Sunday, January 25, 2009

Newspaper Falls for Chain Email?

I found this image with statistics about the 2008 presidential election in my local newspaper. The data implies that Obama stole the election. It didn't seem right to me, and a simple Google search found that it was indeed a hoax that originated as a chain email. Professor Joseph Olson, who was quoted in the article, even has a disclaimer on his website that says,
"There is a series of e-mails floating around the internet dealing with the 2008 Obama/McCain election and the 2000 Bush/Gore election, remarks of a Scottish philosopher named Alexander Tyler, suicide rates, or ANYTHING ELSE. Part of it is attributed to me. It is entirely BOGUS as to my authorship."
So it's pretty apparent that the whole thing is false - something that took me about five minutes to discover. The real question is whether the Mill Creek View has a right wing bias, or if they're just stupid enough to reprint anything they get in an email without any fact checking at all.

Tuesday, January 13, 2009

Why I Hate Benjamin Button

Disclaimer: This is all my opinion. People are allowed to have different opinions, so don't get upset.

The only thing curious about "Benjamin Button" is how so many people consider it to be a great movie. For me, it was slow, uninteresting, and lacking depth. Most disappointing is that this should have been a great movie. When I heard that the main character is a guy who ages in reverse, I thought of "Memento". When I heard that the director is David Fincher, I thought of "Fight Club" and "Se7en". When I heard that the writer is Eric Roth, I thought of "Forrest Gump". When someone who saw the movie told me that she cried her heart out, I thought of movies that have made me cry (I won't list them here). The point is, all of these are great movies because they are wonderfully deep and thought provoking at a philosophical level. The problem is, when you see "Benjamin Button" with these gems in mind, you're going to realize you're not watching another gem, instead you're looking at an ordinary lump of coal.

Note: Mild spoilers after this point.

My main problem with "Benjamin Button" is that you don't feel anything towards any of the characters. I was really hoping to gain some insight into how aging in reverse affects someone. After watching the movie, all I've learned is that they would be a pretty normal, albeit a bit boring, guy. Where's the drama, the excitement, and the conflict in this movie? When someone told me that you can kind of see there's going to be problems from the premise of the movie, I thought she meant a large, complicated, and involved problem. I didn't realise the "problem" she was talking about was the totally obvious one that Benjamin gets younger and eventually dies. That's really what the main conflict in this movie was about! And honestly, how is it any different from him growing older and eventually dying? It's so obvious that a blind man could have seen it coming!

The whole movie is like a collection of loosely related events. It watches more like a dry documentary than a Hollywood blockbuster. You'd think, with how slow the movie is, there would be amble time for character development. But the events do little to explain the characters motivations or thought processes.

I'm not a particularly insightful guy, but this movie failed to surprise me in the good way. And honestly, was anyone really surprised by the "surprises" in this movie? Was it not obvious from the moment you heard his name, that Mr. Button was Benjamin Button's biological father? And was it not obvious that the woman reading the diary was going to be his daughter? What did surprise me however, was all the plot holes. I'm not even talking about the impossibility of the whole premise. But didn't it seem odd that throughout Benjamin's whole life, no one was really curious about his condition? No reporters or doctors inquired about him at all? And why did he never talk to his sister. Did he really hate her that much? I don't know because of the complete lack of character development!

With all that said, I actually had a wonderful time watching "Benjamin Button", but for reasons entirely tangential to the movie itself.