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Saturday, June 01, 2019

OT - Catch-All Pop Culture Extravaganza (June 2019)

The 2018-19 TV season is history, so here’s [Deadline’s] annual list of summer premiere dates for new series and new seasons of returning shows. It covers hundreds of broadcast, cable and streaming series bowing from mid-May through August in various dayparts.

Lance Reddick! Lance him! Posted: June 01, 2019 at 07:30 AM | 1297 comment(s) Login to Bookmark
  Tags: movies, music, off-topic, television, whatever else belongs under the rubric of 'popular culture'

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   101. jmurph Posted: June 04, 2019 at 09:43 AM (#5848065)
As to the much mocked top 10 from the previous page, Davo and Alex are telling on themselves with their ridiculous comments. The notion that Back to the ####### Future is some kind of boring, standard top 10 pick is absurd (setting aside whether it deserves to be there, which isn't what was discussed).
   102. Davo Posted: June 04, 2019 at 09:46 AM (#5848067)
   103. BrianBrianson Posted: June 04, 2019 at 10:03 AM (#5848075)
Back to the Future is 96% on Rotten Tomatoes, with 94% audience. It was the top grossing film of 1985. It's on America's National Film registry. Writer's Guild of America voted it 56th best screenplay.

It's a little unusual for a top ten list, but probably makes typical top 100 lists. It's not like he put Freddie Got Fingered on there.
   104. jmurph Posted: June 04, 2019 at 10:08 AM (#5848079)
Back to the Future is 96% on Rotten Tomatoes, with 94% audience. It was the top grossing film of 1985. It's on America's National Film registry. Writer's Guild of America voted it 56th best screenplay.

It's a little unusual for a top ten list, but probably makes typical top 100 lists. It's not like he put Freddie Got Fingered on there.

Fair enough, but I'm pretty sure I've never (I mean literally never) seen it in any actual top 10 list. Rocky III was also covered previously.
   105. Davo Posted: June 04, 2019 at 10:17 AM (#5848082)
101-My only point is that Mr Vaughn’s list was full of bad, boring movies (Back to the Future, Rocky, Star Wars, Reservoir Dogs, Raiders of the Lost Ark, etc), and also that the fact these are loved by the director of the Kingsman movies is not surprising in the least.
   106. PreservedFish Posted: June 04, 2019 at 10:21 AM (#5848085)
The rest of us are taking it as granted - with the rest of the nation and world - that some or all of those movies are actually good and not boring.
   107. PreservedFish Posted: June 04, 2019 at 10:27 AM (#5848090)
The notion that Back to the ####### Future is some kind of boring, standard top 10 pick is absurd (setting aside whether it deserves to be there, which isn't what was discussed).


If you ask regular people about movies, plenty would name Back to the Future as a favorite or an all-time great. It's just that in the context of the poll, with its critics and artsy directors from all around the world, it's such an unexpected choice as to be almost bravely avant-garde.
   108. BrianBrianson Posted: June 04, 2019 at 10:30 AM (#5848094)
Exactly - your point is wrong. It's plausible to argue they're boring choices for a top ten list because they're such good, compelling movies that they tell use basically nothing about you. But to argue Star Wars is a bad, boring movie is nuts.

A good, safe, boring choice for one of the ten best movies of all time? Sure. Although, like, I'd almost certainly include Jurassic Park in my ten best movies of all time list, and it doesn't not help that I was an eleven year old boy in 1993.
   109. Dromedary pretzels, only half a dinar (CoB). Posted: June 04, 2019 at 10:36 AM (#5848095)
But to argue Star Wars is a bad, boring movie is nuts.


Skip Star Wars, let's start the conversation with Raiders ...
   110. Lassus Posted: June 04, 2019 at 10:53 AM (#5848105)
After seeing exactly one still from Good Omens I would rather jump feet first into a wood chipper and watch my body come out the blower like gory confetti than watch even a second of it.

heh. I see that exact image seemingly every time I open Amazon Prime....and have the exact same thought!

Compelling, thoughtful criticism borne by viewing what you're criticizing. I guess someone needed to take over from JE as the worst twitterphile on the site.
   111. PreservedFish Posted: June 04, 2019 at 10:54 AM (#5848107)
I've made this point before, I've worked at fancy restaurants, where we made expensive, fancy and amazingly delicious foods. But it was truly something to behold how ravenously and rapturously the cooks could attack a plate of cheap chicken wings, cheeseburgers, nachos or similar. The guy that spent the evening preparing $40+ plates of sole meuniere basically orgasming over how good the chicken nuggets and honey mustard were. You could dismiss him as a philistine (inaccurate), or dismiss the McD's as a guilty pleasure, as having some cheap quality that plays to some base need of ours that we would do better to ignore, but I think it's much better to analyze the sole and the fries on the same level, and ask what it is about the fries that compels and satisfies.

It's not easy to think of Star Wars and Rocky III and Tokyo Story and L'Avventura as existing on the same plane, with similar goals, and evaluating them with the same criteria. But I think it's a good exercise to do so. Shunting aside Star Wars as superficial entertainment is doing a disservice to the whole medium.

This comment is for Alex and jmurph, not Davo, who is beyond help.
   112. Lassus Posted: June 04, 2019 at 10:57 AM (#5848108)
But to argue Star Wars is a bad, boring movie is nuts.

Bizarrely, I don't really mind this type of criticism of Star Wars. It's a genre film, and sci-fi is really not to everyone's taste. I mean, I find gangster/organized crime films simply interminable and so, so dull. I'd like to think I wouldn't say GOD, SO TERRIBLE, because that's dumb, but I have a hard time getting on someone for calling it boring.
   113. Nasty Nate Posted: June 04, 2019 at 10:58 AM (#5848110)
JEOPARDY!

Here's James' thinking about his Final Jeopardy wager:

“I knew I could only win if Emma missed Final Jeopardy, as there was no way she wouldn’t bet to cover my all-in bet, so my only concern was getting overtaken by third place, and I bet just enough to make sure of locking him out," he said. "Betting big would have looked good for the cameras, but now I turn my straight bet (Emma misses) into a parlay (Emma misses, and I get it right).”

He makes sense. But it's fun to think about if Emma had figured this out also, and therefore bet zero...
   114. Davo Posted: June 04, 2019 at 11:11 AM (#5848113)
So did he beat Ken Jennings’ record?
   115. Alex meets the threshold for granular review Posted: June 04, 2019 at 11:13 AM (#5848116)
So is the point of a list like this is to try and communicate how deep/quirky/unique/interesting a critic you are?


No, but the fact that the list happens to be honest in no way refutes the fact that it - and by extension, Vaughn's taste - is boring. Lots of people have boring taste. Most, even. Even possibly myself included! As a consumer of the list, I'm only judging it by that merit. I would naturally assume it's his honest list. What's the value in pointing that out?
   116. What did Billy Ripken have against ElRoy Face? Posted: June 04, 2019 at 11:15 AM (#5848117)
The guy that spent the evening preparing $40+ plates of sole meuniere basically orgasming over how good the chicken nuggets and honey mustard were. You could dismiss him as a philistine (inaccurate), or dismiss the McD's as a guilty pleasure, as having some cheap quality that plays to some base need of ours that we would do better to ignore, but I think it's much better to analyze the sole and the fries on the same level, and ask what it is about the fries that compels and satisfies.
Some people have a contrarian and/or ironic compulsion to valorize crap by insisting that it is genuinely great. Sean Brock at the Waffle House. Quentin Tarantino. I suppose the more interesting question is why they have that impulse: Is it fundamentally egalitarian ("Things that are associated with lower-class consumption tendencies, and accordingly dismissed, can be and often are truly great!") or is it fundamentally self-aggrandizing ("Only a true visionary such as myself can understand the glory of these things that everyone else dismisses!")?
   117. jmurph Posted: June 04, 2019 at 11:15 AM (#5848119)
This comment is for Alex and jmurph, not Davo, who is beyond help.

I think I was mostly agreeing with you previously, for the record.

It's not easy to think of Star Wars and Rocky III and Tokyo Story and L'Avventura as existing on the same plane, with similar goals, and evaluating them with the same criteria. But I think it's a good exercise to do so. Shunting aside Star Wars as superficial entertainment is doing a disservice to the whole medium.

I generally agree with this but can be a bit schizophrenic at times on the subject. I do find scale, for lack of a better work, to be hard to bridge. Comparing Jaws, which I think is basically perfect, to an Ozu movie- many of which I also think are basically perfect- is difficult. They're very different things, with different aims.
   118. Alex meets the threshold for granular review Posted: June 04, 2019 at 11:20 AM (#5848122)
What I object to is the idea that somebody who puts forward a hifalutin or unique list isn't being honest. These are people whose job it is to make, assist in making, or seek out and analyze films - you don't believe they greatly enjoy films that break the mold, put forth new ideas or possibilities, wander off the beaten path? I find that cynical and anti-intellectual.
   119. jmurph Posted: June 04, 2019 at 11:22 AM (#5848124)
I think submitting a top 10 list for a public forum almost always contains an element of "prepare to bask in the glory of my taste."
   120. PreservedFish Posted: June 04, 2019 at 11:22 AM (#5848125)
Is it fundamentally egalitarian ("Things that are associated with lower-class consumption tendencies, and accordingly dismissed, can and often are truly great!") or is it fundamentally self-aggrandizing ("Only a true visionary such as myself can understand the glory of these things that everyone else dismisses!")?


Probably both, a lot of the time. Tarantino is a committed egalitarian, clearly. His enthusiasm is so overflowing that I can't criticize really - he's a guy that could put both a Godard and a Blaxploitation flick on his list and you'd believe that he was being scrupulously honest about it. But I won't object when you say he's haughty about it at the same time. He probably is.

But I think it's better to start with the idea that mainstream success probably happens for a reason. If you're a restaurateur that dismisses McDonald's as something for the uncultured swine, you learn nothing. Now, in the case of McD's, most of the lessons have to do with pricing, efficiency, marketing etc rather than culinary merit, and the same might be true of Star Wars or Rocky III, but you need to give the thing a fair shake before you can determine that. (I fundamentally don't understand the appeal of McD's burgers, aside from price and speed. I do understand the appeal of their fries, and the general appeal of American cheese and ketchup and cheap white bread.)
   121. What did Billy Ripken have against ElRoy Face? Posted: June 04, 2019 at 11:23 AM (#5848126)
Does anyone ever falute at low to medium height?
   122. Davo Posted: June 04, 2019 at 11:23 AM (#5848127)
115- I absolutely have boring taste in music—because I don’t care about it at all! If Rolling Stone asked for my list of the 10 best albums of all time, it would be nothing but Everclear, Kesha, Katy Perry and The Lonely Island.

That’s probably why I don’t make music.

...so what’s Matthew Vaughn’s excuse?!?!?
   123. PreservedFish Posted: June 04, 2019 at 11:23 AM (#5848128)
What I object to is the idea that somebody who puts forward a hifalutin or unique list isn't being honest. These are people whose job it is to make, assist in making, or seek out and analyze films - you don't believe they greatly enjoy films that break the mold, put forth new ideas or possibilities, wander off the beaten path? I find that cynical and anti-intellectual.


I don't think that. I just think that many of these lists are likely to be highly curated, highly self-conscious, obsessively considered with regard to how they might be received.
   124. What did Billy Ripken have against ElRoy Face? Posted: June 04, 2019 at 11:25 AM (#5848129)
Tarantino is a committed egalitarian, clearly. His enthusiasm is so overflowing that I can't criticize really - he's a guy that could put both a Godard and a Blaxploitation flick on his list and you'd believe that he was being scrupulously honest about it. But I won't object when you say he's haughty about it at the same time. He probably is.
I will disagree with your premise and accept your lack of objection.
   125. What did Billy Ripken have against ElRoy Face? Posted: June 04, 2019 at 11:31 AM (#5848136)
But I think it's better to start with the idea that mainstream success probably happens for a reason.
That's kind of a fraught premise as well - sure, it happens "for a reason," but is that reason anything to be valorized? As you say with McD's, price, speed and convenience over any sense of culinary decency (except for those delicious, delicious fries, of course). In music, oftentimes the "reason" is that a song has been engineered by a team of experts specifically to provide maximum mindless appeal. Those don't seem like things we should be valorizing, necessarily, as a culture.*

But then again, sometimes really good stuff does become very popular as well, so you can't just dismiss everything popular as lowest-common-denominator crap.

*Of course I get that there are social and economic reasons for the necessity of cheap, convenient sources of calories, although it's highly questionable whether the benefits outweigh the costs.
   126. jmurph Posted: June 04, 2019 at 11:38 AM (#5848146)
But I think it's better to start with the idea that mainstream success probably happens for a reason.

Yeah I think the MCU is the clear counter to this argument, though merchandising/foreign box office are certainly reasons.
   127. Davo Posted: June 04, 2019 at 11:42 AM (#5848151)
But I think it's better to start with the idea that mainstream success probably happens for a reason.

This is a noble thought, but in practice it just leads to film critics performing PR for Hollywood studios. “Why are so many women flocking to see Captain Marvel?!?!?”
   128. BrianBrianson Posted: June 04, 2019 at 11:44 AM (#5848153)
I fundamentally don't understand the appeal of McD's burgers, aside from price and speed.


Those are the main appeals (and maybe familiarity - why Trump eats it for instance). But McDonald's is pretty much the best for price, and the best for speed. On the ~7 hour drive to my parents/mother in law's, we inevitably eat at McDonald's, and feed the three of us for ~$12, on food that's perfectly fine, and if we're running late it can be a ~3 minute delay that we eat in the car. It's perfectly pleasant. And everywhere. And reliable. Those are all very positive qualities.

Like, maybe Star Wars isn't a terribly deep or challenging story. Well, those are great, but I don't always want those things. And maybe it is the best at other stuff. It's visually incredible (especially in context), fun, engaging, imaginative ... and probably by not being too challenging or complex a story, easy to follow in a way that makes it enjoyable. I mean, I love the movie Primer, but if it's one a.m. and I've been hitting the sauce pretty hard, I ain't gonna watch Primer. I'm gonna watch The Blues Brothers. Which is great in a very different way.
   129. PreservedFish Posted: June 04, 2019 at 11:45 AM (#5848154)
This is a noble thought, but in practice it just leads to film critics performing PR for Hollywood studios. “Why are so many women flocking to see Captain Marvel?!?!?”


But there might be a good answer to this that's not "because marketers control the sheeple."
   130. Baldrick Posted: June 04, 2019 at 11:47 AM (#5848157)
The rest of us are taking it as granted - with the rest of the nation and world - that some or all of those movies are actually good and not boring.

No no no. These movies that are loved by tens of millions of people - which have inspired decades worth of discussion and conversation - are all actually boring. They're not just bad. They're boring.
   131. Davo Posted: June 04, 2019 at 11:51 AM (#5848163)
Star Wars isn’t boring!!! It’s actually a simple story told in a predictable way so as to not challenge the viewer at all!” is a #HotTake i wasn’t quite ready for today.
   132. Baldrick Posted: June 04, 2019 at 11:52 AM (#5848164)
I don't know what to tell you, man, other than that your definition of what counts as 'boring' is not widely shared among most speakers of the English language.
   133. BrianBrianson Posted: June 04, 2019 at 11:55 AM (#5848166)
Star Wars has a lot of flavour, but it's a pretty standard Hero's Journey narrative.

And comparatively simple to follow what's happening when and where and why. Compare and contrast: with Primer.
   134. Alex meets the threshold for granular review Posted: June 04, 2019 at 11:56 AM (#5848169)

No no no. These movies that are loved by tens of millions of people - which have inspired decades worth of discussion and conversation - are all actually boring. They're not just bad. They're boring.


As somebody who makes an effort to talk about film as much as possible, have you listened to the average person's comments on, e.g., Star Wars, or whatever other pop culture colossus? This is not illuminating, exciting, thoughtful stuff. "_____ was tight. The part where [thing happened] was sick as hell. I didn't like _____, though." Most commentary is as disposable and ephemeral as, well, most art. I am - again - not excepting myself here, though gratefully one thing the internet has been very good for is dweebs like me finding other dweebs to at least give us the possibility of a more thoughtful exchange.

Your mistake is taking "boring" as a value judgment on the person. "Good" or "bad" isn't strictly the point, there. Somebody could put together a boring list of films that would be more pleasurable to watch than a more exciting one - but if I want to just watch the films, I can just watch the films. The point of putting the list out there is to engage with others.
   135. Nasty Nate Posted: June 04, 2019 at 11:58 AM (#5848170)
But I think it's better to start with the idea that mainstream success probably happens for a reason.

That's kind of a fraught premise as well - sure, it happens "for a reason," but is that reason anything to be valorized? ... In music, oftentimes the "reason" is that a song has been engineered by a team of experts specifically to provide maximum mindless appeal. Those don't seem like things we should be valorizing, necessarily, as a culture.
Good point, but I think your example is off the mark. There are plenty of things that lead to mainstream musical success that don't deserve to be valorized, but I don't think providing maximum appeal (even mindless appeal) is on that list, nor is being engineered by a team of experts.
   136. Shooty would run in but these bone spurs hurt! Posted: June 04, 2019 at 11:59 AM (#5848172)
Did a bunch of flying the last week. Some movies what I saw on various planes:

The Favourite: Very good. I see why Olivia Colman got the Oscar but I though Rachel Weisz carried the film. She kept subverting assumptions about her motivations in a very quiet way.
Bad Times at the El Royale: Very disappointing. Just a lot of dumb people doing dumb violent things. Chris Hemsworth makes a terrible psycho. Had big hopes for this one. Ah well.
Captain Marvel: Meh. Not sure how they're going to deal with Marvel as a character going forward when she becomes Superman, basically. The ballistic warhead scene was so, so lame. I do like cats, though!
Man Girls: I feel like this movie is famous enough that I should have already seen it. Pretty fluffy but Lindsey Lohan is charming in it. I wish Tina Fey and Tim Meadows has been as off the wall as Amy Poehler was.
Widows: Very well made, well acted but the heist itself was pretty boring. I love a Rube Goldberg-device heist but this was not that kind of heist movie.
Spiderman:Into the Spiderverse: Pretty much agree with the consensus that this was a really good movie. Spider Ham is in it and it doesn't feel like jumping the shark!
   137. PreservedFish Posted: June 04, 2019 at 12:01 PM (#5848175)
“Star Wars isn’t boring!!! It’s actually a simple story told in a predictable way so as to not challenge the viewer at all!”


This gets to the heart of my issue with you.

Movies cannot challenge viewers unless they are offering something unexpected or alternative to expectations. But those expectations do not exist without mainstream movies. Alternative cinema could not exist, and would be utterly meaningless, without a mainstream tradition to comment on and set itself apart from. Mainstream Hollywood filmmaking is an irreplaceable ongoing influence on and thus an inextricable element of every alternative film milieu. And so to dismiss Hollywood as trash seems really myopic.
   138. What did Billy Ripken have against ElRoy Face? Posted: June 04, 2019 at 12:04 PM (#5848178)
There are plenty of things that lead to mainstream musical success that don't deserve to be valorized, but I don't think providing maximum appeal (even mindless appeal) is on that list, nor is being engineered by a team of experts.
Why not? And what are the other things that lead to mainstream musical success that you don't think deserve to be valorized?
   139. BrianBrianson Posted: June 04, 2019 at 12:05 PM (#5848179)
Yeah, I also watched Bad Times at the El Royale on a plane, and pretty much agree. I'd seen the trailer and was pretty interested. But the movie had no real ... anything, other than set. And a lot of things that seemed like they were trying to make it deep and complex and interesting but resulted in just a pointless muddle.
   140. What did Billy Ripken have against ElRoy Face? Posted: June 04, 2019 at 12:05 PM (#5848180)
Man Girls: I feel like this movie is famous enough that I should have already seen it.
Er...I think you're talking about a different type of movie there.
   141. Shooty would run in but these bone spurs hurt! Posted: June 04, 2019 at 12:06 PM (#5848182)
Er...I think you're talking about a different type of movie there.

Heh. That will be inevitable RuPaul reboot...
   142. PreservedFish Posted: June 04, 2019 at 12:17 PM (#5848187)
There are plenty of things that lead to mainstream musical success that don't deserve to be valorized, but I don't think providing maximum appeal (even mindless appeal) is on that list, nor is being engineered by a team of experts.

Why not?


I think he's assuming that catchiness is a good thing.

As for engineering ... it might not be how we want to think about artistry, but it's not actually important to the value of the work. The hit-making machines in Motown and the Brill Building and so on did a lot more good than bad, IMO.
   143. Davo Posted: June 04, 2019 at 12:21 PM (#5848192)
Re Nasty Nate in 113-

I subscribe to Ken Jennings’ email list (he does a weekly trivia contest through it), and his latest begins

Thank you for choosing Tuesday Trivia as your weekly brain exercise and/or senility checkpoint! Speaking of brain exercise, the amazing run of Mr. James Holzhauer on Jeopardy! in recent weeks has given me plenty of chances to consider the fact that I no longer have every trivia answer on the tip of my tongue the way I used to. The answer to "How would you do against James?", which I am getting asked a lot, depends on which version of my brain gets to play.

BRIGHT-EYED 2004 KEN: I like my odds.
BROKEN-DOWN 2019 KEN: I might need some breaks.
   144. What did Billy Ripken have against ElRoy Face? Posted: June 04, 2019 at 12:29 PM (#5848197)
I think he's assuming that catchiness is a good thing.

As for engineering ... it might not be how we want to think about artistry, but it's not actually important to the value of the work. The hit-making machines in Motown and the Brill Building and so on did a lot more good than bad, IMO.
Yeah, fair point re: Motown and Brill. And catchiness of course isn't a bad thing per se. I dunno, it's hard to articulate in the 3 minutes I have before a meeting. But seems like although certainly there were mindless things that came out of Motown and the Brill Building (all the "dance craze" novelty songs come to mind), now the goal is mindlessness, as if the songmakers (I won't call them "writers") have concluded that a song's enjoyability is inversely proportional to the amount of thought, depth or uniqueness it has.
   145. BrianBrianson Posted: June 04, 2019 at 12:33 PM (#5848199)
No, that's unfair. Both mindless and mindfull entertainment have their places, and can be worthy of being thought of as great art. Both simple and complex art can be great art.

In a lot of ways, I think mindless and/or simple art is harder to do well, because there's nowhere to hide.
   146. PreservedFish Posted: June 04, 2019 at 12:36 PM (#5848207)
now the goal is mindlessness, as if the songmakers (I won't call them "writers") have concluded that a song's enjoyability is inversely proportional to the amount of thought, depth or uniqueness it has.


I think you're so disdainful of current popular music that you can't give it a fair evaluation.
   147. Nasty Nate Posted: June 04, 2019 at 12:46 PM (#5848216)
And what are the other things that lead to mainstream musical success that you don't think deserve to be valorized?
Things like good luck, marketing, power, collusion, payola, etc...
   148. Jeremy Renner App is Dead and I killed it Posted: June 04, 2019 at 12:51 PM (#5848220)
Ken Jennings seems like a pretty cool hang
   149. Panik on the streets of Flushing! (Trout! Trout!) Posted: June 04, 2019 at 12:56 PM (#5848222)
I have an acknowledged bias against "current" popular music which for the sake of discussion I will define as "popular music from the 21st century". Once I did acknowledge it, it became much easier for me to appreciate the occasional modern pop song. I'm probably not gonna sit around the house listening to Adele or Ed Sheeran or Alessia Cara but when I do hear a current pop song, I am now better able to appreciate the craftsmanship that went into it. I know that was a fantastic story and you'd all love to hear more about it. :)
   150. What did Billy Ripken have against ElRoy Face? Posted: June 04, 2019 at 01:02 PM (#5848229)
I think you're so disdainful of current popular music that you can't give it a fair evaluation.
Maybe. And I'm sure there are examples of some current pop songs that have some depth and thoughtfulness. But are you really arguing that the mindless/mindful ratio is pretty much the same as it has always been?

No, that's unfair. Both mindless and mindfull entertainment have their places, and can be worthy of being thought of as great art.
Mindlessness, if not very well confined, is bad for society. If people thought more about sh*t, we wouldn't have Donald Trump, for example.
   151. Lassus Posted: June 04, 2019 at 01:02 PM (#5848230)
The Favourite: Very good. I see why Olivia Colman got the Oscar but I though Rachel Weisz carried the film. She kept subverting assumptions about her motivations in a very quiet way.

This was an excellent film rife with excellent performances.


Bad Times at the El Royale

This movie did sorta seem like it was going to be a failed hipster in-love-with-its-own-irony film simply from it's title, and... it was.
   152. My name is Votto, and I love to get blotto Posted: June 04, 2019 at 01:12 PM (#5848236)
So did he beat Ken Jennings’ record?


He was well short on games (33 wins vs Jennings 74), and about one day's winnings short on money ($58K less than Jennings $2.52 million).
   153. Der-K: at 10% emotional investment Posted: June 04, 2019 at 01:15 PM (#5848237)
I was disappointed by The Favourite, but that's a function of inflated expectations - it was still pretty solid. The three leads were quite good, particularly Weisz.
I'm "supposed" to see Bad Times later this week and am thinking about trying to opt out of it.
   154. My name is Votto, and I love to get blotto Posted: June 04, 2019 at 01:19 PM (#5848238)
Ken Jennings seems like a pretty cool hang


he regularly appears on "Doug Loves Movies" podcasts, and is indeed a delight.
   155. jmurph Posted: June 04, 2019 at 01:21 PM (#5848242)
I was disappointed by The Favourite, but that's a function of inflated expectations - it was still pretty solid. The three leads were quite good, particularly Weisz.

I felt exactly this way, too, but chalked it up to my not seeing nearly enough movies every year and therefore really banking on this one being great. I thought the performances were great, the movie not as much.
   156. Hysterical & Useless Posted: June 04, 2019 at 01:24 PM (#5848244)
"I am your density" is one of the great lines in all of cinema.

Jackie Chan is a miracle, no one should ever feel guilty about enjoying him.

Many really good, really successful stories are pretty darn simple: 2 young people from feuding families fall in love; carnage ensues...powerful nobleman murders his king and usurps the throne; carnage ensues...senile old king petulantly disowns his daughter when she won't kiss his withered ass; carnage ensues...

Plot is, except in the realm of detective fiction, far less important (and meaningful) than character and human interaction. Waiting for Godot ("where nothing happens, twice") is brilliant, funny, poignant, shocking, angry, hope(ful)less...I'm sure many have found it boring. They should feel free. They should also have a little humility and note that "I found it boring" does not mean "It IS boring."

But that's just, like, my opinion, man.
   157. Lassus Posted: June 04, 2019 at 01:34 PM (#5848249)
I thought the performances were great, the movie not as much.

This is not an unfair criticism, IMO.
   158. Nasty Nate Posted: June 04, 2019 at 01:39 PM (#5848256)
now the goal is mindlessness, as if the songmakers (I won't call them "writers") have concluded that a song's enjoyability is inversely proportional to the amount of thought, depth or uniqueness it has.
I haven't listened to enough music to know for sure, but I suspect your complaint has been claimed every decade of the past century of pop music. Kind of like the "back in my day..." hot takes about baseball.
   159. Der-K: at 10% emotional investment Posted: June 04, 2019 at 01:46 PM (#5848260)
I felt exactly this way, too, but chalked it up to my not seeing nearly enough movies every year and therefore really banking on this one being great.
Same.
   160. BrianBrianson Posted: June 04, 2019 at 01:48 PM (#5848261)
Mindlessness, if not very well confined, is bad for society. If people thought more about sh*t, we wouldn't have Donald Trump, for example.


One can't be brain on all the time, it's exhausting. I'm always surprised when I sit on a grant review panel for NASA or the NSF, how exhausted I am at the end of a day of just thinking about stuff (well, and talking about it), but I always am. Thinking about stuff is important, but so is relaxing the mind. No different than the body.

And, of course, the 'elitest' denigration of mindless entertainment (& the like) is a big part of why it's backlashed against, if one is concerned about such things. It ain't remotely true that all high-brow coded stuff requires or even benefits deep thinking. I only listen to classical music when I want light & brainless music (if you want to be really mentally engaged, you gotta switch to The Lonely Island). I'll watch a sunset, or stare at the stars to wipe my mind. But those things read "classy".
   161. What did Billy Ripken have against ElRoy Face? Posted: June 04, 2019 at 01:57 PM (#5848265)
I haven't listened to enough music to know for sure, but I suspect your complaint has been claimed every decade of the past century of pop music. Kind of like the "back in my day..." hot takes about baseball.
Sure, probably. But it's also quite possible that pop music has indeed gotten more mindless over time.
   162. PreservedFish Posted: June 04, 2019 at 01:57 PM (#5848267)
Maybe. And I'm sure there are examples of some current pop songs that have some depth and thoughtfulness. But are you really arguing that the mindless/mindful ratio is pretty much the same as it has always been?


I'm not invested in this debate because I don't think mindlessness is bad. I think good music can be supremely mindless. The Beatles, and many others, recorded a lot of charming music that was emotionally trite or superficial or mindless. I like that music. And earlier decades had a ton of superficial fluff on the radio, some of it good, some of it bad.

I'll go further: I actually think that the mindlessness of music is sometimes one of its central appeals. A good drum beat has a universal appeal that defies explanation.

I do suspect that an average Justin Bieber love song is probably less mindful than an average Marvin Gaye love song. (Probably, but maybe not. Maybe his international hit-making team has a lyricist of phenomenal subtlety and expansive humanity.)

The other reason this is tough to compare is that the landscape has changed so much. The proliferation of niche genres and the diversity of ways to listen has fundamentally changed things. It used to be that Herb Alpert and Simon & Garfunkel and the Rolling Stones and Sonny & Cher were all trying to take a bite out of the same apple. I think it's easier now for "mindful" artists to find their audience without competing against the Biebers, exactly.
   163. What did Billy Ripken have against ElRoy Face? Posted: June 04, 2019 at 02:02 PM (#5848270)
One can't be brain on all the time, it's exhausting. I'm always surprised when I sit on a grant review panel for NASA or the NSF, how exhausted I am at the end of a day of just thinking about stuff (well, and talking about it), but I always am. Thinking about stuff is important, but so is relaxing the mind. No different than the body.
Right, but we've gotten to a point where a whole lotta people are "brain on" very little of the time, and the proliferation of mindlessness in our pop culture both reflects and amplifies that. Call that "elitism" if you want, but that's the reality we're dealing with. It's not universal of course, but more and more people want to think less and less, and the culture industry is quite happy to make money by satisfying that desire.

Yes, I realize that that tracks pretty well with "mass culture" and other theories that have been around since the days of Adorno or before. But, as above, just because that take has been around for a while doesn't mean it's not picking up on a progressing (or in this case, regressing) dynamic.
   164. What did Billy Ripken have against ElRoy Face? Posted: June 04, 2019 at 02:05 PM (#5848273)
I'm not invested in this debate because I don't think mindlessness is bad.
You really don't think this world (or this country) would be a significantly better place if more people were just willing to think and reflect a bit more?
   165. BrianBrianson Posted: June 04, 2019 at 02:09 PM (#5848276)
Right, but we've gotten to a point where a whole lotta people are "brain on" very little of the time, and the proliferation of mindlessness in our pop culture both reflects and amplifies that.


No, no, no. We're almost certainly at the point in history where the largest number of people are brain on the largest fraction of the time. I can be a little trite and invoke the Flynn effect or such, but it should at least be obvious there's a huge, huge, huge selection effect in what you remember/learn about from the past. When you go into an antique shop, all the furniture is of good quality; this is often attributed to better workmanship "back in the day", but the reality is low quality furniture sold in 1922 became kindling in 1928. That's the effect. Similarly, when we look back on the past, we're inevitably getting what the richest, most well educated people were writing, usually for posterity. And usually a heavily filtered and edited version; for 'some reason', when we played Mozart in school, the music teacher never selected his Lick My Asshole song.

You really don't think this world (or this country) would be a significantly better place if more people were just willing to think and reflect a bit more?


The suggestion that this is somehow at odds with enjoying mindless entertainment is just not tenable. Of course the answer to that question is yes, but the world is the best place it's ever been. Probably because people are getting better at thinking and reflecting. And we're probably doing the best job of that we ever have.
   166. PreservedFish Posted: June 04, 2019 at 02:11 PM (#5848279)
You really don't think this world (or this country) would be a significantly better place if more people were just willing to think and reflect a bit more?

Sure I do. But we're talking about pop music. I don't think the world would be significantly better if Justin Bieber better avoided cliches in his love songs, no.
   167. Lassus Posted: June 04, 2019 at 02:11 PM (#5848280)
if more people were just willing to think and reflect a bit more?

When did this ever happen about pop music?

EDIT: A very mindful Coke, with, like, essence of kale, to PF.
   168. jmurph Posted: June 04, 2019 at 02:14 PM (#5848282)
I'm not invested in this debate because I don't think mindlessness is bad. I think good music can be supremely mindless. The Beatles, and many others, recorded a lot of charming music that was emotionally trite or superficial or mindless. I like that music. And earlier decades had a ton of superficial fluff on the radio, some of it good, some of it bad.

I think I'd go even further and just reject the entire premise. Does a super catchy pop hook require less creativity or skill than... what, exactly? I don't think this frame makes any sense at all for music.
   169. jmurph Posted: June 04, 2019 at 02:15 PM (#5848283)
ElRoy: I think you've got to put some names to these terms to even make this a coherent argument. Which bands are less mindless, and which are more?
   170. PreservedFish Posted: June 04, 2019 at 02:19 PM (#5848288)
Let's be honest. If Childish Gambino or Kendrick Lamar were to release a song with the emotional and political heft of "Born in the USA," Elroy wouldn't be aware of it. I don't think he can follow through with the argument because he won't let even today's mindful artists onto his lawn.
   171. Davo Posted: June 04, 2019 at 02:20 PM (#5848289)
165. ...But the world is the best place it's ever been

Know how I know you’re not an ecologist, or a theologian, or a socialist, or an oceanographer, or.....;)

I kid of course, but I mean you’re letting “best” do a lot of heavy lifting!
   172. BrianBrianson Posted: June 04, 2019 at 02:24 PM (#5848290)
Okay, yes, I'm referring specific to human quality of life (although if theologians or socialists don't think the world is the best place its ever been, I'd think they suck at theologeoning or ... socialising).

Although, I could invoke my being an astronomer/planetary scientist, and claim the Earth is the greatest place it's ever been, referring to its size and mass. ;)
   173. Shooty would run in but these bone spurs hurt! Posted: June 04, 2019 at 02:37 PM (#5848298)
I've found that when I really take the time to find new music, there's a lot of it out there. It may not be the top of the charts stuff but there's a lot of good stuff. It's just I don't have the time to seek it out anymore. I bought some records at Rough Trade this last weekend I'm looking forward to checking out, though. I like to go through their staff recommendation listening stations and get the advice of people who DO have time to try out all the new stuff.

   174. Baldrick Posted: June 04, 2019 at 02:40 PM (#5848299)
If you want to talk boring, "back in the day, catchy music was pure and fun. But these days, catchy music is commercial and soulless" is the most boring take I can imagine someone having.
   175. Panik on the streets of Flushing! (Trout! Trout!) Posted: June 04, 2019 at 02:40 PM (#5848300)
the music teacher never selected his Lick My ####### song.


today I learned about this.
   176. What did Billy Ripken have against ElRoy Face? Posted: June 04, 2019 at 02:43 PM (#5848302)
Similarly, when we look back on the past, we're inevitably getting what the richest, most well educated people were writing, usually for posterity.
Is this really true? I remember thinking about this several years ago in the context of reading some diaries of Civil War soldiers who were about as far from rich and well-educated as you could get, and being very impressed by their writing vis-a-vis the current level of discourse. And this was before Twitter!

Let's be honest. If Childish Gambino or Kendrick Lamar were to release a song with the emotional and political heft of "Born in the USA," Elroy wouldn't be aware of it.
Quite possible, which is exactly why I'm asking if you have counterexamples. I'm sure there are some. But how many, relatively speaking?

Sure I do. But we're talking about pop music. I don't think the world would be significantly better if Justin Bieber better avoided cliches in his love songs, no.
Well yeah, I'm not saying that all of our problems would be cured if Bieber suddenly developed some depth. But pop music is *part* of the problem. We're talking about pop music as an indication of, and contributor to, where we are as a culture more broadly speaking.

Probably because people are getting better at thinking and reflecting. And we're probably doing the best job of that we ever have.
What's your basis for this view? Certainly the top X% of people (who are way, way smarter than I am) are doing much better at thinking and inventing technology and sciencing and stuff. But we're talking about the general population here.
   177. What did Billy Ripken have against ElRoy Face? Posted: June 04, 2019 at 02:46 PM (#5848304)
If you want to talk boring, "back in the day, catchy music was pure and fun. But these days, catchy music is commercial and soulless" is the most boring take I can imagine someone having.
Dude, I waited through 58 pages of Game of Thrones. You're free not to participate.
   178. What did Billy Ripken have against ElRoy Face? Posted: June 04, 2019 at 02:51 PM (#5848307)
I've found that when I really take the time to find new music, there's a lot of it out there. It may not be the top of the charts stuff but there's a lot of good stuff.
No doubt, but that's not the stuff that really influences our broader culture (except during the occasional "underground takes over the mainstream" moments).
   179. Baldrick Posted: June 04, 2019 at 02:53 PM (#5848309)
Dude, I waited through 58 pages of Game of Thrones. You're free not to participate.

Your entire argument is that everyday people need to engage the world more thoughtfully. I have no particular position on that one way or the other, but if you do believe that, I strongly encourage you to put your own declinist takes on pop culture very much under the microscope, and maybe consider that it's actual just bog standard generational grumpiness and not evidence of some catastrophic failure in the imagination of people younger than you.
   180. Shooty would run in but these bone spurs hurt! Posted: June 04, 2019 at 03:01 PM (#5848312)
In the old vs new music debate, I have a take on a very niche take based on my experience with XM radio. The 3 stations I listen to most are Little Steven's Underground Garage, First Wave (which is indy hits from the 80's though their definition of "indy" I would take some exception with) and XMU which is supposed to be contemporary indy music. I'll say this for the 80's stuff--the hooks are much better. The indy stuff released now, well, a lot of it is so wishy washy, as if the bands are terrified of having to strong an opinion or, even, of seducing anyone into shaking their tail feathers. The song writing also seems a lot more solipsistic. Now, I try to keep in mind that First Wave is supposed to be a "best of" channel while XMU, since it exists in the now, is still sorting out what the "best of" is going to be distilled into. I think that makes a big difference. But man, sometimes, after an hour or so of XMU, just hearing the opening bars of something like I Ran by Flock of Seagulls feels like a sweet relief. The Underground Garage is hit and miss but when it hits it's a lot of fun. I wish they wouldn't play any Beatles or Stones or Springsteen, though. They have whole channels for those bands if people want to hear them!
   181. BrianBrianson Posted: June 04, 2019 at 03:02 PM (#5848315)
Is this really true? I remember thinking about this several years ago in the context of reading some diaries of Civil War soldiers who were about as far from rich and well-educated as you could get, and being very impressed by their writing vis-a-vis the current level of discourse. And this was before Twitter!


Don't tempt me to be trite!

Okay, seriously, this does start to charge in the 1700s, so by the American Civil War, most Americans are literate (my quick google suggests ~75%). So we're better educated today, but on a pure has-the-technical-ability-to-write-something-down-that-might-get-read, they're not that far off us today. There's still a huge selection effect in who was keeping diaries, and what diaries were being preserved.

And really, it depends on what twitter you're reading. Okay, so I don't tweet, but the quality of the dialogue in /r/AskHistorians is great, while the quality of dialogue in /r/SpaceClop* is easily as awful as the guys with the 3 foot boner graffiti in Pompeii, or that culture that carved all the flying cock figurines, or that 5000 year old cave painting of a guy on skis copulating with an elk, or the fun marginalia ... but those things tend not to get preserved, and tend not to get advertised (especially in schools). So we don't have a lot of them from the past (and the present day ones will probably mostly get lost to time, though tech may change that?

*Don't.
   182. What did Billy Ripken have against ElRoy Face? Posted: June 04, 2019 at 03:04 PM (#5848316)
Your entire argument is that everyday people need to engage the world more thoughtfully. I have no particular position on that one way or the other, but if you do believe that, I strongly encourage you to put your own declinist takes on pop culture very much under the microscope, and maybe consider that it's actual just bog standard generational grumpiness and not evidence of some catastrophic failure in the imagination of people younger than you.
I have scrutinized my beliefs and have most definitely studied countertheories - in fact, I was ABD in sociology focusing on media and culture. I get that it may come across as just "generational grumpiness" because it's hard to have these discussions in the format of short posts.

But (a) I think the sociologists threw out some perfectly good babies along with the bathwater when they rebelled against the mass culture theorists; (b) I'm not denying that generational grumpiness has always occurred, but that and decline in some elements of the culture are not mutually exclusive; and (c) I don't even think the problem really is generational. In music, yeah, it does tend to overlap with what "the kids" are listening to, but the broader cultural issue of mindlessness is absolutely not a "the kids" problem. My generation is a huge part of it. The older generation is a huge part of it. If anything, I see a lot of hopeful (non-musical) signs in the next generation. They appear to be learning to be kinder to each other and more thoughtful about issues of inclusion, etc., even if they do sometimes take it way too far when they get to college.
   183. BrianBrianson Posted: June 04, 2019 at 03:08 PM (#5848319)
What's your basis for this view? Certainly the top X% of people (who are way, way smarter than I am) are doing much better at thinking and inventing technology and sciencing and stuff. But we're talking about the general population here.


Okay, it's an inference. But we're less murdering, raping, thieving, assaulting, enslaving, going to public executioning, torturing, lynching asses than we've ever been. So it seems like a sensible inference.
   184. Shooty would run in but these bone spurs hurt! Posted: June 04, 2019 at 03:09 PM (#5848320)
Have you guys seen this picture?

Truly, romance is dead.
   185. What did Billy Ripken have against ElRoy Face? Posted: June 04, 2019 at 03:14 PM (#5848322)
But we're less murdering, raping, thieving, assaulting, enslaving, going to public executioning, torturing, lynching asses than we've ever been. So it seems like a sensible inference.
OK, but that's setting the bar pretty low, isn't it?
   186. jmurph Posted: June 04, 2019 at 03:17 PM (#5848324)
OK, but that's setting the bar pretty low, isn't it?

Again, ElRoy, you've gotta make the affirmative case for your ideas instead of doing this.
   187. What did Billy Ripken have against ElRoy Face? Posted: June 04, 2019 at 03:25 PM (#5848329)
My affirmative case is the level of disengagement in our society. The refusal or inability to even begin to confront major societal issues in a substantive way. The decline in demand for factual information, and even the notion of acknowledging and valuing "facts," and the eager consumption of misinformation (or no substantive information at all). And Miley Cyrus.
   188. jmurph Posted: June 04, 2019 at 03:27 PM (#5848331)
And all that #### was better in the 80s?
   189. BrianBrianson Posted: June 04, 2019 at 03:30 PM (#5848334)
OK, but that's setting the bar pretty low, isn't it?


I like these things as metrics because we can try to get plausible measures of how true they are that aren't ~100% conjecture and bias.

The decline in demand for factual information, and even the notion of acknowledging and valuing "facts," and the eager consumption of misinformation (or no substantive information at all).


Asserted without evidence. I'd assert (though, also without evidence) that we're probably the most demanding of facts and evidence we're ever been. Even if we're still not great at it.
   190. Panik on the streets of Flushing! (Trout! Trout!) Posted: June 04, 2019 at 03:31 PM (#5848335)
Who is the 80s equivalent of Miley Cyrus? Cyndi Lauper?

Miley actually did a good job on that Sgt Pepper song-for-song cover the Flaming Lips did a few years ago. I think they called it "With A Little Help From My Fwends". It was interesting to say the least.
   191. Davo Posted: June 04, 2019 at 03:36 PM (#5848337)
Movies cannot challenge viewers unless they are offering something unexpected or alternative to expectations. But those expectations do not exist without mainstream movies. Alternative cinema could not exist, and would be utterly meaningless, without a mainstream tradition to comment on and set itself apart from. Mainstream Hollywood filmmaking is an irreplaceable ongoing influence on and thus an inextricable element of every alternative film milieu. And so to dismiss Hollywood as trash seems really myopic.

This is true in a certain extent, but also false in a much bigger extent. Let me show you what I mean with an example:

Vertov's Man with a Movie Camera was made about a hundred years ago, and when I rewatched it recently I thought about how if just for an accident history, this is what movies could have been. No dialogue, no scripts, no actors--just analyses of our real lived-in environments. But it didn't happen and instead the Hollywood model (plots, narratives, continuity editing, costumes, sets, etc.) became the "mainstream."

So in that respect, you are correct: the only reason we recognize a movie without a narrative (or without continuity editing) as "alternative" is in fact because they're an alternative to Hollywood. In our alternate reality where Man with a Movie Camera is the lodestar of motion picture history, well then Rocky becomes a radical experimental film and Brakhage's Thigh Line Lyre Triangular is thoroughly conventional!

But of course, the difference between Rocky and Brakhage isn't just that Rocky's form is more popular than Brakhage's. The reason Rocky (and the like) is brainless trash has nothing to do with the history of film at all! It's trash because all it does is flatter and reflect the existing cultural views and forces right back at the audience; it exists to uphold the status quo, as another form of cultural hegemony (of which one of the most salient features is "Don't think too hard, it's just a movie, turn your brain off.")

TLDR: A lot of challenging movies are challenging for general audiences because they employ formal strategies that are not used in Hollywood movies. But the main reason they're challenging is for the overarching reason in that they demand the audience think about what they are seeing and why they are seeing it....and that has nothing to do with the existence of Hollywood continuity style.)
   192. What did Billy Ripken have against ElRoy Face? Posted: June 04, 2019 at 03:38 PM (#5848338)
And all that #### was better in the 80s?
Granted that I was a kid in the '80s, but yeah, I would say that it was at least somewhat better, or maybe more accurately "not as bad." I don't know how we'd go about measuring, say, the information level and accuracy of the average American voter (or American, regardless of voting status) in 1985 vs. now, but I would bet on the 1985 numbers coming out ahead.
   193. What did Billy Ripken have against ElRoy Face? Posted: June 04, 2019 at 03:42 PM (#5848343)
I'd assert (though, also without evidence) that we're probably the most demanding of facts and evidence we're ever been.
You're in academia, correct? Or am I remembering that wrong? It sure sounds like you're in a STEM field or otherwise surrounded by that top X% who really are doing that. Or you're taking an extraordinarily long historical view and saying we're more demanding of facts than we were when the humours ruled medicine and such.
   194. Davo Posted: June 04, 2019 at 03:47 PM (#5848347)
The idea that we have never been more “demanding of facts and evidence” is a bit hard for me to swallow, as our species balances on the precipice of a global catastrophe and does nothing, literally nothing, to stop it—in fact, we’ve chosen to hasten our descent!
   195. Panik on the streets of Flushing! (Trout! Trout!) Posted: June 04, 2019 at 03:51 PM (#5848349)
There is definitely a portion of society that does not demand facts and/or evidence, but there is also a significant portion that does.
   196. Wayne Newton's pet monkey (gef, talking mongoose) Posted: June 04, 2019 at 03:52 PM (#5848350)
Or you're taking an extraordinarily long historical view and saying we're more demanding of facts than we were when the humours ruled medicine and such.


Soooooomebody woke up with a little too much yellow bile this morning.
   197. Hysterical & Useless Posted: June 04, 2019 at 03:57 PM (#5848358)
Who is the 80s equivalent of Miley Cyrus? Cyndi Lauper?


Not being au courant on contemporary music, I take this to mean that Miley Cyrus is an absolutely ####### awesome singer.
   198. Lassus Posted: June 04, 2019 at 03:57 PM (#5848360)
15 Historical Complaints About Young People Ruining Everything

It goes back to Socrates, BTW.


Also, as far as bad writing or stupid lyrics, well...
“The Chairman alluding to the problem of young people and their English said his experience was that many did not seem able to express or convey to other people what they meant. They could not put their meaning into words, and found the same difficulty when it came to writing.”
Unable to Express Thoughts: Failing of Modern Young People, Gloucester Citizen, 1936


Ill-informed voters!
“Cinemas and motor cars were blamed for a flagging interest among young people in present-day politics by ex-Provost JK Rutherford… [He] said he had been told by people in different political parties that it was almost impossible to get an audience for political meetings. There were, of course, many distractions such as the cinema…”
Young People and Politics, Kirkintilloch Herald, 1938
   199. What did Billy Ripken have against ElRoy Face? Posted: June 04, 2019 at 03:59 PM (#5848363)
Soooooomebody woke up with a little too much yellow bile this morning.
Oh please. That's quackery. It's just that my chakra is off.
   200. Lassus Posted: June 04, 2019 at 04:01 PM (#5848364)
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