Reading through current events, it is quite easy to spot interesting parallels between happenings past and present; let’s dissect a few of them, out of morbid curiosity if for no other reason. . .
Then: In 1989, the Material Girl divorced her husband, actor and sometimes director Sean Penn, after starring together in the horrible film Shanghai Surprise.
Now: Madonna divorces her husband, director and sometimes actor Guy Ritchie, after starring in his career-destroying movie Swept Away.
Madonna supposedly had to pay the new ex-husband over $76 million to be free and clear, a testament to her three decades of financial acumen, and just how devastating Swept Away is to Guy Ritchie’s future earnings potential.
Then: In December 2001, devout, confused British-born Muslim Richard Reid, furious at American policies in the Middle East, attempted to detonate his explosive-packed shoe on an American Airlines flight in a display of hatred towards the United States; fellow passengers detected him as he tried to light the fuse, his attempt failed, and he was captured.
Now. In December 2008, strident Shiite journalist Muntathar al Zaidi, furious at American policies in the Middle East, threw his shoes at President George W. Bush during a Baghdad press conference. Both shoes missed the mark, his attempt to beam the American President with size tens failed, and he was captured.
Overall, the Islamic world’s use of shoes has improved dramatically in seven years; no longer a weapon of mass destruction, al Zaidi has transformed shoes instead into an (im)potent political protest symbol. Even Code Pink, a thus far dramatically ineffective peace group, has adopted the shoe to symbolize their rabid dislike of America’s presence in Iraq during largely ignored protests in Washington, D.C. At this rate, the world’s Muslims in a few years hence may abandon the shoe as a weapon or political symbol altogether, and simply wear them, like many other people around the world do right now.
Then. In December 1996, Cruise stars in the box office and critical success Jerry Maguire, a feel-good holiday movie about the value of personal relationships and love over financial success.
Now. Tom Cruise stars in Valkyrie, a movie about a bunch of Nazis and a plot to kill Hitler, which will be released on Christmas day 2008 in the United States.
Earlier, I criticized the seemingly insane decision to make a film about Nazis, starring Tom Cruise, and release it on Christmas day, but since then I’ve had time to re-think the whole situation. In all honesty, I have never written a screenplay, nor have I ever tried to produce or direct a movie, let alone a Nazi Christmas film with Tom Cruise in it, so maybe I am not qualified to condemn this whole Valkyrie thing as the disaster it seems to be. So if you aren’t that busy on Christmas day, take your whole family to check Valkyrie out, and let me know what you think.
Then. In 2001, Microsoft releases Windows XP, which is installed on hundreds of millions of systems and dramatically increases network productivity and user output.
Now. Microsoft unleashes Windows Vista upon the world. Banks fail, the global economy lies in ruins, and people question if the end of times is upon us.
(Note: Props to Mickey Kaus, who originally pondered whether or not the Vista launch caused much of the contemporary world’s ills).
Then: “There was no inappropriate contact whatsoever.”
Now: “There was no inappropriate contact whatsoever.”
The new (non) inappropriate contact is a big improvement, especially since the latter’s denials are (so far) much more believable than the former’s. Still, the Clinton imbroglio provided so much titillating content that traditional media was not able to keep up with it, and the internet, with sites like Drudge, came into its own; these days, Politico can pretty much cover the whole Blagojevich thing by itself, it’s so old hat. Overall though, this mini-scandal has thus far kept us out of the salacious quagmire of cigars, dresses in need of dry cleaning, and meaning of the word “is” this time around, a fact everyone save for the folks at Gawker (and the RNC) should be happy about. The Lewinsky/Blagojevich big hair is an eerie parallel though, don’t you think?
Riddle inside an Enigma
Then. In 1995 Jim Carrey starred as the Riddler in Batman Forever. The movie was a box office success, though it deviated substantially from the darker comic source material and holds little appeal now to anyone who did not actually work on the film, or their immediate family members. Most filmgoers do not remember this film, or at least do not remember it being so terrible, because George Clooney’s franchise-destroying Batman and Robin immediately followed it.
Now (or Soon!) Eddie Murphy is tapped to play Edward Nygma, the Riddler, in the third Batman film by Timothy Nolan. Most fans, myself included, hope this is some sort of red herring smokescreen to protect the development of the third film. Don’t jump the shark yet, gents, there’s still plenty of character and plot to flesh out in the universe you’ve brought so expertly to the silver screen. Eddie Murphy as Edward Nygma? I just don’t see it working out that well, to be honest. . .
People around the world, and Americans in particular, crave change; the 2008 Presidential primaries and election ultimately rested on that one word. And yet, the more things change. . .
Don’t worry, no clichés here at AOI!