In the spirit of this week’s issue, I’ve been thinking about a number of things in pop culture that I seem to like for no apparent reason. Sometimes I hate myself for enjoying the following things, but enjoy them I do, however much guilt I may feel.
I need not explain the use of quotation marks in this case. As Jon Stewart routinely points out, Murdoch’s channel does not exhibit an iota of journalistic integrity. Kind of like The Prince. Yet unlike our daily paper, FNC keeps me entertained whenever I turn it on. Yes, I’m disgusted with the beliefs they espouse and the people they celebrate, but, although it’s not as funny as Stewart or even Olbermann, it’s easier to watch Hannity and friends present highly biased opinion as fact when you have the distinct goal of finding the humor in the situation. I guess it just makes me laugh when I’m informed of the goings-on in the Land of Make-Believe. And that is why, before I change the channel to avoid vomiting, I can kind of enjoy watching Fox News.
Level of Guilt: 8 (out of 10) Level of Pleasure: 4
James Patterson Novels
I feel as though I should split this entry into two, because there are two kinds of Patterson books: the ones that feature Alex Cross, and the ones that don’t. None of these books are, you know, good, but Alex Cross is a fairly interesting character, and, on the other hand, in the novels that don’t include him, Patterson and his various co-authors occasionally tinker with their formula. For those of you who don’t know what I’m talking about, Alex Cross used to be a top detective for DC Homicide, but he was snatched away by the FBI a few years ago, presumably so Patterson could have him travel the globe, as in the one book where he tails a Russian terrorist who calls himself The Wolf. I should mention that Patterson, because he’s so clever, uses a different nursery rhyme, or fairy tale, or something recognizable to young children, as the title of each of his Cross novels. I’m not sure why he calls his books things like “The Big Bad Wolf,” “Roses are Red,” or “Pop Goes the Weasel;” children probably shouldn’t be reading about, say, twin vampires who command a tiger to maul people, so there must be another reason. Whatever it is, I can’t stop myself from wasting money and a few hours on the three novels he cranks out every year, and, based on their popularity, I can’t be the only one.
Guilt: 5 Pleasure: 6
The Black Eyed Peas
There was a point, in 1998 or so, when these guys (and back then, it was just guys) were an eclectic little hip-hop group with a fairly different sound. I still listen to some of their oldest songs. Of course, I can’t help but hear the music they’ve released since 2003, because that maddening “Where Is The Love?” catapulted them to a level from which I can only hope they tumble very soon. Because they had their biggest success with an idiotic trifle, I suppose it was a financially sound decision for them to focus on similar music. Every so often there is pleasure mixed in with the guilt, because, un-PC though it may be, I like “Let’s Get Retarded.” On the other hand, I can’t stand “Hey Mama.” Or “Don’t Lie.” Or “Don’t Phunk With My Heart.” Or “Pump It.” And so on. Most of these songs are mildly entertaining about one time, and then they annoy me to no end. This is basically how I feel about Ms. Stacy Ferguson; who are these people that genuinely enjoy “London Bridge?” There is nothing good about this song, and it doesn’t make any sense. You’re telling me that whoever wrote that idiocy couldn’t think of another example of something that “goes down?” Nevertheless, I still like “Let’s Get Retarded.”
Guilt: 7 Pleasure: 3
“Angels in the Outfield”
When I was seven or eight, my stepfather’s friend was constantly taping movies that came on HBO and giving them to us. He also brought us toys, and fish he caught himself. He’s married to a twentysomething woman from West Africa, and he’s pushing sixty. Weird guy. But anyway, this was one of the many movies he brought us, and at that time, not only did I legitimately believe in angels, but I also didn’t know a thing about baseball, besides the fact that I thought Bernie Williams was cool. Still do. Anyway, I have no particular commentary on the religious aspect of the film, but it adds a lot to one’s straightforward enjoyment. If you need a plot summary, guide your browser to IMDb. The reasons I feel guilty for the soft spot I’ve long had for the film are many, chief among them the character of JP. Now, JP is a black foster child who won’t ride in cars because he once slept in one, and who says everything in an optimistic whine. He is constantly repeating the phrase, “It could happen,” which he pronounces as, “iccahappa.” And he is terrifically annoying. Also irritating is Christopher Lloyd failing to recapture his Doc Brown charm as the “Head Angel,” Al. Tony Danza shows up as aging pitcher, and Matthew McConaughey and Adrien Brody are also on the team. If nothing else, this movie is good for trivia, but surely Disney, of all studios, should know how to make a kids’ movie that older audiences can enjoy as well.
Guilt: 6 Pleasure: 2
I’ve spent a few late nights debating whether this song is trying to be as awful as it is, or if it is simply one of the most spectacular examples of bad songwriting ever to occur. Aside from the fact that the song’s concept simply doesn’t make sense, “Summer Girls” is a ridiculous collection of non-sequiturs. For example, “When I’m with you, you buzz like a hornet/ Billy Shakespeare wrote a whole bunch of sonnets,” which only rhymes if you say it the way Rich Cronin does. The song is chock full of moments like this, which raises the question of how someone could listen “Summer Girls” without giggling throughout it. So do I think its idiocy is intentional, or accidental? Well, unintentional idiocy results in nauseating spectacles like “London Bridge,” and “Summer Girls” is so pleasant and frothy that I have to assume that they succeeded at whatever it is they were trying to do. It’s still so damn stupid though.
Guilt: 2 Pleasure: 7
On the bus up to Vermont for OA way back in 2003, a few dozen of us bright young tigers had ourselves quite a laugh with this Schwarzenegger flick. We particularly enjoyed the moment when Jamie Lee Curtis drops an automatic firearm on a staircase, and it starts endlessly firing bullets. Several terrorists with their own automatics come running to the staircase, presumably to shoot Curtis, but the gun, which is bouncing down the stairs in slow motion, mows down every single one of them. Curtis isn’t hit once. And this is the essence of “True Lies.” This is quite a ridiculous movie, with some absolutely ridiculous scenes, topped off with a positively ridiculous finale involving nuclear missiles in the middle of a city. Much of this is standard fare for Arnold, of course, but what makes this one so enjoyable is that it has a refreshing sense of humor, as James Cameron seems well aware of how silly his movie is. It revels in its goofiness, it takes you along for its absurd little ride, and after Arnold saves his daughter, Eliza Dushku, from falling to her death, you’re just waiting for him to dispatch the vaguely ethnic terrorist with a wonderful one-liner. And then, releasing a missile, he says, “You’re fired,” and you squeal with glee. Or, at least, I do.
Guilt: 2 Pleasure: 8
“The Flavor of Love”
I wonder if VH1 knew what they’d created when they decided to give Flavor Flav the chance to pick amongst twenty golddiggers with the hopes that he might find true love (or so he says). They probably couldn’t have predicted the shitting on the floor. They might not have been able to predict the spitting in the face. And they certainly couldn’t have predicted New York. But once they recognized what was happening, they knew how to handle it. And now New York is back. Last season, I really wanted Hoopz to beat her, but in round two, I honestly don’t like a single one of them. And since she is the most entertaining one of them all, I guess I’m actually rooting for New York, something that I never thought would happen. And only “The Flavor of Love” can cause me to enjoy the presence of someone who is so clearly insane.
Guilt: 3 Pleasure 10