Saturday, January 26, 2008

POP OFF SON!

A new genre of entertainment has emerged in this voyeuristic millennium, and it’s served up just the way we like our pop stars and twenty-something actresses, Trainwreck style.
Trainwreck television can only be defined as a type of television show—usually reality—that is ingeniously created to cause any and all types of mindless, pointless, silly drama and violence. Last night, I stumbled the archetype of Trainwreck Television: “The Bad Girls Club” (Season 2) on Oxygen. Oprah, how could you approve such debauchery?!

“Bad Girls” is basically a high-octane version of the first reality show, “The Real World”: all the drama without the staged apologies and forced understanding of controversial issues like race and sexual orientation. It features seven FEMALE strangers picked to live in a house-—probably based on their criminal record- and do well…nothing. There are no required “jobs” and they’re even supplied two dope rides and pimped out limo for VIP partyin’.

The formula is simple and surprisingly effective: Estrogen + Free Alcohol x 7 “Top Bitches” = Reality TV GOLD.

These women are self-proclaimed bitches, and they’ll willingly scream, spit, slap, and go to red-zone anger for without any provocation. And it’s bloody entertaining.

Why? I consider myself an intelligent civilized woman. I’ve never been in a fight or even been drunk enough to mistake a beautiful couch for a toilet, so it’s fascinating to watch women who disobey society’s and sanitation’s unspoken rules. Granted, I don’t think anyone should have to tell you not to urinate on the communal couch! “The Bad Girls Club” is a chance for all of us normal, law-abiding chicks to live vicariously through those loud-mouth-porn star-adulterous-alcoholic-bad girls!

Tanisha is a scary, plump Brooklyn native who looks more like a black Ursula out of the sea and raging in a house in LA. She’s a perpetually exploding bomb, banging pans together because the house is dirty; creating the catchphrase of 2008 “POP OFF!” during an argument; and threatening the former porn star with a package of hangers! I’m quite cynical of “reality” TV, and I think she was planted by the production crew to keep things dramatic. Mission accomplished. As terrible and sensational as the show is, I watch it every week!
*K Popping Off*

Wednesday, January 9, 2008

The High School Show Grows Up

The new season of “One Tree Hill” premiered last night with its much-talked about four-year skip of the college years, and debuted a promising new premise of teenagers finally thrust into the real and unforgiving world.

To be honest, I have a tres dysfunctional love-hate relationship with the CW’s pre-Gossip Girl hit show, “One Tree Hill.” On one hand, it features two super-talented, super-cute actresses in Sophia Bush and Bethany Joy Galeotti (the latter is the Katherine Heigl of a bad show. She commits to everything.) Their talents breathe original and fiery life into characters that could come off as hokey and one-noted in other actresses’ hands. On the other hand, the show thrusts its high-school aged characters into over-the-top situations with nary a parent in sight. In four seasons, they’ve rented apartments, gone on photo shoots for men’s magazines, been involved in school shootings, gotten hit by cars and attacked by crazy stalkers without parents jumping in for some serious ass-whoopin’ and guidance (yes, the show’s premise is about two half-brothers with a crazy, manipulative father who abandoned the mother of the Lucus Scott, played by the Luke Perry School of Acting Grad, Chad Michael Murray. Save for Moira Kelly’s Karen Rowe, the parents were more effed up than the kids). The writing never has been Emmy-worthy either.

As a reluctant and yes, ashamed fan, I was worried how “Hill” would traverse the college years that trips up most shows based around the quintessential high school gang. They made the wise decision to skip college entirely, and catch up to the gang after college.

And that’s where this began. The two-hour premiere was not a mish-mash of hip lingo and booze-filled, parentless bonfires, but a promising look into our characters’ shiny new lives and the painful realizations that only come with age and dream-crushing experience, just ask the parentless, alcoholic Nathan Scott (aka the uber-musclar James Lafferty). And armed the adorable Jackson Brundage as the former champion’s soon and a fresh set of issues plaguing the crew, the show shows promise to be both salacious and substantial.

There are, of course, a few issues that need a nip and tuck. The black student who tortured the new high school English teacher, Haley James, is an annoying and overdone stereotype. I literally groaned out loud when said troublemaker strolled into the Ravens’ gym late, rude and all attitude. Insert eye roll here please.

I’m also not thrilled about all of the cast returning and setting up camp in Tree Hill” which is the center of the show, but the different settings, even just Brooke (Bush) is her lush Manhattan world was an energetic jolt to Tree Hill’s country, small town ambiance.

Ultimately, the jump was a brilliant remedy to a show already on its last legs. Hopefully, this time warp will keep a juicy, guilty pleasure show around for four more years.

Monday, January 7, 2008

"Juno": A Movie Review

“Juno”, the movie about a pregnant, plucky 16-year-old, finally reached the multiplex of my Podunk town, riding on a wave of “The NEXT ‘Little Miss Sunshine’” reviews, and being a topical tie-in in the wake of Jaime-Lynn Spears’ own teenage pregnancy.

The flick is not the next “Little Miss Sunshine.” And that is a compliment because “LMS” wasn’t the revolutionary indie project critics and the Oscar wins made it out to be (Years later I’m still randomly shrieking, “Alan Arkin over Djimon Honsou!”).

But I digress, “Juno” is much-needed sunshine in the post-Christmas stretch of winter. Juno MacGuff, played by the adorably teeny and wicked talented Ellen Page, is a very self-aware teenager, mocking her own pregnancy with trendy, slangy snark, all while wordlessly handling it with the selfless responsibility of a mother-to-be. She can’t bring herself to abort her child, conceived with her best friend, yet she knows she can’t raise it the way any new life deserves. Already jaded by her parents’ divorce, she finds a perfect suburban couple in the town’s Penny Saver. Jennifer Garner gives an expectedly stunning and quietly pained turn as Vanessa Loring, a straight-laced type A women with an affinity for Martha Stewart-brand d├ęcor. Jason Bateman is her carefree, work-at-home husband, who’s smothered by his wife’s need to mother and his own fear of family and fatherhood.

Despite her alarming maturity, we’re reminded when Prom surfaces and Juno’s babydaddy takes a girl he didn’t knock up, that she’s still a child hoping to give her offspring the type of family portrait perfection she never had.

In the beginning, the dialogue and settings are too kitschy and even a tad contrived. I’m not that far from sixteen and teenagers don’t really talk like that. By the end of the movie, however, I was wishing the too-quirky reality of “Juno” was real. Because there would be a place where you might be able to find the “cheese to your macaroni” at sixteen and when your best friend is right there in the delivery room with you.

“Juno” is a film that inspires and wows, the type where the audience (surprisingly comprised of young people) doesn’t want to move until the credits roll because they don’t want the story to end. “Juno” made me laugh and want to cry, and moved me to finally buy a screenwriting book and a carton of Orange Tic Tacs.

Friday, January 4, 2008

Not the Same Fame

As long as I’ve been a lover pop culture, I have somewhat secretly harbored dreams of my own fame, not the new millennium-digitized-insta-fame, but the dimmer glow of the spotlight, boasting beautiful gowns, glamorous parties, and tearful acceptance speeches that orbited around the big movie, TV show, or album. Even though I have grown up and understand that flirting with fame is a dangerous pastime, I still want my 15 minutes on the red carpet, my 40 seconds at the podium.

Anyone with a television, radio or internet connection has probably stumbled upon the day-to-day coverage of Spears’ bizarre daily life: her inexplicably numerous trips to L.A. gas stations, hotels and Starbucks, her every traffic violation, and her shopping trips for clothes, toys and pets. The sheer volume of coverage, prior to this morning’s blitzkrieg, was disturbing and distressing. It made me revise my aspirations of fame, just a bit. I added realism to my fantasies, which I admit is pretty sad, but that’s how I roll. I’d avoid L.A., maybe hang out with Julia and the kids in New Mexico or find a trendy, roach-free loft on the Upper East Side or a beautifully old brownstone in Brooklyn like Keri Russell. I’d be above the L.A. club scene/rehab loop that most stars traversing right now.

However, the events that played out with Shock and Awe proportions early this morning (central standard time) have completely reversed my warm and fuzzy feelings on Hollywood’s now all-encompassing spotlight. I’m obviously referring to the purported breakdown of Britney Spears, captured by aerial news crews and malicious paparazzi, who literally chased the ambulance to get pictures of Britney strapped to a gurney, grinning incoherently and fighting with the paramedics. They chased the van with her children in it, and would have potentially endangered their lives if Kevin hadn’t risked his life to block the paparazzi pursuit.

Spears has always coveted controversy; it made her a so-called pop icon. What she lacked in talent, she hid in a smokescreen of scandalous RollingStone covers, the famous boyfriend, and laughable declarations of virginity. Her sexy good girl image all but dared paparazzi, now armed with digital technology, to get photographic dirt on her, and they did. While she’s (yes, I have to do it) not that innocent, no one deserves to have a devastating low point in their lives photographed, commodified and splashed across every magazine cover in the world. Fame isn’t worth that the complete breakdown of one’s privacy—something my shy self relishes daily. Right now, in the immediate wake of this morning’s events—ones that will be dissected and discussed for weeks to come—even the fantasies feel wrong and silly. I think every girl wants to have their red carpet moment, where all eyes are on them, but with today’s fame, they never look away.