- - Thursday, December 9, 2010

Water torture

“‘I hear those little kids screaming through my brain. All night long I can hear them. I can close my eyes, but I’m still going to hear them over and over and over.’ It’s a quote that could come from a war veteran or prisoner of war when asked to describe the horrors of their experience. An example of post traumatic stress syndrome, perhaps. War, however, has nothing to do with his particular quote. That quote is from a Florida inmate and he’s referring to the kids in Robert Zemeckis’ ‘The Polar Express.’ Insert laugh track here.

James Poulin, an inmate at the Brevard County Detention Center in Florida, has filed a lawsuit complaining that he’s being tortured by the people running the jail because he’s forced to watch the same movies over and over again. The jail doesn’t have cable so they play a limited selection of DVDs, which include ‘Saving Private Ryan,’ ‘Black Hawk Down’ and ‘The Polar Express,’ repeatedly. Poulin is trying to get the jail, which had to drop regular TV when the digital switchover happened, to introduce more programming. …

“He likened the repetition of the films to ‘Chinese water torture’ and believes that inmates have a ‘right to the media in jail.’”

Germain Lussier, writing on “Can Watching The Same Movies Repeatedly Be Considered Torture?” on Dec. 7 at Slashfilm

Diva fits

“It’s not simply Washington journalists who puff up the powerful. Those who cover Hollywood celebrities, athletes, CEOs, even literary lions, abide by various levels of celebrity ground rules (control of photos and editorial content, including what questions can and cannot be asked) just to get the interview.

“In a recent Vanity Fair story about Philip Roth conducted over a restaurant lunch, the novelist insisted that the reporter not reveal what Roth ordered from the menu. The reporter mentioned the ‘eccentric condition’ of the interview, but did as he was told and did not reveal Roth’s choice of food. Celebrity seems to come with a corrosive sense of self-entitlement, once only the province of off-with-their-heads potentates.

“In an interview that Maria Shriver granted to The Washington Post not long ago, she waved off the reporter’s questions, telling him instead which questions she wanted to be asked. To the reporter’s credit, he wrote about her taking over the role of questioner and answerer, ‘as if she’s conducting a sit-down with a ventriloquist-doll version of herself.’”

Kitty Kelley, writing on “Unauthorized, But Not Untrue,” in the Winter edition of the American Scholar

Game-playing

“Because sports are one of the few areas of television programming that are DVR-resistant, ratings have remained steady or rising for almost all games, studio shows, highlight shows, and what-have-you. And the people who broadcast those events seem to have misinterpreted the reason for their success, assuming that it must be the broadcasters themselves that are awesome, and not the sports.

“ESPN is largely to blame for the increasing ‘we are the show’ approach. In its early days, ESPN was an upstart institution, so watching its anchors crack jokes and kid around during highlight reels was part of the fun of being an ESPN devotee. It was a way of rebelling against the previous bout of ossification and cockiness within network sports divisions. Here was a channel that didn’t parcel out sporting events stingily and treat them like fine dining, but rather set out a sprawling sports buffet, while taking an appropriately irreverent attitude toward the slop overflowing their trough.

“But then ESPN’s catchphrases and commentary began to overwhelm the actual job of calling games and hosting highlights, to the extent where half the time these days when I watch SportsCenter, the anchors can’t even keep pace with what’s on the screen.”

Noel Murray, writing on “Why does most modern sports broadcasting suck so hard?” on Dec. 7 at the AV Club