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Monday, Jul 30, 2007

Comedian Zach Galifianakis continues to entertain audiences with his quirky, odd sense of humor. Host of the short lived talk show, Late World with Zach, Galifianakis quickly reached fame as a comedian, performing on the Comedians of Comedy tour with Brian Posehn, Patton Oswalt, and Maria Bamford. On March 6, 2007, he released a DVD of his stand-up act, Live at the Purple Onion. Most recently, Zach, along with Will Oldham, filmed a music video for Kanye West’s new song, Can’t Tell Me Nothing.



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Sunday, Jul 29, 2007


It’s unfathomable, how it continues to happen. Armchair pundits are ecstatic that it does, as are various members of the media’s comedic circus. No one can deny how realistically heartbreaking it is, since no one likes to see innocence sullied so. And of course, there are scapegoats in abundance – distance deadbeat dad, disconnected insufferable stage mother, a populace who enjoys watching its celebrities ascend and shatter. But the real reason behind Lindsay Lohan’s undeniable fall from grace has less to do with her inability to stay sober (or sane), and much more to do with a culture of morbid curiosity that validates the slightest amount of talent for all its tacky tabloid potential. Ms. Demeanor is just the latest figurine is a museum of mean spiritedness that your average fame whore fan can’t stop frequenting.


It’s hard to imagine how the little girl who charmed crowds with her spritely spunky spirit in The Parent Trap and Freaky Friday remakes managed to turn her wide open fate into that of a less pretty Pete Douherty, and yet she’s now an official pariah. One need look no further than the 27 July premiere of her latest acting atrocity, I Know Who Killed Me for proof of such a stigma. A sodden psychological thriller that wants to be both clever and creepy, it barely managed a meager $3 million in turnstile twists. And the sad fact is, it’s just one in a long line of borderline bombs (Just My Luck, Georgia Rule) that have rendered the plain sight party gal virtually unhireable. While the Internet Movie Database lists Poor Things as her next project, the rest of her potential career arc has vanished, replaced by conflicting criminal testimony, uninsurability, and a magic bag of disappearing/reappearing cocaine.


Of course, personal responsibility is not being ignored here. As a 21 year old capable of driving (recklessly), drinking (excessively), and dying for her country (here’s hoping), Ms. Lohan cannot just wish away her clear culpability. Yet apparently she sees herself as the victim, a DUI collecting case of misspent (and understood) youth wrongly relegated to the archetypal child star destiny. But to toss around a right reliable proverb, actions speak louder than words, kiddo. Recent news stories have Li-Lo yelping, in sure self-deluded fashion - “I can do anything I want…I’m a fucking celebrity”. In retort, The Village Voice’s Michael Musto made a very salient point: “Like calling yourself ‘fabulous’, identifying yourself as (a star) automatically disqualifies you from being one.” Consider said standing revoked.


You’d think that the spat that arose between the actress and Morgan Creek Production’s CEO James G. Robinson would have knocked some sense into the spoiled star – or at the very least, disturb those leeching off her massive meal ticket position. Her last disaster, George Rule, was consistently undermined by the young performer’s ‘lack of professionalism’ – arriving late, absenteeism from the set, stints in the hospital for mysterious “illnesses”. Indeed, by the beginning of 2007, much of this troubled gals life was accented by air quotes, the truth of what was happening blatant, and yet still spun by those paid to make the famous appear flawless. But it was clear Lohan needed help. That being said, when a studio suit, the man who signs the checks and approves the budgets, belittles the proficiency of you’re A-list ATM, the time for intervention has long passed.


Miss Creant is not the first of her kind to go bonkers for basically no reason. The boulevard of broken dreams is paved with the puke of hundreds of these failed kidiots – underage actors who’ve falsely believed that success at six will translate into fun at 15, and an Oscar after adolescence. Unlike others who’ve drunk and drugged their way into an early grave, or a job working security at the local mall, Lohan seemed lucky. It appeared that, as she aged, the only transitional issue she had to worry about was her ever increasing bustline. And if she could handle the “real vs. fake” debate, the constant questioning over the nature of her knockers, she’d make it to the next step. But she discovered the joys of gin and the pleasant pain-numbing of nose candy, and the so standard descent began.


Still, someone should have told her that joining the ranks of Paris and Nicole, the Simple Life savants who’ve cornered the market on movie of the week behavioral blunders (porn, eating disorders, stints in the big house), is not the accepted rite of passage. If you’re looking for a young girl who made it to big time star with her integrity intact (and her criminal record clean), Jodie Foster is the role model to follow. Yet these young girl guns would rather trade body shots for Academy Award nominations, meaning their in it for the notoriety, not the notices. Of course, this suggests they have the talent to go the distance as well. It’s a concept to save for consideration another day.


Perhaps the most inexplicable element here, however, is the perception that females more than males are catching all the flack right now. Maybe Joe Jackson was right – it is different for girls. Matthew McConaughey can play naked bongos or go bat guano on an island seashore, cameras in full aperture observation mode, and he still manages to walk away as a slightly screwed up hunk. Tom Sizemore crystal meths up his life, plugging as much poison in his body as he can, and yet people pass it off as the regressive ravings of a man in need. Yet when Courtney Love acts in a similarly sloppy manner, mistaking her position as the fabled ex-wife of a dead rock icon as an excuse to forcibly feed her head, she’s citizen skank number one.


It may have something to do with the paternalistic perception of sexual weakness. As strong as women actually are – they grow and nurture the children, they survive the piggish slings and arrows of amorous, instinctual males – society loves to turn them into Cupie Doll drones, waiting for “daddy” or “big brother” to step in and rescue them. And yet, said sense of helplessness doesn’t then translate into acquittal. Instead, it appears to make the guilt even more monumental, as if to punish the lady for failing to see the error of her man-less ways. Again, context is everything here. Age can remove much of this mindset, as can a blatant disregard for direction. So not only does someone like Lindsay Lohan appear as a needy child avoiding the onus of socially acceptable behavior, she’s coughing up gold flecked vodka in their face.


This leads to another, more personal reason why people continue their fascination with such false idols – call it the pissed off public syndrome. You see, as much as we like to consider ourselves outside the ability to be swayed and influenced, to be more than easily lead cattle clinging to every piece of nonsensical news that stumbles upon the 24 hour cable callbox, we are indeed sheep to the sensationalized slaughter. When Paris Hilton was released from jail (the last time, not the times in between), the massive media presence wasn’t due to the noteworthy nature of the event. It was because they knew there was a realistic ratings share waiting to be tapped into. You see, as unhappy participants in a life that’s undeniably unfulfilling, the average Joe or Jolene sees the stumbling star and muses “how can they do that?” Inside their pork rind and Splenda soaked brain, they recognize the rarified air these pop culture accidents breathe, and make a mental note that they would never respond in a similar manner, should they win such a lifestyle lottery.


So they continue to watch – in judgment…in contempt. In Lohan’s case, there’s the additional facet of plausible performance deniability. She’s never really been great in a film – especially once she sprouted breasts – and yet the acting/singing/posing possibilities kept piling up. She worked with Robert Altman for Christ’s sake (A Prairie Home Companion), quite the CV statement for an unproven talent, while her controversial co-starring stint alongside Jared Leto as Mark David Chapman in Chapter 27 has yet to find full distribution. Even Disney couldn’t deny her, determining that an awkward phase Lindsay could helm their NASCAR based resurrection of the Love Bug franchise (they were wrong). From a minor role in Bobby to a couple of incomplete star turns, with every flop, every fading filmic fortune, no one really ripped into our out of control chanteuse. No wonder she wears a veil of invincibility. She’s never seriously been taken to the woodshed of opening weekend worth.


Until now. As I Know Who Killed Me begins to disappear from local screens, as its distributor determines the best route toward some rapid turnaround DVD profits, as those who’ve supported the falling star finally start giving up on her – Britney style – there remains two schools of thought on the Lohan longevity front. Some are convinced she can overcome this, do a Drew (as in Barrymore) and come out a confident, major league Tinsel Town player. In ten years, her ‘youthful indiscretions’ will be footnotes in an uplifting autobiography (soon to be a warts and all biopic). On the other hand, with an ex-convict pappy who “feels” for his child as he continues to milk her for money, and a thick as a post mother who fancies herself a more mature version of her offspring (including the deluded notion of celebrity), this could be one doomed damsel in a whole world of distress. The title of her latest movie may seem prophetic, but it only works if she recognizes the reflected irony. It’s a safe bet that she’s probably blamed everyone else by now. 


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Sunday, Jul 29, 2007
by Michael Merschel

GRAPEVINE, Texas—Publisher Nan A. Talese took up a fresh defense of A Million Little Pieces this weekend, defending the “essential truth” of the discredited memoir—while criticizing Oprah Winfrey and her fans.


Asked about the book during a session at the Mayborn Literary Nonfiction Writers Conference of the Southwest on Saturday, Talese said her experience with author James Frey had not changed the way she handled memoirs.


“I’m afraid I’m unapologetic of the whole thing,” she said. “And the only person who should be apologetic is Oprah Winfrey,” who she says exhibited “fiercely bad manners—you don’t stone someone in public, which is just what she did.”


Calling Winfrey’s behavior “mean and self-serving,” Talese said that readers should be able to decide for themselves about whether to believe an author, and that Frey was clear about how believable he was.


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Sunday, Jul 29, 2007

Moving to Sydney from Melbourne two weeks ago has pitched me into a realm of “branded content” that’s fluid and without boundaries that stylistically apes media’s alpha predator, the music video, the format that obliterated the distinction between salesmanship and entertainment. I had what I’m now starting to suspect is a quaint notion that media properties are anchored to particular places and their mission is to reflect upon and inform us about our shared world. In transit I encountered nothing but narratives wrapped around generally broad marketing opportunities: tourism advertorial videos on the airport bus, “Barney the Dinosaur” playing on the television screens in the departure lounge at the airport, pay television on my seat back in the airplane, convenience food identified by brand logo’s offered for sale as the in flight meal, and when I’m staying in hotels I’m drawn like a moth to a flame to vapid television programs that are exercises in brand-building, for example “Victoria Beckham: Coming to America.”


I don’t doubt that I’m part of a culture that needs to be more mindful about the role of art to warn, nourish, and tickle the soul. When I think of the word “media” the image that comes to mind is of a Sunday edition of the New York Times—online or the paper edition—with its long, thought-provoking essays. So, I feel that I should welcome the Sydney Morning Herald seeding and encouraging debate by its sponsorship of the “Sydney Sustainable Futures 2030” discussions at the Sydney Town Hall. But I want the debates and soul-searching within the pages (or on the screens) of the newspaper itself, not as branded-content marketing synergies preceded by a couple of lead-in “teaser” op-ed columns. When I shake the Sydney Morning Herald and a slight but colorful lifestyle magazine falls out almost every day, my heart sinks. Robert Whitehead, who introduced and steered the fate of many of the magazines was the editor of the Sydney Morning Herald in the first few years of this century. On May 30, 2005 he wrote an editorial that introduced a Sydney Morning Herald initiative, the “Campaign to fix Sydney.” Three months later he resigned and took charge of marketing and newspaper sales for the paper.


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Sunday, Jul 29, 2007
by PopMatters Staff

Maps
Mute Records releases the latest single, “You Don’t Know Her Name”, from Map’s debut this Tuesday.  It will be a digital EP and include the following B-sides: “Fall Apart”, “Elouise (Six Toes Mix)”, and The Field remix of “You Don’t Know Her Name”.


“The most astonishing thing about We Can Create is that it was created without the aid of computers. Spliced together on a 16-track, Chapman ends up creating an album that sounds like the love child of M83, Air, and even Stars. Ambitious and moody settings lay out a framework for his own delicate and vulnerable vocals to go down easy.  And indeed, this is an easily digestible album. While Chapman may be playing the same game as the aforementioned artists, he is certainly not yet as accomplished or adventurous. Yet, during the album’s best moments it is every bit as satisfying as Talkie Walkie or Before The Dawn Heals Us.”—Kevin Jagernauth, PopMatters review [7/10]



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