About Me

A blog wherein a literary agent will sometimes discuss his business, sometimes discuss the movies he sees, the tennis he watches, or the world around him. In which he will often wish he could say more, but will be obliged by business necessity and basic politeness and simple civility to hold his tongue. Rankings are done on a scale of one to five Slithy Toads, where a 0 is a complete waste of time, a 2 is a completely innocuous way to spend your time, and a 4 is intended as a geas compelling you to make the time.

Friday, July 9, 2010

Pop Culture

Shortly after my last funny book roundup I sat down with Wonder Woman 700 and the latest issue of Simpsons Super Spectacular. I would've gotten more pleasure flushing myoney down the toilet. Wonder Woman was a disaster. It wasn't that I couldn't finish any of the three stories. No, they were so bad I couldn't start them. When that happens with the fiction in The New Yorker -- well, tastes differ. But in Wonder Woman? I missed Batman 700 the week it came out, leafed through at the store, and after my experiences with WW600 and Superman 700 decided to leave on the shelf. Simpsons Super Spectacular is the weak link in the Bongo line. Like an all-star film comedy whose creativity stops with the casting this book often thinks the very idea of it is so fun that there's no need to take it further. But this issue is bad on an entirely different level. I keep buying the book because I like the idea, but I think after this issue it might seriously be time to do The Simpsons, Bart Simpson and Futurama (the comic book consistently better than what I remember of the original run of the TV show) and leave Simpsons Super Spectacular behind. But will I remember I said I was going to do this when the next issue comes out.

Friday Night Lights got lots of Emmy nominations including for its overlooked lead actors Kyle Chandler and Connie Britton and it's third season deserves all of them.

But the 4th season airing now on NBC after being on Direct TV in the fall is a letdown. Biggest problem is the loss of Minka Kelly's Lyla Garrity, a well-acted female character with lots of interesting stuff going on. She hasn't been replaced. Yes, they have new female cast members but not as well acted and with no interior life. I don't care about the characters, don't know where they came from, don't care what they do with the guys. As to the guys Taylor Kitsch's character is back but it must be for his looks because the writers have no idea this year what the character is doing. So he does lots and none of it is interesting and John Geilgud couldn't play the role.

This Washington Post opinion pieceby Lonnae O'Neal Parker compares the new Karate Kid movie as a portrayal of black youth with a recent episode of Friday Night Lights. Karate Kid, real black person. Friday Night Lights the worst cliches about black people. Half right. There are black communities where the dysfunction we see in Friday Night Lights is all too real. But insofar as pop culture exists they're very boring stereotypes. Like the world has never seen a John Singleton movie. It would be more rewarding to watch Boyz N the Hood from 1991 than the entire collection of scenes of black football player with great potential hanging out with homey hood friends from this season of Friday Night Lights. The actor playing said role, Michael B. Jordan, is bringing some subtlety and texture in his performance that I'd look hard to find in the script, but I'd like for this entire plot to disappear. Also, where was this entire black ghetto district in Dillon, TX during the first three seasons of the show?

I've used the word interesting a lot. The first three seasons of the show had interesting actors doing interesting performances of characters with interesting backstories and personalities. The new characters to replace the graduating seniors are not interesting in any of these ways.

There is still enough good in the show and enough accumulated good will that I'm not bailing yet. But it's a shame anyone turning to the show on account of the Emmy attention will find a season well beneath the quality of the first three.

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