This Week In Pop Culture (7/21/17)

7/21/2017: Let's All Get Excited For Redneck Batman

By Daniel Dockery

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We've had a gritty Batman. We've had a Gothic Batman. We've had a cartoonish Batman. We've had a campy Batman. We've had a Lego Batman. And finally, after years of waiting and hoping and dreaming, we get a Redneck Batman. Rejoice.

The Batmobile that Batman will be using in Justice League was just unveiled, and thankfully, it has all of the staples of something that you'd discover behind a shed in an episode of American Pickers. Usually, Batmobiles look sleek and futuristic and expensive, but this one is the Batmobile that Batman bought for $600 at the Cumberland County auction in 1992, and he's been lazily tinkering with it every few years ever since. Chunks of metal that seem to jut out for no reason? Check. The kind of grey shine that you only get when you keep meaning to wax it, but never quite get around to it for a decade? Check. Guns everywhere? Fuckin' check.

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And, having been raised in the sweaty forests and auto shops and half-abandoned strip malls of North Carolina, I'm truly, truly excited about it. It's the kind of Batmobile that you make when the Joker's been dead for years and your number-one enemy is Boss Hogg. It's a Batmobile that you can proudly spit chaw out of as you do donuts in front of the Dollar General. It's a Batmobile that will take up two spots at the Golden Corral, but nobody cares because look at all them goddamn guns, man. That's badass. Batman's never been one to socialize, but when you're so dedicated to outfitting your main ride with artillery that you ruin any and all chances for aerodynamics, I will shotgun a beer with you, World's Greatest Detective.

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We don't need a moody Danny Elfman theme or a bombastic Hans Zimmer score to accompany this masterpiece. All we need is "Amarillo By Morning," and we are good to go. We will play that as we pull into Myrtle Beach, take a shot of Jack (or Evan Williams if we still have driving to do), and mourn the loss of the Pavilion together. And if I make jokes like "If your family tree has a limb that doesn't go in a circle because your parents are dead, you might be a Batman," I know you'll be cool with it. Because you're not the Dark Knight or the Caped Crusader. You're Redneck Batman, and you have a car that looks like it was constructed out of spare lawnmowers.

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And if one of those pieces flies off as we're speeding down Highway 190, we'll just duct tape that shit back on. I promise we can listen to "Highwayman" all the way to Dallas, as long as you let me paint a little bit of camo on your cape.

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7/20/2017: Wax Sculptors Don't Know What Beyonce Looks Like

By Katie Goldin

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Beyonce is a fairly famous singer/goddess, so I'm struggling to understand why not a single one of these four sculptors seemed to be able to grasp her basic appearance. Here's how I imagine the artistic process went:

"Make a Beyonce sculpture," their boss ordered.

"Who?" the sculptors replied, having sequestered themselves in the wax factory, isolated from television and radio since 1997.

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"Beyonce. You know, the uh, the singer," repeated their boss, who also had never seen nor heard of a Beyonce, because he was in fact a reptilianoid impostor trying to blend in with humanity.

"Do you have a picture?" the sculptors asked. "You know, some sort of visual aid to work from?"

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"What is this, the Louvre?" their boss snapped, his forked tongue flicking in the air. "Now get to work, I want four Beyonces by the end of the day!"

Then the sculptors conferred with each other, each like blind men trying to understand the shape of an elephant. "I think ... I think she's a middle-aged, uh, white woman? With fancy hair?" One of the sculptors seemed to think she was a waitress from Tampa:

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So these poor, media-deprived sculptors leading a monastic life within the confines of the wax factory were like the medieval monks given the task of drawing an animal they'd never seen before who ended up drawing lions with six legs and faces like cows. So we've ended up with four white wax Beyonces, including one that looks like a sexy mom getting drunk with the girls at a karaoke bar:

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Well, they tried.

7/19/2017: Guillermo Del Toro Is Great At Getting Frat Guys To Love Romance Movies

By Daniel Dockery

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High atop Mount Cracked, a peak of sarcastic height in the Himalayas, Cracked writers and editors were discussing today's trending stories. Sifting through the barrage of useless Marvel news like "Will Robert Downey Jr. eat SOUP in Avengers: Infinity War?" we landed on the trailer for The Shape Of Water, Guillermo del Toro's new movie. It was making the rounds on social media, and seemed to be pretty popular with people. But how? In the grand scheme of bombastic movie news about shared universes and Batmans and Shia LaBeouf , here was this quiet little movie about the relationship between a mute woman and frog dude. No diss to our boy del Toro, but how is this the biggest movie update of the day?

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It's because Guillermo del Toro, better than any other director alive, knows how to trick bros into loving touching, emotional stories.

Del Toro understands the duality of the film lover. See, deep inside the heart of every cinema connoisseur exists two sides: the Mountain Dew commercial and the tender lover. Sometimes, without us even knowing, one side will eclipse the other. The tender lover will rest on a throne made entirely of Criterion Collection Blu-rays and bite his thumb at all that sit below him. "A Transformers film? Pish-posh. Call me when Tarkovsky is resurrected, yes?" And the Mountain Dew commercial will take a shot every time the Joker licks his lips in The Dark Knight. He'll proudly put up his Pulp Fiction poster, remember every word of every Fast & Furious end credits song, and out of nowhere he'll shout lines from 300 because it's about fucking time, brah.

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Del Toro has made a career out of bridging the gap between the Red Bull devotee and the poetry fanatic. His first movie, Cronos, is about a 70-year-old man becoming an angsty vampire, hiding his transformation from his granddaughter. But it stars Ron Perlman and might be one of the most well-paced horror films of all time. The Devil's Backbone is about an orphanage in 1939 that's haunted by a ghost child, and while that sounds like every film I've ever hated on Netflix, it's actually spooky, charming, warm, and personal. Same goes for Pan's Labyrinth. Hell, del Toro's Hellboy movies seem to be about Ron Perlman punching things with a really big red hand, but are actually about caring for the more fantastic parts of the environment and showing respect to those who are different from us.

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And so we get to The Shape Of Water, which seems to be both a love story and a monster movie, a haiku and a DJ Khaled album, a fine wine and a shot of Fireball. May Guillermo del Toro continue to entertain the residents of the Delta Tau Delta house with affectionate narratives about hideous freaks for years and years to come.

7/18/2017: Ed Sheeran Deletes His Twitter ... Again

By Lydia Bugg

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Twitter, Ed Sheeran sure wishes he could quit you. We get it! There's no reason for him to be on Twitter. It's essentially a marketing device, and who is left in this world who has not heard of Ed Sheeran. Sure, some people only know him as that bastard who ruined an episode of Game Of Thrones, but they know him. So he doesn't really need Twitter at this point, but he just can't seem to go through with the breakup. He's been quitting Twitter since before it was cool. Starting way back in December of 2015, he managed to log off for a full year, returning December 2016 with information he just had to share with the world: a picture of a big blue square.

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After big blue square gate rocked the Twitterverse, he hung out for a full year with no issue until a July 4th interview with The Sun, in which he said, "I've actually come off Twitter completely. I can't read it." He then went on to blame fans of Lady Gaga for his Twitter discontent: "Lady Gaga's fan base read an interview in which they assumed I was talking about her and they all fucking hate." Lady Gaga then came to his defense, sharing a picture of them together and encouraging people to be "positive and loving."

Sheeran was probably sitting at home knitting, maybe reading a nice book and having a cup of tea, when a telegram arrived with the news that Lady Gaga had smoothed over the controversy. I honestly believe that he was devastated. This was his out, his pretext to quit Twitter forever! This was the light at the end of his Shawshank poop tunnel, but without the fires of Gaga fan hate burning, he had no excuse. Begrudgingly, he returned to Twitter for a whole 13 days, until the world gave him another reason to bounce. He never officially said why he deleted his account, but after pretty much no one was psyched to see him pop up on Game Of Thrones, it doesn't really take a genius to figure out.

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Once again he settled back into his idyllic English cottage, ready to relax and express himself in more than 140 characters to whomever he pleased. Then, for some unknown reason, he came back, reactivating his account this very afternoon. Why has he done this? Did he realize his legions of Sheerios just couldn't live without him? Did he think he would have a better excuse to quit next week? Or is this just the only way he knows how to communicate with his fan base at this point? Whatever reason he keeps doing it, it's definitely starting to lose its weight at this point. If he isn't careful, the next time he quits Twitter, CNN might not even pick up the story.

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7/17/2017: The Cost Of Watching Avengers: Infinity War

By Luis Prada

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Every year, Disney further distances itself from the swamp of sweaty armpit funk that is the San Diego Comic-Con by holding its own preemptive fan fest in Anaheim, called D23. There, the company shows off all the various ways it's going to make a trillion dollars in the upcoming years. This year's convention went down this past weekend, and that's where Disney showed off never-before-seen footage of the upcoming Avengers: Infinity War. The footage hasn't been leaked just yet, but there are plenty of descriptions online. The biggest takeaway so far is that Infinity War will have a cast the size of a small nation. It'll feature somewhere between 25 and 30 characters established Marvel Cinematic Universe. So imagine you've never seen a single Marvel movie in the past decade, and you're all wrapped up in the Infinity War hype. How much would it cost to get caught up enough to where you can watch one movie without feeling like you have no idea what's happening?

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We crunched some numbers.

If you were a lunatic and wanted to watch every movie the MCU has to offer, that's an investment of 33.88 hours. The federal minimum wage is $7.25 an hour. If Marvel paid you to watch their movies, you'd get a check for $245.65 at the end. Though you'd be an idiot not to negotiate some kind of bonus for having to sit through Thor: The Dark World. For perspective, within 20 hours, you could learn a new skill. So in the time it takes to achieve a thorough understanding of why all these colorful people with powers are punching each other, you can grasp the basics of cross-stitching pictures of genitals and be more than halfway toward becoming an oboe god.

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But let's say you want to get to just the important movies -- the ones that introduce the main players of Infinity War. There are 13 core films that will fast-track your ultimately very useless knowledge of who all these people are. We're not including Iron Man 3, Thor: The Dark World, or Spider-Man: Homecoming, since as far as anyone knows right now, none of them introduce relevant characters. That takes us to 27.63 hours, which would net you a less-impressive minimum wage paycheck of $200.34, which would only get you around 19 percent of the way toward your goal of buying a 55-gallon drum of lube from Amazon.

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None of these figures include Thor: Ragnarok or Black Panther, since they haven't been released yet. We also can't be sure if either film will be required viewing.

Since only two of the movies in our core of 13 are available on Netflix (Civil War and Doctor Strange), there's no way around it: You'd have to rent, or buy Blu-rays like an outdated physical media chump. There are a lot of variables here, so let's standardize this a bit for convenience. We'll be buying them brand-new from Amazon. The lowest price for any basic Blu-ray for any of the core movies is Civil War, at $15.83. The most expensive is Guardians Of The Galaxy, at $22.20. The median of the two prices is $19.01. Let's use that as generic price per Blu-ray. To buy a new copy of each MCU movie relevant to Infinity War, you'd have to spend, at minimum, $247.13, which is being lenient, since we're not including shipping. All of that just to understand what the hell is going on in one movie.

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To put it another way: If Marvel paid you the federal minimum wage to prepare for Infinity War, but you had to pay for each Blu-ray out of your own pocket and you accepted because you didn't read the fine print stipulating that they would not reimburse you the expense, Disney and Marvel would make a profit of $46.76. Factor in a single ticket to watch Infinity War, and it becomes abundantly clear that none of this is worth it.

For more check out What Stupid Thing Is Trending Now? (7/23/2017) and The 15 Most Insane Things Happening Right Now (7/18/2017).

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