Sunday, March 30, 2008

An Open Letter to Hayden Christensen

Dear Hayden,

Hayden Christensen JumperAs you know, Jumper is a movie about superpowered individuals who can travel vast distances in the blink of an eye, using merely the power of their minds. An ancient sect of religious fanatics has been following these superheroes since the Middle Ages with the intention of wiping them out for good. It should be impossible to ruin this movie. But you did, Hayden. You ruined it.

I won't say that I'm not still emotionally scarred from Star Wars: Episode II, because I am. But I never blamed you personally for that. Sure, I disagreed with your decision to portray Annekin Skywalker's complex metamorphosis from a benevolent idealist into a hate-filled lord of darkness by "acting like a douchebag the whole time," but I was willing to chalk that up to monumentally bad directing. And yes, it did strike me as a trifle awkward that the male lead in the movie was outperformed by a floppy-eared, irritating, uncomfortably racist animation, but I was willing to focus my hurt and anger about what I call "the Jar Jar paradox" towards George Lucas, who seemed to be the real mastermind behind the crime spree that we've come to know as the Star Wars prequels. Now I'm starting to rethink that position.

Because I believe that you are evil, Hayden.

It's the only logical explanation. Your acting isn't soul-shatteringly awful — it only seems that way. The fact is that your acting is too good. You play the part too well, Mr. Christensen, and I'm onto you. No one but a highly trained master thespian with a heart full of the purest evil would be able to pull off a piece of work like your performance in Jumper. The effortlessness with which you have managed to take a screenplay written about a handsome, troubled adolescent who discovers that he is a central figure in a timeless battle between good and evil and turn it into a depressing biopic about an emotionally bankrupt, intolerable frat boy is already a feat worthy of Hollywood's finest character actors. But to have done it twice — such a coup could only have been arranged by a dangerous sociopath.

So my question to you is this, Hayden: Why are you using your powers for evil? Your unrivaled ability to suck all the fun out of an exciting adventure, to turn a love story into a nightmare worthy of Kafka, to drain the life and energy out of anyone who so much as walks into a room with you — these are abilities that could be used for the greater good of our nation. You could be weakening the resolve of terrorists in interrogation rooms, extracting confessions from violent criminals with a glance, ending hostage situations by confronting kidnappers and sapping their will to live ... but instead you elect to use your talents to ruin perfectly good action movies? Why, Hayden? Why?


Jack Shepherd

P.S. My friend Ashleigh thinks you're cute.

Sunday, March 16, 2008


Waz is a very specialized term that I came up with in high school, originally to describe the effects of a cat tranquilizer called Ketamine, which is not fun at all, but not so completely lacking in fun that you wouldn't do it again so you could go ahead and not have a good time on Ketamine as an exciting change of pace from just not having a good time, which is pretty much what high school is all about.

It soon became clear that there are a large number of very common activities in life that are exactly as fun as ingesting a bunch of cat tranquilizers and sitting around not having a very good time. Relationships, for instance. And watching movies about superheroes. Waz was much more than a piece of druggie jargon that only made sense to me, my friends, and a generation of house cats—it was a vital piece of emotional vocabulary that had been mysteriously omitted from the list of descriptive terms we're expected to use to describe what kind of a time we're having. Like leaving "red" off the color wheel. For instance:

Girlfriend: Was that as good for you as it was for me?
Me: It was pretty fucking waz, actually.
Girlfriend: Well, that's the last time I take you to watch a movie about a superhero.

So imagine my relief this week when I learned that they've come out with a feature film about waz. They've got a Flash website and everything. The tagline is "What Would it Take to Make You Kill the One You Love?" Since we all know that the answer to that question is "A seven layer burrito and a coupon for a free Journey ringtone of my choice," it's pretty clear that the geniuses who crafted this rich filmic experience have a firm grasp of what's waz and what's not waz.

The poster for this movie, which depicts a woman who has accidentally covered the non-disfigured side of her disfigured face with the hood of an anorak, shows us that the graphic designer was not afraid to use the Greek symbol for the letter "d" to replace the only vowel in the only word in the movie's title (knowing that he could just write it out below in capital letters, thereby negating and undermining the entirety of his role in designing a graphic for the title in the first place), and also that the film stars Hollywood leading lady Selma Blair—two powerful indications that not only will the uncompromising auteurs behind this cinematic event depict waz experiences to their viewers, but they will also ensure that their viewers experience waz for themselves. Much like how the guys who made A Thin Red Line showed countless moviegoers that war is dreary and monotonous by making their movie 13 hours long and completely impossible to watch without the aid of hallucinogenic mushrooms. The Waz official movie site, which I encourage everyone to check out, has a "storyboard" section which shows many of the waz moments that putative viewers can expect during the film. After ravenously devouring every element of this storyboard, I have decided that I will not be watching this movie in theaters, but as soon as it is released for rental, my cat and I intend to cook up a vial of Ketamine, pop the DVD in the player, and rate it on a scale of 1 to waz. I'll let you know the results in a few months.

I'm also told that in the UK, "waz" is used to mean "urinate".