Sunday, October 08, 2006

Laughing At Perverts, A "Hard" Movie To Watch, It's Midnight, There's Money, And It's Madness!

So last night after I got home from work I ordered a pizza, as for a variety of reasons I never got around to eating a proper lunch ag work, and then I sat down to watch the hours of TV shows that had come on after my extremely early bedtime over the past few days which I had recorded.
Among the shows I recorded was the latest installment in the Dateline NBC series in which they set up sting operations to catch online sexual predators.
If you’re unfamiliar with the show, basically they have decoys from a group called Perverted Justice who go into chat rooms pretending to be teens (typically a 13 year-old girl) and engage in conversations with adult men which, invariably, and generally pretty quickly, turn to sex. They then encourage the would-be suitors to come meet them at their home where the parents will be “away” and get to know each other better.
The house is filled with hidden cameras, and a correspondent from Dateline is waiting in the wings with printouts of the chat logs to have a little face-to-face discussion with the men to ask them just what they were planning to do as they show up to spend some time with a 13 year-old girl.
Generally they claim they had no intention of doing anything improper, and that the chat sessions were all “fantasy” which they would have never acted upon, even though they showed up at the real house of the object of their fantasies – generally with alcohol and condoms in their cars.
After talking with the correspondent (or running away the second they spot him, usually when they’re attempting to spy on the actress posing as their dream girl, who has stepped behind a divider where the correspondent is waiting, ostensibly for the purposes of changing into a swimsuit so that they can get in the hot tub together), they head merrily on their way, albeit somewhat frustrated, at which point the cops swoop down on them and bust them.
It’s essentially the same thing over and over again, but watching it never gets old. There are just so many things that make it compelling. For one thing, you can’t help but wonder at the compulsive need that drives these men to take such stupid risks. I mean, the show’s been on the air long enough that you have to know that you’re being set up, and yet these sick bastards are willing to take the risk on the off-chance that they really might get to have sex with a 13 year-old. In fact, in the previews for an upcoming episode they show that they’re catching someone whom they’ve caught once before in a different sting.
Listening to the excuses they come up with is entertaining as well, particularly when everything they claim can instantly be contradicted by the chat logs. One guy tried to claim that he was having a party and one of his friends got on the computer and pretended to be him as a joke. The story didn’t hold up long, though, as the chats had occurred over multiple days. Straight-faced, the correspondent asks, “Was this party going on for many days?”
For me, though, the best part is just watching these grown men sit down and cry like babies as they realize just how much they’ve screwed their lives up and you can sit there and not feel the least bit of sympathy or feel even slightly bad about taking pleasure in their misery because they fucking deserve it.
You could probably make a case for saying this entrapment, but I don’t think that flies. We’re not talking about someone who was tricked into buying a nickel bag of pot for his own personal use or some other non-violent, petty crime that is essentially victimless. Sure, there is no actual 13 year-old girl involved in this at any point (even the actress waiting at the house pretending to be the girl is over 18), but the fact of the matter is that the pedophiles don’t know that, and it’s really only luck of the draw that they ended up chatting with a decoy rather than a real teenager.
The latest episode had a special treat in the form of footage of disgraced Congressman Mark Foley appearing on MSNBC and praising the efforts of Dateline to capture online predators. And people wonder why I love irony so much.
Shortly after I finished watching my recorded TV I decided to pop in the X3 DVD.
In a strange confluence of events, with the episode of Dateline still in the back of my mind, I remembered as I was watching a scene featuring Kitty Pryde that the actress portraying Kitty, Ellen Page, had appeared in an independent film in which she played a teen girl lured into a real-life meeting with a pedophile she had been chatting with over the Internet.
From what I’d seen about the movie, called Hard Candy, it was supposed to be extremely suspenseful and intense and have a rather unexpected twist.
With that in mind, I did a search for the movie and set it to download before I went to bed, and today I watched it.
Holy. Freaking. God.
“Suspenseful” and “intense” and “twist” don’t even begin to cover it.
I have to say that while I initially thought that Page wasn’t pretty enough to play Kitty (and I honestly still feel that way), I was impressed by her performance in X3, and warmed to her considerably.
However, I was completely blown away by her performance in Hard Candy. One of the best performances I’ve ever seen.
In addition to Page’s performance, the movie works because of how much it leaves up to the imagination, never really straying into any kind of lurid, obvious creepiness of the sort you often see in movies that try to say that something is bad while at the same time presenting visuals that will appeal to the people who enjoy engaging in this ostensibly “bad” behavior.
I’ve read mostly overwhelmingly positive reviews of this movie, with a peppering of overwhelmingly negative reviews, but I think most of the negative reviews are based on faulty assumptions and at least a couple of them are based on faulty wiring in their brains.
That being said, this is not a joyful, happy, life-affirming movie and it is not easy to watch. It doesn’t give you easy answers. It doesn’t tell you how you should feel. It’s ambiguous and it – and this is the part that makes it bothersome for some people – makes you think, leaving it up to you to make up your own mind.
I went into the movie having at least an idea of what to expect, but I wasn’t prepared for what I saw, and while there were some plot holes and some moments that dragged and felt like padding, for the most part it literally had me on the edge of my seat, except when it had me squirming in my seat.
Still, I’m not really recommending this movie to anyone. I enjoyed it, but I don’t know that any of you would (except “Zalfiro,” who called me shortly after I started watching – it was good to talk to him, as it’s been a while – and to whom I do recommend this movie beause I know him well enough to think his reaction will be similar to mine).
And I don’t know that “enjoyed” is the right word either. Let’s just say I reacted to it very strongly and I was impressed by the performances.
Anyway, between talking to my mother, watching the movie, and talking to “Zalfiro,” that pretty much covers my day so far.
My work week was pretty long and boring as I was forced to work sans Scott, which always makes things boring. I have another weekend of that to look forward to.
When I was off, Scott had informed me that “Replacement Jon,” the person working OT to fill in for me, was nowhere near as entertaining as “Real Jon.” The same goes for “Replacement Scott.”
Thursday I found out that our desk is taking on what seems like a pretty big new job responsibility, so hopefully that’s a good sign for our continued future.
Brian and Kathleen were down to one vehicle, which Kathleen needed, on Thursday, so Brian had to catch a ride with me. During the day I realized that I’d forgotten to pick up a birthday card for my niece Jenni (she’ll be 9 on Tuesday), so after dropping him off I headed to Super Target to pick one up, along with a couple of other things.
On my way towards the express line I saw yet another of those extremely suprising Super Target Very Nice Asses, but once I got up closer I discovered that it was mostly a combination of distance and position that made it seem very nice, and that it was, actually, rather flat. That was disappointing, but I did still scrutinize the owner of the not-so nice ass because she had this pants-footwear-pose combination that I’ve tried, and failed, many times to reproduce in a drawing.
It’s a very difficult thing to describe, so I really can’t tell you what it’s like, and, as mentioned, I’m completely incapable of showing you.
Anyway, it’s an odd pose, and it seems like it be kind of uncomfortable, which is perhaps why I so seldom see it.

You Should Totally Try This Department:
During my vacation I stumbled across something on late-night TV called Midnight Money Madness.
It airs on TBS on Monday-Thursday sometime after, as the name implies, midnight, right after the day’s 7,000th consecutive episode of Everybody Loves Raymond.
In any case, it’s a live game show hosted by a cute British chick, which gives viewers the opportunity to win cash.
You can read the Wikipedia entry describing the show here.
To summarize, though, they have on-air puzzles which you can call in to try to solve and will win cash, of varying amounts, for doing so. Typically most puzzles are worth $200.
Alternatively, you can send a text message to a number and they will call you on your cell phone.
Admittedly it will cost you money to call in (99 cents per call), or to send the text message, and you’re not guaranteed to get through (apparently you have a one in ten chance of being a participant if you call in, which seems like pretty good odds to me), but the thing is, you can try to call in or text ten times a night, and the puzzles are really, really easy.
If you get through, you’re pretty much guaranteed to win the money…unless you’re a total retard.
Which is the other thing: most of the people who call in are total retards.
And when a given puzzle goes a sufficiently long time without being solved, they add money to it. And if it goes unsolved entirely they add the money to the base prize of the next game. So you could call in, solve some ridiculously easy puzzle that some redneck from Throatwaller, Arkansa, couldn’t solve, and win like $1,200 while the rest of the rednecks are busy trying to figure out how to mash them keys on that newfangled teller-fone machine.
And you can do it night after night. I’ve seen several people win on multiple nights.
Sure, it costs you money, but if you’re winning, what difference does it make? From what I’ve seen you’re bound to more than break even.
I mean, what if you spent $10 a night calling in, but averaged $300 a week in winnings?
I haven’t participated in it personally because, for a variety of reasons, I can’t, but many of you can, and, I think, should.
Beyond offering you the chance to win money, it’s actually pretty entertaining to watch. It’s weird and sort of manic and it obviously has an extremely low budget.
In a recent episode, Jerilee, the cute British chick, actually knocked the gameboard off its stand, forcing them to go to commercial. When they returned the crew was securing the board with electrical tape.
GSN has a similar show, I noticed, complete with cute British chick, but it didn’t seem as entertaining to me.
Anyway, check it out when you get a chance.

The evening is rapidly approaching and I suppose I should think about reheating some pizza and having a meal, so I guess I’ll bring this overly-long entry to a close.

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