The Pajiba Pop Culture Disappointments Tournament
Oh, hello. Remember last March when we created a pet peeve tournament where you could vote on which gripes and annoyances irritated you the most? I do, because I put a ton of work into it, slaving over a hot keyboard for weeks only to watch you all choose an undeserving, objectively incorrect winner. Your bad choices became my biggest pet peeve. As punishment, I’m imposing a one-year ban on brackets. No tournament this year, folks. You only have yourselves to blame. Please go back to worrying about Macklemore.
Dustin: Whoa, Byrd. Take it easy.
Me: YOU TAKE IT EASY! Cell phones in a theater, bruh? How does that win??? PEOPLE WHO DON’T TURN RIGHT ON RED ARE LITERALLY FUTURE HITLERS WHO MASTURBATE TO KITTENS GETTING HIT BY TRAINS!
Dustin: “Our readers are old. Most access the site using 500 free AOL hours. They don’t understand technology. Cell phones scare them. Look, if you don’t want to do it I can always ask Emily to give it a sh…”
Me: “CHRIST! You didn’t need to take it there. I’ll do it, I’ll do it. Jesus. Why would you even SAY that?! You’ve changed, man.”
Upon further consideration, I’ve decided to lift the moratorium and give you all a chance to redeem yourselves.
Welcome to Pajiba’s 2016 Pop Culture Disappointments Tournament. This is your chance to choose the greatest entertainment letdown of the last 20 years. Use it wisely. Our field of 64 contains films, TV shows, albums, books, events, and trends from the past two decades responsible for unspeakable fan anguish, countless wasted dollars, and incalculable emotional trauma. It’s your job to determine the most egregious sinner. Try not to screw it up this time.
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Quick note: I purposefully omitted crimes and several important social issues. Bill Cosby being outed as a serial rapist isn’t disappointing; it’s goddamn felonious.
Today you can vote on the “You’ve won a Toy-Yoda!” and Donald Trump Might Really Be President regions. Wednesday, we’ll unlock the remaining match-ups. Voting stays open through Saturday at noon (Pacific Time), with quarterfinal and semifinal rounds to follow in the next two weeks. Hopefully, you remain interested enough throughout the process to prevent “This stupid bracket idea” from winning.
“YOU’VE WON A TOY-YODA!” REGION
No. 1 The Star Wars Prequels
No. 16 That Guy Who Didn’t Get Eaten by a Snake
“So here’s what I’m gonna do, Mr. Discovery Channel CEO: I’m going to tie this kettlebell to my dick shaft with a chain, climb to the top of the Sears Tower, and throw it off the side. Does that sound like something you’d want to televise live? It does? Great! Just one thing, though: I’m not actually going to go through it. Yeah, gonna call it quits right before the payoff. Are you still…hello?” Snake pussy ruined my night. The Star Wars prequels damn near torpedoed the most beloved, important film franchise ever. Call it a draw.
No. 8 Josh Trank’s Fantastic Four
No. 9 Those Other Two Fantastic Four Movies
Philosopher/poet TK called Josh Trank’s revolting Fantastic Four reboot “a paper-thin shell of a movie wrapped around a wet, sloppy snotball of a story.” That’s almost certainly the kindest sentence ever to escape his computer. Trank’s version is an overstuffed cinematic colostomy bag unsuitable for human eyes. That someone other than Slate could plausibly argue it’s not the worst Fantastic Four film of the last decade speaks volumes about how poorly Marvel has managed this property.
No. 5 Crash wins Best Picture
No. 12 Saving Private Ryan Does Not Win Best Picture
Compelling 5-12 matchup pitting the least deserving Best Picture winner of the modern era against Harvey Weinstein’s ultimate triumph. Only in Hollywood could a schmaltzy love story, starring Michael Jackson and GOOP, beat an iconic World War II tale with an opening scene that’s unrivaled to this day. Only in Hollywood could a searing, mature, boundary-pushing romance lose to Sandra Bullock being a racist bitch. Shrug emoji, poop emoji, gender-neutral sad-face emoji.
No. 4 Actresses Who Say They Aren’t Feminists
No. 13 Taylor Kitsch’s Career
Entertainment media, circa 2006: Tim Riggins is going places, y’all!
Entertainment media, circa 2016: And those places are Redbox, and obscurity
Here’s Kitsch’s resume since Friday Night Lights: Snakes on a Plane, X-Men Origins: Wolverine (SEE YOU SOON!), John Carter, Battleship, Savages, Lone Survivor, 2rue Detective (SEE YOU SOON, TOO!). Cuba Gooding Jr. looks at that list and sprays air freshener all over the damn room. Kitsch would be changing air filters at a Birmingham AutoZone if he didn’t have the look (and charisma) of a Greek statue come to life. Hashtag blessed. Also, to any actress publicly stating they aren’t overly interested in feminism: here’s 78 cents. Stuff it in your suckhole to prevent additional verbal diarrhea from escaping.
No. 6 The Killing Season One Finale
No. 13 X-Men Origins: Wolverine
The Killing was a straight-up dope show for awhile - atmospheric, tense, and engaging. Then the pilot episode ended. The ensuing eight hours ranged from interminable to infuriating, culminating in one of the least-satisfying conclusions to a mystery since Geraldo opened Capone’s vault and found a pallet of Pogs inside. Not sure how one manages to screw up a Wolverine movie featuring Sabertooth, Gambit, and Deadpool as characters, yet Gavin Hood (with a script by Game of Thrones’ David Benioff) solved the riddle. The scene with Wolverine inspecting his claws in front of a mirror looks like it was made with a Zune app.
No. 3 True Detective Season 2
No. 14 Michael Richards’ Racist Rant
Of all the bandwidth dedicated to eviscerating Nic Pizzolatto’s disastrous follow-up to his landmark debut True Detective season, my favorite comes from our Lord Castleton, who called the show “a hamfisted collection of self-important writing combined with shantytown performances and a ramshackle episode structure.” A more apt analysis is not possible. I’m just gonna salute a hefty ginger and mosey off to die in the woods…like Michael Richards’ career after he decided to drop the N-bomb 38 times while responding to a heckler.
No. 7 Movies Only Existing as Setups for the Next Movie
No. 10 Edgar Wright Leaves Ant-Man
There’s no denying Marvel’s talent for maximizing investments. The studio’s financial success, however, is largely driven by ensuring their films exist primarily to serve an ever-expanding shared universe. Don’t worry that this three-hour video game wasn’t overly satisfying, they say. It’ll all pay off five years from now in Infinity Wa7. The MCU — with DC right on its heels — feels like someone tried to shove 40 pounds of meat into a 6-inch burrito. This “story is secondary” approach likely contributed to Edgar Wright walking away from his long-in-development Ant-Man movie. Peyton Reed’s version wasn’t bad, necessarily. Just standard when Wright’s would have been anything but.
No. 2 Back-to-Back All White Oscars
No. 15 The New X-Files Episodes
Riley’s piece on awards show diversity encapsulates the problem far better than I can here, so I encourage you all to read it before voting. For our illiterate, uh, readers, imagine the type of person who would come to see Josh Groban perform at an artisanal winery in Kennebunkport. Then imagine only those people getting nominated for Oscars. That’s what happened the last two years. Embarrassing. As embarrassing as the X-Files reboot, though? HARD TO SAY! Dustin’s finale recap contains numerous glorious words, but none more apt than “The X-Files revival was an unmitigated disaster.”
DONALD TRUMP MIGHT REALLY BE PRESIDENT REGION
No. 1 NBC’s Disastrous Decline
No. 16 Roland Emmerich’s Godzilla
This might be my favorite entertainment stat ever: only five times from 1985-2002 did the highest-rated show on television not air on Thursday nights between 8 and 11 on NBC. One three-hour programming block dominating television so completely is a feat that can never be replicated. NBC’s run of critical and commercial supremacy didn’t fully end until The Office closed down in 2013. Today, a new NBC fall show lasting past Christmas is cause for celebration. The network is a disaster and has been since Bob Greenblatt took over in 2011. Speaking of disasters, Roland Emmerich screwed up a movie about a giant dinosaur destroying Manhattan. Can’t decide which moronic decision is most responsible for the failure: casting Matthew Broderick in the lead, forcing his love interest to inhale helium before every scene, or ripping off all the worst parts of The Lost World. All of them? Fair enough.
No. 8 Ang Lee’s Hulk
No. 9 Edward Norton’s Hulk
Ang Lee’s brooding, glacially paced version sorely lacked the large-scale destruction one expects in a film about a rampaging green anger monster. Edward Norton’s take (technically directed by Louis Leterrier) went way too far in the opposite direction with a climax that feels like two UFC fighters going at it on an elementary school playground. Don’t care who wins this. Next.
No. 5 George R.R. Martin’s Writing Pace
No. 12 Donald Trump hosts SNL
YOU’RE GOING TO DIE, GEORGE, BEFORE YOU GIVE US A CONCLUSION TO THE DRAGONS AND TITS STORY YOU BEGAN TWO DECADES AGO! Hey, Game of Thrones fans: constantly screaming at a 67-year-old obese man to hurry up and finish writing is probably not the wisest move for numerous reasons. Watch the show and shut up. It’s better, anyway. While inviting a divisive bigot to host SNL isn’t unprecedented — Andrew Dice Clay got the gig before — doing so when the aforementioned bigot is running for president creates all sorts of ethical and political problems. Worse, the resulting product was even worse than usual. Here’s Dustin: “Last night, Saturday Night Live made the biggest case it’s ever made for shutting down, packing it up, and going home. It was a good 41 year run, but maybe it’s been long enough.”
No. 4 M. Night Shyamalan’s Career Since The Village
No. 13 Cameron Crowe’s Career Since Almost Famous
Lady in The Water, The Happening, The Last Airbender, After Earth, The Visit vs. Vanilla Sky, Elizabethtown, We Bought a Zoo, Aloha. /retches all over the keyboard
No. 6 NBC Fires Conan O’Brien from The Tonight Show
No. 11 Lindsey Lohan’s Slide into Infamy
Here’s a side-by-side comparison of Lindsey Lohan in 2004 and Lindsey Lohan in 2015. Warning: link may cause depression, projectile vomiting, and deep examination of your own life choices. Before injecting fame between her toes, Lohan was funny and gorgeous, the type of actress who appeals to kids and adults alike. Now she’s showing her tits in movies written by Bret Easton Ellis. Speaking of promising redheads getting fucked by old men, Conan O’Brien seemed poised to become the king of late night when he took over The Tonight Show in 2009. Seven months later NBC handed him a check for $45 million and installed his predecessor - who refused to slide gracefully into retirement - back behind the Burbank desk.
No. 3 The Hobbit movies
No. 14 Netflix’s Adam Sandler Deal
You’ve been kidnapped and placed in a room containing only a chair, television, a Blu-ray player, and two boxes. Inside the first box is The Hobbit trilogy…extended director’s cut editions. The second contains the four films Adam Sandler made for Netflix. You’ll have to imagine this abduction takes place in the future, OK? Just go with it. The only way to see your loved ones again is to watch all the content inside one box. Sophie had an easier choice.
No. 7 How I Met Your Mother’s Final Season
No. 10 Antiquated Ratings Metrics
Television networks have no idea how many people consume their content. And they don’t care. Consider any other business operating in this manner, and then slam your skull in a car door to make your head feel better. I’m gonna steal a line from Kanye to describe How I Met You Mother’s final season: LOLOLOLO WHITE AMERICA, ASSASSINATE MY CHARACTER! Interpret that literally (RIP mom) or figuratively (what Carter Bays and Craig Thomas did to Barney and Robin).
No. 2 Spider-Man 3
No. 15 David O. Russell Turns Out to be a Dick
Emo jazz hands Peter Parker. Lowell from Wings as a villain. The wimpy invertebrate from That 70s Show as a badass rage monster. James Franco. How the hell does a movie with Sandman and Venom as characters wind up slathered in cold feces? One hundred and fifty-four critics gave Spider-Man 3 a Fresh review on Rotten Tomatoes. I’m not saying we should round these critics up and put them in camps until we figure this thing out. That’s insane. But we might consider detaining them indefinitely pending further questioning. Just to be safe. Everyone who works with David O. Russell thinks he’s a cockface. He’s basically the Ted Cruz of Hollywood. Or…WHAT IF TED CRUZ IS THE DAVID O. RUSSELL OF POLITICS?!
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