Silence Isn’t Justice

There comes a time when even you have to admit
That the man you support is completely full of shit
Avoiding real complaints is a transparent swerve
What can’t be denied is that I clearly touched a nerve

You really can’t argue with any of my thoughts
The best you can muster are pathetic cheap shots
This doesn’t come as much of a surprise
What will it take for you to open your eyes?

Innocent people bear the brunt of his force
Do I have to keep screaming this until my voice gets hoarse?
You claim to be a champion for the poor and the weak
But when it comes to Muslims you refuse to speak

Why is this so difficult for you to understand?
Endless warmongering isn’t protecting your homeland
Resentment and rage is at an all-time high
Do you ever stop to wonder the reasons why?

“Equality matters for everyone”, I don’t disagree
We all deserve respect and tranquility
But when I closely examine your own perspective
Your sense of outrage is awfully selective

“I speak about things I’m passionate about…
That have personally affected me”, this I don’t doubt
But why the need to be touched by injustice’s song
To know that harming civilians is utterly wrong?

By all means keep pursuing your honourable goals
Your work has helped those replenish their souls
But when whistleblowers like Manning aren’t being defended
Your silence isn’t justice and I’m deeply offended

Dennis Earl
Hamilton, Ontario, Canada
Tuesday, March 26, 2013
2:39 a.m.

Published in: on March 26, 2013 at 2:40 am  Comments (2)  

Union Of Ignorance

Punishment isn’t coming to those who stay silent
Only to the brave and the stubbornly defiant
Even those in the know with dark secrets to keep
Will never have to worry about offending the sheep

When there is no consequence there is no remorse
When there is no admission there is no divorce
This union of ignorance will continue unabated
The masters of war could not be more elated

Passions run high in the heat of this battle
But far too many fools run with the cattle
Because they can’t see all the pain we’re inflicting
Living in denial is hopelessly addicting

Dennis Earl
Hamilton, Ontario, Canada
Monday, March 25, 2013
4:40 p.m.

Published in: on March 25, 2013 at 4:40 pm  Comments (1)  

How Sophia Bush Misses The Point Of My Criticism

The first word you read on Sophia Bush’s official Twitter bio is accurately succinct:

“Activist.”

From her tireless fundraising work with charities like Pencils Of Promise, Do Something, F Cancer and Crowdrise to personally protesting California’s infamous anti-gay marriage law to help putting together a benefit album to raise money to help restore the damaged Gulf Coast to consistently defending LGBT and female reproductive rights, the half-Canadian/half-American actor most certainly lives up to that title.  In fact, she deserves all the credit in the world for using her fame in a selfless, positive way.  She has admirable passions and convictions that I’ve praised before in this very cheeky piece last year.

So, why have I also been so critical of her both in this space and on Twitter?  It’s very simple.  She doesn’t care about President Obama’s destructive policies and that bothers me.

Yesterday, I posted this tweet.  Unlike the nine previous times I’ve tweeted about her (see here, here, here, here, here, here, and here to see the rest of the critical ones), this one inspired her to directly respond in a five-part rebuttal that you can see in that same link.  I have to admit I was very surprised she tweeted me at all.  And deeply flattered.

While I’m happy to learn that she did in fact read this Rolling Stone article (“I actually found that article fascinating, and was a huge fan of Aaron [Swartz].  I think freedom of information is extremely important.”) she didn’t find it nearly “fascinating” or “extremely important” enough to mention it or even link to it on her Twitter account.  (To be fair, she did mention the Reddit co-founder’s tragic suicide here and his unfair prosecution here.)

She continues:

“What fascinates me is your apparent fixation on, and disdain, of me.  Be it [because] I pick up my own dry cleaning (which, by the way, I certainly do not find newsworthy either) or [because] I don’t find time to discuss every single event in the world on twitter every single day.”

Ten tweets about her (two of which are actually positive) out of the 305 I’ve written to date is hardly a “fixation”.  (Number 306 features a link back to this entry.)  As for this website, I’ve only written about her probably less than 20 times out of the 718 entries (including this one) I’ve posted in seven years of blogging.  Also not a “fixation”.  In fact, in some of those pieces she’s just mentioned in passing (or not even named at all) and isn’t always the central focus.

Furthermore, enjoyed her three-episode stint on the first season of Nip/Tuck, defended her over her failed marriage to actor Chad Michael Murray and praised her solid, consistent work on One Tree Hill (as well as her philanthropy).  Not to put too fine a point on it but I am an OTH “Man Fan” who once wrote this about all the women in the cast, including Ms. Bush.  (That’s not the only OTH-inspired poem I’ve written.)  I mean who else would get pissed at MuchMusic for not airing the rest of those Season Eight episodes?  (The stupid assholes only broadcast a third of that year’s shows in late 2011 and I’m still not happy about it.  I have to get caught up on DVD at some point this year and then, move on to Season Nine so I can finally finish the series that I got into through Much reruns in 2009.  I have to see Mouth and Millicent reconcile, goddamnit!)

When she mentions picking up her own dry cleaning, that’s not a random throwaway line that comes out of nowhere.  It’s a reference to this tweet I wrote on February 6.  For the record, I wasn’t being disdainful regarding her dry cleaning pick-up specifically.  I was making a harsh, satirical comparison to fellow actor John Cusack.

You see, unlike Ms. Bush, Mr. Cusack is publicly critical of President Obama’s foreign and domestic policies, most notably his scary devotion to drone strikes in foreign countries we’re not at war with (which has killed roughly 1000 innocent civilians including women and children), his heartless war on conscientious whistleblowers like Private Bradley Manning, Julian Assange and CIA operative John Kiriakou, his failed promise to close Guantanamo, his extreme secrecy and his institutionalization of the endless Bush/Cheney “War On Terror” doctrine, among many other significant issues.

In that tweet I praised The Grifters star for his Huffington Post article updating readers on his ongoing support and involvement with the Freedom Of The Press Foundation, a new organization devoted to financially aiding honest, adversarial journalism, a sadly dying enterprise in modern American media.  He is one of the few prominent liberal performers in Hollywood to be openly and consistently critical of this Democratic President.  I really wish there were a hell of a lot more like him in the business.

In summary, the point of my February 6 tweet was this:  while Mr. Cusack is continually sounding the alarm about the horrific policies of The Obama Administration through a popular online news site and his own Twitter account (among other venues and forums), Ms. Bush is silently running an errand.  He’s a concerned citizen, she could care less.

When she mentions “I don’t find time to discuss every single event in the world on twitter every single day”, again, she misses the point.  I never asked her to do that.  I simply want her to publicly acknowledge that President Obama, the man she’s supported in two national elections, is doing terrible things to innocent Muslims and conscientious whistleblowers through his deeply destructive Nixonian policies, policies he didn’t exactly promote during his first campaign.  Apparently, she can’t be bothered.

She wraps up thusly:

“If you dislike me and my opinions and my passions so much, why do you constantly mention me?  And how do you dislike my opinions & passions so much if you don’t even follow me, to know what they are? #really”

As I’ve previously outlined here and in the past, I don’t dislike Sophia Bush at all (despite my biting poems and commentary) and really haven’t written all that much about her in general.  In fact, I’m a fan of her TV and charity work.  And while I haven’t pressed the “Follow” button on her Twitter account, I have read many of her tweets and even her media coverage.

What I do have a problem with is her selective sense of outrage, her selective sense of justice and her lack of courage in criticizing Obama when it’s warranted (the best she’s come up with so far is this which sadly doesn’t get into too many specifics).  For someone who cares so much about rape victims and their lack of respect (as do I), and the LGBT community (as do I), and reproductive rights (I’m pro-choice, too) and the environment (me too), where is the passion for all those unfairly abused, harassed, tortured, murdered and maligned Muslims, for the further erosion of American civil liberties under this President, for the disgraceful incarceration of honourable heroes like Bradley Manning (who just happens to be part of the LGBT community she supports)?  Why are their causes not as important and worthy of her attention as the others?  Do they not affect all of us and future generations as well?  Or does she support a two-tier justice system:  one for bankers, torturers and polluters and one for the rest of us?

Let’s put this in perspective.  Sophia Bush has over 750,000 Twitter followers, an astounding number.  Me?  I have 9.  Now, as a hypothetical example, if one of us tweets about Manning’s despicable treatment at the hands of the Obama Administration just one time, whose words, whose passion, whose outrage over this miscarriage of justice will garner more attention and could possibly expand, to potentially significant numbers, an ongoing movement of positive protest and change against this draconian, hypocritical farce of a policy?

It’s not the guy with 9 followers.

Dennis Earl
Hamilton, Ontario, Canada
Saturday, March 23, 2013
3:45 a.m.

UPDATE:  Ms. Bush offers an 11-part Twitter rebuttal here.  It speaks for itself.

Dennis Earl
Hamilton, Ontario, Canada
Saturday, March 23, 2013
1:35 p.m.

CORRECTION/UPDATE 2:  I unfortunately misspelled John Kiriakou’s name.  I originally had it as Kriakou.  My apologies for the error.  It’s now been corrected.

Also, about Ms. Bush’s rebuttal, let me be absolutely clear that I never diminished her charitable endeavours in the original piece nor have I in the past in this space.  In fact, as you can plainly read in this piece alone, I praised them.  My concern is her absolute lack of concern for other equally important causes like the fates of Kiriakou, Private Bradley Manning, Julian Assange and the continuing disrespect of The Muslim World which affect everybody.  For someone who believes “love is louder” and “tolerance is sexy” she’s not always consistent.

Ruthlessly punishing innocent Muslims with humiliating torture, unlawful detention and premature death, throwing the book at courageous whistleblowers trying to steer their government and country back on a moral, less violent course and governing the complete opposite of how you campaigned are not examples of “love” and “tolerance”.  This isn’t the Obama anyone supported back in 2008.

Now I understand and respect that human passion and commitment is finite.  One can only do so much for so many needy, worthy, deserving causes.  I get that.  I’m not an idiot.  When you’re thoroughly committed to something (even if you’re just writing or talking about it like I do), it can, over time, be physically exhausting, mentally fatiguing or just plain frustrating especially when real change and progress are often painfully slow.

But when you throw yourself completely behind a controversial Internet campaign to raise awareness for someone like Joseph Kony, who has very little influence globally despite the allegedly bad things he’s done, but not a public campaign to alert your 750,000+ followers about your own President, who is the most influential world leader, and has solidified unabated the George W. Bush/Dick Cheney policies of abusing, killing and apprehending innocent Muslims both American and Middle Eastern, operating in complete secrecy without any transparency or checks & balances on his overreaching executive power, and who has doggedly prosecuted more conscientious whistleblowers than all past Presidents combined, how can you honestly say that you believe that “equality matters”?

How does your silence result in justice for those who desperately need it?

Then again, what do I know?

I’m just a “petulant child”, right?

Dennis Earl
Hamilton, Ontario, Canada
Sunday, March 24, 2013
4:13 p.m.

UPDATE 3:  Activist is now the second word you’ll read on Ms. Bush’s Twitter account.  Storyteller is now first.  (Originally, it was the other way around.)  Is this significant in any way?  Probably not.  But as noted in the update to this, it’s curious nonetheless.

Dennis Earl
Hamilton, Ontario, Canada
Sunday, March 23, 2014
12:15 a.m.

Published in: on March 23, 2013 at 3:46 am  Comments (5)  

Current WWE Wrestlers With The Longest Title Droughts (Part Two)

12. Drew McIntyre (29 months without a championship)

This Scottish villain benefitted greatly in his early days with the WWE when no less an authority than Vince McMahon publicly pushed him as The Chosen One.  It lead to a lengthy InterContinental Championship reign in 2009/10.  After a very short tag team title run with Cody Rhodes in the fall of 2010, which ended October 28 at that year’s Bragging Rights, McIntyre gradually became The Forgotten One.  These days, he’s wasting his time with the initially amusing but now permanently adrift 3MB with fellow, frustrated mid-carders Jinder Mahal and Heath Slater.

13. Tyson Kidd (30 months without a championship)

Currently recovering from surgery, the last wrestler to face trainer Stu Hart in the infamous Hart Family Dungeon has only managed to become a one-time tag team champion with former partner, David Hart Smith, who was fired two years ago.  Collectively known as The Hart Dynasty, their five-month reign ended at Night Of Champions on September 18, 2010 when  McIntyre and Rhodes triumphed in a five-team turmoil match.

Kidd got a bit of push last summer when he briefly feuded with Tensai which carried over to a tremendous Money In The Bank ladder match until he was seriously hurt.  When he eventually returns, here’s hoping he gets a mid-card title push.  He’s earned it.

14. Chris Jericho (almost 3 years without a championship)

Now 42, this American-born, Canadian-raised babyface might be past the point of being a champion. But because his in-ring skills remain rust-free he’s constantly being booked in title matches nonetheless.  It’s hard to believe but the last time Jericho was a champion of any kind was during an episode of Smackdown (taped March 30, 2010 but aired on April 2) where he dropped the World Heavyweight Championship to a calculating Jack Swagger, who just two days earlier won the last WrestleMania Money In The Bank ladder match.

Ever since then, Jericho has had a series of short full-time WWE stints and, in between them, mostly fruitless pursuits of outside interests like losing on Dancing With The Stars and pretending he’s a rock star in a band that couldn’t even beat Howard Stern’s group, The Losers, ten years ago.  At any event, whether he gets another title push or not doesn’t appear to matter.  As long as he remains healthy enough to have entertaining matches with up-and-coming talents that need a reputation enhancer, the audience and the company will be happy.

15. The Undertaker (37 months without a championship)

Jericho won his last World Heavyweight Championship at the 2010 Elimination Chamber by beating a knocked out Undertaker which set up his WrestleMania 26 title match with that year’s Royal Rumble winner, Edge.  The only reason he won the belt in the first place was because of an interfering Shawn Michaels who finally figured out a way to get The Dead Man to grant him a WM rematch in order to challenge The Streak:  a well-timed superkick to the mush.

A severe eye injury later that year would ultimately end The Undertaker’s full-time status with the WWE.  After his latest program with half-brother Kane pretty much ended at Hell In A Cell in October 2010, The Phenom has only made sporadic TV, live event and pay-per-view appearances since then, most notably at the annual WrestleMania.  After beating back Streak challenges from Michaels and Triple H at three straight Showcases Of The Immortals, Taker now has to contend with CM Punk at WrestleMania 29. While championships are pretty much over for The Dead Man at this point in his long, glorious career, The Streak may stay intact for the foreseeable future.  Then again, maybe not.

16. Triple H (37 months without a championship)

Slightly more active, at least on pay-per-view and TV, than his longtime rival, The Undertaker, the real-life Paul Levesque remains a popular babyface even in his limited on-screen appearances.  Set to square off once more with current rival, Brock Lesnar, at WrestleMania 29, no matter the result of this No Holds Barred match, like The Dead Man, H isn’t a likely candidate to become a champion again.

Curiously, he’s had just as long a drought as The Undertaker.  His last title push ended on February 8, 2010 during an episode of Raw.  H and longtime pal, Shawn Michaels, the reunited Degeneration X, dropped the WWE tag team titles to The Big Show and The Miz.

17. Ted DiBiase Jr. (53 months without a legitimate championship)

It’s true.  The son of The Million Dollar Man was the Million Dollar Champion for many months in 2010 (until the belt was stolen from him in November that year and ultimately discontinued) which would mean he hasn’t held a championship of any kind in 28 months.  But since the Million Dollar Championship was an invention of his father and not an officially recognized belt by the WWE, we have to go back a couple of years earlier when Dibiase Jr. was a co-holder of the tag team titles with Cody Rhodes.  Their second reign came to an end during the October 27, 2008 episode of Raw when they were beaten by CM Punk and Kofi Kingston.  Dibiase hasn’t been seen in a while thanks to an injury but unless he gets a decent push upon his return his long title drought will likely continue.

18. Curt Hawkins (54 months without a championship)

How long has it been since this former Edge protege has been a champion?  Like Dibiase, we’re talking the second term of the George W. Bush Administration.  Back when he was aligned with The Rated R Superstar, he teamed up with pre-broski era Zack Ryder.  The duo won the tag belts at the 2008 Great American Bash in July but just two months later, their reign came to a quick end thanks to the efforts of Carlito and Primo on a late September edition of Smackdown.  Ever since Tyler Reks, Hawkins’ most recent tag team partner, quit the WWE, he hasn’t been seen on TV or pay-per-view for many months.

19. The Great Khali (66 months without a championship)

The Indian Frankenstein has had exactly one title push in his entire career:  a two-month reign as the World Heavyweight Champion back in the Summer of 2007.  It all came to an end at Unforgiven that year on September 16 when Batista survived a Triple Threat match with Rey Mysterio to take the title.

20. Brock Lesnar (109 months without a championship)

The former UFC Heavyweight Champion returned to the WWE the night after WrestleMania 28 to start a short program with John Cena.  Since then, he’s been locking horns with Triple H, first at SummerSlam last August and coming up again on April 7 at WrestleMania 29.

During his first stint in the WWE, The Next Big Thing had three WWE Championship reigns between 2002 and 2004.  The last time he held that title was on February 15, 2004 when he was defeated by the late Eddie Guerrero at No Way Out.

21. Tensai (140 months without a championship)

Long before he returned to WWE after a long absence as a Japanese-inspired monster turned hilariously nimble hoofer, the real-life Matt Bloom worked The Attitude Era under various character names.  His only championship push was a 27-day run as the InterContinental Champion in the Summer of 2001.  After winning the gold on a late June episode of Smackdown, the then-named Albert dropped the title to Lance Storm on the July 23 episode of Raw.  No former champion on the current roster has gone this long without regaining a title in WWE.

Dennis Earl
Hamilton, Ontario, Canada
Friday, March 22, 2013
4:05 p.m.

Published in: on March 22, 2013 at 4:05 pm  Comments (1)  

Current WWE Wrestlers With The Longest Title Droughts (Part One)

To really stand out in the crazy world of professional wrestling today you need to be a champion.  In the past, great performers like Jake “The Snake” Roberts and Jimmy “Superfly” Snuka, to name just two examples, had great careers without ever needing to win the InterContinental Championship, one of the WWF tag team belts or the WWF title.  But since title reigns are generally shorter now and far more wrestlers are being pushed as champions, that era is long dead.  To truly become one of the greats these days you need a belt around your waist.

But what about those who get a taste of the gold, lose it and then struggle to get it back?  Will they ever get it back?  As of now, here’s a comprehensive list of current WWE talent who’ve been waiting a year or even longer for another championship push:

1. Jack Swagger (1 year without a championship)

Last year, The All-American American took advantage of an injured Zack Ryder to snatch the United States Championship from him during a one-sided squash on Raw in January.  But just two months later, he was rolled up by Santino Marella during another title encounter on that same show.  After going on an extended losing streak, Swagger then disappeared for quite some time.

Since his return this year, he’s been repackaged as an anti-Mexican nativist apparently brainwashed by his new mouthpiece, Zeb Colter.  And after winning the Elimination Chamber in February, he’s got a hot date with Alberto Del Rio, the current World Heavyweight Champion.  If he can avoid getting arrested again for dumb shit like drunk driving and drug possession, he might get his first World title push in three years at WrestleMania 29.

2. Evan Bourne (14 months without a championship)

The other half of the now-defunct Air Boom was once a co-holder of the tag team titles.  But after two Wellness Policy violations and a nasty foot injury caused by a car accident a year ago, Kofi Kingston’s one-time tag team partner still hasn’t returned to the WWE.  His high-flying antics are much missed right now.

3. Zack Ryder (14 months without a championship)

Two years ago, The Long Island Iced Z took to YouTube to transform himself into an underdog babyface after years of being a forgotten heel.  By the end of 2011, he won his first individual championship, the U.S. title, by defeating Dolph Ziggler at TLC.  Just one month later, however, he lost the title to Swagger on Raw.  He had no chance of winning thanks to the pummelling he had been taking from Kane.  Ever since, the broski has floundered, rarely winning matches and completely disappearing from pay-per-views altogether.  Reduced to continually voicing his disapproval of his repeated burying on Twitter it might be time to turn heel again.

4. Mark Henry (15 months without a championship)

After years of languishing in the mid-card as an uninspired babyface, The World’s Strongest Man really came into his own in the Spring of 2011 when he betrayed John Cena and Christian during a six-man tag team match on Raw costing them a victory.  Shortly thereafter, he became the modern-day King Kong Bundy, barrelling his way through opponents and even WWE staffers all while in a horrendously bad mood.

The character change paid off when he beat Randy Orton for the World Heavyweight Championship at Night Of Champions that September, his first individual title push in three years.  But thanks to a badly-timed injury during his reign he dropped the belt much earlier than planned when he faced The Big Show during their chairs match at TLC in December 2011.

Despite getting a few title shots against then-WWE Champion CM Punk on Raw in early 2012, Henry would take a long hiatus after failing to climb back up to the top of the wrestling mountain.  After a successful surgery and a long rest Henry returned earlier this year to resume his very successful monster heel character.  Unfortunately, there appears to be no immediate title plans in his future.  On the bright side, The Hall Of Pain is re-opened for business.

5. John Cena (17 months without a championship)

In 2011, the leader of the Cenation won the WWE title on three separate occasions between May and September bringing his overall number of reigns to an unprecented 10, more than any other superstar in history.  But after dropping that stupid spinner belt to Alberto Del Rio during the triple threat Hell In A Cell match with CM Punk in October that year, remarkably he hasn’t been a champion of any kind since.  Like Randy Orton, he went beltless throughout 2012.

But that title slump is more than likely to come to an end on April 7 this year.  After a clean loss to The Rock at WrestleMania 28, Cena gets a chance at redemption when he challenges the WWE’s only true movie star for the WWE Championship at WM 29.  (The Rock beat CM Punk for the title at the 2013 Royal Rumble while Cena won the actual Rumble match earning himself a number one contendership).  Now that Cena has put longtime rival Punk behind him (he defeated The Straight Edge Superstar in a terrific match on Raw where his WrestleMania title shot was on the line), it’s time for him to win his eleventh WWE title.

6. Randy Orton (18 months without a championship)

The last time this third-generation superstar held a major title was at the Night Of Champions pay-per-view on September 18, 2011.  He walked in the World Heavyweight Champion but was rather easily dethroned by his challenger that night, the monstrous Mark Henry.  Despite a rematch inside Hell In A Cell just a few weeks later, Henry remained champion.

Since then, Orton has had his share of professional setbacks:  numerous ill-timed real-life injuries in late 2011 and early 2012 and a second Wellness Policy violation resulting in a two-month suspension last summer.  After spending the entirety of 2012 without a title push 2013 doesn’t look much different.  Although he’s been booked for WrestleMania 29, he’s in a six-man tag match with no future championship implications.  After a three-year run as a babyface, maybe it’s time to revenomize The Viper.

7. David Otunga & Michael McGillicuty (19 months without a championship)

Two former Nexus members – a Harvard-educated lawyer and Mr. Perfect’s son – last held the tag team titles on the August 22, 2011 edition of Raw when they were knocked off their perch by Air Boom.

8. Ezekiel Jackson (19 months without a championship)

Originally the muscle in The Corre, disagreements with his stablemates led to a babyface turn and a brief run as InterContinental Champion when he defeated the group’s leader, Wade Barrett, at Capitol Punishment in June 2011.  But after losing cleanly to the clear-masked Cody Rhodes on an episode of Smackdown in August, Jackson very quickly disappeared from TV and pay-per-views.  At this point, it’s not certain if The Personification Of Domination will ever get another push, let alone a title reign.

9. Rey Mysterio (20 months without a championship)

This notoriously injury-prone cruiserweight won his first and only WWE Championship in the finals of a two-week tournament at the beginning of the July 25, 2011 edition of Raw.  Unfortunately, at the end of that same episode, John Cena was granted a rematch and received yet another title push.  Despite briefly teaming with Sin Cara recently, Bret Hart’s favourite luchadore hasn’t tasted any kind of championship gold since.

10. Heath Slater and Justin Gabriel (23 months without a championship)

Together, they won three WWE tag team championships but nothing individually.  Their last reign ended during a mid-April 2011 taping of Smackdown when they were beaten by The Big Show and Kane.

11. Natalya (26 months without a championship)

The daughter of Jim “The Anvil” Neidhart won her only title, the Divas Championship, back in November 2010.  After being dethroned by Eve Torres in a Fatal 4-Way at the 2011 Royal Rumble two months later, she joined forces with Beth Phoenix to form a formidable tag team known as The Divas Of Doom.  Sadly, the teaming didn’t last, Natalya went on to develop a bizarre and mercifully brief gastrointestinal problem (she kept farting in the ring and in backstage segments) and is currently relegated to being The Great Khali’s dancing partner.  This talented second-generation grappler deserves so much better.

Dennis Earl
Hamilton, Ontario, Canada
Friday, March 22, 2013
3:09 p.m.

UPDATE:  I stupidly forgot to add Zack Ryder before posting this.  His entry is now part of the piece.

Dennis Earl
Hamilton, Ontario, Canada
Friday, March 22, 2013
3:32 p.m.

Published in: on March 22, 2013 at 3:09 pm  Comments (1)  

Why Is WWE Advertising R-Rated Movies During PG-Rated Raw?

In the last few years, the WWE has undergone a dramatic policy change.  With The Attitude Era long over and with no serious competition to worry about anymore, the company has decided to calm down on its most controversial ideas:  no more guys attacking women, no more sexually charged promos and storylines, no more choking with objects, no more chair shots to the head, no eye gouging (or a referee will DQ you) and no blading (accidents can’t be helped, of course).  Without a doubt, this is probably the safest period for wrestling, creatively speaking, since the early days of Television.  With a few exceptions, there’s very little in the way of offensive content now.  Even the occasional dips into sex and potty humour are pretty tame.

But something has been bothering me lately.  If you’ve watched Monday Night Raw at any point since 2010, you’ve probably noticed a lot of movie promotion.  The WWE has a film division and naturally likes to showcase its upcoming releases for its TV audience.  Not that long ago, these were strictly PG/PG-13-rated movies featuring numerous members of their roster.  Here are some examples:  Legendary (John Cena), That’s What I Am (Randy Orton), The Chaperone (Triple H), Knucklehead (The Big Show).

However, in the last month alone, three new titles have been relentlessly pimped on the WWE’s longest running prime time TV show that aren’t for young audiences:  The Marine 3: Homefront (starring The Miz), Dead Man Down (featuring InterContinental Champion Wade Barrett) and The Call (with David Otunga).

What do they all have in common?  They’re loaded with gun violence and they’re all rated R.  In the United States, an adult 21 years or older can accompany filmgoers 16 and under to see these kinds of films at the cinema.  (In the case of Marine 3, the adult would just have to rent it or buy it for them since it’s a straight-to-video release.) 

In Canada, an R-rated movie means no one under the age of 18 would be allowed in.  Fortunately, all of these titles are rated 14A here which means young teenagers 14 and up can see them on their own.

As a 37-year-old man, I’m not generally upset to see R-rated film trailers on TV.  What I am perturbed by is WWE’s blatant hypocrisy.  Lately, it has taken great pains to explain its revised, family-friendlier content to advertisers (who it greatly covets to boost its bottom line), the media (who it depends on for coverage) and their audience (some of whom may have tuned out during The Attitude Era and are just now starting to come back).  So, why are they advertising violent R-rated movies during a PG-rated wrestling show?

If you look at what else WWE Studios has to offer in 2013 you’ll notice this isn’t a temporary game plan.  The horror film, No One Lives, which stars “The Funkasaurus” Brodus Clay, is rated R.  (Check out this link to get a sense of the content.)  12 Rounds: Reloaded, which has Randy Orton replacing original star John Cena, is also rated R.  The prequel Leprechaun: Origins, with Hornswoggle, hasn’t been classified yet but based on past entries in this franchise, it would not surprise me if it, too, was slapped with an R.  Expect a tedious ad blitz for all three very soon.

Last year, the WWE excessively advertised The Day and Barricade, two horror films, on its weekly programming not to mention its numerous DVDs.  Although the latter got a PG-13, the former was assessed, you guessed it, an R.  Even if you go back to 2010 when a number of wrestlers made cameo appearances in that stupidly unfunny MacGruber movie you’ll learn that it also was rated R by the Motion Picture Association of America.

So, what’s the big deal?, you’re probably wondering.  Who cares if any of these movies get a free plug on a WWE TV show? 

If only it was a single mention. 

Anyone who’s watched Raw in the last month or so will tell you that Dead Man Down, Marine 3 and The Call are constantly talked about by the commentary team.  Trailers are played a lot, even scene snippets.  An admittedly funny bit involving Kane and The Call star Halle Berry was shown recently.  The Miz never shuts up about Marine 3 nor do his rivals.  Up until recently, there was even an angle involving Sheamus ragging on Wade Barrett’s lack of screen time in the Dead Man Down promos.  Barrett approached the ring on one broadcast bragging about the film’s Top 5 debut.  Raw even showed highlights of the red carpet for the film’s premiere.

In this space in 2010 I noted the WWE’s pitiful attempts that year to expand its reach by putting its talent in movies, two of which were dumped on DVD literally weeks after their theatrical run.  While it’s commendable that their partnership with major Hollywood studios is once again getting their films exhibited on more big screens (as they did prior to the new PG era) for potentially longer stretches of time, why aren’t they making more family-friendly fare that mirrors its programming?

Look, I don’t want to sound like a complete square here.  I love well-made theatrically released movies regardless of their classification.  But I’m an adult now, not an impressionable child, and I abhor inconsistencies.  This idea that a PG-rated wrestling company can get away with routinely advertising violent R-rated titles from its film subsidiary to its family-oriented TV audience without anyone noticing this rather glaring discrepancy is pretty galling. 

Besides, any precious time taken away from the build to WrestleMania 29 is really bad for business and just plain dumb.

Dennis Earl
Hamilton, Ontario, Canada
Saturday, March 16, 2013
7:13 p.m.

Published in: on March 16, 2013 at 7:14 pm  Comments (1)  

The Land Of Antipathy

“Anger is an energy”
But not when it blinds you to reality
You probably think you always get it right
And that critics of your work are just acting out of spite
How quickly you forget that all it takes
Is some digging on their part to uncover your mistakes
Surely you understand that it doesn’t take long
To read the details of the case you got completely wrong

“Anger is an energy”
But not when it shields you from reality
True, they’re not likely the most honourable guys
Yet they’re still owed amends for your disgusting lies
Like many back then you were too quick to judge
But unlike your colleagues you still hold a grudge
Some time ago your instincts veered off course
Not once have you ever shed a tear of remorse

“Anger is an energy”
But not when you’re in denial of reality
You’re so hostile to those on the other side
No wonder their venom compels you to hide
It’s not terribly wise to act like a jerk
Inflaming your foes who then go berserk
Even a joke like you doesn’t deserve their abuse
Flinging it right back is a pitiful excuse

“Anger is an energy”
But not when it distorts your reality
Calling them “wingnuts” doesn’t help your cause
Your reckless insults reveal some deep character flaws
Do you ever think about changing your tone?
Or is your tiny heart really made of stone?
Isn’t it preferable to court them in sympathy
Instead of launching attacks from the land of antipathy?

“Anger is an energy”
But you don’t always use it properly
Equality still matters in this modern age
But we can’t achieve it with your unchecked rage
Facts and figures are the foundation of truth
But your passion murders reason at this stage of your youth
Accept responsibility for losing your way
Because your uncorrected errors will live forever and a day

Dennis Earl
Hamilton, Ontario, Canada
Tuesday, March 12, 2013
2:11 a.m.

Published in: on March 12, 2013 at 2:11 am  Comments (1)  

The Three Stooges (2012)

The Three Stooges is a classic example of an Either/Or Movie.  Either you thoroughly enjoy watching grown men repeatedly beat each other senseless for no good reason at all or you don’t.  Either you love watching big stars slum it in a brain-dead comedy or you hate it.  Either you find these cruel yet strangely sentimental dimwits hilariously appealing or completely obnoxious and scary.  There is no middle ground.

Watching this totally unnecessary revival of the long controversial comedy troupe did not bring back cheerful memories of my childhood (I used to like imitating Curly).  Instead, it made me question what I ever saw in these moronic characters in the first place.

For this needless update we go back to the beginning.  Larry (the one with the unruly red hair), Curly (the bald human sound effect) and Moe (the short-haired psychopath) are rejected newborn babies literally thrown at the doorstep of the Sisters Of Mercy Orphanage where they are welcomed with open arms.  With one notable exception, the nuns can’t wait to take care of them.

Ten years later, no one wants anything to do with them.  In fact, when a well-to-do couple arrives to decide on which child they’d like to adopt, the orphanage only offers The Stooges.  They put the more suitable prospects in hiding.  Unfortunately, that plan hits a snag.  The temporarily chosen Moe is permanently sent back in favour of one of those hidden kids (an initially rejected boy literally walks into the room just as the adoption process is taking place) when the salad-bowl haircutted malcontent asked for Larry and Curly to be part of his new family which apparently is a dealbreaker.  Talk about fucking with a kid’s already warped mind.

By the time our heroes hit 35, incrediously they are still at the orphanage.  (Doesn’t anyone here realize they are free to move out on their own at any time now?)  Mad TV fans will recognize Canadian Will Sasso as the “adult” Curly while Will & Grace supporters will raise their eyebrows upon seeing Sean Hayes as the full-grown Larry.  TV actor Chris Diamantopoulos takes over as Moe at this point in the film.

They all play their roles exactly like the original trio, right down to the voices and violent mannerisms that made the troupe famous and successful in the first place.  The costume and make-up departments do the rest by reviving their famous look.  However, none of this attention to detail leads to any of them making me laugh a single time.  (For the record, I laughed twice:  a quick zing from another character at the expense of the Kardashians which is always appreciated and a shot of a young nun on lifeguard duty in a ridiculously risque swimsuit.)

After all the mayhem The Stooges have caused over the years (both intentional and accidental), the orphanage is now on the verge of bankruptcy.  Unless $830,000 in insurance claims is paid within a month, the Sisters Of Mercy will shut down for good.  With just a handout of 72 bucks in their pocket (no wonder they end up sleeping in a dumpster), The Stooges set off for the city and unwittingly get sucked into a murder scheme involving a sexy adulterous wife (the cleavtastic Sofia Vergara from Modern Family) and her mustachioed boy toy (Craig Bierko who aptly delivers the Kardashian quip).

This modern reincarnation of The Three Stooges was co-written and directed by The Farrelly Brothers whose own work (most notably the so-so Dumb & Dumber) has very clearly been influenced by Moe & company.  Sadly, they’re not at all interested in reinvention here or even improving the supremely dumb formula.  They’d rather just recycle the same old tired (and painful) gags over and over again in a forgettable story to numbing effect.

In a lot of ways, despite some current pop-culture references, this movie purely exists to appease middle-aged comedians who have a bizarre nostalgia for this now outdated style of comedy.  (It feels very much like something out of the 40s.)  Longtime fan Larry David, who co-created Seinfeld and solely established Curb Your Enthusiasm, has a rather prominent supporting role as the obligatorily strict nun who’s always in a foul mood.  He’s not given anything funny to do unless you consider a scowling man in drag hissing at a barking Curly to be a stroke of genius.  (I don’t.)

Furthermore, the lack of basic logic is really astounding.  Why do the nuns continually put up with The Stooges’ awful behaviour for so long without doing anything constructive about it?  Many years after he claimed he was quitting why is David still working at the orphanage?  Despite being in custody for practically their entire lives why are the trio of terror so incredibly stupid?  Didn’t they get a formal education?  How in the hell was that confusing murder plot supposed to work when it was doomed from the start?  Couldn’t the Catholic Church just write a check for the outstanding insurance bill?

And what about Moe absurdly joining the cast of Jersey Shore?  Only in Bizarro World would he ever be able to get the better of tough cookies like chiselled Ronnie (who once knocked out a guy on a real episode with one punch) and fearless JWow (who slugged the permanently douchey Situation on another).  But there he is, owning every member of the Seaside Heights’ household at every possible moment like an untouchable supervillain.  Even Angelina couldn’t get away with these antics.

Which brings me to the violence.  Despite its cartoonish intentions the result is so off-putting especially when it involves the women of Jersey Shore.  The constant barrage of tongue gripping, eye poking, nose hair pulling, punching and kicking, not to mention the use of all those heavy objects, is relentlessly fatiguing and disturbing.  (This kind of abuse just isn’t funny in this context.)  Yes, no actual harm is done to any of the cast (as noted by the fake, model versions of the Farrelly Brothers before the closing credits) but, that being said, in a live-action setting can any genuine hard-earned laughs really come from a guy getting chainsawed in the forehead and another guy singing soprano when a lobster latches on to his bits?  (Don’t get me started on the hospital nursery scene.)

A strange whiplash effect occurs frequently when the movie dramatically shifts from tedious slapstick to overwrought melodrama.  The Stooges, you see, love the children of the orphanage (they’re the only ones immune from their reckless aggression), hence their guilt-ridden mission to raise the insurance money in the first place.  There’s a subplot involving a sick girl named Murph, her puppy dog-eyed brother Peezer and their separated sibling Weezer.  She’s supposed to be dying of something serious which is never actually explained properly.  Nevertheless, the manipulation at work here is so strong you end up not caring about this ultimately phony dilemma.

It’s hard to believe a low-brow project like this can still attract the interests of major stars like Jane Lynch, Jennifer Hudson, Larry David and Sofia Vergara.  Surely they realize by now that no amount of effort on their part could have ever overcome the lack of actual wit in this soul-crushing screenplay.  Lynch, who plays Mother Superior, might be the only cast member who somehow, someway, maintains her dignity from start to finish. 

I can’t say the same for the movie itself.

Dennis Earl
Hamilton, Ontario, Canada
Saturday, March 9, 2013
8:34 p.m.

Published in: on March 9, 2013 at 8:34 pm  Comments (2)  

Always/Never

Always directing
Always expecting
Always inspecting
Always correcting
Always infecting
Never respecting

Always oppressing
Always suppressing
Always transgressing
Always regressing
Always depressing
Never caressing

Always berating
Always deflating
Always sedating
Always hating
Always negating
Never relating

Always reigning
Always containing
Always detaining
Always maintaining
Always staining
Never gaining

Always raging
Always waging
Always paging
Always staging
Always caging
Never engaging

Always shaming
Always blaming
Always maiming
Always framing
Always naming
Never taming

Always beating
Always depleting
Always mistreating
Always cheating
Always repeating
Never deleting

Dennis Earl
Hamilton, Ontario, Canada
Thursday, March 7, 2013
10:35 p.m.

Published in: on March 7, 2013 at 10:35 pm  Comments (3)  

Stuck

Like being frozen in carbonite
Like being surrounded by dynamite
Like being crippled with stagefright
Like being haunted at night

Like being swallowed by a whale
Like being lost on the trail
Like being consumed with chasing tail
Like being forced to wear a veil

Like being shadowed by threats
Like being obsessed with placing bets
Like being a hack with weak sets
Like being a master at acquiring debts

Like being a prisoner with no rights
Like being at an airport with no flights
Like being a computer with no bytes
Like being overwhelmed by the slights

Like being a rage you can’t contain
Like being a standard you can’t maintain
Like being a sadness you can’t explain
Like being a compulsion that’s so profane

Like being a bad policy you have to defend
Like being a broken relationship you can’t mend
Like being a terrible message you can’t send
Like being a constitution you can’t amend

Dennis Earl
Hamilton, Ontario, Canada
Wednesday, March 6, 2013
3:48 p.m.

Published in: on March 6, 2013 at 3:48 pm  Comments (1)