Roundup: 05/17/09 – 05/23/09
Kris Allen and the surprise of his life: "Adam Lambert is GAY???"
- The New York Times says hello/goodbye to Conan O’Brien, going behind the scenes of his last days at New York-based Late Night and picking his brain about moving to L.A. for his ascension to The Tonight Show. Lynn Hirschberg paints O’Brien as a dedicated craftsman who approaches his goofy awkwardness with academic seriousness. Will O’Brien be able to cross-over from his New York-bred hipness into folksier Jay Leno territory? Hirschberg makes you respect O’Brien’s workmanship enough that you can’t help but admire what he does even if “what he does” in your view is all MASTURBATINGBEARPOOPONYOURFACE. [Heeeere’s . . . Conan!!!]
- In other talk show business, Jimmy Kimmel’s blunt routine for ABC’s upfronts was quickly deemed by commentators as risky to his career and, to some, downright rude, but Nikki Finke at Deadline Hollywood Daily looks at past upfronts (shocking! Research!) and finds no fire to warrant all the noise being made. The media jumped on what seemed like an easy target but, as Finke details, ABC and other networks have a long tradition of blistering upfront routines of which Kimmel’s is just an extension. [Why the Kimmel Kerfluffle?]
- Mary C. Curtis at The Root scoffs at all the recent pieces comparing President Barack Obama to Star Trek‘s Spock. Many writers had taken to detailing the similarities between the mixed-raced, even tempered rationalists, but Curtis shows why that line of thinking is not only lazy but problematic as well. As the sub-header says, Obama isn’t some weird exotic alien. He’s just black. [Barack is Not Spock]
- If you did want to read some thoughts on the recent Star Trek that aren’t reaching for something zeitgeist-y to say, check Kit MacFarlane’s PopMatters essay on the franchise’s history of literary pretension and why J.J. Abrams’s new film, though successful by any measure, might be missing something fundamental. MacFarlane makes a strong case that previous movies The Wrath of Khan and The Undiscovered Country were not only literary quotation marks, but attempts at literary re-workings. [Star Trek’s Lost Legacy of Literary Pretension]
- If quirk-heavy films like The Brothers Bloom are feeling stale, it’s not just Juno backlash you’re feeling. Slate takes a look at the career of director Wes Anderson and shows how the auteur’s aesthetic of dry quirk and signature mise-en-scene has influenced not only a generation of filmmakers and outright imitators, but has reached cultural ubiquity, finding its way into music videos and commercials. “For all of his influence on hipsters, it is Anderson’s imprint on the larger culture that makes him stand out among directors of his cohort.” [The Ubiquitous Anderson]
- Reeeeeeach of the Week: Randall Lane wasn’t the only one to suggest the American Idol battle between finalists Adam Lambert and Kris Allen was a microcosm of the American culture war, but his take was certainly the most involved. In his piece for The Daily Beast, Lane tracks Idol votes state-by-state and compares them to voting patterns during the last presidential election. “[One hundred] million votes were cast in what coincidentally morphed into a cultural proxy war,” writes Lane, calling attention to Lambert’s sexual ambiguity and the country’s time of “uncertainty,” as one of his sources describes it. So help me out then — what was the symbolic meaning of Taylor Hicks? (Answer: Shit Happens.) [Idol’s Red-State Resurgence]