Monday, September 29, 2008

Idiots on Bikes

I'm going to take a break from slagging conservatives, and poke a bit of fun at something we all find a little annoying: stupid people who ride bikes. Now let me be clear, I have no problem with people riding bikes in general, especially with gas prices being what they are these days. However, is it really too much to ask that the people using these things use a certain amount of sense?

For example, it is not only perfectly legal for bikes to ride on the road, but in some places there's no choice in the matter, either by law or by circumstance. That being said, you need to use your head a little, here. If the road is roaring with high speed traffic, you probably shouldn't be putting anything slower than a Mo-ped into the mix. Not only does it needlessly clog the road, but sooner or later someone's going to not notice you, and guess what happens? So yeah, trying to weave this dinky little thing into rush hour traffic is kind of like running INTO a stampede of bulls.

And then there are those who simply don't care about traffic laws, or basic manners. Apparently the mothers of some of these pricks never explained to them that when you're on a sidewalk, you have to make room for everyone. In other words, you don't knock over people who are walking near your contraption. I know that's beating a dead horse, but since the message isn't sinking in then I will beat this fucker into pulp if I need to.

On a related note, evidently there are a lot of bicyclists who don't grasp that you have to obey traffic signs as much as anyone else. The reason for that is that someone could die if you don't. A perfectly good example comes from Australia, where an old man was killed a year ago, by an idiot on a bike who ran a red light. I suppose this is a great time to mention, every time I hear about someone who dies in a bike crash because they didn't wear a helmet, I have no sympathy for them whatsoever. I don't laugh my head off, but I don't shed a tear, either. As far as I'm concerned, they were being incredibly stupid, and got what they deserved. Therefore, I have no more sympathy for them, than I would a drunk driver, or street racer, or just your run of the mill dumbass driving without a seatbelt.

As I said, I know I'm fighting an uphill battle here, because these laws rarely get the chance to be enforced, and anyone arrogant enough to act like this in the first place isn't going to listen to a word I say anyway. But maybe it's about time that we take some personal responsibility; after all, we're encouraged to get involved when our friends try to drive drunk, so maybe we should take a friend's bike if he wants to ride without a helmet. Or slash his tires if he drives like a lunatic, whatever. Enough said.

Thursday, September 25, 2008

Young People Fucking (review)

Those of you who've been following my rants against Charles McVety and Bill C-10 would probably have heard of a movie with the unfortunate title Young People Fucking. More than any other film in recent history, this one movie has been trumped up by conservatives as a reason for tax money to be pulled from certain films made in this country -- even if they feel the government should be able to do that totally in secret. So you know I just had to make it my life's mission to see this so-called travesty for itself... if only I could find it.

My quest to watch and review this movie could probably make a decent comedy film of its own; it only played in one theatre in all of Hamilton, which stopped showing it the week I decided to go see it, the only rental store in my area doesn't carry it -- which is a little funny, considering that it does carry a movie called Wicked Sins, but anyway... -- and when I finally found it on YouTube it was taken down just as I got halfway through the movie. So unfortunately, this is really an incomplete video, and I'm going to have to base my opinions on what I did see, plus do what McVety has always refused to do: research other articles.

The premise is very simple: we follow four couples and one threesome one night, as they all knock boots. Along the way, they discover that sex is much more complicated than meets the eye, partly because no matter how casual or raunchy it may be, it's impossible to separate it from love. So right out of the gate we have some irony; religious conservatives are slagging a movie that actually promotes a message of love and connection, which you'd think they'd be happy to see.

The most common form of slander -- I mean, criticism -- by Mr. McVety about this movie is that it's supposedly pornographic. Admittedly the scenes are very suggestive, and once in a while there is a shot of coupling that leaves very little to the imagination... but that's quite rare. In the forty minutes or so that I caught, I saw maybe a half dozen or so breast shots, and one bare butt, all filmed pretty discreetly. Also, the sex scenes in question showed little more than continuous hip-grinding, rather than any explicit shots of penetration. According to every single review I have read -- both professional and amateur -- this is the extent of the sex in this movie. I kid you not.

It reminds me a little of the original Texas Chain Saw Massacre; it has a reputation for being shockingly graphic bloodbath, but when you look at it it isn't very gory at all. Hell, I'm not even sure there's that much blood in it!

Let's break this down: if Young People Fucking is to be called porn for showing the odd boob and butt, then so are MASH, Titanic, Shakespeare in Love, most horror movies, Animal House, Not Another Teen Movie, The Last Picture Show, Braveheart, at least four Highlander movies, much of Monty Python's handiwork, and this is just off the top of my head.

We could then go the route of the MPAA and go after hip thrusts; after all, they have a policy of banning movies if they have more than a certain number of humps at a time -- which I find a little strange, considering that some of the more degrading sex acts I can think of don't involve any hip thrusting. If people bumping pelvises makes this movie porn, then you can also say the same of The Shawshank Redemption, Scary Movie, Hellraiser, the original Halloween, American History X, at least three Highlander movies, The Last Picture Show... you get the idea. The point is, it's a really flimsy place to label anything as porn.

I don't dispute that there are movies out there that are so explicit in their sex scenes as to be interchangeable with hardcore porn -- the American-made Shortbus being a perfect example -- but as far as protecting the morals of the public, there would appear to be far better places to start than Young People Fucking. For example, Taking Lives was filmed in Canada, and features a sex scene that has very prolonged shots of Angelina Jolie getting her clothes ripped off and her pounded against her entire hotel room, showing the full monty along the way. But, since it was produced by an American company, it would have been exempt from the rules of Bill C-10. For that matter, what about the Saw movies, which are notorious for extreme levels of gore and relentless torture scenes? They're shot in Canada, but no, they're made by Americans too. If you really want to take the hypocrisy to its logical conclusion, one has to wonder what Charles McVety would have said, if The Passion of the Christ were financed with our tax dollars... I'm going to go out on a limb here, and say that he'd call that exactly the kind of morally enriched entertainment we should be showing to all cross-bearing Canadian families.

The scary part of all of this is that this little scheme from the so-called Moral Majority almost worked -- it took a huge outcry to get the Senate to investigate Bill C-10, and even then the government wanted no part of it. In fact they, like McVety, have refused to see this movie. Do these sort of clandestine, fundamentalist oppressors really sound like the sort of people we should have running Canada? When a theocracy rears its head halfway around the world, the first reaction is to bomb the hell out of it, yet when the same type of thing happens at home, it seems we welcome it with open arms. And people wonder why I'm not patriotic. Enough said.

Tuesday, September 23, 2008

Breakfast with Scot

More than once, I've attacked the positions of the Canadian Family Values Coalition, and more specifically its director, the so-called Reverend Doctor Charles McVety. In fact, the whole reason I started my YouTube show was because he endorsed an attempt to censor Canadian films based on what he called grossly offensive content. The problem is that in addition to genuinely hateful and pornographic material, he was also offended by a little movie called Breakfast with Scot, about two gay men who foster an 11 year old boy. His problem with it is that supposedly it was indoctrinating children in the gay lifestyle, whatever the hell that means. Having now seen it, I can tell you once and for all, Mr. McVety doesn't know what he's talking about.

Throughout the movie, the gay orientations of the main adult characters are dealt with very subtly; for most scenes they appear to be roommates who like to cuddle from time to time. To be fair, part of the reason for this is that Eric, the lead in the movie, is a sportscaster and former NHL star who's afraid he won't be taken seriously if his private life is made public. He's also very sensitive to the kind of bullying that boys go through if their schoolmates think they're gay.

Which leads me to the good Doctor's prejudiced grievance... If he and his fellow nimrods actually bothered to watch the movie and pay any attention whatsoever, he would have noticed that young Scot's foster family couldn't have indoctrinated him into anything -- the boy was already effeminate long before they met him.

If anything, Eric in particular tries to get him to appear more "normal", at least by mainstream standards, while Sam tries to encourage Scot to be comfortable in his own skin. But I guess that would be a big problem for a man who thinks that gay men shouldn't be able to marry, or adopt children... or a man who frequently acts as if any sexual activity heavier than a cheek kiss will somehow cause Lucifer to erupt from the bowels of Hell.

As I've said before, Mr. McVety's ignorance and power tripping aren't representative of all conservatives, and definitely not of all Christians. However, there are enough people like him out there, who want to keep people's minds and souls closed to the world around them, that when they get on a soapbox it can do a lot of damage. Not only does it jeopardize our liberties on several levels, but to be honest it makes decent and heartfelt Christians look terrible. I've already said that this guy has no right to preach his garbage to the public, but I'll try something more tactful than my previous version: Charles, you're just embarrassing yourself. Enough said.

Thursday, September 18, 2008

A Majority to Fear

So we're about two weeks into the election, and for some reason Stephen Harper's Conservatives are not only in the lead, but it's quite possible that they're heading for a majority. Harper himself is certainly capitalizing on that, nowadays. The thing I can't understand is who in their right mind would even want this guy to have virtually unchecked power, especially since another poll says that half of the country think he has a hidden agenda.

Now I can understand people having more confidence in Harper's leadership -- I've said before that I think most of the opposition leaders are pushovers -- but the problem is that Stephen Harper's idea of strong leadership is to run roughshod over anyone who disagrees with him. I've already gone on about how he's filed groundless lawsuits against the opposition in Ottawa, and done everything he could to censor artists who happen to be progressive and left wing, so I'll spare you from a repeat. But we're talking about someone who has shown ever since he became Prime Minister that he doesn't take openness, honesty, accountability to the public, or even obeying the law very seriously. In fact, at recent press conferences he has used the RCMP to remove hecklers and block the media from asking certain questions. Frankly, it's for reasons like this that I don't think politicians should EVER be given "Honourable" as a title. Once you apply it to power-hungry sociopaths who will lie to the public and subvert democracy on a daily basis, the term loses all meaning. This is even more true when some of these people will actually joke about outbreaks that have killed a dozen or so people inside of a month.

For that matter, since we all know that the economy is in shambles right now, trusting Harper to fix it makes no sense at all. His government repeatedly, and openly, sat back and did nothing while factories across the country closed shop -- whether they were losing money or not. His pre-election bribe -- er, I mean, grant -- to auto makers is for them to make large engines for bigger vehicles, when part of the reason they're in so much trouble in the first place is because there's no demand for the damn things! And despite reputation to the contrary, I have to point out that in recent memory it's actually been Conservative governments who've been worse at handling public money, while the Liberals have cleaned up the mess... as much as I hate to admit it.

And another thing, while I have dealt with conservatives who were quite respectful and polite, I really wish more of them would actually respect people's opinions. I can't begin to tell you how many times a right wing pundit has called me an idiot, a brat, a liar, a criminal, or even The Devil himself, just because I happen to disagree with him and have evidence to back up my views. Just because I'm young and have a certain amount of time on my hands, doesn't mean that I'm stupid. I try to give everyone else some leeway and respect, so please return the favour. It's called acting like a grown-up.

But there is some cause for hope -- the other day I saw on the news that two of Harper's news conferences in a row were obstructed by protesters. And while some papers, such as the National Post, have reader responses that sound disturbingly close to endorsements for martial law, pretty much every other paper I've read lately has a ton of complaints about Harper and the Conservatives. I'm not counting on the Tories getting tossed on their asses, like they were after Brian Mulroney had his turn screwing us over, but as long as he's taken down a few notches...

*crosses fingers*

Enough said.

Sunday, September 14, 2008

Like A Virgin

One of the interesting things about living in this totally fucked up society of ours, is that every time you honestly think you've heard everything, something else rears its head to give us a shake. I heard the other day that a young woman in San Diego, going by the alias Natalie Dylan, is actually selling her virginity in an Internet auction. You may be wondering why, and apparently this is so she could be for college tuition -- partly because her step-dad stole the loan she'd taken out, if my understanding is right. ...Words just about fail me.

First of all, I wouldn't be at all surprised if this whole thing is just some sort of publicity stunt. I mean, for all the talk about this girl's privacy, she's publicized her photo, what city she lives in, and the name of the Nevada brothel where she claims on doing the deed. Not only that, but this whole thing was advertised on the ultimate in classy satellite radio, The Howard Stern Show. Yeah, this sounds like a very delicate and discreet affair to me.

Assuming that this is genuine though, I still have some things to say. I'm by no means a prude, and I know that intimacy isn't always as simple and straight forward as we like to believe. However, when a supposedly mature and educated woman elects to have her first sexual experience by selling herself to a total stranger, with God only knows what intentions and fantasies, my gut feeling is that this doesn't bode well for her. Take it from someone who's been pushed to near total lonliness his whole life -- sex should never be that impersonal, especially early on. Personally, my fear is that emotionally, she'll come out of this feeling like a shell. I'm not trying to preach for her soul -- I'm the last person who would be that arrogant -- but honestly, what will this do to her self-worth, in the long run?

There are already a great many women who, sadly, lose their virginity in less than ideal ways -- namely date rape or a full-out assault. So frankly, to voluntarily exploit yourself just seems astoundingly stupid to me. Now, I don't think that what she's doing can or should be condemned or penalized... but I wish someone had tried to talk some sense into her a long time ago. Enough said.

Wednesday, September 10, 2008

Some Election optimism

While some of Canada's major newspapers -- The National Post, for instance -- would suggest that a lot of Canada is frighteningly eager to see the (Neo) Conservative party rule this country with an iron fist, thankfully there seem to be far more that are incensed by some of Stephen Harper's totalitarian antics thus far (including, but not limited to, his decision to call an unwarranted and illegal election). Making the matter even worse was the announcement earlier this week that despite having and MP in Ottawa, and considerable public support, the Green Party of Canada was not to be included in the Leadership Debate -- apparently at the insistence of Stephen Harper, and NDP Leader Jack Layton.

Fortunately, some change has already been made.

Yesterday, I called the office of "my" MP, Conservative Dean Allison. I wasn't able to reach the man in question, but I did give some poor sod in his office a piece of my mind. He danced around the notion of the election being illegal, claiming that the opposition indicated not supporting Harper immediately prior to the election being called -- this conveniently ignores the fact that Harper already made up his mind about having an election by then, and that the actual Fixed Date law states specifically, that the only valid reason for an early election is if the government lose a confidence vote (which, needless to say, did not take place here, because a vote was never called). He also tried to bullshit me about how "in the media" it is supposedly clear how the opposition obstructs the government at every turn. Leaving aside that that's exactly what the opposition is supposed to be doing, it's kind of hard to tell what the media says about Parliament these days, seeing as Prime Minister Harper controls exactly what they hear!

Anyway... the better news just came my way a few minutes ago: The Greens are now allowed into the debates, no doubt because of the MASSIVE uproar and legal challenges that have been brought up from their exclusion. Their leader, Elizabeth May, blamed sexism in the "old boys club". Personally, I think that oversimplifies it. From what I've seen, May is a strong-willed, articulate, and reasonably knowledgeable politician. What's more, she also has a lot of public momentum on her side. In other words, she's exactly the kind of person that a control freak like Harper would be afraid of: a formidable opponent.

It will be very interesting to see how this plays out.

Sunday, September 7, 2008

Federal Election, continued

Now that Prime Minister Stephen Harper has decided to completely ignore his own law, and spend hundreds of millions of our dollars on an unnecessary election, my family has asked me to convey a request to all Canadians: everyone, contact the Conservative candidate in your riding, and demand to know why their boss has decided to call an illegal election. More importantly, demand a very good reason why said "leader" deserves your vote. Even my father, a long-time Conservative supporter, is angry over the fact that a Canadian Prime Minister is willing to break the law seemingly just to show the opposition who's boss.

I have news for Stephen Harper: he isn't the boss, the public is!

Friday, September 5, 2008

Bullshit 2008 (Elections)

Well, it's official, Canada's Prime Minister, Stephen Harper, is going to pull the plug on his own government and force us into a totally unnecessary election. Not only is this technically illegal, as it violates his own fixed-election date law, but it is completely stupid.

Every single poll that has been conducted since Harper threatened to dissolve Parliament has shown that this election will make little to no difference. Harper himself has admitted to that, yet he insists on doing this, basically because the opposition parties are OPPOSING HIM! Imagine that, the leader of a major country picking a $600 million pissing match, because people are doing exactly what they're supposed to do!

Incidentally, for those who don't know, Harper's claims that the other parties are obstructing Parliament and turning it into a partisan circus are total bullshit. His Conservative cronies are notorious for blocking any and all oversight of the government, blocking access by the press, gutting social programs for totally ideological reasons, telling cities to go fuck themselves, suing the opposition for pointing out that Harper tried to bribe a dying MP, and this tyrant has the nerve to blame the people who stand up to him?

Not surprisingly, we're seeing this kind of shit from The States, too. John McCain calls Barack Obama an inexperienced celebrity every chance he can get, but who does he pick as his running mate? Someone with even less experience, and a much bigger knack for attracting attention. Sarah Palin's resume consists of less than two years as Alaska's governor, where she flip-flopped on useless programs, hoarded money, and apparently fired someone she had no valid reason to push around. Prior to that, she spent an even shorter time as the mayor of a town with less people living it in than most colleges have students.

Anyway, when the press called Governor Palin out on this, as well as her morally questionable views on abortion and abstinence-only sex ed, Senator McCain's response was to cancel interviews of his own! Who the fuck does this guy think he is, the Premier of China?

But if it's one thing that I've learned about the political landscape in North America, it's that it's mostly pointless to complain. Regardless of where a so-called leader claims to be on the ethical scale, they'll just do what they want. Not only is Liberal leader Stephane Dion a gutless wimp who needs to be howled at by the public before he can take a hint that he's screwed things up, but based on what we've seen in Ontario, the only difference between a Conservative and so-called Liberal is that the Libs are after money at all costs, while the Conservatives are after power at all costs. Hopefully there's some chance for change in the States, but up in Canada we're in really big trouble. Enough said.

Tuesday, September 2, 2008

Copy and Paste (Remakes)

From my count, by the end of 2008 there will have been about a dozen remakes. This isn't counting movies that are just adpatations of novels, or what have you. I don't believe that unlucky thirteen is a record year -- that dubious honor probably belongs to 2006 -- but it is very telling that of the approximately 600 remakes that have been filmed over the years, over a third of them were made since 2000. In other words, if you feel like every other movie in the last ten years has been a rip-off of some other picture, it's not just your imagination.

What I really don't understand is why someone thinks that certain remakes are a good idea; why were The Omen and Psycho shot-by-shot copies of their predecessors? Why are Friday the 13th and A Nightmare on Elm Street being remade, when the existing series still make money? How could they even think of redoing The Rocky Horror Picture Show, especially with the exact same script that the original had? All of this goes way beyond paying homage, it's just plain laziness.

I've known for quite a while that society openly discourages thinking outside the box, but this is ridiculous -- especially considering that remakes are very often embarassments to far superior films. Things have gotten so bad that any day now I expect to hear that Adam Sandler and Eddie Murphy will star in a reimagining of Lethal Weapon, or that Uwe Boll will redo Faster, Pussycat, Kill, Kill with Pamela Anderson, Carmen Electra, and Lindsay Lohan in lead roles. Should any of this come to pass, we're officially in a peculiar level of Hell.

On a personal note, what sometimes makes this particularly annoying to me is that on the side, I make movies of my own. Original movies -- no sequels, no adaptations, no remakes. But, since they cost practically nothing to make, and are only available on an obscure website, no one knows that they exist, and about as many are interested in buying them. Meanwhile, all that you see commercials for these days is the latest clone to come from the Hollywood cookie-cutter. There's all the proof you need, that companies are trying to control what you think. Enough said.