Gluttony and hypocrisy

consumerist gluttony

“Consumerist Gluttony” by Patrick McGrath Muñiz

Ever noticed how, in Western society, we have an annoying tendency to decide how much we should and shouldn’t eat, while simultaneously we eat until our chests are about to burst? In the age of consumerism, this contradiction of values is as apparent as the gap between rich and poor. I’ve always had a problem with people telling each other not to “eat too much”. Yes, eating in excess is a bad thing, but what about all the poor people at home and abroad who can’t have that much? To them, the phrase “don’t eat too much” would probably come across as very offensive.

The thing about modern society is that most of us waste immeasurable amounts of food and water, and yet we tell the rest of the world what we should and shouldn’t be eating. This is also why I find much of the condemnation of fast food to be quite hypocritical. The rest of the world criticizes America because of how many of its citizens have gotten fat from eating so much from restaurant chains like McDonalds, Burger King and KFC, while much of the world has embraced fast food with open arms.

Part of the hypocrisy occurs with parenting. We tell our kids all the time that they can’t have too much fast food. Considering the consequences of eating too much fast food, this is somewhat justified, but not when the parents go all gung-ho with big portions themselves. By the way, if we want to talk about gluttony, what about the kind of big portions that many traditional families expect of a Sunday dinner? Or how about Christmas, where we eat so much within a week? How are we fine with that, and still having the nerve to say “you shouldn’t eat so much”?

Of course, it’s easy to judge people for lifestyle choices different to our own. Personally, I think that’s why most people do it. In the case of gluttony, it’s even easier, what with the stigmatization of obesity giving people carte blanche to judge people who don’t eat the way the rest of us do. Evidently the old nonsense about gluttony being a sin is still with us in a small way. Then again, we’ve always found ways to gloss over our excesses and cover up our hypocrisies in ever more elaborate ways. Most of us, however, just expect us to go along with the dominant mentality, even if it represents excess. That, unfortunately, is one of the great hypocrisies of our society. We don’t like it when people eat too much, and yet we eat until we fell bloated and waste food which ends up going to land fills. What sense does that make?

The neofeminist narrative (is still sexism)

There once was a time where feminists stood for equal rights, a fair wage, and so that they didn’t have to be submissive to men. Since then, they’ve largely succeeded. We’ve seen a shift in the dynamics of “traditional family values”,  However, for a new generation, this simply isn’t enough. Throughout the 2010’s, the narrative of feminism has been shaped by a new generation of neofeminists, except these aren’t the feminists seeking equal rights. On the internet, they seem set on enforcing a worldview in which women are superior to men, and they do this by proliferating petty outrage wherever they can, all while demanding reduced breast sizes in female video game characters, claiming that male fantasies are harmful to women, but providing no evidence to support their argument.

The narrative provided by the majority of neofeminists asserts that women are superior to men, and yet they are the victims of chauvinistic stereotyping and patriarchal oppression. This is their rationale for shaming comedians, businesses and artists into self-censorship under the guise of sensitivity. Of course, it’s all a lie. In fact, any real feminist would reject this notion entirely, because although feminism is about empowering women, it also stresses the equal treatment of men and women. What the neofeminists of the internet are doing is reinforcing the outdated myth of the “battle of the sexes” by making men look like horrible misogynists wherever possible. Not only are they missing the point of feminism, but their harming feminism by making feminists look bad.

feminism

How do you tell a real feminist from a Twitter feminist?

The problem with the neofeminist’s central narrative is that it’s ultimately based on the same kind of sexism that should have died years ago. If you remember the feminists of the 1960’s and the 1970’s, you’ll probably remember that they were fighting against sexism, and against the idea that one gender is superior to another. What are the priorities of today’s social justice warriors? Power and control over free thought. They seek to bully anyone who doesn’t agree with them, or isn’t ashamed to be masculine. They target harmless fictional settings, often because they provide escape from a world where we may constantly have to keep ourselves in check for fear of disapproval. They don’t seem to have any idea that you can’t just promote your cause by making the other side look like complete monsters, simply because that mentality can only harm the cause rather than help it.

Of course, not all feminists are like this, and it’s highly possible that not all neofeminists are like this either. However, on the Internet, the ones that cause torment are so common and enjoy so much anonymity that it becomes impossible to determine the good ones from the bad ones, and what we’re left with is a heavily distorted narrative that can potentially ruin one’s perception of feminism. It’s easy to assume that it’s only sexism when a man devalues a woman, but bias is still bias no matter whose side your on, and no amount of liberal guilt can ever change that, regardless of what soapbox it’s coming from.

5 upcoming movie sequels that Hollywood shouldn’t be making

These days, Hollywood is driven by sequels, remakes, comic books, and other old ideas. It’s gotten so bad that it’s as though there’s no room left for original ideas, and even if there are, they always get undermined by those big Hollywood blockbusters which reel in the money every summer. It’s particularly sickening because it’s literally the same thing over and over again. Hollywood doesn’t seem to have changed at all since the year 2000, and the movies that come as a result are getting less and less unique, and increasingly more dumb and boring.

Perhaps the worst aspect of this is Hollywood’s growing obsession with giving sequels to films that don’t need any, or resurrecting film franchises we thought were dead. This post is about the more egregious examples of this practice being developed by Hollywood even as we speak, and most importantly, why they could generally be considered bad ideas.

The Goonies 2

the goonies

The Goonies, some thirty years later…

By now we’re all familiar with The Goonies, that adventure film starring a group of kids who go on an adventure to find the long-lost fortune of a legendary pirate. Written by Steven Spielberg and directed by Richard Donner, this family-friendly matinee flick became a commercial success, and left its legacy as one of the most overrated films of the 1980’s. Despite its box-office success and obvious popularity, it never got a sequel, probably because the producers couldn’t come up with any feasible storyline for a sequel at the time. According to Richard Donner, however, this is going to change, as he intends to make a sequel to The Goonies with as much of the original cast as possible.

While I might admire Donner’s desire to be as true to the original as possible, I still can’t help but think that making a sequel to The Goonies in this day and age is an inherently bad idea. As overrated as it is, The Goonies was very much a film of its time. Back in 1985, noisy family-friendly adventure films like this were all the rage, primarily because they found a certain niche. They weren’t violent or serious enough to be rated R, but they weren’t cheesy enough to be just for toddlers. Perhaps that’s why the people who liked the film when it was new still like it to this day. Here in the 2010’s, something like The Goonies simply wouldn’t work, mainly because the cinemagoers of today aren’t the cinemagoers of 1985.

Indeed, today’s “family-friendly” films are a lot dumber than what we might have seen in the 1980’s, relying heavily on slapstick, cheap jokes, and committee thinking. Not only is there the distinct possibility that The Goonies 2 (for lack of an official title) will be beaten at the box office by dumber yet more profitable films, but it’s also feasibly possible that the Goonies sequel could try and stoop to the level of its competition, and the end result would be far worse.

Rush Hour 4

rush hour

It would appear that Brett Ratner is interested in returning to his most reliable money-making franchise, and according to Jackie Chan, it looks like there will be a Rush Hour 4 after all. Basically, we’re going to have Jackie Chan and Chris Tucker team up for the fourth damned time in what is essentially a rehash of the previous Rush Hour films.

I don’t really have too much of a problem with the genre, but it’s an easily over-exploited one, and the Rush Hour franchise is a good example of this. The first Rush Hour film was hilarious, even if it’s dumb. Rush Hour 2 was flimsy, but still really funny. Rush Hour 3, however, was simply a bad film, primarily because it’s the same exact film as its predecessors with no improvement, and plagued with a terrible script. Bearing that in mind, what can we expect from Rush Hour 4 other than a cheap cash-grab sequel that’ll probably get pirated faster than you can say “Wheels on Meals”?

To be fair, at the very least Jackie Chan isn’t interested in doing just another sequel. When approached about Rush Hour 4, he said that he wouldn’t do the film unless it had a solid script. Given that Jackie Chan has made a lot of money doing original martial arts films, he could be forgiven for being tough on Rush Hour 4, or indeed Brett Ratner. Even though making a fourth Rush Hour film is generally a bad idea, we can at least hope that the producers are willing to listen to Jackie Chan’s demands for a quality script.

Indepedence Day’s sequel

independence day

Independence Day was a film that was garbage when it was new. It was little more than a trashy, overly long and overly expensive B-movie, and yet somehow it made millions of dollars, and is popular enough that its director, the painfully untalented Roland Emmerich, could go on to make more movies that were even worse, including an upcoming sequel for Independence Day. Apparently people liked the original Independence Day so much that the sequel, Independence Day: Resurgence, is set to be released next year, 20 years after the first film’s release.

Of course, there are several reasons why the original Independence Day was simply awful (aside from its equally shallow marketing campaign). By 1996, the whole “evil invading aliens” cliché had become so outdated that to this day, it’s still confined to the realm of parody. This was a few years after the Cold War came to an end, so the fear of utter annihilation from an enemy force would be a thing of the past. In terms of narrative, all Independence Day did was regurgitate the same clichés and repackage them for the cinema-going public of the 1990’s. Had it been made in 1988 or 1989, it would have been more believable. It’s also worth noting that the film has a strong tendency to wallow in gung-ho nationalism from beginning to end. In an era where American exceptionalism has been proven a myth, a film like Independence Day would be too out of touch with today’s world to even tread water.

I’m also very certain that the original Independence Day was only popular because Will Smith was in it. Of course, it’s been confirmed that Will Smith won’t be in the sequel, so I doubt that an Independence Day sequel would even be remotely profitable. Then again, Roland Emmerich is known for making bloated, overly expensive disaster films that leave a bad taste in your mouth, and given current trends, this film is destined to fail. It makes me wonder why he’s even bothering with this one?

Marvel’s untitled Spider-Man film

marvel

For lack of a better image, this will do.

After The Amazing Spider-Man 2, Sony was going to make third and fourth film for what was the Amazing Spider-Man franchise. However, for some bizarre reason, probably dissatisfaction with the film’s performance, Sony decided not to go through with this arrangement, and a new Spider-man film franchise is now being developed for Marvel’s Cinematic Universe. Following this, and the cancellation of The Amazing Spider-Man 3, a new version of Spider-Man, played by Tom Holland, is set to star in the next Captain America film, along with a completely new Spider-Man film, with the intention of completely rebooting the franchise.

Given that the Spider-Man films have proven to be consistently bad, why on Earth do we need yet another Spider-Man film to stink up the silver screen? If that isn’t enough, the next Spider-Man film is going to be another origin story. Hollywood has already told Spider-man’s origin story twice, and in both films it was really annoying to see Peter Parker as this whiny dork who constantly chases his so-called “dream girl”. Not only that, but if the new film is another origin story, then that means we’ll have to live with seeing Uncle Ben die again, and by now that scene will have lost all impact.

What really bugs me is that this is happening very quickly. It only took half a year for Sony to want to reboot the franchise, with the next film coming to theatres in 2017. Then again, all these superhero films are being made so quickly that they’re part of the background. It’s as though this kind of film is all that Hollywood wants to put any effort into, and that’s a very bad sign.

The planned Terminator Genisys trilogy

terminator genisys

For the first time in 12 years, Arnold Schwarzenegger returned to silver screen as the Terminator in what is planned to be the first film in a new Terminator trilogy. Unfortunately, Terminator Genisys opened to bad reviews and poor domestic box office. Also, it would seem that nobody even wanted the film to be made, and for good reason. Arnold Schwarzenegger isn’t a box office draw anymore. His latest films have been box office failures, including this film, which owes much of its failure to its ill-advised marketing campaign (putting an ageing action film star at the forefront of a summer blockbuster isn’t necessarily a good idea).

Although the film is doing fairly well outside the US, it still sounds like a very bad idea to do a whole trilogy for Terminator Genisys. After all, what is the point in making a whole sequel trilogy for a franchise doesn’t have much appeal for a younger audience (although I’ve heard that this film tones down the violence, which doesn’t help at all). By this point, the Terminator franchise has become another ageing film franchise that’s soldiering on as much as it possibly can. The two sequels being planned are probably going to be worse and worse, doing more damage to the Terminator name than even the awful Terminator Salvation could.

The point is that the Terminator franchise is one of those franchises from the 1980’s that passed its prime many years ago, and so a newer film in the franchise wouldn’t exactly be welcome, let alone an entire planned trilogy of sequels. What it does show, however, is just what’s wrong with the Hollywood of today. Hollywood is desperately short of ideas, and so they’ve resorted to resurrecting dead franchises to milk what’s left of them.

Of course, everything I’ve said in this post is speculation. Will any of these ill-advised films do well? Only time will tell what will become of them, but with Hollywood in the sorry state that it is, it’s pretty easy to predict a bleak future for them, and that will be all the more likely as the months and years go by.

South Park: Things can only get worse from here

cartmanbrah

It appears that South Park just can’t stay dead. Yesterday, it was confirmed that Comedy Central is going to extend the show’s run through to 2019, by which point the show will have reached season 23. This means that South Park will continue its evolution into what I call “South Krap” for another four years, never mind that we’re already at the point where South Park has more bad or forgettable episodes than good ones, which is what inevitably happens when a TV show goes on for too long. In a way, this is consistent with the way all TV shows work. They attract you during the early years, and then continue making episodes until everyone gets bored in the end. In this case, however, South Park survives because it’s now essentially a brand name that refers to a larger merchandising franchise, complete with a new video game heading for the eighth-generation consoles.

Merchandising aside, the reason for South Park’s continued production being a bad idea is that, in order to stay afloat, the writers are basically going to resort to the same old clichés over and over again. That means more outdated jokes about racism, more tepid pop culture references that are barely even relevant, and more haphazardly assembled episode plots that beggar logic, and it’ll just keep going until Comedy Central finally pulls the plug on it.

Perhaps the real problem, however, is what might become of the characters. The characters have already suffered enough at the hands of dubious writing. Kyle has become nothing but a moralist belly-acher, Cartman has become an overly hot-tempered ultra-right bigot (with shades of misogyny highlighted in “The Cissy”), Stan has become an incapable protagonist, and Kenny has simply become a background character, all while the adults have simply gotten stupider, and the children are more like teenagers than actual children. It’s because the writers have lost touch with their original vision for the show, which blended naive youthful innocence with sharp social satire (and loads of swearing). In the newest episodes to come, the characters could be reduced to the level of gibbering nitwits, or worse.

As bad the last season was, I’m highly certain that the next four are going to be infinitely worse, possibly to the point that, if you watched them, it’d make you grieve for humanity, and even more so for the writers as they continue their pointless quest for ratings. If they’re right, South Park will continue until Comedy Central decides it’s time to cancel it, and if The Simpsons is a good enough example, then the show will only descend further and further into self-parody.

The importance of free expression on the internet

free expression

I’m aware that this is a subject that I’ve addressed several times in the past, but recent events in my life have made it a far more important subject for me to address than ever. It is generally accepted in British society that there are some things that you say and don’t say on the web. That logic is what most people use to convince themselves that they don’t have to take responsibility for themselves.

The Internet gives us the power to express ourselves in ways that would be inconceivable in the real world. More importantly, it provides a necessary escape from the tepid tribulations of the real world. Take it away, and we will be trapped in a narrow world that, for most of us, will feel increasingly more like a tiny cubicle. For me, this is the true importance of free expression, especially on the Internet. Feeling free is like feeling that there’s a whole patch of land around you, because you can do anything without restrictions, at least that’s how it should be.

That’s why I personally hate having to be careful of what I write. Sometimes it’s unavoidable, and sometimes it’s down to common sense, but all other times, when I feel like I have to be careful about what I write, then it means that what I’d end up writing wouldn’t come from the heart. What makes being able to express oneself so great is that when you are, you’re releasing something from the heart. Suppressing free expression, therefore, becomes one of the greatest of all crimes.

Even sadder is the fact that we take it all for granted. Many of us have no idea how important free expression is, and the result is that the Internet is populated by those with no idea of what they’re saying or even thinking, and this leads to all sorts of trouble, for which everyone else ends up suffering. That is why I oppose censoring freedom of expression, online and offline. Censorship of any kind not only beggars logic, but it also denies our responsibility for what we say. In a sense, we’d be no different from toddlers, and frankly, I don’t relish the thought of living like that for the rest of my life.

Depression and drugs

depression and drugs

Have you ever had a situation in your life where someone you know thinks you’re depressed or anxious (and it’s most likely that you might not be), and then they recommend “medication” to cure it? Ever since I was a kid, it seemed like people were trying to solve everything with drugs, and today, it seems to me that people just see depression as something to sweep under the rug. Most people in our society see depression as an eyesore rather than a serious problem, and they just want it to go away quickly so that it doesn’t bother them. Of course, treating depression with drugs does nothing to cure unhappiness, and only serves to allow society to ignore the social problems that can cause depression.

The thing about these drugs is that they only work intermittently. They may inhibit depression for a little while, but they are inadequate are a permanent solution. If you want to cure your depression, you need to talk to someone about it. I know first hand that talking to someone about your problems and feelings is the best way to feel better because it means somebody is listening to you when you need it most. When you try and cure your depression with drugs, you’re not getting real help. The doctor prescribing the drugs doesn’t care about you or your problems. The doctor only cares about selling you some drug that doesn’t work so he can get his paycheck.

To me, this is endemic of a larger social problem. The fact that these drugs are so commonly recommended as the first response to perceived depression is a sign that people just a quick fix, a “miracle cure” that causes all problems to go away rather than making the effort to tackle the social problems that cause depression. To me, that’s almost the same as how we in the west, instead of tackling the root of poverty, prefer to keep jamming people into overcrowded prisons. We keep looking for magic solutions, but the reality is that so-called magic solutions don’t work in real life. That’s why they’re called magic solutions in the first place. In fact, the only reason antidepressants are still a widely accepted solution is because the big pharmaceutical companies want you to think that way so that they can still make money off of gullible fools, and trust me, they know exactly how to do it.

If my experience tells me anything, it’s that you shouldn’t try and cure depression with drugs, and if you must use drugs, it should only be a last resort for if all other forms of therapy have failed. The problem here is that what should be a last resort is frequently the first response. I’ve had periods of depression before, and I’ve gotten through them without antidepressants. In fact, I haven’t been depressed for at least two months, and whenever I was, I never ever resorted to drugs of any kind, because I firmly believe that it would do nothing to solve the problem, and it wasn’t what I needed anyway. You can’t just wipe away your depression with drugs anymore than you can drown it in alcohol, just that Prozac has a better rap than Coors.

Depression is a natural part being human that we all go through at some stage in life. It’s a problem we all must face, but instead of actually facing it, I see that people in society would much rather try and make it “go away” with happy pills. Are we trying to send the message that we should be sweeping our problems under the rug just to prevent it from being an inconvenience to our lives? Yes, tackling depression is hard, but it’s not a disease. In fact, it’s even easier to deal with depression if we’re more open to one another. We need to talk each other about our problems because that helps us to overcome them, and that makes us feel happy. Drugs don’t do that, so rather than pushing pills on down people throats, maybe we should try actually helping each other out. I think if we were more willing to open up to other people around us, we would make our own lives a lot better than a whole pack of antidepressants ever could.

A problem with the usual TV formula

tv

So many channels and there’s nothing on.

A big problem I have with TV, especially American TV, is the way TV shows are generally produced. Usually, each TV show has to churn out one whole season per year, and each season consists of somewhere between 18 and 26 episodes. I never understood why TV shows work this way, and I certainly don’t think of it as a creative enterprise.

Of course, there’s a good reason why this is a problem. Righting a good story takes time and effort, and many TV shows expect to make several, and while most TV shows can, most don’t. In fact, many TV shows don’t take very long to run out of steam when it comes to creative ideas, and it’s mainly because the writers have to exhaust every ounce of their creativity just to keep a TV show alive at the behest of producers (who usually know nothing about how to make art).

This continuous wearing down of creativity is a particular problem in the world of comedy, where, after a while, they start resorting to cheap jokes and positively lame plots. Then again, this happens all the time in sitcoms, a genre devoid of any semblance of creativity where the conventional formula does the most damage. Perhaps the formula is the most straining in popular, long-running shows such as The Simpsons, which now puts out 22 new episodes a year, each of which show increasingly less creativity each year. What it does show is that we have a TV show that has been around for way too long and refuses to stop subjecting itself to the standard TV formula. Why do TV shows need so many episodes? There’s no real point since, in most TV shows, many of the episodes are basically filler, and this shows in the writing. Many TV shows deteriorate after using up all their best ideas, and the producers still insist that they continue anyway.

Instead of producing as many episodes as possible, wouldn’t it be more efficient and more creatively viable to make less episodes per year that are more well-written? Of course, I can probably suggest that until the cows came home but I doubt that TV producers will listen. They’re continually living in denial of the fact that TV is a dead art form. Many TV producers act as though TV isn’t being replaced Netflix, and the result is the same irresponsible writing that created terrible shows like Two and a Half Men. The conventional formula of making 20+ episodes per year has gotten tired and stale, and the age of the medium itself is showing (despite the presence of widely acclaimed TV shows that appear not to be afflicted by the standard formula).

All this mainly applies to scripted TV shows. For reality TV shows it’s even worse, with shows often running multiple seasons each year. Of course, reality TV shows are inherently uncreative, but they get produced so often and in the same formulaic way that it’s almost the same as having the same thing every year from scripted TV, this is mainly because TV producers don’t seem to realize that seeing the same things over and over again has gotten really sickening. As bad as it is, I doubt that things will change, since TV is a medium controlled by money-grubbing producers who are under the impression that viewers are morons. As long as that goes, TV will continue its transformation into a cultural wasteland.