The Top Misunderstandings (Maybe) of 2011


5. The Rapture – Let’s face it. Anything that has to do with the end of the world is a joke by this point (except for Melancholia). But should we take it seriously if Harold Camping, a man with no credentials other than being a Christian leader for the independent ministry called Family Radio Worldwide, is the one telling us to beware the final chapter? I think not. I’m not sure anyone did. And the last time (prior to 2011) Camping predicted the Rapture’s coming was in 1994. According to the eBible Fellowship site, “We are living in a most unusual time. On May 21, of 2011, mankind entered into the Day of Judgment. This ‘day’ will last for 5 months (153 days) until October 21, 2011. The Bible is teaching us that this period of time is Judgment Day!” I mean, I guess that last sentence deserves an exclamation point but a question mark would probably have been better. Considering on May 21 mankind entered into the weekend (it was a Saturday), and then on October 21 mankind was storming Walgreens for Halloween candies (at least in the US), and today mankind is here reading this (at least I’m assuming)… I think our best bet is to wait for Melancholia‘s collision with Earth. At least Camping apologized.

4. Sean Penn on The Tree of Life – Did you see The Tree of Life? Brainchild of Terrence Malick, the film garnered loads of attention for its sheer incomprehensibility. The creation of the universe and a Jurassic cameo from some dinosaurs seemed to really throw off audiences. And yet, it had stellar performances from Brad Pitt, Jessica Chastain, Sean Penn…or, did it? If Penn was able to convince us then maybe he should be up for some nomination nod. In an interview with famed French paper Le Figaro, Penn admitted to insecurities surrounding the script – questions that today remain unresolved. “Frankly, I’m still trying to figure out what I’m doing there and what I was supposed to add in that context!” he said. And while his interview had been translated, perhaps he was still so enthusiastic that, again, the exclamation point was necessary. In any event, he claimed that Malick’s script could have made a better film if it had been “a clearer and more conventional narrative.” In defense of Penn’s confusion, he says, “Terry himself never managed to explain it to me clearly.” Apologies.

3. Broken Social Scene’s “Sweetest Kill”
– If there was one song this year that haunted my brains, it would hands-down be Canadian super-group Broken Social Scene‘s “Sweetest Kill” off Forgiveness Rock Record. It’s a beautifully constructed track. And beauty begets beauty. So when it was time to create a music video for the piece, Claire Edmondson (having already directed Austra and Diamond Rings) had Bijou Phillips hack her sweet lover to bits and bury him in her garden. The video premiered and a month later BSS member Andrew Whiteman (also of Apostle of Hustle and ARoaRa) gave his thoughts: “‘I actually haven’t seen the video, but I think that’s bullshit. The literalism of that — it’s like ‘the song is called “Sweetest Kill,” so why don’t we have a hot chick kill her boyfriend?’ Like, what the fuck is that? That’s weak shit, man. Weak shit. That’s not what “Sweetest Kill” is about.'” In reply came a comment from “band leader” Kevin Drew in defense of Edmondson’s execution, saying that when he and drummer Justin Peroff showed the video to the rest of the band, “some were into it, some weren’t.” As for the awkwardly public wonder of their band-to-music-video-director relationship, Drew assures us that they’ve “hugged it out with Claire.”

2. Occupy Wall Street – I want this country to be blooming with happy, smart, conscientious, and innovative generations, just like the next person who cares about things like this. The Occupy Movement (officially OWS, for Occupy Wall Street) is trying to bring us closer to a country of more leveled equality by protesting from small towns to big cities to schools and parks and various scraps of places in between – on Belmont in Chicago, there’s a square of cement in the sidewalk by the Broadway intersection that has the words “OCCUPY EVERYTHING” carved in. Chicago, according to the OWS official site, is one of many cities with tents still standing – meanwhile, other cities nationwide are resuming their protests post-dispersal and post-eviction. Arrests have been made; camps have been set up; violence and brutalities have occurred on both sides of the rallies. What is going on, you ask? The main tickle to the movement’s roar is the inequality between American “classes” of wealth, the rich and the not-so-rich, the 1% of the wealthy (Wall Street) and the 99% of the rest of the struggling country (hence the now-global OWS slogan “We Are The 99%”). I find it slightly ironic that the movement’s origins come from activist/environmental/anti-consumerist/not-for-profit organization Adbusters, who hail from Canada. Vancouver, to be exact, land of much Twilight filming. Regardless, Occupy is happening and won’t be gone any time soon without the justice it seeks – while you can search #ows on Twitter for global real-time updates, or join an “Emergency SMS Loop” via your mobile texting “to receive alerts in the event of imminent emergency,” the movement will continue to gather support and protesters against the supporters. Wall Street is still functioning. So are the 99%. We all want to get along and live together under a fair system of economics and authority. And probably sooner than later. But that calls for proactive efficiency and detail-oriented plans to execute goals, as well as reasonable and outlined negotiations and proposals, all at the ready. “If you build it, they will come.” A building needs a blueprint first – and it seems there are more OWS blueprints than the organizers know how to build at the moment. If you’ll want to get clarification without participating, you can learn virtually through “99% (The Occupy Wall Street Collaborative Film)” which is taking donations now in order to happen later. But if you’re feeling like you can wait to hear about updates and outcomes between the population percents, you can check your email to see if the Ticketmaster class action settlement will be giving you any $1.50 discounts for having ripped you off with “excessive ‘order processing fees'” in the past. It’s a small morsel of Robin Hood-esque equality: steal from the rich, give to the poor. Or just reimburse them.

1. Rick Perry – I’m sure you’ve seen the election ad entitled “Strong” from Rick Perry’s campaign, a thirty-second clip that, as I write this, has had over 4.7 million views. The only thing that seems to be strong about it is the fact that 627,693 people have disliked it (by YouTube’s like or dislike button) without counting all of the viewers who didn’t veto the video. Want to see something cool? Refresh the YouTube page – and watch the number of dislikes grow right before your very eyes! In fact, the video has passed Rebecca Black’s “Friday” video in dislikes, thus taking the title of “Most Unpopular YouTube Video.” The ad verbatim: “I’m not ashamed to admit that I’m a Christian, but you don’t need to be in the pew every Sunday to know there’s something wrong in this country when gays can serve openly in the military but our kids can’t openly celebrate Christmas or pray in school. As President, I’ll end Obama’s war on religion. And I’ll fight against liberal attacks on our religious heritage. Faith made America strong. It can make her strong again. I’m Rick Perry and I approve this message.” While the comments have been disabled for the video, you can still see them by going to Perry’s YouTube page and clicking on “Show” next to each spam-labeled comment. Among the honest feelings of many, user Guthixpwnsyou points out that “as a technicality children can´╗┐ pray in school, the school´╗┐ simply can’t organize events requiring prayer.” Just FYI. Better than comments though, dare I say “stronger” than the comments, are the various parodies that have come out of the ad – probably the only thing that has really gotten Perry any of the majority’s attention. But maybe Rick Perry doesn’t deserve the #1 Misunderstood spot for 2011 – maybe we all do understand him. It’s just that none of us agree with him. So congratulations, Rick, you’re both the Most Misunderstood and Most Unpopular. I’m Shelby Shaw and I approve this message.