Thursday, December 16, 2010

Weirdie Beans At? & How the Internet is Killing the TV

Oh, TV. How I cherish you so. I've invested so much time and effort into our relationship. And you always find a way to repay me.

Like the day I stumbled across an episode of the 1-season wonder, "Mission Hill". A humble animated series that provided this gem of a scene between main character Andy, his little brother Kevin, and Kevin's would-be girlfriend Eunice Eulmeyer - also referred to as "Weirdie" by Andy behind her back... until now:

That classic phrase "Weirdie Beans At?" was repeated endlessly by my friends and I for a year or so. It became such a popular response to anything out of the ordinary, that I once remember overhearing someone in our local university haunt use it over a game of pool. I had never met this person before, and it was obvious he had never seen the show.

In the age of the YouTube, I'm not sure this kind of customized pop culture internalization is as resonant as it was back in the age of the plain ol' tube.

I absolutely love how I'm now able to call up this clip whenever I want. But maybe that convenience eliminates any need for us to make these little gems our own - like me and my friends did with the "Weirdie Beans" moment. The ease of accessibility gives way to a disposable relationship with this stuff. It used to be freaking hard work finding interesting stuff on television. Now we're sent links to amazing videos nearly every day. Videos that would've reverberated through us for way longer in the TV era.

It's an interesting to think about this, especially at the end of a year when we'll be inundated with lists of the year's "best internet memes" and "most watched viral videos", and so on. I'd be curious to look at those lists from 2007, 2009, or whenever and see how much we access or relate to those formerly ubiquitous clips now. I'm guessing we'd barely be able to make it to the end of the progress bar on most of them.

Monday, December 06, 2010

Keeping up with "The Joneses"

From Wikipedia:
"[The Joneses] had a limited release on April 16, 2010 & was released on DVD & Blu-Ray On August 10, 2010."


I guess it's no longer unusual for a movie to be released on video a mere four months after its theatrical release. However, when that limited release involves an invisible marketing campaign, but still boasts an A(minus)-list cast of Demi Moore and David Duchovny, it seems like something strange is going on behind the scenes. Especially when it turns out that it isn't an entirely horrible movie.

Not horrible, The Joneses has a catchy premise and for the most part is a moderately interesting failure. (Try using that quote to sell Blu-Ray discs!) But I wonder if the fact that it skewers American consumer culture so thoroughly might be the reason for its fleeting North American theatrical run.

But that conspiratorial take doesn't quite make sense since the movie effectively promotes the consumer lifestyle as much as it satirizes it. The film takes some dark turns, but it's glossy aesthetic comes pretty close to fetishizing its stars and their wealth. And then it gives up on any kind of critical stance with its (spoiler alert) tacked on happy ending.

Does somebody smell test audience interference? Well, that makes a little more sense when I stumbled upon a comment on the IMDb message boards from somebody who saw it in France where the film ends on a more somber (and fitting) note. I guess North Americans can't handle the heavy shit like the French can, them being all existential and whatnot.

It makes for an interesting comparison of how a film is received, or more accurately, how films are perceived to be received in different countries/cultures.

The film's promotional posters betray the different angles of The Joneses versus La Famille Jones: