Daily Archives: April 26, 2018

Daily Discussion with BQB – Is Apu Offensive?

Hey 3.5 readers.

I write an ongoing column on this fine blog called, “Is Comedy Dying?” where I lament how the “rush to offense” culture is tearing down comedy and not replacing it with anything good.  What passes for comedy now is just going to be Samantha Bee yelling at me about her political views, John Oliver snarking at me about his political views, and Amy Schumer making yet another dumb movie where she’s like, “Hey guys!  I’m a drunk slut who acts like an idiot but nice guys should like me or else they’re super mean, right?”

I digress.  On the surface, I get why an American of Indian descent might not be a fan of Apu, the owner of the Quick-E-Mart on “The Simpsons.”

On a deeper level though, those who watched the show regularly are aware that a) Apu is often the most intelligent resident of Springfield b) he’s an immigrant who built himself up into a businessman c) he suffers casual racism from incompetent Springfield boobs regularly with dignity and grace, often helping those who hurt him and d) he might as well be the one making money selling Homer outdated snacks because if he weren’t doing, Homer would just drive his fat ass to another convenience store and if anything, the scenes where Apu crosses out the date on expired products only for Homer to eat them and get sick is more about how chubby Americans suffer a love affair with junk food and are willing to make the worse decisions about what to shove in their holes.

I get the complaints – Hank Azaria isn’t Indian, some Indian Americans lament that when they were growing up they were called “Apu” or subjected to catch phrases like, “Thank you, come again” and so on.

But I don’t know.  Look at the rest of the show.  If we’re getting rid of Apu, then we also have to get rid of Bumblebee Man, Groundskeeper Willie, Uter the Chubby Exchange student and so on.  From Chief Wiggum, the fat donut chomping cop to Principal Skinner, the uptight, bureaucratic educator, every character is essentially a stereotype because that’s what cartoons are.

I get that people get offended but good comedy offends everyone, eventually.  There’s humor in everyone, everywhere.  If anything, comedy is fair when it offends everyone, when sooner or later, it pokes fun at anyone and everyone and leaves no one behind.

At the very least, can we really harangue the Simpsons creators for doing something that was considered OK 30 years ago?

I don’t know.  I do get the complaints.  I don’t want people to feel bad.  Still, I don’t know how the Simpsons continues if these are the constraints we are working under now.

It makes me a little sad and ready to throw in the comedy towel, to just let the snarky Manhattanite comics take the whole thing and ruin it all with their high falutin, brie cheese sniffing jokes that only three people get.  That’s fine.  Let’s just go ahead and get the Simpsons cancelled then.  What really need is 16 more movies where Amy Schumer laments that she can’t find a man who will accept her drunken sluttyness, more of John Oliver and Steve Colbert making my eyes glaze over with their policy talks, more of Samantha Bee yelling jokes at me that her writers room nerds thought were funny so ergo, I should find them funny.

I’ll be at the bar, 3.5 readers.  Tell me what you say in the comments below.

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Movie Review – Train to Busan (2016)

Zombies on a train!

BQB here with a review of “Train to Busan.”

As a zombie fan, I’ve been hearing mumblings about this movie in the nerd-o-sphere for awhile now.  It’s foreign, the characters speak Korean and it’s in subtitles, but foreign language films don’t necessarily stop me as long as the subject matter is something I’m interested in.  Personally, I prefer to read the subtitles and that combined with listening to the tone of voice and facial expressions I can get the gist of what’s going on even though I don’t speak the same language as the actors.  Funny how there are some things that transcend language barriers.

Anyway, in many ways, it’s a typical set-up.  Mom is divorced from Dad, Seok-woo (Yoo Gong), ostensibly because he works too much in his job as a stock broker, and apparently no matter where you are in the world, wanting to work hard is considered a crime by the ladies but that’s ok.  My review doesn’t need to be spoiled by my personal baggage.

Young daughter, Soo-an (Su-an Kim) misses her mother, who lives in Busan, and wants to cut her visit to her father’s home short.  After much wrangling, Dad concedes and hops a train with his kiddo.

Yadda, yadda, yadda…zombies!  A virus breaks out and South Korea is overrun with brain biters.  Worse, they’ve overtaken most cars on the train, leaving human survivors with only a few cars to move around on.

What happens next is a heroic tale of survival.  It becomes a constant running test when survivors are faced with a constant, repetitive choice, namely whether to slam a door between cars shut, sacrificing the life of a survivor who hasn’t made it through yet in order to protect one’s self and loved ones from the incoming zombie horde that’s chasing the unlucky human.

What would you do in that position?  Risk saving a fellow passenger, or slam the door in their face to protect yourself?  It’s a choice that’s made again and again, and as the movie progresses, we are left with a hope that maybe Seok-woo’s cold, businessman mentality might give way to a more humane, caring side.

Daughter Soo-an foils her dad’s efforts to think only for himself and his daughter.  She often lends a hand to complete strangers, putting herself at risk and in doing so, involving her old man in situations he’d rather avoid.

Meanwhile, the noble Sang-hwa (Dong-seok Ma) serves as a more overt check on Seok-woo’s conscience, almost bullying the man half his size to do the right thing.  While Seok worries chiefly about his daughter, Sang is worried about his pregnant wife, Seong-kyeong (Yu-mi Jeong).  Yet, he believes he can save her, his unborn child, and everyone else he can.

No movie would be complete without a villain and that comes in the form of Yon-suk (Eui-sung Kim), a train company executive who, unluckily for everyone else, happens to be riding on the train and is willing to sacrifice just about anyone and everyone just to save his oily hide from the gray matter chompers.

Overall, it’s a great film, a real thinker, with special effects that rival a Hollywood blockbuster.  Perhaps one of the more harrowing scenes comes when Seok, Sang and high school student, Yong Guk (Woo-sik Choi) form a three man phalanx and narrowly scrape through a tight car full of brain chewers in order to rescue their respective loved ones.

3.5 readers, Asia has really embraced the action genre and I don’t know if this is a new thing or perhaps it’s just something I’ve been turned onto thanks to Netflix, where you can find a vast cornucopia of Asian action films in subtitles.  Some are dubbed with American voices, but I do prefer to just read the subtitles, so catch this one before it obtains a mainstream level of popularity and they ruin it with dubbing.

The Ip Man Series and almost anything with Donnie Yen are worth watching and while Hong Kong seems to be Asia’s Hollywood, South Korea is catching up with this flick.

STATUS:  Shelf-worthy.  Seriously, I know a lot of people are like, “Ugh, I have to read subtitles?  No thanks.  Too much work.  It’s worth it and there’s plenty of action on screen to make up for it.  It’s currently available on Netflix.

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