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the film criticism aspect of cyber | by maryann johanson

daily list: 5 more horrific adventures in ugly obnoxiousness for Harold and Kumar

I swear to Christ, if I didn’t know better, I’d have thought that a movie with a title like Harold and Kumar Escape From Guantanamo Bay had to be a laugh-till-you-cry joke out of The Onion, or maybe a bit of snarking against stupid from Idiocracy. Turns out it’s a real movie… one that people were willing to throw $14 million at this weekend. Cuz there’s nothing better, I guess, than having a bit of fun at the expense of the long lost Constitution — who needs civil rights and human decency when we’ve got secret prisons and endless imprisonment without trial? It’s the new American way!

But why stop there? If the gloves have come off, then so be it. Take this, bitches:
1. Harold and Kumar Visit Dachau: It’s nonstop fun as the lads get thrown into the gas chambers — watch out, those tiles are slippery with the blood of the dead! — and later narrowly escape from a firing squad by cowering behind the corpses of women and children.

2. Harold and Kumar Go Waterboarding: Whoever said simulated drowing ain’t a day at the beach hasn’t spent a day at the beach with these guys!

3. Harold and Kumar Trash the EPA: A crazy blunder at the White House puts the beloved idiots in charge of the Environmental Protection Agency, and they just watch how much damage they can do when they actually put their minds to something! We don’t want to spoil the big twist, but let’s just say, You didn’t really like Florida, did you?

4. Harold and Kumar Invade Iran: A mixup at the airport sees our heroes getting on the wrong plane… and it’s a flight to wacky comedy when they land in Tehran. Watch as they bring American-style “diplomacy” to the Middle East as only two overprivileged overgrown frat boys can do!

5. Harold and Kumar Buy a Hummer: Who needs double-digit MPGs when you’ve got Harold and Kumar along for the ride? It’s over hill and dale — ripped them up in the process with those enormous tires! — with the boys as they burn up the world’s last drops of oil. Watch for the sequel, Harold and Kumar Buy a Hummer Hybrid, in which they pretend that eight miles to the gallon instead of four is striking a blow against global warming!

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  • Have you seen the movie, MaryAnn? It’s actually a satire of racial stereotypes and the state of the country today. A satire disguised with weed jokes, which allows it to get away with some pretty sharp gags. I don’t particularly blame you for not expecting anything other than disgustingness and exploitation based on the title, but I have a pretty low tolerance for mindlessly offensive humor and I didn’t see much of it in this movie. It’s far from perfect, but I think you might even like it, if you give it a fair try.

  • God

    Oh, Jesus Christ, SHUT UP. Just SHUT… UP.

    Liberals can’t even laugh at liberal humor anymore. Watch out, Jon Stewart!

  • Hypocee

    Yeah, it’s a satire – not a very sharp one, but then it’s not intended for a sharp crowd. The whole point, though, is to point out and mock the racism, duplicity and ineffectiveness of the War on Terror. I can’t see how anyone could read it straight.

  • MaryAnn

    it’s not intended for a sharp crowd

    That’s my point. Even if this movie were a sharp satire, the marketing of it — the title alone — clear indicates that it is aimed at a crowd that doesn’t have a problem with an abomination like Guantanamo Bay. Except, of course, should two lovable stoners get caught up in the mess of it.

    Liberals can’t even laugh at liberal humor anymore.

    Which proves my point: that some people do think it’s worthy laughing at the disgusting abuses of justice that are being committed in the name of we Americans… or that they don’t even constitute disgusting abuses of justice at all.

  • God

    Yeah, and remember that old Kubrick movie that made fun of nuclear war? What’s so funny about everyone dying? Nothing, that’s what. I can’t believe people think these things are funny.

  • Joanna

    Sorry, but I think the vast masses of homophobia cancel out the rather weak, toothless political satire. Feeble effort, guys.

  • MaryAnn

    remember that old Kubrick movie that made fun of nuclear war?

    I’d have thought God was smarter than that. Kubrick didn’t make fun of nuclear war. He made fun of human idiocy.

  • Pen Dragon

    If I had to sum up the mindset behind Gitmo and the “War on Terror”, I couldn’t do much better than to call it “human idiocy”. Horrible as it all is, a lot of people don’t have a problem with it, and a good satire (not that Harold and Kumar is a good satire, but it’s an attempt)is a good way of pointing out to those people that the whole thing is STUPID. From there, it’s a pretty easy leap to discovering that it’s also immoral, racist, etc., and an abomination.

  • MaryAnn

    Agreed: Gitmo and the War on Terror are excellent examples of human idiocy. But slapping the term “satire” on something doesn’t make it so. Anymore so than having Harold and Kumar visit a concentration camp would automatically be satirical.

  • Agreed: Gitmo and the War on Terror are excellent examples of human idiocy. But slapping the term “satire” on something doesn’t make it so. Anymore so than having Harold and Kumar visit a concentration camp would automatically be satirical.

    But how do you know it’s not satire if you haven’t actually seen the film?

  • MaryAnn

    From the reviews of those who have. Though I am specifically talking about the marketing of the film. Whatever the content, it is designed to appeal not as a satire but as, you know, somehow “funny” that two dumb stoners would end up at Gitmo.

  • Josh

    First, what kind of respectable film critic bashes a film they haven’t seen?…

    Oh yea, we are talking about MaryAnn here

  • bitchen frizzy

    You haven’t seen it?

    I assumed you had, since you were discussing content, especially since you linked the article to your “recent screenings” list.

  • MaryAnn

    First, what kind of respectable film critic bashes a film they haven’t seen?…

    What kind of person deliberate misreads the words I’ve written. I’m talking about the marketing of the film. Which is an entity separate from the film itself.

    I have made absolutely no secret of the fact that I have not seen the film. I’ve mentioned it more than once. And in the “recent screenings *and hot movies* listing on the right, the film does not have a stoplight color. Is it in any way unclear that that is meant to indicate that I cannot rate the movie because I have not seen it?

  • bitchen frizzy

    It was unclear to me, yes. And I didn’t see any mention of that in this article (I looked before I posted), except in one of the responses.

    I’m not making an accusation – sorry if it came across that way – just providing some feedback, FWIW. With hindsight, I should have used email.

  • God

    I have already seen the film, and I’ll admit that does color my perception. But I have honestly tried very hard to imagine how someone could view the ads for this film and reasonably conclude that it approves of Gitmo and the War on Terror. I ultimately concluded that I couldn’t really see it because I wasn’t that freaking stupid.

  • MaryAnn

    That’s me: freaking stupid. I mean, it’s not like we actually, as a nation, reelected the president who set up a place like Gitmo in the first place. It’s not like the nation clearly *approves* of such an atrocity. Yes, stupid me.

  • You’ve beginning to sound like one of the conservative bloggers you often oppose, MaryAnn.

    I’ll admit this movie isn’t exactly my cup of tea, either, but it seemed obvious from the trailer that the movie is making fun of racial profiling and the type of kneejerk jingoisim that would see Harold and Kumar as a threat just because of their ethnic background.

    And there are more than a few people on the Libertas site who hated the trailer for the exact opposite reason you did: because they felt it trivialized the War on Terror.

    So you had no problem with “Juno” making fun of Asians who talk funny but you had a problem with this?

    You’re usually better than that, MaryAnn.

  • MaryAnn

    You’ve beginning to sound like one of the conservative bloggers you often oppose, MaryAnn.

    I suggest that violations of the Geneva Convention aren’t funny, and that makes me conservative?

    So you had no problem with “Juno” making fun of Asians who talk funny but you had a problem with this?

    What?

  • Mathias

    Spend the $10 bux to see this film and you’ll find out MJ, that this movie isn’t worth the effort you put into typing that.

    It’s only half as good and funny as WhiteCastle and seeing as you hated that film, you’ll REALLY hate this one.

    Trust me, even potheads like me didn’t like it.

    And by the way, they spend less than 4 mins in Gitmo.
    Nothing but raunchy jokes. Absolutely no satire.

  • MBI

    Oh, there most certainly is satire. Not very good satire, but it’s there, and it certainly tries very hard to demonize the Bush administration, but only in the most obvious, heavy-handed way. It’s not very funny. But it’s certainly anti-Bush administration (but not, weirdly, anti-Bush).

    It also ends with Kumar declaring his love to his ex-girlfriend in the middle of her wedding. This needs to stop. I’m sick of supposedly raunchy stoner comedies that turn out to be chick flicks at heart (lookin’ at you, Apatow. You too, “Wedding Crashers”).

  • MaryAnn

    they spend less than 4 mins in Gitmo

    That seems to confirm what I’ve been saying, then: the title is using “Guantanamo Bay” as a punchline, not in any kind of thoughtful or satirical way but just as a way to make its intended audience snicker, like, Isn’t it hilarious that these two lovable idiots should get thrown in that awful prison? Maybe the film is trying to be anti-Bush, but it’s not being marketed that way. When I see a poster for this movie, or worse, a TV ad, I can only cringe, because there seems to be something gleeful about it.

  • Tim Duncan

    Sock it to ’em MJ. The losers that try to dismiss you as a ranting liberal looney are, of course, much more insidious. ‘Cause they’re ignorant. Those that argue HKEGB is the sort of movie that lampoons the problem and therefore gets people thinking about it is completely absurd. Wake up fools, this is your country… and people like Australia and UK citizens (yep, do your research) are being used in Bush’s sick campaign to motivate people against any kind of ideology and free speech, and that hoary ol’ chestnut, promoting political goodwill and inclusiveness. Phew. You guys probably didn’t understand any of the above. This liberal is going to sleep now. :)

  • God

    “Maybe the film is trying to be anti-Bush, but it’s not being marketed that way.”

    Okay, trying for civility on my part. Anyway, the trailer shows Harold and Kumar being thrown into Guantanamo by moronic, hysterically racist government stooges. I do not see the part that leads to the conclusion, “but everything else about Gitmo is fine.”

  • God

    Tim Duncan: You seem to be missing some kind of transition between your third and fourth sentence that would make your message coherent. Also, I’m a Knicks fan, so go to hell.

  • Tyler Foster

    I don’t think Harold & Kumar trivializes Guantanamo Bay BECAUSE it spends such little time there. While that sounds like it blows it off, had the movie staged long, drawn-out set pieces inside the prison, surely that would make more of a joke of the place than spending five minutes there and mentioning it by name in the title.

    And the joke IS about human idiocy, the idiocy of the character played by Rob Corddry, who undermines Americans at every turn in an attempt to make the country terrorist-free. More to the point, it’s definitely not at the expense of civil rights and human decency, because the whole idea is that everyone deserves to have it.

    On the other hand, it IS a gross-out movie and I doubt you would enjoy it but I would say its crimes against current events are less than you would expect.

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