Mixed Media

Elizabeth Warren on "Colbert": "We Can't Have Capitalism If There Aren't Rules"

| Tue May 20, 2014 3:51 PM EDT

Elizabeth Warren went on The Colbert Report Monday to discuss her new memoir A Fighting Chance, which is "totally for real no joking guys please believe me" not a campaign book. The senator from Massachusetts and the future Late Show host discussed a lot of things including but not limited to how Reagan forged a culture of deregulation and leniency on Wall Street that led directly to the 2008 financial crisis and how the people responsible for said crisis who ran the biggest banks in America have still not been held responsible.

I grew up in an America that was investing in kids. It was investing in public universities. It had a high minimum wage. It was an America that said every kid had a fighting chance.And that's how we built America's great middle class. Then starting in about the 1980s we started turning in another direction...And what happened is [Reagan] had a couple of ideas. The first one was that they would fire the cops. Not the ones on main street but the ones on Wall Street...making sure that our largest financial institutions actually followed the law...If we don't have basic rules what happened is what happened then. And that is the big financial institutions made billions of dollars by cheating people on credit cards and mortgages...There's been a lot of freeloading, but the freeloading has been by the biggest financial institutions who got bailed out by the American taxpayers, who broke the law and were never held responsible...Here's the key part—nobody went to jail for any part of this. The only people in America today who go to jail are regular folks. Big financial institutions get out there, they launder drug money, they violate the law, and still no one is held accountable. I think that's fundamentally wrong.

Why won't Elizabeth Warren let banks launder their drug money in peace?
Watch:

 

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Here's What a Glorious Nintendo Gay Wedding Would Look Like

| Mon May 19, 2014 3:59 PM EDT

On Sunday's episode of HBO's Last Week Tonight, host John Oliver celebrated the tenth anniversary of gay marriage in America; on May 17, 2004, Massachusetts became the first state to recognize same-sex marriages. In the segment (watch above), Oliver highlights one of the "unusual obstacles" that marriage equality still faces: In the English version of Tomodachi Life, Nintendo new life-simulator video game, players do not have the option of participating in same-sex virtual relationships. After the game's release, Nintendo apologized for "disappointing many people by failing to include same-sex relationships," and seemed to imply that any future installments in the Tomodachi series would include same-sex romance.

Oliver and co. had fun with this, and imagined how the characters of the Nintendo world would react to the news of Nintendo's statement:

1. Mario and Link celebrate and make out:

Nintendo gay marriage
Screenshot: Last Week Tonight

 

2. Princess Peach and Princess Zelda engage in some foreplay:

Nintendo gay marriage
Screenshot: Last Week Tonight

 

3. Yoshi and Toad get hitched:

Nintendo gay wedding
Screenshot: Last Week Tonight

 

4. Bowser weeps at the funeral of his "longtime partner" Donkey Kong:

Nintendo same-sex relationships
Screenshot: Last Week Tonight

Click here to listen to my recent conversation with Oliver about the wild humor and smart commentary of Last Week Tonight.

How the Iraq War Influenced the "Godzilla" Reboot

| Fri May 16, 2014 4:03 PM EDT

You might have already heard that the images of destruction in the new Godzilla movie (starring Aaron Taylor-Johnson, Elizabeth Olsen, Ken Watanabe, and Bryan Cranston) were largely inspired by real-world disasters. "As we were writing the film, the horrible events in Fukushima [where a tsunami caused a nuclear meltdown] happened and we had to make the decision: Do we stay away from that or do we acknowledge that you've opened this Pandora's box of nuclear power, and when it goes wrong, it really does go wrong?" director Gareth Edwards told the Daily News. (The original Godzilla film, Gojira, was cleverly critical of US nuclear testing, and the critically maligned 1998 Godzilla, directed by Roland Emmerich, blamed Godzilla's wrath on nuclear tests in French Polynesia.)

The 9/11 attacks and Hurricane Katrina are also given visual nods in Edwards' version of Godzilla. Furthermore, the director drew on the horrors and devastation of modern warfare. Edwards says that he and his crew revisited images from Iraq, Afghanistan, World War II, and other conflicts.

"You sit down on Day One with all of the different heads of department and you say, 'OK, let's take this seriously, let's do this realistically,'" Edwards tells Mother Jones. "There's never really going to be giant monsters that come out of the ocean and smash a city and cause a tsunami and things like this. But, there are events that smash cities and cause tsunamis within nature and war, and so you don't have to think very hard to recall that imagery. It's so scarred in our minds that as we are creating the movie, we are getting all of those reference images and it's nearly impossible not to be influenced by them."

One of the first things Edwards did when he started this project was he went out and bought photography and history books and then studied them closely with his team. "We literally sat down and had a hundred different books," Edwards says. "A lot of war books, a lot of aftermath, whether it be terrorist or natural disasters; just because people are so familiar with that imagery that…now we have a reference for what it's supposed to look like when a giant monster comes…Science fiction is not really about the future. It's about the time today when it was made and it's reflecting the things of the moment."

Here are a couple shots from the film that have a wartime or natural-disaster vibe:

Godzilla

 

Godzilla 2014
Images courtesy of Warner Bros.

The Department of Defense cooperated with the filmmakers, which gave Edwards and his crew access to aircraft carriers and US soldiers, some of whom appear in the movie as extras.

If you'd like to check out a full transcript of the roundtable discussion a few critics and I had with Edwards, click here. Now, here's the trailer for the latest Godzilla:

Don't Ask Me to Explain. You Just Have to See This Photo of Macaulay Culkin.

| Mon May 12, 2014 8:20 PM EDT

(Knock knock)

"Who's there?"

"Pizza."

"Pizza who?"

"Pizza-themed Velvet Underground cover band Pizza Underground."

...

"What?"

"I said, we're Pizza Underground. We're a...hey, can you hear me through this thing? Look, maybe you should open the door."

"No, no, I can hear you fine. Did you say you were a pizza-themed cover band?"

"A pizza-themed Velvet Underground cover band, yes. Have you heard of the Velvet Underground?"

"And what are you selling?"

"Well, nothing, really. I mean, I guess technically we're selling pizza-themed Velvet Underground cover songs."

"I think you have the wrong house."

"No, look, you know Macaulay Culkin?"

"My family is just sitting down to dinner. I really don't have time for this."

"Macaulay Culkin? The actor? Home Alone, The Good Son? You know him?"

"Yes, I know of Macaulay Culkin."

"He's with us! He's in the band."

"Please. I don't want to have to call the police."

"No, look, I'm going to slide this photo under the door, ok? (slides photo under door) You see that? That's a photo of Macaulay Culkin wearing a shirt with a picture of Ryan Gosling wearing a shirt with a picture of Macaulay Culkin on it."

"Now does that not blow your mind?"

...

"Sir?"

...

...

"Sir??"

...

"Yes."

"Yes, what?"

"Yes, it blows my mind."

"OK...OK! Now we're cooking with fire! So, how about it, friend? You want to open the door and let us in? It's freezing out here."

"Yeah...yeah, OK. (begins unlocking door) Honey, could you make up some more spots at the table? A pizza-themed Velvet Underground cover band is going to be joining us for dinner...Don't ask me to explain. You just have to see this photo of Macaulay Culkin."

The End.

(via Bullett Media)

"Sheezus" Proves Lily Allen's Edge Is Sharp As Ever

| Mon May 12, 2014 6:00 AM EDT

Lily Allen
Sheezus
Warner Bros.

Sheezus cover

Good news: Motherhood and five years off the scene have not dulled Lily Allen's edge. The sharpest tongue in British music continues to call out poseurs and phonies on this bracing third album, and Allen doesn't spare herself. She acknowledges her own vulnerabilities and contradictions for all the world to hear. Collaborating again with producer and co-writer Greg Kurstin, Allen specializes in barbed observations wrapped in catchy electro-tinged pop, mocking self-aggrandizing attitudes on the title track, taunting bloggers in "URL Badman" ("When I'm a big boy I'm going to write for Vice"), and taking down celebrity preening on "Insincerely Yours" ("We’re all here coz the price is right"). Getting personal on the straight-talking love song "As Long as I Got You," she sings sweetly: "Staying home with you is better than sticking things up my nose." If Allen occasionally seems too focused on the rampant absurdities of junk culture, she's still a smart, deceptively sophisticated artist—and never, ever boring.

Brian Eno's and Karl Hyde's "Someday World" Will Leave You Smiling

| Mon May 12, 2014 6:00 AM EDT

Eno•Hyde
Someday World
Warp

Britain's Brian Eno has a pretty amazing resume: founding member of Roxy Music, superproducer (U2, Devo, Talking Heads), wise collaborator (David Byrne, Robert Fripp) and always surprising sonic innovator, even after nearly a half-century on the music scene. (Read our recent profile of Eno here.) On Someday World he's joined by Karl Hyde, singer for the esteemed electronica group Underworld, with charming results.

Supported by a nimble cast that includes Roxy mate Andy Mackay on sax, the lads fashion bright, sleek pop that almost seems to be infused with helium. From the peppy beats to the airy melodies to the bemused, understated vocals, it can be easy to overlook the darkness in the lyrics—if you can decode them. Near the end of the album, Eno sings, "When I built this world/I built it full of guilt/I filled it with regret and pain/With sin and then with sin again," but you may come away smiling and ready to dance anyway.

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Elliott Smith: "It's Just, I like Music, You Know"

| Mon May 12, 2014 6:00 AM EDT

Heaven Adores You, a Kickstarted documentary about the life and music of the late singer-songwriter Elliott Smith, premiered at the San Francisco International Film Festival last week. It combines interviews with friends and collaborators, photos and video from throughout Smith's life, and ample footage of Portland, New York City, and Los Angeles (the three cities where Smith created music)—set, of course, to a soundtrack containing at least one song from every Elliott Smith album, plus unreleased recordings.

Director Nickolas Rossi embarked on his "love letter" to Smith in a quest to preserve the memory of the musician's life, which is often overshadowed by his sensationalized 2003 death. Smith, who suffered from depression and addiction, died at age 34 of two stab wounds to the chest. "The eight-year anniversary of his death came, and I totally spaced it out," says Rossi, who has been a fan since the mid-'90s. "I didn't even realize it had happened. And I thought, 'We can't start forgetting about Elliott Smith! There has to be a way to make sure that he's accessible to the generations that are going to come after this.'"

"There is a story there a well. A really beautiful, kind of simple story there about a guy who just wanted to make music, and it touched millions of people across the world."

After launching their fundraising campaign, the filmmakers were undecided as to the film's direction. ("Is it going to be a biography, or is going to be a big, 96-minute music video?") That was when they received an email from Kevin Moyer, a longtime friend of Smith's, asking only, "How can I help?" Before long, they'd enlisted Moyer as one of the film's producers. He arranged interviews with 30 people close to the artist, including Smith's sister, friends, former bandmates, and collaborators. Rossi says "we really wanted to get a feel of what it was like to know him, and be friends with him, and play music with him, and watch him evolve as an artist."

The interviews are what drive the story. "When I would listen to Elliott's music, he was accessible, but he was sort of on that pedestal…because he makes such amazing art," explains Rossi. "And I guess what I realized was he was just a normal guy. There were a lot of things about him that were unique and amazing and he had incredible talent, but what I learned was he was just somebody's brother, somebody's friend, somebody's boyfriend."

As the team began putting the film together, they realized "it was very heavy on the superfan stuff," such as details about "the way that Elliott recorded certain things, and what microphone he used." Although Rossi found these things fascinating, he realized the film needed to be accessible to anyone. So while Heaven Adores You includes older, unreleased songs for diehard fans, "there is a story there a well. A really beautiful, kind of simple story there about a guy who just wanted to make music, and it touched millions of people across the world."

Rossi became entranced by Smith some 20 years ago after hearing "Satellite" on a mixtape while driving cross-country, and says he easily "could have made a 14-hour movie with all of the songs that I thought were amazing...You really can't go wrong with an Elliott Smith record. You'll find something, or one or two, or maybe four songs on any album that will resonate with you." Smith rose to mainstream prominence in 1998 when his song "Miss Misery," which was featured on the Good Will Hunting soundtrack, was nominated for an Academy Award.

Heaven Adores You also includes footage of interviews Smith did throughout his life. "The less I think about it, the happier I am," he says at one point. "I don't really care where I fit into anything, or if there's anything to fit into. It's just, I like music, you know? That's the thing. It's really uncomplicated."

Music Review: La Sera's "Summer of Love"

| Mon May 12, 2014 6:00 AM EDT

TRACK 2

"Summer of Love"

From La Sera's Hour of the Dawn

HARDLY ART

Liner notes: Take a gorgeous melody, add soaring multilayered voices, and top with shimmering guitars for two minutes of shiny pop perfection on the third album from La Sera, a.k.a. Katy Goodman.

Behind the music: Goodman was billed as Kickball Katy in the pioneering noise-pop trio Vivian Girls, recently defunct.

Check it out if you like: Blondie and the Bangles then, Dum Dum Girls and Best Coast now.

This review originally appeared in the May/June issue of Mother Jones.

Quote of the Day: Happy Mother's Day!

| Sun May 11, 2014 4:32 PM EDT
Jeramie, Richard, & Emily Dreyfuss. November 19, 1983.

I had always wanted to be a mother. It’s the first thing I said to your dad. We met at a party in LA in February, 1983. I was a producer at CBS. "What do you want to do with your career at CBS?" he asked me. And I said, "Nothing, I want to get married and have children." And he said, "Me too. Let’s get married." And we got married like one month later and now we have you three kids. If we hadn’t been this crazy, you guys wouldn’t exist! So be nice to the baby boomer generation.

Jeramie Dreyfuss, my mom and the best actress ever to play a psycho killer in a deeply disturbing early-70s horror film. (Happy Mother's Day, mom! I love you.)

Happy Mother's Day to all the moms! You guys are the best.

This Video of Michael Sam and His Boyfriend Finding Out He Has Been Drafted Is Amazing

| Sat May 10, 2014 9:11 PM EDT

Earlier today, Michael Sam received a really great phone call. He had become the first openly-gay player to be drafted in NFL history. Cameras were present as he and his boyfriend found out the news together. Watch them share a kiss and beautiful embrace as they learn of the historic decision by the St. Louis Rams: