The starting days of any new year should be a time for reflection, contemplation, and nursing hangovers just like most Mondays for Chief Jim Hopper in Stranger Things. We’ve put out all those year-end lists: Best movies of…, best songs of…, best wind chimes of… We’ve allowed time to put the previous year into some sort of context, my vote for 2016 is “WHAT THE FUCK!?!?!?!?!?”
Now it’s time to look ahead.
As with most self-reflection, you take a good hard look at yourself and the world around you, and you think about what you’d like to change to make you and your world a better place, if not necessarily better, maybe just improvements on last year’s model.
Naturally, this all goes to hell somewhere in the third week of January and you’re back on the couch eating a whole package of Oreos Double Stuft and binge watching Kevin Can Wait.
Don’t worry I’m there too except replace Kevin can Wait with Supernatural cause if you’re spending ANY time with Kevin Can Wait, I got your first New Year’s resolution right away.
The point is: change. One of my resolutions is to stop procrastinating when it comes to writing, which I’ll get to eventually. I haven’t done a Cultural Junkdrawer in a while, not because I’ve been putting it off, but because the last few months of 2016 I’ve wanted to take culture at large out to the woodshed and beat it like a redheaded stepchild. Anger can be funny, but outright revulsion has a harder time playing nice. In the interest of not dragging my column and the whole site into a quagmire already too densely populated, I elected to just take some time off till the right idea came along.
This could be the right idea… or not, but at least I’ve involved my friends and colleagues to spread the blame around. The question posed is this: what new year’s resolutions should be made for pop culture? What was done in 2016 as far as tropes, chicanery, clichés and plain old bullshit for TV, Movies, comics, music and social media that needs to STOP?
I’m gonna put a few of my own out there to start.
FAKE NEWS: Refer back to red-headed stepchild. First off the term fake news is misleading, like reality television or Obamacare; a catchall term that doesn’t even begin to adequately describe the subject. Fake news is propaganda, straight up, and whether it’s coming from the extreme right, left, Russia, Breitbart or Facebook it is still lies told to sway public opinion for a group’s personal agenda. Information systems can always be hacked, guess what; the news is an information system. The way we absorb data has been manipulated, quite easily I might add, by just about any yahoo with a over serving of paranoia and a cable modem. The social networks became an echo chamber of too much noise disrupting all signal and if you didn’t like what someone else had to say, justified or not, you could block em’. That just increased the dissonance and decreased the open dialogue. Fake news fed off this; it was easy as a google search to find some slanted tidbit that reinforced your reality tunnel view and just as easy to post it on your Facebook page. Any attempt to refer to legitimate, credible news sources was dismissed by “Liberal media bias”. Anybody with a molecule of critical thinking couldn’t seriously believe that Obama was a transgendered Isis operative or that Hillary was possessed by a demon. These fake news stories come across like a paranoid far right refrigerator poem kit. Thanks to “fake news” these were lies that actually had traction… at least in some folk’s (probably your creepy uncle you don’t like) news feeds.
Get out to the woodshed boy, I’m a grabbin mah belt!
Moving on to lesser resolutions…
FAN ENTITLEMENT: Just because you are into something doesn’t mean you own it. Yes, this isn’t a new problem; 2013 saw a petition sent to Washington with the intention of preventing Ben Affleck from playing Batman (while it should’ve been for Batman V Superman as a whole). But, once again, this online forum temper tantrum bullshit has had real world repercussions. How many people judged the new Ghostbusters movie months before seeing it? How many horrible, racist, terrible tweets were hurled at Leslie Jones? What about the clueless cries to gut Rotten Tomatoes for collecting the bad reviews that came in for Batman V Superman and Suicide Squad? Rotten Tomatoes doesn’t control content, they just compile and aggregate reviews from around the country. Fanboynation’s dauntingly prolific movie critic Sean Mulvihill (who was also part of the conspiracy to slander BvS:DoJ, I read that on a Reddit site) put it best:
“There’s no great conspiracy against DC Movies, they’re just bad. Critics don’t hobnob
together and plot what movie they want to take down. They sit through them
and write their thoughts. If there’s an overwhelming consensus, it’s
likely because everyone interacted with it similarly.”
Sean makes a good point there; movie critics are probably the loneliest, most isolated people in the world. Their vast majority barely have social skills or the sobriety necessary to gather together in a Star Chamber-like conspiracy against Jared Leto as the Joker.
Editor Anthony Bench, whom also listed fan entitlement as a needed fix, sums it up with “… find something better to do with your time.
How bout death threats for the creators of the video game No Man’s Sky?, or for Captain America: Steve Rogers writer Nick Spencer?” A lot of the angst and teeth gnashing over these obvious marketing stunts came before anything was even seen. I personally think the Captain America as a HYDRA agent was a dick move timed to take the wind out of DC Rebirth’s sails. But the story didn’t even have a chance to be told; just off the top of my head I automatically had a dozen explanations for the plot trick and it would’ve been interesting to see how it was managed.
Just get over it. Use all that free time you apparently have to make your own work instead of trying to tear everything else down.
Oh man, the whoopin is gonna be epic! Yeeeehaaaawwww!
I’ve already said a lot about social networks, but here is one I’m sick to the teeth of: FACEBOOK FRIEND VALIDATION! EVERYONE has seen a post like this on their feed “Doing a culling of people on here. Come to find out I don’t have a lot in common with Craig Dupree of Podunk Iowa except liking Kevin Can Wait. If you want to stay a friend throw yourself before my feet for approval to validate what little sense I have of control over my life and I’ll keep you as a friend.”
Facebook mostly puts up posts from people I interact with anyway so 1. I must interact with you enough to get your whining about not interacting with enough of the people on your list.
2. I’m not sucking up to you to get a shared post about Hillary smelling like sulphur every week and a half.
3. I’m on Facebook to connect with people over comic books, art, movies and cute sloth videos. Also to hype my own material; don’t get butthurt if I miss your birthday notification or share your “God is in your life you just don’t know it” gif. I don’t even forward that crap from my Mom, and she tries like three times a week!
If you friended me, or I friended you, I assume we share some common ground and your shared experiences will enrich mine. I don’t expect regular maintenance; you posting the link for the new Blade Runner trailer is usually enough. Thanks for catching and posting it, saves me the time.
To add to this is the passive aggressive posts of “…I wonder how many of my friends will repost this hug?” bullshit! Trying to guilt me into spreading good vibes and love only has the opposite result. Invest in a Hallmark Precious Moments Collection. At least you’re stimulating the economy that way.
Also don’t friend me and just send a link to your Kickstarter project. Like your girlfriend, I just want a little foreplay. I get it, man, I really do… but c’mon; all that tells me is you’re not interested in cute sloths.
Anybody worth my time likes sloths.
MOVIE SEQUELS NOBODY WANTS: Was anybody clamoring for Independence Day: Resurgence (was that what it was even called? Or was it Reclaim, or Roundabout or Really?) aside from Fox who apparently needed another tax write-off on par with Fantastic Four? Jeff Goldblum has swung around to being almost endearing again with his apartment website commercials and stammering delivery. Chris Hemsworth is dreamy too, but neither is worth sitting through Roland Emmerich CGI destroying the last of his world monument checklist for two and a half hours.
How ‘bout London Has Fallen: Was there really an audience for P.O.T.U.S. slitting the throats of swarthy foreigners with a tactical combat knife? Before November 8th I would’ve said “no”. Um, point is LHF was so generic I wasn’t even aware it was a sequel till I scanned the Netflix Action movie suggestions and was reminded of Olympus Has Fallen. The only memorable thing that came outta this was I had Morgan Freeman’s voice on my Waze app for a week.
Huntsman: Winter War; I’ll always take me some Charlize… well, almost always. Even she couldn’t convince me to go see the sequel to a tepid “Re-imagining” of Snow White and the Seven Dwarves from a few years ago, which was mediocre at best. H:WW seemed to only exist to get the production designer an Academy Award nom and Charlize another Cosmo cover.
Alice Through the Looking Glass: The original made over a billion dollars worldwide and kick started the “re-imagining” of public domain stories… um, I mean fairy tales. There is no surprise that there was a sequel; six years is a long time to wait for a follow-up, though. Enough time for the trend it kicked off to wear out its welcome (See Huntsman: Winter War). I know Depp needed time for his magnum opus Mortdecai but still…
Zoolander 2: Back in February, I had this weird dream that there was a sequel to that mildly funny Ben Stiller movie that I rented from Blockbuster when there were still Blockbusters. Must’ve been a result of seeing Zoolander while clicking through basic cable channels and drinking too much Stroopwafel liqueur. Nobody would pay to see a sequel to that movie.
Any post apocalyptic YA series not Hunger Games; With a real live apocalypse on the horizon just stop.
COMMERCIALS ATTEMPTING TO GO VIRAL: Puppymonkybaby was a fucking ABOMINATION! Dr. Moreau wouldn’t touch that thing with ten foot forceps! Pure nightmare fuel! The kids talking about gum by zipper? I turning this car around and driving straight off a bridge!
That’s it for my ranting. As mentioned above I wanted to spread the blame around a bit so I asked some friends what they thought should be avoided this year.
Anthony Ray Bench – Fanboynation Comics Editor [email protected]: “Aside from the Fan entitlement, MARVEL should make more connections between the Movies and TV; in the last few years the two mediums have just felt disconnected as hell. DC needs to stop with the reboots and retcons, in fact EVERYONE needs to stop. I’m sick of going through origin stories again and again. Comic companies need to quit with the licenses that no one really cares about and start creating their own content. Did we really need a Denver, the Last Dinosaur or Saved by the Bell comic? Finally, no more CGI abominations of dead or aging actors; most of the time it’s a painful distraction from a film’s immersion.”
So I take it Anthony might have a problem with the all Slave Leia clone army planned for the Episode VIII.
Carl R. Jansson – Senior Editor, Beard enthusiast [email protected]:
“Yes, the fan entitlement problem too. Also Fox and Marvel should resolve their differences and come to an agreement for the X-Men and FF franchises that benefits everyone. Also the CW should bring Constantine back to TV!”
Not quite what I was looking for but Amen to both of them brother!
Sean Mulvihill – Fanboynation film critic [email protected]:
“Guess what; fan entitlement has gotten toxic (see his quote above). NO MORE PORTALS! NO MORE DEATH STARS! Too many comic book movies and
blockbusters conclude with the portal that has opened up over the
metropolis city and our heroes must race against time to shut it down. The
same is true of Star Wars, we get it — the Death Star is bad, enough
Sean is also sick of raunchy comedies that feel the need to redeem everybody.
“They’re supposed to be movies that relish in bad behavior but are so
afraid to allow the characters to be bad. UGH! I’m so sick of that shit!”
Sean takes his movie watching pretty seriously. He’s right about the portal shit though.
Kevin Fenix – Gaming Editor [email protected] also mentioned the fan entitlement; “People need to stop spending money on freemium games. If you spend money on GAME OF WAR you need your mental health checked. Spend $60 on a game it should be a complete game, not random chances on a character upgrade. Also less news on celebrity Social media posts.”
I was feeling Kevin wanted a pony too but he was too shy to ask.
Jules Rivera – Illustrator, comic creator, green hair http://julesrivera.com: “SF movies and TV needs to have more color in it both with people and production design. Everything is so dour and it’s getting old. We need cheer and sunshine and rebellion in the world, cause that’s what it’ll take to fight the powers that be.”
I agree with Jules; the gun-metal gray Michael Bay thing needs a paradigm shift.
Charlie Scott – AKA: Slam Poet Philosophy https://youtu.be/MlsrrlpvwJU: “Hip hop needs to change in a more positive direction. It will be more about the creativity of the lyrics. More danceable songs. Songs of love and unity will also bind us together more. Also there should be more comedy TV shows. People will be looking to laugh more.”
Charlie is our craft service guy for Speechless and as long as he keeps the bomb doughnuts coming, I’m down with whatever he says.
So there you have it; New Year’s Resolutions for Pop Culture at large. I’d like to end this column with a thought: In the coming year(s), there are going to be a lot of hardships; the world seems a bit darker and scarier now than a few years ago. I think we should all make a resolution to be nicer to one another. It takes so little effort and pays such dividends. I think we’re gonna need one another sooner than later. We’re almost through the “Vs decade”, and I think it’s time the rancor and hate start to retreat.
Failing that, let’s stave off the apocalypse till after Infinity War Part 2 gets its’ theatrical run.
Seriously, 2017, don’t make me take off my belt.
Good luck out there.