Real Pop Talk

Open letters from a girly pop culture junkie

Archive for the month “September, 2011”

On Atrocious Accents

Good news! This post is not about Lady Gaga. (However, I don’t apologize for the Gaga-centricity of my last two posts. To be honest, I worship at her temple.)

And now for a short video gallery of poorly executed dialects by well-known actors. Hey guys, it might be time to hire a new accent coach.

1. Anne Hathaway in “One Day.”

Target accent: Yorkshire [see below clip for example]

Oh, honey. Nice effort. Was Melanie Brown unavailable? In all honesty though, I wonder if an English actress might have had an easier time putting on an English dialect. I suggest Carey Mulligan. She’s hot right now, plus, she’d look great with Jim Sturgess.

2. Tom Felton in “Rise of the Planet of the Apes.” –> Start at 0:28.

Target accent: American.

I’m sorry. You can go ahead and try, Tom Felton, but you’ll always be Draco Malfoy. I think you even had some of the same lines in both movies. (“You think that’s funny, d’you? Wait ’til my father hears about this!”)

3. Brad Pitt in “Seven Years in Tibet.”

Target accent: Austrian

Brad. I love you. You’re generally a very good actor. You seem like a great dad. But this is awful. And I know this is an old example, but it’s classic.

You can’t fault filmmakers for wanting to cast big names in their movies. You can’t fault, for example, a British actor for wanting to break into Hollywood. But please. Aren’t we at the point in globalization where we can make overseas calls and cast a big name British actor to play a big British role?

What do you think? Actors who can’t master their character’s accent – try to overlook it, or kick them out?

Before (Gaga) & After (Gaga)

Lady Gaga in her infamous meat dress, 2010

Am I the only one who’s noticed a growing trend of weirdness among singers lately? Honestly, I think it might be because everyone’s trying to jump on Lady Gaga’s crazy train (which is worth millions, so, you know, I get it.) Let’s explore this.

First, let’s remind ourselves when the weirdness began. This is 2008’s video for Poker Face.

By Gaga’s standards today, this video is relatively tame (I’m still trying to puzzle through Born This Way.) At the same time, it’s still pretty strange. Why is she coming out of a swimming pool wearing that? Why are there dogs by the pool? Why are there light up mannequins? No one could answer these questions, but no one could get enough. This single sold like hotcakes, and it’s actually one of the best-selling singles of all time.

Naturally, people realized that weird was in. And it was time to bend over backwards trying to outweird Lady Gaga.

Example 1: Christina Aguilera

When Gaga first hit the scene, many compared her to Xtina because they looked somewhat alike. Christina claimed not to even know who Gaga was. Right.

BEFORE GAGA:

2006’s Ain’t No Other Man. Sexy? Yes. Raunchy? Yes. Weird? Eh. Not really.

AFTER GAGA:

2010’s Not Myself Tonight. Sexy? Maybe excessively. Raunchy? To the point of being inappropriate. Weird? YES.

Looks like it didn’t take long for Xtina to discover Gaga after all.

Example 2: Miley Cyrus

She was known to the world as Hannah Montana, a squeaky clean Disney princess. How to break out of the innocent image stamped with that curious letter D?

BEFORE GAGA:

2007’s Start All Over. Block parties, confetti, the-whole-thing-was-just-a-dream-or-was-it. Fun, but not particularly weird.

AFTER GAGA:

2010’s Can’t Be Tamed. Cages, feathers, giant nests. Weird.

So that’s how you become your own person.

Example 3: Katy Perry

Katy Perry did capture the world’s attention with her anthem to bicuriosity. But being suggestive and being weird are different things.

BEFORE GAGA:

2008’s I Kissed A Girl. Might have been every man’s dream, but that does make it a pretty common dream, after all.

Katy Perry at the 2008 VMAs

She was definitely playing the flirty, sexy card, but I wouldn’t call that particularly weird.

AFTER GAGA:

2011’s E.T. I’m sorry…is that supposed to be attractive? I would say being half woman, half deer qualifies as weird.

Katy Perry at the 2011 VMAs

This doesn’t just look weird, it looks painful. The poor thing. I can almost hear her now: “Maybe if I wear a block of cheese on my head, I can outweird Lady Gaga’s outfit this year!”

Of course then, Lady Gaga showed up as…

Jo Calderone at the 2011 VMAs

…a man. Bless you, Lady Gaga. You will forever be on top of your game as Weirdest Of Them All.

Alter Egotistical

This week, Lady Gaga released the third video in her Haus of Ü series of “art films,” which is a 5-part video series set to her latest single, Yoü and I. Each of the videos will feature a different one of Gaga’s alter egos. Tuesday’s installment featured mermaid Gaga, also known as Yüyi:

(As an aside, I think this one is my favorite out of the three that have been released. Yüyi seems like a badass bitch.)

Obviously, Lady Gaga is not the only artist to have utilized the alter ego. Eminem has Slim Shady. Beyonce had Sasha Fierce, until she killed her off two years later, anyway. And Nicki Minaj is just swimming in alter egos (although none of her alter egos has yet to develop a fish tail. I guess that’s typical Lady Gaga though. Just outdoing everyone in the Weird department) including Roman Zolanski, who has been described as a very naughty boy, and Roman’s mother, Martha, who can be seen as Nicki’s fairy godmother in the Moment 4 Life video:

(Another aside: why don’t I have a fairy godmother to gift me with sparkly heels?!)

So why do artists have this passion for creating alternate identities? I think the reason might be two-fold.

First, it allows artists to commit to one dimension, if they feel like it. What’s more, the dimension they commit to doesn’t have to make sense. If Nicki Minaj wants to go around talking in a British accent for no apparent reason, that’s okay, because that’s just Martha. Her audiences accept it. If Lady Gaga wants to play mermaid, that’s great. The Little Monsters will eat it up.

At the same time, though it seems contradictory, alter egos also allow artists to be multi-dimensional. They get to express whatever part of them they want to. Once Nicki tires of Martha, she can switch to Roman and express her wilder side (Roman is famously featured on Trey Songz’s track, “Bottoms Up.”) Or, if she’s feeling bubbly, she can switch to Barbie and get dolled up. But all of these personas still belong to the broad category of Nicki Minaj.

The same goes for Lady Gaga. She might be releasing five videos under five different alter egos, but because they are all technically different facets of Lady Gaga, it’s almost as if she’s putting her versatility on display.

Gaga as Nymph
Gaga as Bride
Gaga as Yüyi

What do you think of alter egos? Are they great, or are they stupid?

Clearly, my vote is great. Although that might be because I have a strange fascination with Lady Gaga’s male alter ego, Jo Calderone.

Gaga as Jo Calderone

Can’t wait for that video to come out.

Jonathan Taylor Thomas: Lost, But Found

And he’s 30. When did he turn 30?!

JTT back in the day

JTT today

The above picture was taken as part of a “Home Improvement” reunion photo shoot by Entertainment Weekly magazine. Some brief internet research tells me that after leaving the show in 1998, JTT appeared in a few TV shows as a guest star, and also attended both Harvard and Columbia University. As an aside, what is with celebrities getting to go to college anywhere they want? I mean, I guess it would be hard to turn down the kid whose face was on the cover of every issue of every teen magazine through the 90s. But still.

I’m not going to lie. When I saw that Jonathan Taylor Thomas had finally stepped back into the spotlight–sort of…at least he wasn’t AWOL anymore–I felt an overwhelming sense of relief. I think we, as a culture, have this strange connection to the stars that remind us of our childhood. For example, I only watched Home Improvement to see JTT (and also because it was on right after The Simpsons and I was too lazy to change the channel.) The Lion King was one of my favorite movies, and I had a strange crush on Simba, who was, of course, voiced by JTT. Thus, when JTT seemed to fall off the face of the earth after Home Improvement, I was concerned.

I really don’t think this feeling is abnormal. My roommate sophomore year developed a growing concern for Mandy Moore, who really hadn’t been heard from since A Walk to Remember. We made plans to check up on her during our spring break trip to Los Angeles, but then we found out that she was married to Ryan Adams, and somehow that made everything okay.

Mandy Moore with husband, Ryan Adams

See, our media-centric generation can’t help but attach ourselves to our favorite TV stars, singers, or actors. With the paparazzi helpfully documenting their every move, it’s like they’re our real life friends. And when you don’t hear from a friend in a while, you naturally get worried. The concern doesn’t have to be fueled by some creepy, intrusive motive. All we want is to know that they’re happy, wherever they are, doing whatever they’re doing.

Looks to me like Jonathan Taylor Thomas is doing okay. As a bonus, he’s still really cute. And honestly, that’s all that matters.

In Defense of Justin Bieber

If you’re still reading this, after seeing the title and realizing what I’m about to do, I commend and appreciate you. In return, I promise to present a sound argument with no traces of teenage girl logic, which makes sense, of course, since I am no longer a teenage girl.

 

Justin Bieber, 2011 VMAs

I recently looked into some common reasons people hate on JBiebs. For each reason I found, I will offer a (hopefully) plausible counterargument. That being said, I do welcome all rebuttals, and invite anyone with anything to add to leave a comment!

REASON: He sounds like a little girl when he sings.

RESPONSE: Right, and I’m so sure all the haters were smooth baritones by the time they were 14. Besides, his voice has actually changed quite noticeably since he first appeared on the scene, making this argument rather dated.  Just compare this video (2009) to this video (2011).  And don’t tell me you don’t still jam to the Jackson 5. What, exactly, does Michael Jackson sound like here?

REASON: He’s gay.

RESPONSE: While this argument is clearly flawed to begin with, it’s also clearly not true, since he’s been dating Disney starlet Selena Gomez. I think we can all agree that she’s not exactly ugly, either.

Justin Bieber with girlfriend, Selena Gomez

REASON: He gives Canada a bad name.

RESPONSE: C’mon, Canadians. Have some pride. Remember when Justin Bieber did this?

Well, if he had gone to the hospital to get that checked out, guess what he didn’t have to do? Oh, that’s right. Pay a hospital bill. Canada’s sweet. I think it would take a lot more than one singer to tarnish the reputation of an entire country.

REASON: He’s not actually talented.

RESPONSE: I realize it’s asking a lot of his haters to watch his documentary, Never Say Never, but it truly does provide a glimpse into the effort he puts into his work. Also, we must keep in mind that he got his start by posting videos like this one on Youtube, where he demonstrates that he’s got chops.

Have I swayed you at all? Honestly, I’m not trying to convert everyone into a Belieber. I just want to prove that he doesn’t deserve to be the most hated person on Youtube (behind Rebecca Black, I guess, but don’t even get me started on her.)

Same-Name Dating Always Fails

Remember back in 2005, when Paris Hilton got engaged to that Greek guy who looked a little bit like Enrique Iglesias and was worth several billion dollars? I knew it was doomed from the start. Not because they were both spoiled socialites, but because they were both named Paris.

Paris Hilton and Paris Latsis

Indeed, that engagement lasted all of five months and didn’t end with nuptials. Now I understand that people in a relationship look for things they have in common in order to make deeper connections. But dating someone who shares your name is just strange. Doesn’t doing so automatically imply a little more self-interest than is necessarily considered acceptable? And we all know it’s hard for people who love themselves to love other people.

Then again, I suppose self-involvement from people who have trust funds the size of Antarctica isn’t that far-fetched. But let’s take a look at another example. After Taylor Swift was interrupted by Kanye West at the 2009 MTV VMAs–and no, I will not be making a “Imma let you finish” joke…you’re welcome–she seemed to take solace in the arms of my favorite Michigan boy, Taylor Lautner.

Taylor Swift and Taylor Lautner

I know what you’re thinking. You’re thinking, “Oh, but this was doomed from the start because Taylor Swift is a crazy girlfriend. She always exploits her relationships and turns them into songs and tells everybody her business.” To be fair though, if you had the opportunity to publicly humiliate every ex you ever had, wouldn’t you? Anyway, while I was personally a big fan of Tay Squared, this relationship ended after mere months as well. I’ve tried many times to think of reasons why: Maybe Taylor L. was just Taylor S.’s rebound from her high-profile break up with Joe Jonas. Maybe the two were just at hectic points in their budding careers. Or maybe, like I’ve come to accept, it was just the simple fact that they were both Taylors…another relationship claimed by the merciless consequences of same-name dating.

Finally, let’s talk about Tom Cruise and Penelope Cruz. This is a different example, because it involves last names instead of first names, and while they are pronounced the same, they are technically from different languages.

Tom Cruise and Penelope Cruz

Though this might have been enough to keep their relationship alive for three years instead of three months, there’s still no way it would have worked. Imagine if they had gotten married. Was she going to change her name to Penelope Cruz-Cruise? That’s spelled D-I-V-O-R-C-E, isn’t it?

We may never know exactly what it is about same-name dating that just doesn’t work. Is it astronomical? Is it psychological? Is it just the raw weirdness? There is one thing I do know for sure: I will live in perpetual fear of falling in love with a man named Linda.

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