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Pop Culture's Retarded Future: Stuff They're Actually Making

Let's play a game. I'm going to name three, ridiculous, products or projects. Two of them will be fake, one will be real, all will be retarded. It's your job to pick out the real one and, subsequently weep at how absurd our culture's become. Ready? No Googling now. Aaaaand GO!

Round #1
A) In the Pursuit of Change: Poetry Inspired by President Barack Obama, by Mark McGrath.

Description:"Mark McGrath. Rocker. Reality TV Star. Television Host. Author? You heard right! Frontman and lead singer for the popular, beloved 90s band SUGAR RAY, is hanging up his microphone and picking up a pen for his new book of poetry inspired by President Barack Obama. The former 'RHYME STEALER' says his book will be a mix of free-association, stream-of-consciousness poetry, as well as more 'traditional' poetry."

"McGrath hopes that the messages of hope infused in his poetry will inspire his readers, as he too was inspired by the messages of President Obama."
Mark McGrath Says: "I've always considered myself more a poet than a songwriter, but I'm the last guy in the world you'd expect to be involved in politics, I just had a very micro-outlook on life. But, when I saw President Obama campaigning, and giving speeches, and at the debates, his messages, his integrity and his passion really moved me in a way that I haven't been moved in a long time, and the poems just started pouring out. I'm 41-years old, and this past election was the first time I registered to vote. If my words can inspire just one more person to make a difference, then I'll consider this a success."
This Product is For:

-Fan(s) of Sugar Ray.

-Ironic hipsters who enjoy having their coffee tables littered with books that make me hate them.

-A small percentage of Mark McGrath's relatives and personal acquaintances.

B) Karaoke With Your Favorite Principal Dennis Haskins A.K.A. Mr. Belding!

Description: "Dennis Haskins, A.K.A. 'Mr. Belding' from the popular television series Saved By The Bell>, is set to release a one-of-a-kind, first ever celebrity CD/DVD karaoke package on September 1, 2009 titled 'Karaoke With Your Favorite Principal Dennis Haskins A.K.A. 'Mr. Belding.''This CD/DVD combo package contains an audio CD with seven karaoke songs. The purchaser can choose to sing along with Dennis, or sing solo to the additional instrumental tracks. The CD can be placed into a CD-G karaoke machine and lyrics will appear on the screen. "
Dennis Haskins Says: "I love to sing and have been doing karaoke for the past six years. Karaoke is about having fun and I hope everyone will have fun singing along with me or on their own with our karaoke CD/DVD!"
This Product is For:

-The elusive People-Who-Are-Physically-Incapable-of-Singing-Without-Dennis-Haskins's-Accompaniment demographic.

-People who love everything about karaoke except the part where you have to sing alone.

-People who can confidently say that they will only ever need seven karaoke songs for the rest of their life.

C) Somebody That I Used to Know: Hilary Duff Pays Tribute to Elliott Smith


Description:"Actress, singer and teen icon Hilary Duff (of the hit Disney Channel series Lizzie McGuire), is paying tribute to one of her favorite artists in 'Somebody That I Used to Know,' her album of Elliott Smith covers. This has been a passionate project of Hilary's for some time, and she's thrilled to both reintroduce Elliott Smith to the music scene and spice things up a notch by adding her own patented Hilary Duff flavor!"
Hilary Duff Says: "Mr. Smith was a huge influence on me, musically speaking and, in my little way, this album is my attempt to say 'thank you' for all the inspiration his music has given me over the years. This music is a little bit more mature than my previous albums, but I'm growing up, and I'm excited about bringing Mr. Smith's music to a younger generation of fans who might not have had a reason to listen otherwise."
This Product is For:

-People who are fans of Hilary Duff.

-People who are fans of Elliott Smith despite never hearing his music or caring about what happens to his legacy.

-A very specific kind of pervert.



So, which of those equally terrible ideas is actually a real thing?

Did you guess B, Dennis Haskins's Karaoke CD? If so, that's really weird but, also, you're correct! Dennis Haskins has a Karaoke CD and that, in my opinion, is the most ridiculous of the bunch, there are just so many layers of retarded I might have a stroke. Do you know why celebrities don't endorse karaoke CDs? Because karaoke is about singing without someone else's voice, otherwise every CD ever released is technically a karaoke CD endorsed by whatever band happens to be releasing it. Karaoke in Japanese literally means "voiceless" (there's no way I didn't make that up) so the idea that Dennis Haskins would try sell this CD based on his celebrity status is laughable. Also, to accommodate for the seven tracks that feature Dennis Haskins, the CD only has seven karaoke songs, which A) makes it infinitely less useful than other more comprehensive karaoke CDs and B) means that Haskins was trying to push this CD, not on quality or usability, but solely on the merits of his status as a celebrity. Finally, and most importantly, Dennis Haskins is just barely a celebrity.

Looking at the rest of the Saved By the Bell cast, sure, Mario Lopez has to grin like a moron for Entertainment Tonight, Elizabeth Berkley did Showgirls, and Screech did an unwatchable piece of amateur porn and, but Haskins's karaoke CD still manages to come off as the most pathetic and unsettling post-SBTB career move.



Round #2
A) Stretch Armstrong: The Movie (2011, Universal)

Description: "Academy Award-winning producer Brian Grazer (A Beautiful Mind, American Gangster) has come on board to produce the project. The action-adventure film will be the first released under Universal and Hasbro's six-year partnership. It is slated to hit theaters April 15, 2011.

Stretch Armstrong is an iconic toy that kids around the world enjoyed stretching up to four-feet before returning to his original shape. Through the years, the product line stretched into a wide range of toys and supporting characters that built upon the Stretch Armstrong legacy by allowing kids to 'stretch their imaginations' with play experiences unique to the inventive Stretch Armstrong brand. When Hasbro signed the multiyear strategic partnership with Universal, it was one more powerful example of our commitment to re-imagine, re-invent and re-ignite our incredible brands beyond traditional toys and games."
Brian Grazer Says: "Stretch Armstrong is a character I have wanted to see on screen for a long time. He's an unconventional kind of superhero with a power that no one would want. It's a story about a guy stretching, if you will, the limits of what is possible to become all that he can be."
This Movie is For:

-Children who love Stretch Armstrong and A Beautiful Mind equally. (???)

-Fans of Brian Grazer who are thinking about turning on him.

-Hasbro's marketing team.

B) The Matrix: The Musical!


Description:Inspired by the success of Tony Award-Winning Legally Blonde: The Musical! and Tony Award-nominee Shrek, the Musical, blockbuster, groundbreaking film The Matrix will finally be coming to Broadway! The show will be written and directed by Tony-Winner Stephen Daldry (Billy Elliot) with Drama Desk Award-nominated lyricist David Yazbek (Dirty Rotten Scoundrels, The Full Monty, Houdini), teaming up with Broadway newcomer Jonny Greenwood (Radiohead) on the music and lyrics! Yazbek, one of Broadway's most prolific lyricists of the last decade has said that Greenwood was a natural choice for a collaborator, as he adds a "sleek, modern touch" to the music that fits perfectly with the futuristic, sci-fi world of The Matrix.

The show will be choreographed by Twyla Tharp and promises to feature elaborately choreographed fight and dance sequences that will be just as groundbreaking and original as those of the film. While the crucial role of Neo has yet to be cast, Tony winners Michael Cerveris and Idina Menzel have been confirmed for the roles of Agent Smith and Trinity, respectively.
Stephen Daldry Says: "The transition [from film to stage] was fairly easy, because there's something inherently theatrical about The Matrix, isn't there? Almost operatic. Even watching it for the first time, I thought to myself, This is like an experimental, modern dance, the stylized costumes, the brilliant choreography, the sheer epic nature of the whole experience, really. And, when you think about it, the story of Neo really echoes the stories of the earliest days of theater, those epic, Greek hero's journey stories. It is admittedly risky bringing science fiction to the Broadway audience, but I'm confident that the team we have assembled is capable of pulling it off."
This Show is For:

-Longtime Broadway fans who love explosion-heavy, sci-fi movies. (A nonexistent demographic.)

-Longtime Sci-Fi fans who appreciate the emotional expressiveness of Twyla Tharp's choreography. (A nonexistent demographic.)

-People who accidentally wandered into the theater while looking for Mamma Mia. (75 percent of all Broadway audiences.)

C) Guilty Conscience: The Story of Eminem (2011, Fox Searchlight)

Description: "Ray Charles. Johnny Cash. Notorious B.I.G. And now, Marshall Mathers a.k.a. Eminem will be getting the big screen treatment in Guilty Conscience. 2002's 8 Mile briefly touched on the best selling rapper's troubled life, but that story was fiction, just INSPIRED by the truth. Finally, we'll have the real, untold story that describes how a poor, misunderstood kid from Detroit rose from the streets to break down racial barriers and emerge as the music industry's most popular hip-hop star. Shia LaBeouf (an avid hip hop fan) stars in this biopic that deals intimately with every aspect of Mathers's life; from his career, to his drug addiction, to his very public marital troubles and everything in between.

The famously candid rapper supervised the screenplay and assures us that this is the most honest representation of his life and work he's ever seen, and that people will discover a 'new side, a side they never thought possible' from the artist."
Shia LaBeouf Says: "I honestly thought everything there was to say about Em was said in 8 Mile, but this guy's got seriously such a fascinating story it's unbelievable. The amount of shit he's gone through to get to where he is today is insane, and I'm happy to represent that story as authentically as I can."
This Movie is For:

-Fans of Shia LaBeouf (except the ones that like him for his impish, playful demeanor and his Disney-character-esque appearance and mannerisms, aka, all of Shia LaBeouf's fans).

-Fans of Eminem (except the ones that hate Shia LaBeouf for his impish, playful demeanor and his Disney-character-esque appearance and mannerisms, aka, all of Eminem's fans).

-Eminem, because he just can't seem to get enough of himself.



Give up? It's Brian Grazer's Stretch, the Stretch Armstrong movie. This movie answers the question "What would happen if we took the Fantastic Four movie and removed the hot chick, rock monster and entertaining comic relief?"

It's bad enough that Candyland, Monopoly and Battleship will all be getting big screen treatments, but now Stretch Armstrong? Don't get me wrong, I had a Stretch Armstrong as a kid (and, while we're on the subject, I also had Fetch Armstrong, his stretchy dog) and I even played with it once in a while but, to be honest, even as an eight-year-old, after a few minutes of exhausting every possibility inherent to a stretchy, blond doofus (reaching up to high places to retrieve things; tying limbs in knots; super boners) I'd generally put him away, thinking, There's probably a better way I can spend my time. At eight freaking years old. The only redeemable thing about the Stretch toys is that, when you got bored, you could cut the toy open and drink the sweet, sweet corn syrup that made the toys so stretchy in the first place, and I honestly don't think that experience is going to translate to film.

Round #3
A) Scared Straight with Tom Sizemore (2010, AMC)

Description: "The troubled actor who starred in such films as Steven Spielberg's Saving Private Ryan, Natural Born Killers and Heat will be touring rehab and correctional facilities all across America giving a series of captivating lectures describing his personal battle with both drugs and violence. Digging into his well of painful and emotional issues, Mr. Sizemore will hopefully steer troubled youths clear of the path that he took.

The show was created by Dr. Adam Silver, who met Tom Sizemore in the Hazelden Alcohol and Drug Rehabilitation facility in 2007 (where Silver is the facility's chief administrator). Dr. Silver hopes that Mr. Sizemore's celebrity status as well as his personal record (he has been arrested four times since 2003 on various narcotic, theft and abuse charges and has served a total of 22 months behind bars) will add weight and resonance to his message, in a way that tells his young subjects that drug addiction 'can happen to anyone.'"
Tom Sizemore Says: "I've made some mistakes, too many mistakes, I've made them, and there's no excuse. It's inexcusable. And now it's time for me to get the word out, to tell my story, to teach the lessons no one taught me, so some of these kids out there don't end up where I [ended up]."

[Editor's Note: The tour and lectures also happen to be in accordance with a court-mandated period of community service, assigned after his latest arrest for domestic violence (August 5, 2009).]
This Show is For:

-Troubled youths who frequently watch AMC (an admittedly slim demographic).

-Heidi Fleiss.

-Tom Sizemore's parole officer.

B) School's In Session with Professor Arnold (2010, VH1)

Description: "Outrageously outspoken actor-comedian and co-host for The Best Damn Sports Show Period Tom Arnold is going back to school as... a teacher? That's right! Tom Arnold will be returning to Ottumwa High School (Iowa), his alma mater, but this time he'll be behind the desk as the school's Drama/English Lit teacher. The reality show focuses on Arnold's attempts to help the troubled students at Ottumwa, as well as the events in his personal life and his quest to find Mrs. Right. Will he find love in the teacher's lounge? Find out!"
Tom Arnold Says: "I learned from a former English teacher of mine that OHS was going through some pretty rough budget cuts, a lot centered around the theater department, and I thought 'Hey, if I can bring a little attention to Ottumwa, maybe some money will follow and we'll be able to save the program.' I know I can't imagine my high school days without the drama department and I'd be heartbroken if kids today never got the same opportunity. Who knows, maybe I'll be able to turn some of those kids around, too. Like a Dangerous Minds, my own personal Dangerous Minds.
This Show is For:

-People on whom the embarrassing lives of washed-up celebrities has a sort of insanely watchable Car Accident Effect, from which they cannot look away (i.e. the typical VH1 audience).

-Roseanne Barr, as this show is just another step in their ongoing feud to out-crazy each other post-divorce.

-Concerned parents of Ottumwa students who are looking for a reason to transfer their children to private school.

C) Steven Seagal: Lawman (2009, A&E)

Description: "Steven Seagal is once again out for justice... this time as a real-life cop in Louisiana.

A reality series that follows action star Steven Seagal's adventures as a fully-commissioned deputy with the Jefferson Parish Sheriff's Office in Louisiana."
Steven Seagal Says: "I've been working as an officer in Jefferson Parish for two decades under most people's radar... I've decided to work with A&E on this series now because I believe it's important to show the nation all the positive work being accomplished here in Louisiana; to see the passion and commitment that comes from the Jefferson Parish Sheriff's Office in this post-Katrina environment." [Note: there is an unconfirmed yet highly likely rumor that Seagal's explanation was punctuated by the sound of an eagle cawing majestically in the distance.]
This Show is For:

-Me.

-Me.

-Me.

Give up? It's Steven Seagal: Lawman and I couldn't be more excited to be a living human being with functioning eyes. Steven Seagal has been fighting actual crime in Louisiana as an actual police officer ("under most people's radar") and now someone is going to point a camera at him and let him spew hot chunks of action madness all over my television screen. He's above-the-law, and out for justice on deadly ground. He's a hard-to-kill, pistol-whipping, executive-decision-making mercenary for urban justice, a one man attack force, and there's a fire down below... in my pants! I can't fucking wait for this show.1




1[Also, not only is this show irrefutable evidence that America is the greatest country on Earth, A&E, in an effort to build hype for the show, will soon be releasing a Biography celebrating Steven Seagal's illustrious, game-changing career, a TV Special that features commentary from such notable Pop Culture icons as Charlie Murphy and Cracked.com writers Steve Clark and Daniel "Me" O'Brien. Be on the lookout for A&E's Biography of Steven Seagal, check your local listings!]

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