Thursday, October 1, 2009

"Forget it, Jake. It's Chinatown"

We had a printer failure today. A $2 piece of plastic broke, meaning a cornerstone of our workflow broke down. We moved a replacement in, a different model which goes by a different name. A co-worker started the process of installing the new drivers, but, to a point, send data to a Postscript printer and it'll act like a Postscript printer. So once a) we established that we could print without installing mods, and b) the installer she chose involved installing IIS on a workstation, I stopped her, got out of the admin login, and set her back to work. She looked puzzled, so I gave a response.

"Forget about it, Ann. It's Chinatown."

I really want to know how many people here recognize that line.

It's the last line of Chinatown. Spoiler >> The bad guy wins. He wins at everything. Our hero, Jake, used to work for the DA in Chinatown, where the corruption and crime was so bad, the DA suggested he do as little as possible for his own safety and sanity. Jake is lead away by friends still on the force, who say that line. Any further action toward that goal is futile and potentially dangerous, so it's best to turn your back and go onto the next. << Spoiler Not to imply that Chinatown is any better or any worse than any other neighborhood. I was four when that movie was made, and have nothing to do with any associations made by that film.

There are obscure lines that I know when I say them "It's very unlikely anyone gets this." A few examples:
  • "I would like a cup of meat!"
  • "Let's go get sushi, and not pay!"
  • "Because you're perfect."
  • "A squid eating dough in a polyethlene bag is fast and bulbous. Got me?"
If I say these lines and you get them, that says a lot about our mutual interests. But others, well, it's just inconceivable to me that they're obscure. The above line is one of them.

The director of that movie is Roman Polanski. Google that name and you'll see the case against him. But he did what he did. He admitted what he did. He was tried, sentenced and he skipped out. To me, that's the alpha and the omega of the story. He doesn't want to go to jail, but who does? To my mind, he should be sent back to America and he should go to jail.

But that's my mind. Do I have any belief that this is going to happen? I don't. Years ago, Maureen Down said that Bob Packwood shouldn't be kicked from the Senate for sexual harassment, because he was too valuable a vote for women. This was the last I had any respect for Maureen Dowd. Whoopi Goldberg says this isn't rape rape, and that's the last I have any respect for her. But there are voices that say that his art is ... I don't know. An excuse? A justification? I say that Chinatown is a great film. I say that Rosemary's Baby is one of the foundation films of modern horror. But I say that Ninth Gate is closer to Peacemaker, a good piece of film but not crucial. And Fearless Vampire Killers? Not nearly worth your time.

But by even asking that question, is this amount of art a justification for any human pain, a question that to many in Hollywood, is already answered, we're cheaping life and justifying further violence. We've already created a new "Chinatown".

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