Monday, July 13, 2009

At the Movies: Ben Mankiewicz and the Half-Wit Prince

On this week's episode of At the Movies, we get an early review of Harry Potter and the Half-Blood Prince. Mank tells us how the movie is much more rooted in the lives of real-life teenagers, and Ben Lyons agrees:

Lyons: Mank, I love how this film establishes that it takes place in the real world. It opens in London, but then of course goes to the world of Hogwarts and wizards.

No shit? It starts in the Muggle world, and then moves into Hogwarts later? Wow, that would make it EXACTLY LIKE EVERY OTHER HARRY POTTER MOVIE. A stunning grasp of the obvious there, Ben. Next you are going to tell me that "the Transformers do something really cool. They are these giant robots that transform into cars! And they make a cool sound when they do it!" Ben Lyons gets early access to not only seeing but reviewing the movie, and he tells us something we already know--even if we have not already read the book.

Then we get to Bruno, which has a surprisingly high 70% rating on the Tomatometer. Although it is worth pointing out that the Top Critics rating is only 53%, a surprisingly vast difference compared to most movies' Tomato ratings.

Anyway, Mank, like me, loved Borat but hates Bruno and rightfully tears it apart, saying that it is offensive and simply drags innocent bystanders into scenes with Bruno's crude actions. Some of these people are homophobic, but all too often they're just disgusted and often rightly so.

Ok, I didn't hate it quite as much as Mank did. I thought about two-thirds of the movie was exactly what he says, and about one-third--mostly in the latter part of the film--has Bruno mocking homophobes and other idiots--people who will do anything to get their babies into modeling and a couple of celebrity charity consultants who are total morons. But the rest is, yes, stupid.

Ben Lyons would disagree with me--as he did with Mank:

Lyons: I think you and I are looking at it differently. While you are maybe sympathizing with some of the people that you say he exploits on camera, I'm holding those people accountable for their actions and what they say and how they conduct themselves. And I'm laughing at Bruno more so than I'm really laughing at their ignorance. I mean Borat, you're really looking at the people around him as much as him.

So which is it? Are you holding those people accountable or are laughing at Bruno? And who are you holding accountable, exactly? There are some who really deserve to be mocked--the people I mentioned above, the Israeli lynch mob, the Fred Phelps "God Hates Fags" neanderthals, even Ron Paul. But what about the hotel workers who are asked to untie Bruno and his friend from each other after a night of S&M? Or the unsuspecting focus group forced to watch Bruno's crude, penis-wagging TV show? Or, worst of all, an African-American audience rightly outraged at Bruno's carrying around an adopted African child as an accessory, a la Madonna?

Sorry Lyons, you are not making much of a case for your opinion here. It seems more like you are just more willing to laugh at crude stereotypes than Mank is.


Anonymous said...

And what exactly did Ron Paul do to deserve to be mocked? And I hope you don't think that all of us Christians are like Fred Phelps. Not all of us want to tell you who you can and can't love.

Scott said...

I never suggested as much, so I am not sure why you would assume that.

Regarding Ron Paul, he claims to be a libertarian but in fact is perfectly happy to put civil liberties aside in the name of states rights. That is, he doesn't want the federal government to tell you what to do, but is perfectly happy to let the state government tell you what to do. He even supports the Defense of Marriage Act--the federal law that keeps states from having to recognize gay marriages from other states! Not sure where his support for individual liberties fits into that one.

Not to mention the fact that he opposes the Civil Rights Act and birthright citizenship, among other things . . .