“Guardians of the Galaxy” is not THAT good

When a movie earns a 92% from Rotten Tomatoes, it gets your attention.

So I cheerfully took my wife and 10-year-old son to see “Guardians of the Galaxy.”   Both the New York Times and the Los Angeles Times gave positive reviews. 

Sometimes when you see a movie trailer that does not impress you, yet see the film anyway, it is surprising better than the coming attractions.   This is not the case with this film.

The trailer looked bad and the move, while not b-a-d, is just another run-of-the-mill, Marvel Comic Empire franchise product, with the obligatory Stan Lee cameo in the first 10 minutes.

We have another two-hour commercial for the advanced special effects $170 million can buy you these days. As the few negative reviews point out, there is no real suspense in the hard to follow narrative.

My wife and I both end up nodding off during parts of films like these because the action sequences are so derivative of one another—apocalyptic battles depicting utter destruction of cityscapes and outer space explosions—that the monotony of it all produces a somnambulant effect. I challenge anybody to watch a one-minute scene taken from any of these summer blockbusters and correctly figure out which film it is.

What also bothers me about a lot of the PG and PG-13 films these days is that the word “shit” and “bitch” have become quite common.   Despite a talking raccoon and tree, characters one would assume pander to children, the film blurs the line of entertainment that is supposed to serve both adults and kids.   It’s like a Mexican restaurant that has hamburgers on the menu in order to appease families with children who need their burger fix.

Hey producers:   Either make a film for kids or for adults—don’t be so greedy.

 

The Pornification of America

“Sex sells” used to be the mantra of Madison Avenue.  Today it is smut that sells.

People can be very good at trumpeting certain causes, such as outlawing cigarette smoking in public places, making sure animals have rights, cleaning up the environment.  But when it comes to the pollution of the eyes and ears, protests are nonexistent.

So many stimuli exist in the 21st century that makes it practically impossible to shield young children from being bombarded by images and sounds that at the very least makes it quite difficult to explain to young people, at the worst makes life around them coarse and vulgar.

In the past, double entendres were employed as a way to get around a censor.  Nowadays, there is no fooling of what the true meaning of something is.  In fact, often the magnified message is quite clear, slammed in your face super-sized style, leaving no doubt what is intended.

All this crassness in the advertising and marketing industries is akin to a bunch of boys sneaking a peak at a porn website.  They know what they’re doing is considered “forbidden” but it’s fun doing it anyway because they’re getting away with something.

Here are recent samples of promotional campaigns that have appeared in print, on television, on billboards, and, incredulously, on public buses.  Evidently, city transportation agencies have no sense of decency on how they generate revenue.

Look at the HBO series “Hung.”  No, it is not about capital punishment.  According to the series description, “Ray resolves to take advantage of his greatest asset, in hopes of changing his fortunes in a big way.”

“Zack and Miri Make a Porno.”  Amazingly, some news outlets showed a touch of class by refusing to run the full title of this film.

“E! The Girls Next Door” ran commercials during TBS’s broadcast of the baseball division series last fall showing scenes of naked women’s backsides blurred, a naked woman who had mud on her breasts and nothing else, and women in all kind of lurid poses.  What a nice way to spend the evening with my 9-year-old son.

Showtime’s “Nurse Jackie” had the ad line “life is full of little pricks.”

Quizno’s marketing campaign for its Toasty Torpedo sandwich with a commercial showing a man physically inserting a phallic-shaped sandwich into an oven opening, with the oven speaking to the man ala the computer HAL from “2001:  A Space Odyssey,” “Put it in me, Scott.”

An ad for ”Bad Teacher” showed star Cameron Diaz leaning back at her desk in a classroom, her feet propped upon the desk with her legs uncovered, the words “eat me” on an apple, and the tagline, “She doesn’t give an F.”

What makes it worse is that the subject matter is a teacher.  The real world is crammed with enough true horror stories about inappropriate student-teacher relationships, so is it smart or responsible for a major motion picture studio to make a movie like this and distribute in theatres as entertainment across the country?

You know, not every movie-going patron is an oversexed sophomoric male whose sexual habits get satiated with Internet porn sites.

Clearly, things have gotten out of control.  This is not about censorship.  It’s about boundaries.  It’s about someone, somewhere taking a stand for what is naughty and what is nice.

If your reaction to these examples is “big deal,” then my point is made:  people have become blinded to good taste.

No standards seem to exist anywhere anymore.  Are viewers asleep out there?

We all should feel embarrassed when we see and hear these images.  Evidently shame is on the endangered species list of human traits along with responsibility for one’s actions.

No, using four-letter words and profane depictions is not the end of American civilization.  But why aren’t more people riled up about these gutter tactics occurring regularly on TV, billboards, and webpages?

One of the main problems with so much of this is the blurring of right from wrong.  Children growing up with a coarser culture are bound to be courser themselves.

We don’t know the possible harm that is being done on young people’s psyches.  As human beings all of us should strive to be the best that we can be.  Unfortunately, too many media messages push the envelope in a kind of contest of how crude can people get.

There is plenty of room in the marketplace for garbage.  The public should have the choice whether or not to be forced to look at it and smell it.

Whenever you see something that definitely crosses the line, make a point not to see the movie or watch the series or buy the product.  It is time for good, decent people to let these companies know that enough is enough.

 

Garcetti’s F-bomb Unbecoming a Mayor

When Los Angeles Mayor Eric Garcetti declared “this is a big f—ing day” while holding up a bottle of beer on live television at Monday’s rally celebrating the Los Angeles Kings winning the National Hockey League’s Stanley Cup I thought I was watching a promo for the upcoming “Dumb and Dumber” sequel. 
 
Once you have commercials discussing four-hour erections, cartoon characters passing gas, and elected officials intentionally dropping f-bombs in order to look cool, we are indeed no longer in Kansas.
 
As an educator, I’ve held high standards for myself, including not using obscenities in front of students despite kids feeling emboldened to swear frequently regardless if adult workers are within earshot. Having the Mayor gleefully belt out a curse word in public sends the message that it’s okay to do so because, as he put it, the f-word is “something that plenty of people have heard in their lives.” 
 
Well, plenty of people have seen pornography but that does not mean that the mayor of Los Angeles should be seen watching it.  He was speaking in front of thousands of people, many of them youngsters. 
Yet I wonder how long I can continue struggling against the tsunami of uncivilized behavior that infiltrates our daily lives.
 
My son and I loved watching the Kings playoff run, we cheered when Martinez scored the Cup-clinching goal in Game Five, and we smiled broadly watching the rally.   And then the Mayor spoke.  
 
His remarks spoiled the good feelings we had, stealing attention away from the Kings.
 
Worse than the mayor of the second most populous city in the U.S. swearing was the positive response he received.  Being a politician, he surely knew that his calculated remarks would gain him “hero” status among some citizens.  Let’s hope that those who view dropping an f-bomb as a qualification to hold public office don’t actually vote on Election Day.
 
What does His Honor plan on doing for an encore if the Kings win another Stanley Cup:  drop his pants and moon the opposing team? Surely this would have people roaring their approval, but that does not mean it should be done.   The mayor should aim higher than the lowest common denominator.
 
Garcetti should understand that as mayor he represents all Angelenos and should treat that position with utmost respect.
 
As mores continue to deteriorate, I refuse to be bullied by today’s culture to lighten up and not be a wet blanket in spoiling everyone’s fun at being naughty.
 
Recently I contacted Sit ˜n Sleep founder and CEO Larry Miller about a radio ad that repeatedly substituted the word “sheet” for the 4-letter s-word in every conceivable way, and asked him if he thought it was appropriate to air during daytime hours when little ears can hear it.
 
Miller said that “we have pulled the ad in question and will not run it again” explaining that “sometimes the creative folks go too far.”   At least he realized a line had been crossed and took corrective action.
 
So thanks, Mayor Garcetti, for making my job as a teacher and a parent even harder.
 
I wish he could have seen the expression on my son’s face when he said that expletive, one of confusion not one of adulation.   
 
In recent years it has been said that it takes a village to raise a child.   But if it’s a village of idiots, what’s a parent to do?