You know what's fucked up? I never wrote about my favorite R&B album of the year, The-Dream's Love King. I actually started a review the week that it was released and then...I never finished. Chalk it up to the distractions of summer and that it can be hard to write about something that comes off as a brilliant no-brainer. It's great, get into it, end of story. But since I'm less distracted these days and since Love King is just as good a month later, I finally present my thoughts on it below...
Cathy Horyn's snooty New York Times article "Snooki’s Time" was wrong about a lot of things -- it was full of the kind of insults you wouldn't be surprised hearing at a trashier venue (say a meat market like Bamboo), it had too many unsupported points (for example, after talking about the difficulty in carrying on a conversation with Snooki and the need to go "down to her level," Horyn does not demonstrate this with an actual exchange with Snooki, but with one involving a childhood friend of hers), and it claimed that "even viewers who claim to love Jersey Shore usually find it hard to say why," even though since December the Internet and MSM have been full of people saying exactly why (in the words of Angelina during the show's intro: UM HELLO!?!?!). Congratulations, Times, for asserting your status on the high/low culture divide by telling and not showing. You must have convinced us all, since we're all apparently as stupid as you think Snooki is.
One thing that I cannot say for sure is wrong or write is Horyn's claim that Snooki "simply isn’t capable of serious introspection." But then, neither can Horyn, who as far as we can tell, spent enough time with Snooki to write a few paragraphs, did not administer any kind of written test and is not any kind of accredited head shrink, anyway. Maybe Snooki really isn't a creature of introspect; or maybe she's smarter than Horyn would like to admit (maybe!) and decided not to share her inner thoughts with a snob who was going to write a smeary article; or maybe still, she was distracted by shiny things. Who knows? Horyn paints this as a problem (in the context of getting to the bottom of Snooki's appeal), but I think of it as a solution. Thank god Snooki and the rest of her gang don't dwell too long on connecting the dots from inside to out. Not only is that tedious, who wants to watch a bunch of superegos zzzzzzz-wrestle on TV? Id is in, baby. Id is in. Framing the point in terms of ability is, of course, more snobbishness -- regardless of what Snooki can or can't do is what she actually does. Explosion is this young woman's medium. Attacking Snooki for expressing herself in broad strokes is not very different than attacking Pollack for dripping.
Snooki, the Situation and Pauly D have, in fact, never seemed more in possession of their art than during the audio commentary that runs over five of nine episodes on The Jersey Shore Season 1 DVD set that was released last week. (Come for the commentary, but stay for the uncensored episodes, which treat us to previously unintelligible lines such as Sammi's "I don't fuckin' fuck like that!" as well as the infamous Snooki-punch edited back into its episode, a decision, which after such brouhaha, hurts my head more than an actual punch to it.) Since the typical reality show format employs running commentary on the action anyway (in the form of interviews that cut away from the main storyline), it is particularly bizarre to add another layer of chatter on top of the short-attention-span chaos we've grown to love. The three of them (and only those three) enter the recording booth with their egos ablaze -- not content to merely state what is going on in typical I-have-nothing-to-say-but-am-being-paid-so-will-participate-in-this-DVD-commentary-anyway manner, Snooki, the Situation and Pauly D often recite the show. Snooki likes saying "BITCH!" along with herself during the intro (as in, "I'm going to Jersey Shore...bitch!"), but even obscure, seemingly innocuous lines like Sammi asking Ronnie, "Did you guys hook up?" after he left Karma with Jwoww or, "They kept coming in," in reference to the entrance procession by Vinny's family apparently bear repeating/forecasting. Listening to them admire themselves, it is clear that they are giddy fans like the rest of us -- except they are not us. The Jersey Shore audio commentary tracks are perfect documents of the heightened, fascinating narcissism of the reality star that sometimes runs these shows like a perpetual motion machine (the acting out provides themselves entertainment, which makes them want to act out again and more ridiculously so as to provide themselves with future entertainment, which will only make them want to act out more...)
According to these people, this show is so real. So, so real (Ronnie cries after his boardwalk fight and Snooki enthuses, "That's real TV for you!"). Lots of people are "retards." Sammy and Ronnie are assholes. Everyone on the show is an innovator, especially the people in the room -- they pat themselves on the back for "starting" beating up the beat and GTL ("It's a national sensation," boasts the Situation). "We’re gonna bring them so much business! 'Cause they think we’re all gonna be there again," is Pauly's prediction for Seaside Heights this summer. Some awkward moments arise, since the Situation is a mostly amoral douche -- listening to him squirm when the scene of him trying to pick up just moments after Snooki was punched is worth the price of purchase alone (he stops short of comparing it to not crying over spilled milk, and mumbles something about wanting to salvage the night). The most hilarious phenomenon occurs as Pauly repeatedly expresses surprise at what he's seeing -- it's often regarding other people's interviews or things he wasn't in the room for the taping of, but still you figure he's seen the show by now, since he can fucking recite parts of it and all. I guess The Jersey Shore has so many complex and confusingly nonsensical charms that they reveal themselves only in repeat viewings. It's like classic Godard, really is what it is.
Anyway, by now I hope it's clear that this commentary is delightful -- it was a great way to refresh my memory in anticipation of Thursday's Season 2 premiere. A few more of my favorite quotes an exchanges from the commentary tracks are after the jump...
You know what's hot? Toddlers in the process of being potty trained. There is no greater definition of a hottie than a human being who's making the transition from Pull-Ups to regular underwear.
Oh wait, I don't actually feel that way. But apparently the makers of this video do!
I found this on the I Gotta Go VHS and am absolutely amazed by it. I can barely believe that it exists, but I'm so glad that it does. Revolting in the most hilarious way! Is it woefully clueless or just woeful? You decide!
The Amazon comments on this VHS are almost equally amazing. For example: "The music, lyrics, dance moves and content are complete garbage and highly inappropriate. I could hardly get through it to screen it. Half of the children in this video should be in a video about puberty and beginning adolescence, not going potty! There were very few toddlers in the video, when they did appear on the screen for approximately .5 seconds, they didn't even pull their pants down to go potty or wipe themselves afterwards." Reading that, it strikes me now that potty-training videos are a really slippery slope to all sorts of inappropriateness. True, the slope isn't always greased with hottie lube, but outrage over not getting to watch toddlers wipe themselves seems like an altogether related problem.
One more clip from the new classic that is I Gotta Go is below. It's extremely soulful and impassioned!
I watched the consciously notorious Srpski Film (A Serbian Film) and have a few things to say about it. I'm putting these things after the jump since they are spoilery, but mostly because they are reflections on the most depraved piece of fiction I've ever experienced. If the "unique magic of rigor mortis" is already too graphic for you, move on, by god, move on!
After seeing (and hating) Inception on Friday, I wanted to write about it not formally ("formally" as on A BLOG), but just on a visceral level. Luckily, I got the opportunity to do just that when I found out that my IRL friend Gabe at Videogum loved it. A meeting of the minds and a war of the guts, we did what we sometimesdo (like once a year, I guess?), and discussed a film in text. Our (obviously spoilery) chat on this divisive piece of work is below...
While I was in Jersey a few weeks ago, I discovered basically the best thing to slap on a bikini and babble nonsense: Dr. Victoria Zdrok, formerly of PlayboyandPenthouse, who heads a series of On-Demand shorts called Hot Tub Confessions. She's a doctor, so you know she knows what she's talking about -- from "really neat" sex dreams about Michael Jackson to kinky gynecologists to using perfume as a disinfectant to having hot-air balloon sex being interrupted because the operator got uncomfortable (what a lame!). Above is a reel of my favorite of the doctor's quotes. My very fav is: "Sometimes you just don't want to be bothered. You just want to get off without anybody bugging you, and having to cuddle after or talk or explain yourself." What could be going on with her that needs explanation? I mean, a lot, obviously, but for the love of Restalyne, WHAT?