Monday, December 2, 2013

MIXED BAG BLOG #7: MPAA CONTROVERSIES, "2 BROKE GIRLS", and LONG-FORGOTTEN EMMY THOUGHTS

Well, like I mentioned before, I've finally caught up with all the movie reviews that I had to put off and catch up on during my hiatus, and officially now, this blog is back to it's normal posting pattern and status. That said, I also missed a lot of writing on some of my more popular and controversial news issues in the entertainment world at the time, and while making statements and posting opinions on some/many of them, in some cases, is really like commenting on a fad that's already ended, some of them are still relevant now, and many of them are worthy of taking some time out to at least mention them. On top of that, with nothing else going on in light of Paul Walker's tragic death, and the fact that every other blog is more-than-likely gonna be covering that instead, I thought it would be a good time for another edition of our Mixed Bag Blog, where instead of focusing on one issue for an entire blogpost, we'll be taking a look at some of the stories that aren't necessarily things worthy of devoting an entire blogpost to, but I still have a few thoughts on.

MORE MPAA BULLSHIT, or WE DON'T HAVE ENOUGH BLOWJOBS IN PG-13 FILMS!





I really was trying to avoid the latest batch of MPAA controversies in recent months, because, well 'cause, frankly I'd be repeating myself. I think it's fair to say that most of you readers have a good idea about the contempt I have with the MPAA ratings system and frankly, if you're reading a blog like this, a boutique blog about high-level film criticism and entertainment analysis, you probably have the same opinion, if not similar ones, and the latest news stories are of no surprise to you. For those who haven't heard, just this week, their have been of the MPAA forcing fifteen minutes of cuts to Martin Scorsese's latest film "The Wolf of Wall Street", as well as some rebellious theater chains who've chosen to ignore their NC-17 rating to the Palme D'Or winning film "Blue is the Warmest Color", and allow teenagers to see the movie, and just yesterday Evan Rachel Wood came out against their decision to edit a cunnilingus sex scene in her movie "Charlie Countryman" in order to get an R rating. None of these stories are particularly shocking, especially when you consider a poll conducted by Ohio State University and the Annenberg Public Policy Center calculated what, I probably would've guessed, that there's now more gun violence in PG-13 rated movies, than in R rated movies.  My initial response to this news, was to write Onion-inspired satirical piece about how the study, more importantly found that both PG-13 movies and R-rated movies had a severe lack of blowjobs in them. Which was not a subject taken in the poll, but I'm fairly certain that statement's true as well, but frankly I didn't feel like writing a satirical blogpost, just to make a point and a joke, that only half the audience would even get anyway. You know, last year, I was hoping Harvey Weinstein wouldn't have caved in when "Bully" was refused a PG-13 rating, and would've created a competing ratings system, but he backed down. He shouldn't have, and frankly, I'm even thinking about it myself, creating a ratings system, but that would just be one extra job for me to do, and frankly if I really need to mention that a movie is for a certain audience or not, I will, or one should easily be able to assume it based on the clues in the review. (Like if I mention someone getting a blowjob, you should be able to figure out, that's probably not a good thing for your toddler to watch.)

And you see, that's really where I think the focus should be; it's not the MPAA's twisted and completely unreliable and discredited ratings system, or the movie theater chains, that also conspire with the MPAA to keep the current ratings system, valid in theaters across the country, this is public knowledge now that needs to change, but really, I'm more pissed at the public than anybody. Especially whatever lazy and gullible parents who supposedly think that, A. it's possible in this day and age to protect your kids from things like violence and sex in general, much less in a streaming video world, and B. that the MPAA is a legitimate or accurate ratings system and that, they can tell what movies to show their kids or not based on the rating. Don't get me wrong, they are helpful, but- not that you shouldn't be micromanaging what your kids watch, although I do think that's pushing it, but a ratings system as a guide to doing that, is just stupid. First, you should be watching TV with your kids, and questioning some of the things they do watch, 'cause, and I'll say a version of this again, some of Saturday morning cartoons and crap alone, they really shouldn't be watching. It might be geared towards them, but teaching kids what's good and why something is good or not, is infinitesimally more valuable and important to their development. A lot of that, is keeping an eye on their viewing habits, but also educating yourselves on them as well. Movies, TV, their art; they're not babysitters, and even the best ratings systems they could ever come with, much less the MPAA, it's not gonna tell you the context of what they're watching, or how they react to it. Look at this statistic, it's not violence it's "gun violence." We have enough of that, and no, not everyone who's going to see a guy get shot on TV is gonna go out there and shoot up his school, but can we at least agree that, murdering someone with a gun isn't a joke, and very serious consequences come about from it, and that it's a more vicious way of killing people than say, a knife, or even choking someone, or most any other heinous act, and that we should be putting more R ratings on films that do that. This isn't a complaint either; one of the most atrocious rating calls the MPAA ever made was for the James Bond movie "Tomorrow Never Dies" years ago. Somebody can count it, but there's dozens of people getting shot in that movie, but they got a PG-13 rating. How did they do it? They edited out the scenes with blood, from the gun shot wounds. Yes, this has been their stand; you can kill as many people as you want, just don't let us see the results of that action, for what they really are. Now I like being entertained and I get that a James Bond or a Jason Bourne movie, is basically a long cartoon, where Daffy can shoot himself dozens of times and come back to try and trick Bugs again, and I like to believe at least, that most kids above the age of 7 or 8, maybe younger even, essentially get that as well. They might not be able to articulate that, but they are growing minds that can be easily influenced, and this is the MPAA; if anybody should have the stricter enforcing power, it's them. I expect them to be overly cautious; it's their job, and yet, we know there's hundreds of egregious failures on their part. Yet, as crazy as it is, there's still many people who use this system as though it's religion. I know people who've said "They can't see an R-rated film; it's against their religion." Well, those people need to get a new religion, 'cause that's just stupid and I want them to produce the scripture that mentions the almighty power of the MPAA, but you know, our priorities are fucked up, as a country, and have been forever, and we're doing our best to change it, but it's gonna take time, but in the meantime, apparently mass gun murder is PG-13, but eating pussy, is NC-17. We need a progressive ratings systems, but even with one, people need to read reviews, people to look up info and the films and TV shows your kids watch, and watch them yourselves, and teach your kids how to watch, and to question and to think and not just accept...- this is really what it gets down to.


WHY I STILL TRY TO WATCH "2 BROKE GIRLS" EVERY SO OFTEN

Every-so-often I find myself on a bored Monday night, when there's nothing on TV after "How I Met Your Mother", where instead of giving up and putting on PBS, I try to sit through "2 Broke Girls". Always coming in hopeful that it'll be an episode that's watchable and possibly even good. Why, you may wonder, would I go through such a self-inflicted torture? Well, I guess mostly because I hold out hope that a once-promising TV show, can actually straighten itself out, stop with the stupid vagina jokes and terrible over-the-top caricatures and actually become the smart, witty show about what it's actually like to be young and struggling to survive with multiple jobs while pursuing a dream. You know how I know it can become that? Cause I said it could! Yes, I was one of the first people, who came out and defended the show, back in it's first season. In fact, I did it twice! First in a "Good on TV?" piece where I compared and discussed Whitney Cumming's two series projects:

http://davidbaruffi.blogspot.com/2011/11/good-on-tv-whitney-cummingss-hit-and.html

And then again, after the controversy erupted, when Michael Patrick King, the show's co-creator/showrunner was confronted by critics at a TCA Panel discussion over some of their thoughts on the show's stereotype-based humor.

http://davidbaruffi.blogspot.com/2012/01/2-broke-girls-outdated-stereotypes-or.html

And I stand by those articles, 'cause at the time, yeah, the show, had potential; I thought once it got itself together and realized what makes the show good, and the correct way to approach the humor, it had some actors and a good situation, it should've been good. Now, it's unwatchable. It seems to do everything wrong. It's exposition is lousy, every characters is loud and outrageous, and things always end with a tear and a smile, except it has neither, and it forces, these, in some cases great actresses like Jennifer Coolidge, to dress up, and be over-the-top and talk with a ridiculous accent,- I mean this is literally the kind of show that Ricky Gervais was making on the second season of "Extras". Yet, as I thought about this, at least I'm trying with "2 Broke Girls", it ususally doesn't get pass the cold open, but I'm trying, and I want it to succeed, 'cause if there was ever an actual show about two girls being broke and working menial jobs to survive,- oh that was "LaVerner & Shirley". You see, it could work, now. Look at "Girls" that works, same premise more girls. Realistic. It's a real problem, it's treated like a joke. And the characters are jokes. And MPK is telling them, the exact wrong way of reading lines of dialogue,...- Anyway, that's what weird to me, when did sitcoms, stop playing things, so much over-the-top like everything has to be a quirk or outrageous, these characters that don't exist in real life, just to make something interesting. Who's the crazy character on "Cheers"? There isn't one. You know what makes a show like that funny, is because the characters weren't trying to be funny. When you have a sharp line of dialogue of wit, you shouldn't be laughing about how smart you are to say something that quick-witted, especially when you say a million of them; it's funnier when you say them seriously. There's a lot of that across the sitcom landscape sometimes, or it feels like it. I mean, you know how many "Will & Grace"'s there are? One, that was successful, and it had centered characters and outrageous characters on the side, that, might've been over-the-top, but played like realistic characters, that actually do talk and act like that. Sitcoms are about telling a story, and "2 Broke Girls" keeps asking us just to laugh, and when it's a show that has, or had, that much potential that keeps screwing it up, it makes you wonder, what they're thinking there. I mean, there's plenty of crappy sitcoms on, always has been, but this MPK approach that's completely abandoned the things about the successful shows he worked on like "Sex and the City" and "The Comeback", that were able to place the outrageous in a realistic context to make them funnier, it's deflating. There's nothing worse than a good idea, that's gone to shit, 'cause somebody screwed it up, or didn't realize where the actual comic/dramatic potential was at.


IMPROVING THE EMMYS BROADCAST? 

I rechecked my old message/letter to everyone because I recalled writing down in the body of the letter some of the other ideas I had for commentaries I intended to write. I had written most of them already now, but one of them was "Ways to improve the Emmys broadcast", and I was drawing blank. Not only on why I was writing that, but also, on the entire Emmy broadcast itself. I remembered the opening, and the second dance number with the choreographers, that I liked; I don't know why other kept shitting on it, I found it to be really cool, (And a nice touch to present the choreography Award on the main show, considering just how much choreography there is now on primetime television, I thought that was very appropriate.) but I had blocked much of the rest out of my memory. The main reason was that, everyone was frigging dead. Those damn In Memoriams, which were so controversial for including one for Cory Montieth, which they shouldn't have. I'm sorry he passed sure, but over Larry Hagman's death, kept pushed into the "Other people In Memoriam! I mean really, I always want to hear Jane Lynch, sure, but you couldn't get Patrick Duffy to come on and say a few words? Really? For J.R. Ewing, for Maj. Nelson, nothing!? But the memoriams sucked themselves. Just 2-minute eulogies, followed by the name and the dates of his life. How about clips from their career or highlights? Even with the other memoriam, barely anything, we have to look up who everyone was and what they did, and it was just still photos; what horrible editing. Deadline.com made note of how the speeches kept getting cut-off, which was unfortuante because there were some good speeches this year, and they're right about that, there were. Neil Patrick Harris did a fine job, but it was a bad show. It was run badly, it had the wrong pace, no clips, no excitement over television like other years. The tribute to '63, another thing I forgot completely, I mean, was that really worth a whole segment? Great year for important events and shit, but we're already depressed as hell, c'mon. It was a badly conceived show. Now, how to improve it? I don't remember now, I'm sure there's better Emmy broadcasts to borrow and copy from in the future, so we'll just look at them, but one thing I will add, they have to start recognizing which Awards should be on the main show, especially in the reality categories. They keep jumping back-and-forth whether or not to include "Best Reality/Reality-Competition Host", this year it wasn't, but they had the winners, Heidi Klum and Tim Gunn come out a present, but why isn't "Best Reality Show" on the show yet? Seriously, they break this into these categories of Comedy, Drama, Variety, Movies/Miniseries and Reality, and they do one, maybe two damn Awards for Reality television. There's this whole presentation usually, that we're giving out the Reality awards, and then "The Amazing Race" gets it, or "The Voice" this year, (Should've won the year before, not this year) and then that's it. I mean, I know it's not the other categories, but look at how prevalent it is on the primetime landscape; it should be there, it deserves to be there, and the best shows in that genre, deserved to be recognized on the big show, 'cause they are good, quality shows. I watch "Shark Tank" every week, a lot of other people do to, or "Undercover Boss", or "Deadliest Catch", they're compelling well-made shows, they deserve to be honored. I mean, if they kept giving it to the Kardashians every year, well okay, maybe it's not serious, but that's not the case, everyone knows it's not the case. And they have to make up their minds on Reality Host, 'cause one they all hosted the broadcast, and now, they're even on the broadcast, and switched it every three years now, they have to start making their minds up on this. And they have to include a Variety Host or Performer category again. I know, the rules were screwy so Tony Bennett or Barry Manilow could hold a televised concert so they'd get it, but what category do you put Stephen Colbert in? Is it an act, is it a hosting job? Why can't their be a hosting or emceeing Award for Variety hosts? It's a skill, it's a tough one, 'cause if it was easy Chevy Chase and Magic Johnson would still be doing it, or take the SNL cast, they're variety in one, and supporting acting in another; they have to get this straightened out. Put a special category for Oscar, Tony and SNL hosts, and other Variety Special Performers, and then another regular performers. They got rid of that category years, but they didn't replace it with anything more accurate, it's time now.

Anyway, I'm sure I had more complaints, but it was an Emmys broadcast I'd rather forget, except for most of the winners.

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