Guides | January 19, 2007 | Comments ()
Every goddamn year, not only does Hollywood see fit to congratulate itself with unendurable half-day awards shows, but now even the entertainment magazines offer up free reach-arounds to celebrities who are already busy fellating themselves. It seems that every freakin’ glossy periodical now has an annual “Sexiest Woman Alive” or “Who’s Hot” issue, which allows them to plaster their covers with cleavage and call it a special, limited-edition double issue, which is just their way of taking the next goddamn week off. It’s absurd, especially given the fact that most members of these “Who’s Hot” lists are simply adding to their portfolio of overexposure. Well, we’re tired of the shenanigans. We don’t care who is on EW’s It List, because we already know before we open up the magazine who it will be: The same 10 celebrities who just spent the last week on Oprah’s couch, Letterman’s chair, and the vapid “Look: I’m masturbating to this celebrity photo” pages of The Superficial.
So we said, “Fuck it. We’re going to use our very limited exposure to a (mostly) intelligent and jaded readership to do a little cock-blocking.” Thus we introduce the first annual Pajiba (Sh)It List, featuring the 12 people and things we hate most about Hollywood.
Nicolas Cage — I usually don’t subscribe to the whole celebrity-loathing thing because it’s still a form of misguided idolization, but I still managed to unearth stores of venom for this blurb by focusing my vituperation on one especially vile man: Nicolas Cage. It isn’t just that the man looks like a mandrill or that almost every piece of acting he produces seems to be labored self-parody; it’s because the guy makes no distinction whatsoever in the movies he’ll star in. The fact that Cage deigns to appear in offal like National Treasure or The Wicker Man (and so many others) makes the success he found in Adaptation and Raising Arizona a feat of sheer irony. The fact is the guy can’t act without a capable director to steer his inadequacy. Unfortunately for us, this is almost never the case, and we’re left to endure his performances at face value. At best, Cage can be comically bad; at worst, he’s too dim to realize how laughable he really is … but just smart enough not to care. — Phillip Stephens
Celebrity-Overexposure Backlash — I suppose it’s been going on since the day some fat hausfrau first threw down an issue of Modern Screen and proclaimed that she just couldn’t bear one more story about Mary Pickford and Douglas Fairbanks, but for me, America’s sad love-hate relationship with celebrity really got annoying right around the time of the Bennifer debacle. From America’s favorite couple to Hollywood pariahs in under a year, Affleck and Lopez paid the price for our obsession with them. Sure, they fed it; God knows they could have been more discreet, but who, in the first glow of infatuation, doesn’t want to shout from the rooftops that they’ve found The One? Imagine if you’d been famous when you were convinced you were going to marry that loser you met at the laundromat.
Since Bennifer, we’ve all gotten sick of Tomkat, Vaughniston, Brangelina, Britney and K-Fed, Nicole and her collarbone, Paris and her cooter, etc., ad infinitum, but no one ever wants to own up to one simple fact: It’s our fault. When we gorge ourselves on the minutiae of celebrities’ private lives, it’s not the celebrities making us sick; it’s the gorging. These people are constantly thrust into our faces because we make it profitable for the greedy assholes who do the thrusting. If we didn’t buy People, Us, Star, or In Touch; if we turned off the TV when “Entertainment Tonight,” “Extra,” or “Access Hollywood” came on; if we didn’t read Perez Hilton (please, for the love of God, though we should continue reading the many fine gossip blogs that are friends of this site — hi, guys!); then those institutions would quickly go out of business, freeing up our valuable brain cells for more useful pursuits, like completing Sudoku puzzles. We need to remember that celebrities are like the Boogeyman: They only exist if you believe in them. — Jeremy C. Fox
Paul Haggis — The (Sh)It List finally affords me the ability to exorcise my Haggis demon once and for all, at least until his next excuse for a film makes its way into theaters (In the Valley of Elah, later this year). And it’s not just the residual anger I have left over from the travesty of Crash winning the Best Picture Oscar last year (or that a fucking rich, middle-aged white man was writing a film about racism), it’s that so many people have bought into his insufferable skill for cutting and pasting Hallmark cards into his cloying dialogue. His limited talents still only befit his early career, which was largely made up of writing episodes of “Diff’rent Strokes,” “The Facts of Life,” “The Love Boat,” and a television movie, The Return of the Shaggy Dog. The man hasn’t mysteriously gained any newfound gift for writing since 1987; I fear, instead, that America’s collective IQ has simply dropped to Haggis’ level. Suddenly, the guy who created “Michael Hayes” and “Walker: Texas Ranger” is the hottest scribe in Hollywood, which allows him to put his saccharine-and-douche imprimatur on films like The Last Kiss and Casino Royale (the latter of which was a perfectly good flick weighed down by Haggis’ heavy-handedness). Worse, he continues to be celebrated because directors like Eastwood pick up the considerable slack left by the sloganeering that he passes off as screenwriting. Honest to God, when did a line like this begin to seem deep: “It’s what you do to the people you say you love. It’s the only thing that counts.” Fuck you, Haggis. — Dustin Rowles
Julianne Moore — Let’s get this out of the way before I’m rashly accused of something: I have nothing against redheads. In fact, I find them increasingly appealing as I get older. (I turned 33 today, and I sensed yet another up-tick in my attraction to them.) There are worse actors than Julianne Moore. Thousands of them, in fact. But I don’t think there are many who are as ineffectual while being taken as seriously, so to me she’s a stand-in for all overrated actors with both mainstream credits and indie cred (this is a list that also includes, for me, William H. Macy, Frances McDormand, and Matt Damon — who I actually like, but who has the range of a one-legged shortstop). I can’t remember believing or enjoying Moore in anything, from the ludicrous Safe to her grossly overplayed (and, in fairness, terribly written) pharmacy scene in Magnolia (during which I actually felt embarrassed for her) to even her mercifully brief stint in Children of Men. No matter the role, she always reads sullen, stiff, and uncomfortable — beautiful but inexpressive. I ask earnestly, what is the substantive difference between her and Andie MacDowell? According to the IMDb, Moore has at least four movies slated for 2007. It figures to be a tough year for me. — John Williams
Oprah. — Yeah, that’s right, I said it. Oprah motherfucking Winfrey. I hate her for sandbagging poor James Frey when she was the one who touted his book and made it such a big story in the first place. I hate her for introducing us to the new and crazier Tom Cruise. And I hate her twice over for taking 16 damn years to show up on Letterman’s show (speaking of which, “Oprah … Uma. Uma … Oprah. ” … it’s one of the underrated comedic masterpieces of our generation!). But more than hating her, I’m sick of her. I’m sick of hearing about how much better than us she is, with all her philanthropy, the millions of bucks for new schools in Africa, etc. I’m sick of hearing about the cars and fabulous prizes her audience gets, sick of two different magazines with her “O” on the cover, sick of the New York Times Bestseller List bending to her will and rearranging itself anytime she adds a title to her friggin’ book club. I’m sick of her power. But more than hating her, and more than being sick of her, I’m afraid of her. Fucking terrified. I fear the day she raises her hand like Caesar and says “rise up,” causing the formation of a nationwide female army within hours. An army at her beck and call, ready to take over this nation and chickify it. Maybe a woman uprising isn’t something to be afraid of. But it’s a change. And I fear change. And I fear Oprah. — Seth Freilich
People Who Waited Until 2006 to Start Hating Mel Gibson — Whether you’re a fan of an indie band, a devotee of a cult film, or the hater of a celebrity, some of the joy is necessarily diminished when your private enthusiasm catches on with the masses. Such was the case for me when Mel Gibson’s drunken, anti-Semitic tirade made him the object of international scorn. Sure, at first the schadenfreude was as dizzyingly sweet and rich as a flourless chocolate cake, but who were all these jackasses just then realizing that Gibson was a bigoted loon?
I’ve hated Gibson for over a decade, since I first read English-language reports of his interview for the Spanish newspaper El País, where he paraded his homophobia around like a gang of Dykes on Bikes on a sunny Saturday in June. With such erudite observations as “They take it up the ass,” and (pointing toward his intact anal maidenhead), “This is only for taking a shit,” Gibson earned my absolute and permanent loathing. OK, that was an interview in a Spanish newspaper almost 15 years ago; not many Americans ever heard of it — but what of his Jew-baiting in The Passion of the Christ and repeated refusals to repudiate his father’s Holocaust denials? What about the crazy anti-Vatican II Catholic cult he’s started in Malibu, or the one he’s funding in Pennsylvania for that openly anti-Semitic father? What about saying his wife was going to Hell for not sharing his beliefs? Why did it take so long for people to notice what a hateful, batshit-insane douchebag this guy is?
Actually, though, as pissed off as I am at the people who needed a sledgehammer to their sugartits before they got the point, I reserve a special, espresso-black space in my heart for folks like his Maverick co-star and still-technically-closeted-for-absolutely-no-reason muffdiver Jodie Foster, who came to his defense in the L.A. Times, praising his resilience and insisting that he is “absolutely not” an anti-Semite. That’s OK, Jodie — you just be that way. We’re sending Rosie over to kick your scrawny ass. — JCF
Remakes — I can say without irony that much of the ’90s and aughts have been horrendous years for mainstream cinema chiefly because writers and producers have been bolstering their creative bankruptcy by pandering to this pseudo-nostalgia craze and shoveling old television shows and halcyon screen classics into theaters with nary a second thought. The result: bastardized versions of Godzilla, The Haunting, The Wicker Man, The Italian Job, Planet of the Apes, The Longest Yard, etc, and harrowing remakes of TV series: “Scooby Doo,” “The Dukes of Hazzard,” “Bewitched,” “The Honeymooners”, ad nauseum. As Martin Scorsese proved this year, a remake doesn’t have to be awful — quite the opposite, provided the re-imagining has its own internal logic and consistent élan. But mostly this spate of pop-recycling represents filmmaking of the cheapest and laziest kind, in which lackluster hacks rely on established storylines and audiences because they can’t manage to generate either on their own. — PS
Scarlett Johansson — How the fuck did this happen, people? Five years ago, Johansson was this beautifully dowdy actress with the very limited ability to play apathetic/bored characters in fun little indies like Ghost World and Lost in Translation, which benefited from her interminable mope. But before I knew what was happening, I can’t even go to the goddamn grocery store without having her cleavage shoved in my nose. Sexiest Woman Alive?! Please. You know what’s sexy in Hollywood? Talent. And Scarlett doesn’t have a lick of it, unless you find something mysteriously alluring in the ability to pout for two-hour stretches at a time. C’mon, ScarJo, take the motherfucking marbles out of your mouth and emote. Anything besides a full-lipped simper will do — not that directors focus their goddamn cameras on anything other than Scar and Jo, the two elephantine features that have thus far afforded her a career. And just when you think we’ve suffered through the Scarlett brunt, we’re about to get hit with a whole new wave of suffocating cleavage: She’s been cast in five high-profile features in 2007 alone, as an (apathetic) babysitter (The Nanny Diaries), two (listless) Marys (The Other Boleyn Girl and Mary Queen of Scotts), a dictator’s (moony) girlfriend (Napoleon and Betsy), and even a (dour) gladiatrix (Amazon). Jesus — somebody get the girl a lemon, because even a Zellwegerian pucker would be better than that half-open protrusion of the lips, which probably necessitates an extra assistant just to collect the goddamn drool that pools beneath her. — DR
Torture Porn — Believe it or not, I like a good scary movie. I was a kid when I first saw Halloween on cable, and even edited down and filled with commercials, it scared the piss out of me. But it also got me hooked on the stuff: Really good, really suspenseful horror movies that trade more on terror and nerves than actual gore. Which is why I hate, hate, hate the misogynistic, gore-crazed, slice-and-dice, tie-me-up-and-cut-me kind of horror that’s sprung up in the past few years and is usually referred to as Torture Porn. (If anyone asks, I made up the term. Trust me.) The Saw series is an exercise in excrement-fueled pointlessness, the kind of stupid sadism that only appeals to the weird guy who sits in the corner of the high-school cafeteria, muttering to himself and organizing his Magic cards. Then there’s Wolf Creek, and Hostel — oh, Hostel, the stillborn offspring of abusive father Eli Roth — and even the recent Turistas. The whole sick, stupid subgenre trades genuine thrills for revolting images of mutilation and bondage, and I’m tired of the whole thing. Mainly because I like good movies, and these are the lowest form of crap you can find. — DC
Trailer Editors — As many of you may, I have a perverse relationship with the coming attractions. I crave them on some level, arriving at theaters on time partly so I don’t miss them. They bring me news of the movie world to come, and they promise that said world will be just as asinine, unimaginatively recycled, centrally cast, Coldplay-soundtracked and only oh-so-occasionally as thrilling and edifying as the current one. And when put together correctly, a trailer for even a dud can be a thing of duplicitous beauty, like a first conversation with a bad but entertaining woman, generating excitement for something that is bound to disappoint. (I remember seeing the trailer for In Good Company — the shots of New York set to “Solsbury Hill” and Topher Grace going through some vague crucible of early manhood — and knowing at the time that its effect was unfair, almost pornographic. It was good in a way that only a trailer, never a movie, can be.) When put together poorly, though, and increasingly they are, they destroy the desire to see even a good movie. Last weekend, a friend recommended Notes on a Scandal, which I’d normally make an effort to see because of its stellar cast. But there’s one problem: Because I saw the trailer, I know the entire arc of the plot, twists and all. This is bad for me, for the studio that loses my $10, and for our health care system (it’s complicated, but trust me). Everyone loses when the trailer editor sucks. I think their names should appear at the end of trailers, so we can judge them and begin petitioning to have the worst ones canned. Who’s with me? — JW
The Wayans Brothers — I remember seeing Scary Movie with friends and hating every worthless second of it. I contemplated committing some kind of messy suicide right there in the theater, and had I known the foul crop of bottom-feeding worthlessness that the Wayans brothers had yet to harvest and share with our dying society, I just might have gone through with it. Actors Shawn and Marlon Wayans, in the clearly misguided hands of director Keenen Ivory Wayans, have created some of the worst films ever. Ever. Think about that for a moment. They gave us White Chicks, which featured Shawn and Marlon looking like a couple of horrible skin-graft experiments gone wrong. They gave us Little Man, based solely on the hope that someone might find a giant head digitally imposed on an infant’s body funny instead of creepy. Their comedies are devoid of anything resembling humor, trading on the crassest of sight gags and the lamest of pseudo-punchlines instead of entertainment. More than that, the Wayans brothers are a desecration of everything good about movies, art, and life. And yet, as sure as the sun will rise tomorrow, they will keep making movies. … I think I’m gonna go someplace and weep. — DC
You. — To be clear, I don’t mean you, the general Pajiba readership. I mean You, the mainstream public, Time’s Person of the Year, the stupid meme subsequently given such other titles as AdAge’s Agency of the Year, Spin’s Artist of the Year, etc., etc., ad nauseam. Despite my previous comments to the contrary, You do not live solely in the middle of the country — You abound throughout this nation of ours, in numbers too great to (unfortunately) be ignored. You are the loud, obnoxious sons of bitches surrounding me in every movie theater, laughing at the inane bits, talking out of turn, loudly chewing your cud, and just generally making moviegoing an almost entirely miserable experience. You are responsible for network television being littered with crappy procedurals, crappier reality shows, and crappiest game shows. You are responsible for Titanic being the all-time number-one box-office hit. You are responsible for Jerry Bruckheimer and Michael Bay. You are responsible for the cancellation of “Freaks and Geeks” and “Arrested Development.” You are responsible for the Santa Clause trilogy. You are directly responsible for “Two and a Half Men” winning a Peoples’ Choice Award for best comedy. You are responsible for movie studios and television networks having increasingly little faith, patience or willingness to stand behind good art. You are responsible for the Hollywood complex choosing to serve to the lowest common denominator. You are responsible for the suck.
I hope You’re proud of Yourself. — SF