Monday, January 21, 2008

Hidden messages in films

It is my last week in Brazil, and I have chosen to step down a bit my work to catch up some movies with a bunch of friends, as well as test driving the new home theater my brother has set up at home. Among the movies we watched were the two big heroic animations Beowulf and 300. After watching each of these movies, I realized that they both have ultimate messages that are hidden between the lines of the movies.

When shagging the dragon, don't forget your rubber

Starting with Beowulf, a heavily adapted version of the old Anglo-Saxon poem by the same name, the movie describes how a great hero arrives at a Scandinavian village that is being attacked by a creature that is (unknown to the population) a bastard child between its king and a local dragon/demon. After slaying the poor creature, our hero then decides to shag said dragon while lusting for the king's wife. Needless to say, another bastard half-monster comes out of this escapade and later haunts the same village. If you have not caught the hidden meaning by now, I will tell you, the problem is the fucking promiscuity of some rulers, and their careless captain Kirk-style sexual appetite resulting in at best a venereal disease or at worst a burned down village.

Now regarding 300, I think it is needless to say what a load of elephant crap the whole movie is, and how the "documentaries" that accompany the blue-ray version of it only make it worse at trying to justify their adaptations for dramatic license (my ass, I tell you). But I will summarize the bull crap part: the movie essentially tries to transmute a culture of misogynistic pederast autocrats with less than a third of the population having voting rights into a tale of heroics, and I shit you not, freedom. They even get the classic "freedom is not free" shit that some Americans are repeating ad nauseam to justify their current policies. But digressions apart, the movie portraits what was probably one of the greatest empires of the time, known for its religious freedom and prohibition of slavery into a Lord of the Rings style evil horde. They also overlook the fact that that particular war was won by the military cunning of Athens rather than the Hooah-style mindless charge that is typical of some modern military units.

Little Quasimodo just wanted his chance

The movie seems to glorify their intolerance to any people that is not conforming with the standards of the tribe, so when our Quasimodo lookalike tries to help his own nation, he is bluntly dismissed as unfit, because he cannot raise his shield to a certain height, even considering that most of the formations portrayed in the movie have leaning men, and they do not last 10 seconds of movie together. And here comes our second hidden meaning, the Persians in this movie, despite attempts to turn them into monstrosities, clearly embrace diversity, and their army has people from all over the world. This empire accepts Ephialtes into their ranks, and that proves instrumental to their victory. So, moral of the story is, embrace diversity and win.

Coincidentally, both movies have been adapted from or by writers of comic books, so we might have a pattern here. In all honesty, Beowulf is a vastly superior movie, which is pretty compatible with Neil Gaiman's work, whereas Frank Miller's work is mostly a bloodbath, aiming to please your average frat boy demographics (though I like his Batman stories).

Sunday, January 20, 2008

Bum Wines

Puzzled by an expression I heard about a certain drink called Mad Dog 20/20, I discovered what the word hootch really means. And by that of course, I refer to bum wine. The technical term, if wikipedia is to be believed is low-end fortified wine, and wine here is probably a misnomer. From the sources I read on the net, these cheap chemical concoctions are made as a cheap product for the American homeless, which sure enough must be a very good business, getting better by the current administration. Some of these "wines" are even made by famous wineries, such as E and J Gallo, probably with the shittiest byproducts of their main wines, stuff that is not even suitable for making Grappa.

Wednesday, January 09, 2008

Not my cup of tea, but still cool

Although at this point in my life I am no fan of World of Warcraft, I have played it for some months in the past and attest to the addictiveness of this game. My opinion on MMORPG is nicely summarized by this video:

Now thanks to an email from a friend of mine and a comic strip I have found out about a product which I think is quite creative. And what is this thing, you may ask? Custom statues of World of Warcraft characters using Industrial Prototyping 3D printers. If their website is anything to be believed, there is a significant portion of artistry involved after the statue is printed, so this might justify the 115 dollars charged for each piece. Besides the price, you also have to participate on a sort of lottery to decide who gets to buy their products, which may mean that there is a lot of demand for it, or alternatively, that the company is trying to hype you into buying something that your friends might not be able to get.

The second, more funny, part of my post has to do with the comic strip (Penny Arcade), which shows the dangers of WoW addiction relating to this particular product.


Monday, January 07, 2008

Certainly not in England

Even after using this extension to Firefox for years, I do not recall having ever seen this icon of a melting thermometer to indicate temperature. Of course, this is not the temperature in England, especially at this time of the year, but rather in Southern Brazil, and if you have seen the previous posts, you can guess exactly where this place is. Luckily for me, universities tend have air conditioning systems, and that is exactly where I headed to today.