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Up in the Air

My friend Eric tweet­ed late last night,” ‘Up in the Air’: polite­ly mis­guid­ed lib­er­al fan­ta­sy, or egre­gious­ly clue­less and down­right offen­sive in parts Piece Of Shit?”

It made me think of the clip above. I watched Up in the Air ear­li­er this week and won­dered what the fuss was about. It tries to do a lot, but I’m not sure it accom­plish­es very much. It’s boil­er­plate romance-gone-wrong fare, freight­ed with a mes­sage about how our pri­or­i­ties are wrong and some­how the hor­ri­ble econ­o­my will help us fig­ure out what’s impor­tant. Sor­ry, Mr. Reit­man, but the notion of mak­ing lemon­ade does­n’t work when you can’t afford the lemons in the first place.

For peo­ple who’ve nev­er been laid off, it seems like the stuff dreams are made of. You’re freed from a job you prob­a­bly hat­ed any­way; you get some sev­er­ance, or at least unem­ploy­ment; and you can reeval­u­ate things and move on. Which is the log­ic that informs this amaz­ing­ly hilar­i­ous Onion arti­cle I read way back in Octo­ber 2003, when I was about six months into what would be a 2+ year under­em­ploy­ment bid.

I felt that the tes­ti­mo­ni­als that came at the end of the movie from folks who’d lost their jobs in the recent down­turn echoed the hope the Oba­ma cam­paign gave them. Their opti­mism and their reliance on fam­i­ly to sup­port them in their time of need were both very poignant, but Reit­man con­ve­nient­ly leaves out all the sto­ries from the past few years about folks who’ve lost their jobs and have then gone on to vio­lent attacks on their work­places and com­mu­ni­ties.

Is Reit­man the new W.D. How­ells, that is, some­one who puts a smi­ley face on real­ism? There’s but one “dead end” in the movie, the woman who fol­lows through on her threat to com­mit sui­cide. Every­one else just goes on their mer­ry way, for bet­ter or worse. Whether it’s find­ing a new job, or hav­ing an affair, or just run­ning away from it all thanks to a near­ly infi­nite sup­ply of fre­quent fli­er miles, every­one can find an escape from the hum­drum, if not out­right hap­pi­ness.

I think it’s that that peo­ple dis­like about Reit­man’s movies. The sim­ple-mind­ed­ness. The breezy dia­logue. The beau­ti­ful peo­ple. The whole ‘resilien­cy of the human spir­it’ trope, which some­times just seems a lit­tle more real­is­tic than the way it’s pre­sent­ed here. Reit­man’s youth­ful, priv­i­leged world­view makes it dif­fi­cult to see things dif­fer­ent­ly than he does, that is, through a lens of infi­nite pos­si­bil­i­ty. The prob­lem is that Reit­man’s skies, like those in Up in the Air, are sun­ny and cloud­less.

7 replies on “Up in the Air”

What makes me both laugh and cry is that the Tea Par­ty nut­ters think Clooney is on some
extreme lib­er­al attack on cap­i­tal­ism. Just like with Oba­ma they could not be more wrong.
UP IN THE AIR is pure Clin­tonite pro-cap­i­tal­ist pro­pa­gan­da with a very thin lib­er­al paintjob. I did not know until after see­ing it on DVD but the direc­tor used to make Wal Mart TV ads for a living…and who was it Mr Wal­ton said was the best advo­cate and cor­po­rate board mem­ber and cor­po­rate lawyer on behalf of Wal Mart inter­ests ever ?
One Mrs H.R.Clinton. I could eas­i­ly imag­ine her say­ing she nev­er remem­bered the woman who said she was going to jump off a bridge.

Here is a remark I left on IMDB in a mes­sage board dis­cus­sion about UP IN THE AIR

That’s wishy washy Hol­ly­wood Clin­tonites for ya. They have no rad­i­cal edge.
No real chal­lenge to cap­i­tal­ism just like Oba­ma. The illu­sions of the per­fect
Amer­i­can exis­tence still retained intact. Such as Clooney’s light­weight trav­el
and the notion that he can trav­el in his suit and still look per­fect at the oth­er end
of the flight. Any­one who has trav­elled knows what air trav­el does to a suit.
It is bet­ter to trav­el in com­fort clothes and have a suit in a suit bag. Does
the Clooney char­ac­ter NEVER sweat or have to suf­fer the humil­i­a­tion of hav­ing to
take a crap in the con­fine­ment of an air­plane toi­let (notice how no mat­ter how big the planes get the toi­lets are still awful even if you are slim ?) Plus even posh hotels are still hotels that bed has been slept in by about 5000 peo­ple. Imag­ine if your bed at home had been used by 5000 peo­ple how would you feel about that ? He makes remarks about the Spir­it of Louis but I can think of a dis­turb­ing air­port link­age in the rev­e­la­tion of the West­ern’s world dis­re­gard for its vic­tims in the glob­al South. Paris- De Gaulle, NYC- JFK, Wash­ing­ton — Dulles and Toron­to — Pear­son all West­ern world air­ports named after polit­i­cal fig­ures who insti­gat­ed or backed 30 years of war imposed upon the Viet­namese peo­ple by Fran­co-Amer­i­can impe­ri­al­ism. Want an air­port named after you ? Kill a few mil­lion peo­ple in the name of anti-com­mu­nis­m/ter­ror­is­m/what­ev­er demon dejour.
Proud­ly the excep­tion is Liv­er­pool’s Air­port named after John Lennon…how refresh­ing !!
The mar­ket­ing slo­gan for The Liv­er­pool John Lennon Inter­na­tion­al Air­port is
“Above Us Only Sky” from Imag­ine.

Here’s a great piece from the Awl I just read yes­ter­day about Vera Farmi­ga’s char­ac­ter. I think what’s most fas­ci­nat­ing is how Reit­man real­ly tries to human­ize peo­ple who are essen­tial­ly socio­path­ic by nature. Even if we set aside the polit­i­cal impli­ca­tions of their work, they’re still at root com­plete­ly dis­con­nect­ed from what it means to be human. When the best way to pre­serve dig­ni­ty is the option of fir­ing peo­ple face to face, you know there’s some­thing wrong with Reit­man’s moral com­pass.

Here’s a great piece from the Awl I just read yes­ter­day about Vera Farmi­ga’s char­ac­ter. I think what’s most fas­ci­nat­ing is how Reit­man real­ly tries to human­ize peo­ple who are essen­tial­ly socio­path­ic by nature. Even if we set aside the polit­i­cal impli­ca­tions of their work, they’re still at root com­plete­ly dis­con­nect­ed from what it means to be human. When the best way to pre­serve dig­ni­ty is the option of fir­ing peo­ple face to face, you know there’s some­thing wrong with Reit­man’s moral com­pass.

What makes me both laugh and cry is that the Tea Par­ty nut­ters think Clooney is on some
extreme lib­er­al attack on cap­i­tal­ism. Just like with Oba­ma they could not be more wrong.
UP IN THE AIR is pure Clin­tonite pro-cap­i­tal­ist pro­pa­gan­da with a very thin lib­er­al paintjob. I did not know until after see­ing it on DVD but the direc­tor used to make Wal Mart TV ads for a living…and who was it Mr Wal­ton said was the best advo­cate and cor­po­rate board mem­ber and cor­po­rate lawyer on behalf of Wal Mart inter­ests ever ?
One Mrs H.R.Clinton. I could eas­i­ly imag­ine her say­ing she nev­er remem­bered the woman who said she was going to jump off a bridge.

Here is a remark I left on IMDB in a mes­sage board dis­cus­sion about UP IN THE AIR

That’s wishy washy Hol­ly­wood Clin­tonites for ya. They have no rad­i­cal edge.
No real chal­lenge to cap­i­tal­ism just like Oba­ma. The illu­sions of the per­fect
Amer­i­can exis­tence still retained intact. Such as Clooney’s light­weight trav­el
and the notion that he can trav­el in his suit and still look per­fect at the oth­er end
of the flight. Any­one who has trav­elled knows what air trav­el does to a suit.
It is bet­ter to trav­el in com­fort clothes and have a suit in a suit bag. Does
the Clooney char­ac­ter NEVER sweat or have to suf­fer the humil­i­a­tion of hav­ing to
take a crap in the con­fine­ment of an air­plane toi­let (notice how no mat­ter how big the planes get the toi­lets are still awful even if you are slim ?) Plus even posh hotels are still hotels that bed has been slept in by about 5000 peo­ple. Imag­ine if your bed at home had been used by 5000 peo­ple how would you feel about that ? He makes remarks about the Spir­it of Louis but I can think of a dis­turb­ing air­port link­age in the rev­e­la­tion of the West­ern’s world dis­re­gard for its vic­tims in the glob­al South. Paris- De Gaulle, NYC- JFK, Wash­ing­ton — Dulles and Toron­to — Pear­son all West­ern world air­ports named after polit­i­cal fig­ures who insti­gat­ed or backed 30 years of war imposed upon the Viet­namese peo­ple by Fran­co-Amer­i­can impe­ri­al­ism. Want an air­port named after you ? Kill a few mil­lion peo­ple in the name of anti-com­mu­nis­m/ter­ror­is­m/what­ev­er demon dejour.
Proud­ly the excep­tion is Liv­er­pool’s Air­port named after John Lennon…how refresh­ing !!
The mar­ket­ing slo­gan for The Liv­er­pool John Lennon Inter­na­tion­al Air­port is
“Above Us Only Sky” from Imag­ine.

Here’s a great piece from the Awl I just read yes­ter­day about Vera Farmi­ga’s char­ac­ter. I think what’s most fas­ci­nat­ing is how Reit­man real­ly tries to human­ize peo­ple who are essen­tial­ly socio­path­ic by nature. Even if we set aside the polit­i­cal impli­ca­tions of their work, they’re still at root com­plete­ly dis­con­nect­ed from what it means to be human. When the best way to pre­serve dig­ni­ty is the option of fir­ing peo­ple face to face, you know there’s some­thing wrong with Reit­man’s moral com­pass.

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