July 26, 2013

Who's That Girl

To me, Zooey Deschanel’s facial expressions are like “quirky” little nails on a chalk board. I had to leave the room when her Siri commercial from a couple years ago came on the television. There was no way I was watching New Girl. No way at all.

I’m not sure how or when my hatred for Zooey started. I thought she was fine in Elf, but I could barely stand 500 Days of Summer. So I guess it happened somewhere in between there. I have actively avoided anything she has been in ever since.

July 24, 2013

The Awl - Weird Politics of Parks & Rec

I have watched all five seasons of Parks & Rec compressed into the last 6 weeks. There was a clear shift from season one to the rest of the series. I noticed it mostly in the characters, but it was in the politics too.

I’m not sure what the writers envisioned when then started the show, but it is clear that vision changed by the end of season one for whatever reason. It went from a pseudo-realistic look at small town politics to a (arguably better) show that lived in a fantasy world where nothing really mattered and smiles and sunshine got the job done.[1]

I’m not sure you can fault a sitcom for not showing a realistic look at what it takes to navigate local government. Nobody wants to watch that. Maybe not nobody. Mike Barthel at theawl.com has an interesting take on the series that I mostly agree with except the whole part about wanting a more realistic depiction of local government.

“Parks and Rec” presents a provincial utopia of philosoraptor-kings in which there are never competing legitimate interests, never hard choices, and never any need to engage in political maneuvering. Between seasons one and three, Leslie Knope’s fiefdom transformed from a recognizable example of small-city politics to a kind of put-a-bird-on-it polis where decisions are made not on the basis of power (or analytical rigor) but out of authenticity, whimsy and friendship.

I enjoy Parks & Rec in spite of its subject matter. I liked all the first five seasons and the article above was clearly written before the 5th season aired. Season five dives more into the adversity involved with politics, in my opinion, to the detriment of the show. They’ve also marched out characters like councilman Jamm and Mona Lisa which further remove Pawnee from any real life Indiana town. Parks & Rec hasn’t jumped any sharks. Not even close. But It might be getting its life jacket buckled. I feel like they have put themselves in a weird spot going into season six.

➔ The Weird, Frictionless Politics Of ‘Parks And Recreation’ | The Awl

  1. The ├╝ber-niceness of the show and characters made their cruel treatment of Jerry so effective. It has always been one of my favorite running gags.  ↩

July 23, 2013

Parks & Rec Politics

A few days ago I got all caught up on Parks & Rec. We watched all five seasons over the course of a month. It is such a fun show. It has great characters and great writing, but as the seasons progressed there was one thing that started bothering me.

Parks & Rec is 99.9% harmless fun. However, there were several times through the series where I hesitated to laugh at a joke because I wasn’t sure who they were making fun of. The people of Pawnee are fat, and they are portrayed as idiots. Maybe the show is making fun of people from Indiana. Maybe it is making fun of the Midwest in general. I don’t know, maybe it is making fun of all Americans. Early on this “joke” was mildly funny, but they continually returned to that well. By the fifth season the joke was barely above the level of pointing and saying, “Look, these people are fat and dumb. Let’s laugh at them.”

The fat jokes in-and-of themselves were unfunny, but were still mostly harmless. But I think the show writers got themselves into a weird spot when they had Leslie Knope evaluate her first year as a city council woman. I’m not sure if their rhetoric is supposed to be satirical, but the show was basically saying…

These people are too stupid to make decisions for themselves so it is the duty of the government to make the correct decision for them, even if it goes against their will.

That is how I took it, and if that is what the writers were conveying, then that is territory a sitcom usually wouldn’t touch. It might be about “Paunch Burger” and over-sized soft drinks, but they are still saying it. I’m interested to see what they do with it next season.

July 18, 2013

Giant Robots vs Giant Monsters - Our Eyeballs Win

I made it out to the theater last weekend to see Pacific Rim and that turned out to be a great decision. It is one of the best action movies I’ve seen in a long time. The fight sequences between giant monsters and giant robots were visually impressive and easy to follow. It might be a sign we have reached a sorry state when the ability to tell what the heck is going on is considered a positive, but this is where we are, and Pacific Rim does a great job.

July 17, 2013

Keep On Trucking

I've been writing on the Internet for a while now. It seems like every couple months I get it in my head that I want to delete everything I have ever written and start fresh, or even stop writing altogether. I'm rarely happy with the things I write, and I hardly ever go back and read the stuff after I post it.
“If your old work doesn’t shame you, you’re not growing.”
I might be a little hard on myself, but reading Shawn Blanc's post made me feel a little better. At least this is one sign I might be improving… maybe

➔ Here’s to the Future | Shawn Blanc