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Wednesday, Feb 3, 2010

In the Terminator franchise, the moment in time that the hero seeks to undo is the moment that Skynet becomes “self aware”, when technology suddenly makes the leap into having a consciousness of its subservience to mankind and decides to stage a slave rebellion. I fear that my television fun will soon be ruined as Snooki 2.0 suddenly learns words like “cache” and avoids the burnt umber spray tan setting, opting instead for something that looks like it could actually be produced by exposure to sunlight. We are reaching the terrifying moment where Jersey Shore understands itself. 


It’s true that, as the New Yorker notes, the pleasure derived from Jersey Shore is tainted with anthropological condescension, but that seems far more sensible to me that ironic adulation. Of course, we want to part the bushes and peer into the world of “Guidos and Guidettes” who string one clubbing night to another, skirmish in violent turf wars, and wring dramatic tensions from hooking up. Honestly, at their age, I can’t say that I did much more than go to concerts and classes, do harder drugs, and have casual sex, the only difference being that I had a reading list.


Frankly, I’m glad that Pauly D doesn’t talk about Foucault and listen to the Fall. These kids are brash, directionless thrill seekers. Most people in their 20s are mistake factories, prone to perpetually misread the significance of life events, their place in the cosmos, and the stability and veracity of their choices and feelings. (Whereas people in their 30s understand that they are repeating the mistakes of their 20s.) The Jersey Shore kids simply represent a very specific subgenre of a more general category: partiers.


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Wednesday, Feb 3, 2010

It is the penultimate audition show before taking to Hollywood and weeding out the golden tickets, and it is clear that the process, both in the audition room and the editing booth, is starting to run on fumes. This episode had little in the way of either memorable performances, freakazoids, or sob stories. The judges agreed to send 26 total singers from Denver on to the next round, but we saw very few of them. Instead, the show spliced together more montages than usual—of quirky audition preparation rituals, of pissed-off rejects being hounded by American Idol cameras, of the upbeat yes-fest from Denver, and of the zany costume gimmicks.


To stay consistent with the general mendacity at this point, Denver saw the return of Victoria Beckham, heretofore the most reticent of the guest judges, who in this round was far more talkative, approaching outright astuteness. She was able to level that criticism first on a paunchy wiseacre named Mark Labriola, a guy who thinks he looks like Jack Black so he tries to act like him. His personal history offers some drama; his mom was a fugitive mother, hiding little Mark around the country since he was four-years old. Mark, now a father himself, sang Squeeze’s “Tempted”, which was passable, so all that backstory wasn’t in vain.


Tagged as: american idol
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Tuesday, Feb 2, 2010
One man's quest to leave the Jersey Shore before his blowout fails.

I know I should feel a deep sense of shame, but I don’t. I haven’t watched MTV in years. None of their self-celebratory awards shows tempted me even a little, and the rest of their “reality” programming made me wonder what I’d ever seen in the network in the first place.


But then came Jersey Shore. I figured anything that got so many people so upset had to be worth checking out. Within the first 15 minutes of the first episode, I was hooked.


See, I’d spent some of my formative years on the Jersey Shore, visiting my grandparents’ weekend home when I was a kid, and spending a week there for two straight summers with high school friends. Maybe we were too wrapped up in being skate punks looking for girls at the time, but the stuff that went on at the Jersey Shore on MTV didn’t seem at all familiar to me. I’d like to pretend it was this societal disparity that caused me to continue tuning in, but the truth is much less savory.


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Tuesday, Feb 2, 2010

“Oh, Ping.”


It’s a shame that won’t have an opportunity to become the catchphrase of the season, because Ping Wu and her draping, dithering, bum-exposing wackiness was auf’d on this week’s episode. No one on the show ever actually uttered the words “oh, Ping,” but affectionate eye rolling was implied in every scene of Ping ponging around the workroom in search of her shoes/sketchbook/money/sanity, or being browbeaten by her challenge partner Jesse and the judges.


Poor Ping. She was one of Project Runway’s more adorable loose canons.


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Monday, Feb 1, 2010
After a spectacular first season and disappointing second season, what will we see in the third season of FX’s Damages?

I queued up the third-season premiere of FX’s Damages earlier this evening with a good bit of uncertainty. Part of this uncertainty was because, despite my appreciation of its taut first season, the second left me completely cold. Even after watching the enjoyable and promising start to the new season, I still cannot remember the events that unfolded in the final episodes of season two. Seriously, where did Timothy Olyphant’s character go? And how did Ellen end up in the DA’s office? And what happened to all those characters we spent season two learning about? William Hurt, are you in prison? These are all questions that I once learned the answers to (and that, yes, I know, I could look up online in ten seconds), but it feels like a major problem that nothing has yet jogged my memory.


Fortunately, I think this only says profoundly negative things about last season and leaves me still jazzed about the apparent resurgence onscreen here at the start of the new season. The fresh start brings with it a new cast of characters (and, more importantly, a new group of actors). On paper, I find Lily Tomlin and Campbell Scott less appealing than Olyphant and Hurt from last season, but, if the premiere is any indication, the new crop of actors has been given a better storyline to function within (and Martin Short’s character echoes Zeljko Ivanek’s Emmy-winning performance from season one). Glenn Close remains arresting as Patty Hewes, and Rose Byrne plays Ellen with a newly found confidence which suits her better than the furtive glances and double-crosses of the ill-conceived undercover storyline of season two (if I wanted to watch Alias, I have the DVDs).


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