Category Archives: Cultural Criticism

2010 in Review: Somewhat Diesel?

This year seemed pretty uneventful for me. Sure, things happened, fun was had, memories were made, but in the big picture 2010 will probably be just another year in a long line of boring passages of time. Rather than wax on about 2010, let’s break down the best and worst of the past 365 days. As always, please feel free to share your lists in the comments section.

Hardest I’ve Laughed All Year: Jackass 3D

Best Restaurant: Corner Grille in Worcester, MA. I dare you to find me a pizza with a thinner crust. Double dare you.

Best Meal: Thanksgiving. Home cooked, family around the table. Good times.

Best Dish: Poutin, Au Pied de Couchon Continue reading


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Hipsters Are Ruining Everything (Part 2,391)

Deadspin has a great on-going feature called “Look at These Fucking Hoopsters,” the latest installment being from the recent Lollapalooza Festival in Chicago. It appears that hipsters have now decided to take their irreverent and ironic fashion sense to the hardwood. Original, replica and throwback jerseys are all the rage for fans of shitty music who spend hours trying to look like they just don’t care. The older, more obscure and irrelevant the player’s jersey you choose to sport, the better. Champion seems to be the brand of choice for the “hoopsters” and either everyone has saved their childhood idol’s gear from age eight, or they’re spending hours sifting though piles of shit at the local thrift store. Continue reading


Filed under Amateur Analysis, Blog, Cultural Criticism

Ten Years of Devolution: Facebook and “Celebrities”

Think about where you were ten years ago. A lot of shit has happened, some for the good, but mostly for the inconvenient. The iPod and HD TV and LeBron James are awesome, but terrorism, economic greed and TMZ suck. When I think about this decade the two things that stand out the most are the rise of Facebook and cult of celebrity. Unfortunately, the two have become linked in the psyche of today’s youth.

People have always been enamored with celebrities. There will always be a demand for gossip and a glimpse into a lifestyle that 99% of Americans will never experience. The problem in the last part of the decade was that the word “celebrity” got totally fucked. Anyone with a YouTube video or a spot on a reality TV show or a song on MySpace thought they were entitled to their 15 minutes of fame. And, the public and TMZ gladly obliged, creating disposable personalities for consumers to chew up and shit out. No longer are Brad Pitt and Julia Roberts the big fish in a small pond. We have created a culture of retards so obsessed with fame and its trappings that in their pursuit of selfish goals, they have in turn made this nation dumber. This is why the terrorists hate us. Continue reading

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Fantasy Wednesday…?

It’s Wednesday. People are still talking about Bill Belichick’s call to go for it on 4th and 2 from his own 25. It does not help that I live in New England.

I already had an impacted ass full analysis on Monday morning. Enough already. The Patriots are still going to win the division, the game wasn’t a playoff loss and Belichick has enough cache to make this call. So what? Yea, he probably should have punted but he didn’t. Oh well. Move on. Next game.

Now to be honest, I went to sleep when the Patriots led 31-14. I missed the play and awesome comeback by the Colts, but it was great waking up the next morning to find out the Patriots lost, even better when I heard how. But really, this story is so fucked out. I don’t care if the D thinks it was a slap in the face or if the odds were in their favor or if Kevin Faulk was juggling the ball as he fell. Unfortunately, I get the sense that this will be the story of the year in the NFL. Teddy Bruschi is getting more mileage out of this story than his stroke.

Over the past couple years, media over saturation has become a big problem for me. I watch sports to try to be entertained and relax, not to be berated with opinions of talking heads and ex-players with their own agendas. The Patriots lost on an odd play call, play Monday morning quarterback and move on.

The big fantasy story from the weekend though was obviously Maurice Jones-Drew taking a knee at the one yard line when he had a clear path to the endzone. It was a great move for his team to win the game, but as many of you have probably already heard, it killed thousands of owners out there, MJD included. I happened to being playing against MJD in two leagues, and while his selflessness was appreciated at the time, the play did not change any outcomes. And really, this wasn’t the first time this has happened. Brian Westbrook did this a few years back. The difference was that this time MJD acknowledged that he screwed his owners. Oh, and I went 0-3 on the weekend, losing by one point in one money league (with points on the bench) and lost my eighth straight in the other money league prompting a ‘fuck it’ trade–sending Marques Colston and Marion Barber away for Beanie Wells and Jeremy Maclin. Fun.

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Filed under Cultural Criticism, Sports

Overrated: The Phrase “In This Economy”

You know what’s overrated? The phrase “in this economy!”

Hey everyone, WE GET IT. The economy sucks. It’s been like this for over two years. I think the American public understands the financial crisis we’re battling. We don’t need news anchors, hosts, writers, ads and overall general douche bags prefacing every thought and sentence with the phrase. It’s like the new fortune cookie game but instead of “in bed” we’re now “in this economy.” Continue reading

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American Idol Season 7 Finale

I’m not stupid. I know American Idol is all about money, selling an image and making the sponsors happy. I have come to terms with this but I just wish the producers and all involved would stop trying to deny it. As for the seventh season finale, it was probably the worst two hours of entertainment that you can put on television.

The season in general has been pretty bad with boring mentors and lamer themes throughout the weeks. Most contestants had bland personalities and I found myself disliking more of the singers than actually rooting for them (See: Brooke White). They made a step in the right direction allowing contestants to play instruments but I felt that when they took advantage of the rule change, it neither helped or hindered the performance. I could care less that David Cook (or Daughtry 2.0) won but the continuous high praise for his butt-rock arrangements made me want stab myself in the ear with Chad Kroeger’s capo.

As for the show itself, it felt like watching my local oldies radio station. The closest thing they came to a contemporary song was OneRepublic’s “Apologize,” which was actually a scarce highlight. But really, ZZ Top? Graham Nash? Donna Summer? Brian Adams? George Michael? This sounds like the free summer concert series lineup at the Hatch Shell rather than the Idol Finale.

Not only was every surprise guest completely irrelevant to today’s music landscape, but naturally, all have a new record or tour coming up and this was how their record company decided to spend its entire marketing budget. Which brings me to the worst offender: Mike Myers and The Love Guru. We know the movie will suck and make tons of money but Mike Myers hasn’t been funny since right after the first Austin Powers flick came out (1997, yes, that’s over ten years). By continuing to repackage horrible characters with lame accents, he has erased all memory of his solid work on SNL. Anyways, I could live with the corny pre-taped package of him and the Davids “ad libbing” but did he really need to make a live appearance on stage? You already know the answer. I think the Guru segment must have taken up five solid minutes of airtime which would have been much better spent on bringing back Maroon 5 or Rihanna.

Sure, the Jonas Brothers performed to boost ratings but nothing could save this sinking ship. The finale was just a microcosm of the entire season, which suffered from poor ratings and rumblings that the entire show is fixed. The weeks leading up to the competition failed to produce a single signature Blake Lewis moment and left me disappointed. This was supposed to be the best season yet with all ringers in the competition but with Carly going out early and Captain Stoner McDreads making it as far as he did, last night all I found myself wanting was a huge serving of Sanjaya.

Top 5 Moments/Train Wrecks of Season 7

5. Jason Castro – “I Shot the Sheriff” – Sacreligious.
4. David Archuleta – “With You”– I’m uncomfortable just watching this.
3. Carly Smithson – “Total Eclipse of the Heart” – I actually liked this, along with her version of “Blackbird,” but loose the face tatted hubby Carly.
2. Kristy Lee Cook – “Eight Days a Week” – She should have been shipped back to the farm as soon as she country fried this Beatles classic.
1. Brooke White – “I’m a Believer” – Where do I begin? The pants, the guitar, the facial expressions?

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Filed under Cultural Criticism, Television

Deconstructing Youth: My Nieces are Doomed or I’m Just Too Old (Already)

There’s no one hotter right now than Miley Cyrus. She’s got a hit TV show, sells out arenas across the country, is the only artist to still sell records and is easily the richest kid alive right now. Little girls idolize her (or Hannah Montana) and even her recent Vanity Fair photo controversy doesn’t appear to be slowing her down at all. The girl is 15 years old. When I was fifteen I was knocking people’s books over at school and living up to expectations of an angst filled youth.

But really, can we attribute the success to Miley herself or more likely her managers, her formerly famous father, Disney, her handlers and songwriters? While I’m sure she is a sweet girl, Miley Cyrus or Hannah Montana is just a shell and image, just like Hilary Duff (Lizzy McGuire) and Britney Spears before her. I hope the best for her and continued success but she needs to know when to cash in her chips and move on to the next big thing. Kids grow up and have quick memories. Those royalty checks won’t be coming in forever. I just hope she’s smart enough to learn from those who have crashed and burned before her.

“Oh, Miley!”

My beef is with the machine. There will always be a Miley Cyrus around for young girls (and boys) to worship. Labels crank out talent for consumption every five years or so for the next wave of fans and they usually disappear as quickly as they arrived. But somewhere along the line, Miley has started to cross over from a teeny-bopper to a true pop-star. Case in point: her latest hit, “See You Again,” which can be heard every five minutes on the Disney channel as well as in regular rotation on your local KISS radio station. For the sake of my rant, let’s break down this pop masterpiece.

Right off the bat, the beat is minimal but catchy, electronic yet accessible. It’s no “Bohemian Rhapsody” but that’s the beauty. Miley’s southern drawl comes through so subtly that it’s scarily sexy. But more deplorable than the pure mechanics of the track is the pervasive lyrical content.

The first verse opens so:

I got my sight set on you
And I’m ready to wait
I have a heart that will
Will never be tamed
I knew you were somethin’ special
When you spoke my name
Now I can’t wait, To see you again

Ok, am I completely naïve or does Miley not know that she’s singing about sex? I get the appeal of the good girl gone bad and naughty schoolgirl fantasy (See: Britney Spears, who was older and much hotter). But her audience is predominantly parents and girls under the age of thirteen. Sure, she could be singing about puppy love and a first crush on a boy but I highly doubt it. Her baritone lower register oozes seduction and a come-hither attitude. It’s just wrong on so many levels.

Then, the chorus kicks in and I don’t know whether to puke or throw my hands in the air and scream like I just hit puberty.

The last time I freaked out
I just kept lookin’ down
I st-st-stuttered when
You asked me what I’m thinkin’ ’bout

Felt like I couldn’t breathe
You asked what’s wrong with me
My best friend Leslie said
“Oh, She’s just bein’ Miley”

And next time we hang out
I will redeem myself
My heart can’t rest ’til then
Whoa, whoa, I
I can’t wait
To see you again

Where do I begin? The refrain is so saccharin, so sweet and so disposable that it’s completely perfect. It’s like we get a glimpse into a supervised slumber party at Miley’s house where all her friends (boys too!) are just chilaxin’ in her mansion, popping corn and doing silly karaoke routines. But when Miley’s crush stops by after football practice, she gets all nervous and quiet. Aww, I’m sure he’s so dreamy. The boy, let’s call him Chad, tries to be smooth, noticing that she’s acting weird but oh you know, “SHE’S JUST BEING MILEY!”


We as the listener are supposed to believe that Miley Cyrus gets boy crazy with butterflies in the stomach when she sees her crush and that her BFF always comes to the rescue to avoid a total OMG moment that would like totally ruin her chances with the cute quarterback. I could maybe buy that if the song wasn’t written by five dudes over the age of forty.

But wait. It’s not over. Not only is she “just being Miley,” but she also feels that she messed up her chances so bad by freezing up around her boo, that she needs to fucking REDEEM HERSELF. Sweet redemption Jesus, save her! Miley will not rest until the next time they hang out and she acts way cooler. That clearly is the most important thing in life. The question is, HOW are you going to redeem yourself, Miley? Bat your eyelashes, smile, fetch him a soda pop out of the icebox… give him a hand job?

All of this, of course is up for interpretation and the power of suggestion is like a Mack truck. The songwriters know exactly what they are doing.Sly innuendos, vocal melodies, subtle hints at true emotions. Dirty. Old. Men. Money, Money, Money.

I wouldn’t have such a problem if the girl singing and the girls listening weren’t so young. Call me old, call me out of touch, call me repetitive and preaching to the choir. But I’m just not comfortable with it. Maybe it’s because last year my nieces discovered Hannah Montana and High School Musical, ten years before their content will become a reality. Maybe it’s because I’m sick of the pop cycle. Maybe it’s because I’m jealous. But when impressionable girls half my age hang on every word that Miley sings (or songwriters pen) and can’t tell the difference between genuine emotion and fake pop records, I fear for future music generations. There is nothing innocent about being a corporate puppet. I really don’t have any answers but I know that I don’t like it and there’s really nothing I can do about it. Oh well. I’ve said my piece.

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Filed under Cultural Criticism, Music