Bill is a bunny

Wednesday, November 30, 2005

On censoring Terry Gilliam's "Brazil" and the word "fuck"

Well, we're almost done showing Brazil this week. The kids have been really into it though if you asked them anything about the movie they would tell you that it's "boring" and "stupid". Yeah, right. Then why are you staring at the screen wide eyed and constantly asking me what will happen next? Meh.

Brazil is swell for junior high school students for a lot of reasons. One would be it's pretty to look at and pretty funny in places. Another would be stuff blows up every 15 minutes or so keeping the little tykes engaged. And one more would be the frightening realities that it seems to predict with an ever more accurate eye. If this movie doesn't stir some citzenship in these brats by the end then I'll just have to pull a Shirley Chisolm on them.

We ran into a trouble spot duuring first perios when I did not mute the DVD soon enough and Sam Lowry tells Jill to "fucking move this truck!" The kids were immensely amused by this but the teahcer less so. When they showed Titanic in sciuence class (don't ask me why) there was copious swearing, sexing and shooting (as well as kissing and romancing which were less appreciated). Another f-bomb snuck out when our heroes drive through a road block. All this slipped by my usually studious eye and I resolved to remain in the classes showing the film in order to delete the offending (oddly enough "offend" was the word of the day in Reading today) words. No real problems after that. But I still feel like an idiot for having to do this. "Fuck" is not going to hurt anyone. These kids know the word and know it is not appropriate to use in certain situations (I still remember the first time I said "fuck" to my mother. It was also the first time she ever hit me. Ouch!) I can show all the violence I want to but if we sneak anywhere near sexuality, watch out!
What am I supposed to do show them Emmet Otter's Jug Band Christmas? Well, actually I might do that but anyway...you see my point? Meh. I say meh!

Friday, November 18, 2005

RIZE

I've been showing the kids a film called Rize today since we're about to get out for a week of Thanksgiving vacation. Once again the students went bannas for a pick of mine. I'm developing quite a reputation around here (I also donated a copy of Napoleon Dynamite to the school library this week). We've had to skip over a brief section of the film that deals with the "stripper dance" because it's pretty suggestive and really doesn't do anything for the film and its deletion didn't hurt the flick too much (though I am censoring which makes me feel kinda creepy). If anything the deletion created a buzz amongst the kids about what we wpouldn't show them which will hopefully make them want to rent or buy the DVD and watch it themselves. If anyone out there is teaching inner city youth please consider showing this movie in class. Its really entertaining and upbeat while remaiining pretty firmly grounded in reality. Worthwhile for kids and adults.

One of the kids gave me a comic he drew about a monster called "The Vidrine" that is terrorizing a city. I almost cried when I read it.

Monday, November 14, 2005

Get Killed or Die Trying

I went to the 50 Cent movie (this ain't no film, ladies and gents) this past weekend and came back sorely disappointed. When one goe to these modern day blaxploitation films one hopes for some transcendant moments of sleaze and posturing mixed with barechested macho behavior and violence by the bucket. Well all these elements are present and accounted for in Get Rich or Die Trying but it all rings so hopelessly self aggrandizing that you never once are allowed to lose yourself in this fantasy of a hip hop star's rise to fame and fortune. Some of the elements from 50's life are here, but get treated as reverential homlies from a man who has seen the error of his ways (actually that;'s not it at all; 50 is never at fault in anything he does in this movie but we'll get to that later). The gangster cliches come fast and furioous with lousy mugging from all the cast members except 50 Cent who spends most of the time looking like he would rather be somewhere else. In fatc that could be said of everyone in this turkey with the exception of Terrence Howard, who brings home the only decent performace in the entire picture (and one that was mostly improvised). Howard's intorduction in a shower room brawl is brave (he's full frontal in the entire this IN LONG SHOT, while 50 does his best to turn his back to the camera so his ding dong ain't flapping) is the one really great thing in this movie. It is GREAT. I wish it was in something else sop I could get the DVD and watch it again and again. But I'll never get this movie on DVD. EVER. You coulld not give me this movie. It sucks that bad.

One of the biggest problems in the movie is the treatment of crack dealers and crack itself. We have no clue from the ghetto world we see here that crack heads even exist or what they do to the communities in which they live. We see tow crackheads in the movie: one is a punchline and the other is a traitor to the great man, 50 Cent. Ja Rule gets some fake face time as a light skinned rapper who comes across as the piussy he is made out to be in so many of 50 Cent's songs. 50 Cent goes on for minutes at a time about how he wants to tell the truth in his music but all we get is self aggrandizment and so much more bullshit. Biggie Smalls (Notorious BIG) became renowned for his raps because he had a sense of himself. 50 Cent has a sense of his wallet. I gotta go teach some urban youth now. Bye.

Thursday, November 10, 2005

"Hello, kiddies..."

At school we have fifteen minutes of required reading twice a week in first perios. Naturally the kids hate this and wish they were watching Channel 1 and consequently never bring books. The teacher has a stack of old National Geographics and Sports Illustrateds for them to glance through but this just doesn't cut it for me (or her, honestly). I decided to dig through my parents attic last week and pulled down a box of my old EC comics reprints from the 1950s (well, the books were originally published in the '50s; I bought my copies in the late 1980s ealy 1990s). I hemmed and hawwed about bringing them to school for the rest of the week. I dreaded some parent getting pissed about their kids reading such filth, etc. or worse yet offending the teacher and losuing my job (which I love quite a bit, can you tell?) Well, I bit the bullet today and the kids LOVED the fucking things. They sat quietly ACTUALLY reading the things and grinning at the pictures all the while. It filled my heart with a kind of joy looking at these kids readin TALES FROM THE CRYPT and CRIME SUSPENSE STORIES for school instead of having a school sponsered bonfire of these little gems. I got permission at the same time to show Brazil after the Thanksgiving break for three days in class. I'm king of the world, pinches!

Monday, November 07, 2005

"What's Welsh for 'Fuck Off'?"

Well, the John Cale show Friday was indeed spectacular. He opened with "Venus in Furs" and then proceeded to go through his vast backcatalog of solo work with a brief stop over in Johnathan Richman Country for "Pablo Picasso". The songs he played from "Walking on Locusts" were personal favorites because I've never really dug that album but live the songs were very moving indeed. I talked with all kinds of folks in line before the show (we got there at 5:00, excellent time in my opinion) including one of the co-founders of the Church of the Subgenius (Bob and I both need slack), Rev. Sterno. After the show I approached the stage with my clutch of CDs and his autobiography (written with Victor Bockris) What's Welsh for Zen? in the hope of getting an autograph or three. I was told Mr. Cale did not usually do the signing thing. He handed me a setlist (which is proudly hung on my wall in such a way that you can see "Guts", my favorite Cale song, in full display) and I begged him to ask Mr. Cale for me. If he did not want to sign anything, well, what's Welsh for "Fuck off". The road manager thought this was pretty funny and told me to wait by the tour bus and not tell anyone. Sure enough Mr. Cale came out of the theater and graciously spoke to me a a handful of others by the bus, signing things and asking how things were in Monroe(!). The fact that he was so kind and almost grandfatherly after playing for nearly two hours blew my mind. I rationalized that he must have seen me in the second row center bopping around joyously as the rest of the crowd sat there as dour as church mice. Maybe this ingratiated me to him. Maybe not. But I FUCKING LOVE JOHN CALE!!!

Thursday, November 03, 2005

Stalking the wild Welshman in the forrests of Arkansas

If all goes well I'll be going to see John Cale tomorrow in Conway, Arkansas. How weird is that?