Monday, November 30, 2009

#33 - 2 GIRLS, 1 CUP


It was the decade when...

Scat was not a jazz style.


I have not seen 2 Girls, 1 Cup. I have no intention of ever seeing 2 Girls, 1 Cup. I would recommend to anyone, if they haven't seen 2 Girls, 1 Cup, that they avoid doing so at all costs. 2 Girls, 1 Cup is, of course, the Marquis De Sade's favorite Internet video. A movie of such misogynistic degradation that even Leopold Sacher-Masoch would get nauseous watching it. A two minute dive into Caligula-worthy debauchery. I wont describe it's contents (a description is available here and here) as elaborating further would cause me to lose my lunch all over my laptop.

Extreme porn was, before the Internet, a hard-to-find commodity, an object of borderline legality that had to be sought out by a dedicated pervert; they don't put coprophilia magazines on deli newsstands everyday. But, thanks to the democratization of information dissemination (finding bestiality sex videos is as simple as searching for stock quotes or weather reports), imagery that in the past would have been seen by only a select adventurous and/or disturbed few have now been watched by cringing millions. Hungry Bitches (the official title of 2 Girls, 1 Cup) is without question one of the most watched pieces of pornography since Deep Throat. A uniquely 21st Century phenomenon, this inexcusable movie became a pop culture sensation in 2007. It may also spell the end of Western Civilization.

The appeal (if that's what you want to call it) is not just the video's disgusting contents. Making a gross-out video is remarkably easy. No, what makes 2 Girls, 1 Cup such a widespread "hit" is its pretense as pornography; the filmmaker's attempt to arouse is what shocks and titillates. The irony here is textbook. 2 Girls, 1 Cup's actual effect is (we hope) the opposite of its intent. The set-up is almost comic: the maudlin piano score, the beauty of the "Girls," the mysterious title with its intimation of ravenousness ("What ever could these 'bitches' be hungry for?) - the ambiance is decidedly romantic. And then...

Whether or not anyone has ever watched 2 Girls, 1 Cup for sexual gratification is a question I don't really want to know the answer to, like, do I have the Alzheimer's Gene, or, how many calories does a Grande Frappauccino have? I take some comfort in the fact that the vast, vast majority of Cup viewers have watched the video as either as test of wills or on a dare. A sad few didn't know what they were watching when they started. (An occupational hazard for voracious Internet surfers.) All these decent people, confronted with images as foul and debased as any as they will ever see thought it wise to record their own personal Ludovico treatments for posterity. The great legacy of 2 Girls, 1 Cup is the anthology of reaction videos, a voluminous record of disgust uploaded to YouTube and preserved for all time. A parade of faces in various grimaces of laughter, horror and nausea, watching these videos in rapid succession has a hilarious, hypnotic fascination. The consistency of the reactions, the uniform tempo of the squirming, the omnipresent piano serenade in the background- the reaction videos are more and more of a delight to watch with every new "Oh My GOD!" They became so popular that 2 Girls, 1 Cup's viral popularity can only be explained in reference to the desire people had to share their horror at watching it with the world. Why else would you sit through that? The 21st Century is the era where nothing is worth doing unless it's taped and uploaded. Privacy is so overrated.

By all means, should my reservations not dissuade you, watch the movie and post your own reaction video, but let it go at that. I don't recommend writing college essays about 2 Girls, 1 Cup, the professor is prone to miss your satirical brilliance.

Another piece of advice: don't think too long about 2 Girls, 1 Cup. You might find yourself asking unpleasant questions like: "Who are these 'actresses?'" " Why was the video really made?" "Why did the girls do it?" "It it fake? It's gotta be fake! It's fake. Please God, let it be fake." "What viral video could possibly top this?" That last question is the scariest of all. While I'd like to pretend that 2 Girls, 1 Cup will be a unique moment in the history of the Internet, I suspect that we will have more unfit-for-human-consumption videos uploaded our way in the near future. But for now we have, for your viewing pleasure, our de facto psychological record: Variance of disgust reactions in human subjects.

You AUGHT to remember.










Tosh.0
The Biggest Reaction Video
www.comedycentral.com
Web Redemption2 Girls, 1 Cup ReactionDemi Moore Picture

Sunday, November 29, 2009

#34 - Sex & The City/Desperate Housewives



It was the decade when...


Feminism officially died.

What's is so fucking great about Manolo Blahniks? Will someone explain this to me? I may be gay, but the shoe fetish gene was left off this particular homo's chromosome. For all six season of HBO's massive hit comedy Sex and the City its fashion obsessed heroines discussed, fantasized and worshiped the exclusive footwear label in terms so rapturous that short of inducing an orgasm upon slipping on a pair (The "thwunk" sound you hear is Michael Patrick King smacking his hand to his head saying, "Why didn't I think of that?") it was hard to fathom what the fuss was all about. Of course, one could ask the same question about Sex and the City? What was the fuss all about? A weekly chatterfest about four gay men single women, all in their thirties, gallivanting around the Big Apple on the hunt for cock, cosmos and couture, sustained by what could have only be Madoff size bank accounts, (How else are they to afford their Imelda Marcos sized closets to store their incessant parade of big-label apparel?) Sex and the City was, one can safely assume, difficult to relate to for most women. So why? Why did this often shallow and periodically vulgar cosmo-quiz of a show become a major cultural landmark in the Aughts? Why did women and the men who did thier hair keep watching and dissecting Sex with such fervent enthusiasm?

Sex and The City was first-class escapism of the most ingenious sort. Its women were liberated and modern, sexually open (Had a women ever discussed the taste of "spunk" before on television?) and libidinally ripe. Piggybacking off of the hard won battles for women's lib in decades past, the Sex and the City girls were a new archetype for the gender; neither wives nor whores, these were power-girls: self-sufficient, financially independent, sexually satisfied (or admittedly insatiable) and really, really HOT goddamn it! The kind of women other members of the sex might pretend or wish to be. But underneath the Donna Karan skirts and horseshoe necklaces were women so old fashioned as to make Mary Tyler Moore look like Gloria Steinem. Obsessed with men - dating them, screwing them, analyzing them and, above all, marrying them - these women, particularly the series' perpetually lovelorn narrator Carrie Bradshaw, were as concerned with finding a mate as any in a William Inge play. Hardly career obsessed, for the Sex and the City gang work exists only as a backdrop to explain (unconvincingly) the deep pockets in them Prada pants. Carrie, already clearly raking it in as a lifestyle columnist and freelance writer (first a suspension and then a total expulsion of disbelief), nonetheless selects for her on again off again paramour an even wealthier master of the universe called Mr. Big, reinforcing the dream of Cinderellas everywhere that a rich man will, in the end, be your prince charming, generic name included.

And so it was, by the time the series finale had the girls sipping what we had hoped would be their last $20 cosmopolitans, all four of our protagonists were either married or coupled; even the sexually voracious and commitment phobic Samantha has settled down with the (or at least a) man of her dreams. Even The Golden Girls had the good sense to keep Blanche single! Really girls? You all need a man to have a happy ending? Can't we have an finale a little less retrograde?

Speaking of retrograde, another program this decade focused on the trials and tribulations of four gay men attractive thirty (ok, forty) something women. Deeply silly and relentlessly un-PC Desperate Housewives was a trashy, sassy, all too silly Sex and the City meets Dynasty hybrid, a prime-time soap opera with a catty cast of just-this-side-of-young knockouts. Unlike City's single-but-looking characters, the women of desperate housewives are, as the title suggests, already defined by their men. Taking place in one of those nebulous could-be-anywhere-but-always-wealthy suburbs that overpopulate TV shows and movies (as if every Suburbanite lived in a gorgeous restored Georgian four bedroom), Wisteria Lane had little to do with real America or reality in general. Where Sex and the City maintained a gloss of verisimilitude, both in style and content, it's writers clearly attempting to care about the shows characters, in all their excess and predictability, Housewives shows no such compunction; when not veering toward the ludicrous the show's plots leaned toward the totally absurd. Housewives courts camp in every moment. Can something really be a guilty pleasure if it's openly sold as such?

Desperate Houswives was a massive hit when it first premiered in 2005, but its importance to pop culture has waned. Though the series won no points in its presentation of women as, well, desperate housewives, I can't help but think that the obvious silliness and debauchery made the audience less willing to take the characters as seriously as the ones on Sex and the City. For this reason it's Desperate Housewives that's the less culturally damaging entertainment. At least we know we aren't supposed to idolize these women. It's also really fun, but then again I'm biased. How gay is Desperate Housewives? Most episodes are named after Sondheim songs. 'Nuff said.

You AUGHT to remember...


Saturday, November 28, 2009

#35 - Vintage T - Shirts



It was the decade when...

Plain white tees were so done.

To be a slave to fashion one must keep their expectations wide open. What may be required to stay on the forefront of shifting trends is not necessarily a big wallet and a trip to fifth avenue. No, in the Aughts, for a casual look that was a la moment, you had to forsake the professional sartorial institutions altogether and rummage through piles of faded and old T-Shirts piled high at your local thrift store.

This is not a retro revival, this is irony chic. When searching for a Vintage Tee it's best to look for the most unexpected design possible. For instance, an old T-Shirt for a youth summer camp is good....
but a Jewish youth summer camp is better.

Pop culture iconography is always a winner, especially if a shirt features characters from cancelled Saturday morning cartoons.

Superheroes work too,
but not if it's a tasteless mass-produced image from the past 25 years.

If you are of an edgier ilk, tops stamped with shabbily silk screened images of old rock bands can give you a grungy vibe.

Ironic text is a must, particuarly if the shirt features any religious messages.
Product and company logos are f-u-n, especially if the logo style has been discontinued or if the company no longer exists.

If the product is associated with childhood memories, like Cereal brands
or long-forgotten toys and games,
you've hit the graphic-Tee jackpot. 8-bit Video game imagery is a category unto itself.

It wasn't long before mainstream apparel companies appropriated the aesthetic and mass produced their own faux-vintage graphic tees. Urban Outfitters has made a whole business off of the style.

What is the appeal of the vintage tee? What does the childlike content of the imagery say about its wearer? Obviously, the primary function here is irony. Dressing like a walking billboard for a defunct company, or sporting an obviously dated design style is an extremely self-conscious way to dress. Not merely about "looking good" a vintage Tee gives an outfit editorial content. The shirt becomes a kind-of punchline. But, not simply an arch exercise in self-aware post-modern expression, there is a real Freudian undercurrent sustaining the popularity of the vintage tee.

By reengaging with the symbols, imagery and graphical style prevalent in childhood memories- the wearers of Vintage Tees are almost always born in the 70's or 80's - the anxiety of nostalgia is abated. The lingering affection Vintage Tee wearers have for the products, companies and images featured on these shirts would, if exposed, threaten to neutralize the aura of cool and disaffection that young people in the Aughts cultivate as their default attitude. There are few things less apathetic than a child's excitement when playing with his new toy; few things more uncool than the smile on the face of a kid when he gets dropped off to summer camp for the first time. These feelings are confronted and then submerged, (or secretly indulged) when the object of sentiment is de-contexualized, slapped onto a shirt and literally worn on the outside of the body like armor made of irony. The vintage tee may be the height of cool, but underneath, its very warm and fuzzy.

You AUGHT to remember.

Friday, November 27, 2009

#36 - Craigslist



It was the decade when...


One guy's list got so popular he made Santa jealous.


Website design has come a long way in the Aughts. From bland text based interfaces as aesthetically pleasing as the Wall Street Journal Stock Index to multimedia, flash enabled, graphically rich immersive "experiences," a well designed webpage is less a site one reads than a destination one visits. And yet, for all of Web 2.0's (as this era of the Internet is being coined) surplus of impressively designed webpages, there was one site that saw little need to adapt to the changing climate. One site that, despite being as visually bland as a box of generic cheerios, has established itself as one of the Internet's most popular destinations and a feature of social reality, that, like so much of the web, we could no longer imagine living without. It's a webpage that, if not single than helping handedly, destroyed the newspaper industry, gutting a financial model that could no longer sustain itself in a world where information exchange became both instantaneous and free. It's Craigslist! Your one stop find a job, buy a car, sell your toaster, audition a drummer, get laid, find a date, rent a prostitute shop for all your lifestyle needs. (Often in that order.) Craigslist is unpleasant, confusing, maddening, dull, mysterious, spam-filled and totally, absolutely necessary.

Craigslist didn't just find it's niche, it found everyones niche - on the site you could shop for just about anything that can be bought or sold (or given away for free) - from collapsible bicycles, to human labor, from a back alley blowjob, to a dinner companion for the opera - Craiglist was anything but limited. And unlike classified ads in print the call and response of posting and answering on Craigslist was near instantaneous. Craigslist was bland to be sure and almost wholly charmless but Goddamn if the site wasn't efficient at delivering the goods (both figuratively and literally).

Craigslist works because everyone agrees that it must. More local than eBay, less corporate than monster.com, and far blunter than EHarmony, Craigslist is the de facto location where everyone goes to engage in the marketplace. It's a cyber-bazaar; a wild, unruly yard sale-cum-newspaper classifieds section where any and everyone hawks their wares, prices always negotiable. Competition serves no one in this commercial model, the site only succeeds if there is one and only one place for everyone to meet and trade. Gradual migration to another similar site is a near impossibility. To the victor goes the spoils. Craigslist, being the first site of it's kind, capitalized on its initial dominance in online classifieds to become a nearly unstoppable force; by the time competitors tried to get a foothold Craigslist had staked its territory, dug out a moat, and erected battlements. King Craig rules.

Craigslist has inspired everything from off-Broadway shows, to Weird Al Yankovic parody songs, to psycho killers. Its stamp on American society is profound and unlikely to diminish any time soon. Pressure is always on for the site to sell-out, add ads, redesign its antiquated graphical interface. Something. But Craigslist plods on, conquering the the world a city at a time. All with only a staff of thirty and a founder who interacts with his sites users through the format of Haiku. Though he could sell his site for billions Craig is content with just millions; holding fast to his ideology of "direct democracy." As for myself? I just keep waiting to see if someone asks about me on Missed Connections.


Thursday, November 26, 2009

#37 - Netflix/Hulu




It was the decade when...


Late return rental fees were a thing of the past.


Five Haikus about Netflix and Hulu

Anxiety comes
When I search through film listings.
You are what you queue.

Entertainment Starved?
TV is now a Buffet.
Stuff me with HULU!

Trips to Blockbuster
Are but a distant Mem'ry.
Why ever leave home?

And for the first time,
Satisfied with your service,
You sent it all back.

Screamin' 'bout streamin'.
Hulu may screw o'er artistes...
But it's fucking free!


You AUGHT to remember...








Tuesday, November 24, 2009

#38 - Perez Hilton



It was the decade when...


Hollywood's biggest power broker worked out of a coffee shop.

The original title of Perez Hilton's now infamous namesake blog was "PageSixSixSix." It was the last instance of wit that Perez would ever display. In just five years this foul-mouthed, flame-y haired, even flame-yer acting, gutter minded chimichanga has gone from an unemployed freelance writer with $60,000 dollars of debt to the worlds most famous gossip blogger, a six figure salary and multi-media fame. In retrospect the Miami-born, NYU educated, Mario Armando Lavandeira's rise to Hollywood fame was as unlikely as his blog (or one just like it) was inevitable. As such, and as horrifying as it is to contemplate, Perez Hilton is one of the Aughts most emblematic personalities. Oy.

Stylistically, somewhere between a Michael Musto missive and elementary school bathroom stall scrawl, Perez Hilton, the site and the man, have come to define what gossip is in the new cyber-media. Walter Winchell he ain't, Perez was the first to realize that in the era of the mouse click and hyperlink, volume always trumps quality. Best to have forty hastily organized posts a day than five brilliantly pithy, well written ones. Grammar is for losers, sentences are passe. In the Internet area, a picture (of Clay Aiken with drawn on ejaculate running down his mouth) says 1000 words, none of which would be pleasant to read. Hilton's editorial standard requires only that the posts be in English, and even then sometimes you wonder...

Perez may get millions of hits a day but, for most readers, the actual time spent on the site probably lasts about as long as an extended piss or short shit; the experience is always excremental. Perez knows (intuitively, from experience no doubt) that surfing the Internet has bulldozed our attention spans to somewhere between badger and opossum on the phylogenetic tree. We now want our celebrity news digestible in one long gulp, like a frat boy finishing a six pack. You'd throw up if you were to sip it. A brief visit down Hilton lane on your five minute office coffee break can function as an emergency infotainment debriefing. It's gossip redux. A digital Page Six, distilled to bullet points and dirty pictures. Drained of all editorializing, the site is a who-is-doing-who and who-is-pregnant-now memorandum of the most crude kind. The frequent updates keeps its readers hitting refresh like lab mice clicking their feed bar. Communication hasn't been rendered this sparse since the heyday of the pay-by-the-letter telegram.

Perez did much right in his quest to become the self-proclaimed "Queen of All Media." Unlike other low-brow gossip sites like DListed.com or Pinkisthenewblog.com (or even more legitimate Internet gossip sources like gawker.com and it's subsidiaries) Perez's site was as much about the blogger's own cult of celebrity as it was the actual A-D Listers and celebutantes he reported on. You would go to his site to learn about Brangelina drama or the latest Britney Spears disaster scene, but you couldn't escape the man himself. Anything but camera shy, this zaftig trash-talker worked overtime to make his personal persona (not just his blog) synonymous with celebrity in the 21st century. The efforts paid off. Soon, the New York Times was writing articles and old media could no longer ignore this new Hollywood game changer. His inferno-topped visage became a fixture of the LA nightlife scene; soon he was the one in Paparazzi photographs. TV Specials and red carpet gabfests were only going to be a matter of time.

With the new medium of blogging being defined and re-calibrated in real time, the journalistic standards that held sway for decades in print media were, if not useless, totally ignored. Was a gossip blog more like a gaggle of friends pick-a-littling at drinks on a Friday night or was it a newfangled periodical column in the vein of Liz Smith, Cindy Adams and the legendary Page Six? (Or was a blog more akin to a logorrheic nutjob shrieking on a soapbox in Hyde Park?) Perez Hilton assumed the casual, loose lipped informality of private conversation but got an audience as massive as any of the genre's old warhorses. Controversy inevitably followed.

While Michael Musto may snarkily (Michael Musto eats his corn flakes snarkily) and obliquely allude to a well-known closet case's infamous same-sex orgies, Perez will provide pictures and commentary. For Hilton, himself an out and proud gay man, the Hollywood closet was only a doorway to success; he has little interest in protecting any public figure's privacy should they choose to hide their sexual orientation. And Hollywood is afraid, very afraid.

Both Lance Bass and Neil Patrick Harris had little choice but to announce their homosexuality after being backed into a closet corner by the scruple-free blogger. Though "Who's gay in LA LA Land?" has long been a favorite party game of homos from here to the land of Oz (lots of gays there), when such casual speculation finds its way online, the finality of putting the trashy gab in writing (even of the non-print variety) brings to bear a new whole roster of ethical and journalistic issues. But, of course, Perez is not a journalist. He is not a reporter. He is not the employee of a media company. He is a guy with a laptop. In essence, that's all he is or needed to be. This is the 21st Century. Recently, after the feeding frenzy over Miss California's anti-gay response to Perez Hilton's Same-sex marriage question (He later called her a "dumb bitch.") while appearing on the Miss USA panel, Perez has positioned himself as a GLBT activist, even showing up on legitimate talk shows to debate same sex marriage. Not all gays are having it.

Who's really not having it are the paparazzi who risk life and limb daily to get that million (or 500, more usually) dollar shot of Nicole Ritchie eating a corn dog. They struggle and toil only to have their "work" exploited by Hilton, who, as easy as a right-click, appropriates the fruits of their labor, defiles it with his magic markers, and then posts the image for all to see, making boffo bucks all the while. Enter the lawsuits. While it's hard to get worked up about injustices against the pawn-scum that are celebrity paparazzi, what was at stake in the case against Hilton was nothing less than the copyright status of images in the brave new world that is the Internet. In this instance the matter was settled out of court, leaving the precedent still nebulous; further lawsuits, whether against Hilton or other Internet picture poachers is all but inevitable.

As a fabulized, slenderized Hilton stands atop his mini-Empire of over-inflated importance, he must wonder, "How long can this last?" As self-made as any classic entrepreneur in the mythopoeia of the American Dream, Perez Hilton was neither the most original nor talented neophyte bloggerhead to reach for success, he was simply the one who got there first and knew what to do with it when he arrived. He is at once unique and emblematic. Is Perez Hilton really the Queen of all Media? In the age of the internet, you are what you say you are. So, Long Live the Queen.

You AUGHT to remember...




Monday, November 23, 2009

#39 - Tom Cruise, Mental patient.



It was the decade when...


For a Top Gun, acting sane was a Mission Impossible.

Leaked Bellevue Case Study

The patient, a Caucasian male in his mid forties, was admitted to the ward after displaying erratic and self-destructive behavior on and off for the past ten years. Immediately it was apparent that he was in need of treatment and intensive analysis. Initial attempts at psychological evaluation were met with passive aggressive hostility, the patient repeating the phrase "Help Me Help You" over and over again - a clear attempt to undermine the dynamic between doctor and patient. This was the first manifestation of what we later determined to be a chronic and unique case of manic narcissistic personality disorder, complimented by low-level schizophrenia and conscious seizures. We initially misdiagnosed him as bi-polar assuming that the manic episodes would have to subside into depressive periods. To our surprise, the manic phases persisted indefinitely. We have rooted out the cause of this pathological condition as a combination of repressed and confused sexual proclivities, social isolation, continual and persistent positive reinforcement for bad behavior and indoctrination into a religious cult.

An inflated sense of power and self-worth were the first clues to the patient's narcissistic temperament. The condition would manifest itself most prominently through the outrageous claims that the patient would make. In one instance he claimed that at the site of an auto accident, amongst the entire crowd only he could help the situation and assist those in peril. The exalted status he held himself in made his psyche easily susceptible to indoctrination by a religious cult, the cult's ideology acting as a reinforcing mechanism. His existing belief that he has privileged insight which others lacked became a part of his religious faith. The cult then feeds on the patients psychological dysfunction, increasing the schizophrenic episodes to the extent that, by the time he came to us, the patient believed that human beings descended from an alien race implanted on earth in volcanoes which were then destroyed by nuclear weapons. The patient, now fully convinced of his cults dogma, makes it a mission to convince others of his beliefs, overstepping the boundaries that should restrain him from offering up opinions on topics he is not qualified in any professional way to address. If under interrogation, the patient immediately attempts to put his inquisitor on the defensive, reversing the power roles so that his own authority cannot be questioned. He may even dismiss criticisms outright, accusing the questioner of being "glib."

For such an individual external coordinates of success must be maintained at all costs. The cognitive threat of failure could pop such an inflated ego. Sexual health and a satisfying romantic relationship are important criteria in any healthy persons analysis of their own well-being but with a pathological narcissist however, it is merely the impression that counts in his evaluation. This being the case, the patient will overcompensate when discussing his love life, in this instance, jumping fast into marriage and wildly exclaiming his affections to anyone in earshot. This super-abundance of excitement brought about what can only be described as conscious seizure in the patient, forcing him to jump and flail wildly. It is important to note the imbalance between the hysteria manifested by the patient and the quiet anxiety emanated by the partner who is, of course, passive, and seemingly powerless. The display of affection by the patient is directed less at his partner than at the world in general, a signal that what concerns him is not the relationship but his perception of himself in the eyes of, in Lacanian terminology, the Big Other. Romantic gestures are big and broad and ludicrously predictable (the patient proposed to his new wife at the Eiffel Tower, for instance); it's a performance of life not a living of one.

Within the mania there are still massive mood swings. In an indoctrination video that the patient made for his cult the subject displayed an alarming ability to shift from fiercely intense testimonial to wild, uninhibited and unprovoked laughter and then back to steely jawed instruction. This persistent manic energy throughout the panoply of emotions is the most disturbing feature of this patients pathology. It's hysteria on Cruise control.

Our advice is for the patient to take his protein pill and put his helmet on.

You AUGHT to remember...





Sunday, November 22, 2009

#40 -Going Green



It was the decade when...

Green was the new black.

The bad news: We're all fucked. The planet is now a phlegmatic, feverish, invalid. Mother nature is looking more and more like Grandma Moses each day. Hard to believe for some but, if science is to be trusted, it seems that pumping carbon emissions and pollution into our environment unabated for a hundred years eventually takes it toll. Who woulda thunk it?

What's going to happen according to those nerds in the know?: Temperatures will continue to rise. Even one or two degrees upwards will wreak total havoc. Eventually, ice caps will melt, polar bears will go the way of the woolly mammoth, and the Kevin Costner film Waterworld will come to seem less a Hollywood debacle and more like the most prescient of documentaries. (Yes, in the future the oceans will be ruled by a leather clad Dennis Hopper in an eye patch.) I, for one, have already bought some beachfront property...in Nevada.

The good news: It was cool to be a harbinger of doom. There was no easier way to be "with it" than to decry the fate of our planet and mock those rubes who would deny the existence of climate change even as they suntan in January. And rubes they are indeed. There are few emotions as self-satisfying as justified pessimism in the face of delusional optimism. Convinced that climate change is nothing but a socialist plot to regulate commerce, the far right, though convinced of impending Armageddon by any and all other means, nonetheless refuses to believe that we could ever do anything to our environment that would threaten our well-being. The good lord said nature was there for our use after all. So, it was empirical fact vs. faith based denial. Um, score one for science. The problem is, of course, just how bleak the scenario really was. No one wants to hear about their inevitable destruction. Pandora's Box cannot be left wide open, hope must be maintained.

Enter the patron saint of the new environmentalism, the maharishi of green, the philosopher-king of Eco-alarmism, Al Gore. A dejected and bloated Gore left the 2000 election embittered and in shambles; a should-be president with no country to lead, what was the former VP going to do with himself? The answer, become earth's biggest hero since Captain Planet. There was something charming and professorial about his slide show of eco-terror, not the hippest of ways to spread his gospel of green. And yet, put that slideshow (OK, powerpoint presentation!)on film, release in theatres across America and you have yourself a major documentary hit. Two Academy Awards (Yep, even the song won!) and a Nobel Peace Prize later and the green movement had reached its apotheosis.

Now everything is green. Celebrities are green. Companies are green. CARS are green. CARS! Kermit was so wrong. Being green is a marketing ploy now, a signifier of a person or product being "with-it." Shedding the granola eating, hemp attired persona that typified environmentalists in the past, the environmental movement could count on movie stars to be their poster boys. Leo DiCaprio drives a hybrid and flies commercial, private jets use too much fuel. Less glamorous, Ed Begley Jr. has gone all the way, living in a "green" house and driving a converted electric VW rabbit. It's all about eliminating your "carbon footprint," one of the Aughts most pronounced coinages.

Is it all for nAUGHT? Though Gore would have you believe that changing your light bulb will change the world, I can't help but fear we are deluding ourselves about our own ability to divert the rolling boulder of climate change. China and India are on track to surpass the USA in almost every criteria of industrialization, including carbon emissions. America has passed no real laws or regulations that addressing the issue in any serious, systematic way. We couldn't even stand in solidarity with the rest of the civilized world and join the Kyoto protocol. What we have instead of policy is fashion. Instead of solutions we have "crisis awareness." Instead of leaders we have trendsetters. Own a hybrid car? Awesome. Seriously. But China is still poised to pump more pollution into the environment than any nation has in the history of the world. And they all ride bikes! Everyone doing their part may not be enough, and until we realize as a nation and as a world that a political solution in the only solution (if there is a solution), I'm afraid all the good intentions and Hollywood endorsements wont be worth the price of a gallon of dirt when we find ourselves canoeing over the Sahara.

You AUGHT to remember...


Saturday, November 21, 2009

#41 - Movie Musicals




It was the decade when...


Hollywood started singing again.

It was the unlikeliest of comebacks. Unlike the Western, a film genre that, though dead, (or at least sputtering and wheezing like Doc Holliday after some saloon fisticuffs) inspires a perpetual reverence in critics nostalgic for the All-American mythos, expansive cinemascope vistas and moral clarity that are part and parcel of the genre, the movie musical had no such luck maintaining its highbrow cultural cache. The genre had cascaded down from the heights of popularity to near total irrelevance, musicals coming to seem a relic of a bygone era in American society, the social upheavals of the Sixties negating the overt sentimentality and escapism that had come to be associated with the genre. Whether this reputation was deserved or not matters little, the proof was in the pudding: the genre's biggest hits were either syrupy paeans to music, love and family (The Sound of Music) or acerbic, witty insider showbiz stories (Singing In The Rain, 42nd Street), neither of which could succeed in connecting with an increasingly disillusioned and sentiment-averse populace.

Other pressures pushed musicals even more away from the limelight. Advancements in camera technology allowed for more location shooting; with the shift to natural light and real locales the artifice of the sound stage was rendered sillier and sillier and if there is one thing a musical needs to sustain credulity it's artifice. The real death knell for the movie musical was the usurpation of show tunes by Rock 'N Roll as the hegemonic standard for popular music in America. Those who held onto affection for show music got more and more cult-like and ostracized from the mainstream. Musical theatre and musical cinema, once the most mainstream popular art forms in America, came to be associated almost entirely with older urbanites and, above all, homosexuals. When Oliver! won the Oscar for Best Picture in 1968 the victory was Pyrrhic
; you can have a coronation for the king after the revolution if you like, it doesn't change the fact that the castle is trashed and the queen already beheaded.

Efforts were made at rehabilitation (HAIR, Cabaret) and, later, resurrection, (A Chorus Line, EVITA) but all was in vain. Musical movies were decidedly uncool, so entrenched in an antiquated style of filmmaking (and equally calcified ideological perspective) that no cultural defibrillator could bring the genre back to life. Until the Aughts.

Love him or hate him, there is no question that Baz Luhrmann and his hyperkenetic, maximalist aesthetic breathed new life into the corpse that was the movie musical with his 2001 hit Moulin Rouge. A love story as hackneyed as anything in a Jeanette McDonald/Nelson Eddie classic, Moulin Rouge aspired to turn the genre's vices into virtues. A epic romance supplemented by overwrought love songs with purple lyrics? Check. A glamorous showbiz setting? Check. An artificial mise en scene employing clearly unrealistic settings that smack of the theatrical? Check. Just edit the thing like you're Vincent Minnelli on a Meth jag and you've made a modern musical classic for a post-MTV Generation. Employing a melange of musical genres ranging from Whitney Houston power ballads to Jule Styne charm songs and beyond, Luhrman displays less a catholicity of taste than a post-modern desire to incorporate the entirety of 20th Century popular music into his own meticulously crafted, hermetically sealed universe, a world baring little relation to the bohemian Paris it ostensibly represents. The gambit paid off and Moulin Rouge proved a box office smash, clearing the air for other movie musicals to climb mount improbable and achieve mainstream success. If only Mr. Luhrman's vision, for all it's contemporary stylings, included content and characters that weren't as creaky as a Parisian flat's floorboards.

With Rouge convincing Hollywood executives that a little razzle dazzle was on the menu for the American public, it became only a matter of time before the eternally postponed film version of Kander and Ebb's classic musical Chicago would finally get its cinematic bow. Helmed by Broadway director Rob Marshall making his big screen debut, Chicago was an unprecedented success. Hewing close to its source material, Chicago was a big, splashy, sexy, bootlegged cocktail of a movie with a chaser of satire. The biggest moneymaker in Miramax history, Chicago dominated awards season, taking the top prize at the 2003 Academy Awards, the first time a musical had done so in over three decades. Though the dance sequences (or should I say sequin-ses) were over-edited and the performances less revelatory than many critics claimed (Did Queen Latifah really deserve that Oscar nom?) Chicago was still something of a revelation, a Broadway show transferred to a different medium with near total success. receiving acclaim from both critics, laymen and, toughest to please of all, theatre queens.

Suddenly, cineplexes were flush with singing and dancing, but, the new welcoming attitude toward movie musicals inevitably led to overstretching; lapses in judgment were inevitable. Sadly, two high profile projects threatened to derail the genre's revival altogether, making Chicago look more a one-off than game changer. A juggernaut when it landed on Broadway, The Producers was inevitably destined for a cinematic treatment after Chicago proved that movie musicals could still rake it in (and help boost slagging ticket sales on the Rialto as well). Already a cinema classic with starring Gene Wilder and Zero Mostel, this new Producers was playing with fire before a frame was filmed. Having first-time director Susan Stroman behind the camera didn't help; all her inventiveness and wit went flat when asked to think in two dimensions. The Producers was little more than a record of the stage show, pickled and canned for posterity.

RENT
, though faring better at the Box Office, was even more creatively bankrupt. Directed by the middling, eager-to-please Chris Columbus, RENT was filmed with an almost naive literalness that served to highlight, not minimize, the shows flaws, mainly, its weepy melodramatics and occasionally self-pitying attitude. (It is based on an Opera after all.) Michael Grief's original theatrical staging was deliberately icy, sparse and unsentimental; it's what gave the musical its gloss of "coolness" and made the lachrymose storytelling palatable. Without inventing an analogue in cinematic terms, the musical fell flat, disappointing a small army of RENT-heads for whom the show was the I CHING, King James Bible and Hammurabi's code rolled into one.

And there was more. The Phantom of the Opera, the movie. Yeah, that happened. The High School Musical series proved that young people couldn't get enough singing and dancing in their entertainment, the more toothless the better. Puppet wrangler and Lion King wunderkind Julie Taymor made a psychedelic Beatles musical called Across The Universe but few cared. Though Dreamgirls won Jennifer Hudson an Oscar and made 100 Million domestically, the expectations for the movie were so sky high that modest success felt like a disappointment. Hairspray got John Travolta back where he belongs: in a fat suit, high kicking. The public couldn't stop the beat, minting the John Waters adaptation a cool 118 Million domestically. And, when an actress named Streep agreed to sing some songs by a band called Abba for the film version of the tourist-friendly claptrap known as Mamma Mia the box office was bound to be good. 600 Million Dollars later, mouths are still agape. The winner takes it all indeed.

The best of the lot was Tim Burton's blood soaked adaptation of the Stephen Sondheim masterpiece Sweeney Todd. Nary a sequins in sight, Sweeney was unlike any musical movie ever made. A horror film as much as anything, perhaps only Burton, with his unique brand of carnival macabre, could supply the delicate combination of menace and mirth that Sweeney trades in. Brechtian tropes be damned, Burton's Sweeney was an old fashioned thriller, a Hammer horror creepshow with better art direction (it's only Oscar win). Oh, and in this horror movie, the monsters sing. The film was critically lauded and performed modestly well at the box office, though a massive smash was probably never in the cards for Sweeney; some projects are simply too brilliant and original to fit into any proscribed marketing model.

With Rob Marshall's adaptation of Nine set for release this December starring a starry a cast of Oscar favorites, there is no doubt that the movie musical is hitting a stride. A Miss Saigon film is already in the works and one can imagine that it's only a matter of time before Wicked gets a celluloid makeover. When Hugh Jackman, the actor most destined to star in a movie musical (can Carousel happen, like, NOW?), hosted the Oscars this year and announced while opening a big production number "The Musical Is Back!" what could one do but agree and rejoice. The Musical IS back. It's really great and all that jazz...


You AUGHT to remember...





Friday, November 20, 2009

#42 - Jon & Kate+8 & the Octomom



It was the decade when...

Mothers didn't have children, they had litters.

Darwin was wrong. It's true that nature selects certain individuals to be barren, but not out of genetic deficiency. No, natural selection is not always the culprit. Sometimes nature, in her infinite wisdom, is just trying to spare everyone else the shitstorm that ensues when certain individuals have babies. But we humans, prone to thwart nature's guidance at every possible turn, have made it possible for these progeny-less souls to not only birth a single child but a whole gaggle of them, making Homo Sapien gestation resemble more a rabbit than a bipedal mammal.

Jon and Kate Gosselin were a sweet couple. Unable to conceive children without the assistance of fertility doctors, the pair gave birth to a pair of beautiful twin girls. Tempting fate, the Gosselins felt another child was in their destiny and so back to the experts they went, hoping to add one more bundle of joy to their family. This time medical science proved too efficient. Six embryos decided to park in Kate's uterus and 9 months later the Gosselins were parents to a group of babies larger than some softball teams. TLC saw a marketing opportunity and before the befuddled parents knew what they were doing they had a hit basic cable television program on their hands. The barely submerged tension between the high strung Kate and the lackadaisical, mildly recalcitrant Jon gave the show it's hook, and, in a way, it's heart. In a household of two adults and eight children the environment is bound to be somewhat more tense than an episode of The Waltons; their imperfections were a signal of their humanity. When the friction turned to fire the resulting inferno was beyond anyone's wildest imagination. In the episode where the couple announced their decision to separate, Jon&Kate garnered its highest ratings ever with some 10.6 million viewers tuning in to watch a family get destroyed in almost real time.

Since then, the duo has become tabloid celebrities of the highest (lowest?) order, each week a new fathom southward in their ongoing public squabbles. Jon has regressed to total douchebaggery, pimping out his fashion style, partying in Vegas, and dating younger women of poor character while Kate has become a tear-prone talk show regular, onetime co-host on The View, and, with her "reverse-mullet" coiffure, the most influential trendsetter for women's hair fashions since Jennifer Aniston sported the "The Rachel." When Posh Spice is imitating you, you know you have penetrated pop culture in a way never before reserved for reality TV stars. Lost in the maelstrom are the real victims of Jon&Kate, the individuals now destined to their own paparazzi filled futures and reality show contracts, the eight children thrust into a media spotlight so bright it would make Stevie Wonder squint.

While Nadya Suleman, better known to the American populace by the supervillain sounding title of "Octomom," has no reality show of her own (yet) she has nonetheless ratcheted up an impressive amount of television coverage, mostly on the Dr. Phil program, which, despite weekly protestations by the host to stop discussing the story, continued to give this womb with legs blow-by-blow analysis. As always, media-whore Gloria Allred was there wearing a brightly colored suit of righteous indignation, shouting loudly about "the children." Suleman, already a single mother of six (all from in-vitro fertilization), decided in 2008 that what her life needed was more mouths to feed. After implanting six frozen embryos the 33 year old found herself pregnant with 8 babies (two had split into twins) and in January of '09 she gave birth to the lot of them, transforming herself from pathetic anonymous welfare mother into the now infamous Octomom. With a small of army of children around her, the Octomom became the postermom for the reckless use of fertility technology. Something of dish, it's no coincidence that this Angelina Jolie lookalike was offered One Million dollars to star in a pornographic film, an offer which she later turned down. Not necessarily a wise decision; the movie could have paid for at least three if not four college educations. Only ten more to worry about.

A freak show and domestic disaster parading as a news story, the only thing really interesting about the Octomom is trying to figure out who is going to be more fucked up, her kids or the Gosselin clan. I, for one, can already imagine the worlds most exciting episode of Family Feud.

You AUGHT to remember...




Thursday, November 19, 2009

#43 - Kiddie-Porn Style Advertising




It was the decade when...


Looking at clothing advertisements made you want to shower.


Marketing strategy for apparel advertising pre-Aughts: Find the fittest and sexiest model you can. A beautiful celebrity will do nicely if you can afford it. Hire an expensive photographer like Herb Ritts or David LaChappelle to shoot the ad. Photograph your Adonis or Venus-like model sporting your clothes in a perfectly constructed fantasy mise-en-scene, awash on a sandy beach or frolicking through a pinewood forest perhaps. The expression on the model should be one of primal hunger and penetrating intensity. Take pains to flatter the model and clothes as much as possible, shooting all photos from the most forgiving angles. In post-production, whatever imperfections remain should be eliminated with powerful Photoshop computer software, software allowing endless manipulations of photographic images. The final ad should be a perfect idealistic representation of a human being, made all the more God-like by the addition of your apparel item featured in the ad.

Marketing strategy for apparel advertising in the Aughts: Go and find you favorite anonymous office intern, the one who gives you a hard-on when she takes your coffee order in the morning. Offer her a little extra money to pose for a few pictures that you yourself will take even though you have no training in photography. Sneak into her parents basement one night bringing along your now antiquated and commercially discontinued Polaroid camera. Have the intern try on various brands of your company's underwear and proceed to take candid shots, the more unpleasant the angle the better. The model's expression should be one of either giddy embarrassment or slack-faced boredom. Don't worry about lighting, the fluorescents will be satisfactory illumination; candlelight would be far too forgiving. Take your candid shots back to the office (But don't forget to bang your "don't-worry-she's-not-jailbait" employee before you go, the sexual harassment suit wont stick.) blow them up 500 times and, viola, you have your new billboard.

So what's the appeal of this new gonzo style of advertising? What ideological strands coursing through the culture could upend so much of the prevailing wisdom?

The realism offered up in kiddie-porn style advertising satiates the desire for an authenticity that is more and more foreign in a world exceedingly virtual. We live in a culture where amateurs can photoshop their own digital photographs as easily as the professionals; a society where our exposure to perfectly sculpted and tanned bodies so overwhelms our experience that perfection no longer draws our attention. It is the appeal of the imperfect, the cheap, the shabby that captures our imagination now. For so long our fantasies were idealized, the perfect had become passe. Bored with our dreams, we now find libidinal escape in the dingy lurid low-fi world summoned up by, above all, the advertising of American Apparel, America's largest clothing manufacturer and one of the biggest commercial success stories of the Aughts.

American Apparel appeals to a plugged-in culture; it's no coincidence that the advertising resembles a variety of photo sharing prevalent on social networking sites or cell phone "sexts." There is a patina of intimacy to Kiddie-Porn Style Ads just as there is an illusion of privacy with ones Picture Mail exchanges or tagged photos on Facebook. But, in reality, confusion abounds. With the membrane separating public from private growing more porous each day, it's no surprise that advertising would want to capitalize on this anxiety. Digitally perfected models built like Bernini sculptures have lost the ability to titillate as they once did, our threshold for shock having shifted drastically far away from the once temperate sensibility that made, once upon a time, Marky Mark in Tighty-Whities a scandal. Kiddie-Porn Style advertising is designed to look invasive and homemade and intimate (and illegal); its appeal is your low-level discomfort with the image, a queasiness that its makers hope can be channeled into a salacious eroticism. Forbidden Fruit tastes the sweetest.

You AUGHT to remember...

Wednesday, November 18, 2009

#44 - Star Wars and Indiana Jones Nuked the Fridge.



It was the decade when...


George Lucas crapped all over his old franchises.


Cease and Desist Notice to Mr. George Lucas.

Dear Mr. Lucas:

It has come to our attention that your actions over the past decade in the production of the films Star Wars Episode 2: Attack of the Clones and Star Wars Episode 3: Return of the Sith (hereafter referred to as "Star Bores") as well as Indiana Jones and the Kingdom of the Crystal Skull (hereafter referred to as "Grandpa Jones") infringes upon the rights of millions of moviegoers to preserve their childhood memories unscathed. This is a clear violation of your contract with the public to create films worthy of the legacy that you, yourself, began in 1977. Your recent actions have been grossly negligent, displaying a complete lack of regard for taste and artistic merit. Star Bores and Grandpa Jones represent a failure to satisfy the duty of care mandated for a filmmaker of your status.

A partial list of the infringing acts are enumerated herein:

  1. In Star Bores, you created a mise-en-scene so digitized and robbed of human emotion that R2-D2 was the most psychologically-realized character in the films.
  2. In Star Bores, the romantic dialogue between your two protagonists, played by Natalie Portman (hereafter referred to as "Weepy") and Hayden Christensen (hereafter referred to as "Darth Fey-der") was so purple and hackneyed that it would not pass muster either in a) a nineteenth century operetta or b) a Lifetime Channel television movie.
  3. In Star Bores, you cast Darth Fey-der, an actor so annoyingly petulant that it was nearly impossible to believe he would ever transform into James Earl Jones.
  4. In Star Bores, you expected the viewer to actually care about bickering between the Galactic Senate, the Jedi Council, the Corporate Alliance, and the Trade Federation -- a dense political bureaucracy as entertaining to watch as roll call at a Congressional committee on tax code amendments.
  5. In Star Bores, you promoted Jar Jar Binks to Senator. This act alone is an offense to anyone who ever purchased so much as a Star Wars lunch box.
  6. In Grandpa Jones, you cast Shia LeBoeuf -- nerdy, mousy Shia LeBoeuf -- as a leather-clad 1950s "Wild One" greaser, a role so incongruous to the performer's skill set that the decision can only be regarded as an ironic joke. To add insult to injury, in an act of sheer recklessness, you then named the role "Mutt" (hereafter referred to as "Dog").
  7. In Grandpa Jones, you could not resist having your Skywalker Ranch computer nerds bring their Crayola crayons to pixelate all over the screen, all but destroying the visceral verisimilitude for which the Jones series is known.
  8. In Grandpa Jones, you wisely bring back Karen Allen as Marion Ravenwood but then give the actress almost nothing to do, besides looking frustrated and delivering necessary exposition.
  9. In Grandpa Jones, you filmed a scene where Dog repeatedly get his balls busted by CGI jungle flora whilst he stands astride two moving Jeeps like a castrated Colossus.
  10. In Grandpa Jones, our hero, one of the most beloved screen characters in history, escapes a nuclear explosion by hiding in a "King Cool" refrigerator which is then propelled by the nuclear blast away from the atomic destruction, at which time our hero rolls out unscathed, admiring the mushroom cloud visible in the now-far distance.
For the foregoing reasons, we hereby demand that you cease production of any new films, retiring from the entertainment industry. If you refuse to comply, we will be forced to file a complaint in the appropriate court and commence a legal action. Mr. Steven Spielberg, your co-conspirator in the Grandpa Jones project, has received a copy of this correspondence.

If you choose to ignore this notice and greenlight further projects based on these franchises, you can expect millions of dollars in profit but everyone will hate you -- and you will ultimately lose in the court... of public opinion.

We expect a response from you or your representative within two weeks of receipt of this notice. And no, your Jedi mind tricks will not work on us.

Sincerely,

You AUGHT to remember...



Tuesday, November 17, 2009

#45 - MySpace




It was the decade when...


A place for friends became a cathouse for skanks.

The scene: A Saloon in Beverly Hills, California.

We see Tom, an attractive man around 34, walk into the saloon. He is wearing a tight white shirt. He looks disheveled. He walks over to the bar and sits down. The bar tender (played by Sam Elliot) goes over to him.

Bartender:
Well, hello there son. From the looks of you, I reckon you could use a drink. Something a little stronger that a sarsaparilla perhaps?

Tom:
Give me a double of whatever your strongest whiskey is.

Bartender:
One of those days, is it? The clouds ain't got no silver lining? I've been there son. Here ya are. (He hands him the drink) Now, I ain't no head shrinker, but, care to share your troubles?

Tom:
It's all over. You know the expression the higher the climb the harder the fall?

Bartender:
I 'spose I've heard that once or twice.

Tom:
Well, I am living proof of it right here. The sword of Damocles has fallen. You, sir are looking at the man who invented the #1 social networking site on the Internet.

Bartender:
Whoa...you're the founder of Fa..

Tom:
No! You do not say that word in my presence. When I hear that word I seizure. So, no, Not THAT social networking site...the (cough) former #1 social networking site on the Internet.

Bartender:
Ah, Twitter! I love to tweet.

Tom:
NO! I'm talking about the MySpace! The site that was once poised to rule the Internet and by extension, the whole world. And I was everyone's first friend Tom. That was me.

Bartender:
Ah, MySpace. I remember that. I used to have a profile on there. Jeez, I haven't been on MySpace in years.

Tom:
Yeah, you and everyone else. I tell ya man, we were once the most popular website in the America. I couldn't get enough press! We were changing the way the world works. People were getting famous from our website alone.

Bartender:
Like that Tequila lady. She's mighty purdy.

Tom:
And Dane Cook went from nobody to the top comic in America thanks to our site, and he's not even funny! The music industry had been upended; new bands could advertise themselves and get famous with the click of a button. And getting laid became as easy as logging on and getting off.

Bartender:
It's true. I met a fine hussy or two off of MySpace.

Tom:
It was beautiful. This was supposed to be my decade. I went on Friendster in 2002, saw that I could rip it off and BAM!, we went from four million subscribers in December of 2004 to 100 Million by the end of 2006. Friendster was left in the dust. I was a king.

Bartender:
As my Grandpappy used to say, "Heavy is the head that is inflated with it's own bullshit."

Tom:
I don't think that's the right express...nevermind. You know when I thought we had won? Really triumphed? July 2005. Rupert Murdoch bought us for $580 Million. Half a Billion Dollars! MURDOCH! The kingpin of old media. The Aussie Oligarch. I thought, within a few years, we'd own Google, Microsoft and Yahoo. Steve Jobs would be licking my boot. I would rename "the Internet" "MySpace-Land." My goal: every human on planet earth would be my friend. And it was all coming true!

Bartender:
Son, sounds like you had some delusions of grandeur. As my Momma used to tell me, "Pride goeth before you totally make of an ass of yourself." What went wrong do you think?

Tom:
Everything! I mean, everything. I wanted to let people customize their own pages. Make them look however they wanted. Good idea, right? What ends up happening? You can't read half of the member profiles, the pages are so cluttered and ugly. MySpace began to have the the visual temperament of the Speed Racer movie or PaperRad art collective. And then...the trash. So much trash came out of the woodwork. I didn't know the world had so many trashy people in it...and I live in LA! It got so you were more likely to receive a friend request from a Ukrainian prostitute than anyone you actually knew. Bad things started to happen too. A English girl advertises a party at her parents house on MySpace...next thing you know the home is destroyed, there is ten of thousands of pounds of damage and we are the fall guys in the British Press. Our music site started to get bad reviews, but with competitors like ITUNES and Pandora it was hard to keep up. Our PR went from bad to worse. Disturbed teens started to blog on MySpace about their love of guns or death obsessions right before they went out and shot someone. That didn't win any points for us. The whole site started to feel like this saloon: dark, dirty, cluttered, redolent of whisky, with a tranny-hooker in the corner. And there was this other website called Face...well, a competitor who through some stroke of luck just took off.

Bartender:
Son, that's some hard knocks. Another Whiskey?

Tom:
A double. (Bartender gives him the drink. Tom downs it.) Now experts are saying that Murdoch was a fool to buy us, can you believe that! At the time we thought we were worth 4 to 5 Billion- we were underselling! Reports have Newscorp losing 100 Million due to loss of traffic. We are about to lay off 420 employees, 30% of our workforce. No one talks about us anymore. I don't...know...what I'm...going to do!! (Break downs in sobs.)

Bartender:
Now, now son! Don't let all that bring you down. As my Pa always said to me, "When life gives ya lemons, throw em at the nearest asshole who crosses ya."

Tom:
What? What does that mean? Nevermind. I gotta go home. I'm too depressed. I'll just go for a swim in my pool of Evian water and then make love to the three Penthouse triplets currently bathing in my whirlpool spa.

Bartender:
All right then son, it's been a pleasure a talking to ya. I'd like to keep in touch.

Tom:
That'd be nice. It's been nice to talk to someone.

Bartender:
Great. I'll Facebook you tonight.

(Tom falls to the ground in convulsions. End of Scene.)

You AUGHT to remember...