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Monday, July 30, 2012

8

Monday, July 30, 2012
The Michigan Daily - michigandaily.com

Monday, July 30, 2012
The Michigan Daily - michigandaily.com
Change with MCuibed

15

Neighborhood 'Watch' mediocre

MICHAEL NEVITT |I Vo EWP o ial
Not so social

Schaffer's latest fails
to impress; too much
raunch, no substance
By SEAN CZARNECKI
Daily Arts Writer
It's no secret that "The Watch" is
using an old Hollywood trick: Get
a bunch of heavyweights together,
and the box office
numbers will fol-
low. Really, just
look at all that The Watch
cheddar: Penned
by Seth Rogen At Quality16
and Evan Gold- and Rave
berg ("Super-
bad"); starring Fox
Ben Stiller
("Tropic Thunder"), Vince Vaughn
("Wedding Crashers"), Jonah Hill
("21Jump Street") and Richard Ayo-
ade ("The IT Crowd"). Yet, despite
those big names, audiences should

spend their time elsewhere besides
this mash-up of insipid raunch and
inspired improv, comedy and sci-fi.
Stiller is an over-zealous, over-
involved member of a small town
community who forms a neighbor-
hood watch after his friend is mur-
dered in the local Costco, of which
he's a manager. And as you prob-
ably know, the neighborhood watch
ends up defending the world from
alien invaders.
Stiller, Vaughn, Hill, Ayoade,
Rogen, Goldberg - how did this
movie go wrong? Though it's faintly
reminiscent of "Ghostbusters" and
"Attack the Block," there's nothing
particularly wrong with the prem-
ise. What those comedians' earlier
releases had was an abundance of
knee-slapping lines, a moral (even
sentimental) core and tremendous
performances. For the most part,
"The Watch" lacks all these traits.
This second directorial feature
from Akiva Schaffer ("Hot Rod,"
also a member of Lonely Island)

does give its audience a handful
of chuckles and, every once in a
while, a hearty out-loud laugh.
The most memorable: a seemingly
improvised gag involving Vaughn
and a Russian nesting doll, tak-
ing advantage of Vaughn's rapid
fire verbosity. Yet Schaffer barely
ever exploits his actors' strengths,
instead relying on an overabun-
dance of raunch, not wit. Con-
sequently, "The Watch" quickly
becomes obnoxious.
Besides the gross-out gags, the
film's other main focus is sci-fi. The
alien invasion proves superfluous to
thelaughs. In fact,the filmwould've
fared better as a story about a group
of mismatched suburbanites in a
neighborhood watch.
There's some great ideas in
this movie. Watching Stiller as
the straight man attempting to
be as multi-cultural as possible
by befriending all the minorities
in the neighborhood is great fun.
He has no black friends - but he's

Fox

Group bowling was just the worst idea.
getting there, he says. He's the
one societal douche that hasn't
outworn his comedic fodder: the
overcompensating white man.
"The Watch" had promising racial
undertones, but ultimately pro-
vides superficial revelations.
Being edgy is not the same as
throwing out four-letter words.

You gotta dig deeper. No such
thoughtful laughter will be found
here. Story short: If you want
some real laughs, go see "Ted."
"The Watch" 's mediocre laughs
could just as effectively be repro-
duced by trading locker room sto-
ries with your friends at home, for
free.

The ceiling of the Sistine
Chapel was finished in 1512
after more than four years of
work by Michelangelo. It is
unquestionablyone of the most
beautiful and famous ceil-
ings in the world. One of the
highlights of my summer was
standing beneath this world-
famous artistic masterpiece,
awestruck. As I looked to my
side to see if the hundreds of
other fanny pack-carrying
tourists were as stricken by its
beauty as I was, I was shocked
to see numerous eyeballs star-
log at Blackberrys and iWhones
instead of at the 300-plus fig-
ures colorfully depicted above
them. It appeared that Chris
was "checking into" the Sis-
tine Chapel, while Lisa shared
a picture on her Facebook
profile of some battling naked
figures in thefamous mural
and then eagerly continued to
update her screen to check for
notifications.
In the past decade, Face-
book has proven to be an effec-
tive means for people to share
stories and images from their
lives with family, friends,
coworkers and Sarah What's-
Her-Name that theytmetattha
one party that one time. With
just the simple click of a smart-
phone touch screen, you can
"mobile-ly upload" an image
or video of a special moment to
your profile and share it with
hundreds or thousands of your
"closest" friends instantly. But
why does that random girl
from your 1th grade English
class need to experience the
Sistine Chapel with you?
The truth' is, she doesn't.
With the ever-evolving popu-
larity contest of social media,
the Facebook generation has
started to lose sight of what
is most important. Instead of
thinking about how beautiful
a landscape is, we have started
to think in terms of how many
likes or comments a picture of
it will receive. Your enjoyment

of your own life is no longer
important; what's important
now is the development of your
digital persona.
Now, sharing on Facebook
does have its advantages. It's
much simpler to post a picture
than have to send it 15 times
in e-mails to different people.
However, when your usage
becomes so excessive and
intrusive that it lessens your
ability to enjoy real-life experi-
ences, there is a problem. Social
networks should be a means of
sharing special life moments
without inhibitingthem.
This rule of thumb should
be applied to more than just
one's travels and major life
milestones. We have all seen
the group of freshmen eating
in the dining hall, each with
one eye on their chicken broc-
coli bake and the otherontheir
iPhone. While this moment
may not be as inspiring as
admiring the Sistine Chapel,
it - like all of life's moments -
is just as fleeting and special.
Before you know it, you will
be sitting on the plane back
from Europe wishing you had
eaten one more cup of gelato,
or sitting at graduation in the
Big House longing to hang out
with all of your friends one
last time.
So don't live a life destined
to be filled with social net-
work-induced regret. Take the
advice you've heard a million
times and just put the phone
away. Take a deepbreath and
enjoy where you are and what
you are doing at that very
moment. Enjoy your friends,
enjoy your food, enjoy the
Sistine Chapel and enjoy the
moments you will never have
back again. It may sound like a
Hallmark card, but it's advice
you won't regret following.
Save your Facebook-ing for
later - like when you're pro-
crastinating in the UGLi.
Michael Nevitt
is a LSA junior.

FAIRYTALE
From Page 7
stay in and run.
Both "Sleeping Beauty" and "The
Little Mermaid" center around
female leads that are seen not

heard. Aurora has a total of 18 min-
utes of screen time in her own film,
while Ariel is mute the entirety
of her courtship with Prince Eric.
Their gift for being amenable is a
"true love" that is based entirely
off of looks and a five-minute song
sequence.

This Fairytale world taught little
girls everywhere that with some
patience, a lot of cleaning and a
calm, subservient personality, they
too can get a Prince Charming, a
castle and everything their heart
desires.
Later, "Beauty and the Beast"
and "Mulan" began transform-
ing the stereotypical Fairytale
happy ending by focusing on
strong, independent women that ' 4
had more to do than clean a home
and make someone's dinner. Belle
had no desire to marryGaston, the
typical alpha male. Mulan would A swift horse for Mulan.
"never pass/ for a perfect bride,/

Our current system for funding
research is broken.
Though
that may not
be the posi-
tion of the
University,
as it's now
launching
an innova-
tive alterna-
tive called MICHAEL
MCubed that SMALLEGAN
may provide
a direction
for change.
The way academia powers
forward, claiming new victories
daily, obscures the rough edges
of the current paradigm. Let me
recall for you the saga of scientific
misconduct by Marc Hauser, the
Harvard University evolutionary
biologist - not to further tarnish
his name - but to bring some of
those edges to light.
Hauser was studying the abil-
ity of tamarin monkeys to learn
algebraic rules and in 2002 pub-
lished results in Cognition - a
journal that publishes research
about the study of the mind -
that supported his hypothesis.
To establish patterns in the mon-
keys' behavior, his team watched
video of the monkeys' behavior.
and coded the monkeys' actions.
After some questions arose
concerning Hauser's data and his
refusal to let his lab colleagues
recode his tapes, his research
assistants recoded the data with-
out his consent. Their data looked
nothing like his. Coding behav-
ior is somewhat subjective, but
what they found prompted fur-
ther investigation because the
data was so different. In the end,
Hauser was found guilty of eight
counts of scientific misconduct
and resigned from his position at
Harvard in 2011.
Hauser could, just be a bad
apple, but from an outsider's
view, academia appears to pro-
mote such "bad behavior."
Whenever I curl up with a new
issue of some bleeding edge sci-
entific journal (which I assure
you isn't often, I have a life...),
I'm always struck by the fact
that hypotheses are always con-
firmed. I haven't yet run across a
peer-reviewed article, that says,
"We thought this would happen,

but this happened instead." I
don't think it's because scientists
are always dead-on with their
intuition. It's just that there is no
room in contemporary journals
for negated hypotheses.
Journals, funding agencies and
research institutions don't seem
to think that results of failed
experiments are worth sharing.
So Hauser's hypothesis would
have to have been confirmed -
otherwise, all his team's efforts
would have been for naught.
But how did he even get to that
point - to have a hypothesis that
was essential to support? Herein
lies the problem inherent to how
research funding operates: In
order to be awarded money for a
grant proposal, your hypothesis
needs to be well on the way to
being proved correct.-
The key concept undergirding
our current system is that com-
petition creates better results.
Hence, we have the X PRIZE
Foundation, the DARPA Robotics
Challenge and National Science
Foundation receiving 40,000 pro-
posals each year and only funding
11,000. To succeed in these races,
principal investigators must do
their homework. This means that
in most cases, researchers apply
for smaller grants first, usu-
ally from their home institution.
Likely, some significant portion
of the University's $1.24 billion
it spent on research in the fiscal
year of 2011 went to projects of
this type.
*This means that by the time
you even receive a federal grant
for your idea, you've already
invested money and months of
time into gathering preliminary
supporting data. All of this makes
it increasingly "necessary" for
their careers thattheir hypoth-
eses are correct. Otherwise, all
that work can be scrapped and
shelved.
These incentives thus encour-
age explorations that are nar-
row and one more step on what's
already been done. They make
taking baby steps the prevailing
paradigm. Everheardofthe "least
publishable unit?" The really big
leaps that we need to take to solve
big problems aren't safe to talpe in
this environment. Furthermore,
solutions to these problems often
lie strewn across the borders of

multiple disciplines and funding
for interdisciplinary research is
even harder to come by.
MCubed is an
opportunity for
collaboration.
So, that's the stage upon which
MCubed, a part of the Universi-
ty's Third Century Initiative, will
enter in the fall.
MCubed, instead of taking a
merit-based approach to fund-
ing, will hand $60,000 to any
three researchers from at least
two different units who agree to
work together on a project. The
only approval for the ideas will be
mutual interest in the questions
asked. It appears that all schools,
colleges and departments in the
university will be participat-
ing, providing an unprecedented
opportunity for cross-disciplin-
ary explorations. The money can
be used to hire a postdoctoral
researcher, graduate student or
an undergraduate to work with
the team of three.
In a creative - and playful -
move, interested faculty will be
given a token that's a third of a
cube and represents $20,000.
They can only cash out the
$60,000 when they've agreed
to work with two others and the
pieces of the cube are combined.
Faculty will meet and toss around
ideas on a web platform that will
launch in the fall.
In addition to the $15 million
the program will infuse into Uni-
versity research, the initiative is
also an experiment in itself. The
Institute for Social Research
faculty will observe the collabo-
rations formed and the impact
of the results of this program.
MCubed could fall flat or be a bea-
con guiding academia away from
asking questions that we almost
know the answer to, to ones that
currently have us scratching our
head. We wait with bated breath.
Michael Smallegan can be
reached at smallmic@umich.edu.

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DISNEY

or a
decide
their l
N
The
call-to
heroin
traditi
piness
impris
father
father
Huns

perfect daughter." They family's honor. The Fairytale ideal
ed that there was more to is bent by these princesses, but not
ives than finding a husband. necessarily shattered, so Belle and
Mulan can exist in a modified ver-
sion of Fairytale reality.
V O Fairytale More recently, Disney has
attempted to stay current and polit-
nding here. ically aware, producing princesses
such as Tiana, Rapunzel and Meri-
da: girls that want a destiny outside
of marriage. Tiana hopes to own a
ough those movies begin as a restaurant and be financially inde-
-arms for brave girls, each pendent, Rapunzel wants to leave
ne ends up succumbing to her "mother's" home and find out
on: Belle sacrifices her hap- who she is and Merida wants noth-
for her family, choosing ing more than to plan her own life
onment in order to save her without the constant constraints.
. Similarly, Mulan dons her set by her mother. The three girls
's armor and takes on the all accomplish what they set out to
in an effort to preserve her do and they didn't adhere to the ste-

reotypical Fairytale expectations.
It's great that girls finally have
strong Disney-princess role models.
But something is missing. Tryingto
make Disney princesses politically
aware has taken away the charm of
the Fairytale world and has made
it blatantly clear that Disney is
attempting to make amends for the
"typical princess outlook."
Though strong female leads.are
nothing to be shied away from, it
would be best for Disney to leave
the Disney princess legacy to the
classics: rather than creating new
princesses, simply create new out-
lets and a new world for the inde-
pendent women to thrive in, rather
than clashing the modern with the
Fairytale.

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