Wherein unreasonably free time is dedicated to proving Jonah Hill is funnier than you.

Sunday, March 30, 2008

Transitive Property of Superhero Movie

Drake Bell is so dreamy it's not fair to compare his movies to those of mere mortals. How do the lesser beings compare to each other, though? Below, a best-of-5 contest proving Epic Movie is less reprehensible than Meet the Spartans.

STOLEN JOKES-Meet the Spartans
Epic parodied the MTV shows 'Punk'd' and 'Cribs,' despite 'Chappelle's Show' definitive efforts in that regard. MtS not only swiped a 'Chappelle's Show' staple (Grand Theft Auto) but also unironically resurrected the "f00 says what" snowclone from the '90s, and rode the homoeroticism of 300 for all it was worth. Both films would have you know that Paris Hilton is a whore.[1]

When MtS unabashedly uses Bud Light's "Real Men of Genuis" template, it's more than a stolen joke because the beer ads were already parodies. Epic outdid its successor by featuring "Borat" in multiple scenes and mimicking the mummified "Lazy Sundays" meme. It also took a shot at Snakes on a Plane, a film which was possibly a self-parody.

FLOW—Epic Movie
Outside of editorial cartooning, there isn't a work more bent on labeling its jokes than MtS, a pathology that peaked when the narrator informed us that Carmen Electra was filled with "a venomous rage, much like Tobey Maguire in Spider-Man 3" as she dons the black spidey-suit. Yet by more or less following 300, MtS remains more coherent than Epic, which shifts abruptly from one film aesthetic to another.

AMATEUR ACTORS—Meet the Spartans
Kal Penn — perhaps the greatest actor of our time — headlines an all-star cast in Epic Movie, including SNL's Alterspräsident, American Pie's Eponymous MILF, Katt "I'm a Better Rapper than Nick Cannon" Williams, and Fred Willard. Carmen Electra, who played a bit part in Epic as she did in Date, is the female lead in MtS. I repeat: the female lead in Meet the Spartans is Carmen Electra.

Two sequences in Epic uncover the subtext of their urtexts in interesting ways: the hyperbolic absurdity of Nacho Libre and the Soylent Green creepiness of Charlie and the Chocolate Factory. MtS's only hint of originality is in its deceptive title: there are no Meet the Parents/Fockers references in the movie.

[1] Both also have a running gag that may or may not be derivative. For Epic, it's the repeated reference to the evil scheme being lifted from 1978's Superman, since that's a criticism often levied at 2006's Superman Returns. MtS has the Spartans skipping everywhere, which is similar to the invisible-horse-riding knights in Monty Python and the Holy Grail.

Tuesday, March 25, 2008

Crowdsourcing Kanye & The Semiotics of So Me

When the music video for Kanye West's "Good Life" premiered in September something immediately bothered me.[1] I knew the lyrics sounded like:
'Cause I'm seasoned/Haters give me them salty looks/Law-rees
Although I didn't know what in the world a "law-ree" was, I took the aside in stride, since I'd inferred the main seasoned/salty pun.

Then the video directors Jonas & François decided to have Mr West speak the word "law-ree" in a word balloon, and I learned it was actually "Lawry's." I imagined Googling it was a worth a shot, but I couldn't figure out the connection. Considering it may be some regional Chicago-slang from Ye's youth, I asked my coworkers who went to school in Chicago, and they were at a complete loss. Even my last-resort UrbanDictionary[2] gave me nothing.

Fast forward to last night. Lost Remote had a post linking to the MTV Labs Blog, which I had no idea existed. I poked around a bit, found out MTV had developed a lyrics site, and tested it out by looking up the "official" lyrics to 'Good Life' That site listed "lowry's" as the correct word, so I chalked the in-video spelling up to Jonas & François's Frenchness and set a-Googling.

Google suggested I might mean "Lawry's" as in, the birthplace of Lawry's seasoned salt.


I don't know how I didn't notice that, but I will note that no decent UrbanDictionary explanation came out until October, a few days after Lawry's Wikipedia entry was edited to mention "Good Life." Hopefully we can all learn from this process that:
α) Crowds can be wise, but doesn't mean they're not slow
β) MTV's lyrics site is less helpful than a Google search
Kanye can be pretty corny[3]

[1] Surprisingly, it's not the fact that the video vixen/item girl's name is "Fershgenet Melaku." Personally, I find that no less appealing a name than "Esther Baxter."
[2] If you
need UrbanDictionary to figure out songs, you are a cultural tourist. Frankly, I'm not ready to count myself out of being up on the Louis Vuitton Don yet.
[3] After the 'Graduation' leak dropped, I went around lording over my less-piracy-inclined colleagues by quizzing them on lyrics. My favorite question was, "Tom Breihan thinks the line '
I'm like a fly Malcolm X/Buy any jeans necessary' is corny. What do you think?" What surprised me is the number of people who didn't get the reference, and when I explained it to them, they were inevitably unimpressed. Long story short: even good jokes aren't funny after you explain them.

Friday, March 21, 2008

The City's Spoony Bard

14 years ago[1], there was a Saturday morning cartoon about a blue superhero who used "spoon" as a battlecry. Even now — for a certain class of people — "spoon" conjures up images of a valiant warrior going into battle against villains with chairs for faces, Mad Bombers What Bomb at Midnight, and Soviet-made computers that speak like vaqueros.

Suffice to say, it was one of the best shows ever made in the history of showmaking, and you can tell by the fact that someone, somewhere, typed spoon out to 97 o's[2]. Here's a graph of Google hits yesterday for "sp[o^x]," where 3≤x≤100[3].

[1] Judging by the fact that I was watching Saturday Morning Cartoons only 14 years ago, would you guess that am I young , immature, or both?
[2] I accidentally skipped 63 Os when I was making the graphic, so if you count backwards from 100 Os you'll get the wrong number. /")_("\
[3] Google hits where x=2 were ≈31.6 million, at x=1 it's ≈7.4 million and for x=0 it's ≈10.8 million (S.P.N. is a surprisingly popular name.