Thursday, April 28, 2011

Sick from Royal Wedding Fever?

The Royal Wedding is finally set to take place tomorrow, and what I’m most looking forward to is the end of the incessantly inane coverage of the “wedding of the century” (I mean, really, we’re only 10% into this century –I’m still holding out for the first human/extra-terrestrial union to save us all from the inevitable damnation that is sure to come to us once the aliens arrive…or, whatever).

With great hype comes inevitable backlash, but I wasn’t prepared for such a wide variety of backlash. With that, here is a fairly comprehensive guide:

1.  Lifetime, being the ripped-from-the-headlines blood hounds that they are jumped on the Royal Wedding bandwagon with their very own Lifetime Movie based on the couple’s notoriously boring relationship. The channel took it upon themselves to spice things up. The Daily Beast’s Jace Lacob summarizes the hilarity that ensued. For the record, I would much rather see a movie based on Prince Harry…although, somehow I don’t think that dressing up as a Nazi and getting blow jobs in a bathroom mesh with Lifetime’s particular brand of fairytale garbage.

2.  John Doyle of the Globe & Mail lists his top ten reasons not to watch the Royal Wedding. While the list is a little misguided (he refers to Posh and Becks as true British royalty for no apparent reason), he still offers some interesting points. For example, the cost of security, estimated to be between thirty and fifty million pounds, is going to be paid by British taxpayers…but they are all getting the day off, so let’s call it a wash.

3. While Doyle’s list is playful, Ishaan Tharoor of Time Magazine is actually really upset about the Royal Wedding. I mean really, really upset. In his piece titled “Five Reasons to Hate the Royal Wedding,” Tharoor points out that with everything going on in the world, now isn’t the right time to be celebrating one of the world’s most visible monarchies. He raises a really good point; however, I think he’s missing the reason why people are so bloody excited about all of this nonsense.

4.  On the less serious side of things, New York Magazine’s fashion blog, The Cut, has compiled a slideshow of the most egregious ways people are cashing in on the Royal Wedding. My favourite item of the William & Kate ridiculata has to be the royal wedding pizza, mainly because Papa John’s is a brand I recognize.

5.  Also from The Cut, a complete list of some of the best Will & Kate gossip from the influx of unauthorized bios released in the last couple of months. While this isn’t necessarily indicative of backlash, it’s still pretty fun to read about how Catherine Middleton enjoyed mooning and Prince William possibly had a threesome in a third world country (not really, Patagonia is in Chile!)

Wednesday, April 20, 2011

Don’t Preach to Me

Look! A sub-par singer singing a sub-par song!
Receiving my first annual “Bitch, Please” award is Gwyneth Paltrow. Last night, the so-called “Renaissance Woman” guest starred on “Glee” (again). And the “lovely” Paltrow took some time out to address all of the “haters.” This scene was as preachy as Billy Graham, with all of the subtlety (it was so painfully didactic that it literally pulled the show to a screeching halt). Anyway, the scene involved Paltrow’s character berating a group of students for heckling the glee kids and criticizing people from the safety of their computers. Here is an actual quote:

"I get it. We live in a culture of insults. I mean, we're constantly bombarded with these images of people who are richer than us, and happier than us, and are having more interesting sex than us.”

It’s no mistake that the monologue came from Gwyneth’s lips; “Glee” loves to be meta. Paltrow, (like “Glee”) takes a lot of flak from people, which most Gwyenth lovers boil down to the fact that everyone is jealous of how perfect Ms. Paltrow is (just take a look at the quote above). This would be a very effective argument had Gwyneth not followed up her lecture with a tepid cover of Adele’s “Turning Tables.”

Now, Gwyneth Paltrow leads a very charmed life, which probably irks a lot of people. But what bothers me most about her is that people give her praise where none is due:

PRAISE: She speaks English and Spanish!
ARGUMENT: Yeah, so do millions of other people and you don’t see us fawning all over them (in fact most Americans are trying to kick them out of their country).

PRAISE: She cooks!
ARGUMENT: If you really want to impress me, sling it on a line at a restaurant (it doesn’t even have to be a good one) for one week and see how you fare. We don’t need to hear about how you occasionally cook for your family - the majority of North Americans do that every day.

PRAISE: She has a great body!
ARGUMENT: Yeah, we all would if we had our own personal trainer and months in between jobs to perfect our physiques. Even more grating? Listening to how Gwyneth put on an additional 30 pounds for her “Country Strong” role, much to the dismay of her trainer. By the way, she looked exactly the same.

Oh God! I looke like Bluberella!

PRAISE: She sings!
ARGUMENT: Not very well!

PRAISE: She’s married to a rock star!
ARGUMENT: Chris Martin is about as much of a rock star as I am the Emperor of the Moon.

Still not convinced? Re-watch her “Oscar-winning” performance in “Shakespeare in Love.”

Friday, April 1, 2011

I (don't) Want my MTV

I am of the MTV generation; however, I just don’t get MTV. Growing up I was very into music, but always held a certain disdain for music videos (there were a few notable exceptions, namely anything by the Foo Fighters and Weezer’s “Buddy Holly”). Anyway, with the sharp decline in music video production, MTV has adapted and turned itself into one of the lowest bastions of pop culture (I’m aware that is an oxymoron). The channel managed to stay afloat by stumbling upon reality hit series “Laguna Beach” and its spinoff “The Hills.” Then when aspirational TV lost its allure, MTV appealed to that horrible aspect of the human psyche and specialized in what I like to call “trainwreck television.” I’m talking “Jersey Shore,” “16 and Pregnant” and “Teen Mom” - television that features people who are so horrible, you can’t help but watch. I imagine watching these shows can be very life-affirming; “I may not have a job or a husband or a family or whatever it is that I so greatly desire in life, but at least I’m not from Jersey!” Despite my own personal taste, this formula seems to be working for them, which is why I can’t explain MTV’s sudden obsession with fictionalized teen dramas and comedies.

I mentioned MTV’s adaptation of “Skins” in an earlier post. Let’s revisit the show now that it’s wrapped its run. It was pretty much a disaster – the ratings steadily declined over the ten episodes; sponsors couldn’t pullout fast enough (pun possibly intended); and its future at the network is still uncertain...also, it was unwatchable by normal television standards. Anyway, after this disaster, MTV has just announced that it plans on adapting yet another British series – the mostly hilarious “Inbetweeners.” Now, I actually really enjoy this show and I encourage you to check it out if you can; however, my biggest pet peeve with it is its overuse of gross-out humor (see: fart jokes, shit jokes, puke jokes, piss jokes, cum jokes…you catch my drift). Now, being on a US conventional network might solve some of these problems, but given MTV’s track record, my hopes remain very, very low. Their other recent foray into scripted comedy, “The Hard Times of RJ Berger,” does not bode well. The ratings were alright, but the couple of episodes that I caught were a disgrace to the teen raunch genre (which standards are pretty low to begin with). The structure was completely all over the place (which can be explained by the fact that it was originally conceived as a screenplay) and the “jokes” were merely teens saying nonsensical, weird shit. It also lacked any trace of heart – even though it has been self-described as “Superbad” meets “The Wonder Years.”

On a more optimistic note, MTV is also developing a series called “Savage U,” in which the intelligent and witty blogger, Dan Savage gives sex advice to college students; and “The Substitute” which is being heralded as “Cash Cab” in a high school classroom.

Thursday, March 24, 2011

Please Don’t Pee on Me

There are some noted differences between television and real life. For example, people go to a bar and order “a beer.” This usually results in me yelling at my TV screen: ‘WHAT KIND OF BEER?!?! Is this an exceptionally shitty bar that only serves one kind? You should probably stop going there.’

Possibly more annoying is the use of home pregnancy tests on television. While watching “Idol” last night, (yay, continuity!) there was an ad for “Private Practice.” In the promo, one of the characters was taking a home pregnancy test and came out of the bathroom clutching the test with BOTH HANDS on EITHER END OF THE STICK! Umm, lady, I hate to break it to you, but you just peed on that.

Another example - the opening scene of “Juno.” If you recall, the titular character downs a jug of OJ and takes a pregnancy test. She comes out of the bathroom and shakes the pee stick around in the hopes of garnering a different result, leading Rainn Wilson’s character to 'hilariously' quip, “That ain’t know etch-a-sketch. This is one doodle that can't be un-did, Homeskillet.”

What he should have said? “Wait, why are you waving that around? Oh, GOD, what the hell is that on my face? Why is it wet?”

Unless you’re R Kelly, what I’ve just described to you is pretty disgusting. While my dialogue lacks the “cutesy, adorable vibe” of Diablo Cody’s, I think it’s accurate, which is why I am calling bullshit on Hollywood.

Wednesday, March 23, 2011


We’re already in Season 10 of “American Idol.” If that doesn’t make you feel old, chew on this: last week one of the contestants sang “Smells Like Teen Spirit” as the theme was SONGS FROM THE YEAR YOU WERE BORN! Ugh. Anyway, I wouldn’t consider “Idol” one of my guilty pleasures as I can get behind its premise – young hopefuls vie for a recording contract and a potential career in the music industry. Like “The Bachelor,” most of these kids are fairly delusional and there is some blatant emotional manipulation on the part of the producers and the contestants (see: every sob story that has ever been trotted out, from dead wives to tourettes). But the basic idea behind the show involves a lot of heart.

While I don’t particularly enjoy the karaoke-ness of it all, there is some really amazing talent on the show. Even though I won’t be running out to purchase any of their albums, I still manage to get invested in these people’s lives for a good four months. Also, the current judging panel provides some very interesting entertainment – whether it’s Randy Jackson’s continued assault on the English language, Steven Tyler’s repeated use of women’s clothing and/or accessories, or the beautifully vacant Jennifer Lopez. Hey, I’ll take my entertainment any way I can get it.

The sweetest cherry on top has to be that New York Magazine online managed to get Paul F. Tompkins to recap the show twice a week. For those of you who aren’t familiar, Tompkins is an extremely funny standup who has one of the best comedy podcasts out there – the Pod F. Tompcast. Anyway, this fact alone is enough to get me to watch every episode of the season. If you don’t believe, here are some of the highlights:

…the Idols will each sing a song from the year he or she was born. Ah, but think of it, gentlemen: What if they sang a song from the year they will die? I put it to you that science can conquer time itself!

More than a few people expressed disappointment that I did not recap J.Lo's video last week. I'll tell you why I didn't. Nothing happened in it. It was a music video. J.Lo lip-synched and so did Pitbull. There was dancing. It took place in a club. What'd you think there would be? Oh, J.Lo and Pitbull were dressed like Diane Keaton and Warren Beatty from “Reds” and then the camera zoomed into Pitbull's eye and George Washington Carver married a peanut and their baby fast-forward grew up to be the next incarnation of the Buddha and the grown-up Buddha was played by a CGI Heath Ledger. I cried.

Clint went for it, lots of vocal runs and all that, very energetic onstage, but it seemed kinda sweaty overall. Like, I AM SINGING LIKE CRAZY UP HERE AND MOVING AROUND A LOT! LIKE, A LOT A LOT! YOU ARE PROBABLY IDOLIZING ME!

See?!?! Even if you don’t watch Idol, I still think you should read these recaps because it will probably be the funniest five minutes of your day. Yes, I am assuming your life is boring.

Tuesday, March 22, 2011

For Colored Girls

Guilty pleasures – we all have them. Mine happens to be the junk food of reality TV – “The Bachelor.” I got into “The Bachelor/ette” franchise (again) when my sister and I decided to start watching it together, even though we live 700 km apart – it started out as something to bond over and send snarky text messages about. However, a couple of seasons ago, my sister stopped watching. I continued on. I can’t really explain it, but there is something so delightful about watching 24 beautiful women self-destruct on national television. Ok, so maybe I can explain it.

One thing I have noticed lately is that there is a distinct lack of non-Caucasian bachelors and bachelorettes. Earlier seasons would sprinkle at least one or two “colored” contestants in for good measure, but these men and women would seldom make it past the top 15. This has always kind of bugged me until this recently published interview Entertainment Weekly online conducted with “Bachelor” producer Mike Fleiss:

EW: Will we ever see a bachelor or a bachelorette who is not white?

Mike Fleiss: ...We really tried, but sometimes we feel guilty of tokenism. Oh, we have to wedge African-American chicks in there! We always want to cast for ethnic diversity, it’s just that for whatever reason, they don’t come forward. I wish they would.

I HAVE NEVER BEEN MORE PROUD TO BE SOMEONE OF COLOUR IN MY LIFE! (Sorry, Obama). Look, while I love this show, it basically scrapes the bottom of humanity’s barrel in terms of casting. The women they find are either fame-seeking whores, delusional divorcees in their early twenties or desperate cat-ladies in their late thirties – as an added bonus, these women all seem to regress and behave like lovesick teens when forced to live together and vie for the affections of a man they know nothing about.

Would it be nice to see more non-white faces on TV? Of course. Does it need to be on a trashy reality television show? No.
Yes, I am as stupid as I look.

Friday, March 18, 2011

Why Superman will never be Cool

I don’t claim to be any sort of comic book fangirl; however, I do have a pretty decent knowledge having grown up watching Saturday morning cartoons, hanging out with geeks in high school and dating a huge nerd for over two years. So this morning when I checked out Entertainment Weekly online, I noticed that Jeff Jensen had written a very interesting essay on how to make the new Superman franchise relevant. While I enjoyed the essay (and the discussions going on in the comments section), I would disagree with Jensen completely, citing the fact that the whole reboot is pointless. Here are some reasons why I feel another Superman movie is a very bad idea:

1. Superman is always going to look like an idiot. There is no getting around it. This is not a good look for anyone (not even Henry Cavill):

2. Superman is just too perfect. All of the (successful) franchise reboots of late have centered on the fact that these “superheroes” have a lot of personal shit to deal with (see: Spiderman, Iron Man and especially, Batman). Superman is no fun because he has no humanly faults (admittedly, he is not human). He’s a giant blue boy scout with all of the power in the world and yet we’re supposed to sympathize and relate with him? No.

3. The franchise doesn’t have a great track record. The 1978 movie, while loved by many, is still pretty fucking terrible – the plot involves Lex Luthor trying to sink California and Superman flying in the opposite direction of the Earth in order to turn back time by changing the planet’s rotation…two through four weren’t much better…I won’t even touch the awful Singer adaptation.

4. He doesn’t fit into contemporary society. Superman was conceived during the 1930s as a fantastical response to the very real problems of that era. While these problems are still relevant, I can’t see Superman handling these matters in a way that wouldn’t cause loud guffaws from the viewing audience. Can you just imagine what Superman would have done given last week’s horrific events? Freeze the tsunami with his super-breath? Use his super-strength to drill into the earth’s crust and physically stop the tectonic plates from crashing into one another? It’s a nice idea, but it would never happen. Superman just doesn’t belong in the 21st century.