Friday, August 30, 2013

The Last (821) Word(s) On The Miley Cyrus Situation

This has very little to do with this post. I just thought it was funny as hell.

Now we have the people who are STARK, RAVING MAD at, or trying really really hard to say something cleverly condescending to, anyone who decided to join in the pop culture discussion of the moment - Miley Cyrus. And in doing so, they just end up...joining the pop culture discussion of the moment - Miley Cyrus. If you hate that people are giving her, and not more "important" (what a subjective term) issues attention, why waste characters and energy that could be going to the "important" issue on the topic you claim to hate? The web hits will translate to popularity which translate to further fame and riches for Miley, and in the end there will be no distinction made for you because your tweet, status, comment or blog tried to go against what you felt like the masses shouldn't have been feeling. In the end, you're message still looks/sounds like "Something something something MILEY CYRUS something something something else." 

But I don't fault you because I realize what you may not - that people just want/need to express strong feelings. And yes, sometimes it is a silly musical performance or a reality show or a weird trend that invokes this feeling. Let's not act like people don't react to "important" issues the same way; Trayvon Martin and equal marriage rights for gays hasn't exactly been ignored on Facebook and twitter and in the blogosphere. If you want people to pay more attention to Syria or midterm elections or The Illuminati, telling them "You're stupid for commenting on Miley Cyrus like I'm commenting on Miley Cyrus right now by telling you how stupid you are for commenting on Miley Cyrus, when The Illuminati is about to engage in another illegal war" is not going to endear your intended listener to your message. And you have to know this. Which sort of makes me think that you're trolling for "likes" and retweets by the choir you're preaching to. I'm an educator by profession and you know what kind of teacher is least effective? The kind who is always telling the kids "You need to stop playing those video games and iPads and study your math more, and pay more attention to your social studies." The best teachers are the ones who make the students want to be concerned with their studies by showing the teacher's own passion for math/social studies and putting all focus on it. Or even utilizing the video games to get the students focused on their studies. Now, I'm not saying that it wouldn't then be annoying to see a PSP in math class, just like it would be appalling for someone to be tweeting about the VMAs during a city council meeting, but all of it coexists. I'm not saying you should try to raise awareness for the prison industrial complex by creating a twerk video either. But if you're really trying to get people focused on more serious issues, maybe you can take a page or a just a sentence out of how the pop culture folks are doing it. Teachers learn to adapt the iPads and the video games to the classroom. Maybe you feel like you're doing that through social media, but you're not using social media effectively for your cause by ranting about how stupid other people are for what/who they give attention to. 

Miley Cyrus annoyed the living crap out of me, but obviously, because I previously blogged about her (I actually did 2 years ago also, briefly, about pretty much the same current topic), her performance was able to arouse some strong feelings in me (to be honest though, I'm just as annoyed by Robin Thicke's overrated rape-y song that can do no wrong that everyone gives a pass to just because it has a nice groove it hijacked from Marvin Gaye and everyone seems to love a soulful white guy, BUT I don't go tapping out word upon word telling you why you shouldn't listen to him and that he's nothing but a more annoying Jon B., do I?*). But I also blogged about Syria and have been posting statuses about the situation for a while. You can be intrigued by both subjects (and trust me, because of my location, I have A LOT of reasons to be intrigued by the latter). Yes, we all know that millions upon millions are brainwashed by the media to pay more attention to pop culture than they are to politics, and that's not a good thing. It's a bad thing. (Although, last time I checked, politics was just as outrageous of a circus as anything that went on at any MTV awards show.) But is an angry, condescending Facebook status, tweet or blog post your best strategy for bringing about a change in where people are focusing their energy? Maybe you should look at changing where you're focusing yours?

*see what I did there?

Tuesday, August 27, 2013

Ben Affleck, Miley and Syria

Ben Affleck has been cast as Batman in the next Superman flick. The Internet is not happy.
There have been a host of petitions started by folks demanding that Ben Affleck not assume this role. One even wants there to be a law making it ILLEGAL for this to happen.

Electrifying conclusion: This will be the longest conclusion you’ve ever seen on this blog because I’ve had a while to sit with this one and I really gotta be thorough with it, so you truly understand how you should feel about it. The Internet is unhappy again. It tends to get that way over really important things like this. And if I knew where The Internet lived I might pay The Internet a visit, or even write The Internet a letter reminding The Internet how pissy it got over the announcement that Heath Ledger would be thenext Joker.
I’d also make The Internet aware of the fact that Christian Bale wasn’t even that good of a Batman (shoot, in two of the three films he was outshined by the antagonist), he just made sure not to screw up a really good franchise while playing a very important role. You know what the sports equivalent of Bale is? The point guard/quarterback on a really good team who isn’t a great talent, but plays smart, mistake-free ball and isn’t a liability to his team (Joe Flacco, Alex Smith, Derek Fisher). Just like those are guys who may not have the kind of package the superstars have at their positions, but do a few things well that help the team win (accuracy, clutch performance, game management, locker room presence), Bale had enough things going for him (a good look, some acting chops, didn’t overplay the role {see: The Great Adam West} or treat it with condescension {see: George Clooney}) that enabled him to be neither a bad Batman, nor someone who made it impossible for anyone else to seem like they could succeed in the role after him (sort of like how The Internet felt about Jack Nicholson’s Joker before it felt like that about Heath Ledger’s Joker).
Now, I’m not downplaying what Bale did, he’s a superstar, a good actor who’s starred in multiple roles I’ve enjoyed. And it’s hard to assume an iconic comic book character role and play it well enough over the course of three movies to not get derided at some point (although I think his flaws or maybe a general disposition of boredom sort of showed throughout “DKR,” my favorite of the trilogy), even when you have talents to lean on such as Chris Nolan, Tom Hardy, Michael Caine, Morgan Freeman, Maggie Gyllenhaal, the aforementioned Ledger and Tiny “Zeus” Lester.
"You thought I was really gonna do it, didn't ya? Racist."
I’m just saying that The Internet shouldn’t act like Ben taking over for Bale is like trying to succeed Tom Brady as New England Patriots quarterback.
Now back to Ben Affleck.
Do we really still hate Ben Affleck?
I mean, c’mon, do we really still find him as impossibly annoying as we did, say, a decade ago? Really? I mean, why? I can barely remember why we hated him so much in the first place, but I remember hating him just as zealously as the The Internet does – in 2002. I remember him being the man when he came out as part of the dynamic Boston duo. Then he kind of just started to seem annoying to me in his subsequent film roles. At some point there was something about a horrible movie called “Gigli” I never pronounced right, him kissing J-Lo’s asscheek in an equally horrible music video (a lot that wasn’t hate, that was hatin’), and him taking too much of the blame for the abomination that was “Daredevil” (like I said, it’s hard trying to take on an iconic comic book character; I think Colin Farrell would’ve made a dooope Daredevil though). But, are those the reasons we still hate Ben Affleck? Aston Kutcher’s career has been much cornier, in my opinion, and yet he isn’t hated with the same fervor as Ben. If I may cross platforms for a second, Jon Mayer is infinitely grosser than Ben and he’s always one derivative hit away from being treated somewhat respectably as he bones the next starlet in need of a good rebound in her pants.
You know what I think Ben’s worst offense is? He’s not Matt Damon. They debuted together (notice how I treat actors breaking onto the scene as if they were hit records making a splash at radio and the billboard charts  - “yo, Mena Suvari went platinum when she came out in ‘American Beauty’ but she aint have a hot joint since”), but critically, the years have been much kinder to Matt. I feel like Ben was the bigger star at the outset, but soon after, Matt became the one with more acclaimed films and roles, and his reputation outside of work is sterling. Everyone loves Matt Damon to the point where it’s pretty much a joke. Don’t believe me? Check out his guest appearance on “House Of Lies,” where he plays a caricature of himself, and spends the entire episode acting like the worst human being ever, doing drugs and whores, manipulating people, and getting away with all of it, because people think Matt Damon is a saint - no - a god.
"Bow at the altar of St. Damon!"
And hey, Matt Damon is pretty damn awesome – this clip made me a fan for life. But Ben Affleck suffers because of the connection. Even me, a guy who typed out a few hundred words defending him, I rank him behind at least 4 or 5 other guys on my “Boston Guy” list that begins with - you got it - Matt Damon, then goes to Mark Wahlberg  John Cena, lemme see, um, CT from “The Real World,” Ray Benzino, and then there’s Maude, er, Ben Affleck. But I don’t hate the guy; The Internet and everyone else hates him. And I truly feel like, after all this time has passed, after he’s done all this charity work and garnered major props for “Argo,” he should be forgiven and looked at as a decent actor with something to offer, but he’s basically hated because he isn’t Matt Damon. Because he had the misfortune to not enter the world through Matt Damon’s mother’s birth canal, a product of Matt Damon’s father’s sperm. Harsh life.
Anyway, Internet, lay off Ben Affleck. He might not be Matt Damon, but then again, who the hell is besides, well, Matt Damon? I hear that Batman isn’t even all that major in the new Superman flick, they don’t delve all into his character and feature his story like that. They just wanted a different, older, made kind of Batman to school Superman on superhero stuff (“Ayo Clark, peep game tho’; haters gon’ hate, my man. You gotta brush ‘em off ya shoulders like Jay-Z said. I mean, I don’t even got superpowers and I got beef with 5-0, clowns, regular people, scarecrows and terrorists. But you?! Shiiiit, you can fly, my dude! And you shoot lasers from ya eyes! That’s that new heat right there! Cats gon’ be hatin’ on you all day. Lex Luthor, Doomsday, all them lames are haters. But you just do you, perch on top of skyscrapers and stuff when you need a moment to think, keep ya suit pressed and ya identity on the low, and remember why you even got in this game – for the money, fame and hoes, haha! Nah, for saving the world and all that. But on the low though, they got some hoes out there that will give it up just to for a flight across Metropolis. I aint sayin’ you should take advantage of such things, but I’m also not sayin’ that the gig doesn’t have it’s perks, you feel me? You feel me.”) So let Ben slide into the role, and if he screws it up, then we’ll ridicule him all the way back to his multi-million dollar mansion, beautiful actress spouse and movie star life.

I don't know y’all, it’s not that I don’t get why y’all show him love, Justin Timberlake, he’s good, but I think Adam Levine is cooler than JT can dream of being.

Saw somewhere someone said imagine if the Yankees pull out the wildcard, A-Rod has a mammoth postseason and the commissioner has to present him with the
trophy! I’d spontaneously combust from the joyful ridiculousness of it all.

Miley Cyus went all early 2000s Britney at the MTV Video Music Awards 2013. The Internet felt angry, violated, outraged and everything else except turned on.

Electrifying conclusion: “Somewhere in America…Miley Cyrus is twerkin’.” Yes, I know that bar rang loud throughout the heads of everyone who illegally obtained “Magna Carta” as they watched Miley with the look of at least one of the Smith family on their faces. Jay-Z delivered that line almost with the undertone of “Y’all think this chick is annoying now? Haha, she’s just gettin’ started!” She can’t think she’s being original, in the midst of the same sweetheart-to-slut transition that we’ve seen countless times before and saw coming from her many moons ago. (Anyone else notice how badly she wants to be Rihanna? Her new song sounds exactly like a Rihanna song and she seems to take all her style and skank cues from the Bajan pop star.) All this stuff you’re aware of, however. The thing that struck me though, was The Internet’s reaction. I kn
ow that I gave The Internet a lot of flack regarding Ben Affleck, but I have to say, it won me over just as quickly with it’s decisive and unified skewering of Miley Cyrus.
Now I know that a man my age should have no business caring about what the hell a 20 year old songstress is doing to get herself vilified. But a man my age also has no business eating Nutella and digestive biscuits in nothing but boxers and a championship belt in front of the television while watching WWE’s “Monday Night Raw” every Tuesday evening (that’s when we get it over here). We all do things we probably shouldn’t. Moving on. The real story here is, again, The Internet. It’s been a feisty coupla weeks for The Internet, hasn’t it? This event was one of the rare times when I saw the Internet respond EXACTLY how I felt it should, with no exceptions or disclaimers. Yes, I saw a couple of instances that bordered on defense of Miley’s act in the name of being anti-slut-shaming (personally, I don’t shame actual sluts, just pseudo-sluts like her) and the occasional tweet about The Internet’s lack of reaction to the inherent racism in everything Miley does (racism is tiring, a pass is granted every now and again just out of the sheer exhaustion it takes to remain vigilant about it; it’s like when I was a teacher and there were certain kids I NEVER let go to bathroom, but they were so unrelenting in their willingness to continue asking period after period, day after day, that I’d just say “Come right back and don’t do anything to get into trouble,” knowing that the former wouldn’t happen and the latter would), but for the most part, the Internet restored the faith in it I was pretending to lose by showing me that it can still draw the correct conclusions about the really important things in life.

Wow, I definitely came back to “T.E.C.” a li’l bit wordy, haven’t I?

Pardon me and my “never been nowhere or had nothin’ nice” ass, but I did not know there were towels with hooks built in. Monumental.

In response to the Syrian government apparently using chemical weapons on it’s citizens, The
Unites States of America is gearing up to lead an attack on Syria…

Electrifying conclusion: …that will result in the deaths of even more Syrians. I’m not anti-military or anything, but let’s be honest. If an alien came to our planet and saw all of the atrocities going on all across the globe, like the regimes in power in Africa, and Southeast Asia who have raped, starved and killed hundreds of thousands, and then tried to deduce why the U.S. is so gung-ho about going into particular countries with the lives of thousands of young men and women on the line, do you think that alien would be swayed by the argument that the reason is “human rights?” No, the alien would go back to his planet, show them a video of Miley Cyrus and say “This is what they call ‘twerking,’ a form of celebration invented by this human,” and then say “The country over on what they, for some reason, call the ‘eastern hemisphere,’ the big one with all the money, the weapons and the people in cages, they go to great lengths to convince their people that everything they do isn’t about staying on top through control of resources and friendly governments. And there are even people in their country who they don’t have to convince.” This article states, among many other things, how the country I currently reside in would benefit economically from a change in regime in Syria as well.
Syria, like many countries during Arab spring, changed very drastically, very quickly. Some of my colleagues worked there and absolutely loved it, and also had to leave everything behind as they high-tailed it out of there just a couple of years ago. With Iran and Russia talking tough right back to the United States, believe me, I’m over here living snugly in between Iran and Saudi Arabia, monitoring this situation like I monitor the guys who come into the house party who no one seems to know. I’m going to be the first one to say “These guys are about to do something crazy, and not in a good way. If there are any phone numbers you didn’t get that you really can’t live without, you got two minutes before it’s time to skate.”

Y’all come on back on, ya hear? And make sure to tell a friend about “The Electrifying Conclusion” and my blog about my life trying not raise hell as a black dude where there ain’t any, “Broha.”