- The Washington Times - Wednesday, March 18, 2009

Comic advice

”In his inexplicably bestselling guide to dating, radio host, sitcom star and King of Comedy Steve Harvey mines the familiar terrain of caveman-level gender platitudes, advising us to ‘Act Like a Lady, Think Like a Man.’ (Remember, missy: You’re a lady - he’s a man.) …

”Harvey wraps up his romantic pontification in the aw-shucks language of ‘We’re just guys! We’re so simple!’, conveniently dumping the bulk of the work, thought and responsibility of love on our dainty shoulders. While we can appreciate the sentiment that a guy who doesn’t treat you right is a guy not worth your time, the whole shebang smells like buck passing in the guise of empowerment. …

”There’s nothing wrong with suggesting that men and women are, biologically and socially, different. That’s most of the fun. But how many more thousands of years are we going to blithely swallow the excuse that men will do anything for ‘the cookie,’ and it’s our job to dole it out with extreme caution? More pressingly, isn’t getting relationship tips from standup comedians a little like taking financial counsel from the homeless?”

- Mary Elizabeth Williams, writing on “Act Like A Lady, Think Like a Funny Man,” Tuesday at the Salon blog Broadsheet

Comic issues

”If you happened to buy a ticket to ‘Tyler Perry’s Madea Goes to Jail’ without knowing what you were getting into, you might think you’d stumbled onto a cheery comedy about an overgrown granny with anger-management issues. A black Mrs. Doubtfire, say, with car chases and reefer jokes.

”You’d never suspect that you had strayed into the midst of a culture war - one that’s been simmering within the African-American community since before blackface. …

“At a time when Barack Obama is presenting the world with a bold new image of black America, Perry is being slammed for filling his films with regressive, down-market archetypes. In many of his films, there’s a junkie prostitute, a malaprop-dropping uncle, and Madea, a tough-talking grandma the size of a linebacker (‘Jemima the Hutt,’ one character calls her.)”

- Benjamin Svetkey et al, writing on “How Do You Solve a Problem Like Madea?” in the March 20 issue of Entertainment Weekly

Comic music

”Because [‘Watchmen’ director Zack] Snyder and screenwriters David Hayter and Alex Tse stuck so closely to Alan Moore’s original, the results manage to have a depth and meaning they could never have come up with themselves. The most subtextual and unselfconsciously clever of writers, Alan Moore doesn’t put down a single line without a meaning - or several - so everything taken directly from him has some resonance.

”That’s very lucky, because on the occasions that Snyder decides to take things into his own hands the results are embarrassingly on the nose. The most frequently noted are the soundtrack songs - ‘The Sound of Silence’ for a rainy funeral; ‘Everybody Wants to Rule The World’ for Ozymandias. When ‘Ride of the Valkyries’ accompanies a thrilling Vietnam war scene it’s totally cool, because it was already done, dude!

“Whereas Quentin Tarantino, another unselfconscious control freak, picks out obscure or once cool songs that become even cooler on the screen, Snyder just grabs the most literal thing on his iTunes list.”

- Heidi MacDonald, writing on “Watchmen: Flaws and All” on March 6 at the Publisher’s Weekly blog the Beat

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