30 September 2009

Fame 2009 or Fame 1980? A Quiz

Last weekend we went to see Fame (the 2009 remake) in the theater. I was really excited about it, because the 1980 movie (and even moreso, the TV show) were so influential in the world of Young Molly Backes. A school where you get to be a total diva, wear legwarmers, and dance on top of taxis? Sign me up!

Woo, leg warmers!

So, first of all, I have no idea what I was thinking. Remakes are never as good as the original. You heard me, Lindsay Lohan Parent Trap. Never. Secondly, I somehow thought I wouldn’t really need a plot if there was enough singing and dancing. Right? Who needs a plot when you have jazz hands? The original movie didn’t really have a plot, and it was still awesome. Third, I apparently forgot to factor in the differences between teens in 1980 and teens today: the strange, dangerous, secretive, and usually about to knife you teens of yore vs. the sparkly, witty, talented, and injecting much needed cash into America’s limping economy teens of today.

Fame 2009: Cleaner. Brighter. Airbrushed.

It’s not that the remake of Fame was that terrible, really, if you consider “whitewashed, sterilized, and PG” to be “not terrible.” It’s just that the remake represents an entirely different America than the 1980 version did. There’s a place for each, I suppose. And to help you figure out which version of Fame is the place for you, I’ve created this handy quiz.

Do You Belong in Fame 1980 or Fame 2009? A Quiz

1. New York is:
a) exciting! Bright lights, big city, the Great White Way! I know I’m going to make it!
b) dirty. Full of junkies and prostitutes.

2. Your performing arts high school is:
a) a great opportunity to achieve my dreams!
b) kind of junky.

3. The weird kid likes you because:
a) he can see your true talent shining through.
b) you supply him with drugs.

4. When you get offered the gig your friend wanted, you:
a) refuse the gig. Friends come before career, guys.
b) shrug. Sucks to be her! You’re going to be a dancer!

5. When your friend gets offered the gig you wanted, you:
a) leave in a huff, trusting your friend to follow. Friends first, guys!
b) yell: “Well f*ck you, Leroy, this was my audition, remember? You’re not into high school, this was my audition. We were rehearsing to get me into this school, not you, you f*cker! It’s just not fair! I didn’t want to come here anyway. This school sucks! You done me a favor, shithead! You saving me four f*cking years from this ass licking school! You looking at one happy lady. Who wants to go to a f*cking school to learn how to dance anyway?”

6. At lunch, you:
a) perform a highly choreographed interdisciplinary routine, giving ample time for each student to shine.
b) jam. About the lunch ladies.

7. This teacher keeps hassling you because:
a) he just believes in you so much, and you’re not willing to let him in.
b) you can’t read. And you DON’T WANT TO LEARN.

8. When things get rough in class, you:
a) run away to the auditorium, where you discover that the cute shy girl has an amazing hidden talent.
b) go smash a bunch of shit.

9. The problem with your analyst is:
a) um, what’s an analyst?
b) you’re in love with him, thus exposing your latent homosexuality.

10. The problem with your mother is:
a) she told you you were talented! She believed in you!
b) you haven’t seen her in months and she neglected to furnish the apartment in which you live, alone, with your one mattress, Indian print blanket, and guitar.

11. But seriously, the real problem with your mother is:
a) she won’t stop taking pictures of you! She’s just so proud of you!
b) she refused to take your little sister to the doctor after she got raped. Church? She needs to go to a doctor, ma!

12. The problem with your father is:
a) he just wants you to be a classical cellist!
b) he attaches speakers to the roof of his cab and drives around the city blasting your music.

13. When you take to the streets:
a) um, we don’t do that. But we did have a very nicely choreographed and expensively decorated circus-themed Halloween dance!
b) it’s because YOU HAVE TO DANCE! There’s a dark, violent edge to your dancing, not to mention a general societal mistrust of teenagers leftover from when all the teens went wild in the sixties and seventies – only a few years ago! – not to mention the fact that half the kids are on drugs these days and who knows what else! Get the police in here to stop this riot!!

14. You decide you’re just too boring and vanilla to be a real actress, so you:
a) unbraid your hair and start curling it instead.
b) change your name to Monique, start sleeping with your boyfriend, smoke pot, go to the Rocky Horror Picture Show, take off your shirt, and dance in front of an auditorium of strangers.

15. Potential failure and inability to achieve your dreams is symbolized by:
a) your super hot teacher, Megan Mullally, who’s still really pretty and has an amazing voice. But she’s old, so it’s not too upsetting. Plus, now she’s a teacher, and she gets to go to clubs and do karaoke with us!
b) the most promising young actor from PA who was a senior when you were a freshman. Now he’s a sad waiter. Look into your future, kid.

16. When an older dude tried to use your naiveté and desire for fame to seduce you, you:
a) pushed him off with chaste outrage and ran out of the trailer.
b) took your shirt off for the camera and cried.

17. After you got kicked out of PA because you’re not talented enough to make it, you:
a) stuck around and supported your friends anyway!
b) disappeared from the movie.

18. The only thing standing between you and your career as a professional dancer is:
a) your pesky boyfriend. God, did he SERIOUSLY think you would choose him over your career?
b) your pesky unborn baby.

19. When things get rough, you:
a) cut to a dance sequence!
b) drink too much, do too many drugs and try to sever all ties with the people who love you.

20. Your music teacher tells you:
a) that you’re so talented, he’d like to hire you.
b) to stop holding your violin like a dick.

21. By the end of high school, your chances at success are:
a) hello, awesome! You already HAVE a job as a professional actress/singer/dancer!
b) uncertain, but probably pretty slim.


If you answered mostly a):
Fame 2009! What up, Millennial? You’ve been told since before birth that you are more special than every special special special kid around you, and that has instilled a deep sense of entitlement in you! If you have a dream, you will probably achieve it! Like, in the next half hour! And if one person tells you that you’re not good enough, well, you can always go home to Iowa and take over your mother’s dance studio as the Number One Dancer in Cedar Falls!

We respect personal space in 2009!

If you answered mostly b):
Fame 1980! You will do anything to achieve your dreams, no matter how much coke you have to snort, how many producers you have to sleep with, or how many abortions you have to put on your Master Charge. You’re going to make it, dammit, and if anyone tells you otherwise, you will go crazy in a way that may involve dancing, but will more likely involve a bunch of shattered glass.

Baby, Remember MY Name!

19 September 2009

She-Ra Defeats the Evil Whores

God bless Hulu.

So it's Saturday afternoon and I'm doing laundry while N's at the theater. In a former life, I used to wait until Kate & Alley was on so I could fold my laundry to the comfortingly mild hijinks of Jane Curtin and Susan Saint-James, but lacking a TV, I have more control over what crappy TV I get to watch while I'm folding towels.

Okay Hulu, I say, gimme your best shot.
Yeah? Asks Hulu.
Yeah, I say.
And Hulu says, How about SHE-RA, PRINCESS OF POWER?

SHUT THE FRONT DOOR, HULU. You have to understand, in a childhood of very little TV -- I remember a lot of getting lost in cornfields, building bridges across cowponds with sticks, lining rocks up in order of prettiest to ugliest -- we chose to spend our allotted TV hour on two shows: He-Man and She-Ra. My favorite episodes, of course, were when He-Man and She-Ra COMBINED FORCES to save the universe from evil, similar to when Jamie and Paul Buchman would suddenly show up in Central Perk and mistake Phoebe for her evil twin Ursula. Oh, the hilarity!

So yes. I sat down with my clean, warm laundry to watch the pilot episode of She-Ra, Princess of Power. And it was awesome.

And so, so, so much gayer than I remembered.

The credits are like Electric Company plus GLITTER plus power 80s music. Along the lines of Star Wars, they tell some story about something something universe, evil guy... whatever.

And then She-Ra and all her friends stand under the rainbow, because only THEY can save the universe from the HORDES of EVIL. (Which, mind you, I was about halfway into the episode before I realized they were saying "Hordes" and not "Whores.") She-Ra's Rainbow Coalition to Fight the Evil Whores.

So once upon a time, in a Castle Greyskull far away....

a bird-woman was having a very bad dream. She dreamed that a snorting skeleton-pig-fish man was stealing a baby. "You may have won this time, Bird Lady, but you'll never see this BABY again!"

She woke up from her terrible dream, only to see a sword appear in the air and blast open a door that she'd NEVER THOUGHT TO OPEN HERSELF, revealing a magical portal to... somewhere!

Meanwhile, in a Jetsons-type colony, Prince Adam is stirring up a batch of his super special spiced bread, while his giant kitty looks on, Scooby-Doo-like, whining about how hungry he is. Adam explains patiently (sounding suspiciously like Casey Kasem, but apparently he's voiced by John Erwin, who incidentally also voiced Babe the Gallant Pig) that a work of art like his secret spiced bread requires patience.

No, I'm serious.

Suddenly, Adam hears a voice in his head, and utters my favorite line of the entire episode: "Shhh! The sorceress is speaking to me by telepathy!"


BY TELEPATHY. That means she is IN MY HEAD.

The birdlady in Adam's head tells him to rush to Castle Greyskull RIGHT AWAY. So despite all the nonsense he's just given his cat about how much time and patience his special bread takes, he drops everything, and runs to the castle, where the Bird Woman shows Adam the portal, gives him a sword that looks just like his, except for the gem. ("Hey! Except for this jewel, this sword looks EXACTLY LIKE MINE!") Bird Woman, that saucy minx, then demands Adam go through the portal to look for the person to whom the sword belongs, but she won't tell him WHO. "ADAM, ADAM, PLEASE STOP ASKING QUESTIONS," she whispers girlishly. "JUST GO THROUGH THE DAMN PORTAL AND FIND A MYSTERIOUS PERSON NO I CAN'T TELL YOU ANYTHING ELSE! I HAVE A HEADACHE!"

And she pushes him and his kitty through the portal into a Seussian wonderland. Luckily, Adam fits right in with his violet tights and purple Uggs.

Adam and his kitty do what any characters in a children's show would do upon entering a strange land: they go to a bar.

Where, as it happens, Tom Selleck is sitting with his Rainbow Owl, drinking alone. As usual.

Moments after Adam and the kitty burst in, shocking the locals with his Lilac Uggs ("So 2003!" they whisper), three robots burst into the bar and demand that the harpist "Play something good!"

When the bard fails to play the appropriate music, the robots go crazy, forcing Tom Selleck to unveil himself.

Tom's name, as it turns out, is BEAU. As in "Adam's Handsome New" Beau? Adam hopes so.

The rainbow owl, as it turns out, is as much of a coward as the kitty, and they become besties under a bar table.

Adam and (his) Beau fight the robots together until the bitter end, where they slam them headfirst into matching pink planter pots.

Meanwhile, at the Spider Castle, The Snorty Skeleton speaks to his Evil Whores. You can tell they're evil because they're so sexy. Well, the ladies are. And the dudes are all sea monsters.

I recognize Cat-Ra because we still have her action figure at my mother's house. In fact, N pulled it out of a drawer under the TV last weekend when we were looking for the remote.

Her friend the dementor is the only legitimately scary bad guy. I remember being scared of her when I was little, too. What I didn't realize then is that part of her threat is in her starting-to-sag evil boobs. LOOK INTO YOUR FUTURE, LITTLE GIRLS.

Meanwhile, back at the ranch, the Gayest Ride in Cartoon History is happening:

No comment.

So Adam and Beau and the kitty and the rainbow owl and the pink horse all go to the Whispering Woods, where they meet up with the "rebels" who are composed of like eight farmers with hoes and led by a pink-haired sweetie named Glimmer.



Their meeting is interrupted by this Wacky Witch whose eyelids are part of her hat and Her Wacky Broomstick Sidekick who come to tell them that the Evil Whores are imprisoning all the townspeople and sending them off to the Slave Fields.

Glimmer takes a stand. "Golly gee, we can't let them get away with it!"

Now this next part is the only one I find remotely scary, and that's when the Evil Whores are rounding up the townspeople to work in the slave mines. What's interesting is that this was 1985, so all the bad guys should be Cold War Era types -- you know, trying to convert Glimmer to Marxism or whatever -- but instead, they seem to be taking a page from the Nazis. Maybe there's just a finite number of ways for Evil Whores to be Truly Evil, and no one did it better than the Nazis. I have to wonder, though, if my very first understanding of the Holocaust wasn't directly in relation to THIS EPISODE: "Ooohhh, I get it! It's like when the Evil Whores rounded up all the townspeople and sent them off to work in the slave mines!"

And that's what truly scares me.

Anyway, so there's a battle, and the real shocker is that PRINCESS AURORA is EVIL. She is! They keep calling her "Force Captain Aurora" or something, and she is SHOOTING A GUN AT HE-MAN, who we know -- but he doesn't know, and she doesn't know -- oh, delicious dramatic irony -- IS HER BROTHER!!

Also, she isn't wearing pants.

Meanwhile, (her secret brother) Adam runs away, calls on the power vested in him by Castle Greyskull, and turns into He-Man.

And then he shoots his sword at his pet tiger, and it FINALLY turns from being a trembly, hungry, foolish figure (with a voice eerily reminiscent of Brian Close) into the supremely awesome BATTLE CAT I remember from the action figures of my childhood. And yes, we played with He-Man figures along with She-Ra.

And then a battle ensues, in which He-Man tells a very butch-sounding Scorpion Lady to be more ladylike. Seriously, He-Man? With your Violet Tights and your Beau who wears his heart on his chest, and your pet kitty, YOU feel the need to instruct other people on appropriate gender behavior? The nerve.

Then Glimmer gets her ears sucked by a sea monster.

And then He-Man is knocked over by this other sea monster's "Balance Distorter Ray." I'm not making this up. The sea monster can knock you off your balance! Oooooh, how EEE-VIL!

Of course, the battle must finally come down to He-Man and Force Captain Aurora, who are actually brother and sister -- not that you'd guess by their extreme matching Minnesota Blond thing -- and they have a showdown which involves He-Man pulling out the sword (the one that's "except for this jewel, exactly like MY sword") from Bird Lady, only to see....

Aurora's face IN THE GEM!


But she doesn't care! A robot appears and knocks He-Man over, leaving Aurora to pick up the sword WITH HER OWN FACE and stare at it...


Except I'm not going to continue to recount the entire second half of the episode to you. Not that I won't watch it. On the contrary friends; I still have laundry to fold. It's just that it's so hard to write with the closing themesong ringing in my ears: "For the honor of love... we have the power, so can you!"

How very Colbertian of them.