January 15, 2008 | Comments ()

By Dustin Rowles | Guides | January 15, 2008 |

Though the writers’ strike has put a certain damper on the awards season this year, there is still plenty of self-congratulation out there to contend with. And since we hate self-congratulation, we’re dead-set on offsetting some of it. So once again, in the sea of Hollywood love, we bring you the second annual Pajiba (Sh)It List. While we’re light on celebrities this year, we’re heavy on certain trends. Moreover, in a few entries, at least, we’re taking a dump on ourselves because there’s nothing more annoying than our own self-satisfied smugness.

American Idol — With another season of “Idol” encroaching to plague the next several months of pop culture landscape, I’m wearily beginning to evoke my deep and bitter hatred of the phenomenon. Let’s get something straight — I’ve never watched an entire episode of “American Idol.” Oh, I tried once, during its oh-so-innocent first season. But ultimately I wasn’t turned on by the whole premise of assholes with stupid hair singing karaoke to shitty songs I don’t like in the first place. I know! Crazy, right? And it would be simple enough, if only I could just turn it off and be done with it. But unfortunately, “American Idol” has culminated in media frenzy, growing with each passing year, unceremoniously jamming itself into every orifice of my person for the duration of its broadcast. Everywhere I turn, it’s “Idol” this and “Idol” that. Predictions! Reactions! Upsets! Scandals! Paula! And that motherfucking synthetic-ass theme song that makes me want to pound corn-cob holders into my ears over and over and over again until the trickling blood silences the dreadful refrain!

In 2007, we were blessed with the sexually ambiguous, possibly retarded Indian prodigy known as Sanjaya — and for the first time in six years I felt a glimmer of hope, fueled by the realization that there were others out there like me. Could it be possible? To take a chink out of the armor covering the beast? With Idol winners these days bearing all the relevance and industry clout of “Star Search” finalists, I can only hope it’s an indication that the end is blissfully, mercifully nigh. — Stacey Nosek

The AMPTP: I’ve talked, bitched, pissed and moaned aplenty about the writer’s strike over the past few months. And while the WGA must surely take some of the blame for this whole debacle — it’d be naive to think otherwise — I’m just fucking livid at the AMPTP (that is, the big studios) and its entirely unreasonable, irrational and hypocritical positions on the big issues which really sit at the heart of the problem. It says that the internet is too “new” to know about what kind of money can be made, while all the studio and network wonks are bragging about how the net is going to be such a cash cow for them (but a “promotional” cash cow, nudge nudge wink wink, so fuck you, writers). The writers were long ago screwed on DVD royalties (something which I think the WGA needs to bend more on now, as it’s kinda a too-little-too-late thing), and now the AMPTP thinks it can pull the same shenanigans again. Well fuck you, AMPTP. Stop trying to union-bust and make some meaningful, realistic and fucking reasonable proposals. There’s more than enough money for everyone to get their taste, so just cut out the posturing and man the fuck up. I want my writer friends to be able to go back to work. I want all the people losing their jobs as a result of this strike to have a meaningful source of income again. And most self-importantly, I wants my TV shows back on the goddamned air. Get busy negotiating, or get busy dying. Assclowns. — Seth Freilich

Berserker Editing: More and more action movies — even great action movies — are copping out on the fight scenes and substituting quick-cuts for choreography. Judging from complaints made throughout 2007, Pajibans have noticed the trend, and they’re demanding a return to artistry that depends on the physicality of the players rather than the attention deficit disorder of the editor (and — it has to be said — a disheartening percentage of movie-goers). It’s gotten so bad in some films that we can barely see what’s going on. While the technique was innovative in early days, and reflects the confusion of violence (points for metaphor), it also defies the receptive mechanics of the human eye and brain, and it exhausted its welcome this year in films like The Bourne Ultimatum, Transformers, The Condemned, and Alien vs. Predator: Requiem. In other words, berserker editing affects the spectrum, from successful films to mediocre product to outright crap. To the filmmakers of 2008: stop cheaping out and let your goddamned fight choreographers do their job. Pay for a few more hours of martial training for your players. Let the camera linger on more than one human motion before cutting to the next shot. Let your actors and stuntspeople actually act the brawl. Show us a holistic fight rather than give us the impression of one, and let fight scenes go ballet again when the fists ball up and the heels start to kick. Convince us. — Ranylt Richildis

Gwyneth Paltrow Syndrome: The analogy of fame as a Faustian bargain has become such a cliché that you’d think film stars would get a clue. Instead, the hunger of would-be actors and musicians to know and be known by millions remains an almost universal drive. Rising stars crave the adulation, privilege, and money of fame. Fortunately for them, we live in a culture that is willing to pay ungodly sums of money to people famous for their entertainment value. This willingness, reflected by box-office, music, and, yes, tabloid sales numbers, makes it rather impossible to make millions as an entertainer without becoming quite famous. As simple as this equation sounds, famous people really are nothing without their audience. Famous actors claim that their “craft” is all important and they never signed up for celebrity, but they cannot separate these intertwined aspects of their careers. Publicity is crucial for performers, and the red-carpeted line is further underscored when celebrities willingly sell photographs of their newborn children and grant exclusivity licenses for certain tabloids to cover their weddings. These celebrities then become annoyed about not being able to go to the gym unnoticed, and whine about wanting an ordinary life. Unfortunately, nobody in life can truly have everything. The paparazzi are the only true barometer of a star’s worth, and if the public isn’t hungry for a particular person’s picture, the photographers’ flashbulbs won’t be popping. Shut up and deal with those little inconveniences, or get the hell out of the million-dollar-making spotlight. — Agent Bedhead

Cultural Elitism: Call it what you will: smugness, intellectualism, pretension, snobbery, fascism, etc. I believe a fellow at Urban Dictionary put it best: A state of delusion in which one (the elitist) believes oneself — and a small group with whom one associates — to be less incompetent or more useful than the rest of society.

The past year has provided everyone with ample opportunity to act like a holier-than-thou self-important hipster dickwad. I mean, Christ on a crack binge, must you continually remind everyone of your supposed superiority? And really, what superiority do you have? Just because you managed to experience something few people didn’t? That is bullshit. If you had climbed Everest, then you could talk some shit. If you had landed on the moon or saved someone’s life, then you get some leeway to act smug. But watching a TV show nobody else did, or listening to an obscure band with a name that sounds like it came from a shredded world literature textbook, or seeing a movie that only plays in two theaters doesn’t make you judge, jury, or executioner in the Court of Taste. And neither does considering anything liked by more than ten people as fodder for the ignorant masses. Can’t someone enjoy a certain person or product without immediately being pelted with bitter denouncements?

But maybe the problem is just me. I am a fairly well-adjusted person. I don’t really carry any emotional baggage, or have any deep psychological scarring that I mask with the help of sarcasm and alcohol. My parents, while not perfect, managed to act like they liked me. I managed to avoid many of the mind-shattering pitfalls most folks around here have suffered throughout their lives. I am just not that bitter and angry. My heart has not turned into a cold, dark furnace fueled by the dying cries of the damned. My overall goal in life is not to crush any signs of hope and light merely because they exist. Maybe that is the real problem … nah, that can’t be it. So in 2008, please do get the fuck over yourself. — Claude Weaver

LOL: I would like to thank Mr. Rowles for giving me a megaphone with which to blast my crusade against LOL and all its derivatives. I recognize it is a futile fight, akin to asking the continents to drift back to their original locales, but it is a war I feel compelled to wage. My own blog has been declared an LOL-free zone and I will cut any motherfucker who crosses me, linguistically speaking of course. I also recognize that I am most likely preaching to the choir ‘round these parts, but as is the goal of most sermons, I hope to inspire believers to carry the gospel outside the church of Pajiba and into the dark reaches of the webulars, entreating whomever you meet to cease and desist with the fucking maddening, meaningless usage of LOL and its progeny.

I remember the first time I encountered LOL. The year was 1999. I was playing canasta online. (Yes, I’m a Parliament-smoking grandmother. What’s your point?) I’d been at it for a while and there was an endless stream of acronyms in the chat window. It took me a while to muster the courage to inquire as to their meaning. Laughing out Loud. Cute. I employed it myself on occasion. That is, when I was in fact, laughing out loud. But it wasn’t long before I realized that either these people have a very low humor threshold or they are motherfucking liars. Furthermore, it is a physical impossibility to be rolling on the floor laughing whilst typing. While there may, in the history of the tubes, be one or two nutbrains who have paused amidst their floorcentric laughing jag to stand and type ROTFLMAO in their chat window, there is no fucking way that shit is happening on a daily basis.

I support hyperbole when creatively employed and I have no problem with internet vernacular in general. As a writer, I am all for the evolution of language. Insisting our means of communication remain static hogties culture. I am not an advocate of linguistic prescriptivism. Just the opposite in fact. Bill Shakespeare and Dan Waters are two of my heroes. They did more for pop culture vernacular than all the sun-deprived l33t creators combined, because their goal in dreaming up new words and phrases was to clarify and strengthen communication, not to simplify it or, worse yet, make it inaccessible to outsiders.

I recognize that not everyone who communicates via the tubes has a strong facility with the written word, and LOL offers an easy means of expressing that one has found something humorous. But while it began as a functional short-hand, because people use it to mean everything from “Humorous” to “Fuck, that made me laugh so hard my co-worker thought I was choking,” it now means nothing. It communicates nothing. It tells me absolutely nothing about how you feel or how you responded. It’s the typed equivalent of inserting “like” in betwixt every five words. At best, it’s a tic. At worst, it’s lazy. At this point in the evolution of internet communication, using it makes you sound like a 12-year-old girl and/or a fucking idiot*. If you’re OK with that, go ahead, LOL away.

*Unless, of course, you’ve attached it to a cute picture of a cat, in which case, awwww. — Beckyloo Who

Misogyny: I love this site like no other, and one of the reasons I do is because of the intelligence and sensibility of its readers. And yet, one of the things that irritates me most is the casual manner with which the word misogyny is thrown about when describing movies with limited or stereotyped roles for women. Yeah, that’s not where you thought this was going, is it? Well, tough shit. Misogyny is defined as “hatred, dislike, or mistrust of women.” If a movie features a woman whose sole claim to fame is her cleavage, or a woman who chooses to have a baby, that’s not misogyny. There was no misogyny in Knocked Up or Superbad. Yet, in the Superbad comment section alone, “misogyny” or one of its derivations was used 26 times — for a movie about a couple of high school kids trying to get laid! For Christ’s sake, if I was guilty of misogyny every time I wanted to have sex at that age, I’d have been executed for war crimes by now. If you want to make the case that the female roles in movies of their ilk are underdeveloped or based on stereotypes, by all means, do so — I’d probably agree with you. For a readership that prides itself on its diction and grammar and understanding of sociological issues, many Pajiba readers fail to understand the significance of the term “misogyny,” and it annoys the hell out of me. I don’t deny that misogyny exists in our world; in fact, I agree that it exists on a large scale. But we devalue the importance of the real issues when we misapply words like this. Is it too much to ask that we use words that suit the subject, instead of tossing out knee-jerk reactions? Finally, let me add this: Chances are if a fellow Pajibite criticizes or disagrees with you, it’s not because they hate women, or blacks or whites or gays or straights. It’s probably because you’re fucking annoying. — TK

Motion Capture: This technique is also called Performance Capture. Or, to keep things brief, Puke. You may have seen it in The Polar Express and Beowulf. I didn’t. I ignored both those movies, so you may wonder why I feel qualified to write about this. It’s because the previews alone offered enough to know that this technology represents everything that’s wrong with movies, culture, nerds, and “progress.”

Is it expensive? Check.

Ugly? Yep.

Pointless? You betcha.

If you need something animated — say, a rat who cooks — then you animate it. If you need a live actor, well, there are thousands of them. Motion capture, though, refuses to accept this neat dualism, choosing instead to ignore our simple, natural needs for the sake of high-level gadget wankery. The actors are turned into soulless, hideous characters with none of the flickering life of real people. But they don’t have the more humane beauty of traditional or modern animation, either. It’s the worst of all worlds. The only possible reason for pursuing this technology is to blur the line between movies and video games. I hold every single person who buys a ticket to one of these sludge-fests accountable for the day when the Oscar for Best Adapted Screenplay goes to Final Fantasy XII: Revenant Wings. — John Williams

People Who Talk in the Theater: Shut up. Shut the fuck up. Every single last worthless one of you stupid braindead shits. This is not your home. This is not your space. You are sharing this space with me, and I am younger and smarter and quicker and I could kill you with my mind, so just shut up. When the hell did this even start? People suddenly think it’s OK to speak up or whisper or talk to their friends or significant others or whatever other mouth-breathing bottom-feeding moron they’ve dragged with them to the theater. But the movie theater is not a living room, and you just have to shut up. I’m completely on board with laughing, crying, gasping — any of those pure gut reactions that spring forth unforced when the movie is doing its job. But to talk, to offer commentary, to SPEAK ALOUD ABOUT THE FILM is never acceptable, and it marks you as a giant douchebag. The problem is that it’s everywhere. Even here in Los Angeles, which purportedly can draw (very very) slightly more discerning audiences than other cities, it never fails that there’s always some dumbshit talker sitting near me. I was at the ArcLight to see There Will Be Blood, and when the action shifted to the mansion that Daniel Plainview has built with his oil money, including a shot of a pair of bowling lanes he’d installed in his house, the woman behind me whispered loudly to her friend, “That’s what Uncle Dave could do with his spare room.” Who gives a flying fuck about Uncle Dave’s spare room, lady? What makes you think this is the time — in the middle of a darkened theater, in the film’s final sequence — to talk about your stupid Uncle Dave? I can guarantee that you will never hope to understand what was happening, and I mean really happening, in that movie; no one who was emotionally connected to the film, to any film, would speak up like that. You hear me? No one. You will never get this. You will never get any of this. You will probably not even understand why I’m asking you to shut up or go home and die, so just trust me on this one: I need you, all of you, to stop talking. Forever. Starting right now. — Daniel Carlson

Premature Backlash: The blogging world has always been on the trendsetting forefront; if you are a frequent reader of pop-culture blogs, including our own, you no doubt had a hard-on for Ryan Gosling or Amy Adams long before mainstream America, and you are part of the relatively small percentage of the country who doesn’t think of Joseph Gordon-Levitt as that guy from “3rd Rock From the Sun” anymore. Terms like douchebag and asshat, popularized on sites like Defamer and Fark, are now hitting the mainstream years after they were ubiquitous in the interwebs (though it’s kind of annoying to hear them on “Friday Night Lights”). But I love that about pop-culture blogs — though they are little read by the masses, they are hugely influential in setting the pace in Hollywood. But lately, I’ve noticed a new, unsettling trend: Entertainment blogs are no longer just trying to jump on a bandwagon of love before everyone else — they’re now trying to shit on the next big phenom prematurely. The backlash is no longer proportional to the hype. For example, the second someone mentioned that Shia LaBeouf was destined to be the next Tom Hanks, someone else walked into a room and screamed “Backlash!” and everyone jumped on that bandwagon of hate. Hell, we barely got enough time to form a real opinion about him before the piling on began (in the two roles I’ve seen him in, he’s impressed). Judd Apatow followed up the universally loved The 40-Year-Old Virgin with two successful, solid comedies in the summer of 2007, but by the fall, the backlash had begun. There is one blogging empire that will go unnamed (it rhymes with Mauslib) that, it seems to me, is particularly guilty of this: The smallest whiff of popularity earns immediate backlashitude. Everyone wants to be the first guy to say they hated that actor, director, or new band (some may argue that I am guilty of that myself — see Katherine Heigl), but more and more, the backlash is unjustified, and free passes are revoked, in furtherance of some misguided “I was first to hate that celebrity” cred. Here’s what I’m saying: It’s perfectly acceptable to hate something from the outset (a lot of people had problems with Apatow from the beginning; that’s cool), but if you love something, don’t let us or them or whoever influence you into hating him, her, or it until that hatred has been earned, see, e.g. Zach Braff. Don’t hate because it’s cool to hate, hate because you feel it. Besides, as several comment diversions have proven, it’s a lot cooler to love someone everyone hates than vice versa. — Dustin Rowles

Rehab! It’s Not Just for Quitters Anymore: Nothing scotched my grundle last year like the fuckwit parade of celebrities who blamed alcohol for fundamental character flaws, not to mention the addled media that lapped up the muddied water. Popularized in 2006 by congressman/inept-boy-fondler Mark Foley and actor/fucking-shitheel Mel Gibson, the tactic had already helped raise awareness that booze causes gay pedophilia and egomaniacal racism. Only in 2007, however, did this craven maneuver reach its nadir as a routine celebrity dick-slap to the public face.

The year kicked off with Isaiah Washington entering rehab for calling a “Grey’s Anatomy” co-star a “faggot,” but only after lying denials failed to placate angry fans. “Apology by Rehab” became the favored escape valve for celebrities engaging in assholishness — aka “acting naturally” — such as Slutney attempting to resemble something less than a mortal threat to her own children. With shithead behavior booming, however, the repeated rehab and jail stints of The Four Starletards of the Apocalypse became quaint curiosities.

The absolute low point arrived when the mayor of my home city, Gavin Newsom of San Francisco, blamed alcohol for banging the wife of his political lieutenant and best friend. The scandal broke when Ruby Tourk — whose name cries out for an Urban Dictionary entry — confessed the affair as part of her own substance abuse program. Apparently possessed of a keen sense of irony, Newsom promptly entered … wait for it … rehab! One charitably assumes that on numerous drunken occasions, Newsom became woozy, fell over, and accidentally stabbed Ruby with his man-sword. It couldn’t possibly be that he pointlessly betrayed a trusting friend.

God I hate these people. Gavin, don’t be surprised when the next political ally/best friend/cuckolded husband puts a shiv in your ass. — Ted Boynton

[Editor’s Note: Mr. Boynton wishes to emphasize to the FBI and SFPD that the foregoing was not intended as an actual threat to an elected official — it was the booze talking. After checking in at Promises Malibu, Mr. Boynton offered his sincere apologies.]

VH1: It wasn’t too long ago that E! could handily assert dominance in the competition to spew the most crap across America’s airwaves; the network is to Dumb Hollywood what Tass was to the old Soviet Union. (Was it really that much of a stretch to believe that, in Knocked Up, a couple of dingbats like Katherine Heigl and Kristen Wiig could find steady work at E!?) These days, though, E!’s little more than an also-ran when measured against the unrestrained pabulum being dished out 24/7 on VH1. What started as a little harmless dabbling in the creatively exhausted Reality TV genre has exploded into a Cloverfield-monster-style leviathan, devouring the network’s entire schedule and vomiting it back out all over the viewing public as non-stop “Celebreality.” What’s worse, as with most reality programming of its ilk, the “celebrities” are largely musicians who should be playing state fairs by now (Bret Michaels), actors who never should’ve been fucking famous in the first place (Scott Baio), or once-greats who’ve decided to decimate a hallowed legacy by whoring themselves out for a quick buck (Flavor Flav). Add to that the repugnant neo-minstrelsy of “I Love New York,” and the network’s new slogan “Watch and Discuss” — as if this horseshit were actually something to be contemplated at length over a glass of Chateau D’Yquem ‘76 — and you’ve got a recipe for suffering that makes E! look like PBS. — Chez Pazienza


Guides | January 15, 2008 | Comments ()

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