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

Attack the Block

tn_attacktheblockWhen I was leaving ATTACK THE BLOCK I noticed the poster for SUPER 8 hanging outside the theater. I guess it’s pretty obvious, but until I saw that it hadn’t occurred to me that they’re two really different versions of a similar idea: a group of kids save their neighborhood from an alien invasion. In fact, writer/director Joe Cornish says, just like J.J. Abrams did, that he was mostly inspired by the Amblin movies of the ’80s and specifically E.T. (the extra-terrestrial).

That influence is all over the surface of SUPER 8, but ATTACK THE BLOCK has a completely different style. Even though it takes place in modern day London it really makes me think of late ’70s, early ’80s movies about young people in New York City – BEAT STREET, THE WARRIORS, the “Beat It” video. It also put me in mind a little bit of ASSAULT ON PRECINCT 13 over here on the west coast. The score by a gentleman named Basement Jaxx is a hell of alot closer to John Carpenter than John Williams.
mp_attacktheblockSUPER 8 is about middle class, small town kids in the the ’80s, they deal with losing their mothers or not getting along with their fathers, they spend their days working together to make a monster movie. ATTACK THE BLOCK is about poorer kids in a housing project in modern South London, their parents mostly aren’t around if they have them, they spend their nights working together to rob people or work for drug dealers.

Okay, so technically that makes them bad kids, but they’re sympathetic. They do things you hate but you still like them, or you learn to. They’re funny little bastards. In the opening of the movie, when they see an alien, they chase it, kill it and carry the corpse around the neighborhood like it’s something they found and wanted to show everybody. A unicycle, or a box of Playboys. Later, when they’re inside and see more alien meteors crashing around the neighborhood they don’t get scared and hide, they get excited and rush outside to kill some more of them. First they have a mad scramble to their own apartments to get whatever weapons they can find: firecrackers, bats, swords. Not in a panic – it’s more like it started snowing and they’re rushing to get their snow gear so they can go have a snowball fight.

They kind of remind me of the kids in FRESH, actually. Remember Fresh had that friend that was so obsessed with the Punisher? If you were there you’d laugh at some of the things they say and also shake your head because they need to straighten out. But you’d still be laughing.

That’s another thing: I was a little skeptical because people had called this a “horror comedy” and compared it to SHAUN OF THE DEAD. Edgar Wright is executive producer, Cornish is his buddy, and SHAUN co-star Nick Frost is in the cast. SHAUN is a good movie, but this one is more my speed because in my opinion it’s not a comedy, it doesn’t have jokes. It’s a serious story, but the characters are funny, so there are parts where you laugh. But all the laughs come naturally out of the characters and the dramatic situations, they don’t just set up the scenes to get to the jokes.

In the town in SUPER 8 they had the cops trying to help people, they had the military coming in and shutting the place down, trying to take control. In ATTACK it’s more of a Hurricane Katrina situation, they’re on their fuckin own. In fact they gotta worry about the cops coming after them as much as the aliens. And an angry drug dealer too.

Of course, the suburban kids get their story told with a relatively big budget of $50 million, slick visuals and special effects by ILM. ATTACK was done for about $13 million. It intelligently takes advantage of its limitations, confining the story and creating the most unique aliens we’ve seen in forever (furry silhouettes with glowing teeth).

There’s also a difference in the small town vs. projects approach to handling aliens. In SUPER 8 they ultimately decide to understand and relate to the alien even though it’s biting off heads. They realize their people fucked over the alien in the first place. In ATTACK THE BLOCK they sort of started it by accident too, and the guilty party takes responsibility for his actions, but that doesn’t stop our guys from killing the fuckers. (“Gorilla wolf motherfuckers” they call them a couple times. GWMs.) It’s a more brutal approach but more successful. In SUPER 8 I think the filmatists failed to sell the alien as a sympathetic character, here they go the easier route of just making them hungry monsters, so they succeed.

I don’t want to oversell it, it’s not gonna do your laundry for you or pack you a lunch, but I really liked this movie. It’s good, charismatic performances from fresh faces, it’s a unique combination of elements (“Inner City vs. Outer Space,” as the poster says), it’s got some good laughs, some tense moments, some well-staged action, some good atmosphere, good music, clever monster effects. It doesn’t feel like any of the other movies coming out these days – it has its own personality. It leaves some things refreshingly unresolved, not starting or ending in complete safety. I think it even has a little substance in the middle, if you like that sort of thing.

* * *

This movie got me wondering about something in American culture. This is gonna be sort of a tangent but fuck it, nobody’s paying me, or printing me on paper. I got no word limit to worry about.

I got to wondering, what is it about American nerd/geek culture that causes so many of its practicioners to be fascinated by everything British? Right now it’s Dr. Who, Torchwood, Simon Pegg, Ricky Gervais, Sherlock, maybe some other stuff. I’m not saying that’s not good stuff or that they don’t genuinely love it, but I believe there’s more to it than that. I mean, these same people aren’t digging up French sci-fi or Swedish comedy, it’s specifically a fascination with the U.K. And if you’re around them long enough they’ll dabble in accents and slang. They’ll even say “shite” sometimes, even though obviously the word is “shit.” Or they’ll say “wankers” or “cunt” even though in America “cunt” is a horrible thing to say. But “fannypack” is okay.

I don’t know if you guys in other countries know this, and maybe I’m not supposed to reveal it, but we Americans have a thing about British accents. We tend to think any British person is smarter than us just because of the accent. Anybody. Even Jason Statham. Maybe not Vinnie Jones. But maybe Vinnie Jones. So I think that adds an extra cache for some of these people, they think British shit = smart shit. And if by chance it really is smart then they think it’s double-smart because of the accent. Geeks/nerds are smart people, or they believe they are smart people. Since the British shit isn’t playing on NBC they feel like it’s some special smart shit they had to search for, those dumb people around them would never appreciate it even if they knew about it, which they don’t. The wankers.

But what I was thinking was meanwhile there’s this completely separate phenomenon of the white kids from the suburbs who are fascinated by black, inner city culture. When you say that it usually it has a bad connotation, like the white kids in question are phonies, but that’s not what I’m saying. I think it’s natural. These kids grew up on E.T. and RAIDERS OF THE LOST ARK like everybody else, but also breakdancing movies and Michael Jackson and then graduated to Run DMC and then Ice-T and on from there. To a white middle class kid in the late ’80s there was an exoticness to N.W.A. like there is now to Doctor Who. You are now about to witness that strength of Brit knowledge.

There’s even kind of a joke about this in ATTACK THE BLOCK. You hear KRS-One’s “Sound of the Police” on the soundtrack. You see these boots walking along. You see headphones, you realize this guy is listening to the song on his iPod. Then you see the guy and he’s a dorky white kid, and he’s enthusiastically rapping along to this song that compares “officers” to “overseers” in the days of slavery.

But why not? Of course he loves that song. It’s a great song! True, his reason to hate cops is because he’s carrying weed, not because of hundreds of years of racist institutions. But he hears what it’s saying, maybe he understands it, maybe he learns from it. It’s a funny moment in the movie but I saw it as kind of affectionate toward this kid’s passion, not ridiculing him.

There’s no racial divide in ATTACK THE BLOCK, only a class one. The white kids use the same slang as the black kids because they grew up together, are currently growing up together, go to the same school. There’s no border between them. The breakdancing and graffiti movies in the ’80s were the same, they had black kids and Hispanic kids and white kids together, there was no reason not to. If suburban kids showed up they may or may not be accepted. They might try too hard. They might fake an accent. It’s hard to say. They’d probly do okay, like the KRS-One kid in this one. They just have to get to know each other and everything will be fine.

The white lady in the movie is targeted not because she’s a white lady, but because they thought she was an upper class lady from somewhere else. They regret what they did to her after they realize she’s a nurse and probly doesn’t make much money, and after they get to know her. Moses tells her he wouldn’t have robbed her if he knew she lived in the neighborhood. It’s a terrible excuse but also an acknowledgment that by living there she’s one of them.

But back to the suburban kid’s fascination with black people from the city. It’s not that different from the nerd wanting to dress up like Doctor Who. (Who wears a scarf, I believe. I’m against it, unless it’s really cold. Not sure what’s up with men today and their delicate necks.) Both are looking to a place that seems far away, that they know from TV and movies, a place where they didn’t grow up but that seems interesting to them. So they’re kind of the same sort of interest. But there’s not much overlap between those groups, is there? How many people are really into both Red Dwarf and Wu-Tang Clan? There’s gotta be people, because this is a big fuckin world, and people can’t always be put into boxes. But I never met somebody like that and don’t expect to soon.

White hip hop kids, with the exception of the character McLovin, are not generally seen as “geeks.” Of course there’s the stereotype of the “guy who thinks he’s a black,” a common type of buffoon in comedies. But if you’re geeky about hip hop history, if you compile a blog about every sample or reference used by Mobb Deep or whatever, you’re not gonna be called a nerd, are you? You’re pretty cool. There is a whole world out there of hip hop academics and encyclopedic crate diggers. Their passion is every bit as detail oriented and niche as what any nerds are into, but in my brain I can not possibly see it as being the same as live action role playing or building your own costumes of your favorite video game characters. One is cool, one is dorky. Why is that?

If you accept my premise of these as two different categories, the American Obsessed With British Shit and the White Suburban Kid Fascinated By Black Culture, would you agree with me that ATTACK THE BLOCK is the first movie that strongly appeals to both groups? It’s a hood movie, a non-judgmental, fairly authentic feeling portrait of kids in the projects. It has that KRS-One song (I wonder if the kid actually had Return of the Boom-Bap on his iPod, or did he get it from the COP OUT soundtrack?) and reggae, none of your usual sad/angry white people playing guitar. It has some girls singing a Lauryn Hill song (I mean I’m guessing it’s the Lauryn Hill version they know it from, not the Delfonics).

It’s got all that, but also it’s British, it’s got the guy from SHAUN OF THE DEAD in it, it’s produced by Edgar Wright, it’s science fiction, and all the same “movie geek” writers on the web who lost their shit over SCOTT PILGRIM and KICK ASS are weaving a thick cocoon of hyberbole around this one too, trying to promote it like it’s a cause, telling people to support its theatrical release.

And I think that might be groundbreaking, because when have “geeks” ever worshiped a movie with a black hero, or even an urban one? I can’t think of a single one. I’m not saying they’re racist, I’m just saying they tend to relate to certain types of characters and it’s not the ones in MENACE II SOCIETY or even ASSAULT ON PRECINCT 13, it’s super heroes or quiet underdog kids or put-upon wisecracking dudes. Many of them are suspicious of rappers or black comedians the way they are of “hipsters.” Like Republican pundits they’re so clueless about it that when Common (from the Gap commercials) was cast in the never-made JUSTICE LEAGUE movie the Ain’t It Cool talkbackers criticized him as a “gangster.” It’s partly a race issue, partly just a social one. They hang onto these dumb categories from high school to stereotype people by their primary music interests or the type of clothes they wear, shitting all over a movie if they detect “hipster” or “emo” or “gangster” on it.

You could argue that these guys loving ATTACK THE BLOCK is not progress, because why not show them “positive” black characters, ones who are not criminals, who do not fit into a stereotype? It’s more white filmatists telling black kids to be cool stay in school. “Hey guys, you need to straighten out your community. Your actions are only hurting you.” Yeah, it’s that, but I don’t see any preachiness or condescension in it. It’s all empathy. The audience is clearly with the kids. Maybe some of us are closer to the white lady in our own lives, but we see the movie through the eyes of the kids and we see her slowly come to understand where they’re coming from at the same time they start to understand her.

I mean this. If some of the people who have that limited white “geek” world view fall in love with a movie where they have to sympathize with kids from the projects, kids who have resorted to petty crime, kids who have very different background and experiences from them, that is a good thing. Through the miracle of British accents they’re tricked into experiencing the identification those other kids had while watching JUICE and BOYZ N THE HOOD and FRIDAY. They get to see things from a different perspective, from inside the apartment with the scary bass vibrating out of it. That’s sort of what the movie’s all about, I think: the muggers getting to know the victim, the victim getting to know the muggers, both of them making peace and becoming better people in some way. And killing GWMs.

If the movie really works that way it could expand some minds and help inch us ever so slightly toward a better world where people care about each other. I really believe that. If not, it’s still a cool alien invasion movie.

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 Saturday, August 6th, 2011 at 11:03 pm and is filed under Horror, Reviews, Science Fiction and Space Shit. You can follow any responses to this entry through the RSS 2.0 feed. You can skip to the end and leave a response. Pinging is currently not allowed.

164 Responses to “Attack the Block”

  1. Now I gotta see it.

  2. Vern, I wish you had also talked about Americans like me who are obsessed with Japanese culture, because I believe that’s also similar to what you’re talking about

    and I think one reason why British sci fi is so big is because I don’t think Brits take sci fi stuff very seriously (if at all), every British sci fi thing I’ve seen always gives off that Douglas Adams irony vibe

  3. I don’t know, I think the current fascination with British things just comes from the fact that at the moment lots of good stuff comes from there. DOCTOR WHO is one of the most creative SciFi shows ever and that Steven Moffat guy (who also wrote SHERLOCK) is a seriously good writer. Don’t know about he other seasons of WHO, but whenever is name was in the credits of any episode of the first three seasons, you could be sure it would be great. Shit, that damn BLINK episode gave me nightmares! (You should try to track this one down, Vern. This one is even watchable without any bigger knowledge about the Doctor. It’s told from the POV of an outsider anyway.) And even if you don’t like Edgar Wright and his buddies as much as the rest of the internet does, you gotta admit that he is a very capable filmmaker and Simon Pegg a sympathetic guy.
    Then a few years ago Dizzee Rascal shook up the hip hop scene with his “grime” sounds. In the electronic music scene, the Brits are ahead of many other countries since the 90’s, thanks to acts like this movie’s scorers BASEMENT JAXX or THE CHEMICAL BROTHERS (of HANNA fame).
    Okay, I don’t get everything. Got no idea why people think Ricky Gervais is funny and THE OFFICE bored me in all three incarnations (the original British one, the American one and the German one named STROMBERG), but yeah, I think the current fascination with the UK comes mostly from all the good stuff that is coming from there right now.
    Who knows? It could happen Sweden too in a few years.

    And btw, here you can listen to some excerpts from the ATTACK THE BLOCK score:
    http://soundcloud.com/basement-jaxx/sets/attack-the-block-selected/

  4. Ace Mac Ashbrook

    August 7th, 2011 at 1:39 am

    Most middle class white kids here in the UK go out of their way to pull off the American hipster look. And I don’t think you’d find many Brit’s that would say our TV and cinema comes anyway near the quality of Septic TV/cinema. I guess that is just the grass being greener on the other side of the pond.

  5. Night of the Living Dead. Dawn of the Dead. Day of the Dead. Land of the Dead.

    Just sayin’.

  6. Uh,

    Black people make better music than white folk.
    That’s not racist in my opinion. Jimi, R. Kelly, Raheem, Rakim, K’Naan, Marvin, Otis, Reverend Al, Lil Wayne, Beyonce, S. Carter, even Rick Rubin when he’s producing for Johnny Cash is the star of those tracks. (The background chimes on “Big Iron” are awesome.) Et cetera, etc., etc. . . .

    That’s math.

    I generally don’t notice these things, but I’m glad to oversimplify the truth. Black folk got rhythm, got hot vocals, and not many white folk do. I’ve been to 44 countries now. Black Americans is what’s up in terms of consistently good music.

  7. And I remember reading a very long column from Devin Faraci, I think…someone at Chud…about how Do the Right Thing is his all time favorite movie and was the movie that made him love film. I’d say that Menace II Society is a fairly geek friendly movie. It’s in my top 10, along with Texas Chain Saw Massacre Part 2, His Girl Fridays, Up, and Hedwig and the Angry Inch.

  8. Ace Mac Ashbrook

    August 7th, 2011 at 2:06 am

    Also there have been some pretty big riots in north London last night. looks to me like the police got their heads kicked in by a bunch of kids (again).

  9. The fascination with British film and TV is a worldwide phenomenon. And it all boils down to the humour, I think. Nothing beats British humour. And it’s in everything from Sherlock to James Bond to Doctor Who to Shaun of the Dead…

  10. If Tawdry’s rockin a top 10 with HIS GIRL FRIDAY & HEDWIG, he’s alright in my book. Someday that will be a real book, and that’ll mean something, maybe.

    (Hint: Vern, consider a gay marriage or LGBT current issues rant tie-in post with a review of HEDWIG. It’ll be awesome. If you don’t love that movie, you’re broken.)

    Sometimes I feign an Irish accent when I club-hop, but I don’t think it makes me sound ‘smart’ or ‘smarter.’ My friends accomplish as much by penning mustaches on our fingers. It’s just an excuse to find a weird way to come on to girls and have a good time. We haven’t yet tapped the faux-intellectual British dialect, and we remain fearful of encountering soccer hooligan fanatics no matter where we be.

  11. Am I the only one thinking that they went a bit too out of their way to make the kids sympathetic? I mean: they rob and sell drugs, and they do it in a quite vicious way. And they learn no lesson throughout the whole movie, not a single one. As Vern notices, they never really even apologize. If I’m supposed to think “I understand it’s not completely their fault, it’s the environment, society, etc…” ok, I agree and I’m fine with it and it’s a good lesson that brit cinema for some reason avoided in recent years (think about stuff like Eden Lake or Harry Brown). But why the hell in the end I should go as far as be convinced that they’re heroes?!? The day after they would still sell drugs and rob a not-from-the-neighborhood lady without flinching. I don’t want to spoil the ending for anyone, but it’s really about the emphasis on that last sequence – it’s cool because that’s how 80s movies used to end, but IMHO it’s also quite wrong considering the set-up.

  12. As a British guy, I thought this one was very good. Not the second coming of Spike Lee or Alfred Hitchcock, but still pretty damn good. And what Vern said HERE: “Yeah, it’s that, but I don’t see any preachiness or condescension in it. It’s all empathy. The audience is clearly with the kids.” is exactly why it works.

    Mouth: “Jimi, R. Kelly, Raheem, Rakim, K’Naan, Marvin, Otis, Reverend Al, Lil Wayne, Beyonce, S. Carter, even Rick Rubin when he’s producing for Johnny Cash is the star of those tracks.” Lemme see… I’ve only heard of Rakim through this forum. Jimi, if you’re talking about Hendrix then I’m on board, but the guy is only black if you include that weird American definition of “Black” where anybody who doesn’t resemble an albino polar bear counts. Same with Beyonce. Look, Louis Armstrong and Etta James were black. Oprah Winfrey is black. But if Beyonce and Hendrix are black, then all I can say is the room must be pretty badly lit. They’re LIGHT BROWN.

    Who else… Beyonce. She did for “black” music what Brett Ratner did for the X-Men series. In other words, FUCK HER. It’s all she’s good for. R Kelly? Is proof that crazy people don’t have to have talent. (Although I will add that he’s the subject of one of Vern’s funniest lines ever: “Maybe he really does believe he can fly.”) Marvin and Otis, I haven’t heard enough of their stuff to comment. I liked “What’s going on” but didn’t go crazy over it. I don’t know who Reverend Al, Lil Wayne or Rick Rubin are, so maybe they’re bigger in America than they are over here.

    Vern – the American fascination with Britishness works both ways. For example, we have a British version of “Law and Order”, and it sucks. “The West Wing” was HUGE over here in Britain. Basically, we get the absolute best of your television, with the worst parts filtered out. (Well, most of them… we also get “CSI: Miami”. But let’s not go into that.) The reason Americans are impressed by British culture is that you guys get the best of it but not the worst, just as we do with American culture. Same with black culture, Japanese culture, whatever.

    And FTR, I have never seen “Sherlock” because I don’t want to see my favorite stories pissed on in TV / film yet again. But now everyone’s saying it’s fantastic. So I have to make up my mind whether I risk it… choices, choices.

  13. Zombie Paul: SHERLOCK is very entertaining and not nearly as cringe inducing as a Sherlock-Holmes-in-modern-setting-series could be. The only gripe that I have with the first two episodes (number three premieres tonight, so I haven’t seen it yet) is that I was able to figure out some stuff WAY before Sherlock got it, which obviously shouldn’t happen.

  14. I liked the movie, and I thought it was entertaining, but I have to say, as one of those obscure British persons you hear so much about, seeing the zeal with which the usual suspects of online American film reviewer persons are preaching about this movie is really off-putting.

    I know why they’re doing it, I can still remember their hype for Hot Fuzz (I was still fairly young and disinterested in online American film review culture when Shaun of the Dead came out), and I think it’ss even more illuminating after what you’ve just said, Vern, about how you non-British people feel like you have to make an effort to see our stuff.

    But still, it’s really kind of uncomfortable to see happen. It’s not a game changing film; it’s not even near to breaching my top 10 of the year so far, and yet if you spend 5 minutes out of the average day trawling through certain news sites you’ll be told it’s the “Best Film of the Year” or even “The Wire with Aliens”.

    That last one especially bugs me. Talk about unjustifiable hyperbole. It’s nonsense, and I think for the most part it only hurts the film’s rep. If you guys need to make a special effort to see something made over here, then fair enough, but telling everything we fart out is the breath of Shakespeare does no one any favours.

    I dunno why I felt the urge to say all these things here. I guess I just know I can trust your impressions, Vern, and I know you’ve written about this kind of thing in the past (and again here). So yeah, I just thought I’d add a different perspective on that aspect.

    As for the kids themselves, I have to say, I didn’t find them all that sympathetic. Not as much as I feel the movie wanted me to find them, and I’ve asked around, and it seems I’m in the minority on that one. I think it’s because I grew up in a rough area, similar to the one in the film, even complete with some absent and criminal parent issues to go with it, so I get where the kids were coming from.

    But from the viewpoint of the mugged woman, the film becomes so rose-tinted and quick to forgive as it goes on that it didn’t wash with me at all. There may be the added threat of alien monsters thrown in there, but the subtext obviously reflects the director’s admitted sympathetic attitude towards young offenders, which I don’t think the film does a good enough job of justifying.

    I can see why I’m in the minority on that, though, because I know it does try to show why these kids have turned out this way, especially Moses. All I can think is, the closer you are to the source the easier it is to find fault. Which I guess is also why I find the onslaught of support from so many online American critics so distasteful.

    Except when it’s about Doctor Who. You can never praise Doctor Who enough. :)

  15. 4raser – fair enough. I also didn’t think it was the best film of the year, by a long shot; but I would certainly rather see a film over-praised than villified, unless it’s completely without worth. (For example, the praise given to “Mission: Impossible 3” from certain quarters REALLY irritated me. Just ask Casey. Or ask Vern about some of the reactions to the original “Transformers” film from Michael Bay.)

    You might say films like “Scott Pilgrim” and “The Sixth Sense” were over-praised as well, but I think “Pilgrim” in particular deserved a much better reception at the box office than it actually received. There’s definitely a case for making sure people see these types of films so that the talent behind them gets a chance to continue working with freedom – and hope that they do not end up believing their own hype and going the way of Shyamalan, who should be a cautionary tale for “auteur” directors everywhere!

  16. Your review is on point, as ever, and admitting to preferring this movie to Shaun Of The Dead is an act of bravery (I feel the same but have already taken some heat for it). The score and the alien design just make this movie seem so new and fresh, on top of how consistently funny and energetic it is. To me, it really does deserve the hype.

    The ideas you raise about the racial politics of the film and of geek culture are interesting to chew over. I adored Attack The Block, but the one thing I found troubling (mild spoilers in this sentence, folks) is the ending: specifically, the ratio of white survivors to black survivors. Pretty high, ain’t it? In that alone can this movie be called business as usual.

    I’m also not sure that hip-hop gen film-geeks are as rare as you posit, but then again I’m biased and probably an O.G. in that regard. My favorite guy in the Carpenter movies was always Keith David, I prefer Ford Westerns that have Woody Strode to those that don’t, and I have a major affinity for blaxploitation flicks which some find troubling. So what, hell, I prefer John Shaft to James Bond. Sue me. He’s got a less corny sense of humor.

    Anyway I have some theories as to why this may be — outsiders root for outsiders, basically but not so simply — but I’ve already taken up too much comment space. Thanks for waking up my brain (such as it is) on a Sunday morning.

  17. Paul – I guess that’s the double-edge to praise that films like this one generate over there. I can definitely appreciate someone taking it on themselves to campaign for a film, and try to drum up as much interest as possible. Enthusiasm is great, but there are so many great films that fall discarded by the wayside when it comes time to drum up some support that seeing one film singled out (and the almost fetishistic way this always seems to happen with British films), well, I guess I just find the way that certain sites go about this a little misguided, and it ends up coming across to me more like unwarranted favouritism than earnest support.

  18. Oh, and Paul, Sherlock is tremendous. It honours the source material while tastefully updating it in a way that makes it one of the best adaptations the series has ever had.

  19. What Paul and Ace are saying about many Brits over-romanticising US popular culture in the same way some Americans taken an overly rosey view of our output is true. I find both viewpoints a little annoying, although they don’t come from a vaccuum. We still make some distinctive and brilliant stuff, but our film industry has been hanging by its fingernails for over twenty years, and while we could have made a decent argument for besting US TV in the 80s and 90s, it would be considerably harder to make that claim now. Nothing against it (well, not much) but when I read an American poster on another site ask “why can’t we make TV as good as [DOCTOR WHO]” I thought, really, you _really_ can’t think of an American TV series from the last decade that’s as good as DOCTOR WHO?

  20. I don’t know if I can agree with you 100% on this one, Vern. I like scarfs. Only when it’s cold, mind you, but still.

  21. “Black people make better music than white folk.”

    No,they don´t; AC/DC,Aerosmith,Creedence,Rolling Stones,Beatles. However, their music owes much to the blues of course since that´s what they are partially playing.

    However I do agree about black people´s got more rhytm than the “whiteys”.
    DO not, I repeat, DO NOT watch white people trying to dance. They look like they are having an epileptic seizure. White men can´t jump and they sure as shit can´t dance.
    That´s why I stear clear of dancin´…

  22. not to drag this off topic, but the whole British style and culture discussion reminds me that my favorite anime of all time, Read or Die, is an anime crossed with a British spy series (think more The Avengers than James Bond) and it creates a “two great tastes that taste great together” feeling

  23. ShootMcKay – oh Lord that reminds me of the time I was in a nightclub at Universal City in Orlando Florida last year

    yes, I danced and I’m sure I probably looked like an idiot, but hey at least I tried

  24. Since we’re talking about class, has anyone else noticed that obviously middle class directors/performers/whatever from the UK always try to distance themselves from their somewhat privileged upbringing? Edger Wright and Joe Cornish are both good examples of this – Cornish made a big deal about his family having less money than his friends in an AICN interview recently, and Edger Wright made similar comments in an interview with Kevin Smith that’s lurking around on itunes somewhere.

    The thing is, is that these guys are obviously well off and always have been, I dunno why they think that being brought up working class has some kind of cache. I suppose maybe they don’t want people to think they had any kind of advantage to get to where they got, but that’s just bullshit – working class kids don’t get Super 8 cameras for their birthdays and don’t have family connections to the BBC. Middle class people in this country have a really hard time admitting that they had any kind of advantage growing up.

  25. I personally don´t think anyone would dream of over-romanticizing swedish popular culture…

  26. well ya know ever since those “Girl With The Dragon Tattoo” books Swedish crime fiction has been a big deal here in America, my mom for example is a big fan

  27. I never understood why those movies/books really carried overseas…They are nothing spectacular, even by swedish standards. But people seem to like them. So what the hell do i know?
    LET ME IN was also one of those VERY swedish-type movies that probably people overseaswouldn´t get into. Especially the book.

    So now Sweden has actually brought something of interest to international audiences for the first
    time since THE NINJA MISSION (!)

  28. Good one,Griff. Can´t remember the movie it´s from though.

  29. oh..wait it´S FRIDAY THE 13TH PART SOMETHINGSOMETHING..

  30. The Anglophilia up here in Canada is longstanding and persistent. When I was growing, lots of TV stations would fill up their late hours with old British sitcoms (Are You Being Served? and Keeping Up Appearances were on all the time), and you could see Monty Python most nights on at least three basic cable channels. That’s less prevalent these days, but I still see an influence. British movies and music seem to do quite well around here. I think it isn’t as strange in our case, as our colonial history is pretty different from yours (I remember having to sing God Save The Queen on some occasions in grade school). British stuff just comes off as being cooler than American stuff most of the time among my circle. This might not be the case with the younger generation, though.

    Anyway, the upshot of all that is that the trailer for this elicited a “yeah, I’m going to make time for this” reaction that Super 8, for example, just didn’t. I think it looks like quality apart from that cultural consideration, but I’d be dishonest if I said that it wasn’t a factor.

  31. Part 4.

  32. I thought Rick Rubin was black. I was misinformed. This now changes how I watch music, but not how I listen to it, hopefully. Everything is chaos.

    I stand by my mathematically based belief that black people have been much better at making music in the 20th & 21st centuries.

  33. I thought music was an artform and not science…

  34. I’ll give you the 20th. The 21st? No way. Modern hip hop/R&B is the dullest form of popular music ever created. And this is coming from the guy who spent the morning looking for Too Short’s 1983 debut, Don’t Stop Rappin’.

  35. I was writing a long rant on why white man´s music was fuckin´ awesome in the 20th century and now it is not.( Fuckin´Nickelback and shit..) But I think i am goin´to let it slide, because this is an endless discussion regarding taste in music. Just enjoy your music.

  36. Ace Mac Ashbrook

    August 7th, 2011 at 8:50 am

    Mouth> Talking in an Irish accent will never make you seem smart. Not even in Ireland.

  37. As a Brit, Geek and only person with a Doctor Who avatar around here, I guess I’m obliged to throw in my two cents with this, huh?
    I don’t think we can ignore the common language factor in why british stuff has more appeal, and the way american tv and film has influence once has probably rounded out the edges and made us more relatable to you in recent years. The differences in how things are made also no doubt has a great effect on quality, or at least the effort that goes into quality. We don’t have big studios funding our movies, so even the more ambitious projects have to try harder with the story and characters because they don’t have the effects and such to fall back on. Same with our tv shows, which don’t have 22 episode seasons, more like 6-12, and so everything tends to be more compact, with less filler and more cohesion due to fewer creative voices running things. Because of that shortness, our shows are easier to digest too I expect, especially if the US geeks are catching them during the big mid-season breaks a lot of your shows have.

    It’s also been noticable just how many of our actors are getting parts in american shows and films over there. I mean, there’s Rick Grimes in THE WALKING DEAD. Stringer Bell and McNulty in THE WIRE. REDBELT and his lawyer girlfriend. Bill Compton in TRUE BLOOD. The current Batman. HOUSE. The future Superman and Spider-Man. The villain in BLOOD AND BONE(the african american one, not the white english one. I mean, yes, HE’s english, but he’s playing his own nationality there, in my opinion.). Mark Sheppard in EVERYTHING.

    On DOCTOR WHO specifically, I don’t know if the show has popularity over there because it’s “exotic”. The shows been going for nearly 50 years. It predates STAR TREK in fact, and I know it’s always had it’s fans over there. With the show’s return though, its format was changed up radically and made more accessible to a mainstream audience, focussing more on the characters and emotional stuff(a bit too much at times under Russell T. Davies, I feel. Moffat’s got more of a balance I like). It also came back at a time when Sci Fi and Fantasy was becoming more bankable and successfull in the mid 2000s with shows like BSG, HEROES, LOST etc. so it slots in pretty neatly with all that, I think. And for your information, Vern, he doesn’t wear a scarf any more. An earlier incarnation played by Tom Baker wore a scarf and actually put it to good use sometimes as as a rope substitute for fighting and climbing and such. The current Doctor wears a tweed jacket and bow tie(because bow ties are cool), and has been finding various hats to wear such as fezes, stetsons and astronaut helmets.

    “And I think that might be groundbreaking, because when have “geeks” ever worshiped a movie with a black hero, or even an urban one? I can’t think of a single one.”
    BLADE? Fantasy horror action movie about a vampire hunter, based on a comic book. That’s pretty much a geek movie with lots of cool thrown in. Also, in TV, the most interesting Star Trek series was arguably DEEP SPACE NINE, which starred Avery Brooks as the most badass Star Trek captain of the lot. The character wasn’t very urban, just because of the nature of the future in Star Trek, but he was notable as being in more race-consciencious stories than Star Trek typically had(and not in a “there’s a green alien persecuting a purple alien” symbolic sort of way, but a “that holodeck recreation of the 1960s pisses me off because it omits the segregation that was going on at that time” sort of way. The MASSIVE hype in the lead up to SNAKES ON A PLANE was also pretty clearly nerd led, and a lot of the appeal to those people wasn’t just in the title but the presence of Sam “Motherfucking” Jackson, who’ve I’ve noted before is a nerd in disguise. It’s true though that there’s not too many black leads in “geek” film and tv, and the idea of a geek character in something being a race other than white or asian is pretty uncommon.

  38. Wasn’t Spawn black too? Also, I hear that a black kid is taking over as Spider-man in the comics. Peter Parker was killed off (Spoiler).

  39. I genuinely adore Edgar Wright’s movies, Hot Fuzz and Scott Pilgrim specifically, and I feel I was oversold on Attack the Block. I mean, it’s good for a first film, does what it intends to do, but I don’t LOVE it. I get liking it more than Shaun of the Dead. It’s pure, bare bones and if Carpenter-esque seige movies are your genre, than this is the one.

    I feel I was excited more by other movies at The South By The South West, where all Blockheads (seriously, that’s what they’re called) discovered this. I’ll get behind Detention and The FP more for blowing my mind with original referential creative worlds.

    Just getting it on record. I gave Block a good review because it is good. We’re just into measuring levels of passion at this point. But really, it reminds me the way people think The Dark Knight is so much better than Batman Begins or the Tim Burton movies…

  40. I thing I enjoy about the British take on horror is the whole stiff upper lip thing. Nothing seems to flap ’em. Well, except Triffids. The Brits seem to be the only folks worried enough about the world being over-run with slow moving, carnivorous plants that they needed three versions of the premise.

  41. The FP, really? That looked like a parody skit someone would make, and the joke got old just while watching the trailer, I can’t imagine sitting through an entire feature of that. This is what I love about Attack the Block actually, its just a self-contained monster movie, that doesn’t try to actively parody or reference anything directly all the time, or be some kind of joke film (Machete, Planet Terror, Hobo with a Shotgun) which I’m fucking sick of lately.

  42. I hate how most of these geek films that get major hype at sites like AICN I never get to see in theaters because so few of them get wide releases

    this Attack the Block for example is playing NOWHERE near me, I’d probably have to go to Atlanta to see this

    I’m always so jealous of people that get to go to festivals like South By Soutwest, one of these days, one of these days…..

  43. Full disclosure, I do like spoof, reference and parody. FP is more like that, but it is the creation of a fantasy world that stands on its own, and with even less resources than Hobo. They did it with costumes and dialogue, in regular old locations. Looking forward to that thread…

  44. Amazing Americans are interested in my country’s shit. DR. WHO, TORCHWOOD (fucking TORCHWOOD, really?), SHERLOCK and other badly handheld-filmed, shouty trash aimed at kids. I’d put them on the same level as HARRY POTTER, which is also aimed at kids but also seems valid for brain-damaged adults who enjoy reading “The morning was as crisp as an apple.”
    ATTACK ON THE BLOCK fortunately comes from one of the guy’s behind ADAM AND JOE. And British TV does do comedy pretty well… sometimes. It because comedy doesn’t need cinematic flair to tell the story. SPACED does have that flair, but it’s very much a fish-out-of-water in the tedious British pseudo-realistic / documentary style.
    I think there’s a huge case for the argument that accents suddenly make something seem better because you don’t understand the nuances of it. I’ve yet to meet anyone who talks anything like the folks in TORCHWOOD. But then everyone in Norway seems like a great actor to me, because I don’t know any better. Equally, a Texan accent always sounds pretty accurate to me. But a true Texan like Joe R. Lansdale will spot all the flaws in PREACHER’s dialogue.

  45. one guy from andromeda

    August 7th, 2011 at 2:56 pm

    I never got the black people make better music, white people can’t dance shit – seems to me just to be a way to base one’s taste on a solid foundation of racism. Without “black music” there’s no “white music” and vice versa, what’s the big deal?
    Doctor Who is well liked because it is good entertainment (apart from the bad episodes which are horridly bad) with heart, thrills and effects that are either awesome or awesomely bad. It has a sense of adventure to it that i haven’t seen in sci-fi since the original star trek. Sherlock is well liked because, well, the Sherlock Holmes stuff is just pretty good you know? There’s a reason people have been reading them for 100 years. (Although i only really liked the first one of those shows, the one with the chinese opera/cabaret or whatever it was turned me off of it).
    And lastly i think there’s more people than you might think who are into Doctor Who and Dancehall, or Star Wars and the Fu Schnickens – i got the feeling it’s more of a media image that gets perpetrated that gets people to think everyone is _either_ a nerd _or_ a rap fan _or_ a retro cyber mod with an anime fixation. Stop the classism! (to come back to the UK) ; )

  46. I liked this movie. It’s not great but it’s pretty good. I had to go out of my way to see it (not massively, but it was an hour drive to Baltimore on a Wednesday night) and I don’t regret going out of my way. It’s a good enough film but nowhere near as good as a lot of internet sites are making it out to be, but it’s still good and good is good enough.

    I was hoping for season 4 of The Wire plus aliens. This wasn’t that but it wasn’t bad. I don’t think their attempts at making the characters heroic or sympathetic really worked out. Don’t get me wrong, I think that the only war we should have is class war and I’m probably the most strident leftist that posts here but I don’t think they succeeded in making the kids sympathetic.

    The “criminal side” in The Wire came off as sympathetic is because we got too see how petty and hypocritical the law, government, unions, schools, and media are as well. Attack The Block doesn’t have anything like that and instead it doesn’t really work.

    I don’t understand America’s obsession with the UK. The recent royal wedding was pretty huge here in the DC area and it was just off putting. I also remember America’s recent obsession with having Brits yell at us and tell us we’re not good enough singers or quiz show contestants.

    I think Vern is right. If it takes a British genre film to get provincial white geeks to see a movie with characters that have some pigment in their skin than I guess it’s okay. It could be a lot worse, it could be another geek-hyped movie that is pretty awful like Kick Ass.

  47. Yeah, British TV comedies are so awesome, LITTLE BRITAIN needs only to repeat the same 5 jokes in every episode.

    I also think that handheld shaky cam is more an American television thing (which seems finally to die out). At least outside of THE OFFICE and one or two scenes in episode 1 of SHERLOCK, I can’t remember any big shaky cam in British TV series.

    And can any of the Brits here explain to me why DOCTOR WHO is considered as a kids show? I know it started 50 years ago as educational show, until they dropped that concept after 3 or so episodes, but the Sylvester McCoy season, that I watched as a kid, gave me nightmares (Curse of fucking Fenric, man!) and the new episodes (at least the seasons that made it to my country) were often cut for violence* when on TV and the DVDs got a “16” rating. Many of the episodes are also pretty high concept, if you ask me.

    *It’s not a splatter orgy and it’s definitely more harmless than shows like HEROES or 24, but it is a show were people die pretty gruesome on screen deaths from time to time.

  48. MR. M:
    “I’ll give you the 20th. The 21st? No way. Modern hip hop/R&B is the dullest form of popular music ever created.”

    Amen, sir.

  49. So what’s really going on here? There are some internet fanboy love fests like Scott Pilgrim Vs. The World that I agree are brilliant and I understand nobody else but me will love them but that’s okay. Then there’s Attack the Block which seems to have equal fanfare, but I feel it’s “good enough.”

    Is it just different strokes or are there degrees of internet love vs. artistic rewards here? I mean, Shoot ‘Em Up is pure brilliance to me, and I knew that wasn’t going to do well because no one else would get it, but it didn’t get internet love either. That was really just all Fred.

  50. Fred- I loved Shoot Em Up too don’t forget

  51. Nabroleon Dynamite

    August 7th, 2011 at 3:55 pm

    I’m glad we all know Rick Ruben is white now!! Reading the thread was killing me (thanks mouth)

    @Zombie. Black people come in different shades because like all Homo Sapiens we have dominant and recessive genes.

    As KRS-ONE would say… “You Must Learn!!”

  52. Sorry if I inserted somewhat off-topic controversy here, which is an opinion that I think is based on self-evident facts, but maybe opinions can be various & subjective, since that’s, like, pretty much the definition of “opinion.”  I guess we should allow as much.  

    I feel what Vern’s saying about appreciating or adapting foreignish cultures, and about the white kid bumping the rap on his iPod.  The intersection of identity, appearance, cultural expectations, and music preference can be a tricky topic.  

    It is possible some classmates labeled me “poseur” or “wigger” or whatever back in the day, when my peers almost made me think I should give a shit about what they think my taste in music says about me.  Is that still an issue these days?  Seems the internet obviates the solidity or primacy of high school cliques, as people are more free to privatize their likes & dislikes and self-culture without relying on physically being part of a group of like-minded friends.  That is, if they can afford it, kids now don’t have to risk being publicly ridiculed for being odd or nerdy if they choose to join online communities instead of seeking out the lunch table with the comic book geeks or the skinny pants douches or whatever the kids do today.  As a corollary, kids who like rap and prefer the hip-hop culture over redneck or preppy culture hopefully don’t have to wear bandannas & baggy jeans & stupidass chains in order to kinda advertise, “Hey, I like Eminem, wanna hang out & spit rhymes and pretend we don’t come from a Carolina suburb?”  Kids can geek out over stuff, but they don’t have to commit to looking like they’re geeking out just to identify & express themselves.  They can chat in the lingo, they can keep it real, but online stuff reduces the importance of dressing like idiots to hang out by the movie theatre on a Friday night.  

    The lower socioeconomic class’s version of hip-hop style wardrobe has always been wack, but the lexicon’s always been tight.  Now I don’t even notice when I use slightly hip-hoppish phrases like “I feel it / feeling that” or “bumping music” or “back in the day.”  I say “mines” in lieu of “mine” sometimes.  Is that a hip-hop thing?  

    It’s natural for me to be a sponge, constantly absorbing neologisms & mannerisms if I think they’re cool, and I’ve cultivated an ability to make some streets language sound fine in professional environments.  Older business colleagues think it’s edgy & exciting when I tell them I’ll “hook them up” with my stock prospectus and when I say “What’s good?” when we begin a videoconference.  It’s never been a lifestyle choice, though, and I don’t dress like a rapper.  I am not actively infatuated with the culture.  It’s just about good tunes, adding flavor to a bland life, and having a message.  Rap & some r&b music keeps a guy close to the block, and you take it with you, but hopefully you make it to better things.  

    I’ll always maintain that listening to country or top 40 shit all the time is a far more morally, intellectually, & audiologically bankrupt use of one’s music time.  You know the words to a bunch of Lady Gaga songs and you’re telling me *I’m* strange for having 200 Mobb Deep songs on my iTunes?  Piss off.  

    This movie sounds pretty good, and I’ll admit the Britishness makes it potentially more interesting to me, but I don’t know about this England-fetish business that Vern & a couple talkbackers say exists.  Maybe I’m clueless (I have no idea what Dr. Who is about.) or hopelessly idealistic, seeing & hearing things in a way that doesn’t amount to categorizing & boxing people’s intellects or tastes.   Maybe Paul has scared off any notion that British accents are somehow cool.  

    I talk a little trash about nerds & people of freaky non-American cultures here, but that’s all sarcasm, and obviously I got love for the nerds and their tastes in movie-related stuff.  I like this melting pot, and I credit it for making it less socially acceptable these days for someone to belittle others for, say, being white and liking rap.  
    Alien invasion movies also have a way of uniting cultures even as characters celebrate personal oddballisms.  An actual alien invasion might do the same thing; we all appreciate what Ozymandias tried to do to make the US & USSR like each other at the end of WATCHMEN.  These talkbacks have managed to display & strengthen the best parts of humanity even without the crucible of an extraterrestrial threat.  Good job, guys.  

  53. Britishness absolutely is interesting, just like Hong Kong is way interesting to me. Just the sensibility is so outrageous it’s something I can’t really get here. And the British do some things more daringly.

    Griff, I remember. I was speaking of general public, not the cool people who populate this board. :)

  54. “And can any of the Brits here explain to me why DOCTOR WHO is considered as a kids show? I know it started 50 years ago as educational show, until they dropped that concept after 3 or so episodes, but the Sylvester McCoy season, that I watched as a kid, gave me nightmares (Curse of fucking Fenric, man!) and the new episodes (at least the seasons that made it to my country) were often cut for violence* when on TV and the DVDs got a “16″ rating. Many of the episodes are also pretty high concept, if you ask me. ”
    It’s overall not very graphic, but in can be intense and really scary for kids, and big cultural thing about is that it’s the show that has people “hiding behind the sofa” from the monsters. It also really comes down to the fact that the Doctor isn’t a very “adult” character. While he’s had romantic interests, he’s predominately been an asexual character and a big kid at heart, a bit naive and innocent in some regards(he didn’t get why a married couple would prefer a king size to the bunk bed he’d set up). The show itself also goes out around 6 or 7 pm at night on saturdays, which is a big slot over here. As far as I’m aware you don’t have anything really like that in america. It’s either 9pm and mostly okay for everyone(until there’s a graphic bullet in the head or non-nipple showing sex scene), or it’s kids or “young-adult”. The tone has been pretty clean cut, but with the modern incarnation Russell T. Davies gave a bigger visibility to gay characters and sexuality on the show and there’s been a few instances of them slipping stuff past the censors, such as (spoiler for the mid-season finale of season 6):
    http://youtu.be/8NcUt_3kqxU
    Or the two Amys flirting with each other in a special mini episode. But I think generally it goes over kids’ heads and is still relatively harmless. I did find it funny that a season 2 episode opened with the villain eating an orphan schoolchild. Considering the rest of the episode was the Doctor saving the rest of the school and the kids were a big part of that, that was some relatively brutal stuff to pull.

  55. one guy from andromeda

    August 7th, 2011 at 4:29 pm

    For me the question is rather why it wouldn’t be considered a kid’s show. It’s a little violent and scary sometimes, but so is Star Trek, so is Harry Potter, and no matter what the Trekkies/Potteries keep telling themselves, this is stuff aimed at kids. It’s fun, it’s sometimes smart (in a bold and simple way), there’s a lot of adventure, but because they keep liking it as adults people pretend that there’s some kind of depth that a 13 year old cannot see.

    And i am still amused that Mouth believes his tastes serve as self-evident facts : )

  56. This fucking thing(one of the films I’ve been looking forward to most this summer) is literally playing nowhere in my state.

  57. Also, to the Dr. Who fans who agrees this latest season has been incredibly weak other than the Neil Gaimen episode “The Doctors Wife”? Really hoping the second half picks up when it starts airing here in the U.S..

  58. one guy from andromeda

    August 7th, 2011 at 5:20 pm

    aren’t all doctor who seasons basically weak? i got the feeling it’s mostly pleasant bullshit to wait out for the 2 or 3 amazing episodes…

  59. “Maybe Paul has scared off any notion that British accents are somehow cool.” – Ouch.

    Dieselboy – actually I thought Season FIVE was really disappointing, considering it was all Moffatt. Season Six has been far superior so far IMO. “Beast Below” was ok, “Amy’s Choice” was great; but bringing back the Weeping Angels in a freshly dumbed-down form was a MASSIVE mistake (as well as making a mockery of some of the things that happened in “Blink” – wasn’t Sally Sparrow supposed to be a photographer in that one? Does nobody see the problem there?) Lizard people from the centre of the earth was just crap, Van Gogh fell flat, and the flatmate thing didn’t work. So basically that’s two episodes out of twelve that I actually liked, as opposed to pretty much ALL of them from Season Six.

    (Oh, and whoever said Vern should watch “Blink” knows what they’re talking about. Vern, if you happen to see it on DVD or something, watch the Season 3 Doctor Who episode called “Blink”. It scared the living crap out of me.)

    SoFS – “Are You Being Served? and Keeping Up Appearances were on all the time” – you poor bastards. You got “Keeping Up Appearances”? Jeez… that’s the kind of thing people bring up nowadays when they want to quote the absolute worst of British “comedy” – unfunny class-dramas about badly portrayed stereotypes of people who’ve never really existed except in the minds of comedy writers who don’t know how to tell a joke. I know “Friends” has a bad rep now, but compare just about any episode of it to any episode of “Keeping Up Appearances”, and you see just how massive the gulf is between the two. It’s all down to the production – “Keeping Up Appearances” had one writer and no real inspiration behind it, “Friends” had literally dozens, several of whom worked on each episode at a time.

    And Mouth, I would never ever criticize or demean a person, ever, for liking a particular genre of music, any more than I’d agree with the idiots who think blockbuster movies don’t have to be any good because “what do you expect, it’s just there to sell product”. I’ve heard good pop music, good country music, good blues music. I almost never listen to rap music in any of its forms but I daresay some of it has to be good. Consider me completely open minded about music. (Except house music. If you listen to house music you’re stupid and should probably have pain inflicted upon you. But other than that, TOTALLY open-minded.)

  60. Oh, and props to the brave, brave man who said that “Attack the Block” is better than “Shaun of the Dead”. Damn straight, brother. (Do I got da lingo down?)

  61. Let me also submit that inner-city minority kids tend to be drawn to the same sci-fi/super-hero/horror entertainment as the white suburban geeks you’re talking about, Vern. That would be cool if this movie opens up the nerd-cultured’s eyes to the plight of underpriveleged black kids, but I think it’s even cooler that those underpriveleged kids finally get a sci-fi movie to call their own.

  62. Zombie Paul-“as well as making a mockery of some of the things that happened in “Blink” – wasn’t Sally Sparrow supposed to be a photographer in that one? Does nobody see the problem there?”
    Because an image of an Angel becomes an Angel? I figured that was just not an issue with the Angels in “Blink” because the Doctor said those were much weaker ones living off of scraps, so they didn’t have their full powers. I’ve liked Season 5 and 6 myself, though there have been weak points (notably this season the Pirate episode was pretty meh and had things that made no sense in them). I though even when the stories aren’t the best, Matt Smith’s performances are always worth seeing in them.
    I’d like to recommend the british show MISFITS while we’re at this. It’s about a group of young offenders doing community service who get superpowers under mysterious circumstances. Rather than become superheroes they mostly deal with random psychos with powers of their own coming after them, trying to profit from their abilities, and cleaning up messes they themselves cause. It’s a great show because of its audacity and can swing between outrageous comedy to dark drama constantly and keep it all feeling really natural. All of the first season and two episodes of the second are on Hulu now.

  63. Rick Rubin is a Jewish white boy who produced Slayer, Metallica, LL Cool J, Beastie Boys, Jay-Z, Run DMC, Jazzy Jay,Public Enemy, Geto Boys, Sir-Mix-A-Lot, Rage Against the Machine, Saul Williams,Lil John and the East Side Boyz and Kanye West, Nas, KRS-One, Rakim. The dude who put up the $7,000 dollars to produce Str8 Outta Compton was a middle aged Jewish guy and a lawyer, I believe (thus the song No Vaseline). The highest selling rap album of all time is License to Ill by the Beastie Boys, all three of whom are Jewish. Plus Mix Mater Mike. Many of the big hip-hop music video directors who defined the early look of Gangsta Rap were Jewish. David LaChappelle is white. Banksy is british and probably white.

    To claim that Rap and Hip-Hop is representative of Black culture in America is like saying it is representative of Jewish culture. Or Asian culture. Or Latino culture. Or Filipino culture. It’s not that Hip-Hop crossed over to be a primary form of youth culture or all races, it has ALWAYS been a very multi-ethic art form and social order. To label it as specifically racial is to miss that it came out of a social situation and the racial element is largely due to segregation within the culture that birthed it, not crude stereotypes that find their basis in images of African tribe dancing around a bonfire using drums and gyrations to work themselves into an ecstatic state.

    Most the defining albums and songs of Hip-Hop are almost all trauma texts. Ready to Die? Str8 Outta Compton? It Takes a Nation of Millions to Hold Us Back? Amerikkkas Most Wanted? And so on and so on. These are albums based almost wholly on issues of social stratification. They are not albums about Black culture, they are albums about disenfranchised culture. I could see Irish culture creating something similar if the IRA and such groups were dominant in an era of looping. Or Palestinian kids. Or Lybian kids. Or Arabs and Muslims in France. I can tell you that the situation with Arabs and Muslims in France has certainly spawned some awesome horror films, I wouldn’t be surprised if there was some superb Hip-Hop coming out of the region right now too.

  64. I grew up in the UK, in Northern Ireland and am into Wu Tang Clan and Red Dwarf! I even live in Japan now married to a Japanese woman so I’m crossing all kinds of interests and fetishes!

    I listened to N.W.A, Ice Cube, Lynch Mob etc a lot when I was a teenager (still do, but got into them when I was a teenager). I really like the piece Vern wrote here about that. I was a white teenager in Northern Ireland so of course I wasn’t directly related to what they were rapping about. But what teenager doesn’t want to say fuck the police?

    I didn’t have it “bad cos I’m brown” but of course we got hassled for drinking in the streets or shook down for ridiculous shit, so you can relate to parts of the message, because the message is mainly rebellion and thats what people like to hear. Later, when you are older, you appreciate the wordplay even more and the craftsmanship. But I never once thought I was black. I just enjoyed the music.

    I have never met British fans or whatever but I have had American people compliment me on my accent, which if you have heard the Northern Ireland accent you will know is horrible to listen to. I have however met many Americans who believe themselves to be Irish due to some long back connection, and love to tell me of their support of the IRA which is the most repugnant thing you can say pretty much.

    Having worked and lived in Japan and reviewed Japanese films, I think Japanese…obsessed are the most socially disjointed and most likely to be disillusioned if they ever tried to live in the country. I saw a picture of a guys bedroom on the internet where he had a samurai sword copy set up like Blade, the days of the week written out of order in kanji on his wall next to a shrine of a sake bottle (of a brand not available in Japan) and two empty Japanese beer cans. Oh and half nude anime girl plastic figures all over the place. In that case is he just enjoying very tangential parts of Japanese culture or does he believe this is Japanese culture and he is being Japanese? I have no idea anymore.

    There is definitely a line there, if I met an American who said shite or wanker I would burst out laughing. I think there is a lack of self with some Americans that drives them to seek out another identity or background. So it can’t just be that you like to listen to hip hop like a normal person, but you have to go around talking to people like hip hop artist. Or you can’t just have distant Irish ancestry, you have to support the IRA and drink Guinness and say things in Gaelic (I met a girl in Japan, an American girl, who did Gaelic at university and plays the fucking tin whistle). And likewise you can’t just like good British tv shows, you have to start calling people a wanker and what not. It is an odd but ubiquitous trait with a certain group of people who feel the need to cling to something.

  65. I have heard stories of many expatriots who think that places like Japan are just going to open up to them, showering them with women and so on, but they almost always end up bitter and alone. So fetishists beware, I guess.

    Living in the Midwest, I wish I could meet a few of the rap nerds you fellas have described. Ever see Breaking Bad? Seen Jessie’s friends? That’s the kinda white hip hop fans we got here. If you make eye contact with em, they either grab their nuts and spout a challenge, or they ask if you got a cigarette. Pretty sure that’s one reason why I can’t reaally believe in a ‘rap nerd culture,’ because most of the knuckleheads here that lean that way really believe they’re gangsta.

    I used to listen to quite a few rappers during the early 90’s, but nothing I hear today seems compelling. I listened to a bit of Tyler the Creator, and it sounded decent, but still.

    No Kanye for me, sorry. Give me Ice Cube’s The Predator.

  66. Hang on, Adam. It depends on the context. I don’t think it’s always inappropriate to say Shite or Wanker as an American. I like to drop in 1940’s/1950s slang terms periodically. Swell, gee whiz, Good Night and Good Luck, Dishy, Skirt, Chicago Overcoat…Broad, in the right company. I also take on certain word choices of a classical Southern Gentleman: Much obliged, thank you kindly, why come? Good day, sir.

    Sometimes I’ll use a Shite, usually when I’m referring to a work as a whole. Like, Linkin Park and complete Shite. Every album is so shitty. Or, I just don’t get Dub Step, it all sounds like shite, except for Dead Mau5, he’s the shit.

    Granted, it’s not the original meaning, but it grants you more latitude with expression. When you have a word like “Shit” or “Fuck” that has a great many uses, coming up with variants that you use for each specific subcategory helps, especially when you’re communicating through text and intonation is lost.

    But then, I spend an inordinate amount of time playing with words. They’re really fun for me. I’m constantly like a five-year old with a box of Lincoln Logs.

  67. Shaky cam (NYPD BLUE) and handheld cam (lazily edited British TV) are a little different… although both are largely terrible. But I did shit myself over the Liqourice Allsorts’ bad guy in one of the Sylvester McCoy series… that one was certainly for adults. And Ken Dodd too… shat myself. Next up, “Attack of the Curly Wurly”! (This all sounds better with an English accent) Please check out ADAM AND JOE, folks. Very funny. Joe Cornish went to Film school with Edgar Wright, if no-one’s mentioned that before.

  68. Nabroleon Dynamite

    August 7th, 2011 at 8:49 pm

    @Tawdry Hepburn. I’d disagree with you when you say Hip Hop was always multi-ethnic. Hip Hop started in the early 70’s by poor blacks in the Bronx. In the mid to late 70’s the white punk rock, Warhol artsy types fell in love with it. Rick Rubin and The Beastie Boys came from the punk community and dug the Hip Hop vibe in the early 1980’s. Rick Rubin was a genius at mining the elements out of Hip Hop that connected with rock fans. He was the main producer in Hip Hop to commercialize it for the white masses.

    A couple of good documentaries that explain the early days of Hip Hop would be “Scratch” and “The Freshest Kids”

    Also the Bomb Squad produced all of the Public Enemy Def Jam shit!! Rick Rubin Executive produced and Mixed on their debut album and Executive produced “It takes a Nation of Millions…”

    Hip Hop belongs to the world now, but let’s not forget and/or revise the history!!

  69. All this time, when I thought of a Rubin-produced track, I just sort of automatically vaguely imagined a black set of fingers sliding & turning knobs on studio soundboards and synthesizers and shit.  Never pondered the face.  Celebrity bios don’t interest me, so I never cared to verify.  Can’t explain it, just one of those erroneous factoids that you pick up via sloppy reading comprehension or an assumption, then 10 years later you realize oh shit Detroit never has been the capital of Michigan, it’s pronounced “Smit-ticks,” and A.D. doesn’t mean “after the death of Christ.”  

    I enjoyed a random one-night stand last night, and I have no recollection of her name.  And I was sober.  Sleep-deprived, but sober.  My mind is a failure.  

    Yeah, wordplay & partial dialect-adoption is fun. I use shite about as often as I use scheisse or shizzle or the French pronunciation of garbage, just for variety, for the hell of it.

  70. RE: Nebrolian

    I’m not saying that Hip-Hop didn’t grow out of the Black community. I’m saying that there is nothing inherently Black about the music. Sure, it is born of P-Funk and schools that cut band from the curriculum due to poor budgets and Beatnik poetry (Huey Newton was a poet, originally), but the content and structure is based on a socioeconomic situation, not a racial situation. It seems plausible that any other disenfranchised group may well have come up with a similar art form.

  71. I also know the first and last name of every girl I’ve ever slept with and most of their birth dates.

  72. “It seems plausible that any other disenfranchised group may well have come up with a similar art form.”

    Coulda woulda shoulda, I guess.

  73. Ace Mac Ashbrook

    August 8th, 2011 at 1:12 am

    Great, this site has turned into a Doctor Who discussion. Fucking weak.

  74. Oh come on, Ace. You know it would happen sooner or later. But if it helps, I doubt that the Doctor will be as dominant on this site as The Man Who Dresses As A Bat To Scare Thugs.

  75. Adam – I don’t mean to toot my own horn, but I think I have a deeper understanding of Japan than your average “weeaboo” (the derogatory term for people like me)

    I think any obsession with a culture not your own should go through phases, where you start simple and gradually learn more and more

    sure, my obsession with Japan started like everyone else’s with “boy, Japan sure is weird” and “man, anime is a lot cooler and sexier than any American cartoon”, but as the years went by I learned more and more and started to see Japan as a real place instead of a themepark

    and I of course understand that anime is to Japan what comics and other nerd stuff are to America, that is to say not EVERYONE is into it

    there are a lot of parallels with white people who are also into hip hop, there’s the negative stereotype of the “wigger”, someone who obnoxiously tries to act gangsta and the “weeaboo”, someone who thinks Japan begins and ends with anime and Pocky

    and then there are the total assholes who disregard the entirety of hip hop and rap, just like total assholes that disregard anything and everything Japanese as “weeaboo”, even if it’s freakin’ Akira Kurosawa

  76. I don’t have a problem with people who idolize or fetishize other the UK or Japan but I think they’re really missing out on a lot of wonderful culture that you can experience in the United States today. Screw Japan, I would rather hang out at a Ecuadorian house party or go to Busboys and Poets to see some kids express themselves. I’m totally spoiled by living in DC but I think if a lot of white nerds were to go out of their way to appreciate Latin, African American, or other cultures that are prominent in their backyards that the world would be a better place.

  77. @Undead conversion on the road to Damascus:

    Yep, that show was completely preposterous. Just goes to show you how distance adds allure practically every time. I always wondered what somebody from Britain might have made of our local TV product from the days of my youth. I’m guessing it would probably go along the lines of wondering why we filmed everything that wasn’t about colonial times in what appears, in retrospect, to be basements and/or backyards.

    (Kids in the Hall is still one of the best TV sketch shows in the English language, though.)

  78. In my understanding Hip Hop started among African-American AND LATIN people in New York. Many of the first Hip-Hop DJ’s and MC’s were latin, especially Jamaican.

  79. Sorry about the brain fart – most Jamaicans are of course primarily of African descent. But anyway, all historical accounts of Hip Hop music that I have read seem to mention that it was born among the Hispanic and African-Americans in New York, particularly Bronx. Have I been lied to?

  80. There is a very straight progression in hip hop’s progression. It developed from dub-influenced Jamaican-born party DJ Kool Herc looping the best parts of songs (the drum breaks) to extend their danceability (the foundation of sampling) which led to mixing and scratching, as pioneered by Grandmaster Flash. Early rappers were secondary to the DJs, which is why they were called MCs; they were merely “hosting” the main event. Pretty much all of the trailblazers at this time were young black men in the South Bronx.

  81. Sorry to interrupt this serious discussion about the history of Hip Hop, but I just wanted to ask if this is just a German phenomenon, that Hip Hop acts start either a Techno/House sideproject or even do nothing else anymore, or if this is happening in other countries too? (And I’m not talking about the electro pop beats, that you can find everywhere in the Top 40 these days ala Black Eyed Peas.)

  82. Also, the antecedents and inspirations to hip-hop are all based in African-American traditions, from “signifying” being a basis for rapping to blues storytelling influencing the boast-based content of most rap. Call-and-response choruses lead back through James Brown and funk, which of course has its foundation in black gospel. Beatboxing, a later development, is a form of scatting, created by black jazz singers. Simply put, hip-hop could not have been created by any other group of people except African Americans. It took a little from here, a little from there (it is, above all, a cannibalistic genre, the first truly post-modern musical form) but its essential heart comes from centuries of Black culture.

  83. CJ: We like to keep our hip-hop and techno separate over here. But I would like to thank your country for providing a retirement plan for no longer “relevant” hip-hop artists like the Jungle Brothers, who I here are doing quite well as a house act over there.

  84. Weren’t the Jungle Brothers a house act since 1989?

  85. They dabbled in “hip-house” but were still primarily a jazz rap group well into the nineties.

  86. I wouldn’t call it “dabbling”, considering that “I’ll House You” is one of the genre defining classics that still work seriously well if you drop it at a party today, but to be honest, I don’t know only two other songs from them, which all fall into this category, so I just say believe you.

  87. Which I really do. I’m not just saying it.

  88. If you listened to their albums, you’d know what I mean. They don’t sound like house music at all. They were in the Native Tongues, so they sound more like De La Soul or Tribe, but a little darker and more obscure in their lyrical content.

  89. As you can see, I’m that elusive kind of nerd Vern was talking about.

  90. http://youtu.be/2IcicgDEbOs

    That was the last thing that I’ve heard from the Jungle Brothers. If they have retired after this, I would understand.

  91. Oh man, I don’t even want to know. Sometimes old rappers are like old boxers; you’d rather remember them in their prime and not see what the game did to them.

  92. Yeah, “Girl I’ll House You” started the short-lived trend of rappers having one shitty house song to ruin their album with. I mean, that song is okay, but I don’t remember any others that weren’t terrible. They even had a parody of that type of song on De La Soul Is Dead. I don’t know if maybe they still have house music in Chicago, but most of the country has been free of it for a good 15 years at least and I’m sorry to hear that, like neo-nazism, it is rearing its head in Germany.

    The Jungle Brothers were a great, underrecognized group though. I still listen to Done By the Forces of Nature every once in a while. And nobody else had an experimental period like they had. I’ve always wanted to hear that unreleased album, I think it was called “Crazy Wisdom Masters” or something? Some of it ended up as the weird instrumentals on Jaybeez Wit The Remedy.

  93. I live in Chicago and I’m going to go with “no?” to the house music thing.

  94. Ultramagnetic MCs’ “Traveling at the Speed of Thought (Hip House Club Mix)” was pretty good. That’s about all I got.

  95. What’s with all the negativity towards house music? That’s a genuine question, by the way. I don’t really know that much about the different sub-genres of electronic music but checking Allmusic shows a bunch of great stuff listed under the house music section. Like Daft Punk, Basement Jaxx, Oakenfold, Moby, Green Velvet, Faithless, etc.

    Is this like the “disco sucks” thing in the 80s when people thought writing off an entire genre was a better idea than enjoying it?

  96. I’ve been thinking on my earlier point about BLADE being a nerd movie, and I’d like to extend it into making a case for Blade himself being a nerd based on the following evidence:
    -a narrow field of interests(killing Vampires), with no sign of him liking anything else. We never see him reading, or listening to music or watching tv
    -poor social skills, particularly with women
    -lack of gratitude for cool stuff he gets given(e.g. vamprie exploding chemical), instead criticising the shortcomings of it (“[really usefull UV torch that burns vampires] still feels heavy”)
    -Insists on wearing a leather coat all the time, even in Russia during winter. In real life, the only people I see wearing leather coats are Goths(who are just nerds for the occult) and people obviously in love with THE MATRIX too much
    -Loves using a sword, despite all the more usefull and immediately deadly weapons he also has. Shoulda called him The Daylarper.
    -From what I can tell, has never done it with a lady
    -Acts like he doesn’t need anyone else’s approval or to like him, but also clearly puts a lot of effort into trying to look cool and showing off. Did he really have to catch the vial pouch at the end of film one behind his back after doing a spin and crouching? Not to mention the last dart gets spin kicked into Frost’s head unnecessarily.
    -Mommy issues
    -Ruins his stoic grouchyness with one-liners that sometimes include not so bad ass phrases or inflections (“Ice-skate”, “Sugar-coated topping”, “OoOooh, it’s so exciting!”)
    -When asked how many people he’s killed in Trinity, actually produces a number.
    -Has no sense of humour about himself and seemingly dislikes the Nighstalkers not for being amateurs but just because they ruin his attempt to be cool and edgy with their jokes and having fun in their downtime

  97. Jake: I’m no expert on the various subgenres of electronic music, but the artists you’re citing aren’t really house. They’re the ones that came later, taking the elements of house music and crafting actual songs out of them, thus making it possible for normal music lovers to listen to it without being coked out of their minds. That simply wasn’t possible with earlier house music, which was about as monotonous and repetitive as music could get. I can’t imagine any of it holding any interest outside of the context of a laser-blasted warehouse party.

  98. The Chicago House scene is still alive from what I’ve heard, but it says a lot that the most successful names of today are still the same from over 20 years ago (DJ Pierre, DJ Sneak, Felix Da Housecat, Green Velvet…). Although they sound now of course different. (Mostly. Acid House is coming back big time!)

    What’s with all the hate against House? I don’t know. There is the cliche in people’s heads, that House & Techno are nothing else than simple boom boom beats with stolen soundbites from “real” musicians. And to a degree that’s true, kinda like every cliche about every music genre is true to a degree. Another problem is that the scene (especially here in Germany) tends to be overtaken by Hipsters, who listen to boring minimal beats, prefer to drink champagne at the bar instead of dancing* and hate every DJ, who is at least a little bit successful. Not to mention that the current Top 40 are filled with cheap lazy ass electro beats (Black Eyed Peas and Lady Gaga anyone?), that are labelled as “House” even though they couldn’t be further away from it.
    (If you wanna know more about this problem, let me point you towards the most successful non-fiction thing that I have ever written: http://in-my-head.org/2010/09/07/david-guetta-laptops-dont-kill-techno-you-do/)

    Also another thing is that when I talked about German Hip Hop acts going electronic, I didn’t talk about doing the same thing as before, just now with a techno beat. I mean they really change their whole style. Best examples are maybe FISCHMOB, who became INTERNATIONAL PONY.
    (Before: http://youtu.be/9FwNIQMletM
    After: http://youtu.be/DiBFbNgH8Po)

    Or 5 STERNE DELUXE who evolved into MOONBOOTICA.
    (Before: http://youtu.be/M0vwUNm689g
    After: http://youtu.be/EFOWGXXznnk)

    There are more examples, but I think you get my point.

    *A few years ago Felix Da Housecat broadcasted his livesets over the internet and that way I witnessed one night where he just stopped the music, told the people to step away from the bar and finally start to dance or at lest tell him what to play. They said “Play some house!” his (absolutely right) reply: “What the fuck do you think I was playing all the time? This is house music!” At least the people who were listening on the internet were more thankful!

  99. I just said something, which apparently has too many links in it and now awaits moderation. I might later repost it later without the links, but for now I wait if it does show up anyway.

  100. Jake – you might understand the negativity to house if you were constantly exposed to it. There’s a lot of bad house, and bad house is really really bad. There’s some good stuff (Soft Pink Truth for one), but the bad stuff seems way more prevalent. Much like any other genre really, just that the badness of bad house is particularly effective in its capacity to irritate.

  101. Stu is out of control, trying to claim the one semi-cool comics character as one of his own.

    Good points, though I’d say Blade is too athletic & dominant to be a nerd.

    Did you mention the ridiculous haircut yet? It’s like an Anthony Mason do with pictographs. There’s a coupla ways to look at that: Nerds traditionally are unkempt, so they would never put so much care into their hairstyle, so Blade’s not a nerd; or, nerds are meticulous about presenting an image that conveys who & what they are, like the guys who spend hours giving each other vulcan ears in preparation for the Star Trek-con, so Blade must be a nerd. Personally, I think Blade was going for the bad motherfucker look, and he succeeded.

  102. Yo Mouth, did you get my eyes-only communique?

  103. “Stu is out of control, trying to claim the one semi-cool comics character as one of his own. ”
    To be fair though, you know that Blade is actually from britain in the comics? The films totally ignored that, so I’m just trying to reclaim him.
    “Good points, though I’d say Blade is too athletic & dominant to be a nerd. ”
    Dolph Lundgren has a masters degree in chemical engineering. ‘Nuff said. (actually now I kinda want to see a He-Man/Blade team up).
    I don’t have much to say about the hair, but if Grampa Simpson ever saw Blade’s he’d say “Now there’s a set of sideburns you could set your watch to!”
    Also, wasn’t Blade’s only other friend in the first movie some guy who ran a flower shop or something? That’s not very badass company to keep.

  104. Yeah, Mr. M, I got it, been planning to respond today, but there’s a whole separate online connection I gotta hook up to do that, and I haven’t had the time yet, one of the burdens of mixing work & nonwork stuff across several computers & servers and using older Vista os’s instead of newer Windows7 os’s etc.. (That all might sound nerdy, but being tech proficient doesn’t make me a tech nerd, Stu. Don’t get excited. I am not one of you.)

    Also, I’m waiting for the AmEx people to confirm which showtime we’re getting for War Horse on Broadway. They give me stuff sometimes b/c I’m such a Platinum baller (I use the card a lot when I travel.), and they offered tickets to a Friday night show, but they were not to my standard, plus I don’t want 2 hours of a Friday night to be used on a show when there’s all sorts of better night-life options. Anyway, now I should be getting much better seats for the 2 p.m. show in the 24th, so yeah you should quit your job and do this thing. I might bring a girl, too, so sorry if that ruins your dream of a perfect bro-date. (Note to self: You’re not allowed to use the word ‘bro-date’ ever again.) Yes, I realize I’m giving away a specific time & location for all the world to know. It doesn’t matter, since I’m soon retiring from classified work for The Man.

    Great Abe Simpson reference, by the way, Stu. I use that one a lot at military installations, where I’m often a Joe Namath type surrounded by Johnny Unitases (Unitae?).

    I’d say all the cool, badass traits of Blade are American. All the nerdy, non-badass Blade traits are British. I’ll claim the former, and you can claim the latter. Et voila, Revolutionary War II averted!

  105. Well I guess we’ll take back the vampire killing trait, since that’s so closely associated a lot more with the likes of Peter Cushing and Christopher Lee. Which would make Blade just a crazy serial killer I suppose.
    “It doesn’t matter, since I’m soon retiring from classified work for The Man. ”
    “How will you live, Mouth?”

  106. London’s getting a bit haywire at the moment. The looters and rioters need to remember that Attack The Block is a title, not an instruction.

  107. Ixnay on the Oadwaybray! I got a rep to uphold!

  108. Nice one, Jimbolo. B+.

    Majestyk, you can’t claim New York is the best city in the world and then be afraid to enjoy the world’s, well maybe not best, but most popular theatre system there. It’s not like I’m going to see Rent or some wack shit. As part of our Spielberg studies, we should get buzzed and laugh at some giant puppets.

  109. You’re right. It’s time to get over that time I went to see CATS and Mr. Mephistopheles touched in my bikini area.

  110. I was going to recommend you also see THE 39 STEPS over there, but I remember looking it up before and finding the US version is on tour now. I saw it in London last year and it’s a real blast. Follows the plot of the Hitchcock movie very faithfully, but is hilarious in the performance, which is a cast of 4 playing over a hundred characters, using limited props and scenery in a really ingenious and entertaining way.

  111. Nabroleon Dynamite

    August 8th, 2011 at 5:32 pm

    @tuukka. Many latinos are actually black due to the slave trade sending Africans to various locations in South America. The shit gets mad complicated but like KRS-ONE said “You Must Learn” (and I’m sure you will)

    Tin City was a dope ass house band. I loved a lot of house music, but I didn’t like my Hip-Hop mixing with it!!

    I’m the David Duke of House Music & Hip-Hop mixing!!

    If Vern reviews “SLAM” it’s on like Donkey Kong in a Thong at the Senior Prom!!

  112. Jake – I used to like the early practitioners of house music (Culture Beat, 2 Unlimited, etc). Then something happened: I turned twelve. If you come from a liberal Christian family, like I do, you will have three defining revelations before you are truly an adult: 1) At some point you will die. 2) God doesn’t really exist. And 3) white dance music is almost universally shit.

    Now the troll in me is kinda interested to see which of my three “revelations” causes the most angry flaming…

    Oh and FTR, I’ve kinda enjoyed songs by Orbital, Basement Jaxx, the Prodigy, etc. They still suffer the limitations of the genre, but I think we can all agree that if “Firestarter” doesn’t get you moving, you may just have something wrong with your head.

    Stu – that wasn’t the Reduced Shakespeare company, was it? I LOVE those guys. “Hamlet, in five seconds, in reverse” is one of the most hilarious things I have seen on stage for a long time.

  113. “Many latinos are actually black due to the slave trade sending Africans to various locations in South America. The shit gets mad complicated but like KRS-ONE said “You Must Learn” (and I’m sure you will)”
    Which raises a question with me, do minorities in america make an effort to differentiate between different groups of white people? Irish, Polish, Jewish, Italian? I’m aware that it’s important to not lump all latinos in together, but does it go both ways?

  114. Question: when did the American version of “black” stop having any relevance to the colour of their skin? I know melanin-levels are a dicey topic nowadays, but Justin Timberlake and Christina Aguilera won Mobos? Seriously?

  115. “Stu – that wasn’t the Reduced Shakespeare company, was it? I LOVE those guys. “Hamlet, in five seconds, in reverse” is one of the most hilarious things I have seen on stage for a long time.”
    No, it’s a proper west end show type thing:
    http://youtu.be/fPEjFL-KThg

  116. Zombie Paul- The MUSIC is of Black Origin, not necessarily the artists. Though I will add my bafflement at how Glasgow’s ended up hosting the MOBOs not once, but twice. Less than one percent of the population of scotland is black, so that doesn’t really seem to be “us” if you was me.

  117. Okay. I concede the point. You’re all right, I’m totally wrong. Rap is clearly born out of Black culture, whether African, Jamaican, Black American, or other. But I would say the function is based in socioeconomics.

  118. ^if you get me.

  119. I was looking for movies that are embraced and/or worshiped by a clear majority of people who identify as “geeks” – anything from Scott Pilgrim to Blade Runner to whichever Indiana Joneses or whatever. I don’t think Blade qualifies but possibly Blade 2, or at least it did at the time it came out I think. So that’s one for the list.

    Unfortunately I don’t think Blade gets the credit it deserves for kicking off the modern age of comic book movies. Everybody loves the Rolling Stones but nobody knows about Don Covay.

  120. Stu – well I gotta give you that; I can’t think of any artists that are more in touch with what it means to be “Black” than an ex-Disney girl or one of the founding members of “N-Sync”.

    Fuck it. If Timberlake is black, so am I. BLACK POWER!

  121. Vern: Night, Dawn, Day AND Land of the dead.

  122. STU: That’s a weird kinda thing. I mean, I can tell you a Polish person from an Irish person from a Jewish person from a German person…some of the time. Probably a bit better than my accuracy with Korean vs Japanese vs Chinese. And while you will find people who are happy to rep Italian American or Irish American et al, you’re kind of just allowed to be White.

    But, until 1950, Latino was not an officially recognized ethnic group. It was only “official” as of the 1950 census. Before that, Hispanics and Latinos were just White. On the opposite end of things, Jews only became White around 1930. On the other, other end of it, there was an Indian dude who sued the US government to prove that he was White because he could demonstrate that he was actually from the Caucasus Mountains. The judge agreed, but said he still didn’t qualify as White.

    White is less differentiated, I think, because people generally want to stay under the umbrella of White privilege. If you start claiming racial pride or loud cultural heritage from a different location, then you’re basically asking to be kicked out of the club. And even though the vast majority of people would claim that White privilege is a fiction, they still seem to go out of their way to not rock the boat and seem too “ethnic”.

    Race is and has always been very fluid in America, even as racial structures have remained stagnant.

  123. Also, I love Rent. Some of the songs are utter shite, but I still find much of it to be deeply moving.

  124. I just meant the music genre they’re in is considered “black”. I’m not arguing for their worthiness to win the awards. But there’s no reason a Honky(it’s alright, I can use that word) can’t win a MOBO.

    Vern, maybe we’ll get a black Doctor Who one day. Chiwetel Ejiofor’s expressed an interest in it for one, though I happen to think he’d make a good Bond too. Well he’d certainly be better than P Diddy, who a few years ago tried to put himself in the running.

  125. This has nothing to do with Attack The Block but the Black Dynamite cartoon is pretty damn funny: http://video.adultswim.com/black-dynamite/black-dynamite-the-pilot.html?cid=vplayer_black-dynamite_black-dynamite-the-pilot

    The actual season isn’t going to air until 2012, but if it’s anything like this pilot I’m there.

  126. Didn’t Xena have a movie? Does that count? That seems like nerd audience shit.

    Don Covay has a special place in my playlists b/c I’ve stopped for gasoline (& sometimes orange soda) probably 200 times at the I-26 exit to his hometown of Orangeburg, and since I learned about him (admittedly some years after I came to know The Rolling Stones) and his Palmetto State origins, I always remember some of his awesome tunes whenever I drive that stretch. Honestly, I can’t remember how I initially got into Covay’s music, and I’m not a diehard fan or anything, but I remember I first learned about him by reading some blurb in a biography about Jimi Hendrix; I never even knew about the Stones’ connection.

    Vern’s comparison isn’t perfect, b/c, though I can get with *Blade = Don Covay*, I have to say The Rolling Stones are way better than the funny papers movies of the past several years. The equivalence isn’t quite there.

  127. That’s cool Tawdry, but I thought Hedwig subtly decimated the concept of Rent, so I have trouble taking the latter seriously. I see it as a product of its specific time, though I could be wrong. Its message about the joys of bohemianism never affected me. The music is quite good & powerful, and it’s fun to see vocalists really fucking lay it all out there, but, I don’t know, the story didn’t expose my sensitivities to its dramatic heart like it did for lots of other people.

  128. How did Hedwig decimate Rent? Other than proclaiming and showing how Bohemia is dead? I guess they’re both gay-themed rock musicals/operas based upon classical literature/philosophy, but I don’t see them as that similar. All I know is that Finale B is a fuckin’ awesome song to run aimlessly to at 2 a.m.

  129. It’s not Rent’s fault, but it was so goddamn popular that it came to be perceived as something that’s supposedly edgy but is actually friendly for the masses, and thus not edgy at all.

    It’s subtly ridiculed in Hedwig when Yitzhak is looking at the Rent audition slip that calls for someone “edgy,” like you can just abandon authenticity and play that part. And then he/she takes a part in the “Polynesian tour” to play a Rent role in Guam. He shows up at the hotel to confront his lover while wearing a black wig (symbolic opposition alert!) and a Rent t-shirt. Hedwig implies that this is betrayal not only for leaving his lover & his bandmates, but because he’s leaving for pastures that are artificially greener while the real rockers stay struggling and making truly edgy, controversial music. It’s subtext, and maybe I’m reading into it too much, but Rent and that which Rent represents is made into a foil to the ideals of Hedwig’s musicianship, if not a villain. Plus it’s just kind of funny that one show is touring all over the world, even in Guam, while The Angry Inch barely gets by doing shitty midwest America restaurant gigs.

  130. I wanted answer the question about house music in Chicago. House Music is still very much alive here. The other poster who stated out wasn’t probably is not part of the audience. That audience now consists of mainly blacks in their mid 30’s to 40’s and the gay crowd. Their is a house music festival in Washingtom Park every summer and another festival behind the Field Museum which draws a large crowd and is also held every summer. Vern,I’m not sure why

  131. You don’t like house music, but I have find memories of house parties in the late 80’s and early 90’s. Just like anything else, it was terrible once it went mainstream. The underground stuff by people like steve hurly and Farely Jackmaster Funk was what made it fun for the few years before it was watered down.

  132. I’m just joking, I’m sure I’ve never heard authentic house music, just the shit that was popular in the late ’80s and that’s a style that doesn’t appeal to me. In truth it does not concern me if it is on the rise in Germany and I hope nobody took me seriously when I compared it to neo-nazism. But I am proud that I somehow knew it started in Chicago. (unless I was wrong about that.)

  133. My comment from last night hasn’t shown up yet (I guess Vern hates me for being a longhaired German, who listens to electronic music and doesn’t appreciate Tarantino. [Just kidding, of course.]). So here is what I said around 9 hours ago, but with less links.:

    The Chicago House scene is still alive from what I’ve heard, but it says a lot that the most successful names of today are still the same from over 20 years ago (DJ Pierre, DJ Sneak, Felix Da Housecat, Green Velvet…). Although they sound now of course different. (Mostly. Acid House is coming back big time!)

    What’s with all the hate against House? I don’t know. There is the cliche in people’s heads, that House & Techno are nothing else than simple boom boom beats with stolen soundbites from “real” musicians. And to a degree that’s true, kinda like every cliche about every music genre is true to a degree. (“Hip Hop is only about shooting cops or treating woman like whores and wearing bling bling”, “Metal is only noise under screamed, violent lyrics”, “Popmusic is cheaply produced bubblegum that lives from the shameless sexualisation of teenaged singer”…) Another problem is that the scene (especially here in Germany) tends to be overtaken by Hipsters, who listen to boring minimal beats, prefer to drink champagne at the bar instead of dancing* and hate every DJ, who is at least a little bit successful. Not to mention that the current Top 40 are filled with cheap lazy ass electro beats (Black Eyed Peas and Lady Gaga anyone?), that are labelled as “House” even though they couldn’t be further away from it.
    (If you wanna know more about this problem, let me point you towards the most successful non-fiction thing that I have ever written: http://in-my-head.org/2010/09/07/david-guetta-laptops-dont-kill-techno-you-do/)

    —–
    ADDITION AFTER READING ALL THE COMMENTS ABOVE: Some of you really need to know what House Music really sounds like. Culture Beat? Really? (This subgenre is better known as “Eurodance”) And I wouldn’t call The Prodigy (and especially not “Firestarter”) house either. (To be more specific: Their first two albums were labelled “Rave” [depending on who you ask], then their FAT OF THE LAND period was “Big Beat” and I don’t know what it is called now. But it’s surely not House.)
    I only hold it partly against you, though, that you call every electronic subgenre House, because these days producers doesn’t seem to know what kind of music they make anyway. Minimal sounds like Tech House, Progressive House sounds like either Trance or Happy Hardcore, Deep House sounds like Progressive House and so on. So what? Labels are for squares anyway.
    —–

    Also another thing is that when I talked about German Hip Hop acts going electronic, I didn’t talk about doing the same thing as before, just now with a techno beat. I mean they really change their whole style. Best examples are maybe FISCHMOB, who became INTERNATIONAL PONY, 5 STERNE DELUXE who evolved into MOONBOOTICA or the TURNTABLEROCKER which is a dance project of DJs Thomilla and Michi Beck.

    There are more examples, but I think you get my point.

    *A few years ago Felix Da Housecat broadcasted his livesets over the internet and that way I witnessed one night where he just stopped the music, told the people to step away from the bar and finally start to dance or at lest tell him what to play. They said “Play some house!” his (absolutely right) reply: “What the fuck do you think I was playing all the time? This is house music!” At least the people who were listening on the internet were more thankful!

  134. Sorry CJ, I wasn’t home to click ‘approve’ on it before. The original post should be up there now if anyone wants to scroll up and see the links.

    p.s. Get a hair cut

  135. No problem, Vern. I thought it might be something like that (most likely that it got lost between thousands of spam comments) and usually I wouldn’t care, but this time it was a long comment, in which I even tried to say something. So I apologize for writing the same stuff twice.

    P. S.: No.

  136. I think Rent was fairly controversial and even edgy in 1993. By 2000…not so much. By 2005 when the director of Harry Potter directed the movie for Christmas release date with a PG-13 rating, (which I quite enjoyed, if only because I will forever fawn over Rosario Dawson), not at all.

    I mean, I was 5-years old when it came out, but from what I understand about the time period, I don’t think Rent was totally warm and fuzzy. It’s a story about gays and drug addicts dying of AIDS, after all.

  137. P.S. I haven’t cut my hair in almost 2 years.

  138. I mean, Light my Candle, the meet-cute between the HIV+ interracial romantic leads, one of whom is a heroin addicted underage stripper is ostensibly one extended metaphor about sex and cooking dope.

    I don’t see that as all that much more warm and fuzzy than Hedwig. Though, Hedwig is certainly more transgressive. If anything, Hedwig challenges the easily digested Rocky Horror Picture Show version of Kinky/LGBTQIA sexuality.

  139. No, you’re right, Tawdry, that’s not warm & fuzzy.  I appreciate Rent, especially the music, but it had seemed to me, as you correctly noted just above, that the cultural moment for it passed in the mid-late ’90s.  I’ve had a couple girlfriends disagree; they loved the show and the Rent movie.  

    Have audiences been hungry for a decade+ worth of being touched by & learning about the emotional toll of AIDS via this musical production, or have audiences maintained an interest in Rent because it won awards and made it okay for a bunch of theatre patrons to spread a buzz (that arguably started with the Magic Johnson announcement) and say that they have been exposed to An Important Social Issue?  Probably all of the above, but it’s easier to be cynical about its popularity when you’re someone like Hedwig.  

    By 2000, perhaps unfairly, the perception became something equivalent to: Hedwig is like Vern, while Rent is like Peter Travers.  

  140. Tawdry Hepburn – I just want to say, it’s so damn refreshing to read an intelligent discussion about race on the internet, which is second only to Religion as the most inflammatory topic on the net

    I’ll never forget one of the things that shocked me the most about the internet when I got my first laptop in early 2006 was all the racism on it, just the fact that racism was still a thing was shocking…

    anyway I heard once by a guy named Tim Wise that race as we know it today is a pretty modern invention, that for most of human history you were defined by your nationality or tribe, no one gave a fuck what your skin color was

  141. Wouldn’t that just be be because your skin colour was the same as everyone else’s within practical travelling distance until a few hundred years back?

  142. Caoimhin,

    Yeah, I think most people would have stayed within 25 miles of their birthplace once humans moved into agrarian culture.

  143. Griff:

    I wouldn’t credit the “intelligent” discussion of race to me. I’m wrong about shit at LEAST as often as I am right about it. I just don’t get in screaming matches, I say, “Oh, I was wrong.” Plenty of the folks here are more schooled and eloquent in their discussion of race/ethnicity et al. Hell, I’ve never even left North America!

  144. Wait… are there *other* Americas?

  145. How do comedians travel?

    I understand we liked Bill Hicks more than the US. I suggest Chris Morris and Stewart Lee. Awesome.

  146. How do comedians travel?

    Why, on the laugh track, of course!

    *rimshot*

    *crickets*

    *loud throat-clearing at back of echoey room*

  147. “Have audiences been hungry for a decade+ worth of being touched by & learning about the emotional toll of AIDS via this musical production, or have audiences maintained an interest in Rent because it won awards and made it okay for a bunch of theatre patrons to spread a buzz (that arguably started with the Magic Johnson announcement) and say that they have been exposed to An Important Social Issue?”
    I think it’s because of the “Everyone Has Aids” song from TEAM AMERICA, personally.

    I just remembered something else I like by Joe Cornish. His proposed theme for QUANTUM OF SOLACE before they revealed the “Another Way To Die” one:
    http://youtu.be/h6CoNUE5Zho

  148. Vern: you don’t remember all that talk of two Americas during the last election cycle?

  149. Stu – that just made my day, thanks

  150. mine too. I listened to it like 8 times.

  151. I love that song. I also kinda with Roger Moore would come back with some kind of jetpack…

  152. Finally saw ATTACK THE BLOCK tonight. Excellent filmatism, good audio track, well-defined characters, uncompromised action & violence, short & sweet story, and the best part is definitely Moses’s final dash to flat 191, which is gracefully presented in slo-mo in order to appeal especially to fellow Brit Zombie Paul.

    I’m glad I saw it, and I hope Joe Cornish & crew continue to do this type of thing.

    All that being said, I’ll probably never watch ATTACK THE BLOCK again. It’s ultimately inconsequential, but it was great for a one time use of 80 minutes.

  153. This is on Blu-ray now so I finally got to see it.I’m pretty sure it never played in my state it’s entire run. Anyway, I really enjoyed it, like most of the nerds on here. Would probably add it to my top five of the year with Super(not Suoer 8), Hobo with a Shotgun, Rise of the Planets of the Apes and X-Men First Class.

  154. Hey there, fellas. I finally got around to checking this out this weekend and I liked it a bunch. The characters were colorful, the setting was different, and I liked that the aliens were mammalian, something we don’t see too much of. Why do we gotta assume aliens are always gonna be reptilian or insectoid? That’s just racist of us as a phylum.

    But I did have a few little logistical type beefs with the rules of the movie. They seem to be saying that the GWMs only attack people who have the female GWM’s blood on them. So what if the kids had never killed it? Would the male GWMs have just happily run a furry, glowy-mouthed train on the female and not tried to eat anybody? Would they just be a new form of London pest, big and scary-looking but mostly harmless if you didn’t mess with them? What the hell kind of an alien invasion is that?

    Also, what kind of life cycle are we dealing with here? When I think of species that have a much, much higher male-to-female ratio, I’m thinking ants and bees, where there’s a bunch of drones and a queen. But the drobes are sterile and the only one who can mate with the queen is a separate class of male bug that just exists for impregnating. But these GWMs are some horny bastards. They’re all trying to fuck her. Are they like huge furry sperm, all racing to be the one who knocks up the female? If so, how does one little gray GWM give birth to all these dozens of much larger GWMs? There’d have to be eggs, but that seems inconsistent with their hairiness, unless the GWM is the platypus of outer space.

    We’re not dealing with hard science fiction here is what I’m saying.

  155. Well, maybe they have more than just two sexes. Be more open minded about outer space sexuality, man.

  156. Shit, dude, you’re right. I didn’t mean to be such a xenohomophobe.

  157. “I’ll give you the 20th. The 21st? No way. Modern hip hop/R&B is the dullest form of popular music ever created. And this is coming from the guy who spent the morning looking for Too Short’s 1983 debut, Don’t Stop Rappin’.” -Mr. Majestyk

    :( Did the community really let this one slide? The thread should have devolved into a list of upper-tier 21st century hip hop artists to prove the above statement incorrect! I kept scrolling down for recommendations…

  158. Albums like THE MINSTREL SHOW and THE LISTENING by Little Brother; A PIECE OF STRANGE and ONEIROLOGY by Cunninlynguists; and BELOW THE HEAVENS by Blu & Exile let me know that 21st century hip hop is just fine. People just need to listen closer.

    This is the era of digging for records cause the music industry in general is singles based like back in the 50’s again. Like not just rap music but also R&B and rock & now even electronic music. If you depend on the radio you’re assed out. Anybody exposing themselves to Gucci Maine and Young Money needs to blame only themselves for not trying hard enough.

    Even a lot of the vets are still getting it in. Common put out a pretty decent reunion album with No I.D. late last year and The Roots put out one of the most acclaimed albums of 2011 back in december.

  159. Speaking of vets Masta Ace IMO has the 2 of the best albums of this entire century so far with DISPOSABLE ARTS and A LONG HOT SUMMER.

  160. Broddie, you scratch my itch precisely. In my opinion because of the internet and the ease with which any asshole can make studio-quality music in their living room, there is more good and better access to good music than ever before.

    We just gotta figure out a way to circumvent Hollywood. Then people won’t be able to make billions of dollars from the movies anymore, and what’s left is people who genuinely love it and have a passion for it and have no choice BUT to make films because it’s how they live and breathe and think.

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