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.