Wednesday, April 29, 2009

I haven't been watching a whole lot of news because I've been focusing all my attention on Amanda Lepore's new 950 dollar perfume, but this exhaustive segment on the president's "swagga" caught my eye online anyway and it really is amazingly shit work by CNN.

For some reason, I can’t figure out how to embed this file so you have to go to the Huffington Post website and watch it there and then come back.

I think we can all agree that watching a white news anchor sit on camera totally perked out of his or her mind on caffeine talk about street culture by emulating it in between erupting with relentless exuberant forced optimism is very similar to watching a young mother with unpopular children whose heads are unfortunately and strangely asymmetrical try and suck up to the popular children in her kid’s class by emulating the popular kids' behaviour.

Except in the instance with CNN, everyone watching television becomes the poor insecure child who is crippled with embarrassment at what their parent is doing. Everyone means you and me.

Actually, the same thing happens when you’re watching the Hills (HA! I typed Hells and I nearly left it there because it’s funny that I accidentally named the place all Catholics are afraid of) and Spencer Pratt answers his phone to Brody Jenner and he suddenly becomes this completely amazing and nauseating white black guy. “Yo yo wassup?”. When he starts speaking like that on his phone you can see his eyes glaze over and his body freeze and his mind works overtime to become this generically marketable variable on the already hatefully bland object he is. I saw him do it on Monday and when I was in the shower I thought about how great it would be to answer “Oh hi Spencer, it’s me. I just called to distract you while a lot of people burst through your front door and beat you to death.” I also realized this week that it’s ok to watch the Hills if you are at someone else’s apartment. Also, you should watch it so you can have prior knowledge of what Richard Lawson writes about in his summation on That’s the rule. That’s why I’m not getting stupider and stupider from watching MTV while I figure out ways to turn Amanda Lepore’s perfume into a launching point for cultural analysis. Now I’m actually smarter and more outgoing now than ever before.

So, basically, apart from the perfume components of what I just wrote, what we have here is a whole lot of white people all over the place acting like black people when they are really just the whitest people you will ever know. I find it difficult to watch because it makes me feel like an unpopular child. Fuck you, CNN and fuck you Spencer Pratt and fuck you, kid I went to school with who I ultimately felt empathy for and now can't forget.


Tuesday, April 14, 2009

Zac Efron has a film called 17 Again coming out on Friday so he’s everywhere and it’s impossible to miss him. When you do see him it’s impossible not to be astonished by how powerful his charms really are. I’m seeing the film in an hour and a half and all I’ve been able to think about all day is Zac Efron. I can think of nothing else and it’s not just because I’m a fag.

Zac Efron is as beautiful as Britney Spears music is catchy. It’s impossible to not have some kind of infectious reaction to him because his appeal is engineered by PR Executive Psychiatrists to be generic and easy enough for anyone anywhere to be affected by his cultural powers.

The interesting thing about the way America consumes someone like Zac Efron is that they actually consume him in parts. There’s his hair, his torso, his eyes, his singing voice and I actually think they are the primary assets he has. Teenage girls think they see Zac Efron as a complete human but they don’t. He is marketed on the strength of those things because those are the things that people notice first and most and they react to them as strongly, simply and immediately as they would the corn syrup in their twinkie or the meth in their crystal.
America has this tendency to compartmentalize the human body for the purposes of marketing. You can buy medication and appliances to treat and improve different parts of the body and the narrative involved in first gauging the product to feeling the need to buy it, buying it and using it is centered around an isolation effect which is fundamentally designed to induce panic that can be placated through purchase.

There is that nail polish that uselessly contains green tea extract (for what purpose? So you can lose weight and fight free radicals with a polymer that feeds your body caffeine and antioxidants through the dead matter at the end of your fingers? Totally!). By inferring that your nails need all these magical ingredients the manufacturer infers that not only are nails vitally important, they are in trouble, they need to be fixed, there are multiple ways to fix them (which infers that there are multiple things wrong with them usually linked to weight and age anxiety – two of the biggest motivators in western culture) but don’t worry – this product will help you. It’s the same with those inflatable water filled bags that go over your legs like pants made of water that apparently act like a self contained spa. The great thing about these pants though is that they don’t get you wet so you can stay in your arm chair facing the TV.

So, the internal monologue at this point is something like "Quick, I need a self contained spa for my legs that doesn’t get me wet. I need it because I’m going insane from trying to make sense of all these absurd products and the fact that according to TV, my body is no longer one entity; it’s a menu of items that all need to be catered for separately.

Zac Efron is a product that, like an non-wetting leg spa bag, caters specifically to one facet of our being. In this case, it’s the tide of mainstream America’s weird sexual identity and libido. Everyone either finds Zac Efron creepily fake attractive or they’re attracted to him because they don’t know any better. On the strength of his eyes, hair, torso and voice it’s impossible to find him completely repulsive or to genuinely have no reaction to him. Unless you are Siddartha Gotama.

I was watching him on The View yesterday and he is unnervingly mesmerizing. I’ve never cconsciously thought that before because I don’t care about the products he is involved in and I’ve never bothered to watch his movies. If I had I would have been completely mesmerized way earlier than yesterday. His jeans, shoes, hair and eyes were out in full, high impact force as he walked out to sell the hell out of what I think we can all safely assume will amount to a pretty obvious and average film.

Fundamentally though, no human is that powerful unless they are crafted by a team of professionals and because he is crafted as such, Zac Efron is full force American pop culture teenage sex object like no one else. So much so, in fact, that Sherri Sheppard made some weird joke about how she was fantasizing about him for the full length of the film when she saw it but the way she explained it sounded odd and Whoopi Goldberg looked really uncomfortable and then the ladies of the View just made jokes about how Sherri Sheppard is a cougar for the rest of the interview.

It sort of reminded me of when Travis Fimmel went on Sharon Osbourne’s absurd talk show and he just sat in silence while the women in the audience screamed and then that was the interview.

But you know, I think it’s OK to be hypnotized by Zac Efron’s beauty because he is designed by a massive corporate machine to be that attractive to everyone. Constantly. It’s the same kind of thing with deciding to numb your brain by watching The Hills. When you’re done interacting with it the effect wears off and you go back to being about as smart as you were before you started watching it. It’s meant to hit you hard and fast but not to last. In that sense, I guess you could say that Zac Efron is the polar opposite of Wagner whose work creeps into your soul and then just sits there and it adheres to you forever. If you want to be discerning and earnest about Zac Efron's influence on your life then just look the other way until he goes away. His powers are mainly visual anyway.

My guess is that Zac will probably vanish in the next few years anyway – unless he does a Gus van Sant or Gregg Araki film that has him cast as a rapist or alcoholic (or both!). Romantic lead roles might be likely and graspable for Efron but they lack the necessary edge that it will take to wash off the sickly plastic stench of his years as a Disney product. He needs to have dinner with Charlize Theron and take some pointers on how to be taken seriously when your physical beauty is so great it threatens to destroy you.

Monday, April 06, 2009

It was just this morning that I woke up and thought to myself, “How could I possibly arrange to buy a laptop, an iphone, a hideously gaudy and ostentatious crucifix inlaid with diamonds, an equally absurd diamond ring and a attention demanding watch that explains to people that no matter how much money I actually have, I will always be plagued by a crippling status anxiety that means I will always fail to see that being understated and subtle is inherently more impressive than being overdone and insistent.

What a joy it then was to find this post on ebay.

What could be more reassuring than buying from a retailer who, while capable of apparently pulling all these items together to actually sell them, can’t stray from meaningless phrases like “on the market today” and sets up their sales site to resemble that of a function center in Staten Island.

“A must have for any tech savvy millionaire, this Apple Mac Super Set features TraxNYC's top of the line Mens Diamond Ring, Cross, Bracelet and Watch along with a Mac Book Pro and the highly desired iPhone on the market today. “

Plus, this is fabulous:

100% Authentic 100% of the time, TraxNYC only deals with natural mined diamonds, for anything else go somewhere else. {because in order to prove how serious we are about our business claims we’re going to passive aggressively call your bluff} Your item will come with documentation, click here to see what you get! {Oh, totally – I’ll click there. Actually, I’ll click there! Sorry, forgot the energetic exclamation mark that comes with the excitement of checking to see what you get when you’re paying 55K for diamonds on ebay}

Hi, this retailer is totally not some ironyless gangster from Queens who walks around in a microfiber suit nodding aggressively at everything, repressing his rapist tendencies and wearing sunglasses at night. Plus, what the fuck kind of name is “TraxNYC”? It sounds like a cross between an online sex site profile name and some hideous club between tenth and eleventh avenues where people regularly get shot; two things I totally want to conjour up as I go to buy 55,000 dollars worth of computer equipment and grotesque jewelry by mail through ebay.

This is the kind of thing someone featured on MTV’s Cribs would do. It’s like buying a piano you don’t play and a set of faux Baroque dining chairs online. Nothing about it makes sense but somehow you feel like you’re living the American dream so that makes you a genius when you do it.

Thursday, April 02, 2009

Everyone is shrieking about a breach of royal protocol right now because Michelle Obama put her arm around Queen Elizabeth. CNN has a quick poll of up about it and over 70% of people are saying it wasn’t. Of course, I’d say the majority of those people are American and it’s so much less likely that an American is ever going to not act like a rebellious teenager when it comes to the protocols surrounding English royalty. Unless you’re an elderly woman.

The interesting thing about his is that the Queen quickly released a statement saying she was fine with the whole thing.

Back in the early 90s, Australia’s Prime Minister Paul Keating put his hand on the Queen’s back and was labeled the “Lizard of Oz” and a similar level of controversy occurred with John Howard who had to release a statement saying that there was no contact between himself and the Queen.

In these post-Diana times, it seems like letting Michelle Obama touch her back is really just in line with the royal family having its own website and the Queen flying the flag at Buckingham Palace at half mast when Diana died – despite protocol.

The Queen just wants to be liked without having to give up her mystique and it’s not an easy job. She has to never speak and be weirdly stoic in the same way burlesque artists always leave you wanting more but at the same time she has to be able to show that she can e mail people if she wants to.

As far as figuring out who to let touch her on the back, Michelle Obama is the perfect choice. She’s a woman who is married so there’ll be no charged up lesbian rumours there. Also, she’s married to the Western Messiah so she’s sort of just aligning herself with the great light brown hope. The Queen is a master at PR. If you only give her one thing – and that’s not the case because she’s given basically anything she wants – but if you only DO give her one thing you would say she’s a genius at PR.

Interestingly enough, CNN’s Situation Room is teasing the audience with an interview with Tina Brown about Michelle Obama’s back grope of the Queen and they’ve still not thrown to it and I’ve been watching for like 5 ad breaks now. Is this the part that people are hanging on for? American audiences are hanging on for a Tina Brown segment regarding Royal protocol? I always knew Americans were all closet royal fans – they just have a hard time admitting it because it makes them feel culturally subservient.