Another consumption braindump
Posted by clubsodaandsalt on July 4, 2007
I enjoy these. I’ve read or watched the following recently:
The Wire: Finally started watching this show, and now I’m completely hooked. I’d rave about it for paragraphs on end, but it’s been around since 2002, so you’re already familiar with it. I will say this — one thing that strikes me about the show is that in some ways, it actually improves television’s image of blacks. The minstrelry is pretty much absent, there are many, many black cops, and — and this is key — the black gangs are extremely complex and have very complicated strategies for evading police surveillance. It seems that society generally thinks of, say, the Mafia as being filled with people who understand business, treasure tradition, know about hiring good lawyers, and so on, while black street gangs are just a bunch of thugs. The show makes clear that the two groups are actually very similar in structure (and if anything, selling drugs in the open means having to be far more creative about avoiding capture). This show should get an NAACP image award! Anyway, watch it.
Top Chef: Also very late on this one. I feel sorry for the Bravo shows that aren’t Project Runway. They lack a key ingredient — Tim Gunn — and they are constantly criticized for that. Gunnlessness notwithstanding, I think TC is pretty fantastic. It’s got two key ingredients of PR: somewhat entertaining judges who are good at explaining their decisions (I’m looking at you, Top Design), and contestants who are deeply passionate about their craft, which allows me to empathize with how high the stakes are. So: thumbs up!
Flight of the Conchords: Loved the first episode, but since then it’s felt a little streaky. The music videos are clearly the best part of the show, but it’s as though they used up their best songs in Episode 1. Jury is out, but optimistic; I’ll watch 100 mediocre episodes if I can get one more song like “The most beautiful girl in the room” or another binary solo.
Sicko: Frankly, I’m not big on Michael Moore. I think his heart’s in the right place, and I can certainly empathize with his burning desire to humiliate his political foes. But! I cannot abide exaggeration or poor argument, and his films tend to be riddled with both. That said, I found this movie to be pleasant surprise. It’s hard to exaggerate the dysfunction of American health care, so that’s probably part of it. You should definitely go see it. My only quibble is that the scenes in foreign countries were likely suffering from some cherry-picking, especially the stuff in Cuba, which smacked of theatrics. Still, overall, I think it’s the best I’ve seen from the Moore.
Ratatouille: What’s all the fuss about? It was beautifully animated, but ultimately I thought it fell noticeably short of Shrek or The Incredibles in the pantheon of animated snark. Also, rats + food = disgusting. I never got over that, which according to the movie makes me some kind of bigot. The question reamins, though: how did I not spot Will Arnett’s voice?
Clark and Michael: Love Michael Cera. That is all.
Some books, because I Am Cultured:
… The Bronx is Burning: Might be the best book I’ve read all year. However, it might hold less appeal for anyone who’s not a NYC nerd. Also, the ESPN miniseries looks like it will be Not Good At All.
Fooled by Randomness: Rarely do I encounter an author whose smugness I find so unreadable. I actually agree 100% with his premise, but his writing is unbearably arrogant. And this is coming from a fairly smug and arrogant guy. Avoid; read the reviews instead.