Friday, April 29, 2011

The lion in the horse trailer

Wow, oh wow what a documentary. If Michael Moore implied that Americans were gun fetishists, this movie argues we fetishize everything -- even hapless wild animals who become victims of our smothering codependent love.

The film follows Tim, a compassionate public safety officer in suburban Ohio as we learn in chilling detail how out of control the exotic pet business has become. Tim travels to underground exotic pet conventions in Pennsylvania where children are bought deadly African gaboon vipers as presents and terrified monkeys are auctioned off like toy dolls.

A key subject is Terry, a train wreck of a disabled man who is given two African lion cubs as pets in the hopes they will cheer him up. As in, You look down, here have a rhinoceros! Terry dutifully bottle feeds his two "house cats" until they're adults. The documentary begins when the predators are four years old and the male is over 500 pounds of dangerous animal. After one of the lions escapes and is captured chasing cars on the interstate, Terry confines the two cats to a modified horse trailer where they live out their days lying on compacted cat crap that looks as hard as cement while every fly in the state of Ohio crawls on them.

I wanted to hate Terry, I really did. He's everything that is hopelessly wrong with America. Terry is broken, overweight, unemployed and loves his exotic cats despite the increasing realization that they may kill him ... if he doesn't first.

The documentary follows Tim to the various reaches of the eastern U.S., including Florida where Burmese pythons are taking over the Everglades, out-breeding every indigenous reptile in their path.

Later, back in Ohio, Tim wonders if he's really doing any good tracking down escaped exotic predators -- wouldn't it be better to leave them in the "wild" of the suburbs and hope they don't eat a 10 year old?

The film is flawless -- all claustrophobic close ups on the humans to emphasize how confining the animal's lives must be. And, finally it is not without a happy ending. Some of the big cats do find a sort of respite on the prairie in Colorado.

Monday, April 11, 2011

Once more into the breach

I got a number of responses to my post about the comic book, Crossed, being displayed without any "mature audience" labels. I'm always thrilled when people post comments. But when they apparently don't READ the post before commenting, I feel compelled to reply.

Daniel M. said...

You're concerned about a kid reading an adult comic, but shouldn't you be more concerned that a kid is wondering around without adult supervision? It's wandering, not wondering. And if I was a parent, the one event I would assume my kid would be safe to wander would be a comicon.

The con was an all ages event that catered to everyone of all ages. (Redundant) Why should that prevent a publisher from selling their comic? Re-read my original post. Point out to me the part where I suggested that Avatar Press (or any other vendor) not be able to sell their books, 'cos I never said that.

There are people of age who want to buy it. You don't have to. What about Fantagraphics? A long-time local Seattle GN/comic book seller that caters to quirky, humorous, offbeat writers and comic artists such as Dan Clowes and Ellen Forney. Yeah, SO? I don't think I've ever seen a GN at their booth that I would describe as gratuitously violent (like Crossed) or over-the-top misogynistic (look that word up).

I don't like Crossed because it seems rather childish, base and nihilistic for the sake of it,
Okay ... why were you rushing to their defense again???

You seem to be pigeonholing comic cons as a certain type of event catering to certain types of people. (Again with the redundant comment.) Conventions are by definition events that cater or attract certain types of people. And this just in: the sky is blue.

I went to the con because I love the medium, not because I'm a "nerd." Now who's tossing insults? Where in my original post did I use the word "nerd"? And is that such a awful label? There's far worse out there. I too attended the convention because I love the medium, same reason I went to the last three. And I'll be going to more in the future. But the overt misogyny in Crossed offended me. And I'm still offended. I'm offended any time anyone takes a violent act and trivializes it because to some impressionable minds (10-year-old kids
) that makes it seem OKAY. And it's never okay.

I bought both of those comics from Fantagraphics there, some BPRD, an Adrian Tomine thing, and a great old mini series I've been looking for ages. Awesome. I'd rattle off the names of all the GNs I bought but it's a pretty big list and I still haven't read them all. I always look for names like Joss Whedon, Brian K. Vaughan and Neil Gaiman as well as a half-dozen smaller obscure comic writers and illustrators. Why? Because I'm pretty sure none of these writers are misogynists. (Oops, there's that word again.)

The con was for everybody. Except for people who bring their kids and let them "wonder" alone and women who take offense at graphic depictions of rape, right???

To scrutinize what's being sold, I'm a film and book critic. Scrutinizing is what I do, baby.

As for being worried that adults buy the comic because they're numb from corporate media, that's some crock. Stories and images like that have been around for centuries. But never ever have they been presented so graphically, so realistically and so REPEATEDLY as they are now in mainstream media. Between television and film, the average American kid has seen violent images thousands of times by the age of five and a disproportionate percentage of those are simulated violent acts against females by male characters.

Do I consider comicon goers who buy Crossed "nerds"? No, I'm just really worried they also go to gun conventions. And buy 9 mms for their 10-year-old kids. And then the kid goes home and watches Daddy rape and beat the shit out of Mommy and this forms his world view.

Saturday, April 09, 2011

Oh Tim

I'm so glad I sent Tim a picture of my boobs. He's so smart and cute and witty and funny and talented. Even when he's whining about the state of newspapers.