Trompé Setsuled (setsuled) wrote,
Trompé Setsuled

The Use of Memory

Why is it everyone remembers Mel Gibson's anti-Semitism before his racism or misogyny? I'm looking at this story on Ain't It Cool News about how AICN is hosting a premiere of Gibson's upcoming action/adventure film Get the Gringo and all the comments are about Mel and Jews. I mean, sure, he said anti-Semitic things when he was pulled over for drunk driving that sounded like they came from the heart. But for me, they just don't stick out as much as the recording of him saying to his wife, "I hope you get raped by a pack of niggers." I'm a believer in the idea that people get a false sense of familiarity with celebrities, that you can't really know someone without talking to them. But when a guy thinks that's okay to say--I mean, the levels of repugnance are manifold. There's the threat of violence to his wife, there's threat of sexual assault, there's the use of the word "pack" as though referring to animals, and of course the "n-word". I felt like Michael Richards got more flack for it, and he was clearly saying it for intentional shock value. Mel was using it like a Klansman, to refer to a species he believes to exist who are subhuman ("pack"). How do people forget this shit? Honestly? I guess maybe I just don't see the awesomeness of his acting or directing talent that eclipses this. I can separate the effectiveness of someone's art from who they are in their private lives, but when a just competent director with a Christ complex he wears on his sleeve is recorded sounding pretty extravagantly and unapologetically racist and misogynist, I don't feel compelled to give him any kind of a pass.

What the fuck, AICN?

Anyway, I watched 50/50 last night, a "comedy-drama" from last year starring Seth Rogen and Joseph Gordon Levitt. I wonder what Nietzsche would make of the term "comedy-drama". Maybe, "Here's your Apollonian sundae with an Apollonian cherry on top." It's a good, fairly lightweight and funny film.

I found myself engaged by the story despite the fact that a lot of it adheres to essentially sitcom logic. It's based on the true story of the film's screenwriter, Will Reiser, and his battle with cancer as well as his relationship with Seth Rogen and how it helped pull him through. I already knew the guy survived his cancer because both he and Rogen appeared on The Howard Stern Show to promote the film. To Howard Stern they revealed that the two of them became friends writing for Da Ali-G Show and that they came up with the premise for one of my favourite Bruno bits;

Joseph Gordon-Levitt plays "Adam Lerner", the fictionalised version of Reiser, while Rogen essentially plays himself. Seth Rogen is such a fun, laid back and likeable actor, but I actually found his stuff in the movie among its least effective moments. The premise of him using Adam's cancer to get himself and Adam laid is funny, but it's played a bit too broadly, and the way Rogen approaches the first girl in this project might as well have been with a neon sign declaring his intentions above his head. This is what I mean by the movie's sitcom logic, which rears its ahead again in other places, as with the black and white pathetic relationship Adam has with his girlfriend played by Bryce Dallas Howard, who cheats on him after not having sex with him for a long time even before his cancer.

Much more effective is the relationship that develops between Adam and Katharine, his therapist played by Anna Kendrick whose tops have necklines that lower as the film progresses.

Her adorable awkwardness at learning her new role as therapist, awkwardly implementing therapeutic techniques like ambient music and gentle arm patting, plays well with Adam's vulnerability in his crisis. It's this chemistry, Gordon-Levitt's commitment and some of the genuine insight into the helpless feelings brought on by his situation in the script, that makes the movie work as well as it does.

For a movie of this kind, it's not bad. I did think about Ikiru, and how its ear was so much better for humanity and the nature of life and death, but not every movie can be a masterpiece and maybe it's not even fair to bring up Ikiru. As a more Apollonian work, 50/50 makes cancer easier to swallow, and sometimes that's a good thing.
Tags: 50 50, anti-semitism, cancer, joseph gordon levitt, mel gibson, movies, mysogeny, racism, seth rogen
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