Movies And TV Shows That Look Awkward AF Right Now
A lot of us aren't able to visit with friends and family right now, but we are able to hang out with Ross and Rachel from Friends and quietly endure the excruciating moralism of the Tanner family. Yup, TV and movies are still here for us even in these troubled times. But we've noticed that some of our favorite pieces of pop-culture are ... different now. For one thing, it's weird to watch characters hug, kiss, or even shake hands without rolling naked in a kiddie pool full of Purell immediately afterwards. And for other, oddly specific, reasons, some popular entertainments just don't play the same during the pandemic as they used to, such as how ...
Space Jam -- The NBA Cancels the Season Due to a Mysterious Virus
Easily the best movie based on a sneaker commercial, Space Jam starred Michael Jordan, Bugs Bunny, and the palpable sense of sexual confusion among a generation of '90s pre-teens. It's a nostalgic favorite for many, but those who rewatched it recently hoping for an escape from the horrors of the real world were in for an ACME anvil-sized surprise, because Space Jam contains more similarities to our current predicament than you might think.
The story finds the Looney Tunes enlisting the help of Jordan to defeat the Monstars, grotesque aliens who have been siphoning the basketball skills from the NBA's top talents. Meanwhile on Earth, those players' sudden inability to perform is attributed to a mysterious virus.
Other players won't even share the same locker room for fear of contracting the strange illness, and are only convinced to do so in gas masks.
Eventually the NBA commissioner has no choice but to cancel the entire season.
All of which oddly parallels the postponement of this year's season following NBA players and staff testing positive for COVID-19. We're guessing that the coronavirus isn't the handiwork of intergalactic theme park employees, though.
Riverdale and Lost Both Feature Bogus Quarantine Plots
A lot of us are being asked to self-isolate and quarantine during the pandemic, but weirdly, a few TV shows have taught us to be skeptical about government-ordered quarantines. Take Riverdale, the show about teens solving mysteries that somehow became a show about teens running multiple businesses they probably shouldn't be involved with in the first place. Mid-way through the third season, Riverdale is locked down and becomes an "official quarantine site." But it's all (SPOILERS) an elaborate hoax orchestrated by the dastardly Hiram Lodge in a bid to gain control of the town.
And Riverdale isn't the only bingeable show to feature a faux-outbreak narrative. When the castaways on Lost blow up the island's mysterious hatch, the inside of the door is labelled "Quarantine."
Inside they find Desmond, a Scottish dude who's been self-isolating with only a few records, books, and an old-timey doomsday computer. No TikTok or anything. It was later revealed that these warnings were just part of the Dharma Initiative's many mind games, as were the inoculations they provided visitors and employees. You have to imagine if they made a TV show today that had a lengthy "vaccines aren't actually real" sub-plot, there might be a teeny bit of blow-back. Even certain cast members seem to have taken the wrong lessons from the show.
The Recent Season of Curb Your Enthusiasm Seems Especially Mean-Spirited Now
We all know that social awkwardness is pretty much the spinach to Larry David's Popeye, but the most recent season of Curb Your Enthusiasm added a whole extra layer of cringe, completely by accident. At the beginning of season 10, Larry decides to open up a "spite store"; a rival coffee shop created purely to run an existing coffee shop out of business. Why? Because the owner was slightly rude to Larry when he complained about the wobbly tables and cold coffee. This starts a trend where other celebrities begin opening up spite stores just to stick it to irksome businesses. Jonah Hill runs his own deli, and Sean Penn has a pet store.
It's funny, it's absurd, and it aired at pretty much the worst possible time. The premise of millionaires intentionally bankrupting small businesses is inherently cruel, but it became especially callous to joke about when the final few episodes aired in mid-March of 2020. Due to the pandemic a staggering number of small businesses will actually be forced to close with or without the intervention of the dude who wrote Bob Honey Who Just Do Stuff.
Even weirder, in retrospect, is Larry's plan to put a bottle of Purell on every table of his cafe-- which elicits only mockery and derision from his friends.
Today, Larry's dumb obsession with hand sanitizer seems downright brilliant in retrospect.
The Simpsons-- Krusty the Clown's Janky TV Show was Ahead of its Time
A lot of you are probably spending self-isolation binge-watching The Simpsons while we all wait out this, the Poochie of viral outbreaks. A few episodes stand-out in the context of the coronavirus outbreak, like "Marge in Chains" in which a severe flu infects Springfield and Chief Wiggum tries to protect himself by literally shooting at the germs.
Because the internet is a dumpster fire inside of a diarrhea factory, recently images from the episode (in which the flu is of Japanese origin) were used to create "racist propaganda" memes which even the episode's writer called "gross". Then there's the episode "Sideshow Bob's Last Gleaming," in which Bart's nemesis forces Krusty the Clown's TV show off of the air. The attention-hungry Krusty is forced to improvise a janky solo version of his show at a civil defense shack in the middle of the desert. Which is pretty much what every network talk show has become, with hosts broadcasting from home with less production value than the average teen YouTuber.
We'll see how funny that scene still is once Conan O'Brien is forced to fire Andy Richter and replace him with a car battery.
Disney's Tangled is Story About Isolation with an Odd Coincidence
Before they settled on the strategy of buying up every intellectual property you hold dear, Disney used to make movies based on fairy tales. Their 2010 riff on the Rapunzel story, Tangled, quickly became popular again seeing as it's a Disney movie relatably about coping with isolation.
While fans flocked to the movie for a candy-colored take on living life while stuck indoors, a secondary connection between the movie and modern life blew people's minds. Princess Rapunzel is living in isolation in a kingdom literally called "Corona." Of course, "corona" is Latin for crown, so it kind of makes sense, still it's an unfortunate detail for a Disney movie.
So ... The Purge Movies Aren't Much Fun Anymore
This summer was supposed to see the release of a fifth movie in The Purge series, but for a lot of people it kind of feels like we're living it. With cities locking down and most folks social distancing, the disquietingly empty streets have a real Purge energy to them right now-- but instead of all crime being legal for 12 hours, crime rates are actually way down, and people are seemingly content to just hole up and watch Tiger King for the third time.
Still we can't help but see similarities between the Purge movies and our current reality, which is perhaps why fans all over the world, from the U.K. to New Zealand are blasting the alarm from the movie through empty streets. Police in Louisiana also used the "Purge Siren" to signal the start of a curfew, which they later apologized for. Further freaking people out was the revelation that the Purge once canonically fell on March 2020 ...
Even President Trump's actions weirdly reflect the politicians in the Purge movies. While Trump occasionally inspired the movies, he's now well on his way to becoming one of the "New Founding Fathers." No, he's not suggesting literally making murder legal in order to eliminate large swaths of poorer neighborhoods. But by downplaying the threats of COVID-19 and making the case to re-open businesses in order keep the economy going at the expense of people's lives, he was essentially making a case for a slower, more prolonged kind of purge -- one in which poorer communities are also more vulnerable.
Trump suggested that 100,000 American deaths would constitute "a very good job," despite myriad reports that his administration totally crapped the bed preparing for this. Even the politicians who literally advocated dressing up like a juggalo and murdering your neighbors weren't this cartoonishly heartless.
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Top Image: Warner Bros. Television