The Mad Aardvark

Critical commentary on culture…

Archive for November, 2008

…the season is upon us.

Posted by madaardvark on November 27, 2008


Eggnog done did me wrong, I tells ya. Them there milk chug 1 pint eggnogs ain’t meant to be drank all at once. I’m sick just in time for turkey day. Maybe it had something to do with it being ULTIMATE Egg Nog!! As in the last dose of eggnog I’ll drink this year. Somebody call a doctor. And tell him that when the word ‘ultimate’ shows up on eggnog cartons, it’s time to stop using that word.


Posted in america | Tagged: | 2 Comments »

Hipsters are douchebags

Posted by madaardvark on November 25, 2008

Appaling to all five senses (decency, style, humor, accomplishment, and ethics), I can no longer abide hipsters. Those who know me have heard my diatribes against modern hippies (useless, ignorant, selfish and an insult to the social movements of the 60s), but the modern hipster is quickly replacing them as Aardvark’s Hated Enemy #1.

My biggest pet peeve is the misuse of the word ‘ironic’. I’ll admit to being in high school and college during the 90s. I’ll admit to giving Alanis Morissete a few props. But that stopped with that “Ironic” song that didn’t include one irony in it. As for hipsters, every time I hear or see something done ‘ironically’ I throw up in my mouth a little. Doing something that makes you look like a jackass, even if you know you look like a jackass, does not make you trendy. It makes you a jackass. You see, irony requires a perspective from someone not directly involved in the ironic action, i.e. a viewer or audience. The only irony in someone doing something ‘ironically’ is from the perspective of someone like myself, who knows the definition, and can say ‘that guy wearing a trucker cap because he thinks truckers are jackasses is truly the jackass.’

Back when I was kicking heels at ska shows, as the scene was slowly dying from the inundation of pink-haired Gwen clones and kids who first saw the BossTones on MTV, those of us who were old enough to shave and remember better times would comment on the shittiness of people who adopted a cultural identity based on image alone. Much like the kids who bought their concert t-shirts online instead of at a concert (here’s a tip: neither Rancid nor the Misfits are together anymore – a sure sign of a trendy fuck), hipsters lack substance. Everything they have is appropriated from other scenes, and have been stripped of their meaning. Pre-faded t-shirts, Buddy Holly glasses, and fucking tweed indicate a lack of understanding of the world rivaled only their uselessness.

Back when ‘alternative’ was getting popular, I coined the phrase ‘conformity to nonconformity.’ I was struck by an advertisement in Spin magazine (the leaders in nonconformist conformity) with a giant picture of some guy with piercings all over his face. The caption read ‘EXPRESS YOUR INDIVIDUALITY.’ In other words, in order to be an indivvidual, you have to be just like this guy. So the idea of doing things just because they’re ‘different’ is absurd to me, especially when everyone is doing the same thing. These hipster assholes are the worse than corporate execs in their shallowness and image-based ethic.

All these things I can almost forgive. What I can’t forgive is how that attitude carries over into the rest of the culture. When a word like ‘meh’ finds its way into the dictionary, you can bet a hipster is the cause of it. They revel in finding things that are impractical, meaningless, or purposeless and trying to convince everyone else how important they are. Psychologically, this is just an extension of themselves. Filled with their own uselessness, they yearn for meaning. The only way they can find that meaning is by manufacturing it in other useless things. And those poor, pathetic bastards are the ones making their scratch online, so those are the inane views that make it into the news stories looking for something ‘cutting edge.’ Idiots.

(A side note: Because the above video is a short version of the commercial and left out the line about the beret, here’s another video…)

Posted in america | Tagged: , | 1 Comment »

What I Love About Legend

Posted by madaardvark on November 24, 2008


A beautiful movie in all respects, Legend left an impression on me years ago when I saw it as a kid, and now that I’m past thirty, I’m more appreciative of the artistic achievments of the film.  But I’m a bitter person at heart, so I’m going to explain what modern fairy tale storys lack.

“No fate, no destiny. You caused the problem; you fix it.” That’s right, a movie about good versus evil  that doesn’t play the protagonist as a hero destined to save the day. Destiny is always kind of a gyp to me. The course of events are already set, so does it really matter what the hero chooses to do? Oh, right, the hero chooses to ‘do the right thing’ or not, but he doesn’t have to grapple with difficult desicions, because the right path will always present itself for those with faith. Blah. I want heroes that worry thing like “I hope this works,” or “Which way do I go? I’m running out of time.” I want to feel that the hero has to work at saving the day, bust his ass to pull out a victory, not just shrug his shoulders and choose between right and wrong. In Legend, we have Jack who is sent on a quest with the words “you’ll do.” He isn’t special at all, not in a cosmic sense. He has heroic qualities, but there wouldn’t be a movie at all if he hadn’t let his personal desires get in the way of what he knew was right in the first place.

Speaking of personal desires, that brings me to my second point. Why do we have such a focus on the inner workings of protagonists lately? Their desires almost always tie in with the fate/destiny problem and somehow if they ‘do the right thing’ that actually involves merely justifying their shitty actions. Give me a movie hero that acts like a hero for a change. I won’t watch The Dark Knight because the Batman in Batman Begins was a selfish ass who was only interested in justifying his own selfish actions. A hero isn’t someone who is driven by personal ‘issues’ or finds a way to cope with them while saving the day.  No, no, no. A hero overcomes his personal issues, puts them to the side, because they get in the way. A hero realizes that he is the Few (or the One, as Captain Kirk said in Star Trek II) whose needs are outweighed by the needs of the Many.  “My shit,” the hero says, “doesn’t mean anything compared to the world.” Jack, in Legend, would rather not save the world, because he’s not prepared for it, and the idea is damned frightening.  But he goes along with it because it’s his responsibility. He doesn’t do it to save Lily; she isn’t kidnapped until he’s made the decision to save the world.

Last, this is my favorite thing about Legend: Good versus Evil is not the point. It’s a metaphor for something else. Sometimes, just sometimes, good and evil don’t make a difference in the real world. It’s movie magic, pixie dust, just a fairy glamour.  Let’s pretend that Legend isn’t a story about unicorns, but about someone in the real world, translating that story into these goblin/unicorn images.  What’s really going on? It’s about the loss of innocence and struggling with how jaded someone can be when they’ve experienced something terrible. Or even wonderful! Like sex! The wole world in Legend breaks down because these two kids had a tryst out in the woods. Maybe it was a fantastic thing, maybe the sex was terrible, but it doesn’t really matter. They’ve crossed a threshold, moving from innocence to experience (go read your fucking Blake – also why Ridley Scott used the imagery in Legend that he did). And in the end, what happens? The girl is broken out of the spell put on her by Jack’s pledge of marriage.  Now, I’m not no naive to believe that marriage is an answer to all sexual problems, I’m just pointing out the major themes of this film: youth, growth, dealing with seemingly innocent actions that lead to disasterous results, inner darkness that never goes away, the ring, the passage of time, the change of seasons, love, sex, seduction. The movie isn’t about light struggling against darkness, but how the innocent must tredge through dark periods of experience to reach the light of knowledge, or enLIGHTenment. Changed and made better, wiser, but no longer stupid kids. And in the end, the fairies leave Jack for good. He isn’t a product of the pure nature/forest anymore. He’s taken up the trappings of soldiers, the products of experienced men. And Lily learns that women have to be decietful bitches sometimes, to give in to the seduction once in a while to get something better out of it (who was more seductive? Jack or Darkness? One of them scored and the other didn’t.)

While writing this, I realized that there are a few more points I’d like to cover: Literature and God.  These things never used to be mutually exclusive (read some Milton, or Chaucer, or Spenser, or Shakespeare – the Big Four). But, well, so it is with a fundamentalist mentality that doesn’t trust education. Throw out literary references because they get in the way of simplistic understanding of God (unless it’s Tolkien or C. S. Lewis, but that’s another rant entirely). Clearly, Tim Curry’s character looks like the devil, but the only direct reference to Christian mythology is calling the unicorn’s horn ‘an antenna reaching towards Heaven.’ Visually, and thematically, the film has closer ties to Blake than the Bible. Now, we could talk about the Bible’s influences on Blake, but I think Blake’s entire point is that “there are more things in Heaven and Earth, Heratio, than are dreamt of” in the Bible’s philosophy… things such as Innocence and Experience.

(A tangent – the character of Meg Mucklebones was played by Robert Picardo, the holographic Doctor in Star Trek: Voyager. Meg was a much better role and acting job.)

Posted in movies | Tagged: , , , , , , , , | 1 Comment »

I have no idea what I’m listening to.

Posted by madaardvark on November 21, 2008

So the lead singer of the Dead Milkmen has some new band (had? I’m not sure how often he updates this part of his webpage) called Parasite Lost. I don’t know what the hell kind of music it is. Electronica punk? I’m sure someone could name it for me, but only one person could explain it and tell me if I should be listening to it or not, and that guy’s dead.  Either way, I don’t think I laughed so hard lately as I did when a) I saw this GameStop commercial on tv tonight where some kid’s parents are rooting through his room looking for ideas for Christmas gifts and find all his porno mags, and b) listening to Parasite Lost’s cover of Tori Amos’ “Cornflake Girl”.  So here’s a link. Someone tell me why I think this is so funny.

Posted in music | Tagged: , , , | Leave a Comment »