Pop goes the culture

A sampling of current pop culture controversies, with commentary.

1. David Blaine: Latter-day Houdini, or half-drowned dud?

What can I say – I got a kick out of seeing wrinkly David Blaine floating around in that sphere. A week with no food! Hands all raisiny! Seven minutes holding his breath underwater! A voluntarily-worn catheter! This is entertainment, my friends.

Some say Blaine is a big fat windbaggy waste of time, a self-promoter whose only skill is for getting himself on TV. But when Blaine is pulling his stunts – being “buried alive” in a glass coffin, swinging above the Thames in a tiny box, or making like a fish-man at Lincoln Center, I love imagining what it must be like. I love trying to figure out whether he’s somehow tricking all of us, sneaking out of his self-imposed prisons and leaving animatronic dummies, or whatever. It’s PT Barnum-esque, sure – but is that so wrong?

wrinkly blaine

2. American Idol: Brilliant TV, or shark-jumping junk?

Haven’t watched a single minute this season. After watching two seasons (or was it three? Too many brain cells were killed to remember), I can’t imagine sitting through another hour-long episode of egregious product placements, insipid Paula comments, middling renditions of bad pop tunes, etc. This show jumped the shark as soon as they began another season after the divine Fantasia sang her way to fame. Yet the franchise is still huge. What’s the draw?
dopey paula

3. Mission Impossible: III: Great popcorn movie, or psychopathic vanity project?

I loathe Tom Cruise. I hate his zombiefication of perky Katie Holmes, who was so smart and compelling in “Pieces of April” with Patricia Clarkson. I think he has weirdly womanish hips and strange teeth. But — what the hell happened? — I totally enjoyed Mission Impossible III. Was it because my expectations were so low? Or because, after a mind-numbing week at work, I was in the perfect mood for a Friday-night popcorn thriller? Or is it… actually… reasonably good for an action flick?

hippy cruise

4. Dixie Chicks: Profiles in courage, or mouthy dames?

The Dixie Chicks are taking back their apology to George Bush. They dissed the president a few years ago while on tour in the UK, then apologized when angry country music fans went all J. Goebbels on them, burning piles of their CDs. Now, with a new album back, they’re on a mission — not to win their boneheaded ex-fans back, but to pick up where they left off.

Fiddler Martie Maguire told Time magazine, “I’d rather have a small following of really cool people who get it, who will grow with us as we grow and are fans for life, than people that have us in their five-disc changer with Reba McEntire and Toby Keith. We don’t want those kinds of fans. They limit what you can do.”

Mouthy. Kind of rude to lump all country fans in with the CD-burning cretins. But wow, isn’t it nice to hear someone speak out of a sense of moral outrage, rather than a desire to maximize sales?
mouthy chicks

5. Madonna: Creative genius or has-been?

This just in: For her latest concert tour, Madonna hangs herself from a cross.



6. Dr. Ruth Westheimer:

No controversy here, I just wanted to report that I saw the Teutonic sex warrior at the Book Expo this weekend, wandering among the rabbit’s warren of exhibitor stalls carrying two enormous bags of books. She cannot possibly be taller than four-foot-ten. She is the tiniest adult human I have ever seen. You want to put her in a little tote bag and carry her on the Metro.

the sex doctor herself

3 responses to “Pop goes the culture”

  1. G-Lock says:

    David Blaine, lame. Tom Cruise, SO lame. Dixie Chicks, a’ight.

    But knocking my girl at number five?! I don’t think She sells $400 concert tickets for people to learn about religion or to believe they are taking part in some subversive countercultural phenomenom. That cross has been taken out of context so horridly, effectively negating the entire “we are all together in this” message, that it’s not even worth defending.

    The show is a two-hour knock-you-on-your-ass extravaganza that I defy you – or anyone – to actually sit through and pretend you didn’t have one of the best nights of your life. If not, you can always visit the comical “I Hate Madonna” website and commiserate.

    To each his own.

  2. G-Lock says:

    Oh, bother. I meant to link here.

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