(Originally posted Tuesday, July 29, 2008 )
Sometimes your favorite film, TV and music critics get so excited about the entertainment they’re reviewing that their reviews start to tell us a little bit more about them than we’d like to know. Take some of these recent examples from daily newspapers around the country:
“When the show ended its run, we learned that Six Feet Under’s lead character Nate was, in the end, a very flawed and simple man who could not handle complicated women. He was destined to be imperfect when he met somebody who was smart, demanding, independent and free spirited. He just wasn’t ready to stay in there and fight and be a fucking man when a true strong woman showed up in all her rainbow-divergent complexities. He was like all men. A tramp. Admit it! You can’t handle us, Nate.”
–by Amanda Savoy, the Orlando Morning Sentinel
“The new adaptation of Lolita is a savory collection of images of the nyphette in her true, vivid form–splayed on a bed, all too innocent and yet knowing the full flower of her puissant sexuality. She is coy, but it is all for show. She cuddles. She coddles. She hides from Humbert Humbert the way she hides from all of us–in plain sight, and with the duplicity of her instinctual, animal feminine wiles.”
–Ronald Avery, Piedmont Sun-Times
“Clint Eastwood’s thriller Absolute Power is a scathing indictment of the arrogance of power, especially how it perverts the nuclear family when certain females have too much control. One sees all too well the emasculating slut/wife/first lady harridan of the film cajoling and goading her adulterous husband like a deranged Lady Macbeth. One sees the hopelessness faced by good men in law enforcement, such as the morally just character played by Scott Glenn, who selflessly kills himself rather than play into the fiendish schemes of a first lady hell-bent on power. The film is a touchstone for those who know firsthand the way that women in power become inhuman, sapping the male id, insinuating herself into their friendships and wearing down their martial virtues with her haircutting castrating she-power.
–Judy Bozena, the Minnesota Free Press
“Ryan Gosling is easily the best thing about Half Nelson. I mean, I’m not sure why the other actors even showed up. I could tell you their names, but Ryan is just acting circles around them. He is playful and coy, yet majestic and sublime. I feel that I’m watching an artist at work here. A sculptor. Slowly chiseling away everything does not fit until the soul is revealed. If I had it my way and I were the director, every actor in Half Nelson would be Ryan Gosling.”
–Amy Tanhaus, The Boise Spirit
“We live in a fascist AmeriKKKa, stolen from the Indians, built by the black man, and sucking cheap oil off the oil pump of the Arab. You are either down with the struggle now or you’ve got to get out of the way. When the riots start, ain’t nothin’ gonna be televised. The white man has been stealing our culture, stealing our women, watering down our blackness with miscegenation and taking away our history by saying Jesus was white. He’s been poisoning us, selling us drugs, breaking down our inner cities and trying to get us to kill each other so that he can keep his power. But it can’t last for long. Something’s got to give. One day the levees will really break, and there will be a real flood. … Oh yeah, and go see Home For The Holidays.
–Sasha Perlstein, Black Entertainment News
“A reliable atavistic thread runs through the posturing male behavior of those tight-bunned thespians who populate the crude and rough-hewn film Alpha Dog. One cannot help but be overwhelmed and yet horribly despondent, as Keats was upon looking at an urn or a nightingale, to discover with recrudescent bad taste that the thing you longed for so totally–the crude and provincial rough trade b-boy style of a Justin Timberlake or the Scandinavian coldness of an Emile Hirsch–that what you wanted was evanescent. That the youth would not last. That a flower, even as a kiss, withers where you placed it on a pretty young male mouth.”
–Gibby Sandoz, Proscenium Magazine
“I’ll say it before and I’ll say it again. All women are part Lesbian, and only the most honest filmmakers today dare explore that love. It is a love that so threatens the male as to make him an impotent voyeur, off in the corner, crying because he cannot understand the witchcraft that is two females’ perfect Sapphic symmetry. When I first saw Wild Things, I asked myself if there could really be an honest scene when the true love between women comes to flower. When breast touches breast. When vertex hugs vertex. And then, to my surprise, the kiss was real, the potential fulfilled, and the honesty of art did indeed attain. I left totally satisfied, and did not need popcorn to fill my belly that evening, but slaked my thirst on the stuff of true aesthetic engorgement.”
*Editor’s note: This article was written even as Roger Ebert was continuing to undergo severe health problems related to thyroid cancer, for which he recieved surgery that left him unable to speak. I keep the joke here because I don’t think it derides his courage as a cancer survivor. In fact, I hope only to continue celebrating what his longtime fans know to be his great love of girl-on-girl action. I hope your Lesbian-love rages on undiminished for years, Roger!