If only (James) Cameron wore a tutu

"[T]he lumbering, gentle Oher", "in a cautious and economical performance", "is the only one who automatically sits down at the table to eat, presumably out of simple good manners, but also out of some idea of what Thanksgiving should be, drawn less from his own experience than from Norman Rockwell's 'Freedom From Want.'" (Zacharek, "Oscars 2010: In defense of Sandra Bullock")

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"'Crazy Heart' is exceptionally modest in both its ambitions and its scope." "[P]laying their characters' cautious affection [. . .]" "Gyllenhaal is an understated, guileless actress -- she always lets the role come to her instead of going after it with gusto. Her speaking manner is casual, and as an actress she's often soft-spoken in a way that hints at deep personal shyness." "a strange and slightly awkward sentence that doesn't even have the shelter and the protection of a song around it." (Zacharek, "Crazy Heart")

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"The expressiveness of those unnaturally mobile eyebrows or the way, either in character or during the course of an on-camera interview, he almost seems to blush when he makes a self-deprecating joke, as if he were wary of calling too much attention to himself." "Just as his body has been trained and disciplined to sustain all sorts of physical abuse in the ring [. . .], so is Johnson, as an actor, fully willing to endure all kinds of humiliation, ribbing and teasing emasculation — and always with a smile."

"Strangely, and to his credit, he looks much more comfortable in a tutu than he does bragging about his athletic prowess or stature." (Zacharek, "Dwayne Johnson")

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"In every movie, including this one, he's happy to stand by and let his co-stars do their stuff, without feeling the need to step in and grab our attention with clownish facial expressions or torrents of jibber-jabber à la Jim Carrey or Robin Williams. Ferrell is content to be low-key and goofy" (Zacharek, "Land of the Lost")

Versus:

'''Avatar' would be great fun, if only Cameron -- the picture's writer, director, producer and editor -- had a sense of humor about himself, which he clearly doesn't. Instead Cameron -- who is no longer just King of the World but Emperor of the Universe -- has to make it clear he's addressing grand themes." "'Avatar' is Cameron's 'Let's be fair to the Indians' movie." "Cameron is less a sage than a canny bonehead. Characters signal their motives and intentions with thundering dialogue, mouthed by the actors in ways that suggest the guy at the top has a tin ear, or at least some pretty strange ideas about punctuation." "Cameron takes all this 'We must be one with nature' business very seriously." (Zacharek, "Avatar")

Generosity should be lauded, and bullying self-assertiveness, taken down. But I for one sense in Stephanie an intention to make the side effects of being bullied -- most notably, the thereafter carefulness to please and charm but never offend -- praiseworthy, desirable; and the side effects of understanding the world as a place for wondrous, expansive self-assertion, as vain, intrinsically ungenerous, and wholly punishment-worthy.

Why, after knowing that "we're not supposed to call Johnson "The Rock" anymore -- [as] he has politely stated, in interview after interview, that that's his preference" -- did you title your article "Dwayne Johnson: He still rocks my world"? HE would never ask you anything of the sort, of course. Too blunt; too much risk of unsettling. But since one wonders if somewhere between all his amenableness he just must find some dispensable amongst his fandom to suffer for all his forever-pleasing and never really being listened to, one also suspects that he -- like Cera -- really now most needs to become more obtuse and bad-ass, if not Cameron-level oblivious and indifferent. For many of us he may thereby prove less likeable, but I suspect it'll help him come to like himself more -- which should be the point.

Let's not romance masochism, and vilify signs of (what is actually in greatest truth) healthy self-esteem.

Link: Oscars 2010: In defense of Sandra Bullock (Salon)

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