2008
02.04

The cool kids want you to feel guilty about supporting Clinton (I’ll call her Hillary when you start referring to McCain as “John”), but I challenge anyone to sell me on Barack Obama without using the words “hope,” “change,” “unity,” “Kennedy” or “poetry.” Or without dusting off the old “She voted in favor of the war” gambit, which is a tough pill to swallow, but ultimately less important five years later than some would like us to think.

La Clinton isn’t sexy or idealistic. Thank God. (Besides, what candidate could be as sexy as, sigh, John Edwards?) Every time somebody criticizes her for being calculating and entitled, I’m like, “Fuck yeah. Right on.” Anyone who thinks Obama is going to swoop in, overhaul a lazy, ineffectual Congress, and “unify” our great fractured nation by remaining true to his ideals is in for a world of disappointment. Here in Massachusetts, Gov. Deval Patrick ran a similar campaign and found himself hamstrung by a contrarian legislature once he took office.

Clinton, on the other hand, seems like an easier lay. She knows that compromising in order to get 75% of your goal is better than holding out for 100% and ending up with 0. Yes, she’s “divisive” and “polarizing.” Guess what – come General Election time, so are both candidates. Every time.

The fun thing about this race is that, since both Clinton and Obama have similar levels of experience (at least in terms of actual elected public office) and stances on the issues (neither is more than politely gay-friendly, and we have no way of knowing, really, if either can avert the coming economic meltdown or salvage the Iraq-tastrophe), it genuinely is a war of personality. And to my eyes, Clinton wins that race hands down.

Obama may inspire ex-hippie snail trails at rallies, but Clinton deserves an Oscar for just about every debate performance she’s given. This is where the haters who call her chilly and overly rehearsed need to eat their hats. She’s a great quipper. When faced with that awful, sexist likability question, followed by a churlish Edwards/Obama gang-up during the January 5 debate, Clinton’s response was so riveting I half-expected her to break a dish and scream like Sissy Spacek in In the Bedroom. Her laser-beam takedowns of Wolf Blitzer’s WWE tactics during the January 31 debate (“Nice try, Wolf”) were a hoot. If she loses the nomination, I kind of want her to guest star as Barney’s mom on How I Met Your Mother.

I have no doubt that Barack Obama is a smart, moral guy with good ideas about how to turn our country around. But at heart, I’m still, as Jack Donaghy would say, a “godless, glassy-eyed Clintonista.” I’m pretty sure that after one of the Axis of Evil nukes us into oblivion, all that’s left standing will be the three C’s: Cher, cockroaches and the Clintons.

2008
01.27

So normally at this point in the end of January I’d have written, like, six posts about the Oscar nominations, kvetching about everything from the complete and utter shafting of my favorite 2007 movie (Zodiac) to the deafening homoerotic undercurrent of almost all of the Supporting Actor nominees (look closely, it’s there).

But Tuesday’s untimely passing of Heath Ledger harshed even my Oscar buzz, and I mean that in the most sensitive way possible. And I don’t think there’s really any way to properly reflect on it apart from saying that, even if it didn’t mark the most groundbreaking example to date of a mainstream actor plunging headlong into the role of a gay romantic lead, Heath’s Brokeback performance would be one for the ages. And that more than anything else, it really felt like the beginning of something, not only for gay audiences, but for Heath, who had lifted his game to an unexpected level.

It has been bothering me for weeks that Cate Blanchett, amazing though she is, has been receiving the lion’s share of the attention for Todd Haynes’ fucking awesome quasi-Bob Dylan fantasia I’m Not There. Ledger (as a reluctant movie star who’s playing a version of Folk Singer Dylan in a biopic-within-the-movie) brings much of the ground-level humanity that this conceptual art project of a movie couldn’t quite do without. His breakup embrace with Charlotte Gainsbourg, scored to “Idiot Wind,” is the most beautiful moment in a movie where just about every shot deserves its own undergrand semiotics seminar.

All the more reason to include the movie on your pre-Oscar Catch-Up List, I guess.

The 2007 Oscar Nominations [Movie City News]

2008
01.16

When it comes to hating Matthew McConaughey, we’ve never been prone to mincing words.

So it was with customary horror that we accepted today’s news that M Squared is becoming a daddy. And, you know, acknowledging it. And ruining the future of a perfectly nice-looking 24-year-old model in the process.

There are a number of things we find offensive about McConaughey: His propensity for dropping the “g” in every gerund he uses (see his official babydaddy statement, in which he refers to the fetus “growin’ in [Alves'] womb”); the fact that he hasn’t even attempted to appear in a good movie in at least six years; and the extreme pleasure he appears to take in his own physique, to the point where its overexposure causes us to question everything we thought we understood and admired about the male form.

For these reasons and many more (dude, at 38, it’s time to lose the Blue Lagoon hairdo) we fear for this child every bit as much as we fear for whatever flotsam emerges from a Spears family birth canal.

Matthew McConaughey and Camila Alves expecting first child [Celebrity Baby Blog]

2008
01.13

No, the title of this post does not refer to the charges in Michelle Rodriguez’s latest arrest.

It’s my reaction to foolishly watching the first 10 minutes of NBC’s misbegotten Golden Globes-but-not-really telecast, in which Access Hollywood-amatons Billy Bush and Nancy Odell announced the winners in each category. If the network had trimmed the fat and just had Bush and Odell run through the nominees and winners, it might have been a moderately tolerable 20-minute news break.

But no, somebody thought it would be a better idea to pad the telecast to a solid hour, so as to allow Bush and Odell to air their own editorial opinions on each winner. Imagine my surprise when, after announcing that Cate Blanchett had won the Best Supporting Actress award for I’m Not There, Bush announced that he was surprised Amy Ryan hadn’t won, because Blanchett “was just doing an impression of a man.”

Yeah, thanks Roger Ebert. And kindly fuck off.

The hour also included multiple airings of a home video of zaftig, 19-year-old Hairspray nominee Nikki Blonsky and her obese New Jersey family learning of her Best Actress in a Musical or Comedy nomination, in which Blonsky screams, convulses like Linda Blair in The Exorcist, and knocks over a coffee table. I’m not sure what happened next, because by the end of the video I was in the bathroom vomiting up everything I’d eaten in the last six hours. It was like 1 Girl, 1 Couch.

Eventually I realized that I could switch to E!, which was airing the somewhat-less-unbearable live press conference, which I guess was feeding into NBC’s bloated circle jerk.

Hopefully this car wreck will serve as a Worst Case Scenario quasi-olive branch that’ll put an end to the Writers’ Strike. Because, come late February, if I have to watch Mary Hart announce the winner of the Best Picture Oscar, I’m going to impale myself on one of the Cable ACE Awards available for $5 on eBay.

2008
01.03

I’ll be honest. The news that the striking Writers’ Guild is officially going to picket the Golden Globes, thereby scaring away all the nominees and presenters, is really bumming me out.

Obviously it makes sense within the context of the strike (although WGA members are allowed to work on Letterman and the SAG Awards? Huh?), but it still seems like yet another example of this strike’s tendency toward Audience Punishment. I say this as someone who would race to his computer for a “2 Girls, 1 Cup” marathon before watching 5 seconds of NBC’s American Gladiators revival. (Speaking of which, I love that they’re marketing that show as a 300 ripoff, rather than the sorry excavation of early ’90s dross that it is.)

The Globes are stupid and trashy and, by all accounts, easily purchased. But we need them, especially in January, when a nation of loudmouthed heterosexuals are frothing over the NFL postseason. Isn’t this year’s entire awards season kind of like a Julie Christie postseason? Casey Affleck, Amy Ryan, Ellen Page and others all had really awesome and justly celebrated career breakthroughs this year, and I want to see how they look on the red carpet, dammit. Javier Bardem got a lot of attention for that terrible haircut he had in No Country for Old Men, and he deserves the opportunity to remind people that he looks really, really good in a tux.

So, even in the spirit of complete solidarity with the writers, I have to say that this sucks.

UPDATE, 1/7/08: NBC and the HFPA have somehow MacGuyvered a way to broadcast the awards show without actually broadcasting the awards show. Is it worth me staying home and getting ‘faced on champagne? Probably. But I’ll probably be flipping back and forth to the Desperate Housewives rerun on ABC.

Golden Globes, WGA at odds again [Variety]

2007
12.30

Although our site has a penis pun in its name, in 2007 it became increasingly impossible even for us to deny the vast, all-consuming power of the vagina. The steadily escalating trend of starlet pussy slips in past years seemed to lay the groundwork for an unprecented vag-splosion of gynocentricity in popular culture.

From the poonhound dialogue in Superbad (“I’ll be the Iron Chef of pounding vazzzzh!”) to the unprecedented rash of career-interrupting premature pregnancies (smell ya later, Jessica Alba!), those twin Americans obsessions – sex and baby bumps – joined forces to create a mini-zeitgeist in which pussy was on everyone’s lips. (Except ours, of course.)

With that (and with all due apologies to the MacArthur Foundation), we’re pleased to award the following Vagenius Grants for 2007:

Brenda Dickson: The deposed soap slag’s cameltoe-drenched 1987 “Welcome to My Home” video was rediscovered through the magic of YouTube, inspiring a gutbusting series of parody voiceovers and prompting at least one “fan” to lash out in the former actress’ defense. We’re just glad the phrase “Notice the slit?” has permanently entered our lexicon.

Alexyss K. Tylor: Public access TV superstar Alexyss K. Tylor was another YouTube success d’vagine.. Her Vagina Power series featured a touching rapport between Alexyss and her mother, who played the benign Andy to Alexyss’ orgasm-obsessed Conan. Bonus points: Alexyss’ Hotlanta accent often causes her to pronounce “vagina” with a B.

The casts of Feast of Love and Tell Me You Love Me: We’re not sure why the year’s two most elaborate mainstream showcases of female nudity both co-starred multiple Oscar nominee and former NEA chairwoman Jane Alexander. All I know is that her septuagenarian sex scene with David Selby (Quentin from Dark Shadows!) on HBO’s otherwise dull Tell Me was an even bigger turnoff than the much-ballyhooed Adam Scott Prosthetic Handjob.

Jamie Lynn Spears: As big a year as it was for Britney, her little sis helped ensure that the Spears name will forever be synonymous with the term “cooter.” Canny trendspotters have already named “keeping the baby” as the hot new fad for 2008. Won’t someone please think of the knitting needles?

2007
12.05

Every so often, an actor whom you’d written off as a generic pretty boy surprises you with hidden reserves of talent. Usually, this happens through a series of rigorous performances in gritty independent dramas (see Heath Ledger and Joseph Gordon-Levitt).

James Marsden has gone about it another way, by turning out to be a completely charming PG-rated song and dance man – albeit one who, well into his thirties, can still rock a super-hot black-and-white photo shoot.

Marsden was so dreamy as Corny Collins, the Denny Terrio-style Baltimore TV host, in Hairspray, that he singlehandedly threw off the equilibrium of the plot by making Zac Efron look like the skinny Kristy McNichol lookalike that he is. Why would Tracy be so crazy about Efron’s Linc when the host of the show is cuter, a better singer and dancer, and old enough to have a job?

Marsden, unlike Efron and most of the film’s other marquee names, also wins points for having the balls to perform a number from the movie live on The Today Show. He wasn’t very good, but at least he tried (take that, Miss Travolta!).

And now, he’s at it again, delivering a totally goofy, committed, infectious performance as a clueless Prince Charming in the surprisingly well-crafted Enchanted (which I did indeed pay to see, and yes, there were a lot of other twentysomething gay men in the audience, thankyouverymuch). And while Amy Adams deserves every rave she’s getting as the fish-out-of-water heroine, Marsden is every bit as adept in the musical numbers and as a physical comedian. His prince is supposed to be sweet but a little buffoonish – a lightweight next to Patrick Dempsey (and let’s all pause a minute to consider the outlandishness of that phrase) – but he’s pretty lovable nonetheless.

Prior to these two breakthroughs, Marsden had mostly been relegated to stock roles in franchise blockbusters and leads in indies that nobody saw (although he was very good as a Manhattan closet case in the excellent Heights from 2005). Hopefully now he’ll have more opportunities to show off his talents without being typecast in kiddie fare.

James Marsden Hairspray concert [YouTube]
Image source (NSFW) [iCandy]

2007
12.03

The Spice Girls are officially back on tour, thereby implementing Phase 3 of succubus Victoria Beckham’s plan for wall-to-wall saturation of all major (sorry, may-juh!) forms of media. And the amount of attention this reunion has received – to say nothing of substantial ticket sales – leads me to revisit the old Warhol saw about everyone having 15 minutes of fame.

I don’t think it’s true. I think, if anything, we’ve passed the point where everyone had 15 minutes. That paradigm worked for the Darva Congers and Omarosas and Kristin Cavallaris. No, I believe that in today’s brave new world, the howlingly mediocre get famous and stay famous.

That’s how a ferret-faced cockney slag like Posh can have a higher Q rating with America’s schoolchildren than 9 out of 10 Presidential candidates (okay, I made up that statistic, but it sounds true, right?).

I think one of the reasons I’ve been posting on this blog less frequently is that I’m starting to feel more and more alienated from pop culture. I can’t even find my satirical entry point into a world where people buy tickets to Spice Girls reunion concerts.

The tipping point, for me, was last month’s death of the Osmond paterfamilias. I was still confused as to how Dancing With the Stars had fostered a weird Marie Osmond renaissance, when the next thing I knew, Entertainment Tonight was on at my gym and there was her brother Donny, crying about his dead daddy (who had just expired that day) to Mary Hart in an “ET exclusive.” Then the Dead Osmond press tour continued on Oprah and Larry King, which led to the “Marie’s son is in rehab!” heartbreaker. Then Marie got kicked off Dancing and somehow Donny popped up in the trailer for the next shitty Martin Lawrence movie.

How had these incesto-creepy ’70s throwback Mormon-bots catapulted from obscurity to omnipresence in just a few weeks? If someone had told you, in 1978 (four years before I was born), that Marie Osmond would be receiving widespread media attention in 2007, how would you have handled it? I probably would have headed straight to Jonestown.

At least there the Kool-Aid didn’t come with Spice.

2007
11.07

The Writers Guild of America has been on strike all of three days, and already I can’t remember the last time I spent so much time poring over coverage of a situation in which no progress is being made (well, besides the War on Terror). Here’s a quick highlight reel:

1.) Patty Heaton joins the picket lines, perhaps under the impression that the Lord her God will come down from on high and offer a contract that both sides can agree on. Or maybe she just saw that there were cameras. [Deadline Hollywood Daily]

2.) The New York Times’ Alessandra Stanley – every copy editor’s living doomsday scenario – spews out a semi-cogent statement of support for the writers, and manages to impugn both Eva Longoria and the entire art of TV criticism in the process. [NY Times]

3.) After years of un-picked-up pilots and unreleased indie films, it looked like Janeane Garofalo had finally caught a break by joining the cast of 24. Except, oh wait, it won’t be airing this season. [Hollywood Reporter]

2.) Mindy Kaling, B.J. Novak and other Office writers bitch about not being paid extra for writing online content, but are still just cute-and-funny enough to not seem like whiny assholes. [YouTube]

1.) Heroes creator Tim Kring basically admits that his show is an overhyped piece of shit. Although he really should probably cheer up and take credit for delivering America’s weekly dose of Shirtless Milo Ventimiglia. Which will really be a painful price for us to pay if this strike carries on. [Entertainment Weekly]

2007
10.30

A British study has reported that more than 1/3 of American football players admitted to having sexual relations with other men. Of course, since the research was British, it’s hard to know if they’re surprised at how many or how few yank footballers are rogering each other in the shower.

The researchers seem to have defined “sexual relations” pretty broadly, as “acts intended to sexually arouse other men, ranging from kissing to mutual masturbation and oral sex.” This definition could include two frat guys getting overly friendly in the mosh pit at a Sum 41 concert, for all we know.

Sigh. If the football players at my high school hadn’t been no-necked trogs, and if my college had had a football team, this study would be a real turn-on.

Tom Brady, you’re going to have bear the weight of most of the, uh, celebratory response to this important research breakthrough. I don’t care how many babymamas you have.

Over one-third of former American footballers had sexual relations with men, study claims [Science Daily]

Image source [Towleroad]