REVIEWS: The Phippsian Reader

Tom Russell twopointthreefivefilmwerks at
Sat May 14 20:28:53 PDT 2005

Jamas Enright wrote:

> > oh look, you misspelt "but a cheat, a way to prove that AMERICA IS
> > ELSE", which was the point of the movie.

You know what's really scary?  There are books published by right-wing
authors that take this as a given.  Some are shocked that European
nations may be gaining as a world power.  It's also frightening that
most US citizens don't know who runs the countries immediately above
and below them.  Hell, I don't even know.

American-centricity is definitely a problem in motion pictures, and, to
some extent, in the other arts as well.  For example, the Superhero
comic genre is pretty much dominated by American heroes and authors.
Now, true, there are better things out there than capes-and-tights
stories, but it still irks me that when a hero is from another country,
his name pretty much represents his country.

One of the things I thought of when Jamie first mentioned his new
universe was to try and decenter America more.  I mean, if America had
so many heroes, there would be at least as many in other large
countries; it follows because if America has so many actors, there have
to be at least as many in other large countries.  What would be the
result, I wonder, of Israeli and Palestinian supers fighting in Gaza?

But then I started writing about a white boy from the Midwest who kills
him momma and runs away from his problems.  ::SIGH::

I guess you write what you know.

Benjamin Franklin described the American people as more simple,
rougher, cruder: a new breed of human being.  (Either that, or it was
just a line he said in "1776".)  And I believe that.  Americans are
different from the rest of the world, in that we're close-minded
obnoxious bastards who, as Jamas put it so aptly, just "screw everybody
else".  As Libetarian (read: republicans who smoke pot) wonderchildren
Trey Parker and Matt Stone aptly summed up in their latest flick,
"America: fuck yeah!"

But this is all old and very depressing news.  It's politics: what are
you going to do?  At its worse its devastating (Kerry loses to Bush?...
Wha?) and at best its absurd (Michigan's "centrist" [read: republican
who says they're a democrat] governor tries to renig on paltry five
hundred dollar academic scholarships promised to high school students,
wastes time walking a marathon each year, AND quotes current pop hits
in her speeches).  Oh, son of a bitch!  Two examples of politics and
both of them America-oriented.  God damn it!  Must... learn... about
the rest... of... the... world...

As Leonard Cohen-- at least he's Canadian-- said, "I love the country
but I hate the scene."  As an idea, America does make me want to stand
up and shout, fuck yeah!  But the reality-- the interment of the
Japanese, the rape of the Indian, the squashing of the poor, the
stripping of basic rights from human beings, and the terrible evil and
numerous military actions carried out for the basest of reasons-- in
reality, I want to say fuck!  What is this shit?

But this is probably vastly off-topic, and certainly very much a
"downer".  On the bright side, only in America can a man (Roland
Emmerich) come from a distant land (Germany) and, without a penny in
his pocket (give or take several hundred thousand dollars), find his
niche, making jingoistic celebrations of his adopted homeland.  This he
does with very little formal education (just attendance at the premiere
film school in his country, where his *student* film, the most
expensive at the time, cost the equivalant of one million US dollars),
relying only on his talent and determination.  Truly, this
preternaturally affluent and plucky protagonist shows us that anyone
can live the American Dream.

God Bless Horatio Alger.

"Horatio Alger?  Who's that?  Sounds foreign."

--Tom, with a ::sigh::

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