I'm not someone who categorically opposes putting "the bad guys" on the front page of a newspaper or on the cover of a magazine. After a tragic terrorist attack or heinous mass murder, there are often well-intentioned admonishments that doing so only satisfies the killer's "craving for attention," a pat motivation we somewhat overstate. I appreciate that sentiment, but I don't always share it. The important news of the day is the important news of the day, whether we like the face and name most strongly associated with it or not. Besides, to report is not to approve and to publicize is not necessarily to glamorize. There is a big difference between fame and infamy, and if the world has come to conflate the two, then that is a problem with our culture's morality, not its media.
That said, context and presentation matter. There are good reasons why it may feel acceptable to run a solo photo of a terrorist on, say, the cover of TIME magazine, but not amid star-studded company on the entertainment world's equivalent of a Wheaties box. Which is what we saw last night when Rolling Stone unveiled its August cover (seen here), which features accused Boston Marathon bomber Dzhokhar Tsarnaev in a design treatment reminiscent of a rock idol, not a man associated with a three months-old terrorist attack. The cover choice is tacky and tasteless. And the decision to be so was deliberate. This isn't the result of poor judgment or an art director mentally asleep at the wheel.
It's a transparent, cynical attempt by Rolling Stone to reassert its dusty but fabled brand as once-again "edgy" and "counterculture" by appealing to "false flag!"-wailing college conspiracy theorists and Tsarnaev The Puppy-Eyed Prisoner fangirls. "Hey, maybe we still have a chance with kids that age!" yelped the marketing department at Rolling Stone, a magazine that lost much of its relevance and cultural cache in the '90s with then-new readers my age: too young to have witnessed its glory days as a music mag, old enough to have experienced it as just-another mainstream glossy that featured Britney Spears with a Teletubby.
What's offensive is not the fact that Rolling Stone put Tsarnaev on its cover. It's the way they did it.
[Photo courtesy of Rolling Stone]FULL ENTRY
Real Noise: From 'Jersey Shore' to Kim Kardashian, the 10 best (worst) reality star singing attempts
This week former Jersey Shore star Vinny Guadagnino released his first song, “No Versace,” a beautiful, tender ballad about a Guido looking for real love. Just kidding. It’s horrible. But it’s also not the first time a reality show star has attempted to forge a singing career. Here, we review some of the best-worst efforts of the last decade. Listen with caution.
Vinny Guadagnino “No Versace”
I find it difficult to hate Vinny Guadagnino too hard. On Jersey Shore he always seemed like the odd man out, never quite diving into full-on GTL mode. It’s like he was conducting an experiment among wild natives, trying to see how long he could keep hanging out and getting paid while embarrassing himself as little (contextually speaking) as possible. So, I don’t know: maybe “No Versace” is some self-aware satire of Juice Head-approved, designer name-dropping hip hop tunes? Yeah, I know. But it was worth a shot.
Kim Kardashian “Jam (Turn it Up)”
In four minutes, this Euro-dance monstrosity manages to hit on every cliché of a club thumper: Kim is “feeling so good” while she parties like it’s “her birthday,” and something-something shots, something-something VIP, something-something good lord please make it stop. After its release, everyone involved started crowing about how the not insignificantly promoted song was “just for fun.” But so bad it’s just bad, The Dream’s clearance bin production can’t manufacture even the slightest bit of joy or liveliness in Kim’s voice; she sounds like a Saturday Night Live parody of a lobotomized pop star. If this is her idea of fun, I think I’ll party somewhere more enjoyable: Guantanamo, maybe.FULL ENTRY
Bostonians tend to harbor a soft spot for any thing or person to which they feel within even ten degrees of emotional separation. (Three words: "Mahky Mahk's kuzzin!") Me? I've always been a big Aerosmith fan for a few reasons: one, they played their first concert at my old high school, Nipmuc Regional in (then) Mendon, Massachusetts, a tiny town with few other claims to fame. (Aside from its awesome drive-in, of course.) Two, I grew up listening to my grandfather talk about how he worked at the same Hopedale mill factory as Joe Perry's grandpop. (Note: unverified and potential crazy-talk.) Three, my older brother's Aerosmith albums were among my earliest memories of a musical education.
Last night I saw them play the MGM Grand at Foxwoods Resort, and they were as spry as ever. Given that, and the fact that their debut album celebrates its 40th (!) anniversary this year, I thought I'd take a walk down memory lane to share my favorite 8 Aerosmith songs. And by that I mean "singles," not album tracks, die-hards. I'm sure there's an Aerosmith blog out there for those of you that want to dig deep; for the sake of argument, I'm sticking to hits everyone knows.
What are your favorites?
8. Walk This Way (1975/1986)
One of the band's signature songs, "Walk This Way" is also one Aerosmith has shared with surprising collaborators. The 1986 revisit by Run-D.M.C. was a then-gutsy pairing between established rock and emergent rap. And in the half-time show of Super Bowl XXXV in 2001, Aerosmith invited the ambassadors of the au courant teen pop boom, Britney Spears and NSync, to share the stage for it. It's the kind of combo that could have backfired, but the spirit of Good Fun prevailed and left everyone looking cooler than they should have. Plus it showed Tyler, future American Idol judge, was not that most cliched curmudgeon: the aging rocker showman shaking his fists at the "talentless" next generation of entertainers.
7. Rag Doll (1988)
But really, when you think about it, aren't we all rag dolls living in a movie? It's all one big movie, man. Who brought these brownies?
6. Love in an Elevator (1989)
Yeah, it's a great song. But it also gets big bonus points for its video, which manages to fit in two symbols of late '80s excess, flamboyant stadium rock and the intoxicating sex appeal of deco shopping malls, and still leave enough room for all that hair.
I hope everyone had a fantastic Fourth weekend. I'm just grateful to now be experiencing the first day in a week where the weather doesn't have me splayed in front of an air conditioning unit, tongue out, rivulets of sweat cascading down my broad, supple back, which is arched in ecstasy as I ... oh, sorry. I was just watching Justin Timberlake's new video for "Tunnel Vision," and forgot where I was. And I forgot that guys don't make the sexy-time anyway, according to newly YouTube-approved artiste Justin Timberlake.
That's part of the weekend news you may have missed:
Artistic freedom means everyone except Justin Timberlake is at liberty to be naked. Perhaps encouraged by the Fourth of July's freedom-loving, rock out with your well-no-not-that-out spirit, YouTube reversed its decision to ban the video for Timberlake's new video, "Tunnel Vision." The video features topless women writhing around, student art film-style, against backdrops of Windows 95 screensavers. (Meanwhile somewhere nearby, Timberlake is rehearsing for a GAP commercial.)
Watch the video here (reminder: it's explicit. You've been forewarned).
A Google spokesperson explained the reconsideration of "Tunnel Vision," originally banned on Wednesday, to ABC news: "While our Guidelines generally prohibit nudity, we make exceptions when it is presented in an educational, documentary or artistic context, and take care to add appropriate warnings and age-restrictions."
I guess though Google considers Timberlake a capital-A Artist, they don't feel the same about his more direct-to-DVD doppelganger Robin Thicke. Only a few months ago, Thicke had to release a censored version of his clip for the (subsequently successful, newly #1 song) "Blurred Lines." The original, seen below, had the same (lack of) concept: casual partial nudity from interchangeable women, ogled by fully attired dudes, punctuated by occasional projections of the song's visually impaired title. I'll ask the same question now that I did then: if nudity's no big deal (particularly for Thicke, who brags in the video about the size of his peen), why aren't any of these male artists taking it off too?
Watch Thicke's video here (again, it shows a lot of skin).
And another question: why is Timberlake's video considered artistic, and exempt from a ban, but Thicke's is not? They ba$ically $eem like the $ame video, albeit by two artists with very different level$ of $ucce$$. I wonder what explain$ the di$$imilar perception$ of them.FULL ENTRY
I know what you watched sixteen summers ago.
Okay, it actually came out in October of 1997. But I Know What You Did Last Summer, a horror movie set on the Fourth of July, was a big hit, obviously. It was the follow-up from Scream screenwriter Kevin Williamson, the generation's bloodletting John Hughes who ushered in a teen slasher boom. And it starred a quartet of A-list glossy mag pinups: Jennifer Love Hewitt, Sarah Michelle Gellar, Freddie Prinze Jr., and Ryan Phillippe are four American Eagle models from a small seaport town who accidentally hit and kill a man on a post-fireworks joy ride. Exactly one year later, they receive threatening notes and are stalked, one by one, by a hook-wielding psycho in a fisherman's slicker. Plus there's running and screaming and a soundtrack AVAILABLE NOW! at the Sam Goody next to the Orange Julius kiosk. ("Let's go! Pick me up after Yearbook?")
An annual viewing of I Know What You Did Last Summer is my Fourth tradition, because if there are two things I love it's purple mountains majesty and slasher movies. (Sometimes I even follow it with the fun and schlocky sequel, I Still Know…) Every year, the era of teenagedom it embodies seems a little further behind in the rearview. So I thought I'd jot down the 9 Things I Learned About the '90s.
WE MADE A LOT OF EYE CONTACT. There's a scene in the beginning of I Know when all the friends are sitting around a campfire, telling scary stories. It's only a minute-and-a-half scene, but it feels really long. They're talking, and looking at each other, and it feels really drawn out. Oh my god, I realize, no one has checked a cell phone. What is this ancient tradition? I don't remember the last time I've sat in a conversation and felt like everyone was actually listening and looking at the person talking all at the same time. And why would we ever want that to happen? That's so uncomfortable. Why would I tell all you faces what I'm thinking when I could just tell it TO THE INTERNET.
TO BE FAIR, THOUGH, HONESTLY, CELL PHONES ARE KIND OF HELPFUL. Okay, okay. It's easy to rhapsodize about the days when we weren't all anchored with cell phones, which is becoming the 90s generation's version of grandpa's story about a movie reel and a wooden nickel. But seriously, can you imagine if these kids had cell phones? None of this would have had to happen. When one of the girls is running down an alley, trying to escape from the crazy fisherman, the other girl who can't find her in time could have just texted her with, "I figured out who it is and it's OK now, we can maybe go tell the cops." And she could just text back "LOL K."FULL ENTRY
Sure, it was hot and humid. But the skies were (mostly) clear, so hopefully you ignored the meteorologists' predictions of RAIN-SOAKED CERTAIN DOOM this weekend, and avoided cancelling your plans. And while you were out playing, you may have missed the following. So here's your weekend recap. Forecast: a hot Twitter tirade and a baby shower.
Alec Baldwin, someone whose opinion of gay people means about as much to me as where my lampshade stands on abortion, deleted his Twitter account after slamming a Daily Mail writer with a gay slur. On Friday the tabloid's George Stark posted a report (since removed) that Baldwin's wife was tweeting from the funeral of James Gandolfini. Baldwin did not take kindly to that, refuting the suggestion of grave impropriety with an eloquent, heartfelt message that defended his gentlemanly honor and simultaneously paid tribute to his affection for his talented, late acting peer. GOTCHA LOL! He actually tweeted, "I'm gonna find you, George Stark, you toxic little queen, and I'm gonna f-ck...you...up." He also offered to, "put my foot up your f-cking ass, George Stark, but I'm sure you'd dig it too much." Then he polished his monocle and ordered two dozen pizzas to Stark's house using the pseudonym Seymour Butts, because: Hollywood Royalty.
To be fair, Baldwin also calls his daughter, who is either 11- or 12-years old (he can't remember, okay?) a "pig" when he's mad. So "queen" is basically a term of endearment.
The initial shoulder-shrug that greeted Baldwin's tweet felt muted in the wake of all the recent hubbub over Paula Deen's racist remarks, leading some commentators to suggest there was a double-standard - or that Baldwin was getting a free pass from the media's liberal elite. (Anderson Cooper tweeted: Why does #AlecBaldwin get a pass when he uses gay slurs? If a conservative talked of beating up a 'queen' they would be vilified.")