Bill Maher’s ghoulish panel laughs as he wishes death upon Stan Lee’s fans

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Chris Evans, Jeremy Renner sorry for Black Widow ‘slut’ joke: ‘Avengers: Age of Offended’ now showing

Jeremy Renner Chris Evans“Avengers: Age of Ultron” won’t be in American theaters until May 1, 2015, but “Avengers: Age of the Offended” can be found any time of the day on Tumblr and Twitter. Aliens and robots may not be able to defeat Hawkeye and Captain America, but professional whiners have shown that they can make Jeremy Renner and Chris Evans apologize for going off script.

Messrs. Evans and Renner made the mistake April 22 of believing that only rational adults would hear their interview with Digital Spy. Prickly men and women who go through life looking for things to “trigger” them made the actors pay for it immediately.

Digital Spy: I know a lot of fans were actually pretty invested in the idea of Natasha with actually either or both of you guys, and now obviously she’s with Bruce. What do you guys make of that?

Renner: She’s a slut.

Chris Evans: **laughing hysterically** I was going to say something along that line. She’s a complete whore.

Renner: What a trick, man!

The jokes show an odd lapse in judgment considering the millions of children who will watch the interview on YouTube. It would make sense for the actors to apologize to parents who weren’t expecting to get slut-bombed while watching promotional interviews with their kids. However, saying sorry to single women for calling a fictional Russian spy a “slut” is just another sad capitulation to online censorship cops.

Jeanne Jeremy Renner Chris EvansNote to the Jeannes of the world: They didn’t call a “woman” a slut — they called a fictional woman a slut. Regardless, Chris Evans and Jeremy Renner both promptly issued a blanket apology:

Chris Evans: Yesterday we were asked about the rumors that Black Widow wanted to be in a relationship with both Hawkeye and Captain America. We answered in a very juvenile and offensive way that rightfully angered some fans. I regret it and sincerely apologize.

Jeremy Renner: I am sorry that this tasteless joke about a fictional character offended anyone. It was not meant to be serious in any way. Just poking fun during an exhausting and tedious press tour.

The strange thing about the whole “slut” controversy is that it occurred at the very same moment Scarlett Johansson was telling a women’s magazine about the time Black Widow said she was “whoever you want me to be.”

Mrs. Johansson told Cosmopolitan on April 22:

I think my favorite thing about playing her is the character is you know very kind of slippery — she’s a slippery fish by trade — but in fact she’s very, she’s really honest. I mean she’s, it’s kind of an interesting dichotomy because you have this character who you would expect to be sort of —she says in Cap 2 ‘I’m whoever you want me to be,’ but in truth, when you’re talking to Natasha you’re really getting Natasha. She’s very straightforward and I like that part of her. […] She’s kind of a chameleon but then she’s very much like herself.

Black Widow is a “chameleon” who can be “whoever you want” her to be — unless it’s a “slut.” That is sexist. She must only be a supersmartindependentrolemodel (one word) — even though she’s a Russian spy who probably slept with men while undercover (or was that under covers?).

Scarlett Johansson Mark RuffaloThe one good thing about the apology offered by Messrs. Evans and Renner is that it refers to their comments as “juvenile and offensive.” At no point do the men give credence to accusations that their jokes (about a fictional character) were sexist. The full-time complainers were able to extract an apology from the actors, but it was one that was carefully worded to only apply to those with a legitimate gripe. Marvel Studios’ Hawkeye and Captain America were forced to join common sense in tactical retreat, but war was not totally lost. They’ll live to fight another day when “Avengers: Infinity Offended.”

Exit question: Is there any time that it is permissible for a man to jokingly call a woman (or fictional character) a slut in 2015, or is the word completely off limits to the perpetually-offended crowd?

Joss Whedon, Mark Ruffalo lecture fans on climate change, yet silent on ‘Age of Ultron’ carbon footprint

“Avengers: Age of Ultron” is said to have a budget of roughly $250 million. The Marvel movie required shooting in 25 locations, including countries like Bangladesh, South Africa, Italy, South Korea and England. With all the cast and crew and sets involved, it had to leave a hefty carbon footprint. And yet, somehow, director Joss Whedon and Mark Ruffalo (aka: The Hulk) thought it would be a good idea to lecture the rest of us on climate change this Earth Day.

Joss Whedon Climate ChangeIf Joss Whedon really cared about climate change as his self-congratulatory tweets suggest, then he would renounce the kind of big budget movies (and carbon footprints) Marvel Studios leaves all over the globe. He won’t do that though, because he really, really likes the millions of dollars Marvel puts into his bank account.

Mark Ruffalo is no different.

Mark Ruffalo Climate Change Earth DayYes, we can do something — like not act in a movie with a carbon footprint that 99.9 percent of moviegoers could not duplicate in 10,000 lifetimes.

The weird thing about hastags like #ClimateChangeIsReal is that there is basically no one who denies that climate changes. It’s always changed. In fact, yours truly blogged on climate change after my visit to Virginia Living Museum in Newport News, Virginia in 2013.

Here is what one of the educational notes next to the museum’s riverbank fossils said:

“Since the end of the dinosaur age, eastern Virginia has been covered by ocean water many times. Beneath these seas, layers upon layers of shells, bones and teeth from abundant ocean life accumulated to form fossil-bearing sediments. Coastal river bluffs now display these ancient sediment layers, in particular, a 3.5-to-5 million-year-old fossil-rich band called Yorktown Formation,” (Virginia Living Museum).

It is safe to say that the climate has changed quite a bit over the course of 5 million years — so much so that the great state of Virginia has been underwater multiple times.

Douglas Ernst geologyThe reason why Hollywood actors and directors engage in meaningless Twitter rhetoric like “#ClimateChangeIsReal” is because any time they’re forced to debate substantive questions they look “dumber than weather.”

Here are some real questions for your favorite “Avengers: Age of Ultron” environmental activist stars:

  1. How much does man have an effect on climate in relation to things like that giant ball of exploding gas called the sun?
  2. If man is responsible for significant changes to the earth’s ever-changing climate, what are the proposed political solutions to the problem?
  3. Will the political solutions put forth by Hollywood actors and directors result in losses to freedom and liberty?
  4. Will the political solutions put forth by men like Mark Ruffalo actually have any tangible effect?

Those are questions Messrs. Whedon and Ruffalo aren’t comfortable answering, which is why they opt instead for tweets that result in fawning praise by their Twitter followers.

The next time these guys essentially try to shame you because you like nice long showers or vehicles that don’t run on batteries, ask them how it feels to be a part of the Marvel Cinematic Universe juggernaut and its Galactus-sized carbon footprint. My guess is that that they’ll run away faster than Quicksilver.

‘Avengers: Age of Ultron’ trailer begs the question: How can Joss Whedon not direct ‘Avengers 3’?

Ultron no strings on meBy now the entire world has seen the teaser trailer for Marvel’s Avengers: Age of Ultron. There really is only one word to describe it: awesome. The first movie made over $1.5 billion worldwide. It seems fair to say that $2 billion this time around is a distinct possibility. However, if director Joss Whedon delivers the goods — and all signs point to ‘yes’ — then it begs the question: How can he walk away from a climatic Avengers 3?

Over the past few weeks it’s been rumored that Marvel wants Joe and Anthony Russo to sign on for the 3rd and 4th Avengers movies, but it feels as though everything is building to Avengers 3. Only Marvel knows if that is the case, but I can’t help but feel as though walking away before completing an Avengers trilogy would be a bizarre move on Mr. Whedon’s part.

Directing a movie on as big of a scale as The Avengers must be physically and mentally exhausting. The time away from family and the pressure it puts on the director must be unbearable. However, if Mr. Whedon has set the stage for the superhero movie of all superhero movies to be Avengers 3, then passing on the job would be like the quarterback who leads his team down the field at the end of the big game, only to walk off the field on the opponent’s 20-yard line.

Regardless, for those who were too dazzled by the visuals of the teaser trailer to pay attention to the narration, it appears as though Whedon is going Empire Strikes Back-dark with this installment.

Ultron: “I’m going to show you something beautiful — everyone … screaming for mercy. You want to protect the world, but you don’t want it to change. You’re all puppets tangled in strings. String. But now I’m free. There are no strings on me.”

Then there is this exchange between Tony Stark and Natasha Romanoff:

Tony Stark: “It’s the end. The end of the path I started us on.”

Natasha Romanoff: “Nothing last forever.”

Meanwhile, an eerie rendition of “I’ve Got No Strings” from Disney’s Pinocchio plays in the background. (The merger between Marvel and Disney continues to pay off in interesting ways.)

Avengers Age of Ultron teaserIt’s hard to see how Marvel can continue to keep this momentum going. The Black Widow is right: “Nothing lasts forever.” Eventually, Marvel will create a movie that implodes under its own weight. Eventually, all waves crash against the shore. Regardless, when that happens it will be hard not acknowledge that it was one wild ride.

DC Metro Green Line Thug Shrinks from Hulk Green Rage.

There’s a simple reason why you should never try to kill off the inner “hulk” inside you: your safety might depend on it.

In January, Allen Haywood was a young man who was attacked on the DC Metro green line for no other reason than he was a nice guy minding his own business. I wrote back then that it didn’t have to be that way. Allen was reading a book when a bunch of hoodlums swarmed. He responded by trying to reason with individuals who are not only unreasonable, but in many ways worse than animals (animals act on instinct, but these kids knew what they were doing and ambushed him just for the fun of it).

I wrote back then that the proper response should have been to indicate (through a number of verbal and non-verbal cues) that he was someone who wouldn’t be an easy target. In the comments section a reader I greatly respect posted that my philosophy hinged on the ability to recognize that there are evil people out there and the ability to fully commit to the strategy should the nightmare scenario unfold.

Tonight, for me, it did.

As I came home late from work on the DC Metro Green line, an inebriated older man approached me. I stood towards the back of the Metro minding my own business. The stranger crept up beside me, but just enough to my rear to obscure his actions. There was almost no one else on the train. I angled slightly towards him and he whispered in my ear,  “Why don’t you sit down? Don’t you like black people?” I ignored him. He raised his voice: “Why don’t you sit down? Don’t you like black people?” Again, I ignored him. Since the third time around is a charm I finally answered, “I’ve been sitting all day.”

He didn’t believe me.

The man continued to ask me the question, and when I ignored him some more (all the while paying close attention to his position and body language) he turned his question into a statement. Then, he squared up, stated that I didn’t like black people and pushed his palm into my shoulder, which I immediately swiped down with a force that surprised him. He approached again, reaching out his hand to push my shoulder and I swiped it hard enough to make him stutter-step backwards.

On his third attempt to escalate the situation he came at me from the side and bumped me. I responded by shoving him to the other side of the Metro car with enough force so that, should I have chosen to pounce, the backward momentum with which he was stumbling would have put him at a distinct disadvantage.

At this time the Metro stopped, the man gave me a few hard glares and left the train car.

How would my night have transpired had I wilted when confronted by an angry drunk eager to start a racial throw down? While it’s impossible to know, we do know that the individual was looking for an altercation. Faced with someone who paid him no mind from the get-go and ignored his race-baiting, the man still resorted to physical intimidation. So why did he stop?

I believe the answer lies in the old maxim: peace through strength. When bullies realize that their target is the type of person who could suddenly turn the tables on them, they think twice. Letting a thug—even a drunk one—know from the start that you will be the aggressor in any serious altercation (and thus dictate what options are permissible for its duration) causes hesitation. And, because governments are composed of men—fallible men—in many ways such lessons can be applied on a larger scale. Anything you can do to place doubt in your enemy’s mind about their ability to successfully attack is to your advantage.

If you’re a mild mannered young man (or nation), you should never fear The Hulk inside you. He’s there for a reason, and not using such strength and rage when the situation calls for it would be another crime added to an already-sad situation.