Tuesday, February 7, 2012

Nice to Meet You, I'm Ben Foster

            Hello, my name is Ben Foster, nice to meet you. That’s very nice of you to say, but unfortunately I am not in Breaking Bad. I think you mean Aaron Paul. You’re right, he is great. I’m a completely different person. Nope, I wasn’t in Drive. That’s Ryan Gosling, he’s kind of a big deal now. Again, I’m not him. Did you see 3:10 to Yuma? Yeah, I’m in that. I’ve been in a lot of movies. Do you remember X-Men: The Last Stand? No, you’re thinking of first class, I was in last stand. It was the third one. I was the guy with wings. I was also in Alpha Dog, The Mechanic, and I was just in Contraband with Mark Walberg. No, seriously, I am, I don’t know why I wasn’t in the trailer. I was like one of the main stars.
            I was just wondering, can I be in your movie? I heard you’re making a movie with more of a niche appeal. I heard it was an action movie. Is it going to be released in the summer? No, great, I really rather that it was released in January or perhaps early fall. Who needs all that pressure of a summer or holiday release? Just curious, do you have a part for an alcoholic or otherwise unpredictable “wild card” type character? I’m really good at that. I do this thing with my face, wait ‘till you see it, it’s great. It looks like I just took a swig of hot coffee, but I haven’t screamed yet. It looks like I’m mad at the coffee and the world. That’s how I convey inner turmoil. Is the character what you’d describe as “weasely”? Oh man, this sounds like its right in my wheel house. At some point in the film I’d like to freak out. The inner turmoil needs to explode with violence. That’s my specialty.
I really can’t wait to discuss this project further. I really look forward to hearing from you. If you need to get in touch with me you can contact my sponsor/trainer/life coach/agent, Lizard. Most nights we can be found in that warehouse down by the docks trying to get our fight club off the ground. Seriously, this was great. You’re project sounds fantastic. I can’t wait to work together sometime soon. Thanks for your time.

Thursday, December 22, 2011

Why All the Hatin': A Defense of the Kardashians

            Maybe we should all just lay off the Kardashians. I know it sounds stupid. That particular family appears to be a great lightning rod for whatever malice people have towards the superficial, stupid, and privileged. However, I wonder what it is exactly that makes everyone so mad. If you really cornered someone who was mad at the very existence of the Kardashians in our popular culture I assume you would hear a lot of the very same things. Why are they famous? Why do I have to hear about them? They have so much and have done so little to get it. All of these appear to be salient points that most people who are detractors of their many shows could agree on, but I still wonder why everyone is so mad.
            The Kardashian Empire, to the best of my knowledge, began because Kim Kardashian filmed her sexual encounter with Ray J, singer Brandy’s brother. The tape was released, she was hot, he was a minor celebrity, and she was from a family with some fame. Her father, Robert Kardashian, was OJ Simpson’s friend. He was seen quite a bit during the OJ Simpson trial. Her mother is now married to former Olympian Bruce Jenner who has morphed his appearance into a peculiar mask with plastic surgery. So there you go. There are a lot of intriguing elements to the story, first and foremost, sex appeal. My guess is that none of the Kardashian fame would be possible if Kim was a six. It’s even possible that none of the fame would be possible if Kim just had a normal sized ass. The novelty of her butt appears to be a sizeable portion of her appeal. After sex appeal it’s really just down to name recognition. We as a people are vaguely aware of the characters involved in this story. Basically, the same circumstances that led to a movie about the board game Battleship and a reboot of Charlie’s Angels brought us the prominence of the Kardashians.
            Are they bad people? To the best of my knowledge the worst thing that the family has done is exploit themselves. They are willing to trade privacy, dignity, and modesty for fame and fortune. Does that make someone a bad person? Personally, don’t really think so. If you condemn the Kardashians then by proxy you would have to condemn every stripper, porn star, reality star, and parent of a child actor. To me, that just seems like to wide a net of judgment to cast for people who essentially only hurt themselves. Among the people that I just listed the only one who I would begin to call a bad person is the parent of a child actor, but you don’t hear the same anger directed towards Dakota Fanning’s parents. With that said, Kris Kardashian, the mother, does seem a tad on the despicable side, but I really can’t say that I have any anger towards her and her family.
            So, why are people so mad? If they are only hurting themselves, why is there so much anger directed at them? Their show is on a network dedicated to the type of celebrity driven vacuous nonsense that the Kardashians represent. They aren’t taking time away from better things. If anything they are taking time away from an in depth look into the life of Carney Wilson or repeats of the soup. My thought is that at least they are fun to look at. I think that a lot of what angers people is the fact that there are a lot of people who love them. They are wildly popular. There are a great many people who do want to be like them, act like them, and dress like them. However, my guess is that the people who love them would never be well liked by the people who hate them so what’s the problem? Liking the Kardashians is shorthand by which a person can be avoided. No longer do you have to have a relationship with someone to determine their ilk, now you can just ask them their opinion of Kim and you have a pretty good idea who you’re dealing with. That makes me happy, but I appear to be in the minority.
            All in all I think it comes down to people being jealous. I think that in a lot of ways people rarely progress past high school. Kim is the beautiful rich girl who was never going to date you or be your friend. You wanted nothing more than for her to be discovered as a fraud and for you to be popular in her stead. People will always be jealous of the beautiful, dumb, and successful because it is a caste that we feel we cannot achieve. I say, sit back, relax, enjoy what they look like or change the channel, but don’t get me started on Ellen.

Chuck Norris in The Expendables 2: An Emotional Breakdown

            So Chuck Norris is in the new Expendables. Are you happy hipsters? Are you happy? Now, because of your constant internet memes and stupid jokes about fists being inside beards, we now apparently consider Chuck Norris a big time action hero despite the fact that I far as I can tell his two most popular endeavors were Walker Texas Ranger and Sidekicks. He is the Zsa Zsa Gabor of actions stars. We all agree he’s famous, but nobody really knows why. This to me is the exact reason he is popular at all. I’ve been under a suspicion for many years now that hipsters and pretentious intellectuals scour the earth’s landscape seeking the most wildly unpopular things, everything from movies to food to music to clothing. They seek out these terrible, unpalatable entities and tout them as the best our society has to offer. This of course makes them seem brilliant and part of some exclusive club. Their theory being that exclusivity in and of itself denotes quality when in reality conventional wisdom would dictate that the opposite is true. Chuck Norris fits snugly into that role, he sucks. I personally believe that most things that are unpopular are that way for a reason. To think the opposite is to subscribe to the theory that either the vast majority of people are stupid and wrong or that there are forces in the world that keep these wonderful things from the mainstream some sort of omnipotent presence that doesn’t want most people to appreciate the brilliance of Bruce Campbell or the early work of John Carpenter, you know before he because all commercial. I personally, believe that neither of those things is true. I believe that if something is good it will find an audience, I believe that most people are lazy not stupid and I believe that Bruce Campbell is stupid. So, now the same people that brought you the popularity of Bruce Campbell and the Tron sequel now have shoe horned Chuck Norris into The Expendable 2 and I’m irritated.
Now, for the rebuttals to all of my wildly impulsive and opinionated conjecture:

Chuck Norris as a meme and fodder for humor is not really a hipster thing, he’s an internet thing and by those standards he is not unpopular.
-         I am basically speaking to the terrible nature of Chuck Norris and my assumption that the vast majority of people that make Chuck Norris jokes have never seen any of his movies. I am arguing that it is a hipster thing because if I were to complain about him being in The Expendables 2, the only people that would tell me how good he really is would have a beard, be wearing skinny jeans, and they would doing so in between sips of an IPA or a PBR.

I’m sure there are many people who know why Zsa Zsa is famous, but I’m pretty well versed in the entertainment industry and all I know is that she was in Green Acres, but for some reason I think she was famous before that.

I’m sure that there are also plenty of people that know why Chuck Norris is famous too, but my assumption is that if given the opportunity to name 5 of the man’s movies the vast majority of people would name at least one of Steven Segal’s.

These are of course wildly broad generalizations that I’ve built by living in Brooklyn and working in a creative field. I know that hipsters and pretentious individuals must like some popular things or rather the things they like become popular. Also, when someone touts something that irritates me I will regularly label them a hipster. This could be a chicken and the egg situation. With that said IPA tastes terrible and Sophia Coppola movies are boring.

I understand that it is entirely possible that most people are stupid and wrong, but call me optimistic, I don’t agree. Of course, saying this might mean that I’m stupid and wrong.

I don’t really hate Bruce Campbell, I just don’t think he’s funny. I don’t get him, you know why? Because there’s nothing to get. He’s not funny, he’s over acting, that’s his thing, and I’m not impressed. This outburst is brought to you by everyone in
Union Square
who laughed wildly when he appeared on screen in Spiderman.

I am fully aware that being upset over the lineup of a sequel to The Expendables is stupid. It’s stupid for many reasons. It’s stupid because the concept of the movie is almost rooted in hipster nostalgic irony to begin with. It’s stupid because Norris has just as much a place in the movie as Terry Crews if not more so. It’s stupid because while I am not familiar with the man’s catalog maybe he’s more popular than I think. While Chuck Norris triggered my vitriol, he is not the cause of it. I spent too many years attempting to be smart and have good taste, but falling short. I’ve been made fun of too many times for liking Linkin Park. I’ve had eyes roll at me too often for liking The Real World/Road Rules Challenge. So while I agree with all of the points made in this article, please understand that they are emotional reactions to feeling rejected for too many years. So in closing, sorry Mr. Norris, you were great in Side Kicks.

Thursday, October 13, 2011

My Relationship With MTV: A Tale of Bad Taste

            Why is almost everything I like lame? How did good taste pass me by? Throughout my teens I was constantly on the hunt for what I should like. The emphasis being on should. I wanted to like things with substance, critically acclaimed things. I wanted to have good taste. I used to investigate. I used to try things, but still, somehow, the good things apparently passed me by. In a nostalgia heavy culture where anyone can go to the mall today and get a Led Zeppelin or Ramones T-shirt for some reason I’m wishing I could get my hands on a nice 311 t-shirt or Limp Bizkit poster. I’m just kidding, I may have bad taste, but no one wants a picture of Fred Durst in their home, but seriously I do still love those bands and I don’t really have any taste. Who’s to blame? I think that one entity more than any other is to blame. MTV.

            I was 11 when I first started to break away from my parents musically. That is when I first started putting on MTV. There are a few moments which stand out in my mind marking this time. One was the Ice Cube video “Bop Gun” which featured George Clinton. Ice Cube’s opening verse always intrigued me. He starts out, “1993, much more fi-e-i-ounce.” I remember this specifically because the video was shown in 1994 and Mr. Cube holds up four fingers in the video when he says three. It always perplexed me, but I’ll never forget when I started watching MTV because of it. Another moment that marked my foray into the world of MTV was the death of Kurt Cobain. The media coverage surrounding his death really made me take notice of Nirvana. Before his death I just thought that all grunge was Nirvana, bands like Sound Garden and Alice in Chains were all being branded in my mind with the title of Nirvana. I’ll never forget watching SNL and seeing Eddie Vedder lifting the left part of his shirt to reveal KC written over his heart on his under shirt. I remember it because I was thoroughly confused. Prior to this moment I never was really able to distinguish between Pearl Jam and Nirvana, I just knew they were both cool. In addition to that I always thought Kurt was spelled with a C. So I didn’t even really get that it was a memorial thing, Eddie just looked broken up while the rest of the cast of SNL waived and smiled, but in any case I figured this Nirvana is something I should look into.

Luckily for me, that was the perfect time for a clueless suburban kid to get into MTV. Everything was easily palatable. Grunge was turning pop with a lot of videos with bright colors and interesting visuals. “Heart Shaped Box” while gritty in sound was an explosion of neon colors and striking visuals. “Black Hole Sun” was practically a cartoon with its characters over exaggerated smiles and disturbing take on suburbia, I remember excitedly waiting for the moment in the video when the girl spit out her ice cream. Alice in Chains put out “I Stay Away” which used Claymation. I was hooked. The thing that got me to listen to Marvin Gaye’s “I Heard It Through The Grapevine” was now selling me on grunge. On the other side of music was Dr. Dre and his G-Funk, the 70’s funk hooks and feel were the perfect spoon full of sugar I needed to help the hard core lyrics go down. Who cared what they were talking about as long as I could sing along to the George Clinton chorus?

In addition to the music of the time there was now The Real World. I started watching The Real World in the second season during re-runs. Even back then MTV had a proud tradition of showing the same show seemingly on a loop. So despite the fact that my parents had control of the television when the show premiered I was still able to catch up to not only that season, but the one that proceeded it and by the time the third season came around it was something that my mother and I would happily watch together. I can’t truly explain what was so gripping about The Real World. I think it may have been the lack of a narrative. You could come in to the show at any point and immediately pick up what was going on. It was simply people arguing about issues set to a cool soundtrack. The first scene I can ever remember seeing was the David pulling the blanket off Tammy controversy. It was loud, it was dangerous, and it was everything that I needed to get me into the show. By the time Tammy had slammed her bedroom door into Beth’s head I was hooked and I’ve never looked back.

What’s interesting about my experience with MTV is how drastically it shaped how I saw music. MTV was basically how I saw music and if you wanted my attention you better be overt. I basically had to be told what to like or someone had to die. I got into grunge because Kurt Cobain died. I listened to Tupac and Notorious B.I.G. after they died. Biggie is the one that truly made an impact. Why? Because of two men, the first was Diddy, then know as Puff Daddy, and the second was Hype Williams. Together these two took the death of Notorious B.I.G. and built themselves an empire in my mind. I never watched Yo MTV raps, but I always watched MTV News and the Week in Rock. Partially because Yo was on at night when I was watching sitcoms and MTV News was on every hour, ten to the hour and the Week in Rock was on weekend mornings when my dad was playing racquetball. Therefore, I never really knew much about Biggie when he was alive. “Big Poppa” was on MTV Jams for a little while, but it was never as big a deal as Dr. Dre or the grunge of the time. Plus, while Dre and Pac were reenacting Mad Max with autotune Biggie was hanging out with his friends in a brownstone. Where was the production value? However, when the two of them died it was all over MTV news so I was forced to notice. After that Diddy took over. Every breath you take was a huge hit to me. It felt important, it was more than just another song it seemed to bring with it a narrative, plus it was directed by Hype so even though it was a memorial we still had neon colors and a motorcycle in which Diddy actually fell off. Diddy’s music seemed to matter more because it brought with it a story of a man losing a friend. Plus Diddy knew who to sell to people like me, it doesn’t matter what you say as long as you say something and it’s set to a song I already know. He then paired that with Hype Williams style and it was a match made in heaven for a dope like me. I got to listen to cool versions of songs I knew while people in shiny suits and bright colors danced around in front of explosions with a fish eye lens. What more could I ask for? So, the Week in Rock told me I should listen to Diddy, Diddy played songs I knew, and Hype took it from there. I feel like every video I saw in the mid to late 90’s was directed by Hype Williams and personally I wouldn’t want it any other way. Because of Hype I discovered Busta Rhymes, Missy Elliot, Q-tip, Nas, and Jay-Z, although it wasn’t until Jay Z retired that I truly took notice. Once again, it took a news story for me to take notice of something that a lot of people had been aware of for some time.

In 1997 MTV moved to Times Square and it really seemed like I was part of something. They went to the biggest, flashiest part of NY and had shows that felt improvised and new. In the beginning Toby was the face of the new-look network. He was British and he was pretentious and watching him made me feel smart, but when the show MTV live turned into Total Request Live everything changed. Boy bands emerged. Now there were two camps, boy bands and those who hated boy bands. I was firmly planted in the hating boy band camp and luckily my camp was full. Lesser known bands like Korn and Blink 182 now realized that if they wanted to compete they would have to dress up their image. Korn put out got the life and while they didn’t sound much different, now the lead singer, Jonathan Davis, was wearing a neon green velvet coat. Their entire video for “Got the Life” was a satire of everything that music video had become, but what did I care, there were once again bright colors and striking imagery. Blink 182 got everyone’s attention with humor, they just ran around their music video for “All the Small Things” naked. So that’s how it went for me, I was sixteen and my psyche was split into two sections, anger and humor, they both felt rebellious and novel and they both were led by MTV.  Limp Bizkit closely followed Korn which I was delighted by. Limp Bizkit was more palatable, more cartoony, more rap inspired, and their music videos were basically rip offs of the style that Hype Williams created. Fred Durst basically took everything he saw Puff Daddy do in 1997 and made it angrier and to me, at sixteen, that meant it was artistic. I thought being artistic meant you were creative and being creative meant you went against the mainstream and at that time through my MTV window, the Backstreet Boys were the mainstream and anyone who was against them was creative and for me, the angrier the better. No one ever told me about The Romantics.

When I turned 18 my horizons expanded. I went to college, I found out I was poor, and for the first time I strayed from my MTV, right into the arms of MTV2. 9/11 happened and my anger turned to depression. It was a smooth transition. My depression wasn’t clinical by any sense, it was the type of depression that can best be described as “I’m thinking and thinking makes me sad.” Thank god for Linkin Park and the birth of emo. The anger of the late 90’s gave way to the sadness of the early 2000’s and I was along for the ride. Woodstock 99 made everyone hate the angry frat boy so I joined the whiny introspective camp luckily for me Staind worked as a nice transition from Limp Bizkit to Linkin Park. Basically, I followed whoever was headlining the Family Values Tour. So despite the fact that they were popularized by the same tour I casted aside Limp Bizkit and followed the new and improved version Linkin Park. To me bands like Linkin Park and Incubus were intelli-rock. These guys were dealing with issues, not just yelling about them. From there MTV2 showed me bands like New Found Glory, Thursday, and Saves the Day. New Found Glory was just punk enough to make me think it was smart and the other two were so angst filled that I was sure it was good.

Everything came to a halt when I moved to New York in 2003. When confronted with actual taste and pretension I simply couldn’t hang. MTV was out of the music business and well on their way to the exploitation of teens, business. I no longer had guidance. I no longer had a rudder. Now, I just had people that were richer and smarter than me telling me that I had no taste. So, I turned inward, I became self actualized to an extent. I stopped the quest for what was good and began the quest for what I liked. I realized the things that were at the core of what I had liked all along, I was simple. I liked bright colors and catchy hooks. I became ok with my taste being unpopular. To some degree, I relished it. I would play New Found Glory and Good Charlotte extra loud in my apartment, just in case someone with good taste could hear. I became lame. Fortunately for me, MTV did leave me with two parting shots in 2003. Jay-Z retired and Kanye West arose. MTV covered both. Jay-Z was finally big news to the network and Kanye was an artist on the rise. To this day these two artists remain my favorite, they were the stop I got off on and for better or worse I have MTV to thank for that.

In truth I have MTV to blame for most of my personality. Without them maybe I could’ve been cool, maybe I would’ve discovered bands that make people respect me, maybe I’d have some taste. Did MTV create my bad taste or did my bad taste bring me to MTV, who knows? All I know is, I hope the next season of The Real World is awesome and I hope Hype Williams is doing well.

Tuesday, October 11, 2011

A Discussion of the Women's Movement and the Top 5 Worst Women on The Real World

            Last week I wrote an article discussing the worst Real World cast members of all time. It was a list of 5 and I stand by it. The one glaring point that was made to me later was the fact that there were no women on the list. I’ve thought for a little bit as to why that is. I certainly considered putting women on the list, but the reality of the situation is perhaps more offensive than placing them on the list could ever be. I think women were left off the list because I feel sorry for them. The opinion is as condescending as it gets, but I think that’s truly why they were excluded. No matter how terrible a Real World girl was, I always hated the bully mentality of their male counterpart more. The men that I chose seemed to fight to be awful; it appeared to be a choice that they made. Conversely, the women on the show appear at least to me to be victims of their own circumstances. Perhaps years of watching The Challenge has let me peak behind the curtain a little too much. I heard too much about what goes on behind the scenes. I’ve heard too many male cast members talk about the girl’s “daddy” issues. I’ve seen too many steroid induced tirades unleashed upon hungry girls with new breast implants whose only defense is to cry and hope for the mercy and pity of their attackers. Our culture is almost certainly too hard on women in general and the Real World is no exception. I think that the problem is two fold one is the Real World rule that states that a physical altercation is automatic grounds for expulsion, but another is the women’s movement as a whole.

Even as I write that it feels terrible to say, but hear me out. The quest for equality is not simply the path to being paid 25% more. On a deeper level, it’s challenging the ruling class, it’s redefining how society sees you, and unfortunately for women it’s attempting to share power with an entity that is physically stronger and more aggressive than yourself. That is not to say that it isn’t a fight worth fighting, but it is a fight and fights by their very nature leave the challenger bruised and broken and to some extent that’s what we see on the Real World. Equality, on some level, legitimizes victimization. In a fight between person A and person B, if A is commonly accepted as superior, then any attack on B by A would be interpreted as victimization and bullying, but if A and B are equal than a fight between the two is a fight about issue where whoever is right wins. The problem is in a fight between a man and woman the man will almost always have the upper hand because he has the physical advantage, if negotiations break down he can simply decide to hurt the woman, she doesn’t have that same option. Therefore, to some extent her victimization is legitimized by her own struggle for equality. To some degree it is the women’ struggle for equality that makes the despicable action of yelling at a woman justifiable. Either that or the men on the show are cowards.

Many of the fights that occur on the show between the sexes are the result of a women fighting for something and the male seeing that as an opportunity to cast aside any semblance chivalry and merely attack a weaker opponent. I’m always amazed at the fact that when a man is yelling at a woman on the Real World you almost never see another man rush to her defense. I’m always screaming at my television wishing that someone would put the bully in his place, but to the contrary the male cast members almost without exception choose to stay above the fray when it comes to fights that do not directly involve them. That leaves only the fellow female cast members to come to the defense of the woman in the argument. In addition to the women’s movement, the other factor that cannot be ignored is the Real World’s embargo against physical altercations.
Physical fighting is not always a bad thing. At its best it can level the playing field. It keeps people from saying things they shouldn’t. It lets people know where they stand. It can teach lessons and keep people in check. For me personally, getting into fights as humbled me and made me less brash, but on the Real World being humble and less brash are two characteristics that will lead to you getting less screen time. That may be the exact reason why the rule is there in the first place. The drama that is created by people simply knowing that they can’t be hit in the mouth for what they say has led to some of the greatest moments on the show. Who would say anything to CT if he knew he could just hit you and go on about on his merry way? Maybe people would tease Dunbar less if he were allowed to commit the atrocities that must be constantly running through his mind. That rule could be to blame for so many women getting screamed at over the many seasons of the Real World. If no one can get hit and the only thing that would usually stop a guy from yelling at a girl is the threat of him getting punched then removing that threat might give him free rein to be as monstrous as he wants to be. In any case it is the consistent victimization of the women on the show that was probably the driving force behind their exemption from the list of worst cast members, but alas their day is over because now it is time to countdown the top 5 worst female cast members of all time.

Coming in at number 5, a big name, Irene from Seattle. Irene was immortalized in Real World lore due to the parting shots that she made to fellow cast member Stephen. She asked to speak to Stephen alone and in that final moment she told Stephen that he was a homosexual. Following that interaction, Stephen brandished the stuffed animal that he had stolen from Irene, threw said stuffed animal in the water beneath their home on Pier 70, and capped the entire interaction by stopping her car and slapping her in the face. Honestly, this move almost exempted her from this list and added Stephen to the previous list. Stephen was an idiot and has since come out of the closet, but on a week to week basis Irene was not fun to watch. Over the course of the season Irene’s biggest obstacle was the fact that she had Lyme disease. In interviews following her appearance on the show she claimed that it was MTV’s manipulation and not her disease that led to her erratic behavior. Irene was bothersome on a couple different levels. She tried to come in between Nathan and his girlfriend. She attempted to talk fellow cast member Janet to leave the show. She complained more than any of her house mates and she would go on long rants about whatever would come to her mind. She was by far the most manipulative of all of the cast members and in a wonderful act of irony has done more complaining about MTV’s manipulation of her than maybe any cast member in the history of the show. Irene was a dazzling mix intelligent for her age, but stupid for a person. Her intelligence brought with it an arrogance and penchant for malevolence that never seemed justified. In general I didn’t like the fact that she agreed to go on the show well into the show’s run and then was deeply offended in the way the show was run. I feel like she should’ve known what she was getting into.

Coming in at number 4, a personal favorite of mine, Brooke from Denver. Brooke was a special kind of crazy. On the surface she was a perfect southern belle, but beneath her beautiful visage laid a troubled girl on the edge. Her most shining moment came when she went to get her nails done. She took to the streets of Denver on her own looking for the nail salon. After her odyssey took her through what she described as the ghetto she returned home frazzled and weary. She shared news of her ghetto exploits which were not taken well by her black roommate Tyrie, she then exploded, called her mother, and complained that she was in Hell. I’ve always enjoyed Real World cast members lost on their own because simple logic dictates that if we are able to see her, she wasn’t alone. She had to have been flanked by at least one camera man, a sound guy, probably a PA, and a story producer all of which probably had a van waiting for them around the corner. She couldn’t have been a likely target for any sort of crime. I just love that while we are watching someone go through the great turmoil of being lost there is a team of people that know exactly where they are and where everything is and the only thing they do to help is stop themselves from giggling (probably), but I digress. Brooke was a prissy and whiny as anyone who’s ever been on the show and her outbursts were numerous and loud. Her face would concoct in mysterious and delightful ways. She’s on the list, but her mania was truly the highlight of an already great season

Coming in at number 3, we go from my favorite on the list to my least favorite, Montana from Boston. Montana was awful. She was the hipster archetype before such a thing existed. She had all of the irritating foibles of Summer from 500 days of Summer only she didn’t look like Zooey Deschanel. I know how shallow that statement is, but let’s face it, awful behavior is more palatable coming from an attractive person. Montana was pretentious and judgmental. She had a long term, live in boyfriend in New York however that did not prevent her from straying. She carried with her a sense of entitlement, but that sense brought with it no accomplishments. She once complained that she tired of living with 18 year olds. It’s important to note that she was confiding this fact to her 18 year old roommate Elka. She was nearly removed from the show when she allowed the children whom she was responsible for to drink wine. Basically, she was wanted the world around her to be mature and sophisticated, but she was neither of these things.

Coming in at number 2, Kimberly from Hollywood. Kimberly was the second coming of Brooke. She too was a southern belle with all sorts of entitlement and she too had a slight penchant for the word ghetto. When in an argument with her roommate Brianne she requested that she “not get ghetto with her.” Her big goal was to be an entertainment reporter for E News, but aside from attending one audition which MTV set up for her she made no attempt to make that dream a reality. She had possibly the strongest accent that the show has ever seen and made no attempt to lose the dialect. She was the epitome of every person with big dreams and no action. In addition to that she was basically drunk most of the time, she was rude to her roommates, and generally had an air of superiority, but unlike Brooke, she wasn’t really fun to watch.

Coming in at number 1, the grand mother of them all, Beth S. from Los Angeles. Beth was the model by which all irritating women on the show would be judged. We saw her first in the show’s second season, but we got to know her even more in later years on the challenge. Beth has never been popular. She never really yelled or did any action that was overtly extreme. Her biggest foible was basically falsely accusing someone of rape. Dave the comedian from LA was kicked off the show after an incident with current Basketball Wife, Tammy. What started off as a playful interaction turned ugly when David pulled the covers off of underwear clad Tammy. It was Beth who fanned the flames and eventually led the charge for kicking David off the show, comparing what he did to rape. Beth was always in everyone’s business, seemed to relish controversy, and was generally annoying, which is probably her biggest quirk. Erratic behavior can be forgiven, but being annoying is unforgivable and that’s what Beth was until the end.

So there you have it. That’s my list. Please don’t be mad.

Wednesday, October 5, 2011

Top 5 Worst Real World Cast Members

“The Real World” is just something I can’t get away from. I’m 28 years old I should be moving on. I should have a wife and kids and own a home, but instead I sit in my home for an hour a week and watch seven strangers picked to live in house and find out what happens when people stop being nice and start getting real. “The Real World” isn’t the reason for my arrested development, but rather a reflection of it. I personally believe that a person can be intelligent and functioning and still like terrible reality television. This may be more self serving than I’d like to admit. I think that railing against reality shows like “The Real World” doesn’t make you more intelligent. I believe that in a free market, competitive culture where someone else’s laziness and stupidity can only result in your gain, the truly intelligent people accept the culture around them, keep their mouths shut, their heads down, and quietly go to work. I’d like to think I’m one of the intelligent ones, but I’ve never kept my mouth shut and unfortunately, by my definition, that takes me out of the running.
With all of that in mind, let’s talk real world. The latest season of “The Real World” premiered last week. The newest installment is based in San Diego for the second time in the show’s history. I find it a little weird that the show has been on for so long that it is now batting around San Diego is up. They’ve revisited cities before, New Orleans, New York (3 times actually, New York twice & Brooklyn once), Las Vegas, and LA (it was called Hollywood the second time). Personally, I think that they should keep trying new cities, but I guess we’ll all just have to wait with baited breath for “Real World: St. Louis: The Reckoning.” Anyway, this newest installment has most of the usual suspects, good looking people eager for the fray too young to understand that what they think is neither important nor will matter to them in 3 years. There was however a stand out character. On the show you can be a stand out for good reasons; see Isaac (Sydney) and Leroy (Las Vegas 2) or you can be a stand out because you are over the top despicable; see Ryan (New Orleans 2) and the Real World hall of famer, Puck (San Francisco). This season’s standout is the bad kind and his name is Frank.
I haven’t had this kind of guttural reaction to a character since Tuco in the first season of Breaking Bad, seriously, how did we all keep watching that show after that guy chewed up all the scenery? Frank’s true genius as a despicable character is truly his versatility. He is many terrible things at one time. He is starved for attention, wearing a yellow bandana and Hawaiian shirt for his first encounter with his roommates, a move that truly says “look at me, look at me, please god, everybody stop what you’re doing and acknowledge the unconventional manner in which I present myself!” He is sexually confused, which wouldn’t be an issue if he would simply deal with it internally like a normal person. When one is confused or undecided on an important issue it is probably in bad form to loudly proclaim and celebrate your confusion while at the same time have an extremely heightened sensitivity about the situation. He is also trying to get into a relationship with the one person in the house who is already in a relationship and he is doing so in a manner that in neither subtle nor logical. He suggested that the object of his affection, Alexandra, and her boyfriend didn’t seem to be right for each other and he ascertained this knowledge after a day of knowing her and no time knowing the boyfriend. He’s the worst and that’s why he is both the inspiration and the beginning of the following list: the 5 worst Real World cast members of all time. Frank is number 5.
Coming in at number 4, Ryan from New Orleans 2. Ryan was truly amazing. While most awful cast members are content to be attention grabbing over dramatic narcissists, Ryan brought a certain flair and creativity to his role as worst cast member. Ryan was a straight hair dresser who enjoyed cuddling with the house’s lone gay cast member, the Rajon Rondo look-alike Preston. He had a fetish for playing with ears and blow drying himself while contemplating the complexities of life. At a glance he would have been the gayest man in the house, but he paired his quirks and behavior with a penchant for homophobic behavior and gay slurs. He would intentionally terrorize the house mates, hiding the lone car that they all shared, and at the same time complain that nobody liked him. He even attempted to blame a roommate’s stolen xanax on the season’s most popular character, Knight. Knight had recently dealt with an addiction to prescription medication so that added a special wrinkle to the move. Ryan was eventually kicked out because the other roommates flat out didn’t like him. Usually, removal from the house comes with an inciting incident, but only the truly horrible are asked to leave simply because they suck.
Coming in at number 3, Adam from Las Vegas 2. Adam had the blind confidence of a successful NFL running back. Unfortunately for Adam, he was in his mid-twenties unemployed and living with his parents in Maine. His biggest source of pride was going to a juvenile detention center for selling drugs and being able to make multiple women his girlfriend. He also used to the term “make her my girlfriend.” He would intentionally get blackout drunk and be a general nuisance. It was that behavior that eventually led to his dismissal. He was as calculating as nearly any cast member in how he wanted to be portrayed on the show, but for some inexplicable reason he chose to portray himself as an asshole. He was also predictably kicked off his first challenge after only one night. Adam proves that it ain’t easy being a gangster…from Maine…on a reality TV show…who lives with his parents.
Coming in at number 2, Neil from London. Neil personifies why people don’t like Europeans. He was condescending, pretentious, and very, very British. He fronted a punk band called Unilever and had bleach blond hair. Basically, he was a mid 90’s homeless man’s Johnny Rotten. He talked down to all of the other cast members until during an unfortunate incident someone in the audience of a Unilever show bit off a portion of his tongue. Then he didn’t say much at all. The incident was an instant Real World classic as told by Neil, there was a man in the front row screaming incessantly at the band so Neil of course did the logical thing and went in for a kiss at which point the man “turned psychotic and bit my tongue off.” It’s a rare instant when someone’s irritating personal attributes actually result in them experiencing pain, but luckily for the Real World audience that was the case this time and we all were able to bare witness.
Finally, the king of the a-holes, coming in at number 1, Puck from San Francisco. Puck was the first made for TV douche. He was a real trail blazer he practically invented the concept of being a villain on reality television. Since its inception reality TV has always had irritating people, but before Puck no one had attempted to be irritating. He set himself apart. Puck didn’t have to try hard to be awful. He was already a bike messenger in San Francisco with a DUI whose main interest appeared to be soapbox racing. That’s right he was a grown man who spent his spare time participating in a past time made famous by the little rascals and this was something he took great pride in. In addition to those wonderful attributes, Puck was filthy, he would rarely shower, openly pick his nose, pick scabs, and he would mention how bad he smelled. Puck was in the house with openly gay and HIV positive Pedro Zamora, they did not get along. Pedro’s need to keep himself healthy due to his struggling immune system was put to the test by living with Puck. A situation that came to a head when it was discovered that Puck had eaten Pedro’s peanut butter by sticking his freshly nose picked finger into the actual peanut butter jar, a scene that was certainly the most entertaining scene ever that revolved around peanut butter. Puck basically made it his business to bother everyone in the house and like Ryan from New Orleans, he was asked to leave based more on an accumulation of being awful than one inciting incident. The straw that broke the camel’s back was when Pedro gave an ultimatum; either he or Puck would have to leave the house. Puck was voted out and sent to where all reality TV villains end up, obscurity.
So, that’s it. That’s my list. There was certainly a couple that I wish I could’ve added. I have to say that honorable mention goes to Chet from Brooklyn, Brooke from Denver, Kimberly from Hollywood, David (ski-dob-u-dee-dob-u-dee) from New Orleans, and Wes from Austin who is only lacking from this list because he was not really terrible when he was on the Real World, but has since morphed into reality TV’s equivalent of the Dark Phoenix. I hope everyone enjoyed the list and let me know what you think.

Tuesday, September 13, 2011

I Hate the Red Sox, Please Help

I am a Yankees fan. I have been a Yankees fan since my father first traumatized me into it. I read somewhere that baseball teams are inherited and for me that was certainly the case. I was born in Florida, but that had no impact on which baseball team was supposed to be my favorite. My dad is from New York and he's been a Yankees fan ever since the Dodgers left Brooklyn. There was no way that his only son was going to support any team but his. Later in life I've gotten a lot of crap about being a Yankees fan. The first and most prominent reason was that since 1996 it makes you seem like a front runner, you're hopping on the band wagon, supporting an already successful team. Anyone who thinks that should go ahead and take a look at some footage of Yankee Stadium in the 80's and early 90's, it was a little sparse. All of the other reasons are just spin-offs of the first. I've gotten a lot of crap for not liking either of the two Florida teams. First of all the Marlins weren't added to MLB until 1993. Having been born in 1983, I already had 10 years of Yankee fandom under my belt at that time. In addition to that, the Marlins were in Miami, a full 5 hours from my home town. Second of all the Devil Rays didn't exist until 1998 so now we're up to 15 years of being a Yankees fan and we are now smack dab in the middle of the Yankees' dynasty. What kind of sociopath, half-assed fan would I be to change teams at that point? But I digress.
As a Yankee fan I was taught first and foremost to have dignity and class. Now, I know that there are a lot of Yankee haters that will point to battery throwing, bleachers being denied beer, and general taunting as proof that this class is certainly not how the Yankees conduct themselves. All I will say is that, that's what I was taught. Basically, since '96 it's been WWJD, what would Jeter do? I don't think anyone would deny he's a man with some class and dignity. Keeping that in mind, the party line was basically that we are Yankee supporters not Red Sox detractors. The concept is more or less refined arrogance. We don't hate the Red Sox, how could we? We don't think about the Red Sox, they think about us, and you can basically extrapolate that theory for every other team in the league. I was never taught to hate another team. We were Yankees, we were the best, and no other team mattered.
Unfortunately, in recent years I have given in to my own weakness. In recent years I have truly begun to hate the Red Sox. There were a lot of factors in this transformation. One, I moved to Park Slope, Brooklyn. For anyone who has never been to Park Slope, it has basically become a suburb of Boston. On any given block you are far more likely to see a Boston B, than my beloved NY. One time I was actually taunted for wearing my Yankees hat in a Park Slope bar by a guy wearing a Red Sox hat. I'm not sure if I can truly put in to words how frustrating it is to move into the city of your favorite team and still feel like you're rooting for the visiting team, but that's what I went through. Second, 2004 happened. No single sports moment had more cataclysmic consequences in my lifetime than 2004. I was never raised with any religion, the only thing that I truly believed was that God was a Yankees fan and he would never let us lose to the Red Sox. When 2004 happened my team didn't just lose, my entire belief system was shaken to the core. Finally, the Red Sox and their fans have changed. Prior to 2004 Red Sox fans were fun, they were self deprecating and funny, they hated the Yankees, but with a smile. After 2004 that changed. To be fair I'm probably not dealing with the same fans. That Red Sox acquired a whole new class of fans in '04, I've heard them referred to as "Pink Haters" which denotes the fact that prior to 2004 they didn't even make pink Red Sox hats and that's probably who I've been talking to. In either case the reality of the situation now is the majority of Red Sox fans I deal with now are cocky and entitled. The dynamic has changed. In addition to that the team has changed. In 2004 they actually had guys that I would be happy to have on the Yankees, Damon, Manny, and Ortiz. These were guys that you rooted against, but couldn't help but like. Unfortunately, Ortiz remains, but Damon and Manny have been replaced by Pedroia and Youkilis. I hate these guys, it's unhealthy and unfair, but I truly despise them. I hate the look of them, I hate Youkilis' batting stance, I hate that Pedroia jumps before every pitch, I hate their hair cuts, I hate their facial hair, I hate that they're respected, and I hate that they're names are even spoken in the same breath as their Yankees counterparts.
Again, none of this is justified, I'm wrong to feel this way, but I can't help it. This is what I've been driven to. To take a page out of Usher's book, this is my confession. I need help. I need Joe Buck and Tim McCarver to shut up. I need people who don't know who the Red Sox manager before Francona to stop talking to me. I need the Yankees to win the World Series again. I need to get my life together. Hopefully, with the help of my family and those closest to me I can rally. Hopefully, I can regain my class and dignity. It won't be easy, change never is. It takes a village to raise a functioning sports fan. All I can say is I'm sorry and I'm working on it.