Sunday, May 31, 2015

TV: The Age of New Media?

One of the most remarkable accomplishments of NBC's summer series Aquarius is how often it manages to resemble Henry Diltz photographs. Visually, it's a winner.



David Duchovny's portrayal of police officer Sam is all dripping, throbbing hard-on, it's all passion and eroticism aided by the best looking partner he's had since Gillian Anderson (The X-Files): Grey Damon as Brian Shafe.

The series is set in 1967 and some reviewers have decided Sam is racist.

The LAPD's reputation (see especially the Daryl Gates era) would make it difficult for the LAPD to be portrayed as anything but.

Sam's partner Brian is married to an African-American woman and Sam's on board with not being opposed long before a real estate scheme finds Brian's family targeted with bricks and racist words painted on the garage door. The whole department has an issue with Latinos but it's Sam who the unknown Latino officer (people think Joe Moran -- Cuban Jose Moran -- is Irish) reaches out to and it's Sam who supports him.  Sam's also the one who recognizes Charmain (Claire Holt) has more to offer than making coffee.

By 2015 standards, Sam's a racist.

And Brian's a homophobe.

But the characters inhabit 1967 so is it really that clear cut?

Old hippie Bernie Sanders was a disaster as the Chair of the Senate Veterans Affairs Committee -- at one point, he pointedly ignored a VA scandal (a real one, one that was later confirmed and one that saw veterans dying and veterans denied care) to explore, for an entire hearing, holistic medicine.

Bernie was in the news last week when it was revealed that an article he wrote portrayed all women as having fantasies/desires of being gang-raped.

Was it fair, in 2015, to judge Senator Bernie Sanders -- who is playing at running for the Democratic Party's presidential nomination -- by what he wrote in 1972?

On Sunday's Meet The Press (NBC), Bernie got asked about the article.

This week you found out what it's like to become a nationally recognized candidate for potentially, and potentially, a threat to somebody. A leaking of an essay you wrote in the '70s from Alternative Weekly, your campaign described it as satire. I'll be honest with you, Senator Sanders, it's uncomfortable to read. The only excerpt I'm going to put up is, you wrote this in February of '72, was sort of a fantasy of men and women, you said, "A woman enjoys intercourse with her man as she fantasizes being raped by three men simultaneously." Your campaign described it as satire. Can you explain this essay?

Sure. Look, this is a piece of fiction that I wrote in 1972, I think. That was 43 years ago. It was very poorly written. And if you read it, what it was dealing with gender stereotypes, why some men like to oppress women, why other women like to be submissive. You know, something like 50 Shades of Gray, very poorly written 43 years ago.

What I'm focusing on right now are the issues impacting the American people today. And that's what I will continue to focus on. And what I think the American people want to hear. And by the way, on broader issues, what I think when we talk about issues, Chuck, we need a lot more debates in this campaign. I hope very much that we can begin with the Democratic candidates at least as early as July, and also Republicans in those debates, as well. 

Oh, okay,  It's 50 Shades of Gray.

Which, for the record, is also deeply sexist.

That's the best he can do?

And where's the apology?

He's not a fictional character trapped in 1972.

He's a politician seeking votes in 2015.

It's 2015 and so-called 'honor killings' take place around the world -- a woman can be killed for having sex or for having been raped.

And Bernie Sanders thinks he doesn't have to apologize for a piece of trash article he wrote promoting the lie that rape -- that gang-rape, at that -- is a normal desire on the part of all women?

The thing about fake-ass Bernie and his fake-ass supporters is they're all down with the pot and with this and the that but they're never really down with equality -- which is why you don't get much Whiter than Bernie's campaign and his supporters.

Sam is a character trapped in 1967.  He's a World War II veteran.  A White male who's half-Irish and half-Jewish.  He's a man who, when he was drunk, beat his wife.

He's also someone who's attempting to change.

Another aspect of the show is Charles Manson.

The psychopath is just emerging in the storyline which is about as factual as a Ken Burns' 'documentary' on PBS.

But by not being tied to the facts, it is able to tie in a few elements that have always been whispered of -- such as the help Manson supposedly got from certain right-wing politicians in California.  Truly novel would be exploring the whispers that Manson was also part of a government program to discredit the left.

Though Manson's potential government connections aren't explored, another aspect is touched upon.  Bunchy Cather (Gaius Charles) is a Black Panther and his brother Robert is killed.  He asks Sam for help.  Sam is able to track down the killer, an informer for the FBI.  In questioning him, Sam tricks him and makes him think he'll get a raise for snitching and the FBI agent who he snitches to will get a medal if the killed includes in his statement the fact that he went to see Robert with a gun (intent to kill) as instructed by the FBI agent.

Silent film star Ramon Novarro's death turns up in a heavily disguised reinterpretation which finds him much younger, still acting in lead roles and in the midst of a fake engagement when two brothers -- male hustlers -- kill him.

This is one of those confusing moments.

Novarro's murderers were caught.  Why change the actor's name?  Why change the killers' names?  Why change any of it?

Another question would be why is Michaela McManus cast in the role of Grace?

We have no problem with her acting, she's outstanding.

But she's playing opposite 54-year-old Duchovny and McManus is only 32.

And Grace is supposed to be Sam's ex.

See, 20 years earlier, in 1947, they danced and dance to "Time After Time" as they dated in the summer Grace was between high school and college.

That would make her 38.

A few weeks ago, 37-year-old actress Maggie Gyllenhaal revealed that she was told she was now too old to play the love interest of a 55-year-old actor.

And here's 32-year-old McManus being cast as a 38-year-old woman who is the former (and current) love of Sam played by 54-year-old Duchovny.

And, by the way, McManus is only 12 years older than the 20-year-old actress playing her sixteen-year-old daughter.

It's worth noting.

And even so, Aquarius is more than worth watching.

It's riveting television and riveting streaming.  NBC is airing it on Thursday nights this summer but you can stream all the episodes on Hulu currently.   This new model has tended to be the focus of The Water Cooler Set and not the content of the show itself.  Even so, there's already talk of a season two and the network should explore that because it's solid entertainment.  But even while marveling over the look, grasp that it's not history and doesn't pretend to be.

Creative Commons License
This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-Share Alike 3.0 Unported License.
Poll1 { display:none; }