Kicks in the Nuts

In Which the Scribbler Embraces the Hate in His Soul

I like everything, pretty much.

It’s that ‘pretty much’ that’s important, of course. I don’t like EVERYTHING. But a thing comes along, it’s sincere, I’m gonna like it. Or, at least, I’m not gonna HATE it.

I reserve my hate for things that deserve my hate. Billy Joel doesn’t deserve my hate. He’s facile, slick, he’s got a kind of fourth-grade talent for turning a phrase, but he seems honest about his singing, his art. I know there are people out there who loathe the man, but I just can’t. True, “Captain Jack” is an abomination before the lord, but who among us hasn’t perpetrated the occasional abomination? For the most part, Mr. Joel has been true to his soul, and I like his music.


Dan Brown? Not a great writer. Not even a GOOD writer. But he spent a lot of time coming up with his conspiracies and boat chases and secret societies. He’s earned some respect from me. There are a hundred thousand would-be novelists out there (and I’m one of them), but he actually finished his work, sent it out there, got it published, and now he’s bathing in Champagne and lighting his cigars with thousand-dollar bills. Good for him. Don’t hate the guy.

I do hate the Seahawks, but that’s not their fault. They seem like a nice bunch of guys. And they’re playing good football. Those bastards at the Kingdome, back when I was a young football fan wearing all my Raiders gear, the cockwads who threw beer and profanities at me–THEM I hate. And that carries over to the team, fairly or not. But it’s just the team. I don’t hate Russell Wilson, or Marshawn Lynch, or whomever. I’ve abominated the Broncos for my entire conscious life, but I still think John Elway is a Hall-of-Famer. It’s the IDEA of the Seahawks I hate, the IDEA of the Broncos I hate (and the IDEA of the Raiders I love, that silver-and-black, pirate, rebel idea. Obviously, it would take extreme masochism and extreme stupidity to actually love THIS iteration of the Raiders, the worst team in the last ten years, in any sport, in any universe).

I can’t count how many times my friends, people I like and respect, have absolutely hated something that I kind of liked. I didn’t have a problem with the Backstreet Boys. I got through FLOWERS IN THE ATTIC okay–it wasn’t good, but I can see why it sold a jillion copies. I don’t hate McDonald’s. I don’t hate Hallmark Cards. I don’t hate Uwe Boll movies


You want a list of stuff I hate? Here’s a list of stuff I’ve hated, and I’ll try to explain, in each case, why I’ve hated it.

1) I hate movie comedies in which all the funny stuff comes because our protagonist keeps getting kicked in the nuts.


This is a time-honored genre in film, of course. There’s always been the sad sack who had the milk bucket dumped on his head, his shoelaces tied together, whipped his face around to find it buried in a horse’s ass…all that humiliating stuff. And I understand the hilarity of such tropes. There’s a scene in ZACK AND MIRI MAKE A PORNO in which one of our main characters is unlucky enough to be filming, from underneath, an anal sex scene, when a loud noise causes another of our main characters to…um…release her bowels on him.

I laughed out loud and rewound the scene (or whatever you call ‘rewound’ on a DVD). It was funny.

You know what wouldn’t be funny? It wouldn’t be funny if that character kept getting shit on, the entire movie. The way that Ben Stiller gets shit on for an hour and a half, in MEET THE PARENTS. The way that Chevy Chase gets shit on for what seems like a hundred VACATION movies. Richard Dreyfuss, in WHAT ABOUT BOB? The character in NO way deserves all the crap dumped on his head. Pain is funny, yes, and it’s a little bit true that all humor derives from discomfort, but I don’t want to watch it for an hour and a half. Hell, I hate Hitler, but would I sit through an hour and a half of Hitler getting kicked in the nuts?

Maybe. But I bet it would still wear thin after about forty minutes.

2) I hate movies, books, songs, whatever, that glorify ignorance. I may be the only person my age who hated FORREST GUMP, and it feels a bit like I’m intolerant when it comes to this feel-good film that EVERYONE loved. But, folks, the movie was about an idiot who gets through because he’s stupid. That is not, in any way, a worthwhile message for an Oscar-winning film to promote. Same with BEING THERE. There are others. I understand the attraction of the simpleton prevailing against the too-clever forces arrayed against him, but it’s NOT a good message. It’s why FOX News does as well as it does, it’s why Governor Sarah Palin is a folk hero, and why Kanye West is looked up to. I sat through GUMP with an increasingly uncomfortable sense that I was missing something, and when I figured out what it was it appalled me. The movie was saying, basically, that the world is a complicated, horrible place, and the only way to confront the complexities and horrors was to be a fucking moron. I can’t remember who the critic was, but there was a critic who said that the only interesting, worthwhile character in the film died an agonizing death of AIDS, and that the most moronic character ended up a millionaire.

Choices have consequences, and the best works of art explore those consequences, from Huck Finn choosing to save Nigger Jim at the cost of his soul, to Ahab choosing to pursue Moby-Dick at the cost of his crew, to Hester Prynne choosing to maintain her silence at the cost of her personhood. Forrest Gump chooses nothing. He’s acted-upon. He’s a palimpsest for some kind of liberal exploration of history. He’s not worthy of adulation, nor understanding, nor anything.

When Sarah Palin talked about ‘real America’, referring to, basically, ignorant America, she became a folk hero. And it terrified me. When candidate McCain took a question at one of his rallies, about ‘that Muslim Obama’ and gently corrected the querent, I was reassured. But the impulse, that desire to simplify and simplify and simplify until the world becomes black and white and clear, ignoring all shadings and shadows…I hate that.

3) I hate celebrities who use their fame to kill people. Gov. Palin is a politician, and I can excuse her idiocy (which, hopefully, was planned by her and her handlers). I can excuse Mr. West and his ‘books are stupid’ crap, because he’s a music star and doesn’t need intelligence to sell albums. But when it comes to anti-vaccination celebrities, I hope they all die of polio. When it comes to Cat Stevens basically calling for the death of Salman Rushdie, I’m sorry to see him still showing up on faded-rock-star retrospectives. Dennis Rodman should end up in a North Korean labor camp. Jane Fonda, in her defense, has finally figured out how fucked-up she was–but that doesn’t excuse what she did.

And this is where it gets ugly. There are plenty of politicians, and a twice-plenty amount of aspiring politicians, who use deadly language in their rhetoric. Remember who advocated ‘second-amendment remedies’ in her campaign? Remember those who suggested that President Obama wasn’t legitimate, and that in order to remove him we’d need other-than-legitimate methods?

Politics is dirty and nasty. Understood. President Bush got a lot of this crap, too. He wasn’t legitimate–he was appointed by the Supreme Court–he was a canker on society, a cancer on the body politic, people made fantasy movies about his assassination (and I hate THOSE fuckers, too)–but I never once agreed with anyone on my side who called for anything other than electoral means to remove him from office. And when he got re-elected, I sighed and waited for 2008…

Okay. Three things I hate. Maybe tomorrow I’ll blog about three things I love, because this kind of stuff exhausts me. Thank you all for reading.