The Pajiba Pop Culture Disappointments Tournament - Part 2
You goddamn people.
I explicitly begged — nay, WARNED — you all to treat this year’s Pajiba brackets with reverence. To take it as seriously as it takes you. Trump supporters treat minorities coming to take their jobs with more respect than you’ve shown this tournament. We’re not even halfway through the opening round and our pets’ heads are falling off. David O. Russell leading Spidemo-Man? Cameron Crowe’s career flaming out harder than M. Night Shyamalan’s? (Dustin made me include that last sentence. I actually think Crowe is more disappointing wait what is that pounding OH MY GOD HELP DUSTIN IS AT MY HOUSE HE JUST SPLINTERED THE DOOR WITH ONE KICK I HAD NO IDEA HE WAS SO STRONG PLEASE TELL MY FAMILY I LO)
Hi, Dustin here. Brian is, uh, on sabbatical. Today, voting opens for Barack Obama’s Presidency and No Likes On A Fire Tweet regions. Some fantastic matchups here, including No. 4 3D Movies against No. 13 Zack Snyder’s Watchmen, a pair of Avengers trying to out-moron one another, and two beloved shows cancelled right in their prime. If you missed Monday’s matchups, don’t worry: round of 64 voting stays open through Saturday. So get your Sheryl Crow on and choose your favorite mistake before the polls close this weekend.
NO LIKES ON A FIRE TWEET REGION
No. 1 Indiana Jones and the Kingdom of the Crystal Skull
No. 16 Pajiba Stops Reviewing Movies
Think about how excited you were when you learned Harrison Ford would don the fedora and whip for another adventure with Steven Spielberg at the helm (a feeling you’re probably experiencing again right about now). Remember how the first teaser tightened/moistened your loins with that iconic John Williams score and Cate Blanchett’s Mia Wallace haircut. INDIANA JONES IS BACK, BABY! And then he survived a nuclear holocaust by hopping inside a fridge and the world collectively did the JERRY SEINFELD LEAVES THEATER IN DISGUST DOT GIF. Unfortunately, I can’t paste a blurb from our review of Indiana Jones and the Crystal Skull to reinforce my opinion because we stopped publishing movie critiques sometime around 2006. Not that you all noticed.
No. 8 Man of Steel
No. 9 Superman Returns
Bryan Singer’s Superman Returns attempts to answer a question that’s plagued fans for generations: what if Superman’s greatest power was his ability to bore an audience to death? I’m all for comic book films attempting a minimalist approach. But Singer’s version feels like someone sprinkled Ambien all over a Rectify episode then dumped it in a hot tub for nine hours. Yes, Snyder’s take is packed with overwrought biblical imagery, nonsensical plot points (help Tin Cup, you piece of shit), and countless innocent deaths, but at least something happens.
No. 5 9/11 Truther Celebs
No. 12 Cuba Gooding’s Career Since Jerry Maguire
I’m not going to sit here and tell you that Rosie O’Donnell, Mark Ruffalo, Woody Harrelson, Martin and Charlie Sheen believe 9/11 was orchestrated by lizard people and carried out by clandestine elements inside our own government. I’d be foolish to insinuate something so ridiculous without a single shred of evidence to support my claims. That Cuba Gooding Jr. hasn’t already agreed to play a Bilderberg lizard in Uwe Boll’s forthcoming 9/11 film Terrorist More Like ERRORist, Amirite? (Because We Blamed the Wrong People for 9/11) means his agent is asleep at the wheel, because that’s easily the best role he’s been offered since his Oscar-winning turn in Jerry Maguire. Just look at this shit.
No. 4 3D Movies
No. 13 Watchmen
“How Does Zack Snyder Keep Falling Upward?” was Kristy’s nominee for the bracket. And while I’ve defended my man Z-Sny in the past, I realize one or two (million) Alan Moore devotees consider his Watchmen adaptation borderline sacrilegious. Show me on the doll where Synder touched you, nerds. Jesus. You know what could have saved it, though? No, not a giant squid. Malin Ackerman and Patrick Wilson boning THREE INCHES IN FRONT OF YOUR FACE! After Avatar’s bonkers box-office haul, industry types deemed 3D the future of cinema. I mean, who wouldn’t want to pay $18.50 to watch a darker, blurrier, more annoying version of the same movie playing one theater over for half the price?
No. 6 The Fappening
No. 13 Garth Brooks Becomes Chris Gaines
Low-caps Courtney summed up The Fappening like only she can: “These are someone’s personal photos, hacked into with what was clearly a great deal of effort and a great dismissal of any human feelings or empathy. The fact that these pictures exist is a moot point and how dare ANYONE judge or question the victims. Fuck that fuck that fuck that fuck you over there and fuck that.” Beat that, Clarence Darrow. Hey, remember when Garth Brooks lost his mind and released an entire album under an emo alter-ego (alter-emo?) called Chris Gaines? Yup, that happened. In fact, Chris Gaines has hosted SNL exactly one more time than Will Smith, Brad Pitt, Denzel Washington, Julia Roberts, Christian Bale, and Sandra Bullock combined.
No. 3 The Lost Finale
No. 14 Chinese Democracy
“Look, whatever happens, I can promise you they’re not all in purgatory.” THEY WERE ALL IN PURGATORY, YOU LYING COLOSTOMY BAG! I realize Damon Lindelof and his writing staff painted themselves into a corner so tight they had to hide the paintbrush in their colon, but come on, at least deliver an ending that doesn’t leave a foot-shaped hole in my television. Guns N’ Roses is a shitty band and you should be ashamed for ever anticipating one of their albums.
No. 7 Mel Gibson’s Racist Rant
No. 10 Every Kanye West album since My Beautiful Dark Twisted Fantasy
Hate on Kanye’s public persona all you want. The man brings it on himself. But he was the most innovative, entertaining, relatable rapper in the game from The College Dropout clear through MBDTF. His solo resume since then? 808s and Heartbreak, Yeezus, and The Life of Pablo. NOT GREAT, BOB! Worse than denigrating Jews in front of a police officer? Well, that’s for you to decide. Just listen to Yeezus once before you vote.
No. 2 Prometheus
No. 15 Eyes Wide Shut
Any time brilliant scientists acting like dumb frat boys after a keg race (BRO, LET’S REMOVE OUR HELMETS AND TOY WITH THIS SCARY ALIEN, BRO! THIS THING IS TRILL!) turns out to be the lone catalyst for death and terror, assume you’re invited to this tournament. Still can’t believe the characters could have neutralized all the danger in the final scene by taking two steps to their left. How a Stanley Kubrick film about wealthy underground sex clubs starring the most popular actor in the world and his real-life spouse turned out to be a limp, ineffectual bore-fest defies explanation to this day. Half-chub, at best.
BARACK OBAMA’S PRESIDENCY REGION
No. 1 The Seinfeld Finale
No. 16 The Endless Happy Endings Revival Rumors
The final Seinfeld episode wasn’t horrific, exactly. But it tried so hard to be memorable it forgot to capture the spirit of what audiences loved about the show for nine seasons. It was a safe, linear, utterly standard piece of botched fan service that satisfied only Bania. It’s a new year, which means any day now a new rumor that [insert streaming service] has plans to rescue Happy Endings will worm its way into your Twitter feed. It ain’t happening, folks. Life is hard.
No. 8 Jeremy Renner’s Thoughts on Things
No. 9 Anthony Mackie’s Thoughts on Things
It’s encouraging when men who aren’t typically affected by the world’s pervasive sexism and racism step up to support those striving for equality. Champions like Jeremy Renner, who call fictional characters “sluts” and don’t believe it’s their place to help women fight for equal pay. And Anthony Mackie considers feminism a “strange concept” and thinks women should worry less about equality and more about what will happen if daddy’s Rueben isn’t ready RIGHT THIS GODDAMN MINUTE! Not all heroes wear capes, folks.
No. 5 The Last 30 Seconds of The Sopranos Finale
No. 12 The Television Writers’ Strike
As a social experiment, The Sopranos finale is arguably the best moment in television history. As a satisfying ending to a rich, multi-layered American story, it failed miserably. The TV writers’ strike didn’t technically begin until November 2007, but Chase and Co. kick-started the movement by turning in an incomplete “Made in America” script on June 10.
No. 4 Dave Chappelle Walks Away From Chappelle’s Show
No. 13 HBO Prematurely Cancels Deadwood
Try to imagine these two events occurring in 2016. The creative force behind the boldest, most buzzed about comedy on television walks away from a $55 million contract with no explanation. The think piece tsunami would still be going on today. At least Chappelle left on his own terms. HBO giving up on Deadwood just as the show began pivoting toward its menacing endgame is akin to cancelling Game of Thrones right after the Night’s Watch airholes Jon Snow.
No. 6 Jurassic World
No. 11 Speed 2
“OK, I haven’t heard any mind-blowing ideas for the Speed sequel. So I’m just gonna throw this out there: what if - and bear with me here - what if we stuck them on a cruise ship drifting listlessly in the middle of a vast desolate ocean? Sick, right? Lock that in. Moving on: the Jurassic Park reboot. Let’s flip the script and make the raptors good guys and the Hammond character a lippy broad. But one that wears heels so the audience knows she’s classy. Get moving people I want scripts on my desk by noon tomorrow!”
No. 3 The Dexter Finale
No. 14 Grantland’s Demise
“Dexter couldn’t stick the landing. It couldn’t even find the runway. The Dexter series finale crashed and burned into a giant bowl of dicks 100 miles from the airport.” That’s Dustin on Dexter’s embarrassing conclusion, which had its eponymous character fake his own death and become a lumberjack. All of this is true. As is this, from my piece on Grantland’s death in October: “[Grantland’s] writers didn’t espouse moronic takes at 200 decibels. They didn’t target the lowest common denominator. They didn’t embrace faulty metrics and antiquated thinking. They didn’t race to the bottom. And now they’re unemployed. If a well-managed, talent-rich website underwritten by a $50 billion company couldn’t successfully chart its own course, it’s natural to wonder what hope the rest of us have.”
No. 7 The XFL
No. 10 SportsCenter’s Decline
The XFL gave us He Hate Me and Tommy Maddox and absolutely nothing else of value during its one pathetic season (NBC and the WWF each lost $35 million on the endeavor). ESPN’s flagship show used to be essential viewing: witty, insightful, comical, and newsworthy. Now it’s a one-hour advertisement for shitty light beer and sports “personalities” you want to push in front of a cement mixer. These two seeds deserve each other.
No. 2 The Matrix Revolutions
No. 15 The Twelve
Pro tip: the concluding film in a trilogy about a godlike warrior who bends the laws of physics to fight a renegade computer program should never dedicate two hours to an interminable conflict between ancillary supporting characters and killer CGI robots. The Matrix Revolutions abandoned everything fans loved about the first two installments (yes, The Matrix Reloaded is a much better film than you remember) to showcase what effectively amounts to a videogame cutscene. The Twelve, Justin Cronin’s lethargic follow-up to his stunning vampire opus, The Passage, traded pathos and character development for the genre’s worst cliches and contrivances.
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