“A certain degree of debauchery was even seen as manly, rakish, the bold grasping of forbidden pleasure… In school, in short, they had still no knowledge of life, no sense of all the gradations from coarseness and lechery to sickness and absurdity that fill the adult with revulsion when he hears of such things.” —The Confusions of Young Törless
“This wasn’t just about spring break; it was about seeing something different.” —Spring Breakers
Like a Katy Perry song come to life, the opening minutes of Harmony Korine’s Spring Breakers are an ode to 21st century hedonism. We see a montage of beer flowing, asses shaking, and bikini tops vanishing, all set against the sunshine and splendor of a Florida beach. Then we’re thrust back to some nameless university in some dreary college town, where a quartet of young girls is trapped away from all this decadence.
Brit, Candy, Cotty, and Faith (Ashley Benson/Vanessa Hudgens/Rachel Korine/Selena Gomez) are introduced as more or less typical college girls: They pass each other notes in class, get bored by authority figures, and dance to bad rap songs in the dorm hallways. Their biggest problem is that they don’t have enough money to go on spring break, which they see as their only escape from the surrounding monotony. Continue reading »
In theory, I don’t really have a problem with a reboot of the Spider-Man franchise. It’s true that it’s only been five years since the last one ended and that the reasons for making this movie now were clearly financial, but that doesn’t doom it to creative failure. Sequels and remakes are so ubiquitous now that there’s no real point in waiting if you have a fresh take on an old idea.
The problem with The Amazing Spider-Man is that there really is no fresh take at all. The story is virtually identical to the one told in the 2002 version: Peter Parker is a nerd, then he gets bitten by a spider, then his Uncle Ben gets killed, then he fights crime, then he gets the girl, then he fights a Major Bad Guy who has endangered the girl. You could argue that there’s no way to do the story without those major beats, but this movie does absolutely nothing to enliven them. It just goes through the already-familiar motions. Continue reading »
Most of the problems with HBO’s Girls come from the name. By titling her show so simply, Lena Dunham implied that she was speaking for an entire gender. Having her character announce in the pilot, “I think I might be the voice of my generation,” also didn’t help her.
Of course, this says far more about the current state of television (and society) than anything else. Shows created by, produced by, and starring women are so rare that when one appears, it is expected to make a statement about the entire gender. A show that was allegedly supposed to speak for so many couldn’t help but get criticized for being so narrowly targeted: There were no minorities, or people from poor backgrounds, or sympathetically portrayed men, etc.
But this is not a fair standard: Nobody expects Louie to speak on behalf of all men. Even someone like Tyler Perry, who is in a similar situation as one of the few African-Americans with complete creative control over his work, isn’t expected to speak on behalf of all black people. In fact, it would be seem phony and unrealistic if someone like Louis C.K. tried to tailor his vision to fit social conventions; it would ruin the show.
By the same token, it would feel phony and unrealistic for Dunham’s character on Girls, Hannah, to have a black best friend. Continue reading »