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KSR’s take on recent non sports related happenings
By Josh Corman on ©September 14th, 2017 @ 9:00am
The Shawshank Redemption is the greatest movie of all time.
I would never expect you to take my word for it, of course. Nor would I expect to make such a statement without a whole host of other films being offered up as alternatives. But see, I’m not really the one making such a definitive declaration; I’m just reporting the conclusion of the people.
OK, conclusion might be too strong a word. Our definitions for these things are always changing, and what’s revered today might be reviled tomorrow (or 78 years from now), but one thing is beyond doubt: people freaking LOVE The Shawshank Redemption.
With an average rating of 9.2 out of 10, Shawshank currently sits atop the Internet Movie Database rankings of the top 250 movies of all-time. Perhaps this seems unremarkable to you. Perhaps you, like me, have literally never met a person who didn’t like Shawshank. Perhaps it’s one of your favorite movies, and it seems totally reasonable that a vast majority of the viewing public would agree with your assessment.
But Shawshank’s enduring legacy is anything but the foregone conclusion that it seems like in 2017.
Let’s start with that IMDB ranking.
IMDB is film nerd heaven. People who frequent this site are the kinds of people (hi there) who rate every movie they see, get into long arguments about which Philip Seymour Hoffman performance is actually the greatest, and write essays about 23 year-old movies for fun (ahem). On the surface, this seems like the exact sort of environment in which a dark prison drama that underperformed at the box office would thrive. Maybe so. But take a look at the other movies in the IMDB top 20, and you notice that not much else looks like Shawshank.
Most of the other movies near the top are (A) cinematic masterpieces lauded for decades by critics and “serious” viewers or (B) sci-fi and fantasy movies that appeal to the kinds of die-hard fanboys who tend to have an outsized influence on discussions about movies on the internet.
The only exceptions are Fight Club and Forrest Gump, one of which benefits from young dude internet demographics, while the other benefits from an apparent case of collective hypnosis on the part of audiences. (That’s right, Forrest Gump is not a good movie, and that it won KSR’s best movie poll reflects poorly on all involved.)
Anyway, Shawshank has somehow unseated film snob favorites like Citizen Kane, Seven Samurai, and 12 Angry Men AND nerd-bait like The Matrix, Star Wars, and the Lord of the Rings trilogy (I like all of these movies, by the way, so I’m taking shots at anybody).
The only conclusion I can draw in light of Shawshank’s seemingly bizarre inclusion among other very specific kinds of movies atop the IMDB list is that it’s so universally appealing that it’s free from the rules that would usually govern these types of open polls.
That would be sound reasoning, except that it makes no sense, given what The Shawshank Redemption is actually about. Think about it: it’s an incredibly dark drama, set in a prison, that sees its characters commit suicide, get beaten and raped, get killed, suffer psychotic breaks, and endure the slow loss of their dignity at the hands of their cruel overseers.
Morgan Freeman, whose reign as the King of All Voiceovers began with Shawshank, has often noted that the film’s subject matter is likely to blame for its weak box-office showing in 1994.
It makes perfect sense. An entire generation’s worth of movies about the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan failed at the box office precisely because people simply didn’t want to think about their subject matter. What doesn’t make any sense is how a movie filled with so much depressing narrative could still be popular enough that TNT showed it every Sunday afternoon for about a decade.
That is the conundrum at the center of The Shawshank Redemption’s seemingly endless appeal. It seems like it should be too dark for mainstream audiences, but it seems too down-the-middle to appeal to cinephiles. And yet, here we are, staring at a movie that has one foot firmly planted in the hearts of casual and die-hard film fans alike.
The following few paragraphs are my attempt at explaining how Shawshank came to occupy the exact center of the Venn Diagram comparing the snootiness of “cinema” and the broad appeal of “the movies.”
I’ll start with the dark stuff. Yes, Shawshank’s plot is rife with depressing events. The whole thing is predicated on an innocent man’s conviction for murder, after all. But, importantly, the movie largely obeys the cinematic equivalent of Newton’s First Law of Motion. For every soul-bludgeoning action, there is an equal and opposite, er… redemptive one. The bad guys do terrible, no good, awful things, and are then repaid, often in perfect and delicious ways, for their evils. Viewers, it turns out, can endure quite a lot when there’s a pleasing, well-earned payoff to whatever misery they’ve been subjected to earlier in a movie. This kind of balance suggests that, yes, the world is (to borrow a phrase) dark and full of terrors, but (and this is crucial), on a long enough timeline, justice is served.
Nearly the whole of organized religion is built upon this very premise, which is a probably-not-unrelated thing to make note of when discussing the massive popularity of a story like Shawshank’s. And so when the warden rips down that Raquel Welch poster, when Andy emerges from that tunnel into the rain, when Red sees his friend on the beach, we feel the same emotional pull that gets us through real-life suffering. Shawshank tells us that, no matter how bad things get, there’s at least a chance that they’ll get better. But even if we know that life’s low points won’t always be balanced by the kinds of highs that fill the movie’s final third, we want to believe it. And often, that’s enough.
Yes, The Shawshank Redemption is well acted and beautifully shot and sharply written, but so are lots of movies. Yes, it won some awards, but other movies won more and have been far more widely touted by the critical establishment. What has placed Shawshank at the top of the wider population’s cinematic esteem is that it reflects to us both the way the world actually is AND the way we wish that it worked. We know life can be hard and dark and brutal. We want life to be meaningful, for that harshness and darkness and brutality to have significance.
In the world of The Shawshank Redemption, it does, and I think that’s made all the difference.
Well, me and a few hundred thousand other people on the internet, which, at this moment in history, is about as much of a consensus as we’re likely to get.
The 2016 Emmys were a snoozefest. All of the cool moments that the you think you remember about the 2016 Emmys were actually from the 2017 Oscars–La La Land “winning” over Moonlight, the Hollywood Tour Bus Gimmick, Nicole Kidman’s inhuman clapping, etc. Even though television has become more interesting than film, the Emmys have become a more monotonous affair. This Sunday, Stephen Colbert will lead the charge to make the Emmys great again. It’s an uphill battle. If they use last year’s broadcast, hosted by Jimmy Kimmel, as an example of what not to do, then hopefully the quality of the award show will improve.
Embrace the Opening Segment
Often, the internet complains about the opening segment of awards shows. The “problem” is that they always seem to be a hodgepodge of characters from nominated shows assisting the host because he is late to get to the theater. The segment has officially been over used. Colbert tends to thrive in these opening bits. When he transitioned from Comedy Central to CBS, his introduction showed him crossing the United States while singing the national anthem with fans. It was lovely, but more importantly it was original. The award show structure is rarely described as original. Hopefully, Stephen Colbert can introduce a new perspective on the tired opening montage.
Avoid the Viral Awards Show Moment
Last year, Kimmel broke the number one rule for trying to “go viral.” He tried to go viral. Even with the help of the Stranger Things kids, the shtick of passing out paper bag lunches to the audience will never be iconic. Viral moments are supposed to be effortless and authentic. Right now, in some Hollywood writer’s room, some poor writers are desperately trying to develop what will be the next Oscars selfie or pizza delivery. Hopefully Stephen Colbert’s charisma will help guide him through any ill-advised segments.
Nothing makes an awards show lose steam quicker than when unprepared/uninterested presenters take the stage. Their negative energy sucks the life out of any gaining momentum of entertainment. Moments that are supposed to be lighthearted and fun turn into jokes that are either too tired or too aggressive for no reason. Someone always fumbles for their glasses. It’s a thankless job. Like the opening segment, the idea of presenters needs to be re-imagined. Colbert’s team has a gift for interesting segments. Hopefully his talent translates to Sunday night’s presentation of awards.
Colbert is in an odd position on Sunday night. He is a host for a television awards show but has made his name commenting on politics. In 2017, politics have become more dramatic and entertaining than all of television and movies combined. Finding the balance between commenting on our current state of reality and celebrating the winners of the 69th Emmys isn’t an easy feat. Coupled with the well tread missteps of opening segment fatigue, viral moment obsession and lethargic presenters, hosting an awards show isn’t for the weak. Colbert needs to be ready to play ball on Sunday. Something tells me, he’s up for the task.
What Happened When Conrad Thompson Bought a Ric Flair Robe and Ended Up Being One of the Biggest Names in Wrestling Podcasting
By Josh Juckett on ©September 12th, 2017 @ 3:00pm
On August 5, 2016 the world of wrestling podcasting was turned upside down with the premiere of Something to Wrestle…with Bruce Prichard. The podcast, featuring former WWE employee Bruce Prichard, has become a huge success and developed a loyal following of fans. With the success of Something to Wrestle, another wrestling podcast was born. What Happened When premiered on January 30, 2017 with former WCW personality Tony Schiavone. Both podcasts took veterans from the wrestling industry and gave them a platform to tell their stories. The common thread between these two podcasts, aside from wrestling, is co-host Conrad Thompson. Conrad has gone from wrestling fan to king of the wrestling podcast hill, and it has certainly been an interesting path.
Welcome to The Funkhouser Situation, KSR’s new weekly podcast that will scavenge the world of pop culture to discuss the best in entertainment. Your host, Chris Tomlin, is joined by Lee Cruse in the inaugural podcast to dish on the weak summer movie slate, the upcoming fall TV lineup and…
— How do you bring people back to the movie theater?
— Beauty and the Beast was a hit, but Lee’s still taking Cinderella.
— A breakdown of Taylor Swift and Katy Perry’s new music videos.
— Lee and Chris’ Top Ten Comedies of the last ten years.
You can easily listen on the KSR App, available on iTunes and Google Play. Streaming online is simple through Pod Paradise. You can also get it directly to your phone by subscribing to “Kentucky Sports Radio” on iTunes or via Android’s Podcast Addict app.
By Josh Corman on ©September 07th, 2017 @ 9:00am
On Tuesday, Disney announced that Colin Trevorrow would no longer be directing the ninth episode of the Star Wars saga. Trevorrow, who’s best known as the director of Jurassic World, apparently had a vision that Disney just wouldn’t get on board with, and they gave him the boot. That’s how these things work. If Disney wants one thing and the director has another thing in mind, Disney wins. Just ask the guys (Phil Lord and Christopher Miller) they fired from the standalone young Han Solo movie. Actually, you probably can’t, since they almost certainly signed non-disclosure agreements. But if you could ask, they’d probably say the same thing.
In their place, Disney hired Ron Howard, the directorial version of safety scissors. He’ll do the job, and there’s no risk of anyone getting hurt. I know that sounds like an insult, but it’s meant only as kind of an insult. Howard knows his way around a big budget, and his resume is dotted with some truly great films. He will shepherd the project capably, and the movie will probably be, at worst, totally fine.
But there’s probably a ceiling on the Han Solo movie now that there wouldn’t have been with Lord and Miller at the helm. In their hands, the film could’ve been a disaster, but it also could’ve been something special. In Howard’s, the possibility of a catastrophe probably goes away, but it’s likely that the possibility of transcendence does as well.
Howard is a safe choice, in other words, and though safety is valued highly by studio executives, it doesn’t do anything to get me more excited about seeing young Han Solo in action.
Which brings me back to Episode IX and Colin Trevorrow.
Though he’s considerably younger than Howard, Trevorrow was a similarly safe choice. Compared to The Last Jedi director Rian Johnson, whose previous work (Brick, The Brothers Bloom, and Looper) has showcased a subtle hand and inventive approaches to narrative, Trevorrow is as vanilla as it gets.
Frankly, I’m glad he’s gone, and excited that Disney might take this opportunity to hand the next (last?) chapter in the Skywalker family story to somebody who might do something different with it.
I have someone in mind, but I’ll start by eliminating a few names. (For the record, I’ve seen all of these names listed by one publication or another as possibilities. I’m not just pulling these out of thin air.) Of the “serious” filmmaker crowd: David Lynch is too weird, Quentin Tarantino, Edgar Wright and Steve McQueen too insistent on writing their own material. Ava DuVernay is busy with A Wrinkle in Time. Paul Thomas Anderson, David Fincher, Guillermo Del Toro, and Christopher Nolan need more control than Disney would ever be willing to give them.
Of the blockbuster action directors, Spielberg is too close to George Lucas (who mustn’t be allowed within 100 miles of the set), Patty Jenkins will be doing Wonder Woman 2, James Gunn will be doing Guardians of the Galaxy 3, Joss Whedon will be doing Batgirl (while also being a huge creep, apparently), Michael Bay is the worst filmmaker ever, and Zach Snyder is somehow worse than that.
Which leaves who, exactly? Brad Bird? Stick to animation. J.J. Abrams? I believe him when he says one Star Wars film was enough.
There are a lot of names on a lot of people’s lists, of course, but when I heard that Trevorrow was out, one name jumped to the top of mine. 48 hours later, it’s still there.
I’m sure that for every person reading this who thought, “yes!” when they read that name, there were fifteen more who thought, “who?”
I understand why. Michelle MacLaren has never directed a feature film, and there’s no obvious link between her previous work and helming billion dollar sci-fi blockbuster. But she’s the perfect choice for three reasons.
- She can be trusted with beloved properties.
If, by chance, you have heard of Michelle MacLaren, it’s likely because of her work on Breaking Bad, Game of Thrones, The X-Files, and The Walking Dead. MacLaren has directed episodes of each of those series, all of which are among the most acclaimed of all-time, and all of which have legions of demanding fans. What’s more, the quality of the episodes she directed has been excellent. It might seem that TV – even prestige TV with a big budget – is a world away from Star Wars, but whoever Disney picks is going to have to recognize the tremendous responsibility that comes with directing one of these movies. Whoever they pick can’t wilt under the pressure. MacLaren won’t.
- She is a master of action.
Those excellent episodes of those all-time great TV shows I mentioned? They were great in large part because major stuff happened in them, and MacLaren was there making sure it went down in the most tense and thrilling way possible. When I see MacLaren’s name on something, I know I’m getting a killer action sequence at some point, and I know that it’s going to make sense inside the larger story. That’s a tough balance to pull off, but it will be absolutely necessary in a movie that’s sure to feature more than a few enormous space battles and intricate lightsaber fights.
If you’re not convinced, just watch these:
Like I said, she knows how to do action.
- She’s comfortable with other people’s writing and input.
The directors that Disney has quibbled with (and eventually fired) had one thing in common: they were insistent on sticking to their visions for the project and couldn’t work within the limits the studio had set for them. On the surface, this is laudable, but let’s not kid each other; Star Wars is a multi-billion dollar film franchise, which, by the time Episode IX lands in theaters, will consist of at least 10 other movies. When you agree to direct a Star Wars movie, you have to be willing to share the creative control with the people guarding the franchise’s larger trajectory. MacLaren’s experience operating within the framework TV shows created by other people means that she can bring her own touch to the project, but won’t clash with the studio heads in the process.
Listen, I know this isn’t likely. MacLaren is far from a household name, and without a movie under her belt, inheriting the keys to the Star Wars kingdom probably isn’t in the cards. That said, she was in line to direct Wonder Woman, but was replaced by Patty Jenkins. I liked Jenkins’ effort well enough, but I still rue the fact that MacLaren didn’t get a chance to work her magic.
Getting the chance to tackle Star Wars, though? That would go a long way toward making me (and I’m guessing Michelle MacLaren) feel better.
Emmy season is upon us. On September 17, 2017, the enlightened Emmy voters will crown the outstanding actors and actresses for this season. Award shows are silly. Unlike sports, there aren’t specific rules to define the winner. As a result, shows that we fall in love with get snubbed because others don’t have as sophisticated taste as we do. This year, Narcos’ Wagner Moura is the Emmy’s biggest snub in my heart. Moura plays the infamous Pablo Escobar. With Netflix’s third season of the show dropping last week, the snub feels even more painful. The omission isn’t even the nomination that gets the most attention, many writers have made a case for Justin Theroux’s The Leftovers performance, but Moura’s oversight is a snub worth looking into.
Maybe Moura’s performance just isn’t good enough?
The 2017 nominees for Outstanding Lead Actor in a Drama Series are Anthony Hopkins, Bob Odenkirk, Liev Schreiber, Milo Ventimiglia, Kevin Spacey, Sterling K. Brown and Matthew Rhys. These are some well-established dudes. Moura, an actor whose only other recognizable credit is 2013’s Elysium, doesn’t have the same acting pedigree as the Hopkins and Spaceys of the world. He would have been a dark horse candidate. But, the actual portrayal of Escobar is worthy. For example, in the episode “Los Pepes,” Pablo’s daughter asks him if Santa Claus will be able to find them, even though they are living in a secret hideaway. The physicality of Escobar’s reply is greater than any Kevin Spacey smirk in House of Cards or handsome smolder from Ventimiglia in This is Us.
Moura’s acting is worthy.
Are the subtitles too much work?
Narcos suffers from the same problem as The Leftovers–the shows are difficult to watch. If they were accelerated reader books, they would be worth 26 points. There are many pieces to their puzzle. In Narcos’ case, their story isn’t easily accessible. The story is mostly told in Spanish.
I legitimately think this factors into Narcos’ popularity. It is impossible to fold laundry and watch Narcos. Or check twitter. Or zone out and watch Narcos. The show requires all of your attention. The show is not an easy watch. Unlike Stranger Things, This is Us or other Emmy darlings, the show requires more effort. As a result, I believe that I know more Spanish than I did after two years in high school, even though most of my new vocabulary words are curse words.
Are the costumes overpowering the actors?
If you’re not reading subtitles, then you’re probably looking at Pablo’s mustache. The mustache is a character all to itself. As Escobar’s troubles increase the shape of his mustache seems to symbolically transform. I missed an entire conversation about murdering civilians because I was consumed with analyzing how the parabola of facial hair had seemed to shift into a tighter, more disappointed arch.
But the facial hair isn’t the only distraction in Narcos. It’s easy to become obsessed with the early 90s costumes. Escobar’s wardrobe is thrilling. His collection of nautical sweatshirts are distracting. His sagging jeans are forever etched into my memory. There are times when the actors aren’t wearing the clothes, the clothes are wearing them.
But, who could possibly wear these sweaters and pull it off?
I refuse to believe that Wagner Moura’s performance isn’t good enough to be listed on the ballot of the Outstanding Lead Actor in a drama series. (If there had been one more stupid sweatshirt, I would offer him up for Outstanding Actor in a comedy series.) Whether viewers were turned off by Murphy’s overly assertive narration or being constantly reminded that this isn’t the actual Pablo Escobar with actual photos of the original outlaw, we’ll never know. For what it’s worth, Moura’s performance as the most fearsome man sporting the most comical sweater will be my vote for Outstanding Lead Actor in a Drama Series for many years to come.
Around the summer of 1988 or 1989, my best friend had a large book collection. A couple of the books were by Glen Cook and the exploits of the Black Company, a very Tolkienesque novel with magic, violence, and tragedy. They were wonderful books to have for a 14 year old boy, novels of dreams and fantasy. He also gave me a few books by Stephen King, of which I had never read. A few of the first ones I read are the classics: Salem’s Lot, The Shining, The Stand, etc. However, as much as these novels had some terror in them, nothing could have prepared me for the nightmares that came when I finally tackled It. To say the novel is a bit long is being generous. A whopping 1,138 pages of black text on fading white/yellow paper, which was easy to read with a flashlight under a blanket.
When 1990 rolled around I had mostly forgotten how scary the novel is. I never had any phobia when it came to clowns, so Pennywise visually in my head didn’t frighten me. The psychological terror came from the unknown terror of being a kid in the woods without any help from adults. Then the It miniseries came out on TV and all of the nightmares returned. If you’ve seen It or remember It, the miniseries starred several known actors of the day. John Ritter, Annette O’Toole, Harry Anderson, Tim Reid, Richard Thomas, Dennis Christopher, and Richard Masur played the grown up adults of the novel that had fought It 27 years before and defeated It temporarily. What I remember the most was the awesome performance of Tim Curry as Pennywise the dancing clown. Was I scared when I watched as a 16 year old? Absolutely. Did It hold up over time? Not so much. Watching It again this week was quite a letdown in fact. I’m not any less fascinated by the terror, but I realized you just can’t make something terrifying when its on network television.
Now we get to the meat of this article because It has returned. Director Andy Muschietti has brought Pennywise to the big screen. Actor Bill Skarsgard has put on the clown makeup to enter our nightmares once again. With the novel being so long, containing so much visual and stimulating information, Muschietti has wisely split the film into 2 parts. The second film has been green-lit already with the Mama director returning. The first film, which debuts on Friday, September 8th, will be following the group of kids known as the Loser’s Club. The time frames in the novel are 1957-1958 and jumping ahead to 1984-1985. Pennywise returns every 27 years to feed off the town of Derry, Maine. The new film has changed the years with the kids era being the mid-80’s and the next cycle in current times. With the success of the Netflix series Stranger Things as a guideline, Muschietti appears to have successfully captured the look of this time period as well. Will It work? If early reviews are to be believed It looks like a success. A new era for Pennywise to feed on our nightmares and face off against the Loser’s Club. A new film to terrify audiences on a large scale.
Will It live up to the hype? I’ll offer up this. I visited both the novel and the miniseries in the last few weeks in preparation for the film’s release. What I found has me both excited and frightened. The TV It has not aged well, especially when the adults era is on screen. Also, there is only so much you can do on network TV. The novel however confirmed my fears. It is terrifying. It will give you the willies. It will make your skin crawl. It will promise you your wildest dreams. It wants to give you a balloon. It wants to make you float. It needs to feed. It has come for Derry and all that dare watch. It.
What is Southern Mississippi?
Good question. For these purposes, “Southern Mississippi” can either refer to the actual southern region of the state of Mississippi – or as the colloquial nomenclature for “The University of Southern Mississippi,” which is the opponent for the University of Kentucky Wildcats’ 2017 football opener.
Let’s start with the former. What can you tell me about southern Mississippi?
I can tell you that it’s in Mississippi which, largely, is an unforgiving hellscape of Biscuitvilles and Winn-Dixies held together as a society only by the lifeblood of the state’s inhabitants, dialyzed through the hundreds of thousands of mosquitoes which literally transfer this blood from citizen to citizen.
You don’t make it sound very great.
Oh, it’s fine. It’s one-thousand degrees in the dead of summer, with 300% humidity, and then in the fall it’s still pretty hot. Then, in the winter, it doesn’t get that cold but the leaves still fall off the trees, which just makes everything ugly and it still doesn’t feel like Christmas. Also, there are a great number of things in Mississippi which can kill you, which include but are not limited to timber rattlesnakes, cottonmouth snakes, bears, sinkholes, tornadoes, ticks, raw oysters, wild hogs, sick raccoons, falling out of a tree stand while hunting, skunk apes, letting your cousin shoot an apple off your head, distillery explosion, driving your truck into a swamp, livestock judging mishap, youth archery club accident, and crushing sadness.
What about Southern Mississippi, the University?
That’s probably better, I guess. Southen Miss’ official team mascot was, until the early 1970s, “the Southerners,” before being changed to the “Golden Eagles” in 1972. Critics have hailed this move as misguided, as the golden eagle tends to be found in the western and northern US states and as of 2014 had a southeastern population of only 5,100 when there are currently an estimated 2.99 million southerners in the state of Mississippi. In 2003, Southern Miss tried to trademark a new “golden eagle” logo but was the subject of a lawsuit filed by the University of Iowa, who claimed it looked too much like their logo. Many scholars agree that this is the most boring lawsuit in history.
What is campus life like at the University of Southern Mississippi?
Being honest, if there is a party center of Mississippi, it’s Hattiesburg. It’s about 90 minutes from the ocean and about two hours from New Orleans. They have a giant crawfish boil called “Crawfish Fest” for the school once a year and its list of intramural games include “Battleship” and “Yard Games.” It’s also heavily a greek campus; this greek system, however, consists of only one large fraternity, and even then that fraternity’s letters inexplicably include the letter D, a Pepsi logo and an emoji of a ski boot. Each Friday in the fall the school hosts a “movies at the Hub” event outside the school’s student center, with every week being a showing of the 2005 The Dukes of Hazzard reboot.
What’s it like to be a student at Southern Miss?
Students wishing to register for the fall semester may still do so by visiting Miss Odette in her home at the far corner of Lake Thoreau, where she will scatter bones to tell you what your major will be (registrar’s note: the Boiled Peanut Management major is full for the 2017 fall semester, minor is still available). Ratios for class structure are, generally, 12 students per teacher, 1 teacher per five classes, 8 horses per classroom. Class sessions may be held outside in case of wasps and students are responsible for purchasing their own books, class-required supplies, Yeti™ coolers and bait.
Who are Southern Mississippi’s most famous alumni?
Well-known graduates of the University of Southern Misssippi include musician Jimmy Buffett, quarterback Brett Favre, celebrity chef Cat Cora, The Real World: Las Vegas’ Trishelle, Doug Harvison (the one who ran for city council, not the one who manages the Whataburger on Route 10), Smart Bill down at the courthouse, Dancing Ronnie and Calvin’s slutty girlfriend Taylor, the one with the three kids who works at the truck stop and makes the breakfast sandwiches.
If it’s cool with you I think I’ll just stay here. I’m good.
Suit yourself. More grits for me.
Last week, the Orpheum Theatre in Memphis decided not to make Gone with the Wind part of their 2018 summer film series, after a recent showing generated a substantial amount of online criticism. The 1939 Best Picture winner had been shown as part of the series for decades.
Thankfully, no one overreacted.
Just kidding! Of course people overreacted. Opponents of the Orpheum’s decision responded with predictable criticisms of their own. Accusations of political correctness run amok (the only type of political correctness worth a damn, if you ask me) and censorship rained down from all corners of the internet. Inevitable predictions of a chain reaction ending in the refusal to show any film that any person in any place has ever found “insensitive” followed shortly thereafter.
Where to start? I know, we’ll go with the most idiotic of these complaints first and work our way down the list from there.
Complaint #1: Removing Gone with the Wind from the summer classics series because it’s “insensitive” is censorship, and censorship of art – even racist art – is not OK.
This isn’t censorship (there, that was easy).
No theater is obligated to show a given movie. Just as it isn’t censorship when you change the radio station when Nickelback comes on or put down a book that you find boring, it’s not censorship for a business to decide that – for any reason or no reason at all – they don’t want to show a particular flick.
Now, if the government were barring the film from being shown at all or jailing people who wanted to watch it? Obviously, that would be a different story. But, last I checked, you’re free to rent or purchase Gone with the Wind and view it any time you please. Don’t confuse an individual theater’s choice (even one made in the face of public pressure) with any kind of violation of free speech.
Any theater is free to show or not show whichever movies they want. If the Orpheum wanted to become a Pixar-only family theater, they could. That wouldn’t mean they were eradicating R-rated dramas, just that they wanted to provide their customers with a specific kind of product. And if they wanted to screen Gone with the Wind and have a panel discussion afterward discussing the film’s problematic content and try to contextualize it for an interested audience? They could do that too, whether or not their patrons complained. As it stands, they’ve not banned or censored anything.
Complaint #2: This whole story is another example of taking political correctness too far. Gone with the Wind is a certified classic, and we can’t simply erase from history every problematic piece of art.
Political correctness is, for many people, the catch-all boogeyman to blame for so many of our culture’s ills. It’s defined by the people who see it that way as a set of rules designed by uptight people for the express purpose of having something to be offended by at all times. Some even insist that political correctness is actually, itself, a tool for discrimination.
Hold on a second while I locate my gigantic WRONG button.
Ah, there it is.
(Man, I love that thing.)
The thing is, when people complain about political correctness, they’re mostly just revealing how little consideration they’re willing to give other people’s experiences. “If I’m not affected by racism, sexism, homophobia, transphobia, anti-semitism, etc., then surely other people are exaggerating the effects of those things in their own lives,” the thinking goes.
So, when people complain that Gone with the Wind is “insensitive” and want the theater to stop screening it, they’re labeled “snowflakes” and told that there are no safe spaces in the real world. That the people throwing out these insults are privileged enough to be upset by a cancelled showing of a racist movie is an irony too obvious to mention, apparently.
What’s that? Oh, yeah, I called Gone with the Wind racist in that last sentence. Just kind of slipped it in there like an accepted assumption. In my defense, I only did that because it’s definitely, unquestionably racist.
It’s not just “a product of its time;” it’s racist. It presents nearly every black character as a laughable collection of stereotypes and either ignores the reality of slavery or treats it like a benign detail, secondary to the rest of the story. Mammy, the one black character of any substance, literally became the archetype for generations of loyal, subservient black characters all too happy to remain second class citizens. The revisionist message is painfully obvious: the evils of slavery have been exaggerated, and the real victims are those passionate southerners whose way of life was trampled by northern agitators.
That’s the same narrative peddled by all those Confederate monuments you hear about in the news. Like Gone with the Wind, they arrived in the 30s and tried to paper over the cracks of the Civil War, celebrating the “Lost Cause” and recasting slavery as a tertiary concern to the real issue of “state’s rights” and “economic oppression.”
So removing Gone with the Wind from the Orpheum’s summer series isn’t erasing history. Gone with the Wind is itself the thing trying to erase history by presenting the Confederacy as something other than it really was. That the people of Memphis (which is about 65% black, by the way) don’t want that lie mindlessly peddled just because some old movie won a bunch of awards (from a racist institution that wouldn’t let Hattie McDaniel, who played Mammy, in the building to receive her award), is totally understandable.
Those complaints aren’t the lonely voices of a few “snowflakes,” they’re the reasonable response to seeing the Klan march openly on American streets and wanting to confront the poisonous narratives that make people pull those sheets over their faces in the first place.
Complaint #3: Ok, even if the movie is just as insensitive as its critics claim, isn’t this the beginning of a slippery slope that ends any controversial or challenging work of art being shamed into hiding?
No. Again, the specifics of this situation matter. The content of Gone with the Wind isn’t just unpleasant or generically offensive, it’s overtly racist. Which means that, even if the film has great historical importance, it’s at the very least an inappropriate choice for a summer film series. The Orpheum, after all, is not a museum charged with the preservation of film history; it’s a business that shows movies to entertain its patrons. Other films on its summer classics list include The Sandlot and Dirty Harry, so let’s not go pretending that the fate of the culture hangs in the balance here.
My point is that there is still a way to appreciate the achievement of Gone with the Wind’s production while simultaneously reckoning with its willful whitewashing of history, and that place is not family movie night at the local cineplex.
I’m sure this isn’t the last time this argument will be had, but I hope more theaters are willing to conduct the kind of close examination required to make sensible decisions about what lands on their screens. And if it takes the pressure of their patrons to make it happen, then so be it.
By Megan Suttles on ©August 30th, 2017 @ 9:00am
August 31, 2017 is the twentieth anniversary of Princess Diana’s death. The tragic anniversary typically prompts people to tell stories that begin with “I remember I was at my…” Her death is an instant trigger for late 90s nostalgia. The PBS documentary Diana – Her Story attempts to tell more of the untold pieces. There is no shortage of documentaries, tell-all books or movies about the royal family. Diana – Her Story, however, uses her home videos to tell her story but with a slant. Even with all of the previous tellings of Diana’s story, there is still more to know.
One striking detail that the documentary shows is just how odd Charles and Diana’s relationship was from the beginning. When explaining her first impression of her future husband, Diana describes Charles as being “like a bad rash.” Charles was persistent and unpredictable. At one point, Charles asked her to “sit around while I do my work.” The line is not swoon-worthy, an indicator of a courtship that is in stark contrast to the visual of a “fairy tale wedding.”
Their odd courtship led to a union that was “a marriage in name only.” Diana – Her Story isn’t ground breaking. What is shocking is how cavalier Charles is in public about his infidelities. The documentary shows footage of Charles making an unfortunate joke about needing two wives to walk down the opposite sides of the streets, with him giving instruction from the middle. The story, told from Diana’s perspective, does not give Charles a likable disposition. According to Diana, he refused to be the “Prince of Wales who never had a mistress.” After twenty years, knowing Diana’s fate, this sentiment seems even more disturbing.
Diana – Her Story seems more hopeful when it pulls away from how Diana was wronged and moves toward her search to find “her voice.” There are moments when the documentary feels like a modern adaptation of The King’s Speech. The home video camera records the moments when Diana works one-on-one with her speech coach. As the coach encourages her to speak with “more energy” or “slightly faster,” the audience can see her slowly gain the confidence she had lost. His moments of praise and her genuine smile are pieces of her that could never be recreated. It’s a touching moment because it’s not Colin Firth and Geoffrey Rush playing a King working through a stammer. It’s a real woman, who would soon be gone, talking to people “from the guts.”
The documentary slowly creeps to the year of Diana’s death. There aren’t spoilers to this documentary. Every viewer knows how her story ends. In the last five minutes, the narration stops. Glimpses of the moments that lead up to 1997 are spliced between two ballet dancers. (Earlier, viewers were told that if she hadn’t been a Princess, Diana would have liked to be a ballerina.) The dance leads to the final moments of footage from Diana’s life. The urgency and desire to tell her, from behind the screen to not go, to turn around, is heartbreaking. What’s left of her fairy tale turns into a Greek tragedy.
Seeing that last image of her reminds me of where I was on August 31, 1997. I remember I was at my house. My mom was making me breakfast. Seeing Diana – Her Story reminds me that even though there are countless tellings and re-tellings of your story, there are still bits and pieces need to be told.
By Josh Juckett on ©August 29th, 2017 @ 3:00pm
Last Friday, the world was rocked with the release of the first single from Taylor Swift’s upcoming album Reputation. “Look What You Made Me Do” was the best thing in the world for some, caused Twitter meltdowns for others, and garnered about as much publicity as a new song possibly can. I’m not here to discuss the merits of whether the song is good or not, I’ll let the masses decide that. For a song release of such magnitude though, it is only natural that it deserves a deep dive into the lyrical content and determine what exactly the song is about. I have done said analysis and want to share that with you now. Here is the lyrical interpretation of “Look What You Made Me Do”.
I don’t like your little games
Don’t like your tilted stage
The role you made me play
Of the fool, no, I don’t like you
I don’t like your perfect crime
How you laugh when you lie
You said the gun was mine
Isn’t cool, no, I don’t like you (oh!)
This first verse makes it clear that Taylor has considered herself wronged by someone(s). She is establishing early that she has a vendetta toward the antagonist.
But I got smarter, I got harder in the nick of time
Honey, I rose up from the dead, I do it all the time
I’ve got a list of names and yours is in red, underlined
I check it once, then I check it twice, oh
Here is our first real clue to what is happening in this song. In this hook Taylor indicates that she rose from the dead. Is she a zombie, a wight? Unfortunately not, it’s much more nefarious. Also note the “list of names” lyric. Clearly this is a reference to a hit list which identifies not just one antagonist, but many. Let’s examine further.
Ooh, look what you made me do x1000
Her actions are a clear result of previous actions from the aforementioned others on the hit list. She isn’t taking responsibility for the actions, rather, placing the blame on others. Curious.
I don’t like your kingdom keys
They once belonged to me
You asked me for a place to sleep
Locked me out and threw a feast (what?)
The world moves on, another day, another drama, drama
But not for me, not for me, all I think about is karma
And then the world moves on, but one thing’s for sure
Maybe I got mine, but you’ll all get yours
Hmm, so she was removed from a place of power and now she’s been plotting revenge ever since. Also of note in this verse is the reference to sleep, this is a theme which we will see repeated later.
But I got smarter, I got harder in the nick of time
Honey, I rose up from the dead, I do it all the time
I’ve got a list of names and yours is in red, underlined
I check it once, then I check it twice, oh
This again, she really wants us to realize that she came back from the dead to seek retribution on her enemies.
Ooh, look what you made me do x1000 again
She really does say this line a lot.
I don’t trust nobody and nobody trusts me
I’ll be the actress starring in your bad dreams
This line is repeated several times and really brings us to the heart of the matter. She has disconnected from everybody else and now inhabits the nightmares of her enemies. That can only lead us to the last bit of the song and the ultimate conclusion.
“I’m sorry, the old Taylor can’t come to the phone right now.”
“Oh, ’cause she’s dead!” (ohh!)
Old Taylor is dead, which can only lead us to one conclusion…
Taylor Swift has become a modern-day Freddy Krueger.
Swift checks off all the boxes: she’s dead, presumably by the actions of others. She’s out for revenge. She acts within the nightmares of her enemies. Don’t be surprised to see some changes to her wardrobe in upcoming concerts.
Season seven of Game of Thrones culminated with “The Dragon and the Wolf.” The spectacular episode is discussed in length on Kentucky Thrones Radio. Nick and T.J. explain how major storylines came to be and what’s next. Highlights:
— What will make a greater impact, Jaime’s departure or Tyrion’s knowledge of Cersei’s pregnancy?
— How the Stark sisters pulled on over on Littlefinger.
— Does the dragon breathe blue fire or ice?
— Put an end to Theon Greyjoy, please.
— Bran is somehow more normal as he narrates incest.
You can easily listen on the KSR App, available on iTunes and Google Play. Streaming online is simple through Pod Paradise. You can also get it directly to your phone by subscribing to “Kentucky Sports Radio” on iTunes or via Android’s Podcast Addict app.
On Saturdy people filled up Masterson Station Park for the MoonTower Music festival and once again the show did not disappoint. 14 bands took the stage throughout the 12+ hour show and though I wasn’t able to be there for the whole show, I still had another great time at MoonTower. Here were the things I enjoyed the most:
Of course this would be number one on the list. There technical difficulties littered throughout the performances which slowed some sets down and made some performances disjointed. It’s disappointing when that happens and I’m not sure if it’s the fault of the performers, the show’s setup, or just plain bad luck. In any case, when the bands were able to play they typically made the most of it and I enjoyed kicking back and just listening to music.
The MoonTower crowd is full of a lot of different characters. There aren’t many places that can bring such a diverse group of people together in one place where everybody is getting along. Once again there was an array of hula hoop shows, giant Jenga, and even some Zorb balls. My favorite part of the crowd though were all the dogs. With the weather being basically perfect, there were a lot more dogs this year than last and they seemed to really enjoy everything going on.
My personal goal for these types of events is to try a new type of food from the local providers. My choice this year was Roll ‘N’ Smoke, where I had two barbecue egg rolls, one Carolina style and one Southwest style. By the time I got there they were out of coleslaw which usually accompanies the Carolina style rolls, but even without that I was pretty impressed. I’m not a food critic so I’ll save you my attempt to describe how perfectly palatable they were, but rest assured that I devoured those barbecue rolls in no time. To top off my dining experience I went over to the Raising Cane’s tent and finished my evening with a solid three chicken finger meal. For someone who lives two hours from the nearest Cane’s, this was a must. Overall I enjoyed my dining experience, even if the prices were a little on the high end at most of the food trucks. That part just comes with the territory though.
The layout for the festival this year flowed really well. They moved all the food trucks off to the side in the Food Pavilion area which freed up a lot of space for merchant tents, games, and general walking area. The crowd area for the concerts was spaced out well and there was a cutoff point for chairs and tents so that crowds closer to the stages had freedom of movement to dance and jump around.
Overall MoonTower was another great way to spend a Saturday in Lexington. The weather was perfect, a lot of bands brought some great music, and I even bumped into a friend I hadn’t seen in almost ten years. Not a bad way to spend my last Saturday before football season.
Netflix has seen a major transformation since it’s inception. What began as a DVD direct to home rental service, has become a juggernaut of movies and TV shows that you can view for only a monthly service fee. I know this, you know this, even my Dad knows this. So what was the next logical step in their evolution? Original content. We’ve had the good, such as Stranger Things, House of Cards, and GLOW. We’ve had the bad, Real Rob and Flaked come to mind. And finally the weird, Between and the OA. Finding it’s place among the great, good, and bad has been the different Marvel series, which includes Daredevil, Luke Cage, Jessica Jones, and Iron Fist. Daredevil and Luke Cage I put in the great category, Jessica Jones is just off beat and gritty enough to sit comfortably inside the good category, while Iron Fist is just bad. So when all 4 heroes joined forces this past weekend to become The Defenders, I set to task binge watching of the show. My only expectations were that I’d be entertained. Was I? Yes, with some hiccups along the way it was a good series to watch. Here is the great, good, and bad of the series.
GREAT- Daredevil, Luke Cage
Given that these two heroes are the best 2 series so far, this didn’t come as a surprise to me. Charlie Cox’s Matt Murdock, a.k.a Daredevil, a.k.a The Man Without Fear, a.k.a The Devil of Hell’s Kitchen (I just realized he’s giving Daenerys Targaryen a run for her money with multiple names) is solid as the de facto leader of the team. Mike Colter returns as Luke Cage, an underrated hero in the Marvel universe. Between Daredevil’s struggle to keep his real life as a lawyer and his masked hero separate in the story line works well for the series. Seeing Luke Cage released from prison starts off the series on solid footing as well. I love Mike Colter’s swag. He has been brilliant in this role from the moment he was introduced in the Jessica Jones series.
GOOD – Sigourney Weaver’s Alexandria, Jessica Jones, Coleen Wing, Elektra
Being the leader of the Hand and seemingly immortal, Sigourney Weaver chews up every scene she is in. Callous, in control, and just a touch insane. Krysten Ritter’s Jessica Jones is growing on me. Foul mouthed and boozing most of the time, Ritter brings a “do I have to?” attitude to the character that works for the most part. The characters of Coleen Wing and Elektra are at their most basic two sides of the same coin. Martial arts experts, students in weapons, and a touch of crazy works for the two. I wish we had more Wing, less Elektra. We did get a tease for another Marvel property that Wing is a part of, but I won’t spoil that here.
BAD – Iron Fist, Plot Line
It came as no surprise to me that every time Iron Fist is on scene a low groan came out of the back of my throat. Marvel could have done SO MUCH with this character. Instead they slapped a generic white dude that looks exactly like the comic book into the role, no offense Finn Jones (who I had to look up). Huge missed opportunity on their behalf. I also wasn’t too thrilled with the plot line. Three of these characters have had successful series already, one a big misstep. The joining of the whole gang needed a bigger problem too solve than some random bad guys and a few explosives. Let down for sure.
There are some other highlights worth noting. Scott Glenn’s Stick is cryptic as always. Rosario Dawson’s Claire Temple is compelling. Three of the heroes riding the subway was my favorite scene. Could they have done better? Absolutely. Will they get a second shot at this? I think the success of the second season’s of Jessica Jones and Luke Cage will answer that question. I also think it would behoove the writer’s to bring in another hero… Oh look! I see you over there filming Jon Bernthal! So yes, make the problem and danger bigger next time, have Iron Fist be less of the main guy, and bring the Punisher into the fold and I believe you have a successful series. We will have to wait and see. As for the first one? I’ll give it a B- on the report card. Worth binging for the simple fact that there are some cool fight scenes with all the heroes, and at 8 episodes that range from 42 to 50 minutes, it’s easy to get through in an afternoon.
As always, each week KSR’s Funkhouser collects the best of pop culture. And as always, The Entertation Index collects the best of the week for your consumption.
Bada$$, Joey — Rapper Joey Bada$$, who you of course know from your favorite tunes “Super Predator,” “Greenbax” and “47 Goons,” canceled concerts in Cleveland, Chicago and Toronto after staring into Monday’s solar eclipse and damaging his eyes. It’s not a total loss, however, as the incident inspired Badas$$’s newest track “Eyez on Swole.”
Link: Rapper Who Stared at Eclipse Abruptly Cancels Concerts
Blockbusters, Summer — It’s been no secret that movie execs have been sorely disappointed in this summer’s studio blockbusters; anything NOT a superhero movie has tanked mightily. To celebrate the end of this long three months movie-wise, here’s a ranking of the 43 top-producing summer films.
Link: The Highest-Grossing Summer Blockbusters Since Jaws, Ranked from Worst to Best
Cameron, James — Titanic and T2 director has publicly derided the recent, blockbusting Wonder Woman adaptation by declaring the female-directed film as “male Hollywood doing the same old thing,” and calling it “a step backwards.” Cameron then excused himself from the media, explaining “I have to go, I have four more Avatar movies to make.”
Link: James Cameron Says Wonder Woman Is “A Step Backwards”
Clowns — To celebrate the release of the new Stephen King adaptation It, Austin’s Alamo Drafthouse has announced it will hold “Clown Only” screenings of the horror film the day after its premiere. Nope. Just nope. Nope nope nope. Nope nope nope nope nope nope nope
Link: Alamo Drafthouse to Host Clown-Only Screenings of “It”
Crue, Motley — Good news for fifty year-olds who have never held the same job for more than one year; Motley Crue is re-issuing its 1987 classic Girls, Girls, Girls on a variety of formats today for the album’s thirtieth anniversary. The album will always be remembered as a seminal album of the 80’s hair band trend and, of course, has been welcoming Dakotas and Crystals around the nation to the stage for thirty years.
Link: Motley Crue on “Girls, Girls, Girls” at 30 – “It Was Like ‘Caligula'”
It — See: Clowns
Swift, Taylor — 27 year-old Taylor Swift announced this week that the wait is almost over for a new album with the surprise drop of the single “Look What You Made Me Do.” The single suggests that the singer has gotten even more personal with her new album, which features Swift-esque tracks like “I Saw You Talking to Kim,” “Why Didn’t You Answer My Texts, Stephen?”, “Look I Changed My Hair Again,” and “Stop Embarrassing Me, Dad.”
Link: Taylor Swift Drops “Look What You Made Me Do, and It’s Aggressive”
Thomas, Jay — Renowned character actor Jay Thomas, who has appeared in guest roles on shows like Ray Donovan, Murphy Brown and more — not to mention a memorable run as Carla’s ill-fated hockey player husband Eddie LeBec on Cheers — lost a battle to cancer overnight. He was 69. Thomas also appeared like clockwork on David Letterman’s final show before Christmas each year to deliver what Letterman firmly believed was “one of the greatest stories of all time.” See for yourself.