Getting Older Means Never Having To Care About What’s Cool

A friend recently sent me a YouTube video clip from American Idol, and I was struck for about the eighty zillionth time by how out of touch I’ve become with contemporary pop culture.

When I was in my twenties, it’s not that I liked every top 40 recording artist or Top 10 movie. But I pretty much knew who or what most of them were. Now I look at this American Idol montage of celebrities lip-synching to Staying Alive, and I’m lucky if I can identify one out of three. Same with People Magazine. Not only do I not recognize the famous people, I don’t even know who they are when it’s explained to me. “Oh, she was in ‘Five’s a Crowd’ for a season, and ‘Houseboat Surprise,’ and that miniature golf movie with Adam Sandler.” Huh?

Now usually, my reaction to this has been, “Oh, I’m getting so very very old.” I’m 45, and the world of pop culture is passing me by. Pop culture is aimed squarely at the 18-24 set, and I am losing my coolness by the minute. I am already less cool now than I was when I started this post.

But as I was watching this silly American Idol montage, it struck me: There’s another reason I don’t know who these people are.

I don’t care.

When Ingrid and I were planning our wedding, I picked up some bridal magazine at the hairdresser’s, and it had all this stuff about what bridesmaid’s colors and cake flavors and honeymoon destinations were “in” this year. And I remember thinking, “It’s your wedding! What could possibly be less relevant that what’s ‘in’? Who cares what colors and vacation spots other people like? It’s your fucking wedding! What do you like?”

And that’s the other side of getting older. As I’ve gotten older, I’ve gotten significantly better at just liking the things I like, and not giving a shit about whether they’re cool. I like contra dancing, documentaries, cat-eye glasses, graphic novels, spanking porn, comfortable cotton clothing, Richard Dawkins, Harry Potter, atheist bloggers, weightlifting, The Office. And I don’t give shit if any of it is on the Vice magazine What’s Hot list.

Now, I do resist some things about being a codger. I make a conscious effort, for instance, to listen to at least some music made by bands and musicians who are still playing. I never want to be one of those people who only listens to music they listened to in college… and who insists that popular music has all gone downhill since then. In fact, some of my favorite music — Radiohead, Iron & Wine, Low, White Stripes, DJ Danger Mouse, Be Good Tanyas, yada yada yada — is made by performers who are still playing.

And it’s not like the twenty-something people I know are mindless pop culture drones. They aren’t; no more than I was when I was twenty-something. This isn’t about liking or conforming to pop culture. It’s about having a baseline familiarity with it. Knowing about it, having an opinion about it, having it be a reasonably big part of the world you walk in. That’s what’s changed. For me, anyway.

I’m not sure what’s the cart and what’s the horse. Do older people respond less to pop culture because it isn’t aimed at us… or is pop culture not aimed at older people because we don’t respond to it as much? The former is at least partly true; what with the whole disposable income thing, and our youth-obsessed culture in which young people set the trends.

But I think the latter may be true as well. Speaking for myself, getting older has meant getting to know myself and what I do and don’t like better. And it’s meant getting to know the world a little better and what it has to offer. I’ve seen more of the world’s nooks and crannies than I had at 25, enough to have found ones that hold my interest more than the broader cultural brushstrokes. I know the world well enough to know that contra dancing is in it… and I know myself well enough to know that I think contra dancing is wicked cool. And I’ve wasted enough time in the past — and have little enough of it left — to waste any of it caring who Ryan Seacrest is.

Getting Older Means Never Having To Care About What’s Cool

The New “Zoo” Review: The Blowfish Blog

Those of you who remember my movie reviews for the Bay Times and the Spectator and have told me that you miss them, you’re in luck. I’m going to be reviving my long-dormant fim critic career, and will be intermittently using my new gig at the Blowfish Blog to review mainstream and art-house (i.e., non-porn) movies that have interesting content about sex. And I’m starting with the new documentary about zoophilia, “Zoo”:

The movie is about bestiality.

I want to tell you that right up front, since it takes a while for the movie to get around to it. A little more specifically, “Zoo” is a documentary about a 2005 incident in which a man died of a perforated colon after engaging in sexual activity with — read “getting fucked in the ass by” — a horse. And it’s about the small group of people — other zoophiles, or “zoos” — who shared these sexual activities and interests as a community: talking about it on the Internet, engaging in it at small gatherings, and sometimes photographing or filming it.

To read the rest, read the Blowfish blog! And if you know of any new movies with interesting stuff about sex — good or bad — please be sure to let me know.

The New “Zoo” Review: The Blowfish Blog

RickmanWatch: Robin Hood, Prince of Feebs

Here’s what I’ve been hearing about “Robin Hood: Prince of Thieves,” pretty consistently ever since it came out: It’s a terrible, stupid movie. Kevin Costner is unwatchable. But Alan Rickman as the Sheriff of Nottingham kicks ass, and is worth sitting through the rest of the movie for. (Or is almost worth sitting through the rest of the movie for. Opinions vary on this point.)

So it showed on HBO recently, and I thought: What the hell. I’ll Tivo it, I’ll watch it out of the corner of my eye while I’m working on my laptop, and when Alan Rickman comes on I’ll pay attention.

Here’s my assessment.

First: Oh, my dog, is this a terrible movie. Bloated, obvious, as formulaic as bad mainstream porn, with ham-handed attempts at both humor and heroism, it’s everything people hate about costume flicks. And Kevin Costner is even more unwatchable than usual.

But who cares about that. What about the RickmanWatch?

Yes, Rickman is great as the Sheriff of Nottingham. As you would expect him to be. But I didn’t think he was quite all that and a bag of chips. It’s a pretty one-note role: Snarling, Cackling, Snidely Whiplash Bad Guy. And that’s not enough… even for a Tivo’ed “Hot Moments with Alan Rickman” fast-forward session.

That’s hardly Rickman’s fault. That’s how the part was written, and I’m sure it’s how it was directed as well. But I like interesting movie villains, movie villains who seem human, movie villains who shed some light on why people do what they do. They’re more compelling — and more pertinently, they’re more hot.

But Rickman does do one thing with the role that makes it stand out: He makes it funny.

The scene where the Sheriff is trying to marry Maid Marian against her will, and the Merry Men keep trying to break the door down, is a great example. He’s not enraged, he’s not frightened — he’s just incredibly annoyed at the constant interruption. He’s not like Snidely Whiplash at all. He’s like an irritable co-worker who’s being interrupted for the tenth time that day and gets snippy.

And that isn’t something you see a lot of in Standard Snidely Whiplash Movie Villains. Standard Snidely Whiplash Movie Villains are usually too entranced with their beautiful wickedness to let themselves be funny. Rickman is very good at finding the kernel of humor in the humorless, self-important prat — he does it in the Harry Potter movies, he did it to perfection in “Galaxy Quest.” And he does it really well here.

But not quite well enough. Rickman is pretty entertaining in “Robin Hood: Prince of Feebs,” and he does the best he can with what he has; but it’s just not a well-crafted enough role. And there’s just not enough of him in it, even with fast-forwarding through on Tivo. I’m coming down on the “almost worth sitting through the rest of the movie for” side on this one.

So here’s the current Rickman Roundup:

Robin Hood: Prince of Thieves: D-. (And it only escapes getting an F because it has Alan Rickman in it.) Alan Rickman in the movie: B.

The Harry Potter series: Ranging from C+ to B+. Alan Rickman in the
movies: A++.

Galaxy Quest: A. Alan Rickman in the movie: A+.

Dogma: A-. Alan Rickman in the movie: A+.

Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy: B+. Alan Rickman in the movie: A-.

Something the Lord Made: B. Alan Rickman in the movie: B+.

Sense and Sensibility: C. Alan Rickman in the movie: B+. (Been a while since I’ve seen this one, though. I don’t much like the story in the first place, and I thought Rickman was wrong for the part — but he was awfully damn hot. Too hot for the role, actually.)

RickmanWatch: Robin Hood, Prince of Feebs

Children Become Adults — Stop the Presses!

As you may have heard, Daniel Radcliffe, the 17-year-old actor who’s been playing Harry Potter in the movies, is about to do a London stage production of Equus (the psychodrama about a young man who has a sexual obsession with horses), and he’ll have some nude scenes and sexual scenes in the play.

I’m not going to talk about the actual news, which I find only mildly interesting in a “What a smart career move” way. What I find more interesting is the reaction to this news in the media and the public.

So far, much of the reaction I’ve seen has fallen into two camps. One is the juvenile snickering and nitwit penis joke category. (Even Keith Olberman, who I usually like a lot, was falling into this, with stupid jokes about magic wands and broomsticks.)

The other is the shock/horror/dismay category: “But… but… he’s Harry Potter! He can’t be naked! Won’t someone please think of the children?”

And I think both these reactions come from the same place — a discomfort with the fact that children become adults, with adult sexuality.

We know Radcliffe primarily — and quite famously — as a child and a young adolescent. He is now becoming an adult (if I’m not mistaken, 17 is the age of adulthood and consent in England). And this rather obvious fact of life makes many people extremely uncomfortable.

There’s a strong taboo in our society against thinking of children as sexual — a taboo that in many ways is very understandable. But it’s a taboo that we go seriously overboard with. It’s a taboo that twists our experience and blots out our reality. It makes us refuse to acknowledge that children have any kind of sexuality of their own. And it makes us have conniptions over the transition between childhood and adulthood… and the ripening of sexuality that this transition involves.

And I think that’s what the snickering and horror over a naked Daniel Radcliffe is about — the transition, and people’s discomfort with it. When a young person, one who we’re most familiar with as a child and who’s still fairly close to childhood, begins to claim their adult sexuality, I think it makes people feel like pedophiles. This person is still in our minds as a child, but now they’re also in our minds as a sexual adult — and that’s a category error that can cause some serious short-circuiting.

I think this discomfort is aggravated by the fact that, while our society sees childhood as a time of complete asexual purity, it also sees young adulthood as the pinnacle of sexuality and sexual desirability. Children are supposed to somehow magically transform from innocent sexless sugar-babies into ripe, dishy sex bombs — and they’re supposed to do it overnight, with no awkward transitional stage in between to make us feel like creeps.

In a way, I get it. I’ve had crushes on teenage actors before they were legal (Christina Ricci comes to mind), and it made me pretty damned uncomfortable. It gives me the willies to have the hots for people who I think it would be unethical for me to actually have sex with. And it gave me the willies to be having impure thoughts about this dishy teenage goth chick who I first got to know as Wednesday Addams.

But I also think we need to chill the fuck out about it. Children become adults. Childhood sexuality becomes adult sexuality. It’s not news. As Ingrid said when we were talking about this, “What did they THINK was going to happen?”

(P.S. To be completely fair, the reaction to this news hasn’t been entirely snickering and conniptions. A fair number of people are responding much the way I am, with a combination of “Hm, interesting career move” and “Will you all please relax and let this kid grow up?”)

Children Become Adults — Stop the Presses!

Shortbus — my complete review

So Adult Friend Finder magazine has given me permission to run my review of “Shortbus” (the original, unedited version) here on my blog now, without waiting the usual 90 days. So here it is. Enjoy!

The Holy Grail Is Filled With Lube
by Greta Christina

Shortbus. Starring Raphael Barker, Lindsay Beamish, Justin Bond, Jay Brannan, Paul Dawson, PJ DeBoy, Peter Stickles, and Sook-Yin Lee. Original music by Yo La Tengo. Written by John Cameron Mitchell, in conjunction with the cast. Directed by John Cameron Mitchell. 102 minutes. Unrated. Opens October 4 in New York, October 6 in San Francisco and Los Angeles.

John Cameron Mitchell has done it.

He’s cracked the code. He’s found the Grail. Best known until now as the director/co-writer/star of “Hedwig and the Angry Inch,” John Cameron Mitchell has done the thing that it seemed was going to be done in the ’70s but never quite happened; the thing that those of us who care about sex and movies have been hoping for decades would happen but never really expected to see.

He’s made a movie — a regular, non-porno, arthouse-circuit, movie-type movie — with real sex. Explicit, non-faked, “actors actually doing it” sex. Lots of it, not just a scene or two. And he’s made it good. The smart, funny, engaging, “stay up ’til two in the morning talking about it” kind of good. Serious, top-notch, deserving of many awards good.

And now nobody else can ever again say that it can’t be done.

“Shortbus” is unquestionably about sex. I mean, come on — the working title was “The Sex Film Project.” But it’s not about sex in the way that, say, “Debbie Does Dallas” is about sex. It’s about sex in the way that “The Godfather” is about the Mafia, the way “Babette’s Feast” is about food. Sex is the hook, the peg to hang the ideas on. It isn’t so much about sex as it is about what sex means, how people use it, what place it has in our lives. It isn’t so much about sex as it is about the problem of intimacy — the problem of how to connect with other people without losing yourself.

It digs into that question through seven main characters, who intertwine and intersect at a New York sex club/art salon called Shortbus. There’s Sofia (Sook-Yin Lee), a couples’ counselor/sex therapist, who’s never had an orgasm and fakes it dramatically with her husband. There’s Rob (Raphael Barker), Sofia’s sensitive and supportive husband, who has no job or direction — or indeed life — of his own. There’s Jamie (PJ DeBoy), a former TV child star with an unsettling attachment to his old TV catch phrase, who can’t let go of his former fame and who wants more than anything to “love everyone in the world.” There’s James (Paul Dawson), Jamie’s lover, a former hustler, who’s obsessively filming his life for the lover he’s getting increasingly detached from. There’s Ceth, pronounced Seth (Jay Brannan), a dishy young model in constant search of a husband, who hooks up with Jamie and James — and leaps giddily to the assumption that the two of them are the husband for him. There’s Caleb (Peter Stickles), a quietly creepy freelance proofreader who stalks/spies on Jamie and James and has become scarily obsessed with their relationship. And there’s Severin (Lindsay Beamish), a professional dominatrix and amateur artist, a woman with perceptive and profound insight into other people’s lives and problems — and an equally profound inability to connect with those people in a way that’s anything other than confrontational.

And right from the beginning, you see these people’s characters — and their neuroses — sketched out in their sex lives. Sofia and Rob, who look like a perfect couple from a Gap commercial, start the movie having wild porn-star sex in every position in the Kama Sutra, followed by a smug little post-coital chat about how great their life is. (Sofia actually says, “I feel sorry for couples who don’t have what we have.”) But we soon find out that Sofia’s not getting off and is faking it so Rob won’t leave her… and a bit later on, we learn that Rob isn’t getting the one thing he needs to wake him up sexually and make him feel connected. James starts the movie masturbating into his mouth on camera, for the film he’s making for Jamie… but when Jamie comes home and wants to make love, James turns him away. Meanwhile, Caleb is watching James jerk off — actually, he’s watching James filming himself jerking off — through a telephoto camera lens from a neighboring building. Ceth starts his stretch of the movie using a hand-held electronic dating-service device to try to meet guys… while he’s at the Shortbus sex club and art salon, surrounded by amazing people of all genders and preferences. And Severin is half-heartedly whipping the ass of a smug trust-fund hipster who keeps pressing her with nosy questions that seem profound and probing on the surface but are actually glib and meaningless.

Now, the thing that strikes you right off the bat about the sex in “Shortbus” isn’t just what a natural facet of the characters it is. What strikes you about the sex in “Shortbus” is how natural it is, period — how authentic it feels, how much it looks like real human sex.

I mean, if you’ve heard anything about this film, you’ve heard that it’s the Real Sex movie. And even if you’ve seen a lot of porn, you might expect to be somewhat startled by that, either shocked or titillated or both. But the very explicitness of the sex actually makes it less jarring. In most non-porn movies, when you see someone naked, it’s so fleeting — and so out-of-place — that you can’t help but be jolted out of the narrative while you stare at their goodies. But in “Shortbus,” the nudity and the sex are so upfront, so un-selfconscious, and such a fluid part of the story, that you almost immediately stop being surprised by it. The sex in “Shortbus” doesn’t push you away from the characters, to drool over them from a voyeuristic distance — it draws you in, to identify with the characters and care about them.

And I think because of this, the sex doesn’t get used as a symbol of the characters and their strengths or flaws. In most movies, good sex and bad sex are handed out like lollipops or spankings — rewards or punishments for being the right or wrong kind of person. But in “Shortbus,” bad sex isn’t a finger-wagging punishment for being neurotic and troubled. It’s just one aspect of a neurotic and troubled life. The sex isn’t a consequence of these people’s lives. It’s part of their lives. It isn’t separate.

There are so many examples of this, and I could gas on at great length about every single one. But my favorite is the remote control vibrator. After going to the Shortbus sex club on her own, Sofia brings Rob along — along with a remote control vibrating egg, the egg portion of which she tucks into her panties, and the control portion of which she hands to her husband. The idea is that they’ll wander around the party on their own, but when he wants to connect with her, he can give her a little remote control buzz, and she’ll feel it and know that it’s his touch.

But Rob is distracted and uncomfortable at the party, and he sticks the remote in his back pocket and pretty much forgets about it. He does set it off, several times — but he does it by accident, without even knowing he’s doing it, leaning against a door or flopping down on a sofa. Eventually he loses the remote… and it gets picked up by someone else at the party, who tries to flip channels on the TV with it.

So Sofia keeps thinking that Rob is sending her happy little sexy “I love you” messages by remote control… but in fact, he’s not. He’s in his own little world, and isn’t really thinking about her at all. And the buzzes keep going off at exactly the wrong moment, interrupting connections and conversations that Sofia’s having with other people, turning moments of genuine intimacy into awkward erotic faux pas. Once Sofia discovers that Rob has lost the remote, every shred of her therapy-speak “own your own feelings” relationship style gets blown into shrapnel. She flies into a rage — probably the most honest and direct communication she’s had with Rob in ages — and smashes the egg into pieces.

In other words, the device that’s meant to create a loving and sexy connection between them winds up just being sexual static — the illusion of a connection without a real connection — that gets in the way of any closeness they might have with other people, without fostering any intimacy between the two of them.

Kind of like their marriage.

That may sound depressing and grim. But “Shortbus” is anything but. It’s a serious movie, yes, and at times it’s fucking tragic. But it’s also funny and clever, touching and sexy, engaging and sweet. And it’s hopeful. This is actually one of the things I like best about the movie — it’s positive about sex, without being deluded about it. It doesn’t pretend that good people will always be rewarded with happy sex; it doesn’t pretend that all sexual problems are easily solved with the right toy or technique or even the right partner; it doesn’t pretend that sex will save the world. It acknowledges how complicated sex is, how wrong it can go, how badly it can hurt when it goes wrong. It sees all that — and it still sees sex as joyful, and necessary, and worth trying to do right. It sees sex as an essential form of human connection — and it sees human connection as worth doing, maybe the only thing worth doing, even when it’s difficult and frustrating and doesn’t go right.

I could go on an on. This could easily have been a five-thousand word movie review, and I’d still have felt like I had more to say. I could talk about the recurring theme of documentation and self-documentation: how everyone in the movie is filming and photographing themselves and each other, so busy trying to connect through art and technology that they wind up making themselves distant and self-conscious. (Like having your primary form of connection with the world involve sitting at a computer by yourself at two in the morning telling everyone what to think, just for example…)

I could talk about how non-simplistic that theme is, how the movie isn’t just a heavy-handed ironic screed about the isolation of the modern world. I could talk about how the tools people use to connect in the movie do sometimes help them connect, even when they’re crossing their wires… and how the crossed wires sometimes turn into real connections.

I could talk about how, unlike almost every other movie ever made about love and sex, “Shortbus” doesn’t view every dissolved relationship as an unredeemed tragedy. I could talk about how rare it is for a movie to acknowledge that some relationships make people unhappy — even good people who are trying their best — and that sometimes a break-up is the beginning of a happy ending.

I could talk about the fact that all the jobs the main characters have — actor, model, sex worker, proofreader, therapist — are all jobs that are about communication and connection… and yet are also about keeping a leash on self-expression, molding the face you present into something other people need.

I could talk at great length about the repeated theme of boundaries and boundariless-ness: the delicate balance between too much distance and not enough, the question of how to keep reasonable boundaries without building impenetrable walls, and how to let the world penetrate you without losing your own skin.

I could talk at very great length about how fluid sexual identity is in the movie, and how naturally people from different sexual identity groups connect and interact. The lesbians and gay men and straight people all have their little worlds; but this is a modern American city, and these worlds all overlap, and these people all know each other. This is actually one of the most striking things about “Shortbus,” and it’s a little depressing to realize how unusual it is. There’s no Gay Best Friend in an otherwise totally straight movie; there’s not the One Lesbian Couple at the party, or the Tranny Comic Relief who shows up for five minutes to be laughed at and disappear. There’s just gay men and lesbians and straight folks and bi folks and transfolk, and they all know each other and like each other and irritate each other and get tangled in each other’s lives. You know — like real life, in any major city anywhere in the Western world.

I could talk about the fact that, for once in my goddamn life as a movie viewer, I didn’t feel insulted by the depiction of sadomasochists. I could talk about how sadomasochism isn’t used as a sign of evil or craziness or misery in “Shortbus,” but is shown as just another way to be sexual, with its own special pleasures and complications, and as much potential for trouble and joy as any other way.

I could talk about how the movie seems much longer than it is — not because it’s dull or sloppy, but because there’s so much going on. The movie is so rich, with so much nuance and complexity and detail, that it doesn’t seem possible that it all got packed into just 102 minutes.

And I could talk about the places where the movie doesn’t quite work — the false notes, the plot turns that feel forced, the character developments that don’t seem plausible. There are undoubtedly a few of these: the therapist who smacks her client in the face and then spills out the details of her fucked-up sex life; the clients who then invite her to the sex club; the voyeur/stalker who turns out to be just another caring guy who needs love and connection. The dead body in the Jacuzzi that nobody notices until they bump into it. That sort of thing. “Shortbus” is not a perfect movie, and I like and respect it too much to pretend that it is.

Because this is much better than a perfect movie. This is a great movie. This is a true movie. This is a unique movie. And this is an important movie. This is a movie about sex that’s explicit, not just in the standard sense of the word, but in every sense. It tells the truth about sex, as clearly and precisely and honestly as it can.

And that, all by itself, makes it invaluable.

Shortbus — my complete review

Shortbus: The Holy Grail Is Filled With Lube

John Cameron Mitchell has done it.

He’s cracked the code. He’s found the Grail. Best known until now as the director/co-writer/star of “Hedwig and the Angry Inch,” John Cameron Mitchell has done the thing that it seemed was going to be done in the ’70s but never quite happened; the thing that those of us who care about sex and movies have been hoping for decades would happen but never really expected to see.

He’s made a movie — a regular, non-porno, arthouse-circuit, movie-type movie — with real sex. Explicit, non-faked, “actors actually doing it” sex. Lots of it, not just a scene or two. And he’s made it good. The smart, funny, engaging, “stay up ’til two in the morning talking about it” kind of good. Serious, top-notch, deserving of many awards good.

And now nobody else can ever again say that it can’t be done.

Thus begins my review of “Shortbus” — a movie I’m tremendously excited about — which just got posted to the Adult Friend Finder magazine. Lately I’ve been putting my Adult Friend Finder reviews in their entirety here on my blog — but my contract with AFF says I have to wait 60 days to do that, and since the movie opens this weekend, I thought y’all would want to read it now. I’m not ecstatic with the editing on it, and I’ll almost certainly post the original version in its entirety here at some point… but in the meantime I’ll tell you that you absolutely cannot miss this movie. If you care about sex and movies, you have to make seeing it a high priority. And I’ll leave you with how I closed my review:

This is much better than a perfect movie. This is a great movie. This is a true movie. This is a unique movie. And this is an important movie. This is a movie about sex that’s explicit, not just in the standard sense of the word, but in every sense. It tells the truth about sex, as clearly and precisely and honestly as it can.

And that, all by itself, makes it invaluable.

Shortbus: The Holy Grail Is Filled With Lube

But Maybe They Didn’t Mean “Ha-Ha” Funny: Bravo’s 100 Funniest Movies of All Time

Bravo TV has just aired another of those “Top Whatever List” shows that are so ubiquitous these days. In this case, it’s the “100 Funniest Movies of All Time.” And it’s had me foaming at the mouth for a week. (The list is at the end of this post, if you want to foam for yourself.)

It’s not the prevalence of yahoo frat-boy sex/fart/pratfall movies on the list that’s irritating me. It’s not the obvious preference for relentless gag-a-minute flicks over smart, snappy dialogue. It’s not the fact that they included “The Birdcage” while somehow managing to overlook “La Cage aux Folles.” It’s not even the fact that they put both “Ace Ventura, Pet Detective” and “Arthur” in their Top Ten — yes, the Top Ten — while “Monty Python and the Holy Grail” clocked in at #40, and “Spinal Tap” earned a pathetic #64. Tastes differ, I get that. And I’ve certainly found the humor in more than one gag-a-minute yahoo comedy.

What’s irritating me about this list is the fact that not one single film on it was made before the 1960s.

Not one.

And damn few before the 1970s.

In other words, Bravo TV compiled a list of the hundred funniest comedies of all time, and didn’t include:

The Marx Brothers
Buster Keaton
Harold Lloyd
Charlie Chaplin
Billy Wilder

Ingrid has been very amused by how irritated this has made me, and by how much time and energy I’ve spent nursing my irritation. (By blogging about it, just for example.) I’m not completely certain why it’s bugging me so much myself. After all, Top Whatever lists always provoke arguments. (Maybe that’s the difference between the good Top Whatever lists and the dumb ones — the good ones provoke smart, interesting arguments, while the dumb ones provoke nothing but the spewing of bile.)

But it’s not just that the list is irritating, or even that it’s dumb and irritating. It’s that it’s such a Perfect Symbol Of Everything That’s Wrong With Our Society. Well, maybe not a perfect symbol — global warming and secret prisons and the imperial Presidency and the increasing popularity of eating contests are probably better symbols — but a good one, anyway.

It’s the willful ignorance of it that really bugs me. I find it hard to imagine that the people at Bravo have really never heard of “Some Like It Hot” or “A Night at the Opera.” It’s much more likely that they considered them, and decided instead to pander to the 18-34 demographic. They didn’t want their audience to skew old, so they stuck their fingers in their ears and went “La la la la la” and pretended that no funny movies were made before the 18-34 year olds were born (thus insulting both the over-34 crowd for being irrelevant and the 18-34 crowd for being ignorant).

And as a result, they went on record with the assertion that “Dumb and Dumber” deserves a place in the pantheon of cinematic comedy, but “City Lights” doesn’t.


Okay. Rant over. I’ll try to turn my outrage back to global warming and stuff now. Oh, yeah, here’s the list. Tell me what about it irks you the most!

100. Anchorman
99. The Birdcage
98. School of Rock
97. Happy Gilmore
96. Four Weddings and a Funeral
95. Harold & Kumar Go to White Castle
94. Waiting for Guffman
93. The Aristocrats
92. Father of the Bride
91. Revenge of the Nerds
90. Clueless
89. Slapshot
88. Team America
87. The Kentucky Fried Movie
86. Zoolander
85. Dirty Rotten Scoundrels
84. Silver Streak
83. Sister Act
82. Tootsie
81. Half Baked
80. Lost in America
79. Three Amigos
78. Bananas
77. Flirting with Disaster
76. Ghostbusters
75. Dumb and Dumber
74. Trading Places
73. City Slickers
72. Moonstruck
71. Roxanne
70. The Nutty Professor (Eddie Murphy)
69. The Blues Brothers
68. Broadcast News
67. Kingpin
66. Dazed and Confused
65. Office Space
64. This is Spinal Tap
63. Manhattan
62. The Pink Panther
61. Election
60. When Harry Met Sally
59. Police Academy Series
58. Private Benjamin
57. Swingers
56. Young Frankenstein
55. Bull Durham
54. Ferris Bueller’s Day Off
53. Dr. Strangelove
52. Meet the Parents
51. National Lampoon’s Vacation
50. The Princess Bride
49. American Pie
48. American Graffiti
47. 9 to 5
46. The Incredibles
45. Raising Arizona
44. Sixteen Candles
43. What About Bob?
42. Harold and Maude
41. Austin Powers
40. Monty Python and the Holy Grail
39. Mrs. Doubtfire
38. Best In Show
37. Dodgeball
36. Good Morning Vietnam
35. Beetlejuice
34. Rushmore
33. Clerks
32. Groundhog Day
31. The Big Lebowski
30. The 40 Year Old Virgin
29. Legally Blonde
28. Annie Hall
27. A Fish Called Wanda
26. Wayne’s World
25. Meet the Fockers
24. Bill & Ted’s Excellent Adventure
23. Big
22. Beverly Hills Cop
21. Shampoo
20. The Jerk
19. Wedding Crashers
18. Stripes
17. M*A*S*H
16. Old School
15. Fast Times At Ridgemont High
14. Napoleon Dynamite
13. Naked Gun Series
12. The Producers
11. Pee-Wee’s Big Adventure
10. Arthur
9. Ace Ventura: Pet Detective
8. Blazing Saddles
7. The Wedding Singer
6. Airplane
5. South Park: Bigger, Longer, Uncut
4. There’s Something About Mary
3. Shrek
2. Caddyshack
1. Animal House

But Maybe They Didn’t Mean “Ha-Ha” Funny: Bravo’s 100 Funniest Movies of All Time

Dream diary, 5/12/06: Aaron Eckhart and the evil BART ticket machine

I dreamed I was having dinner with Aaron Eckhart (the actor: “Thank You for Smoking,” “In the Company of Men”). He was intelligent and charming, but also very snarky, and he kept asking trick questions and openly gloating when I answered wrong. He lived in this cramped, very messy apartment in San Francisco, and served me bacon and eggs and sliced bananas for dinner. I didn’t want to hurt his feelings by telling him I didn’t eat pork, and decided it was ethically okay to eat it if someone gave it to me who didn’t know that, so I ate it anyway.

After dinner, I tried to take BART home, but the BART ticket machine was dispensing candy and sodas as well as tickets: I pushed the wrong button, and the machine spewed out a huge stream of little hard candies, as well as a Coke. I spent most of the rest of the dream trying to make the machine give me an actual BART ticket, and trying to fit the enormous pile of candies into my purse.

Dream diary, 5/12/06: Aaron Eckhart and the evil BART ticket machine

Dream diary, 5/4/06: Voldemort’s glasses

I dreamed that Harry Potter had found Voldemort’s glasses, and was convinced that this was a major key to defeating him. He was trying to contact the other members of the Order of the Phoenix to let them know about the glasses, but was having trouble getting around, since BART had just added a new line and the maps were confusing.

I woke up thinking, “I need to get a life.”

Dream diary, 5/4/06: Voldemort’s glasses