Wednesday, June 30, 2010

Marriage in the West

Marriage in the West isn’t doing very well because it’s in direct confrontation with the evolved reality of our species. What we argue in the book is that the best way to increase marital stability, which in the modern world is an important part of social stability, is to develop a more tolerant and realistic understanding of human sexuality and how human sexuality is being distorted by our modern conception of marriage. Certainly growing up in the '70s and '80s there were very few kids I knew whose parents weren’t divorced at least once. The economic, emotional, psychological cost of fractured relationships is a major problem in American society — with single mothers and single-parent families.

[. . .]

The advent of agriculture changed everything about human society, from sexuality to politics to economics to health to diet to exercise patterns to work-versus-rest patterns. It introduced the notion of property into sexuality.

[. . .]

When you have agriculture, men started to worry about whether or not certain children were theirs biologically, because they wanted to leave their accumulated property to their own child.

[. . .]

And in terms of animals that are much more closely related to humans, when you look at bonobos and their promiscuous interaction, it’s virtually impossible for a male to know which of his offspring are related to him biologically. So to say that there’s this inherent concern with paternity within our species, I just don’t see evidence for that.

[. . .]

People have said that we’re arguing against love — but we're just saying that this insistence that love and sex always go together is erroneous.

[. . .]

But you can also extract a great deal of information from the human body itself — from the design of the penis to the volume of the testicles to the sperm-producing potential of the testicular tissue and the way we have sex. [. . .] Our testicles aren’t as big as those of chimps and bonobos, but our ejaculation is about four times as big in terms of volume.

[. . .]

I’ve been living off and on for almost 20 years here in Barcelona, and from outside, the United States looks very adolescent, in a positive and negative sense. There's its adolescent energy — its idealism — but there’s also an immaturity and intolerance toward the ambiguity of life and the complexity of relationships. The American sense of relationships and sexuality tends to be very informed by Hollywood: It’s all about the love story. But the love story ends at the wedding and doesn't go into the 40 years that comes after that.

[. . .]

We’re not really arguing for any particular arrangement. We don’t even really know what to do with this information ourselves. What we’re trying to do in the book is give people a more accurate sense of where we came from, why we are the way we are, and why certain aspects of life feel like a bad fit. I think a lot of people make a commitment when they’re in love, which is a sort of a delusional state that lasts a couple of years at most. (Christopher Ryan, interview with Thomas Rogers, “‘Sex at Dawn: Why monogamy goes against our nature,”’ Salon, 27 June 2010)

studying what we hate

I'm all for studying bonobos to get at why in the good old days when we sacrificed (or ate) our young and gang-raped (or ate) our neighbors' women, we were actually living closest to our biological destiny, but on the topic of monogamy couldn't we also learn something about this strange phenomenon, this curious aberration that shouldn't have developed because it's not part of our code, by studying living married people who've enjoyed their soul mates the whole of their lives? Maybe some of those just fixed in this ostensibly essentially maladaptive, even if for a brief historical time necessary, form of relationship, and actually enjoy it, actually represent a more evolved form of homo sapiens sapiens that the less evolved -- who obviously seem to be in charge of all things "ology" -- are confused by, and prefer to throw muck on and snarl at, as would have had THEIR closest ancestors to anything beautiful they don't understand. The French are afraid of their mothers, and therefore also of their wives. Haven't you read "l'Etranger"?

And Thomas, before you make friends with these anthropologists and champion their savity, please remember the last expert 'ologist you interviewed wasn't quite sure what the evolutionary use for homosexuals was. He felt sure there must be one -- and that surely it was a good one!, like a way to produce more artists, or something -- but didn't you find that the least bit disconcerting? What if before they’re over their anti-bourgeois fetish, their enjoying their deadpan rattling of the average American's nerves, someone else takes the helm, decides that maybe there isn't one, and borrows the logic of evolutionary destiny and the scientists' humane concern to straighten our biological path, for much worse purposes? I could see Obama referring to social science research. He's gay friendly, right?

- - - - -

MONOGAMY? WHAT ABOUT SENATE CUTTING OGG THE UNEMPLOYED?

AN ARTICLE ON MONOGAMY?

1.2mil people have suddenly had their unemployment funding denied by the US Senate and the reaction from the media, including Salon, is zilch! I'm trying to not get too depressed over the inevitable rippling effect this will have on countless people all over America, as they suddenly have no money to pay for rent and groceries by the coming 4th of July. We will see a surge in homelessness and lines will get longer at the already stretched to the max food banks everywhere.

But of course, Wall Street reform went through the Senate the same week like poop through a goose. If this is the best we can expect from a Democrat controlled Congress then heaven help us next year when the T-bag/GOP wins big in this November's elections! (ramparts, response to post)

Benign droppings: How anthropologists have proved the industrialists right about one thing at least

A new book explains what human history has to teach us about the evolutionary perversion of long-term assistance for the less fit. Anthopologists are learning that prehistoric cultures periodically culled their tribes of the genetically unfit by engaging in frequent wars where the least healthy and adaptable were most likely to die, or otherwise turning around and clubbing them to death. These cultures, these anthropologists argue, lasted several millennium while current ones can barely make it out of one, largely owing to the fact that their smart propagation selection ensured they were able to outpace predators' own species-specific advances. Our just-passed mass, industrial culture, which necessitated the anomaly of government dispensed social assistance as a way to prevent overall mass uprisings and system malfunction, has meant the ongoing and spreading presence of a species of human kind that is near unfit to survive, and also a literal contagen to the future of their far more fit and evolutionarily deserving peers. While many maintain that the American senate's recent move to cut employment insurance is "barbaric," it is becoming clear that the less reactionary, sentimental, and more informed assessment, is that it is absolutely sane, and perfectly appropriate to establish the proper foundation of our more nimble post-industrial society, even if it means a few more guards on the streets, as well as at the border. It is a good thing the meme, "love," never quite infiltrated the minds of those in charge, for what might that have done to hamper fit species-continuation expediency?

@Patrick McElvoy-Halston: Congratulations

“While many maintain that the American senate's recent move to cut employment insurance is "barbaric," it is becoming clear that the less reactionary, sentimental, and more informed assessment, is that it is absolutely sane, and perfectly appropriate to establish the proper foundation of our more nimble post-industrial society, even if it means a few more guards on the streets, as well as at the border. It is a good thing the meme, "love," never quite infiltrated the minds of those in charge, for what might that have done to hamper fit species-continuation expediency?”


You win the "Best Imitation of an Asshole Republican Channeling the Nazi Philosophy" award. (Beans&Greens)


@Patric McEvoy Halston or other MadeUpName

"A new book explains what human history has to teach us about the evolutionary perversion of long-term assistance for the less fit."

And the name of that book is?

Mein Kamp?

"Anthopologists are learning that prehistoric cultures periodically culled their tribes of the genetically unfit, by engaging in frequent wars where the least healthy and adaptable were most likely to die, or otherwise turning around and clubbing them to death."

No anthropologists (anthro.. anthro.. with an "r"..as in "retard") have said this ever outside of your imagination.

"These cultures, these anthropologists argue, lasted several millennium while current ones can barely make it out of one, largely owing to the fact that their smart propagation selection ensured they were able to outpace predators' own species-specific advances."

This is gobbeldygook and has no meaning whatsoever. We didn't survive because we killed “stupid” people while the saber tooth tiger raced against us, evolving its keen sense of smell, only a few short years behind! This is just something you (stupidly) think, not something science says.

"Our just-passed mass, industrial culture, which necessitated the anomaly of government dispensed social assistance as a way to prevent overall mass uprisings and system malfunction, has meant the ongoing and spreading presence of a species of human kind that is near unfit to survive, and also a literal contagen to the future of their far more fit and evolutionarily deserving peers."

Al humans are the same species- homo sapiens. Rebutting this junk is hardly worth doing. However, I note that only people from the south would use the ungrammatical expression “near unfit to survive” however.

"While many maintain that the American senate's recent move to cut employment insurance is "barbaric," it is becoming clear .."

clear to whom?

So what do we have here? An actual stupid person complaining about how other people are so stupid they're unfit to live and citing pretend evidence that has nothing to do with any science.

So.. maybe he has point about some people being too stupid to live? (swv)

@SWV

Martians are invading, swv: I'm trying to point out here through satire that the 'ologists are diverging from their long tenure as liberals, as good people, and becoming the kinds of phds whose disassociated state is actually similar to that of those who staffed the nazi elite. The poise now is distanced and dehumanizing, clinical and cynical, when for some long time it could be looking totally askance at primitive cultures, yet still be completely wide-eyed open to love, peace, and a better world. Ologists used to like people, want to get closer to people; these cool guys seem mostly wanting to get away from them.

Okay?

for more information . . .

Hi. Just thought I'd mention that the authors (that would be me and the wife) have a web site where you can learn a lot more about the book (and it's many similarities to Mein Kampf!). If you're interested, please drop in at www.sexatdawn.com

And yes, "Morning Wood" was a title we considered (very briefly). . .

CPR (Dude in Hammock, response to post)

- - - - -

French kisses

Sometimes I think the persistent current of Francophobia in the US has more to do with their success at love than their failure at war. And of course we can't hardly have a fun discussion of sex these days without reference to either the French or the bonobos. Both of whom may be on to something I believe. And if I may try to cut through the forest of strawmen that another keen-eyed poster has alerted us to, the authors aren't calling for orgies, the embrace of STD, or the shuttering of mommy and daddy's absolutely, positively Hallmark certified monogamous marriage. In fact if I'm reading the author right, he's saying he really doesn't know what could or should be done with their research. But again, maybe the French do. I think their experiment with PACS is the most interesting and promising innovation yet in trying to resolve the tension between establishing secure relationships and the more wild side of our natures. Forgive me while I drop a passage from the indubitable Wiki on the subject:

"266,000 civil marriages took place in 2004, a decline of 5.9% from 2003. However, the report found that the number of couples getting PACS had increased every year except 2001. There was a 29% increase in PACS between 2001 and 2002 and a 25% increase between 2002 and 2003. For the first 9 months of 2004, 27,000 PACS were signed compared to 22,000 in 2003. The report found that one PACS in 10 had been dissolved (less than divorces for couples married for the same period, for which one marriage in three will be dissolved by divorce or separation after the first 3 years during which most signed PACS are dissolved before becoming more stable than marriages)."

In any case, rail against the French or the Spanish or the sexologists all you want. Marriage as we know it is changing before our tear-stained countenances. (asinistra, response to post)

@asinistra

If it wasn't for this "forest of strawmen that another keen-eyed poster has alerted us to," you wouldn't be able to seem so keen-eyed, dispassionate and reasonable. Some of us suspect that this is probably too much of your overall point, that the particular nature of our astray strawmen mostly determines exactly where you will go in your arguments, and so too most 'ologists writing books these days.

We don't mind your image of sex, the French, and bonobos being up to something, though. What we the frigid and uninformed might take to be exotic, might in truth mostly be Jerry Lewis-unfortunate and bizarre.

- - - - -

But even taking evolution theory at its simplest... note that an organism is an entity with many, many features, which often find unexpected uses when the environment changes and may end up being beneficial in ways that had nothing to do with how they evolved -- Stephen Gould's idea of "exaptation." (Hands did not evolve for writing, with pens or with computers, but here I am now typing this text with my hands on a computer keyboard.) (Asehpe)

Genes, like gods, have had their day, as well as their say

A reference to Stephen Gould has surfaced in this discussion, to his argument that we shouldn't look to evolution for signs of adaptive excellence, for Nature's genius, as often the best that can be managed is cunning ingenuity, a making best of bad options. Many adaptations just end up being the best option available, with the Panda's "thumb" -- not really a thumb, because a thumb couldn't emerge out of the Panda's pretty defined and intractable DNA path -- being an example of a functional but actually kinda crappy and barely serviceable only-option, for what had proved evolutionarily necessary for the Panda to acquire. It's a good argument to keep in mind when anthros / primatologists look to our "ancestors" for wisdom, as it is possible they are looking at where we as a species were operating at a functional but really barely serviceable level as well.

Put forward mostly loudly by Lloyd DeMause, is the argument that some semblance of empathy, love, beyond what other mammals were capable of, emerged as an adaptive trait some long time ago in our evolutionary past (love leads to self-confidence, innovation, trust), but that at first, and for such a long time, it was barely adequate -- and with the experience of consciousness itself being an absolute anxiety-producing terror as well: we'd tend to our kin, but also feel no compunction about abandoning them or beating them to death, even if just to momentarily rid ourselves of our anxiety-ridden states, leaving them still capable of surviving, but also fearful and lifelong psychic messes (and therefore an early culture of chaos and terrors, a tendency to spend all spare time fussing over inflicted emotional hurts and harms, and little to no risky, anxiety-producing change for millenniums on end). Slowly, with many regressions, people began getting better at this childrearing game (which resulted in societal / technological / culture changes, not the reverse). And as generations came to know more love, and less fear, they were able to give at least the same back, with the result being that if you're a warm, tolerant and loving progressive today -- a member of our all time's most evolved -- you have as much in common with our bananabong “kin” or neanderthal ancestors as a well loved dog has to its well-beaten neighbor.

The further you go into the past, the worse lessons you will receive about our human potential. Puritans aren't especially evolved, but those progressives who stay in love and sexually committed for life are doing way better than the ostensibly more evolved but significantly distressed and more complicated promiscuous are, and hopefully know enough to trust mostly their own experience as to what conscious, loving human beings are most happy with and capable of.

Too many scientists who talk too much DNA, want to think of most of you as biologically determined -- they get a kick out of knowing how your world of "true love" and "soul mates" is engineered out of, and trumped by, the particular makeup of your DNA. They don't want to realize that emotionally healthy people sense that you just can't learn enough from apes or the culturally impoverished -- what primitive peoples actually are, sorry -- to warrant spending time away spiritually generous friends to spend much time engaging with them. (Yes, there is even something a bit wrong with the lovely, lovely Jane Goodall.) The fully loved and therefore entirely conscious out there: your experienced poetic world of color, true love and soul, is truer than any lesson a neutral, inherently dampening and cruelly excluding science can now provide you with. Out of genes came the potential to raise our young fully conscious, loving, and self-directed -- for the most part clear of the universe's spun and unspun, long-aged history. Genes have done their part, the rest of the story is our own.

Link to DeMause's discussion of childhood and cultural evolution, at sig.

- - - - -

@ Patrick McEvoy-Halston

It's moderate, temperate fun to think about why modern humans may feel driven to make marriage counselors out of hunter-gatherers and bonobos.

But it's real hilarious to hear a rightie yapping about empathy. Thanks, guy. You made my day. (bekabot)

@bekabot

re: “But it's real hilarious to hear a rightie yapping about empathy. Thanks, guy. You made my day.”

Sorry dude, the empathy very much comes from a progressive. The "right-wing" voice you heard, was satire -- a play on a previous poster's anger at employment insurance being cut, and the strong sense of disinterest I'm sensing from many 'ologists right now. (I was essentially arguing that they've essentially become rightist, in their willingness to cooperate in a society's move against the unfashionably weak and despairing.) Check the thread, not just my letters, and this will be more clear.

- - - - -

@austinboy

Read that article you were directing us to, austinboy.

http://www.nytimes.com/2010/06/27/books/review/Henig-t.html

This is why I brought up Gould's example of the panda's "thumb": we need it as an example to refute the rest of the evolutionists / primatologists / anthropologists who see behaviors as primarily adaptive, useful, respect-worthy, because you can use it look at evolution as producing a huge number of, yes, successful adaptations, but so barely so that it isn't unfruitful to think of them as anything beyond the best of many terrible options -- as near essentially maladaptive, afflictions, curses, that is. From there, you can once again look at things like cannibalism and say, yeah, in a way, it is adaptive -- it's what you get when very, very afflicted, demon-haunted and barely-sane people find that temporary identity integration can be experienced in taking in portions of their own self they had formerly projected into the body parts of other people -- but it's an adaptive behavior ONLY FOR PROFOUNDLY FUCKED UP, ABUSED AND HATED PEOPLE.

The story that really concerns homo sapiens sapiens is their long path from geneotype to phenotype -- the adult expression of genes, which varies enormously, and depends entirely on the kind of attention and response the newly birthed get from their caregivers. If loving -- like what we see in this lot of progressives, where both parents take an active interest in their children -- then they aren't in any meaningful way related to any of our psychically-fragile ancestors, who hadn't yet had the benefit of the multiple thousands of years required to make their own human environment way more loving than nature's own "live or die, suit yourself; we care not."

- - - - -

@bekabot

Re: “It's not their job to get their panties in a bunch about employment insurance--it's their job to come up with just-so stories which explain whatever the culture or the people who run it have decided needs explaining.”

I would argue that the job of 'ologists is quickly becoming to help keep the potentially guilt-feeling staid liberal at a distance from all the economic and military terrors being visited on a populace, that they overall actually approve of -- ongoing sacrifice of young people in Afghanistan / school-university cutbacks; ongoing destruction of the insecurely-placed by hard money economic policies. Social science's removed distance from emotional arousal, the fray, is in pretend-mode of Newton's from the expectant, excited, demon-haunted ignorant, but is becoming more one of facilitating disassociation, becoming disconnected from emotions, fears, aroused in the mass that you too are also very familiar with, but want kept and isolated in them so they can be kept the hell away from you! In unison, and inundated with their tone and message, you and your fellows can come clear to hearing from one of those strange social scientists like Paul Krugman, whose economic reporting these days is saturated with his deeply felt consternation at the cruelties inflicted by a seemingly not-just-ignorance-but-cruelty-inspired economic policy, and see him as but an odd-but-brilliant anomaly / eccentric, with his own unique sense of style ("There’s only one Paul Krugman,” or, “There you go again, Paul."). Science strips things of color and emotion, and begins its study. We've moved beyond where this could in unison be declared disinterested, toward where it should seem more the self-protecting psychic stance of the self-fearing and (therefore) insufficiently evolved. You should feel the concern to help people in every social scientist report you read. Disinterest, derision, mock-concern (as with here) -- not so much.

A lot of us Gen Xers (and younger) are realizing that if you more or less repeat what your differently-motivated liberal boomer successors did, you can actually be gifted with quite an easy ride just now. Individuality could still be found in hipsterhood, but what of it there was in "there" is now too being abandoned by many of us (check recent Salon threads) so to help us seem that much further away from the increasingly suspect. You know you've prefaced all you do by explaining that it's all about better illuminating our current ills, but still know you're a faker -- but also enough of what happens to those who chose not to follow the same path as you did that there isn't much they're enabled to do should you foremost try and shake out your guilt and anxiety in your essentially blatant -- I'm-in-and-you're-not -- open mockery of them. Self-doubt, countered by sadism?: It's actually a pretty decent drug; and what is it if you're the hand-puppet harridan for awhile if you're armed to the singularly good, righteous and strong, holy Obama? You're covered, and you know it.

Link: “Sex at Dawn:” Why monogamy goes against our nature (Salon)

Sunday, June 27, 2010

Growth panic

It takes a long, long time to grow up. Just when you start to sort things out and make some progress toward maturity, inevitably someone wanders up and offers you a jello shot or a sexy control freak of a boyfriend or a couch to nap on, and before you know it you're back at square one.

Eventually, though, these people die or go to rehab, leaving you all alone to figure some things out, write a check to the landlord, take a shower, etc. Finally, you feel calm and satisfied and secure -- maybe for the first time in your whole life. You've done it! You're a mature, responsible adult!

That's when you notice that you're really fucking old.

[. . .]

And how will you handle old age? You'll whine about it like a big baby for the rest of your life. Yes, that's right: You got to feel mature and satisfied for a total of about three minutes there.

[. . .]

Sadly, this is all that most of us crusty old parents can hope for when our kids are young: a few split seconds of communing with a kindred spirit before the daily grind kicks in again.

[. . .]

"I'm 42, so I'm really on the decline," he tells us in a stand-up segment from the second episode. "There's never going to be another year of my life that was better than the year before it. That's never going to happen again. I've seen my best years." (Heather Havrilesky, “TV’s best new taboo-busting comedy,” Salon, 26 June 2010)

Growth panic?

Is this: "Eventually, though, these people die or go to rehab, leaving you all alone to figure some things out, write a check to the landlord, take a shower, etc. Finally, you feel calm and satisfied and secure -- maybe for the first time in your whole life. You've done it! You're a mature, responsible adult!

That's when you notice that you're really fucking old." maybe the same as this?:

Many people who have been in psychotherapy become conscious of this individuation panic and flight to external reality when they begin to grow, break free of old emotional patterns and start to feel their freedom. These fears can be characterized as an all-pervasive growth panic that traumatized individuals (nearly everyone) constantly carry around during their daily lives. Masterson quotes one of his patients:

“I was walking down the street and suddenly I was engulfed in a feeling of absolute freedom. I could taste it. I knew I was capable of doing whatever I wanted. When I looked at other people, I really saw them without being concerned about how they were looking at me...I was just being myself and thought that I had uncovered the secret of life: being in touch with your own feelings and expressing them openly with others, not worrying so much about how others felt about you.

Then just as suddenly as it came, it disappeared. I panicked and started thinking about the million things I had to do at the studio, of errands I needed to run after work. I began to feel nauseous and started sweating. I headed for my apartment, running most of the way. When I got in, I felt that I had been pursued. By what? Freedom, I guess.”

It is this manic flight to action a flight that is a defense against growth panic that is the emotional source of much of social behavior. (Lloyd DeMause, Emotional Life of Nations)

- - - - -

Self-sabotage?

And is this: "It takes a long, long time to grow up. Just when you start to sort things out and make some progress toward maturity, inevitably someone wanders up and offers you a jello shot or a sexy control freak of a boyfriend or a couch to nap on, and before you know it you're back at square one." really cover for our own actual desire / need for self-sabotage, that is, this:

If a man and woman who are infected by this attitude fall in love, and the attitude itself will not prevent them from falling in love, they will find a way to bring their experience back into alignment with their self-concept, with their view of "the way things really are": for example, facing one another across a dinner table, feeling joyful and contented, one of them suddenly can't stand it and starts a quarrel over nothing or withdraws and becomes mysteriously depressed. At this moment of their existence, happiness is not a dream but a reality. Joy is not a fantasy or an aspiration but a fact. That is unbearable. First of all, they don't deserve it. Second, it can't last. Third, if it does last, something else terrible will happen. They feel: "Let me out of here, I can't stand this!' After an ecstatic experience of lovemaking, one partner may crack an inappropriate joke, or leap out of bed without any emotional transition, or say something gratuitously critical and estranging, or withdraw and become depressed, or escape into sleep when he or she is not tired—as if the strain of joy and intimacy has become too much to endure. (Nathaniel Branden, Honoring the Self)

Link: TV's best new taboo-busting comedy (Salon)

Knight and Day

Cruise really may be the hardest-working man in show business right now, but on him (in direct contrast to James Brown), all that sweat just isn’t cool. Once coolness leaves you, how do you get it back?

As big a box-office draw as Cruise may have been in days of yore, he was never truly cool; he has always tried too hard. The more frightening reality, as posed by the ambitious but unsatisfying spy caper Knight and Day, is that he will never, ever go away. (Stephanie Zacharek, “Robotic Tom Cruise Weighs Down Knight and Day,” Movieline, 22 June 2010)

Tom Cruise is like Roger Ebert: For awhile (much shorter, of course, with Ebert -- but it did happen with him) we play at making them seem out of date, now sort of ridiculous, but we ultimately decide to keep around, find a set and respected place for, because they still seem more moved by something inside them, self-directed, than just another uber-savy embodiment of our stuck and cranky l'esprit du temps. Cruise is never with it: when the savy begin to suspect they're personality thin and possibly soulless, lack trust in themselves and fear / suspect their "friends," this speaks more of lost innocence we need to recover or enshrine than ridiculousness too long kept in view. Cruise could force us to jettison him, but we won't make it easy for him.

Link: Robotic Tom Cruise Weighs Down Knight and Day (Movieline)

MacGruber

But MacGruber never gathers any momentum. Once in a while a funny line or absurd sight gag will amble into the foreground, only to recede immediately in the rear-view mirror of memory. Forte is handsome enough — he’s ruggedly chiseled and all that. But watching at him strut about, in his quilted vest and plaid-shirt getup, wearing a retro hairdo that’s simultaneously too-pouffy and too-matted, becomes exhausting after a while. The movie is also conspicuously lacking in gadgety ridiculousness: At one point MacGruber drags out a box full of rubber bands, Q-tips and the like and proceeds to fiddle around with them — sticking a penny into his belly-button, for example, presumably on the assumption that it will come in handy later. Later, when faced with the task of disarming an explosive in 1.2 seconds or something like that, he panics at the riotous array of colors found in the tangle of wires before him. Here and there, he improvises: A leafy celery stick stuck pertly into a certain orifice momentarily distracts and astounds some evil-doers. But it doesn’t do much to distract or astound us.

[. . .]

But the only actor here who breathes any life into the movie’s misguided nostalgia is Wiig. [. . .] In MacGruber, Wiig at least gets to rock her look: She’s the kind of girl who’s genuinely flattered by Farrah Fawcett wings and even, bizarrely enough, by twinkly blue eye shadow. Wiig’s timing is, as usual, perfect in its wiggly-waggly way, even though the gags that have been written for her don’t do it justice. (Kitsch Overload, Sparse Laughs Weigh Down MacGruber, Movieline, 21 May 2010)

I wouldn't expect anything clever from Forte. On SNL he's just sign that when your colleagues seem love-starved and vampiric, it's enough to just be amiable and relaxed -- to seem like you can readily move beyond yourself to attend to and appreciate other people -- to be welcome (necessary) company. He's into the relaxed and goofy -- that's it's not inspired may be even more good news -- no stirring, no agitation. We may be in the mood to knock on his door, we may not. But we likely appreciate he's out there doing exactly as we would expect -- friendly, and not so good (talented) it inspires our fear of losing him.

Wiig is a vampire. Long-lived, she may be the one who drained Jim Henson to the point of death, just to bring closer an age where she and her kin could more readily thrive.

Doesn't comments like the one above verge on some sort of bizarre poetry? It's like they speak a language which is similar but beyond our own... (SUNNYDAZE)

I was going to say the EXACT SAME THING, only about Ryan Phillipe, and Judy Carne from "Laugh-In." (FORMERLY BLACKWATER)

I think someone writes their comment into the BabelFish translator and clicks "Translate" from whatever the native language is into English, then just copies and pastes. Kind of makes me dizzy, but I can't stop re-reading it, trying to force it into making sense.

Or it's kind of Def poetry commenting. Def-Poe-Com. (SWEETBISCUIT)

Def-Poe-Com! Finally a name for what we regulars do!

Who wants to be the first to start a Tumblr? (SUNNYDAZE)

Link: Kitsch Overload, Sparse Laughs Weigh Down MacGruber (Movieline)

Generosity?

But there are also places where the movie’s characters veer too close to broad caricature. Winter’s Bone is based on a novel by Daniel Woodrell, adapted for the screen by Granik and Anne Rosellini, and it took several prizes at Sundance earlier this year. (Granik’s first feature, the 2004 Down to the Bone, in which Vera Farmiga played a working-class, cocaine-using mom, was similarly acclaimed.) Winter’s Bone is striving to tell a story that’s rooted, in some way, in real life. Still, I’m always a little nervous when a filmmaker shows us overweight people who may or may not be missing significant teeth, wearing battered fleece pullovers or rumpled plaid shirts flung over dirty T-shirts. I’m not saying people don’t ever look like that in real life; it’s simply that those conventions are too often used to denote a filmmaker’s idea of real life. Clearly, Granik doesn’t intend to condescend to her characters. But there’s no getting around the fact that to her they represent a mysterious “other,” mountain people with customs unto themselves, and too often in Winter’s Bone, they come off more as symbols than as human beings. [. . .] This is a family that, despite the fact its human members barely have enough to eat, won’t hesitate to take in a stray dog in trouble. In fact, one of the things Winter’s Bone captures best is the generosity of people who often don’t have much themselves — Granik doesn’t present that kind of generosity as a pleasant surprise, but as a given. (Stephanie Zacharek, “Winter's Bone a Little Too Pleased With its Own Folky Bleakness,” Movieline, 8 June 2010)

Re: "In fact, one of the things Winter’s Bone captures best is the generosity of people who often don’t have much themselves — Granik doesn’t present that kind of generosity as a pleasant surprise, but as a given."

To some of us, this isn't an example of capturing what is true, but once again, more primitivism -- the cruelty in not really wanting to look straight at the "other." More true to life, from what I've known, is what is actually hinted at when Mother Marsh gives away her turkey dinners to even poorer families in "Little Woman," namely: it's not about helping other people, but about the strange pleasure and even feeling of empowerment you (or rather warped, masochistic people) get when you deprive yourself to the point of real self-harm. Not generosity or significant attendance (to others), but pleasure (to self) through sacrifice, is the norm for love-starved, impoverished people. Look closer.

Link: Winter’s Bone a little too pleased with its own folky bleakness (Movieline)