The 4th Annual Pajiba (Sh)it List
Each year for the past three, we here at Pajiba have compiled our Annual (Sh)it List, something of a riff on Entertainment Weekly's "It List," which explicates the ten trends, people, ideas, etc. of the year that annoy the hell out of us. We usually post the (Sh)it List during the early party of each year, but for whatever reason, the Guide escaped us this year. It's normally a group effort, but it occurred to me this morning that we missed it, it's late in the year now, and with the holidays approaching, it's too much to ask the rest of the crew here to commit to an organized, collective effort. I apologize.
However, for the sake of continuity, and so we can successfully bring back the 5th Annual (Sh)it List in 2011 as a group, I've taken it upon myself to compile a quick (Sh)it List for the archives.
Using "Horse Face" As An Insult: Sarah Jessica Parker. Julia Roberts. Hilary Duff. Anne Hathaway. Kiera Knightley. It's hard to mention any of these women (and more) without commenters resorting to the quick and easy "horse face" put-down, a juvenile insult without any of the joy of juvenile insults. I understand the mock-beautiful-women-as-a-defense-mechanism ploy, but horse face? It's so uninspired, and so beneath the usual wit of those who leave comments on the site. There's certainly a lot of joy to be had in criticizing certain celebrities, but if we wanted horse face jokes, we'd read the captions on Perez Hilton. Here:
Resist, damnit! Resist! Show some goddamn restraint.
Television Ratings: Unlike awards shows -- which may not ultimately matter, but I think are good starting points for conversations about film -- television ratings do matter, and yet they seem almost as arbitrary as some awards shows. It's easy to say, "Just because ________ didn't receive an Oscar nomination doesn't mean I got any less enjoyment out of it," but television ratings do matter to the extent that a show needs a certain amount of popularity to survive, and time and again, it's these "ratings" that seem to dictate many of my television choices. Television ratings don't even seem real -- they feel like random numbers assigned to a theoretical television viewing public, a viewing public that doesn't actually represent the people who watch and appreciate quality television, but rather seems to represent this caricatured idea of America as a land of fat-ass brain-dead Igors who resort to sniffing their testicles during "Two and a Half Men" commercial breaks. Note to advertisers: I don't care what the ratings say, and I don't care how many of these people are watching these shows, they're not buying your shit. They're too busy sniffing their balls to buy a fucking Chrysler. If you want us to buy your products, associate yourselves with good shows. There's a scientifically proven positive correlation.
Leonard Maltin: Leonard Maltin, who became thought of as a popular movie critic for reasons that elude me, hosts a segment that is part of the 20 minutes of advertorial programming that screens before movies in some theater chains, including my own. I like to get to the theater early and reserve a seat as far away from chatty people as possible, which means that I witness Maltin's insipid recommendations sometimes two or three times a week. He recommends movies that were overlooked by most of the movie going public, which is admirable -- if he recommended something like Zero Effect or Waitress or something worthwhile. Instead, he takes the opportunity to plug some of the blandest, dumbest movies of the last few years. I get outraged every goddamn week with what he recommends, most recently Tim Allen's Jungle 2 Jungle. Really.
Twitter: I think it was the Second Annual (Sh)it List, in which Twitter first appeared, wherein I argued that I didn't want to be any part of conversations that amounted to a a series of out-of-context morsels of wit and facileness. But since that time, I joined Twitter and became a convert. Putting aside the character limits, my first year on Twitter was kind of exhilarating: I got a somewhat intimate look into the real lives of many of the people I read on the Internet, as well as a front-row seat to their arguments. It was fun, in the beginning, to witness these bitchy back-and-forths, which ultimately revealed a lot about the people who write on the Internet (mostly, that they take both their lives and their jobs entirely too seriously).
But then it stopped being fun, and it started to get tiresome. For the most part, the series of out-of-context morsels of wit and facileness disappeared and were soon replaced by constant, tedious complaints. It's become this massive collection of people having banal conversations with themselves, shouting their hourly grievances into the ether like homeless drunks bellowing in Times Square. It's just bitching, but it's not even focused bitching. It's random, self-serving woe-is-me complainery, except in the rare instance when two or three people actually connect, in which case it's two or three people bitching at each other. Indeed, sixty percent of Twitter can now be reduced to variations of this: "Oh, I'm sick"; "Damn, they suck" "Wow! I'm awesome"; "I'm watching _____ and it blows" or "I just saw ______ and it's overrated!"
Another ten percent of Tweets are comprised solely of spoilers for television episodes you haven't got around to watching yet.
And on a related note: If you're a person who writes about movies and television for a living, and you're complaining about writing about movies and television for a living, especially on Twitter, shut the fuck up. You write about movies and television.
(What I really wish is that all the awesome, witty Pajiba bastards on Facebook would move to the more streamlined Twitter, because I can't keep up with FB. There are too many disparate interactions, and every time I click over on Facebook I get overwhelmed and flee.)
The Constant Mockery of M. Night Shyamalan's Name: This one came up in a comment thread , and jon29 sarcastically nailed my thoughts on it:
"You know what never gets old? M. Night "Shamalamadingdong." It's so fucking funny. Every time. Do you get it? It's like his name, except because his real name sounds a bit strange if you are 10 years old, or retarded, you add a ding dong on the end. Who the hell needs a three syllable last name, anyway? Go back to Iraq! Shamalamadingdong. Fucking comedy gold, right there.
The Delayed ... Thank You: This has become one of the most overused tropes in television of late, an easy (and I'm afraid, effective) method for extracting emotion out of a scene. It usually involves an emotionally stilted character that rarely shows gratitude. Someone else will do something nice for that person, often unexpectedly. And then the emotionally stilted person will first say that person's name (he will always say the person's name), hesitate a few seconds to swell that bubble in your chest, and then continue " ... thank you" in the most earnest way imaginable.
It works every goddamn time.
Sentences (especially in comments) That Begin With the Word, "Actually": You really like to correct people, don't you? And you get a lot of satisfaction out of it, huh? Actually, there are better ways to demonstrate your obviously superior intellect than being a smug douchebag, you cock blister.
January and February Movie Release Schedules: I know it's coming. Every goddamn year. And yet, each year, the movie choices -- for the most part -- are surprisingly more miserable than the last. I don't really understand it, either. It's a dead time for most sports. It's too cold for outside activities. Television shows are often in reruns during portions of these two months. It seems like an almost ideal time to go see a movie, and yet, it's the time when studios choose to dump their worst efforts. There are plenty of examples (Alice in Wonderland, Cloverfield, Taken) that demonstrate that we will go see movies during these two months, so why not give us something we'd like to see instead of something we see because there are no better choices?
Scathing Reviews, Bitchy People: Six and a half years ago, I threw up "Scathing Reviews, Bitchy People" as the site's tagline because I couldn't think of anything better at the time, we had no readers, and it sounded catchy (and I did so over the objections of the other guy who was writing for the site at the time). For some reason, it stuck. And three years later, when we had a contest to come up with a new tagline, "Scathing Reviews, Bitchy People" won out again. If you type in the word "scathing," Pajiba comes up right after the dictionary definitions. Until I removed "bitchy" from the site html header, we came up third for that term. I hate it. Almost anyone who has written for the site for any length of time hates it. It's not that we're not often scathing. And it's not that you folks are not often bitchy (no, really. You are. Seriously. Man). It's that we're more than that. It's that you guys are more than that. You're more clever than bitchy, and we're only scathing when the subject calls for it. I don't like that the site is defined by "Scathing Reviews, Bitchy People," when I think that both the writers and the readers of the site represent so much more.
But whaddya gonna do?