Tag Archives: Michele Bachmann

Excuse Me, But I Think I’m About to Have a Disney Moment

A monkey made me cry the other day. Not even a real monkey, but an actor in a computer-generated chimpanzee suit. Try going to see Rise of the Planet of the Apes and not feel your tear glands getting a little agitated.

Let’s be clear: I didn’t cry, per se, but I was undeniably “welling up”. Completely ignorant of the older Planet movies, I did not really know what to expect. I knew I would see plenty of action, stunning special effects, some freakishly hirsute apes, Freida Pinto looking gorgeous as usual, and Michele Bachmann somewhere in the back shaking her head and tutting: “There is no way we evolved from these brutes.” At no point did I consider that my tear glands might be treated to a workout. From John Lithgow’s poignant portrayal of James Franco’s Alzheimer-touched father to main monkey Caesar’s humanlike attachment to his adoptive family – and his springing to its defense in the face of harm – the film was unashamedly saturated with Disney moments.

“Disney moments” is the term I use for teary episodes during movies. I think I first coined this phrase after watching Cars at the theater with a couple of buddies. At the touching Disney moment, when simpleton truck Mater sensitively confesses to protagonist Lightning McQueen that he was his “beeeeeerst frieeeyend” (“best friend” in Larry the Cable Guy diction), the audience, caught in the Disney bubble of sentimentality, became as quiet as a mute person in a silence contest at a library. With the exception of one of my friends, who burst into inexplicable, uncontrollable laughter, assumingly embarrassed by the schmaltziness. “Great,” I whispered as disconcerted faces turned to him with scowling looks, their immersion into enchanting fairytale land shattered suddenly by his incongruous chuckling, “you just ruined the Disney moment.” The Disney moment should be cherished: it is the emotional turning point in a movie that will eventually drive the hero to accomplish whatever needs to be done. Disney moments should generate awe in an audience, and a couple of tears shed in the visceral detection of this awe is a natural and healthy reaction.

Or is it? For men, at least, is it acceptable to well up during a movie? Don’t get me wrong: it’s not as if I reach frantically for the Kleenexes in the middle of Die Hard or Terminator. But some movies do tug incessantly at the heartstrings, to the point that I feel that male viewers are secretly being jeered at and ridiculed by a panel of macho judges somewhere. I think Sly Stallone, Vin Diesel and Dwayne “The Rock” Johnson are in an undisclosed location someplace, sitting in a room filled with guns, beer and pictures of Tom Selleck’s mustache, peeking at hundreds of little TV screens which show the reactions of men watching romantic comedies and bittersweet dramas, while these men are unaware of the fact that the ultramasculine trio have planted cameras in living rooms and theaters everywhere, as a means to mock those of us more susceptible to blubbering.

I’m ashamed to admit that it has gotten to the point where I started welling up during Click. Yes – the Adam Sandler flick about a remote control. A monkey is one thing. But tearing up because of a remote control? Tearing up in a movie whose ending was: “it was all a dream.” How pathetic is that? I’ll admit wholeheartedly that I am a sucker for formulaic, Sandler-esque comedies, but when it reaches the extent at which they are making me sob – that is something I would be less inclined to disclose. Still, I can attempt to rationalize this uncomfortable deed by explaining that, actually, Click does contain more than its fair share of Disney moments. There is the moment when his father, played affectionately by Henry Winkler, dies without Sandler having uttered a kind word to him for a long time; and then Sandler himself ends up on his deathbed, surrounded by his children and estranged wife. (No need to panic, I repeat: at the end, it’s all a dream). These are pretty profound issues for a man whose films have previously consisted of him teaching an adopted boy how to piss against a wall (Big Daddy, incidentally, is one of my favorite movies of all time. I’ll explain another time). But here’s the thing: bring out your pretentious talons and claw at Sandler all you want; criticize and despise his motion picture template to your heart’s content, but the man is truly not a bad actor by any means. He’s believable and convincing – even in the laid-back, easygoing characters he usually plays, probably because they’re so similar to his own character – and that is the key to a great performance. If I can believe that he is dying; if I can believe that he deeply regrets the way in which he treated his father – which I can – then this is what turns me into a crybaby. Surely, good acting – breaking down the fourth wall and all that jazz – is supposed to provoke your senses and fire up your emotions. And what can I say: it works on me. This is why I have never brought myself to watch The Notebook: if I can’t control myself during Click, what chance do I have of holding it together during one of the most maudlin “weepies” of the past decade? Vin Diesel and co. would be pissing in their jockstraps.

I have been absorbed in ER reruns lately. I used to follow the show every Thursday night; it followed Friends, a childhood favorite of mine, and I began to get hooked by the effortlessly drawn storylines. I hate to repeat myself, but “effortless” is truly the best word to describe this legacy of television history. Revolutionary in being the first (and only true) hospital drama, it was a tearjerker, though not in the same sense of the word as the films mentioned earlier. It was never intentionally schmaltzy or sappy, rather painfully accurate and staggeringly realistic. The writing was flawless, the dialogue never being contrived nor clichéd, and the main characters’ plotlines were weaved so naturally around the chaos and energy of the emergency room. In its heyday, even the seemingly lackluster episodes would, in the space of a second, take a 180-degree turn and things would start to spiral out of control, and in the aftermath of patients spontaneously combusting and doctors getting arms severed by helicopter propellers, the writers would make you hate yourself for ever doubting them.

“Aren’t “spontaneous combustion” and “realistic writing” ingredients for an oxymoron?” you might ask. Quite the opposite, I think. The writers would follow scenes of blood, vomit and general pandemonium with the most pacified, restrained scenes, and it was this obvious juxtaposition that – just like in real life – felt so stupefyingly moving, and that’s exactly the point at which you would feel that embarrassing choking sensation at the back of your throat. It was only a few hours ago, incidentally, that I watched the episode in which the amiable, wise mentor, Dr. Green (not too amiable, not too wise, and not too mentoring, though: remember – the characters were painted without clichés) learns that he has an inoperable brain tumor; a frenzied scene where Dr. Carter attempts to suppress a sudden, violent seizure induced by the tumor is juxtaposed with the poignant scene when Green has to inform his fiancée, Elizabeth, of the devastating news. ER is so realistic that although it chokes viewers up continually, its Disney moments are distinctively produced through – here it is again – its effortless study and depiction of human nature and life.

So, in these cases, where the writing and acting are so strong that you can’t help but shed a tear or two, does “welling up” become permissible for men? I say: have no shame. This is why they personify the vehicles in Cars, and why they get an actor (Andy Serkis) to play the chimp in Apes – so that we can see and feel the human emotion. And it’s no coincidence, Michele Bachmann, that the animals rising are apes and not octopuses or Komodo dragons – because apes are so similar to us that we can relate to their feelings. Call me a crybaby, but it is the job of writers and actors to move us and to stir in us some sort of reaction, and if this reaction happens to be a little watery, then so be it. Otherwise I feel as if I’m doing a disservice to the people in show business, and it’s evident that they care an awful lot about what I think. Anyway, if you’ll excuse me, all this talking about emotions has got me a little worked up so I need to go and break open that Costco-sized crate of Kleenexes that I bought the other day. Excuse me, but I think I’m about to have a Disney moment.

Hey, Dwayne Johnson, stop judging. You were in a movie called Tooth Fairy so you can shut up.

You can also read this article – and others – at ThatsGlitchy.com!

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Why I Love Michele Bachmann

Michele Bachmann is insane. Clinically out of her mind. I realize this is not a new, groundbreaking revelation. But I spend at least seven and a half minutes every morning studying diagrams of our solar system with intense scrutiny to try and deduce which one of the eight planets she could actually have come from. I’m no scientist, but is it possible to hypothesize that they demoted Pluto to “dwarf star” status because that’s where Bachmann hails from and so they decided it could no longer be part of a planetary system that is also home to humans? In that case, it is understandable that she may doubt evolution, because who knows where living things derive from in her homeland? Perhaps from minute, deadly clumps of microorganisms which then grow to engulf each other in mighty “Bacteria Battles” (which I assume they would televise weekly with American Idol-style public voting), and then migrate to regular planets to find more nutrition in local populations and, while there is time, run ridiculous presidential campaigns.

Alright, I need to slow down. I’ve only just begun and I’m already depicting the woman as a cannibalistic germ. But however she did evolve, she’s here (though she’s certainly not queer). She is not only in the GOP race but is a frontrunner and will absolutely not let the potential Republican nomination slip from her hands – and that is where the alien suction-padded fingertips prove very handy. Well I suppose, then, that her campaign can’t be that ridiculous. What is more absurd is the amount of support she has obtained for her seemingly destructive ideas. Personally, I am a staunch Democrat but am prepared to listen to the other side voice its opinions when reasonable and credible candidates like John McCain enter the picture. But the Bachmann issue (and it definitely is an issue) is a whole different slice of Minnesota Cream Pie. In the course of her political career, she has asserted that evolution is simply an unproven “theory”; she has claimed that global warming is a “hoax”; she has made it clear that homosexuality is a disease which needs curing; and has stated that AmeriCorps – a wonderful service program under which I worked for a year, aiding the less fortunate – is a cunning trick conjured up voodoo-style on unknowing citizens in order to get them to work for the government under the mask of “volunteering”. She has even gone so far as to prophesize that the government will start a mandatory draft for the AmeriCorps program, which she calls “re-education camps” – essentially equating the benevolent initiative to the Hitler Youth. Oh, and let’s not forget that she recently signed an Iowa document in agreement with the claim that black children are worse off now than during slavery because of today’s relatively high number of single-parent African-American homes.

Is she fucking kidding me? Well, clearly not. She’s more serious than John Boehner’s facial expression on any given day (except for that day he burst into tears on live TV). Ever since she officially declared her run for the presidency (which she did on about three separate occasions), she has meant business. So, now is probably an apt time for me to explain the title of this piece. Why do I love Michele Bachmann? Because she’s Heath Ledger’s Joker in The Dark Knight; she’s the “smiling, damn’d villain” without whom the presidential race would be dry and cumbersome. She’s the Eric Cartman of the real world, except that while the chubby South Park rogue is attacking minorities, our Plutonian friend is… – well, let’s just say this is a stronger comparison than I had first thought. Bachmann is the wickedly entertaining character in the soap opera that is the 2012 race, the one character that makes you cringe and holler without fail every episode – the crazy new bitch who moves onto Wisteria Lane at the start of every new season of Desperate Housewives; but it’s OK because you know that she’ll be gone by the end of the season after all her true secrets are exposed. At that point, she’ll be flown back to her dwarf star and we’ll be happy to be back with our four original Housewives (or five, if we want to count Eva Longoria’s butt).

There’s Bachmann and her “conversion therapist” husband, then their five biological children, as well as their twenty-three foster children, and that’s 2+5+23 = a whopping great 30 new residents in our imaginary Republican soap neighborhood (let’s call it Whitewash Drive). From the moment she pulls up in her energy-inefficient Chevy Suburban and opens the car door, children just start oozing out like air leaking from a pierced balloon. They all file into their new abode, which is packed to the brim – children’s cheeks pressed up against windowpanes – but it’s fine because they’re one big happy family (think of a twisted version of The Brady Bunch, or Cheaper by the Two and a Half Dozen: Unedited). After settling in, she’ll host a tea party (theme intended) to get to know her new neighbors – Ron Paul to the left, Newt Gingrich to the right, and Mitt Romney opposite (Herman Cain hasn’t yet gained her trust for an invite). Even Donald Trump stops by for some comic relief, largely achieved by attempting to eat a slice of New York pizza with a fork and knife. I don’t know exactly how the storyline will pan out – nobody will until next year – but I think an interesting plot point would be Bachmann discovering a blossoming lesbian relationship between one of her biological daughters and one of her foster daughters. Then Mr. Bachmann’s conversion handbook goes missing and the family is ensnared in a tense gay bubble for weeks. Or maybe the news reaches her via a second-hand source without names or details, and so she spends the remainder of the season trying to sniff out the gays in her family: it would be like a murder mystery, except with a more severe crime. Her character would morph into a demonic hound, behaving like Robert De Niro’s lie-detecting father in the Fockers trilogy on crack.

The point is that I want to follow this soap religiously (though not evangelically). I want to be able to track the 2012 race daily and be in the center of it all. This is truly one of my favorite things about living in America, and one of the things I miss the most. I don’t want to have to record The Situation Room because it’s broadcasted in the UK at midnight and watch it the next day, twelve hours later – then it’s no longer “news”, but becomes “olds”. I want to be able to watch Wolf Blitzer live, and preferably in HD, in order to see each impeccable strand of his finely kept beard with only the very best quality technology. I want to be able to see Trump in the ring with Whoopi on The View and see him make a fool out of himself live – and then to see President Obama and Seth Meyers also make a fool out of him live. I want to be able to switch on Comedy Central – sorry, I mean Fox News, and watch Glenn Beck have a merry time with his chalkboard, drawing connections between the Obama administration and Al-Qaeda (and don’t forget, it’s proof because he’s sketched out the associations on his Factually Correct Chalkboard™). Then, I want to tune into Jon Stewart and Stephen Colbert everyday to reassure myself that sanity still exists. I can’t access Hulu here in England – it’s restricted to US viewers – so I have to pore over the Internet frantically in search of sites which will stream, if illegally, Stewart and Colbert so that I can get my much-needed fix. It’s as if every element of our Whitewash Drive soap opera is Hulu-ized, and thus distant from and inaccessible to me, and so it is almost as if Cruella De Vil herself, Michele Bachmann, is a metaphor for everything that I feel I am missing out on in the country with which I fell in love.

America is a crazy motherfucker. But that’s what I love about it – it gets the adrenaline pumping; I love the bizarre paradox in that it can simultaneously scare the shit out of me and also be a safe haven and a home to me. It just exudes character: the phrase “only in America,” so often used with negative connotations, is the expression that highlights its individuality, its charisma and its vitality. People ask me why, being a Canadian citizen, I don’t go and live in Canada instead. Don’t get me wrong: I love Canadians, and their comfort clothes are divine, but she’s just not you, America. Canada is nice, it’s safe, but it just lacks that same “je ne sais quoi” (although they do say the phrase a hell of a lot more there): as Homer Simpson puts it, “Canada is America’s little brother without a girlfriend.” Settling in Canada is like winning the Golden Globe but not the Oscar; it would be like marrying the third Destiny’s Child whose name no one knows when you could get Beyoncé. (Apparently, her name is Michelle Williams. Good luck to her. Number two, Kelly Rowland, sits somewhere on the 49th Parallel. Actually, having seen the video for her new single, Motivation, she’s definitely welcome to edge her way south over the border.) It’s like ordering the single stack of pancakes when you can go for the double stack and drench the thing in maple syrup (thanks for inventing that, by the way, Canada). It’s a gamble you have to take, and just hope that your arteries remain unclogged, and if they don’t, well at least you had some fun along the way. (While I’m on the subject of blocked blood vessels, I cannot express the extent of my disappointment the last time I was in Toronto and I discovered that their McChicken sandwich – the one you buy with the combo and pay $4 for – is as small as the McChicken on the Dollar Menu in the US. If I were watching my weight, don’t you think I would have skipped Mickey D’s and gone to a fucking tofu bar?) And the same goes for presidential politics: you just have to sit back and take the Bachmanns and the other crackpots and enjoy the entertainment while it lasts, and just pray that none of them wind up as President Crackpot. But that’s a risk I’m willing to take, because Whitewash Drive is just so addictive that my eyes are constantly glued to the screen.

I am especially disinclined to change the channel for fear of missing a new addition to the soap’s cast. One character in particular has made minor appearances but has failed to join the cast permanently. The name of this rifle-totin’, moose head-displayin’, Russia-from-her-backyard-seein’, letter-g-on-the-end-of-words-missin’ Alaska-tastrophe is, of course, Sarah Palin. How did I get this far without even mentioning this loon who could very well have been president right now, had Obama not won the election and had McCain failed to roll out of bed one morning. Like Bachmann, Palin is clearly not taking her pills. The question is, though: who is crazier? I’m having trouble answering that, simply because I’m having trouble distinguishing the two. First of all, let’s be completely honest: for women in the “menopausal age” category, they also fit quite comfortably into the “MILF” category. A friend of mine once said “I’d fuck Sarah Palin and leave her by the river.” Of course, this is not without first having wined and dined her – he’s not a monster. Hypothetically, if this were to happen, I’d take one for the team too and treat Michele Bachmann to the same fate and leave her by the river, also. (This event is based on the chance that Palin, Bachmann, my friend and myself at some point happen to wind up together near a river). But I would leave Bachmann on the opposite riverbank, so that they couldn’t assist each other or find a route back to civilization. (We’re pretending this is not a river running through a major city, but in the middle of rural Cambodia or something. This is not to doubt that either of these two worldly, well-traveled women is fluent in Cambodian). I’d leave a raft on the river between them to give them at least a chance to make it back, but I’d put a gay couple on the raft, and scatter a few evolution textbooks around them. (Imagine Tom Sawyer and Huck Finn rafting down the Mississippi, but infused with some Brokeback magic.) Hell, let’s make the couple black, too – perhaps Obama’s distant Kenyan relatives.

Policy-wise, too, it seems that Palin and Bachmann have rather similar views. The only noticeable difference is that whilst Palin plays the kooky, jovial, apron-clad hockey mom, Bachmann is the distinctly more intense, “I wear the pants in this house and I don’t fuck around” type, and possibly not a hockey mom, only because it’s understandably difficult to drive to twenty-eight different hockey games and watch them all in one night. Especially when you’re driving a gas-guzzler…oh but that’s right, all that o-zone layer bullshit is just a practical joke by Al Gore – my fault. That either of these women might be president is inconceivably scary: or what about a Bachmann-Palin ticket? If that were the case, I would unashamedly go back on my word, pack up my comfort clothes and head up north to Junior America, where the maple syrup flows freely, and settle for Michelle Williams. But a President Crackpot and Vice-President Asshole ticket is also inconceivably unlikely. Which is why I really hope that Sarah Palin does jump into the race. (She has already claimed, you will probably have heard, that she “can win” the 2012 election, without actually having declared candidacy). At the very least, the Whitewash Drive ratings would skyrocket with her joining the show.

Can you imagine the drama when she moves into the vacant lot in the neighborhood (now empty after Trump had to leave to tend to the farm on his head), showing off her perfect family to her new neighbors, right in front of Bachmann’s nose? The catfight is already imminent. Bachmann may have twenty-eight kids, but Palin has a grandchild and surely that counts double. They quickly become archenemies and start to compete in every way possible: who can bake the best blueberry pie; who can report the most immigrants to the authorities. Then, the storylines spiral out of control: Palin discovers that Bachmann has twenty-three foster kids, so she vows to trump this feat by having twenty-three biological kids: she shoots babies out one after the other like poop, her vagina beginning to operate like a golf ball dispenser. Conversely, Bachmann learns that Palin is a grandmother, which fuels the competition to new, maniacal heights: she starts artificially inseminating her daughters in the middle of the night, and if they ever woke up during the process, she would cunningly tie her excuse in with her existing family crisis, of trying to determine which of her daughters were lesbians – “oh sorry, honey, did I wake you? I was just using this syringe to inject you with heterosexual genes.” (Mr. Bachmann kept test tubes of heterosexual genes in the same bag as his missing conversion handbook; luckily, he found the bag after some heavy searching. Unfortunately, it seemed that someone must have tampered with the items, as they did not appear to work very effectively on his sick, gay patients.)  In turn, Palin, fighting a losing battle on the grandchildren front, pursues the homosexuality issue instead, and contemplates that if Bachmann has two gay children, then every single one of her own children can be gay. She attempts to convert her children gay, tempting them with Elton John albums and tuning into the Ellen show daily, and forcing them to read The Adventures of Huckleberry Finn, which she remembered from her traumatic rafting trip in Cambodia, was a queer classic. The competition escalates to such outrageous levels that both women have forgotten their political principles, Palin having begun reverse-conversion therapy and Bachmann’s daughters, following the artificial rapes, together hit a record high number of abortions. This all leads to a tension-filled season finale of the soap, in which both ladies are ousted from Whitewash Drive. Following all the commotion, the street comes under such severe speculation that every resident’s secrets are exposed, and so it becomes a resounding victory in 2012 for the untouched inhabitants of Democrat Drive and for President Obama. And with that, Whitewash Drive closes its gates until its next season, planned for 2016.

Perhaps I am overestimating the excitement of the presidential race; I am not sure even the dirt and deceit thrown around the campaign trails are hard-edged enough to touch the level of that in soap operas. That being said, I am prepared and eager for a heated contest, which I honestly think Obama will take. At the time of writing this, there is simply not enough competition from strong Republican candidates, and despite the surge of Tea Party support, smart people far outweigh this constituency. Still, let the fireworks begin. It’s been far too long since I marveled at Tina Fey’s impersonation – nay, embodiment – of Sarah Palin on Saturday Night Live, and I can only imagine the hysterics I will be in when they target Bachmann. SNL is just another one of those seemingly inconsequential yet perfect little things that makes living in America so wonderful. As I curse and swear at Hulu and wade through hundreds of virus-swamped streaming sites to dig for these small gems, I hope you realize, Michele Bachmann, that I’m doing this all for you, because I love you and all that you represent. Well, mainly for all that you represent. You’re a fucking psycho. Oh, and by the way, as the race progresses and the rumors begin, you may want to take a second look at your birth certificate. I’m pretty sure Pluto isn’t a state.

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