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September 26, 2012

Why does Won't Back Down hate teachers, our kids, and America?

It's a new film starring Maggie Gyllenhaal about how teachers unions are the biggest monsters in America and the only solution is to privatize our schools and hire untrained scab labor. Seriously. “Won’t Back Down”: Why do teachers’ unions hate America? - Salon.com
So teachers’ unions don’t care about kids. Oh, and luck is a foxy lady. This is what I took away from the inept and bizarre “Won’t Back Down,” a set of right-wing anti-union talking points disguised (with very limited success) as a mainstream motion-picture-type product. Someone needs to launch an investigation into what combination of crimes, dares, alcoholic binges and lapses in judgment got Viola Davis and Maggie Gyllenhaal into this movie. Neither of them seems likely to sympathize with its thinly veiled labor-bashing agenda and, way more to the point, I thought they had better taste. Maybe it was that actor-y thing where they saw potential in their characters – a feisty, working-class single mom for Gyllenhaal, a sober middle-class schoolteacher for Davis – liked the idea of working together and didn’t think too much about the big picture. Perhaps that was a mistake, because the big picture is that the movie is unbelievable crap and the whole project was financed by conservative Christian billionaire Phil Anschutz, also the moneybags behind the documentary “Waiting for ‘Superman,’” which handled a similar agenda in subtler fashion. Even though I personally find the politics of “Won’t Back Down” noxious — and the film seems half-seriously meant to launch some sort of activism, on behalf of whom or what I don’t know — that’s only a small part of the problem. (The politics of “The Dark Knight Rises,” however you want to describe or define them, are probably noxious too.) There’s so much human drama in and around the charter-school movement that it should be easy to tell a powerful story, from almost any perspective you like. Nothing’s off limits in a dramatic context, of course, and given the enormous crap-storm that is American public education, there’s more than enough blame to go around. Let me add that as a known New York City home-schooling weirdo, I hold ambivalent views about the oversize role played in the city’s education battles by its teachers’ union and its longtime head, the fearsome Randi Weingarten. (There’s a Weingarten-like union head played by Holly Hunter in this movie, with Appalachian hard-ass attitude substituting for New York Jewish hard-ass attitude.) So if you want to make a potent, mean-spirited drama about the failures of unionized schoolteachers and inept education bureaucrats, I say bring the noise. . . .

Thomas Edison's life to be adapted into awful procedural cop show

Drama About Young Thomas Edison From Producer Mark Johnson Set Up At NBC - Deadline.com
One of the world’s greatest inventors of all time, Thomas Edison, is the leading man of a new period crime drama project in the works at NBC. Titled Edison, the drama is produced by Sony Pictures TV and Mark Johnson’s Gran Via Prods. Written by Daniel C. Connolly (A&E’s Longmire), it is described as a big, fun, genre-driven show about young Thomas Alva Edison. John Shiban (Breaking Bad, Hell On Wheels), who worked on the Johnson-produced Breaking Bad, is overseeing the script for the project, set in 1880s Manhattan.

September 25, 2012

Jason Aaron has thoughts on The Clone Wars

Kids freaking love the new-ish Star Wars cartoon, The Clone Wars. It's set between episode two and three and shows the Jedis fighting the clone wars, massacring thousands of intelligent droids. What will kids think when they graduate to the live-action films and watch episode 3--which takes place immediately after the animated series--and watch their hero Anakin murder dozens of children, his own wife, and countless jedis? JASONAARON.INFO: Thoughts on Star Wars: The Clone Wars
My son loves the animated Clone Wars series. He knows way more about the characters of that world than he does about Luke Skywalker, Han Solo or any of the Star Wars characters I grew up with. And the show is actually pretty entertaining, especially when compared to those last three films. But as an old-school Star Wars fan I just find it weird that I'm now supposed to be cheering for Stormtroopers, knowing full-well that they're eventually going to wind up as the shocktroops of a ruthless Nazi-like empire. I mean, even the name "Stormtrooper" is derived from German assault troops in World War I. Yet to my son, Stormtroopers are now cool. They're one of the coolest parts of the Clone Wars series. So basically George Lucas has given us a show set in pre-World War II Germany where you find out Goebbels and Himmler were actually pretty cool dudes. Almost as cool as Anakin Skywalker, the other big hero of the series. Who we all know eventually turns out to be Hitler! Is George Lucas crazy-genius or just flat-out fucking crazy? I can't tell anymore.