Pop Culture Shutdown
Published: Wednesday, October 9, 2013
Updated: Wednesday, October 9, 2013 23:10
With the showdown over Obamacare in Washington turning into a prolonged government shutdown, the country is tightening its financial belt: furloughing employees and suspending non-essential services in its attempts to deal with absent funding. This week, in the delusional spirit of our current Congress, The Scene chooses the celebrities, publications, and trends we would like to cut from our national pop culture. It’s an ideological battle we can’t win, but that doesn’t mean we won’t try. Welcome to the Pop Culture Shutdown.
Admittedly, James Cameron hasn’t been a very visible presence on the pop culture scene since 2009, when Avatar destroyed box office records by remaking Dances with Wolves with digital blue aliens. But that’s because he is busy toiling away and squandering money on three, yes three, new Avatar sequels set to take over our screens beginning in 2016. Cameron has undeniable talent as a filmmaker, but he’s beginning to suffer from the George Lucas syndrome, pouring obscene amounts of money and effort into a single blockbuster franchise at the expense of other projects. Is anyone really excited about the prospect of three Avatar sequels? Despite its massive financial success, the movie hasn’t left a lasting mark on pop culture, and I’ve never met anyone who feels passionately about it. But Cameron still thinks he’s king of the world, and in a Hollywood where bigger is always better, he’s allowed to go on acting like it. It’s time to lay him off and have him re-consider his career choices. –S.K.
Ever since Justin Bieber was launched from YouTube obscurity to international fame in the late 2000s, not a week has passed without the Canadian singer making some sort of headline. He’s taken the pop scene by storm, with his essentially DIY success story, but it seems like somewhere in between releasing his innocent debut single “One Time” and having his pet capuchin monkey confiscated in Germany this March, Bieber lost his way. Last year Forbes named him the third most powerful celebrity in the world—there’s no denying Bieber’s achievements. And honestly, why not commend them? The 19-year-old is pretty talented. The problem with Bieber, though, is how he’s dealt with his quickly acquired star status. His drug charges, paparazzi altercations, and reckless behavior accusations have nearly eclipsed any serious attention given to his music, which has become an unwieldy issue in and of itself—10 new songs in 10 weeks? That’s just way too much Biebs. –A.I.
He’s got 99 problems, and, God help him, they all somehow ended up on his most recent album Magna Carta Holy Grail. If Mr. Jay Z does indeed run this town, why did he turn to a massive corporation like Samsung to sell the record? Few could deny Jay Z his place among the most influential rappers of all time. His career has endured for decades, and in hip-hop, his net worth is second only to Diddy. But he is not young forever. If his heavily domesticated, Church cookout-friendly contribution to Justin Timberlake’s “Suit & Tie” wasn’t enough of an indicator, his recent lyrical condemnations of hashtags, Instagram, and retweets confirms it—Jay Z is such a dad. By all means, Mr. Carter, treat yo’ self: buy some ill-fitting sweaters, grow a mustache of distinction, get a little freaky with the History Channel—you earned it. This 43-year-old rapper needs a season off to get his dad on, and his music off the radio long enough to recollect himself. – J.W.
Once upon a time (read: the 1980s), the channel known as Music Television lived up to its name, pioneering the art of the music video and broadcasting concerts and music documentaries. Fast forward to the 2000s, though, and MTV became a promulgator of lowest-common-denominator reality shows that cater to our culture’s worst instincts. The channel that once served as a springboard for genuine talent came to lionize the likes of Snooki, Paris Hilton, and the spoiled brats featured in My Super Sweet 16, none of whom would have had any claim to fame if MTV hadn’t given them a national spotlight to indulge their bad behavior. I’m told there’s a perverse pleasure in watching dumb, shallow, rich people make fools of themselves, but when such antics take attention away from genuinely talented artists, we have a problem. Of course, the prospect of MTV going away is about as likely as Obamacare’s repeal—it’s just not gonna happen. –S.K.
With his infamously successful blog, Perez Hilton has situated himself at the forefront of celebrity gossip coverage. He’s a self-made icon, an outsider who squeezed into the entertainment scene by relying on the shock value of a shameless angle. Dramatic and sensational, his style has both attracted readers and been criticized for its biases, creating him as many enemies as it has fans and placing him at the center of numerous lawsuits and feuds, including those with Miley Cyrus and Lady Gaga. Posting scandalous photos and stories, Hilton’s website seems to be less of a reliable media outlet and more of personal tool used to instigate trouble. Hilton has proclaimed himself to be “The Queen of All Media,” unapologetically tracking stars for more than a decade now, but it may be time the pop culture world took back their kingdom and kicked him off his royal throne. After all, how much power should be granted to someone who bases his alter-ego name off celebutante Paris Hilton’s? The answer: much less. –A.I.