Pop culture obsessives writing for the pop culture obsessed.
Pop culture obsessives writing for the pop culture obsessed.

Friday Buzzkills: Seeking not to know the answers, but to understand the questions

There’s not much redemption to be found in a week in which the former backbone of the American economy falls prey to spina bifida, yet all we can seem to talk about is an Englishman’s balls and an angry uterus with a flattering haircut. And it goes without saying that the death of a sage is never a good way to wind things down, particularly when we could use a bit of meditative wisdom more than ever in these say-before-you-think times. But despite these distractions, somehow we have to soldier on, and keep trying to snatch the pebble from life’s hand, seeking not to know the answers but to understand the questions. (Because the answers will always be “life’s not fair,” because your dad was right, that asshole.) So close your eyes now. Do you hear the grasshopper that is at your feet? He’s singing a song called Friday Buzzkills—with the mournful countermelody of the “Autoerotic Asphyxiation Fugue In Fuck, Not Again Minor”—and you would do well to listen to him.

If there’s any solace to the Carradine story, it’s that hopefully less people will be tempted to stop chasing the “mort” and keep it slightly more “la petite”—because you can spend a lifetime building a legacy to be proud of, but it only takes one jerk-off session gone horribly wrong to enshrine you in the Hall Of Fatal Perversions forever. A sobering lesson, and one that others would do well to listen to; if only Oprah would devote a show to it, perhaps millions more would be saved. Oh, what? You didn’t know that Oprah had branched out from merely dictating the flow of American consumerism and started filling in for common sense and the country doctor with her near-daily pseudoscientific ramblings? Clearly you either know better than to accept medical advice from a faux-motherly megalomaniac with five hours of television a week to fill, or you didn’t catch the latest issue of Newsweek, which finally takes Oprah to task for her increasingly new-age-y, homeopathic approach to sharing “self-improvement” tips with her many acolytes, most of whom regard her as some sort of “oracle.” (The Cassandra of Coldwater Creek, as it were.)


As the article points out, most of Dr. O’s “pathways to a new you” more often than not involve some sort of “alternative” or “secret” (i.e. idiotic and potentially dangerous) remedy to an actual, serious problem, usually espoused by a celebrity like Jenny McCarthy and Suzanne Somers—who believe, respectively, that vaccines give your kids autism and that estrogen injected directly into your vagina is the secret to staying young—and then followed up by some sort of bullshit, “Some people say you’re crazy—but maybe you’re just a pioneer” statement from Oprah. Of course, just because you can say the words “Josh Groban” and suddenly no fiftysomething woman’s Christmas is complete without a copy of Noel, or mention the name of a moisturizer and cause it to sell out within the week, well, that doesn’t mean they’ll blindly follow you on everything, right?

Oprah certainly doesn’t seem to think so: She issued a response to the article reading, in part, “I trust the viewers, and I know that they are smart and discerning enough to seek out medical opinions to determine what may be best for them.” (Right, sort of like how every pack of cigarettes carries a Surgeon General’s warning.) Except, the evidence of Oprah’s considerable influence is all around, and totally fucking insane: An episode on a $30,000 wrinkle-removing invention called Thermage had “sales reps selling machines over the phone,” according to the company’s president; millions more adopted the teachings of The Secret and its lazy, power-of-positive-thinking, blame-the-victim, glorification-of-greed philosophy, which equates consumption with happiness—a crucial facet of Winfrey’s empire—and dug themselves into a recession; and enough people apparently bought into McCarthy’s “my mommy instincts beat your medical training” hogwash to prompt Winfrey to give her her very own show, so she can make sure the measles never goes away because her kid was born autistic but she's a perfect celebrity and thus someone must be held accountable. Lest we forget, Oprah is a woman who can get behind some free grilled chicken and cause near-rioting in the streets—but hey, just because 90 percent of her show is about presenting TV-friendly tales of people who overcame serious medical issues without the interference of, you know, all that boring, expensive “science” doesn’t mean Oprah is saying you should listen to her. She’s just talkin’, y’all. If you want to follow her advice without checking with a professional first—who will immediately tell you that it’s complete bullshit—well, that’s your fault for not being "discerning."

Besides, Oprah never pretends to be an expert: She’s your gal pal next door, who just happens to be ensconced within a multibillion-dollar corporation and thus have all of the minor details of her life handled by a team of toadying assistants. She’s not as bad as, say, Britney Spears, who seems to have taken all those “pop princess” sobriquets of yesteryear to heart and become so convinced that she’s some sort of royalty herself that, why, while she’s in England, she might just drop in on the Queen at Buckingham Palace and have some tea. Because hey, she didn’t struggle to climb an artistic mountain like “If You Seek Amy” to not have the right to have face time with the world’s most famous monarch whenever she wants, like after she gets done stretching out every blouse in Topshop. Still, that’s not nearly as delusional as noted Chris Brown enthusiast Chris Brown’s belief that “his next album will be his biggest,” despite the fact that it’s not a 45-minute recording of Brown sobbing contritely. No, the singer whose alleged assault on ex-girlfriend Rihanna is still playing out in L.A. courtrooms (and every “Rihanna: Taking Her Life Back!” tabloid piece) is convinced his in-progress record will be his “masterpiece,” with co-songwriter Robert Allen telling reporters that it’s “really fun and free spirited”—which is good, because that dude totally deserves to cut loose. He’s earned it, after all, just like Melissa Joan Hart did with her current People cover, which promotes the opening of the actress’ new ice cream and candy store by, logically, trumpeting her recent weight loss. And luckily, Farrah Fawcett had the good sense not to drop dead and bump her, something Hart reportedly worried aloud about off-camera during an interview with Los Angeles’ KTLA. (Good thing she wasn’t pegged for next week, or that selfish David Carradine would have robbed us of Hart’s new “bikini body.”) Odd, isn’t it, the way that even the most self-absorbed stars never seem to hear themselves?

Melissa Joan Hart decrying empty calories while pimping her candy store may seem a tad hypocritical, but it’s nothing compared to the way California continues to play Tantalus with the nation’s gays, protecting the “sanctity of marriage” in the courts and then allowing its television networks to dangle reality shows like Fox’s upcoming I Married A Stranger and CBS’ Arranged Marriage in front of them. Premiering later this year, both shows will stage “blind weddings” between “a woman frustrated by the dating scene” and someone she’s never even met—but who nevertheless has a penis, like God intended—to illustrate that marriage is a sacred, beautiful thing, so long as it’s solely between two heterosexual strangers trying to jump-start their acting careers.

After all, no one’s interested in your “civil rights” or icky “love” if it involves two wieners touching; why, it goes against nature—and until you choose to be righteous and use your God-given breeder gifts for fame and money, you’ll never reap the rewards of someone like former Girls Next Door star Kendra Wilkinson, who was finally granted a reprieve from playing Daddy’s Dying, Who’s Got The Will? and given her very own E! reality show, which debuts this weekend. As Kendra reveals, Wilkinson doesn’t take her glorious, sanctified nuptials lightly, like some of you gays who are probably just in it for the tax credits or something, if not solely because you hate Jesus. No, she’s currently hard at work swinging around on her new signature line of “sports poles”—hopefully coming soon to a store near you!—which helps her stay in shape for her man and is totally not all like a stripper pole, because it has the word “sports” in it.

By the way, if you’ve ever watched Kendra finagling free rent and basic-cable stardom out of an increasingly addled octogenarian billionaire and thought, “Someday I hope my daughter learns how to work the system,” sit her on your lap and share a look at “Kendra’s Childhood Moments,” a heartwarming testimony to the idea that any girl can grow up to have anything she wants if she’s blond and pretty and knows how to properly exploit her assets. We know it’s a tale as old as most of the men Kendra dated until she was able to parlay it into her own development deal, but it bears repeating. After all, the unfortunate truth is that not every little princess is born into stardom—not like the creepy next generation of starlets exemplified by Miley Cyrus’ 9-year-old sister Noie, that is, who, judging by some photos that made the rounds this week, appears to have emerged from the womb smeared in eyeliner and Juicy Couture, clutching a designer handbag and can of Red Bull, and making sassy red carpet poses before she could walk. What an adorable future franchise! She’s bound to look back on these carefree days with great fondness, provided she makes it past 18 without becoming a hollowed-out shell incapable of displaying any emotion unless a camera is around.


In Los Angeles, of course, there is no such thing as childhood anymore (well… maybe for the poors), so it should come as no surprise that Nickelodeon Magazine folded this week: Today’s kids know that life is one big paper chase, which leaves little time to dick around with children’s games. This actually works out great, of course, because this inability to live in the present means that all history is now immediate, and no one has to come up with new ideas anymore—you just have to wait a couple of years until they can be recycled. Variety reported this week that two of the remakes we’ve already alerted you to—Short Circuit and Total Recall—have officially picked up writers and are moving forward at a brisk, bite-me-critics pace, hurtling toward their inevitable “C” grades and attendant quips about how “I never thought I’d be pining for the acting prowess of Steve Guttenberg.”

While Total Recall: Total Recallier scribe Kurt Wimmer—famous for faithful, nuanced adaptations like his James Ellroy update Street Kings—seems to be the one most likely to be drilling glory holes in Philip K. Dick’s grave right about now, it’s somewhat reassuring that Short Circuit is now in the hands of Robot Chicken/Greg The Bunny’s Dan Milano, who says he hopes to bring a “subversive edge” to the film. Of course, he'll also have that edge sanded against the blunt surfaces of original producer David Foster, who seems far more excited about “taking advantage of the improvements in robotics that are so massive that robots are now performing heart surgeries in hospitals,” and making completely asinine statements like, “We think of Wall-E as an extended trailer for our film, because it's the same face.” Indeed—and also because it advocates recycling, and shows a society grown so complacent that it spends all its time sucking down whatever corporations tell them to, so long as it’s easy to swallow and advertised with lots of flashy colors.


But Total Recall, Short Circuit—those are boy’s toys. Thus far the ladies have been spared their delicate sensibilities, as their slumber-party staples have remained safe from the great tiller of progress… until now, that is. Prepare to see your precious Valley Girl turned into a Romeo And Juliet-inspired musical rehash, with its new-wave soundtrack repurposed into chipper sing-alongs with Polo-wearing preps making threatening jazz hands in the direction of various leftover High School Musical extras outfitted in carefully tattered clothes and color-coordinated Mohawks. And with any luck, once the film has ended in its rousing, full-cast rendition of “I Melt With You,” you’ll be able to skip across the hall to a theater showing the new Girls Just Want To Have Fun, which is currently being prepped as a starring vehicle for Miley Cyrus, because what the original was mostly lacking was that certain je ne sais why is this girl famous?

Clearly the studios are getting to a never-before-seen stage of desperation, with pitch meetings apparently not unlike that last mad shopping dash on Christmas Eve, when all the good toys are taken and your harried wife shouts out, “Here, what about Heathcliff?” And you reply, “Heathcliff was always just a lesser Garfield—and nobody liked that Garfield movie in the first place!” And your wife says, “Fuck it, we need something for the kids, and even the goddamn Smurfs have already been claimed! Unless you want some sort of CGIed Cabbage Patch Kids monstrosity, this is what we’re going with!” So you wrap it up in shiny packaging, make reassuring statements like, “He's a really cynical, wisecracking character who has a contemporary perspective we could do a lot with,” and tell yourself that it could be worse: You could have gone with John Stamos’ Full House feature idea, whose theoretical “dream cast” (“The former ER”doc votes for James Franco to reprise Stamos’ role as Jesse Katsopolis. ‘I see Steve Carell as Danny Tanner and Tracy Morgan as Joey Gladstone because he’s funny”) may as well have been written in rainbows and unicorn farts. Do you hear the grasshopper, Jesse? He’s telling you to suck it up and give in to Dancing With The Stars already.


Have a super weekend!