Mamo #312: The Train Job

The summer of 2013 has revealed what will doubtless be recorded as its all-time mega-bomb: Disney’s The Lone Ranger, which might be the nail in the coffin of the Western, 2-D, and Johnny Depp himself. Special guest star Ryan McNeil joins us for a gab session about what went wrong and why.

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Rick Vance

So I think I remember one of you guys mentioning you were going to see Election this weekend a while back. Did you get the full Q&A+2 Movies thing?

Because I will be there for all of it too.

Matt Kel

So before watching a movie in the theatres, during previews I saw a new kind of ticket type. An in theatre ticket AND a digital pre-order copy all-in-one for Pacific Rim?


If I go see Lone Ranger, there’s a person I know who I have to see socially from time to time who is going to give me a lot of grief about it if/when I do my usual post-review tweet or talk about it around him.

This person also sold his Star Trek Into Darkness ticket when he found out about the casting decision about the big spoiler character regarding race.

He’s also boycotting Ender’s Game for obvious reasons I’m more agreeable to.

And he’s also now boycotting X-Men Days of Future Past because Sunspot is being played by a part Mexican part white person instead of a black person.

I am not sure if he is purely idealistic, or if he is just overly sensitive, or just self-righteous and likes looking for things to wag fingers at. I’m not sure because I’ve never been able to have what I feel has been a raw honest conversation about it which leads me to suspect some percentage of the latter. There’s some wall there that to me is transcending what is a matter of ones’s subjective view of right and wrong.

This person is not unique. At least in this city you will find this kind of personality upset at anything. I get a Mike Judge-ish feeling of annoyance with the left sometimes about these things, while at the same time cringe far more at the people who fight back with terms like “PC police”, and people like who replied on Gorber’s site saying they actually felt Lone Ranger was racist against white people (!). It starts to become so binary that to some, making any degree of nuanced defence for stuff accused of racism, sexism, homophobia, whatever, gets lumped in with all the lunkheaded pure hate. In the end it starts to look like fighting bullying with bullying. The concensus is always bullied, whether right or wrong, it gets bullied and I end up wanting to throw my hands in the air and feel alienated from the conversation entirely.

It’s… really hard to engage with people about this stuff for me, and although I’m in no rush to see Lone Ranger it has probably delayed it some, and I do think there are people out there who won’t see it because of a societal pressure regarding the racist accusations. I was just reading Gorber/Wente’s convo on the subject and it was interesting and complex… but I don’t know. I get the ‘colonial gaze’ argument but its like..

I see complaints about all the mascots, but I also know that major teams and especially collegiate teams have their fields and games formally blessed by local tribes, frequently. I see complaints about models wearing headdresses because they are sacred and have to be earned, but you can visit any number of legitimate Native arts and crafts website that will sell you one.

There was even a plot on Parks and Rec about it being offensive to wear a headdress. But you can also easily google a photo of Amy Poehler wearing one for a photo shoot. Andre 3000 got in a lot of shit for wearing one even though it was in the context of a character from the future where all races were combined or something. No Doubt got in trouble for having some Native stuff being worn even though they like all these movies etc consulted with Native groups to portray it appropriately. They removed the video from youtube themselves.

If it comes down to certain headdresses being considered sacred/religous, I really don’t give a fuck if its considered offensive, as I don’t really have any respect for any “magic” religious symbols being portrayed exclusively how the person who finds them sacred wishes. What’s more sketchy is if/when a symbol or wear represents a RACE. If people wore Stars of David for pointless fashion reason I am not entirely sure if that’s offensive, just tacky, or just odd because it’s so out of the ordinary, whereas the christian cross is seen all the time. I have a harder time seeing a headdress as the equivolent of blackface because its dress, not something a person can’t change. Is dressing in hip hop clothing blackface? I think not. But then again, I’m saying this as a person who has seen numerous instances of blackface which to me have contributed to satire or social commentary and thus doesn’t see it as inherently wrong. (a character from Mark McKinney, Tropic Thunder, S.Mouse and Jonah)

When it comes down to cultural appropriation being wrong, I also dissent. I think in general it’s a great thing to mix and match as many cultures as possible, even if its just a matter of shallow aesthetics. To me, the more it all mashes together (rather than be simply drowned out by other cultures) the better. To me its not robbing other cultures, it’s letting it live on in additional contexts. More is more.

On top of that, who draws the line? Are there people who would not have you own a dreamcatcher, or wear moccasins? Why does this conversation always revolve around the appropriation of clothing? Are there people out there who are offended by Paul Simon’s “Graceland” or the Tomahawk album “Anonymous”, or Sepultura’s “Roots”? Or the countless bands using gospel choirs in the backgrounds of their songs for decidedly non-gospel purposes (recently, Yeah Yeah Yeahs “Sacrilege” and several tracks on Devin Townsends “Epicloud”)

Usually any time I would bring this stuff up it gets handwaved away by people like my acquaintance introduced above as though I’m trying to make excuses so I can just go on having my stream of entertainment options uninterrupted.

I think I get why they would feel that way, but I think there is far far far more value in exploring race, sex, gender, etc with the knowledge that there will be mistakes made and people offended along the way, people who will not care about your intentions or the context. And people that will not forgive any of the mistakes you make. People who will never get Chris Lilley playing a 13 year old Polynesian boy or Scott Thompson’s Crim character. I think it’s ultimately their loss, and maybe I can let my liberal guilt go and not let societal pressure from people like my acquaintance disallow me to actively seek out the controversial shit and decide for myself.


One thing I have not seen out there to date, and correct me if anyone else has seen it, is people complaining when a gay role is played by an actor who is not gay. I’m sure there are plenty of gay actors who are having a trouble time getting roles who would’ve liked to work with Ang Lee or Gus Van Sant. But i have not seen any boycotts on their behalf. Yet.


I own a Cleveland Indians hat and I even have a Nike shirt I wear without irony.

Fuck the etiquette police. As some kind of offshoot of all the attention on what is or is not hipster there has grown this preponderance of cultural value to a near neurotic level.

It is not the clothing, not the symbols, not the words, it is the intentions behind them.

I am happy for the George Carlins, the Louis CKs that dismantle this self-righteous, Jodie Foster in Carnage feigned outrage.


I guess it comes down to:

Is everything a political statement?

Is everything about you?

I think we are jacked up on this culture of over-analysis that a residual self-entitlement impulse takes over and we feel compelled to make a citizen’s arrest.

As a sometime hermit, I can barely keep my face in order, let alone double-check what offensive things I may be sporting or endorsing.

I am a person with a life first, a social node in your matrix, second.


I think an ongoing problem for me is that among the Jodie Foster Carnage types, are people with the same thoughts who are generally kind. And in the case of my acquaintance, for all his bluster on these issues, he’s a kind nice person who I helped move once, because he’s a kind nice person.. And I can’t help but have that tiny bug of guilt in me that something as unimportant as seeing the Lone Ranger, is letting him down. I wont be one of the good people in his books or something.

It should go without saying that this person dislikes Louis CK. I tried having that argument but it hit that brick wall of “Saying cunt and faggot is never okay.” When someone drops that, and they’re angry when they are saying it, I mean… you either let them be mad and back down or you risk pushing yourself into a corner having to explain jokes, and when you have to explain jokes to people it just rarely ever ever ever ever works. I’m seeing Jeselnek (so is Mr. Price) at Just For Laughs this fall and he’s far more difficult to try and explain than Louis or Carlin. All I can say is “His act is playing a character who is the worst. He’s the villain in every joke”. I think I tried explaining that is a big part of Macfarlane’s act as well but his stuff is usually not all that clever or sophisticated and thus similarly gets dismissed by the same people as just flat out sexist and racist.

If I let a person down because I don’t share their religious views or whatever, I never sweat it. But when it comes to matters of more complex morality, race, homophobia, I am quite capable of being worried about what others think from time to time for fear of Larry David-ing myself in the room. It’s a lot easier to work this out from behind a screen than with a hostile finger wagging audience ready to pounce on the wrong phrase.

Kurt Halfyard

The Jodie-Foster-in-Carnage Types = BRILLIANTLY SUCCINCT!

Kurt Halfyard

I should also say that Macfarlane’s shtick at the Oscars was bad because it was unfunny, not because it was offensive, or tackling offensiveness in a meta way, or whatever.

Matthew Fabb

Great long rant.

On one side, people are so apathetic these days, I think it’s nice to see people taking a stand on things and boycott companies because of certain practices, even if it’s likely not going to make much of a difference in the long run.

That said, there still is a question of what exactly you are crossing the line in the sand over. Sometimes the reason seem a bit too over the top.

Speaking of which…
“X-Men Days of Future Past because Sunspot is being played by a part Mexican part white person instead of a black person.”
If I remember the handful of New Mutant issues I read waaaay back in the 1980’s, Sunspot is a Latino, not black. Is the problem that he is part white and only part rather than full Mexican?

Marc Saint-Cyr

Actually, Matt (Price), contrary to your comment towards the end of the episode, I’d argue that the Cahiers du cinéma critics in the late ’50s and 1960s DID in fact have a great interest in Westerns and certain Hollywood filmmakers who made them, among them Samuel Fuller, Howard Hawks, Anthony Mann, and Nicholas Ray. Ray’s “Johnny Guitar” was actually a weirdly beloved film among the New Wave crowd, and you can catch a ton of reverent references to it in Godard and Truffaut.

However, I totally get the point you’re making in that example – it’s true that Westerns don’t really travel all too successfully beyond North American borders.

Sean Kelly

I like to think that I helped DONNIE DARKO become a cult film, even though it was probably well on its way to doing so when I finally saw the film about 9 months after its original release.

That didn’t lessen the sting of me paying $50 to buy the, then hard to find, DVD in August 2001, only to come back a year later and find it well-stocked and on sale for $12.

Michael M

I think Mr. Price is on the right track with the CULT CLASSIC concept. The delivery method is indeed diluted and word of mouth is instantaneous (twitter, facebook etc.). The slow growth toward acceptance is highly improbable. Yeah I just repeated his statement. lol. He’s a genius.

Matthew Fabb

While social media means some people will hear quickly what a good chunk of a crowd thinks of a movie, not everyone pays attention to that. Everyone uses social media differently and not everyone talks about movies.

This past year with the Evil Dead remake, there was a number of screenings of the original as well as Evil Dead 2, with people in the crowd seeing the movie for the first time. Scott Pilgrim vs. the World came out a few years ago, but that’s a movie that flopped and still picks up new fans at midnight screenings. Serenity is still playing one a year in theatres near Joss Whedon’s birthday with fans raising money for charity. Theatres are also playing more older titles on off peak times at cheaper prices, both old classics and cult classics that will bring in an audience.

Matthew Price is correct that the problem of the new releases being all checked out and browsing through older movies won’t happen in the world of Netflix. However, they do come with recommendation systems where Netflix looks at what you have watched and then plugs other older movies. Also the way that Netflix rotates titles in and out of their catalogue, older films land into the “new releases” category all the time.

Also you will get people on social media recommending older movies. Saying, they just watched Blade Runner for the first time and their thoughts on it, with plenty of other friends on social media chiming in, asking which version they watched.

Pacific Rim is a movie that is a bit of a flop at the box office, but something that I feel can be a cult classic. Or is the $90 million or whatever it brings in as a total too big to consider it a cult classic?

Kurt Halfyard

If the Boomers own the movie conversation in Magazines/Print.
And the Late GenX’rs own the Web/Blog conversation.
Then the Millennial’s will Own the Social Media (from Twitter to Flixster to Letterbox, or more likely, some sort of Group Texting Social Media – I’m old, and do not know what is the thing at the moment.)

The conversation is more fragmented, but it is still definitely happening, and I imagine that a cult films will continue to emerge. Like all things with this process, it takes some time, even in our somewhat hyper-accelerated, all-you-can-eat media buffet digital age, it takes time.

Sean Kelly

I saw the first EVIL DEAD a few days before seeing the remake and I actually (blindly) bought EVIL DEAD 2 the day after.

I don’t currently have plans on buying the remake on blu-ray.

Michael M

I had very similar reaction to Lone Ranger as I had with Stephen Chow’s Journey to the West.

I am watching this Stephen Chow movie and started with this Jaws’ parody and I’m like “hahaha, typical Stephen Chow shit…” Then BAM. A child brutally dies. WTF??!!! Bits and pieces of Stephen Chow fun is thrown in there with a serious melodramatic ending (that would put Yimou Zhang to shame) . It was such a rocky road.

I went to Lone Ranger expecting Horse and rabbits eating scorpions, Horse galloping on rooftops and on top of trains. And Johnny Depp nonchalantly walking on a wooden ladder precariously held from one moving train to another. Typical Gore Verbinski shit!!! Loved it.

But there were other stuffs that distracted and baffled me. That Captain Fuller guy – brave, loyal, patriotic captain who refuses to be a War Criminal and eventually leads himself and his army to commit more genocide and shit 🙁 I wanted to see that guy in a STANLEY KUBRICK standalone movie. It would have been haunting and heartbreaking.

And that Tonto – delusional, tormented anti-hero roaming the desert searching for “Wendigo”. He is sort of a Travis Bickle of the Wild West. I would love to see that movie. If there is any movie like that (native american character of course) please suggest me.

A bit too preachy for a buttered-large-popcorn movie. Overall, liked it. It was fun.


[…] thanks to Messrs Brown and Price for inviting me on. The episode can be found here and comments about how wrong I am can be left […]

Matthew Fabb

Mamo has mentioned in the past how crazy 2015 is going to be. With the just announced Superman / Batman movie coming out in 2015 Bleeding Cool News put together a list of the big 2015 movies and it’s HUGE.

Avengers 2: Age of Ultron
Ant Man
Fantastic Four reboot
Superman / Batman

Avatar 2
Star Wars Episode VII
Jurassic Park IV
James Bond 24
Pirates Of The Caribbean 5
Terminator 5
Independence Day 2
Hunger Games: Mocking Jay Part 2
Cinderella (Disney live-action)
Snow White and the Huntsman 2
Inferno – the Da Vinci Code threequel
Assassin’s Creed

Finding Dory (Finding Nemo sequel)
Kung Fu Panda 3
The Penguins of Madagascar
Alvin and the Chipmunks 4

Some of those might fall through and get pushed back. However, if they all make it on time to 2015, either Hollywood is going to be making a lot of money that year, or more likely the market is not going to be able to support all those big movies.