Tag Archives: hero

An unexpected life in sci-fi: An interview with Sigourney Weaver

A movie has a way of sitting up straight whenever Sigourney Weaver is in it. Whether the part is small or large, she reliably jolts any film alive with her intelligence and commanding presence. She usually means business.

That, of course, has been apparent since her breakthrough role as Ellen Ripley in “Alien.” But it’s no less true of Weaver at 67. She has an almost queen-like status on today’s movie landscape, particularly in science-fiction.

She has defined one mega franchise (“Alien,” with one more on the way) and been the MVP of another (“Avatar,” with four sequels coming). Just her voice is enough to lend sci-fi credibility, whether as the ship’s voice in “WALL-E” or as the all-powerful Director in “The Cabin in the Woods.”

Weaver has been particularly ubiquitous in 2016, gracing the year’s top box-office hit, “Finding Dory,” with its best gag (her aquatic center greeting), and popping in to reprise her original role in the contentious “Ghostbusters” reboot. She was even glimpsed in Ron Howard’s “The Beatles: Eight Days a Week – The Touring Years” as a young, rabid Beatlemaniac.

But she ends the year with “A Monster Calls,” a smaller film that uses fantasy to plumb deeper emotional depths. Directed by J.A. Bayona (who’s helming the next “Jurassic Park” film), the adaptation of Patrick Ness’ novel is about a boy coping with his mother’s terminal illness. Aside from approaching grief with uncommon seriousness, the film flips some genre tropes, including Weaver’s grandmother character.

The actress (who hasn’t lost a bit of her glamour) recently reflected on “A Monster Calls,” her re-entry to Pandora and her legacy of strong female protagonists.

AP: Your father, Sylvester ‘Pat’ Weaver was president of NBC and created the “Tonight Show.” Was it like you grew up in show business?

Weaver: At the time, I thought everyone’s father ran a network. I thought everyone got to go on the set of “Peter Pan” and meet Mary Martin. I always used to think I was going to go to school and then come home and be a different girl and go to a different house. It took me a while to realize I was stuck with me. Maybe that’s the early awareness of an actor that we’re all changeable. I remember thinking, “Gosh, I’m so amazed I’m in this body for so long.”

AP: You have such an impact on a film, regardless of how large your part is.

Weaver: I really love being part of a good story. I don’t need to be the center of the story. That’s why I really loved “A Monster Calls” because the grandmother was unlike anyone I’ve played before _ not completely unlike my mother, who was British. It’s a movie I hope families go to together.

AP: Was your small role in Woody Allen’s “Annie Hall” your first film?

Weaver: Woody offered me a bigger part but I turned it down because I was in a play. I played a multiple schizophrenic who kept a hedgehog in her vagina and I wasn’t going to give that part up.

AP: “Alien” was quite a follow-up.

Weaver: It didn’t feel like a big movie to me. It felt like a very small, dark, strange movie and I could relate to that because I was used to doing very strange things off-Broadway. I thought: This is fine. This is like a workshop movie.

AP: Ripley was one of the first strong female protagonists in an action film. Is that a legacy you’re proud of?

Weaver: I am. I’ve since read other scripts and I go, “Well that’s kind of an interesting part but I’d rather play this guy.” Because I always feel still, like in our world, there’s a lot of testosterone in some of these movies where really legitimately a woman would be involved.

AP: Do you think that’s changing?

Weaver: I think by the time your daughters are in the world, everything will be different.

AP: What did you think of the backlash to Paul Feig’s “Ghostbusters”?

Weaver: I was very surprised by it. I enjoyed the movie. I love all those women. I think Feig is brilliant. I do think it has something to do with the misogyny Trump has unearthed. I thought it was very charming. Does it also make you remember how much you loved the first one? I think so, but not to the extent that I’m going to boycott it. We’re sitting at the table. You’ve got to make room for us. We’re not going to go away.

AP: Ang Lee’s “Ice Storm” must be a film you’re particularly proud of.

Weaver: I was discussing a character I might play with someone and they said, “This woman’s cold.” I said I find that a nonsensical adjective for a woman. I’m sure you could describe Janey in “Ice Storm” as cold but she wasn’t cold. She was so disconnected from her life and bored by it.

AP: You’re soon to head into one mammoth “Avatar” production.

Weaver: The scripts for “Avatar” are absolutely incredible. I have committed to a very interesting movie about a woman (“Second Saturn”) that I hope to do in May. It’s like: This is my wonderful meal before I go into Pandora.

 

 

Tell Wisconsin Republicans to flush ‘bathroom bill’ and retrieve their minds from the toilet

“Bathroom fears flush Houston ordinance.” Such headlines circulated on Nov. 4, the morning after voters went to the polls in Houston and rejected a broad measure — the Houston Equal Rights Ordinance, better known as HERO — intended to protect 15 classes of people from discrimination.

The Human Rights Campaign called the defeat at the polls devastating for the people of Houston and a setback for the LGBT civil rights movement.

The measure had strong support from local politicians and the business community, but was challenged by a conservative faction that dubbed it the “bathroom ordinance” and argued it would allow predatory men to invade women’s restrooms.

A “Weekend Update” segment on Saturday Night Live on Nov. 14 ridiculed the Fox-influenced right-wing campaign against the ordinance. “So the theory is that guys, in their relentless quest to watch women go to the bathroom, are going through years of hormones, surgery, changing their names, their wardrobe, coming out to their families, all for that big payoff of peeing in a room without urinals. What is this fantasy that they think is going on in there?” said actor Pete Davidson.

Yet, as ludicrous as it seems, that was the argument to win over about 61 percent of those who cast ballots on Election Day in Houston.

Of course, the opponents of HERO were peddling lies about its intent and its potential impact, just as Wisconsin Republicans, seeking to advance a “bathroom bill,” are circulating fiction as fact and playing up gross and harmful stereotypes, casting transgender kids as deviants, perverts and predators.

Once a pioneering state on lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender rights, Wisconsin lacks a statewide law banning bias based on gender identity. What exists are partial piece-meal protections in more progressive communities and more progressive school districts.

Now, Republicans are keyed up to roll back limited protections for transgender students in dozens of districts and halt any further reform.

AB 469, the Student Privacy Protection Bill, seeks to ban transgender students in K-12 schools from using the gender-segregated facilities that align with their gender identity and would require school districts to repeal anti-discrimination reforms and accommodations policies. The legislation is contrary to best-practice recommendations from leading medical and mental health groups, civil rights organizations and education associations. And the proposal is in conflict with findings and guidelines from federal agencies — from Labor to Justice, HUD to Education.

In Early November, the U.S. Department of Education issued a landmark ruling, finding that a suburban Chicago school district discriminated against a transgender student on the basis of her sex.

In junior high, the girl was denied access to the girl’s locker room and the girl’s restroom. This treatment caused her to be bullied on a daily basis and her parents vowed that she would not suffer the same in high school. They legally changed the child’s name, obtained a corrected passport that identified the child as female and submitted medical records to the school.

The result? The girl was still denied access to the girl’s locker room and disciplined when she did use the girl’s facilities.

The Education Department, after a lengthy investigation, concluded the school district violated federal law by denying a girl access to a gender-appropriate locker room for changing clothes simply because she is transgender. The decision placed school districts across the nation on notice that Title IX requires making such facilities available for students who are transgender.

The girl, known in the ACLU’s legal challenge as “Student A,” has hopes that “no other student, anywhere, is forced to confront this indignity.”

But if the ill-informed anatomy police succeed and AB 469 becomes law in Wisconsin, more students will suffer and students will be forced to confront indignities.

Take action

Tomorrow morning at 10:00 a.m., the Assembly Committee on Education will hold their first hearing on AB 469, which would target transgender Wisconsin students for unfair treatment.

Before the legislators take up this dangerous bill for the first time tomorrow, they need to hear from you, their constituents.

Take a minute right now and click here to email your lawmakers directly before tomorrow’s critical hearing. 

Hail a hero: Thanks Frank Kameny

Where would I be without the work I love? There is nothing more rewarding to me than working on behalf of American workers. Serving Labor Secretary Thomas Perez is an honor and a joy and I’m proud of what I’ve accomplished as a public servant during my “tour of duties” as an appointee in the Clinton and Obama administrations. The work is exhilarating, interesting every day and has become a central part of who I am.

But there was a time when it could’ve been taken from me in a heartbeat. Just because of another, equally central, part of who I am.

What is now unthinkable for me was a bitter reality for Frank Kameny. An astronomer with a PhD from Harvard and World War II veteran, Kameny was fired from his U.S. Map Service job in 1957 simply because he was gay. He never worked for a paycheck again.

Many know Frank’s story here in Washington, where I live and work, and where he made his home and ran as the first out congressional candidate for the District’s seat in 1971. But he is less celebrated in other parts of the country. 

That’s going to change. On June 23, Frank Kameny was inducted in the U.S. Department of Labor’s prestigious Hall of Honor.

Our Hall of Honor immortalizes the giants renowned for the highest achievements in the counterweight to our pastimes — that is, our work. The names of these inductees inspire the same awe in those of us who are passionate about working families as Babe Ruth and Ernie Banks do for baseball fans: U.S. Sen. Edward Kennedy, who did more to improve workers’ lives than any legislator in our history. Bayard Rustin, the mastermind behind our city’s most transcendent protest march for workers’ rights. Dolores Huerta, whose bones were broken in the struggle for farm worker justice. Mother Jones, who prayed for dead mine workers, but fought like hell for the living. The father of the labor movement, Samuel Gompers.

And now, Frank Kameny. All his life he was told he didn’t belong, and he suffered for it mightily. He belongs now. Frank Kameny took steps to change the nation’s largest employer: the U.S. government. He played a pivotal role in the removal of homosexuality as a mental disorder by the American Psychiatric Association. He organized the first protest for gay rights ever held in front of the White House. He was a member of the first delegation to brief the administration on LGBT issues inside that same White House, under Jimmy Carter.

He will be forever thanked by LGBT government workers like me for helping usher in an age when we could serve openly, love who we love and bring our full selves to our work. But more than that: The American people owe him a debt of gratitude as well. Were it not for his decades of advocacy, our country would be bereft of some of the sharpest minds and hardiest spirits overseeing the people’s business. Even a mind as great as Walt Whitman’s was wasted when he lost his government job soon after coming to Washington, it’s said because of the notoriety of his already-published “Leaves of Grass.” How many like him did we lose before Frank Kameny? How much good did we squander in those long decades of intolerance?

Because of Frank Kameny, we no longer have to ask.

Carl Fillichio is a senior adviser to the secretary of labor.


Lessons of Lincoln’s death unlearned

One hundred and fifty years ago this month, a stunning series of events altered the course of American history.

On April 9, 1865, Gen. Robert E. Lee surrendered his Confederate army to Gen. Ulysses S. Grant at Appomattox Court House in Virginia. The surrender ended four years of a bloody civil war that took the lives of 750,000 Americans.

Five days later, on Good Friday, April 14, racist fanatic John Wilkes Booth shot President Abraham Lincoln in Ford’s Theater in Washington. Lincoln, who was shot in the head, never regained consciousness and died the next morning in a rooming house across the street from the theater.

Booth had spent months gathering accomplices and plotting to murder the president. The final straw for him was the defeat of the Confederacy and the president’s plan to extend the vote to former slaves. Booth was also a narcissist, convinced he could avenge the South and become a hero — a modern day Brutus who had slain America’s Caesar.

A well-known actor, Booth was able to walk into Ford’s Theater and carry out his crime without hindrance. During his flight through Maryland, Booth was dismayed when he learned of the revulsion that his murder elicited in both the North and South. On April 26, the federal manhunt closed in and he was cornered in a barn in Virginia. Booth was shot in the neck and spent three hours dying. His last words were: “Useless, useless.”

Booth and his Confederate cohorts had feared Lincoln’s retaliation toward the defeated South. Like so many other things, they misjudged the character of the man. Just days before the surrender, when Grant asked Lincoln about what terms to impose on the rebels, Lincoln had said: “Let ’em up easy.”

Lincoln’s magnanimity was also apparent in his second inaugural address the month before: “With malice toward none, with charity for all … let us strive on to finish the work we are in, to bind up the nation’s wounds … to do all which may achieve and cherish a just and lasting peace among ourselves and with all nations.”

The public had seen Lincoln as an awkward and untested man when he became president. He was immediately confronted with the secession of Southern states, which were determined to maintain and expand slavery, and the Confederates’ defiant shelling of Fort Sumter. Lincoln wrestled with unrelenting problems of military logistics, political maneuvering and personal tragedy over the next four years. You can see the growing devastation of our civil war written on his face in photos taken from 1861 to 1865.

Lincoln weathered many controversies (the military draft, emancipation, suspension of habeas corpus) but grew in stature as he led the Union to victory. His slaying on a Good Friday burnished his image as a beloved martyr, and he is now revered for broadening a war to preserve the union into a war to free millions of slaves.

We’ll never know if post-Civil War America and race relations would have had a smoother time under Lincoln’s second term. Some question whether we ever achieved his dream of “a new birth of freedom.” Confederate partisans continue to defend their spurious “cause” on the Internet today.

The events of April 1865 offer a sobering perspective on racism, inflexibility and extremism. Amid escalating political invective and casual calls for secession in our own time, we would do well to heed that lesson.

Chopin’s heart exhumed in secret, like a relic

As Frederic Chopin gasped for air on his deathbed in Paris in 1849, he whispered a request that became the stuff of musical legend: Remove my heart after I die and entomb it in Poland. He wanted the symbol of his soul to rest in the native land he pined for from self-imposed exile in France.

Ever since, the composer’s body has rested in peace at the famed Pere Lachaise cemetery in Paris — while his heart has endured a wild journey of intrigue and adulation.

First it was sealed in a jar of liquor believed to be cognac. Then it was smuggled into Warsaw past Russian border guards. Once in his hometown, Chopin’s heart passed through the hands of several relatives before being enshrined within a pillar in Holy Cross Church. During World War II, it briefly fell into the clutches of the Nazis. The organ has been exhumed several times, most recently in a secret operation to check whether the tissue remains well preserved.

Chopin’s heart inspires a deep fascination in Poland normally reserved for the relics of saints. For Poles, Chopin’s nostalgic compositions capture the national spirit — and the heart’s fate is seen as intertwined with Poland’s greatest agonies and triumphs over nearly two centuries of foreign occupation, warfare and liberation.

“This is a very emotional object for Poles,” said Michal Witt, a geneticist involved in the inspection. Chopin is “extremely special for the Polish soul.” 

Chopin experts have wanted to carry out genetic testing to establish whether the sickly genius died at 39 of tuberculosis, as is generally believed, or of some other illness. But they remain frustrated. The Polish church and government, the custodians of the heart, have for years refused requests for any invasive tests, partly because of the opposition of a distant living relative of the composer.

This year, however, they finally consented to a superficial inspection after a forensic scientist raised alarm that after so many years the alcohol could have evaporated, leaving the heart to dry up and darken.

Close to midnight on April 14, after the last worshippers had left the Holy Cross Church, 13 people sworn to secrecy gathered in the dark sanctuary.

They included the archbishop of Warsaw, the culture minister, two scientists and other officials. With a feeling of mystery hanging in the air, they worked in total concentration, mostly whispering, as they removed the heart from its resting place and carried out the inspection — taking more than 1,000 photos and adding hot wax to the jar’s seal to prevent evaporation. Warsaw’s archbishop recited prayers over the heart and it was returned to its rightful place. By morning, visitors to the church saw no trace of the exhumation.

“The spirit of this night was very sublime,” said Tadeusz Dobosz, the forensic scientist on the team.

Polish officials kept all details of the inspection secret for five months before going public about it in September, giving no reason for the delay. They are also not releasing photographs of the heart, mindful of ethical considerations surrounding the display of human remains, said Artur Szklener, director of the Fryderyk Chopin Institute in Warsaw, a state body that helps preserve the composer’s legacy.

“We don’t want this to be a media sensation, with photos of the heart in the newspapers,” Szklener said. However, to prove that the heart is in good shape, he showed The Associated Press photographs of the organ, an enlarged white lump submerged in an amber-colored fluid in a crystal jar.

Some Chopin experts are critical of what they consider a lack of transparency.

Steven Lagerberg — the American author of “Chopin’s Heart: The Quest to Identify the Mysterious Illness of the World’s Most Beloved Composer” — believes international experts should have also been involved in the inspection. He said he wishes that the exhumation had involved genetic tests on a small sample of tissue to determine the cause of Chopin’s death.

Though Lagerberg and others believe that Chopin probably died of tuberculosis — the official cause of death — the matter isn’t fully settled. Some scientists suspect cystic fibrosis, a disease still unknown in Chopin’s time, or even some other illnesses.

“The mystery of this man’s illness lingers on — how he could survive for so long with such a chronic illness and how he could write pieces of such extraordinary beauty,” Lagerberg said. “It’s an intellectual puzzle, it’s a medical mystery and it’s an issue of great scientific curiosity.”

Chopin was born near Warsaw in 1810 to a Polish mother and French emigre father. He lived in Warsaw until 1830, when he made his way to Paris — where he chose a life of exile because of the brutal repressions imposed by Imperial Russia after a failed uprising.

Fulfilling Chopin’s deathbed wish, which was also inspired by the composer’s fear of being buried alive, his sister Ludwika smuggled the heart to Warsaw, probably beneath her skirts. After being kept in the family home for several years it was eventually buried in the Baroque Holy Cross Church, in central Warsaw.

It remained there until World War II, when the Nazi occupiers removed it for safekeeping during the Warsaw Uprising of 1944. Even as they slaughtered Poles block-by-block, killing 200,000 people in retribution for the revolt, they took pains to preserve the relic of a composer that the Germans have sometimes claimed as their own, because of the influence great German composers had on him. After the fighting was over, they returned it to the Polish church in a ceremony meant to show their respect for culture.

Bogdan Zdrojewski, the culture minister who took part in the April inspection, defended his refusal to allow invasive testing of the heart.

“We in Poland often say that Chopin died longing for his homeland,” said Zdrojewski, who has since left the culture ministry to be a lawmaker at the European Parliament. “Additional information which could possibly be gained about his death would not be enough of a reason to disturb Chopin’s heart.”

Nonetheless officials have already announced plans for another inspection — 50 years from now.

Sydney claims victory in world cup of gay rugby

The world cup of gay rugby, the Bingham Cup, concluded Aug. 31 with the hosting team, the Sydney Convicts, claiming its second championship in a row, beating the Brisbane Hustlers 31-0.

The biannual competition took place over three days in Sydney, with 24 teams from around the world, including the LA Rebellion, NYC’s Gotham Knights and the San Francisco Fog, each playing six games over three days. London’s Kings Cross Steelers, the world’s first gay rugby team, was favored to win, but lost to Brisbane in the semifinal match.

The cup is named for Mark Bingham, a gay rugby enthusiast who died a hero on Sept. 11, 2001. Bingham was one of the hostages who helped bring down Flight 93 in Pennsylvania.

The gritty sport of rugby is a display of hardcore masculinity that defies gay stereotypes.

The tournament’s timing was well suited for its first appearance in the Southern Hemisphere since it began in 2002. The Australian Rugby Union announced an inclusion policy to tackle homophobia in sports the week before the Bingham Cup began.

As a way of showing their support, players and coaches from Australia’s national team, the Wallabies, and Sydney’s state team, the NSW Waratahs led 400 players in a two-hour training session held before the competitions.

“We wanted to give them all drills and skills they can take away with them and practice in the future as they go forward with their rugby careers,” said Aussie player Andrew Blades. “We want everyone to feel like they’ve got a place in rugby, you don’t want anyone to feel like they’re excluded. I hope that over time players in this tournament will feel like that they can play on any team.”

Review: Jolie’s a fun hero-villain in ‘Maleficent’

Maybe it’s too soon to say the tide has shifted definitively. But it’s certainly been a unique time for fairy-tale villains.   

After hundreds of years of moral clarity, suddenly we’re getting a new look at these evil creatures, who are actually turning out to be complex beings, and not that bad at all. Really, they’ve just been misunderstood. (And, by the way, those charming princes? Highly overrated.)

The most obvious recent example is “Frozen,” the animated Disney blockbuster that showed us how the Snow Queen, long portrayed as an icy-hearted villain, was actually a tragic victim of circumstance, with a pure and loving heart. And now we have “Maleficent,” which tells us that one of the most evil characters in all of pop culture is equally vulnerable and misunderstood.

Plus, she’s gorgeous. Duh. She’s Angelina Jolie.

All this is a rather seismic development in fairytale-dom. There are numerous versions of “Sleeping Beauty,” stemming back even before Charles Perrault’s from 1697, but the fairy who casts an angry spell on the baby princess, dooming her to prick her finger, has always been, well, just nasty.

But now, 55 years after Disney introduced the character named Maleficent in its 1959 classic film — and colored her skin an eerie green — the studio is back with a live-action (not to mention 3D) Maleficent who’s more superheroine than evil fairy. Think Maleficent by way of Lara Croft.

And though Maleficent is no longer green-skinned, it’s hard not to think of another green-skinned villainess who’s also been rehabilitated, by means of the durable Broadway hit “Wicked”: the witch Elphaba from “The Wizard of Oz,” who, it turns out, we just didn’t know enough about.

And so it is in “Maleficent,” in which director Robert Stromberg and screenwriter Linda Woolverton take us back to the fairy’s youth to better understand her. She’s a plucky young thing with lovely wings and bright pink lipstick, which will turn blood-red when she becomes an adult (the fairy world clearly isn’t lacking for cosmetics.)

One day she meets a young man from that other, darker world, where humans live. The two form a strong bond. But the ugliest human emotions _ jealousy and ambition _ will intervene. Young Stefan will grow into the power-hungry older Stefan (the wild-eyed South African actor Sharlto Copley.) And his stunning betrayal of Maleficent will instantly harden her, turning her into the villainess we recognize.

Alas, the story’s still all about a guy, in the end. But we digress.

“Maleficent” is surely targeted to the same audience which has so lovingly embraced “Frozen” and its appealing message of female solidarity and empowerment. But “Frozen” felt clever, charming, and fresh. “Maleficent,” less so.

Part of this is due, paradoxically, to Jolie’s star wattage. Don’t get us wrong: she’s the best thing about the movie, and always worth watching. But it blunts the effectiveness of the narrative if we can never quite believe Maleficent is bad. That’s because we know she’s essentially good, and she seems to know that we know it; You can see it in the upturned wrinkle of her mouth.  

And frankly, the other characters are simply not that interesting — Stefan, but also Elle Fanning’s Aurora, or “Sleeping Beauty.” The best scenes Aurora has, in fact, are when she’s a gurgling baby and then, adorably, a toddler, played by none other than 5-year-old Vivienne Jolie-Pitt. (In the movie’s one laugh-out-loud moment, Maleficent tells Aurora: “I don’t like children.”)

But Fanning as Aurora is too boringly sweet — especially compared to the fabulous-in-every-way Maleficent, with her blazing lips, fashionable black headgear and exaggerated cheekbones, not to mention her way around a quip. 

In the end, “Maleficent” is fun for its appealing visuals _ especially in the forest — and for watching Jolie. But that’s not enough to make the whole film interesting. As the minutes tick by, you might even start feeling a bit like Sleeping Beauty herself comes to feel:  Drowsy.

“Maleficent,” a Walt Disney Studios release, is rated PG by the Motion Picture Association of America “for sequences of fantasy action and violence, including frightening images.” Running time: 97 minutes. Two and a half stars out of four.

Comic book Archie to die a hero in July

Not even Archie Andrews is immortal in the world of comics.

Archie Comics announced Tuesday that the famous comic book character will heroically sacrifice himself while saving the life of a friend in a July installment of “Life with Archie,” a comic book series that tells the story of grown-up renditions of Archie and his Riverdale gang.

“We’ve been building up to this moment since we launched `Life with Archie’ five years ago and knew that any book that was telling the story of Archie’s life as an adult had to also show his final moment,” Archie Comics publisher and co-CEO Jon Goldwater said in a statement.

Archie’s final moments will be detailed in “Life with Archie” No. 36, while issue No. 37 will jump forward a year and focus on his friends Jughead, Betty, Veronica and Reggie honoring the legacy of their red-headed pal.

Archie first appeared in comics in 1941 and went on to become a colorful icon of wholesomeness.

In recent years, Archie Comics has tackled such issues as dealt with plots as diverse as coming out as gay and the zombie apocalypse in Archie’s fictional hometown of Riverdale. However, Archie himself won’t need to rise from the grave. The freckle-faced character will still be alive and well in other series.

Universal Studios’ homophobic Halloween show turns Superman gay with ‘fairy dust’

A Universal Studios Hollywood Halloween show featuring Superman is drawing criticism from viewers. The plot involves a witch sprinkling “fairy dust” on Superman who then lisps, prances, flirts and harasses other guys even as he’s beaten up by arch-enemy General Zod.

A Vice.com report said, “After becoming gay, Superman’s voice and posture changes. His lips purse, his toes point inward, and his wrists become limp. His new voice sounds like a homophobic uncle doing a drunken impression of Richard Simmons, complete with lisps and frequent use of the word “faaaaaaabulous!”

At one point in the show, Zod instructs Superman to get on his knees and the Man of Steel, says happily, “Finally.”

In a video of the show, the audience can be heard laughing as Ted, during the unexcellent adventure, says that Superman needs to man-up if he’s to save the day.

The show, part of the park’s Halloween Horror Nights and in “Bill and Ted’s Excellent Halloween Adventure,” has drawn criticism for the homophobic stereotype and also for racist and sexist jokes.

“It isn’t comedy. It isn’t funny. It’s offensive, mocking and dumb,” said Amy Rusko, who attended the show with her teenager daughter. “We wanted to just walk out.”

“It was the kind of dumb, offensive humor you’d have expected 20 years ago,” said viewer Michael Kaas. “I’ll never go back. Any token Universal Studios ever received for being pro-gay has to be taken back.”

“‘Bill and Ted’s Excellent Halloween Adventure’ sucked,” said Travis Whipple, who also said in a Facebook complaint to Universal Studios that he atttended the show.

‘I am Bradley Manning’ video features celebrities, activists

Progressive celebrities are declaring their support for whistleblower Bradley Manning in a 5-minute “I am Bradley Manning” video released this week.

More than 20 actors, musicians and activists released statements of support in the new video advocating for the openly gay Army private now standing trial at Fort Meade, Md.

The video includes statements by filmmaker Oliver Stone; actors Russell Brand, Maggie Gyllenhaal, Wallace Shawn and Peter Sarsgaard; musicians Moby, Tom Morello and Pink Floyd’s Roger Waters; writers Matt Taibbi, Alice Walker and Chris Hedges; and activists Lt. Dan Choi and Angela Davis.

Others speak out in the short, saying that Manning’s motivation was to expose war crimes and condemning the “aiding the enemy” charge that could result in life in prison for Manning.

In the video, each participant holds a sign reading “I am Bradley Manning” in a display of solidarity.

Manning passed hundreds of thousands of classified documents, including war reports from Iraq and Afghanistan and State Department diplomatic cables, to the transparency website WikiLeaks.

He has said he’d hoped to “spark a domestic debate on the role of the military and our foreign policy in general as well as it related to Iraq and Afghanistan.” 

On the Web…

http://www.youtube.com/watch?feature=player_embedded&v=UFFkcCh-pCc 

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