Tag Archives: On Pop Culture

The act of empathy

By Dennis Hartley

As if I didn’t already have enough reasons to admire Meryl Streep:

Wow. Truth to power, baby. In case you missed the gist:

“Thank you, Hollywood foreign press. Just to pick up on what Hugh Laurie said. You and all of us in this room, really, belong to the most vilified segments in American society right now. Think about it. Hollywood, foreigners, and the press. But who are we? And, you know, what is Hollywood anyway? It’s just a bunch of people from other places. […]

Hollywood is crawling with outsiders and foreigners. If you kick ’em all out, you’ll have nothing to watch but football and mixed martial arts, which are not the arts. They gave me three seconds to say this. An actor’s only job is to enter the lives of people who are different from us and let you feel what that feels like. And there were many, many, many powerful performances this year that did exactly that, breathtaking, passionate work.

There was one performance this year that stunned me. It sank its hooks in my heart. Not because it was good. There was nothing good about it. But it was effective and it did its job. It made its intended audience laugh and show their teeth. It was that moment when the person asking to sit in the most respected seat in our country imitated a disabled reporter, someone he outranked in privilege, power, and the capacity to fight back. It kind of broke my heart when I saw it. I still can’t get it out of my head because it wasn’t in a movie. It was real life.

And this instinct to humiliate, when it’s modeled by someone in the public platform, by someone powerful, it filters down into everybody’s life, because it kind of gives permission for other people to do the same thing. Disrespect invites disrespect. Violence incites violence. When the powerful use their position to bully others, we all lose. […]

This brings me to the press. We need the principled press to hold power to account, to call them on the carpet for every outrage.That’s why our founders enshrined the press and its freedoms in our constitution. So I only ask the famously well-heeled Hollywood Foreign Press and all of us in our community to join me in supporting the committee to protect journalists. Because we’re going to need them going forward. And they’ll need us to safeguard the truth.

[…] And we have to remind each other of the privilege and the responsibility of the act of empathy. We should all be very proud of the work Hollywood honors here tonight.

As my friend, the dear departed Princess Leia, said to me once, take your broken heart, make it into art. Thank you.”

Stay tuned for Orange Julius Caesar’s 3am Tweet storm…

*    *   *   UPDATE 1/9/17   *   *   *

Right on cue:

Your new POTUS in just 11 days, America! Sad!

Godspeed, Princess

By Dennis Hartley

https://i0.wp.com/img.cinemablend.com/cb/5/d/e/a/4/9/5dea49e85d1672067a19ae1306b8ba353e1eac91be17d09a3ee9a50c3fa7db8d.jpg?w=474

1956-2016

Can we just say that 2017 officially begins today?  Seriously, I’ve had it with you, 2016. You have more than worn out your welcome. Over.

I’ve  always felt Carrie Fisher missed her calling. Of course, she  will be forever cemented in our collective unconscious as Princess Leia; the smart, fearless, beautiful, and wisecracking heroine of the original Star Wars saga. But Carrie Fisher herself happened to be smart, fearless, beautiful, wisecracking ; a gifted comedic writer and raconteur. As we say in the business of show: she had “funny bones”.

Even if Star Wars had never been part of the equation, she would have taken her place alongside Fran Lebowitz  or Spalding Gray. If you’ve seen her autobiographical one-woman show, Wishful Drinking, you know what I’m talking about.  If not, when you’re done with your Star Wars marathon, do yourself a favor and catch it (I believe it’s still available  in HBO’s On Demand). You’ll see a Carrie Fisher who is brutally honest, self-effacing…and an absolute riot.

I bet she already has Ziggy Stardust and John Glenn in stitches. R.I.P.

The most wonderful time of the year

By Dennis Hartley

While it may not happen as frequently as it used to (thank god for DVRs and FF buttons), Saturday Night Live still has its moments. Last night’s guest host Casey Affleck hit the sweet spot between hilarity and pathos in this brilliant mashup of ad parody and character study:

And I almost skipped over this gem, buried near the end of the show:

(*sigh*) The countdown to Armageddon continues…1 month to go.

He’s back: Chappelle on Trump’s America

By Dennis Hartley

https://i1.wp.com/www.rawstory.com/wp-content/uploads/2016/10/Angry-woman-computer-shutterstock-800x430.jpg?resize=474%2C255

After 11 years in the wilderness, Dave Chappelle came home to TV (well, for one  night).  His  monologue on SNL last night was brilliant, hitting just the right tone to cap off America’s most TFU week ever:

He’s still got it! It was one of the best SNL episodes in recent memory:

Yeah, I know-too close for comfort. But the best sketch was all Dave:

I don’t know about you, but I needed that. Give this man a show-now!

Surely, he’s joking: R.I.P. Gene Wilder

By Dennis Hartley

(Originally posted on Digby’s Hullabaloo on August 29, 2016)

https://i1.wp.com/66.media.tumblr.com/bcc619518372f6c50bdc190763df05cc/tumblr_mszjorY2xo1rgetbio1_1280.jpg?resize=474%2C261

I guess I must have been in shock.

When I received a text from Digby asking if I’d heard about Gene Wilder, I steeled myself and immediately queried Mr. Google. There it was. But I refused to believe it. This just couldn’t be. That’s when I began a one-sided argument with my, erm…laptop:

“Wait a minute. Gene Wilder is no longer with us? Are you saying, he is no longer with us? Is that what you’re telling me, that Gene Wilder…is no longer here? No longer here. He was here, but now, he is not? IS THAT WHAT YOU’RE TRYING TO TELL ME?!”

Goddammit.

Sorry, but people that talented, that funny, are simply not allowed to just up and leave us.

Here are several reasons why, right off the top of my head:

Rest in peace, you bloody little genius.

# # #

UPDATE:

From his family’s official statement:

The decision to wait until this time to disclose his condition wasn’t vanity, but more so that the countless young children that would smile or call out to him “there’s Willy Wonka,” would not have to be then exposed to an adult referencing illness or trouble and causing delight to travel to worry, disappointment or confusion. He simply couldn’t bear the idea of one less smile in the world.

Wow. And then there’s this, from one comedy legend to another…

50 years gone: Lenny Bruce is not afraid

By Dennis Hartley

https://i1.wp.com/cbldf.org/wp-content/uploads/2013/01/bruce3.jpg?w=474

Today is the 50th anniversary of comedian Lenny Bruce’s death.

On August 3, 1966, he was found dead in his Hollywood Hills home, from (what was ruled as) an accidental overdose of morphine.

For years following his passing, he was arguably more famous for the suffering he endured for his art, rather than the visionary nature of it.

In fact, it wasn’t until 2003, after years of lobbying  by members of the entertainment industry and free speech advocates, that New York governor George Pataki issued Bruce an official posthumous pardon for his 1964 obscenity conviction. It is worth noting that no comedians have  been jailed in America for telling jokes to roomfuls of drunks  since Bruce died (yet…I’m currently working on a review for a sobering new documentary called Can We Take a Joke? It’s an eye-opener).

Of course by now everybody has jumped on the bandwagon and acknowledges the man’s genius and the groundbreaking nature of his material. But I can’t help but wonder how Lenny would have fared in the age of social media, or in front of a modern college audience (oy).

Would today’s audiences grasp the subtlety of this bit, for example? Or would Lenny suffer a virtual lynching by an outraged Twitter mob before he could reach the end, when its true message becomes clear?

“Lenny Bruce”,  by Bob Dylan  

Lenny Bruce is dead but his ghost lived on and on
Never did get any Golden Globe award, never made it to Synanon
He was an outlaw, that’s for sure
More of an outlaw than you ever were
Lenny Bruce is gone but his spirit’s living on and on.

Maybe he had some problems, maybe some things that he couldn’t work out
But he sure was funny and he sure told the truth and he knew what he was talking about
Never robbed any churches, nor cut off any babies heads
He just took the folks in high places and he shined a light in their beds
He’s on some other shore, he didn’t want to live anymore.

Lenny Bruce is dead but he didn’t commit any crime
He just had the insight to rip off the lid before its time
I rode with him in a taxi once, only for a mile and a half
Seemed like it took a couple of months
Lenny Bruce moved on and like the ones that killed him, gone.

They say he was sick ’cause he didn’t play by the rules
He just showed the wise men of his day to be nothing more than fools
They stamped him and they labeled him like they do with pants and shirts
He fought a war on a battlefield where every victory hurts
Lenny Bruce was bad, he was the brother that you never had.

    
Related posts:
Drunk Stoned Brilliant Dead: The Story of the National Lampoon
Joan Rivers: A Piece of Work
When Comedy Went to School & a Top 5 list
Funny People
Hotel Lux
Winnebago Man

I got yer campaign song right heah

By Dennis Hartley

I did a post back in June about Donald Trump co-opting Queen’s “We Are the Champions”  as a music cue for his grand entrances.  To be fair, he’s not the first politician to utilize a popular song  without first securing permission from the artist and/or  agreeing to pay licensing fees.  Yesterday, on his HBO program Last Week Tonight, John Oliver debuted a hilarious (and pointed) music video addressing this issue:

Chachi on the dais

By Dennis Hartley

https://i0.wp.com/i.dailymail.co.uk/i/pix/2016/07/17/17/365DA24F00000578-3694509-image-a-6_1468773720755.jpg?w=474

Distinguished thespian and stentorian speaker Scott Baio gave an awesome speech at the RNC last night! He tore Hillary a new one:

“We have a choice in November, we can go for Hillary Clinton, … who wants to continue the same policies that are wrecking this country, policies that make us unsafe, a woman who somehow feels that she’s entitled to the presidency, that she’s somehow owed it, or we can go for Donald Trump.”

Dude! He cut her so low! Speaking of “wrecked”, here’s Baio delivering his finest turn in the best ABC After-school Special ever:

ACT-ing!