Pop Culture

Game of Thrones Turns Us All Into Monsters

Reaction video to the lastest out-of-the-blue death in Westeros. Spoilers, obviously.

Basically, if you find yourself at a wedding there, RUN.

Who did it? The books explain it, but honestly, I’ve forgotten. In the final analysis, it doesn’t really matter. Nothing good will come of it. Well, some good, maybe, but really a whole lot of horrible. It will just be horrible that we will tolerate because it’s being visited on (mostly) the right people.

We are steeped so far in blood that sin will pluck on sin.

lannister

Rolling Stone Trolls Us All With Naked Julia-Louise Dreyfus, U.S. History Fail

They’ve pretty much become the Slate of music magazines (NSFW-ish at link): throwing up outlandish nonsense to boost sales.

Ace thinks this editorial ignorance, or even a prophylactic error, a case of “If we don’t put John Hancock’s signature on her butt, people will give us crap for getting it wrong, even though it’s not wrong.”

I disagree. I think everyone saying “Hey, you dipsticks! John Hancock didn’t sign the Constitution!” was the entire point. It blew up on Facebook yesterday, and as with the Boston Bomber, now everyone is again talking about Rolling Stone. With hate, sure. But advertising dollars don’t recognize hate. And Rolling Stone needs the money. As Ace puts it:

Rolling Stone

The magazine for smart, educated, socially-aware young Americans who are over 60 years old and who are also as dumb as a box of chicken farts

Exactly. Rolling Stone is a feckless pile of hippie nostalgia and glossy ads. They are the magazine that makes Spin look cool. They have no marketing strategy left other than to relentlessly piss people off to maintain “edginess”.

In fact, the interest this cover offers lies solely in wondering how much of it is Photoshopped. One assumes that JLD got a little digital tuck-and-lift (if not, then I am impressed); it’s simply the business now. And if that’s the case, did they actually bother tattooing the Declaration of Constitution on her back? Or did they just add that digitally later?

This presents an interesting nexus in American popular art: a piece in which everything, from the model, to the “provocative” tattoo on the model, to the actual intent of the image, is faker than a freshman’s drivers license. Welcome to the new nadir.

mclovin id

McLovin: Prophet of Our Times

 

Let the #HIMYM Fans Rage, Crack, Blow Thy Bellyful.

Sitcom finale’s always disappoint. Always. They either go full maudlin and forget to be funny, or they work too hard to provide finality and so screw up the chemistry, or they don’t do anything at all (hi, Seinfeld!). This happens because sitcoms are built on the idea “these people, in this scene, are funny.” Ending that arbitrarily is delicate work.

But HIMYM had a point! A purpose! A climax, built into the title. This was an easy lay-up. Instead, they spiked the ball in our face and ran off.

But don’t take my word for it. Savor the sweet, sweet, fan rage from around WordPress: (Obviously, SPOILERS!)

FESTINOVERINI: How I Made Your Mother a Back-Up Plan Until I Have The Chance To Pursue The (What I Delusionally Think) Love Of My Life: “Maybe, just maybe, somewhere along the way the creators thought that they want to create one of the most unforgettable unexpected season finales in the history of TV series. So they decided to ruin it, big time.

daniellepc: How I Was Disappointed By a Finale: “Look, maybe we could have handled old widow Ted having another crack at love with Robin, if it wasn’t for a few things.

muchsports: How I Met Your Mother – Why I am Actually Mad: “The idea would have worked if the show had been 4 to 5 seasons, but it wasn’t. It was 9.
acoupleofyears: Why HIMYM’s Finale Let Us Down: “it felt like they were telling a story that started with ‘ Oh I had this friend, who was so funny, and….legen….wait for it…dary….Playbook…..HAHAHA!’

And when we ask: ‘ Oh, what happened to him in the end?’

Their answer was ‘ Oh…you know, he got a girl pregnant and became a father.’”

themedia10.com: Is The How I Met Your Mother Ending Inexcusable?: “The entire ending was believeable, it was just executed in a way that didn’t allow the audience to breathe.”

Obligatory Apologetics - Jon Negroni: Why You Hated the ‘How I Met Your Mother’ Finale: “You hated the way the show ended because you thought it was “How I Met Your Mother,” not “How I Got Permission From My Kids To Marry Aunt Robin.””

This last one makes some decent points. Yes, there’s an internal logic to this story being told this way. Yes, this was really the plan all along, with has the benefit of making the last two seasons of BarneyRobinBarneyRobin at least a clever Rube Goldberg device.

But Blackmailers Don’t Shoot nailed it. How I Met Your Mother Dies a Screaming Death, Covered In It’s Own Blood: “At the end of the day, those of us who stayed with this show to the end are Girl 31. We knew that we were being used. It wasn’t going to end well and they wouldn’t respect us in the morning. It was fun, but not worth it.

 

Game of Roses, or How George R.R. Martin Gave New Names to Historical Persons

I see my friends getting all excited for the new season of Game of Thrones. It almost makes me wish for HBO. But as I’ve said before, I’ve read the books, and as I’ve said before, Martin has drawn heavily on the actual history of 15th-century England in creating his saga. Sure, most people with a basic knowledge of the Wars of the Roses will see York and Lancaster in Stark and Lannister, but it goes deeper than that. Some of the key characters are practically reincarnated versions of real people who played the game of thrones in an England drenched in war.

To wit: (Spoiler-Free for anyone who has seen up to the end of Season 3 of the series, but hasn’t read the books) (more…)

March Comic Book Post: Please Don’t Humanize the Comedian

I finally got the last two issues of Three today, and I am absorbing the boulder-to-the-face that is their finale. At the fifth issue, finality. That’s several pleasant layers of verisimilitude mixed with  economy of storytelling. I’m saving it for next month’s post.

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Plus any thoughts she might have about Darth Bader (sic).

Besides, I thought I might chime in on something that DC’s been doing that’s annoying me. No, not killing Batman. That was merely lame. No, not the whole New 52 reboot. That’s merely desperation. No, I’m talking about the whole “Before Watchmen” franchise, and specifically what it did to the Comedian.

On paper, the characters from Watchmen should be ripe for some prequel exploitation. They’re masked heroes who had a decades-long history in an alternate universe. Plenty of story to tell, and plenty of freedom to tell it in – provided you don’t abuse the chronologically-later storyline of the original graphic novel.

But this right here, this is garbage: (more…)

How I Met Your Mother: a Consideration of Character Decline

I’ve really blogged enough about this show, but as long as it keeps sending me hits, I’ll continue registering my notice of comic FAIL.

dead-horse

Blackmailer’s Don’t Shoot finally threw in the towel this season.

It’s a world of smug 20 and 30-somethings whose self-regard vastly outweighs their accomplishments. Watch it to see what a glimpse into the collective imagination of Slate’s editorial board would look like, only with a sense of humor.

I admit I started the season full of hope that the funny would be recovered as the purpose of the show was. There were even signs of self-awareness:

But somewhere around the anti-climactic final slap-bet episode, I lost the will to continue. I don’t care. I don’t care about whether Marshall and Lilly are going to go to Rome or not (Wife watched the “Unpause” episode, I didn’t. She was “meh” about it). I don’t even really need to see Ted Meet the Mother. I’ve seen her, and she’s intereacted enough with the other characters to preclude the nerdiest theory that she’s imaginary. Ted’s going to meet her, and everything will be fine.

Rather, I’d like to look at how TV characters tend to morph into simplified versions of themselves, causing other characters to morph in other ways to restore the balance. This visual analysis of Family Guy has been around for a while:

family.guy.comparison.1255583100

 

It’s been done to The Simpsons, too, perhaps less effectively:

HIMYM is practically begging for the same treatment. A few minute’s image-googling yielded a picture I could Cheezburger to my satisfaction. Enjoy:

The Oscars Were Boring, Just Like Every Other Year….

The Hollywood Reporter offers the usual dead-horse cruelty:

As a television event, this year’s Oscars was more like an endurance test — turgid, badly directed, poorly produced and featuring an endless string of tired or wince-inducing moments from host Ellen DeGeneres.

To which one can only add, well, isn’t that what it always is? A mind-numbing, joke-murdering exercise in making TV viewers wait until sunrise to find out who most successfully lobbied the Academy earned the statue for Best Picture?

That’s why most of the article talks about Ellen’s jokes. It’s because no one cares about the actual Academy Awards. No one cares about the foreign films. No one cares about the animated shorts. No one cares about the Best Screenplay Written on Moleskine or Mescaline, One of the Two.

Personally, I think it’s all a bit unfair to Ellen. Quick, name your favorite joke from any of the years Billy Crystal hosted the Oscars.

kattNone of these guys are doing memorable work. The only way to surprise people at the Oscars is to either commit an epic gaffe (John Travolta’s butchery of Idina Menzel’s name), or be so utterly offensive that no one ever asks you back (Scott McFarlane).

The Academy Awards show is a four-hour circle-jerk of the Factory of Fabulous. They convince themselves of how important they are by making us suffer through it.

And as long as you think it matters who wins Best Picture (I dare anyone to admit they paid actual money for a DVD of Shakespeare in Love), they’ll keep doing it.

UPDATE: I am, of course, not alone:

  • 21 Fixes For the Oscars So It’s Less Boring “There is absolutely NO reason this show cannot be done in 150 minutes. The Golden Globes finishes in 3 hours, but covers BOTH TV AND FILM—with two different categories in film for Drama and Musical/Comedy. The Oscars should not be longer than the longest nominated film”.
  • Here’s why the Oscars are so Boring “No one is allowed to have any fun.”
  • Leonard Nimoy is Sick. Prepare for Nerd Agony.

    Lung disease, poor fellow.

    “I quit smoking 30 yrs ago. Not soon enough. I have COPD. Grandpa says, quit now!! LLAP,” the living legend tweeted, adding his signature abbreviation for the half-Vulcan’s “live long and prosper” motto.

    Now, COPD is bad, but it’s not lung cancer. My grandfather’s had emphysema, a form of COPD, for years. He’s 83. So it’s not quite time to go nuts re-enacting the funeral scene from Wrath of Khan.

    It’s a drag, though. Smoking really does mess you up.

    Why Celebrities Kill Themselves

    It doesn’t take much to interpret Phillip Seymour Hoffman’s untimely death of what’s looking increasingly like a heroin overdose as an unconscious leap into the void. When I first read the accounts, I was struck by two facts:

    • Hoffman had been clean, or so he said, for 23 years before last year.
    • The brand of heroin police found in his appartment “Ace of Spades” hadn’t been seen on the streets of Brooklyn since 2008.

    To which Stacy McCain adds a third:

    • Hoffman had 50 bags of the stuff in his pad.

    Which shouldn’t surprise. When the monkey returns to the back, he usually does so with a saddle and a bullwhip. The yearning to throw away all reason follows fast behind the surrender to addiction. So calling this a waste of a fine talent, which it is, is kind of beside the point. Hoffman reached a place where his talent and his career and his children did not sustain him like another hit did. People take drugs to self-medicate, to make some problem go the hell away for a few hours.

    And sure, you can say “What problem did he have? The Oscars? The respect of his peers? The $10,000-a-month appartment? I’d like to have those problems!” But again, those are all beside the point. Success is not happiness. It never has been and never will be. Success may be connected to happiness, but they don’t equate. And that goes double for anyone in the entertainment industry. When I heard the news about Hoffman, I wasn’t even a little bit surprised, despite knowing next to nothing about his personal life at that point. I didn’t need to. He was a famous entertainer. Famous entertainers do drugs. These people are not happy.

    Celebrities either start believing their own hype, and decide to pester the known universe with their particular moral notions (Sean Penn, the People’s Commissar of Burbank), or they wall themselves off into hermetic seclusion and grow almost alienated from their own life’s work (Harrison Ford approaching every interview with thinly veiled contempt for everyone involved with it). Some even become the masters of their own media empire (Tom Hanks). But a sizable number follow a path of self-indulgence from their new status and self-disgust for their participation in the brutal circus of fame towards inevitable self-annihilation.

    Because Pop Culture is so important.