Perception of Truth: Carcetti’s Speech

The Wire is arguably the greatest television show of all time. I haven’t seen enough classic television shows to give a definitive answer on that. The Wire never talked down to its audience and expected them to pay attention. Its messages were subtle. So subtle that at times the show’s messages could sail over the heads of its small, but dedicated audience.

How the audience perceives the message of scene is an important thing for a writer or director to consider when constructing a scene. The scene below is meant to show that Tommy Carcetti is no better than any other politician. He gives a long speech on how the city needs to be harder on the drugs-trafficking taking over the city. Carcetti’s words are passionate but lacking in substance. He offers no real solutions to the struggle of the people in Baltimore.

On the commentary for this episode, David Simon says that the performance of Aidan Gillen and the push-in of the camera imply truth to the audience. Aidan is so genuine in the fire behind his words that people don’t play attention to what he’s saying. Simon states that the push-in was done to show that this is Carcetti’s moment. This is where he becomes mayoral in the eyes of the people. He inspires people with the same words that have failed them in the past.

Simon commented that this showed that politics was more about the visuals rather than the words being spoken. Success in politics is about coming across as fitting for the position through your poise and articulation in debates. The content of your speech is secondary.

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Hillary Clinton and Mainstream Media Condemned by American People.

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Despite having the endorsement of the current president and Lebron James, millions of Wall Streets Dollars in her pocket, hundreds of emotionally-manipulative advertisements being played on television, polling results that had her winning in a landslide, and the mainstream media (minus Fox News and Breitbart) by her side, Hillary Clinton will not be the next president of the United States.

People are scrambling for answers, in shock. This  could be seen on the news reports tonight. The reporters looked taken aback. As Trump’s surge began, they stuttered through explanations. They held off on declaring him the winner. They tried to twist the numbers to give Hillary a chance. They had convinced themselves that the monster would never win. The polls said he couldn’t. But the time came when they could no longer deny reality.

The American People wanted Trump to be their 45th president, not Hillary Clinton. Stories will be written about who is to blame for this debacle and the reaction surrounding it.

The real story here is the utter failure by the mainstream media to remain unbiased. We had publication after publication come out and tell they endorsed. If they had stuck to the facts,  they would have been able to see this coming.Instead they are left with their mouths on the ground, struggling to make sense of it. All their attempts to destroy and condemn Trump only served to help him get his message to the people who wanted to hear it.

Now hell has frozen over and Donald Trump will be president. President Trump. Never thought I would see a black man be president and I never thought I’d see Donald Trump be president. Life certainly keeps things interesting.

Best of luck to him.

Antihero Protagonist: Light Yagami

Audiences have grown tired of the traditional heroic story. A virtuous person rising up against the forces of evil and darkness is saved for children’s stories nowadays. Adults are bored with idealistic heroes. They want flawed individuals at the center of their stories.

What is it about antiheroes that audiences love?

I have been watching films and television shows about antihero protagonists to find out the answer to that question.

DEATH NOTE

Light Yagami

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Every story needs the right protagonist. Death Note has a money one in the god of the new world, Light Yagami. A story about a high school student that finds a notebook that can kill people is a novel concept by itself. When that high school student is a genius sociopath with a god complex, you get the intriguing cat and mouse game that is Death Note.

The Character:

Under other circumstances, Light would be a traditional hero. He has many heroic qualities. He is highly intelligent. Determined.  Battling against the evils of society. His major flaw is his hubris. That same flaw is shared by many ancient Greek Heroes.

However, Light Yagami is a sociopath who revels in the destruction of his opposition. He murders thousands of criminals over the course of the story. He is so driven to his goal that he will manipulate anyone to achieve his ends. He believes he has the right to judge the world and no one should dare stand in his way. Those who do deserve death.

Pivotal Scene:

After killing Raye Penbar and a team of FBI agents sent to investigate him, Light Yagami realizes he has left himself exposed. Penbar’s fiancee, Naomi Misora discovers a clue that could implicate Light in the murders. Light runs into her and finds out her discovery through idle chitchat. He asks for her name. With a name and face, he can kill anyone. She gives him a fake one. With his life on the line, Light slyly gets the woman’s real name and kills her.

I chose this scene as it shows all the facets of Light’s character. This woman is his first real challenge. If he fails, he will be arrested and executed. He acts out of survival. He gains her trust with subtle lies and compliments. Once he has won, he tells her he is the killer the police are looking for. By then it is too late for Naomi to do anything.

On the surface, this scene is a man killing a young woman and getting away with it, a villainous endeavor. But this scene is  a battle of wits. Two intelligent people go back and forth until one comes out the victor. Ultimately Light uses Naomi’s emotional attachments against her.

This scene is very well-thought out and logical, among the best in all of Death Note.

Things To Be Learned:

An intriguing protagonist only remains intriguing against strong opposition. The eccentric L. Lawliet is Light’s rival in this story. L is the world’s great detective. He is as ruthless and cunning as Light is. He has the support of the police force and applies immense pressure onto the wannabe god. The cat-and-mouse game between the two of them is the backbone of this story. The story drops in quality after Light defeats L.

It’s important to not try to force the audience to feel a certain way about characters. Death Note lets the audience decide on whether they want to side with Light or L. The story teller should be putting on a show, not trying to push morality onto the audience.

Closing Thoughts:

Death Note‘s Light Yagami is the reason this anime is able to appeal to people who do not usually enjoy animation. He draws the audience in. People want to see him caught. People want to see him get away with everything. No one would want to be friends with him, but we do all want to see how he gets past his next big obstacle.

I look forward to the upcoming live action adaptation of Death Note. There have been interesting casting choices made. The portrayal of Light Yagami will be the key to the success of the adaptation. If the writers and director accurately transfer his character to the screen, then American audiences will be in for a treat.

But that’s a big if.

 

 

Go Go Power Reboot.

Everything gets a reboot these days. Robocop. Ghost Busters. Spider-man. Batman. Superman. Every year Hollywood spits out a remake of a once successful brand.

Now the time has come for the  hit 90s television show, Mighty Morphin Power Rangers,  to be rebooted into a movie.

Trailer just dropped for it.

As I expected when the movie was first announced, this is a lot more grounded and realistic. The campy atmosphere of the 90s show is dead and buried. The Power Rangers are in a Breakfast Club type scenario. They ditch and get their powers from an alien rock. Then Rita attacks them.

My first impressions is that this movie is going to be forgettable. It’ll be in line with that Robocop reboot rather than a Dawn of the Dead. They have gone away from the source material. This is what the studio behind the movie must believe will give it broad appeal. Out goes the spandex and bright colors, in comes the dark palette and realistic costumes.

I don’t think this movie will be atrocious. It won’t be like Turbo: A Power Rangers Movie which almost killed the franchise. It will be a safe action film with unimpressive visual effects. I’m confident in believing this will have no lasting legacy.

The costumes for the movie and the tone of the trailer don’t seem appealing to children or the fans who are nostalgic for the original show. It’s in the sweet spot where it’s too serious for kids but not adult enough in concept to get people to go see it. Because it’s not going full camp, the movie will be trapped by the sheer absurdity of the Power Rangers concept.

Powers Rangers was a show where the main villain was trapped in a dumpster for 10,000 years. A giant head in a jar told a gold robot to get five teenagers with attitude to combat her in spandex while powered by dinosaurs. At the end of every episode, the villain made her bad guys grow a thousand feet tall and then the rangers got in their giant robot to fight them.

Trying to make this serious and grounded takes the soul out of it. Power Rangers barely has a soul to begin with as its an Americanization of an old Japanese show, but there is a soul there. There are ways to tell more dark Power Ranger stories. Power Rangers: In Space, Power Rangers: Time Force, and Power Rangers: RPM  all told dark stories but embraced the absurd concept.

This movie will make some money. The budget for the film is 150 million dollars. I wager that at best it can make 200 million world wide. But even that I feel shaky on. The original Power Rangers movie made 66 million dollars on a 15 million dollar budget. That was when Power Rangers was at the height of its popularity. They will need more than 66 million for this to be considered a success.

There’s still a long time until the release of the film. I am keeping an open mind toward it. Trailers can be misleading. They are not created by the director. So the movie could be lighter in tone.

But from what’s been shown so far, it’s not looking morphinominal.

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Circle of Life

Under a punishing sun in the midst of Kenya’s vast grasslands, a zebra’s luck is running out. It has attracted the attention of three starving hyenas. The zebra is ahead of its spotted pursuers but the predators are gaining on their striped prey.

Out of the thirty zebras drinking and bathing at the water hole, this one drew the short end of the straw. It ran left when the other zebras went right. The wrong choice.

Were it not for the cut on its left thigh, this zebra could have escaped its drooling hunters by now. At top speeds, zebras leave hyenas in the dust. These hyenas are running faster than hyenas ought to. These starving pups are desperate for a meal. This zebra cannot be allowed to escape like the others.

But it seems that may happen. The zebra is beginning to pull away. The hungry hyenas are starting to tire. Days of hunting without a kill has weakened them. Their legs give way beneath them. Fortune is on the zebra’s side for today.

The hyenas growl and whimper at one another as yet another zebra gets away. The two bigger hyenas eye down their younger brother. The small one bares its yellow teeth and barks. It scurries away with its tail beneath its legs. Its elder brothers keep close.

As the calls of the hyenas grow silent, the zebra slows. The endorphins fueling its strength run out. The zebra moves aimlessly until it finds shade underneath a tree. The cool spot under the branches and leaves of the Acacia tree is a rare place of comfort in the Kenyan grasslands. The zebra lies down, exhausted.

Its comfort ends when the whooping calls of the hyenas return. The calls are louder and more frantic. A clan of twenty hyenas is converging on the zebra.

The hyenas fight with one another, snapping and cackling. One hyena bites the ear of its brother. They each want to be the first one to satisfy their hunger.

The hyenas are like a swarm of hornets. They’re biting, ripping at the zebra before it can make a sound. To the human eye, the zebra appears to be calm and at peace as though it has accepted its fate. But death for this zebra is as agonizing and painful as death can be.

The calm that human observers claim to see is the zebra’s body going into shock. The zebra feels each rip and tear of its flesh and bone as the hyenas wrench it open and pull out its organs. Its senses dull as the blood seeps out of it. Its vision will blur and its hearing will lessen, but its pain receptors stay intact until its last heartbeat. If the zebra is fortunate, it may die a quick death. An overeager hyena could bite down on its heart and ends its misery.

The sight of hyenas feasting on zebras is distressing for human on-lookers, but this is what becomes of animals on the losing end of the circle of life.

 

Cartoon Network to Reboot Johnny Bravo In 2017

Deadline has reported that Cartoon Network will move forward with a new version of their late 90s hit, Johnny Bravo.  The show is being retooled for modern audiences and will be released in 2017.

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Johnny Bravo debuted in 1997

We reached out to Christy Millhouse, president of Cartoon Network, for further details on the new show.

The show will be titled, Suzy and Johnny and is geared to be a more woman-friendly show. The Johnny Bravo character will be a sidekick to a young woman named Suzy. Suzy, a little girl in the original series will be the same age as Johnny in this new series and the new main character. The show will explore the dangers of street harassment and the struggles that the modern woman faces today.

The pilot episode will start with an apology to the audience from Van Partible, the original creator of Johnny Bravo. The rest of the episode will be Suzy explaining to Johnny why his approach to women is wrong.

During our online correspondence, Ms. Millhouse let us know what this new cartoon meant for the legacy of Cartoon Network.

“Johnny Bravo was a dark chapter in Cartoon Network’s history. We had this musclehead character harassing and sexually objectifying women for laughs. He was a symbol of the toxic masculinity that permeates our society,” stated Christy Millhouse. “He kissed a girl in one episode without her consent. We’re not proud of that. We influenced a generation of young men. We have Johnny Bravos out there now who think approaching women aggressively with bad pick up lines while flexing their muscles and dancing is okay. It is not. ”

As part of the modernization process, the old writing and animation teams will not be brought back for Suzy and Johnny. The new creative team is headlined by Andromeda Antony, a woman with a bachelor’s degree in woman’s studies, a master’s degree in gender studies, and a doctorate in woman’s gender studies.

We did not reach out to her for comment. She called us up. We still don’t know how she got our number.

“I’m loving this chance to change history. 2017 will have a new Johnny Bravo that women will love. I can’t share all the details now but expect a softer more feminist Johnny. The muscles and ugly yellow hair fin are gone. And with that goes the chauvinistic humor too. The influence of the old show is felt to this day. Some man tried to holler at me as I biked to work. He said ‘how it’s cooking, good looking.’ He objectified me sexually and assumed that I cooked. I do not cook. I am a strong proud independent woman who orders take-out every night. No woman should feel as threatened as I did when that man said that to me. Events like this occur because of shows like the old Johnny Bravo. ” said Ms. Antony.

With a new Johnny comes a new catchphrase. Fans of the show may remember Johnny Bravo would say “do the monkey with me”. His new catch phrase will be “fight the wage gap with me. ” We didn’t ask Ms. Antony for any more details, but she let us know the new show has had its conflicts behind the scenes already.

“One of the women on the writing staff said she found the old show funny. She said it was humorous for a muscly guy to be a dumb wimp who was terrible with women. She said she found the pick-up lines to be witty. I told her none of that is ever funny. Johnny once got in a woman’s view, moved in close to sniff her and then said ‘You smell kind of pretty. Want to smell me?’ That is not funny. She had to be let go. She thought the misogynistic comments were funny because society pressured her to find that funny. The poor girl had no mind of her own.”

Suzy and Johnny is expected to be shown on Cartoon Network in fall of 2017.

To Snap Or Not To Snap?

Christopher Nolan’s Dark Knight trilogy are responsible for dark reboots we’ve been getting of classic characters. Nolan is a good director. Memento is still his best. The Dark Knight is a close second. I liked the trilogy. Batman Begins is a reintroduction to Batman and an establishing of the gritty realism that would permeate the rest of the trilogy. The Dark Knight is a legitimately good movie. Heath Ledger’s Joker deserved that Oscar. The Dark Knight Rises is a follow-up that Nolan’s heart was not into. The theme of rise is redundant and I could not get into the stakes of the film. It had a weird commentary on the 99 percent and Occupy Wallstreet movement. I felt that was out of place. His take on Batman toned down the supernatural more comic-booky elements and focused on the crime drama of Gotham. I appreciated Nolan’s vision but not every hero should be dark like this.

If only someone told Zack Snyder. Zack Snyder’s Man of Steel is an attempt to do for Superman what Nolan did for Batman. I don’t want to talk the movie. I saw it when it came out. The movie tries to portray what life would be like for Superman if he was real? What would it be like for him growing up? I think there could be a good story here, but Snyder’s take was not doing it for me. He was trying to tell too many stories at once. Alien Invasion. Superman’s Origins. The Legacy of Krypton. Should the government trust Superman? Pa Kent is crazy. Will Superman have to kill? It wasn’t hard to keep up with them. It was that none of them were executed well. The fights were cool the first time around, but I barely remember any of them.

The one scene I do remember is the climax.  Superman is put in a moral dilemma. General Zod won’t stop until he kills every person. So Superman snaps General Zod’s neck. He violates his moral code and takes a life to save a family. This scene encapsulates everything wrong with this movie.

It’s an attempt to bring Superman out of his black and white comic book morality and into world of grey. Snyder wants to ground Superman from being a symbol for truth, justice and the American way into a person like us with more power. We’d make the same choice that Superman does. We’d snap General Zod’s neck too.

It’s a depressing as hell scene. Superman is mentally bothered by his murder. He’s on the verge of the tears The family he saves is not grateful. I don’t think they’re seen again.

There is no triumph to this. And I think triumph is a part of Superman. People should be excited when they see him flying through the city. He’s an ideal to live up to. People may not be able to fly and be strong like Superman, but they should aspire to be moral like him. That’s what I always got from the Superman side of the character. He needs to triumph and the people in Metropolis should be there to celebrate his fights against evil.  The human side is that he’s a corny boy scout from Kansas. Humble and wants to help people. He takes a job as a journalist to keep up appearances, hit on Lois and keep his ear close to trouble.

I don’t hate the idea of Superman murdering Zod, but I hate it in an origin story. Superman needed to triumph in the first story.  This movie should have been about learning who Superman is. He needs to be established. Snyder jumped the gun. He wanted to have this Superman kill scene in this movie. Maybe in a Man of Steel 2 this scene would work. It’s too early for Superman to kill. In my opinion.

In this movie Pa Kent commits suicide in front of Clark. Metropolis and Smallville are decimated. Superman has to kill Zod to stop him. Give the character a bone. Let him have a moral victory to ride off into the sun on. I watch the ending of others superhero movies like The Avengers and The Dark Knight and it feels like the heroes were super heroic.

The Avengers put aside their differences and save New York from an alien invasion. It felt like without the Avengers, the world would have ended.  Batman proves to the Joker that everyone is not like him and that he is alone. He does kill Harvey Dent but the appreciation for his sacrifice is there from Commissioner Gordon and his son.

Man of Steel‘s Superman never feels like a hero to me.