Wednesday, 6 October 2010

Bruce Willis IS America (Pre-9/11, now it's Kiefer Sutherland)

A part of this viewing listCriterion Collection Spine #40: Michael Bay’s Armageddon.

Despite the laughable fact that this movie is included in the Criterion Collection; and the almost certain financial & business-​tactical reasons for its inclusion, I’m going to try to review this film in good faith. This Michael Bay blockbuster came out in 1998, and that’s important, because I can’t imagine a film like this being made at all post-​9/​11. Yeah, I went there. The film is a self-​congratulatory projection of America at the height of its pride, but before it had gottenth to the fall; an America that fancied itself so invincible that it could kick a Texas-​sized asteroid’s ass in 18 days. An America with no problems. This is a movie made in an America that had forgotten what it is like to be humbled. (And if you think it’s just coincidence that the asteroid is “Texas-​sized”, you’re an idiot).

Despite the not-​so-​laughable fact that the entire world is threatened by the asteroid, the only ones who can save the day are Americans. Americans who are arrogant dicks. (Redundant, I know.) America is the theme of this movie, not cosmic annihilation. Most noticeably, there are flags draped everywhere, they are like sacred tapestries, and nearly every scene is constructed to honor or promote American-​ness in some way. Plus, Bruce Willis; probably the most stereotypically “American” action hero. There’s nothing original here, the film is basically a HGH version of the played-​out “can we disarm the bomb in time?” trope.

Armageddon might be the most quintessentially American movie of the post-​WWII era. Its genius is that of an idiot savant, but because this movie lacks anything approaching self-​awareness, the glory of its bravado & obvious tackiness capture what it means to be American in the purest of terms. Michael Bay set out to make a blockbuster about America’s big balls and succeeded, but in his quest to present us with two hours of subconscious masturbatory zeitgeist-​stroking (thereby turning us into lab rats who don’t even have to hit the crack button) he managed to remove anything vaguely approaching a compelling narrative. The movie is pablum; there is no there there, and that is the only reason it is possible to make the grandiose claims I’m making about this film. If you are a thoughtful person, letting the tits, explosions, & smart-​mouthed dialogue flow through you is like sitting zazen and penetrating through the impenetrable mu of the American psyche through the force of sheer bafflement. You will grasp for any sort of meaning and come up empty, and at the uttermost depth of your despair, when you surrender to the idiocy; enlightenment. This film is the archetype.

Blog Birthday

Saturday, 1 February 2003

my weblog is one year old today. and i was 2 – 1 fencing today.

But more importantly, the Space Shuttle Columbia disintegrated on reentry today. For no good reason, i have a strong emotional attachment to the space program and NASA. i didn’t hear about this until long after it happened. i hate it. when i was 5 back in 1986 i was watching the TV when Challenger went up in smoke. and already at that young age i had great admiration for the explorers of space. and my mom was a teacher, and Christa MacAuliffe was a teacher. the Challenger became the first event that scarred myself, not to mention America as a whole.

then the World Trade Center Towers fell over. Scar number 2.The Doppler radar of Columbia’s debris trail on reentry.

and now another space tragedy. Scar number 3. how something so small can cause something so destructive just makes the event all the more painful. ahh, you few brave astronauts, sailing in the heavens. god shelter you. sail in the heavens and protect your fellow space crusaders. the only way i can talk about this is to wax romantic. this picture in particular is rather haunting. that streak.

it can’t all be horrible though can it? why are there always scars, but so few moments of pure worldwide joy. the closest i can think of is the Fall of the Berlin Wall. what a great thing that was. probably the only way we’ll know the world is getting better is when the universal goods start outnumber the tragedies.