I'm not trying to be a hero! I'M FIGHTING THE DRAGON!!

The Afghanistan Wedding Massacre, Yoda, Digital Projection, Samurai Jack

Well I’ve been holding off on doing a VERN TELL’S IT LIKE IT IS because I want to put together the Post-September-11th-Politcal-Rant to end all Post-September-11th-Political-Rants so I can move forward a little bit. But today I saw a headline that I could not let stand without comment:

http://www.usatoday.com/news/washdc/2002/07/10/iraq-invasion.htm

I mean, that’s the most insane thing I’ve read since the one about how the CIA weren’t allowed to assassinate but they’re authorized to kill Saddam Hussein if it’s in self defense (We had no choice! We just happened to fall through the skylight into his palace and he pulled a pistol on us!)

The print version of this new one is even more ridiculous because it has a sub–header or whatever you call it. Something like, “Planners raise bar for Iraqi invasion – provocation would be needed to justify war, say experts.”

Oh, THAT’S right. That’s what we’ve been forgetting. After all these months of planning this war, they still don’t have a REASON to go to war. It makes our government seem a little more human, you know, to realize that even they want to have a REASON before they send their friends’ kids to go kill thousands of people.

Because people are starting to remember that war ain’t pretty. Well, I think everybody knew that, except for everybody you see on tv. And a couple of them are starting to realize it. I’m sure one or two of them felt a little queasy when they reported about the American soldiers slaughtering a wedding party in Afghanistan. I read that the father of the groom was considered a war hero, from this same war. He defended Hamid Karzai from the Taliban. Now he’s dead, and so are his wife and four of his children. And he didn’t get to see his son get married. His son only survived because of a tradition that the groom waits in a seperate house.

Just imagine if something like this happened in the US. Let’s say for some reason some troops from Pakistan were helping the FBI search for the anthrax killer. I know, I know – that would mean they didn’t already know that it was a scientist from the army purposely using democrats as guinea pigs to see if it’s possible to stop a biological attack. But just pretend with me for a minute here bud.

So it’s the 4th of July, there are some celebrations going on, and then all the sudden Pakistani planes drop bombs on a couple american suburbs. The attack lasts 2 hours, kills 40 americans in their homes, injures over 100. One of the victims was a war hero, 25 from the same family, leaving a groom behind alone on his wedding night, etc. Whoops, there must’ve been an errant bomb. The FBI witnesses may have given them faulty intelligence, we can’t really say until we hear the facts. We will put together a commission of Pakistanis to figure out for sure if there was a mistake here or not.

Can you IMAGINE how we would react? Picture the tv coverage, the backgrounds on each of the victims, the slo-mo montages of pictures of them in happier times, the tear-filled interviews with their surviving relatives (for those that have any). Picture the endless memorials, the God Bless Americas and the Amazing Graces, the increased interest in bagpipes.

Picture the outrage when it hits the news that the Pakistanis stormed into homes and tied people up so they couldn’t help the injured, causing people with broken limbs to bleed to death. And that they were videotaping and photographing all the women around who were naked because their clothese had been burned off by the bombs.

Do you think the Pakistanis would get away with saying, “We have no reason to apologize. We heard gun shots”?

Those were firecrackers! It was the 4th of July!

“The sound was not consistent with firecrackers.” And then they start implying that all the outraged suburbanite survivors you heard on the news were actually anarchists from Eugene, Oregon exaggerating to discredit the government’s search for the anthrax killer. “Plus, there could’ve been terrorists in that suburb!”

I mean any reasonable human being knows that this shit has to stop. Because this isn’t even the first time it’s happened – it’s at least the third wedding mishap, and also the third massacre of civilians just in that one province! Read any of the articles about the survivors, or the governor of that province, and you will hear people from different walks of life talking about our army as the oppressor, talking about the day when they will be able to fight back, talking about a “holy war” like the one they had against the Russians (financed by us, performed by bin Laden and pals).

This is what we’re stirring up in the name of building an oil pipel– er I mean stopping terrorism and promoting democracy, freedom and bunnies. AND STILL, despite all this, the unelected CEOs of our government are enjoying themselves, and they want to turn this into a threesome. Welcome to Woild Domination. Expect that within the next few months, Iraq will magically give these thugs the “provocation” they asked Santa for.

THAT SAID, IT’S YODA TIME!

I know nobody cares about this anymore, but I happened to see YODA ATTACK again today and I wanted to say a few things about 1) Yoda and 2) digital projection, second time around. I mean we should go over this one last time before we move on to the post-apocalyptic dragon portion of the summer movie season.

I know some of my fellow internet-based movie discussers were not won over by Yoda in this picture. I read some of them saying, and I also read Roger Ebert saying, that the famous space-saber duel was out of character for our boy.

Now I understand if you didn’t like the picture, but that argument is just plain ridiculous. Even I know this.

You see, the Yodaverse is all based on mythology, and archetypes, and of course Akira Kurosawa pictures. The Jedi are obviously inspired by samurai. They have robes, swords, ponytails, incredible skills, a code of honor, they are sent out to act as peacekeepers (like in SEVEN SAMURAI) which usually means swordfights (like in SEVEN SAMURAI). In fact, according to my nerd sources, the first STAR WARS is based loosely on Kurosawa’s THE HIDDEN FORTRESS, and the part of Obi Wan Kenobatron was originally written for Toshiro Mifune.

So when Luke Skywalker originally met Yoda in STAR WARS EPISODE 2: EMPIRE STRIKES BACK it was clear to everyone besides Roger Ebert and half of the internet that Yoda was once a great warrior. If this were SEVEN SAMURAI, he would be the old man who is tired of fighting but obviously used to kick some ass samurai style. If it were a martial arts movie, he’d be one of those old dudes with the long beard who teaches a particular fighting style and philosophy.

These type of wise mentor characters always have an asskicking past, and almost always still kick ass. Go no further than the Hong Kong section at your local independent video store to find over 100 movies about wise old men who kick ass. The only difference is they are not puppets, and therefore are not as cool as Yoda.

But I don’t think Roger Ebert’s ever gonna understand that. Go to his web sight and check out the audio file of his hilariously out of touch review of POWERPUFF GIRLS MOVIE. He doesn’t understand what the people want, which is little cute things that kick ass.

And now number two, digital projection. I mentioned before how bad the digital projection was the first time I saw the Yoda picture. I did some reading on the topic and found that most people seemed to like the new technology. Some people hated it and were told well, everybody else says it looks good, so they must’ve been projecting it wrong. And they said yeah, maybe they screwed up.

But that’s just wrong. I went back to the same theater, now that they’ve had months to perfect it. This time I sat in the middle, where I heard was the ideal area, in about the same row that a dude sat who said it looked great.

But it makes no difference. It’s still a giant dvd. Like I said before, it has its strengths. But all of its flaws are inherent in the technology and will never be overcome. When it is at its absolute, THX certified, Paul Allen’s house-worthy, blessed by George Lucas best, it will still be made up of squares. You will still see distracting digitized blurs every time there are words on the screen, or bright lights, or white objects, or etc. In brighly lit scenes, you will still see a grid covering the entire screen if you look closely enough. Sure, you’ll be able to let your eyes glaze over after a minute, and you’ll fall into the illusion that it looks just as good as a well projected real movie.

Nope, my mind has not been changed. Digital projection is a scam being promoted by the electronics companies that will make money off its development. It is not something that human beings who enjoy watching movies should support.

SPEAKING OF SAMURAIS

You’re gonna start thinking I’m a pussy, but I’m about to endorse another fuckin animation cartoon. I was flippin the channels around last week and I came to “cartoon network.” And I saw a cartoon about this samurai, who was going on some kind of a journey, I wasn’t sure what.

He was walking around, looking real dignified in his robe, with his sword at his side. The show was drawn in a real cartoony style, where he had real big eyes. Kind of like the POWERPUFF style only instead of having thick black lines around all the characters, this samurai has no lines around him at all, like he’s cut out of pieces of construction paper. But cut out real nice.

But I knew right away that there was something weird going on, because this samurai was not talking. Usually in a cartoon, I mean I don’t watch that many cartoons so I wouldn’t know, but most of the cartoons I’ve seen have non-stop talking. I mean even non-cartoons. If somebody’s walking somewhere, on tv, they usually explain where they’re walking, or they make a little joke. If there is no talking, they will play a song by Paula Cole or Dido. But not on this one.

The samurai started going across this rope bridge. And all you heard was the sounds of his wooden sandals on the bridge, and the wind blowing eerily below him. Way below him. It was cloudy so you couldn’t see how far the bridge went. But he just kept walking, and the bridge kept going. And going. And I realized I was watching a tv cartoon about a samurai who walks quietly across a rope bridge, and that’s it. And I was hooked. No pun intended.

Well, I guess that wasn’t a pun. He doesn’t have a hook for a hand or anything, he’s just a samurai. Sorry about that.

There turned out to actually be a plot, when the samurai (turns out his name is “Jack” because the show is called SAMURAI JACK by the way) ran into a huge bagpipe playing thug in the middle of the bridge. This dude was coming from the other direction, and he said he’d been walking for days. And he refused to let Jack pass.

So the bagpiper wants to fight, but the samurai refuses. They argue, and things escalate until the bagpiper slices Jack’s straw hat in half. It falls into the abyss, and the bagpiper laughs. So Jack stabs his bagpipes.

First there is a long, bizarre toot as the bagpipes deflate. And then it’s on. Big fight in the middle of the endless rope bridge. Eventually they find out they are both running from bounty hunters and they get chained together and team up to fight alligator robots and a talking pig, etc.

Turns out there is a pilot “movie” available on dvd which you can rent, which is a longer episode that explains Jack’s origins and his fight with the evil demon Aku, played by the surfer guy that narrated CONAN THE BARBARIAN. It’s just as good as the episode I saw. Very stylish and full of atmosphere, lots of cinematic use of letterboxing and split screen, and lots of not talking. There is a ten minute long uninterupted fight scene with no dialogue, where Jack destroys an army of robotic bugs. At the beginning of the fight he’s wearing a full suit of armor, at the end he’s almost naked and covered in cuts and robot oil.

It’s also a weird show because the drawing is so cartoony, especially on the villains and the aliens who are sometimes talking dogs with monocles, and usually talk in goofy ethnic accents. But it’s a totally serious story full of great mythical situations and great Kurosawa/Leone inspired filmatism. It’s pretty weird, kind of makes me feel uncomfortable. But I love it.

anyway thanks guys,

Vern

CHENEY IN NUMBERS Cheney’s 2000 income from Halliburton: $36,086,635

  • Increase in government contracts while Cheney led Halliburton: 91%
  • Minimum size of “accounting irregularity” that occurred while Cheney was CEO: $100,000,000 (One hundred MILLION dollars)
  • Number of the seven official US “State Sponsors of Terror” that Halliburton contracted with: 2 out of 7
  • Pages of Energy Plan documents Cheney refused to give congressional investigators: 13,500
  • Amount energy companies gave the Bush/Cheney presidential campaign: $1,800,000

(from moveon.org)

VERN has been reviewing movies since 1999 and is the author of the books SEAGALOGY: A STUDY OF THE ASS-KICKING FILMS OF STEVEN SEAGAL, YIPPEE KI-YAY MOVIEGOER!: WRITINGS ON BRUCE WILLIS, BADASS CINEMA AND OTHER IMPORTANT TOPICS and NIKETOWN: A NOVEL. His horror-action novel WORM ON A HOOK will arrive later this year.
This entry was posted on Thursday, July 11th, 2002 at 4:19 pm and is filed under Vern Tells It Like It Is. You can follow any responses to this entry through the RSS 2.0 feed. You can leave a response, or trackback from your own site.

4 Responses to “The Afghanistan Wedding Massacre, Yoda, Digital Projection, Samurai Jack”

  1. Y’know what? After all these years I still haven’t read everything in your archives and had no fucking idea that you have ever watched SAMURAI JACK. (Although I was sure that you would like it, although you have never talked about it again [Or did you? Like I said: I haven’t read anything here].)

  2. Guys? GUYS!!! IT’S HAPPENING SOOOOOOOON! REALLY SOON!

    Samurai Jack Season 5 Trailer | Samurai Jack | Adult Swim

    It's been 50 years since we saw Samurai Jack and time has not been kind to him. Aku has destroyed every time portal and Jack has stopped aging, a side effect...

  3. I didn’t appreciate JACK when it was out but now I see what everyone loves about it. You’d think with my media interests (animation, Japanese films, etc) I would have been one of the shows biggest fans, but I was going through this odd and embarrassing snob phase (even though I liked Genndy Tartakovsky’s past works (also why people think I’m contrarian, not trying to be one on purpose!). I think it was Tartakovsky getting stuck making absolutely horrid HOTEL TRANSYLVANIA movies to make me realize that sticking my nose up at one of the greatest living animators was the wrong move. So since then I learned to love SAMURAI JACK and really liked his under-appreciate (under-seen?) SYM BIONIC TITAN, it would be great if after they give JACK an ending they would for TITAN as well but I don’t see that happening. Excited for what we’re getting. With personal style being looked-down upon more-and-more, I think it’s great we have a show that looks like it’s own thing and doesn’t make me want to stab my eyes out and/or doesn’t want to look like an anime or STEVEN UNIVERSE or ADVENTURE TIME or whatever other flavor-of-the-month style is popular at the moment (no disrespect to those shows by-the-way).

  4. I’m still mad at SYM-BIONIC TITAN being cancelled for its “lack of merchandise”. Come on, motherfuckers. You have an anime inspired show that involves giant robots AND a princess, but can’t think of ANYTHING you can do with it?

    (And I love the HOTEL TRANSYLVANIA movies, mostly because I think “silly slapstick Tartakovsky” is as great as “badass action Tartakovsky” for all the same reasons.)

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