“Canada on Strike” (1204) is South Park’s Jab at the Hollywood Strike…and Canada

I had mixed feelings about this episode when I first saw it, mostly because I was largely bored by the Canadian Strike, even if it was meant to represent something else equally as ridiculous. And that point – that the Hollywood writers’ strike got them absolutely nothing – was great. I just found the episode to be a little slow and somewhat repetitive, and I hate thinking, “Get on with it,” while watching South Park.

The battle between the stupid people from the YouTube videos was also amusing even though I honestly hadn’t seen but one of the cultural phenomena referred to. That stuff just never reaches me. If you want to provide a link below to any of the things that were being made fun of in the episode, I’d be most appreciative – perhaps some of my readers will be too.

What did you think of this episode? What is your favorite video?

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Matt Damon and I at Universal Studies Hollywood, in Los Angeles

jay-and-matt-damon

“The City of Angels: I didn’t find it to be that exactly.” However, I did go with some friends to Universal Studios Hollywood. To be honest, it pretty much destroyed the magic for me. The moment I saw the behind the scenes stuff, it was done. I can hardly watch a movie anymore without going, “Fake!” or “Seen that scenery!” It’s frustrating because I love the majesty and wonder of movies and the moment you know – not how much – but what specifically is fabricated it makes it that much easier to spot it and no longer be impressed. And where’s the fun in that?

In any case, I saw Matt Damon – or at least a very life-like cardboard cut-out of him – and opted to grab this rare photo opportunity.

I will say that there are some neat rides at Universal Studios, including the Simpsons Ride and some bad-ass Roller Coaster that I forget the name of. I think it was for the Mummy.

Have you been to Universal Studios Hollywood? What did you think?

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Cartman Becomes “Awesome-O,” Butters Robot Pal, in Episode 802

Oh, Cartman, you silly bastard.

In an attempt to pull one of his biggest pranks on Butters to date, Cartman dresses up as a robot, calling himself Awesome-O and pretending that he will be Butters’ servant and best friend. The two become disturbingly close – with Butters thinking the whole time that he really does have a new robot best friend – and when Cartman learns that Butters has a video of him dancing around his backyard like Britney Spears, he realizes that he cannot leave Butters’ side until he finds it … especially considering the fact that Butters plans to show the tape to everyone if Cartman is ever mean to him again.

Still not realizing that it’s just Cartman, Butters takes Awesome-O on vacation with him and Hollywood producers abduct him and make him think of movies for them. Cartman continues giving them ideas with Adam Sandler. Eventually the U.S. military grabs Awesome-O, believing he can assist them in the War on Terror by generating movie ideas for anti-Islamic films. Brilliant!

By the end of the episode I’ll give you one guess about what happens with that video of Cartman….

What did you think? What was your favorite part?

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Mr. Hankey and the Sundance Film Festival Come to South Park in episode 209, “Chef’s Salty Chocolate Balls”

Mr. Hankey arrives in a non-Christmas episode. What a delightful treat! When Hollywood brings it’s healthy-eating, high-falooting doogooderie fest to South Park in the form of the Sundance Film Festival, it’s determined to ruin the charming quality of this small town and force it to be just like miserable Los Angeles.

Moreover, all the unfortunate poop that results from such obnoxious diets destroys Mr. Hankey’s ecosystem (and South Park in the meantime) and so Mr. Hankey comes to the surface, sick and in need of people to leave. He says:

“Film festivals shouldn’t be about what celebrities are coming or what film is going to get shown. It should be about people getting together and watching movies, and about people who can never get their movies seen having the chance to have it watched, if only once. A good film festival should be something where we all say, ‘Ah let’s forget about lawyers and agents and studios and celebrities. Let’s forget all those things for just a while and just watch some new art.’”

Then he destroys everyone with a storm of poop Fantasia style.

Some of you may know that my criteria for rating movies is actually with the number of Chocolate Salty Balls I award them – obviously a method inspired by this episode.

What do you think of this episode?

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Leonardo DiCaprio and Russell Crowe are Excellent in Ridley Scott’s Body of Lies

As far as I know this hasn’t been a critically acclaimed film. In fact, it’s one among many Hollywood attempts to expose the problematic approach of the United States to the War on Terror. Well, we all know it’s flawed but throwing it in our faces when we’ve paid $10 to be entertained is not the greatest approach.

As it happens, this movie was pretty entertaining. It was, I contend, too long, and quite frankly I don’t understand why almost every movie these days is over 2 hours. I wish I could say I thought they were trying to give us our money’s worth, but when it comes to movies, value is not measured in time. It’s measured in the quality of the product on the screen. Now, it’s not that there were a huge amount of scenes that needed cutting, but generally I find long movies to be a problem with ego or intelligence. Either the director/editor thinks that his material is too good to be cut or (s)he’s not smart enough to figure out how to cut material while making sure the story doesn’t fall apart. It’s an art and it’s difficult, I understand, but that doesn’t mean I need to sit there through 30 minutes of bunk material because you can’t get your cut on.

In any case, this movie was good, if a little long. I’m not generally a big Russell Crowe fan, but he did a good job being a character I wasn’t supposed to like much anyway. Leonardo DiCaprio, as always, was spectacular. I often say that he is one of the premier actors of our generation and I stand by that. He is incredible and this performance was great – not Oscar great and perhaps not Blood Diamond great, but he’s great.

I loved the portrayal of certain aspects of Muslim culture in Jordan, including the difficulties between the Muslim woman and DiCaprio’s character, and I loved the defense of the Middle East and Islamic culture by DiCaprio. The Middle East is a great place with great people and this global struggle that we’ve all become embroiled in makes it rather difficult to realize that. Obviously, that’s what Hollywood, in all its glory, wants us to see, but unfortunately it would rather slam it in our faces than subtly demonstrate the fact. What can you do?

I give Body of Lies 7 chocolate salty balls.

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The Boys Become Talent Agents in “Wing” Episode 903

This silly episode is making fun of a real person who ABBA song-stylings you can actually hear on the internet at the address provided at the end of the episode. What a weird thing for South Park to have found and made fun of. However, the topic does give the show an opportunity to mock one of its favorite topics: Hollywood.

By calling the agent-client structure stupid and wrong, they are criticizing the blood-sucking leeches that take the hard-earned money of talented people, often by doing nothing.

What do you think of the Hollywood agent system? Did you like this episode? Do you think Wing is talented?

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Around the World Pic: Scientology Church in Los Angeles

I went to Los Angeles over Labor Day weekend and had a great time exploring the city (great tour guide), hanging out at the beach (great weather) and visiting Universal Studios (great day).

One thing I noticed, though, as I cruised the streets of L.A. (something many before me have noticed but as this was my first visit I just saw it for myself), was that there were Scientology churches everywhere. You couldn’t escape them. What is it about L.A. that makes it such a bastion for this cultish pseudo-religion? I have some theories that involve personal emptiness, gullibility, the need to remain fashionable, money, etc., but they’re little more than that: theories.

Though I do have a picture with me in the foreground and the primary Scientology headquarters in the background, you really can’t tell what that building is, so I opted to give you this photo instead, which I took right on Hollywood Boulevard.

Have you ever been to this church? To L.A.? Did you notice the Scientology churches everywhere? What’s your theory for why they’re there?

To read about South Park’s Scientology episodes, 912 and 1001, click HERE or HERE, respectively. To read about the Religion in the News day concerning Scietology, click HERE.

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