Mr. Bill George Presents

Archive for June, 2009|Monthly archive page

“The Dome” By Steven Millhauser

In Comedy on June 28, 2009 at 9:06 PM

I desperately felt the need to share Alec Baldwin‘s reading of The Dome by Stephen Millhauser instead of keeping it to myself (as I have for a few months now).

I heard only a portion of it once while driving to work and could not stop thinking about it that entire day until I got home and found it. I downloaded the podcast it was a part of and finally heard the story in its entirety and have since listened to it another handful of times, picking up on something new every time.

It was read as part of a selection of short stories on an NPR podcast and I present it to you here:

-

(Sooo, I had trouble uploading the audio file so I just threw up a graphic and made it a video because I knew that would work. If you want to directly download the file, you can access it here: http://files.me.com/mrbillgeorge/49y1zg.mp3 )

Can You Feel That Beat?

In Music, News on June 26, 2009 at 12:43 AM

Michael Jackson is dead.

As I look at that statement it still seems surreal. How could someone go from so high to so low. The King of Pop has had one of the most meteoric falls from grace that any star has had. Most starts fade away as their careers wane, but his was inescapable and his every move has been a headline.

But the real question is, does the world know what it has lost today? I consider myself a relative newcomer to Michael Jackson’s music. My roommate and I nearly wore out a copy of his #1 hits, (Mario Kart 64 and brown liquor also aided in our quest). But after the first couple of times listening through it, I realized that I had never actually given MJ a chance. I didn’t just listen…

And you know what, I think that a lot of the world stopped listening. Many of MJ’s fans were justified in abandoning ship once the first child molestation accusations came out and even more so after wave after wave of embarrassing, sad, and downright puzzling news came out about “Wacko Jacko.” In the coming days I think many people will know what a true genre-jumping genius that Michael Jackson was. From working with Eddie Van Halen on Beat It to create the penultimate rock track, to the soulful Rock With Me, to the bluesy-pop Billie Jean, the King of Pop moniker really doesn’t do him justice.

As his persona changed so did the world’s view of him. The new generation of kids only will know Michael from episodes of South Park and Scary Movie and his infamous mugshot. In many ways Michael brought the fallout on himself and I think each of us knows that the man must have been battling some of the most serious demons ever constructed.

More ominously in my mind was his recently announced “comeback” tour. But does anybody know what it was due to be called. “This is it.” When I read that four months ago I thought to myself, “This is it, the end.” I honestly thought to myself that he would end his life. It seemed destined. In the coming days I would not at all be surprised to find out that his cardiac arrest was brought on by some outside supplement, not from high cholesterol. (Although a stress related heart attack isn’t that unbelievable.)

That said, it is now time to reflect on Michael’s career as a whole. He is more widely known than any other artist (quiet down McCartney, you’re the one who sold him the Beatles rights and you’ll probably get them back) and Thriller being the best selling album of all time is a testament to that. He’s been parodied by “Weird” Al making him accessable to even more people. He was the star of his own videogame on Sega Genesis. (Michael Jackson’s Moonwalker. Play it, it’s a must experience event in your life.) If that’s doesn’t define legend I don’t know what does.

Ride the Boogie Michael… I know you would want us to do the same.

The More Things Transform, The More They Stay The Same

In Film on June 24, 2009 at 11:04 PM

Hey, remember the first Transformers movie? Yea? I just saved you ten bucks! You no longer need to see Transformers: Revenge of the Fallen.

This sequel to the 2007 summer blockbuster is beat-for-beat the same as the original… minus the novelty, spontaneity or excitement that comes with a new franchise. It is two and a half hours of same old, same old. AKA Michael Bay being Michael Bay. Which, when working with something new and exciting like alien robots that transform into American made motor vehicles, is fine. But that was 2007 and this is now. I need something a little more fresh.

So how does he attempt to liven things up? For starters, introduce a new element to the story in the first minute and leave us in the dark about for the next 149 minutes. Not only that, but also toss in a bone headed authority figure character written with a level of unrealism not seen since the chief of police in Die Hard.

And, for good measure, two new “comic relief” autobots make their debut and in the process set back race relations in this country 50 years. I’m sorry, but the very existence of Mudflap and Skids is an affront to humanity itself. Anyone who laughed at their appearance, antics or dialogue should be ashamed of themselves. And all the people responsible for writing them into the script, giving them a voice, digitally rendering them or letting them appear in the final film should face jail time.

There were so many damn things in this movie that actually caused a physical, adverse reaction in my body. The biggest being the noise level. I still have a pounding headache from the decibel level in that theater as I type this. As for the script itself I cannot count the number of times I rolled my eyes, put my head in my hands or smacked my forehead.

I could go on but I’m sick of sitting here seething over this atrocity. The more I think about it, the more anger I feel. (Oh! And I didn’t even get into the ridiculousness of all the subplots like going to college, capturing a decepticon or revisiting John Turturro’s character! AHH! Memories rushing back! Make it stop!)

BOTTOM LINE: Long on spectacle, short on spectacular.

In Other Movie News:

The Academy of Motion Pictures Arts & Sciences, in all of their glorious wisdom, has decided to expand the field of Best Picture nominees from 5 to 10 starting this year. You can find their official press release on the matter HERE.

I, for one, am relieved. That show was already running pretty short. Thank God we’ll have more clips to show and nominees to read off in order to fill all that air time.

One more quick note: I recently saw a commercial for the next Harry Potter. Now I know I read the book two or three summers ago, but I think it’s a bad sign when I don’t recognize a single thing from the ad. Either this movie is going to take some huge liberties with the material or I really need to work on better retaining what I read.

Stuff

In Music, Technology on June 23, 2009 at 1:37 AM

So, there hasn’t been a post in quite some time. Reason being: I’ve been busy. And I assume so have my contributors. I’ve been working a lot more than usual lately due to the release of a new iPhone you may have heard a little something about. But I figured I’d take this opportunity to share with you some of the stuff I’ve been reading, while I haven’t been writing.

- The Perry Bible Fellowship. It’s a comic strip that was introduced to me by @angusmcweiner back when we were roommates in college. It is honestly some of the funniest stuff I’ve ever seen. But be warned: it’s addictive. They are short and sweet so once you start reading, you don’t stop. Multiple times I’ve taken 45 minutes out of my day just going through all of them. Definitely worth a look.

- John Elliott & The Hereafter. John just came out with a new live album called Too Many Ghosts, available now via iTunes. I just picked that up and am listening to it as I type. It’s amazing just like the rest of his music. It is certainly worth checking out. Especially since in the albums page you’ll find his first release Parade available in its entirety as a free download. You can’t go wrong (especially with The Girl Next Door). And don’t forget to check out the video for American in Love off his latest studio album… because I made it. (Shameless plug? Yes.)

- Mint.com. Little late to the game on this one but I just got into it and love it. Mostly because it actually succeeds at syncing with my Bank of America accounts with ease and dividing my spending into accurate categories automatically. I just wish it included pending transactions instead of just cleared. Oh well. Best part? It’s free and so is its corresponding iPhone app.

- I’ve also been spending a lot of time reading articles from a blog entitled, Lifehacker. Including this stand out article I’ve been sharing with everyone I know. It’s genious ideas like this and tech news/stories that make Lifehacker a wonderful addition to anyone’s RSS readers. (This one comes courtesy of TIAW friend @mattrawding)

- Okay, last one: This is just interesting – Movies with the Most Instances of the F-word.

So that’s some of the stuff I’ve been reading while I haven’t been writing. Anyone else been occupied with anything particularly interested? Leave links in the comments!

Cooperatively Evil

In Video Games on June 17, 2009 at 11:53 PM

Recently I have been growing increasingly irate with certain gimmicks that seem to be growing in video games. In the past few months I have played through Resident Evil 5 and inFamous, both fantastic games despite one aspect that really, supremely “grinded my gears.” And these two facets of these otherwise wonderful games are the heavy centering on the “Cooperative Experience” in RE5 and the “Moral Choice System” in inFamous. Back in the day I welcomed such additions to the gaming medium. I must say I spent countless hours in the original halo’s co-op just stockpiling grenades and sending warthogs soaring out of the atmosphere, and watching my first Fable character degrade into a horned ifrit was just joy.

However, as time has gone on I’ve found that games are trying to make the co-op experience more centric to the game experience as a whole, rather than an addition to be kept separate from the main experience. And moral choice systems are now a way to have gamers play through a game twice to experience slightly different halves with no middle ground. Maybe I’m just an old school single player enthusiast but when I have to play through all of RE5 while having Sheva follow me like a machine gun wielding puppy I get rather annoyed. Not saying I wouldn’t love to have a machine gun wielding puppy follow me around, but for the purposes of the RE5 game it isn’t ideal.  I love to be able to play with a friend, however, I would prefer if it wasn’t forced upon me.

I guess what I’m trying to get at is I would much prefer a game that is meant to be single-player, to stay single-player. Left for Dead is meant to be a team experience which is why it’s awesome with other people. The Resident Evil series has always been an incredible single player experience, and when they try to hop on the goddamned buddy-system band wagon I get a bit peeved.  Maybe if I had a good teammate on-call all the time to play with over Live I’d be singing a different tune, but when I have a 11 year old eunuch with a broken mic trying to knife zombies to death in order to get some crack-ass achievement as my teammate the gaming experience is cheapened somewhat.

Now onto moral choice systems which is the fresher of the two subjects in my mind. I completed inFamous about a week ago and for those of you who are not in tune with the PS3 side of things you play as an electric-powered superman who must make things right in a shattered city all the while choosing whether you want to be the cities benevolent beneficiary or its “infamous” electrically charged asshole. I opted for the latter because one of the evil powers is an Emperor of the Sith-esque arc lightning, which, when upgraded, makes people explode (and writhe!).

I suppose it was pretty cool that your powers would change depending on what moral choices you make but what annoyed me is that the choices were either on complete dastardly side like sodomizing a little girl or the radiating Christ-goodness side like saving that girl from a fire instead and then showering her with ponies and goodies.  I mean why can’t I choose a healthy medium? But no, it doesn’t work like that, by the end of the game I get to be either the cities righteous savior (bitch) or be its immoral resident super-being who coasts along power lines blowing up cars because it looks cool on his HDTV.

Also when the evil powers tend to be more “flashy” then the good powers I find myself making the “moral” choices based along the thought process of,  “hmm this lightning grenade would look cool if it turned into a cluster lightning grenade!” (which is the evil power) Which leads to me choosing to pump black poison tar into a citizen apartment complex because I’d rather my grenades split into 7 explosive bits rather than just one.

I can’t gripe too much however since I still am playing the game and it is rather good, I just wonder what the game writers were thinking when posing these “powerful moral choices” to the gamer. They are too black and white, wouldn’t you say? A shade of gray would be nice once in awhile. And co-op, ugh co-op, please don’t force me to play with a sub-par computer controlled twat (Sheva) that is integral to the game when I am lacking a competent human to play with. Maybe I’d be happier if the computer controlled twat (Sheva) could die without repercussion, but she doesn’t, so I’m not.

Prized (Tech) Possessions

In Technology on June 16, 2009 at 12:48 PM

So I’m getting a new phone very soon and I’m very, very excited. But this change is not insignificant. It has given me pause and caused me to reflect. I’ve been using the same phone for a while now and we’ve been through a lot. It has been good to me, even if I have not been to it. It is one of many pieces of technology that has stuck with me, not often replaced by newer or better models.

Which made me think: what other tech do I have that won’t be replaced anytime soon? What other gear do I have that I consider a truly prized possession and has become virtually invaluable?

Here are the big three:

1. My (soon to be retired) Phone:

G'Zone

The Casio Gz’One phone in burgundy and gold. A color scheme only available if purchased at a Verizon kiosk in the now defunct Circuit City. That in and of itself makes it special. But the best part of the phone is its build quality. It is virtually indestructible. It’s shock resistant. It has plungers over all the ports, making it water resistant. And it’s dirt resistant. And (just like King Leonidas did to the Immortals) I’ve put its name to the test. And it has passed time and time again.

I love the weight of it in my hand. I love how I never have to worry about its condition. I love how I can drop it anytime I want merely to prove a point. It’s a luxury so many phone owners don’t have.

What I won’t miss though are the cheap plastic belt clips. I’ve gone through two already. (But that’s still not as bad as the six Razr clips I plowed through back in the day…)

2. My Microsoft Trackball Explorer

Microsoft Trackball

God I love this thing. One of the primary reasons it is so valuable to me is because it is so valuable period. They don’t make it anymore! Don’t ask me why. I love it and so do lots of people on the forums (yes, I’ve visited trackball forums… don’t judge me!). But the thing is selling for a couple hundred bucks on Amazon.

Would I ever sell mine? No. Regardless of the price (within reason). I just love it too much. The ball is moved by the fingers instead of the thumb like many trackballs today. It has a primary and secondary click seperated by a solid scroll wheel. All perfectly positioned. And then the biggie: it has forward and back buttons for your ring and pinky finger. And they work across apps, not just browsing. You can do next song or previous song in iTunes etc. It is the most functional and fast pointing peripherial I have ever come across.

3. My Gibson (originally made for GH3 but used exclusively for RB) Guitar Controller:

Gibson

You have to picture mine with an American Flag face plate. I couldn’t find a picture online of one with it. And my camera is being lent out to a friend at the moment so I couldn’t take a personal shot. (Which shows you right there how my camera is not one of these prized possessions.)

Unlike the trackball, this item could easily be replaced if it breaks down. You can get one of these at any Best Buy (like I got mine) or Gamestop or online. But… it wouldn’t be the same, ya know? Sure, it’d be the same model. But it wouldn’t be the guitar that I finally beat Painkiller and Panic Attack with. It wouldn’t be the same guitar I’ve taken to endless Rock Band parties. It wouldn’t be the same guitar I’ve devoted hours of my life to beating Green Grass and High Tides with (still unfinished business there…).

This guitar has been with me a year or so, maybe even less. But I still feel like it has become an intimate part of my collection. It hangs on my wall like a trophy earned and comes with me wherever I go to rock. It will not soon be replaced.

But enough about me:

How about all of you? What gear do you have that seems indispensable? Shout out your stories in the comments!

George Carlin. Richard Pryor. Barack Obama?

In News, Politics on June 13, 2009 at 10:21 PM

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=pdTsd668K8I

Guess what. I smiled the other day… more specifically at this video which aired on ABC News (and probably every other station on the planet). This video shows President Obama writing an excused absence note for the daughter of a man who was attending Obama’s town hall. The man’s daughter’s name was Kennedy. How perfect. Or… too perfect?

A lot of people have been clamoring that this whole thing was a fake, an attempt at the ultimate PR move. A President who is hip, who can roll with the people and dare I say be down to Earth. Now a lot of things lead me to believe that it was in fact genuine, (the shakiness of the Dad’s voice, Obama’s speech pattern, etc) but even if it’s not: Who cares?!

Maybe Obama isn’t cut out to be Richard Pryor at his town meetings, but he’s not supposed to be. At least it’s a step away from the fear mongering, brash, overconfident, town halls that Curious George (W. Bush) used to run. Remember those? Where he said that, “Human beings and fish can co-exist peacefully.” I am all for an administration that’s a little more out in the open, not one where Dick Cheney records captain’s logs from the bridge of the Starship PacemakerPrise.

But enough about Vice Presidents who shoot their friends in the face, let’s face facts: At the very smallest level, Obama gave this little girl a story that she will forever cherish, even if it was drawn up by Obama’s “people.” It takes a lot these days to even get me to watch the news, and based on the Big 3′s ratings a lot of people share my sentiment. But if there is a little glimmer that there’s some little bit of humanity in this world, particularly from our elected officials, I’m more apt to pay attention to the state of the nation.

Don’t take this post as pandering support for Obama, becuase I could care less who you voted for. Take it for what it is, a nice little story. Or maybe you would rather hear what Joe the Plumber/Welder/Barstool/Sixpack’s latest move is?

Do The Loco-Motion(Plus)

In Video Games on June 9, 2009 at 9:29 PM
Wii MotionPlus is finally available and I just happen to have my self the shiny new gadget and a copy of Tiger Woods 10. First of all, let me just say that I know many of you are crying foul and that big, bad Nintendo is nothing but a money grubbing company who “lied” to everyone about the capabilites that their new “Wii” machine had. The Wii has quickly gone from apple of the gaming world’s eye, to sell out, meaning they have gone outside the gaming worlds normal audience and tried and succeded to bring in new people to gaming. Ladies and gentlemen…MotionPlus.
In true Nintendo fashion the MotionPlus comes with two instruction manuals, both of which outline nearly the same thing. The nice folks at Nintendo also throw in a new Wiimote jacket that accomodates the added length of the MotionPlus. Once you spend the few seconds assembling the device, the Wiimote now feels like a little more serious piece of equipment. After all 1:1 response is a very serious matter is it not?
You may be thinking to yourself, “How can the_skeptic be qualified to review MotionPlus, Tiger Woods can’t possibly be that motion intensive?” Your right, in fact you have the option to completely bypass the whole thing altogether, but, the guys at EA Sports added a new game…within the game that is the perfect vehicle to examine the greatness of 1:1 control response. Disc Golf, or “Frolf” is a seperate game within Tiger Woods 10 that I’m quite sure was thrown in just to show off the accuracy of MotionPlus. I tell you, it IS just like throwing an actual Frisbee. There is no lag, no glitch, no nothing.
But here within lies the problem. It’s perfect, almost too perfect. Have you ever played Frisbee with someone who can’t throw it straight, meaning it curves and sails wildly and unexpectedly because they can’t grasp the concept of the “wrist flick”? These woes with be perfectly recreated when they play disc golf. I think the biggest problem that people will have with MotionPlus is that it still has a learning curve. 1:1 doesn’t mean that everything gets easier, it means that if you stink at golf, tennis, baseball, darts, or anything in real life, you stank will be perfectly captured in a digital environment. Ain’t that great.
I forsee MotionPlus getting many mixed reviews because it does require a fine touch, something not too many video games have. Gone are the days of button mashing and in are the days of maybe video game…practice?!?!?! I won’t go that far, but i will say this Nintendo gave us everything the Wii was promised to be and then some, at what I see as a reasonable price of 24.99. Once you use it for a minute or so the games will be infinitly more fun if you are willing to work at them a little longer.
The Bottom Line: (To steal a review tatic to Wii-abandoner MrBillGeorge)
MotionPlus absolutely is worth it, and will probably be necessary for most Wii games in the near future. So swallow you pride, and experience the Wii the way it was meant to be.
Grade: A+

Wii MotionPlus is finally available and I just happen to have my self the shiny new gadget and a copy of Tiger Woods 10.

First of all, let me just say that I know many of you are crying foul and that big, bad Nintendo is nothing but a money grubbing company who “lied” to everyone about the capabilites that their new “Wii” machine had. The Wii has quickly gone from apple of the gaming world’s eye, to sell out. Meaning that they have gone outside the gaming world’s normal audience and succeeded in bringing in new people to gaming.

Ladies and gentlemen… MotionPlus:

In true Nintendo fashion the MotionPlus comes with two instruction manuals, both of which outline nearly the same thing. The nice folks at Nintendo also throw in a new Wiimote jacket that accomodates the added length of the MotionPlus. Once you spend the few seconds assembling the device, the Wiimote now feels like a little more serious piece of equipment. After all, 1:1 response is a very serious matter is it not?

You may be thinking to yourself, “How can the_skeptic be qualified to review MotionPlus, Tiger Woods can’t possibly be that motion intensive?” You’re right. In fact, you have the option to bypass the whole thing altogether, but the guys at EA Sports added a new game within the game that is the perfect vehicle to examine the greatness of 1:1 control response. Disc Golf, or “Frolf,” is a seperate game within Tiger Woods 10 that I’m quite sure was thrown in just to show off the accuracy of MotionPlus. I tell you, it IS just like throwing an actual Frisbee. There is no lag, no glitch, no nothing.

But herein lies the problem: It’s perfect… almost too perfect. Have you ever played Frisbee with someone who can’t throw it straight? Meaning it curves and sails wildly and unexpectedly because they can’t grasp the concept of the “wrist flick?” These woes are perfectly recreated when they play disc golf. I think the biggest problem that people will have with MotionPlus is that it still has a learning curve. 1:1 doesn’t mean that everything gets easier, it means that if you stink at golf, tennis, baseball, darts, or anything in real life, your stank will be perfectly captured in a digital environment. Ain’t that great.

I forsee MotionPlus getting many mixed reviews because it does require a fine touch, something not too many video games have. Gone are the days of button mashing and in are the days of maybe video game… practice?!?!?! I won’t go that far, but I will say this Nintendo gave us everything the Wii was promised to be and then some, at what I see as the reasonable price of $24.99. Once you use it for a minute or so the games will be infinitly more fun if you are willing to work at them a little longer.

THE BOTTOM LINE (To steal a review tactic from the Wii-abandoning MrBillGeorge):

MotionPlus is absolutely worth it and will probably be necessary for most Wii games in the near future. So swallow your pride and experience the Wii the way it was meant to be.

Grade: A+

‘Jimmies’ Isn’t Racist. You’re Wrong.

In Comedy on June 8, 2009 at 1:43 AM

I grew up in the Northeast. So for years I’ve had people call me out when I ordered ‘jimmies’ as a topping for my ice cream. (For those unfamiliar, I’m referring to what others may call chocolate sprinkles.)

‘It’s a derogatory term from the Jim Crow law era,’ they tell me.

Listen: Where I’m from, we call them ‘jimmies.’ I’ve never met anyone in my entire life who was offended by the phrase and I refuse to give up on a part of my culture just because of a group of pushy, ignorant fools who want to feel superior.

And now, I am here to declare that I am proud of myself for sticking to my guns. After rigorous research, it is official: Jimmies is not a racist term. It is a trademarked name coined by the company that invented them (Just Born Inc.) and was named after the man who produced them. And his name was… wait for it… JIIMMY!

What should have given it away is the fact that no one can actually tell you where the racist theory stems from. Everyone just seems to hear it from someone else and then cling to it. It is a nasty myth that somehow still has legs and I am asking you to take a stand with me! If someone criticizes you when you order jimmies, ask the person how they know that. Call them out and bring their ignorance to light!

Forward this article to everyone you know so we can quash this despicable rumor once and for all. Then enjoy a nice twist with jimmies (guilt free) this summer!

Below are links to my supporting evidence with the apporiate section excerpted in italics for your reading pleasure.

Exhibit ABoston.com Article

There are some who believe jimmies to be a racial slur – a play on the Jim Crow segregation laws – but McCarthy (linguistics professor at the University of Massachusetts at Amherst) says it originated as a trademark name from a local company that made the chocolate topping, a contention that is supported by the Dictionary of American Regional English.

Exhibit B: Brighams.com Fun Facts

In 1930 James Bartholomew was lucky enough to acquire a job at Just Born, Inc. Bartholomew operated a machine that produced Born’s latest invention, tiny hot-dog shaped chocolate sprinkly things. But what to call them? Born briefly pondered that question before deciding to accredit the name to the producer, Jimmy Bartholomew. The new product was named JIMMIES.

Exhibit C: Philadelphia Inquirer Columnist Michael Vitez’s article: “The beloved jimmy could be lost: A sprinkling of history for a name that’s melting away.”

The Boston Globe investigated the origin of jimmies last winter after a reader inquired about a rumor that the term originally was racist – the idea being that some people refer only to chocolate ones as jimmies, and rainbow ones as sprinkles. Perhaps, the reader surmised, the word descended from Jim Crow.

The Globe found no evidence of this, but did cite a commentary in 1986 on National Public Radio by the late Boston poet John Ciardi, who claimed: “From the time I was able to run to the local ice cream store clutching my first nickel, which must have been around 1922, no ice cream cone was worth having unless it was liberally sprinkled with jimmies.”

‘Saving’ June 6, 1944

In Film on June 5, 2009 at 7:07 PM

Well, it’s (just about) June 6th.

On this day 65 years ago the allied expeditionary force led by General Dwight Eisenhower landed on the beaches of Normandy in France and proceeded to overtake the German fortified coastline and open a passageway that would lead the allies to ultimate victory in the European theater of World War II… in other words: we pwned the Nazis.

Known as D-Day, this event has come to symbolize the allied efforts in Europe during WWII and has been dissected, reproduced and romanticized in every possible form of media. It is especially spotlighted in the opening sequence of one of Steven Spielberg’s greatest accomplishments: Saving Private Ryan (1998).

America’s premiere director brought that battle to the screen with such brutal honesty it led to veterans walking out of the theater, not being able to handle what felt like actually reliving the war. It was that powerful.

The entire film is an undisputed masterpiece. The cinema had never seen a war movie quite like it before, and any that have come after are considered clones. This is the original.

So on this anniversary of D-Day, I’d like to take the time to discuss what I consider one of the best films ever made by asking myself a question and then proceeding to provide multiple answers. Enjoy:

Q: So, just how good is Saving Private Ryan?

A1: Well, Saving Private Ryan is so good…

… that the FCC doesn’t even censor it. After the movie aired, unedited, on Veteran’s day, the FCC got complaints about it and had to rule on whether the ABC affiliates who aired it had broke indecency standards by doing so. The complaints they cite include:

Following the November 11, 2004, broadcast, the Commission received the complaints, alleging that the aired film contains indecent or otherwise actionable material. The Complainants generally cite, among other things, film dialogue containing expletives including: “fuck,” and variations thereof; “shit,” “bullshit,” and variations thereof; “bastard,” and “hell.” In addition, the Complainants cite the presence in the film of other allegedly offensive language, such as “Jesus,” and “God damn.” They also object to the film’s graphic depiction of wartime violence. Accordingly, the Complainants argue that the ABC Network Stations should be sanctioned for airing material that violates federal indecency and profanity restrictions.

Know how the FCC responded?

The subject matter of the film, the portrayal of a mission to save the last surviving son of an Iowa farm family, involves events that occurred during World War II. As stated in the introduction to the broadcast, in relating this story, the motion picture realistically depicts the fierce combat during the Normandy invasion, including, according to a veteran who participated in and witnessed these events, “things that no one should ever have to see.” Essential to the ability of the filmmaker to convey to viewers the extraordinary conditions in which the soldiers conducted themselves with courage and skill are the reactions of these ordinary Americans to the barbaric situations in which they were placed. The expletives uttered by these men as these events unfold realistically reflect the soldiers’ strong human reactions to, and, often, revulsion at, those unspeakable conditions and the peril in which they find themselves. Thus, in context, the dialogue, including the complained-of material, is neither gratuitous nor in any way intended or used to pander, titillate or shock. Indeed, it is integral to the film’s objective of conveying the horrors of war through the eyes of these soldiers, ordinary Americans placed in extraordinary situations. Deleting all of such language or inserting milder language or bleeping sounds into the film would have altered the nature of the artistic work and diminished the power, realism and immediacy of the film experience for viewers. In short, the vulgar language here was not gratuitous and could not have been deleted without materially altering the broadcast.

And another member of the committee added:

This film is a critically acclaimed artwork that tells a gritty story one of bloody battles and supreme heroism. The horror of war and the enormous personal sacrifice it draws on cannot be painted in airy pastels. The true colors are muddy brown and fire red and any accurate depiction of this significant historical tale could not be told properly without bringing that sense to the screen. It is for these reasons that the FCC has previously declined to rule this film indecent.

If you didn’t feel like reading all of that (which you should, it’s fascinating) I’ll translate: “This movie is too good to change or censor.”

You think they make these exceptions for The Thin Red Line? or Platoon? No. And you wanna know why? They aren’t as good. Period.

A2: Saving Private Ryan is so good…

…that it always runs virtually commercial free. This has a lot to do with the previous answer. The movie is just too good to cut up and sell ad space during. It would be inappropriate to stop in the middle of this depiction of heroism only to try and sell some Volkswagens.

A3: Saving Private Ryan is so good…

… that every video game about World War II that came out after blatantly rips it off. And there are not a small number of them. Let’s list just a few, shall we? Medal of Honor: Allied Assault (and every other MoH), Every Call of Duty (except 4), Day of Defeat, Company of Heroes, Brothers in Arms, Battlefield 1942, et al.

A4: Saving Private Ryan is so good…

… that when you remind people it didn’t win Best Picture, they stare at you incredulously. Spielberg got Best Director, true, but the film itself did not go home with the Academy Of Motion Picture Arts & Sciences‘ biggest prize. And what did, you ask?

Shakespeare in Love

Nope, not kidding you. That really happened. It still baffles me to the point where all I can do now is try to laugh about it. But it is hard to laugh about such a travesty.

So, if you haven’t seen it in a while, I urge you to go back and watch SPR on this anniversary of D-Day and give thanks to the brave men and women depicted on screen fighting for the lives we now live.

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