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Entries in dick cheney (164)

Tuesday
May162017

In Which We Frenetically Displace Elisabeth Moss

By Numbers

by DICK CHENEY

The Handmaid's Tale
creator Bruce Miller
Hulu

After Netflix thought it was a good idea to make a show glorifying the suicide of children, I can't really fault Hulu for doing the same with adultery. In the most recent episode of The Handmaid's Tale, Elisabeth Moss has sex outside of wedlock five times. For the most part she sticks to straight missionary, and she only enjoys sex one of every five times. (1/5=20%) Each sexual experience that she has is challenging, weird, and has the real chance of being illegal or against her will. Here are my reviews of the sex.

Sex with the chauffer

Max Minghella has a tiny body. Sex with him is like cradling a really smooth, hairless vase. Elisabeth Moss has to sort of bend her knees to appear shorter than him. This fuck was encouraged by Mrs. Waterford (Yvonne Strahovski), who stood on the other side of the room and averted her eyes. It was not immediately clear whether or not Minghella had even ejaculated until a follow-up scene where Moss shouted, "You don't feel pregnant right after the guy gives you his load, gosh!" and then immediately apologized. What this intercourse lacked in sensuality it made up for when Moss got a little bit into it despite herself and took a breath. C+

Sex by proxy

Moss stood outside a supermarket completely still. She told Alexis Bledel (Alexis Bledel) that she was sorry they removed her clitoris for being a lesbian. She touched Alexis Bledel's hand and they talked about getting together in early May. Even though they both had gloves on, the touch was substantial and erotic. Afterwards, Bledel drove a car over a guy's head (ouch!) and Moss had her first orgasm of the episode, although perhaps not the last. One benefit of those large red smocks is that you can touch yourself quite discreetly. Afterwards, Bledel was apprehended at gunpoint and driven to a secure location. C

Sex with the Commander

Joseph Fiennes has this weird crusty film at the corners of his lips. This is supposed to be what happens when men receive absolute power: they stop wiping their mouths. Unfortunately for Joseph, his wife has to hold Moss in her arms while he penetrates Elisabeth for the purpose of procreation. It still seems completely unrealistic to me that a man would struggle to keep an erection in such a situation. I mean he's a Commander; his title says it all.

The Handmaid's Tale is remarkably averse to showing a penis considering that American Gods shows about five per episode and even had one scene where a guy looked up and saw a framed picture of a dick. During this particular sexual assault, Fiennes started stroking Moss' thigh and grunting a smidge, which caused her to immediately launch into a prolonged voiceover. Later, she stormed into his office where they play Scrabble and pouted. He should have been like, "I'm already married." B+

Sex with a married African-American fellow

The flashbacks are the most painful, bourgeois part of The Handmaid's Tale, as we slowly realize how disturbed and evil American society was before it became a Puritan dystopia. Moss meets Luke (O.T. Fagbenle) waiting for hot dogs at a food truck. I was unclear on why hot dogs would require extensive preparation, but all the hot dogs I eat cost a dollar and are excavated from the hot water of some guy's creepy cart. Luke begins cheating on her wife during his lunch hour, where he has these prolonged, flirty meals with Moss before the following conversation occurs:

Moss: I want you to leave your wife.
Luke: OK.

The sex that occurs previous to this has the most prolonged, awkward foreplay imaginable. Compared to all the other sex on the show, it feels similarly inauthentic. Moss takes so long to disrobe, and she makes eye contact the entire time she is doing so. Is this really how she has sex IRL? Isn't the point to simply get naked?

My number one pet peeve during sex is laughing. If you are laughing during sex you are probably not enjoying it very much, or concerned about your own pleasure. That means you are paying too much attention to the other person. Sex is supposed to be an intimate, not communal act.

Moss appears to have no discernible orgasm during this intercourse, either. Mayhap she is categorically incapable, or she sensed it would probably become a gif. Luke informs Moss that he is in love with her, and then afterwards he marries her and gives her a child. So like, this is the message we are giving to adulterers now - it's going to work out. No wonder Trump is president and I'm writing TV recaps. A+

Sex with the chauffer II

After she is threatened by Mrs. Waterford, Moss is feeling particularly rebellious. She sneaks out of the house to embrace the teenagesque body of Max Minghella in his shed, one more time with feeling. He seems to really care about what happens to her and gives her hair a few strokes once she untucks it from her white bonnet. Her eye contact here is constant, and she throws out a lot more moans than she ever did with her husband, I guess to imply, wow, she is really psyched for this fourth time she has had sex in the past 48 hours. It is nice to have a healthy libido, but whenever I see two white people pressed against each other the only thing I can think of is Shia LaBoeuf. D

I realize The Handmaid's Tale is not really supposed to be primarily about how much the handmaid in question is enjoying sex, but I am really tired of watching fake sex on television. Not that they should do it for real like on The Americans, but can't they at least give us a sense of the frenetic displacement sex provides in ourselves and others? The Handmaid's Tale falls down when it begins to feel like staged melodrama. I guess all of this half-hearted sex will make sense if it turns out that Moss' character is a closeted lesbian, which they seemed to go to great pains to suggest during her lunch with Luke. If it is the case that she only enjoys women, what happened to pretending?

Dick Cheney is the senior contributor to This Recording. He is the former vice president of the United States.


Monday
May082017

In Which The News Of The Day Remains Poor

A Lonely Lie

by DICK CHENEY

Great News
creator Tracey Wigfield
NBC

Nothing short of a writer's strike could ever stop the people who work in television from making shows about themselves. These approximations/reflections had various levels of reality built into them until NBC's Great News, which concerns a local New Jersey newscast that does stories about homicides in Texas for some reason. Accepting this level of seriousness is pretty much de rigeur these days – imagine a television show being important to anyone outside of the people who star in it? – but it took me back to 1988.

I argued strongly and with visual aids of Dan Quayle's face on the head of a horse that I should have been the vice president on the 1988 presidential ticket. You see, Dan would spend most of his free time hate-watching Murphy Brown, the seminal CBS sitcom that in a way created all of us. He would post on the show's messageboards begging the creators to give investigative reporter Frank Fontana more screen time, or a spin-off called Fontana.

Candice Bergen did a service to every single person hovering around the age of 40 on this show. She was presented as a recovering alcoholic who later decided to have a baby in 1991, and a situation that was all completely fine. This state of affairs incensed Dan Quayle a lot. "Why would an attractive single woman have a baby?" he screeched, tearing his hair out and jutting his pelvis at me as if I were unsure how children were in fact produced.

Murphy Brown actually had a real job. In those halcyon days, Murphy Brown creator and all-around legend Diane English made it seem like people cared what the news reported. Granted, national newcasts did have a lot more weight when CBS was like one of seven channels you got on the air. Murphy had this beautiful office that had no windows, but it was still very cozy. I still don't understand why she had all these magazine covers on the wall; maybe she had a print background. All her coworkers were for the most part sexist assholes, but she just put them in her place. When she went home, she had this great house where she was sleeping with her cute house painter (Robert Pastorelli, predictably dead of a drug overdose in 2004) who hung around. I never really understood that relationship until my wife explained it to me.

Murphy Brown was actually referenced by Dan Quayle publicly in the 1992 presidential race, because he hated the idea of a woman having a child without a man that much. I guess he thought it was real or maybe just important, and it kind of was. Candice Bergen had just the right amount of toughness and grit to have a baby and keep on working her job. You had to admire her; also she was perfect in every conceivable aspect. She even wore pantsuits at home, even when she was just relaxing comfortably after a tough day.

Briga Heelan plays a producer named Katie in Great News. Her Jewish mother gets a job as an intern on her newscast, which leads to her shouting "Mom!" a lot when her mother screws up which piece of tape they should be running before air. Creator Tracey Wigfield does not really care how actual news is produced. Great News is more going for how it was revealed that the entire run of Newhart was just a dream of the character in The Bob Newhart Show. Despite being evidently Irish, Katie has a Jewish mother named Carol Wendelson, played by the Armenian-American comedian Andrea Martin.

Since the entire show is really about whatever Catholic upbringing Tracey Wigfield suffered through as a child, it would only have been appropriate for her to cast herself in the lead role. (As The Mindy Project showed, she is a fantastic comedic performer.) Looking back at 30 Rock, the insanely verbose show that Wigfield wrote with Tina Fey, I don't understand 60 percent of the jokes that were made in it. Like Great News, the show is about a talented woman who falls in love with her gruff but exasperating boss. This storyline has not aged well after Bill O'Reilly harassed all those women, and yet the topic of sexual harassment in the workplace is treated very lightly in Great News.

Nicole Richie plays one of the show's two anchors. All of her jokes are about what a terrible millennial she is, and most of her sentences end with a hashtag of some sort. An extremely recurring joke is that Richie's character, Portia Scott-Griffith, will say a word that has a double meaning for people of each generation. For young folks, it will mean the name of a rapper, but for older people it will represent a food product. Are you laughing, because if you are not, or if you do not know the name of every single working rapper today, you will not enjoy Great News.

As Dan Quayle feared, none of the women or men in Great News are married or are particularly concerned about their wives, husbands, girlfriends or boyfriends. "I'll never have a real relationship," Katie tells her mother as she goes through the e-mails of a guy who is living in her apartment for a week, even though Briga Heelan herself is married with a kid. This is how you know that Great News is someone's nightmare – there is no chance of any of these fictional characters reproducing or caring for children, which maybe is for the best. They are a lot more invested in topics like a bear rampaging through Central Park or the comfort of hugging your mother in the workplace when you feel sorta down.

Dick Cheney is the senior contributor to This Recording. You can find an archive of his writing in these pages here.


Monday
May012017

In Which We Live To Be Struck Down By Puritans

Snowglobe

by DICK CHENEY

The Handmaid's Tale
creator Bruce Miller
Hulu

Perhaps some day we will know the true story of what happened on the inside of Elisabeth Moss' marriage to Fred Armisen. The pet names, the sex, the types of sex, the frequency of sex, who prepared breakfast for who, who answered the door, kept the dog back from the mailman. Who stroked the hair of who. Who threw out the old bread, when Fred decided Elisabeth was maybe more boring than someone he could be excited by in a long term partner, when Elisabeth felt safe to criticize Fred's late nights, the smell of tequila on his breath, whether he smelled old, who was jealous, who showed it, who stopped the game, who started it again. Who fell out of love.

It feels like we will never know the real reasons that Offred (Elisabeth Moss) married her husband in The Handmaid's Tale. We are introduced to her family before all the events of the series happen in a scene where Offred, her husband Luke (O.T. Fagbenle) and her daughter (Jordana Blake) are watching the aquatic residents of an aquarium. It is an extremely well-trodden scene; it is meant to convey pair-bonding when there is no other connection between the people involved other than shared witness. It is the kind of empty stuff The Handmaid's Tale is full of; I never expected such a serious adaptation of Margaret Atwood's novel.

The real villains of The Handmaid's Tale are either Puritan values or modern American sexism. Neither is identified openly, because doing so would mean this is a real critique. It is not. Attacking the Puritans seems a broadside woefully out of date, given that any philosophy that allows individuals to survive in the wilderness without mass death should be admired for its efficacy. The English were really a very enterprising people overall.

Modern American sexism, too, bears no real relationship to what Offred discovers in the Republic of Gilead. In Gilead, the main vessels through which Offred experiences violence and discrimination are other women. She finds sympathetic companions in the men of her household, even though they are the only ones who hold any power. Offred never experiences catcalls, she is not objectified for her sexuality. She is used in her role because not very many women are capable of carrying children to term. The survival of the species is a far better reason for subjugation than "she looks hawt."

In her previous job, Offred explains that she was an "assistant books editor." This is her desk:

What naive scrumpet would seriously believe that this lifestyle could go on indefinitely without consequence? Offred's nostalgia for her old life seems entirely misplaced. Did she truly think that people would go on buying books and allowing her lifestyle to persist indefinitely? "The future is a fucking nightmare," proclaims one advertisement for the series, a statement which appears to refer to all elements of what is to come, including the ubiquity of Apple advertisements that subsidize your viewing of The Handmaid's Tale.

It has been several decades since The Handmaid's Tale was published, and Gilead is starting to not seem so bad in some ways. Yes, forced sex with her commander (Joseph Fiennes) is a drag, but at least she has a supportive community of other women who are going through the same thing. Alexis Bledel steals the show as Ofglen, a lesbian molecular biology professor who, you guessed it, talks very much. Bledel and Moss have an on-set competition going on as to which one of their respective eyeballs can protrude more prominently into the mise-en-scene. Moss wins pretty much every time.

It is kind of sad to see an actress who usually plays such prominent feminist characters reduced to romping meekly through each scene, although I guess this is sort of the point. In one particularly boring moment, Offred plays Scrabble with her commander. They shake hands afterwards, but instead of feeling bewildered by the interaction, as we are meant to, we merely start to judge Offred for feeling upset and rebellious towards all of this. I mean, when I think of how much her attic room would cost to rent if it were an apartment in New York, I want to cry. She doesn't pay for food or utilities, either. Is there any way we can all be transported to this dystopian future?

Dick Cheney is the senior contributor to This Recording. He is the author of your current dystopian present.