5 Highly Anticipated Pop Culture Moments Of 2016 (Will Suck)
Ugh, 2015 has finally come to an end. As has been widely reported, it was kind of a shitty year. Good thing we have so much great stuff to look forward to in 2016, right? Yeah, probably. But there's also some total bullshit masquerading as good times on the horizon. We talk about a few examples on this week's Unpopular Opinion podcast ...
... where I'm joined by comic Maria Shehata and Cracked art bro Randall Maynard. It's also what I'm talking about here today. Let's have at it!
The Summer Olympics
Yes, I agree that the Olympics are indeed kind of fun to watch. By that, I of course just mean that track, swimming, and gymnastics are fun to watch. But still, we only get to care about those sports without seeming like total weirdos once every four years (same deal with figure skating). Far be it from me to deny that the Olympics come with immense potential for action and enjoyment.
That said, like so many other things in life, the pleasure we get from putting our nation's ever-declining dominance on display for all to see comes at a huge cost to the poor people of the world. As I've brought up previously, this year's Olympics in Brazil are no exception. Bad things seem to follow when the Olympics show up anywhere.
Like the mascots that terrorized the 2012 Summer Olympics in London.
Sometimes it's just garden-variety corruption, like the scandal that erupted when it was revealed that International Olympic Committee members accepted gifts and bribes from Salt Lake City officials who hoped to bring the games to their otherwise-boring city. On top of being highly illegal, the ploy didn't even work; the 1998 Winter Games ended up being awarded to Nagano, Japan.
When human rights groups reminded the IOC that China treats its citizens like shit after the 2008 Summer Games were awarded to Beijing, they were paid no mind at all -- even after a dissident who criticized the government's push to bring the games to town was sentenced to two years in prison just for voicing his disagreement.
Even that barely scratches the surface when it comes to the atrocities associated with the Olympics. The imprisoned dissident turned out to have every reason to be concerned, seeing as how an estimated 1.5 million residents of the city were displaced or forced into homelessness to make room for the massive structures and complexes needed to house all that sporting activity. The exact same thing is happening in Brazil right now.
Again, I acknowledge that the Olympics make for good television viewing, especially when Bob Costas comes down with pink eye and tries to fight through it like no one will notice. But it would be great if we were to someday figure out how to make them happen without ruining millions of lives every few years.
The End Of American Idol
The final season of a long-running television show is usually something to be looked upon fondly. It's one last opportunity for something a lot of people love to prove that the acclaim and fandom it's received wasn't unwarranted. Then there's the final season of American Idol, which should have happened like five years ago, minimum, but against all odds is instead happening in 2016.
Quick! Who are the judges on that show? If you mention Simon Cowell, Paula Abdul, or Randy Jackson, then you might as well be saying "Margaret Thatcher" when asked to name the current British prime minister.
Everyone knows it's Tony Robbins.
They all left around the early part of this decade, for various reasons. Cowell, for example, wanted to focus his attention on launching the American version of the British reality singing competition The X Factor, because sometimes an artist just has to try new things. Only Ryan Seacrest remains from the show's earliest days, because what the hell else is he supposed to do?
As far as judges go, a long list of big names have taken turns shooting down the dreams of the talented and the borderline mentally disabled alike over the years. Jennifer Lopez has been the most enduring presence -- an obvious choice, seeing as how it's a singing competition and all.
Pictured: the Paula Abdul of acting.
Nicki Minaj and Mariah Carey spent an animosity-filled year together as judges at one point.
As seen here!
Steven Tyler continued to his sad descent into absurdity (which started sometime around 1975) by spending a few years lending his musical expertise and carefree "hit on all the 15-year-old chicks" attitude to the judges' table.
The list goes on, but no matter the personalities in the chairs, one thing has remained consistent: Fewer and fewer people have given a shit with each passing year. At its peak, the show was drawing an astounding 36 million viewers (the total who tuned in to the 2006 finale). The most recent finale drew just seven million viewers. Most of that audience has bailed during the last three seasons. The show has gotten so desperate for attention that they somehow compelled Kanye West to show up to the audition rounds as a hopeful contestant.
This makes me want to take the gold digger's side.
That's what people who say shit like "jumping the shark" would call jumping the shark. Mercifully, the reign of Idol finally comes to an end this year. Soon, aspiring musicians hoping to get a start in the business will have to do it the same way as everyone else: by uploading their videos to YouTube.
The Conjuring 2: The Enfield Poltergeist
Listen, I don't care what the 86 percent rating on Rotten Tomatoes or the heaps of critical acclaim it received may indicate to the contrary. The Conjuring was a stupid fucking movie. Granted, 2013 was a rough year for horror movies, so it's not a huge surprise that it stood out among the competition. But that doesn't make it any less overrated. While critics praised its use of mood and atmosphere over visual scares, they ignored that this had to have been a choice at least somewhat necessitated by the fact that the key monster action came in the form of a stupid witch hissing from atop a dresser like an angry family cat.
This from a movie that, as we were reminded of at every possible turn, was based on a true story. It's that part that would make a sequel seem unlikely, until you remember that there are more than a dozen Amityville Horror movies. Also, Ed and Lorraine Warren are real people with more than one story to tell, which explains The Conjuring 2: The Enfield Poltergeist.
Rather than setting up a sequel by having that stupid doll from the first movie inadvertently passed off to an unsuspecting couple by way of a wacky yard sale mix-up, the filmmakers decided to base the sequel on another tale from the Warren's case files. This time around, the focus is on one of the UK's most documented cases of paranormal activity, which happened in Brimsdown, Enfield, England from 1977 to 1979. That said, it's hard to tell if this film will actually be set in England or if Enfield will just be turned into a neighborhood in Chicago or some shit, on account of how no one in the trailer really talks.
Whatever the case, one thing we can bank on is that, like most horror sequels before it, The Conjuring 2 will probably be a massive disappointment.
The First Space Hotel
By a round of applause, who here still dreams of going to space? Stop clapping, I can't hear you ... just like in space. Also, there probably aren't a lot of you joining in anyway. I mean, I used to harbor fantasies of visiting space. You know what killed that for me? The Space Shuttle program. That killed a lot of things, actually, which is kind of the problem. Sometime around the mid-'80s, America's dreams of manned space missions turned into a setback- and disaster-prone nightmare. The most government-sanctioned space fun we have these days is dropping our version of Johnny 5 on Mars to take selfies ...
Millennials, am I right?
... and pictures we all try our best to see as alien structures ...
The truth is out there!
... in a desperate attempt to make the footage somewhat interesting.
However, just because our government cut back on space-related adventures doesn't mean that man in general has followed suit. If you have enough money, there are a whole host of people looking into new and exciting ways to get you into orbit. One such man is Robert Bigelow, founder and CEO of the Budget Suites motel chain. Because when getting to space safely is the order of the day, who better to trust than a man who runs a franchise with a synonym for "cheap" in the name? His first big idea was called Space Station Alpha, which you'll note from this concept image ...
... is a goddamn balloon. It's inflatable. In other words, the same technology you trust to lazily float you down a river on a warm summer day is now the last line of defense between you and a visually stunning space death. But on the bright side, at least the trip will cost you a small fortune!
Russia came up with plans of their own for an inflatable space resort, going so far as to promise theirs would even have cable and Wi-Fi. Because who wants to be in space if you can't still check Facebook and watch SportsCenter? No booze, though, because apparently there's more than one Russia.
None of these plans have ever resulted in people vacationing in orbit, but there have been a lot of promises. At one point, a company in Barcelona promised that they'd be shooting tourists into space by 2012. That didn't happen. It never happens. The most recent promised launch date comes, once again, from Russia. A company called Orbital Technologies has vowed to have their four-room space motels in the sky by sometime this year. It's the kind of promise I imagine people with a small country's worth of expandable cash hear in some form or another all the time. And just like all the jetpacks and flying cars that always seem to be right around the corner, space hotels will continue to be a distant fantasy in 2016.
Guns N' Roses Reuniting At Coachella
I know I'm going to be way in the minority here, but I just could not give less of a shit about Guns N' Roses reuniting at Coachella. Have you heard that this is a thing that's confirmed to be happening? You must have by now, but if not, sorry you had to hear it from me first -- especially if it's something you're excited about.
Don't get me wrong; Guns N' Roses reuniting in their (almost) original form is an interesting idea, especially if they decide to record a new album.
What a treat that will be when it finally comes out 15 years from now!
As for a tour ... well, let's reflect on what history has taught us about Axl Rose. To put it succinctly, the man has a penchant for turning planned concert appearances into full-blown riots. The most famous (in that it has its own Wikipedia page) happened in St. Louis on July 2, 1991. When security refused to deal with an audience member who was taking pictures, Rose decided to take matters into his own hands:
After jumping into the crowd to confront the rogue audience member, Rose announced that the show was over and stormed offstage. The people of St. Louis, as they've proven their ability to do so many times in recent years, proceeded to tear shit up.
Similar scenes unfolded during an early-'90s tour stop in Montreal, where the band was co-headlining with Metallica. On the same night that a pyrotechnics mishap almost ended Metallica frontman James Hetfield's career, thus cutting the running time of their set in half, Guns N' Roses took to the stage two hours late and ended their set after just 55 minutes. Once again, fans lost their shit, and the city briefly became a war zone.
The trend picked right back up where it left off when Rose started touring again in the early 2000s with a guy from The Replacements and a dude who wore a chicken bucket on his head. Shows in Vancouver and Brazil were both the scenes of destructive riots, and in almost every case, the cause boils down to one unshakable truth: Axl Rose is a fucking asshole. That's especially true when it comes to his "You're lucky I even showed up" attitude toward live performances. Things work his way, or they don't work at all.
Now, take everything I've just gone over and apply it to Coachella. Music festivals as a general rule are exhausting and mostly terrible, and that's without Guns N' Roses headlining. I'd rather spend two extra hours taxiing on a runway in the coach section of the shittiest of budget airline puddle jumpers than spend that same amount of time packed in among a sea of ecstasy-addled Coachella patrons waiting for Axl Rose to heavily breathe his way through Paradise City.
Also, it's worth noting that he's touring with a group of people he's clean fucking hated for about 20 years now. I don't know what prompted the sudden truce, but I'm sure it involves a ton of money and the same amount of promises that all parties will stay in separate rooms at all times when they aren't onstage. I can't picture this reunion lasting more than one disastrous night under any other circumstances.
If you'd like to argue about any of this with Adam in person, you can see him live at the Comedy Palace in San Diego on February 19th with Cracked editor Alex Schmidt and lots of other funny people. Get tickets here! You should also follow him on Twitter @adamtodbrown.
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