This Week In Pop Culture (9/01/17)
9/01/2017: The Price Of Millennium Falcons Is Too Damn High.
By Ian Fortey
It's Force Friday, and that has nothing to do with jamming things into places they don't belong! It's about Star Wars merchandise! And this year's King Shit Toy is a massive 7,541-piece Lego Millennium Falcon, which retails for a mere $800! Exclamation!
There's nothing inherently wrong with an $800 Lego set featuring both old and young Han Solo (neither of whom are in the next Star Wars movie, because one of them is dead and the other one is in his own film). Nor is it wrong that the Lego Porg looks like BB-8 fucked a trash can. You just need to accept that buying this means you're an asshole.
Listen, I want a three-foot-long Millennium Falcon as much as anyone. I can probably move my sofa in the yard so that I have a place to display it, and I can find a friend to help me lift it so I can dust under it once a week. That's all reasonable. But $800? What do you have to do to earn $800? Now think about what you have to do to earn $800 you can spare on a goddamn Lego set.
Obviously, this set is not for children, because if your child both wants this and has the means to get it, they probably also fly kites at night and have a pager for which you don't have the number. This set was made for adults, the kind of insufferable adults who can't just enjoy Star Wars like the rest of us. And not even the ones who line up to get tickets on the first day the new movie comes out; the kind who can look at this photo of the new Emperor Snoke action figure in his all-powerful yellow bathrobe with galactic ankle-length belt and Star Toilet Action Base and -- instead of noting how he has the same expression on his face your grandpa has every time he shushes you, and how he's holding his fingers up as if to say "This smell weird to you?" while surely one low-hanging, lazy testicle has escaped his no-longer-tighty whities -- they say, "Oh, look at that huge black Kyber crystal ring!"
And you know what? Who cares how cool that would look next to my Captain Phasma action figure on my desk and under my authentic light-up green lightsaber that I have mounted on my wall? I don't even want it. I don't want any of this. Ever.
According to my calculations, Star Wars has already made all the money. All of it. So another $800 per Lego set isn't doing anything else except ensuring Disney is able to gold-plate the litter boxes they give to the Porgs they're going to create with science for their theme parks. And the rest of us have to accept that we can't have the joy of spending a weekend putting together 7,500 pieces of Lego and then leaving it wherever we built it because it's too ungainly to move. We can't have extravagant things because we're not assholes, and we don't secretly pine for them because that would make us assholes. I don't even like Star Wars.
8/31/2017: Lord Of The Flies With Women Has Been Done Before (And Better)
By Lydia Bugg
Warner Bros. has decided the world is finally ready for that Lord Of The Flies remake we've all been hoping for. Except no one gives shit about Lord Of The Flies. If we do have fond memories of that book, it's the time we spent watching cat videos on YouTube after getting distracted from searching for the CliffsNotes version online.
There are so many problems with this idea, starting with the mechanics of working with 20-odd child actors when it's hard to squeeze a drop of decent performance from one adorable little face. Then there's the fact that the book doesn't have a ton of dialogue, and focuses heavily on describing the inner changes to the children in the story. It seems to me that a Ron-Howard-style narrator telling us that Roger is thinking about killing Piggy might bring us out of the moment.
The most talked-about issue with this proposed remake is that it's slapping on an all-female cast, as if that wins them points. How do we explain to men in Hollywood that just putting a bunch of women in a movie that used to star a bunch of men doesn't make women want to go see it. Here's a crazy thing you might not know: There are female writers out there in the world writing stories with women in them. You don't have to take a male character and just hamfistedly plonk a woman into that preexisting role. In fact, there's already a book about teenage girls trapped on an island that's often compared Lord Of The Flies, and it was written by a woman. It's called Beauty Queens by Libba Bray, and it's great.
If Hollywood ever feels like putting women in new stories instead of just gender-swapping random stale properties, I would highly recommend that they take a look at Beauty Queens. It's satirical and fun, but still has plenty of action, and it focuses on finding your own identity as a woman apart from the expectations of your family or boys. It's a true coming-of-age story for a group of (slightly feral) young women.
Is Lady Lord Of The Flies the patriarchy's (yeah I said it, the patriarchy, go ahead and @ me) way of Pavlov-dogging us into thinking all movies with women in them are terrible? Or maybe Hollywood is just lazy and someone is throwing darts at a board full of random adjectives, and instead of landing on Gone With The Wind With Bears, it landed on Lord Of The Flies With Women. Only time will tell.
8/30/2017: Why You Shouldn't Get Excited About Fox News Going Off The Air In The UK
By Ian Fortey
Good news, liberals! Mix those free-flowing tears with your snowflakes, because it's margarita time! Fox News has been dumped in the UK, as it turns out that only one guy named Nigel was watching it with his cat during afternoon tea, and that ain't paying the bills. Ding-dong, Fox is dead!
Yeah, about that. Because only Nigel and his cat were watching it, turns out Fox was pretty unnecessary to keep around, especially when Rupert Murdoch, the sinister Aussie spore-pod who belched forth the network in the first place, is in the midst of a $15 billion deal to buy Sky News. Sky is the biggest pay TV provider in the UK, and ditching Fox makes it even easier for Murdoch to acquire. It will be a shield from critics who are skittish over the fact that he already owns three newspapers and might be getting a frightening amount of control over British media.
Fact is, Fox was just a niche channel in the UK which broadcast American news to a few thousand viewers. Imagine having a channel on your satellite that broadcast Canadian news at you. Could you ever possibly imagine giving a shit what Justin Trudeau is up to enough to watch on a regular basis, knowing full well that half the news from Canada is about the beaver pelt trade and the lawless wasteland known as Saskatchewan?
If Murdoch's plan goes through, it's pretty much like laughing at someone who was denied their order of a Big Mac, only for them to go on to buy the damn franchise and get all the sweet, nourishing, sexually harassing Big Macs they can handle forever. Murdoch doesn't need an unwatched Fox channel in the UK if he takes over a whole network which gets around 22 million viewers. With Sky in his stable, he could just slap Tomi Lahren in a Union Jack onesie and have her go on about how climate change has nothing to do with bangers and mash and be as happy as a pig in solid gold shit. This is some Game Of Thrones-level misdirection! Shit!
8/29/2017: It's Time For Clowns To Embrace Their Dark Side
By Lydia Bugg
The release of the new movie adaptation of Steven King's IT has professional clowns worried about losing work. World Clown Association president Pam Moody says they have "created a press kit to prepare clowns for the movie coming out." Unfortunately for the World Clown Association (which I at first thought was a supervillain organization similar to the Anti-Justice League), polls show that Americans are more afraid of clowns than climate change, terrorism, and death. That means there are people out there who would rather die than attend a child's birthday party -- a sentiment I can totally get behind.
With the statistics showing that most children are afraid of clowns, it's psychotically cruel to invite a clown to a party. It's like saying, "I'm going to invite a giant booster shot to chase you and your little friends around the yard for a while. You'll love it!" Clowns are officially scary. We know that now. So why do we still subject the smallest and most vulnerable in our society to these monsters? Do we have clown Stockholm syndrome? Is it a rite of passage? Some cultures have walking across hot coals; we have surviving a clown encounter.
I get that professional clowns are nervous about how a shift in the way society views them will affect their careers, but there's a simple fix. It's a rebranding issue, really. Just lean into the terror, clowns.
Your presence at a child's party is no longer a delight, so make it a threat. Find out where children's birthday parties are being held, and ask their family to pay you to stay away. It may mean less work with the same amount of income in the long run. You could also have parents pay you to come over and "convince" their child to behave. Maybe you just subtly imply that if they don't eat their broccoli, Mr. Pointy Teeth will be taking up permanent residence in their closet. A third option would be to keep clowns at children's parties, but in more of a bouncer role. There's always that one little kid who eats too much cake and goes around whacking people in the crotch with the pinata stick. Think he would do that with a clown glaring at him from a dark corner?
There are endless opportunities for a scary clown party business. So, professional clowns, please try not to see this change in society's opinion as a negative. It's not a half-empty glass of nice clowns; it's a glass half full of terrifying clowns who are trying to claw their way out so they can murder you.
8/28/2017: We're Betting That Bethesda's GOT Is Just A Recycled Skyrim
By Luis Prada
Just before this year's E3, rumors swirled that Bethesda, the video game studio behind The Elder Scrolls and the newer Fallout games, was secretly working on a Game Of Thrones game. Visions of massive open-world first-person RPG incest were dismissed as too on-the-nose to be true. Then, this Sunday, someone noticed that Target's website posted what looks like a placeholder listing for a Bethesda Game Of Thrones game. Now, it's not just some anonymous 4chan jackass spreading rumors to disrupt the system, man. It might be real. But before you soil your Daedric armor with glee, you have to understand what Bethesda is.
The Elder Scrolls V: Skyrim is nearly six years old. In that time, we've gotten so many versions of it released for every imaginable platform that it's incredible it can't be played with your pee stream at a urinal. At this point, it's shocking that it doesn't come pre-loaded on every new phone, like Snake once was. They're going to keep re-releasing the same game with a slightly different title for the rest of eternity.
Between all the giants, ice zombies, and dragons already built into Skyrim, there's no reason for Bethesda to make a whole new game. So they will likely stick with what's been proven to work and just re-release Skyrim with the name scratched out and "Game Of Thrones" scribbled in. Why are there cat people all over Westeros all of a sudden? Eh, it's just those weirdo Lannisters cosplaying as the lion on their house sigil. How do you explain all the bipedal lizard people suddenly walking around? They've got a bad case of greyscale. A little lotion could clear that right up. Pretty much everything in Skyrim can be left unchanged, and BAM -- you've got yourself a Bethesda Game Of Thrones.
If you're excited, but afraid this rumor might turn out to be bullshit, never fear. You can always mod Skyrim with Game Of Thrones character skins. But to give it that authentic HBO feel, I recommend tossing in a mod that gives everyone big, fully exposed tits.
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