Tag: 2012

Starting Out Right

So we’re plummeting headlong into 2012, the supposed year when all of us will meet a fiery end because my Mayan ancestors made a creepy prediction centuries ago (actually, they did no such thing, but that’s another story).

If we’re all going to succumb this year, we might as well have fun. So I’m happy to announce another contest for movie tickets.

The movie in question is Contraband, a new thriller staring Mark Wahlberg.

What’s it about? Well, apparently Wahlberg is a former smuggler who is forced to get back into the business to save his family. He runs contraband and journeys to Panama to settle his brother’s debt before his son and wife are targeted by both the cops and hit men.

And I’m assuming there’s a car chase in there somewhere.

In any case, I will be giving out tickets to readers in one or more of the following cities:

Los Angeles
New York City
San Antonio
San Diego

All you have to do is comment on one of my posts (including this one) and you’ll be entered for the chance to win free passes to the film. Once again, your comment can be about anything, and if you’re stumped, just tell us your favorite Mark Wahlberg movie (personally, I’m going with The Departed).

The only thing you have to include in your comment is the city in which you intend to see the movie, so I can plan accordingly.

If you win, I’ll email the passes to you. By the way, I’m the sole person who will see your email addresses (unless you specifically want to share it in the body of your comment), so don’t worry about that.

I’ll announce the contest winners in the next week or so.

Until then, take Mark Wahlberg’s advice, and try to refrain from smuggling anything.

Happy New Year.

Kiss and Make Up

I’ve written before about the Republican Party’s image problem with Hispanics. For the most part, conservatives are content to appear as unappetizing as possible to Latino voters. It’s almost as if the GOP is saying, “We’re not really a bunch of redneck nativists who despise your culture, but you’ll just have to take our word on that. Now, who’s up for some stereotyping and deportations?

Perhaps many Republicans are afraid of offending their hardcore base, which is, let’s face it, not the most open-minded group. Or maybe conservatives were heartened by their “shellacking” of the Democrats in the midterms. Or possibly they’re feeling no pressure because U.S. Census figures indicate that red states are growing much faster than blue ones.

But wait — upon closer inspection, maybe that last one isn’t so uplifting to conservatives after all. As Fox News Latino points out, “the irony is that many of these growth centers … are the beneficiaries of population growth due in large part of immigration and brisk Latino birthrates.” In other words, one reason that the red states are bursting is because Hispanics are moving in. As such, these states have “a strong Republican Party presence, and an increasingly unsympathetic Latino electorate to counter that party’s influence.”

So if anything, conservatives should be bending over backwards to attract Latino support. At least a few Republicans know this.

Among them is our old friend Newt Gingrich (!), who recently admitted the truth about immigration reform when he said, “We are not going to deport 11 million people. There has to be some zone between deportation and amnesty.”

Gingrich’s surprising statement got the Washington Post’s attention. The newspaper opined that “making nice with Hispanics has become an incipient Republican cottage industry” and expressed “hope it grows enough to shut down the hateful rhetoric and demonizing of Latinos by too many Republicans in recent years.”

Well, let’s not get carried away. As the Post makes clear, nativists “have cowed the Republican Party with a message of rejection and hate that most Latinos take personally.”

And here is where the GOP fails to understand a basic truth: Slamming immigrants doesn’t just offend undocumented people. It also pisses off Latino citizens, many of whom are naturalized immigrants, have family members who recently arrived here, or just don’t like to see people who look like them get blamed for everything.

Indeed, as the National Council of La Raza states, the recent elections brought to power “some of the most extreme members of the House who are going to be the calling card of the Republican Party to Latinos.” This doesn’t really help conservatives, who “need to rebuild their relationships with Latinos.”

Still, it’s not all bad news for the GOP when it comes to Hispanics. There is one group of Latinos who are positively giddy about a significant part of the Republican platform. Unfortunately, these Hispanics are not citizens, or even residents.

It seems that the GOP insistence on making guns readily available is a big hit with Mexican drug cartels. Yes, although the right to carry a firearm is supposed to deter crime, the truth is that “Mexico’s most violent drug cartels are exploiting U.S. guns laws to acquire massive quantities of assault rifles and other firearms for use in their war.”

Ouch — somehow I doubt this fact will help win over Latinos in 2012.

So I Guess We Have Three Years to Live It Up

I have to finish this post quickly, before the world ends. At the very least, I have to wrap it up before 2013, when it will not only be irrelevant but even more embarrassing for the paranoid among us to read.

As you are no doubt aware, the blockbuster movie “2012” is currently assaulting filmgoers across the country. The film, which grossed more than $65 million on its opening weekend, is a disaster flick about the end of the world. The plot revolves around the ancient Mayan “prophecy” that we will all be obliterated on December 21, 2012. This is the date on which the Mayan calendar ends. Ergo, we’re toast.

This supposed prophecy was also referenced in the series finale of “The X-Files,” only then it was the launch date for the ultimate alien invasion or something (seriously, does anybody remember what that show was about at the end?).

In any case, I hesitated to even write about this movie, as I certainly don’t relish dishing out free publicity to moronic Hollywood flicks. I do have to admit, however, that the visuals look pretty cool. Apparently, my new hometown of Los Angeles gets obliterated in spectacular fashion:

My problem with Roland Emmerich’s film isn’t its absurdity or farfetched plot or cardboard characters – none of which I can actually verify because I haven’t seen the movie (call my impression an educated guess). And it’s not that I’m oh-so-above these big-budget popcorn flicks and watch only obscure Hungarian dramas about beet farmers. Check out my DVD collection for proof of my affinity for car crashes, huge explosions, and zombie attacks.

No, my issue is that “2012” pillages an ancient culture, deliberately misrepresents its traditions, and then claims its all true. More important, it taps into the serious vein of crazy that we have in this country.

We would like to believe that the “2012” stew of new-age hokum and cynical commercialism appeals solely to undiscriminating viewers and guys who hope their dates will jump onto their laps during the scary parts. However, the film’s central premise has already found a huge online following of people who are convinced it’s rational.

Perhaps this is not surprising in a culture where the theory of evolution appears to be open to debate, and a new September 11 conspiracy arises every month. But this latest strain of paranoia can have repercussions.

David Morrison, a senior scientist with the NASA Astrobiology Institute, says in a “National Geographic” article that he’s received emails from people who “were contemplating killing their children and themselves so they wouldn’t have to suffer through the end of the world.”

Of course, that’s an extreme reaction. Or perhaps it’s just the most effective way to avoid seeing another movie from the director of “Godzilla.”

The point is that it’s fine when a film tells us that Martians are coming or computers have became sentient or a synthetic virus has turned everybody into cannibalistic humanoid underground dwellers. But don’t insult people and get the nuts riled up by insisting that these wild scenarios are based on fact.

That the filmmakers are distorting Hispanic culture to give the movie some kind of old-school legitimacy is vexing. In actuality, the Mayan calendar’s exact meaning is open to debate. But its status as a doomsday clock is purely an American invention.

As the “Onion” points out, the real Mayan prophecy is that this movie will end any respect we have for John Cusack’s acting career. That prediction is far more plausible.

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