Pop culture obsessives writing for the pop culture obsessed.
Pop culture obsessives writing for the pop culture obsessed.

What's Pissing Me Off this Week

Illustration for article titled What's Pissing Me Off this Week

Ah, the world. It's so very full of aggravation. Whether you call them pet peeves, low-level irritations, blood angry-uppers or just stupid motherfucking bullshit that makes you want to go on a crystal-meth-fueled tri-state killing spree, we've all got things on our shit list that make the world a slightly crappier place. With that in mind, here's what pissing me off this week: 1. Endless Speculation about Heath Ledger's Oscar Chances.

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As my colleagues have noted, handicapping the Oscars is increasingly becoming a national obsession of the most inane sort, as an army of online prognosticators gaze into their crystal ball and try to figure out which work of cinematic art will be judged better than every other piece of cinematic art in any given year.

Until recently, however, this tidal wave of mindless chatter, industry gossip and uninformed guessing has been limited to Oscar season. In the aftermath of Heath Ledger's death, however, the time table has been pushed forward and we've been subjected to endless speculation on whether Heath Ledger will be nominated and/or win an Academy Award for his feral depiction of The Joker. It even made the front page of the U.S Today, that unimpeachable apogee of muckraking journalism.

With all due respect, I would sincerely like to ask WHO THE FUCK CARES? Incidentally, I promise that will be the first and last time I ever use all caps. Who cares if Ledger is posthumously given a largely meaningless award rooted in industry politics and studio gamesmanship rather than genuine merit?

I nevertheless understand the thinking behind this speculation. Ledger's death left us with a number of unanswerable questions. Why did it happen? Was it deliberate? Could it have been avoided? What role did we as a culture play in the demise of a brilliant young actor on the brink of almost unimaginable superstardom? We'll never know the answers to any of those questions. But the Oscars are eminently quantifiable. Come January, Ledger will either be nominated for Best Supporting Actor he won't. There's no ambiguity about it. In the hazy maze of questions left by Ledger's death it's utterly concrete. There's something strangely comforting about that. But please folks, give it a fucking rest. All this talk ends up trivializing Ledger. What matters is Ledger's magnetic performance, not whether it wins a silly award or not. There is a time and a place for this nonsense. That time is December and January. Let's not extend this pointless dog and pony show any longer than is absolutely necessary.

2. Reality Show Contestants Who Say, "I'm Not Here To Make Friends"

Illustration for article titled What's Pissing Me Off this Week
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As Chuck Klosterman very perceptively noted in Sex, Drugs and Cocoa Puffs, reality shows tend to produce an endlessly recycled group of archetypes. There's the black guy, the out-of-control partier, the shrew, the drama queen, the asshole, the maniac and plenty others more dedicated reality-show viewers than myself will be happy to point out. This raises a chicken and egg-type query: do reality show producers specifically pick people who fit a pre-existing mold or do reality show contestants consciously or unconsciously emulate previous reality show contestants?

My least favorite reality show fixture is the self-conscious loner who very dramatically announces, generally early on, "I'm not here to make friends." I don't watch many reality shows, but on literally every show I've ever seen, someone has uttered something approximating that phrase. What's the point? Why engage in such needless provocation? Is there anything to be gained from theatrically announcing that you don't give a mad-ass fuck whether your fellow contestants like you or not? I don't think it's coincidental that people who announce that they're not on any given show to make friends generally get voted off shortly thereafter.

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That's why I'm proposing a new reality show called Makin' Friends. You can probably guess the premise. If anyone on this show dares announce that they aren't there to make friends, well, they'll look rather silly, won't they?

3. Cutesy new words involving "bro" or "man" and the accompanying human interest stories

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Illustration for article titled What's Pissing Me Off this Week

If I never hear phrases like "bromance", "man-date", "manscaping" or "mandals" ever again it will be way too soon. When did we begin taking our linguistic cues from Eddie Griffin in the Deuce Bigalow movies? What about you guys: what are your current pop culture pet peeves? Oh, and "What do YOU think?" guy or gal, you really don't have to answer that question. I have a pretty good sense of what sticks in your craw, figuratively speaking.

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