Posts Tagged ‘Patton Oswalt’

Monday Medley

What we read while wishing our Dads a happy birthday…

  • Eli Saslow’s Washington Post piece on the Barton family in the aftermath of the Newtown shooting is everything a newspaper piece should be: In-depth on multiple levels on a story that needs to be told, it also exercises an admirable authorial restraint. Saslow is quick becoming a writer whose every word should be read.

A Response to Patton Oswalt

Patton OswaltOf the many heartfelt reactions to Monday’s tragedy in Boston, one written by comedian Patton Oswalt seemed to really resonate. You’ve probably already seen it: It was shared on Facebook over 200,000 times, “liked” over 300,000 times, and written about on websites from The Atlantic to US Weekly.

There’s a lot to like about Oswalt’s message, but there’s one aspect of it that really bothers me: When he refers to the unknown perpetrators of the crime, he refers to either “one human insect or a poisonous mass of broken sociopaths.” It’s just a throwaway line—it doesn’t really affect the substance of what Oswalt is saying. But it’s a telling line that reveals a problem with the way we conceive of tragedies like this attack.

It’s easy and very tempting to dehumanize the people who plant bombs and attack children—to call them “insects” and “sociopaths”* or whatever term that paints them as some mythical bad guy. After all, how could anyone do something this horrible unless he was subhuman in some way? But it’s a dangerous logical trap to assume that anyone who does an evil thing is an Evil Man. Continue reading

Did The Marriage Ref Single-Handedly Ruin Jerry Seinfeld’s Reputation?

The following things were written following the “sneak peek” of The Marriage Ref—the new show from Jerry Seinfeld that has been promoted like it was the boss’ son—that aired after Sunday’s Closing Ceremonies on NBC:

“And then, just as the ceremonies were reaching a brilliant crescendo of Canadian self-satire, NBC cut away… to the premiere/preview of Jerry Seinfeld’s The Marriage Ref, the most God-awful mishmash of a comedy-variety show to lead into local news on NBC since immediately before the Olympics.”

“Painful, pointless, obnoxious… I would almost rather have The Jay Leno Show back.”

“I had just watched 30 minutes of the goofy Olympic Closing Ceremony which was — and I say this with all due respect to my second favorite country on earth — the sort of thing you would see if you gave a third grade teacher $30 million to put on a school play. And that 30 minutes at the Olympics was like heaven, like sheer bliss, like a show co-written by William Shakespeare, Mark Twain, Mel Brooks and the author of the 23rd Psalm compared to The Marriage Ref.”

“The only good thing I could find about this was the fact that I only had to watch half an episode. When the show comes back on Thursday, it’ll be a full hour long. And that’s probably the worst thing about it.”

“Would you rather watch dolphins get slaughtered, or would you rather sit through a second episode of The Marriage Ref?”

It’s worth noting that all of these statements came from writers who have made a point of highlighting their appreciation of Jerry Seinfeld and his classic sitcom (the first quote came from James Poniewozik of Time, the second from TV critic Alan Sepinwall, the third from sportswriter Joe Posnanski’s blog, the fourth from Todd VanDerWerff at The AV Club, and the last form Bill Simmons’ Twitter). I cannot remember the last time, if ever, a show with such a prominent and well-regarded name attached to it has failed so spectacularly. Continue reading