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Rants

American Apparel : Stable of Runaways

American Apparel advertising is unique. Just as Abercrombie and Fitch all those years ago decided to use gay porn in place of actual advertising, American Apparel has decided to use pictures of runaway girls they found on the freeway enacting various rape scenarios. American Apparel is, in general, a disturbing company in and of itself. Between the creepy sales employees, the CEO Dov Charney’s various sexual harassment lawsuits and the fact that you should never trust a place with so many bright leotards that isn’t a dance studio, American Apparel gives me the creeps.

In order to decipher their advertising, and bring a few girls home to their families, let’s take a look at some of their runaways.

Becca:

Becca is originally from Portland, Oregon and after a terrible fight with her father about her curfew, she decided to take her love of Charles Manson and the Manson girls on the road. She spent 64 days in a VW Bus before Dov Charney found her digging through the dumpsters behind a Shakey’s Pizza Parlour in Van Nuys.

Britt:

This is Britt. Britt was head of the Pep team at East Texas High in Austin until after a particularly rough fight with her father over whether or not she “Would Be Leaving the House in THAT outfit Missy!”. Britt hitchhiked across the lower part of the United States using only her sexuality and the 44 dollars she had in her sock drawer. Dov Charney found Britt somewhere outside of Pheonix at a Days Inn begging for scraps of leftover Bagels from the Continental Breakfast.

Emily:

This is Emily. Murdered in 1986 after a fight with her boyfriend at the Colonial Bowling Lanes in Iowa City, Dov Charney was able to scrape up these crime scene photos before the police roped off the scene. Thrifty that Dov Charney is, thrifty.

Rainn:

This is Rainn. Born Rebecca Smith Anderson to Bob and Kathy Anderson from Fairfield County, Connecticut, Rainn followed the Backstreet Boys around the country in a beat up old Honda until a drifter named Skurt introduced her to Mushrooms. Dev Charney found Rainn sleeping on a playground slide near the California/Mexico border.

Trevor

This is Trevor. These shots were taken just moments before Dov Charney led him into what can only be described as a “Colorful Vinyl Gay Nightmare”. Trevor was head of the debate team at Rich High School in Randolph, Utah until a Craigslist ad posted by Dov Charney convinced him that the National Forensics League had a  headquarters in the San Fernando Valley and that he should “not tell anyone” and “come and pick up your award in person”.

 

For reference, this is Dov Charney:

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To Be Sarsgaarded, To Be Devine

Many years ago a man burst into the world of cinema, accompanied only by his charming looks and trustworthy face. Since then, he’s made a career out of playing the man that every heroine is so quick to trust.

But there is a darker side to the man known as Peter Sarsgaard. And that side is utilized in almost every major motion picture in which he so charmingly and trustworthily appears.

The phenomena is called “being Sarsgaarded”.

“Sarsgaarded” – Verb. To be lulled into a false sense of trust, only to be betrayed with 15 minutes left in the film.

Below is a trusty guide for you, dear readers, so that you may be more prepared than I among viewings of Peter Sarsgaard films, and so that we may never allow ourselves to be tricked by he, or is droopy-dog looking wife Maggie Gyllenhall (of the Gyllenhalls) again.

SPOILER ALERT

Boys Don’t Cry (1999)

Peter plays John Lotter, the boyfriend of Chole Sevigney’s character. After discovering that Hilary Swank has been dressing as a man and is in fact Teena Brandon, a woman, the harmless boyfriend quickly beats and rapes Teena Brandon before eventually shooting her dead. Boom. Sarsgaarded.

The Skeleton Key (2005)

This time around our man plays “Luke Marshall”, a kind and friendly lawyer that Kate Hudson confides in after she suspects some serious foul-play at the home of the Louisiana couple she has been taking care of. She believes that the wife has put a curse on her husband and is now trying to kill her. After sleeping with Sarsgaard, Kate quickly comes to learn that he is not who he says he was, and he is in cahoots with the old woman to steal her mortality. He betrays her and eventually succeeds in allowing the old woman to take over her body. Boom. Sarsgaarded.

Flightplan (2005)

In the Jodie Foster “i can’t find my child” flick Flightplan, Sarsgaard provides us with a one/two punch. Coming out right after The Skeleton Key, Sarsgaard plays US Air Marshall Carson, whom, as Kate Hudson did, becomes the confidante of Jodie Foster after she believes her daughter is missing and no one will believe her. After some extensive investigating, she finally finds out the truth: that she, and us the audience, have once again been Sarsgaarded by his slight Southern Drawl. It turns out that Sarsgaard is the one who kidnapped her daughter in order to bring down Foster and blow up the plane because of her work in Aviation. We also learned that he killed her husband as well, which prompted the trip in the first place. Boom. Sarsgaarded.

Year of the Dog (2007)

Surely a harmless Molly Shannon Indie Comedy will not lead to the betrayal and heartbreak that we have felt film-after-film with our charming friend Pete. Wrong. Pete plays “Newt”, the friendly man from the Animal Shelter who Molly Shannon has a crush on after her dog is put down. They share a kiss and her crush grows. When she finally confesses her love to him…whoops…bam…he’s gay. Boom. Sarsgaarded Molly Shannon. You and all of us.

An Education (2009)

We are once again led down the path to Sarsgaard in the breakout hit, “An Education”. After falling in love with charming older man “David Goldman”,  Carrie Mulligan’s 16-year-old “Jenny Mellor” gives up her studies and drops out of school. Sarsgaard, as “David Goldman” is extremely charming at first, but Mulligan soon finds out that he’s a con man and makes his money through schemes and the like. She’s still fine with this lifestyle and is actually enchanted by it. We as an audience feel we’ve dodged a bullet. It’s no secret he’s a conman. And it’s okay. It’s like Bonnie and Clyde! They love each other. But as we know, never trust a Sarsgaard. We were double conned and it turns out the conman is also married with a family and ends up breaking our girl Carrie Mulligan’s heart.  Boom. Sarsgaard.

Green Lantern (2011)

I have to admit, I did not watch this heaping pile of cinematic garbage. But from the first 20 minutes that I could make it through I learned that Blake Lively is pretending to be a pilot and not a blow-up doll? Also we learned that Sarsgaard is nerdy and reclusive. But then he is recruited by the government and I assume that by the end he turns evil and enacts some kind of huge betrayal.

Now in this advanced day and age, we’ve moved past merely being tricked by Sarsgaard himself. There is a new phenomena called “Sarsgaard Adjacent”.

Sarsgaard Adjacent – Adjective. Being in a film with or sharing similar name structure to Peter Sarsgaard therefore rendering you a sneak who will only bring about betrayal.

Vera Farmiga

Vera appeared in the horror film “Orphan” with Peter Sarsgaard and was betrayed by him when he wouldn’t believe her that the child that they had adopted was trying to kill her. He was eventually murdered by the Orphan girl, with Vera barely escaping with her life so she could in turn Sarsgaard George Clooney in the film “Up in the Air” when she doesn’t tell him that she is married with a family after they fall in love.

Alexander Skarsgard

Alexander Skarsgard shares a name so close to Peter, he must be a betrayer. I don’t watch True Blood, but I assume he’s done a lot of weird, deceptive vampire shit, turned some hookers into vamps and generally fucked people over. But his real betrayal comes in the film remake, “Straw Dogs”, in which he plays Kate Bosworth’s charming old high-school boyfriend. Until he rapes her and tries to murder her and her husband with his bigoted band of locals. Boom. Another Kate been Sarsgaarded by Skarsgard. Double zing!


BP Day 60.

There is an innate reaction that comes from seeing various commercials.

Where does depression hurt? Everywhere. Who does depression hurt? Everyone.
*heartbreak

Hi! I’m Flo. Progressive Insurance. Giggle.
*sheer rage

Dial soap helps to clean up oil-stained little animals.
*overwhelming cuteness/sadness.

And is this where we are BP. Now we have Dial soap doing its work to clean up more baby sea-turtles and birds than ever before and it makes me very sad. If I were to get a call today, I would literally drop everything to go down to the Gulf and clean off Oil-covered tiny animals. Everything.

I don’t want to talk about the environmental repercussions. I don’t want to talk about fault. I don’t want to talk about solutions. I just want to talk about hate and blindness.

This mess is completely the fault of BP. There is no question that they cut corners to save money, ignored safety, and frankly in a PR sense, botched everything after the explosion. And now the Revolutionary War has broken out again. Americans are hurling fireballs at BP. Our President is cursing them out. Our elected officials are literally giving them the scourge. And now the english are fuming at the United States. BP is England’s largest major company and the pensions and monies of thousands of Englanders are tied up in its large clutches. When BP’s stock falls as sharply as it did, people lose money. People lose a lot of it. If BP goes out of business, so does Britain.

Destroying BP is good for no one. I think that in the United States we are so blinded by Nationalism sometimes that we don’t see the world as a whole. We are in an economic crisis. A world economic crisis. Bankrupting BP does not fix this. The oil is leaking. There is nothing we can do about it now. We can try to stop it, we can try to fix it, and BP needs to pay for it financially, but not at the cost of their company. With oil being the new gold, it is such a risky move to take down a company like that.

The environmental impacts of 60 days so far of this oil leak are unbelievably devastating. Let’s not add the bankrupting of thousands of British citizens as well. Americans need to turn off their Nationalism for just a minute and look at the big picture. Is BP’s CEO a jackass? Oh yes for sure. Should he be removed? 100%. But let’s make sure the company can still function after the Americans get done with it. We are playing a dangerous game of JENGA with people’s pensions and someone needs to make sure we don’t pull out the wrong piece. The revolutionary war is by far one of our lamest in history. Muskets. Paul Revere. Long, long stretches of marching. War could not be less boring. I’d like to not repeat it.


2001: A Period Piece


I’d like to think that the 1:00pm viewing of Dear John I attended was for research. And sort of, I guess it was. But it was mostly to fulfill my Nicholas Sparks fix. Also 9/11.

For some reason, the year 2001 has now become the year for high school romance and love. Both “Dear John” and the Robert Pattison movie “Remember Me” take place in September 2001. I guess I’m not so ready to have teen love played out at a time period that I was not only living, but a little evolved and aware. The fact that 2001 is now something like “the 80s” or “the 40s” makes me a bit uncomfortable.

And I think that’s why I love period movies so much (not the Jane Austen kind). I recently watched “Pearl Harbor” for the first time in a long time and it only served to solidify my love for the 1940’s war drama. “The Notebook”, “Divine Secrets of the Ya Ya Sisterhood”, “Pearl Harbor”: set it in the 40s, and I’m there. It can be the biggest chick flick of a film but the 1940s simply do it for me. Back then war seemed so noble and classy and important. Girls in bright red lipstick chase after steam trains carrying their soldier to the battlefields of Normandy.

Something about the 2001ish war films don’t do it for me. FIlms like “The Hurt Locker” and “Jarhead” don’t have the sense of epic drama that WWII films have.

Perhaps is because I’ve actually lived through the Iraq War and 9/11 or perhaps its because enlisting in the army isn’t what it used to be.

Now it’s this:

Just a series of odd and mismatched National Guard music videos that play before movies. I’m not posting the Kid Rock National Guard video out of deference to our troops.

I have a hard time even poking fun at these because supporting the troops is a great thing, but these ads are just simply ridiculous. Watch these videos and try to tell me what the National Guard does. They save photo albums. Play ball with kids in Iraq. Fight waves with guns. Drive Hummers through mud. Save babies from fire. Get screamed at in the rain by Sergeants. Posses the Harry Potter-like ability to transform, through spinning, from a regular person to a polished soldier. It’s ridiculous. But I guess it’s better than the old ad where a Marine had to fight a scary Lord of the Rings Fire Monster:


Healthcare

Today, because of my unemployment, and also because of my interest in the world around me, I watched the Healthcare Summit in Washington DC. I couldn’t make it through all 7 hours, but I certainly made it a good way through. And I don’t usually use this space for politics, so I won’t. What struck me most about the Summit was the group of people sitting around that table. One black man sitting at the head, 3 or so women and the rest just a huge smattering of elderly white men.

I have a hard time understanding how anything can get accomplished by this group of people. Barack Obama rallies the young, that’s why he’s president, but these old staunch senators and representatives won’t have a second of it. There was not one young person in that entire group. And while I understand the importance of experience, the minimum age to be president is 35. Where are the 35-year-olds? In this world of rapidly changing technology, I can’t even keep up with my younger brother. How can John McCain?

How can a group of people, so set in their ways that they let this country run itself into the ground, somehow pull a solution to a problem out of thin air?

What also upset me is that this entire healthcare debate has nothing to do with healthcare. It has to do with power. These men aren’t thinking of the American People when they veto, shoot down and criticize the President; they think of themselves. Republicans are so concerned with their bruised egos from the last eight years and Democrats are so scared of losing their new-found power that everyone is just scrambling to keep their laurels. It makes me think of a 30 Rock where Jack Donaghy says that you need to grab all the marbles. Liz Lemon responds that “that’s not how you play marbles, Jack” and he says “but that’s how you keep them”.

I would love a career in politics. I love public speaking. I love rallies. I love lying and scandal. But my issue is that Washington is just a blown-up version of high school government. No one but the people wanting to be President of Class could give a rat’s ass about it. But the people inside the system think that what they are doing and who they are is of the greatest importance. Ego has been, and is tearing this country apart. And it makes me sad.

Party lines aside, I think that everyone is being stubborn and simply going through the motions to try and reach a “bipartisan” decision. It made me so happy at the end of the Summit when Barack basically said that he’s gonna put up with this bull for six more weeks. But after that, Republicans, he’s playing his hand. It’s about time someone showed some power in the Democratic party. George W. certainly had no problem asserting the dominance of the GOP and using his majority to achieve his agenda. Democrats are just too damn polite. I have mad respect for cut-throat politics. Go Nixon.

I think that everyone on Capitol Hill should just take a minute, slow down, and listen to this:


Chased from Plain City with Pitchforks.

I’ve always thought I was from a small town. Compared to these kids from the Chicago Suburbs, my high school was small, my town was small and the utopian suburban lifestyle was suffocating.

I recently finished a play about Plain City, Ohio. A good friend and I took a road trip this week to see Plain City for ourselves.

About an hour out of Columbus you’ll find Plain City. Population: Barely Any. The weather was that perfect mix of gloomy clouds and ominous drops of rain. There was a definite chill. Weather rarely adds to the ambiance of a location more than it did that day in Plain City. Everything seemed, most simply, gray.

Driving through the downtown area, I was reminded of the most beautiful suburban downtowns: Naperville, Downers Grove, Oberlin. Only it was as if everyone had left. Closed business with dirty windows flanked the intricate brick pattern of the sidewalks. A glimmery McDonalds was the only sign of modern suburban life.

My good friend and I spent some time walking around the town square and the bleak desolation of a small town, fading fast. We stumbled upon the local bar and went in. The place was certainly not anything near the posh sports bars of Lincoln Park that I was used to. The walls were lined with photos of beer, old mardi gras decorations and hand written signs explaining such things as bounced check policies and the price of a burger. We entered the bar and quickly noticed the local drunk. 11:00 am and there he was, planted on his bar stool, making small talk with the bartender and drinking his beer; A sign both ominous and comforting.

Our next location was Jim’s Diner. A bright yellow building that resembled a small one bedroom house. We entered the diner and immediately all eyes were upon us. Looking upon the sea of flannel shirts, sweatpants and Ohio State sweatshirts and hats we were instantly identified as outsiders and were treated as such.

We took our seat in the back room at the back table, suffocated by wood paneling and kindergarden learning posters of the United States. There was even a plastic map of the world. And it struck me that the people in this diner had probably never left Ohio and these maps were just a grim reminder that they knew so little of the world that they inhabited.

Next to us were a table of about 8 people, a mixture of men and women in their 60s who were so incensed by our presence that they decided to become vocal about their distaste. These were obviously people who came to this place everyday, for every meal (as we spotted no local grocery store) and were extremely territorial about their local haunt. Never in my life had I had a group of people speak about me, in front of me, and think nothing of it.

My friend and I ordered: Ham, a piece of bacon and some instant oatmeal, and we waited. During the wait my friend decided we should peruse the local paper and we were treated to such thrilling articles as the local high school review of “Sarah, Plain and Tall” and the crime beat, which contained news items about broken squad cars and domestic violence calls. This town moved slowly, and they had no intention of changing.

We were brought our food before the chatty table next to us and they were outraged that they had not gotten their p’skettis (spaghetti) and we had been served. And they told everyone who would listen about it.

I thought I knew small town living. But the sadness and stillness of this tiny town really moved me. I couldn’t wait to get out, but there was a small part of me that thought about the joy of a place like that. No city of Chicago, no big dreams, no crushing disappointments. Just a job at the local factory, a little house on some farmland and standing appointment at Jim’s Diner followed by a drink at the Plain City Pub and back home to a small family with low expectation and a lot of love. How wonderful that would be. But I know better than anyone that I would suffocate there. Literally exist without air. So it can only be a satiable dream.

The most striking thing about Plain City was a massive mural in the center of town that read “God Bless America” over a giant American Flag. Something about this pristine showing of national pride in a place that America had clearly forgotten was an incredible sight to see.


Sandra Bullock, Mo’Nique and the Rise of Poverty Porn

I read an article recently dubbing the new movies “Precious” and “The Blind Side” as ‘poverty porn’, and at first, I was a bit disgusted with myself. Both movies were on my must see list and I felt a pang of white guilt creeping up on me.

But that’s exactly what they want.

Poverty porn is nothing new. We’ve had urban kids rising from poverty films dating back to forever. You got the one where Michelle Pfeiffer helps the urban kids succeed, the one where Hillary Swank teaches the urban kids to journal and even the one where Whoopi and the other Sister Acts Nuns teach those urban kids to sing.

The purpose, albeit indirectly, of these films is to convince white people that we are doing our jobs. That I don’t have to volunteer my time in the inner city because Hillary Swank has already done it. I mean “Freedom Writers” was based on a true story after all. But there’s also a secondary purpose beside the relief of guilt, there’s the sense of white power.

These movies instill in us an idea that all it takes for blacks and latinos to get out of the ghetto is the kindness of one kind-hearted and brave white lady. When Sandra Bullock takes the kid in in “The Blind Side” we think, not how lucky for her, but how lucky for him he had such a nice suburban white lady pull his ass out of the hood.

These types of movies are completely self-indulgent in the way that Christians try to compare their struggle to the jews in the holocaust (Corrie Ten Boom) or that some southerners try to convince us that the slaves loved the slave owner, that he was so brave for treating them well.

I was down in Mississippi a couple of years ago and we visited a nice, old plantation. The plantation guide, this extremely old Southern Grandmother, spent most of the tour telling us how much the slaves loved the master and what a good man he was.

See! She’s got letters! And her definitive proof was my favorite. She told us that after the emancipation, some of the slaves even stayed and worked for the master. What a gent! The idea that the slaves stayed because they wanted to and not because they had no other opportunity or choice is ludicrous.  I spent most of the tour snickering at the idiocy. And the old timey knick knacks.

But in the end, these films are tearjerkers; specifically designed to elicit a whitewashed response out of the audience (The Blind Side way more than Precious). I never really realized how these types of films are sending these false messages to middle america. So that when my step-mother in Suburban Ohio, who has never been to an inner city of any kind, ever, sees The Blind Side, she’ll think that we’ve got this problem under control. And as long as there are good wholesome white folks out there fighting the good fight, rough and tumble urban street kids just might stand a chance.