Sunday, April 26, 2009

Top 10 Pop Culture Problems and Who to Blame Them On by Herb

*Posted August 21, 2008*

Make no mistake about it. You know it, and I know it, there are lots and lots and LOTS of problems with Pop Culture (books, TV, movies, music). The following list is a compilation of the ten things that annoy me the most in modern media. You may agree or disagree, and you'll probably be able to point out some good ones I missed, but trust me when I tell you that these things are making us (as viewers) much much dumber.
HONORABLE MENTIONS: Reality shows in general, the 'tween' demographic, U2, Oprah, the Twilight series, and movie stars who have such a high profile celeb identity (Tom Cruise) that it's hard to act like someone else in a movie.

Who's to Blame: Who Wants to Be a Millionaire
See Also: Deal or No Deal, 1 vs. 100, Duel, Are You Smarter than a 5th Grader, the one with the lie detector et al
Back in the day, game shows were about speed (Family Feud), agility (Double Dare), and a barrage of events and information (Price is Right). So what happened? Game shows went primetime in a big way, with Regis Philbin unveiling Who Wants to Be a Millionaire. Ever since then, game shows have been about dark rooms, dramatic music, dumb spotlights, and many commercials. And why not dress it up? These days game shows are being played with millions of dollars on the line, of course producers are going to milk every drop of tension out of it. Well I hate it. I hate the drawn out sentences from boring and bald Howie Mandel. You suck, Howie.
Any hope for mankind? Not in primetime, my friend. But keep your chin up, Nick is making new episodes of GUTS again, to be seen in about a month.

Who's to Blame: Pardon the Interruption
See Also: Around the Horn, Mike and Mike, Rome is Burning, First and Ten, every feature on Sportscenter et al
Pardon the Interruption was a pretty groundbreaking show when I was in high school. Two old, bald, ugly guys talking intelligently and humorously about sports is something you NEVER saw on Sportscenter, which was the only other alternative. Not only was the content pretty fresh, but the layout was too. They were the first program to have the rundown of topics that they were going to cover on the side of the screen. You could see that a Deion Sanders interview was coming up so you knew to switch over to the Simpsons for 10 minutes. But with the success of that (remember it even spawned a Jason Alexander-led sitcom attempt) came this: Insert random ESPN talking head to yell and argue with other random ESPN talking head about any topic at any time on any show in the ESPN family. It seriously has gotten to the point where ESPN News is the refreshing show because they only broadcast sports news; quite the turnaround in the last decade.
Any hope for mankind? Sorry, kids. Not a chance.

Who's to Blame: The Wonder Years, I guess
See Also: Scrubs, Desperate Housewives, Gray's Anatomy et al
Some shows are good at narration, but most suck at it. "Hi, I am a TV writer and I don't think you've understood the complexity of the last 20 or 40 minutes of terribly complicated dialogue, so let me take the end here and tell you what it all meant. This way, I can wrap up cleverly parallel plots in a wonderful metaphorical bow of symmetry." Give me a break. The only way this is made worse is when you combine the narration with the latest trendy pop song.
Any hope for mankind? Yes, most good TV shows have writers that aren't morons.

Who's to Blame: The Bachelor
See Also: Flavor of Love (1 and 2), Rock of Love (1,2, and 3), I Love New York (1 and 2), etc. etc.
The Bachelor was a pretty stupid idea, but at least it used to have romance. I genuinely think the first people to do the show were in it for love. Since then, the smart ones have figured out that it's the one who sleeps with the guy (or girl) most that usually ends up winning. Now with Vh1 and MTV, the whole genre has turned into a trashy digusting toilet bowl of spit and herpes. We all get that conflict +sex = high ratings, but seriously, no good can come of these shows.
Any hope for mankind? As long as Celebrity has an F list, these shows will exist.

Who's to Blame: Shiloh Nouvel Jolie-Pitt
See Also: Suri, Kal-El, Sailor, Chastity, Coco, Fifi, Ryder, Apple, Phinneas, Hazel, Knox, etc. etc.
Not sure what's worse here, that magazines like People pay millions and millions of dollars to put these babies on their covers, or that they make all that money back and more because dopes like you go out and buy them. These toddlers all infuriate me for another reason (see #5), but just the fact that the public cares so much about this stuff is wrong. And in case you haven't noticed, celebrities consider themselves "artists" and therefore must wow us all with their artistically gifted talent of selecting names. These retarded names may fool some people, but like Frank Constanza's lawyer with a cape, I won't follow the trends.
Any hope for mankind? Fat chance. Would you accept $5million to sacrifice your family's privacy? Correct, and so will celebs.

Who's to Blame: Paris the Heiress
See Also: Nicole Richie, Kim Fatass, LC, Spencer and Heidi et al
The biggest douchebags on this list. These people have no utility or purpose in life. They survive solely because morons continue to take pictures of them. The most satisfying part is when these people try to sing,act, or design clothes and they fall flat on their face. Paris and Kim are fake famous because of sex tapes, Nicole Richie because of her dad and DUI, and Spencer and Heidi because you watch the fake Hills.
Any hope for mankind? I have to believe that some day the public will start ignoring the fake celebs.

4. Amnesia Plotlines
Who's to Blame: Soap Operas
See Also: Full House, LOST, 24, House, etc.
Amnesia should be an intriguing and interesting story, but because Soap Operas have been abusing this device (along with replacement casting, resurrection, and evil twin brothers) for 50 years, we just can't take it seriously. Even when good TV shows try out an amnesia storyline, it's immediately met with a groan and a chuckle. How often do people's memory reset after a traumatic event? I really want to know. Amnesia is the perfect example of lazy writing. GET MORE CREATIVE, PEOPLE!!!
Any hope for mankind? No, amnesia will never be an effective storytelling device, nor should it be.

Who's to Blame: Hanoi Jane Fonda
See Also: Oprah, Sean Penn, Tim Robbins, Susan Sarandon, Bruce Willis, James Woods
In the old days, actors were mysterious. We didn't have updates on them every week. You only saw them in movies, and you never knew what they were like in their private life. Unfortunately, that is no longer true. This is annoying because it's so one-sided. 90% of actors and musicians are die hard liberals, and they all continue to spout the same things (By the way, vote McCain). There are a handful of celebrities that feel that just because they are Hollywood actors, it doesn't mean their opinion is any more valuable. Even though this may keep them from talking about Obamamania, all it takes is a little hobby or pet project (Conservation for H. Ford, Electric Cars for T. Hanks) and they are off promoting it. Refer to our Top Ten Most Annoying Groups in Hollywood from a few weeks back. That pretty much covers it.
Who's to Blame: Star Wars
See Also: Indiana Jones, Die Hard, Lethal Weapon, etc.
This is a very specific group. I am not referring to franchises that have been around forever (Batman, Star Trek, James Bond), because they have gotten reboots from new people with new casts and new ideas. I'm talking about franchises that cling to certain people regardless of age or intelligence. Because of George Lucas' stubborness, we get the prequels and cartoons. Had someone else been able to reboot it with their own new look, it would probably be a lot better. Same goes to Indy for hanging on to Lucas and old Ford, Die Hard and old Bruce, and Lethal Weapon and old Mel. They are taking beloved, high-quality franchises and shitting on them to make a buck.
Any hope for mankind? Yes, once George Lucas dies.

See also: Private Practice
There is so much wrong with this show. The corny narration, the 'pop song of the month' endings, the gay scandal, the diva scandal, the McNicknames, Meredith's lisp, and the fact that in spite of all this, it's one of the most popular shows in the country. It's so good to some people, it's even earned it's own spinoff show. REALLY? I've only been made to watch it a few times, and all I can see is that Meredith is the Sienna Miller of TV doctors. The only cool guy is the chief o medicine. ER used to be the shining example on how to execute a hospital show with cool injuries and doctors we care about. Now people think Gay's is the answer. LOST got bumped from it's time slot for this drivel?
Any hope for mankind? LOST has an end date. Gay's and PP do not.

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