Entertainment

The Lightning Round

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Sometimes, you just run out of time. The Gauntlet's pair of opinionated geeks had another month of columns planned, then realized they only had an issue left. In the interest of getting everything covered, we now present The Lightning Round, where as many topics are covered as time and space will allow. Enjoy!

MTV to debut reality show, The Paper

JM: This reality show, about a high school student newspaper in Southern Cali, is probably the worst reality show concept ever. Here's a hint: the only thing student journalists really do is drink, do illicit drugs and fancy themselves to be like Hunter S. Thompson. This does not make compelling television at all.

RP: Remember that YTV show, Student Bodies? It was fun because it was only a half-hour and it was scripted. Combining the cheesy fun of that show with the reality show aspects of something like Big Brother sounds like a terrible idea. It's also worth noting that MTV hasn't made a good reality show since the first season of The Real World, which aired 16 years ago.

Why buy DVDs when I can download stuff?

JM: The recent release of Juno begins to slowly move into digital download territory, with the option of having an additional digital download copy of the film, in addition to buying the DVD. The only reason why I want to buy DVDs anymore is because of the special features. If there aren't any special features for the DVD, why should I unload $20 or more for something that I can rent it from a Blockbuster for $5 or download? Why bother getting the $20 DVD when the $30 one has all sorts of interesting and insightful DVD commentary.

RP: I love owning DVDs, mostly because I hate commercials and I love video quality. The growing popularity of TiVo and other DVR technologies show more and more that we're living in an "on demand" society. Appointment TV is rapidly dying, being replaced by folks recording shows, as is the willingness of the average moviegoer to head to the multiplex, at least judging by ticket sales. If the production companies can quickly churn out good quality DVDs of their programs, offering just a handful of cool bonus features, the incentive to download things will be gone.

1980s Cartoons Are Now Movies

JM: Speed Racer, G.I. Joe and Dragonball Z are all in production. A live-action adaptation of a cartoon is almost always a bad idea. Why are these properties any better? They're just a way to cash in on an entire generation of disaffected 20-somethings with a disposable income by re-interpreting their favourite television shows from their youth into a new package. The Transformers cartoon was really terrible, same with G.I. Joe and Dragonball Z. They won't make good movie properties.

RP: The live-action Transformers movie was awesome, mostly because it was a film entirely about robots and explosions. Movie studios love pre-existing properties like video games, comic books or old cartoons or TV shows because they have a built-in audience and nobody has to try very hard to write the first movie. The Transformers movie and the first Spider-Man film lifted much of their stories from earlier material and made insane amounts of money. In business terms, it doesn't matter if the films are good as long as they make back their budgets.

Jet Li or Jackie Chan?

JM: With Forbidden Kingdom coming up, it's time to pick sides: Jet Li is a much more versatile actor who has also managed to shy away from more embarrassing choices--Li didn't act in Around the World in 80 Days--as well as show off martial arts prowess. Films like Hero show Li's karate chops in both fighting and acting. Chan hasn't proven himself in recent history, while Li is still showing tremendous skill.

RP: Jackie Chan became a legend in Hong Kong in his 20s for being a charismatic leading man who did amazing stunts. He transitioned to North America in his 40s with Rumble in the Bronx and continued to make films, but the wear and tear on his body slowed him down over time. Chan has never been touted as an amazing actor and many of his more recent films have been laughably bad, but they're still entertaining. The worst Jet Li films, like Cradle 2 the Grave, have been utterly unenjoyable affairs.

Do people listen to indie music because they're pretentious? Or are they pretenious because they listen to indie music?

JM: Like anyone who spends their time actively searching out something unique and different from mainstream culture, there is an inherent level of pretension involved. The belief of being unique and separate from conventional society through film or clothing tastes is a shallow way of identifying yourself. This shallow identity creation causes people to end up being pretentious against those they view as lesser. So, listening to indie music invariably is the product of pretension.

RP: Neko Case and Kelly Clarkson share space with Metallica and Matthew Good on my CD shelves, so perhaps my complete and utter lack of musical taste is a kind of pretension. The rise of the "indie" faction is more of a result of the search for good anything--music, films or other art--being easier thanks to the internet. There's always been a bit of elitism surrounding who found the hottest new thing first, but now that everyone can do it there's a larger contingent of them.

Are DJs musicians?

JM: Most DJs that you see, the ones who play weddings and in some backwater dance club, aren't musicians. A real DJ, one who can on the fly create an entire new track out of completely separate elements. An artist can use other media to create his own form of art--Andy Warhol painted a can of soup and it was art. Why can't a DJ use other kinds of musical media to create his own form of music?

RP: I'm leaning towards, "No," mostly because I see a good DJ as being more in line with a film editor. They arrange things, but they cannot say that they're the one who created it.

Which Calgary summer music festival is best?

JM: Sled Island, despite the hipster wankery, is the best festival in Calgary. The atmosphere in Folk Fest is much more inviting but the sheer range of bands at Sled Island--including the local ones that many people may not know about--allows for a much more exciting festival. With the addition of an art gallery as well, the Sled Island music festival will only prove to be a much more exciting experience for music fans.

RP: The Calgary Folk Music Festival is held on an island in the middle of a city, where a community forms over a period of several days. As somebody who hates having to run from venue to venue, I'd much rather relax and spend a weekend in flip-flops listening to mellow music than run around town like I do during the week.

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Comments

*sigh* Cartoons and anime are not the same thing. In fact even cartoons and animation is not the same thing. Anime is from Japan and only Japan, cartoons are kids shows from any other country, and animation is any other animated show.

I'm vaguely reminded of the comment in Super Troopers about "Afghanistanimation"...

While something's to be said about lumping shows like "The Flintstones" or even "Family Guy" with anime like "Paprika" and "Neon Genesis Evangelion" (which is quite probably the greatest mindfuck of all time, of any production method or genre), pretending all anime is sophisticated adult fiction is kinda dumb.
See: Crayon Shin-chan
Ergo, anime is an all-encompassing genre term... like "cartoon." The two are interchangeable, especially when writing for a large audience.

My 2.

Also, I disagree with Ryan, many DJs are musicians. Unlike film editors, where you can make slight tweaks with the software but anything extensive makes the film unwatchable, DJs have tonnes of filters open to them (each dramatically changing the song's sound), can control playback speed, can seamlessly mix between multiple sources andóa hallmark of a true professional artistócan read crowds expertly and change the tone of his/her work based on their mood (or not, like the DJs who play Thursday at the Den. "Girls," "Sexyback," "Sandstorm," and "Don't Stop Believing" on repeat ad nauseum with next to no beatmatching doesn't exactly confirm my thesis of DJs as musicians...)

The mashup scene is probably the best example of DJs as musicians, though both techno and trance come fairly close. Minimalist techno DJs have been known to spin four tables at once, creating a totally new sound, and trance can be beatmatched so easily that DJs often create huge seamless sets that appear to be one massive song.

Also: Two wordsóDrum and bass. Amon Tobin is a drum and bass DJ who's used analogue sources like beans thrown at drums to make the most insanely creepy sounds.

For an excellent example, see Q-Unit, a 50 Cent and Queen mashup group. It is my preferred way of listening to both 50 Cent and QueenóI don't listen to either alone on my own volition, but Q-Unit is beyond awesome.