2018: The Snark list
Yes, yes it is now deep enough into 2019 that any mention of 2018 evokes the rolling of eyes and quite possibly brings up a wellspring of anger because “Goddamn I’m sick, sick of 2018! We’ve finally put a freaking stake through its heart, burned the remains and spread the ashes over a rose bush at the nearby church to keep any chance of an unholy revival to an absolute bare minimum! Why do you want to bring up this damn year again?!?!?”
Two words: Awards season.
Of course unless the galactic entity Zortron Destroyer of worlds decides to drop by with some Academy Award predictions and threaten planetary oblivion (which, let’s be honest, might be doing the universe and ourselves a huge solid) I’m not doing any coverage outside of The AVN Awards! Which might become a sprawling multi-column crossover again filled with off-color humor and jokes about concrete (guess you’ll have to read last year’s recap to know what I’m talking about) or maybe a photo essay. Who knows!
Anyway the point is you’ll still be getting an ass-load of 2018 in the form of accolades given to TV, Movies, Music and Soup (I’m personally rooting for “Italian Wedding soup” to sweep this year! Nothing has even come close except “Split Pea with Ham” and we all know about the controversy involved there). That being said I wanted to follow up my favorite list last week (or two) ago with a snark list; because if there ever was a year deserving of sarcastic derision it was 2018. Except maybe 2016 but I already covered that here and here. Warning there will be some spoilers and what could be construed as venomous, biased attacks making the whole piece tonally schizophrenic… get over it. So without further ado here are some snark favorites from 2018…
THE BEST GIANT THING IN A STUPID AF ACTION MOVIE WHICH MORE OFTEN THAN NOT STARRED THE ROCK OR JASON STATHAM – Rampage, Skyscraper, The Meg – Giant was a thing in 2018, I guess, giant sharks, giant buildings, giant wolves. Big and dumb in the most literal form. I think we’ve reached a point as entertainment consumers that we damn well expect that from our action movies. Not one hundred percent ironically either. Giant Dwayne Johnson is an excellent physical and comic actor and has charisma to burn and while he surprises in things like, say, Moana, movies like Rampage and Die Hard in a Die Hard are still his bread and butter. That’s perfectly fine; movies need someone like Johnson to make the stupid go down easier. Watch your back, though big guy, fellow giant John Cena’s turns in Blockers and Bumblebee is a turnbuckle leap into your territory. Statham is Statham, whether it’s giant sharks, his own heart or Jet Li … at this point either you’re on board or not.
Honorable mention – Aquaman: the giant hermit crab/squid Kaiju thing voiced by Julie Andrews… yes, Julie Andrews.
MOST INTERESTING VILLAIN TREND – Making some valid points – Way more palpable then the previous“letting the hero catch me as part of my grand scheme” trend. Making some valid points adds dimension to the bad guys, humanizing them… giving the characters greater depth. Black Panther’s Killmonger is right in every way about the racism, injustice and inequality in the world. He’s a villain because his plan for dealing with the problems is evening the score through the barrel of a gun. In Avengers Infinity War Thanos expresses concern for the survival of the universe because of overpopulation and limited resources. For life to flourish there has to be death. He’s a villain because… well, he just likes killing a lot and he’s convinced himself that he’s the hero for it. In Aquaman King Orm uses the unrelenting neglect and polluting of the oceans from the surface world to justify military action. He’s a villain because it’s just an excuse to consolidate power and become OCEAN MASTER, hopefully using his unfettered power to come up with a better title for himself. Each time you can get to “Well, I see where you’re coming from
…” type of reaction. This is good in a storytelling sense.
It does seem like the despicable, unsympathetic, two dimensional bad guys all found a way to get into the real world, though.
Honorable mention – Money – You can’t argue with a classic.
MOST FRUSTRATING TV SHOW – Legion (SPOILERS). The first season of Legion was amazing; trippy, outside of the box, colorful and strange. Regardless, the show never got off track narratively. You had to do some work to keep up and make sense but the payoff was worth it. The second season… not so much. Doubling, sometimes tripling up on the “unreliable narrator” motif season two crosses the line between clever and outright fuckery. While never dull, visually there were so many mixed messages; constantly what we saw not only contradicted what we were told but contradicted its own coded visuals. I have no doubt this was intentional but man did it leave the viewers just a bit too much adrift and confused. Also the most frustrating thing about the show was its climax and this wasn’t with the show itself but with a large swath of the viewership (ok, a little with the show also). The accusations of David’s sexual assault on Sid and the entire team’s ninety degree turn on David seems entirely engineered by the Shadow King. Think about it: The night before his trial the helmet suppressing the King’s telepathy fails. The King spreads the idea that David is the villain via a nearby mouse to everyone. The next morning Farouk is running free and everyone is gunning for David.
Maybe I’m missing something but the circumstances surrounding the turn on David seem questionable at best. And in a show that went out of its way to keep you unsure about the information you’re processing that’s kinda the point. I’m talking about the reactions from critics and people breaking down the show on-line not just the characters in the show. There is room for both versions and with all the red (or is it green) herrings and visual hints the question seems on shaky ground however you read it. This might’ve been the point but the end result is a queasiness about the whole season. Making the narrative as oblique as it was nudged what was brilliance in season one into frustrating and off-putting in season two. I can get behind the idea that there are no real heroes in a show but combining that with a narrative that can’t be trusted from square one puts your viewers, even the most enthusiastic ones, off balance way too much.
Honorable mention – Jessica Jones season two – Wow, for such an accomplished private eye Jessica sure had trouble finding any plot or reason to exist this season.
THE BEST NO-SHOW – The Wall! No, not a new version of the Pink Floyd concept album! Yes, the completely unattainable, fiscally irresponsible, conceptually wrongheaded, shining example of everything WRONG with this “administration” and the people that think we need it. Sure there is a gofundme page which is past eighteen million (which says more about the gullibility and lack of understanding of how federal projects and basic reality actually work on the donator’s part) but wasn’t Mexico supposed to pay for this fictional wall? I’m sure the thousands of people that have ponied up for this project diverted the funds originally intended for charities helping homeless veterans, church potluck/cross burnings and lift kits for their pickup trucks want this vile project to be built… but it still ain’t gonna happen. Here’s a little tidbit for those folks: Trump never really intended to build a wall! That’s why he claimed that Mexico was going to pay for it! A total fiction just like 99.8% of what he says! He can trot out this pointless talking point to distract from other shit like indictments being handed out like samples at Costco… that’s all it is. My advice to you: if visions of brown people pouring over the US borders to eat your babies and rape your cocker spaniel is keeping you awake at night; use that disposable income you were going to donate to “The Wall” and get some churros, switch from Fox News to Netflix, watch “Pacific Rim” or “Gravity” and get some anti-psychotic drugs.
If you still want to throw your money away I’ll start a crowdfunded wall page. I can buy some plywood and chicken wire. I can also find plenty of temp labor just outside the Home Depot. Five billion should cover it.
Honorable mention – The crowdfunded “Last Jedi” remake. Sure there was going to be a remake with no script, production team, budget, access to the actors or even the simplest understanding of copyright law or any clear idea of how to produce a giant quarter of a billion dollar science fiction film. Keep that money pouring in! Drain Dagobah I say! At least it’ll distract you from writing your shitty IG88/Male Ghostbusters crossover fanfic!
Unless it was all a prank! If so it’s a great example how satire and reality can’t even be distinguished anymore.
Honorable mention mention – Thanos Copter in Avengers: Infinity War! Goddamn it I wanted that copter! What the FUCK Russo brothers!
THE BEST SHARK – It was a hell of a toss up between the Mosasaurus of “Jurassic World Fallen Kingdom” and The MEG from the Jason Statham vehicle. Hell even Willem Dafoe’s sexy scene stealing hammerhead mount got pulses racing but let’s be honest there is still no equal: The collective hearts of the nation all still belong to Left Shark. He’s been on the DL for a bit but I hear he’s making a big splashy return in 2019 with his own YouTube red talk show and a guest spot on the “One day at a time” reboot.
THE BEST STUPID CONTROVERSY THAT WOULD BE FUN IF WE WEREN’T PUTTING CHILDREN IN CAGES – While we didn’t have anything a polarizing as that stupid dress or even last years audio blurb (was that last year? It’s such a blur) but the best stupidest divisive meme this year was “pineapple on pizza”. All my pop culture gadfly instincts scream to interpret this binary yelling match as symbolic of the deep cultural divide our country suffers from. But I’m going to resist that urge simply because all but the most entrenched, humorless, myopic of us get the joke. In an age where people are so split on politics, economics, race, gender and even Star Wars we can all have a little laugh at the most superficial split on how we, as Americans,eat our pizza. The real answer is, of course, put pineapple on pizza if you want to… or don’t if that’s how you roll; theoretically it’s still a free country. All the fake grandstanding on both sides really points out how, in an ironic way, that the country needs to get our shit together, stop trying to dictate what everyone else does and just live and let live. Which is something we as a culture are in dire need of.
Shit, I kinda did the “metaphor” thing anyway. Hard habit to break.
And finally the one you’ve all been waiting for…
BEST SCENTED CANDLE – Now this was certainly the most hotly contested item on this list. I got nearly two responses on twitter when I set this poll up. NEARLY TWO… think about that people. While the support from the “warm vanilla” camp was strong, in the end recognition has to go to “Maple Cinnamon Pancakes”. Rocking a heady blend of everything great about breakfast with the added zing of cinnamon this candle evokes Cinnabon, maple syrup generously poured over warm delicious pancakes and love! The three wick candle’s heavenly scent recalls a simpler time when mom… or dad’s current live in lover who used to be mom’s best friend… would lovingly cook up a stack on a lazy Saturday morning. The aroma of golden delicious cakes covering up the musk of post coital fluids you manage to catch hanging around Susan. Perhaps the scent calls to mind that one camping trip where, after surviving a wolf pack attack during a thunderstorm the previous night, your surviving buddies proudly cook up pancakes over a damp anemic fire. The scent reminding you of your temporary victory over the hungry vicious forces of nature that are waiting to kill you at the first sign of weakness. The warm friendly smell blotting out the olfactory imprinted reaction of terror you get from the acrid odor of damp wood and wet bloody fur now.
That about wraps it up for my snark list. I hope you enjoyed my thoughts on such momentous subjects and if I offended your sensibilities, particularly on the subject of the wall, I don’t give a shit.
HAPPY NEW YEAR!
Thoughts tangential to the main body of the column that I couldn’t work in organically
It’s ok to not like pineapple on pizza… but you’re wrong. So very wrong!