What a gloriously stupid movie. From director Robert Mandel, The Substitute tells the story of Jonathan Shale (Tom Berenger), a black ops soldier who leads a team sent abroad to fight the scourge of illegal drugs. But, we viewers never get to see one of these missions. As the film starts, we meet Berenger and his team at the back end of an incursion into Cuba that has left three team members dead. The government disavows any knowledge of the operation or its participants, and throws Shale and company out on their asses.
This week, Indycar driver Justin Wilson died one day after being struck in the helmet by a piece of debris. He was coming around turn 1 at Pocono Raceway after race leader Sage Karam lost control of his car and slammed into the outside wall. A large piece of Karam's car broke off and tumbled down the track, bouncing and flipping over. Its final bounce put it into the path of Wilson's car and he drove right into it. The debris caromed off of Wilson's head with such force that it flew up into the air at twice the height of the catch fence on the outside of the track. It was a violent collision, the equivalent weight of two or three bowling balls bouncing off of Wilson's helmet at a speed approaching 200 miles per hour (until data is released, it's hard to tell as cars were slowing in response to Karam's accident). Wilson lost consciousness immediately and never regained it.
What is the end game of civil rights? In a perfect world, civil rights would mean that the ways in which we define ourselves, through gender, sexuality, religious beliefs or lack thereof, or any other labels we choose or are chosen for us, would not matter. They would not matter when it comes to employment, where we choose to live, which organizations to join, running for office, or purchasing goods and services. The ideal endgame for civil rights would be the labels themselves becoming meaningless, unnecessary to apply because how a person identifies is no more significant than the color of their eyes. But, identity politics has instead made the labels more significant. People are required to identify, to belong to one group or another, and this ideological segregation has been an unfortunate side effect of the struggles for civil rights. The otherness of people has been reinforced alongside the strengthening of civil rights, turning the idea of equality into something like a finite resource, to be cut and divided among the differing groups. In acknowledging the differences between us, those differences become more stark than ever.
Looking at the list of films I've reviewed for Shitty Movie Sundays, there are some real standouts. Most of the films on the list are of such substandard quality that I am genuinely concerned I am wasting precious time in my life that I will never get back when I watch them (Galaxy of Terror, I Spit on Your Grave, Theodore Rex, for example), while others, despite being bad movies, are entertaining. Spacehunter, Raise the Titanic, Reign of Fire, Commando, The Keep -- all shitty movies, and all eminently watchable. When I think of my affinity for shitty movies, it is flicks like these that keep me searching for the next great dog.
I've written a couple of times before about how delegate math in the Republican presidential nominating process makes it harder for a right wing candidate to win the nomination than a candidate who is perceived as moderate. For example, on Super Tuesday in 2008, John McCain locked up the nomination. Much of that was due to victories in New York and California, which awarded him 250 delegates. Meanwhile, Mike Huckabee's total haul from five victories that day was about 150 delegates. The lesson was that, as a Republican, ignoring New York, California, and other states that reliably vote Democratic in the general election can be sound strategy in the fall, but ignoring these states in the primaries will cost a candidate the nomination. But, this theory largely relies on scheduling. What would happen if the GOP primaries in Democratic-leaning states were pushed to later in the schedule? Next year, we will all find out.