Movie Review: Star Trek Beyond


It seems like every couple of years an executive at Paramount Studios looks over the books, sees that they are a few hundred million dollars light of easy money, and then proceeds to green light another Star Trek movie. That is about as passionless all of these modern day Star Trek movies have felt. Top that off with franchise janitor extraordinaire J.J. Abrams and his cadre of Orci, Kurtzman, and Lindelof, and you are guaranteed some success at the box office.

Nevertheless, it is in that Abramsization that a lot of the soul of the Star Trek series was washed away in lieu of a glossy sheen, vacuous scripts, weak villains and lots and lots and lots of lens flare. Star Trek Beyond attempts to transcend that with a new director Justin Lin and a script by Simon Pegg and Doug Jung, and it largely succeeds.

Gone is the egregious lens flare, the extreme close ups of peoples faces for no real reason, the glossiness of the future is toned down, and there’s actual Star Trek in a Star Trek movie instead of a bland action movie dancing around in a skin of stitched together Star Trek tropes and the other (better) movie plots stealing nonsense.

In addition, no Spock ex machina to be found! Hooray!st1Sadly, it all seems a bit too little too late, as aside from what was stated earlier, there’s largely nothing here on display either. Star Trek Beyond is the kind of summer movie that you see and then as you’re walking out of the theater is slowly leaves your brain. Therefore, when you decide to reflect on it, or hell, even try to recommend it to someone, there’s nothing noteworthy to say about it. Which is great for a movie in the summertime, but not so much if you’re a Trek fan?

However, that’s been the issue with this entire crop of modern day Star Trek movies, they’re largely empty affairs that are only meant to keep the Star Trek franchise name relevant and nothing more.

If you’re the kind of Star Trek fan that loves masturbatory shots of the Enterprise, you’ll find much to love about Beyond, as there are several shots lovingly draped around the ship as it docks, and later on, rebuilt. There’s also a fair amount of space action, but it’s largely one-sided affairs with the villain possessing a hive-like swarm of ships at his command that are meant to overwhelm and destroy, not hang out and chit-chat with humans.

The acting continues to be the strongest part of this franchise as by now all the actors have their parts down, and what I suspect a lttle nuance, with Chris Pine affecting a little Shatner in his captain logs. Keith Urban’s accent is still a little all over the map, and I swore I heard him try a little southern in an end scene. Idris Elba falls in to the age’s long Star Trek trap of trying to act around a lot of makeup and mouth prostheses that make his lines indiscernible at times.st2Elba is fairly standard as the movies antagonist, Krall, an entity bent on destroying Starfleet Academy for betraying him long ago. His primary point in the plot is to serve as a duality with Captain Kirk’s own burgeoning dissolution in the idea of his five-year captaining of the mission he is currently on. Days are blurring together, the alien races are unfriendly to the notion of Starfleet’s goal of planetary unity and he decides to apply for a vice admiral opening. This even goes to the hilarious symbolic heights of an end fight between Kirk and Krall who is wearing a yellow uniform top. This would be something worth knocking the film for had the last film not had that ham-handed Kahn scene.

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At a little over two hours, Beyond moves at a good clip, but still maintains its Star Trekyness in a sort of shorthand. Beautiful actresses in alien makeup, some macguffin that will do cataclysmic damage to something important, Captain Kirk self-sacrifice nonsense, Spock wet blanketing, Bones curmudgeon grumbling through scenes, Scotty bungling through cramped spaces, you get the idea. Nevertheless, that it stays compelling and not bog down the film is a credit to Justin Lin’s deft hand at directing.

I do hope that Simon Pegg and Doug Jung have a bigger hand in the scripts going forward, which looks to not be the case currently. Pegg and Jung were able to sprinkle just a little more Star Trek in to the modern day franchise that has been sorely lacking.

The more tired elements of the film are more a modern day movies problem than the films. Too many movie fights are the same tired martial arts laden affairs that are just there to provide “action” or make a character look “badass” or some other nonsense that fits poorly in the Star Trek franchise. Sulu is given more “dimensionality” by being gay now, which is somewhat useless and serves no real plot point. It perhaps giving the film stakes as his family lives on the station that Krall is going to destroy isn’t bothered with or even mentioned by the character. Just a picture of a little girl on the console and a couple of shots of Sulu’s husband running around looking scared as it is beset by Krall’s minions is it.st3In fact, a lot of the drama and deeper plot elements set forth in the first moments of the film are quickly jettisoned in favor of the main thrust of Krall’s plan and the action therein, never to be heard from again. Perhaps the next movie will pick those up for further examination? Probably not.

Star Trek Beyond isn’t nearly as flashy as its predecessors are, but it’s certainly just as entertaining in addition to being much more of a “Star Trek” movie. Justin Lin is proving to be a fantastic director with an ability to bring a clean action movie aesthetic (ridding the modern day Star Trek franchise of it’s glossy extreme close-ups and nausea educing shaky cam action), and still allow quieter moments to resonate in the film. Here’s to another three-year wait for the inevitable sequel.

Movie Review: Star Trek Beyond

Maddy Myers of the World: Stop Using Your Self Diagnosed Mental Disorders to Hide Your Cuntiness

Pokémon Go came out at the beginning of the month and instantly became all the rage among anyone with a smartphone. All of The Internets had to comment on this phenomenon, even those pesky click bait sweatshops found some way to get their grubby little opinions out on a variety of topics all related tangentially to the game. Least of which was The Mary Sue, the self appointed “nexus of pop culture and the uncharted universe” which must be a mistake as the site appears to be the nexus of the charted click bait universe and nothing more.

Being in a rut lately, The Mary Sue has really been beating their sweatshop workers…I mean “journalists” to really hit that nexus lately. So of course, Pokémon Go got its respective turn at the wheel of thinly veiled feminist critique.

Here we find yet another Maddy Myers article where she insists that all gamers play a game the way she would prefer. She’s done this before, namely with last years Splatoon, and extolling the games lack of voice chat as some sort of landmark endeavor in protecting her soft, dainty ears from the harshness of teammates daring to tell her what to do.

Ms. Myers represents much of what I’ve found so disgusting with SJW gamers. A lot of thinly veiled misandry, masked under this notion that because of a perceived minority status within nerd culture they are free to shit on “others” in gamer culture. Namely, the vast bulk of gamers that is male.

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One of the many articles she churned out about Pokémon GoStrangers of the World: Stop Hitting on Me While I Play Pokémon Go”() is great representation on the typical toxic garbage spewed from SJWs like Ms. Myers and click bait sweat shops like The Mary Sue.

The spirit of Pokémon is gloriously simple: go explore the world and interact with other trainers to catch and battle Pokémon. End of story. Pokémon Go is the physical manifestation of that ideal. It’s diabolical in its ability to get a traditionally sedentary beast like the gamer out and about looking for Pokémon, while also discovering more about their respective living areas via landmark expropriated as gyms and shops.

Yet here we find ourselves with an article that not only is anti-gamer in nature, but also seems completely naive about the general workings of society and how people interact.

Ms. Myers sets the table with the classic SJW tactic of empathy for her condition:

“I don’t like talking to strangers. I never have, and I don’t think I ever will. It’s not that I dislike people, or believe the worst in them, or anything. It’s just that I have social anxiety, so talking to strangers always feels more difficult for me than for other people.”

Because of “therapy” and “practice” she’s supposedly gotten better, but then it begs the question that if someone has social anxiety, can you really believe them when they relate several anecdotes about their poor interactions with other humans? In addition, why would you play a game that demands a fair amount of socialization as one of its core components if you don‘t like people in general?

I do love the part where she says that she doesn’t dislike people or believe the worst in them but then writes an entire article doing just that towards doods that dare play Pokémon Go in her general direction!

The first fearful tale of a male hitting on her takes place on an evening stroll with a group of friends to an athletic field with a track. Other people…namely men…then dared to show up!

“[…] a guy in a hooded sweatshirt saw us from across the street, stared at us, walked over, and began to make his way around the track, slowly but surely.”

Unbelievable right? Who the fuck comes to a track to “walk around” it? He must be a creeper. At least that’s what Ms. Myers are her other girl friends believe.

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“[…] I did my best to quiet my discomfort about the guy lurking in the shadows.”

Wait, I thought he was walking around the track? I’m assuming this place is lit like a Christmas tree, as many athletic parks tend to be. Was he just lurking in the dimmer parts of the track, locked in a deep stare with Ms. Myers’ group of Pokéfans as he made his way around the track?

“This guy was probably trying to muster up the nerve to become our friend, and I was the jerk who didn’t want to talk to a complete stranger in a dark field on a Saturday night.”

The entire article has operative phrasing like this. These men were “probably”  “maybe” doing something. Who really knows right? Luckily, for her:

“He must have sensed our discomfort, because he never did end up talking to us, but he hung out in the dark for a very long time.”

Ms. Myers has admitted to having social anxiety problems, can we really trust she knows intent? I mean, she uses words like “lurking” and “hung out in the dark for a very long time” making sure we know he stayed in the shadows and painting an ominous picture. This has nothing to do with them being at a park…at night. He is just one of those creepy, rapey men. And yet no one technically “Hits On” Maddy Myers.

Making things a bit topical, but veering away from the thesis of the article, a cop car shows up on the scene.

“[…] we all stopped short. Half of my friends started panicking out loud. Not all of us are white, and, well … you know how it is, right?”

How is it, Ms. Myers? The cops were going to rush up and start something? Did they also “lurk” and “hang out” in the dark for very long time? She also relates that if the cops did approach her group she didn’t know what would happen. If it’s the kind of group that is out late looking for Pokemon at a park, I’m assuming a whole lot of nothing. Until the cops leave, then everyone will talk about what would have happened. In fantasy-land. In addition to all of the topicality: no one “Hit On” Maddy Myers.

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Discovering that perhaps it may be safer for her to wander about in the daytime, Ms. Myers is again dismayed to discover that even the hot heat of the day cannot save her from all these male Pokemon Go fans out to catch some monsters and possibly rape! Probably women right? I mean, the Pokemon are not physical things that can be raped, and surely, they are not raping other men…though that could be true…as men can barely control their rape urges as is.

Ms. Myers relates that no women Pokemon Go fans ever came up to her in the 72-hour time span covered for the article.

“Strangers kept walking up to me. Specifically, strange men kept doing it.”

However, it’s in the paragraph where she’s going over the previous nights events in her head. In which, one strange man walked “near” her, and the cop car…which I guess could be counted as the man…and a strange one at that…was Maddy Myers adjacent. But that was it, what gives?

I guess as she’s going over the previous nights events in her head and grossly exaggerating just how many strangers are coming up to her, she just so happens upon a few of them!

“I noticed that guys (and, as I said, it was only guys) kept doubling back to look at my screen and then look me over appraisingly, a clear question in their eyes. One guy followed me for several feet, and as he looked over my shoulder to check if I was looking for Pokémon […]”

During all this, she’s pretending to ignore them, looking at her phone, so how does she know they were exactly looking her over “appraisingly“? Maybe they were impressed with her collection of various Pokemon, or maybe wanted her to join their team so they could conquer a landmark, or whatever bullshit you get up to in Pokemon Go. You know the SOCIAL element of the game!

“When I walked by a Pokémon gym and considered battling there, I saw a group of twelve 20-somethings had gathered outside, all on their smartphones, socializing. I didn’t feel like talking to any strangers, so I kept walking, scanning the sidewalk for critters as I went. Soon after, a guy followed me down the street, then tapped my shoulder and gestured for me to remove my headphones. His opening line: “Are you playing Pokémon?” I nodded in silence. He smiled expectantly at me, clearly believing that a conversation should ensue between us. I put my headphones back on, and I walked away.”

Again, you have to wonder just how much her social anxiety is coloring these interactions. The use of “expectantly”, “appraisingly”, and “a clear question” being in their eyes lends this notion that all these men wanted to do was “Hit On” Ms. Myers, when more like they were trying to play the social aspect of the game. Why would you venture out to the various gyms and areas looking to battle, but then when it comes time to do so, not because a man dared to say something at you? The guys expectant smile was probably in relation to someone around his age playing a goddamned kids game so he didn’t feel like so much of a creeper or he wanted Ms. Myers to join his team to battle other trainers?

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For some odd reason Ms. Myers feels compelled to say that the young man “[…] was physically attractive and polite and my age and well-dressed and even had a nice smile.” What about his race or any other duodenary identifying element that needs to be related? Did that factor in why you were such an asshole to him? Disappointingly, I have to stress that no one “Hit On” Maddy Myers in the classical definition of the phrase in this last anecdote either.

Nevertheless, never mind that, Ms. Myers has no time for other people, how does the game affect her and all the other special snowflakes out there in the world? More importantly, it may not even be safe for her “not white” friends! Is there any unseen benefit to the societal scourge that is Pokémon Go?

For Maddy Myers the games provides a few benefits,

“It’s an excuse to leave the house, which helps stave off my depression and encourages me to see landmarks that I wouldn’t visit otherwise. It gamifies exercise and sight-seeing.”

Nevertheless, other people, namely men, are ruining everything!

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In her parting words, she has advice for the other Pokémon trainers: don’t make it weird. Which is a bit odd considering Ms. Myers is the only one really doing so with her self-diagnosed social anxiety, and seeming inability to understand the difference between someone trying to be friendly and ruthlessly trying to drop game.

Instead, we get another classically overwritten 2000 word Maddy Myers column telling gamers how to play a game in the exact opposite way it was designed. You would think a more elegant idea would be for her to just play the near two dozen single player Pokemon games and let all the other sane gamers enjoy Pokemon Go in peace.

 

Maddy Myers of the World: Stop Using Your Self Diagnosed Mental Disorders to Hide Your Cuntiness

Movie Review: Ghostbusters (2016)

I was never going to like Ghostbusters, but not because of all the reasons stated on social media why a person like me wouldn’t like it: ‘cuz there’s women all up in it, that all four Ghostbusters were women, and on and on. Once I really think about it, who wouldn’t love this movie? Everyone just loves being told how to appreciate or approach a piece of pop culture, be it a movie, piece of music or art. The best ways are always the most linear ways!

I knew I wasn’t going to like Ghostbusters from the moment Paul Feig and Melissa McCarthy were attached. That match made in cinema heaven has been tops with the mouth breathing moviegoers for the past five years or so. I didn’t care for The Heat or Spy when I saw their respective trailers, and when the Ghostbusters trailer descended upon my eyeballs earlier this year it played out the same way. I also initially avoided Bridesmaids for the same reason; until enough good word of mouth got out that I watched it very later on.

 

Paul Feig’s movies aren’t just for me, and I acknowledge this. Nevertheless, what about when he comes to Nostalgiatown and starts another mine colony in my childhood? Can I not then voice that I would rather he didn’t and just keep making insipid “White bitch bumps in to shit and falls over” “comedies” without being labeled a misogynistic asshole?

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Yawn.

For me, watching Ghostbusters was more a social experiment than anything else was. How bad could it be? Well…not that bad.

Not because it’s not a mediocre movie, which it is profoundly so, it just hearkens back to the idea that I’ve floated many times in my reviews: there just aren’t all out bad movies being made anymore.

Hollywood isn’t in to experimenting to the hundreds of million dollars level, and there is no way that any movie being made these days is going to be handled ineptly or incompetently. Movie studious aren’t in the habit of just handing a movie over to someone who just “feels like” making a movie. So, movies these days are at least competently made.

As a reviewer, you then have to look at other areas of the film. That’s where the bulk of critique, at least for me, falls on the script, then the flow of the film, and finally the acting. Ghostbusters tries to be clever all coming out in the summer trying to negate its vacuous plot. This goes further in that if it’s indeed a “summer blockbuster” it is certainly lacking in the BIFF! BANG! POW! Of your standard summer fare. However, that’s because Paul Feig notoriously doesn’t direct action well.

Which is the largest problem I have with Ghostbusters: it just hangs around….talking. Which, to the films credit is to Paul Feig’s directing strength. But there’s a lot of static jibber-jabber scenes that clog up the films run time and really do nothing aside from allowing some of the most egregious product placement since the last Michael Bay movie. A pizza break prominently features a couple of gigantic Papa John’s boxes, Kevin’s (Christ Hemsworth) interview where he shows them potential logos houses a 7-Eleven gag, there’s a Twinkie ad later in the film with the caption “That’s a big…”, and so on. Yeah sure, this isn’t some new fangled concept of blatant product placement, but I don’t think I’ve ever beheld it being so loud and in your face before.

Ghostbusters is that kind of broad modern day comedy that spends more time reflecting on how funny it is and the characters making note of it. As if the screenwriters were unsure of a bit and needed to indulge in a script based self high-five. There are a few times were characters literally say, “That’s funny.” to a joke.

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Oh yeah, the ONE scene where the actually bust a ghost!

There’s also this odd thing that the movie does where it will cut to what is apparently going to be an improv scene, typically involving McCarthy and Wiig banally riffing, then it will cut right back in to the scene as if nothing happened. It’s really odd and it feels like something that could’ve been cut out of the film altogether.

For a movie pretending to be a “summer blockbuster” Ghostbusters takes it sweet time about things. Clocking in at nigh on two hours, it feels padded with the aforementioned “improv scenes”, needless cameos (an Ozzy Osbourne cameo…in2016!), and weird little side scenes that really do nothing for the film.

One in particular would be when the “bad guy” Rowan (Neil Casey) possesses Kevin and uses “ghost magic” to make a police force lock itself in to some sort of goofy poses. Why? It serves no real purpose, other than to give Matt Walsh and Michael Kenneth Williams more screen time. On top of this, those officers were surely crushed when Rowan turns in to a giant evil Ghostbusters logo. Nope, they’re fine, even one of the troops on a tank kept position throughout the entire decimation of New York! Ghost magic must be a hell of a thing!

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The bad guy!

Speaking of Rowan, what a turd of a character. Basically a mysoginerd hell-bent on “cleansing” the world because he has been picked on all his life. The film just blatantly tells us he’s creepy. He’s always addressed as being weird, creepy or a freak, but there’s nothing outside of that that would support those claims. If anything, Rowan is just a dick that just so happens to also hate women, but that is also inconclusive, as he apparently hates all humanity with the same passion.

When he turns in to a giant evil Ghostbusters logo, after a sorry nod to the “choose the form of your destroyer” from the original film, the Ghostbusters shoot him in the crotch to get him to let go of a some buildings and get sucked back in to…ghost world? Why? You could just shoot him in the face to get the same effect?! The characters even reference this notion with Patty (Leslie Jones) saying something along the lines of that’s where they were “supposed to aim”. Yet again, this is the type of movie comedy they chose to make.

Ghostbusters could’ve been a better film had it not tread in the ground of all the reboots and remakes before it. It doesn’t try to really stand on its own. The all-female thing is apparently the only true fresh take it had in its arsenal. It falls in to the reboot/remake trap of trying to wink and nod to fans of the original with throwaway gags and references (oh look a bust of Egon in a scene!) instead of trying to stand on its own. The script cannot decide if the characters address each other by their last names, as they did in the original film, or by their first names. There’s a dizzying vacillation in the film, and it seems as though the movie just needed one more pass before filming to make the references fit better.

Ghostbusters isn’t a horrible dogshit social justice pushing agenda film. It’s a Paul Feig movie which if that is what his films mean these days I guess the haters were right. It’s a summer film for the mouth breathers, like the ones in the audience at my viewing, who are eagerly anticipating the cameos, and clapped and cheered at the end credits. There’s a better movie in there somewhere, but we’ll never see it. Hopefully, the inevitable sequel will be able to stand on its own better now that it has done its poor imitation dance of the original.

Movie Review: Ghostbusters (2016)

Just Say “No!” To “No. Just No.”!

Imagine my surprise this weekend when I cracked open one of my favorite newspapers, The Kansas City Star, to find an apology from the publisher for something that was printed in the opinion section over the weekend. “Damn it,” I thought. “What was so horrible that the publisher had to descend off the tops of lofty Mt. Pious and apologize for?!”

One could imagine just about anything what with all the things going on in the world. Namely shootings. Yeah, just mainly shootings. It being astride the Kansas/Missouri divide of Kansas City it is a pretty pretty evergreen topic. The KC Star prints all sorts of opinions on a cornucopia of matters, all in the name of fourth estate journalistic fairness…so it could be anything!

Then imagine my surprise once more when I discover it’s just another opinion piece from one of the papers “Midwest Voices” in the form of one of their patented dopey middle-aged white woman what got a bee in her bonnet over something.

There’s nothing to enjoy about these “Midwest Voices”: opinion pieces that are meant to collect the voice of the “real” people of the respective region. If you were ever curious about the poorly formed uninformed opinion of your average white person in the Midwest, you’d find much to love here. This particular writer, Laura Herrick is just another in a long line of middle-aged women “Midwest Voices” writers that is just “telling it like it is”. Much of the time it’s nothing harmful, if anything it’s mildly that passive aggressive racism and bigotry that many have come to know and love when visiting the Midwest.

To wit, Mrs. Herrick wrote about something I was thinking about writing but found no real way in. Where does personal responsibility come in to play with “he said/she said” alcohol fueled rape? Does the woman have some responsibility in taking care not to go to a frat rager, get fucked up, black out and then wake up behind a dumpster the next morning with her dress pulled up over her head?

What’s more irritating is that Mrs. Herrick is in agreement with all this “toxic masculinity” and “men are in constant Rape Mode™” nonsense especially with all her preambles and caveats about rape being bad that riddle her poorly written opinion on a lady’s personal responsibility. Had any of these “OUTRAGED!” SJWs taken any time to actually read the piece and form their own opinion, they would’ve seen that. Wait, we’re talking about SJWs of course “OUTRAGED” would’ve happened regardless. It has been a slow few months for them lately.

More frustrating is The KC Star pulled the piece from their website, so you cannot readily access it to see what all the fuss is about. What journalistic cowardice, and as if that stopped the article from getting out further. The Internets are forever!

I’ve written about the SJW game of telephone around this time last year. SJWs in blog form and on social media supposedly raised all kinds of hell over this. Yet, a cursory search provides no real evidence to this, aside from that yes; some social media got its panties in an uproar over it.

Which is kind of what it does, right? Where I’m often of the mind that this whole “the entirety of social media” more often than not means “a few very vocal assholes on The Internets who are more than likely teenagers with nothing better to do”. Yet again, social media is scant with the sheer amounts of “OUTRAGED” implied by various articles. I guess the 700 or so comments section in the Jezebel article count as “national” outrage?

All but one of the articles I researched for this article actually referenced Mrs. Herrick’s article, with most of them choosing to run with Jezebel’s piece that cherry picked the most damning parts of the benign article to make it the click-baitiest click-bait it could be. Therefore, we have a bunch of SJWs getting all riled up over nothing, acting as if Mrs. Herrick is a rape apologist and victim blamer, which she clearly is not.

Luckily for Mrs. Herrick the Star is establishing “measures“ to make sure something like a plea for common sense in the form of an opinion article is ever published again.

Like several noted on “social media”, I do wonder if the editors of the paper actually read what is published in their Opinion section. For the most part, “Midwestern Voices blogs are a ghost town for independent thought to die in. Several of the articles appear there first, uncommented on, until they are published in the paper proper.

Laura Herrick may be many things, but she isn’t a rape apologist or victim blamer. Sure, her opinion is bit outdated, and more for the closed-door mother “telling it like it is” brutal lesson imparting session and not a major metropolitan paper. Nevertheless, that doesn’t discount that in all this purported hullabaloo that women take care of themselves. Especially if the rumors of “toxic masculinity” and the threat “perpetual rape from men” are true.

There is no discussion to be had about this topic because of the SJW battle cry of “No. Just No.” when it comes to topics like personal responsibility and drunken regret sex. Hell, of any topic where the lines are blurred and there isn’t a clear solitary victim. “Rape is rape.” is all fine and good when trying to avoid the topic Mrs. Merrick was ham-handedly addressing in her opinion piece, but that doesn’t disregard her point.

Regretful sex and poor judgment shouldn’t absolve someone from the criticism of their poor decision-making. However, we also don’t need articles like Mrs. Merrick telling ladies that they should take responsibly for themselves; it should be implicit for anyone.

Just Say “No!” To “No. Just No.”!