Sunday, April 18, 2010

Bullets and (Star)Bucks

You know, Pro-NRA people have the collective I.Q. of a stuffed ash tray, thinking that the world would be a better place if everyone bought groceries or went to work whilst packing a .45 in their waste or baby carriage. This makes a society of tension instead of safety. A room full of people shooting at each other is not the ideal way to bring down a victim count. But naturally, it looks like there are corporations that want to help you foster your nightmarish environment for your placation.

Apparently, Starbucks retailers in Northern California, as well as in Virginia and some other places, recently (beginning in January) started allowing people who owns guns to walk into their baristas with the weapons out in full display, to buy coffee or some variation of., a website for extreme pro-gun activists, started using this nihilistic policy to organize group walk-ins to Starbucks with their weapons strapped at their sides in the name of the “Open Carry” movement, an ideological statement to “normalize” their right to carry guns. Because, you know, the way “law-abiding” citizens should exercise the Second Amendment is by walking around with objects created to destroy everywhere they go.

When asked about this decision, execs representing Starbucks say that they defer to federal and state laws concerning the issue. Federal and state laws say that Starbucks has the ability to ban people from bringing guns into their stores, just like they ban people from walking in with bare feet (it’s Cali! Isn’t there people that surf and walk in from the beach?) They then said “we would be forced to require our partners [employees] to ask law abiding customers to leave our stores, putting our partners in an unfair and potentially unsafe position.” So then you are aware that these pistol-packing shitfaces can become a threat to your store and the people in it?

Forget that there have been plenty of studies showing that more citizens with guns generally make people feel less safe. Forget that plenty of studies show that more guns into a community means more crime. I first ask why Starbucks would think that their new policy would keep their sales and customer numbers high? Have they looked at most of the demographic that shop at their chains? Screenwriters, novelists, architects, programmers, designers, musicians. People in the arts world who are [relatively] civilized, cultured peaceful customers that actually gave up on complaining about the fact that they charge an arm and a leg for your extra strong, corporate formula slag. I highly doubt this original fan base will want to suddenly start clashing with knee-jerk cavemen that spend their whole lives idol-worshipping John Wayne everytime they stop by for a vanilla latte.

I’ve seen comments below the articles I’ve read from teams of weapon-loving meatheads saying that people who buy these guns are trained in the ways to use them. Of course, I’ve also read in plenty of places that Gun-Morons are working on softening federal and state laws so that background checks on people who purchase firearms are more lenient. What these people who prefer using their triggers instead of their brains fail to understand is, a person’s intent with a weapon is not always easily determined, so the more investigation there is into the psychology and history of the gun-carrier, the better and more sure of the choice to arm them. These guys are constantly comparing themselves to cops, saying that cops make mistakes in judgment too, and therefore don’t see the difference between giving police and civilians guns. Extra thorough psychological, physical and emotional background checks are conducted on applicants, as well as there being tests to pass with perfect scores, before becoming police officers, which explains why they are charged with representing and enforcing the law. In any given hypothetical year, how many mistakes will police make, and how many mistakes will civilians make?

With lowered background checks, it is fully possible for someone to go through all the bootleg, shallow training civilian gun-carriers can put them through and be granted a shiny certificate indicating they are proficient in
killing people
defending themselves, and still decide to go on their own homicidal task. Other people can stop them with their own guns, only for the bullets to accidentally hit bystanders, not to mention the many ways a dedicated killer can simply get around being attacked by “law-abiding” gun carriers. Training your aim doesn’t stop people from panicking and moving, running into the path of a bullet instead of avoiding it, nor are guns the only way to stop crime1. As I’ve said, a room full of people shooting is not an ideal situation for lowering victim count.

All of these excuses, from “a gun takes seconds to access while the police take minutes”, to “I am the only person that can protect myself” all come from fear. Fear that they will walk into a situation with a violent offender where no one can save them. And that’s understandable, but it isn’t really the place in themselves from which they should be making decisions, is it? That fear is exactly what divides you from the police. Although both may get scared, a policeman is trained to be cool and calm and observant, working to bring a volatile situation to an end without violence. A civilian just reacts in panic. I can only hope that a large majority of businesses will act like California Pizza Kitchen and Peet’s Tea and Coffee, and refuse to let these nuts walk into their store with weapons. Links to articles on this are below.

1) Meaning, guns are small tools in the bigger movement against crime, not the movement itself.

Thursday, April 1, 2010

Worship the Hero Worship

Scott Pilgrim vs. The World , Kick Ass, Defendor, The T.V. show “Fanboy and Chum Chum”. Heck, even the adaptation “Mystery Men” from years ago.

I feel like there’s this sudden influx of films not about super-heros, but about hero worshippers wanting to be their idols. Or, the films are no longer about mythical figures, but about the people who participate in the cultures these stories of mythical figures create. Or, sometimes they mock the movies, but underneath show homage to them.

I’m not entirely sure I’m interested in stories about the fans. Yes, the fans are important. Yes, I myself am a huge fan of the Batmans and Hulks and Matrixes and Star Wars, but the fans aren’t characters that can bring the bigger, more abstract ideas to life. Batman, for instance, explores revenge, insanity, and vigilantism vs. respect for the law. A film along the lines of “Kick Ass” can try to explore these things, but of course won’t take them seriously or will not be theoretically logical. I’m sure “Kick Ass” is not trying to be any of these things or anything more than comedic entertainment with commentary on being a hero.

The super hero films, particularly “The Dark Knight” and “Watchmen”, take the mythical figures and attempt to place them as an actual reality people have to face in the world. These stories bring unique and abstract issues to light. The other films usually just end up being about characters with fantasy worlds in their heads having to confront reality. I don’t know. I haven’t read “Kick-Ass” the graphic novel, but Rotten Tomatoes gave the film 95% approval rating. The writing and directing looks pretty shoddy, but I’m interested regardless. Perhaps this new sub-genre of hero films have something to say that I’m completely missing.