A rouger shade of Palin

Those who seek to satirise Sarah, we salute you!

As the Scary Sarah Palin Show rolls into a town near you (if you live in Grand Rapids, Michigan, that is), with the former Alaskan governor, failed Republican VP candidate and inveterate "hockey mom" signing copies of her autobiography Going Rogue: an American Life, it seems timely to pay tribute to all those satirists and lefties who continue to succeed in undermining her. While cheering crowds of fellow American "patriots" greeted a red-blazered and as-ever gung-ho Palin with a roar as she descended from her battle(axe) bus, the anti-Palin book industry was preparing its national lampoon.

First up, over in New York, editors from our friends the Nation simultaneously published their subversion of the Palin autobiography, ingeniously entitled Going Rouge: Sarah Palin -- an American Nightmare, the title apparently inspired by a genuine spoonerism made by a US newsreader. The font and graphics brilliantly echo the HarperCollins official book -- how many diehard Palinettes will mistakenly pick up a copy of the collection of leftist essays at their nearest Barnes & Noble? We can but hope . . .

As the publishers OR Books say, however, this is not a spoof book, but a collection of serious essays by respected writers to provide a political counterpoint to Palin and "the nightmarish prospect of her continuing to dominate the nation's political scene". In the words of Richard Kim, the editor of the Nation:

The cover is a parody of hers and it certainly takes some shots and mocks Sarah Palin, but it is a very serious book and the book itself is not a parody. It is not at all intended as a joke or a parody.

Rather more lighthearted is another Going Rouge, this one a "colouring and activity" book, its title again inspired by the hapless local newsreader. (Can anyone tell me who? I read the story last week but now can't find it!) Again hitting shelves on 17 November, the same day as Rogue, here you can "dress Sarah for success" or "help Sarah find her way to the White House". From their website:

Yeah, yeah, we heard all about the Sarah Palin's Book Going Rogue: an American Life to be launched on Nov 17th. They expect to move 1.5 million copies, and pre-orders have been brisk. We couldn't let that stand without a fight. There are two sides to every story, but let's get something clear here -- Sarah didn't write this book either.

Then, let's not forget the excellence of Tina Fey's campy and uncanny impersonations of Palin on Saturday Night Live last year, which won her an Emmy and, it may not be an exaggeration to say, were instrumental in ensuring a Republican loss (if not the actual Obama win). Fey is said to be reprising her role as Palin to coincide with the autobiography's release.

Finally -- to those readers of a more sensitive disposition, don't click this link. No, don't, you won't like it. Don't click it. Don't. Click. This. Link. Oops, oh well, I did warn you! -- dare I just mention Hustler's inspired porno flick Who's Nailin' Paylin? Adventures of a Hockey MILF, featuring "actors" spoofing Hillary Clinton, Condi Rice, Todd Palin and, yes, Mrs P herself . . . ?

Rouge faces all round.

 

Palin

Thomas Calvocoressi is Chief Sub (Digital) at the New Statesman and writes about visual arts for the magazine.

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In Guardians of the Galaxy Vol 2, every other line reeks of a self-help manual

This lame sequel suggests the makers have largely forgotten why the original was so refreshing.

The 2014 romp Guardians of the Galaxy boasted the budget of a blockbuster and the soul of a B-movie. What that meant in practice was that audiences had to endure the same biff-pow battle scenes and retina-blistering effects as any space adventure, but they were rewarded with eccentric characters and tomfoolery for its own sake.

Despite the Marvel Studios imprimatur, the film showed the forces of intergalactic evil being fought not by superheroes, but by a ragtag band of bickering goofballs: Peter Quill (Chris Pratt), aka Star-Lord, a self-regarding rogue in the Han Solo mould; the green-faced alien Gamora (Zoe Saldana); Drax (Dave Bautista), a literal-minded hulk; Rocket, a racoon-like warrior (voiced by Bradley Cooper); and Groot, a piece of bark that says “I am Groot” over and over in the dulcet tones of Vin Diesel. Movies this odd don’t usually become $770m smash hits but this one did – deservedly.

Those characters return in Guardians of the Galaxy Vol 2 (the “Vol 2” reflects Peter’s love of mix-tapes) but the new film suggests the makers have largely forgotten why the original was so refreshing. Gags are rehashed; several sequences (including an interminable slow-motion section involving a laser-powered arrow) are dragged way beyond their desirable lifespan. Late in the day, Rocket tells his shipmates that they have too many issues, which rather pinpoints the problem with the screenplay by the director, James Gunn. Gunn has saddled his characters with unreasonable baggage, all of it relating to family and belonging. No matter how far into space they travel, all roads lead back to the therapist’s couch.

Peter, raised by his late mother, is delighted when Ego (Kurt Russell) materialises claiming to be the father he never knew. The old man makes grand pronouncements, only to undercut them within seconds (“’Scuse me, gotta take a whizz”) but, on the plus side, he has his own planet and pulls the whole “One day, son, all this will be yours” shtick. Gamora also has family business to contend with. Her blue-skinned sister, Nebula (Karen Gillan), wants to kill her: Nebula has never quite got over Gamora being Daddy’s favourite. To be fair, though, he did force them to fight one another, replacing parts of Nebula’s body with metal whenever she lost, so it’s not like we’re talking about only one sister being allowed to watch Top of the Pops.

The more Peter gets to know Ego, the less admirable he seems as a father, and soon we are in the familiar territory of having parenting lessons administered by a Hollywood blockbuster. The reason for this became obvious decades ago: the film industry is populated by overworked executives who never get to see their children, or don’t want to, and so compensate by greenlighting movies about what it means to be a good parent. Every other line here reeks of the self-help manual. “Please give me the chance to be the father your mother wanted me to be,” Ego pleads. Even a minor character gets to pause the action to say: “I ain’t done nothing right my whole life.” It’s dispiriting to settle down for a Guardians of the Galaxy picture only to find you’re watching Field of Dreams with added asteroids.

Vol 2 gets by for an hour or so on some batty gags (Gamora misremembering the plot and star of Knight Rider is an especially juicy one) and on the energising power of Scott Chambliss’s glorious production design. The combination of the hi-tech and the trashy gives the film the appearance of a multimillion-dollar carnival taking place in a junkyard. Spectacular battles are shot through scuffed and scratched windscreens, and there are spacesuits cobbled together from tin pots and bubble-wrap. This is consistent with the kitschfests that inspired the Guardians aesthetic: 1980s science-fiction delights such as Flash Gordon, Spacehunter: Adventures in the Forbidden Zone and The Adventures of Buckaroo Banzai Across the 8th Dimension.

If only Vol 2 had mimicked their levity and brevity. Gunn ends his overlong movie with a bomb being attached to a giant brain, but this is wishful thinking on his part. He hasn’t blown our minds at all. It’s just a mild case of concussion. 

Ryan Gilbey is the New Statesman's film critic. He is also the author of It Don't Worry Me (Faber), about 1970s US cinema, and a study of Groundhog Day in the "Modern Classics" series (BFI Publishing). He was named reviewer of the year in the 2007 Press Gazette awards.

This article first appeared in the 27 April 2017 issue of the New Statesman, Cool Britannia 20 Years On

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