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All My Pretty Hates . . .

2003-10-13 - 2:11 p.m.

Like everyone, and I do mean ev-er-y-one I know, I love to play film critic. I know enough about what it means to act and direct that I can do it a bit better than most people, in that I can sorta kinda now recognize which one of the two (actor or director) I should blame for a performance I hate

And truth be told, I love hating things. As an entry a few days ago might indicate, all you have to do is ask me, "Hey, RRZ, what did you think of Good in Bed by Jennifer Weiner" to know just how much I love to hate certain things. In fact, that book has become one of what I call my pretty hates. No, that comes from neither the Nine Inch Nails album or "Caught a Lite Sneeze." It's actually a line from a Dorothy Parker poem where, after talking about how easily she can live without love or friendship she says, "Dig for me a narrow bed./ Now I am bereft./ All my pretty hates are dead,/ And what have I left?"

Hee hee hee. I love that line.

Parker knew a hell of a lot about hatred, and how to insult someone. Most people are aware of her burn on Katharine Hepburn, "She runs the emotional gamut from A to B." I love the line, but I hated the sentiment. How can she not like Katharine Hepburn? Kat's the shiznit, Dorothizzle!

Of course, I have, among my pretty hates, things that I'm sure a lot of people love. Gwyneth Platrow is among my pretty hates. I hate the fact that she accepted an Oscar in a dress made entirely out of cotton candy, with hair that had been painted on, and that said Oscar was stolen from the likes of Cate Blanchett, who gave one of the most incredible performances I have ever seen in Elizabeth, and from Fernanda Montenegro, who was fierce and touching in Central Station, and Meryl Streep, who, as always, took a lackluster script and acted the shit out of it. I hate the fact that she got it because her parents are both famous and Steven Spielberg called her Gwynnie when she was three years old. I think I hated her worst of all in that moment because it was after watching Shakespeare in Love that I said, "You know, Gwyneth Paltrow might be a better actor that a drunk giraffe someday. Go her!" Before that, I merely disliked her and couldn't understand the hype. Now I feel no qualms about saying, "She looks like a duck and has stringy boobs and can't. Fucking. Act!" even when people are talking about how cool she is.

Dashboard Confessional is another one. When I saw a bunch of kids singing along to his MTV Unplugged performance, I knew I was looking at the dangerous and destructive powers of the Antichrist. "And lo, the adversary brought the Beast unto the people, and he was a wussy pretty boy with poser-looking tattoos, who sang not unto the glory of God but why his girlfriend was mean for dumping him, and the ears of the children of the lord bled and they cried out for salvation."

So, I get a big kick out of sitting on my ass and being superior. Who doesn't?

Well, the problem comes when I'm on the other side of things. I find myself there a lot. There are plenty of people who think many of my favorite female singers are "angry, whiny chicks", or that my favorite books are "cheesy, overly-intellectual dreck," and I find myself the one saying, "If you ever, and I mean ever, refer to her as 'Torn Anus' again, I will personally gouge out your eyeballs and make you eat them. Don't. Test me."

Today, I was gathering in some of the reviews on Kill Bill, which tend to be either glittering rhapsodies about the genius of Tarantino or bile drenched invective aimed at the director and all who would praise him. There is very little middle ground when it comes to this movie, and, as in politics and religion, those who occupy the middle ground and try to reach an accord will be rewarded for their efforts by bullets from both sides.

For the record, I loved Kill Bill. I can see the objections to its relentless goriness. I thought it was so cartoonish as to be more off-putting than offensive, but I can see the other side of things on that one. However, I think a lot of the rest of it comes down to personal taste, and that those tastes become blended with preconceived notions about Tarantino, Thurman, the movies this one draws from, independent film since Tarantino, post-modernism, film criticism, and what is or is not cool to the point where people not only attack people's views, but the people themselves. And that's a problem in my book. And I found myself doing it in the first draft of this entry, and I stopped, and then I started writing this draft.

For example, after reading an opinion by a favorite web writer of mine who described those who liked Kill Bill as "morons" and "dateless losers," I could have said, "Whatever, WC, I'm not the one who thought that Daniel Day Lewis's performance in Gangs of New York was pure genius when, in fact, it was an overblown, self-satisfied parade of refuse that ruined Christmas and made the baby Jesus cry, and by the way, I know you spend so much time onyour websites--which could seriously cut a few of their unnecessary writers--but if you could see fit to come down of the cloud and share your opinions with the mere mortals, it might be nice for you to update your journal once in a while. but seeing as it's so full of your self-important, underinformed opinions anyway, don't."

But I won't.

Because even though Daniel Day Lewis did indeed make the Baby Jesus cry with his "evil Willy Wonka" act (tm Mike Nelson), WC's enjoyment of this movie is not a reflection on her. And even though I think some of the writers for her sites are funnier than others, there's a wide variety of people with a wide variety of tastes who need a source for humor, and even though some of WC's journal entries have made me wonder just much this person sits around wondering how she hasn't already been awarded the Nobel Prize for Opinions, most of them have me rolling on the floor laughing.

There is no reason for me to attack WC, so I won't, even if she was willing to lump me in with "morons" and "dateless losers."

I think it's okay to hate. Hate racism. Hate homophobia. Hate Quentin Tarantino until you can't take it anymore and you start Hate Gwyneth until you put out a line of Gwyneth dolls just so you can buy them all and watch them be destroyed inincreasingly creative ways. But don't call me a moron for liking something, or for hating something. Feel free to ask me why I liked it, and point out everything that was worth hating, or vice versa as the case may be, but don't call me a moron. I'm not the smartest person I know by a long shot, but everyone I know who's smarter than me is smart enough not to call me a moron. "Whatever, you're stupid!" is not a good debating technique.

In exchange, I promise not to say that anyone who likes Chris Carraba needs to have a pipe cleaner shoved in on ear and out the other, then be covered in confetti and hung in a tree like a pinata. I promize to refrain from even thinking it. I will, however, keep the image in my head in a way that is harmless, as much the same way as imagining people who cut you off in traffic being blown up by a random meteor is harmless. The humor comes from the image, not the person.

If you didn't like Kill Bill, sorry you wasted $8. If you haven't seen it, and don't mind watching a lot, and I mean a LOT of blood, often spurting from women or being spilled by women, enjoy it. It strikes an interesting balance between showing how funny, thrilling, and absolutely horrifying violence is, in a way that some think is awful and I think is brilliant. In my opinion, Tarantino is the only person in the universe who can get Uma Thurman to act like something organic, and the fact that he gives Lucy Liu a monologue that makes her even sexier and more threatening than she was during her Charlie's Angels efficiency expert speech speaks to his considerable talent. Also, my half-Chinese little stepsister now looks up to Lucy Liu's O-Ren Ishii as a woman who is not afraid to mutilate anyone who criticizes her for being half-Chinese. I think, because of Quentin and Lucy, the next racist my little stepsister comes across will get a boot to the head.

If a movie like that is wrong, I don't want to be right.

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