Archives For pop culture

'Chris Harrison' photo (c) 2010, Greg Hernandez - license: http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/2.0/

Unless you have been living under a rock for the past several years, you are aware of the cultural phenomenon known as The Bachelor/ette. If not, it is a reality show that promises to help some poor sap a lucky man, or woman find their soulmate. The show’s track record so far ain’t so hot; out of the ninety-nine seasons which have aired, there have been two successful marriages.

Yet people keep coming back for more. True, the contestants are paid, pampered, wined, and dined, but we all know what the Good Book says about the love of money: it’s a root of all kinds of evil. The fact remains that some, questionable though their judgment may be, are really there for love. Others, as we’ve established are there for the money. Still others are there for the fleeting notoriety they get by being on the show.

I understand this perhaps best of all. I have done questionable things to make my name known. It may work for a time, but the truth wins out. We all of us have an inner “Holden Caulfield,” are thus able to sniff out “phonies.”
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The news has recently broken that Nicolas Cage is rebooting the Left Behind film franchise. Yes, it’s a real thing. Christian production company Cloud Ten is behind it. Apparently, the the film is budgeted at only $15 million. Yes, I know–it’s a staggering sum for us mere mortals, but in Hollyweird that’s peanuts. Consider for instance M. Night Shyamalan’s almost-universally panned The Happening. That apocalyptic film had a budget of $57 million.

I heard that sharp intake of breath, suddenly silenced. That’s right, folks: that was the best they could do with $57. Million. Dollars!

I don’t know about you, but a budget of just $15 million doesn’t give me much hope for a film which ostensibly aspires to capitalize on the “adventurous aspects” of the Left Behind franchise. I mean, come on, how much ILM time can be bought for $15 million? I’d guess not a whole lot.

So there must be something else going on, right?

Why this, why now, why Nicolas Cage?

Is he knowing something we don’t? Are there signs pointing to something perhaps a little more sinister?

I think there are.

Let me explain:

Here’s an actor who went from winning an Academy Award for his performance in Leaving Las Vegas to starring in The Rock. And from thence to Con Air.

In fact for every Leaving, and Adaptation, there were bizarro career choices like the Wicker Man, and

Ghost Rider.

And that’s an interesting one; in it, Cage plays Johnny Blaze, a stunt motorcycle rider. A rider who makes a deal with the devil to save his father’s life. The deal is made, and the devil being a liar, Blaze’s dad dies anyway.

However, in addition to being a liar, the devil has an elephantine memory, and calls Johnny’s payment due–turning him into the supernatural enforcer, Ghost Rider.
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And that right there, folks, is the key to unlocking the mystery of the Left Behind remake: that deal made on celluloid for all to see.

Let me ask you: who is the antagonist of the Left Behind series? Nikolai Carpathia.

Whose name does that sound like? Nicolas Cage.

That’s right, ladies and gentlemen, they share the same name! (A cursory Google search has shown that “Carpathia,” when translated from Romanian, means “Coppola,” which is Cage’s real last name).

Nicolas Cage = Nikolai Carpathia.

Thus I conclude that Nicolas Cage is in fact the antichrist. There’s no other explanation for these (awful) movies being remade.

The payment on his career is coming due, and that payment is undisputedly Left Behind.

What do you think?

20120331-225839.jpg Hey, Random Readers! I have the extreme honor to bring you a guest post today from the witty, hard-working Knox McCoy. Knox is known for his brilliant, hilarious recaps of the Bachelor/ette and the Walking Dead. He has also recently launched The My Bad Project as a way for Christians to apologize for the way(s) we’ve douched up our witness. He lives in a Tennessee with his wife and two young children.

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You guys! What with the Killer Tribes conference this week, and all, I almost didn’t get this post writ. But a promise is a promise, right? Least I could do for blogging buddy, Chad. How I roll.

You know how I wrote about my my only thing with The Hunger Games? Well, I’ve got one thing about that new Tarsem Singh movie, I LOVED it! For serious. It was visually stunning (remember Immortals from last Fall? Same guy directed this fresh take on the Snow White story).

Everything from the dialogue to the set direction to the visuals were just lush. And stunning.

DURR!!! DURR!!!

Gotcha, didn’t I?

April Fool’s!

The movie was terrible. It was the cinematic equivalent of a high colonic, but the thing is–the thing is–somehow you don’t feel cleaned out after. How does that happen?

It’s style over substance, people.

You almost get the sense that Singh’s vision–whatever that was–was, shall we say, a little hampered by the studio. Or a lot. You decide. Or don’t. Remember, I went there for you.

Impactful it was not.

Anyway, Julia Roberts was in it. At least I think she was. Either that, or someone that looked just like her somnambulated through the movie. Can we say “paycheck player” three times fast?

Ditto for Nathan Lane. I haven’t liked him since Mousetrap. Ok, that’s not true–since ever. (Best part of his “performance?” He got turned into a cockroach, and was “violated” by a grasshopper!) <--too bad that was off-camera.You guys, YOU GUYS! Remember 80's Bratpacker Mare Winningham. She's in this movie--as "Baker Lady." Boy, has she gone out to pasture. Nuff said.Anybody remember that great show on Animal Planet, Pit Boss? The one about the dude, Shorty, who has a soft spot for pit bulls? Well, two of his former crew have bit parts in this movie. That’s right–Sebastian and Ronald are Chuckles, and Wolf, respectively. Yep, they play dwarves. Must be method acting–because I believed them. They filled out those parts nicely.

I know, I know–you’re asking yourself: “What about the leads? What about Lily Collins and Armie Hammer?”

I’ll you what: after seeing Armie in The Social Network as the Winklevoss twins (that’s right, he played two parts), I was willing to forgive his ridiculous name. But not anymore. In this turgid turd he turns in the performance of a box of baking soda. (Seriously, what were his parents thinking, naming him “Armand Hammer?” “Arm & Hammer.” Get it?).

And then there’s poor Lily Collins. She of the unstoppable brows. Seriously, those things could give Jon Acuff’s uni a serious, serious run. They don’t quit! They must be why there was no palpable chemistry between her and baking soda boy. In my head, I could hear her dad’s (Phil Collins) song, In The Air Tonight: “I can hear it growing in the air tonight…”

Speaking of: the ending of course occurred in the night: a dark forest. And the beast? The scary creature, who we’d see glimpses of? Looked like nothing so much as an overgrown kitty cat in need of a tummy rub.

Turns out, that wasn’t far wrong:

The big twist was befanged, and betailed, kitty was none other than the long-thought-dead king, Sean Bean. Poor Sean, he looked befuddled. So confused–maybe concussed. I guess being turned into a kitty cat for eighteen years will do that to a man. Anyway, he sure looked like he would much rather have been anywhere else (what with those eyebrows practically stabbing him in his eyes). In fact:

He looked like he would much rather have been back in Westeros, getting his head chopped off all over again.

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Somewhere in there, I think we were supposed so see some sort of feminist coming of age tale, but I couldn’t see past the brows. Or the forest for the trees. Whatever. I went there for you, people.

I went there for you.

You can follow Knox’s blog at KnoxMcCoy.com, and catch him on Twitter @knoxmccoy

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Forgive me, folks–this post has been festering awhile. Or perhaps gnawing at the back of my mind? I suppose it’s time that I let it shamble into the light…

Unless you’ve been living under a rock, the Walking Dead returns to the screen this coming Sunday, February 12th.

Just in time for Valentine’s Day. A day that, as you know, is all heart. Or all about hearts…
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As I was driving into work the other day, I put on some U2 and some Coldplay. What’s interesting to me is, despite the intervening decades, the thematic similarities of two very different songs:

With or Without You and

Fix You

The former is of course found on U2’s seminal album, The Joshua Tree; the latter on Coldplay’s X&Y. Musically, and lyrically, they’d ostensibly very different songs, but in my mind (a very crowded place) they’re birds of a feather. (Don’t believe me? Listen to them back-to-back).

What do I mean?

Unless you’ve been living under the proverbial, clichéd rock, you know the refrain from U2’s song:

“I can’t live with or without you.” Which to me sounds like nothing so much as codependence. (“And you give, and you give, and you give yourself away…”)

So what does one do when one “can’t live with or without you?” Why one will try to “fix you”:

“Lights will guide you home
And ignite your bones
And I will try to fix you”

It’s all a very nice sounding sentiment–until you think about it. What lights? And that bit about bones is rather creepy–I mean I don’t know about you, but I don’t want my bones lit up like a funeral pyre!

I kid of course. It’s that last line that’s most disturbing to me: “I will try to fix you.” Why? When you can’t even get your own life straight? This is the last desperate, yet ongoing, act of codependency:

When I can’t live with–or without–you, I will try to fix you. Lather, rinse repeatedly, ad infininitum dominoes-for-biscuits. I’m serious. I’ve seen the dysfunction. I’ve been a people-pleaser. I know.

I’m not saying these are bad songs–quite the reverse, actually–they’re insanely well-crafted, seminal songs–yet I wonder how often we take the time to think through the ideological implications of our pop cultural phenomenons? I say this half in jest, but husbands, and wives, why don’t you just try to “fix” your respective spouses, ok? Report back to me when you’re done (or done in).

The fact is: what sounds nice in a song sometimes has very little practical application in the arena of life. Coldplay’s guiding “lights” offer scant more than cold comfort.

C.S. Lewis addresses similar implications, with regard to education, in his excellent The Abolition of Man. Put another way, in the arena of pop culture, we often strain out the gnats, and swallow camels.

Look no further than, for instance, Katy Perry’s E.T.. It’s got a beat, and you can dance to it: but when is it ever OK to be a victim? Let me be blunt: this always tolerating the status quo because we can’t live with, or without someone–or something–this trying to fix, or be fixed, by someone–or something–often leads us a place where we are willing victims, willingly victimized for the sake of a fix.

Yet we can’t even fix ourselves–let alone another person. Heck, even God doesn’t step in–unless we invite him. (Revelation 3:20: “Behold, I stand at the door and knock. If anyone hears my voice, and opens the door, I will come in…”).

Instead of “fix you,” I humbly submit the cry (to God–not a spouse, friend, significant other–to God) should be simply “Fix me.”

What do you think? Am I reading too much into these songs? Let me know in the comments.