Setting the opening scenes on Oscar night 1983 adds a sort of realistic texture to the movie, putting the characters into the same historical and cultural type context that we live in... but I think there's also a little subtext here--I don't think it is a stretch to guess that the writers chose Oscar night 1983 as a way of comparing Mason Storm's violent retribution to Gandhi's non-violent protest. Mason never finds out about Gandhi winning the Oscars, but his friend at the police stations does, and cheers for Ben Kingsley's win shortly before being shot dead. This seems to indicate that pacifism can only go so far, that we are dealing with violent people and that at some point you need to decide that enough is enough and bring violent retribution to your enemies the way Mason Storm does. You can't just let people walk all over you--you need to take them to the blood bank, it says.
The only real weakness I can find in this argument is that Gandhi is an actual historical figure who really did use non-violent protests to bring independence to India, and in turn inspired other movements across the world, including the one that ended segregation in the United states. Mason Storm, on the other hand, is a fictional character and still was only able to get revenge on a couple of people. I'm sure it made him feel better to say stuff like, "That's for my wife. Fuck you and die," but I still think Gandhi's method has a better track record, in my opinion. I mean I could be wrong. I'm not though.
Still, the movie is great.
--From Seagalogy, by Vern.
Out of a vague curiosity and desire to read something different, I picked up Seagalogy, a study of the ass-kicking films of Steven Seagal, and I really can't justify it more than that.
I don't know what I expected with the book, but so far, I'm finding it pretty funny. It's almost like a parody of pop culture criticism, wherein people write thesis' and huge articles about the importance of Buffy the Vampire Slayer and Dr Who, and do it in that tone that suggests that they really want their obsessions to be taken seriously, and to be seen as important. That's always bugged me, simply because, really, they're not. The subtext is often thin, the themes one note, the final product dodgy, and so on and so forth; but in Seagalogy, Vern acknowledges that Seagal's films aren't art, and even as he goes through making a theory that the films have a correlation to Seagal's life, and represent his own interests, he does it without any seriousness, without that pitiful whine that often comes through in pop culture criticism. Vern simply doesn't care. You understand that he loves Seagal's films for what they are, and has a theory about them that he wants you to dig, but there's a good sense of just not giving a fuck if you take it or not, at least at this stage of reading the book.
But mostly, it's funny, and I've surprised myself and stopped reading Lydia Millet's new book--and I fucking love Millet--to read this.