Don’t the Democrats have more than this for their Impeachment Circus? Can they keep this going for more than a week? If not, I think they’re going to be upstaged by whatever balloon mishaps occur during the Macy’s Thanksgiving Day Parade. In the classic Seinfeld episode, I believe it was Woody the Woodpecker who suffered a puncture wound and deflated on top of Elaine’s boss Mr Pitt. I’m sure at this point Woody has been retired in favor of some kind of trans-gender super hero but either way Pelosi et alia are going to have to come up with some kind of show stopper. Perhaps they can perform a séance and have the ghost of Jeffrey Epstein accuse President Trump of strangling him in his New York jail cell.
Honestly, the only thing I can guess is that the DNC is so desperate for Creepy Uncle Joe to be the candidate that they had to do something crazy like this to stop the investigation into Hunter’s pathetic graft expedition in the Ukraine. And I don’t see how this helps. If there is anyone on the planet at this point unaware that Joe used his position to force a foreign government to cancel an investigation of his son’s shakedown activities it could only be among coma victims.
The good thing about this feckless farce is that it gives the Republicans the perfect center piece around which to campaign against them. If they had any wit about them at all, they would seize on this as the embodiment of an infantile and malign force that possesses no positive qualities and is only meant to act as a brake (resistance) to an actual agenda. Pushing for a border wall in light of the Cartels’ victory over the Mexican Army would be a winning strategy.
But I have little if any faith in the Republicans at this point. They are only slightly less useless than Pelosi and her crew. At the rate that the Republicans are retiring from the House it may soon be a strictly Democrat establishment. It’s a pity. It seems as if President Trump will be forced to do the whole thing by himself.
Well I’m actually very busy getting work done so that I can have some time off around Thanksgiving and Christmas. I’m impatiently waiting on Horowitz’s report and the subsequent indictments by Barr’s staff but I haven’t the patience or interest in reading any of the half-witted descriptions by the desperate MSM propagandists of the side show that Schiff and Pelosi are attempting to sell.
So, unless Pelosi is going to do a geriatric strip tease or Schiff is prepared to perform an Aztec sacrificial slaughter on the steps of the Capitol, I’m going to have to decline paying any further notice to this sad non-spectacle.
But bring on the next crazy show by all means. This one isn’t funny enough. In fact, I think I’ll re-watch the Seinfeld episode. Watching Mr. Pitt struggling with the deflating Woody the Woodpecker balloon was way funnier than this. Ha-ha-ha-ha-ha.
As I delve deeper and deeper into Season One, I find myself amazed at just how much awful acting there is. Whereas in most Star Trek episodes just one Jim Kirk is enough to satisfy anyone’s appetite for bad acting but in “The Enemy Within” we get two! A malfunction of the transporter causes anything sent through to be divided into polar opposites. A dog with a horn on his head and a really fake looking fur coat is split into a calm docile version and a rabid psycho version. And when Kirk goes through the machine, he becomes polar opposite twins too.
And this pair of Kirks is very special indeed. One of them is Castrated Kirk. The transporter has neutered him. He is indecisive, confused and unmanned. He is constantly reminded by Spock that his Evil side is responsible for his ability to command the ship and therefore Good Kirk while intelligent and principled is unfit to run the ship, a capon and a big loser. Spock really rubs it in. It seems like he’s angling for the job.
The other Kirk is Satyr Kirk. He attempts to rape Yeoman Rand. I suspect given time he might have humped the entire female crew. He berates Bones and orders him to hand over the Saurian Brandy which he wanders around swigging from the bottle. And he beats up various members of the crew whenever the chance offers itself. Later on, when he takes the Helm, he orders the crew to abandon Sulu and the landing party to their frozen deaths. This did actually endear him to me. I think they should have given him a chance. I liked his instincts.
Watching Shatner portray the complementary fragments of Kirk is a thing of grotesque beauty. The feral lascivious leer of Evil Kirk is wonderfully overdone. The fretful womanish whining of Good Kirk is annoying and pathetic.
As a secondary pleasure in the episode, due to the malfunctioning transporter, the landing party is trapped on the planet as the temperature heads down into negative triple digits so we get to watch Sulu slowly freezing to death. Very satisfying.
The climactic scene for each of our demi-heroes comes when Good and Evil Kirk have their showdown on the Bridge. When Evil Kirk submits to Good Kirk’s leadership he cries out in a panicked voice, “I want to liiiive, I want to liiive!” Pure schmaltz, marvelous. Then as both Kirks are standing on the transporter plate waiting to see if the transporter can meld them back into a composite of bad acting, Good Kirk is supporting unconscious Evil Kirk and just before the mechanism is activated Good Kirk hugs his Evil half in a loving embrace. It’s quite nauseating. Truly wonderful.
Obviously, this is a Star Trek must-see episode. Seeing the two polar opposite Kirks you realize that up until this episode, Shatner has been restraining his acting style. We get to see Shatner unbound and it’s not pretty. But it’s important for us to know his true range. It’s good to know that there is more Shatner in there if it’s needed. Well done Bill, well done.
It is interesting to me to consider the new movie as part of two bookends to James Cameron’s strange career, while providing some comment on the evolving image that Linda Hamilton has presented in media and the almost unchanging one of Arnold.
When he made The Terminator, James Cameron had not done any of the films that built the industry position he holds today. He was a special effects guy that wrote a typical sci-fi screenplay about a murderous robot. But “The Terminator” somehow had a strangely enduring effect on American culture. The screenplay had all the stock components, with a few slight twists that would become Cameron trademarks like transforming female characters into alternate heroes. Otherwise it included the typical murderous, apocalyptic future so common, perhaps even central, to all science fiction, the obligatory arrested love interest, and a commendable combination of live action and classic stop motion animation right out of Jason and the Argonauts.
But this movie resonated with all kinds of segments, many without much taste for either conventional action or science fiction. And Cameron made both Schwarzenegger and Hamilton actual cultural icons. It’s easy to argue that neither of them surpassed their roles in the film, with Arnold literally milking it for billions in ticket sales and a governorship and Hamilton clearly chewed up by hers. How do we account for this? Can we see something in the two stars’ comparative destinies and did Dark Fate provide any clues?
The character of Sarah and the actress Linda Hamilton were perfectly matched to project the most innocuous presence, never rising above cute, until the cyborg is blasting a shotgun at her. We meet Linda working an adolescent fast food job and then going to a movie. In parallel a housewife mistaken for her is executed in her home and her roommate and boyfriend, beaten to death in her apartment. This balancing of extremes continues as her protector, Reese, and the cyborg finally meet shooting at each other in a bar over Linda’ head. The scene in a new wave disco called New Noir is one of the few that warrants the otherwise overused slow motion. While the “new wave” music plays and the young yuppies sway, the cyberpunk uncoils again from behind the bar, laser and machine guns in hand. Thus, begins the carnage. We see Sarah innocently look blandly at the camera with a red laser site on her head, about to be terminated when Reese uncorks his own assault, ending the scene by blasting the cyborg through a plate glass window.
When he rises, Michael Myers-like, Reese and Sarah alternately flee and shoot at the bot in every possible venue until Sarah/Linda is told that she is the mother of the future resistance, a legendary warrior whose son will defeat the future. She cries out for us all, “What”? The chase scene ends when the terminator drives straight into a brick wall with the cops chasing both of them. Suddenly, Linda finally becoming partially aware of her surroundings and knows to grab Reese as he reaches for his shotgun to confront the cops. She yells, “No Reese, No, they’ll kill you”, in a voice we don’t hear again until she is does some terminating of her own.
Arnold gets the opposite treatment. We meet him emerging in a spherical electric storm naked in a crouch and watch him straighten up into the Hulk. He then walks through the park to murder and kill some punk rockers for their clothes, thus, cyberpunk. He is a comic figure We see his ass; he reads visual algorithms to select pre-coded responses like, “Fuck You, Asshole” in what became America’s definition of a slightly fascistic cyber/Germanic voice. His hair gets cropped and he wears cool ray bands to hide the eyeball he plucks out. He looks like Brando on his bike. Best of all, because he is a robot, he is not morally responsible for any of this, so we can enjoy his antics. This is no trivial accomplishment; Cameron creates a character Arnold will play for the next three or four decades. Remorseless, brutally violent, but cool and funny.
So, by the movie’s end, when Sarah punches the steel press on his steel skull, and he takes a last look straight into the camera, as if winking, with his laser red eye shining as the press crushes it dark, Sarah has gone from cute to terminator, and Arnold, the reverse. Society, however, won’t let Linda be a terminator, but Arnold can be anything. He’s a protector, then he’s Danny DeVito’s genetically perfect twin, JL Curtis’ lucky husband, Sharon Stone’s even luckier boyfriend, a predator’s predator, a Kennedy, a Governor, even an expendable, and finally a terminator husband/father in Dark Fate. In the subsequent films, she will become a Rambet, permanently.
But a Rambet is denied even the righteous orgies of violence Stallone formulated for John Rambo. Sarah must become the separatist feminist, gaunt, cut, unsmiling, long suffering, ideologically pure. Most importantly, she is always angry. She invented the Hollywood version of the resting bitch face. She’s pissed about the apocalypse and having to bear the messiah and she’s going to do something about it. This may make for good doctrine, but it’s a bad career choice. It’s a classic Hollywood scam, make a “feminist” sci-fi cyberpunk movie that destroys the female lead’s career. Message, stick to cute.
That’s why The Terminator was so memorable and the rest, I don’t remember. Because at the end of the film with Linda Hamilton driving off into the stormy Mexican desert with her revolver, dog and headband, Sarah is still cute. There was still a Soviet Union. The apocalypse was coming, as it really is for all of us, but she came through the realization, as we all can. Later all this is revised as her ideology requires. We can’t be left with our faith, only her ideology. And therein lies the rub for Linda and even Arnold when it comes to the rest of their lives till Dark Fate.
I read that James Cameron, after years without contact, reached out to Linda Hamilton, his former wife, to ask her to make a new sequel. She claims that it took her years away from the industry living in Louisiana to finally build a stable life in a community away from Hollywood with real connections. But, for some reason, could it be money, she agreed to play Sarah again. The results are exactly as you would expect; it’s a disaster. Arnold’s body is gone, and his face looks like a parkinsonian mask. Linda’s voice sounds like she speaking through a tracheotomy. Now, with the right screenplay and if there had been no other sequels, these physical transformations could have made for interesting material. But given their respective ideological “careers” there was no way out. They went through the joyless, soulless motions until time, thankfully, ran out and Arnold was dead and burned next to the latest, multicultural terminator.
We had to suffer it all in Dark Fate. A tanned wrinkled, aging second wave feminist Sarah croaking out lines like “they want your womb”. A dumpy, younger, millennial feminist protector constantly signaling her sacrificial virtue. A Mexican virgin 2.0 screaming about her right to choose. Finally, a constantly transitioning multicultural killer cyborg. An identity maelstrom. I came to the conclusion that both Arnold and Linda got screwed by their roles, although Arnold a little more lucratively. They are left having lived out the superficial script written for them by Cameron. His hollow successes after The Terminator, with the exception of Aliens, have condemned him to the same lucrative irrelevance. It’s fitting that the Avengers franchise, sourced from dime store children’s comic books, is eclipsing his pretentious achievements, Titanic and Avatar. Stan Lee must be rolling in his grave.
So, looking at two films separated by 35 years, and two actors with seemingly opposite careers that ended in the same place, and the director responsible for the whole mess, what can we say about any of this. Only that the tenuous string that used to barely connect what passes as popular culture to at least a modicum of genuine craft has, over the course of one director’s career, entirely disappeared, leaving in its wake a trail of cultural victim/collaborators in various states of wealth and debasement. And nothing whatsoever for us.
As stated at the end of the last post we settled on Star Trek episode “Space Seed” as our next course. And there it all was! Ricardo Montalban and William Shatner battling to settle the question of who could chew up the scenery faster. Khan proves to be an even more persuasive lady’s man than Kirk. He convinces a lady scientist to turn traitor to the Enterprise and assist Khan in taking over the ship. Of course, the most absurd part of the story is that Kirk provides Khan with the ship’s technical manuals that allow him to figure out how to selectively flood most of the Enterprise with knock out gas. Could there be any logical reason to provide a known megalomaniac with the details of these most sensitive technical secrets of the ship? Of course not. While he was at it, he might as well have given Khan his social security number and his bank account PIN.
There is a great scene near the end where Kirk and Khan are fighting mano a mano. Khan starts out by snatching away Kirk’s phaser and twists it in half with his bare hands. Kirk gets tossed around like a rag doll but at the critical juncture he grabs hold of a solid metal bar and clonks Khan over the head a few times with it and shows that even a super-strong super-genius should go for the quick kill instead of ending up having the tables turned on him like some kind of super villain in a James Bond movie.
Watching the final scene where Khan and his colony agree to be exiled on a world of their own is of course ironic. We know that in the future the Wrath of Khan is awaiting Kirk and the rest of the crew. This was discussed heatedly. What should have been done. Should Khan have been handed over to a re-education camp. Should Kirk have checked to see if Ceti Alpha was a stable star that would permanently support a colony? Should such dangerous genetically superior individuals have been liquidated, for the safety of all humanity? What, precisely, was rich Corinthian leather? The answers to all of these were debated endlessly and then abandoned because we got hungry again.
But certain things were agreed on. Kirk and Khan are both hounds and neither Shatner nor Montalban believed in understated performances. And these two things were linked with the fact that this is one of the most popular episodes of the series. Shatner and Montalban are over the top ham actors. The characters they are playing are out of a comic book. But they are fun. They are motivated by the things that men are interested in; women, adventure, honor. This makes them about a trillion times more fun and interesting than Spock or Picard or any of the other “futuristic” characters. Shatner taking shoulder rolls and bouncing around under pretend Khan pummeling is laughable and sophomoric but it’s still the best thing Star Trek had in this episode.
So this is the revelation. Kirk is the best part of the show because he provides the only example of a normal man doing normal manly things. He doesn’t do them well or convincingly but he’s all there is. So we gave one cheer for James Tiberius Kirk and took some time out to eat some more food.
You may think that there was an inordinate amount of time taken away from the proceedings of ShatnerKhan to eat junk food. You would be correct. The plain truth is that all the delegates there were taking the opportunity to eat types and amounts of food that their wives would normally prevent. In many ways it was almost as if ShatnerKhan was an excuse to pig out. Once again, you would be correct. But we justified this by pointing out that Shatner himself always looked like he could lose about thirty pounds and we perceived something heroic in men of a certain age throwing caution and wifely warnings to the wind and seizing the day and the Dorito (as it were).
In the final post we will look at the concluding viewing content and then our final thoughts on ShatnerKhan 1 and the prospects for later editions.