Stupid Tuesday questions, fava bean edition

[Please be advised that this week’s STQ involves descriptions of graphic violence depicted in a popular television show.  If descriptions of graphic violence aren’t your cuppa (and who can blame you?), it may be best to skip this week’s installment.]

I don’t know what television program the Better Half and I were watching the other night before “Hannibal” aired.  (Whatever airs before “Hannibal,” it would seem.)  As whatever it was drew to a close, the promo for “Hannibal” played, with some little audio blurb about how critically-acclaimed it is.

Neither of us knew a blessed thing about it.  But we decided to keep the TV tuned in to see what all the touted critical acclaim was about.

It took no time at all to surmise that the titular character is one Dr. Hannibal Lecter, boogeyman of the American cultural consciousness since I was in high school.  This realization dawned after the “warning — icky icky graphic gruesomeness to follow” disclaimer played as the show was starting, and was cemented by the icky icky graphic gruesomeness depicted in the “previously on ‘Hannibal'” bring-viewers-up-to-speed montage.

And with that, the show began with several characters milling about a lonely, deserted location around a gigantic totem pole manufactured from human corpses.  Lots and lots of corpses, chopped up and refashioned into a big, hideous tower.  Atop the pole was the most recent victim.  Around the pole were several recently-opened shallow graves, their contents apparently exhumed to comprise bits of the totem pole.

The scene then shifts to the inner workings of one character’s mind.  Some sort of super-empath, he imagines himself in the killer’s role, trying severed body parts together while the final victim watches, bound and gagged.  He imagines himself stabbing the final victim.  Cut to grisly image of said victim’s body contorted at the top of the pole.

Cut again to super-empath standing in the office of Dr. Hannibal Lecter with no idea how he got there.

I do not know what happens next, my friends, because the Better Half and I had seen enough.  I do not know if the highly implausible notion of a single deranged lunatic hoisting a pillar of numerous corpses (which is sure to weigh a hell of a lot) all by his lonesome without the use of heavy machinery was somehow explained.  I do not know if every episode of “Hannibal” involves the same kind of de trop gross-out weirdness featured in this one.  I do not know what the critics love so very much about this show.

All I know is that, within the span of five minutes’ viewing, I already hated it.  I hated it a lot.

This probably does not come as much of a surprise to those of you who spend much time reading what I write.  (May the road rise up to meet you.)  I know I’ve mentioned my aversion to horror films.  (I hate them.  I hate them a lot.)  And I’ve written previously about my distaste for trying to make sympathetic characters out of killers who mangle and torture their victims.   But as I said in that post:

So, sorry “Scandal.”  You’ve lost me.  Not only is this plotline dumb, it’s revolting.  Supposed government sponsorship or not, this character was a serial killer, and I can only just barely stand seeing a serial killer’s crimes if I know at the end he’ll get blown away by Clarice Starling.  I’ll pass on more of this.

Because I actually really do like “The Silence of the Lambs.”  I think it’s a great film, albeit one that took me ten viewings at least before I could watch it all the way through, and which I still watch through a mesh of my own interlocked fingers.  The writing and the acting are truly superb (just as they may well be in “Hannibal” for all I know).  It deserved all its accolades.

But what makes it tolerable for me is the character of Clarice.  To me, it’s a movie about courage and decency enduring in the face of unspeakable depravity.  The serial killer characters are a necessary part of the story, but at heart it’s still the story of a young woman’s strength of character.  And I can spend the span of a feature-length film gritting my teeth through the intensely ugly violence knowing that she blasts the perpetrator in the end.

Spending week after week in one Grand Guignol extravaganza after another?  Getting inside the head(s?) of the killer(s?) every episode instead of trying to get the hell away from them once and for all?  Seeing Hannibal Lecter’s culinary prowess?  No thanks, NBC.  No thanks.

So that’s this week’s two-part question:

1)  What’s the quickest you’ve ever hated something?  What’s the fastest realization you’ve had that something is not for you?

2)  Have you ever enjoyed something in one form that you couldn’t stomach in another?  Is there something you’ve liked in this way that you don’t like in that?  If so, what and how?

Russell Saunders

Russell Saunders is the ridiculously flimsy pseudonym of a pediatrician in New England. He has a husband, three sons, daughter, cat and dog, though not in that order. He enjoys reading, running and cooking. He can be contacted at blindeddoc using his Gmail account. Twitter types can follow him @russellsaunder1.


  1. There are a number of things I haven’t even tried because I’m fairly confident I would not like them. I might not necessarily hate them, but if I forced myself to watch them, I’d probably grow to feel such about them. Case in point: Game of Thrones. The very basic premise intrigued me… until I heard that some group of people were descendants of dragons or some such nonsense. I just don’t do fantasy fiction well.

    But I wouldn’t say that I hate GoT. I’ve never even seen it. I mock all the hoopla, largely because I’m on the outside looking in of it. But I don’t hate it. Since I came to dislike it without even watching it, the amount of time it took me to dislike it negative.

    Hate is a strong word. It is one I rarely employ, at least in serious conversation. A show that I can say that I hate confidently is whatever that terrible reality series about little girls in pageants is. It is one thing for reality TV to be shitty or manufactured or exploitive, but that show (and perhaps a few others… “Dance Moms” maybe?) seems uniquely positioned in that I think it actively does harm to and promotes the doing of harm to young children. That is a bride too far for me. If you want to film a bunch of grown ass woman pulling each other’s hair or roided out collegiate men puffing up their chests at each other, go for it. I might tune in, I might not. But pageant culture is already deeply disturbing for me and though the show seems to make some flailing attempts at “commenting” on it, all it really serves is to keep the craziest of the crazy an outlet for their crazy, encouraging those borderline crazy folks to take the plunge into full blown nutjob land, with their child bearing the brunt of the insanity. I hate, hate, hate that shit.

    To flip your second question around, if the folks behind, “Spinal Tap” and those other such movies decided they were going to do a mockumentary of pageant culture… I might be into that.

    • I was about to say that I knew from the first ad I saw that I would find Two Broke Girls intolerable. But Kazzy’s makes me remember that shows like that are just fluff, and the real horror is that grotesque pageant show that sexualizes prepubescent girls. There aren’t enough adjectives for loathe in all of the world’s languages to adequately express how I feel about that show.

      • I think there are different levels of hate. One can hate 2BG in a way that might make them say, “I wish Alf was on.” But the hate that Pageant Girls or whatever conjures up is of the “Everyone involved in this monstrosity should be killed and stacked into a totem pole” variety.

        • Except the kids themselves. They might–might–be redeemable, with years of good therapy.

          • Also, I now sorta want to use “I wish Alf was on” as a way of registering my displeasure with something. Like, if some troll starts strawmanning, I might just say, “I wish Alf was on.”

          • That’s a mighty strong expression of displeasure.

      • My personal opinion is that Children Beauty Pageants should be out-lawed as a form of child abuse. Parents should not live vicariously through their children. They can guide their children but not use them as a conduct for their own desires and fantasies.

        I’m in the dance scene and competed at a couple of competitions with my teacher. Each dance competition has a kid’s division and I’m not really sure how I feel about it. Its better than a pageant but I still have qualms about it. For the Latin dances, the costumes for girls is extremely inappropriate for children in the same way that beauty pageant costumes are. Its kind of sick.

        • I think there are probably healthy ways to do such competitions for children, at least the ones that involve an actual talent (e.g., singing, dancing). In some ways, they’re like sports. Done well, they can be beneficial… it’s just rare that they are done well.

          But beauty pageants? Ugh, even for adults they’re silly and demeaning and pointless… much, much moreso for children.

          • I suppose if you go more for the cute kid thing rather than impose adult and sexualized notions of beauty on children it could work. I doubt it would happen. Beauty pageants for kids and adults attract a particular type of person who isn’t likely to go for the healthy version.

          • Even then, there is something sickening about rewarding kids for their looks. There are already myriad ways that we do this unofficially* that we don’t need to have pageants devoted to it. I’m not sure that their is a “healthy” way to reward beauty… perhaps healthier ways, but I don’t know if any of them get over the unhealthy hump.

            *If you don’t think your young child’s cuteness impacts how they are perceived during admissions visits or how a teacher responds to them, you’re kidding yourself. It may not actually make a difference in overall outcome, but it has the real potential to.

    • Don’t you believe in evolution?

      For what it’s worth, Game of Thrones has less fantasy than I would prefer. Not that I am a huge fantasy nut, but to me there’s not much point in having a medieval setting in a fictional land if you’re not going to be all-out fantasy.

      Which isn’t to say that you would like it, but it makes the strategic decision to be pretty stingy with its fantasy.

      (The “descendants of dragons” isn’t central or necessarily literal.)

      • It seems to be literally true in LeGuin’s Earthsea books, which are amazing (at least, the initial trilogy.)

      • I think the entire point of Game of Thrones is to show how sucky an actuall Fantasy world would be like to live in by adding an exaggerated version of backstabbing monarchal politics. Its an interesting experiment but the world of Game of Thrones is pretty low fantasy.

        Another interesting, and as far as I know not done, destruction of fantasy would be to show how bad a High Fantasy world would be like to live in from our perspective. Ordinary people would not like to live in a world were dragons, ogres, and evil wizards really existed.

        • I think this is right.

          Regarding the repercussions of High Fantasy, it’s not exactly the same thing, but I’m working on something (which will be published here at The League, assuming they let me) that’s along those lines. Basically, a world with superheroes and supervillians would be utterly terrifying. It’ll explore the love/hate relationship between the people and the demi-gods who they depend on. Protectors in one sense, but the unaccountable yin to the yang that sank Washington DC and have killed thousands over the years. And the question of the degree to which human institutions can survive in a world of superhumans.

          • Exactly. Most people are terrified enough at other ordinary people. Imagine what we’d feel towards people with actual super-powers. It’ll be like dealing with the gods of Greek and Norse theology, never really a fun experience. Than you have the collateral damage from all the fights and the need rebuild constantly. It would be hard to have anything approaching an ordinary life. A superhero universe is a really good reason to get a bunch of wildnerness skills and go live in extremely rural or at least out of the way places. Nothing usually happens there. Its a safe place to be.

            In a high fantasy universe, being an ordinary person is going to suck. The peseant is worried about the farm constantly being destroyed. Merchants have to deal with even more problems than usual to ensure that goods get to market, you don’t want your caravan destroyed in an orc raid. Even kings might not like a bunch of unaccountable adventurers trampling about and ignoring the law of the land.

          • I think there was some bit on Cracked about how terrible it would be to live in a world with superheros. Being collateral damage in some fight was high up on the list of problems.

        • Exaggerated? I’m pretty sure that the whole mess is basically pretty much par for the course as far as dynastic wars in Europe went.

          I think there’s a few more claimants to the throne than was, in general, the case historically but the back and forth atrocities and the like are all pretty on point.

          Dragons aren’t historical, but back-stabbing, dynastic marriages, child hostages, raping and killing entire villages, general pillaging and burning, torture and sadism, and god knows how many dead peasants is, well, not exaggerated.

          GoT’s is basically high fantasy with an extra dose of realism. Hero’s don’t always die heroic deaths, the good guys aren’t that good, everything is grey and ugly and the price of power is bloodshed and ruthlessness.

          • I’m pretty sure that some of the more unusual personality traits like brother-sister incest we see in Games of Thrones characters are somewhat exaggerated. Its not that aristocrates in real life were nicer but certain social institutions and necessities restrained some of their more immoral impulses. Non-nobles, especially merchants and priests, would have been more important in the real world to.

          • The virginity of noble women before marriage would also be more important in the real world than it is in the Game of Thrones world.

          • I point you to, well, European dynasties in terms of incest. I’m not sure how much brother/sister stuff was going on, but some of the European nobility looked like a bad stereotype of backwoods Alabama.

            And from what I understand, “social institutions” only prevented those acts in public. (And the Lannisters were, in fact, not advertising their incest). I believe there was a large set of European religious wars over, among other things, those social institutions happily approving or forgiving those immoralities in exchange for cash.

            The lack of a merchant class in GoT is quite interesting (although you see more of that later, IIRC), but the Maester’s actually seem to hold more of the role priests often played in medieval europe.

          • We are all aware of the Hapsburg chin. As to social institutions, I think that the Catholic Church and later the Protestant churches, were able to control some of the worst impulses of the nobility or at least get them to give some aid to the poor on occasion. The Middle Ages were not all grim.

      • “The “descendants of dragons” isn’t central or necessarily literal.”

        I’ve since had this told to me, but I already turned my phaser to Alf.

  2. Heh…I won’t try to talk you into Hannibal, Doc, I think I know better.

    I will say that A.) the impossible physics of lifting a corpse totem pole unnoticed without assistance and/or heavy machinery is in fact glossed over, and many of us noticed; it’s best to appreciate the show as a gothic fever dream and character study rather than get too hung up on plot implausibilities (when trying to reconcile timelines and geographical distances, one recapper modified the “Chuck Norris” joke to “Hannibal doesn’t sleep; he KILLS”) B.) These plot implausibilities are at least partially explained in-show by the fact that our protagonist (Will Graham, the “super-empath” and Starling predecessor) is, to put it mildly, Not Well In The Head.

    It’s the most gorgeously shot show on television, and the acting is top-notch, with plenty of great geek guest star turns (Gillian Anderson! Lance Henriksen!)

    As for what I can immediately tell is Not For Me, well, lots of music. One example – there’s been a trend in R&B in the last decade or two to do the “histrionic pleading loverman” thing in a high-pitched falsetto register (think “The Opposite Of Barry White”); while there’s precedent for this in, say, Prince (or even Marvin), the current cliched incarnation gets on my nerves bigtime (it doesn’t help that they so often use AutoTune to gloss over their vocal weaknesses) and I just cannot take it seriously. It makes me think of this:

    • Another example – The Weeknd was a pretty-hyped deal, taking the style to psychologically-darker lyrical corners, using samples that are right in my wheelhouse (Banshees, Beach House).

      I like the production, and for all I know the lyrics are great, but the vocal stylings drive me nuts:

      • I really wanted to like The Weeknd – I thought it would be like Burial conceptually, drawing something haunted & sad out of the hedonism of club music. And I guess it actually IS that.

        But I just cannot get past that style of singing.

      • And D’Angelo was still singing in a style more similar to old-fashioned R & B.

        This newer stuff is more…nasally-pinched/melodramatic somehow?

        • ugh weeknd.

          1) hated fastest: the decemberists. his voice is npr white people: sonic edition. to hell with them.

          2) should have liked but do not: sunn. i like a lot of boring doom drone stuff. but they’re too boring, even for me.

          • I couldn’t get into Sunn either.

            I got a Decemberists (The King Is Dead) based on the recommendations of a few people around here (not you, obvs.) His voice is not terrible, but the album’s blatant REMisms really made me miss Michael Stipe’s vox (and I know Stipe’s voice is a love/hate proposition for many, but it definitely has more…character, I guess?)

          • “His voice is not terrible”

            this is incorrect, but i never thought about the mike stipe/rem connection. i can kinda see it.

  3. 100% with you on horror movies.

    Feel the same way about fava beans, though I rather like the rest of the legume family. And that would be my answer: fava beans. Should love, but hate.

    I just started watching Stargate SG. SciFi geek that I am, I should love this series. Plus Richard Dean Anderson. But. I am not thrilled. Does it get better? Is it worth keeping on?

    • Yes, it gets better. The first season has problems. I’m actually tempted to advise skipping straight from the (2-part) premiere to the (3-part) finale. There are a few episodes that are decent, and a few more that are mediocre but tie into later events, but mostly the first season is not worth it.

    • Zic,

      I’m mostly with you on horror movies, especially the horrible slasher flicks. In theory, however, I do like suspense-horror if it’s done in good taste, perhaps something like an M. Night Shyamalan movie that isn’t directed, produced, written, or influenced by M. Night Shyamalan.

      • If you want a good suspense-horror, I’d recommend M by Fritz Lang. Its very old but its really good.

          • It’s good; get that and Metropolis and Testament of Dr. Mabuse and make it a Lang afternoon.

          • m is good but i think recommending metropolis to a modern viewer is a bit much. it’s really, really, really, really, really heavy handed and really, really, really, really, really boring.

          • You gots to be joking, my friend. Metropolis is da bomb, best watched not the way you watch a more modern film…attempting to follow the plot etc….but just letting the imagery and textures wash over you like a dream. I try to watch it every few years.

            The 2001 anime sort-of-remake (maybe tribute is a better word) is not bad either.

          • “…just letting the imagery and textures wash over you like a dream…”

            Is that what they call it nowadays?

          • “You gots to be joking, my friend. ”

            no joke. and neither hash or hash’d browns improved on my experience.

          • I won a scary movie contest by showing it. “Damn it Lee, this is real scary not fake scary.”

        • M is a visual treat. Very important for the development of cinema.

  4. I’m not sure this counts as “the quickest way” I’ve ever hated something, but I just can’t do zombie flicks, even the ironic ones like “Shaun of the Dead” or a recent one I saw commercials for (I guess it’s movie where zombies are cured or something).

    I’m not even sure why I don’t like them. They almost make me sick to my stomach, but I can’t explain why they have that effect on me.

    It’s kind of like my approach to clowns.

      • Every year, my sweetie plays at the Fryeburg Fair. Every year, we have dinner together at a turkey-dinner place on the fairground. It has long tables, you eat with strangers if it’s crowded.

        One year, or dining companions were a professional clown and his wife. He was not in costume. It was one of the funniest meals I’ve ever had, and my advice is to only approach clowns when they’re naked.


          Thanks a lot zic. I didn’t need to sleep tonight or anything.

  5. The serial killer characters are a necessary part of the story, but at heart it’s still the story of a young woman’s strength of character.

    Don’t read or watch the sequel.

    • Are you referring to “Hanibal” the film? I found “Red Dragon” deeply fascinating, though not quite on the level of SotL, for reasons unrelated to the serial killers.

      • The film and the book of Hannibal, which is a direct sequel to TSotL. Red Dragon isn’t a sequel; it was published first and takes place earlier. That the TV show Hannibal takes place even earlier than Red Dragon is just confusing.

        • Yea, they’ve got it all screwed up. TSotL is obviously brilliant. RD is also a fantastic movie. I’m not sure I ever made it through Hannibal… just got bored with the silliness. Hannibal Rising, I don’t really remember… what I do seemed really, really cliched. Not just typical horror flick cliches. But they took a highly complex, nuanced, almost impossible to understand character and reduced him to every psychological quirk that a fictional defendant attempted to use when pleading insanity.

          • hey doc: any love for manhunter? it’s pretty great, michael mann at his finest.

          • Manhunter is a great movie. Definitely great Michael Mann action with an intense, piercing William Petersen. Brian Cox underplays Hannibal making him creepy and a mystery instead of a clownish Hopkins. Love that movie. Mann is a great director.

          • Brian Cox is a much better and scarier Hannibal than Hopkins. I actually like Manhunter better than Silence of the Lambs. I thought that most of the scenary was brighter and more realistic, for the 1980s, made the movie scarier than the more moody and stylized backgrounds of Silence of the Lambs.

  6. I’ve never hated anything as much or as immediately as I hated Boondock Saints. Tried 3 times to get through it, failed three times to get through it.

  7. I read an essay a ways back that explains that Hannibal only “works” when he’s in his cage.

    The evil that was captured and subdued (but not tamed) and kept for the reason that we need its insight into evil that is still out there.

    The second that Hannibal escapes and puts on a hawaiian shirt and flip-flops on his way to slice/dice his next victim, he stops being a terrifying character but a comic (though darkly comic) one.

    As for my answer, (I believe I may have told this story before) we went to a poetry reading devoted to poems about Albert Einstein and the Music of Mozart. I had made jokes to Maribou beforehand about looking up how to say “I don’t care, if it doesn’t rhyme, it’s not poetry” in Latin. We got there and they poetry started and the poetry rhymed.

    I don’t want to say “it was horrible” or anything like that because this is all a matter of taste and whatnot but, oh, I was not in the target audience for that.

    • I presume this essay predates the show?

      ‘Cos I gotta say, Mads Mikkelsen is terrifying. Because he’s not letting the mask slip, and by maintaining near-complete control and composure he may be (as other characters have stated more than once) the “sanest person they know”.

      Seriously you guys, I know it seems unlikely, but the show is terrific.

      • It’s like Murder, She Wrote except Jessica is actually behind why the victim died, every show?

        • I never watched Murder, She Wrote. And there are other serial killers (seriously, in the show’s universe there have to be dozens operating on the East Coast at any given time), he’s not always behind the main plot.

          But he’s always fishing with Will, under the guise of “helping” (HE IS NOT HELPING) whether he’s directly involved or not.

        • Tell me why else there was a murder everywhere she went.

          • Well, one could ask the same thing about the gang from “Scooby Doo,” except in their case it was the surprisingly-common crime of dressing up like a monster to scare people away from some kind of illicit business venture.

          • It was the 80s. Back then you couldn’t take three steps without tripping over a murder victim.

      • I am willing to concede that the show may be terrific. No matter how terrific it may be, it is absolutely not the show for me.

    • Jaybird, you should chat with my father.

      He was really into Silence of the Lambs until Hannibal escapes. Then after the movie he said, “Well, in prison, the guy can do things. He can talk inmates into killing themselves. He can manipulate the police investigation of a serial killer for his own amusement. Outside, they put his picture up on the teevee and eventually a cop just shoots the guy like a mad dog.”

      • This is interesting, because maybe the show is having it both ways – he IS manipulating people, masterfully, because he IS (largely) “caged” (pretending to be something else).

        They really haven’t shown him engaging in much violence at all (though it is implied to be occurring off-screen); mostly you are watching him alternately mentally manipulate Graham and seemingly respect him – perhaps he even craves Will’s discovery of Lecter’s true nature – a weird subtext of the show has been Lecter’s loneliness, the desire that someone could understand him.

        • Out of morbid curiosity, I checked out some plot summaries on Wikipedia.

          There is, it seems, something to do with lungs in an early episode. Even if the violence occurred off-screen, any show that has that particular plot detail is really not the show for me.

      • Yeah, I can see that…

        They might try to write it so that Hannibal talks the arresting officer into shooting himself but we both know it’s more likely to go like this:

        “Tell me about your father, Officer Jones.”

  8. I made it all the way through Boston Legal, even though the sermonizing was really, really hard to bear at points.

    I couldn’t make it through the British version of The Office. The awkward was just too much. I was finally able to go back and do it after I’d been desensitized by the American version.

    I could also go into the British version of The Eleventh Hour, which at once wanted you to be horrified by the discovery of a couple dozen malformed and discarded fetuses but itself was horrified of sending a pro-life message that it hit you over the head with the notion that “THESE ARE NOT BABIES” and that the only real crime here is that religious nuts will use this as an excuse to impede stem cell research. I didn’t watch the second episode.

    I know there are better examples, but they’re just not coming to mind.

  9. 1) What’s the quickest you’ve ever hated something?

    At my school in the sixth grade, when Up With People came to do an assembly.

    2) Have you ever enjoyed something in one form that you couldn’t stomach in another?

    Reading as (LOVE/LOATHE):

    Shatner (Star Trek/Everything Else He’s Done)

    Joe Jackson (Pop Musician/Jazz Musician)

    Michael Jordan/Isaiah Thomas/Kevin McHale (Athletes/GMs)

    The movie Where the Wild Things Are (Story about complex emotions in children/As an adaptation of M Sendak’s book)

    Corn (Cob/Creamed)

    Singing (Alone, in shower/Anyone being within hearing distance)

    Ouzo (When I’m already pretty far gone/When I’m sober)

    Watching baseball (In person/On TV)

    Tabloids (Bat-s**t crazy ones that feature bigfoot, aliens, elvis and batboy (hopefully all in the same article) /Ones that focus on celebrity gossip)

    • Nailed it on WtWWA.

      Thinking about it this way, I’d add…

      Leo DiCaprio (“Catch Me If You Can”, “The Departed”, “Inception”, “Basketball Diaries”/”Titanic”)
      Reading magazines (On the toilet, on an airplane/Anywhere else)

      I might be the one person who wouldn’t say this, but I’d venture to guess a lot of people could add…

      Children (Mine/Yours)

  10. I can name an entire genre that I tend to dislike: Drama without an anchor. If you mix the drama in with comedy, law, crime medicine, politics, or something else interesting, then I can take it. When it’s apparent that it’s going to be about people that are just going to go out of their way to be unhappy, I have a really hard time with it.

    Despite the light politics, I ditched Brothers & Sisters on this basis. The same with Felicity, which sort of had a plot that seemed like it might be appealing, but very quickly turned me off.

    I believe Six Feet Under to be great television, *great television*, but I just couldn’t watch it after the first season.

  11. Anything reality tv is a No Go for me. I’m sure some of it probably isn’t actually terrible, but i don’t want to risk being exposed to the 99% that is to give any of it a shot.

    I have instant negative reaction to overplayed themes and stories. So when i see anything post apocalyptic it instantly turns me away unless i’m watching just to riff on how bad it is. Same thing with zombies, so overplayed. Sadly most sci fi nowadays is the same handful of tired tropes and story lines that what should be the most original and mind blowing genre is tired and boring.

    • Uh oh! If I can ever whittle down my opus on “Wife Swap” (1000+ words, no clear argument in sight!), I might be able to get you to change your mind.

      • wife swap?? Hmm i googled to find out what this “wife swap” thing is. The only thing i could find, well other then sites with xxx involved or were trolling for shady dating sites, was some ABC show about switching wives between two homes and then watching the inevitable collisions. I’m sure this isn’t what you are talking about since that idea is so self-evidently terrible you can’t be referring to it.

        • That is *exactly* what I’m referring to, with an angle that it is actually not nearly as terrible as the facile description it so earnestly assigned itself implies. It actually has some redeeming value, perhaps moreso than any non-legitimate-documentary-style reality show. At least, that is what I’m trying to argue.

          • In a nutshell, the show is less, “Let’s put this idiot and this asshole together and see what happens,” and more, “This family believe firmly in discipline and order and that family believes firmly in child-centeredness and living in the moment… what happens when their worlds collide and they challenge one another?” It’s closer to “30 Days”, the series done by the guy from “Super Size Me”. It’s not perfect, but there is a there there. I think. At least that is what I’m trying to explore.

            But there is also plenty of shouting and unintentional self-mockery.

          • I’ll note that your “nutshell” was longer than your first explanation. Which i think is sort of funny because i think i’ve done that when speaking to people.

            Maybe its because i’ve worked in mental health/social services type jobs for so long that when i come home i really don’t want to see faux docu dysfunction shows. Its hard not to see all those kind of shows as people playing for the camera and not being that close to real life. Add in the editing to create the effect the director wants and i’m not really sure what you see when you watch a reality show.

          • Heh… I tried to come up with a word for that… the opposite of summarizing… I have a friend who’ll take 45 minutes to describe a 22-minute television show. It’s amazing.

            I think your criticisms are fair. “Wife Swap” falls victim to all of what you say. I just think that, intentional or not, there are kernels of value to it. When my wife and I watch it, we often have a fruitful discussion about parenting style and house culture. When we watch one of the “Real Housewives…” incarnations, we rarely say anything more than, “Which of those people do you think is the most vile?”

            But, yea, if I ever get the piece done, I might make a convert of you yet!

          • your “nutshell” was longer than your first explanation

            What can he say? The man has huge nutshells.

      • Someone I graduated with was on that show. I also have a second or third cousin that was on a season of the Bachelor.

        I have, to date, seen one episode of wife swap and part of one season of the bachelor entirely because I knew those people and was curious. 🙂

        The only reality TV I can take is cooking shows. Iron Chef is awesome. (The wifey is fond of Project Runway, Ru Paul’s Drag Race, and America’s Next Top Model admittedly).

        • Face-Off is pretty awesome. The contestants actually help each other out.

          • There is a “Face-Off” that doesn’t involve Travolta and Cage?

          • Oh, yeah, the Travolta/Cage Faceoff. Hated that one pretty quickly, too.

          • I’m with Will. Watching Travolta and Cage imitate each other was fun to start with, but the damned thing went on and on and on. It also turned into a series of highly choreographed fight scenes, which is something I get bored with quickly.

          • I was in high school when it came out. I remember seeing it theaters. It was well-suited for that demo.

          • My willing suspension of disbelief couldn’t stretch as far as simple painless surgery to remove a face, nor as far as nobody recognizing that, hey, this guy suddenly dubbed in size while this other guy suddenly is only half as big, even family members.

            That’s one of my problems in watching movies. I’m pretty willing to suspend disbelief from ridiculous plot lines (Oceans 11, Gone in 60 Seconds) or Sci-fi high-tech (transporting in Star Trek, light sabers), but when it goes beyond my willingness to suspend disbelief, I can’t enjoy a movie. This happens particularly when extra-normal things happen in a relatively normal world, like Spider Man’s web swinging violating the laws of physics (it’s not supposed to, as part of the storyline, the CGI just does, just like the puppies in 101 Dalmations arc upward when they slide out of the drainpipe), or when there’s not even a colorable explanation for a plot element that’s done solely for it’s supposed wow factor (the bus hanging from the helicopter in Swordfish).

            Those things instantly ruin a movie for me, but just make it plausible within the type of world the characters inhabit and I’m happy to go along (superheroes, zombies, etc.).

            While I’m rambling, I also hate movies about mistaken identities that could be cleared up easily if everyone in the story wasn’t so fishing stupid (see, Sleeping, While You Were). I can’t willingly suspend belief that the hero/ine never stands up and says, “Oh, wait, there’s been a mistake,” or that nobody says, “wait, if you were X you’d know Y, so you’re not X you lying rat bastard!” (Exception: Man Who Knew Too Little, The. But Bill Murray films are always an exception to the rules.)

          • I struggle most when they don’t establish a consistent internal logic. My friend points to Peter Jackson as a director who often fails to apply this. I’ll cite “King Kong” as it is one of the few PJ movies I’ve seen: The explorers stumble upon a swarm of giant bugs. They engage in hand-to-hand, one-on-one combat with the giant bugs, barely surviving their individual skirmishes. Yet when the swarm grows massively in size, suddenly they hack their way through the collective mass.

            Either the bugs are near-equals of the explorers, beatable one-on-one but barely, or they are vastly inferior and can be mowed down en masse. They can’t be *both*, no matter how cool a visual it creates to have a guy go hand-to-hand with a bug AND show massive armies of bugs.

  12. 1) What’s the quickest you’ve ever hated something? What’s the fastest realization you’ve had that something is not for you?

    Last Wednesday, I was channel surfing trying to find something on television after the end of The Two Towers (11:30pm). At 11:44, after almost fifteen minutes of frustration due to the utter crap that was on, I said on Facebook, “Maybe Sharktopus is on Chiller or something”. Pulling up the guide, I saw that “Ghost Voyage” was on SyFy, starring Antonio Sabato, Jr. At 11:45, I said on Facebook, “There’s a movie with Antonio Sabato, Jr. on SyFy. That’s almost as good as a flick with Armand Assante.” Then I clicked over to the channel and within 4 seconds, “Nope, I’m wrong. Way worse.”

    4 seconds might be a record for tagging a movie as too bad to even be “campy-fun-really-bad” bad.

    2) Have you ever enjoyed something in one form that you couldn’t stomach in another? Is there something you’ve liked in this way that you don’t like in that? If so, what and how?

    I agree with almost all of Tod’s list (I can watch baseball on television, particularly pitcher’s duels).

    James Cameron (before Abyss/after Abyss).

  13. 2) Have you ever enjoyed something in one form that you couldn’t stomach in another? Is there something you’ve liked in this way that you don’t like in that? If so, what and how?

    I hate boy bands yet have an unnatural love of LFO, does that count?

    Which brings us to:

    1) What’s the quickest you’ve ever hated something? What’s the fastest realization you’ve had that something is not for you?

    That would be B44. Just about the first scene of their first video was enough.

        • back when crash the academy award winning movie about racism came out my boss, a nice older woman, and i were exchanging post-weekend pleasantries. she mentioned she’d seen crash, but she has an mfa so sometimes stuff happens.

          then she says “i liked it, but it was a bit racy.” and i kinda froze. because i’m thinking she means the james spader laden cronenberg masterpiece film based on the story by jg ballard. a weird 10 seconds pass before i say “well, the source material is rather extreme, as you’d expect from ballard” and she says “i thought it was based on an original script”. at which point the part of my brain not yet outsourced to wikipedia kicked in and thought “oh thank god she means crash the academy award winning movie about racism”.

          so i said “i thought you meant another film that was done by david cronenberg.” she asked me if it was any good. i told her it was smashing.

          • I saw the Cronenberg one with a good female friend. It was…weirdly awkward between us after the movie.

            Stop me if I’ve told this one: There’s a Canadian dude named Dan Bejar that records theatrical wordy Bowieish piano-pop under the moniker Destroyer, and I used to joke that his choice of inappropriate project name meant that somewhere in America right now a pissed-off metal kid is playing that CD for the first time and saying “The HELL?!”

            So I was in SF and saw that Destroyer was playing at a little club in the city and I had the night off – cool! – so I made my way over there, on me own, navigating my rental car over the hills and around the bends, to safe parking close by and everything.

            Walk in, pay my cover, grab a beer to settle my jangling nerves, and start to look around at the crowd.

            I am sure you can see where this is going, THIS looks like the sort of crowd you would EXPECT at the show of a band called “Destroyer” – metal dudes, biker dudes, etc. I confirm with the door guy that this is not the same Destroyer I was expecting, they were local. He was cool enough to actually refund my cover.

          • Dude, you didn’t stick around to check out the local band? 🙁

          • I probably should’ve, but it was a rough-looking crowd and I was tired and it wasn’t what I was wanting.

          • “Must… fight… urge… to rant… about “Crash”.”

            no, please do! (i am presuming you mean the academy award winning movie about racism, not the let’s have sex with elizabeth taylor after causing a car accident movie)

            glyph: that’s pretty great.

          • Argh! I had made a comment earlier indicating Russ’s ban on all “Crash” talk… must have got lost in the web of bathroom iPhoning…

  14. What’s the quickest you’ve ever hated something?

    Electron-slit experiments. Within seconds of understanding what they implied was going on. Me and Einstein — both haters of quantum mechanics. Go ahead, Mr. Schilling, say something clever.

  15. Tom Cruise. Anything with Tom Cruise in it is horrible, just horrible. Even Rain Man, which I was told I’d like — no go. He is SUCH an insufferable little prick.

    • Likewise Sylvester Stallone. Except he’s a bigger prick. And, if anything, twice as insufferable.

      • over the top is a beautiful portrait of the terrible fractures of divorced families in the 80s. and arm wrestling.

    • Wow, Blaise and I are in absolute, total, 100%, unmitigated agreement. The only thing with Tom Cruise that’s watchable is that South Park episode.

      • no giggles for top gun?

        this is a sad day for america.

      • I liked Rain Main. And Risky Business. And I was so tired of Brad Pitt feeling sorry for himself that Cruise’s appearance as a badass vampire at the end of Interview with the Vampire was a big improvement.

        • Oh, there’s another: vampir movies. I don’t think there’s been a good one since Bela died.

  16. If I see the phrase loss of privilege as a come back for any discussion on any topic it will be too soon.

    • Sorry, I just did it this morning (and it’s damned rare usage for me). Please forgive me, and avoid reading my comment on the mansplainin’ post!

          • I’ve been working on a Goodifier for Just Me’s cats. Push a bad cat in — a good cat comes out. Now I have a waste disposal problem. In addition to the litter box issue, a separate waste disposal issue, now I have to figure out what to do with the badness collected in the Goodifier. It may require a theological solution.

          • So if there is no privilege I should never have to see that anymore! Glyph you rock!

  17. I love green beans raw/ not so much cooked. I love to watch others play RPG’s/ despise playing myself. The movie War of the Worlds I started 3 times and each time within 15 min I had to stop. Ugh, horrid movie…unless it got better further in.

  18. 1) What’s the quickest you’ve ever hated something? What’s the fastest realization you’ve had that something is not for you?
    Olives. Upon first tasting. I spat it across the room. I still feel that way about them.

    2) Have you ever enjoyed something in one form that you couldn’t stomach in another? Is there something you’ve liked in this way that you don’t like in that? If so, what and how?
    BUT! Olive oil? The bomb. Even if it has a strong olive-y taste. No, I don’t understand my tongue either.

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