Monday, July 8, 2013

This Week In Go Away: Rocky

Our First Target
This Week In Go Away is this season's rant series, in which I lose friends and fail to influence people. Enjoy, or something.

As part of the day job, I read a ton of marketing and advertising newsletters and columns. I don't use any of the wisdom imparted in these things when it comes to doing the blog work, because the blog is just me opening a vein, and I kind of gave up on this Making Me Famous about three months after it launched. Especially now that the pendulum has swung and CPMs have circled the drain.

Which gives me the freedom to say that the emperor has no clothes, that the tailors in that story is the greatest heroes in all of folk tale history, and that the Rocky movies not only stink on ice, but they actively hurt America and all mankind. Especially the male part. And if you disagree, I'm going to make your blood pressure rise, and waste many minutes of your sad existence trying to convince yourself that you haven't made a horrible mistake by scanning this, then insulting me in the comments.

What prompted this rant? Not the Bad Tooth who works at the World Wide Lemur, honest; I finally developed the wherewithal to steer clear of him in the past few years, when I made a better commitment to my physical and mental health. No, it was a pre July 4 newsletter that argued that "Rocky IV" was the most patriotic movie ever made, and that the movie had much to teach us all about marketing to males.

Now, for the most part, I don't really believe males, or Americans, are an aggrieved class, and if we are, we so richly deserve it. The minor inconveniences and petty reparations to be paid don't come close to balancing the scales for the joyous sins we've committed against the kaleidoscope of races that built this country for low money, and we should have the good grace and sense to just pay the piper without puling, and have some small measure of class for the end of the ride. (And make no mistake about it, the ride is ending. You have to be a spectacular kind of idiot to come from money now and lose it, and to escape from poverty or the middle class to the good life is harder here than in dozens of other countries, and going to get worse. But let's keep this about a crap movie series.)

But the idea that men can be generalized to, in re Meathead Movies, or that if we don't like these things, we have to turn in our testes... well, um, Screw That, and Screw You.

And it's an important enough point to call out any guys who are still on board with these movies that they are, well, part of the problem. Like minority members who enabled past racists by saying that slur terms didn't bother them and can be kept in place, you are on the wrong side of history, and need to grow the hell up. The reason why is that when you like these movies, here's what else you are buying into.

1) American Exceptionalism. Don't like the idea of being the world's cop, and having to pay for foreign aid, military support, and putting our soldiers in harm's way all over the world? Blame Rocky, who taught the world that the Cold War can be stopped if a mouth-breathing mongoloid turns a hostile crowd to his cause. Nation building is a pernicious myth -- ask the Brits how White Man's Burden went for them in India -- that's designed to help multinational corporations turn your tax dollars into their profit margins. The Rocky movies made you all cheerleaders for that.

2) Movies as demographic slopfests. Why does Rocky have to have a girlfriend to support him, a black friend to avenge, an old manager, little kids to support and Nordic blondes to spurn? To make sure that every damn demographic class of moviegoer has their cookie / security blanket to get them into the damned theater. The next time you wonder why every cast looks like a Benetton ad cross-matched with an all-ages casting call, rather than something resembling sense or reality, blame the Rocky movies.

3) Unintentional Intentional Comedy. You know what's better than idiotic people who don't know they are funny, especially when they are trying to be serious actors? People who are actually funny, or good serious actors. If you hate -- or at least say you hate -- reality television, may I point you to its first bitter seed, otherwise known as the pestilent repeat nature of these movies? I guarantee that no one who is watching these movies over and over again on cable are doing it for the plot. Instead, they are getting the cheap thrill out of watching something that's campier than the Adam West Batman series, and with a lot less quality tail.

4) Sequels and Sequels of Sequels. Feel a little bit cheated when you go to the movies and realize, oh, crap, I've seen this movie before? Blame Rocky. Before these movies came out, there had to be actually more to the story, or a place for the characters to go, before you could just crank up the Xerox machine. Think "Godfather II", or even "The Empire Strikes Back", or "Superman II", all of which are in the same time frame, and actually better than the first film. Now, I'm kind of amazed that this hasn't been "rebooted" yet into a gritty remake. (Or maybe that was "Million Dollar Baby" or "The Fighter"? I get confused with all of the sameness.)

5) Education as Women Only. Rocky's an idiot in all of these movies. Concussed to the point of class action lawsuit, manipulated by anyone with a semblance of an agenda, goaded into any situation like he was a toddler with a medical condition... and the hero, of course, and Inevitably Victorious. Why think creatively, when you can just do what you do harder? Why reinvent yourself and age gracefully, when you can just do what you do harder? Why use any aspect of what you've learned or earned to better yourself, when you can just tell the class war friendly statement that money and success only corrupts, and the only way out is to... do what you do harder. To music, in a montage. GAHHH.

This way lies flabby thinking, people. It leads to marketers telling us that camp crap is High Drama, that getting better through your mind -- which is to say, the only way that any of us past the age of, let's say 27, have open to us -- is the girly way, and that it's perfectly acceptable to treat guys like meatheads who never learned, or cared to learn, the difference between pulp and something better.

Look, I get it. It's hard to look at the stuff you liked when you were children and turn on it. It's hard to push your tastes to grow, to put away childish things, to not only admit that you are different now that you are older, but that you are better and smarter. And that if you liked crap when you were young, Your Opinion Was Wrong. (And might be again some day, when you are, again, older. The Horror.)

But what's the alternative, really -- watching these movies for another 10 to 30 years, while more and more of the world laughs at you, and by extension, every other guy on the planet?

Stop letting the team down. Evolve. Find something new to like -- anything, really. And let this thing die, before another generation thinks that there are lessons to learn from despicable crap.

Play me out, NSFW Eddie...

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