15 Depressing Pop-Culture Realities

By Dustin Rowles | Seriously Random Lists | December 3, 2013 | Comments ()


1. Robert Downey, Jr., John Malkovich, Alan Rickman, and Bill Murray have never won an Oscar. Kevin Costner and Mel Gibson have two apiece.

2. There are no known recordings of George Orwell’s voice; Miley Cyrus’ voice is inescapable.

3. The combined grosses of five of Robert Downey Jr.’s best films, Kiss Kiss Bang Bang, Chaplin, Home for the Holidays, Wonder Boys, and Zodiac, made $20 million less than one of his worst, Due Date.

4. Jake Johnson, who plays Nick Miller on New Girl, would have to make 9 episodes of the series in order to make what Ashton Kutcher makes in one episode of Two and a Half Men.

5. There are more episodes of Family Matters than Freaks and Geeks, Firefly, Better off Ted, Deadwood, Undeclared, Terriers, Sports Night, My So-Called Life, and Pushing Daises combined.

6. Buzzfeed has four times the traffic of The New York Times

7. Since 1925, 25 million copies of The Great Gatsby have been sold. Since 2011, 50 Shades of Grey has sold 90 million copies.

8. Disney lost $190 million on The Lone Ranger, or the cost to fund NPR nationwide for an entire year.

9. Celine Dion has sold 100 million more albums than Bob Dylan.

10. Mr. Rogers earned around $139,000 a year, or approximately the same amount that Kevin Clash — the voice of Elmo, who has an estimated worth of $12 million — offered to settle with one of the men with whom he was accused of having underage sex.

11. Jim Parsons earns more personally in three episodes of The Big Bang Theory than the entire production budget for an entire season of FXX’s The League.

12. More people watched Sports Night — cancelled after two seasons — than Scandal, one of ABC’s biggest hits.

13. The cast of Glee has charted more singles in the United States than The Beatles.

14. Chris Brown has three times more Twitter followers than Steve Martin, and 8 times more followers than Patton Oswalt.

15. The combined earnings of Tina Fey, Amy Poehler and Meryl Streep were less than the earnings of Sofia Vergara last year, and half of what Jennifer Lopez earned.

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  • JAG

    A few stray observations:

    1. I love how everything involving a person of color ended up on the negative side of this list (Family Matters, Chris Brown, Scandal, Sofia Vergara, Jennifer Lopez, Kevin Clash). Not saying that there is any intentional racism going on, but it does say something about Rowles' view of what is "better" or worthy of value.

    2. For someone knocking Buzzfeed, you just lifted their entire MO (poorly).

    3. Almost all the judgements here are based on totally arbitrary or un-defined criteria. A few examples: Celine Dion is a world class entertainer and she hit her stride in an age when music was more accessible and mass produced/distributed than Dylan; which probably accounts for the higher album sales. But I am supposed to be "depress[ed]"? We don't have voice recordings for Shakespeare or Moses either. Cruel world! What's your point? Orwell's voice isn't what he's known for.

    4. That was a cheap shot at Cyrus. Once I waded through all the ubiquitous and over-wrought Miley bashing, I was surprised to discover that Bangerz is a pretty solid pop album.

    Right now anyone reading this is probably doing a "man, lighten up!" I get it. I really do. It's a totally subjective collage of opinions that's meant to be lighthearted and not really supposed to be a serious or interesting analysis. Which is fine, it just doesn't differentiate Pajiba from anything that I could just as easily find on my Facebook homepage.

  • Archie Leach

    If anyone wants me I'll be in the back blowing my brains out with a 44magnum.

  • devilgod

    The day Robert Downsyndrom wins an Oscar - Satan will rule the world.

  • Alberto Cox Délano

    Time bay, time. Time is by far the keenest, wisest and most selective critic of taste. Number 14: In 50 years time, everyone will still be watching Martin's movies and Oswalt will be a perennial cult figure; Chris Brown will be dead and only remembered as an obscure joke. Number 13: The Beatles will have at least one N°1 single every five years, kids will be raised by their music in 2362. Number 9: That still means that Bob Dylan has sold over 60 million records so far, and he is still able to turn N°1 albums today, ain't bad for someone who for all terms and purposes could win a Nobel prize for literature. Number 7: "Gatsby" will still churn out papers, essays and literary heirs (and lackluster film adaptations) for as long as there is a USA and hundreds of years afterwards; millions of "50 shades" copies are now being piled as waste somewhere (really, look it up). 6: Buzzfeed is like the new trendy bar, full in the first year, but the patrons will move to the next glossy, undemanding and shiny new thing after a couple of years; the NYT is the kind of newspaper that has correspondents in Syria. 4: Glee and/or British TV show you that less is more. 4: Well yeah, but who is going to be called by renowned film directors as soon as the show is over?

  • Pawesl

    Mel Gibson (douchebgginess aside) and Kevin Costner are good actors, Family Matters is a good show.

    And I refuse to ever feel sorry for a millionaire not making as much as another millionaire.

  • Emm82

    9. I'm ok with that since I feel Dylan is wildly overrated and she is an absolute box of frogs and a delight in interviews.

  • Pajiba_Pragmatist

    oddly, I'm with Emm here on Dion. I am not a fan of her music by any means, but in interviews it's pretty clear she is smart, self-aware and incredibly competitive. She's not a wilting violet controlled by men, so on that count alone, she deserves some recognition.

  • Emm82

    Yep. I'm not a fan of her music, but I find that I like her and the fact she quietly gets on with having a life instead of having to see her every time I go on the internet.

  • Stephen Wong

    The depressing reality of no Oldboy review.

  • pajiba

    Stephen: Blame me. It was my assignment, but the film went from wide release to limited release, and didn't open in my city. I am concerned that, after it flopped at the box office, that it may not open here at all now.

  • Stephen Wong

    Thank you!

  • Bea Pants

    This is a terrible thing to do to someone who still has a large amount of pie and wine in her house.

  • Jenn TheYellowDart

    I can't hate on Celine Dion. It's in my blood to adore her.

  • BlackRabbit


  • Jenn TheYellowDart

    She does draw life from all Canadians, in a way.
    Psychic Vampire. Let's go with that.

  • Uriah_Creep

    So THAT'S why I've been feeling so tired lately.

  • e jerry powell


  • What the hell, man? Did you buy stock in Pfizer yesterday?

    I feel like #4 was just to set me up for the kidney punch that was #14. If anyone needs me, I'll be in the bathtub with a bottle of peppermint schnapps and a chocolate straw.

  • grr arrgh

    I misread that as "in a bath of peppermint schnapps and a chocolate straw". I have to admit that sounds kind of better.

  • I like yours better. Would have to keep adding schnapps, but that is OKAY.

  • grr arrgh

    That would work perfectly. Just have someone add fresh schnapps and you don't have to lift a finger.

  • ed newman

    OUCH!! grr's interpretation sounds awfully painful. Hope you don't have any cuts or sores.

  • See, that's the beauty part of the plan: the schnapps INSIDE you cancel out the schnapps OUTSIDE you.

  • grr arrgh

    I should try that the next time I burn my impatient tongue on hot chocolate. Pour a little schnapps in there instead of boring ass milk. I'd forget about the taste buds I burnt in the same of festive drinks.

  • ed newman

    Let me know how it works in practice!

  • grr arrgh

    I hadn't thought of that. I think you'd be drunk fast enough just through skin absorption you wouldn't notice any pain.

  • e jerry powell

    I am inclined to throw "Perfect Strangers" numbers in there with its spinoff, "Family Matters." That makes the whole thing even more tragic.

  • Davis

    None of these are depressing just first world problems.....seriously people grow up plus you can't relay say braveheart was garbage and New Girl stinks.

    People just calm down Chris Brown having a lot of twitter isn't worst than child rape

  • Bea Pants

    Did you take a wrong on the internet? This is Pajiba not Mother Jones. Pop culture is sort of our thing.

  • Davis

    Nope it's just dumb things that people get angry about, if you heard someone complaining about this shit out loud you'd slap them.

  • Juxyn

    I'll probably slap them too, but only because there is a time and place for everything. And Pajiba is a place of pop-culture.

    Also, just because people think these things are depressing, doesn't mean they don't care about child rape and isn't depressed by that too.

  • pajiba

    Don't you dare take away our faux rage, YOU MONSTER.

  • e jerry powell

    It says "Pop-Culture," right?

  • Sorry guys, Kevin Costner works for me. He's the Robert Redford/Harrison Ford school of just being a guy on camera.

  • e jerry powell

    WATERWORLD, aka Kevin's Gate.

  • Emm82

    Sadly I enjoy Waterworld, and not ironically either. As in, will watch it when I find it on SyFy. I know its terrible, but I just cant turn it off!

  • Jim Foster

    So the last one kinda seems racist. Why did you have to compare three of the whitest women around and compare them to two the most popular ethnic women in show biz currently? Are they not allowed to make more money then semi-popular white stars?

  • pajiba

    Good lord, Jim Foster. Do you know how I arrived at Sofia Vergara? I took the salaries of Poehler, Streep, and Fey and doubled them, then checked to see whose salary was in that range on the Forbes list. I saw Sofia Vergera, who I like just fine, and name checked her because the numbers fit, then about $10 million up, on the same page, I saw Jennifer Lopez, who I basically know from The Wedding Planner and American Idol and thought, you know what? It's sad that she's making literally 6 more times than Tina Fey, who wrote and starred in her own brilliant sitcom, while Lopez judges a singing competition. If you want to impute some kind of elitism (30 Rock/Parks and Rec > American Idol), go right ahead, but racial animus? REALLY.

  • JAG

    Dustin, maybe you didn't notice that ALL the people of color that you mentioned on your list (including projects starring people of color) all ended up on the negative side of your judgements. NOT an accusation, just food for thought.

  • George

    Lopez doesn't just judge a singing competition. She's a singer, actress, touring act, producer, and business woman. Her multitasking is why she makes so much more money than the other women you listed.

  • dilwazr

    I agree (except about calling them "ethnic")! Sofia Vergara is terrific, and one of the best parts of Modern Family. Jennifer Lopez, whatever you want to say about her, is NOT untalented. In fact, she's a cultural juggernaut. Maybe compare how much these women made in comparison to... Justin Bieber?

  • Fabius_Maximus

    If it was based on quality, yes.

  • elmediocre

    Is it wrong to give Lopez partial credit for Out of Sight? Though I generally assume that was 75% Soderbergh.

    Because she works in that film for me. A lot.

    Everything else, not so much.

  • AvaLehra

    Robert Downey, Jr., John Malkovich, Alan Rickman, and Bill Murray have never won an Oscar. Kevin Costner and Mel Gibson have two apiece.

    FULL STOP. I had to stop reading right there. If this is the first item on the list, I don't want to read how bad the other ones are.

  • Excuse me while I throw myself out the window.

  • alwaysanswerb

    13.5) Glee didn't stop after season 1

  • Paddington

    I find it a lttle weird that given the general inequalities faced by minorities that the few instances of success are used as standards of unfairness to their more deserving white counterparts. How dare Sofia Vegara out earn Tina Fey!

  • Dumily

    Yeah, I was a little weirded out by that. Although I think we can all agree that, regardless of her ethnicity, J. Lo is just the worst.

  • Paddington

    She was actually my first celebrity crush so...

  • Dumily

    Seriously? Dude, how old are you?

  • Cree83

    Man, once upon a time, probably around the same time The Wedding Planner came out, I thought Jennifer Lopez was just going to have one of those bland inoffensive careers as a cute and charming lead in terrible romantic comedies, a la Kate Hudson. That Bennifer thing really did neither of them any favors.

  • NateMan

    Yes. I thought that way even before they shoehorned her into a perfectly acceptable Jason Statham movie, but after that atrocity she really needs to go.

  • George

    I can't give up on her no matter how many crappy movies she makes or how many perfumes she pimps. She was just too good in Out of Sight (one of my favorite movies).

  • Dumily

    Definitely I'd forgotten that movie existed until right now.

  • Semilitterate

    "Nothin' but bills, Ma".

  • ljridley

    I don't know why, but the only one that made me go "ew" was number 13. Maybe because I live in an almost entirely Glee-less world.

  • oilybohunk7

    I once spent five hours in a car with three Glee fans with a fully loaded iPod, it may be the closest I've ever gotten to hell on Earth.

  • bastich

    So you got all the pain, but none of the Brittany Pierce one-liners (or dance scenes, or general cheesecake shots)?!?

  • oilybohunk7

    Yes. And ear cancer.

  • chanohack

    WOULD THAT WE ALL lived in a Glee-less world. SIGH.

  • Grimmlok

    George Orwell voiced Unicron in the Transformers animated movie back in 86. So yes, there is a known recording of his voice.

  • BWeaves

    Um, George Orwell died in 1950.

    I think you are thinking of Orson Welles.

  • Hey! If it wasn't for Celine Dion's music, I'd never clean my house. Something about it gives me the urge to quickly wash dishes and vacuum.

  • e jerry powell

    Patti LaBelle would work just as well for the vacuuming. She might even come sing to you live while you do it. Miss Patti loves to vacuum. I'd let her come vacuum my apartment if she wanted to. And she could sing "If You Asked Me To," because her version is much better than Celine's.

  • oilybohunk7

    That and I think that Bob Dylan is a fantastic songwriter I just don't want to listen to him mumble through it.

  • #1's first list should also include Gary Oldman. Friggin travesty.

  • I'm okay with #5, if only because seeing families of color on television took a shocking nosedive after the golden era of The Cosby Show, A Different World, Living Single, etc etc. All of the "better" shows mentioned along with it are super lacking in ethnic diversity. Plus, you could plug in any number of other traditional sitcoms in the place Family Matters and the "depressing" theme would still work.

  • e jerry powell

    Exactly. Jo Marie Payton's Harriet provided the most ethnic diversity on "Perfect Strangers" before she spun off into "Family Matters." Then she went on to play basically the same character on her recurring "Will & Grace" arc with Gregory Hines.

  • Ruthie O

    That's how I feel about #15. The fact that two Latina women are doing so well in Hollywood is a pretty damn exciting thing, regardless of what you think about their work.

  • e jerry powell

    And even if their omnipresence is a little wearisome.

  • Repo

    Just pick someone else than Parsons. I stand by that he's doing good work on a bad show.

  • Cree83

    Agreed, though I would even call the show mediocre rather than bad. It has a pretty solid cast anyway.

  • Bob Genghis Khan

    I think all of these points can be summed up and explained in one statement:

    The vast majority of people are stupid, and like stupid things.

  • e jerry powell

    “Never underestimate the power of stupid people in large groups.”
    -- George Carlin

  • bastich

    I liked "Sports Night"! Poopy-head.

    (Yes, it mostly served to scratch my Sabrina Lloyd lust-itch, but still....)

  • Helo

    Oh man, whatever happened to her? She was undercover hot.

  • csb

    #4 and #15 aren't that depressing when you remember just how well paid they all are.

  • Helo

    In all fairness to #1, Costner and Gibson have Oscars for directing some decent (if a tad overrated) films, not for acting.

  • Helo

    #13 makes me want to:

    a) Break into the homes of those that opine Glee covers are better than the original.

    b) Spread loose legos all over their bedroom floor while they sleep.

    c) Ring the doorbell on my way out.


  • Uriah_Creep

    I like the way you think, Helo.

  • DataAngel

    I'll drive.

  • Helo

    Great. How many legos does your ride hold?

  • DataAngel

    I think we could get a lot in it. It's a Yaris, but it's got hidden cargo spaces all over it. If we take out the spare tire, I think we could get several thousand in there alone. Especially if we just go with the little ones. They have a better sharp-corner-to-surface ratio anyhow.

  • e jerry powell

    Duplo hurt more.

  • Pajiba_Pragmatist

    not so much actually. Having a room littered with both, the duple are bigger, and you tend to react to them before you put your full weight down. The smaller lego really get into the sole of your foot...

  • The Mama

    Bristol blocks are even worse.

  • e jerry powell


    Forgot about those.

  • pomeroy

    I will not apologize for Family Matters.

  • CaribbeanLaura

    I'm sorry I have to agree with this. Yes it was cloying and annoying and saccharine but GD if it wasn't a serious and well loved part of my childhood. Plus one the name of one of the lead characters was Laura!

  • Guest

    Fuck. You.

  • The Kilted Yaksman

    Big Adam Sandler fan, eh?

  • Guest bringing the heat today.

  • There is so much wrong with this list - I can't even form a coherent response.

  • NateMan

    16. TBS has yet to turn the autobiographical story of my penis (tentatively titled "I'm Taking My Balls and Going Home" into the 6-seasons-and-a-movie deal I was promised.

    I'm bored today.

  • wonkeythemonkey

    Time to repurpose it as a reality show and sell it to TLC.

  • e jerry powell

    More eyeballs, because the repeat cycle is even tighter at TLC.

  • Helo

    I'm sure AMC would oblige you if TBS takes too long to get back.

  • Lauren_Lauren

    Next up in Dustin's Scrooge Series: 10 Signs Your Life Is Already On The Decline and A Helpful Reminder - All Your Childhood Pets Are Dead.


  • alwaysanswerb

    Not to give them anymore traffic (sorry NYT!) but I'm pretty sure Buzzfeed has you covered on the first one.

  • chanohack

    Number thirteen turned my heart to ash. IS THIS WHAT YOU WANTED?

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