Silly-bits in the grit: verisimilitude, suspending disbelief & other Bodyguard problems

*Warning: this post contains spoilers.

During the two Bodyguard episodes I’ve watched so far, my viewing has been halted (mid-episode) on two separate occasions. The first interruption was during the extended terrorist-on-the train scenario, and the second, during the getting shot-to-the-shit in the armoured-car blood-fest.

But the breaks in transmission weren’t caused by technical difficulties, no, the interruptions were wholly due to a lack of commitment on my part – a failure to suspend disbelief to be precise…Suspending disbelief – it’s a term I first encountered in Cinema Studies at La Trobe University (is it still called that?) back in the years when the sun was setting on free tertiary education in Australia. Another fancy word I learned back then was, verisimilitude: the appearance of being true or real.

In my opinion, Bodyguard, the 6-part series currently screening on Netflix, suffers greatly from a lack of it. Because there’s only so many bullets a mere mortal can dodge without arousing suspicion – is Sergeant Bud, (the PTSD affected protagonist in Bodyguard) actually an escapee from more fantastic genre? An imaginary place where super-powers are the norm and no-one thinks twice about breaking the verisimilitude barrier at the speed of light?

Because in the armoured-car blood-fest scene Sergeant Bud not only manages to evade a veritable hail of bullets, he also has the wherewithal to pop his arm up like a demented meer-cat and take a sneaky snap with his phone – thus pin-pointing the gunner on a distant building, driving backwards in the shot-to-the-shit car, and successfully tracking the baddie down.

It’s the kind of action scene that makes me think, now that’s a bit silly in’it..? And silly scenes don’t fit well in the desaturated reality of this so-called ‘gritty’ suspense/thriller/action/drama. Yes, I understand, Sergeant Bud’s fearless impulsiveness and razor-sharp reflexes splice nicely with his military history and associated trauma, and yes, his ultra-heroic actions act as a counterpoint to his many human flaws and evoke crucial viewer empathy – but this over-the-top action kind of ruins it for me. Kind of. It’s a pity the action scenes weren’t dialed back a few notches – we’re a tad less…well…silly.

Not to say I won’t be watching the rest of the series. Because despite it’s significant silliness I’m eager to witness (and judge) the plot twist that’s been promised at the end. I’ll just have to string up a few ropes and start suspending my disbelief – accept that there will be silly bits within the blue-grey grit…

* (an extra note for the pedantic among us) If the gunman was shooting at the armoured-car from the top of a 6 or 7 story building, then the bullets would have entered the car from a higher angle – not horizontally as depicted, therefore, it is very unlikely any of the three occupants would have survived.

 

Mind-blowing innovation ‘changes the way we drink water’

There’s a new ad campaign invading our screens that’s so incredibly stupid, it really deserves to be called out for what it is – a load of utter bullshit.

Apparently Twinings the tea company has invented a product that will change the way we drink water. Wow now that’s quite a big call, and the mind boggles with possible scenarios – what on earth could this new ‘way’ be? What is this revolutionary product now available for consumption?

Now let me think…is it some sort of skin patch? A slow-release system metering out precise doses adding up to the prescribed 8 glasses a day? Do we drink the liquid through our noses instead of our mouths? Or has Twinings discovered a new orifice somewhere on the human body? A specialised water inlet perhaps?

No. Hold on to your hats everyone, because Twinings has invented…A tea bag!

But Infuse is not your ordinary baggie, it comes in a screw- top jar, not a cardboard box. And the great revelation is, the bag is designed to release its natural fruity flavours into…cold water! Gasp! Who woud’a thunk it! Cold water! Wow! Surely this amounts to nothing short of a total revolution in the way we drink water.

And it’s good for the planet too. Saves you from buying all those nasty plastic bottles filled with flavoured waters. Now you can just pop a mango or strawberry baggie into your own body of water…and that’s why Twinings has released its own branded plastic container, the Infuse reusable bottle, designed especially for the retaining of cold H2O, and placement of said revolutionary baggie.

Let’s break this down to see the error in their message. Adding an ingredient to water does not change how we drink it, it changes the water itself. If we accepted Twinings’ logic, then the same claim could be made by just about every beverage made from water, and that means, ALL of them. Beer changes the way we drink water, coffee changes the way we drink water, cows change the way we drink water (they make it into milk) etc etc etc.

But the wonderful world of marketing isn’t concerned with logic, its aim is to prey on desire, the human longing for health and betterment, for innovation and progess. Well here’s an idea for you. If you really want to change the way you drink water – stop sucking down liquids from plastic retainers full stop. Get your hands on a pre-existing ‘cup’ and use that instead. Or stick your head under a tap and have an occasional slurp on that.

Food porn–the delicious objectification of vegetables, meats & grains

Tonight, before I get stuck into another episode of the excellent 10-part BBC documentary series  Hitler’s Circle of Evil (available on YouTube without interruptions) I’ll begin my evening’s viewing with a less arduous course. I’ll have the light entree if I may. I’ll settle back for some foodie-themed globetrotting, travel the world and visit homely kitchens and wander the colour-splashed aisles of spice-heaped markets, uncover the cooking methods of ancient relatives and, who knows? Maybe I’ll even discover the true origins of grain.

I’m not so keen on bearing witness to the pedantic art of micro-herb placement, or following the trials and tribulations of restaurant X’s rise to two or three-hat status, but I do enjoy the high-resolution, soft-edged objectification of vegetables, meats and grains currently taking place on our screens –  a genre that seems to be multiplying like mold spores on a delicious, washed-rind cheese.

Because something lovely happens in my brain when I clap eyes on the firm flesh of freshly- captured salmon, buried deep in a thick crust of salt and fired by local yet sustainable log – the succulence of cream-fleshed scallop gently nestled in a cradle of hand-knitted twigs – a plate of scattered pipi awash in a pond of wasabi-infused foam – the slow-motion capture of bubbles rising to the surface of hallowed liquid A or B – the sexy gluten-stretch as air-filled bread gets ripped asunder by plough-calloused hand oh, oh, oh!

What was I saying? Er-hem. Yes…I do love a bit of food porn served up on a rustic platter…

 

Now I’m not 11 with a crush on Paul Stanley, Kiss’s album Love Gun seems a little bit creepy

At approximately 5pm or thereabouts, having satisfied my dog’s daily walking needs for the day, I generally crank up the music and make my daily eats.

Today, whilst preparing another curry to use up the tub of yoghurt instead of letting it turn to yet another mould-topped glump, I pulled out a golden oldie, Kiss’s classic album, Love Gun (1977) to accompany my chopping.

It was my sister’s album back in the day, and for some reason the cover has disappeared, only the dusty, fine-lined vinyl remains. A shame, the cover is quite funny, Kiss standing god-like in full regalia with their oversized, studded cod-pieces on display if I remember correctly. And I do remember correctly oh yes I do.

I was a BIG fan of the band as a young lass and had a crush on Paul Stanley, his semi-gender-bending, hairy-chested effeminate prancings, his status as the front-man, and the thrill of the mystery of the face beneath make-up. Who were these masked men?

However, as a woman matured with significant feminist bendings, I can’t listen to this album without some serious cringing.

And it’s not because I no longer love the music. I’m not older and wiser with a more developed taste in music – I still rate this hard rock pop as much as I ever did, an album chockablock with great songs bar one or two. No. It’s the lyrics that give me the ick.

Okay. Let’s start with the title track, ‘Love Gun’.

…you pull the trigger on my…love gun, love gun , my love gun, love gun…

As far as I know, my 11 year old self had no idea of the sexual goings on behind this blindingly obvious metaphor, but fast-forward 40-odd years to my current good self, and I can’t help but feel grossed-out by the conflation of the male member with a weapon of mass destruction. And then, it gets a little bit creepy:

you can’t forget me baby, don’t try to lie, you’ll never leave me mama, so don’t try…

Er. Okay. I think it might be time to get the authorities involved here…

Then there’s ‘Christine Sixteen,’ a little ditty about Gene Simmons’ lust for a sexually active young woman who is apparently hot ‘day and night’ for the goods beneath his rather menacing cod-piece.

…I don’t usually say things like this to girls your age, but when I saw you coming out of school that day, I knew, I knew, I’ve got to have you, I’ve got to have you…

Yes. Okay. She’s Christine and she’s sixteen. Not only does she rhyme quite nicely but she’s also reached the age of consent. And:

…she’s been around, but she’s young and clean…

Good to know Gene. Good to know she’s free of disease and won’t infect you with any nasty pox. And then there’s the famous, ‘Plaster Caster’:

Plaster, caster, grab a hold of me faster, if you wanna see my love just ask her…

At least here Gene’s penis is ‘my love’ and not a horrible gun. By the way, the her in ask her refers to the actual artist Cynthia Plaster Caster, who made plaster molds of famous rock-star knobs and boobs. (I understand she turned Gene down when he offered himself up as a subject).

Anyhoo, despite the accompaniment of a few too many dick-obsessed lyrics, the curry turned out very nicely thank you.

And I will be listening to Love Gun again:)

 

 

 

 

 

Hot person over-load and the rapid escalation of ‘same face’ syndrome

Sometimes when I watch a film or TV series I find myself wondering; is that the same person as before or is it another character entirely? I cant tell if woman X with the black hair in a pony-tail is the same woman X in the next scene with her hair worn down…Is any-one else experiencing this problem?

And I don’t think it’s because my brain can’t manage to assemble collections of features into recognisable individuals, it’s because of a growing trend I’m gong to call same face syndrome.

It’s difficult to keep track of who’s who when actors are chosen based on an ever-narrowing set of physical parameters, and I think it is safe to say that while there is more representation of race and gender when it comes to on-screen roles, there is definitely less representation of people who don’t conform to our current hyper-idealised, filter-funneled standards of beauty. Frankly I find the whole thing a bit creepy.  

Of course lovely faces have always been integral to the screen business and I see no reason why that should change – after all, who doesn’t relish the beauty of a heavenly visage? But not all the time. Not in every film and TV show. The way things are heading, diversity of features will be a thing of the past, especially with plastic surgery weighing in to hasten the melding.

You have to wind the clock back to find a larger sample of actors from other planets – ones closer to everyday person instead of centre-of-everything perfection, where noses stand proudly and inclusion isn’t relative to eye-socket spacing or flawless chin projection, where divergence is deemed acceptable and fit for human consumption.

Lately I’ve even noticed the phenomenon seeping into the field of documentary for god’s sake. It may well be the result of subconscious bias, but more and more I see vox pop segments featuring ‘random’ subjects who all lean very suspiciously towards the high-end of spectrum hot.

Our screens are so stuffed to the gills with an over-load of hot people I think it’s high-time for relief. 

Walt Disney and his tiny-hoofed lady-girls

My latest deep interest (or short-lived obsession) is the life and times and creative output of Walt Disney and his team of artists.

Having never actually knowingly watched any of his feature animations, I found a number of them streaming for free (public domain) on Vimeo, so, last night I settled down on my sheepskin padded cradle-bed to view Sleeping Beauty (1959).

My interest was ignited by the two-part documentary currently streaming on SBS on Demand about Walt. (I was able to view episode one before my current hardware/software obsolescence set in) but then, thankfully, before my head exploded from episode 2 withdrawal, found the entire 3 hour ad-free documentary on YouTube.

Walt Disney’s first cartoon to make it BIG time was Steamboat Willy (1928) featuring an early incarnation of Mr Mickey in a joyous romp. What made the cartoon so endearing was the brilliant use of sound in the slapstick, gag-filled action. Disney was also the first to maximize profit with toys and merchandise, and, after the 6 million dollar box-office smashing caused by the full-length animated feature, Snow White (1937), Walt and his long-term partner and brother built the Walt Disney studios in Burbank, a highly stratified collection of buildings housing the various departments.

D-wing was the home of the big men, Walt’s boys, the animators who, in the early days (before conditions got tighter) were paid five dollar bonuses for each visual gag they came up with. These were the folk who decided that Cinderella’s foot should be a tiny little morsel, so small that it would fit the daintiest slipper imaginable.

When the work had been okayed by Walt’s famously praise-free ‘That’ll work,’ then the ‘girls’ in the paint and ink department could do their job, the painstaking, eye-straining task of outlining and coloring the men’s heroic output onto celluloid sheets. There were 24 sheets required for every second of animatiom, not to mention the extra celluloid required for the multi-plane camera technology that enabled layering of backgrounds, a technique already in use by the German animator, Lotte Reiniger, a pioneer of silhouette animation whose feature film, The Adventures of Prince Ahmed was made in 1926.

For the most part, the women at Disney (or ladies with tiny feet) were deemed unfit for the manly task of animation. Walt explains why in a quaint letter to an aspiring animator, and the gist of his reasoning goes like this: there are no women in the animation department, therefore, we don’t employ women in the animation department..Hmmm. Also women’s tiny little handies were far better suited to the task of colouring in Walt’s firm opinion. At least the applicant received a response, a politeness seemingly lost in today’s world.

But gender roles were a hell of a lot less fluid back in 1930/40’s America. For example, a woman wearing pants whilst appearing as a witness in court in Los Angeles was sent home to change. She returned. Still in pants, and was sentenced to 5 days in to jail for contempt of court. Women did find their way into the boys club at Disney, especially after the bombing of Pearl Harbor and the USA joined WWII. The draft created instability in the work-force, and women were invited to apply for more artistically fullfiling positions, a move that disgruntled male employees saw as a cynical ploy to pay lower wages.

By the way, the paint and ink girls got $18 per week, while a top (male) animator could earn up to $300 per week.

And back to Sleeping Beauty. I didn’t like it much, but the Princess Aurora sure does have tiny feet.

 

Post 1: Wentworth election, muffy-head dog and built-in obsolecense

Welcome to my blog, or, as WordPress is wont to describe it, my ‘very own little corner of the internet’, which seems strange as I’ve never considered the internet to be box-shaped at all. Anyway, in this ‘ere little blip of digital space I will spill meandering musings in a somewhat disordered and haphazard fashion, and with that said…here goes…

Watching ABC news 24 blabbing on about the Wentworth By-election on a wet Saturday morning in Victoria, Australia. A live cross to the action and now back to the studio. Then back to the action – footage of the ‘money shot’ of the Labor candidate casting his vote (who is he? Answer: the one who won’t win)

And back to the studio of my life: the physical space from whence I sit and muse. This red chair from the Salvos and my allergy-plagued dog, his muffy-head flopping over the edge of the 1950s arm-chair that used to furnish the house next door, owned by the one and only friendly-neighborhood axeman, the chopper of wood, the pleasant thwack-crack of hardwood splitting as I boil a brew in my galley kitchen.

My house is a ‘tinker house’. Built during the first world war by non-professional builders. Bricks plunked straight onto the ground apparently. And without the courtesy of foundation it cracks and moves with the live clay earth, it bends and twists and fills with crumble-dust. For I have no funds to fix it (being asset rich but pension-poor) but oh so lucky to be the owner of inner-city bricks and mortar.

I spent last night watching TV in bed – the hardware a ten year old desktop computer currently suffering from a growing case of obsolescence, services freezing in unsupported browsers – no more Foxtel, Iview, and now SBS is showing signs of saying bye-bye. Only Netflix and YouTube remain stable friends – my nightly immersion into the world of screen, prostrate on my nesting bed, padded by my grey, sheepskin rug.

By day I write my unfinished books, wrangling them into strangled versions of their original soulful, selves. Editing story lines to comply with motivation and justifying abandonment with the promise of the new.

I was asked a question on Wednesday (the day my home-help arrives each fortnight to change my sheets and open the peanut butter lid), and the question was this: What job would you choose  if you could have your time again? I said I’d be a scientist or an architect, or something more ‘serious’ than the dabbler I’ve become, but the truth is I am happy in my daily strivings…

And so, until the next rambling tumbles from my hungrybrain, adios amigos I do bid you farewell…