Join 3,512 readers in helping fund MetaFilter (Hide)


The official blog of notorious former African dictator Mobutu Sese Seko
May 23, 2011 10:09 PM   Subscribe

Et tu, Mr. Destructo? is a funny, insightful blog that covers everything from politics to film to sports and mystery novels.
posted by Lovecraft In Brooklyn (20 comments total) 15 users marked this as a favorite

 
You had me at bad-mouthing Kevin Smith.
posted by neuromodulator at 10:18 PM on May 23, 2011 [1 favorite]


Also his twitter is consistently the most hilarious thing to come out of FYAD ever
posted by Juicy Avenger at 10:31 PM on May 23, 2011 [1 favorite]


Great post. His piece on VEDA was one of the greatest things ever.
posted by Sticherbeast at 10:50 PM on May 23, 2011 [1 favorite]


The list of contributors is quite imposing.
posted by kenko at 11:09 PM on May 23, 2011 [1 favorite]


This is fantastic. Man, I miss Something Awful.
posted by Rory Marinich at 11:45 PM on May 23, 2011 [1 favorite]


This is fantastic. Man, I miss Something Awful.

It's still around. It's just not that funny beyond Horrors of D&D and some of the Let's Play threads
posted by Lovecraft In Brooklyn at 12:25 AM on May 24, 2011


Face for radio. Voice for text. Thoughts for semaphore.

Gold.
posted by a small part of the world at 4:54 AM on May 24, 2011


The piece on Kevin Smith is absolutely spot on.
posted by lucien_reeve at 5:13 AM on May 24, 2011


Returning because I cannot edit:

It's almost as if Smith entered his own Malkovich doorway and didn't know it: every character is Kevin Smith.

A similar problem exists with Tarantino's work, I feel. (Along with pop culture references, transparent attempts at shock, replacing emotional understanding with highly exaggerated melodrama, actually being much more priggish and prurient and afraid of "disgusting" things outside the norm than they present themselves as being and generally being very, very pretentious, just in a nerdy way so they don't get called on it... and above all, that desperate need to be seen as an artist, to pass, by dressing up in other people's art...)
posted by lucien_reeve at 5:23 AM on May 24, 2011 [2 favorites]


Nice find. The comments there led me to "What to the Slave is the Fourth of July" which has made me late for work.
posted by cgk at 6:16 AM on May 24, 2011


I meant being a goon and staying active on the forums. I don't know if I even remember my password. It's a shame.

A similar problem exists with Tarantino's work, I feel. (Along with pop culture references, transparent attempts at shock, replacing emotional understanding with highly exaggerated melodrama, actually being much more priggish and prurient and afraid of "disgusting" things outside the norm than they present themselves as being and generally being very, very pretentious, just in a nerdy way so they don't get called on it... and above all, that desperate need to be seen as an artist, to pass, by dressing up in other people's art...)

The difference is that Tarantino is going out of his way to make "pop" films, where every character is some kind of archetype, every story adheres to (and sometimes radically subverts) pulp conventions. He's got a meticulous skill as both a writer and a director which Smith lacks, an ability to provoke some excellent performances from his actors, and a precision with his language and his scene construction that's sometimes breathtaking.

Writing with a singular style is not the same as writing the same character again and again and again. Tarantino's characters have unique viewpoints that are sometimes at odds with each other's; they're rarely used as vehicles to deliver a set of ideas. (There's a subtext to Inglorious Basterds that's all about the power of film, to put it basically, but never once does a character say out loud anything like "Boy, the power of cinema sure is wild!") You could argue that his "pop conversations" are him speaking through his characters, like when his characters talk about the sexuality of the foot massage, or the racism in King Kong, or whether you ought to tip, but I don't know if even that's true, because all of those conversations also reveal things about the characters who speak.

He's also not remotely pretentious.1 There's nothing pretentious about operating in a particular style, or using a work of art to say bigger things. Pretentious is when you make a big deal out of working in a particular style or saying a particular thing, but you don't have the chops to actually do what you're trying to do. You're putting on a pretense. More and more "pretentious" is being used as a word to slur anybody who tries to make or say anything that's not entirely banal, which I find frustrating.

Smith, on the other hand, is clearly and neatly pretentious, because he attempts to use his films to discuss things that he doesn't actually pretend. He talks about things like love and sexuality and growing up that don't show any wisdom or even maturity whatsoever. His films get bogged down in these themes. His characters sound like him when they talk even when they're supposed to have different perspectives, because Smith doesn't empathize with perspectives that aren't his own, so any character that's "different" from him gets reduced to cliche. While Tarantino makes pop references to wink to all the films that inspired him, Smith makes references just to show off that he knows them, with a few exceptions (I like that Death Star scene in Clerks a bit).

And Smith pretends like his characters are realistic and relatable, too. Tarantino works only through overblown personality, and any comment he makes on real life is buried a layer or two down (like how in Pulp Fiction, the only characters who survive are the ones who renounce their violent ways before it's too late); Smith writes shallow monologues for people that clearly are intended to be wise and deep. He shows no awareness that he's writing tripe and cliche. So either he believes that tripe and cliche is a necessity for the fart-joke genre (and that way too much time must be spent on them in every film), or else he thinks he's being serious, in which case the joke's on him.

What's funny is that I've never seen Chasing Amy (after Dogma, I lost interest in Askew), but I could read that review and imagine exactly how everything looked and worked, because every Smith film looks and sounds the same.


1 (If anything, Tarantino is irritatingly non-pretentious; loads of his films have a lot of subtext going on which can be neatly picked apart and discussed, yet whenever Tarantino gets asked what the point of Inglourious Basterds is Tarantino says "killing Nazis" with a big ole goofy grin.)
posted by Rory Marinich at 6:36 AM on May 24, 2011 [8 favorites]


Oh man this blog also dislikes Joss Whedon. I feel so understood.
posted by Rory Marinich at 6:41 AM on May 24, 2011


The comments there led me to "What to the Slave is the Fourth of July"

Frederick Douglass: "You will not, therefore, be surprised, if in what I have to say. I evince no elaborate preparation, nor grace my speech with any high sounding exordium."

Which rhetorical device is that, where you apologize for not doing what you are doing?
posted by StickyCarpet at 6:54 AM on May 24, 2011


The first article on fracking is cracking me up and making me feel sad at the same time.
posted by thsmchnekllsfascists at 7:10 AM on May 24, 2011


I loved his piece on Bill Simmons.
posted by threetoed at 7:30 AM on May 24, 2011


From the post Stop saying Epic Fail, you Retards, this struck me as unpleasantly accurate w/r/t some kids I know in college:
[T]he language doesn't matter anyway because, remember, this is all ironic. Congratulations, South Park fans, you are witnessing the rise of a generation of fans reared by that show — people whose sociopolitical compass was trained to always rest at a fallacious middle after swinging to the extremes of a false equivalency between a legitimate and testable hypothesis and a cheap, hideous straw man.
Can any of you recommend me other blogs that focus on "Internet culture" that are this smart, cutting, and funny? I grew up with SomethingAwful and YTMND and 4chan and forums and I'd love to read more well-written things about them, if it exists.
posted by Rory Marinich at 7:41 AM on May 24, 2011 [2 favorites]


No one ever needs to say anything about Chasing Amy ever again and anything that's been said already can be expunged 1984-style. That review says it all.
posted by Rudy Gerner at 11:12 AM on May 24, 2011


Which rhetorical device is that, where you apologize for not doing what you are doing?

It seems to be a species of praeteriteo (lit. "I pass over"), which is the device of extravagantly explaining that you aren't going to mention something, in the course of explaining which you of course mention it. As in: "I pass over in silence my opponent's shameful conduct on the night in question, when he calmly ignored the pleas of orphans to be saved from harm. I will not mention the disgraceful charges some have made, that he had a personal interest in seeing those orphans come to grief: my quarrel with him lies elsewhere, and regards his policy proposals."
posted by kenko at 11:40 AM on May 24, 2011 [1 favorite]


He's also not remotely pretentious. There's nothing pretentious about operating in a particular style, or using a work of art to say bigger things. Pretentious is when you make a big deal out of working in a particular style or saying a particular thing, but you don't have the chops to actually do what you're trying to do. You're putting on a pretense. More and more "pretentious" is being used as a word to slur anybody who tries to make or say anything that's not entirely banal, which I find frustrating.

Thank you. That neatly put into words something I've been thinking for a while.
posted by Sebmojo at 1:55 PM on May 24, 2011 [1 favorite]


Genius article on the death of OBL etc. The best I've read about the entire Al Qaeda/OBL/fundie-politicized Islam mega complex topic, ever. And so bloody funny while laying it on the line.

I love this blog. Wow. Fantastic find, Lovecraft In Brooklyn, thanks.
posted by nickyskye at 6:23 PM on May 24, 2011


« Older Hey Beyonce, Guess What? You're a Liar. (SLYT)...  |  Do you love beautifully crafte... Newer »


This thread has been archived and is closed to new comments