Martha Bayles: September 2005 Archives
A friend writes with this question:
"Have you seen the new 'thing' in Hollywood, the 'let's see how far we can go before we are told we are crass' comedies like 40 Year-Old Virgin and Wedding Crashers? God they are, at times, insanely funny, but I couldn't help but think that they are pushing the envelope in a pretty big way ... I went with my 16-year-old son to Virgin, and I am certain he wished he were with ANYONE other than his dad."
I confess to having deliberately missed these, due to extreme prejudice against Hollywood wanker humor that
goes back several years, when I bailed out of Something About Mary, and would have done the same with the original American Pie if I hadn't been a guest at the house of friends who insisted on watching it with their young teenage kids. On this occasion I was definitely on the side of all awkward 16-year-olds.
But before you cast me as the Church Lady, consider my delight in the fourth segment of Jim Jarmusch's little known Night on Earth (1991). You don't have to sit through the whole five segments about taxi drivers and their nighttime passengers in five different cities. Just cut to the one in which a Roman cabby (played by Roberto Benigni in his prime) picks up a gloomy elderly priest (Paolo Bonacelli) who agrees, against his better judgment, to hear the cabby's confession. The whole thing is in very bad taste, I assure you. But my rule is: when it gets that funny, it can be as gross as it wants.
Normally I would not presume to choose a theme song for what's happening right now, but...
After yesterday. I don't believe I'll watch CNN again for a long time. Aaron Brown's bosom can heave all it wants about "race and class" in flood-ravaged New Orleans; his sighs look hypocritical against that endlessly looping clip of a demented-looking black man woofing at the camera by the Superdome.
Some negative images are newsworthy - looting and dead bodies, for example. We don't want to see them, but up to a point, we must.
But why this guy? Why, out of thousands of people in and around the Superdome, did CNN choose to put a face on the suffering with this bad imitation of "crunk" rapper Lil Jon? Is it because crunk just happens to be the most popular style of rap in the country right now? Is CNN is competing with MTV?
Say it ain't so, Aaron. Your bosom heaves so professionally, I almost forget that your reporters can't seem to make contact with any of the thousands of ordinary people enduring the hunger, thirst, filth, heat, and desperate anxiety of this terrible week. Like President Bush staging a Bill Clinton bear hug with two young girls who despite their brown skin were not African Americans, your intrepid reporters seem incapable of stepping across the divide and actually interacting with "them."
Everyone's bashing the public sector this week, but one of the things it has been doing right is cover this story. In one hour last evening, PBS's "Newshour with Jim Lehrer" reported more about the crisis than ten hours of CNN. Not only did they interview a real reporter, Peter Slevin of the Washington Post, who left the CNN folks bobbing in his wake, they also found some down-to-earth, sensible African Americans to testify what they were going through. Let's hear it for bold investigative reporting!