<![CDATA[For Your Inebriation - Games]]>Fri, 15 Jan 2016 14:23:33 -0800Weebly<![CDATA[Game #65: Brazil]]>Fri, 15 Jan 2016 02:32:09 GMThttp://www.foryourinebriation.com/games/game-65-brazilFormerly Known as "How I Learned to Live with the System - So Far."
Happy New Year, everyone! We're one year further into the new millennium, and one year closer to that dystopian future that everyone keeps predicting!

As we discussed in the last article, "dystopia" as a concept is hot right now; just take a look at most young adult franchises that achieve popularity. It's not fair to say that this is a new trend however, because grimly fantasizing about a future in which our country's citizens are enslaved by technology, the government or other threats to our freedom is an old pastime by this point. Shortly after science fiction authors emerged and speculated about the big wide world out there and how our society would cope with it, they turned their thoughts towards the dark side of the question "what if...?" and jotted down their morbid responses.

Sci-fi writers can be anxious people. Just ask Philip K. Dick.

Anyhow, as a citizen of the new millennium, I am well versed in all the tropes that indicate our society's demise. The writers catering to my generation are brutal in their certainty that we are all doomed. So it was somewhat refreshing to turn back the clock to 1985 and watch a film made by someone inspired by Orwell's "1984"...who never read a word of "1984".

​Terry Gilliam makes dystopia seem fun. And isn't that a terrifying notion? 

"Brazil (is a fun place to party)": The Rules

We chose to recycle our leftover cinnamon whiskey and dunk it in some Coke, to symbolize both the heightened state of terror and iron-clad grip of consumer culture normally present in a dystopia. But really it doesn't matter what you drink, so long as you keep strict records of how much anyone drinks and make sure everyone signs several forms in triplicate before providing them their alcohol.

​I'm only sort of kidding.
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The Department of Pleasure and Recreation is probably the LEAST fun place to work.
Easy Mode
1. Drink for Title Drops. That's every time someone says the word "Brazil".
2. Drink when they drink
3. Drink for Daddy Issues
4. Drink when a television screen or a monitor of any kind is present in a scene. Funny story about this rule later.
5. Drink when you hear a doorbell, an alarm or a siren.

Medium Mode
All the above rules apply. Also...
1. Drink when someone says the name of a ministry department
2. Drink for references to Christmas. That's right, it's a Christmas movie too!
3. Drink for explosions

Hard Mode
All the above rules apply. Also...
1. Drink when someone's full name is given
2. Drink for dream sequences
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If Terry Gilliam knows how to do anything right, it's a dream sequence.

The Players

Our players for this game are...

Krissy Pappau: The Stuffy Department Head (Medium)
Pooh Daddy: The Demented Best Friend (Easy)
Bride of Buggerlas: Strong Female Protagonist, but actually (Medium)
Vicky the Raptor Queen: Enemy of the State (Hard)
Professor Facts: Dissatisfied Employee (Medium)
Punk-Ass Bitch: Singing Messenger (Medium)

Dystropia

 So, that first rule up on Easy Mode...that was originally phrased differently. We began the game by drinking every time we saw a singular screen or a monitor.

This lasted about ten minutes before we decided that this was a bad idea. Because when Terry Gilliam makes a movie set in a surveillance-heavy world, he doesn't half-ass things. He needs ALL the screens. And some other sci-fi knickknacks that look oddly archaic.
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"Isn't it amazing how they thought the future would be 'more typewriters'?" - Professor Facts
What's most fascinating about "Brazil" to me is the way the film takes things that have become commonplace in science-fiction, cranks their implications up to absurd levels and then resettles things so that the absurdity becomes expected. From second one of the film, we're dropped into a world that's not unlike our own (they still celebrate Christmas, after all), except it's threatened by terror attacks from both extremist outlaws and a hyper-responsive, all-seeing government. Things seem dire, but they reach levels of preposterousness once you realize that Archibald Tuttle, the government's terrorist target of the day, is a heating engineer who went rogue because he couldn't stand all the paperwork he had to fill out and now fixes broken air conditioners on the sly.

So, he's basically Mario. Except he's an enemy of the state. Played by Robert DeNiro.
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"Libertarian Terrorist Mario is in support of open borders." -Bride of Buggerlas
It's a thing I will always admire about Terry Gilliam; he recognizes the tools of surrealism and he knows how to use them in a way that still feels grounded. To be sure, he doesn't give a crap about character development or story structure ("Brazil" is probably the most straightforward film he's got his name on) but goddammit if you need a visual representation of man's struggle against oligarchy and order, he's right there with a giant robotic samurai ready to tell that story.
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"Symbolism!" - Pooh Daddy
Honestly though, there's little to criticize with this film, at least on a technical level. It's incredibly well-shot, and Gilliam puts every cent of the studio's money to good use in creating a claustrophobic, off-kilter society. We had some issues with the story; when you boil "Brazil" down to its essence, it's about a down-and-out guy trying to find a girl because he had a dream about her a couple times. Doesn't exactly seem like compelling stuff, so THANK GOD that most of the movie is about different things than our main character trying to force his way into a woman's car.
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"Well this is just a fucked up version of "Fury Road" right here." -Vicky the Raptor Queen
No, the love story (if you can call it that) is just another ingredient in the soup that is the larger story. Gilliam has never been interested in character development or story structure; he's much more content to put disparate parts on a screen and weave them together to make a semi-coherent whole. "Brazil" is above all else thematically sound. By fully immersing yourself in the world he's created, you allow yourself to soak in his thoughts about bureaucracy, class divisions, and man's desire for comfort and the fulfillment of fantasies. 

We came away from this film with one question, posed first by Bride of Buggerlas:

"Why didn't they give Terry Gilliam the "Hitchhiker's Guide" movie?"
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"You just made everyone so sad." - Punk-ass Bitch

Stick it to The Man

"There's no 'outside'", said Professor Facts once we were halfway through the film. "Did you notice that?"

Indeed, one of the smartest design choices of "Brazil" is to have the vast majority of the film take place indoors, in echoing spaces with poor lighting. It wasn't a new trope by any means even in '85, (Pooh Daddy recalls reading a novel where the entire world was covered in 1x1 mile interconnected buildings), but the lack of natural light on screen is an effective way to make the audience feel uneasy.

The players for this game connected with the film in special way; the majority of us had just come from our office jobs.
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I know that look. I was wearing that look a couple days ago.
I'm sure there are more than a few of you reading this who don't mind working in an office. I do. Even when the dress code is lax and there's good food nearby and you're emotionally connected to the work you're doing, there's something about sitting at a desk for eight hours every day in a room that's too bright and a little too cold that WEARS on you. And because the experience is so unnatural already, it is easy for those in charge to make things just a LITTLE worse, one step at a time, almost imperceptibly.

There's a scene in "Brazil" where the main character gets assigned a new office. It's the size of a closet, and he's sharing a desk with the person using the office next to him. This does not seem all that far off from reality to me, especially given that his desk-mate is the epitome of British Sleeze. You know that guy. Everyone has worked with that guy.
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"Middle-Class British Sleaze is a very particular kind of sleaze that actually involves saying nothing. You just imply." -Bride of Buggerlas
Traditional office structures are rapidly becoming a thing of the past. Not to say they'll ever go away completely, but the rise of the Internet and other forms of telecommunication is starting to make life easier for commuters, which will hopefully escalate to the point where having all your employees in one common space isn't necessary. Does this mean "Brazil"'s notion of dystopia will be averted?

Probably not. "Brazil"'s dystopia is already here. And it took drinking to the Christmas-y elements of this movie to realize it.

The timeline of "Brazil" is fuzzy; we assume that all the film's events take place in rapid succession, around Christmas Day, but considering how casual everyone is about the holiday and how it's become more background noise than anything important to the story, we started to wonder if this was really the case. What if, we posited, this is a world in which Christmas happens all year round?

And lo and behold, there is a store in New York City called "Christmas in Little Italy" that sells Christmas ornaments and decorations...every day. Bride of Buggerlas has visited the shop, and apparently the employees wish you a Merry Christmas upon entering. And apart from a few complaints about pricing on their Yelp page, nobody seems to have any problem with this.

So now you know your cue to take action: once these stores start multiplying.
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Manhattan's been transforming into a dystopian society for decades now. Save yourselves. It's too late for us.

Criterion Criteria

​Fun fact: "Brazil" is the first film we've reviewed that's part of the Criterion Collection!

What does that mean? I haven't the foggiest.

Being selected for the Criterion Collection is less a matter of prestige and more a matter of luck. The film doesn't have to be good, or even well done; it just has to be considered "important" by someone on the board. A large portion of the Collection is made up of films that were early projects of artists who grew to be geniuses (even if their early attempts were complete messes), or one of the first films to use a certain kind of technique or technology. In other words, much of the Collection is not just obscure, it's unskilled, despite the Collection's artistic associations.

This being said, "Brazil" deserves to be seen as "important". Gilliam has maintained a reputation as a director who's both unique and skilled, and "Brazil" is the film that best showcases his talents. Beyond that, though, "Brazil" is a film that drew heavily from its influences and in turn influenced others through its interpretation of its source material. The Wachowskis' visual style, for example, draws heavily on Gilliam's knack for business and intensity; they even parody a scene from "Brazil" in "Jupiter Ascending". Ever watch "Futurama"? The messenger tubes used throughout the show, notably in the episode "How Hermes Requisitioned His Groove Back", are lifted directly from "Brazil".

Buuut, then you realize that films like "The Curious Case of Benjamin Button" are also in the Criterion Collection, and you question the whole process. "Benjamin Button" is a fine movie, but what about it can be considered "important"?
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Do you remember ANYTHING about this film except that Brad Pitt was in it?
Vicky the Raptor Queen brought up that occasionally, because the guidelines for entry are so vague, producers will buy a film's way into the Collection in order to give it an air of prestige. The majority of movie-goers aren't film academics, after all, and are more than willing to take as a given that a film is artistic if someone else says it is, so branding an otherwise mediocre film as "important" does help get the film seen. Which seems tricksy to me.

On the other hand, Vicky pointed out in the same breath that the money exchanged goes towards restoring old bits of film and preserving classic reels that are difficult to keep safe. Which is definitely a good thing. So morally, I guess the whole thing is a wash. 

​All this to say, I suppose, that the Criterion Collection is okay by me! Hopefully we'll take a look at another film from their library soon.
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Given our track record, it'll probably be something like this.

The Results

This game is ROUGH, for the first hour or so. As most long movies go, there's a lull around the midway point where none of the rules apply much, which gives you a chance to rest and enjoy the scenery. Here are some other rules if you want an even more explosive game.

Drink for mirrors or lenses
What makes you just as paranoid as screens? Obscured versions of your face everywhere. Gilliam's got some killer shots with mirrors sprinkled throughout the film.

Drink for Film Noir homages
Gilliam draws heavily on noir imagery, particularly stuff from "Casablanca". 

Drink when someone signs a form, or anything else that requires a signature
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"Could you press harder this time please."
Friends, awards season is once again upon us, and while this has been a strange year for film across the board I think it's safe to say there are some strong contenders. Next time we'll be taking a look at one of them, as well as its great-grandaddy: one of the greatest underdog stories of all time.
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Yeah, Sly, go ahead and beat that meat.
Like what you see? Follow us on Facebook and Twitter, at For Your Inebriation and @KrissyPappau respectively. You'll get weekly updates, behind the scenes drunk talk, and other chatter!

For Your Inebriation is written by Krissy Pappau (Hollis Beck). All "Brazil" images are owned by The Criterion Collection and Universal Studios.

Special Thanks to my patron, Kaela Mei-Shing Garvin! Your support helps me keep this blog up and running. Join their ranks today and donate to my ongoing Patreon campaign!
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<![CDATA[Game #64: The Hunger Games]]>Wed, 23 Dec 2015 16:33:01 GMThttp://www.foryourinebriation.com/games/game-64-the-hunger-gamesCan We Finally Get Some Oscars for This Franchise, Please?
"The Hunger Games" films as a set are fascinating to me because they are one of the few film adaptations I felt were UNDER-hyped.

Like, "Catching Fire" is one of the most brilliant adaptations of YA literature I've ever seen. The direction is tight, the script is ruthless, the casting is pitch-perfect, the cinematography is luscious and pretty much everything else about the film and its brethren serves only to elevate the source material. And the original books by Suzanne Collins weren't garbage by any means. "The Hunger Games" gets some flack for being a rip-off of "Battle Royale" or similar cult classics, but the execution of an admittedly old story is superb; three books and four movies use the standard YA framework to examine our cultural views of dystopia, entertainment and revolution.

And yet, the fourth and final film was just released and I have heard NO buzz about it.

What happened? Just a few years ago it was impossible to escape news about "The Hunger Games". "Mockingjay Part 2" still cleaned up at the box office, but its opening weekend grossed lower than any of the previous films, a rarity for a long-running series like this. Did it simply suffer from sequel fatigue? Or are we as audience members tuning out to this type of film altogether?

"The Drinking Games": The Rules

Our heroine, Katniss Everdeen is also called the "Girl on Fire", so what better drink to imbibe while watching these films than Fireball whiskey? Drink it straight if you can stomach it, or dunk a shot into a tall glass of hard cider.
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Drink responsibly, or you'll be the "Girl with her Stomach on Fire".
Easy Mode
1. Drink for Title Drops. Varies from film to film, but you should always drink when someone says "Hunger Games".
2. Drink when they drink. Pay close attention when Haymitch is on screen
3. Drink for Daddy Issues
4. Drink when a weapon is used.
5. Drink when someone is called by their full name.

Medium Mode
All the above rules apply. Also...
1. Title drops: drink when someone says the word "game".
2. Drink when someone dies. You don't need to see the death onscreen.
3. Drink for projections or telecom screens.

Hard Mode
All the above rules apply. Also...
1. Drink for shaky cam or other weird camera stunts. This is mostly a thing just in the first film.
2. Drink whenever President Snow appears in a scene.
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"Coriolanus Snow". Subtle, much?

The Players

Our players for this game are...

Krissy Pappau: Can't stop singing "Hanging Tree" (Medium)
Dame Poppy Middleton: Digging the costumes (Hard)
Dijan De Niro: Capitol Swine (Easy)
Shirley Whiskas: Would grab Diva Curl from the Cornucopia (Hard)
Levi: Wants a Lavender Marriage with Jennifer Lawrence (Hard)

The Rise of Jennifer Lawrence

It's unfair to say that Jennifer Lawrence wasn't a big deal before these movies came out. She'd already been nominated for an Oscar by this point, she had just played Mystique in "X-Men: First Class" the year before, and she had been working in the biz as a model and actress since she was young. "The Hunger Games" wasn't her "big break", but it is arguably the thing that made her a sensation. The fascinating thing about this is that you can draw distinct parallels between Jennifer Lawrence's rise to fame and Katniss Everdeen's own meteoric ascent.

Lawrence gets all the credit in the world for her portrayal of Katniss. Taking a character who was given a first-person-present POV in the novels and turning her into someone we can identify with on a film screen is not an easy task, especially when said character is emotionally withdrawn, curt, sarcastic and in many ways unlikable. Lawrence managed to keep the core of Katniss Everdeen present in her performance while still making her someone identifiable and admirable.
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I need to stress how HARD this is to do.
This transformation is fascinating when you take Jennifer Lawrence's public persona into account. During peak JLaw saturation, she was the media's new definition of the everywoman, the "cool girl" if you want to get problematic: funny, smart, and unafraid to defy expectations of how a star should act. In every interview she seemed effortless, but not crafted, relateable without being fake. The thing is, it doesn't matter if this is the way she is in real life or not. This persona is part of her brand. And branding is a thing that "The Hunger Games" understands very well, and something that Lawrence excels at, while Katniss does not.

When Haymitch Abernathy, Disctrict 12's only surviving tribute, is introduced to Katniss and Peeta, he susses out her problems right away. In order for her to survive, she needs the support of the audience and more importantly of Capitol sponsors, who can send her things in the arena that will give her an advantage. And in order to get sponsor support, she needs to be likable, something she has not needed to worry about until now.

Levi, who had just come from an audition, perked up at this exchange. "Guys, he's teaching her acting!" he said.
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"That's how you get cast in things, sweetheart...you have to make people like you."
We had so many more of these moments, like when Katniss has to struggle to get the sponsors' attention during her skill test ("This is how I feel in auditions, like why are you TALKING," said Levi), or when Katniss was forced to give an interview in front a live audience and made it out by the skin of her teeth. Suzanne Collins understands publicity to a remarkable degree, and the Hollywood adaptation brought that understanding to new heights. Katniss is able to survive the games not just on talent alone; Haymitch is able to brand Peeta and her as star-crossed lovers and it is the sympathy they garner paired with their survival skills that allows them both to leave the arena alive. Afterwards, Haymitch stresses the importance of staying on brand. If the Capitol guesses that she and Peeta were faking their affair the whole time, he cautions, they will be put in danger.

Branding is important, because when you build up enough goodwill and good press, you are one day allowed to do things that go against your brand; you are allowed to be a person.

In 2014, nude photos of over 60 celebrities were leaked to the general public, and Jennifer Lawrence's name was among the most high profile of the victims. The sites that held these photos dithered about removing them, debates raged over whether the women could complain at all about the photos being seen since they took the photos themselves (for the record, yes they can), and other nonsense ensued. Jennifer Lawrence spoke publicly about her concern for her career after these photos were released, and then she did what any self-respecting person should do: she got angry.
“Just because I’m a public figure, just because I’m an actress, does not mean that I asked for this,” she says. “It does not mean that it comes with the territory. It’s my body, and it should be my choice, and the fact that it is not my choice is absolutely disgusting. I can’t believe that we even live in that kind of world. ”
Jennifer Lawrence got a lot of praise in general for saying something that people shouldn't have to be reminded of, and of course the nude photo leak didn't end up ruining her career (a reminder, she's going to get another Oscar nomination this year). But there were many, many other women whose photos were leaked at the same time as her. Lawrence was able to say what she said because she has weight with the media and a "good" reputation. Other actresses who don't know how to play the game, or who have been branded as "edgy" or "sexy" (The Johanna Masons of Hollywood, if you will) do not have this power. The double-edged sword that is the personal brand is well illustrated in "The Hunger Games", and something actors cannot ignore.

It's also worth nothing that Lawrence's co-star Josh Hutcherson has also been the victim of a nude photo leak in the past, and literally NOBODY cares. He has not had to defend himself. Mainstream news outlets and tabloids aren't spreading his pictures around (with the exception of some gay gossip sites). He's fine. As fine as a compromised celebrity can be, anyway.
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"I only want to see it if he wants me to see it." -Dame Poppy Middleton

The World is Awful

I mentioned earlier, I think the casting is spot-on for these films. I credit "The Hunger Games" for making me like Elizabeth Banks. It took me seeing her utterly transform herself to play Effie Trinket to acknowledge that the woman is talented beyond my ken (there's that branding thing, again).
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I'd pretty much only seen her play grouchy pregnant woman before being in this movie.
And it's like that for EVERYONE in these films. On an individual level, there's no wonky casting choice to be seen. Kinda hard to believe that the casting for this film was a hotbed of controversy when it was first announced.

"Jennifer looks like the milkman's daughter," Levi whispered as Katniss shared a scene with her mother and sister, both of whom are blonde and pale. It's canonically accepted that Katniss takes after her dead father, who seemed to be a swarthier gentleman, but there's a few different ways to read Katniss' physical description. In the books, she's described as having straight black hair and "olive-colored" skin. Not only that, these physical features are characterized as the standard look for the denizens of District 12. Her best friend and would-be-lover Gale shares these physical traits as well.
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"We're just friends...attractive, attractive friends." -Dijan de Nero
"This town was supposed to be a town where everyone was dark of skin," Shirley Whiskas said of District 12. "And they're all pale". And indeed, most if not all of District 12 in the films is portrayed by white actors.

A lot of people were thrown off by this, particularly young fans of the books. Suzanne Collins keeps her descriptions of skin tone and ethnicity vague much of the time, either shying away from labeling characters as specific races or omitting descriptions altogether. This is a rare thing in a genre where so much of the time the main characters are either explicitly white or Caucasian-coded. Katniss as an ethnically-ambiguous lead in a story set in a time period following a lot of "ethnic mixing" is, like many things in the books, a small shift against the grain. A tiny statement against the status quo.

The point being, because Katniss isn't specifically written as belonging to a particular race, she didn't HAVE to be white in the films. And while Jennifer Lawrence is great for the role and does wonderful things with it, she had to dye her hair to even approach resembling how Katniss looks in the books.

"It's fine," Shirley Whiskas sighed, "and it doesn't really matter, but it's irritating."

If that was the whole story about the "Hunger Games" casting controversy, I'd agree. But it's not. 

Rue, the youngest tribute in the Games, is arguably the most emotionally important character in the first book. She is characterized as small and quiet, she reminds Katniss of her younger sister Prim, and her death not only provides motivation for Katniss to fight against the Capitol but serves as an inciting incident for the rebellion all across Panem.

Amandla Stenberg won the part of Rue, and then the internet went NUTS.
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"Do you remember when people were all "I didn't even feel sad when she died"?" - Dame Poppy Middleton
Upon discovering that the actress who was to play Rue was black, fans who had otherwise been anticipating the film's release exploded in hate-fueled rage. They weren't just mad about Rue; Thresh and Cinna, two supporting characters in the story, were also cast with black actors, but Amandla (and Rue) took most of the heat. They took to Twitter to express their disappointment, and the result is really disgusting to read. A bunch of stuff about how Rue's supposed to look like Prim, and how if the character is black she's not a portrayal of innocence (this is the LEAST racist argument I've seen).

The kicker is, unlike many of the characters in the books, Rue's ethnicity is specific: she has dark skin. Same with Thresh, her fellow tribute. Moreover, when pressed, Suzanne Collins labeled both Rue and Thresh as "African-American". So not only was this controversy fueled by a bunch of whiny racists, it was fueled by whiny racists who weren't even PAYING ATTENTION to the source material. 

Stenberg, in effect, lived a true to life Hollywood equivalent of what her character went through. When "The Hunger Games" arrived in theaters, she was barely a teenager. And suddenly she's being exposed to an incredible amount of bile and ugliness that she should never have had to deal with. Instead of rolling over and taking it, though, she's grown up into an activist and is now writing a comic book, so that's amazing and cool (she's seventeen. What the hell was I doing when I was seventeen? What were you doing?). 

The point of all this being, can you imagine what would have happened if they'd cast Katniss as anything other than a white woman? 
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Probably the same set of responses we're getting now that a black woman has been cast as Hermione Granger.

Mockingjay Part 2: A Review

"Krissy", I can hear you saying, "you're spending a lot of time talking about social issues and next to no time talking about the films themselves. What's up with that?"

I'd argue that it's difficult to discuss "The Hunger Games" without talking about social issues. Protesters in Thailand co-opted Katniss' three-finger salute to declare their opposition to military occupancy, after all. More than most YA dystopian novels, "The Hunger Games" forces its readers to examine the intricacies of revolution, to recognize the seeds of uprising, to examine societal patterns. 

So it's really too bad that the last film in the quartet kind of screwed the pooch (spoilers for "Mockingjay: Part 2" to follow).

Many fans of the books have issues with the third and final installment, especially the ending. I personally love it; the last twenty pages of "Mockingjay" subvert the happy ending that so many fantasy series fall into. Katniss has defeated her greatest enemy, the war is over, she's married to a man who loves her and she's borne his children...but she's dreadfully unhappy. She's unable to shake the feelings of PTSD that have followed her past the war, she wakes up screaming in the night, and at times she'll simply fail to be present when her children need her attention and care. She's broken. 

Moreover, the system is broken. In the final battle against the Capitol, Alma Coin and the rest of the District 13 rebels revealed themselves to be just as power-hungry and ruthless as the people they were fighting to bring down. By killing Coin, Katniss strikes out against a cycle of totalitarianism that's become ingrained in Panem's government, but she discovers that even this last act of rebellion was orchestrated by Plutarch Heavensbee. Katniss was used as a tool the entire story, because she had people she wanted to protect. It's dark and it's depressing and it's super effective.

The movie...it's a faithful adaptation. Yes. But it doesn't deliver the nuances of these events as well as it could have. It's frontloaded with military-themed action scenes that drag on just a hair too long, and it loses sight of the thing that makes the core of the movie shine through: the characters. Aside from Katniss and Peeta, few characters are allowed moments for development or catharsis (to be fair, this is a flaw in the books too), and what little development that exists is swallowed up by the dreary darkness that permeates the story. 
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Prim's death should have shaken me to my core. Instead, it felt like an afterthought.
I still enjoyed the film. Like I said, it's a faithful adaptation. But I think it's interesting that the majority of the fans of the series gravitate more to the first film than to the last. "The Hunger Games" is about grim spectacle and the poisonous nature of glamour. "Mockingjay" is about rebellion and its consequences, and about grey morality. It's easy to see why one type of story is more palatable than the other to a mass audience.

"Mockingjay" sticks with me in a way that "Hunger Games" does not because of its flaws, and because its story is told with such earnestness and grim starkness. It is one of the few stories I've read that acknowledges that change comes with a price. And that is the story that made this series matter, and that is why we aren't being inundated with ads for "Hunger Games" merchandise, and that is why real protesters are using language from these films to articulate their causes. 

In case you were wondering, yeah, we were talking like this when we played the game, too. If anything, we were even worse about it.
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"Oh my God, Shirley's making so many political statements right now, this isn't okay!" - Shirley Whiskas

The Results

This drinking game is solid, but might be more effective with the first film than any subsequent installments. I haven't tested it with the other movies, though, so give it a shot and tell us what you think!

If you'd like some extra rules to raise the stakes, try these on for size.

Drink when someone screams
This rule feels different for each film. In the first one, characters are more likely to scream in pain or fright. In later films there's this sense of desperation that really hits you in the gut.

Bottoms up.

Drink when you see someone wearing red
Might be the most thematic color in the films

Drink for kissing
Katniss has not one but TWO love interests in these films, and she gets plenty of action with them both. Her questionable motives help break up this trope quite nicely.
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Although Gale and Peeta falling in love with each other would be the ultimate trope-buster.
Aaaaand, it's that time of year again! Christmas is right around the corner! And in keeping with our tradition of reviewing Christmas movies that actually aren't about Christmas, we're checking out one of the granddaddies of dystopian sci-fi.
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It's a wonder we haven't looked at Terry Gilliam before now, really.
Like what you see? Follow us on Facebook and Twitter, at For Your Inebriation and @KrissyPappau respectively. You'll get weekly updates, behind the scenes drunk talk, and other chatter!

For Your Inebriation is written by Krissy Pappau (Hollis Beck). All "Spirited Away" images are owned by Walt Disney Entertainment and Studio Ghibli.

Special Thanks to my patrons, Caroline Kittredge Faustine and Kaela Mei-Shing Garvin! Your support helps me keep this blog up and running. Join their ranks today and donate to my ongoing Patreon campaign!
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<![CDATA[Game #63: Spirited Away]]>Tue, 03 Nov 2015 13:18:59 GMThttp://www.foryourinebriation.com/games/game-63-spirited-awayRated "PG" for "Some Scary Moments"
Hope you had a spooky Halloween, friends! Instead of reviewing a film that'll make you wet yourself with fright, we're going to take a look at one of my old favorites, one of the few movies that can make me smile whenever I watch it. "Spirited Away", much like "FLCL", reminds me of what it was like to be on the cusp of young adulthood, comfortable still being called a child but faced with responsibilities and pressures that you never dreamed would fall upon your shoulders.

How scary can you get?

A brief overview: this movie was a really big deal when I was young. The adults in my life knew about it before I did and were just as excited to watch it, because even in 2003 you would have to be living under a rock to never have heard of Hayao Miyazaki. Often compared to Walt Disney and Steven Spielberg, Miyazaki is known for his stellar storytelling prowess, his artistic and creative vision, his penchant towards female protagonists, and his ability to appeal to children without shunning adults. "Spirited Away" was the first anime film to win an Oscar, and argueably kick-started an anime rennaissance in the west that lasted a good decade.

It's not even a question: "Spirited Away" deserves all the praise it got. And I made a drinking game for it and it's PERFECT, possibly one of the best ones I've made. So get ready for a nice, hot soak; you're about to bathe in beauty and charm.

"Spirit-ed Away": The Rules

We chose to drink warm sake during our test run, not just because it's Japanese but because the majority of the action in the film takes place in a luxury bathhouse. Sake is a tricky little spirit; I didn't know exactly how drunk I'd gotten until the next morning when my first steps were oh so wobbly.
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It also has the tendency to stink up your house, so watch out for that.
Easy Mode
1. Drink for Title Drops. That's the full title, "Spirited Away".
2. Drink when they drink
3. Drink for daddy issues
4. Drink when they eat. Gluttony is a big theme in this movie
5. Drink when Chihiro cries, trips, or whines about something.

Medium Mode
All the above rules apply. Also...
1. Drink when someone calls Chihiro by the name "Sen".
2. Drink for moments of magic.

Hard Mode
All the above rules apply. Also...
1. Drink when Haku and Chihiro say each others names.
2. Drink when Chihiro is given a task. It could be a big task like "go save your dragon boyfriend's life" or a small task like "scrub the floor."
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...and she doesn't have to be very good at completing it.

The Players

The players for this game are...

Krissy Pappau: Unlikable Heroine (Hard)
Baebra: Sassy Sidekick (Hard)
The Fuzzy Masked Man: "Handsy" Comic Relief (Medium)
Bride of Buggerlas: Business-Savvy Witch (Easy)

I Will Fight You

I have watched MOST movies that Studio Ghibli has put out since its inception. The only Ghibli film I have not seen that Miyazaki directed was "The Wind Rises", which grabbed him another Oscar nomination in 2013. "Spirited Away" is far and away my favorite film with his name on it; I think it's perfect. I've seen the dub so many times that I've memorized lines based purely on the way they were spoken.
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"Don't worry - I've got four-wheel drive."
If this film has flaws, I don't see them. So I polled my friends as we watched. Most of them agreed with me that it was a fantastic movie, but some revealed they didn't always feel that way.

"I was so bored," The Fuzzy Masked Man recalled of his very first watch-through. "I wasn't used to this kind of pacing." This is the number-one complaint I've heard about "Spirited Away": that it's boring. This complaint makes sense on an intellectual level, even if my first emotional response is to laugh in people's faces. I mean how can you classify a movie with a living radish and sentient soot balls as "boring"?
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"They're like those little toys, what were they called? Kooshes." -Baebra
You know that three-act structure we all know about from our eleventh grade English classes? Rising action, falling action, climax, all that good stuff? That structure forms the basis for almost all of the media we consume...in the West. It turns out that Eastern countries don't care so much about "narrative" as we're used to recognizing it. Japanese narrative especially is much more free-flowing, and you can see this a lot in anime; most stories are comprised of scenes that all follow a central theme or emotional journey, and those scenes don't have to be connected in any way. In some cases, like in "FLCL", the lack of linear storytelling can seem chaotic and random. In the case of "Spirited Away", where the plot is linear but the line is not straight, it can seem meandering and slow.

With "Spirited Away", the story almost mimics a river's flow. There are moments of wild, rushing action and moments where the flow settles and lets you focus on the beautiful scenery (some of the most gorgeous background art can be found in this film). This comparison is apt considering Miyazaki's heavy use of natural imagery, particularly with water. A neverending river blocks Chihiro's path home after her parents have been transformed into pigs. An injured river spirit comes to Yubaba's bath house where Chihiro and the rest of the staff help remove a bicycle from its muddied, stinky body. And hell, spoilers, Chihiro's amnesiac boyfriend turns out to be a river spirit too - he can't find his way home because his river was paved over to make way for condominiums.

None of this stuff is plot related. Not much of it has to do with the larger story. But "Spirited Away" is more about the feelings it puts inside you than what made those feelings happen.
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"THAT'S why I can't remember what it was about!" -Bride of Buggerlas
I get the feeling that what made "Spirited Away" popular in the West, though, is the "happenings", which on their own are still spectacular. And honestly? Terrifying.

Some Scary Moments

"This movie is more upsetting as an adult," said Bride of Buggerlas as the first half hour came to a close. I have to agree with her.

So as a refresher to all of you, "Spirited Away" starts off with Chihiro and her parents wandering onto what they think is an abandoned theme park. They come across a line of food stalls and the parents help themselves, despite Chihiro's protests. They seperate, and once shit starts going down Chihiro returns only to find that they've been turned into pigs.

Giant pigs. And this isn't a "Brave" or a "Brother Bear" kind of thing, they can't talk, they're actually pigs. And the spirits of the bath house whip them and place them into a pig pen. Where they might get slaughtered later.

HORRIFYING.
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"I did that in Bloodborne the other day!" -The Fuzzy Masked Man
If you don't remember this level of brutality when you were younger, there might be a reason for that. Because I own the DVD of this movie, I was able to manipulate the audio options so that we could watch the film in English, but with the subtitles for the Japanese audio. This turned out to be a BRILLIANT move on my part, because we could easily compare the dub and sub script in the moment, and while the dub of "Spirited Away" is a mostly faithful translation, there are some departures in tone.

In both translations, our lead Chihiro is a spoiled brat who is afraid to step outside of her comfort zone. The film is a coming of age story wherin she finds strength inside herself and uses it to protect the people she cares about, but it's a gradual change for her, and in the early half of the film she's next to useless. In the English dub, there are some subtle changes made in how the other characters talk to her. As they give her instructions they make assurances, tell her that things will be okay, tell her to calm down. By extension, they're telling the young viewers to calm down, assuring THEM that everything will be okay.

In the Japanese version, the characters are much more blunt and to the point. They tell Chihiro to be still. They offer no explanations about what's happening. They give her orders and they instruct her to follow them. In short, they treat her like an adult, and because she has no choice Chihiro does what they tell her to do. Eventually she learns to act without being told, and watching the growth from when she's a little girl crying while double-fisting rice balls to a young woman who's willing to stand up for her friends is wonderful.
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"I've totally been there." -Baebra
Miyazaki said in an interview that he wrote this film for some young family friends, and that he wanted to make the protagonist a regular girl their age. He read girl's comics for inspiration, saw that they mostly discussed romance and decided to make an adventure story that they could identify with, about a heroine being influenced by changing circumstances to become a strong person. It's a wonderful goal, and the dub does a good job of honoring that, even if they try to sweeten things up a bit.

​Not to say that the movie doesn't deal with romance at ALL.

Wuv...Twoo Wuv...

The other major changes to "Spirited Away"'s translation are entirely to do with the fact that Disney produced the English release.
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Heh. Can you imagine if they tried to push for more merchandising? Hilarious.
"Spirited Away" is a children's movie after all, and Disney has certain expectations forwhat that means. So the dub is littered with references to two things that are notably missing from the Japanese version: the idea of "True Love", and a division between Good and Evil.

So Chihiro meets a mysterious boy in the bath house named Haku, who spends a ton of his energy watching over Chihiro and making sure she stays safe while she figures out a way to get home. However, he's contractually bound to serve Yubaba, the witch who rules the bath house and uses her magic to force people to be loyal to her. Chihiro goes through incredible emotional turmoil over deciding whether or not she can trust Haku, and this subplot finally gets resolved when she breaks the curse holding him in thrall to Yubaba and helps him recover his identity. As the two of them rejoice over Haku's newfound freedom, Chihiro cries out (in English) "I knew you were good!"
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In the Japanese version, she says something along the lines of "thank goodness you're safe."
​What's key here is, while Yubaba is a clear antagonist, at no point in the Japanese sub is she referred to as "evil". I'm not sure if she's ever explicitly described as evil in the dub either, but the implication is that Yubaba is an untrustworthy and coldhearted person, and by extension so is Haku and anyone else who works for her. If you examine her actions, though, you can see this is untrue. Yubaba has a policy of hiring anyone who asks for a job, she shows a great amount of love for her child, and she is great at boosting morale when her employees need it. But she's a businesswoman, and she knows the best way to get her employees to listen to her is to buy their loyalty, or trick them into servitude (or maybe offer sexual favors, she had to get that baby somehow).
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"If you fucked Yubaba, you'd probably be set in that bath house." "Yeah, but she probably has four vaginas and one of them leads to snakes." -Bride of Buggerlas and Fuzzy Masked Man
All this to say, Yubaba's no Cruella De Vil. Her actions aren't cartoonish and they have clear benefits for people other than her, even if she's at the top of the totem pole. But Disney pushes the "evil witch" narrative a little further than they need to, and the "true love" narrative helps that along.

While Chihiro and Haku are adorable and clearly have what their parents would call a "special friendship", it's not necessarily romantic in the Japanese version. In the dub, they making a point of labeling what they have "pure love", crediting the feelings between the two of them as the thing that breaks Haku's bond with Yubaba. These declarations are absent in the Japanese version, replaced by subtler tells that lump Haku in with the rest of the cast who gets won over by Chihiro in the end.

It's not that the English version made up the romance. It's clearly there. But Disney definitely prioritized the love story over the larger picture, which is the story of a girl who meets a bunch of magical creatures that change her life. The closest correlation in the Disney canon is probably "Alice in Wonderland", although as Bride of Buggerlas points out, Wonderland's denizens don't function without Alice around, and Yubaba's bath house will probably be in business for many centuries to come. When Chihiro gazes back at the abandoned structures at the end of the film, she's not just thinking about Haku. She's thinking about everyone she met, and about how different she is now.

...I'm ashamed to say that I missed that subtext for years. What can I say? I'm a sucker for a love story.
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"It's the magic of fiber! Fiber is magic, and fiber is love!" -Bride of Buggerlas

The Results

The four of us finished a 1.5 liter bottle of sake during what is a SHORT movie. I'm proud of this one, and because most sake is so mild you won't even feel that drunk at the time (I think. I don't know your life).

If you want to experiment with some other rules, here are some new ones you can try swapping out.

Drink whenever someone criticizes Chihiro
This happens mostly at the beginning of the film, so you can also drink when someone praises her.

Drink when an animal makes a noise
I'm mostly talking about non-sentient animals, but I guess if one of the frogs who works for Yubaba ribbits or something, that'll count.

Drink when someone shouts or yells
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Drink again if accompanied by fire breath.
Thanks for reading everyone! I hope your Halloween was frightfully fun. Next month, a franchise ends, and I eagerly anticipate its final installment.
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Good thing Jennifer Lawrence is the most castable actress in Hollywood.
Like what you see? Follow us on Facebook and Twitter, at For Your Inebriation and @KrissyPappau respectively. You'll get weekly updates, behind the scenes drunk talk, and other chatter!

For Your Inebriation is written by Krissy Pappau (Hollis Beck). All "Spirited Away" images are owned by Walt Disney Entertainment and Studio Ghibli.

Special Thanks to my patrons, Caroline Kittredge Faustine, Kaela Mei-Shing Garvin and Antonia Beck! Your support helps me keep this blog up and running. Join their ranks today and donate to my ongoing Patreon campaign!
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<![CDATA[Game #62: FLCL]]>Mon, 05 Oct 2015 18:13:04 GMThttp://www.foryourinebriation.com/games/game-62-flclFLCL. FuriKuri. Fooly Cooly. Nyow.
So. Anime. This is my first time covering a Japanese cartoon on the site, so let's get a couple things out of the way.

A lot of people who are resistant to watching anime cite its strangeness as a reason for its inaccessibility. They're afraid they won't "get it", or they think animation is for children and are turned off by the more adult themes, or they saw a bunch of out-of-context clips one time and think they can write off all of it.

To which I say, anime is not a genre. It's a medium, and like all artistic mediums it includes several subsets and genres. Some of it is aimed toward children, but a lot of it is for adults and while some anime can seem culturally strange, most of the stuff that makes its way over to America is mainstream enough that even a casual viewer should be able to understand and enjoy it.

This being said, there is some truly whack-a-doo stuff coming out of Japan, and a lot of it is inaccessible unless you know some things about Japanese culture, and even then it can seem pretty wild. I've refrained from talking about anime on this site for that specific reason; even in 2015 it's still regarded as a subculture in America (and in a lot of Japan), and I didn't want to alienate anyone.

Then I thought, screw that, there's some really great anime out there and I want to be able to freely talk about my favorite stuff without feeling like my average reader won't "get it". I spent most of my time when I was between the ages of thirteen and twenty inhaling anime and manga, and it's had a profound influence on my personal style. So today, we're going to be looking at a series that is undeniably strange, artistically fascinating, emotionally resonant, and a superb example of what anime can be.

Here's something I love. Here's Studio Gainax's "FLCL".

"FLCL (Forget Logic, Consume Liquor)": The Rules

For our practice game, we drank Midori Sours, which apart from lending the evening a distinctly Japanese flavor, provided us with the sweetness and sourness indicative of adolescence and youth!

It's tasty, too.
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Look at how green it is! It's so pretty!
Easy Mode
1. Drink for Title Drops. That's the full title, "FLCL" (pronounced "Fooly Cooly").
2. Drink when they drink
3. Drink for Daddy Issues
4. Drink when someone is called by a nickname. This gets tricky because of honorifics and crap, but generally if someone's first name is shortened or manipulated, that counts.
5. Drink when someone eats something
6. Drink when a robot appears in a scene. You should be aware at the time that it is in fact a robot.

Medium Mode
All the above rules apply. Also...
1. Drink when someone talks about things being "ordinary" or "strange".
2. Drink for gunfire. This only applies to one episode, but man it's a great payoff.
3. Drink for references to other cartoons or anime. Some of them are obscure, but it's mostly easy to tell.
4. Drink when Haruko "uses" her guitar.

Hard Mode
All the above rules apply. Also...
1. Drink when someone says the words "sweet", "sour" or "spicy".
2. Drink for allusions to sex
3. Drink when the song "Little Busters" plays. This is mostly only here because I love that song.
4. Drink when someone's body does something it shouldn't be able to do.
5. Drink when you see a cat.
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Uh...yeah! That counts!

The Players

 Our players for this game are...

Krissy Pappau: "I don't know where the truth ends and the lies begin." (Medium)
Bride of Buggerlas: "Go on and prove that you love me!" (Easy)
Velma Jinkies: "Now, Cantido-sama! Bless me with your kiss!" (Easy)
Shirley Whiskas: "Relationship? How do you MEAN?" (Hard)
Dijan De Nero: "Where are your eyebrows? Why did you take them off?" (Hard)
Vicky the Raptor Queen: "I'm about to overflow." (Medium)

Abstract, Not Random

This first time I saw this show in its entirety I was thirteen years old and it was on Adult Swim. I, like everyone else who watched the show at the time (mostly guys) was blown away. None of us could figure out what we were seeing, but we loved it. Something about the show spoke to the confusion and chaos rumbling around inside our little bodies that struggled to be described in words.

​Which is why I'm ashamed for not realizing before that "FLCL", at its core, is a coming-of-age story.
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Seriously, all I had to do was pay attention.
The plot of "FLCL" feels convoluted, and most people get distracted by it. The story follows twelve-year-old Naota, who finds himself dealing with his older brother's spaced out ex-girlfriend Mamimi after said brother moves to the U.S. to become a kick-ass baseball player. Just as he's settled into the malaise that's encompassed his life since his brother's departure, a beautiful and unpredictable woman riding a vespa and wielding a guitar comes out of the sky and hits him over the head with her instrument. He survives.
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"I wanna be her so bad." -Vicky the Raptor Queen
The woman, Haruko Haruhara, worms her way into Naota's home by getting herself hired as a housekeeper, and once she gets herself situated Naota finds that his brain has been transformed into an interdimensional portal for alien space pirates, which emerge from his head whenever he feels acute stress to do battle with each other. One robot sticks around and acts like an ambassador, kind of, and Mamimi mistakes him for a God, and...

Okay, I'm going to stop explaining the plot, because the plot DOES NOT MATTER.

The actual structure of this story is nonsensical, and it's that way on purpose. The creators of "FLCL" have no illusions that you'll follow the chain of events (at least not on a first watch-through). They're more interested in style and theme. Style the show has in spades, and it's that sense of experimentation that led a lot of folks to believe that the writers were just writing down whatever came into their heads. That they were making shit up.

This is clearly not what's happening. "FLCL" is made with too much craft and knowledge of the art form to be the random scribblings of Japanese writers. So, beneath all the action, what's actually happening?

Well, a few things. The major themes all hinge on the experience of going through puberty and becoming an adult, specifically as a young boy. At the beginning of the story Naota is no longer a child, but he doesn't feel comfortable being called a grown-up either, especially since his immature father and his brother's absence have forced him into becoming the man of the house. The aliens emerging from his brain are abstracted forms of the chaos inside him, the battling desires to stay young and grow older. There's some blatant phallic metaphors happening too; the robots appear at the worst possible times and do a lot of damage, and the young women of the show are fascinated by the growths that emerge from Naota's forehead and his desperate attempts to hide them. 
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"The show became how I started to understand my sexuality". -Shirley Whiskas
Meanwhile, the show is also investigating the nature of industrialization in post-war Japan, and the influences on the country from foreign powers. Naota's town, Mabase, is  visited by a mysterious building shaped like an iron, headquarters for a company called "Medical Mechanica". Its arrival brings smog, polluted water, and an ever-present feeling of numbness to Mabase's citizens. You can't make a symbol much more direct than that; check out the picture below to see how the threat of globally accepted convenience dominates this small town.
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Fear the power of modern appliances!
Seem like I'm reaching? The show is littered with examples of the Japanese characters losing touch with their roots and relying on conveniences brought to them from overseas. Most notably, in the sixth and final episode, Naota's teacher leads the class in a lesson on how to use chopsticks. And she sucks at it, so much so that she has a complete panic attack in front of her students, who grumble about how much easier it is to just use sporks.

"Oh!" said Bride of Buggerlas. "I know about sporks and Japan!" Indeed, an urban legend states that General McArthur popularized the spork in Japan during the post-war occupation. While denying the Japanese chopsticks, he feared to give them forks and knives, fearing the Japanese citizens would reappropriate them as weapons and rise up against their occupiers. The spork was seen as a compromise, civilized enough as a utensil but too useless to be used to do much of anything else. There is little to no evidence that supports this story, but it's still popular enough to stick in people's heads, and even without that piece of faux history the spork is a symbol of convenience and modernization. It's a common gripe amongst older Japanese that the youth of the country can't hold chopsticks correctly.

None of this is handed to you on a plate. The creators of FLCL are carefully coding and sheathing their intentions underneath layers of anime references, poop jokes and sexual innuendo. And none of it would mean anything if there wasn't a beating heart underneath. 
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"The whole thing is a puzzle. Deal with it." -Vicky the Raptor Queen

Manic Pixie Dream Bitch

I mentioned earlier that this show is about puberty from a young boy's perspective. I stand by that statement; the show is made for a male audience and the experiences discussed are shown through a male lens, with the exception of one episode centered around Naota's classmate Ninamori where we get a small hint of what girl puberty might be like (and if the episode is any indication, Ninamori is going to have a hard time as a teenager).
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"She reminds me of Hermione from Harry Potter". "Nah, Hermione wasn't this petty." -Krissy and Dijan de Nero
What's great about "FLCL" is that because of its specificity and attention to character, I can glean that all the female characters have things going on in their lives without Naota around, so I often don't NEED to see things from their perspective. There are three female leads in the show, and each of them are active, unique and have a profound influence on Naota without devoting their entire beings to him. And the character who's the best example of this is Haruko.
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I'm having a hard time choosing a screenshot for her, they're all so good!
It's an old cliche that women might as well be aliens in the eyes of young men; in this case, the woman who catches Naota's eye actually IS an alien. Haruko bursts on the scene in a flurry of noise and excitement, and of course to bored, nihilistic Naota she's the most interesting thing he'e seen all his life. Early on in the anime Naota makes a few mental comparisons between her and his brother, which points to a strong sense of hero-worship mixed in with the sexy feelings he also develops for her later. Haruko loves making Naota feel uncomfortable and encouraging his desires to be more carefree and wild, although it's unclear to Naota whether her interest in him is because of him as a person or because of the robots that come out of his brain. 

We've discussed the "Manic Pixie Dream Girl" trope on this site before; an MPDG is a quirky, free-spirited woman who exists in a story to help the male hero overcome his emotional issues and show him a way to live life to the fullest. Haruko Haruhara is NOT an MPDG. Although her character functions in similar ways in "FLCL" to a pixie, her actions give her depth and autonomy.

First, Haruko doesn't just say she's a free agent; she is one. She comes and goes at a whim, and has been doing this all her life. Her arrival in Mabase was predicated on a personal mission that she doesn't let anyone in on, even the one person who's most deeply involved. Not a single character on the show can tell her what to do, except for a commanding officer of some kind that we never see.
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He either IS the cat, or he's communicating to her THROUGH the cat, I'm not sure.
Second, while Haruko does grow attached to Naota throughout the show, the narrative makes it clear that not only does she not reciprocate his feelings, she never can. What's more, Naota doesn't NEED those feelings to be reciprocated. We see the story mostly through his eyes, and while he spends a lot of time denying he has feelings for Haruko at all, once he acknowledges how he feels he owns it. He sees the issues with pining after this unattainable woman and simply lets how he feels for her inform his own story and his progress to becoming a man. We see an antithesis to Naota's response in Amarao, who fell for Haruko when she had a different pseudonym and has never managed to let go. As Shirley Whiskas points out, because Amarao never let go of his obsession, he never matured. He is doomed to live as an incomplete man.
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And his eyebrows are HUGE.
It's easy to see that Haruko is a strong character because she's literally the coolest person ever, but most of the characters in "FLCL" are well developed and have their own storylines. Mamimi struggles with the same abandonment issues as Naota, but by intentionally altering her sense of reality and retreating from her markers of the real world and her home life. Ninamori struggles to prove that she's more of an adult than her philandering father, and nearly loses friends by holding everyone to her standards. And through it all, Naota attempts the impossible; to stay the same in a world that's rapidly changing all around him. 

It's deep, man. This show about robots and super spicy curry is deep.
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"This anime is so good at explaining human nature, I can't stand it." -Shirley Whiskas

Sub vs Dub

I'm writing about "FLCL" and I can't help feeling like it's coming out dry. The truth is, I can't write about this show without spoiling it horrendously OR sounding like a maniac. All I can really say is that it's one of the most visually stunning and imaginative pieces of art I've seen in my life, it's hilarious, and there are moments from it that still inexplicably make me cry. Hopefully you can judge for yourself if this is something you'd enjoy, and you'll check it out sometime.

But when you do, should you watch the show in subtitled Japanese or in English? Good question.

The practice of dubbing and localizing Japanese cartoons has a long and storied history that requires a lot more time to discuss than I have right now, but the basic gist of it is that until about five years ago, most dubs were shit. American studios didn't have the budgets or incentive to hire decent voice actors or create faithful translations, so a lot of the stuff they brought over just didn't sound right in English, and some of the shows were changed entirely to "better suit" an American demographic. If a show got brought to Toonami or Adult Swim, maybe the English actors sounded weird, but the dub was still better than most. Other shows weren't as lucky.
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Maybe someday we'll talk about this festering piece of garbage that I loved with all my heart.
​Shirley Whiskas is a strong supporter of the "FLCL" dub. She grew up with it, and hadn't watched the Japanese version much apart from some clips, and I will say that she remembers lines of dialogue from this show much more accurately than I do. And "FLCL" has a good dub, they put a great deal of effort into crafting solid performances in a show that easily could have been phoned in. Even more impressively, a lot of the English actors SOUND like their Japanese counterparts - they did their homework in a big way.

I watched the dub first, and watched the subtitled version on every re-watch afterwards because when I was younger I was a sub snob. I thought the Japanese audio would be automatically "better" than the American one, and while now I acknowledge that with this show it's not necessarily true, I still enjoy watching this show with Japanese performers. It's such a Japanese story, filled with in-jokes and other things that don't translate, and while I can't claim to get all the references I don't feel distracted by changes the American translation made to the script.

Because both audio tracks are so strong, we decided to alternate between the sub and the dub as we watched the series. Bride of Buggerlas strongly prefered the sub; she soaked in a lot more of the plot by reading the dialogue and used the words as an anchor. Velma Jinkies, on the other hand, seemed more drawn in by the visuals and was more engaged while the dubbed episodes were playing.
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"I'm having difficulty understanding the plot, but I'm enjoying the scenes." -Velma Jinkies
​So because both language options are A+ choices, you can't really go wrong. Watch the dub if you're new to anime or if you want to immerse yourself in the world. Watch the sub if you're okay with multitasking and want to listen to the words the way they were originally spoken. Either way, you're in for a treat, an epic story unfettered by logic.
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"What...the...fuck..." "The coolest shit in the fucking world, that's what the fuck!" -Velma Jinkies and Shirley Whiskas

The Results

This drinking game works very well with the rules it currently has, but after your fourth midori sour you might start to feel a little bit of diabetes coming on, so it's best to switch to something else. If you'd like to try out some more rules, here's a couple to start with.

Drink when steam comes out of the iron.
I'm kicking myself for not including this rule in the original set. The iron is possibly the most important set piece in the show, so ignoring it isn't wise.

Drink when someone indulges in a vice
I'm mostly talking about smoking, but I think Grandpa Nandabe has a porn addiction that gets mentioned sometimes. See what else you can find!

Drink for stuff that doesn't translate.
There's a ton of jokes that don't make sense in English. And some cultural references that might seem a little...off color for American viewers.
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"So Dad's a Nazi now." -Bride of Buggerlas
So October kind of snuck up on me this year, but I'm super pumped for Halloween! We're going to keep the anime ball rolling for a little while longer with a personal favorite of mine that, while not exactly scary, should fit in with the holiday spirit.
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I mean, it's got ghosts in it.
Like what you see? Follow us on Facebook and Twitter, at For Your Inebriation and @KrissyPappau respectively. You'll get weekly updates, behind the scenes drunk talk, and other chatter!

For Your Inebriation is written by Krissy Pappau (Hollis Beck). All "FLCL" images are owned by Gainax and FUNimation Entertainment.

Special Thanks to my patrons, Caroline Kittredge Faustine, Kaela Mei-Shing Garvin and Antonia Beck! Your support helps me keep this blog up and running. Join their ranks today and donate to my ongoing Patreon campaign!
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<![CDATA[Game #61: Good Will Hunting]]>Tue, 01 Sep 2015 00:08:00 GMThttp://www.foryourinebriation.com/games/game-61-good-will-hunting"It's Not Your Fault...It's Not Your Fault."
A little over a year ago, the entertainment industry lost one of its most prolific stars. A fair amount of industry giants passed away in 2014, but no loss was so publicly felt as Robin Williams'. The man was an icon, and he affected the lives of many people, whether personally or through his large and varied body of work. So it seems fitting, in remembrance, to take a look at the performance that netted him his only Oscar.

It's strange, if you think about it, that "Good Will Hunting" in its current form was ever produced. Strong efforts were made to populate the cast and creative team with established, commercially acceptable stars (how different would this film be with Leonardo DiCaprio and Brad Pitt as the leads?), but the film ended up being host to slightly more...eccentric picks: Gus Van Sant (probably the most straightforward film he's ever directed), Danny Elfman (likewise for composition), and of course the breakout stars of the project, Matt Damon and Ben Affleck. And oh my God, it's so funny and weird watching them when they were young working on their passion project. It's damn inspiring, is what it is.

This film is almost 20 years old (yikes), so the question is, how well as this film aged? Does its reputation still feel deserved? 

I mean, yeah. Yeah, I think it does.

"Good Will Drinking": The Rules

We recommend that when watching this film, you drink a good Boston lager. We decided to go with Sam Adams, because it's readily available and reasonably strong, but feel free to have some fun.
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It is also LITERALLY the only thing that comes up when you google "Boston beer".
Easy Mode
1. Drink for Title Drops. That's the full title, "Good Will Hunting".
2. Drink when they drink
3. Drink for daddy issues. Hahahahaha.
4. Drink for monologuing. For the purposes of this game, "monologuing" should be defined as 30 seconds or more of uninterrupted text.
5. Drink when someone drops the name of a class or a piece of academic text

Medium Mode
All the above rules apply. Also...
1. Title drops: Drink whenever someone says "Will Hunting".
2. Drink for shouting
3. Drink when someone writes on a chalkboard. Or a chalkboard equivalent.

Hard Mode
All the above rules apply. Also...
1. Title drops: Drink whenever someone says the name "Will".
2. Drink at the start of each therapy session
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They don't start until halfway through the film, but then they fly hard and fast.

The Players

Our players for this game are...

Krissy Pappau: Has a friend at Hahvahd. (Medium)
Dame Poppy Middleton: Probably would have been on the receiving end of the Boston Tea Party (Easy)
Champjagne Austgin: Used to live near Stanford (Medium)
Levi: Thinks it's hilarious this film was directed by a gay man (Hard)
Vicky the Raptor Queen: Knows these accents all too well (Hard)
The Bishop: In Grad School, so they're wicked smaht (Hard)

Acting!

So that this doesn't turn into a maudlin love letter to Robin Williams, let's address his performance right off the bat: he's great. It's a solid, nuanced performance. I love how slight his Boston accent is compared to the rest of the cast, like he's spent his entire life trying to get rid of it but can't seem to do so. I love how grounded he feels, and how fresh and ready his emotions are without being accompanied by the sentimentality that sometimes erks its way into his dramatic performances. He's a sincere, yet tired, man who's one step away from giving up on his life's purpose.

Oh God I'm going to cry again.

I am surprised that he never won an Oscar after this. This performance is not what I think of when I think of his career, and this might have something to do with the rest of the cast. In many of his films, Williams pulls a lot of the weight, or else the project was created for him to showcase his talents. In "Good Will Hunting", there is no weak link.

You got Ben Affleck, who is doing a wonderful job as the role he inhabits best: a schlubby, affable jerk who gets the chance to do some wisecracking. Except for the one moment where he shows he's a person with feelings, which makes you settle on liking him.
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"Oh God, all I see is Gigli!" -Dame Poppy Middleton
You got Matt Damon, who STEALS this movie, hands-down. As I said earlier, they were planning on casting Leonardo DiCaprio in this role, and that would have been a mistake. Damon has an intrinsic understanding of the role, and he's eons more approachable and truthful than DiCaprio. Plus, now Matt Damon's a star, and that might not have happened if he didn't play the role he helped write.
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"Why isn't he using paper?" "He just wants to look at himself while he does math." -Champjagne Austgin and Vicky the Raptor Queen
And of course Minnie Driver, who is charming and hilarious. This could have been a really boring performance to watch, and she gave it life and specificity.
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"Minnie!" "Oh yeah, she looks hot." -Levi and Champjagne Austgin
So props all around to the actors, and to Gus Van Sant for getting such good performances out of them! They should have all gotten Oscars! Guess the name brand helps in that department.
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"Is that how you get an Oscar? By talking really slow?" "The trick is to talk really fast during your previous career..." -Dame Poppy and Vicky the Raptor Queen

Foster Daddy Issues

"Good Will Hunting", while a fantastic movie, still doesn't avoid being problematic (a lot of great works of art are problematic. But still). These problematic elements are easy to overlook, not because they're small, but because they're present at the heart of the movie, its soul. Specifically, the relationship between Will and Sean.

"I had a college professor who was like, this is an example of terrible therapy," said Dame Poppy Middleton. 

Yep. This is kind of the point of his character I guess, but Sean is an awful therapist. He's overemotional and easily baited by Will, and obviously still too wrapped up in his own personal demons to deal with anyone else's. Sean and Will are constantly blurring the lines between a proper doctor-patient relationship and...something deeper.
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NO TOUCHING.
I'm talking more along the lines of a surrogate father/son type thing. Will hasn't had an adult he can trust in his life in a long time, and he's particularly lacking in the "good dad" department (drink), and Sean comes from a similar background. What the film's trying to tell us about Will is that he doesn't need psychoanalysis; he needs a friend, someone he can relate to on an intellectual level. All his friends are morons, and his social status bars him from the kind of academic discourse he can get from adults. Sean is a person he needed to meet, if only to know that there's another person like him in the world.

But Will STILL needs a therapist.

Will is a loose cannon. He's a pathological liar, has deep anger issues which coupled with his mistrust of authority lands him in jail ALL the TIME. We see him later on in a fight with Skyler lose his temper completely and I think he clocks her at one point, I can't remember, we'd been drinking for a while when we got to that scene, and while he feels remorse he doesn't take responsibility for his behavior until it's too late to do anything about it. Will is in serious danger of hurting himself and the people he loves CONSTANTLY. 

Sean is not qualified to deal with Will's behavior, as evidenced by HIM HITTING WILL IN THE FACE during one of their later sessions.
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"Things not to do in therapy." "He NEEDED to be slapped!" -The Bishop and Levi
Probably the most famous scene in the film is near the end, when Sean repeatedly tells Will that his abusive foster-father's behavior and all the shit that followed it wasn't his fault, until Will drops his tough-guy act and cries like a child in Sean's arms. Emotionally resonant, yeah. Powerful, definitely. Flagrant abuse of power? Possibly.

It's tough, because in the context of the film, Will and Sean needed to meet and this was the only way it was going to happen. It's possible that Will wouldn't have grown to respect Sean if he hadn't been forced into a room with him twice a week, and it's possible that Sean wouldn't have given this kid the time of day if he'd met him in passing. So this informal teacher/therapist (teacherpist) arrangement worked for them.

But this is fiction. I kind of get the feeling that a lot of people who've never been in a therapist's office think it's like this, and it's not. Or it shouldn't be. 

Like I said. Hard to say. Makes for a good movie, though.

Relation-Shit

Let's talk about the romance plot for a second. I have nice things to say about it. A lot of serious films try to throw in a love story just for kicks, or they want to give the main character a reason to try harder. "Good Will Hunting"'s love story ALMOST veers off into one of those directions, but because Will's relationship with Skylar is tied directly to him handling the rest of his issues, it feels very much like a necessary element of the story. The boy can't get close to anyone, and setting him up with this beautiful smart woman who is, on paper at least, way out of his league, makes for a good gauge to track his emotional progress.

We all had a good time with it. Except for Dame Poppy. She had some issues with Skylar, which I shall now address.
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"No he is not going to California with you, you crazy bitch!" -Dame Poppy Middleton
In summary, Dame Poppy believed that Skylar got way too attached to Will WAY too quickly. The movie only takes place over the course of a few months, and Skylar and Will meet and fall hard for each other in half of that time. When she announces she's continuing her studies at Stanford and invites him to make the move with her, he completely freaks out and pushes her away. It's an understandable response, especially with the intimacy issues Will's built up over the years.

I don't believe that Skylar is being nuts by asking Will to come with her across the country, but I do think it says a lot about her character. Of the two of them, Skylar is easily the most driven. She's studying organic chemistry for god's sake, she has a plan in place. And now she's met this guy who makes her feel amazing, but doesn't have a lot going on himself. When she asked him to come with her, she probably thought he'd say yes because she didn't see what else was keeping him here. In fact, for Will to get her to stop he had to act aggressive and cruel. 

Dame Poppy also took issue with the fact that Skylar still wants to stick around Will after her verbally abuses her, which she chalks up to an instinct to mother him. "She's just like 'Let me fix you!'" she said at one point.

"She's just acting on some whims," Champjagne Austgin put in. "She's a child."

And that's really the important thing to keep in mind, not just about Skylar but about Will. Will is not old enough to purchase alcohol legally during most of this movie. Skylar isn't much older, and she's been spending her life in a rich girl bubble since she was born. They are not emotionally mature enough to handle the feelings they're having. And in my opinion, they're too young to be asked to think about their futures. But this was 1997, a very different time with a different set of expectations for young people.

I had this same feeling while watching "Clerks" for the first time. Dante is 22, and everyone's telling him he's wasting his life. Meanwhile it's 2015 and I'm 25 and nobody I know has a decent job. I can't imagine being Will Hunting, pressured from all sides to use an inborn talent with a big scary world all around him and no clue what to do with himself. And I can't imagine being Skylar, thinking she's found "the one" right out of college and not knowing how to make him commit.

So in short, I like the love story, and Skylar's not crazy. She's just young, and allowing herself to be impulsive for the first time in her life. Young women should be allowed to do that.
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She also gets points for taking Will's cheap-ass date and making magic out of it.

The Results

"Good Will Hunting" is a classic that should be watched for its stellar performances and compelling story. The game, like the film, is slow and leisurely. We all got a little quiet near the end of the film, not because we were drunk but because we were paying attention.

So maybe the first time watching this film should be done sober. For the other times? I've got some new rules for you.

Drink whenever someone smokes.
"I am dying for a cigarette because of this movie," Levi moaned about halfway through the film. This rule seems like a safe bet.

Drink when someone talks about Will when he's not in the room.
Adults have the right to do this, I suppose, but they should make sure to do it when they know the kid won't be around for a while.

Drink for unfortunate fashion choices.
"Stop wearing dark lipstick!" shouted Dame Poppy at one point. When I asked her why, she responded "Because I hate the past!"
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"God, he looks like a fucking greaser." -Vicky the Raptor Queen
Friends, we're about to take a detour from our regularly scheduled programming. I've been bringing up a lot of films I dislike in the shooter reviews, as well as the larger ones. So I think it's only fair to talk about a thing I love, just so you know I'm not a cynic.

I just have one question for you...do you know where the truth ends, and the lies begin?
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Anime. It exists.
Like what you see? Follow us on Facebook and Twitter, at For Your Inebriation and @KrissyPappau respectively. You'll get weekly updates, behind the scenes drunk talk, and other chatter!

For Your Inebriation is written by Krissy Pappau (Hollis Beck). All "Good Will Hunting" images are owned by Lionsgate.

Special Thanks to my patrons, Caroline Kittredge Faustine, Kaela Mei-Shing Garvin and Antonia Beck! Your support helps me keep this blog up and running. Join their ranks today and donate to my ongoing Patreon campaign!
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<![CDATA[Game #60: Kick-Ass]]>Sun, 02 Aug 2015 03:42:05 GMThttp://www.foryourinebriation.com/games/game-60-kick-assI Mean, It's No Less Ridiculous than "Ant-Man".
I'm about to drop a bomb on you guys, which shouldn't be much of a surprise if you've read much of my stuff: I don't like superhero movies that much.

I know! It's sacrilege. But I still consider myself a full-fledged geek. I've been into anime and manga since I was a young'un, so it's not that I find superhero stuff ridiculous or juvenile (most anime is WAY more out there than Spiderman), and I understand the narrative appeal completely. I don't like superhero stories, particularly this newest round of Marvel offerings, because the culture feels...exclusive. For so long, "comics" meant "superheroes", and both words carried the stigma of the reputation; comics were for lonely, out-of-shape shut-ins who can't get a date. This has never been true, and never encompassed the appeal of the comic book format, but the facts of the matter didn't stop that idea of the sad, put-upon boy as the image of the "geek".

Right now, comics are more inclusive than they've ever been. The official Spiderman in the comic universe is biracial, Ms Marvel is Muslim, and more women (and men) than ever are reading and enjoying comics (at least openly). So...how come so many people still don't feel like they're part of the club?

The answer is complicated, as are my feelings about this film. "Kick-Ass" encompasses the highs and the lows of superhero culture. It forces the viewer to confront their fascination with men and women in spandex, and gives them insight into the dangerous of obsessive fanaticism. And it does so while still being entertaining in all the ways a good superhero film is. All the same, critics didn't know the answer to a simple question: what is this film trying to say?

Strap in, sports fans. We're trawling for an answer, and getting SUPER drunk along the way.

"(This Game Will) Kick (Your) Ass": The Rules

I'm telling you right now, in its current form, this game is too difficult to play using anything other than light beer, and even then it's pretty dicey. PLEASE play with caution, drink lots of water and take care of your fucking self.
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Do you think I'd be telling you to drink this stuff if I wasn't serious?
Easy Mode
1. Drink for Title Drops: That's every time someone says the name "Kick-Ass".
2. Drink when they drink
3. Drink for daddy issues. Ohhhh, my God, there are SO MANY OF THEM.
4. Drink when someone curses.
5. Drink when someone says the name of a superhero you recognize. 

Medium Mode
All the above rules apply. Also...
1. Title Drops: Drink when someone talks about getting their ass kicked.
2. Drink when a weapon is used.
3. Drink when someone says the word "superhero". Are you starting to see what I'm talking about?

Hard Mode
All the above rules apply. Also...
1. Drink when someone dies.
2. Drink when someone is called by a pet name.
3. Drink for "boys being boys". If a boy does something you would instinctively expect a teenaged boy to do, that's what I mean.
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The film begins with a super awkward erotic fantasy sequence.

The Players

Our players for this game include...

Krissy Pappau: Super Girl (Medium)
Pooh Daddy: Boy Wonder (Easy)
Velma Jinkies: The Flash (Easy)
Some Guy: The Green Lantern (Hard)
Champjagne Austgin: Thor, the new one who's a lady (Hard)
Vicky the Raptor Queen: Spider Gwen (Hard)
Baebra: The Unbeatable Squirrel Girl (Easy)

A Family Picture

First the good: "Kick-Ass" is a well-paced, exciting take on the superhero genre that effortlessly mixes humor and pathos to explore the concept of the superhero and what it represents to the average American teen.

That means it's good. I like it. I had a lot of fun watching this movie. It's one of the few projects that stars Nicolas Cage in the past several years that can be classified as "watchable".
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And his performance in this film is just...just delightful.
Velma Jinkies loves this film, and it's because it's a superhero movie where none of the people in it actually have "super powers". Everything the characters achieve in the film is through good old hard work, baddies and good guys alike. Big Daddy and Hit Girl, in particular, spent YEARS honing their skills to get good enough to take on the mob. One of the most charming parts of the film for me is watching our main character, Dave Lizewski (Aaron Johnson), who has obviously seen "Spiderman" a few too many times, try and train himself up for the task, only to realize that he's WAY in over his head.

I mean, the guy can't even rescue a missing cat.
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"But you HAVE to have a level zero quest!" -Velma Jinkies
"Kick-Ass"'s message, hidden beneath all the carnage, is about growing up. It's the story of a kid who believes in the triumph of good over evil, only to go out into the real world and discover that things aren't that simple, and that being brave isn't always enough. It's a total contradiction of the traditional superhero model, where a special person saves the day, or even where a reluctant hero fights crime because nobody else will. In "Kick-Ass", nobody is special, and the people who think they are get hurt. Horribly, horribly hurt.

It's a fairly cynical message, but one that's counter-acted well by the main character's modus operandi. Dave, unlike everyone else in the film, dresses up in a costume because he wants to help people. There are little egotistical complications to that want (you could argue that his actions equally stem from a desire for attention), but the face he projects to the world is that of knight. He's optimistic, naive, and persistent. In other words, he's someone you can root for, and that saves this film from taking a nose-dive into a depressing stew of misery and bitterness.

One of the most important scenes for Dave's character is the second time he attempts to fight crime alone, when he protects a man being attacked by a street gang. He gets his ass throroughly whooped, but manages to draw a crowd, and loudly declares to his enemies that no matter what they do to him, he won't back down.

"This is the most fucking superhero thing that happens in this movie," Vicky said. "He's like, fuck it, this is wrong, and I'm going to stand here and die for it."

And THAT attitude is exactly what birthed the admiration and devotion of nerds all over the country. That desire to protect those who need protection. That is why superhero stories are so popular, and this film nails it.
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"He's such a woobie." "A what?" Krissy and Baebra

(H)it Girl

So there was a lot of controversy when this movie came out about one character in particular: "Hit Girl", played by then 11-year-old Chloe Grace Moretz. This scene should sum up everyone's reservations.
"Imagine being her agent and having to talk to her parents," Pooh Daddy laughed.

Hit Girl is the most interesting character in this whole damn movie, both from a narrative perspective and an analytical one. After her father, Big Daddy, ended a prison sentence for drug-related crimes he did not commit, he trained her to be the baddest kid on the playground so she could help him get revenge on the mobsters who stole his life. It's a pretty cool origin story, even if it means she only exists to serve someone else's needs, but that's also part of the tragedy. This child has been robbed of the ability to know what normal is, to know what it's like to be a kid. Fulfilling Big Daddy's master plan is her version of "normal".

This narrative doesn't get told a lot, and it almost didn't in this film. A lot of pressure was placed on the screenwriters to make Hit Girl older, a decision which would have weakened her storyline and, as screenwriter Jane Goldman points out, would have opened her up to sexualization.  Goldman and director Michael Vaughn refused, and were unrepresented by a major film studio up until the film's release. Pretty fucking inspiring if you ask me.

So no, when the narrative is this strong, I have no problem with a studio telling an eleven-year-old to do all the things Hit Girl does in this film, especially when the actor is as savvy as Chloe Grace Moretz, who even as a pre-teen is one of my favorite actor's PERIOD. Kids, especially kids who have grown up in Hollywood, are smarter than people give them credit for. They understand the line between fiction and reality. My only complaint about Hit Girl is that she is not on the screen enough.
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"She was featured so much in the marketing for this movie that I thought it was about her, and I'm really disappointed to find out that it's not." -Champjagne Austgin
Okay, so I have no problem with Hit Girl, and I have no problem with the cartoonish levels of violence. What do I have a problem with?

Mostly? I have a problem with Mark Millar.

It's Not a Comic, it's a "Graphic Novel".

Here's a brief breakdown of what we noticed while watching this film, stuff that makes the film problematic to say the least:

There's this really awkward subplot where Dave has a love interest who thinks that he's gay, so he pretends to be gay so he can get close to her. He has to endure such humiliations as oiling her up without getting a boner (because I know I force my gay friends to give me deep tissue massages, what else are they good for?) and watching reruns of "Ugly Betty".
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"'Ugly Betty'. There's a show nobody talks about anymore." "I do!" - Krissy and Champjagne Austgin
This subplot is made worse by the fact that a) there are no actual gay people in the movie to throw shade at him for doing something so misguided, b) every character in the film treats being gay like it's the worst thing in the world, and c) when Dave finally tells the girl that he was lying to her, she forgives him immediately after he tells her he only did it because he's passionately in love with her ("Call her pretty and it won't matter anymore," quipped Baebra).

Also, said Love Interest, Katie Deuxma, is given very few defining character traits. We know she is a kind person because she works at a needle exchange clinic, and we know she's trendy, but unpretentious - she likes to hang out at the local comic book shop not because she likes comics but because they make a mean latte. She's been reading Scott Pilgrim and Shoujo Beat, though, but she doesn't like superhero comics.

Dave never talks about comics with her again after she reveals this. There's a silent implication here that manga, or American comics that don't feature superheroes, aren't "real" comics. Dave approaches the idea of her being into comics at all with skepticism, something that makes my skin crawl.

In fact, there aren't any comic fans in the movie who aren't straight, young white dudes. IN FACT, even though this movie takes place in Queens, there sure aren't a lot of black or hispanic people around. Unless you count all the criminals Kick-Ass and his friends fight; there's plenty of black criminals.
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"Welcome to White High School!" -Velma Jinkies
Like, all this stuff didn't take away from my enjoyment of the movie, but stuff like this does matter, and it keeps the film from being a runaway success. I was going to write all this stuff off as schlocky Hollywood dumbassery, until I read this article from Film Crit Hulk about Michael Vaughn and his usage of satire (really good article, by the way, go read it). I was reminded: yes. This film is an adaptation. "Kick-Ass" is a for real comic book, released in conjunction with the film by its creator Mark Millar. So I went and read the comic to get a more cohesive opinion on the story.

Guys...the comic is even worse.
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That's...that's a lot of blood.
A little backstory: Mark Millar is a Scottish comic book author influenced by the work of Alan Moore ("Watchmen") and Frank Miller ("Sin City"), who is a...divisive figure in the comic scene in America. Many admire him for his bombastic, merciless style of storytelling and his interest in defying readers' expectations, but he's also garnered lots of criticism, mostly for his bleak, cynical worldview and that time that he said having a female character raped is a good way to show that your bad guy is really bad, explaining why he uses the trope over and over again in his work.

Anyway, "Kick-Ass": the major difference that struck me in the comic is the attitude Dave has towards superhero work and the people he's trying to save. Remember how I said that's what basically saves the movie? Dave in the comics is the dark side of the nerd stereotype coin. He's sullen, reclusive, cynical, and selfish. It's not that his actions are much different than in the film; it's just a matter of framing. Film-Dave radiates sincerity and good intentions. Comic-Dave nearly quits several times, gets pissed off at his clients when they put him in danger, and is weirdly racist in a way that feels jarring.
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This doesn't feel much better in context.
Katie Deuxma is also a drastically different character. While film-Katie treats Dave with bland indifference until makes him her gay BFF, comic-Katie is openly hostile towards him, calling him a stalker and a loser. The rest of the icky subplot plays out much in the same way, until Dave tells her the truth and she threatens to have her actual boyfriend beat him up if he comes near her again.

THEN in the epilogue, we learn that she's taken to texting Dave pictures of herself blowing her boyfriend to torture him. What a bitch. Right?

In the sequel comic, she's gang-raped by the main bad guy and his cronies. You know. To show that he's bad.
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I just...ugh.
This all doesn't excuse the movie, but it puts it in perspective. What Vaughn and Goldman did was make a film that stayed true to the best parts of the source material, while warping or dismissing the worst parts to create their own story. All the stuff I love about the movie - it's because of them. All the stuff I hate - it's because of Millar.

Some Guy mentioned that this movie is clearly marketed towards a male audience, and I agree. That's not a bad thing, but just because you're marketing towards one demographic doesn't mean you have to actively be a dick to all the other demographics out there. And the kind of stuff that Millar pulls in the "Kick-Ass" comics is so engrained in the culture; part of the reason Spiderman is a superhero at all is because he accidentally killed his first girlfriend. The first Marvel movie to feature a female lead is only NOW going into production after nearly ten years of them dominating the American box office. You cannot find Black Widow merchandise anywhere, even though the latest film featured her riding an ultra-cool motorcycle that would have been SO EASY to turn into a toy.

I could go on. But I have the feeling I'll revisit this topic again. It's not a new problem, and it's not going to go away anytime soon. But there are options now for people who don't want to buy into this idea that stories have to be told one way. It doesn't fix the larger problems, but hey. It's a start.
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"I just want them to make a Miles Morales movie." -Vicky the Raptor Queen

Results

About ten minutes into the movie, Vicky (who played on hard mode), finished her first beer. When I expressed surprise, she just said, "you did this to me."

So yeah, this game doesn't need much tweaking. Like the film, it's relentless and you'll probably enjoy it most if you don't take it too seriously. So I'm not going to add more rules. You're not getting any. This is enough.

Fine, drink whenever someone does something illegal. There's your rule. You happy?
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"Why is the rich kid smoking pot? Why isn't he doing coke?" -Some Guy
Friends, the summer is drawing to a close, and now we're trundling into Oscar season. Let's prep by taking a look at a career-maker for two actors, and a milestone for another.
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Cue the tears.
Like what you see? Follow us on Facebook and Twitter, at For Your Inebriation and @KrissyPappau respectively. You'll get weekly updates, behind the scenes drunk talk, and other chatter!

For Your Inebriation is written by Krissy Pappau (Hollis Beck). All "Kick-Ass" images are owned by Lionsgate.

Special Thanks to my patrons, Caroline Kittredge Faustine, Kaela Mei-Shing Garvin and Antonia Beck! Your support helps me keep this blog up and running. Join their ranks today and donate to my ongoing Patreon campaign!
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<![CDATA[Game #59: The Impostors]]>Fri, 10 Jul 2015 19:30:15 GMThttp://www.foryourinebriation.com/games/game-59-the-impostors"The Time Has Come to Act."
I know what you're thinking: what is this movie, and why the hell are we talking about it?

Well, dear readers, "The Impostors" is an homage to 1930's style slapstick comedies, directed by Stanley Tucci and starring all of his very famous friends. It tells the story of two down-on-their-luck actors, Arthur and Maurice, who accidentally piss off a revered (read: "hack") Shakespearian actor. They are chased aboard a luxury ocean liner where they disguise themselves as stewards to avoid their pursuer, and untangle themselves from several subplots that threaten the lives of every person on board.

It's GOOFY and I LOVE it.

Now this film might not pique your interest - it got mixed reviews at Cannes when it premiered in 1998  - but there's a certain pocket of you who love stuff like this. Films that not only make you think about the human condition, that make you think about the nature of entertainment, but also set out to genuinely ENTERTAIN its audience. Above everything else, this film sets out to give its audience a good time. And I think it succeeds.

Still around? Pop a bottle of champagne and join us as we look at this refreshing passion project. Be forewarned - the drinking game accompanying this review is none too shabby either.

"The Im-plasterd-s": The Rules

We did uncork a bottle of (cheap) champagne for this, but I also supplied a couple bottles of grocery store "wine product". That stuff you see that has half the alcohol content of real wine, like glorified fruit juice? I thought it was appropriate.
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Needless to say, it is still sitting on my kitchen counter.
Easy Mode:
1. Drink for title drops. That's every time someone says the word "Imposter" or "Imposters".
2. Drink when they drink.
3. Drink for Daddy Issues.
4. Drink when the film gives you a title card to open a scene. You know, silent movie style.
5. Drink when someone pretends to be someone else / drink for the act of "performance". Ah, but what does it mean to perform? We'll discuss.

Medium Mode
All the above rules apply. Also...
1. Drink when you see someone smoking. It's the 1930's, remember.
2. Drink when you see someone with a weapon. Improvised weapons count, but only if they're used.

Hard Mode
All the above rules apply. Also...
1. Drink when you see someone running.
2. Drink when Arthur and Maurice mutter things to each other.
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Bros 4 lyfe.

The Players

Our players for this game are...

Krissy Pappau: The hapless hero (Medium)
Pooh Daddy: Her trusty pal (Easy)
Bride of Buggerlas: A gay young lady (Easy)
Champjagne Austgin: The deposed queen (Easy)
Some Guy: The mysterious stranger (Medium)
Dame Poppy Middleton: The rich baroness (Medium)
Shirley Whiskas: The lounge singer (Hard)
Dijan deNero: The put-upon steward (Hard)
Velma Jinkies: The amiguously homosexual tennis star (Hard)

All the World's a Stage

The first twenty minutes or so of this movie is one of the funniest bits of film I've seen, and it's all based around Arthur and Maurice (Stanley Tucci and Oliver Platt) trying to put their acting skills to profitable use. They stage a knife fight in the middle of Central Park, they attend an audition for a play that loses its funding in the middle of their scene, and they attempt to scam an elderly baker into giving them free cream puffs. Right away, we're encouraged to trust and encourage two people who would rather spend every waking moment pretending to be someone else than get a different job, even though they are literally starving without one.
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"But they won't beg." -Bride of Buggerlas
We are then given a more successful actor to compare our two heroes to: the deeply unhappy and supremely untalented Sir Jeremy Burtrom (Alfred Molina), who moans (and drinks) his way through a performance of "Hamlet" that is stunning in its maudlin grotesquery. We are meant to disdain him even further when he stops the play and addresses the audience directly, as himself, to say that he can't go on ("The show must go on, asshole!" Dijan deNero promptly shouted at the screen). We are meant to deride this man, as our heroes do, because he can't keep up the pretense. 

By the time our main characters wind up on the ocean liner, all semblance of "reality" has been thrown out the window. The characters that pepper the cruise are stark, bold archetypes, made even more cartoonish because they're mostly played by famous people. The setting is transferred from New York exteriors to what is clearly a sound stage meant to look like a ship. As Pooh Daddy points out, they never attempt to cover up the fact that they aren't actually on a boat. Moreover, it's gradually revealed that most of the characters are either disguised as other people, or struggling with the masks they've created for themselves for everyday use (the crooner Happy Franks, for example, can't keep up his smooth Sinatra-esque persona now that he's divorced, heartbroken and suicidal). 

This is a movie about artifice, but not just the stage artifice that we're used to as audience members watching movies. It's also about the masks we wear as we go about our business in the world, from the more overt performances to the tiny expressions we adopt for any situation that might arise. According to "The Impostors", EVERYONE is an actor.
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"That's the face I make when I walk down the street!" -Dame Poppy Middleton

All About that Busch

Everyone and their mother is in this film, a fact that lends to its charm. It feels like Stanley Tucci literally just called up his favorite people in Hollywood and told them "Hey, I'm shooting a 1930's style farce and you're going to be in it," which sounds like the BEST call to get. All the actors are having a great time, even the ones who are playing characters who are downright depressed.

Enter Steve Buschemi.
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You get to hear him sing AND cry in this film!
This is not the first film starring Buscemi that we've reviewed on this site, and it won't be the last, but it's interesting to me that every time we see him we have to constantly talk about how attractive we find him. Like, that's the bulk of the conversation. Even when he's doing things like, say, attempting suicide over and over again on screen (this seems to indicate that part of Buscemi's sex appeal lies how pathetic he's made to seem). It's almost like we're trying to pull him out of whatever horrible situation he's found himself in and reassure him that we would jump his bones if given the chance. 
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"I would sleep with Steve Buscemi." -Shirley Whiskas
I guess what I'm trying to get at is, it seems odd to me that our first instinct with this smart, clever, talented actor is to talk about how fuckable he is. And it's not like we're talking about a Hemsworth or anything; Buscemi is many things, but classically handsome is not one of them. The source of this attraction seems to be a combination of a stereotypically feminine, nurturing desire to protect him (see above) and the fact that he's a genuinely good guy and this radiates through every performance he gives, even when he's playing a complete asshole. His aura, his very being is so overpowering that we're forced to contend with the fact that yes, if we had the opportunity, Buscemi would be in our bedrooms right now waiting for us to finish writing so he could do things to us. But that is not all of him. I'm getting this all out now so when we talk about Buscemi in the future, we can talk about his acting, which is stunning and often artful.

(As a side note, Steve, if you're reading this somehow, you came into a bar I was working at once and left pretty quickly because you were just too famous and cool to have drinks there with your friends unnoticed, and I want to apologize on behalf of every stupid person there. You're great. Keep making art and being awesome.)

Buscemi isn't the only one who gives a stand-out performance in this film. Folks like Tony Shalhoub, Allison Janney and frickin Isabella Rossellini will have you laughing your head off. We also had a soft spot for Matt McGrath as the sweet-tempered Detective Marco, a man who wouldn't hurt a fly who is charged with killing Arthur and Maurice.

This is where Dame Poppy taught me about the term "cinnamon roll" when referring to a naive man who is too good for this world. And yeah, that's right. Detective Marco is a sweet, delicious cinnamon roll.
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That would make Steve Buscemi a...a raisin muffin? No, wait, give me some time, I can come up with a better one...

But Seriously, Watch This Movie

Tony Shalhoub plays Voltri, a steward on the luxury liner Arthur and Maurice find themselves on, one who is secretly an international terrorist from some vaguely Eastern European location. He plans to blow up the ship and kill everyone on it in order to murder the last of his country's aristocracy (who's hiding out on board) and to defy the capitalist pigs who have aided her. Our heroes find out about this scheme and endeavor to stop him.

How do they do that? Maurice finds himself trapped under Voltri's bed as he contacts his superiors. He can't understand what he's saying, but luckily Voltri's words have subtitles - subtitles that Maurice can read reflected in the mirror underneath the bed.
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"Okay, this movie won me over." - Velma Jinkies
It's both a blessing and a curse that I can't find any footage of this film online, a blessing because I want people to see it, a curse because now I'm forced to describe the film instead of letting it speak for itself. And with only words to back it up, that's a tough thing to do. So much of this film's humor is visual, residing either in sight gags, slapstick or mere throwbacks to the decade it's paying homage to. Part of the reason I'm having such a hard time, also, is because we spent most of the time during our playtest WATCHING the movie (when we weren't drinking). That rarely happens, that we find what we're looking at so entertaining that we forget to talk about it.

Maybe that's why it didn't achieve more than a tiny cult following. There's not much to say about it other than it does its job well. It ENTERTAINS. It reminds its audience why we watch films in the first place, and it reaffirms the primary job of an actor: to tell a good story.

So all I can really say is watch it, watch it, even if you aren't wild about it you'll have fun. Watch it.
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This is Tucci's "ecstatic" face.

The Results

"The Impostors" is a delightful modern farce, and the accompanying drinking game does not disappoint. We were high on champagne by about halfway through. If you want to tinker with the rules, here's some extra ones.

Drink whenever someone says something in a different language.
Some of the languages in this film are just plain made up, but it's still a rather cosmopolitan cast. Snatches of French, German and Italian can all be heard, sometimes all three in the same scene.

Drink when someone sings.
"Songs about sex are so much less creepy when they're sung like this," Some Guy said after a rousing rendition of "I Get Ideas" finished playing. I agree.

Drink for actor in-jokes.
You don't have to be an actor to like this film. But it helps. 
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That face you make when you watch the person who got the part you auditioned for.
It's summer now, so I'm going to start reviewing all the new, shiny summer blockbusters! For our in-depth review next time, though, we'll take a look at a recent film that skewered the idea of a "Superhero" movie and sparked some controversy along the way.
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Yes, I think I will.
Like what you see? Follow us on Facebook and Twitter, at For Your Inebriation and @KrissyPappau respectively. You'll get weekly updates, behind the scenes drunk talk, and other chatter!

For Your Inebriation is written by Krissy Pappau (Hollis Beck). All "The Impostors" images are owned by Fox Searchlight Pictures.


Special Thanks to my patrons, Caroline Kittredge Faustine, Kaela Mei-Shing Garvin and Antonia Beck! Your support helps me keep this blog up and running. Join their ranks today and donate to my ongoing Patreon campaign!
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<![CDATA[Game #58: Bruce Almighty]]>Sun, 31 May 2015 12:53:54 GMThttp://www.foryourinebriation.com/games/game-58-bruce-almightyAnd the Casting Director Said "Let There Be Morgan Freeman", and it Was Goooood.
My memory of things might be exaggerated, but when I was growing up it felt like Jim Carrey was inescapable. Not that I minded; the man is a living Looney Tunes character, and I love me some Bugs Bunny. Those I queried about Carrey all seemed to agree on a unified description of him: talented, but not versatile, more of a performer than an actor (except in "Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind" where he oh God I started crying again make it stop). He's the type of actor you write plots around, and during his hay-day, most of those plots were just as out there and maniacal as the man himself.

"Bruce Almighty" is a good showcase of Carrey in, if not his prime, than the most lucrative part of his career. The idea of revisiting it in my twenties is nerve-wracking. Is it possible for me to tear apart a film that I once considered to be the pinnacle of comedy?

This essay is less about tying "Bruce Almighty" into current cultural trends, because I'm really not sure you can. It's more about examining, on a personal level, something that I once thought was hilarious and asking it with bleary, gin-soaked eyes, "Can you still make me laugh?"

"Booze Almighty": The Rules

For this game, we drank a potent cocktail called the "Seventh Heaven". It's an old-school cocktail that I'm not sure people actually order in bars, but it introduced me to a lovely little liqueur called Maraschino (it's not as sweet as the cherries - it tastes a little like almonds). These babies are strong, and heavy on the gin, so don't gulp it down like a maniac.
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Definitely modeled after the "fat angels with harps" version of heaven.
Easy Mode
1. Drink for Title Drops: That's the full title, "Bruce Almighty".
2. Drink when They Drink
3. Drink for Daddy Issues.
4. Drink when Bruce talks to himself.
5. Drink for catchphrases. Bruce has his own catchphrases ("B-E-A-Utiful!"), and he'll also try other people's catchphrases on for size.
6. Drink for miracles. For simplicity, that's every time Bruce or Morgan Freeman uses their almighty powers.

Medium Mode
All the above rules apply. Also...
1. Title drops: Drink whenever anyone says the name "Bruce".
2. Drink when someone says the word "prayer", or any related word.
3. Drink when Bruce tries to train his dog how to pee outside. It's a joke that refuses to die.

Hard Mode
All the above rules apply. Also...
1. Drink when Bruce talks to God. Either in person, or screaming up into the heavens without expecting an answer.
2. Drink when the homeless man with signs appears. 
3. Drink when things get worse.
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We'll talk about this one.

The Players

Our players for this month's game are...

Krissy Pappau: Would probably do fuck all with godly powers, let's be honest (medium)
Pooh Daddy: Our sober companion and voice of reason (ice cream)
Vicky the Raptor Queen: Likes "Evan Almighty" better than this movie. It has animals (hard)
The Fuzzy Masked Man: His hatred of "Evan Almighty" intensified after spending nine months on a boat (easy).

Don't Name your Kid "Bruce"

In his comedies at least, Jim Carrey gets typecast as one character in particular - the charismatic asshole who by the film's end learns an important lesson that makes him a good guy. Usually this epiphany is aided by Faustian magic powers that refuse to be dispelled until he finally gets his shit together.
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"30 Rock" does a PERFECT parody in their Leap Day episode.
Bruce Nolan as a main character subverts that set-up a little bit, in a subtle way that changes how this kind of movie plays out: Bruce's assholery is only heightened when he receives godly powers. Once he knows exactly what's going on, he uses the gifts God gave him to sexually manipulate his girlfriend, steal things, settle petty grievances through deceit and violence, and generally disregard the world around him. He has to be told by God to use his powers for good, and even then he half-asses it, even though this same man took the time to track down the only gang in Buffalo so he could make a monkey magically fly out of his butt.
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"He's gay now. That did it." -Pooh Daddy
The point is, Bruce's character arch is not that of an asshole who is tricked into being a good guy because of a gypsy curse or whatever. It's of an asshole who is brutally shown through cause and effect the complexity of the universe and his place as a cog within that machine. Or at least that's what the film is trying to get across; it takes a couple near-death experiences before Bruce wises up, and he still doesn't figure out the steps he should take to be a good guy until he is explicitly told, but one of the things I enjoy about this film is that Bruce's actions do have consequences. Even if those consequences are erased later.
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This might be the only film where "Deus Ex Machina" is an acceptable way to end the story.
There's something to be said for having an unlikable main character, specifically a guy like Bruce. Bruce is identifiable in the same way that he is hard to sympathize with: he thinks that he deserves more than he has, and he throws a fit like a whiney baby man-child whenever someone else gets something he wants (case in point, his total meltdown on live television when his rival is promoted to lead anchor before he is). Bruce is a man who can't see the grand design, who is unable to see how his actions affect others, who would rather blame an outside force instead of sacking up and taking responsibility. And the film still expects us to take his side, probably because its creators have felt like Bruce at some point in their lives. Which is a human way to feel. Hell, I felt like Bruce two weeks ago when I missed my train by five seconds.
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Dear God, the E train has been running at the pace of a horse and cart for months, can you do something about that?
Thanks to good casting and execution, this story feel satisfying enough, but the larger problem still remains. Why this asshole? Why now? What kind of deity would take the time to teach some insignificant jerk a lesson?

We're going to have to look at God himself to figure that one out.

God Complex

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*choir of angels*
The Fuzzy Masked Man, when referring to any almighty power, will just say the words "Morgan Freeman". That is how influential this man's portrayal of God is. I'm not sure why we bother to cast anyone else, honestly. Freeman has the perfect balance of charm and menace needed to convincingly play an omniscient, all-powerful, yet ultimately playful being.

So, just making this clear, my issues with God in "Bruce Almighty" have nothing to do with Freeman. His acting saves the role and distracts the audience from noticing that the ways God functions in this world make little to no sense.

As established earlier, Bruce's flagrant abuse of power leads to a whole lot of damage. Tsunamis occur off the coast of Japan, dozens of people lose their jobs and/or go to prison to serve long term sentences, fiery riots erupt all over Buffalo...and all of this happens so that Bruce can learn to pay attention to people besides himself for a change?

"God is a mean kid with a magnifying glass," says Bruce at one point, "and I'm the ant". Well, if I'm to take this film at its word, he's absolutely right. God is an antagonistic, immature, BORED slacker who is willing to waste time allowing some dude to hurt other people to prove a point. To say nothing of the egotism he demonstrates upon first meeting Bruce. Remember that trick with the endless filing cabinet?
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"That was not worth the CGI." - Vicky the Raptor Queen
"I wanted this movie to be about Morgan Freeman teaching Jim Carrey how to run the world so he could retire from being God," said the Fuzzy Masked Man near the end of our session. "I would watch that!"

Yeah, I would too. As it is, "Bruce Almighty" is an entertaining film but it isn't actually saying anything substantial except "don't be a dick", and I think the core of that lack of introspection comes from the relationship between Bruce and God. Maybe if the film was more about the two of them interacting and less about Freeman letting Carrey sink or swim, the jumbled biblical references and religious attitudes that the film tries to insert would sort themselves out.

Then again, maybe our desire to see this kind of film stems from our ideal vision of God. "Bruce Almighty"'s God has a sense of humor and an ineffable knowledge of how people behave, and that suits the screwball comedy that the film presents itself as quite nicely. Maybe God is an asshole in this film because that portrayal lends credence to the existence of people like Bruce and Evan. Who knows? It works for this story, but it's not optimal.

Also God being a dick is the only reason "Evan Almighty" could even exist, because he clearly states in the Old Testament, as Fuzzy points out, that he's never going to do anything like that huge flood again. Sucks for all of us.
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"Maybe he changed his mind." "He CAN'T change his mind! He gave us a rainbow!" - Krissy and the Fuzzy Masked Man

Things Get Worse

Okay, so I'm obviously way overthinking "Bruce Almighty" by this point. This was not a movie made to provoke in-depth thought about God and the workings of the universe. This was a silly comedy meant to entertain, and show off the astounding developments made in computer graphics. So here's the question: does it do that?

For the most part: yeah. It really does. I hadn't watched this movie since I was a teenager, and I still found myself laughing at most of the stuff I did back then. Carrey, even though he's played this part before, still manages to avoid being annoying in his hyperactive portrayal of Bruce, and a lot of the jokes are very clever. Plus, this film has the added bonus of showcasing Steve Carrell as a comedian before he hit it big. Who can forget that classic scene where Bruce manipulates the teleprompter on his lead anchor debut? Never before has gibberish been so compelling.
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"Who did they record first? Who had to mimic the other person?" -Pooh Daddy
So yeah, props to "Bruce Almighty" - it is both memorable and lasting. I have no real problems with it, except for one thing: the love story. 

From an observational perspective, it really seems like Jennifer Aniston and Jim Carrey did NOT get along on set during filming. Their chemistry is next to nil, and while their relationship is supposed to be on the rocks from the very beginning, we all still struggled to see why these two were together at all. Aniston's Grace is so optimistic and spiritual, while Bruce is cynical and demanding. You would think that their relationship would have self-destructed long before they got five years in.
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Unless Jim Carrey is as good in the sack as I've always thought he might be.
So, let's break down the steps of what we see in this relationship real quick: Bruce and Grace have a huge fight because Bruce refuses to let Grace console him after he loses his job and Evan gets the promotion over he does. Grace accuses him of being selfish and short-sighted; Bruce responds by throwing things.

THEN Bruce gets his powers, and after fucking around for a day he surprises Grace at their apartment and wins her back with a stunningly romantic evening - complete with sexual manipulation! He gives her multiple orgasms from a room away and claims his reward in terrifyingly violent make-up sex (I still think this scene is funny, but DAMN). Grace wakes up the next morning to find that her breasts are noticeably larger; Bruce used his powers to alter her body.
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"Ask first, though, she might have said yes!" - Vicky the Raptor Queen
After a series of unfortunate misunderstandings (all of which are Bruce's fault), Grace seems ready to leave him for good...until Bruce sends her a series of "signs from the universe" that urge her to stay with him instead of dumping his ass. This tallies nicely with what we know about Bruce already; instead of doing the difficult thing, which is apologizing to his girlfriend for treating her like shit, he uses his god powers to try and avoid any real work. Manipulating circumstance like this is EASY for him; actually admitting he was wrong is hard.

Anyway Grace, to her credit, doesn't fall for his bullshit. Bruce then tries to WILL her to love him, even though he was explicitly told by God himself that he could not use his powers to control a person's free will. Grace takes this behavior as a sign that she's making the right choice in ending this relationship, and walks away for good.

At this point in the film, Bruce makes an effort to turn his life around and become a better person. Then, Grace's sister comes by to pick up her stuff and mentions to Bruce that when Grace prays, she never prays on her own behalf. She prays for Bruce and his success and happiness.

Here's where I got the feels, and where the film could have made an effort to say something real: Bruce peeks in on Grace and finds her sobbing alone in bed, praying for God to release her from her feelings for her ex-boyfriend. Even after taking the necessary step of ending their relationship, Grace still loves him. It's not like she can turn it off. Watching this sad, tired woman pray for the end of a feeling that once brought her joy is startling and moving - it touches on why people turn to prayer in times of need, and it's the only point in the film where Grace feels like a real person.
If the film had ended the romantic storyline right there, it would have been powerful and unexpected. But it doesn't; Bruce gets hit by a truck and tells God, to his credit, that his last wish is for Grace to find a man who will love her the way she deserved to be loved by him. It's a nice sentiment, and he means it...but God goes ahead and assumes that by coming to this conclusion he deserves to give the relationship one more try and spares his life. Grace rushes to his hospital bed, they make up, and the epilogue reveals that they get engaged.

I'm a little horrified, honestly. No matter how you look at it, Grace was abused at Bruce's hands for a long time. The film makes no effort to sugar-coat their relationship; it seems fucked up beyond repair. So yeah, watching Grace end up with Bruce, changed man that he is, at the end of the film does not feel satisfying. The narrative worked up until the last five minutes. Bruce and Grace both remained in character throughout the film, and forcing Bruce to fail at something and start over would convincingly cement the lessons he'd learned over the course of the film. The "happy ending" feels forced, yet another example of a screenwriter going for the conclusion that is most convenient instead of the conclusion that stays true to his creation.

The film came so close to being more than a screwball comedy. I still love it to bits, but it's a more mature sort of love - I recognize the flaws in the diamond now. It's not a 14-carat ring anymore. More like a plastic doodad that my high school fling won for me at a carnival. Lots of sentimental value that I'll treasure forever, but there's much better stuff out there.

The Results

"Bruce Almighty" is an imperfect, but fun, comedy that is great to drink to. Parts of it even become funnier when you're slightly buzzed (that dog-training gag is really stupid). The rules above work nicely, but God whispered a couple more in my ear after we finished playing.

Drink when Bruce wears silly headgear
As the novelty newscaster at his station, Bruce is forced into a lot of crazy costumes during the film. My favorite is the umbrella hat that he wears at the giant waterfall.

Drink whenever Bruce hints that he's God
His powers go straight to his head. Bruce takes his temporary station very seriously, and often laces his speech with pretentious faux-biblicisms. 

Drink when Bruce complains about something
He does it a lot. When he goes on a rant, try drinking the entire time. See how long you last.
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"They would never let the feed run this long." - The Fuzzy Masked Man
I miss watching comedies. Let's do more of that! Next month's game will take us into a new territory - farce.
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Most of you have no idea what film this screenshot is from. You are all in for a treat.
Like what you see? Follow us on Facebook and Twitter, at For Your Inebriation and @KrissyPappau respectively. You'll get weekly updates, behind the scenes drunk talk, and other chatter!

For Your Inebriation is written by Krissy Pappau (Hollis Beck). All "Bruce Almighty" images are owned by Universal Studios Home Entertainment.
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<![CDATA[Game #57: Mad Men]]>Sat, 25 Apr 2015 01:29:06 GMThttp://www.foryourinebriation.com/games/game-57-mad-menWe're Nearing the End of an Era
You've heard it before and you'll hear it again: we are in a Golden Age of television. Somehow TV show developers managed to figure it out, after decades of fumbling with formulas. The writing is snappier, the production values higher, and there's just MORE good stories being told on TV now.

"Mad Men" was arguably one of the first and best remembered shows of the current Renaissance. It premiered in 2007 on a network nobody associated with good television at the time (AMC? What's that?) and hit the country by STORM. People ate this show up, the ratings steadily climbing each season, only starting to flag during its final round of episodes. The end is in sight for this giant of entertainment and it's tough to imagine what could replace its stunning production values, its critical eye on the past and the present and its uber-talented cast.

Mega-hits come and go, though. In the end, will Mad Men have a lasting legacy beyond being a pretty-looking show with consistently on-point advertising team (both onscreen and off)? Only time will tell. For now, we raise a glass of scotch to Donald Draper and company and drink to their last hurrah.

"Drunk Men": The Rules

You could honestly drink anything for this show, the characters drink a lot and the drinks themselves are varied. Don's drink of choice is often an Old Fashioned, but we went with a round of Manhattans to start followed by whiskey sodas. 
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Don't leave out the cherry, the cherry is actually very important.
Easy Mode
1. Title Drops: Drink every time they say the full title, "Mad Men".
2. Drink when they drink. Bottoms up.
3. Drink for daddy issues. Aaaaand you're already sloshed. Time to go home.
4. Drink when someone smokes...well, anything.
5. Drink when you see people watching television.
6. Drink when someone makes a telephone call.

Medium Mode
All the above rules apply. Also...
1. Drink for misogyny. By today's standards.
2. Drink for racism. Again, by today's standards.
3. Drink for homophobia. AGAIN by today's standards.
4. Drink when someone talks about things "men do" or "women do". Or things they DON'T do.
5. Drink when a scene takes place in an elevator. 

Hard Mode
All the above rules apply. Also...
1. Title drops: Drink whenever someone says the word "men".
2. Drink when someone references death or suicide.
3. Drink when someone kisses a person they aren't married to.
4. Drink when someone says the name of a brand or an account their company holds.
5. Drink when someone drops the name of an ad agency.
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One ridiculous season involved an agency with SIX different names in it.

The Players

The players for this game are...

Krissy Pappau: Has no idea how to become a copy writer (Medium)
Dame Poppy Middleton: Drinks everything from a martini glass (Easy)
Bride of Buggerlas: Jealous of everything everyone is wearing (Easy)
Big Moose: Agrees with Pete - Kennedy is the name of a product (Hard)
Dijan de Nero: Thinks Don is a crappy account manager (Hard)
Shirley Whiskas: Dressed up for the test game (Hard)

Standards

Part of the reason "Mad Men" won its critical acclaim was its unflinching reexamination of social attitudes in the 1960's. It was a time of transition, and the show does a great job of communicating that by writing characters from both sides of the country's tumultuous discourse. There's characters who are pro-war and anti-war, black characters and racist old white men, homosexuals and people who would rather talk about ANYTHING else than same-sex boning. It's a fun time, especially since our main group of characters is eager to put aside their personal beliefs, no matter what they may be, as long as doing so will make them rich.
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Except that one time Roger Sterling nearly fucked things up with Honda because he lost friends in the war.
That cluster of rules in the middle of Medium Mode? They're what make this game, and they're what make this show, especially if you use them to examine the show's views about gender, race, sexuality etc. I allowed my friends during this test run to drink whenever they saw something they personally considered offensive rather than all arrive at a concensus moment to moment, because a lot of the time what's "offensive" varies from person to person in different contexts. We could generally all agree on certain things that were horrendous, though - the moments the SHOW wanted us to think were horrendous.

Especially in its earlier seasons, "Mad Men" likes to poke at how "ignorant" people in the 60's were, and that kind of on-the-nose commentary is what turned me off to it for a long time. They ease off that kind of thing midway through, but everyone remembers that scene where the Drapers go on a picnic and leave all their crap on this beautiful mountainside after they're done. That kind of thing is cool in small doses, but where "Mad Men" shines is when its characters are casual about their behavior because that's just the way things are, and the show just lets them SAY so. For example, in an early episode Betty's brother calls one of his maids "colored". That was a totally acceptable way to refer to black people for a long time, but white people don't use that word anymore, except for Benedict Cumberbatch that one time, except it was taken out of context and even David Oyelowo was like "chill, people", except REALLY, Benedict Cumberbatch?
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And the internet did not make a big deal about it at all, that's what's interesting to me.
So like, yeah, that's obviously a moment where we drink. And the part where Roger Sterling rides a woman like a horse around his office ("What the fuck is happening over here?" said Big Moose), that gets a drink too. But sometimes the writers are so busy criticizing the people of decades past that they fail to notice when they fall into the very tropes they're lampooning. What then?

A cartoon is resurfacing on my corner of the internet, originally published on Everyday Feminism, about the difference between a woman being objectified and sexually empowered; it argues that a woman is only empowered when she herself has power in the given situation, and if things are otherwise that results in objectification. Furthermore, the author argues that because fictional characters are created by an artist at the other end of a pen, camera, paintbrush or what have you, that they lack the ability to give consent regarding how they are portrayed. Therefore, portraying agency and "sexual empowerment" is inherently more difficult, if not impossible; if a character cannot consent to the situations they find themselves in or their modes of behavior within the world they inhabit, they have far less power and it is up to the writer to make up for that deficiency.

Applying this mode of thought to "Mad Men", things can get a little sketchy. The show has a great cast that includes a number of active, interesting and powerful female characters. But then you get scenes like Roger Sterling riding a woman round his office like a horse. And while most of the time these scenes are centered around showing that what the men are doing is wrong, they're still using women as tools to do it. So it falls in kind of a grey area.
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"I drink every day for misogyny." -Dame Poppy Middleton
All this to say, while the show is usually tongue-in-cheek about their commentary, they don't always tend to their own garden. Like in "The Jet Set" where the show introduces a gay European character who stays around long enough to give Peggy a makeover before going away forever. 
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Although this episode results in Peggy's FABULOUS new haircut, so it evens out, I guess.
Okay, so it's got a wavering sense of social commentary. Check. What else draws in viewers like flies to honey?

Not gonna lie, probably the attractive main cast.

Sad Men

"So, can we just have a giant orgy and invite all the guys from Mad Men?" said Shirley Whiskas as Don Draper sauntered around on the screen in front of us.

"Can Joan come too?" Dijan de Nero replied.
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Of course she can.
Before "Game of Thrones" debuted with its excellent use of sexposition, "Mad Men" provided viewers with plenty of scandelous affairs, many of which were brought to us courtousy of resident troubled soul, Donald Draper. Thousands of words have been spent analyzing Don's character and his role as the bastion of exestential dread that permeates the show. Draper is notable among a plethora of brooding male anti-heroes of the time for being at once a dynamic, charasmatic lion of a man and the most pathetic, self-hating scrap of humanity. He is a true narcissist, a fantastic lover while being a terrible partner, and unable to compromise with anyone, especially himself.

He's wonderful.

Don Draper is one of those characters you can't take your eyes off of, and because of the range of influence he has over everyone he knows, his supporting cast is entertaining by extension. Most main characters are motivated by Don's mere existance. Peggy became, as Bride of Buggerlas puts it, the "secret protagonist" of the show precisely because she was molded by Don. Pete is galvanized by his inferiority complex, knowing that no matter how good a salesman he is and how rich he gets, Don will always be more respected. Betty blames the loss of her youth on Don, Sally the loss of her innocence, it's the Don Show all the time. Everyone on "Mad Men" knows it. They try their best not to care. Sometimes they care too much.

This hero-worship and hero-denial is complicated by the fact that at any given moment, Don is fucking up his life forever. He is a classic embodiment of male insecurity. Part of this ties into the fact that because "Don Draper" is an identity he took off a dead man in the war he never feels secure in anything he's gained in his life, but part of it seems to lie in his inherent discomfort living the life expected of a white American man. He has no identity besides his job, his house and his family, and that thought terrifies him.

The audience learns the most from Don when the show focuses on his romances. Both Moose and Bride of Buggerlas are reletive newbies to the show, and they both picked up without much help that Don a) is attracted to strong, take-charge women and b) only feels comfortable opening up to people who are transients in his life. When Don meets a woman he is comfortable marrying, he subconsciously drives her under his heel, attempts to turn an independent person into the image of an ideal wife while seeking emotional support from strangers who want nothing from him. It's fucked up, on a deeply relatable level. 

As a self-sabatour myself, I cringe whenever I watch Don Draper run towards something terrible for him that he believes will make him better. I am invested in Don rising above whatever is tormenting him, because if he goes down, so does everyone else on the show...or perhaps I only believe that because he does. The more terrifying result of Don failing, as evidenced by the later seasons, is probably that nobody will be affected by it at all.
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"He's an asshole and a sexist and a dick...but I kinda wanna fuck that guy." -Shirley Whiskas
Don is the show's best example of what the show does well. It takes archetypes, breaks them down and exposes the audience to their soft, ugly insides, forcing them to reconcile their nostalgia for the era with how humans truly are.

The Big Picture on the Small Screen

For whatever reason, Shirley Whiskas is attracted to Roger Sterling. I get the silver fox thing, and John Slattery is a hell of an actor, but I also find Roger to be a dispicable human being and that disqualifies him from sexy time in my book. But there was a moment in the first episode we watched - "The Long Weekend" - where the show made us all care about him.

This is the "Roger rides a woman like a horse" episode I've been referencing so much. Roger and Don pick up a pair of twins at a casting call and invite them to drinks in Roger's office, where some incredibly awkward sexual harrasment takes place. In the middle of fucking one of the twins, Roger has a stroke and they have to take him to the hospital. Don has a cool moment where he slaps Roger in the face after he calls out the twin's name on the stretcher, reminding him "your wife's name is Mona".
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It's so cute when Don thinks he has the moral high ground.
Then in the hospital, Mona comes to visit Roger in the hospital, and he starts to cry like a child. He stretches out his arms to her and she goes and accepts them, and for a moment we see Roger for the scared, sad man that he is with the woman he has chosen to make his wife. And in that moment we all forgave Roger a bit because we saw a real human being.

I can't stress this enough, "Mad Men" proves that television can be a popular commodity and also art. It sells the audience an idea, and then five seconds later it takes that idea away and shows us truth. And every single character on that show is made in service of that truth, that no matter how much humans achieve, no matter how great they feel in the moment, they are all scared and alone in the deepest parts of their souls because the scariest thing a human can understand is that they mean nothing in the grand scheme of things. 

And at the same time the show pays attention to human tragedies, and celebrates human triumphs. We sent people to the moon. We mourned great men as they were gunned down in their prime. We cowered in the face of fire and riots, or we rioted ourselves. "Mad Men" reminds us of the minutae and the whole, and manages to make it entertaining. A truly incredible feat that future shows will have a hard time replicating.
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Hopefully it won't end with Don falling out a window, because that would be fucking depressing.

The Results

This game doesn't need much tweaking. Especially when you're choosing to drink straight liquor, medium mode will get you where you need to go in one or two episodes. But if you want add some accounts to your already full roster, here are a couple other rules to consider.

Drink when someone says "Do I know you?"
Or a variation thereof. It's usually a pick-up line, and it happened at least once in each episode I watched as practice.

Drink when someone gets fed up with Don.
Or anybody really, but Don's the usual suspect.

Drink for ridiculous clothing or facial hair.
When Roger walked on with that ridiculous moustache at the start of the recent string of episodes, I nearly died. Some fashion statements are meant to stay buried.
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"I love that this is the office where everyone wears turtlenecks!" -Bride of Buggerlas
Woof. "Mad Men" can get pretty heavy. I feel like watching something that's the opposite of "Mad Men", something that tries to be really deep and thoughtful while actually being dumb and silly. Maybe like...
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B-E-A-Uuuuutiful.
Like what you see? Follow us on Facebook and Twitter, at For Your Inebriation and @KrissyPappau respectively. You'll get weekly updates, behind the scenes drunk talk, and other chatter!

For Your Inebriation is written by Krissy Pappau (Hollis Beck). All "Mad Men" images are owned by AMC, Lionsgate Home Entertainment and Universal Pictures.
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<![CDATA[Game #56: Queer as Folk]]>Fri, 27 Mar 2015 02:02:49 GMThttp://www.foryourinebriation.com/games/game-56-queer-as-folkLet's See How Far We've Come
This is another show I was introduced to fairly recently. I grew up with a dim perception that some friends of mine watched "Queer as Folk", but I was never too curious about it and, at bottom, it didn't seem like it was "for me". After slogging through "The L Word" a couple years back, it only made sense at some point to watch the show that "The L Word" and others can credit its existence to.

At the outset, "Queer as Folk" and "The L Word" are the same show; it follows a group of gay 20-30-somethings in Pittsburgh who spend their time...being gay, mostly. As one of the first mainstream pieces of queer television, it puts itself out there in a way that seems abrasive and downright campy now. But between the year 2000 and 2015, so much has changed in terms of how the gay community functions in the U.S; "Queer as Folk", in that sense, acts like a time capsule for what it was like to be gay in conservative America.

Being a soap opera, "Queer as Folks" answers for inquiring minds stretches the boundaries of logic several dozen times over the course of the show, but you're not watching this show because it's smart or insightful. You're watching this show because it promises you a damn good time. And, mostly, it damn well delivers one.

"Drunk as Folk": The Rules

We drank cosmopolitans while playing our test round, a dated yet fun drink that perfectly captures the spirit of the show. If you consider yourself more of a Brian Kinney than an Emmett Honeycutt, you could opt for whiskey or cheap beer. But really ask yourself: what does your soul want to get wasted on?
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Cosmos: for the fabulous soul.
Easy Mode
1. Drink for Title Drops: That's every time you see or hear the full title, "Queer as Folk".
2. Drink when they drink.
3. Drink for daddy issues.
4. Drink when someone says the words "gay", "lesbian", or "homosexual". 
5. Drink if people have sex. Drink again if one of those people is Brian.
6. Drink when you see dancing men. Not for each individual dancing man, that would be ridiculous, but once per scene when this happens. And it happens a lot.
7. Drink when someone takes illegal drugs or mentions illegal drug usage.

Medium Mode
All the above rules apply. Also...
1. Title drops: Drink when someone says the word "queer".
2. Drink for stronger homophobic slurs. Brian likes to call lesbians "munchers".
3. Drink for references to porn or masturbation. Boys.
4. Drink when a gay person compares himself or other gay people to straight people. I'll explain this a little more later.
5. Drink for film or television references. You should be able to name the movie or TV show.

Hard Mode
All the above rules apply. Also...
1. Drink for allusions to superheroes or superpowers. Our main character is a comic geek, before it was cool.
2. Drink for fundraising or awareness-raising of any kind.
3. Drink for angry shouting.
4. Drink when you see a man in drag.
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It may be hard to believe, but that's not actually Jackie O on the far right!

The Players

Our players for this game are...

Krissy Pappau: Hates that she likes this show (Medium)
Pooh Daddy: Token gay man (Easy)
Some Guy: Token straight man (Medium)
Bride of Buggerlas: Glitter Queen (Medium)
Big Moose: Living in a completely different show (Hard)

Mean as Folk

Let me tell you a story, to illustrate the profound difference between my social group and the social group you see on "Queer as Folk".

About halfway through our first episode, episode 103 "No Bris, No Shirt, No Service", we got a glimpse of Babylon, the most popular gay club on Liberty Avenue, for the first time. It was awesome. Between the dancing shirtless men (drink), the illicit sex in the back room (drink), and the tendency to attract people the characters least want to see, Babylon is THE hotbed of dramatic action in "Queer as Folk". You just can't get that kind of heat and passion at Woody's or Liberty Diner.
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Although you can find shiny shirts and other ridiculous fashion choices inside all three.
Bride of Buggerlas was floored by the obscene decadence of this club. She turned to Pooh Daddy and asked, in all innocence, "Is this what the inside of the Meatpacking District looks like? I don't know why I'm asking like they'd let you in..."

If literally anyone else said those words, it would sound like an insult. As it was, we burst into laughter, and Bride of Buggerlas erupted into a manic string of apologies. It's so rare for any one of us to say something mean on purpose, that when someone is accidentally mean, it's nothing but hilarious.

The guys on "Queer as Folk" are mean, and not in a cute way. A lot of them really seem to hate each other most of the time. Brian heaps disdain on everyone in equal measure, but Michael, the one we're supposed to sympathize with the most, is often petulant and whiney, especially to his mother Deb who's just trying to be supportive most of the time. Deb's no shirking violet either, though; she can dish out sarcastic and cutting remarks just as well as the rest of them.
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Don't mess with her, she played a cop on TV for seven years.
This isn't an unusual thing to see in a television show, but the sheer negativity present in the first season and a half really turned me off to the show for a long time. What's worse is, the writers seem to still want the audience to sympathize with the characters, even when their behavior is exceptionally bad. In the THIRD episode of the series, Brian Kinney interrupts his biological son's bris right before the big event occurs, and afterwards all of his friends toast his bravery and decency. The man crashed a religious ceremony, helped deepen a rift between a long-term lesbian partnership, and did it while painting himself as a champion of decency and fatherhood.

It's the biggest question of the series. Why do we care about Brian Kinney? How is he able to get away with his assholery? I've never bought that being handsome and good at sex was enough to excuse his terrible behavior. From a narrative standpoint, it's simple: without Brian, nothing would get done. Every other character on the show seems content to stew in their own emotions and blame all their problems on outside forces.
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"God, stop having feelings! Shut your mouth!" -Big Moose
One thing I will say about "Queer as Folk": no matter how horrible all the characters are to each other, they manage to stay, for the most part, friends. You can't say the same for "The L Word", which contains some of the most toxic TV relationships I've ever seen.

Bride of Buggerlas brought up the question that was on all our minds: "Why can't they make a show about gay people who aren't the fucking worst?"

Interestingly enough, "Queer as Folk" has an answer for that question.

Gay as Blazes

The second episode we watched, #203 "Hypocrisy: Don't Do It", was a breath of fresh air. Even by the second season of the show, the creators were starting to figure out how the characters functioned in their world, what kind of pacing suited the show best, and even what kind of stories could be told. This episode was a much nicer watch than the first, and also introduced the show-within-a-show, "Gay as Blazes".
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I can't find a good picture from that episode, so here's Brian and Justin making out instead.
"Gay as Blazes" is a fictional show that depicts a tight-knit group of sophisticated gay men, whose favorite activities seem to be hosting quiet dinner parties and reading Sylvia Plath. They all have respectable jobs, none of them fuck around, and all of the characters are well-adjusted individuals.

Gag me.

No, but seriously, the cast of "Queer as Folk" is split about how to view this show. Many of the characters appreciate that the community is being portrayed in a wholesome, moral light, but Brian in particular finds the show unrealistic and dangerous, rejecting the idea that the best a gay man can aspire to is everything a straight man could want: monogamy and stability.

This debate comes up again and again in the show: can gay men be accepted by society at large without conforming to society's norms? Should gay men allow themselves to want the "straight" ideal, and if so, is a gay man who doesn't want domesticity and true love giving the rest of the community a bad name? It's the thematic question of the show, whether the creators realize it or not, making this episode one of the most important in the series. It's the episode where the show addresses its critics, defends the members of its cast that don't live up to society's moral code, and blatantly takes down the idea of a moral ideal in the first place.
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And they look good while doing it!
It's somewhat laughable that the creators of this show seem to be trying to depict ANYTHING that happens during its runtime as "realistic", but I see what they're getting at here. The characters on "Queer as Folk" are human beings. They struggle with their jobs, they make bad romantic decisions, some of them are a little racist (looking at you, Emmett), they get addicted to drugs, they believe people who lie to their faces, they hurt their friends...and life goes on, and they keep getting by, and they try their best to learn from their mistakes. I have to give credit to a show that by the end of its run makes me feel affection for a group of characters I hated when I first met them.

There's something to be said for the flamboyance this show has to offer as well. As a counterpoint, in 2014 HBO premiered its first season of "Looking", a modern take on the young-gay-men-looking-for-love story. Already in the first episode, you can see stark differences between it and its predecessors. The lack of a soundtrack, the muted colors, the naturalistic acting style, even the simple fact that these men regard being gay as just another aspect of their psychological makeup marks "Looking" as an indirect descendent of "Queer as Folk". The characters on "Looking" are all regular dudes, laid back, normal. As Pooh Daddy says, "the focus of the show is not that they're gay."

You know what the biggest criticism is about "Looking"? People think it's boring.

You know what happened to "Looking"? It got cancelled. Last weekend.
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Oh Jonathan Groff, one day the world will appreciate you.
"Queer as Folk" only lasted five seasons, granted, but I'm pretty sure the reason it lasted even that long is because people thought it was fun to watch. So there you go. All hail Babylon.
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"That is so much glitter, in your mouth!" -Some Guy

Show Me the D

I talked about this show being a "time capsule" earlier, and thinking of it that way, while not excusing the characters, explains a little more about their behavior. Being gay has pretty much always been a rough time, but lots of that stigma has lessened in the recent years. This show premiered in 2000, and already there's a crazy amount of stuff that just would not be an issue right now, at least not everywhere in the U.S.

Michael has a female co-worker who has a huge crush on him and makes no attempt to hide it. He fears that if he tells her he's gay she would tell everyone he works with at the Big Q (think K-Mart) and he would lost his job, so he strings her along and pretends that he is also interested, at least when they're around other co-workers. Michael is obviously an asshat for doing this, and this results in a lot of hurt feelings down the line, but in 2000 he would not have had legal protection at his customer service job. He absolutely could have been fired for his sexual orientation.

After Brian crashes his biological son's bris, the kid's lesbian parents Lindsay and Melanie have a huge fight. Melanie feels sore that Lindsay continues to take Brian's side over hers when they're supposed to be a commited couple. Melanie is making a really big deal out of this, as well she should, but her anger is further compounded by the fact that as her son's biological father, Brian has more legal rights over the kid than Melanie does, even though she is financially and maternally providing for the boy. 

Not to pretend that these things don't still happen, but legal and federal protection of the LGBT community has come a long way in fifteen years. However, there's one big prejudice that I see over and over again on this show that has not been eradicated.

The absence of dicks.
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Close but no cigar, show.
It takes almost three complete seasons for "Queer as Folk" to feature a single dick, and I am incredibly puzzled by this. I wouldn't be AS puzzled if the show didn't feature Melanie and Lindsay going at it like rabbits every chance they got in full scale, picturesque glory. Which you know what, I'm not a prude, if a show's on an adult network and it wants to throw in some scenes of its lesbian characters having sex, more power to it. 

But I have to figure that the main demographic for this show is gay men, and I am pretty sure they would have loved a lot more cock than they actually got. Eventually it happens, but I'm convinced that people must have written letters to Showtime complaining about the sheer lack of stiffies.

And this lack of penile attention continues even today! Think about Game of Thrones. How many breasts do you see in an episode? Enough for me to make it a rule in my drinking game. How many dicks do you see in a SEASON?
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THAT DOESN'T COUNT, THAT'S A PROSTHETIC
As a side note, I am fully aware that if you played a drinking game while reading articles on For Your Inebriation, you could make one of the rules "drink every time Krissy mentions dicks". I have no defense. Only hopes and dreams.

The Results

This game went fairly well. Medium Mode made it through at least one and a half cosmos per episode, hard mode probably two (bad idea to drink more than two cosmos, by the way). We thought of some extra rules too, so open your ears and listen.

Drink whenever Brian calls Michael pathetic.
That Brian Kinney. What a great guy.

Drink whenever a gay character pretends to be straight.
A bonus drink if they fully commit to doing someone of the opposite sex!
Oh yeah, also bisexuality doesn't exist on this show. Womp.

Finish your drink if you see at least one penis.
We actually played with this rule during our game, even though I was convinced we wouldn't have to use it. Sure enough, during his Bris, we catch a glimpse of Gus' tiny dongle.
Meaning the show showed us a BABY penis before showing us a grown man's.
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"It still counts! Size doesn't matter!" -Big Moose
I normally take a little more time before writing about another television show, but a powerful mainstay of the past few years is ending this spring. I think I'm willing to bend my made-up rules a little for the occasion.
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You only need one rule: drink when they drink.
Like what you see? Follow us on Facebook and Twitter, at For Your Inebriation and @KrissyPappau respectively. You'll get weekly updates, behind the scenes drunk talk, and other chatter!

For Your Inebriation is written by Krissy Pappau (Hollis Beck). All "Queer as Folk" images are owned by Showtime Entertainment.
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