The writers’ strike in Hollywood has destroyed my television watching habits. None of the season’s best shows (Heroes and DirtySexyMoney) really came back after the strike and I have had a hard time keeping up with Smallville.
Speaking of Smallville:
Is it possible that this might be the best interpretation of a comic book story ever committed to film? Granted, comparing Smallville‘s 6-season canvas to the 2+ hour brilliance of the first two Spider-Man films, the first two X-Men films, or the genius of Batman Begins isn’t really fair. But it has to be stated that the show has done some fascinating things with the Superman mythos, touching on everything from Krypto, to Supergirl, to silver kryptonite. It has managed to turn its worst characters (Martha Kent and Lana Lang) around, giving them new depth. It has managed to mine new depths in its best characters (Jonathan Kent, Chloe Sullivan, and the Luthors), so much so that the show could work with them alone. And manages to introduce iconic figures in a way that makes them wholly new individuals (Lois Lane, Supergirl and Jimmy Olsen). Plus – they hired James Marsters. I mean, this show is awesome. Damn strike just messed me up and I’m lost…
I sort of want to be embarrassed for Mariah Carey and her marriage to Nick Cannon, but I honestly don’t care. Well…there’s that and the fact that she’s always been a moronic basketcase with more natural gift than talent, restraint, class, or modesty. But then there’s the other part of me who is like…"go ‘head, ma…get your groove back." You know…I guess I should feel embarrassed that her choice was corny ass Nick Cannon.
Similarly, Beyonce and Jay-Z getting married? Two of the most self-important, lazy but talented, self-indulgent artists of our modern times are going to procreate. Yea…
So Iron Man was very good. As much as I loved it, watching it made me realize that outside of the actual superhero and his alter ego, the characters in comic book movies are all two-dimensional types. (This actually excludes the Spider-Man movies, which have done a tremendous job of making its three leads fully realized characters, almost to the detriment of the films). I realized it because Iron Man is loaded with great actors with not much to do. Gwyneth and Terrence are good, but there is little demanded of them from their roles. Terrence at least is such a unique screen presence that his casting alone adds to the role.
Has my love of New York hip-hop reached a fever pitch because I catch myself yelling out "BK," slurring my speech like Mos, and making up words like Keith Murray? Or is it that I don’t really know what the hell Southern rappers are really talking about?
Speaking of hip-hop, if you could create your own rap supergroup from other groups and solo artists who would you choose? Me?
I actually just think these three would make some crazy music together. They are all smarter than your average rappers and got sick flow. It’d be fun, no?
Listening to the new Lyfe Jennings album, Lyfe Change, confirms that, next to Rahsaan Patterson, he’s the best soul singer the world is currently ignoring.
So it’s clear that Madonna has won the battle of the divas against Mariah and Janet this year with her thoroughly enjoyable, if too predictable and samey, album. Both Mariah and Janet were victims of low expectations and bad input from Jermaine Dupri (would that he were the same producer who made Xscape the only true threat to En Vogue’s crown as the premier girl group). Madonna wins because rather than take wholesale the sound of her produces like Janet or continue to try to be something she’s not like Mariah, Hard Candy feels like a collaboration. She also wins because Discipline and E=MC2 are disgusting market-driven and tested and demographically researched corporate pieces of pop swill designed to grab children and idiots who love to shake their ass even if the songs sound like something they’ve heard before (or rather, because the songs sound like something they’ve heard before.) I’m wondering how much race has to do with the kind of self-confidence Madonna has that allows her to take chances constantly and feel uncumbered by industry expectations (to a degree). I think it has a lot to do with it. I think the Jackson desperation that Janet has displayed of late is tied entirely to the Motown machine credo that "white is right." Who knows, I do know that I wish Mariah and Janet were as self-possessed and self-aware as Madonna and that it would make them better artists. Madonna makes great music about 55 percent of the time, but you always feel like she’s striving for something even if it doesn’t work for you.
Note: To be clear, none of the albums is great. If Janet and Mariah get one star out of five for showing up to the recording sessions, then Madonna gets three and a half.