oh beezy

miscellaneous cultural commentary from two urban twenty-somethings. on this here interweb, we go by "bee" and "zy."

confused, NBC? then make Ellen the host of The Tonight Show.

So, aside from Haiti earthquake coverage (on the subject of which it must be mentioned, though obvious, that that crisis is way more important than any TV “crisis”), the NBC management debacle, aka Conan vs. Leno, aka Chingate, has evoked a ton of response from my American e-friends. That is, Facebook friends.

Haiti and Conan are the memes, but “I’m With Coco” is the image that people are choosing to replace themselves with. According to the Chicago Tribune, over 276,000 Facebook members have become fans, pledged to attend pro-Conan rallies, and sworn their devotion to O’Brien’s sharp wit and ginger coif.   

Now, I don’t have hard numbers, but that seems like a lot more people turning out to protest in the streets for Conan than for health care, gay rights or help for Haiti. Or at least doing so vocally, and more importantly, publicly.

Am I missing something?

I like Conan, don’t get me wrong. That lanky dude ranks up there with Craig Ferguson as one of the two least creepy dudes on network late night. Letterman gives me the funny uncle heeby jeebies, while Leno makes me want to rip my own hair out.  But they’re still white male comedians dominating the airwaves, and in that sense CoCo taking over The Tonight Show isn’t so much a change from Leno as it is a perpetuation of the comedy status quo.

Granted, “I’m With EDeg, Who Isn’t Even In The Running” does not make the best viral slogan.  Plus Ellen already has a goal in sight: Oprah’s 4 PM throne (and she will get it). There is something to be said for positioning yourself to take over the daytime stage, a position that has allowed Oprah to build an indomitable media empire based on a savvy mix of cushy specials, random prizes, books and well-placed outrage and activism.

Ellen knows what she’s doing, too. Her interviews are tasteful, her prizes lavish, her sympathy for the downtrodden sincere. Her 12 days of Christmas prize shows in December 2009 made tchotchke-hungry me drool in greedy ecstasy over the heavy piles of hubcaps, diamond watches and scented soap that I will definitely never need.  And while Ellen’s sympathy features are so far mostly limited to families who have fallen victim to the recession (a worthy subject), perhaps a few more years of entrenchment in the media landscape will allow her to do for gay youths what Oprah did for girls’ education. At least here’s hoping; being a non-threatening lesbian on daytime TV must be an exhausting daily maneuver.

Or maybe not. Ellen and Portia, the most gorgeous couple in Hollywood, were by many accounts the most talked about pairing of 2009. And Ellen’s total ease in her own body, coupled with a sweet sense of humor and killer dance moves, have allowed her to achieve mainstream success while being completely out.

But why does Ellen’s greatness, as well as that of other female comedians, have to be limited to daytime or non-network coverage? Because women watch TV during the day and men like to come home and laugh at night? Because Conan got a raw deal? Because  no woman ever hosted the late shows during or after Johnny Carson’s era, and thus it’s expected that the trend should continue?

I’m sorry Conan, but I don’t care if you get that slot. I don’t care if Leno gets it either. Because I will no longer be watching either of you. What’s the difference, in the end, between you two white, straight men sniping about how the network is mistreating you, while making millions on the same old star-flattering, side-kick pandering, gay-joke spreading routines? Not much. If I’m going to watch a big network show in the wee hours of the morning, I want a lady at the helm. And funny girl Ellen fits the bill.

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Why I wish I still loved Amy Adams.

So, it’s February rom-com preview season, and along with Valentine’s Day (subtle title–I guess they felt no other ploy was necessary) is an Amy Adams-Matthew Goode vehicle, Leap Year.  If you haven’t seen the previews, the whole plot (as indicated by the trailer) goes something like this: American gal decides that the “old Irish tradition” of allowing women to propose to their fiances on February 29 (really??) is a good reason to travel to Ireland, grab her conventionally good-looking polo shirt of a guy and do just that. During a harrowing flight, she resolves not to die without getting engaged, right before emergency-landing on the wrong side of the quaint little isle she’s chosen as the backdrop for her bridal fantasy. A local, accented, rugged (read: has stubble) Irishman is enlisted to drive to her to the right side of the island in time for her leap-day proposal. Road-trip hijinks and romance ensue. And guess who she ends up falling for? Seriously, GUESS.

There will be charming locals, troublesome livestock, electrical appliance failure, and…mud! Shrieking! Spirited pouting! YELP! I think I’m falling in love, but I have to tumble down a hill first! EEE!

I suppose it’s a bit passé to complain about a romantic comedy plot. After all, rom-coms are usually pretty cookie cutter–and at least the heroine doesn’t start out as a servant or assistant who gets rescued by a handsome boss. But it’s not the existence of this movie that bothers me so much as the fact that Amy Adams is in it. Even last year’s Julie and Julia was difficult to watch at times, mostly because of Adams. Whether by choice or direction, her Julie Powell was practically channeling Meg Ryan in You’ve Got Mail, down to the flustered typing and self-pitying arm flailing. On a second viewing, I found myself wishing I could edit her out so that Streep could evoke Julia Child’s warbly good nature unimpeded.

What happened to Adams? Though she was never exactly a full-blown indie darling, and her earlier films had her playing wide-eyed innocents, she was using that innocence to good effect.  As a displaced princess in Enchantment, Adams’ goofy charm helped propel the plot. After all, who else would be believable as an animated Disney Princess gone astray? Who else could sing to rats as they helped her clean and make it hilarious? Let’s not forget Adams’ wounded nurse in Catch Me If You Can, and let’s especially not forget her as Ashley Johnsten in Junebug:

That movie was devastatingly beautiful because of Adams: her vulnerability, her curiosity, and her open-faced belief that her new sister-in-law Madeleine would be as enthusiastically receptive of her new family as Ashley felt. The fact that Ashley is attempting to make a connection with all the Johnstens is heartbreaking precisely because of her wide-eyed, childlike faith in the fact that if she just keeps talking, they will all love her back.

Now, a drama like Junebug and a rom-com like Leap Year are nowhere near each other in terms of scope and audience. One is a money-grab while the other is reaching for a prize. But I really wish that Adams’ mainstream success–not to mention that of other actresses–didn’t have to come at the expense of nuance and artistry. After all, we shouldn’t all have to pretend that we are flustered and out of control in order to get the recognition we want and deserve. Talent and desire should play a part, too.

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tricks are for kids

I’m too lazy (slash have to run to a meeting, so don’t have time) to think of a relevant title for this post. But anyways, I wanted to recommend ya give a listen to this NPR podcast in which two pundits from opposite sides of the political spectrum re: gay marriage discuss their coming to a middle policy ground.

Just give gays civil unions, they say. To which a few callers said, civil unions for all! “Get the government out of the business of marriage,” was a phrase callers particularly fancied. Then some middle-aged, but well-meaning, I suppose, man called to talk about how he’s being discriminated against as a single guy. Whatevs. Anyways, it’s an interesting listen, and made my commute to work this morning feel oh so smart.

My response? Can’t we just start working from the baseline assumption that any political debate in which someone thinks someone else shouldn’t have the same rights s/he has is wack? Cloaking self-righteous, paternalistic, discriminatory thinking in euphemisms about “principles” and “morality”–Tricks, tricks, tricks.

(Gawd, yes, I’m that much of a nerd that I couldn’t wrap this up without trying to make the title relevant.)

FYI- Zy previously wrote an excellent post responding to the op-ed co-written by the two guys interviewed in the podcast.

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daily hmmm…

So the director of the center for which I do communications likes. to. send. me. stuff. to. read. Gawd love her.

Anyways, that last link takes you to this article, 5 new skills for the future of marketing. And within it, there’s a mention of nonlinear management, which wikipedia tells me is:

a superset of management techniques and strategies that allows order to emerge by giving organizations the space to self-organize, evolve and adapt, encompassing Agile, Evolutionary and Lean approaches, Flextime, Time Banking, as well as many others. Key aspects of NLM, including holism, evolutionary design or delivery, and self-organization are diametrically opposite to linear management thinking.

I’ve never heard of nonlinear management before (though the concept feels mighty familiar), and I don’t have time to explore it in depth right now, but my preliminary exposure to the keywords makes me feel all warm inside. Evolution, encompassing, holism…Aw. This description is dripping with liberal marketing.

So, is linear management for stodgy conservatives, and nonlinear management for granola progressives?

Aight, back to le work.

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referring to Diane Keaton as “‘Because I Said So’ co-star:” wtf?

Perhaps (and hopefully), in my admittedly sleep-deprived haze, I’m missing that this is a joke… Because I Said So Co-Star Lands Huge Book Deal.

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a question of sexuality–or gender?

I’ve been thinking about this article on Seattle’s mayoral sex scandal a lot recently.  The author, Taylor Clark, contends that the mayor’s homosexuality–and the supposed leeway given to homosexual relationships when it comes to the age of majority–have prevented the scandal from decimating his political career.

Clark writes,

After all, there’s a massive double standard in how we think about the age of consent. When an older man courts a teenage girl, it’s predatory and sleazy; but when it’s a teenage boy receiving advances, gay or straight, we have trouble believing he’s being wronged. (Indeed, Breedlove was aggressively chasing Adams; he even has a dog named Lolita.) Critics see the movie The Reader, wherein a 36-year-old Kate Winslet beds a 15-year-old boy, and they speak of a “tender sexual awakening,” as every straight man in the theater (including me) thinks, “I would have sold my siblings into bonded labor to sleep with Kate Winslet when I was 15, you little bastard.” Portray a 36-year-old man and a 15-year-old girl, though, and you’re in … well, Lolita territory—no mercy there. Some have argued that if Breedlove were female, straight men would be high-fiving Adams, but this is preposterous. We’d understand the attraction—and when you peruse Breedlove’s unbelievably porny Myspace pics, you can certainly see what was on Adams’ mind—but we wouldn’t excuse the behavior. “Yes, she’s hot,” we’d say, “but they call it jailbait for a reason. You don’t touch underage girls, period.” The male-male relationship brings a moral gray area that helps Adams.

Reader ridiculousness aside, Clark’s examples cite heterosexual May-December taboos and kudos; they must, as he is comparing the Adams-Breedlove scandal (or relative non-issue) to the Monicagate-scale disasters that we’re used to.  But this doesn’t take the gender of the homosexual couple into account.  If this were a lesbian mayor who had had an affair with an underage girl, what would be the consequences then?  Would the younger participant be seen as aggressive, or victimized?  Would her MySpace profile be mocked as “unbelievably porny”–or would she be seen as innocent bait for the predatory?  And would the affair as a whole be seen as emblematic of a unique, and according to Clark, untouchable subculture–or as tawdry and salacious?  I, for one, feel convinced that were Adams and the younger person female, the office would now be empty.

Thoughts, please.

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relationship for rent

jewelry_inlaid_keysCoincidentally, two days in a row I heard references (coming from people who don’t know each other) to girls (who also don’t know each other) who either actively or half-jokingly use guys for a free place to sleep/live. Is this a trend I’ve been heretofore unaware of? Could the ability to meet someone and work one’s way into a relationship with lightening-fast move-in status be considered a skill?

I mentioned this to a person I’m currently flirting with, who responded, “Don’t worry. I charge $2.50 per night.”

Hott.

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re: r.b. ginsburg

She’s having a rough patch. Think nice thoughts.

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living for virtual reality

Do you ever wonder how many people are getting to the point where their lives and actions are motivated to some sizable degree by social media?

For example, how many people are browsing online magazines more because they want a witty article to share on Twitter than because they crave a good read? How many out there are planning social events largely in anticipation of showing off how crazy or pretty or popular they are via the resulting pictures they post on Facebook? Are there people making their plans for tonight based on how awesome the activity will sound laconically described in their Gchat, Facebook, and IM status messages?

It’s unclear.

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