You have to wonder if James Frey regrets foisting his tale of addiction on the American public as a “memoir.” If you ventured anywhere near the ports of popular culture last week, you found it impossible to miss shots of him nailed to his chair before the fiery wrath of Oprah, his face frozen into that agonizing deer-in-the-headlights look . The media discussion was relentless and unending viagra. And every report included the same photo generic viagra. cialis online. viagra online pharmacy. that face cialis. That dazed look of confusion and shame was almost too painful to watch; in fact, there was an extraordinary amount of conversation about the pain levels involved in just watching the interview.
Of course, I found the entire story fascinating, especially since I’m between Survivor seasons right now. For those who managed to sleep through last week, James Frey wrote “A Million Little Pieces,” a memoir of his years of drug addiction that was selected by Oprah as one of her Book Selections, immediately propelling book sales into the stratosphere. When the Smoking Gun website uncovered major discrepancies in it, Winfrey initially defended the book for its “redemptive powers,” inadvertently suggesting the relativity of truth. When she was flooded with challenging e-mails from her legions of fans, she looked twice at the ramifications of her initial response and came to regret defending Frey.
You don’t want to mess with the Queen of the World. Frey would have fared better facing an armed tribe of pygmy head-hunters. After apologizing to her audience for her role in this debacle, Oprah proceeded to break Frey into a million little pieces, relentlessly pursuing him through every attempted escape. And he tried them all, the foolish man. The evasive brush-off, the insinuated apology, the blame game, the outright denial followed up quickly by that stunned blank stare familiar to any parent, calling up the universal language of uh-oh. Oh, she nailed him mercilessly.
But to my mind, it was really a mesmerizing conversation about truth. One of the journalists included in the discussion alluded to Frey’s “truthiness,” a term I was unfamiliar with. Come to find out, hold on to your hats now, that the American Dialect Society, a panel of linguists, just chose truthiness as the word that best reflects American culture in 2005. It is defined as “the quality of stating concepts one wishes or believes to be true, rather than the facts.” I’m wondering, are these teenage linguists? Has anyone checked to see if their waistlines are down around their kneecaps? I mean, what are our standards here? Should we not insist that all linguists wear their waistbands at their actual waist? Would that not protect against just these kinds of judgments? Michael Adams, a professor at North Carolina State University who specializes in lexicology, says truthiness means “truthy, not facty.” When James Frey chose to make up entire sections of his memoirs, rewriting his actual 3 hours in jail to 87 days for dramatic effect, he wasn’t lying; he was just being “truthy.”
And now, 3.5 million book sales later, he can’t figure out what all the fuss is about. And that is the most interesting part of it all to me. Watching Frey squirm in his seat before Oprah’s inquisition was chilling because he didn’t get it. No matter how many times she laid the facts before him, rephrasing her questions repeatedly to rope him in, he wouldn’t move off his insistence of innocence. His truthiness covered him. He was embarrassed, yes, before a national audience, and certainly looked miserable, but at no point did he ever acknowledge any serious error in either judgment or communication. He was simply being truthy, to the tune of some 7 million dollars. And that, my friends, is why truthiness is overwhelmingly reflective of 2005, American-style. Almost presidential, isn’t it?
The movie: "End of the Spear."
- - - - -
Speaking of hatchets - television's Judge Hatchett is joining lesbian comedian Lily Tomiln and not-a-lesbian Christine Todd Whitman at the 2006 Office Depot Success Strategies for Businesswomen Conference, where the missionary position will certainly not be a topic of discussion. Here's a 2003 interview: The Gospel According to Lily Tomlin which shows prayer isn't what gets you speaking-gigs.
It's product placement in interviews! Check out the last sentence...
The public is invited to attend, but lunatic homophobes might want to leave their hatchets at home.
It would be a fruitless effort, honey. The event's in Fort Lauderdale -- a swinging hatchet wouldn't leave a mark on those queens' overly-tanned, leathery bodies.
Take out your vengeance by being younger, thinner and cuter...which, as we all know, is the only way to get ahead.
I know that the tens of you who read this are relieved that the HMI is back after such a long absence. Bouts of laziness prevented me from pulling out ye old calculus to compute the HMI numbers on a daily basis, but come on, people: it's not like you don't have other sources to read about celebrity foolishness. Of course, I understand the mission is to get you people to read me, so I promise I will try harder.
While folks were getting in their knickers in knots about who did get nominated for an Oscar (Keira Knightley for Pride & Prejudice? Really?) or did not (Lynn Cohen for her stellar, if brief, turn as Golda Meir in Munich), I was jumping all over the Razzies. Not only 'cos there are less categories (good for my short attention span), but they tend to be way more fun. Jessica Simpson & her "Daisy Dukes" for Worst Screen Couple? Bwa ha ha ha ha ha ha!
I'm surprised to see a dearth of persons in the HMI among the candidates. Thankfully, there is but one nomination that's HMI-tastic -- Tara Reid nominated for Worst Actress. Thank you, Tara -- you and your fantastically enhanced bosoms never fail to disappoint me.
HMI value is currently at $402.97, an uptick from the last reported price of $346.93 on 1/23/06. A big spike, I know, but not surprising given Lindsay Lohan getting into trouble with fine china
white at Bryan Adams's London domicile, Bai Ling embarassing Asians (and women, and pretty much everybody with a sense of dignity) everywhere with her bad fashion and uneven behavior at Sundance, and Kevin Federline trying (though failing, it would seem) to get his baby's ears pierced. See, now, Filipino people pierce their infant's ears all the time, so what's the problem?
Last night, the president of the United States spoke about what’s up in America.
It was no easy task. The gays are (still) destroying marriage in this country (never mind the antics of dim-witted, skanky hetero celebs). We're engaged in a war overseas; at home -- personal liberties are being threatened (from the left and the right); gruesome violence is erupting in every little hamlet of this great country; we're massively in debt and lots of folks have no health insurance.
Whoa, dude! That's a lot to think about. So before I sat down to watch Dubya's annual address, I zipped over to the store to stock up on a few nibbly-gnoshy treats to help dull the inevitable pain that comes from attentively listening to that man talk for a whole hour.
I have to admit I was a bit appalled standing in the line at the grocery store, waiting to check out. Every where I turned, magazine racks were overflowing with stories about Angelina Jolie and Jennifer Aniston, each coping (so bravely, I might add) with personal situations that seem to pale in light of the overwhelming political and social issues that face this country.
With this in mind, I’ve decided to provide a little pop-culture translation of the president's address for those readers who may only be aware of certain celebrity's self-created, trifling-bullshit magazine-selling melodramas. Oh, and the state of various unions, be they committed long-term relationships....or unions torn apart by the ubiquitous forces of evil...
The State of the Union
Introductions and a mention of a beloved, graceful, courageous black woman and her unnamed "husband..."
Dubya is humbled by national mourning and national achievement.
Government means differences, anger, but together we will make it stronger.
Differences and Anger:
This country has so much character that we'll never retreat from our duties in the hope of an easier life...
Bush calls out those who oppose him - saying he has misguided idealism...
A little bit of history about the hopeless dream of lonely democracies....
of Hopeless Dreams and Lonely Advocates of Democracy:
Fear, heartless, totalitarian control and a mention of London...
...we will never surrender to evil.
America faces an evil empire...whose day will come.
...terror and institutions...
More about Institutions:
...allies in the cause of freedom....
In less than three years, that nation has gone from dictatorship, to liberation, to sovereignty, to a constitution, to national elections.
....decisions will be made by our military commanders...not by elected officials...not by you!
WarGames: Sarah Jessica Parker's husband's film debut revealed that military commanders don't make decisions about war and the future of this country. Teenagers and super-computers do, silly!
...something about good advice....
...second-guessing is not a strategy.
worked for what? Six seasons?
...pledge from America means little....
That Mean Little:
...a marriage ends (due to death) and fighting from house to house in a maze of streets...
They or Won't They?:
...hope of all humanity.
And our nation hopes one day to be the closest of friends with a free and democratic Iran.
...poverty, corruption and despair are sources of terrorism, organized crime, human trafficking and the drug trade.
Poverty, Corruption, Despair, Organized Crime, Human Trafficking and the Drug Trade: Watch Oscar-nomiated Crash, starring the red-hot Ryan Phillipe, pictured here with his wife: award-winning Reese Witherspoon!
Do it my way or we'll dull the conscience of our country.
and Conscious: Gwyneth
Our country must also remain on the offensive against terrorism here at home. The enemy has not lost the desire or capability to attack us. Fortunately, this nation has superb professionals in law enforcement, intelligence, the military and homeland security. These men and women are dedicating their lives to protecting us all, and they deserve our support and our thanks. They also deserve the same tools they already use to fight drug trafficking and organized crime, so I ask you to reauthorize the Patriot Act.
The problem in 2001 was connecting the dots of the conspiracy.
American leaders from Roosevelt to Truman to Kennedy to Reagan...
.Resuming with $880 billion in tax savings (mostly for the rich!)
Question Off The Topic of Celebs:
...good stewards of the economy....
...baby boomers turn 60, including two of my dad's favorite people: me and President Bill Clinton.
Dubya talks about the immigration system which serves the interests of our economy...
Can Also Serve You Breakfast and Clean Your House!
...healthcare sucks....not a single OB-GYN to be found...medical liability reform is needed this year.
Some OB-GYN's Are Cashing In:
America is addicted to oil...
...alternative energy sources, incredible advances, revolutionary technologies...hybrids...talent and technology of America...
...human talent and creativity...our nation's children...children are the future....teach them well....let them lead the way.....I'm gonna keep my baby...ohhhhh...
Oh, fuck the kids, the future is nanotechnology, supercomputing...
...Still, we can leave no Child Behind...
America has become a more hopeful nation...but we must not redefine marriage...children in our society who need direction and love...treatable disease.
...prove the pessimists wrong...
...shout out to Sandra Day O'Connor....
...human cloning in all its forms, creating or implanting embryos for experiments, creating human-animal hybrids and buying, selling or patenting human embryos. Human life is a gift from our creator and that gift should never be discarded, devalued or put up for sale.
...young people should stay in school so more of America's youth can raise their sights and achieve their dreams.
Will we turn back, or finish well?
someone say well?
Bush is Confident of victories to come.
Thank you, God bless you, and may God bless America.
I don't have any cohesive thoughts on last night's Screen Actors Guild Awards (I'd rather preserve my recapping powers for the upcoming Independent Spirit Awards and, duh, the Oscars), but a few notes:
I ain't sayin' he a golddigger: S. Epatha Merkerson pulled a hat trick at last night's show, scoring a third award for her performance in HBO's Lackawanna Blues (she picked up the Golden Globe and the Emmy for the same part). In her acceptance speech, she thanked the usual suspects -- agents, managers, cast, crew, etc. -- but saved a special shoutout for her divorce lawyer. Bwa hahahahahaha! I don' t know who her ex was, but who's sorry now?
Gay what?: Heath Ledger acting "fey" when introducing the Brokeback Mountain clip. What was he trying to pull? I understand wanting to inject some levity into the very important dialogues that people want to be starting about this movie, but Heath? I thought you were smarter than that, and anyway, we get it: you're straight, with the fiancée, the baby, and the lovely Brooklyn brownstone to prove it. The LA Times' Elizabeth Snead recaps the awkwardness here. And Heath, the next time you want to try your hand at some gay old humor, please dial up Sean Hayes, as his BBM remarks did not go over like a lead
cock ring balloon.
Parade of dead celebrities: I'm telling y'all now, if I die with the kind of infamy that guarantees me a spot in an awards show memorial clip-fest, please contact the organizing body and make sure they use a clip of me looking HOTT.
Tappa-tappa tappa: Shirley Temple Black's still adorable, though my friends and I noticed that her dimples have sunken to somewhere near her chin. Eek. I was duly impressed by the clip of FDR commenting that, as long as America had Shirley Temple, America would be alright. Of course, I had to be all mean about it: "And you know when he says 'Shirley Temple', he actually means 'gin.'"
Little. Yellow. Different.: Sandra Oh gave the love to her Asian peers in a gracious acceptance speech: "I share this with you... be encouraged and keep shining." Mwa ha ha ha ha ha -- the Asian takeover of Hollywood has begun.
Crash and burn: So Crash took the top honor for best ensemble acting in a feature film, possibly foreshadowing a Brokeback Mountain shutout come Oscar time. If that's the case, then I invite Jake Gyllenhaal to take solace in my ample bosom.
Your friends at the Associated Press are wondering if: TV Crime Shows Aid Real Life Murderers?
They asked various law and order-ly folks about the success of shows like CSI and the impact (if any) on the culture at large. Here's what a few folks had to say:
"They're actually educating these potential killers even more..."I have to agree - we've had crime-fighting shows on TV for years and no one has learned a God damned-thing about how to act right.
-- a police captain
"People are getting more sophisticated with making sure they're not leaving trace evidence at crime scenes..."
-- a head pooh-bah from a prosecutor's office
"For the most part, our killings involve gang bangers who for the most part are pretty stupid..."
-- a real life crime-scene investigator
"Most people who commit crimes are not very bright and don't take many precautions. CSI and all the other crime shows will make no difference."
--former president of the Ntnl. Assoc. of Criminal Defense Lawyers
Take a look at this episode of Murder, She Wrote:
My Johnny Lies over the Ocean
Guests: Vicki Lawrence, Jo Anne Worley, Leslie Nielsen
Synopsis: Jessica's niece, recovering from her husband's suicide, is terrorized on a cruise.
Yes - you read that right! Angela Lansbury, Vicki Lawrence, Jo Anne Worley and Leslie Nielsen all on one show - all that talent and people still continue to trifle and to commit crime. Even worse -- people still expect good times on cruise ships (blame that on Charo).
I think I'm going to delve into this world of TV crime this next month and revisit the good ole days of televised crime fighting. I'm thinking of visiting Jack Klugman - taking a walking down Perry Mason lane - dropping in on Jonathan and Jennifer Hart. Ya know, when true TV crime drama was about special guest stars and not this Crossing Jordanian business.
A time when you could learn great moral lessons from important story lines like this:
Murder Takes the Bus
Guests: Linda Blair, Rue McClanahan
Synopsis: Jessica's bus trip to Portland, Maine, takes a dismal turn when a passenger is murdered.
It was a different kind of television, kids -- a far cry from the slack-jawed tripe that Alexis Arquette's sister is starring in these days. I'm not saying it's better, mind you....but it was different.
Can someone please say you can't handle the truth?
Kristy McNichol, y'all...she taught us stuff...for real.
So did Dana Plato, God rest her tortured soul.
In case you weren't around to witness ABC's After School Specials in the 1970's (when TV was fun!) - or you dismissed it all as naive melodrama - well, you missed some very important social programming.
Don't believe me?
Go check out PBS' documentary on Mirror Neurons. These lively clusters of bio-electrical goo, way-up inside your noggin, allow us to learn (by watching and mirroring actions) and give us greater insight into other people's lives. Hello? Helen Hunt - PCP!
It's really interesting insight into your brain.
That is....if your brain isn't all rotted-out from watching so much TV in the first place.
So, I was watching the latest Robin Thicke music video yesterday for the second time (boy, where have you BEEN???? I want to let you know that Justin T. has nothing on you.... well except dancing skills, but whatever). I wasn't really into the video the first time I viewed it because there is so much going on. You have to watch out for the action in the middle, the action on top, and the action at the bottom. But the second time around I really, really watched the artistic direction of this video and loooved it. Hype is always on point with his skills..... and always sticking with a good thing (which is really starting to = marketable, bankable at this point) for his videos...over.....
I could have SWORN I saw the same effect done for Pharell's new video, "Angel"....you know it probably happened.
I loev Hype's style. I really do. But art is supposed to grow and evolve. All of these artists' videos are different in their own way, but must the widescreen, top and bottom split direction be seen everywhere at once? I can't wait to see which other musical artist will employ Hype for the technique that the above artists have used. Any ideas on the next victim(s) or which artist should use this technique in their next video that you probably wouldn't have thought of before? If Broken Social Scene and Hype got together that would be insane.... in a good way. With 15 + people in one group already, there's no telling what could happen....
"Recent Law Graduate" Ryan Danz almost made it to the final three on The Apprentice: Martha Stewart, but it is still uncertain as to why he applied to be on the show. In an interview at Queerty, Ryan had the following to say of the opportunity to work for Martha Stewart: "I didn’t see this as working at MSLO, I saw this as working next to one of the most powerful business PEOPLE in the world. Learning and sponging as much information as I could. I was motivated just based on the simple fact that never again in my lifetime will I have an opportunity to study and learn at the proverbial feet of the master."
The master of what? Perhaps Ryan thought Martha, a former model herself, might have some pointers for him, since he is not only "recent law graduate" but also "stock photograph model" (evidence below, detail above). I was walking down Queen St. E here in Toronto, and was startled to see Ryan's smiling mug on a billboard advertising a new condo development. This put in perspective the whole "Tide-to-go-Joe" phenomenon and Ryan's enthusiasm about acting in his own TV commercial for Song airlines. It leads me to wonder if Ryan Danz is yet another in a long line of planted pretty faces masquerading as real people on reality shows.
Somehow I ended up on the Ryan Danz e-mail list, and was treated to the following last week:
Hello All! Its been awhile since I have spoken with most of you, but I wanted to let you know what I have been doing lately. Check out the tidetogo.com website (link below)! Just goes to show you what donning a bright orange, skin tight spandex costume on national TV will get you. Also, If you want more Tide to Go Joe, (like on a commercial) please copy and paste the below link, email Tide to go.com and tell them "More Joe"!!!
So basically, Ryan wants to be in a real Tide commercial. He really wants it, and he feels that Martha taught him the skills he needs to do it. Or maybe he's clinging desperately onto his last tiny bit of reality show notoriety (I'll bet he wishes he had been on Donald's more popular Apprentice instead). Maybe there are more condo ads in his future as well. The sky really is the limit. Plus there is always "business," in which he claims to be "extremely interested."
To learn more about this fascinating character, don't forget to go to his website where you can buy autographed Ryan Danz headshots! I would maybe buy one if they were full-body, naked headshots (with an erection). There's an idea, Ryan... Playgirl. Just do it, if you want people to still remember you at all. Otherwise, maybe you should use your law degree for something other than tacky, ill-fated self-promotion.
Before you take the position that the reconciliation of rapper Eminem and rabidly estranged wife Kim is a mistake of biblical proportions, consider the implications. Mathers, long honored by many as one who does not bend or compromise, is ultimately always true to himself, at least. Yes, he appeared for a long time to hate ex Kim with the intensity of a thousand white-hot suns, but it was equal in passion only to his love for daughter Hailie. As much as he publicly savored his lip-licking fantasies of killing, maiming, or at least humiliating Kim in the past, he stopped just short of carrying them out, and you had to at least hope that such restraint was in consideration of Hailie.
But this is a man capable of a fiery feud with a sock puppet, albeit a smoking and insidious sock puppet. Although Triumph the Insult Comic Dog claimed to sustain no serious injuries following their 2002 MTV Awards scuffle, it wasn’t for lack of trying on Em’s part. Though I confess my money was on Em, and I wouldn’t have minded a bit if Triumph had suffered at least a minor jaw injury, perhaps involving his own cigar. A girl can dream, right? Anyway, like all good Hollywood grudges, this one passed and a week later we were distracted by our old familiar hopes of Paris Hilton and Nicole Richie pulling out each other’s over-stylized hair, girrrlfight.
But even the most foamed-lipped ragers age, if not necessarily mature, and the years can soften muscles, minds and at times well-oiled enmity. Mathers, now 33, talks sometimes longingly of a possible retirement, as well as the unexpected nuptials with the woman he so often pilloried as the object of his violent abhorrence. Yes, who can forget those tender sonnets:
• “You were supposed to love me/ Now, bleed b--- bleed!”
• “Da-da made a nice bed for mommy at the bottom of the lake/Here, you wanna help da-da tie a rope around this rock/ We’ll tie it to her footsie then roll her off the dock.”
Ah, feel the love. I dunno, maybe it’s the result of last summer’s rehab. Sometimes a good detox can cleanse you of additional mental poisons as well. For whatever reason, the mellowing rapper refers to Kim again as his wife, although we’ve yet to hear wedding bells chime a month after his announcement. What’s next, Courtney Love and David Grohl making Foo-foo eyes over a wedding cake? Somebody hand me a rope and a rock.
I’m not ordinarily a squeamish person. I live with four kids and two dogs, one with a serious slobber problem. The dog, that is, and I’m talking about flying slobber of nuclear proportions. So it takes a lot to make me squirm. But the news report of William Shatner’s kidney stone going for $25,000 on the open market did induce a slight stomach flip in me. I think it was just the images burned into my brain as I imagined the packaging and handling issues.
But my initial repulsion quickly turned into fascination as I thought about the deeper implications of the story. My first question, of course, was who would buy this questionable trophy? GoldenPalace.com is already infamous for its collection of oddities. Said collection includes a partially eaten grilled-cheese sandwich thought to contain the image of the Virgin Mary. Keep in mind that I’m not allowed to lie in these columns. Kind of makes Shatner’s expelled body parts pale in comparison, doesn’t it? Both artifacts pose certain sanitary challenges, but I’m guessing the Virgin Mary trumps Hollywood. Although why she’d choose to reveal herself in a lunch plate is puzzling.
And that brings us to the deeper issues of motive and ego. I’m trying not to picture William Shatner enduring hours of bathroom agony, only to emerge triumphant, stone in sweaty hand, dollar signs flashing in his wild eyes. How did he make that leap? At what point did it occur to him that there was money to be made in this misery? And if you think I’m kidding, consider this: he turned down the initial offer of $15,000 and counter-offered the final tag of $25,000. You have to reluctantly admire an ego of such monstrous proportions. Give him props for sheer gall, and I don’t mean stones. Let’s not give him any ideas.
It would be nice if I could look down on Shatner from a lofty perch onhigh, casting judgments on his ego and our celebrity-driven culture, and I’d be happy to do it, too, if it wasn’t for that dastardly Norman Fell. You remember, Mr. Roper from “Three’s Company”? Years ago he came into the restaurant where I worked, causing a major frenzy among the other waitresses. I watched it all from the exalted heights of my coolness, of course, scorning their excitement. When he sat at my station it seemed like a prime opportunity to display my vast superiority and as I strolled to his table, arctic breezes blew in my wake. You know, my coolness dispelling and all. That is, until I reached the table and he actually talked to me. I was probably the only one surprised by the sudden case of rubber-legs that came upon me, and my sputtered words made our conversation difficult. I crawled away from that table a humbled and broken woman, a shell of my former self. I did, however, still have my gall stones. Any takers?
Last week, director Bill Condon (Chicago, Kinsey) began lensing the film adaptation of Dreamgirls. Loosely based on the life of The Supremes, the legendary musical is Broadway's best attempt at an authentic R&B/pop opera. The story follows The Dreams, a girl group from Chicago who become musical superstars. Along the way, there's love, betrayal, backstabbing and more than thirty brilliant musical numbers—including the showstopper "And I"m Teling You I'm Not Going", which was immortalized by Jennifer Holliday.
Obviously this time, there are new Dreamgirls. American Idol’s Jennifer Hudson (right) is cast as Effie White, the Jennifer Holliday role. It's a plum assignment for Hudson and already her (untimely) dismissal from AI has been compared to Effie's firing from The Dreams. Broadway baby Anika Noni Rose (left) is cast as Lorrell Robinson, the Mary Wilson character. Finally, is it any surprise that Beyoncé Knowles stars as Deena Jones? The character was based on Diana Ross, the thinner and prettier second string character who became the star of her own group. (Coincidentally, kinda like the Beyoncé story.) Hopefully Bill Condon can get some mileage out of Knowles because most of her on-screen appearances have been, well, flat. Jamie Foxx, Eddie Murphy and Danny Glover are also cast.
Dreamgirls will be in theatres in December. The DreamWorks studio has finally released a new trailer and there's also a wonderful behind-the-scenes featurette which you can either view online (Quicktime, WMP or real Player) or download in iPod and PSP formats. And I'm Telling You ... we cannot wait for this movie to open.
The taboos, they are a-changing. Just a generation or two back, religion and politics were not discussed in "polite company." But politics have lost much of their volatility and God Himself is showing up all over the tube now. From last year’s "Joan of Arcadia" to the edgier "Rescue Me" and currently guest starring in NBC’s "The Book of Daniel," God is on the comeback trail. While heated debates and boycotts are sure to follow, the good news is that He’s out of the closet and finally an acceptable topic of discussion.
"The Book of Daniel" features Aidan Quinn as Daniel Webster, a pill-popping Episcopalian priest who, of course, has a gay son, a drug-pushing teenage daughter, and a martini-swilling wife. Apparently television law dictates that a person of faith must have an unusually high combination of bizarre challenges to be in the least bit interesting. In this age of spiritual exploration, I would think the story of a believer’s struggle to hold on to faith in the face of any normal day’s tests could hold America’s attention, but what do I know? To be completely candid, I am a person of faith, and my life contains a number of unfortunate similarities to Webster’s. All the more reason to cling to that handy faith. But I digress.
I’ve only seen this week’s debut but already there are things I enjoy and things that give me pause. Let’s get the obvious one outta the way: why oh why is Jesus, a desert-dwelling Jew who made his living working as a carpenter, mind you, always physically portrayed as such a pale and unappealing wimp? I mean, really, where do those blonde curls cascading down that diminutive frame come from? The last name is Christ, not Fauntleroy. Are we to believe the not-so-subtle message that there is something inherently unmanly about spirituality? That’s gonna be a hard sell to Webster and the rest of us who need a gutsy God to help us make our way through the mixed bag of chuckles and challenges we call life.
But of course network television is not known for its subtlety. "Daniel" continues its barrage of head blows as they belabor the point that he is a man of human frailties (did any of us ever doubt it? only TV execs, sigh). Naturally, you’re only half an hour into the show before the priest, mind you, takes God’s name in vain. I’m not saying it couldn’t happen; I just find it interesting that they insist upon it so adamantly. This will, unfortunately, provoke much public gnashing of teeth among the Christian audience, who traditionally flee the scene screaming at the first sign of smoke without pressing through to discern what good might be sprinkled in among the two-by-fours. It’s too bad, really, because there is quite a bit to be found. Like I said, I think the good news is that we’re talking at all. But there’s more.
The more compelling under-layer of the show looks unabashedly at some of the hard questions. Daniel visits an elderly woman in the hospital and wonders why God doesn’t make her upcoming exit a bit easier. Jesus says softly, "You know it doesn’t work like that." Daniel’s reply is more plaintive than anything else when he says, "Yeah, I just don’t know why."
Jesus tends to pop up at crucial moments to help Daniel process some of the heavier elements of his family circumstances. It’s pleasantly heartening to find an intelligent and amusing Savior written in, and I enjoyed the scene as they laughingly riff on possible book titles for their series of conversations, along the lines of "Tuesdays with Jesus." In portraying a redeemer who gets us, who understands and embraces our humanity, NBC goes a long way toward opening the door for reasonable, unafraid discussion. Many people feel defensive and uncomfortable when confronted with the possibility of God, short-circuiting any exploration process. But "The Book of Daniel" just may inadvertently quell some of those fears, if the Christian community can manage to subdue their own and open their minds to consider a fresh take on an old story.
This is where I feel the real power and beauty of this show might lie. The obligatory curses are beside the point; most thinking people will realize this and get past it. But the universal questions of the human experience become less frightening when asked in the context of humor and commonality. Even the spiritual questions can be examined together openly in an atmosphere of respect and wit. We have nothing to fear and much to gain in our considerations. Because if there’s anything obvious about life at all, it’s that God has a great sense of humor. Can you hear me now?
It seems appropriate that I'm writing this while "The Insider" is on mute. While I calculated the HMI for the first time this year, Pat O' Brien and some blonde talking head were paying lip service to Gwyneth Paltrow's Balenciaga-clad arse on the red carpet at last weekend's Golden Globes. I feel tempted to pay attention to this program, see if there is any sort of news there to take into consideration when calculating the number but now that they've switched to a feature on "The Half-Ton Man", I'd rather think not.
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Posted by: Jasmine | Posted in: Celebrities , Celebrities Gone Bad , Celebrity Couples , Lindsay Lohan , Mariah Carey , The Hot Mess
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