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DIE-HARD AGGIE FANS: Students show their Aggie colors at the home game vs. Nevada. The Aggies came so close, but lost 31-28. Click Arts&Life for a link to photos. / Photo by Heather Routh

Today's word on journalism

Monday, October 22, 2007

Can't Scare the Old Gray Lady:

"Good journalism for an intelligent general audience is hard. And we’re really good at it. Taking on The Times is not as easy as waving a credit card and proclaiming yourself 'fair and balanced. . . .' We have every reason to feel confident that we can hold our own if [Rupert] Murdoch decides to build The Journal beyond its business-reader base. In all the Murdoch parlor-gaming, I don’t hear anyone suggesting that he would attempt to match the depth of our coverage in culture, science, education, health, religion, sports, lifestyle, etc., etc. Not to mention business coverage that even devout Journal readers find they can't afford to miss."

-- Bill Keller, editor, New York Times, on Murdoch's promised Wall Street Journal challenge to Times national dominance, Oct. 16, 2007


'Shoot 'Em Up' an over-the-top spoof on action films

By Zach Jenks

September 20, 2007 | OK, so action films are meant to be over-the-top. But that doesn't stop coked-up executive producers from concocting seriously absurd action movies. Such is the case for the movie Shoot 'Em Up. Last Sabbath, my father and I went to see this ultra-violent movie instead of going to church to worship Jesus. In his place, we decided to bask in the panoramic silver screen of a 20-foot head of Clive Owen and the 15-foot-wide grill of Paul Giamatti.

The point of the movie was to save a newborn baby whose bone marrow could save the next president of the United States. Because of his supposed adamant stance on gun control, the immoral, money-crazed gun corporation was the evil extreme in this classic dichotomy of this action film as they try to kill the baby. Our hero is a carrot-crazed, ex-black ops soldier who takes matters into his own hands. Bullets fly. Nameless bad guys get killed in comical and unusual ways. Who knew someone can be brutally murdered by being stabbed in the eye with a carrot?

If a person were to take this seriously, then they would have walked out 20 minutes into the flick (As an elderly couple did while I was watching. Really, I don't know if it was from the hyena that applauded after every over-blown death, or the movie). This movie is obviously a spoof. If not, then why was it made? Did the hero's copulation scene with overdubbed woman moans while swarms of heavily armed villains getting shot once and drop dead seem like a genius idea? Well . . . to give it credit, it was original. So if it was a spoof of the condition of the action movie, then what was it spoofing.

Seriously, this movie wasn't meant to blow people's minds with the plot twist. The twist comes when the Democratic nominee for president sides with the bad guys, which tries to shake up the audience, but it really causes the point of the movie to be lost entirely. Why do the bad guys still want to kill the baby? This movie must be to the action genre what Scream was to the slasher genre. But this can be wrong since there are no references to other action flicks.

Of course, in Shoot 'Em Up, the main character is a man's man. A Beowulf of modern times with a desire for carrots and guns, yet he is also an anti-hero. He has some good virtues, but he vindicates through vigilante methods. He copulates with hookers, and feels no remorse about killing hundreds of men without comprehending the reasons. This all fits in the formula of the classic action movie.

These include: stupid, weak, and easily killable villains that are terrible gunmen, the hero gets the woman, prefers his own company, a troubled past, mysterious, and such. These are just a few attributes that a hero must have in order to survive the nearly impossible odds.

Also, there needs to be over-the-top, death-defying in which the protagonist must overcome calmly and coolly. In this particular case, the hero jumps out of an airplane while a dozen bad guys follow him in their descent towards the earth. Their only purpose in the world of Shoot 'Em Up was to get shot and die in the air by Clive Owen's 9mm pistol while the bad guys get over-killed by getting shot and smash against the ground. Of course, it boggles the mind when one thinks that someone can be a good shot while skydiving while the air blows into their face. Another situation was the sex scene in which he shoots 'em up.

If this is meant to be an actual, serious movie, then it's already been made by the Schwarzeneggers, the Stallones, and the Charles Bronsons of the formulaic Hollywood action genre. Whether it was serious or not, the sheer absurdity of the wanton destruction, ideal anti-hero masculinity, and mindless violence on nameless villains that piled up ridiculously. The movie (as I said) was ultra violent, but the gunplay scenes were creative yet so far from reality that incited laughter rather than awe of the explosive nature of the film as my response.



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