Wednesday, June 08, 2005

The Incredible Shrieking Padme

Those of you who have not yet made the pilgrimage asked to hold off any further comments regarding Star Wars Episode III: Revenge of the Burger King Scratch-Off Game, but I can no longer rein in my sweet, sweet hatred of Padme Amidala. Padme! Queen of Naboo! Senatorial representative! Owner of the Worst! Film Death! Ever!

I know exactly the moment I started getting my hate on for this chalky little wench, and it involves the equally hateful Katie Couric. Katie was interviewing Natalie Portman, and the conversation went something like this:

Were you a fan of the Star Wars movies growing up?
NATALIE: Well, I’d never really seen any until I got the part.

Oh, the hate, the hate, the hate hate haaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaate, to waste the part of the mother of Luke and Leia on a person who doesn’t even know what you’re talking about when you announce that these aren't the droids you're looking for.

George Lucas makes the same error with Padme that he makes with her daughter: Both Padme and Leia are introduced as smackable, spunky young things in this world of big mean boys; they then spiral into a Dr. Phil epsiode of a love affair and wrap things up a beaten-down, whiney drain on the entire galaxy. Leia started off running through the Death Star with her boobs taped down beneath a classy white gown until Lucas decided that what a really strong female lead needed to underscore her authority and mental aptitude was a nice shiny gold bikini. And Padme—well, Padme was first portrayed by the Voice of Maude in Phantom Menace; she then became Whore With a Pistol in Attack of the Clones before fading away entirely beneath a pile of hair extensions in Revenge of the Sith, dying of, essentially, Opheliaitis.

I speak of the Luke and Leia birth scene here, in which the Heathcliff Huxtable robot announces that “her vital signs are fine, but for some reason, we’re losing her. It’s as if she’s lost the will to live.” And once again, we have clarity smashed over the thick head of this film in the form of Obi-Wan Kenobi, who says, with the slightest bit of the best. Sneer. Ever.: “She’s… dying?” Seriously? She’s dying? Of… meh-ness? She’s been hauling these babies around for nine months and just because her stupid husband is now evil incarnate she doesn’t see fit to stick around and raise the twins? Thanks, Padme. That’s just great. And now Obi-Wan needs to clean up your kid-mess and sequester his fine self for eighteen years on Planet Sandstorm just because you felt icky poo for a couple hours.

It’s not even like Padme had a tough labor. I counted exactly two yelps of what were supposedly discomfort (twins!). I frankly communicated more pain the time I thought I lost half a book of stamps. Also her mascara was perfectly brushed the whole entire time, and she never sweated, and I’m sorry, but when I saw my NephewMama right after she delivered Jim, he was all squished up and red and furious and my sister looked like somebody just bounced her down every elevator shaft in the hospital. Luke and Leia, on the other hand, exited their freshly powdered mother’s womb holding a nice carafe of Chardonnay. (The very first moments in the life of Luke, you will be happy to know, were, not surprisingly, marked by a great deal of crying and whining. A true Skywalker.)

And this is not exactly a woman of taste here. Padme willingly endangered a thousands-old peacekeeping order by entering into a marriage to a supposed-to-remain-celibate Jedi solely to get her freak on with the petulantist petulant who ever petulanted. She also showed fantastic insight in the moralistic struggles of her husband, cheerily attributing his most recent broodings to the fact that “he’s been under a lot of stress.” Because when you’re dissatisfied with work ever since Master Windu started getting all up in your grill to put covers on your TPS reports, the very first thing you do is sit around muttering “I’m not the Jedi I should be” as your pupils take on the approximate color of a school bus. (Perhaps this was the most marked departure of this film from the original trilogy: People have discovered stress since 1977, and George has apparently decided that it cuts across all galaxies. I doubt Star Wars would have taken off the way it did had Han Solo draped his head on the cantina table all, “Chewy, go see if my Paxil is ready at Walgreens.”)

Such magnificent percipience is also applied to politics. Padme, who graduated from the School of Warfare, says with a perfectly straight and foundation-blended face that all the blowing-up and lightsaber-slashing and ship-destruction is due to, quote, “a failure to listen.” Because when the Trade Federation invaded your entire planetary system, Padme, it was because they were focused on a Friends rerun when you politely asked them to go away. Oh, and I suppose the way you whined and pouted in the Senate back in those days that nobody was acting quickly enough to stop said invasion was a failure to listen too.

I really don’t even have to mention the clothes, except to alert Padme to the fact that Boy George called, and he wants the beaded codpiece you’re wearing on your head back. The woman can’t even wear a nightgown without being pretentious about it. I, too, sleep on strings of pearls draped over my biceps. INVEST IN SOME SLEEVES.

It’s no wonder she inspires the romantic dialogue the projector has been spewing at us for the past three films. See the following intergalactic version of “You hang up first! No, YOU hang up first!” in Sith:

ANAKIN: I love you because you’re beautiful.
PADEME: I’m beautiful because you love me.
ANAKIN: I love the beautiful love, as well as the Sprite, in you.
PADAME: You just love the beauty because of the love of the beauty.
ANAKIN: But the beauty of love is beautiful. Also lovable.
MB: (impales self with armrest)

Finally, the very first time Padme appears in the Star Wars universe, it is in the form of a mime who apparently just ran rampant through a Spencer's Gifts Halloween display. We had no choice but to burst forth with hatred of the beauty and the love and beautifulness.

Competent Official College Professor UPDATE: Today I put on a skirt I have owned since college, and upon examination of the tag I discovered that I have been wearing it backwards for the past eight years.

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Sunday, June 05, 2005

Awesome! It was every bit as horrible I dreamed it would be!

Every generation or so, a major televised disaster unites the globe. Where were you? What were you doing? Who were you with when Hit Me Baby One More Time seared through the airwaves and the all the world clasped hands and said:

"Is Tiffany pregnant?"

I was watching this show in Florida, preparing lecture notes, and I called my sister--my NephewMama--who, eight hundred miles away, was sitting with Country the Brother In Law, and when she picked up the phone she said, in place of "Hello":

"Is Tiffany pregnant?"

They should have called this show "'Oh Yeeeeeeeeaaaaaah, Hiiiiiiiim!': Parade Of the Most Unnecessary Celebrities Ever." You felt two things while watching Hit Me Baby One More Time. You felt old, and you felt superior, for although you may have never been famous, at least you weren't once famous, and then no longer famous, and now appearing on summer primetime television looking like that against the cable premiere of Crocodile Dundee In Los Angeles.

I also experienced, as a bonus, a distinct sense of mental and bodily filth, and had to run and find the eye bleach in a vain attempt to wash away the horror that was a 2005-model Mike Score.

Because there's nothing more enjoyable than listening to pop artists who can't sing than listening to pop artists who can't sing and now have twenty years of groupie mileage on them, NBC actually made this thing a contest. The network reached its arm down into the sewage of D-list celebritydom, scraped aside Kathie Lee Gifford and Dave Coulier, and raised up from the ooze of forgetfulness the remnants of Flock of Seagulls, Arrested Development, Loverboy, and, bless her flabby little heart, Tiffany.

Nothing bespeaks class like a thirty-four-year-old who does her professional shopping at Rave, and Tiffany enhanced her look by ensuring, via a highly unfortunate choice of camisole top, that the folks at home could ascertain that she could have suckled the entire orchestra pit. "I Think We're Alone Now" used to wake me for the fourth grade from my pink plastic Panasonic alarm clock, memories that shall forevermore be accompanied by a desperate need to let Tiffany know that her fifteen-year-old body just rang, and it didn't leave a callback number.

My NephewMama and Country the Brother-In-Law, in their infinite wisdom, put Jim the Baby Nephew to bed before the show began to avoid potential scarring, which was good, for had he been exposed to the rupture in the space-time continuum that Loverboy created with their two-minute Oldness Crapfest ("Everybody's workin' hackhack for the wheeeeeeezespit weekend..."), for the rest of his life he would never believe us when we tell him that the '80's were, in fact, the apex of Western civilization.

Arrested Development "won" the night, if by an acceptable definition of "won" you mean that they emerged victorious by sucking maybe .000000000001% less than the other Acts of Suckage.

Boy, have I missed Arrested Development and their ongoing dismissal of the fact that there may, somewhere in the universe, exist viable notions other than their own. NBC flashed a "Which Fryolator Are They Working Now"? segment on each act, and Arrested Development affirmed they had finalized their Self-Righteous "Artist" Status by retaining a frontman who still insists upon going by one name. It turns out that the entire group all lives in the same house, where they apparently spend their days sitting on a brick wall singing their, um, hit, busting on Dan Quayle and watching that great new show Quantum Leap. Indeed, Arrested Development continues to feel so oppressed by their two Grammys that as they were introduced they found it necessary to fight The Man with the black power salute, the political whallop of which was only slightly mitigated by the fact that this took place as they rose up out of the floor on a pneumatic lift to a stage just vacated by Flock of Seagulls.

And what of The Flock? They're breathing my air, for one thing. Mike Score and his retired-groupie "I'M WITH THE BAND!" wife live in Cocoa Beach. I LOVE me some Space Coast, but this provides further confirmation of my theory that Cocoa Beach is some sort of intergalactic vector of musical atrocities. I also now understand our recent hurricane overages: God was attempting to cast Mike into the sea before he revealed himself to the world in his current incarnation.

Next week! That magnificent arbiter of all things timeless: Vanilla Ice.

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