The American experiment has hit a couple potholes here and there in its 100 mph, top-down, hair in the breeze weekend jaunt through the annals of human history. Perhaps most frustrating is the fact that we're always one or two simple steps away from getting it right—to extend the opening metaphor, we could, if we so chose, ask the hooker to sit in the passenger seat and do some of the righteous blow s/he brought and not suck our dick as we take that hairpin mountainside turn—but, well, we just insist on getting blown at all times and so, occasionally, a fiery flaming wreck results. That's America in a nutshell, always thinking with its dick.
All is not lost, though. The evil white guys in suits are getting a degree of comeuppance from the awesome folks engaged in the 99% protests, the Occupy Wall Street/various and sundry other EWGIS hangouts demonstrations. The evil white guys in suits are not taking this resistance terribly well and have been acting out in fairly piggish fashion, which is both lulzy as fuck and ultimately damaging to their hegemony, so these days there's a rare sliver of optimism that the good guys might actually wrinkle some motherfuckers' Brooks Brothers. Which is nice.
But, then, some dumbass comes along and fucks everything up and restores that creeping, chilly “we're all fucked” feeling. One such is a woman in Michigan who's filed an actual for-real, official and everything lawsuit against the distributors of Drive, claiming that the trailers misrepresented the movie as being Faster and a bit more Furious than it ended up being. Obviously, it's not like people aren't allowed to not like Drive. I did, a lot of other people did. A lot of others were lukewarm or outright hostile. Not everybody likes the same stuff; there are even reports of apostate joyless fucktards who don't like Big Trouble In Little China (Ed. Note: shun these fucks).
Be that as it may, suing a distributor because you're too fucking stupid to realize that a trailer is not a movie . . . well, that's just special. Not only is it a waste of time the criminal justice system could better use to acquit good-looking white chicks of murder, it sets an extremely dangerous precedent. Let's break the “thought” process down into its elements:
1—Lady sees Fast & the FuriousI'm well aware that not everyone reads the amount of film criticism I do (some read more, most read less) and thus not everyone had been reading stuff about Drive from when it screened at Cannes until its US release four months later. But even so, have another look at the trailer for Drive:
1a—Lady likes Fast & the Furious (a logical conclusion)
2—Lady sees trailer for Drive
2a—Drive trailer contains cars
2b—Moreover, said cars are being driven
3—Lady transitively infers that Drive = Fast & the Furious
Again, you can not like it because it turned out not to be the Fast & the Furious. I may find your reasoning specious, but hey. It's America. The level of stupidity it takes to actually sue Drive's distributor over this, though, is one where it's practically an art form. And that's before we even get to the part that because Drive has Jewish characters, it's anti-Semitic. That, actually, is kind of comforting: the plaintiff might just be crazy, not apocalyptically fucking stupid. Small comfort, but still.
I know the second a responsible judge gets a hold of this ruling, s/he'll toss it and probably even openly chastise the plaintiff for wasting the court's time, but on the off chance that doesn't happen, it sets a dangerous precedent. It means if I see a trailer for a Scarlett Johansson movie, and she doesn't take her clothes off, I can sue because I saw those hacked cellphone pics. If I go see RDJ's next Sherlock Holmes movie and he doesn't turn to Jude Law and go “The game's afoot, Watson!” I can sue Warner Bros, RDJ, Jude Law, Guy Ritchie, and the cult center where Guy Ritchie left his filmmaking ability ten years ago.
Per that last, it is once again safe to make unkind jokes about celebrities on the Internet. The recent reality show H8R, where éminence grise Mario Lopez provided the likes of Snooki, Kim Kardashian, and the creator of Girls Gone Wild the opportunity to shame people who'd said things about them on the Internet. Now, as Daniel Fienberg points out in this brilliant evisceration, it would be one thing if Snickers was rolling up on Perez Hilton or something, but this was a case of people who had unequivocally beaten the system, gotten ludicrously rich (or, in Kardashian's case, started out ludicrously rich and then become more so) for doing nothing more strenuous than existing. And, when someone on the Internet expresses anything other than the most obsequious fawning, Mario Lopez is there to sit in his limo and watch them waddle up to some random person who makes in a year what the victimized celebrity makes in a half-hour and say shit like “You don't even know, okay?”
That something like H8R even existed in the first place is a sign that America is deeply, deeply damaged, even if the fact that it was canceled after four episodes is a sign that we're not quite past beyond the point of saving. And, as mentioned at the top, there are many in whom the desire to change this broken country for the better has been awakened. But fuck, man. There was, for four whole episodes, a TV show where incredibly rich people went out of their way to embarrass incredibly not-rich people they'd never met before who dared to criticize them. And, as Fienberg pointed out, the nature of the critiques was mild, if not merely stating fact.
But, again, H8R is now fortunately a thing of the past, soon to be joined by the dumb Drive lawsuit. Hopefully the misconception that the right to have one's cake and eat it too is guaranteed in the Bill of the Rights will pass. But it is one that's shared by many in America. Occasionally, things are going to happen that we don't like. It's how we deal with that that determines our character. I'm not perfect in any sense of the word (except sex and the crafting of analogies, of course) but I can say unequivocally, if your reaction to not liking a movie is to sue, or if you get so bent out of shape about someone Tweeting that you're imperfect that Mario Lopez and a limo become involved, your character is a bit wanting.
(As a treat for putting up with social commentary on a movie blog, here's a link to my review of Real Steel. Oh, shit, that didn't help, did it? Sigh....)