Tuesday, June 29, 2010

Happy Eclipse Day!

Now that is one sexy, sexy cast!

Well, boys and girls, today is the day. At 11:59 pm tonight, Twilight fanatics around the country will be piling into theatres to get their first (and most likely not last) glimpse at the latest installment in the series, Eclipse. I, of course, will be among those people like I have been for the past two movies. This probably sounds hypocritical of me since I complain about these movies every chance I get, but, in all honesty, I don't go to these midnight screenings for the movies themselves. Sure, seeing Taylor sans shirt and making fun of dumb Twi-tards going apeshit at stupid moments are both huge positives, but my excitement goes beyond that. My best friends are all Twilight fans and going out with them to these showings has become a way of celebrating our friendship. When New Moon came out last November, I was so excited I kept referring to the day as "New Moon Day" like it was some kind of holiday. Honestly, though, it did feel like a holiday: I spent all day in giddy anticipation, then a lovely dinner with my best friends and some awesome new people and, finally, the movie, which practically made me orgasm around 20 times that first time. Hell, I even made a freaking cake (red velvet, because I am clever like that)! If that doesn't sound like a great holiday celebration, I don't know what does. It was a hundred times better than Christmas Eve with my dad's side of the family in which I spent the whole night in a numb, alcoholic stupor while my brother and his girlfriend laughed at my intoxication. Basically "Eclipse Day" means more to me than just a silly movie; it's a day to celebrate friendship with the people I love best. So even if you don't give a shit about Eclipse, go out and celebrate "Eclipse Day" with your best friend, your BFF, your mate or whatever you call them and do whatever you love best.

Monday, June 28, 2010

"Do you have a doll at home?"

"What if it cried and pestered and spied on you? You'd want to get rid of it, wouldn't you?"

Sunday, June 27, 2010

Why Toy Story 3 Wasn't Meant for Me

1. Toy Story 3 relies a lot on the audience reminiscing about their own childhood and favorite toys back then. Unlike most people, however, I never had any permanent attachment to a toy. My mother once told me that when I was around three years old, she asked me to give up my blankie, and instead of refusing or throwing a temper tantrum like many three year olds would, I simply handed it over. My two favorite toys when I was a kid were a stuffed red Power Ranger inexplicably named Maximilian and a Beanie Baby panda named Fortue, both of which I outgrew by junior high. So, instead of bawling at Andy's hard decision to give up all of his toys and the fond memories he had with them, I sat there thinking, "Jesus, Andy. You're 18 for Christ's sake. It's about time you got rid of those damn toys."

2. As much as Toy Story 3 relies on the audience to think back fondly on their childhood, it also relies on the fact that they have an attachment of any sort to the characters from the first two films. I have seen both of the previous films but not since 1999. And while I enjoyed both of those films, I never had any overwhelming desire to see them again. When it comes to Toy Story 3, I, again, enjoyed my time with Woody and company but I'm missing the complete connection the film requires.

3. I laughed my ass off during the scene when the toys, facing their eminent doom in some PIT OF HELLLLLLLLLLLLLLLLL, link hands in solidarity and love. It's a surprisingly dark and touching moment, but I suppose I was laughing more out of discomfort over the fact that this animated film aimed at kids went so twisted and creepy. I guess I appreciate now that they had the balls to do that, but at the time I was so stunned I couldn't do anything but laugh.

4. I have no heart.

Friday, June 25, 2010

It's Not Easy Being a Muse

Poor Nicky, getting attacked by those angry looking birds like he was an extra in Alfred Hitchcock's The Birds. Whoever said being Tom Ford's muse was all sunshine and rainbows (and sexy makeout times) obviously has no idea what they're talking about. On a positive note, at least this isn't happening to him (totally NSFW, by the way).

Ladies and Gentlemen, Miley is Officially a Pop Star

While others with more refined musical palettes have been blasting the new Scissor Sisters and Kylie Minogue albums the past couple of days, I have had the new Miley Cyrus album on repeat. Believe it or not, and let me be the first to say that I was skeptical at first, Can't Be Tamed is a stunner. We heard the possibilities in 'See You Again' and 'Party in the USA,' but this album proves once and for all that Miley is a bonafide pop star.

Let's start with the album title. Can't Be Tamed is quite possibly the most brilliant title for a teenage vixen's album since Brit's Oops!...I Did It Again. Miley has been continuously pushing the boundaries of her Disney persona, following a cycle of blatantly flaunting her sexuality and then apologizing while remarking that people "just don't get it." With Can't Be Tamed presumably announcing her as this wild, uninhibited 17-year-old looking for some penis and a good time, Miley has been on a tear lately, making out with a chick on Britain's Got Talent and continuously wearing controversially sexy outfits every time she performs live on TV. Critics have been harassing her for weeks about this, but, honestly, this is exactly what she wants people to do. Miley, like Britney and Jessica Simpson before her, is smarter than we give her credit for. She knows that by doing these slightly outrageous acts, she'll get far more attention from the haters than if she played it safe. Every time a negative report about her rampant sexuality comes on, you know Miley's sitting at home, probably munching on some Pringles, laughing her ass off at all these people who say they are sick of her yet can't stop reporting on her every move. Miley has us right where she wants us and there's nothing we can do to escape it. I don't know about you, but I'm kind of excited.

As for the album, Can't Be Tamed is nowhere near as suggestive as the title implies. Mostly, the album is a great big "Fuck you" to Disney and her former life as a tween star. This bitch is ready to move on and if that means leaving behind her fanbase of nine year olds, so be it. The album's opening track, the strangely titled 'Liberty Walk,' at first sounds like a silly opener. After a couple listens, however, it quickly becomes apparent that this song is Miley's mission statement for the album. "It's a liberty walk," she sings over the chorus, "Free yourself, slam the door, not a prisoner anymore." 'Robot' is even harsher towards Disney: "I'm not your robot/Stop telling me I'm a part of this big machine/I'm breaking free, can't you see?" There's nothing I love watching more than female singers rebelling against The Man, giving a big giant middle finger to the corporation who once controlled them.

The album's gem, however, is a little song called 'Who Owns My Heart.' Produced by Rockmafia, the same guy behind her current hit 'Can't Be Tamed,' the song is a fairly dark sounding, somewhat mysterious, all-around sexy track in which Miley is confused about whether her attraction to a guy is because she has the hots for him or the music banging in the background. It's a slick song and one Miley should be proud of. She makes a lyric like "You know I wanna believe that we're a masterpiece but sometimes it's hard to tell in the dark" ring with enough double entendre to last through an entire season of The Office. Our little Miley is growing up before our eyes; do you think her best friend Leslie even recognizes her anymore?

Wednesday, June 23, 2010

EXCLUSIVE: Nicky Hoult Likes to Hang Out With Girls (And Possibly Touch Their Boobs)

Apparently, one of Nicky Hoult's publicists decided that he's spent a bit too much time associated with gay things. Which, if you think about it, he has sort of built his career on homoerotic parts. Whether he's making out with Maxxie on series one of Skins, performing on the West End in the gay-themed New Boy, showing off his bum in A Single Man or modeling for Tom Ford as his new muse, Nicky does enjoy the gay material. So, in an effort to prove Nicky isn't a big fat homo, someone decided to link him with burgeoning Disney starlet Victoria Justice this past weekend at Wimbledon. I don't want to say this was a bad idea, but let's just say they look about as interested in each other as Clay Aiken and one of his female backup singers.

To be honest, I doubt this was a hookup of any sorts. More than likely, the two of them happened to be next to each other, not paying attention and someone snapped a photo of them. I doubt Nicky even knows who Victoria Justice is (hell, she's only a Nickelodeon star); he certainly has better things to do (being someone's muse takes up a lot of time, don't you know?). If they're gonna pair him up with some American tween starlet, how about someone, you know, actually interesting. I hear Demi is single these days (although she just stopped being someone else's beard). How about Selena? Everybody likes her (except my friend Kelli because she's "too cute").

And, for your enjoyment, here are some bonus pictures of our boy Nicky sans Nickelodeon starlet. I have to say, after looking at these photographs, it's becoming more and more evident that other men should just give up on life. There's no way you're ever going to be as perfect as Nicky, so why fucking bother?

Rants on Applause

1929. The world was in turmoil. After riding high on the excess and lavishness of the Roaring 20's, the entire country came to a standstill on October 29. An economic depression unlike ever witnessed before was sweeping the land, affecting families in unimaginable ways. People immediately turned to the movies for escape from this harsh reality, but they, too, were in the middle of their own crisis. Not only were they affected by the Depression, but, after the debut of The Jazz Singer in 1927, Hollywood was in the (expensive, both financially and artistically) process of converting to sound pictures. As films like Singin' in the Rain proved, it was a long, laborious process that posed many difficult challenges to overcome. Perhaps the most challenging of them were the clunky cameras necessary for the sound equipment which prohibited the movement and fluidity silent movies had achieved by the late 20's. By 1929, sound films were the new standard with the last studio silent film, Garbo's The Kiss, released that year. The problem, however, was that many of these early talkies were wooden, visually flat and all-around unappealing. Films like The Broadway Melody were big hits with audiences eager for talking pictures but they often looked like the director's goal was to point straight at the actors, get one mediocre take where no lines were completely butchered and pray to God that the sound was clean enough for a final print. This was cinema's lost year, a year in which they were a slave to inflexible technology. All hope seemed lost.

But then came Rouben Mamoulian and a little film called Applause. In a town full of sadness and tedium, Applause is the Billy Elliot tap-dancing his heart out, ready to bust out of his small town with a staggering burst of energy and near-flawless execution. The film is about a burlesque dancer, Kitty Darling (Helen Morgan), who unexpectedly gives birth to a daughter, April, during the middle of a performance. Wanting April to get away from this horrid burlesque world and make something of herself, Kitty sends her to a convent school. Years later, Kitty's two-timing boyfriend pressures her to bring April home so they can earn more money for him to mooch off. The two of them reconnect and try to build the relationship they never had as numerous tragic events befall them in quick succession. The movie is your standard melodrama of the time, although the tragedy of the piece is played to perfection. You feel for these characters like they were real people, watching in disbelief as they make catastrophic mistake after catastrophic mistake. In a way, the final 20 minutes of the film are reminiscent of a Shakespearian tragedy, with both Kitty and April making heartbreaking, life-changing decisions without the other knowing that have the potential to ruin their lives.

The main reason for Applause's success, however, is the direction from Rouben Mamoulian. With sound films still in their infancy, there was a lot of room for experimentation to try and figure out the best way to use sound in the film. Many directors were so concerned with the sound equipment, they didn't try to use the camera in interesting ways. Not Mamoulian. His roving camera is restless, hovering back and forth, often multiple times, across a scene. He's not interested, unlike a lot of early sound directors, in letting the words tell the story. Mamoulian's fascination with visuals is apparent throughout the movie, as in the scene when Kitty is berated by her boyfriend to remove her daughter from the convent. He starts yelling at her but eventually, the camera starts to zoom in and all we see is his huge shadow on the wall, bearing down heavily on a comparably smaller Kitty. With lighting tricks like these, it's obvious Mamoulian has a theatrical sensibility, but he also knows how to adapt those sensibilities to the film medium. His rapid-fire editing style during the burlesque numbers, complete with shots of lascivious audience members gazing upon scantily clad women who make Marie Dressler look like a beauty queen, shows with unrivaled precision just how dank and downright disgusting the world of burlesque truly was.

Mamoulian's work in Applause is experimental in every sense of the word. He's not quite sure what's going to work, so he throws it all on-screen in the hopes that something will stick. It is true that not everything works and some of Mamoulian's tricks are more distracting than helpful. When something does work, however, it quickly erases the minor mistakes. And just when you're ready to say something negative about all the camerawork, Mamoulian slows the flow down, proving that he really has the story's interest at heart and not some gratuitous desire to move the camera as much as possible. Two of the most memorable scenes in the entire film--Kitty telling April she'll do anything for her and April trying to convince her fiance that she'd rather be on stage than marry him--involve very little, if any, movement at all. Helen Morgan and Joan Peers (as April) are hardly the most "natural" of actors, and they occasionally lapse into the stage affectectedness that haunts so many of the early talkies, but they know how to sell many of the major emotional high points of the film.

Applause is a landmark in the history of filmmaking. Even if the story and camera tricks feel a little dated, it is only because so many films have borrowed from Applause over the years, probably without even realizing it. Rouben Mamoulian is an often underrated director who helped elevate films like Queen Christina and the 1931 version of Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde from mere studio projects to quiet, unassuming masterpieces. He was a pioneer in the early sound days with Applause proving that he was someone to be reckoned with. A

Monday, June 21, 2010

Two Examples of Why My Job Sucks

Example #1

Guest: Excuse me. I think left my bag at one of the lanes. Have you seen it?

Me: No, I haven't. If you want to check at Guest Services, they might have it.

Guest: I left it at one of the lanes.

Me (pausing momentarily): Well, it might be over at Guest Services.

Guest (turning to another cashier): I left my bag at one of the lanes.

Example #2

[Two young people, a guy and a girl, probably college age, come up to my lane. They are going through their basket trying to separate their items. The guy takes one of his items, decides he doesn't want it and stuffs it into the candy wall.]

Me: I'll take that item if you don't want it.

Guy: What?

Me (pointing to the candy wall): That item over there.

Guy: Oh.

[He then hands it over. They go back to their basket. He is deciding between two Father's Day cards. He takes the one he doesn't want and throws it on top of the pop cooler in front of my lane.]

Me: Did you want that card?

Girl (talking about some other random item): Yes, I just set it off to the side.

Me: No, the card on top of the cooler.

Guy: No.

[He hands it over and I finish checking them out. They leave. After another guest comes through, I notice some spilled water at the end of the lane where the bags go. Remembering that the guy had a bottle of water, I curse under my breath and grab the roll of paper towels that are supposed to be on my lane. There are none. Two older women pull into my lane. I now run around furiously to four different lanes trying to find a goddamn roll of paper towels. I finally find some and head back.]

Me (cleaning up spill, talking to women): Sorry about that wait.

Woman #1 (as sweet as pie): No problem! We've got nowhere to be.

[As I look at the spill more carefully, I realize that there is water, at least 3/4 of a bottle, on the floor all around the lane. I bend down and furiously start cleaning up the spill like I'm Joan Crawford towards the end of the No Wire Hangers scene in Mommie Dearest. The women proceed to look at me like I'm crazy.]

Me: Sorry again. The guy must have spilled his water bottle and didn't even say anything.

[I head back to the cash register.]

Woman #2: Do you need to take a breather?

Sunday, June 20, 2010

Oh Daddy

(Especially to the hot daddies)

Running the Gamut from B- to B+

Hoosiers (David Anspaugh, 1986): Charisma. Some actors have it, some don't. Will Smith is often cited as one of those who has "it," but I find that he doesn't have a hundredth of the personality and screen presence that someone like Gene Hackman regularly has. In a film like Hoosiers, the classic tale of a small town high school basketball team making it all the way to the state finals, no acting in the general sense of the word is really required. The passionate, inspirational coach archetype relies mostly on an actor with a strong personality, and Hackman has that in spades. Feisty and headstrong, he makes Hoosiers a pleasure to watch, fighting against the townspeople who don't think he's an adequate coach in the same way his team fights all the way to the finals. Everything about Hoosiers is simple, which works to the film's advantage as it doesn't have to worry about over-the-top dramatics and wayward plots distracting from the central David and Goliath story. Director David Anspaugh works wonders at creating tension and excitement in the basketball games, even when we already knew the outcome. My only major complaint with the film is how it doesn't incorporate the team and their individual personalities into the narrative. This is especially problematic when it comes to the character of Jimmy, the star athlete who eventually saves Hackman's position at the school by deciding to rejoin the team if they will keep him as the coach. When he does rejoin the team, the team starts winning and rallying toward their eventual championship. By presenting him as the team's saving grace, however, Hoosiers seems to undermine its main point that Hackman is the one who brings this team together. We never really understand Jimmy's motivation nor what he brings to the team that Hackman couldn't. Jimmy's selfishness in the final moments, wanting to make the winning shot after Hackman suggests that they pass the ball to someone else to fake out the other team, goes against everything Hackman has taught them during the course of the film. By going along with it, Hackman and Hoosiers make a fundamental mistake that they were both too wise to make in the first place. B-

Un Prophète (Jacques Audiard, 2010): By the end of Un Prophète, I was convinced that we had already found the most overrated film of the year. Not that there was anything bad about Un Prophète specifically, rather, I couldn't figure out why this simple prison drama with traces of a top-notch Scorsesian gangster film was so universally acclaimed. The film isn't a social commentary on the inhumanity of prisons or the sociological reasons why people become prisoners. Actually, on the surface, Un Prophète's closest descendant is the 1950 prison drama Caged in which Eleanor Parker comes into prison a good girl and methodically works her way out a morally dubious woman. With this odd list of influences, none of which the film does better than average with, I was ready to write Un Prophète off. Then, Jose patiently explained to me the films many influences (Albert Camus, for one) and symbolism (a lot of Muslim imagery and idolatry)--many of which are outlined in his stellar review here--and all the adoration and praise started to make sense. But this is precisely where Un Prophète's problem lies: what good is all of the symbolism and referencing if you can't make heads or tails of them while watching? I respect Audiard's balls in making a film which doesn't even attempt to catch you up and explain what his images mean, but I shouldn't be expected to be a scholar in Camus or the Qur'an to get the deeper meaning. Although I now understand and respect why all of Un Prophète's admirers are so passionate about the film, I simply can't stand back and admit that this one wowed me. B

The Vanishing American (George B. Seitz, 1925): If you think African Americans and gays have it rough in Hollywood, try looking at the history of Native Americans in the movies. Back during the Golden Age, they were nothing more than wild savages ready to get shot down by the hero in a Western. Once the era of political correctness came in, aside from Sacheen Littlefeather, Native Americans were pretty much non-existent except for the occasional indie film. Knowing this history, it is surprising that The Vanishing American, a film that not only shows the hardships of the "modern" Native American but has the balls to blame white Europeans for these hardships, was made and well-received in 1925. The film begins with a bit of visual history about where the Native Americans came from and how they came to be in the situation they are today. It's a bold move, but the time spent here shows the audience how these first people in America were here for generations upon generations before any white people showed up to steal their land. We then move to the modern day story, which takes place on an Indian reservation out West. Nophaie (Richard Dix), one of the most respected Native Americans on the reservation, begins a will-they-or-won't-they relationship with a white schoolteacher, but this is hardly the strength of the film. The Vanishing American's assets lie in the fact it presents such a progressive view of history and contemporary issues to the point that even in 2010 it's hard to find any faults in logic or ideology. Everything feels as fresh as if it were made today and that's not easy to say from a period of film history which also brought us The Birth of a Nation. B+

Friday, June 18, 2010

Why Sharpay's Fabulous Adventure is a Terrible, Terrible Idea

I've avoided talking about this project for months now in the hopes that it was all some sick joke gone horribly wrong. But, since the film has actually started shooting, I now know that this is a sad, sad reality. The film I'm talking about is, of course, Sharpay's Fabulous Adventure, a Disney Channel sequel to the ever popular HSM Trilogy featuring our very own La Tisdale reprising her role of sparkly diva Sharpay Evans. So why am I denying this film like I'm a certain Iranian president and Sharpay's Fabulous Adventure is the Holocaust? Well, here are a few reasons

  • Completely Unnecessary When HSM3 ended with that should-be infamous final jump in the air and emotional curtain call, it was the perfect send-off for both the fans and the cast. The curtain closed on their high school lives, and everything that took place in East High was left to the past. There's absolutely no reason to make another movie with these characters. They are creatures of their high school environment, and I want to envision them in their prime when the whole world was their oyster. Encountering them after high school would be like seeing Ferris Bueller, the Breakfast Club or Cher Horowitz post-high school. Honestly, I couldn't care less about the fabulous adventures of Miss Evans outside of East High. Nothing will ever top her divalicious exploits trying to steal the spotlight back from Troy and Gabriella, so why bother? Her chemistry with Grabeel and Efron was absolutely perfect (seriously, while listening to 'I Want It All' earlier today, I marveled at just how in sync La Tisdale and Grabeel were and how much they truly "got" each other). Will she ever be able to get that with Austin Butler? Doubt it.
  • The State of the DCOM The HSM movies are not well-made movies. They have plot holes five miles long and the production values were often nothing more then a second thought. But there's an undeniable charm running through these films that makes up for any inconsistencies and lapses in taste. Camp Rock was so bad in every conceivable way it was impossible to look away. I was embarrassed the whole time I had willingly subjected myself to that film, yet I actually felt something during that one. Wish I could say the same about the last three Disney Channel Original Movies I have seen. Princess Protection Program, Wizards of Waverly Place: The Movie and StarStruck all wasted talented youngsters in films that were the dreaded Double D: dull and dumb. I fear that Sharpay's Fabulous Adventure will fall in with these latter films. And who wants to watch La Tisdale dumbed down by awful material?
  • La Tisdale Needs to Move On Efron has gone onto Hairspray, 17 Again and, this summer, Charlie St. Cloud. Grabeel had a nice bit part in Van Sant's Milk. Even Vanessa Hudgens has gotten work in a Zack Snyder movie. So why is La Tisdale still slumming it in DCOMs and awful-sound TV shows like her upcoming Hellcats, which happens to be about a high school cheerleading squad? She clearly has the talent to move out of the Disney ghetto. She even has a naughty persona just waiting to emerge with the right material. La Tisdale isn't getting any younger (she's nearly 25) and, like it or not, goodwill from HSM won't last forever. She needs to prove her worth and take a risk in the real world, not once again use the same tricks to show us why she's one of the best things Disney has ever created. With Miley and Demi so desperately trying to break free from Disney's constraints, it makes you wonder why La Tisdale so desperately wants to remain under them.
Will I watch Sharpay's Fabulous Adventure when it premieres? Hell to the yes! I'll support anything this talented woman does. And I'm sure she'll be her wonderfully charismatic self in the movie. But I will not stand back silently when I see her wasting her talents on dreck far beneath her. She can do Sharpay in her sleep now. Let's give her a new challenge to spark those creative muscles, okay?

(Photo via Just Jared Jr.)

Saturday, June 12, 2010

Britney's Videography: 'Born to Make You Happy'

Britney Spears 'Born to Make You Happy' # # # # #
While America was stuck with 'From the Bottom of My Broken Heart' as the fourth single from ...Baby One More Time, the rest of the world got 'Born to Make You Happy,' a much better song and more consistent with Britney's talents as an artist. However, as the video for 'From the Bottom of My Broken Heart' bridged the gap between Britney the innocent and the new Britney soon to emerge, 'Born to Make You Happy''s video is a bit of a dud. The video is simply a bunch of interconnected scenes with no real association to each other or an overall plot/purpose. Scene one involves Britney, lying in her bed, mournfully remembering the good times she had with her now ex-boyfriend. In scene two, we see Britney, wearing an ice blue outfit, posing in a modern-looking ice blue room. And, of course, there is also a choreographed number on this huge platform where Britney, in a nice homage to her persona at this point, wears a particularly chaste floor length skirt slit all the way up to her waist on the sides. The dance sequence is the best part of the video, nicely matching the midtempo feel of the song, an extraordinarily difficult feat to pull off, but it will hardly go down as a memorable sequence in the career of Miss Spears. And that's precisely the problem with 'Born to Make You Happy': nothing in it (besides, possibly, the sexy torso of the hottie ex-boyfriend) is likely to stick with you a couple of hours after watching it. There's no advancement of Britney, no memorable moments, no striking images, just a bunch of bland, mediocre sets filled with Britney moping about. A bit of a stalling point in the course of Britney's videography, but, thankfully, her next video more than made up for it.

Tuesday, June 8, 2010

Now This is a Movie I Would Pay to See. Even in 3D.

Top Performances of the Past TV Season

Last year around this time, I came up with a list of 25 of my favorite TV performances from that season. That post was a major hit, generating more comments than I usually get in a fortnight, so, of course, I'm doing another one to hopefully cash in on that popularity. This year, after expressing my continuing dissatisfaction with TV in general, I had to change this post up a lot in order to stay true with what really fascinated me this season. I expanded my definition of "performance" to include reality TV performance since, in its on way, those appearing in reality TV are doing their own version of "acting."

Tina Fey, 30 Rock
Liz Lemon was her usual wonderful Liz Lemon self this past season of 30 Rock, marching toward middle age still alone, bitter and as relatable as ever.

Joel McHale, Community
McHale's Jeff is the walking definition of a "dickweed," but it's all part of the roguish charm he casts over us and the other misfits in his study group at Greendale Community College.

Jane Lynch, Glee
By the end of the season, the show was an absolute chore to sit through. Lynch's omnipotent villain, Sue Sylvester, however, was always worth waiting through the shitty melodramatics and dumb karaoke numbers to discover. Her constant attempts to bring down the Glee club, often through manipulation, blackmail and out-and-out cheating (not to mention her many insults of Mr. Schu's hair) were always funny, even when the show refused to change anything up plot-wise. All in all, I love the way Sue sees it.

Keir Gilchrist, United States of Tara
While working through the facets of his sexuality on this season of Tara, Marshall, under the guidance of Keir Gilchrist, became quite possibly the most complex gay character on TV right now. If not, he's definitely a breath of fresh air from the usual drama queens and depressed souls we're usually assaulted with.

Snooki, Jersey Shore
From the moment this construction-cone-orange Oompa Loompa with a big ole pouf on her head arrived on the scene, my life has never been the same. At first, she looks like the typical Real World skank who drinks too much and then gets verbally abusive while looking for some penis. Somehow, over the course of Jersey Shore's brilliant first season, she became its heart and soul, the emotional core of the entire show. The moment when she is wrongly punched in the face by some random guido at the bar made this clear, as we all took this action as a call to arms to hunt that asshole down and punch him in the face. After that, however, Snooki became our favorite sexually promiscuous girl, constantly looking for her juicehead gorilla but always coming up with the short end of the stick. Oh, that Snooki, always looking for love but never quite finding it.

RuPaul, RuPaul's Drag Race
Not only was she damn fabulous every week--seriously, 99% of women never come close to looking as good as Ru on an off day--but she was an endearing and oh so lovable mama bear to all of the queen cubs, spouting words of wisdom like "Don't fuck it up!" or "If you can't love yourself, how in the hell are you gonna love someone else?" (my new personal mantra). And who can forget her line reading of "It's time to LIP SYNC....for your LIFE"?

The Cast of Wizards of Waverly Place [Selena Gomez, David Henrie, Jake T. Austin, Maria Canals-Barrera, David DeLuise, Jennifer Stone, Dan Benson]
The Russos are, without a doubt, the realest family on TV since the Millers on Still Standing. They lie, cheat, manipulate and cast spells to get what they want, but there's never any doubt that love is what bonds them together (or the fact that they have nowhere else to go). As far as acting goes, Gomez is a deliciously "dark" alternative to the typical Disney starlet. Henrie has a natural gift for comedy that makes his gay older brother a treat to watch. Austin does stupidity with intelligence. Canals-Barrera and DeLuise resist the urge to play broad as many adults on tween shows seem to do. Stone plays her character's eccentricities for endearment rather than cheap laughs. Bonus points for Dan Benson who plays Justin's best gal pal Zeke and his overwhelming dorkiness/homosexuality.

Sterling Knight, Tiffany Thornton and Demi Lovato, Sonny With a Chance
Whenever these three are involved in the main plot of an episode, you can rest assured that amazingness will ensue. I've already aired my complaints with the current season, but when these three are on (as in the celebrity funeral parody when Gassie, the farting dog, passes away), few actors their age, Disney or not, can match them.

Suze Orman, The Suze Orman Show
Since I started watching The Suze Orman Show a few months ago, I've come to the conclusion that Suze isn't merely a TV show host. Rather, she is a TV Personality with a capital "P." The way she calls everyone "girlfriend" or "boyfriend," the way she yells "DENIED!" at those who really can't afford whatever treasure they want on the Can I Afford It segment, even the way she gives one of her patented Suze Smackdowns betrays a woman who not only knows what the fuck she is talking about, but, also, a woman who knows how to make 401(k)'s and eight month emergency funds as entertaining as possible.

Becki Newton, Ugly Betty
TV's greatest fag hag since Grace Adler brought the funny every time she appeared on screen this season, even in the dire first half of the season where no one seemed to know what the fuck they were doing anymore. In the four years Ugly Betty has been on the air, she has gone from resident bitch to comedic genius. I can't wait to see what she can do on her new show this year.

Nicole Anderson and Chelsea Staub, JONAS
The Jonas Brothers may be the stars, but it's the women of JONAS who rule the show week in and week out. Staub, with her regality and no-holds-barred approach to her character, remains the mostly sweet, occasionally bitter heart of the show. Anderson, who could have become annoying five minutes in as the fanatic fangirl, constantly pushed herself to make the unremarkable material fresh and funny (I especially loved her breathless texting and site updating while on a date with Joe).

Team Griffin, Kathy Griffin: My Life on the D-List
They always bring the funny, but Kathy and her team (which consists of mother Maggie, assistant Tiffany and tour manager Tom) constantly had me in stitches on this past celebrity-filled season of My Life on the D-List. The show isn't "reality" anymore, if it ever really was, yet that doesn't really matter.

Kirstie Alley, Kirstie Alley's Big Life
I nearly peed my pants the moment when she started pulling that huge branch across the driveway live an ox plowing the field. What I thought would be a self-conscious and ungodly account of a woman who won't shut up about being fat was actually one of the most spirited riffs on reality television since My Life on the D-List. Bravo!

Julia Louis-Dreyfus, The New Adventures of Old Christine
In what has sadly become the final season of Old Christine, Louis-Dreyfus continued to bring the laughs as alcoholic, over-dramatic, loser mama Christine Campbell (who somehow makes Liz Lemon look like a winner). My favorite moment of hers was when she accidentally kidnapped a woman she used to torment in junior high when she wouldn't accept her apology. Only Louis-Dreyfus could make a plot as ridiculous as that work. This show will be missed.

Friday, June 4, 2010

An Open Letter to Lady GaGa Fans

Dear Lady GaGa Fans:

You're ruining Lady GaGa for me.

Ever since I heard 'Just Dance' on the radio in late 2008, I have loved the woman known as GaGa. I defended her against many of her now rabid devotees who thought she was nothing but a Madonna wannabe (HA, remember those days?). Around the time of the 'Paparazzi' video, however, a lot of people saw that she was her own artist. The comparisons stopped and many of her one-time haters became hardcore fans overnight. With the 1-2-3-4 punch of her insane VMA performance, her 'Bad Romance' video, the release of The Fame Monster and her tour, GaGa's fanbase went mental in a short period of time. And this is precisely where the problem started.

The gays like to make fun of Justin Bieber and his devoted legion of tween fans, but, in all honesty, there's not much difference between a Bieberhead and a fanatical GaGa gay. The only thing that separates them is the fact that the gay can usually compose a proper sentence when announcing their devotion 14 times a day. And boy are the gays devoted. Every televised performance is not simply a great performance but, rather, "THE GREATEST THING I HAVE EVER SEEN WITH MY EYES. THE RESURRECTION OF JESUS WAS LESS SPECTACULAR THAN WHAT I AM WITNESSING. I HEART GAGA!" What about that Glee Goes GaGa episode which everyone thought was so amazing? That was an embarrassment both to the Glee cast and GaGa's music. Dressing up in GaGa's costumes, doing some rudimentary moves from her videos and singing a lame karaoke version of 'Bad Romance' does not count as a great musical number. Ask any gay man who watched that episode, however, and it comes across as if that sequence redefined the musical as we know it. I think I'm beginning to understand the problem Ann Coulter has conversing with liberals.

I could ignore many of these minor irritants by simply closing my Twitter feed, but the grander problem these sentiments address is both unavoidable and distressing. This all-around obsession with GaGa has gone from simple adoration to destructive. The gays are a notoriously fickle group. When they love you, they REALLY love you. But when they don't, you better watch out because the venom is going to come out. Xtina recently experienced this with her "GaGa imitation" 'Not Myself Tonight'. The gays turned on her so quickly and so unexpectedly, my head is still spinning. I'm literally scared for how Madonna and Britney are going to fare in this post-GaGa pop landscape. I'm already pretty sure they're going to be lambasted for "stealing" from GaGa even while they're doing the same thing they've been doing since GaGa was still Stefani. Let's be clear about one thing: GaGa did not invent the idea of a stage persona or using sexuality as a part of this persona, nor did she invent pop music. Lord knows I love her, but the idea that she invented anything new, besides her individual persona, is completely ridiculous.

So, GaGa fans, I am urging you to tone it down a bit. I understand that you love her--I certainly do, too--but you're turning a great woman into an unpleasant experience with every mention of her. Also, GaGa, please go away for awhile. After the 'Alejandro' video (and I'm already preparing for an onslaught of "GREATEST. VIDEO. EVER." tweets when that premieres), I don't want to see your face for six months. Give me a chance to miss you! Let the gays talk about something else for awhile instead of how you invented the long-form music video.


Dame James

Wednesday, June 2, 2010

Britney's Videography: 'From the Bottom of My Broken Heart'

Britney Spears 'From the Bottom of My Broken Heart' # # # # #
It seems fitting that the video for Britney's final single (in America, at least) from her debut album is, in essence, a video that details a young woman packing up her juvenile troubles in a tiny suitcase and leaving her small town for the Real World of adulthood. This metaphor is simple and surprisingly underplayed in the video yet is one of the most intriguing things in Britney's videography up to this point. In a way, the packing up of her youth in 'From the Bottom of My Broken Heart' lets us know that, even a couple years before she declared it in song form, Brit's not a girl anymore. She's 18 now and ready to move on from this stage of her career. Unfortunately, this about all this video has to offer as its ode to Young Love Lost is neither original nor interesting in any particular way. The whole video feels like a lesser subplot on some Christian-friendly teen soap on ABC Family or The CW (back in the days when 7th Heaven was their big show, obviously). Britney looks gorgeous, and it's nice to see her acting goofy in those brief moments when everything is good in the relationship, but it's obvious this weak, faux-serious melodrama isn't her forte. You know she's just treading water until she can offend someone once again. And boy does she have plenty more of those moments coming up in her career.

Tuesday, June 1, 2010

"I don't know how to be gay."

"I used to think I was something else, like they'd make a whole new category for me. I like guys, but I like old films just as much. I don't know what to call that."

Oh, Moosh. I feel like you really get me sometimes.