Goodbye Carpentry, Hello Angry Birds

The New York Times published a great article on the rise of Angry Birds among older generations. While the popularity of Angry Birds is no secret, it is surprising how our elders are embracing the game. Households all over America are incorporating Angry Birds into their Family Fun Time. Fathers and sons compete over who can get the highest scores, the most golden eggs, and unlock the new levels the fastest. While it seems harmless, and even sweet that dads are finding a new way to relate to their little ones, it should be noted that this never would have been acceptable 20 years ago. Rick Marin, author of the NYT article says of his father:

“Mine wouldn’t have known what [Donkey Kong] was. And even if he did, it would have felt like a transgression of the respect/dignity boundary that used to separate men from boys.”

Is this true? Is it possible for boys to respect (or have a healthy amount of fear for) a father that’s defeated by the evil green pigs? Marin admits that his six year old son warns him not to play Angry Birds before bed. This kind of interaction simply would not have been acceptable in previous years, and maybe with good reason.

While our parents got to hear stories about their dad’s heroism in war, kids today are left to celebrate our dad’s ability to beat level 6 with two yellow birds to spare. And while my dad spent evenings and weekends in his wood-shop building our entire house’s cabinetry, the wood-shop and the garage have given way to the “man cave” complete with game consoles. So how will this affect our children’s perceptions of us? Can we instill work ethic and maturity while our father’s are stuck in perpetual adolescence?

While my boyfriend and I have established that, if we have kids, they will be limited to one hour of media a day, my boyfriend has admitted he’s concerned about enforcing that rule, as he wants to indulge in Halo (or whatever 3d shooting nonsense will be popular at the time, Portal 20?) marathons here and there.

It is yet to be seen just how this convergence of interests will effect familial relations. In fact, a Gawker article on the same subject  suggests that it may have a positive affect on families:

Then again, maybe our modern Angry Birds world is actually better in the long run for American society? Marin’s experiences suggest that our iPads are helping to erase the hierarchical structure that has defined America’s families for so long, keeping parents and children at different power levels. Now there is no difference between fathers and sons: they speak the same language, play the same games, achieve the same “Achievements,” and—most importantly—share the same addictions. Sounds pretty democratic to me.

That could be true, but if it ever comes time for me to have kids, I’ll be hiding my Angry Birds obsession diligently.

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Some Things Never Change

Will Smith’s character on Fresh Prince gets accepted to Princeton because he solves a Rubik’s Cube.

15 years later, Will Smith’s character in The Pursuit of Happyness solves Rubik’s Cube to get a job in the finance industry.

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Will ‘What’s Your Number’ Prove That Women Can Be Funny?

With the new Anna Faris vehicle “What’s Your Number” on the horizon the world has been buzzing about the position of women in comedy. People are wondering whether America (and it’s men) are brave enough to embrace a movie with a sloppy “Type D” (as opposed to the Type A women were used to seeing played by Katherine Heigl) lady in the leading role.

In “What’s Your Number” Faris has slept with 20 men, and is worried that if her ‘number’ gets any higher she will never find a husband because she won’t be the marrying type. To keep her number at 20 Faris revisits all the men in her past (Chris Evans, Zachary Quinto, Matt Bomer, Ari Graynor, Andy Samberg, Joel McHale, Chris Pratt) to find one fit to marry. Faris plays a character who is kind of a mess, she’s embodying someone in the state of arrested development that we’re used to seeing only from men in comedies.

Here lies the risk in “What’s Your Number”, women aren’t allowed to be childish, messy or even particularly funny in movies. Even in movies with women in comedic roles the comedy is derived from them being bitchy shrews (Knocked Up, The Ugly Truth, Mean Girls), rather than being loveable goofballs. Where are the female equivalents of Paul Rudd, Jason Segel, Seth Rogen, Vince Vaughn, the list goes on. Many people lift up Faris, and her House Bunny co-star Emma Stone as potential funny females, but the movies these women star in are written off as chick flicks. This year’s ‘Easy A’ starring Stone was a movie that should have appealed to both genders, there were sex jokes, a great script, and a hilarious young cast. Unfortunately, since the story focused on a woman’s perspective on sex, many males dismissed the movie as female fare. In contrast, females are supposed to relate to male centric movies like American Pie, 40 Year Old Virgin, and The Hangover, all movies that are built to appeal to both genders.

So what’s the difference? The humor in “What’s Your Number” is derived from the same character flaws and crazy situations that made The Hangover a huge success, but will it be as readily embraced when these flaws are in a woman. Gawker poses the question “will people be willing to pay $11 to see her drink and fart and fuck up, even though she has breasts and a vagina?”

That is yet to be seen, but let’s hope so because Anna Faris is too talented to have her acting career remembered by a guest role on Entourage as E’s girlfriend.

Seriously though, Faris should be commended for hitting the pavement time and time again to sell her unique brand of humor (best demonstrated in Observe and Report and Smileyface in my opinion). She may be the only person actually moving women forward by making date rape jokes. Keep at it Anna, I’ll turn out opening weekend for ya.

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The Worst Things About Great Shows: Community

There’s only a very few shows on TV that are truly perfect (Boy Meets World I’m looking at you) but most of the shows we love have that one element that makes us crazy. These are those elements, the one thing we wish was different about the shows we otherwise love.

Community

Why We Love It: Community hosts one of the strongest ensemble casts in recent history. It’s hilarious new style of comedy is ushering the overdone mockumentary awkward comedies out the door.

The Problem Is: Sometimes Community won’t just let itself be funny. We get it, Community, you’re referencing pop culture archetypes. The problem is, sometimes the references are too clever, and not funny enough. I have to rationalize my appreciation for the show, instead of just enjoying it on an emotional level.

The past two episodes have been great examples of the problem with Community. First, the “Pulp Fiction” episode. Did anyone get enjoyment out of the obscure ‘My Dinner With Andre’ parody/send-up/reference? I imagine Dan Harmon thinking everyone will reflect on what a clever homage it was, but bottom line it was not enjoyable. And while we’re on that episode, does throwing Britta in a wig and white button up really count as a Pulp Fiction parody?

Then there was this week’s clip show; admittedly a clever idea, unfortunately the unconnected hodgepodge of unfunny “clips” didn’t make me laugh, and guess what, 30 Rock’s 100th episode that included some clips had me rolling. It’s frustrating to see a show like Community sacrifice laughs that the writers and cast are more than capable of getting just so they can be “high concept”

Verdict: Community can do genre parody very well (see Modern Warfare and the Chicken Finger Episode from Season 1), but these episodes work because they’re build on characters and the way they would really act, and they include JOKES not just references. I hope that in the future Community isn’t afraid to prioritize laughs over content, because some of their absurd bits that have nothing to do with pop culture (see Troy and Abed bits at the end of the episodes).

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Tina Fey–I Love You!

I just finished Tina Fey’s hour long interview with Google’s CEO about her FANTASTIC book ‘Bossypants’. Fey’s Google session is about 20x more insightful and articulate than Gaga’s from a couple weeks back.

I’ve been charged up with Fey’s unique brand of feminism since reading her memoir earlier this month. If you haven’t read Bossypants yet, we don’t know each other personally, because I’ve been nagging the pants off every woman I know since the book’s release. I am annoying, but it’s with good reason, Bossypants is a tough sell, the cover features Fey in a bowler hat (?) cradling her face with hairy man hands (???), and the title is awful; Bossypants. However, Fey’s explanation of the title almost makes up for the travesty in branding. As executive producer of 30 Rock, Fey is often asked “is it hard being the big boss?”. Tina bristles at these questions, and points out that these questions would never be directed at male captains of industry.

Fey is sarcastic, witty and completely unapologetic. The best part about Bossypants is how completely honest it is without being obnoxiously self-deprecating. Fey knows she’s successful and smart, but she doesn’t shy away from telling stories about getting her period (suck it up boys, you can read about this stuff without your balls falling off) and falling in love with gay boys.

If  you still haven’t bought your copy of Bossypants (amazon) you’re an idiot, but I am forgiving so I will try once more to convince you, using Tina’s words.

Fey on the biggest difference between male and female comedy writers: “…also the men sometimes pretend to rape each other, the women never do that”.

On how modern women are pigeonholed as bitches or bimbos: “”There was an assumption that I was personally attacking Sarah Palin by impersonating her on TV. No one ever said it was ‘mean’ when Chevy Chase played Gerald Ford falling down all the time. No one ever accused Dana Carvey or Darrell Hammond or Dan Aykroyd of ‘going too far’ in their political impressions. You see what I’m getting at here. I am not mean and Mrs. Palin is not fragile. To imply otherwise is a disservice to us both.”

I think my only problem with Tina Fey is that I can’t decide who to idolize more, her or her 30 Rock character Liz Lemon.

READ BOSSYPANTS OK

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Brad: For Your Consideration

Brad is an actor…SLASH PRINT MODEL, could you be the one to make his dreams come true? There are a lot of great things about this video.

1. Brad’s Haircut

2. The Nike commercial in which Brad calls the shoes arrogant

3. His speech about why Vince Vaughn rocks

4. The montage of his photoshoot set to Justin Timberlake’s LoveStoned

Anyway, didn’t want you guys to miss out on the Brad train, because he his going places, hitch your horse to his trailer now.

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Shows You Should Be Watching (or should have been before they got cancelled): Clone High

The first in a series of diatribes about under-watched shows in which I try to convince you that you should be watching!

Show: Clone High

Why You Didn’t Watch: It aired for about 8 weeks on MTV in 2002, it followed ‘Say What? Karaoke’ in the MTV schedule.

* Editorial Note Say What Karaoke fucking rocked and this was in no way to be a slight against the show, just to point out it was also under-appreciated.

What You Missed: Clone High is set in a high school  that is secretly being run as an elaborate military experiment orchestrated by a government office called the Secret Board of Shadowy Figures. The school is entirely populated by clones of famous historical figures that have been created and raised with the intent of having their various strengths and abilities harnessed by the military. Clone High features teenage versions of Abe Lincoln, Joan of Arc, Cleopatra, JFK and Ghandhi. Plus a really cool robot named Butlertron.

Why You Should Watch: Clone High is one of the most quotable shows of all time. The joke range is amazing, each episode hosts both poop jokes and historical references you practically need a degree to pick up on. If that doesn’t convince you, some sample plot lines; Ghandi has ADD, JFK struggles with being raised by two gay foster parents, the principal wages war against John Stamos and there’s a musical episode that parodies Pink Floyd’s the wall, complete with subliminal messages throughout.

Prove It: 

Gandhi and George Washington Carver star in the action picture “Black ‘n Tan”

A snippet showing why Principal Scudworth is one of the best TV characters ever.

In Summation: Seriously, watch it, there’s only 12 episodes and they are so funny. Unfortunately, it’s not available on Netflix, but most of the episodes can be found on YouTube if you’re interested in giving it a try.

Episode 1, Part 1 (even though it says part 2): http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=pJqfa3_rJ6w

Episode 1, Part 2: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=9-sDIDlka80&feature=related

PS this episode is called “Escape to Beer Mountain; A Rope of Sand. Classic.

http://clonehigh.net/

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