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February 10, 1994 - Image 12

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The Michigan Daily, 1994-02-10

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4 - The Michigan Daily - Weekend etc. - Thursday, February 10, 1994

z I

Jour d'amour not what it was

By BRIAN GRANT
Valentine's Day sucks!
At least it does for those of us who
have no one to celebrate it with. This
holiday has become almost as com-
mercial as Christmas and even more
biased. Sure, you can buy into the
Media and Greeting Card Company
Myth: Buy that card! Get
those 20 dozen roses! Tell
that unreachable person
who doesn't even know
you exist that you'd brave
the highest mountain, swim
the stormiest seas, donate
your most vital organs just
for the simple reciproca-
tion of love (or even the
simple acknowledgment of
your misbegotten exist-
ence). Forget it!
Let's cut to the honest
truth of the matter:
Valentine's Day is de-
signed for couples. If
singles want help in find-
ipg Mr. 1 Ms. Right (or
even Mr. / Ms. Right-
Now), they'd better not look to ol'
Saint Valentine for guidance. He will
be of no use. There is no patron saint
for lonely people.
Sound bitter? You misunderstand.
dour is hardly the word, just a touch
Jnstalgic. You see, it wasn't always
tis way ...
Back in the year 496 C.E., the
eatholic Church wanted to replace a
opular pagan fertility rite with some-
hing decidedly more, well, Chris-
tian. Celebrated for hundreds of years
previous, this festival, dedicated to
either Lupercus (a fertility god) or
Juno (the Roman goddess of mar-
riage) coincided with the mid-Febru-
ary mating of the birds in Italy, and

stressed love, courtship and (of course)
marriage. The names of teenage
women would be drawn from a box
by young men, thus pairing couples
off "for their mutual entertainment
and pleasure (often sexual)." This
would last for the duration of the year,
until, barring death or marriage, new

names would be drawn. With a little
modification, this makes for a much
better system than our modern dating
rituals, don't you think?
However, with theadventofChris-
tianity as the official religion of the
Roman Empire, a decree of Emperor
Constantine substituted these pagan
festivals with Christian equivalents
(bah, humbug!). Yet, the need to sup-
plant the holiday also required a new
patron. What they needed was a type
of "lovers"' saint. Searching the
records, they read ofabishopclubbed,
stoned and decapitated by his own
church and decided he would be the
perfect man for the job. Enter, then,
Valentine!

Approximately 200 years before,
around 270 C.E., the mad emperor
Claudius II had issued an edict for-
bidding marriage. Never caring much
for popular opinion, Claudius believed
that married men were inferior sol-
diers, as they were hesitant to leave
their families for war. Nevertheless,
Valentine, bishop of
Interamna, secretly wed
young couples. When
Claudius discovered this
"friend of lovers," Valentine
was brought to the palace
and sentenced to death.
Legend holds that while
imprisoned, Valentine fell in
love with the jailer's blind
69 daughter. Miraculously re-
storing her sight, he left only
a note that said: "From your
Valentine." This phrase has
certainly long outlived its
writer, as on February 24,
270 Valentine was executed.
So 200 years later, the
Catholic Church, in a gener-
ous and magnanimous ges-
ture, called "Saint" Valentine a mar-
tyr and promptly abolished the pagan
festival. However, Pope Gelasius was
wise enough to replace the old rite
with something somewhat parallel.
Names were still drawn by young
men and women from the box, but
surprise, surprise: upon the paper was
printed the name of a saint which they
were to emulate for the coming year.
Admittedly it was a far cry from its
previous incarnation, but the Romans
(always lovers of chance) eventually
accepted the new game over the old.
Naturally, humans, being the lusty
sort we are, eventually stopped pick-
ing the names of dead saints out of old
boxes and pursued more earthly, car-
nal concerns. The lovers' hunt was on
once again, but this time they would
receive no help from society for, by
then, the age old practice of pairing
was long since past. The biased-based,
lover-loving holiday had already been
born to its current form. Except for
the commercialism, of course. That,
friends, came later.
And so, though we hapless souls
must shun St. Valentine's Day on
principle's sake - moving quickly
by the mushy ads, and racing past the
shining smiling couples holding hands
- herein lies a small comfort. We
would love to participate, more than
anything in the world, for we are,
each of us, hopeless romantics at heart.
But for now all we can do is recall
those Roman years of yore. Ah, what
we wouldn't give for the good ol'
days ...

Not only did Jean-Claude Van Damme's martial arts talents grow for "Hard Target,"so did his greasy, brown locks.
ard Target has fans saying Woo
Jean-Claude Van Dame kicks butt in the Bayou

Attention:
Aspiring Playwrights...
GET YOUR PLAYS PRODUCED!
We are soliciting original one-act plays with minimal set and
staging requirements for a new works festival at the Trueblood
Theatre in May. This is the chance you've been waiting for!
Scripts must be typed, bound (staples are fine), and submitted in
triplicate no later than March 1, 1994 to
Rob Sulewski
do Comparative Literature Office
411 Mason Hall
Ann Arbor, MI 48109
For more information you may indeed contact Rob Sulewski at
(313) 936-0777, weekday afternoons.

By MICHAEL BARNES
Guns, violence and throttling ac-
tion blaze forth in directorJohn Woo's
first American feature, "Hard Tar-
get," starring Jean-Claude Van

tion, because these movies go beyond
mere car chases and blown-up build-
ings. Woo movies are about death. In
"Hard Target," Van Damme lays to
rest more souls then a Serbo-Croatian
death squad.
In "Target," Van Damme plays a
down-on-his-luck dock worker hired
by a Michigan woman to find her
father who has disappeared in the
Bayou swamps of New Orleans. The
Belgian Van Damme, who when this
movie debuted in theaters said he
wanted to move on and work with
serious directors like Oliver Stone, is
still in acting Pampers. His accent in
the film falls somewhere between
Wisconsin cheese farmer and sadistic
Nazi. In attempt to capture the Bayou
dirtball look, his hair falls long and
greasy, giving the actor the look of a
comical WWF wrestler rather than
that of a legitimate leading man. In

I

I

Damme.
Woo, a Hong Kong director,
proved in such bloodfest classics as
"The Killer" that he can dispose of
more bodies then a waste manage-
ment company. Woo is currently the
heavyweight champion in the Vio-
lence Genre. I say violence, not ac-

I

Ai3 e
NICK HEYWARD THE INDIANS GRETA !
from monday to sunday O OTAW 'O "
KITE IHE DOESNTLOVEYOULKE 00
INTO YOUR LIFE
11.99 CD 7.99 CS 11.99 CD 7.99 CS 11.99CD 7.99 CS
- E
BROKEN TOY SHOP
A f0. . N&at AI0
"'lstay high"
believe"
11.990CD07.99 CS 11.99 CD 799 CS 11.99 CD 7.99 CS
THE MEAT PUPPETS
DANZIG OH4TO Of
,,rv ~AND BONUS Ii E(OROW VRI*ON 04 'AKE Of RI1

eBagels *Pasta Salads
eMuffins *Soups
*Frozen Yogurt *Vegetable Salads
(Gise-Glace) *Fruit Salads

'4.

any respect, most renters realize they@
are not getting Marlon Brando with
"Hard Target." Van Damme excels in
motion, not characterization. He
jumps, leaps and kicks past the bad
guys who hunt bums for sport and are
more heavily armed then a Somali
warlord.
For Woo fans, there are the usual
elements: guns tossed to the hero in
the nick of time, slow motion shots of.
gun shells ejecting in the air, a ballet
of sauntering violence. Woo is a mas-
ter of pacing. This movie never lets
up. Visually quite dynamic in certain
parts, the director finds it impossible
to use a straight-forward shot. The
film is saturated with slow motion,
low angles, dissolves and extreme
close ups. The result is stunning but
frequently corny. For instance, when
the woman decides to hire Van*
Damme to find her father, two trucks
separate in slow motion to reveal the
hero strolling down the street toward
her. No, this is not a bizarre parody of
an early Clint Eastwood spaghetti
western. Thedirectorintends for these
shots to be taken seriously. Further-
more, Woo's petty symbolism -
doves flying in the scattered shrapnel
of a warehouse firefight- can be*
somewhat heavy handed. Consider-
ing how entertaining this movie is in
its breathtaking action though, these
criticisms fire like blanks.
"Hard Target" is not a universal
movie. It has a specific audience. Now
that footballseason is done, males
need another form of violence to chug
beer and burp to. "Hard Target" is the
antithesis of "Sleepless in Seattle"
and other maudlin crap. There are no
teary eyes or cornball references to
old romance movies in this one. If
you want to get in touch with your
feelings, don't see this movie. But if
sampling the blood of your own hos-
tility is more what you had in mind,
"Hard Target" is for you.
H ARDTARGET is avaiable at
Liberty Street and Campus Video
Can you spell
Tchaikovsky
without having to
look it up?
Write for Fine Arts :
763-0379

*Dell Sandwiches
715 N. University

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