Friday, May 27, 2005

Battlefield Earth to Tom

Dear Scientology,

The next time you want to mount a one-man crusade against psychotropic medications, you might want to go with someone a little less... crazy. I know what you're thinking: Where will you ever find someone like that among your minions? That I don't know, but I'm sure one of your Stress Testers on Hollywood Blvd. can scoop somebody up. In the mean time, having Tom Cruise as your poster child for psychological well-being is a little like using John Travolta or Kirstie Alley to promote Scientology's weight loss potential.

Hugs and engrams,
The Pop Culture Petri Dish

P.S. Thanks for the glossary. I'm gonna kick as-isness at Scrabble!

Wednesday, May 25, 2005

Insane Man

This is what happens to sofas that call Mr. Cruise gay

The rest of the internet is finally discovering what Letterman viewers and readers of The Dish have known for months: Tom Cruise is off his rocker.

It's probably time he started taking some vitamins himself.

Monday, May 23, 2005

When Pop Culture Obsession Goes Bad

Another of the greatest leads in journalism history:

This past winter, Kimlan Fong Wong and her boyfriend of several years, Anthony Taveras, stopped talking to each other for three days after she threw a vase at him during an argument. The subject: Jennifer Lopez.

"He kept calling her J. Ho," says Wong, a 29-year-old office manager and college student in Queens, who's originally from Trinidad & Tobago. "It was 'J. Ho this' and 'J. Ho that.' He knows I like her. I felt like he wasn't respecting me."

Thursday, May 19, 2005

Pun in the Oven

The Pop Culture Petri Dish loves a good pun as much as the next blogger. Hell, The Dish loves puns, good or bad, as much as Carrie Bradshaw. But lines have to be drawn somewhere. I now know where.

Proving that infertility is fertile ground for tasteless titles, not one but two networks have announced new reproductive series with pun-happy names: NBC's got Inconceivable while The WB's got Misconceptions.

If either of those shows are hits, we can expect Impregnable, Bad Eggs, Seminal Moments, It Ain't Over 'Til It's Ova, FalloPeons, Barren It All, Frozen Pops, Seed Money, Standing Ovulation, InsemiNation, The Courtney Cox Arquette Show and many, many more.

If Time is Money, Trump Just Robbed Me Blind

Hey NBC, wanna know why you're in last place?

You spend 15 minutes of a 59-minute-long Reality finale with a recap (add in opening credits and ads and the actual show didn't start until 9:20 – and then five minutes later, Trump threw to commercial and proceeded with the pattern of five minute chunks of Apprentice sandwiched between three minute commercial breaks throughout the rest of the show). Good thing America's two most popular shows weren't on at the same time… Way to go, Peacock!

[Can you tell I'm away from my TiVo and experiencing major withdrawal?]

Star Wars: Now 100% Yellow Peril-less?

Quick question, Emperor Lucas:

What happened to the horribly offensive Asian stereotypes? It's bad enough the minstrel rejects The Gungans don't have any lines in your new film, but why do The Nimoudians all speak as though they've gone through one of these courses? Were The Nimoudians of the first two prequels all F.O.T.S. (Fresh Off The Ship) while the ones portrayed in R.O.T.S. (Revenge Of The Sith) have had time to assimilate to whichever cultural hegemony dominates the Star Wars universe? Just wondering.

A Concerned Intergalactic Racist

Wednesday, May 18, 2005

Elizabethtown Not Fond 'a Jane and Vice Versa

It's a good thing Jane Fonda turned down Cameron Crowe's offer to appear in his new film.

Would've presented quite a conflict in its namesake town.

Monday, May 16, 2005

Ray In Peace

Not much to say about the Everybody Loves Raymond finale. I smiled more during the hour long retrospective than I did during the actual final episode. It wasn't quite the ordinary episode Phil Rosenthall has been promising. It was more emotional than usual... some of it genuinely affecting. It could've benefited from a tighter story and more laughs. The best episodes of the series sprouted from very mundane, family-based situations that came from the writers' lives and were almost like stage plays - taking place on one or two sets with a minimal number of scenes and featured the entire cast bouncing off one another. That was missing in this finale. Still, not the worst episode of the series (see the episode where the show "Ate the Fly") or the worst series finale ever (off the top of my head, a dead heat between Roseanne and Mad About You).

Two Men Named For(e)man

Brothers from another mothers?

This is several months late, but has there ever been an instance before where two different regular characters on two different, concurrently running series have shared the same name? Because until Wednesday, FOX has both Eric Forman (Topher Grace) on That 70s Show and Eric Foreman (Omar Epps) on House, M.D.

The closest I could come up with is the "Lisa Catera" character referenced in the Cadillac ads and the "Lisa Catera" character named for her on Chicago Hope.

Anyone who can think of a better example automatically wins the legendary Official Pop Culture Petri Dish Gold Star.

"Hanoi Jane" meet "Haifa Madonna"

This has to be one of the most hilarious summaries I've ever seen on Yahoo! news:

Lingering anger over White House access and a perceived snub by the pop icon Madonna have sparked a political brawl pitting Israel's respected ambassador to Washington against the nation's foreign minister and his wife.

The accompanying picture is just icing:

Silvan Shalom. In Hebrew, "Shalom" means "Hello", "Goodbye", "Peace" and "I Hate Madonna... Roar!!!"

Thursday, May 12, 2005

Ain't Got a Motor in the Back of Her Honda

I said I had more to say about Jane Fonda and the eve of the release of her first movie in 15 years seems as relevant a time as any. This blog generally tries to steer clear of weighty issues, but this is one of those instances where the serious is intimately interwoven with the frivolous world of pop culture. It also has to do a lot with personal politics.

Longtime readers know that my politics lean pretty solidly left. However, there are times where I believe that the Left may be as "out of touch" as the Right always accuses them of being. I realized when watching Fonda's appearance on Real Time with Bill Maher that this is one of those times. Maher said something about how thirty years later, if people still have a problem with her, isn't it really their problem? I understand his point, but I have to respectfully disagree. While I'm all about forgiveness, there are some sins that are too severe to be forgiven, let alone forgotten. I'd include Fonda's sins in that group.

The thing is, I wasn't even born until almost a decade after her infamous visit to Hanoi. However, being the son of an Army man, I was raised with a strong appreciation for the armed forces as well as a fairly rare view among people of my generation (and certainly among liberals) that the Vietnam War was entered into with noble purpose. So that's where I'm coming from. Still, even without that background, I think that I would be just as disturbed by Fonda's actions.

The rabid "Hanoi Jane"-haters have harmed their own cause by escalating the charges against her with exaggerated e-mails, engaging in simple spite-filled rhetoric and lumping every outspoken liberal celebrity (or presidential candidate) with her. When young people who haven't been informed about what she really did back then hear her name in relation to Natalie Maines or Sean Penn (dubbed "Hanoi Sean"), they presume that the charges against her are equally silly.

However, there's a very big moral difference between what Penn did (visiting a country we were about to go to war with, meeting with innocent women and children and suggesting that we should not go to war) and what Fonda did (visiting a country we were at war with, not only meeting with but entertaining the soldiers who were killing her fellow countrymen and proclaiming that American political and military leaders were "war criminals"). In addition, her actions seemed to actually make an impact (something that most activist-celebrities' follies fail to do today). Her erroneous reports that American POWs were being treated well while Vietnamese POWS were being systematically abused were accepted as fact back on the divided home front.

I can't pretend to comprehend that period of time in American history without having lived through it. But on a fundamental, moral level, I can imagine a modern analogy. I don't see how it would be any different than if, say, Julia Roberts were to go to Iraq now, posing for pictures with the insurgents who are blowing up American troops on a daily basis. Or if she were to flash her famous smile with her arm around a couple of wannabe-terrorists at a training camp. How many of us would be willing to laugh that off thirty years from now? And if Katharine Hepburn had done the same thing with Nazi troops during World War II, would anyone have forgiven her even sixty years later?

Perhaps the most abhorrent thing is that Fonda herself still doesn't completely get it. She's repeatedly (almost robotically) apologized – but specifically only for the pictures that were taken of her atop the enemy aircraft gun. She has no regrets about endorsing America's enemy (which is very different from being anti-war or even anti-American) or spreading false propaganda about the treatment of American POWs that further contributed to their very real suffering.

I've been following her current press tour fairly closely, and what's sad is, if it weren't for this one, gaping lapse in judgment and character, I would probably admire this woman. She has done, and continues to do a lot of good, charitable things for people. I agree with her on many of her causes. She seems like an incredibly intelligent person, which makes her crimes that much more egregious in my eyes. As a 34 year-old, she knew exactly what she was doing, and at 67, she would do it all (almost) again.

I'm a little curious to see her performance in Monster-in-Law, however I can't in good conscience support anything she does with my money. I've never "boycotted" a film on principle before. Not Seven Years in Tibet (after it was revealed its subject had Nazi ties) and not The Pianist (though I didn't learn until after I'd seen it the details of the disgusting charges against Roman Polanski – I'll never put money in his coffers again). But I feel I have to take a stand here.

Before you dismiss the venom directed at Jane Fonda as yet more self-righteous rancor spewing forth from the fire-breathing, war-mongering radical Right and before you plunk down your ten bucks for a ticket to her match-up with J. Lo, I suggest you take a look at the facts (here and here are good places to start) and then follow your own feelings.

Okay, I'm done with my soapbox. Now, let's talk about Bennifer II getting knocked up…

Sunday, May 01, 2005

The Caped Cruise-ader?

Babies got Bat

Just wondering...

Is Tom Cruise really Batman?

"You can be my wingman anytime"

Guilt by White House Correspondents' Association

This photo paid for by Swift Boat Veterans for Truth

I know that presidents have no say over who's invited to the annual White House Correspondents' dinner, but this surprised me:

Joining the Bushes were Vice President Dick Cheney and wife, Lynne. News Organizations hosted show business and sports stars such as Goldie Hawn, Richard Gere, Jane Fonda, Mary Tyler Moore, tennis sisters Venus and Serena Williams and a few supermodels.

Imagine for a moment the hell President Kerry would've caught if he'd appeared in the same room as Ms. Fonda. Heck, remember the hell he caught when it was revealed he appeared in the same field as her 35 years ago? And he wasn't president and she hadn't even been to Hanoi yet.

I've got more to say about Ms. Fonda's current media culpa tour and how Hollywood just doesn't get it in the coming weeks. But for now, I just wanted to point out yet another double standard that I suspect Right Wing talk radio won't be discussing.