29 January 2010

An Open Letter to Gwen Stefani

Dear Gwen,

I noticed you haven't been in the studio recently and I am concerned.
When are you going to release another album so you can go on tour and
I can come see you in concert? Please rectify this situation
immediately. Thank you.


27 January 2010

Last Seen at Sundance

I've been going to Sundance again this year. It's usually my favorite time too; Seeing nouveau cinema, with a fresher perspective (if not the renegade affair they like to pretend it is - the irony of one of the largest and most commercial film festivals saddling the theme of "Rebel" is inescapable). This year has, so far, proven a mixed bag of films. From the outright psychedelic and terrifying Pepperminta (highly recommended if you've ever craved watching someone menstruate into a silver chalice then feed it to friends), the underwhelming New Low (it would seem that in order to write a character who is witty and wry, the writer himself ought to be witty and wry) or the interesting, if uneven Taqwacores (did anyone even realize there was a Muslim punk scene?), this hasn't been a typical year of high quality for me. That judgement is premature as I still have seven more films to go, but even so, I don't regret seeing movies. Virtually ever, in fact. The only film I think I desperately wanted out of was The Wedding Planner, but that's likely because I had no one who would mock it with me. I don't mind terrible movies, and there's always something gained by the experience, good or bad.

No, the movies aren't my beef this year. It's the people.

Sure, it's always been like this, and perhaps I'm just taking it to heart this time round. But there are a load of toolbags everywhere I turn. All with their stupid parka coats, stupid unkempt - in an "artsy" sort of way - appearance, and hauling their livelihood around like one of the Pioneer Park homeless, in a stupid backpack. God, the backpacks. The appearance is annoying enough, like they're setting out for a hike to Mt. Everest base camp, not sit in a theater for a couple hours. Not just annoying when you trip over them, carelessly thrown in the aisles of a restaurant, it smacks of yuppie, and has come to symbolize for me the crowd of people who attend this festival not for the films, but for the event that it is. It's the same plague that afflicts all the locals who, upon learning you "went to Sundance," inquire as to who you saw. For some, this is less a place of new ideas in a relatively young art form, and more a celebrity press event. A place to be seen, or if you're not famous enough to be seen, a place to be seen with those who are.

I sit in theaters, looking at high maintenance women who are hoping they'll see some cliché romantic comedy, or if it has to be a drama, a touching Titanic-esque piece. There's the attention craving homos who are desperate to be a part of a connected, affluent and edgy world, be it by means of bragging rights or keeping themselves clothed in Gucci with a well placed blow job. There's the grungy types, who work extremely hard to cultivate their counter-culture look and attitude, who have to show up at these things if they're going to continue their "check-out-how-stylishly-I-give-'the man'-the-middle-finger" hipness. And there are more, oh so many more. These aren't people who look for alterations in cinematic narrative, editing convention, or experimental camerawork. They're really there to party and talk up the exclusivity to their friends. If they have to see a few movies to make themselves seem special and part of something, so be it.

Maybe I'm jaded. And perhaps I am, as with each passing year I seem to find a deeper well of cynicism with which to approach life. I'm just tired of the facades that flock to something that ought to offer unconventional perspectives taking stabs at truth. I also realize that maybe I'm no better. I sit in judgement, but perhaps I'm just one more toolbag, of the imperious variety.

Sundance is hardly alone in its attraction to people of the "reality tv" generation. This is an age where we've been fed on shows that teach anyone can be a celebrity, American royalty. Unlike the antiquated British system of blood lines, these days all it takes is gold-digging for a rose from some bachelor, a well placed youtube video, a bitchy housewife in Atlanta, or a "leaked" sex tape. You don't have to actually have talent or connections, except maybe to the internet. Everyone wants to be rich, everyone wants to be famous, and now that it seems so attainable, we're all the more desperate for others to think we are. Truly this is the land where dreams come true. And sometimes I don't think there's any low to which people won't stoop to achieve them.