- - Tuesday, October 26, 2010

Stiff upper lip

“When asked recently about the essential difference between his original U.K. version of ‘The Office’ and its American remake, series creator/star Ricky Gervais stated that while Americans are brought up to believe in their boundless potential for success, British children are more often reminded of their social standing and limitations.

“I expect that this difference has quite a bit to do with the chilly reception Mark Romanek’s delicate adaptation of ‘Never Let Me Go’ has found on these shores. Like ‘The Remains of the Day,’ the most notable big-screen Kazuo Ishiguro adaptation, ‘Never Let Me Go’ is a story about people who have been born and raised for the express purpose of serving. It’s not necessarily a theme that resonates widely in a culture that values determination and grit, but it’s a more universal idea than most people would probably care to admit.”

Paul Clark, writing on “Never Let Me Go,” on Oct. 20 at his Opal Films screening blog

Godard’s contempt

“Jean-Luc Godard still wants nothing whatsoever to do with Hollywood, even if it plans to honor him with an honorary Oscar at this year’s Nov. 13 Governors Awards. For these trophies, they are just metal trinkets, jejune paperweights and hunks of capitalist gold that speak to the American movie industry as a factory producing lumpen simulacra of humanity, n’est-ce pas?

“And after two months of openly begging him — or rather, engaging in a ‘cordial exchange’ — the Academy has finally dropped the pretense that Godard might actually show up this year, admitting in a statement today that there is no way in hell Godard will be there to collect in person. He did, however, offer thanks and well wishes to fellow recipients Kevin Brownlow, Francis Ford Coppola, and Eli Wallach — whom he refers to as “the three other musketeers” (which suggests he’s never seen ‘Jack’). The award will instead be shipped to him, whereupon he will probably do something Jean-Luc Godard-y like use it as a doorstop.”

Sean O’Neal, writing on “No, Jean-Luc Godard will not be there to accept your meaningless Oscar,” on Oct. 25 at the AV Club

Puppet sex

“Since [1980], Bert and Ernie’s orientation has remained ambiguous, a subtext for grown-ups to joke about (a 2002 short film Ernest & Bertram presented the two as an openly gay couple; Sesame Street sent a cease and desist letter to filmmakers), if not for kids to understand. Then, this past June, on the occasion of the new ‘A-Team’ movie, Bert tweeted, ‘Ever notice how similar my hair is to Mr. T’s? The only difference is mine is a little more “mo,” a little less “hawk.”’ …

“While it’s hard to come up with an interpretation of ‘mo’ in this context other than ‘short for homosexual’ … the rest of the evidence the [Los Angeles] Times presents to suggest Sesame Street has become more gay friendly in the months since the tweet is less straightforward — an appearance by Wanda Sykes, a spoof of the gay-friendly (and also sex-friendly) ‘True Blood,’ the almost appearance of ‘gay icon’ (and big-time pop star) Katy Perry, and a Will.I.Am performance of ‘What I Am,’ ‘a song about accepting who you really are, prompting much online debate about its underlying message.’

“Not surprisingly, Sesame Street, which airs on the publicly funded PBS, says all gayness is accidental. According to a representative, ‘We’ve always reached out to a variety of actors and athletes and celebrities to appear on the show, and our programming has always appealed to adults as much as children. Honestly, the idea that anyone would interpret [this season] that way never crossed our minds.’”

Willa Paskin, writing on “Is Sesame Street Gay Friendly, or Just Friendly?” on Oct. 25 at the New York magazine blog Vulture