Been & Going

[Citizen Filter]: Dirty Dancing: Havana Nights Ruined Everything Good Forever

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The things I do for you people. I mean, I do whatever I want whenever I want, and I make the deep sacrifices to do those things, and then I go the extra mile and write down the things I think about the stuff I wanted to do for you. Without you even asking. My god, I hope you’re all grateful.

The above pile of crap is more comprehensible and engaging than Dirty Dancing: Havana Nights, and that’s including the several weeks I was busy with other things (I HAVE A LIFE, OKAY? YOU DON’T OWN ME) (by the way, go like my facebook page for my upcoming Fringe play) (oh god, I feel so dirty).

So here’s how it went down: I was watching the original Dirty Dancing, which is known as a classic teen romance movie, and also for how everyone forgets that it has a major abortion storyline. (In the abortion debate, DD’s opinion is that no one should ever go to a hack doctor, and if they do, Jerry Orbach is the physician of choice to heal a punctured and probably infected uterus. Hurray for Jerry Orbach!) For all of its bizarrely dark plotline and heavy-handed commentary on the divide between upper middle class and poor (DD’s opinion: rich people should not exploit poor people, and also poor people are better dancers because their hardship gives them passion or something), the movie remains a classic because of the unreal chemistry between Jennifer Grey and Patrick Swayze. Ho-ly Moses. If you’re ever in that place where you think you should keep going out with that person because they’re nice and stuff and maybe the attraction will grow (you fucking hipster), watch this movie. Watch this movie and realize that you should have at least one affair in your life where someone is so hot to you that they walk in the room and you forget your name. Or develop the courage to perform an awkward mambo in the hotel ballroom of a fading tourist town in the Catskills, one or the other. Doesn’t matter which.

Helloooooo, chemistry.

Helloooooo, chemistry.

Anyway. So there I was, wasting my weekend on Dirty Dancing, when it ends with an anachronistic song and Emily Gilmore dancing with some poor, and Netflix suggests Dirty Dancing: Havana Nights. ‘Self,’ I think, because I’m an idiot, ‘self, you should watch this movie, because if it’s really that bad you’ll enjoy it and probably the dancing will be good, and you’re a sucker for dancing.’ HAHAHAHAHAHAHAHA, laughs Fate. HAHAHA. HA. HA.

DD:HN follows the several months (maybe? the timeline is totally fucked in this) of an American girl’s life in Havana, just before the revolution ruined everything for American companies and the CIA started wasting its time trying to kill Fidel Castro in increasingly ridiculous ways. Young Blond Woman (I don’t even remember her character’s name anymore, it was that generic) is focused on her studies so she can get into some Seven Sisters School (BORED SO DON’T CARE) and is pissed that her father (John Slattery, in the longest audition for Mad Men ever) got promoted and transferred to Havana where she and her mother (Sela Ward, or House’s Ex-Wife from House) and little sister (that girl who always plays treacherous little sisters) will live in the absolute lap of luxury in a big hotel. Absolutely tragic.

Naturally, working at the hotel is Diego Luna, being totally wasted in a know-nothing role. Sample line: “What does looking have to do with it?” It being dancing. Because no one ever looks at themselves or others when learning to dance. Thinly veiled exoticism of a non-white culture, party of the executives who wrote this movie into the shitter! Naturally, they try to enter a dance contest for stupid reasons and fall in love, OR SO THIS MOVIE WOULD HAVE YOU THINK. You remember all the chemistry I was raving over in the original? This is that chemistry if it were beaten to death, thrown in a ditch, cryogenically frozen for a thousand years, and then brought back to life by a drunk chipmunk. They are the in ocean, dancing together, and nothing. My god, if you are in the ocean with Diego Luna and you have no desire to come together in the throes of passion, you are literally dead. And that’s keeping in mind that he can’t dance worth shit and apparently had a dance double. Mercy.

No chemistry. It's as innocuous as a cruiseline ad.

No chemistry. It’s as innocuous as a cruise line ad.

It’s also the kind of movie where you get the feeling that either they switched directors halfway through, or the director switch from heroin to cocaine, because the first two-thirds are nothing but racist January Jones (OH YES, she’s in it, playing Baby Betty Draper) and White Savior Young Blond Woman and Proto-Rapist Later To Be On Nashville Entitled Shit, and then we get six montages, a dance contest, and a revolution in the space of five minutes. And John Slattery and Sela Ward moving from disapproval of the relationship to approval overnight. On Christmas. BECAUSE WHY NOT. Possibly it’s the miracle of Baby Jeebus and/or finding a Christmas tree in Cuba. And then YBW and Diego Luna have sex and she leaves, but there’s also a dance party with her parents in their favorite club, because of course her parents were champion ballroom dancers. (If you could see me now, you’d see me gesticulating wildly and in total silence because this movie fucking floors me.)

I know, John. I know. This movie makes zero fucking sense.

I know, John. I know. This movie makes zero fucking sense.

The most unfortunate thing about the movie is that whenever we encounter characters speaking in Spanish–Diego Luna and his revolutionary brother, Diego Luna and his exceptionally accommodating mother, the revolutionary brother and the other revolutionaries, the community street dance that introduces YBW to Cuban dancing (so exotic! barf)–we see the last gasp of a really good movie. And then the frame turns to focus on white people again and I so don’t care.

Also, it speaks fucking volumes about this movie that as pretty as it is, as great as the supporting cast is, as well as Diego Luna does with the nothing he is given, the most interesting, most engaging person we encounter is Patrick Swayze in his cameo as the hotel dance instructor. When Patrick is onscreen, we believe that the world his character lives in is real. We believe that he teaches dancing with a true passion, and we even believe (god help us) that YBW has the potential to dance beautifully and well. Looking back, it’s clear he was quite ill, and even so, he’s the brightest light in the whole damn picture.

Patrick Swayze, being intense and acting like a champ.

Patrick Swayze, being intense and acting like a champ. I mean, look at him, seriously. Two minutes on screen and he makes us believe.

And that’s Dirty Dancing: Havana Nights. Oh, and now-faded pop star Mya shows up to sing an anachronistic song about…something, I don’t remember what. I was too busy googling Mya to figure out what the hell happened to her after making that ridiculous Moulin Rogue collaboration with Christina Aguilera, Pink (pre-P!nk) and Lil’ Kim (post-jail). (She has a kind of sad Instagram account filled with new age-y fashion selfies and pictures of flowers, and apparently has a new album coming out. You go, Mya!)

I’ve Storified the live-tweeting here, so please–drink several glasses of arsenic-filled cheap wine like I did and enjoy yourself.

[Citizen Filter]: The Top Ten Reason I’m Fucking Angry This Year

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(Dear Mom, I’m sorry in advance for all the swears. Love, Sarah)

Well, here we are again at the fucking holidays and it’s been quite the year. America, I’m goddamn disappointed in you. You have fucked everything up and you didn’t even say you’re sorry. Say you’re sorry, right now, to all the women and minorities and undocumented immigrants. SAY IT. And mean it! Or I’ll make you hug until you do!

Here’s all the reasons we can bid a good goddamn riddance to 2014 as we wait for 2015 to let us down past the very low bar we set for it.


  1. All the fucking people murdered by cops and idiots for not being white.

Eric Garner, Michael Brown, Ezell Ford, Tamir Rice Adaisha Miller, Eleanor Bumpers, Miriam Carey, and on and on and on and on. Estimates are one black person a day is killed by law enforcement, but many of those deaths go unreported. The names of some of the black women killed are listed here, on Bougie Black Girl. Color of Change tweets out names on @KilledByCops. And check out this off the cuff video lecture on the intersection of society, history, racism, media and violence from Jesse Williams here. (For those of you going “but he’s just an actor!”, he also taught high school history for eight years, so listen up.)

  1. All the fucking people murdered, threatened, and driven from their homes and jobs by jackasses who are scared of women and people of color having a say in their corner of the world. #GAMERGATE, FUCK YOU.

Because apparently women are terrifying even when they leave your sandbox along and go create their own. It’s not about ethics in gaming journalism, it’s about controlling women and controlling the story you want to tell yourself about how women aren’t people. But Anita Sarkeesian, Brianna Wu, Felicia Day, and Zoe Quinn should not be credibly threatened with violence and death for talking about and creating games and supporting gaming narratives that are different than the dominant stories today. Female gamers deserve games that treat women as people, not props. And (I can’t believe I even have to say this) the countless women and people of color who have been shoved out of their profession and avocations for having the gall to work or want to work in a growth industry that connects technology and art deserve to get hired, keep their fucking jobs, and not have to put up with a thousand layers of misogynistic bullshit to do it.

Don’t know what I’m talking about? Read this.

  1. All the children murdered by people who claim God is on their side. Pakistan, Palestine, Israel, and Nigeria in particular today.

Because to list all the countries would make me run into traffic. Are you in what you consider a holy war? A fight for your very identity? A war that justifies any means to your noble? Are some or many of the casualties children? Are you attacking children specifically? Are you proud of kidnapping and hurting these children?

Go to hell. You’re not helping your cause (unless your cause is hurting children), you’re not going to end your ward, and God is certainly not on your fucking side. Look and your choices and make different ones.

(And I hear you, too, pro-Israel Americans. But if you are defending the murder of over 500 children, it might just be time to question what your leaders are telling you right and true. Because of the 500 dead children. Who are dead.)

  1. And all the children (and people!) whose spirits and bodies have been broken by sex slavery, regular slavery, oppressive cultures and governments that do not accept their color, sexual identity, gender identity, desire for education and freedom.

I’M LOOKING AT YOU, UGANDA, SYRIA, PAKISTAN, MEXICO (#yamecanse), INDIA, and don’t think I don’t see your invisible slavery, North America and Europe. Slavery is more prevalent than ever and it’s everywhere. You can also got to hell. Oh, look, it’s the Global Slavery Index. Dear reader, educate yourself and then go develop an addiction (to something besides cocaine–that’s bad too) to numb yourself from all the shitty ways the world sucks.

  1. Donald Sterling and the hypocrisy of the NBA.

It’s only an outrage if he gets caught? Your business is run on the backs and bodies of black men! How fucking dare you? How dare you act as if it matters more because we know about it? How dare you act as if the fans who come from the very slums he owns are worth less than anyone else? How dare you act as if you are not culpable, as if you are righteous?

Donald Sterling was known to be racist, he was known to run slums, he was known to discriminate against minorities, and it took a recording sent to tabloid for any consequences to reach him.

  1. The nonprofit NFL, and its tacit agreement that hitting women is okay as long as it’s not on tape.

ARE YOU FUCKING KIDDING ME. Why do you consistently tolerate the abuse of women whom you have made an unpaid part of your business plan? How do you sleep at night? And furthermore, do you honestly think that destroying the bodies and minds of these young men one concussion at a time leaves you with no responsibility? Take your hit. Take care of your players. Take care of your community. Clean your fucking house, because trust me, NONPROFIT BILLION DOLLAR BUSINESS, you do not want me to clean it for you.

  1. The utter insanity that is policing women’s bodies these days.

Wendy Davis spent 13 full hours standing on the Senate floor in Texas to ensure that, for one more freaking day, Texas women would have access to reproductive health care. And that’s not even that shocking, because…

…There were 694 legal provisions sought this year to directly legislate women’s bodies. Six hundred and ninety-four. The war on women is real, it’s here, and it’s winning. Who are the losers? (You ask, so innocently.) ALL OF US. When women don’t control their own bodies, when they lack access to birth control and abortion, poverty rates go up, education rates go down, hunger and homelessness go up, and we are all dragged down by the choices made for women by people who clearly have no idea what they’re talking about.

  1. Speaking of women, let’s talk about the heinous fucking way women and girls are still being treated when it comes to rape.

Here are some fun quotes to start you off. But let’s also talk about how at least three girls in an Oklahoma high school were raped by one awful guy who confessed to it ON VIDEO–I mean, really?!–and were bullied so badly for being sluts they all dropped out. Let’s talk about Rolling Stone fucking pulling its punches to protect a predatory group of young men who at the very least are widely known to overserve and manipulate young women into sexual encounters, and then blamed the victim for their suspect fact-checking. Let’s talk about how it took a second-string comedian making a joke about Bill Cosby’s serial rapes six months to bring attention to it and the (as of time of writing) 21 women who have come forward about their victimization received no attention in 14 fucking years. Let’s talk about how one percent of rapists is ever given any kind of punishment at all. Let’s talk about rape culture so distorts the perceptions of sex is and should be that getting a verbal ‘yes’ from your partner is seen as profoundly unsexy. Let’s talk about how that messaging and the internalization of women as objects turns good men into rapists. Let’s talk about how rape is seen as a women’s issue, so men are afraid to come forward about their own rapes and when they do, are dismissed as weak or lying. And this is just in the United States.

Let’s talk about a culture that so objectified women that a 22-year-old goes on a murderous rampage because he can’t get laid. And how it happened in Canada 25 years ago. And how it happened in Pennsylvania five years ago. And in Seattle this year.

Let’s talk about that.

  1. Ebola.

Why. Why. Why. Why did it take one American getting ebola to the international ball rolling on aid? Why was that person, a black male, sent home from the hospital? Why have we all forgotten it now? Why are we so goddamn blind to the plight of our fellow humans? Why. Why. Why.


  1. Fuck it, I’m exhausted.

Here’s picture of a kitten in some Christmas shit. Happy fucking Christmas, Happy goddamn New Year, and if you don’t get it the fuck together, 2015, there is going to be serious hell to pay.

christmas kitten

(One bright spot of the year: The Church of Satan has some nice religious equal access wins to counter the fucking ridiculous presence of Christianity in our government facilities. Bravo, Church of Satan. Also, Pope Francis did some good stuff. AGAIN. So boring, Pope, stop being so awesome.)