Tuesday, July 27, 2010

Lindsay Lohan: A Note on Schadenfreude

It was Sunday evening. I was at Rainbow Foods in the checkout line with my lady friend. And then I saw it, presented on the cover of Star Magazine: "Lindsay Lohan Threatens Suicide: Is on Suicide Watch" and attached to the quote "I can't go to jail!", complete with a high-def glossy photo of her face smeared with tears and over-priced make-up. So of course I broke out into raucous laughter. I heard myself say "Fuck, I hope she tries to" and with a brief moment of reflection and not very much regret I realized I meant it.

So it has come to this, Lindsay Lohan has reached complete metamorphosis: Her career reached an apex at a young age and everyone seemed to love her unconditionally as America's new adolescent sweet-heart, she landed roles in a wide variety of films, recorded an album that sold respectably, and seemed to be able to charm pretty much everyone until she slept with the wrong person (Colin Farrell). She began to become the next Michael Jackson (refer to my Michael Jackson post-mortem from 1 year ago here: http://thebaronvonsternium.blogspot.com/2009/06/king-is-dead-long-live-king.html ).

And now she has reached the point of purely becoming the next MJ. Not to compare her success to that of Jackson's (simply not possible); it is the NARRATIVE of her success. It has gotten to the point where one's head begins to collapse in on itself if one tries to figure out what else could Lindsay Lohan do. I mean short of being filmed in a gang-bang with Tucker Max, Verne Troyer, and Bill Maher. But seriously, where could she go from here? How much further could she sink from threatening suicide to avoid jail-time (THAT SHE PROBABLY DESERVES)? And most importantly, what other way COULD I react to seeing this headline besides laughing? The patent absurdity of it is jaw-dropping. Her fuck-ups pile up on one another so exponentially that the narrative of her fuck-ups becomes more compelling and entertaining than the narratives of her god-awful movies.

"Schadenfreude" is defined as finding entertainment and humor in the suffering of others. There's not many things out there more American than this (as reflected by our grossly bloated love of reality television). I think it almost goes without saying that Lindsay Lohan is the perfect representative for this principle. Some might argue that we pitiful peons and plebeians simply envy her fame and success and wealth so much that we want it to be taken away from her. This may be true, but I don't think it's simple class envy. I think we just derive absolute joy and pleasure and watching her flail and fail miserably, somewhat BECAUSE of her fame and success, but also because SHE'S NOT US and we get to WATCH her flail and fail miserably from the comfort and safety of our homes, knowing that that could never be us, since none of us are, nor will we ever be, Lindsay Lohan. Schadenfreude incarnate.

Now the argument could be made that I am a terrible person for laughing at the suffering of others, let alone someone I've never met who's never done anything to me. Who am I to stand on my pillar of judgment? Your point of contention is understandable, but you're human like the rest of us. I know you. I know you so well that I know there is no way you could not find amusement in the suffering of others, to one degree or another, mild or severe. Schadenfreude is present in all of us, like it or not, and because of this, I think it'll be impossible for you not to hear yourself let out at least the tiniest chuckle at any of these clips:

Wednesday, July 21, 2010

The Gaggle of Her Gaga-ness

What a boring, predictable, useless bag of flesh Lady Gaga is.

Whew. That felt good to say. I'll try it again:

"What a boring, predictable, useless bag of flesh Lady Gaga is."

Man. That's so satisfying. Anyway, as much as I would like to talk about Her Ladiness of Gaga-acity with a true, um, poker-face (har har), I can't help but let it dissolve into this rictus of disgust, annoyance, and perpetual enmity. And I also can't just dismiss her as useless, now can I? Not when I'm devoting a whole blog to her.

Now, there is just something about this "woman" (the lovely video that makes the quote marks seem appropriate has apparently since been debunked [more on that later], but it's still satisfying to type that way) that drives me, as the Brits say, bloody mental. It's the way she just vacantly stares into space as she's being interviewed, the apathetic and empty and incessantly lackadaisical tone of her voice, the non-answer answers she gives when asked a question, the pitiful (and tragically successful) attempts to shock everyone into complete and utter reverence to her. It's the beautiful and perfect coagulation of these elements that give me such a reaction. I guess it can best be compared to the visceral reaction I get whenever I hear that God-awful "dontchaknow" folksy perky hockey-mom cuntish voice of Sarah Palin.

And she clearly works hard at what she does. But what is she doing? Yes, she's making music, yes she has complete artistic freedom to do so, including choreographing her own videos/performances, all within the vice-like constraints of the big label system. What is this veritable mash-up of Madonna and Marilyn Manson really adding to the musical formula today? Consider these lyrics for but a moment:

I want your ugly
I want your disease
I want your everything
As long as it’s free

Um. Guess what apologists: THESE DON'T MEAN ANYTHING.

But I digress because I take less issue with her music and its contribution TO music (or lack thereof) because then I would be obligated to write a blog about every goddamn artist on KDWB right now.

Now I don't want the impression to be that I am calling her stupid. Far from it. Definitely far from it. Remember that video that showed her supposed penis? Apparently that was a prosthetic. Wait back up. She WENT OUT OF HER WAY to wear a plastic cock between her legs at a live performance, knowing FULL WELL there would be cameras? Yeah, apparently (I actually called that one when I first saw the video). But yeah, she did that. She's not stupid, like I said. She also knew full well that there would be a pretty vitriolic reaction in tabloids, internet message boards, and possibly even interviews. What'd it do? It of course helped her already meteoric skyrocketing fame. People, this is key, and I'll tell you why.

Every move and decision she makes, every comment, every outfit she dons for one of her infamous performances, every gallon of make-up she utilizes per week; all of it is meticulously and carefully and flawlessly calculated to present an image that we all gobble up. She is the master of what is known as superficial charm and essentially exhibits the majority of psychopathic traits in a human being (though I still am at least partially convinced she's an alien), including said charm, obvious intelligence, pathological egocentricity, glibness, a complete poverty to true emotions (watch any interview with her), fantastic and over-the-top behavior, and an impersonal and trivial sex-life (at least according to her). So no, she's not stupid. She's just a goddamn psychopath that has America wrapped around her finger. And this scares the shit out of me and, ipso facto, I hate her very being.

Okay obviously I don't know this. This is pure speculation, clouded by the bias that is my disdain for this creature known as Lady GooGoo...sorry, Gaga. But I beg of you to consider this point: it doesn't make it any less possible.

I think this genius video illustrates her, and this point, perfectly:

Wanna know the true irony? The psychopathic traits I see are probably just part of that image she so desperately wants to gloss over us all and, as much as I want to projectile vomit for admitting this, her spell has clearly worked on me if that is the case.

Tuesday, July 20, 2010

Scott Pilgrim Vs. The World Looks Like The Worst Film of All Time

Okay that may be a bit of an overstatement, what with schlock, schmutz, and shit the likes of Drag Me To Hell, Dear John, and every Michael Bay joint produced post-The Rock being out there in the cinematic ether. But hear me out. This movie looks terrible. On so many levels. Watch for yourself here:

The movie itself looks patently absurd, which should be to its credit. But...am I the only one who is just thoroughly and completely sick of Michael Cera? Like...PHYSICALLY sick of him? I mean I think I might have an aneurysm if I ever see him make a face that ISN'T one of perpetual bewilderment (my theory is that the thoughts constantly running through his head are, "Oh my God how am I in movies? Seriously. They're gonna realize I have no acting talent any second now...I better keep all the exits in view..."). I mean seriously, that's the FIRST SHOT WE SEE OF HIM IN THIS TRAILER. And not only this trailer but every goddamn film he's in.

We're starting to see a scourge of comedic actors doing the same thing that Tom Cruise is frequently being accused of doing, as in "just playing Tom Cruise." In other words, Michael Cera is always simply playing Michael Cera. Every character he has EVER PLAYED, from Scott Pilgrim, to Juno's boyfriend, to Nick from Nick and Norah's Infinite Playlist, to Evan in Superbad, to George Michael Bluth, to him actually LITERALLY playing himself in that god-awful looking faux-documentary Paper Heart. Some of these movies (or in the case of Arrested Development, TV shows) aren't bad. Some are amazing, like Superbad. And Michael Cera is funny in these films, but only because they're well written enough to suit his limited acting ability. In Superbad, for example, the only reason he's funny is because he's contrasted with Jonah Hill and placed in situations that REQUIRE him to be bewildered at what's going on around him, be it a bunch of frightening coke heads making him sing (quite awkwardly of course; how else would he?) "These Eyes" or be it the fact that a girl is paying attention to him. But just because he works in this context as a force of funny does not make HIM funny. OR charming. OR cute.

And that segues quite perfectly into a final note about how many girls I talk to think he's "so cute" because of how awkward he is. Very important question, ladies: would you sleep with him? This is not a question of is it because he's famous or not (though the fame probably DOES assist him greatly in getting laid). But really: would you ACTUALLY sleep with him? Somehow I doubt most of them would, since, typically, when a little guy as awkward as him actually talks to you at a party, what do you do? At best, you probably laugh along, but AT him, not with him. But of course I don't KNOW any of this. A girl who claims she thinks he's cute might still actually sleep with him, but I DO know one thing: that he will look completely bewildered that this is happening to him right up to the moment of climax.

COEXIST: A Brief Rant on the Dangerous Naivette

Having just returned from the very pleasant run I take down the River Road near my apartment as often as possible, I have some pent up frustration, anger, and, ultimately, sadness at something I've already expressed scorn for on multiple occasions: the Coexist bumper sticker. I can't help it. I must rant.

Now this naivete, as I've called it, is staggering to me. It can be seen as a pleasant and hopeful optimism by some, but at the end of the day, it really is just a depressing reminder of the futility of human nature and, more importantly, of the problems that lay within organized religion. Upon seeing this bumper sticker in front of me as I jogged at a semi-leisurely pace, I couldn't help but get progressively more and more angry, not only because it is a mindless, naive sentiment displayed to express more about the driver of the car than about the viewpoint itself, but also because the owner probably actually believes this. Coexistence? Of all faiths and beliefs? Really? Doesn't the very definition of a belief mean that any other conflicting belief cannot be true? How can someone believe that religions can not only coexist together, but propagate peace, brotherly love, and prosperity for all, when the following truths are present:

1.) The brutal and disgusting and REPEATED rape and torture of thousands of children at the hands of priests in the Catholic Church for who knows how long, only to be covered up, lied about, and EXPLAINED AWAY by the highest vestiges of power within their organization.

2.) The occupation of the West Bank of fundamentalist Jews that pray for their Messiah to come to Earth (and backed by the religious right, a.k.a. the Evangelicals, of this country because they'd love to see their so-called Second Coming, who are also populated by sickening frauds and charlatans that accuse things such as the 9/11 attacks, Katrina, and the recent Haitian earthquake on the "sinful behavior" of people such as the homosexuals, the pagans, the feminists; the list goes on) and who assist the Israeli government partake in apartheid-like behavior against those living on the Gaza Strip and, as we saw last week, the massacre of Turkish civilians because they were part of a fleet of aid ships that were also associated with Muslim activists.

3.) And let's of course not forget the perpetrators of one of the most heinous crimes against the free-thinking world, al-Qaeda, a fundamentalist Muslim organization that ultimately aims to restore their own version of the Caliphate, a Muslim Empire, dominating the world, outlawing art, music, and free-thinking at any cost and at the sacrifice of any civilian, especially those who will not convert, quite possibly the greatest enemy to modern civilization as is possible, especially if they ever get their hands on apocalyptic weaponry (something the Hamas-backed government of Iran is probably aiming to attain).

4.) Or the immediate post-colonial exclusion of the Tamil people by Buddhists in Sri Lanka, as well as Buddhist-led pogroms and the assassination of the first elected president of Sri Lanka by a Buddhist priest. Or, for that matter, the Japanese Buddhist-based government (the emperor was considered "a God", remember) that in many ways was used to excuse the actions of the Japanese military against the people of Nanking, China, which included mass rape, snuff film production, medical experimentation, and other horrors rivaling those of the Holocaust.

5.) Or the Hindu-led massacres of their Muslim Indian or Buddhist Indian brethren on numerous occasions throughout history.

6.) And of course let's not forget the cults that have sprouted up throughout the United States, all of which preach discrimination (the Mormons, who, if they could excuse the lynching and murder of gays, the exclusion of blacks [since apparently God "cursed" them with dark skin], they would), ineptitude and ignorance (Scientology, with its proclamations of the evils of medication, have arguably led to the harm, and even death of people, such as John Travolta's son), and even mass suicide (People's Temple, Solar Temple, and of course, Heaven's Gate).

Coexistence? Hmm...yeah. Yeah the coexistence of religions, beliefs, and people would definitely possible if religious belief didn't, at its core, play into and validate the violent nature of humankind. This naivete is not part of the solution; it's part of the problem.