Archive for May, 2008

Trust me, I lied

Posted in The News with tags , , , , , on May 30, 2008 by Adam Sapiro

If you lie, lie, lie, lie and lie for a living and then decide later on to tell the truth, you’re still an asshole. If you decide to come clean when everyone already knows the truth anyway, you’re a cowardly asshole.

So former White House flack Scott McClellan says he feels the need to tell “What Happened” in the new memoir of his days with the Bush administration. Big deal, Scotty — we already know: Bush ain’t too bright, Iraq wasn’t behind 9/11, and Saddam Hussein wasn’t plotting to gas us all in our sleep.

Would we have gotten this confessional out of McClellan if the country weren’t mired in a bloody, unending war spearheaded by a president now less popular than crotch rot? No way. Whatever’s compelled McClellan to fess up — guilt, a book deal, pissing off his prick-decessor Ari Fleischer — would have come in handy in those days when he condescendingly bullshitted reporters who stupidly took his every word as gospel.

McClellan says he has “a higher loyalty to the truth” now, two years after leaving his post. Where was that loyalty when he took the job as the biggest liar in the land? Nobody becomes White House press secretary expecting to tell the truth. You’re paid to sell Americans on a president and his policies, duping them when you must. (For shits and giggles, check out the transcript of this “press gaggle” handled by McClellan, then deputy press secretary, a month before the war: Press gaggle, Feb. 10, 2003.)

McClellan can argue all he wants that loyalty to the president was more important than seeking out the truth at the time, but that was the time when the truth mattered most. Imagine how different the world might be, how many lives might have been spared, if more people in power back then had risked everything and spoken up about What Is Happening. But you don’t get brownie points years later for telling Americans they were bamboozled when you were one of the bamboozlers.

“The Iraq war was not necessary,” McClellan says in his book. You’re too late, buddy. You had the mike and you blew it.


Holy shit

Posted in The News with tags , , , , , on May 28, 2008 by Adam Sapiro

I don’t care that Barack Obama had a fiery pastor who, if you go by the sound bites, hates Mom and apple pie and thinks the government gave everyone the mumps. What pisses me off is that I even know Obama had a pastor.

Like Obama, John McCain has had to distance himself from a pesky preacher, John Hagee of Texas, and he says he’s never even been to Hagee’s church — he just “won” his endorsement.

I know it’s hard to tell politicians apart, but can’t the media find anything more substantive than this? In a country where we at least pretend to separate church and state, we sure are obsessed with the candidates’ religious backgrounds. That’s because the candidates’ faith and the religious company they keep are a quick way for us to judge them. There’s no need to get to know the candidates’ goals for the country when there’s an easier way to whittle down your list: His pastor’s a kook! He thinks the Rapture’s coming! Hillary’s part-Jewish! Dismissed!

The Rev. Jeremiah Wright could go on a multi-state killing spree and it wouldn’t change my opinion of Obama. Why should the behavior of someone’s pastor reflect poorly on him? I mean, my church had two priests with a thing for little boys (guess what thing) and another who told us — during Christmas Mass, no less — that AIDS was God’s punishment for being gay. So, does that mean I can’t run for office?

But this is what religion does — it divides us, makes us afraid of one another, and blinds us to what’s really at stake in this election. And that’s a thousand times scarier that anything Wright or Hagee has to say.

What’s wrong with this picture

Posted in The Popular with tags , on May 27, 2008 by Adam Sapiro

Ever watch a beloved “classic” film for the first time only to find out it really blows?

To kick off this regular feature, let’s look at the movie credited with ushering in a new realism in terms of cinema violence at a time when blah, blah, blah, blah. Yeah, it’s “Bonnie and Clyde.”

Because I’ll watch just about anything on Blu-ray, I checked it out. It peaks early, way too early, with Faye Dunaway naked right out of the gate. Even Gene Hackman, a favorite of mine who’s really miscast, couldn’t keep me interested. And Estelle Parsons, who won an Oscar for her work here, basically screeches, shouts and natters on for what seems like an eternity. This is probably where they got the idea that she could play Roseanne Barr’s mom.

OK, so it’s the first movie to use a lot of squibs, heightening the realism of the final bloodbath. I’m sure it was quite shocking in 1967, but all the squibs in the world can’t make you care about the fate of the two main characters if they haven’t really done much of interest in the preceding two hours. The movie even skirts one of the most interesting things about the real-life crime duo’s relationship — Clyde’s confused sexuality. The filmmakers instead made Warren Beatty’s character impotent, which requires great suspension of disbelief — especially after seeing Dunaway naked.

Enigma wrapped in a satin sheet

Posted in The Popular with tags , , on May 27, 2008 by Adam Sapiro

Your friend is checking out a girl in a photo on your desk. “She’s hawwt!” he says, running the risk that she could be a relative of yours. Then you have to tell him the bad news. “Um, she’s 12.” Awwk-ward.

So now she’s not hot? If only it were that easy.

Take Miley Cyrus. Her nude back got her back in the news this month. Is the strategically released Vanity Fair photo taken by Annie Leibovitz beautiful art? Or is it child pornography? (My money’s on publicity stunt, but I digress…) Um, it’s probably both of those things, depending on who’s looking at the photo.

Some people find the pale back of the Disney-waif attractive and would like to see even more of her unwrapped. Other people find it inappropriate for someone born only 15 years ago to acknowledge that she’s an attractive, sexual being. Back skin: good or evil? Debate.

Personally, I think she looks a little deranged in the photo, like she just slipped out of a straight jacket and that if the camera panned a little to the right, you’d see “HANNAH MONTANA TOLD ME TO” scrawled on the wall in lipstick.

But, yeah, it’s a provocative pose and some people are gonna be aroused by the photo. Being told that she’s a minor isn’t going to cool them off. And it doesn’t help when the law says she’ll be fair game in a few months (at least in some states). How can Miley be off-limits one day and doable the next, just because the Earth revolved around the sun 16 times since the day she was born? It’s arbitrary societal rules like this that ignore our differences, confuse sexuality and create taboos that foster guilt and deviancy.

It’s no secret that guys like young women — always have, always will. It’s biology and stuff. Yeah, Tina Turner still looks good and all, but no guy’s gonna pick her over Rihanna. So putting a legal cutoff point at the low end of the age scale is tricky business, because it creates a thin, artificial line between appropriate behavior and perversion. “No sexiness allowed beyond this point.”

There’s no way to control when people become sexy or what other people find sexy, and it looks like Miley is starting to feel sexy and people are enjoying it. We’re all sexual beings, into whatever we’re into, for whatever reasons. That might not make other people’s desires legal or even “right,” but we should at least try to understand them. The human brain is something worth unwrapping some more.