humour when the type of humor you get on the best episodes of 30 Rock draw more from classic screwball comedy like The Great Race or Some Like it Hot.

J.D. said...

Count me as someone who considers BACHELOR PARTY infinitely funnier and raunchier (a donkey snorts a line of coke!) than THE HANGOVER.

I'd also like to second SUPER TROOPERS as another funny as hell film in the last 10 years. The last third falters but the first 30 minutes are hilarious!

Also, ANCHORMAN has got to be the funniest comedy in the last 10 years or so.

Rooster Clayborne said...

Now you gone and done it. I believe I said, If any of you considered The Hangover hilarious, NOT TO READ MY FRIGGIN' ARTICLE!!!

Actually, I'm glad you read it. Because I want you to know there are people like me that cry a river of tears at what makes you laugh.

Jeremy... SUPERBAD, JUNO, MEAN GIRLS, TROPIC THUNDER... Brilliant? Tina Fey... GENIUS? You must be a member of ATAS. Please, STOP VOTING!!!

LEAVES, It would be nice is someone aggregated a list (oh, wait, didn't AFI do that already??). I never said I despise Apatow and his cronies -- I just don't think they hold a candle to someone the likes of Mel Brooks in his heyday. And, you're right, our tastes don't align -- especially if you think THERE WILL BE BLOOD is funny (everyone knows LEAVING LAS VEGAS is way funnier).

J.D., you are my shining light... my reason for hope. Yes ANCHORMAN! Sure it had its flaws, but that was a FUNNY MOVIE!!!

Tony Dayoub said...

"I think if you really hate the Apatow folks so much... you should probably stop watching their films."

I vehemently disagree, LEAVES. Film criticism, movie reviewing, or what have you (even Rooster's snark-inflected kind), demands you watch movies you may end up hating and calling them out for their deficiencies.

I have to say Rooster, as usual you stir things up quite a bit with my regular readers. But I think that's why I like you so much. Your contrarian streak is refreshing after day in and day out of reading even some of my friends' blogs which only celebrate movies they love and avoid discussing movies they hate. This week, for instance, some of my favorite bloggers really got under my skin with their obvious misreads of THE SOCIAL NETWORK (I'm talking about basic fundamentals they totally overlooked because of their lazy analysis, or contradictory conclusins derived from the work). What really makes it worse is how their commenters sycophantically respond to their work: "Great review!" "You nailed it." It creates an echo chamber which stifles the discussion, not promotes it. No one is saying you should be an Armond White, crassly making unsupportable pronouncements using the poorest of syntax, but debate should always be encouraged. Anyway, I digress...

Put me down under those who find BACHELOR PARTY hilarious and HANGOVER kind of... meh?! Many of these so called 21st century classics also irked me. I couldn't make it past 20 minutes into SUPERBAD, and TROPIC THUNDER is one joke stretched way too thin for way too long. Let's not even go into PINEAPPLE EXPRESS one of the worst letdowns I've ever experienced in a theater (wish it would have had more scenes like the one in its epilogue).

But some of the films/TV mentioned above which I do admire: JUNO, THE LIFE AQUATIC, VICKY CRISTINA BARCELONA, SUPER TROOPERS, ARRESTED DEVELOPMENT, PARKS AND REC, and of course, ANCHORMAN deserves the special distinction J.D. bestows upon it. (Sorry LEAVES, THERE WILL BE BLOOD and PUNCH-DRUNK LOVE may be among my favorite films of the past 10 years, but they are not a part of this conversation, even with the prominent absurdist streak they wear so proudly.)

Haven't seen last night's 30 ROCK so with that possible exception, though I may love Tina Fey, she must be going through a creative burnout stage, IMHO. More than any other TV comedy right now, 30 ROCK should be put down quick.

LEAVES said...

'I vehemently disagree, LEAVES. Film criticism, movie reviewing, or what have you (even Rooster's snark-inflected kind), demands you watch movies you may end up hating and calling them out for their deficiencies.'

Have you seen the entire ouevre of Friedberg/Seltzer? Watched all of the latest National Lampoon films? Film criticism demands that you critically approach the films you choose to approach, it does not mean that you must a.) call them out for their deficiencies b.) see every film from every popular filmmaker. You may disagree with the first point, and that's fine, but there is absolutely no reason why faultfinding/nitpicking is an inherent part of criticism (See Andre Bazin for someone who supports this approach). As to the second point, you can never see every film ever made. You can choose. If you are not fond of a certain artist - there is no reason to complete their filmography. There are countless artists whose filmographies you will never even touch who you would have appreciated - and the more you focus on those artists you don't favor the fewer of those others you will have time to discover. This is not to say that you must dismiss every filmmaker on any single instance of dissatisfaction, but at some point...

Let me bring up the two following points in conjunction: 'What really makes it worse is how their commenters sycophantically respond to their work: "Great review!" "You nailed it." It creates an echo chamber which stifles the discussion, not promotes it.'
'(Sorry LEAVES, THERE WILL BE BLOOD and PUNCH-DRUNK LOVE may be among my favorite films of the past 10 years, but they are not a part of this conversation, even with the prominent absurdist streak they wear so proudly.)'

Why? I thought we were here to promote discussion, not merely dismiss things because you and your Rooster friend create a sycophantic echo chamber against it. How a blistering satire of the present economic situation and our sitting president's family origins (Does Daniel Plainview's son's initials being HW mean nothing to you?) presented through an absurdly exaggerated caricature does not qualify as comedy I can't quite fathom, especially when I watched it recently with 2 of my roommates who laughed harder at many sections of the film than at any other comedies of late. That I prefer blistering polemics full of black humor to - what is your established paragon of comedy... BACHELOR PARTY? - doesn't instill in me a great sense of self-loathing.

Let me show you a sycophantic echo chamber: 'When was the last time you saw a REALLY funny movie?'
'There Will Be Blood (hilarious as comedy)'
'And, you're right, our tastes don't align -- especially if you think THERE WILL BE BLOOD is funny (everyone knows LEAVING LAS VEGAS is way funnier).'
'(Sorry LEAVES, THERE WILL BE BLOOD and PUNCH-DRUNK LOVE may be among my favorite films of the past 10 years, but they are not a part of this conversation, even with the prominent absurdist streak they wear so proudly.)'

Such blatant hypocrisy is hilarious, to me. Thanks for contributing to the comedic landscape, even if your sycophantic nonsense precludes you from focusing on anything positive. That this Rooster fellow brought up an AFI list which includes exactly 0 films from the current decade kind of proves the point that there is a glaring need for someone to make a positive contribution to the issue of great comedies from the 21st century, not that the problem is solved. That he and his crony here simply laughed off any suggestions for positive contributions with such inane and irrelevant responses is evidence of the exact kind of sycophantic echoes one rails against. What nonsense. I think we can all see why you two are having such a hard time finding great comedy - because you both have your heads too far up your own asses to hear anything but the echo of your bowels.

Tony Dayoub said...

"I think we can all see why you two are having such a hard time finding great comedy - because you both have your heads too far up your own asses to hear anything but the echo of your bowels."

First things, first. Ad hominem tirades will never get one far, so please limit your negative reaction to the points at hand and not the individuals involved.*

The fact that I rescued this comment from Spam hell should be testament enough that my intention here is not to end the conversation. Maybe it was a poor choice of words but when I said "THERE WILL BE BLOOD and PUNCH-DRUNK LOVE... are not a part of this conversation..." I simply meant that bringing two admittedly great films which are so completely unlike the types of films being discussed in this post (whether they are a type of comedy or not) hardly bolsters your point of view. But I didn't mean you can't talk about them. Talk away, but I hope you can support your reasoning for including them in this discussion, or else you are simply whistling in the wind.

"Thanks for contributing to the comedic landscape, even if your sycophantic nonsense precludes you from focusing on anything positive."

As to the sycophancy you accuse me of, maybe you missed the part where I disagreed with Rooster on one film he mentioned, JUNO, as well as agreeing with other films brought up by commenters like yourself such as THE LIFE AQUATIC, VICKY CRISTINA BARCELONA, SUPER TROOPERS, and ARRESTED DEVELOPMENT.

Finally, the notion that one should avoid seeing a certain director's films because he hasn't liked any of them is as ridiculous as the one where one has to see all of a filmmaker's oeuvre in order to make a valid judgement on the work. Criticism is malleable enough that it can take many forms other than the one Bazin promoted. I like Apatow's films well enough so I have no axe to grind there, so strictly using a hypothetical director named Smith: If I am attracted to Smith's work for XY and Z reason, yet Smith's work never pays off in the way I determine it should, then it is valid for me to criticize his films as long as I can support what I'm saying. Maybe Rooster keeps going to see Apatow's films because there is enough there to keep him coming back for more, even if he doesn't ultimately like them.

*Feel free to respond and even disagree with my comments. But lower the conversation again with personal attacks, and you're banned from the site.

Rooster Clayborne said...

LEAVES, after you're finished cracking up over PUNCH DRUNK LOVE, you might consider checking out ANGER MANAGEMENT... and I'm not talking about the movie.

Jake said...

See, I think there's plenty of valid criticisms to be made for the films and shows listed here, because there are valid criticisms for anything. But none were made. This doesn't promote robust discussion so much as "no, YOU suck" because the totality of Rooster's post was a broad insult to films he knew people loved without anything to back that up. While I think Leaves went way overboard, I don't see how anyone could expect serious debate to arise from empty sniping.

And I think that style of writing creates more of an echo chamber than anything else. You mentioned, Tony, that some blogs focus on the movies they love over ones they dislike, and right after that The Social Network has sparked echo chambers. I keep reading that over and I think you meant to separate the two ideas (Rooster's contrarianism a relief from more charitable writing; misreads of TSN being a whole other thing), but I think the worst cases of parroting squawks came from reviews that lazily attacked the hype instead of the film. Some critic (I think it was Manny Farber but I can't remember) said that whether a critic enjoyed the film is the last thing anyone should care about, but I've read reviews of TSN where I honestly don't know where the criticism of the hype starts and a discussion of the movie's merits and demerits begins.

I think the same holds true here. I've defended Juno many times. If Rooster said it was pro-life drivel, I could have responded to that with a focused defense. If he said that the characters didn't speak like humans, I could also have engaged on that level. Instead, it's just put in a list of films, none of which are expanded upon. So what avenue does that leave us?

There's actually a portion of Rooster's post I really like:

"Witty, wry, clever dialogue has been replaced by smug, brutal tongue-lashings by either precocious teens you’ve never experienced growing up or by loquacious, pop-cultural-referencing hipsters with a penchant for dropping profane zingers."

I happen to agree with a lot of this. I think "being meta" has become one of the laziest screenwriting shorthands around. Even action films like Iron Man 2 have been infected with this style, where writers don't bother with character development or purposeful narrative and instead assume that by admitting to the audience that their script sucks, the script somehow no longer sucks.

If that idea were developed in any way, we might have had a real conversation going. We could talk about the films and shows that manage to pull it off, achieving a nice blend of pop culture, general wit and emotional sincerity (shows like SPACED and its American counterpart, COMMUNITY) or even those that just run on reflexive madness (the mighty ARRESTED DEVELOPMENT), as well as have a more detailed discourse on what other comedies do right by avoiding the trap of lazy writing.

I ultimately agree with Jeremy: it's disingenuous to condemn smug, brutal and cheap comedy with such an unorganized, unsupported rant that doesn't even stick to a thread long enough to be caustically witty about anything.

And for the record, I think 30 Rock is far beyond its prime. But my reasons are not because other people love Tina Fey but because she made a show that has no dramatic arc but likes to pretend it does, thus leading to situations where the same five plotlines -- Liz's dumpy life, Jenna's insecurity, Jack's career ambition, Kenneth's Southern-ness and Tracy's insanity -- are repeated ad nauseam until they act like the season went somewhere special at the end. Plus, after a while, they just started writing it as a sketch show. I couldn't even make it past the fall break of the last season it went so stale.

Rooster Clayborne said...

Point taken, Jake. You are absolutely correct. My piece was a broad indictment railed against comedic films of late. However -- as you even cited -- I did express reasons. Sure they were terse descriptors, but that's because unlike a lot of criticism -- which tends to be long-winded and takes itself WAY TOO seriously -- I express a cross-section of my sentiment (and as I've stated before, I don't profess to be a critic). Do with it what you will. My writing is sardonic, at times tongue-and-cheek, and as I've notice seems to piss some people off. If it sparks further debate, then great -- I'm doing my job.

I supply the grist. You guys can chew it up and swallow, or spit it back at my face. I welcome both.

MovieMan0283 said...

Rooster, I enjoyed the piece and found it amusing - I think it caused controversy because most of what Tony puts on the site falls under the category of criticism - this isn't criticism, it's a personal essay (not a knock, I liked it just for that). As for myself, I disagree with you and agree with Richey - I thought the 00s were pretty bad for movies, but as far as comedy goes it was kind of a golden era, more on TV than movies though. But the problem with "what's funny" is it's so subjective, to you Superbad was terrible but I found it hilarious. Other judgements about movies can be tested and debated in at least semi-objective terms but the funny bone's kind of in its own category. The only approach to really take to this topic is the one you do, which is to share your personality and point of view in an amusing, enjoyable way. Cute drawing, too.

Rooster Clayborne said...

MovieMan0283, I could not agree with you more. YES, it is all subjective. As much as I wish we lived in an alternate reality in which I was a despotic leader and all would bend to my evil and tyrannical views (my interpretation of Heaven, by the way), it is not. On this plane of existence I am merely an idiot who just thinks his opinions matter.

And thank you for reading and coming away with some appreciation for my rant -- now if I could get the rest of the world to feel that way.

Also, thanks for the mention about the artwork. It's from an artist (www.davidrflores.com) who doesn't exactly share the same views as me, but I try not to hold it against him -- especially since I owe him money.

Neil Fulwood said...

"I simply meant that bringing two admittedly great films which are so completely unlike the types of films being discussed in this post (whether they are a type of comedy or not) hardly bolsters your point of view. But I didn't mean you can't talk about them. Talk away, but I hope you can support your reasoning for including them in this discussion, or else you are simply whistling in the wind."

You only need to give Leaves' second a cursory glance to realise that, in fact, he does support his reasoning - and does so eloquently.

Moreover, calling out commenters for referencing films which are not immediately obvious as comedies ('Punch Drunk Love'; 'There Will Be Blood') as "hardly bolstering [their] point of view" is self-defeating when you yourself are restricting your overview of contemporary examples of the comedy genre to precisely the kind of films (ie. the Apatow stable) that you dislike. Where's the discussion of, say, something edgy, of-the-moment and utterly hilarious like 'Four Lions'?

"Feel free to respond and even disagree with my comments. But lower the conversation again with personal attacks, and you're banned from the site."

Sorry, Tony, I've always enjoyed your blog and respected your opinions, but when you open your article with an exhortation to discontinue reading if your answer to the question of when you last saw a REALLY funny comedy is 'The Hangover' is a purposefully provocative statement and something of a "screw you" to anyone who enjoyed the film. It's a little too late to begin playing the martyr.

Tony Dayoub said...

Neil, I went back and reread LEAVES' comments and stil couldn't find anything supporting his contention that TWBB or PDL fit inot the type of comedy being discussed in Rooster's column. The only thing he does is propose a thesis:

"How a blistering satire of the present economic situation and our sitting president's family origins (Does Daniel Plainview's son's initials being HW mean nothing to you?) presented through an absurdly exaggerated caricature does not qualify as comedy I can't quite fathom, especially when I watched it recently with 2 of my roommates who laughed harder at many sections of the film than at any other comedies of late."

But there is no follow-up to support his reading of the film. While I have read some theories proposing TWBB is such a satire, I really haven't seen anything to back this up beyond the H.W. tie-in, and though I acknowledge Anderson may be making some sort of commentary on issues relevant to contemporary times, I don't feel the entire film supports a comedic reading even as satire. So then? Who can offer up some supporting examples? I'd be happy to hear them.

Secondly, I run this site with respect for everyone. I never make ad hominem attacks on anyone here as all can attest. If a reader or readers interpret a humor column to be PERSONALLY offensive then they can lodge a complaint. However, I found nothing in Rooster's column to be directed at any one person directly. Certainly there was nothing on the level of LEAVES' personal expression of "...you both have your heads too far up your own asses to hear anything but the echo of your bowels," which singled myself and Rooster out personally. I know things may get heated here, but there is no call for that.

Lastly Neil, let me clarify. This article is not written by me under some sort of pseudonym. I have never written under anything other thatn my own name. Rooster is another person who writes pseudonymously for a valid reason involving a conflict of interest.

But more to the point, as MovieMan clarified above in a way I wasn't able to, it is best to approach my writings and arguments as film criticism and Rooster's as a snarky humor column reminiscent of Libby Gelman-Waxner's in the now defunct PREMIERE magazine. It is a dimension I feel my ultraserious site needs, since I'm not up to the task. I hope some of you can learn to like it. This isn't to say Rooster doesn't bring up some valid points, but he definitely has tongue-in-cheek when he writes about them. Don't expect to see the same kind of rigor in his work as you see in mine.

Neil Fulwood said...

A fair comment, Tony, and well made. Apologies if my original comment was rather more "heated" than my normal style of writing (or commenting).

Looking back at my comment, I realise I may have caused confusion with the phrase "when you open your article". What I should have said is "when a writer opens their article". Obviously, I'm aware that the pseudonymous Rooster is not yourself - and I can appreciate your inclusion of his articles at Cinema Viewfinder to present a balance your style of writing and to shake things up a bit, too - and I was focusing more on your response to Leaves' comment that Rooster's original article, but wanted to make the point that Rooster's opening statement was a tad provocative.

Allowing that Leaves' comment is precisely that - a comment, and not a 1000-2000 word article - I find that he embedded enough in the statement "absurdly exaggerated caricature" to justify his reading of the film as a comedy. Anyone who has seen the film just once would, I feel, be able to summon numerous moments to mind and consider that Leaves was making a pertinent and very valid point. Had he been writing an article, I have no doubt that he would have made explicit textual reference to them film. But how many of us expend that kind of word count when commenting.

Also, and again I'm sorry to be contentious here, but your response to Leaves' first statement contains the phrases "I vehemently disagree" (instead of, say, "I respectfully disagree", which has about it a hint of the kind of personal attack you reprimanded Leaves for making), and "There Will Be Blood and Punch Drunk Love ... are not a part of this conversation, even with the prominent absurdist streak they were so proudly", which - applying your own rules - "offers no follow-up" in support of this assertion.

Yes, Leaves' head/rectal passageway/bowels comment may have been emotive and not the language of considered film criticism, but having followed the comments thread from the start, between Rooster's response to Leaves (double the snark quota of his article in a quarter of the word count) and your own borderline dismissal of what I still consider some very acute perspectives on his part, I can understand why he felt like expressing himself in this manner.

Tony Dayoub said...

Fair points all, Neil. To respond, I used "vehemently" in the textbook-definition sense of the word, meaning zealously or passionately. I don't think this was an invitation for name-calling.

As I said earlier, I still fail to see how "Anyone who has seen the film just once would, I feel, be able to summon numerous moments to mind and consider that Leaves was making a pertinent and very valid point." In my opinion, this is an enormous misread of TWBB. I think its wide ranging tone and larger-than-life protagonist hearkens back to the classic movie era where one would hardly have put the film under the comedy shingle, satire or not. But audiences today, unaccustomed to classic film tropes feel the need to over-justify this anachronism.

Because LEAVES is bringing in two films that no one here, including yourself I presume, would characterize as films within the ballpark of those Rooster is discussing, then I believe the burden of proof is on him. Comment or not, any radical proposal such as the one he makes deserves to be argued with strong supporting statements. A simple example or two would suffice.

LEAVES said...

This should be easy:
'I went back and reread LEAVES' comments and stil couldn't find anything supporting his contention that TWBB or PDL fit inot the type of comedy being discussed in Rooster's column.'

The very first sentence of the post:

'When was the last time you saw a REALLY funny movie?'

Thus, in order for any film to be an appropriate response, the criteria that must be filled is that I saw a REALLY funny movie. In my first post I wrote the following as a parenthetical reference to There Will Be Blood: 'hilarious as comedy'. Thus, I think it is well established that it is my opinion that the film is hilarious aka REALLY funny.

'Because LEAVES is bringing in two films that no one here, including yourself I presume, would characterize as films within the ballpark of those Rooster is discussing'

If the ballpark is determined by each person's subjective rendering of what is a 'REALLY funny movie' then it is certainly in the ballpark. It is not in Rooster's ballpark because he did not ask, "When was the last time you saw a film that I, the Rooster, thought was REALLY funny?" He asked about the readers. I replied. He replied with, as has been noted, an alarmingly tactless amount of snark. I don't mind at all - it's a post about comedy. I replied what I felt was an 'in kind' response. Apparently there is again an authoritarian appeal to only the two of your opinions of what is and is not funny instead of each of our own opinions, so at least you are consistent. In fact, this desire is stated explicitly:

'As much as I wish we lived in an alternate reality in which I was a despotic leader and all would bend to my evil and tyrannical views (my interpretation of Heaven, by the way), it is not. On this plane of existence I am merely an idiot who just thinks his opinions matter.'

I don't share that wish, but it does seem that the two of you try hard to realize this dream in every post.

Pair the previous statement with the following statement:

'I believe the burden of proof is on him'

And I honestly have no idea what to think. Am I supposed to objectively prove my own opinion? I don't understand. That you quoted me saying 'who laughed harder at many sections of the film than at any other comedies of late' as an insufficient example of a response to a post whose opening sentence is 'When was the last time you saw a REALLY funny movie?' I can't understand. Is not 'laughing harder than any other comedies of late' not an indication of a REALLY funny movie? Also, I chose that example explicitly to assuage these completely irrelevant but nevertheless seemingly omnipresent accusations of the need to establish some sort of 'proof by committee of individual subjective opinion' in statements such as the following:

LEAVES said...

'Because LEAVES is bringing in two films that no one here, including yourself I presume, would characterize as films within the ballpark of those Rooster is discussing, then I believe the burden of proof is on him.'

That Rooster was so thoroughly tactless in his response to my different response leads me to believe that the reason you don't have any dissenting opinions here is because you drive them out with vigorous attacks on all facets of their person. You have uniformity through force, not coincidence.

'I think its wide ranging tone and larger-than-life protagonist hearkens back to the classic movie era where one would hardly have put the film under the comedy shingle, satire or not. But audiences today, unaccustomed to classic film tropes feel the need to over-justify this anachronism.'

I think so, too. And I also think it's funny. I think the burden of proof is on you that there were no people in the world at that time that thought that such larger-than-life protagonists were completely devoid of humor. Or is it simply that because their opinion differs from yours you dismiss it completely, harkening back to the Rooster's stated desire for a totalitarian dictatorship on opinions? I... I just don't understand.

If you can't answer to any of these points, please simply detail what sufficient evidence of this 'proof' of which the 'burden' is on me consists of and we can discuss whether or not this is a sensible request or not. I think not.

LEAVES said...

Anything?