Welcome back to Internet Meme Monday! What is a meme you say? Well, as I understand it, a meme is similar to a gene, except instead of passing on genetic information it passes on cultural ideas. A meme can take many forms, from a catch phrase to a hand gesture, but the type of memes I’ll be looking at every second Monday of the month are “internet memes”.
On the agenda this month? I examine the use usefulness of a picture of a couple of dudes looking stoked!
As the story goes, at the 2003 E3 conference the four man IGN (a video game website) team showed up and were photographed looking pretty unimpressed with Nintendo’s announcement of Pacman VS. The following year the same team came back to the conference and staged a MUCH more excited shot of what their reaction would be to the forthcoming Zelda game. And that’s really it for the background. Even though they guys aren’t even sitting in the same order (and have different shirts on), they still looked stoked enough to start an internet phenomenon.
Starting with the IGN boards, and then moving to 2chan (possibly the worlds largest discussion forum), The Reaction Guys (or Gaijan 4Koma as they were known on 2chan) quickly became the new rising star of internet memes. They were primarily used to distinguish between two pictures, one of which would seem MUCH more awesome because of their reaction. However, I won’t be using them so much for humor today. Instead I’m hijacking Internet Meme Monday with one of my famous film diatribes about how they just don’t make em like they used to!
Whenever more than one person plays the same role, comparisons are bound to come up. Here are a few examples of the most obvious superior portrayals.
Every Robin Hood Ever VS Errol Flynn’s Robin Hood
Sure, the Russel Crowe version isn’t even out yet (and for all I know it will probably be pretty decent). But let’s be honest here, look at that cocky motherfucker in his tights making the “seriously, THIS guy??” gesture. There are a lot of reasons why 1938’s The Adventures of Robin Hood is the definitive adaptation, and one of those reasons is spelled “F-L-Y-N-N”.
Every Dracula Ever VS Max Schreck’s Nosferatu
Granted, in this day and age Lugosi’s Dracula creaks more than a ship full of coffins (not that Gary Oldman’s take was any less silly), so it might not be fair to use his picture here. But the fact remains that we’ve been making Dracula movies for almost 100 years and cinema is still trying to equal Max Schreck’s superbly animalistic portrayal from 1922’s Nosferatu.
De Palma’s Scarface VS Hawks’ Scarface
Ok, I’ll admit, this isn’t the best use of the reaction guys since that first picture really is kind of bad-ass. But otherwise, the 1980 Scarface is a colossal failure when compared to the 1932 version. Twice the length, but half as gripping, it kind devolves into a morass of bloody violence and mugging from Pacino. To watch the 1932 version is to be reminded what a real gangster film is. Sure, Pacino’s gun is bigger, but no way “Say hello to my little friend” is anywhere near as awesome (or even as homoerotic) of a quote as “Out of my way Johnny, I’m gonna spit!”
Bad is Better
Sometimes, despite a filmmaker’s best efforts, the “hero” just can’t seem to measure up to the seedier elements of his film. It’s no fault of the filmmaker, it’s just human nature to glamorize the highwayman!
Leslie Howard’s “poet” VS Bogart’s Duke Mantee
The Petrified Forest and Key Largo are both pretty great movies. But the reason I’ll always recommend Key Largo is because Leslie Howard’s character in The Petrified Forest can only be described as “an insufferable douche”. Still, Bogart is awesome, and there is a scene toward the end that made me cheer like the reaction guys, so I’d say it’s worth checking out anyway.
Max Von Sydow’s knight VS Motherfucking Death
The day I find some knight wandering around and whining about a crisis of faith a more awesome character than Death in all his nihilistic glory…is the day I tip my king without even trying to cheat first. 1956’s The Seventh Seal is a great movie, but Sydow just can’t compete with that catty bitch Death.
Pink VS Wooderson
I realize Wooderson isn’t really a villain in 1993’s Dazed and Confused, but within the context of the film he is kind of a loser (and a bit of a child rapist) and an example of the kind of person that Randall “Pink” Floyd needs to avoid turning into. That said, I haven’t seen an actor steal a movie like this since Brando in Streetcar. Might not been the most impressive acting in the world since you get the feeling Matthew Mcconaughey was just playing himself, but it was, nonetheless, impressive.
There’s no accounting for taste; sometimes it’s just different strokes for different folks. However, there’s nothing subjective about the next three examples; in each one the person in the second picture is clearly superior to the first.
Charlie Chaplin VS Buster Keaton
They were both geniuses, but Buster didn’t feel the need to give flowers to blind girls in between all the good gags. I miss the old days when Chaplin was content to leave the pathos behind and just kick old men in the face.
John Doe VS Mr. Deeds
They both might be somewhat cheesy movies, but 1936’s Mr. Deed’s Goes to Town is a genuinely enjoyable fish out of water tale whose hero isn’t afraid to put fist to face when the situation warrants it. In contrast, 1941’s Meet John Doe is a heavy handed Christian allegory whose main character really puts the “shite” in “Self-righteous”.
Clint Eastwood VS John Wayne
Yes, Clint “any man don’t want to get killed…better clear on out the back” Eastwood is one bad motherfucker. And yes, John “I walk as funny as I talk” Wayne was a bit of a hoary beast back in the 1940s, let alone the 1970s when he finished his career. But I’m sorry, no one has ever had as much screen presence as the Duke, and Clint never even had a chance at matching up–even on his best day.
Who Would You Do?
You can’t always judge people solely on their artistic talent. Sometimes you just have to go with a good old fashioned “who you would rather do”.
Ingrid Bergman VS Lauren Bacall
She might be built like a sack full of broomsticks, but Bacall pretty much breathes raw sexuality while Bergman just seems a little uptight. I’d doubt Bergman would ever tell someone how to whistle like Bacall did…
Jean Harlow VS Marilyn Monroe
Harlow might have been the original blond bombshell, but she always kind of had a trailer park air to her. Which maybe trashy sex was part of Harlow’s allure, but the innocently sweet Monroe could seem just as naughty while inhabiting a whole other level of hotness.
Young Paul Newman VS Vin Diesel
Not in a gay way or anything. I’m just saying, like, if I had to pick a cell mate or something.