The Washington Post executive editor who challenged the U.S. government over the publication of the Pentagon Papers during the Nixon presidency and oversaw Carl Bernstein and Bob Woodward’s legenda…
Terms like “American hero” get tossed around like candy, to the point where they don’t really mean anything.
But it means something in this case. The actions and bravery of Bradlee (also Bernstein, Woodward, et al) during that era should be taught to children as the high water mark for our nation in the latter half of the twentieth century.
Five months ago, less than a week after her 24th birthday, my fiancée, Shanna, collapsed. No one knew it at the time, but a blood clot had broken loose from her leg and made its way into her lung. Once it was there, it did a number of things: It put pressure on her heart, dropping her blood pressure…
This is such a great piece. It’s harrowing, as the author deals with the grief of his recent death of his fiancee, but it’s also one hundred percent correct in how it criticizes the way certain books, films, and television treat death.
The author ultimately leaves it up in the air as to whether it’s a legitimate gripe or just a symptom of his own grief. It’s both: he noticed it because of his grief, but that doesn’t mean it’s not warranted.
Death in a work should have a major impact. It should linger, and it should matter. It doesn’t have to be the climax, and it CAN be a plot device, but if so, it better have some fucking weight to it. If you don’t give it the proper respect and weight it deserves, then you remove the danger and peril from your work. You also, IMO, contribute to the greater trend of artless hackery in film and literature, where the stakes have to become greater and greater until they breach the realm of the absurd, all because you couldn’t be bothered to make a death matter.
I ask because the film is supposed to be a dark satire of art versus Hollywood consumption, but I don’t know if I’ve ever paid so much money to see so much pretension on the big screen, and I don’t know if I’ve ever seen any work in any medium so infatuated with itself.
When characters weren’t talking like fifty-year-old men finding out about viral videos and comic book movies for the first time, the film was expounding on things like self-doubt, artistic worth, and the existential crises inherent in performers and creators who live for the undying devotion of a fickle public, and are unable to comprehend shifts in cultural preferences or artistic standards. It confronts consumers and critics, and in a way it challenges them.
Unfortunately, “Birdman” fails to rise to the occasion and meet any of the standards it sets for itself. Perhaps instead of “the Unintended Virtue of Ignorance,” the sub-title should have been “Do As I Say, Not As I Do.”
Which, again, has me wondering if this was all meta. Maybe the ham-fisted critique of pop culture was intentionally misguided as a means of manipulating the intended targets of their angst. Perhaps it’s only those “basic bitches” that are supposed to be wowed and impressed, while the filmmakers laugh at having pulled one over on critics who have given up on trying and popcorn-munching audience members easily charmed by anything that winks at them every five minutes.
I was conflicted throughout the film, feeling like an alien being as I sat, by myself, as the lone still presence in a theater of highly amused human beings. It’s worth noting that I went to see it in the Upper West Side, which meant the rows were filled with a mix of hapless young people who earnestly had no idea what they were going into, and older film-goers whose laughs weren’t visceral reactions to something amusing so much as manic bursts of self-congratulation.
"I get this," one man beside me practically yelled out with a guffaw. "I understand this joke, because actors are needy!"
"Yes, indeed!" exclaimed his wife as she contemplated which NPR podcast to listen to on the subway ride home.
Other reactions were more reserved. As I was exiting the theater, a man and a woman, two attractive early twenty-somethings, remained in awe of what they had just seen.
"Whoa," gasped the female, as if she’d been rendered speechless from the moment the film ended until she met the bright fluorescent lights of the theater lobby. “That was so trippy.”
"I had no idea what that was going in," said the male. "I felt like I was on drugs."
Hearing these two mistake this movie for a surrealist work made me gag so hard I vomited, right there in front of them. Everything stopped for a moment, and to their credit, they were kind souls and immediately stopped to ask me if I was okay. I apologized, breathlessly, then saw something mixed in the with bile, popcorn, and pre-packaged dinner I’d picked up from the market five hours earlier.
I stuck my fingers in, sifting through the mess, and removed the object. It was a pill, black and yellow, though God only knows what color it was originally.
"Wh——what is it?" the boy asked.
It dawned on me immediately. “It’s…a hallucinogen,” I replied, then jammed the pill down his throat. “Now you’ll have something to compare it to, you basic bitches. FUCK OFF!”
That didn’t really happen, because nothing that interesting happened before, after, or especially during the viewing of “Birdman.” At least, not on purpose.
Am I exaggerating? I don’t know. Maybe this blog post is art. You know what? It’s definitely art, because I said so. Things are art and are worthy of praise simply because of their existence. That’s the major takeaway from “Birdman,” the Boondock Saints of the 2010s: the apex of film for people who use phrases like “mouthbreather” and “sheeple.”
By the way, the film is shot as an uninterrupted single take. Of course, CGI and flawlessly clever edits are used, and technically, it’s masterful. It did accomplish a claustrophobic atmosphere owing to the self-obsessed neurosis of the main characters, although that might have been more of a happy accident than anything else.
In the end, I suspect this will be one of those films where I’m just on a fucking island in hating it as much as I do (see also: “The Departed,” Scorcese at his laziest directing scenery chewing actors on vacation). Although in watching it, I was also reminded of “Requiem for a Dream,” another movie that was released to universal acclaim bordering on the fanatical, only to age like an open carton of milk.
When it eventually lands on VOD, cable, or a premium streaming service (Netflix, Amazon Prime Video, HBO Go, the WWE Network or what’s left of it, etc.), I recommend you check it out. It’s worth seeing the performances of Keaton, Naomi Watts, Emma Stone, Zach Galifianakis, and Andrea Riseborough. Not necessarily in that order. But God, what a shame and a waste of all those actors’ talents, particularly the women, who play characters who only exist to be abused, fucked, or both. In fact, there’s only one scene where two women interact with each other, and…well, let’s just say you’d think I was making a terrible joke if I told you what happened. You have to see it to believe how offensively braindead these men are when it comes to thinking about and portraying women. It was so absurd I’d think it was comedy if I thought anyone involved in the writing of this script was even capable of such a thing..
Speaking of which, how can a film have four credited screenwriters and still feel like it needed at least two more rewrites?
Ugh. The more I write, the more I hate this…thing, this laborious trudge through middle-aged male dysfunction.
Do not believe any of the hype surrounding this film. There is absolutely nothing new being done or said. It’s a pastiche of film school posturing, and I think any adult in their right mind would and should at least groan a little bit at this Emperor as he shows you his new coat by swinging his dick around. "Birdman" has a cast that puts in fantastic performances, only to have them wasted on what came off as not much more than hacky navel-gazing.
Dudes and dudettes, before you start flaming with your bullshit - you don’t know me. I say that because if you did, you’d know how excited I was for this and how badly I really, really wanted to like it. It’s not good and in ten years, maybe even five, you will be embarrassed by the things you say in its defense.
More travel restrictions, though, aren’t going to make the world safer when it comes to Ebola, according to several global public health organizations. In fact, they might make the situation worse.
Air travel restrictions ignore the way Ebola is transmitted
"Ebola can only be contracted through direct contact with a sick person’s bodily fluids. That means saliva, feces, urine, blood, vomit or semen. It isn’t transmitted through the air, so you are more likely to catch a cold on a flight than Ebola.
“It is not an optimal measure for controlling the import of Ebola virus disease,” said chief United Nations spokesperson Stephane Dujarric. “The measure does not reflect what is known about the way in which the virus passes between people.”
Travel restrictions make fighting Ebola much harder
Liberia, Guinea and Sierra Leone are already economically isolated because this epidemic has spread far wider and lasted much longer than any other Ebola outbreak in history. What those countries need most now is assistance from the world.
More flight restrictions will only make it more difficult for life-saving aid and medical professionals to reach West Africa. The restrictions already in place have proved so problematic that U.S. military forces are building an “air bridge” to get health workers and medical supplies to affected areas.
"Any discontinuation of transport will affect humanitarian aid, doctors, nurses and human resources entering the country, the transfer of biological sampling and equipment for hospitals," Daniel Menucci, a representative for the World Health Organization Travel and Transport Task Force, said in August. “All of this needs international transporting, international airlines. This will create more problems in helping the countries most affected.”"
This is backed up by pretty much every major health organization on the planet when it comes to diseases including but not limited to ebola.
The “knowledge” that I have is insignificant and useless to most. A few days ago, I had ideas for a couple of blog posts that I though were worthwhile. I have since realized that even if they are worthwhile, I am not a person who should even consider executing them. This is the realty of someone…
Sharing this with a purpose:
I want you to read this, read through it, and if you’re like me and have had these feelings and continue to have these feelings on a continual basis: reach out, write about your own experiences with this.
I’ll do so as well tomorrow when my brain isn’t fried from staring at job applications and half-written cover letters all day.
“I’ve been dismayed by some of the nonsense speculation out there,” said Edward Holmes, a biologist at the University of Sydney in Australia. “I understand why people get nervous about this, but as scientists we need to be very careful we don’t scaremonger.”
The United States used faulty logic (some would go so far as to say blatant falsehoods) to justify the invasion of Iraq in 2003. None of the alleged weapons of mass destruction were located, let alone any active program developing them.
What it did find were chemical weapons. But there’s a catch to that, too: most if not all were developed prior to the War in Iraq. The first one. In 1991.
To make this intelligence failure more spectacular, the chemical weapons program was developed during the Iran/Iraq conflict of the 1980s, in cooperation with the West.
As a result of misconceptions, deception, and outright laziness, American and Iraqi soldiers trying to locate and dismantle these chemical agents ended up injured, in some cases permanently, and the US did nothing to help them and in fact actively discouraged them from disclosing and addressing their injuries.
IN SHORT: we went in there because we said they had dangerous weapons, but we put that shit in their hands and created a terrible situation. Then, instead of fixing it, we went in there to dig it up and only made it worse.
No writer could create a more perfect goddamn analogy of our Mideast policy than this.