5A - Wednesday, September 12, 2007
The Michigan Daily - michigandaily.com
A beef more
fake than spam
"Honey, this is James. We used to, uh, date."
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Wayward love in the Another misfit, odd
Yesterday was a big day
for the record industry.
Kanye West and 50
Cent, self-proclaimed "Kings of
Rap," both dropped their third
records in a laughable frenzy of
media hype and empty boast-
ing. If all things are right in the
world, both will flop incred-
ibly and we'll finally be able
to pin down -
we know it e
50 Cent has
implied the LLOYDIL
date will C
always be R
the day he and Kanye's records
came out. Really 50? People are
going to remember Sept. 11as
the day your shitty record came
out? T-t-t-totally dude.
Perhaps even more ridicu-
lously, 50 Cent and Kanye West
have actually compared their
rivalry to Ali vs. Frazier, with
yesterday's release date as their
Thrilla in Manilla. I suppose
there is a parallel - this is each
artist's third album, just as that
legendary fight was the third
between the boxing legends,
but the similarities end there.
Muhammad Ali and Joe Fra-
zier were men who were actu-
ally fighting each other, with
you know, punches and stuff.
Kanye and 50 work for the same
Maybe they're hopingtheir
flimsy jabs at each other will
help drive up sales, but all the
style in the world can't make
up for alack of substance. As
much as they'd like you to
believe otherwise, neither is a
great artist. Great artists don't
make records for children. 50
Cent and Kanye West are not
only terrible artists, they actu-
ally are children. And for all
of 50's claims that he's "King
Kong" and "he'll retire if Kanye
outsells him," he comes off not
as "The King of Rap" but as
"The Rapper Most Desperate
Even the 14-year-old kids
from the suburbs that sent 50's
last couple records platinum
will see through the hype-mon-
gering to Curtis's pathetic core.
He's made the same record for
the third time! Repeating a suc-
cessful blueprint note for note
works once, maybe. The Mas-
sacre was the second-highest-
selling record of 2005 (check),
but at less than half the sales
of Get Rich or Die Tryin', that's
more of an indictment of the
record industry and an indica-
tion of overall interest.
And while 50 is obviously
more reprehensible, I don't
want to let Kanye off the hook
just because he hasn't become a
total caricature of himself - at
least not yet. Kanye's shtick of
"I don't get enough respect, but
it doesn't bother me" is getting
old really fast, and while his
hit-making formula works, it's
totally fucking obvious. People
like when you sample Ray
Charles? Daft Punk? Michael
Jackson? No way! I wouldn't
argue that Kanye isn't a tal-
ented producer, but as a lyricist
he's awful. Critics are quickto
point out that his skills on the
mic have improved, but that's
only because they couldn't have
possibly gotten worse.
Now, not everything about
The Graduate and Curtis sucks.
The video Kanye had Zach Gal-
ifinakis and Will Oldham make
for "Can't Tell Me Nothing"
was funny. So props to Kanye
for noticing that YOUTUBE IS
POPULAR. And 50's third sin-
gle (after the first two flopped)
"Ayo Technology" is pretty
decent. WOW, TIMBALAND
AND JUSTIN TIMBERLAKE.
there - I'm glad 50 can recog-
nize and help out up-and-com-
Is it any wonder that major
labels are strugglingto figure
out why they can't sell as many
records as they used to? I don't
want to get down on contem-
porary music -2007 has been
a fantastic year - and that's
not the reason why sales suck.
There are a ton of reasons, too
many to list in one column, but
the most prominent is so obvi-
ous I can't believe this shit con-
tinues: People don't like having
their intelligence insulted.
Record labels have always sold
shitty records to dumb people
and teenagers, but they didn't
try to market them like they
were the best they had to offer.
The same thing happened to
MTV, which has similarly
destroyed its credibility by
peddling to the lowest common
denominator. You just can't
trust the hype.
Besides, the whole pretend
"battle" Kanye and 50 Cent
have over record sales is moot
anyway. Kenny Chesney is
going to outsell them both.
What a wonderful world.
- Cargo has so many
important beefs that he has
to keep a Rolodex. Two of
them, actually. E-mail him
City of Lights
By JENNA PARKS ence is stupid. It begins and ends
Daily Arts Writer with extended voice-over that
endlessly sums up what's hap-
It's one thing to create a cast pened and what it means. The
of characters who are under- final voice-over monologue is
standably flawed and unlikable. more a neat parable than a worth-
It's something while moral. The bleak lives of
different alto- . these two bleak characters are
gether for a film ** encapsulated in one bleak - and
to depend on hardly brief - soliloquy.
these profound- 2 Days in The supporting characters
ly unhinged provide the film's only solace.
people and to Panls They range from the optimistic
expect sound At the to the absurd, but they always
judgment to be Mich leave Delpy and Goldberg to bring
passed upon igan the mood down to a dull roar.
them. Theater Take Marion's parents: Both are
Julie Delpy Samuel Goldwyn hypersexual and eccentric, at one
("Before Sun- point leading Jack to remark, "Oh
set") develops great, the mother is a slut too."
and embodies these types of play- Every moment this unlikely cou-
ers. The writer and first-time ple interacts begs for the comic
director of "2 Days in Paris," she relief of an ex or relative, and such
also casts herself as Marion, a release comes none too often.
French expatriate with a split Though not without pockets of
personality who returns home to wit and insight, "2 Days in Paris"
Paris for a two-day visit. As the would serve better as an anti-dat-
girlfriend of Jack (Adam Gold- ing guide than a story about lov-
berg, "Zodiac"), Marion is demure ers. The performances
and compliant, while her French do little to hide the
alter ego is a commitment-pho- ill-defined roles.
bic, sex-crazed liar. Neither side Perhaps if a
is particularly attractive since the greater chunk
audience is never quite sure how of the action
to relate to either. was removed
After a tour of Europe, Marion and replaced
and Jack decide to pay a visit to with dead air,
Marion's family before return- the desolate
ing home to New York. There ending would
Jack discovers the truth about his have been more
lover and her dubious past. Run- palatable.
ning into an ex is unlucky, but to
run into multiple in a couple days'
time (think double digits) seems
indicative of more.
Though Delpy's style is rudi-
mentary and neoclassic, the
movie seems to think the audi-
By JEFFREY BLOOMER
The first few minutes of "Rock-
et Science" -convoluted, strange
- are the only
time the movie Rocket
to life. Two Science
scenes are set
simultaneously, At the State
and two teen- Theater
age boys come Picturehouse
on screen. The
dorky Hal (Reece Thompson) is
alone at home as his parents are
in what sounds like their last
fight as spouses. Miles away, the
older, self-assured Ben (Nicholas
D'Agosto) is at the New Jersey
state high school debate finals,
barreling through his ingenious
finalspeech.In a faux-comicbout
of rage, Hal's father leaves; Ben,
amid his intense speech, falls
completely silent. A low voice-
over comments on their shared
experience of peace.
It's a beguiling moment,
intense and urgent, and
it foretells a movie with
much more creative
ambition than another
addition to the indepen-
dent coming-of-age can-
non. That, as it turns out,
is almost exactly what the
movie is, down to the man-
nered eccentricities and
love. Hal, the
plate hero, is a target for his class-
mates, especially his brother, who
pummel him partially because
of a brutal stutter. After the first
scene, we cut to the next fall,
when his father has moved out
and his mother's new boyfriend
has moved in. Basically, it seems,
nothing has changed. Ben, mean-
while, has dropped out of school
and sight, though he remains a
figurehead of local legend.
Then comes Ginny (Anna
Kendrick), Ben's old debate part-
ner, who says Hal should take his
place on the team and compete
with her. He stutters. She cor-
rects. He loves. She manipulates.
He kisses. She leaves. He freaks.
The movie does avoid some
conventionality in what begins
as a typical adolescent romance
(cute! weird! cute!) and ends in
a surprisingly messy way, and it
has the mercy not to end with a
climactic championship. We care
about these characters more than
that, and so does writer-direc-
tor Jeffrey Blitz, who makes his
fiction film debut here after his
sweetly nuanced documentary
"Spellbound." The movie is obvi-
ously personal, and he has some
special young actors, especially
Thompson and D'Agosto, who
spend the film's final act together
and play off each other well:
What the film is not is new,
neither in conceit nor in spirit. It
fits right in with its independent
forbearers in an attempt to find
honesty in regular genre charac-
ters. As endeared as we become to
some of them, "Rocket Science"
doesn't come close to anything
other than agreeable teen par-
able, and in a landscape as satu-
rated as this, thatisn'tenough.
Work for our online staff.
'Pick up' your dignity
and head for the door
By MARK SCHULTZ
Ready or not, welcome to VH1's lat-
est attempt at reality-TV guilty pleasure:
"The Pick-Up Artist."
with bad haircuts who
lack the ability to talk
not only to women but The Pick-
to people in general Up Artist
the chance to improve
their lives (and "game") Monday's
through the cruel tute- at 9 p.m.
lage of a man who goes VHl
only by "Mystery."
The point of the
show seems to be that
any schlub - even one who wears more
eyeliner than a Vegas showgirl - can
pick up women in bars and coffee shops.
This often involves wearing some sort
of bizarre headgear on your head like an
ostentatious crown i la the Mysterious
Mystery may call improvement of
"game" a "confidence-builder" or a "path
to finding your soul mate," but let's call
"game" what it is: a path to getting laid.
The show's attempt to repackage the
swinger lifestyle as some sort of noble
pursuit is more than a little pathetic. But
the self-deception this show is built on
isn't what turns me off watching. What
turns me off is that 30 minutes of it are
really entertaining, and 30 minutes are as
repetitive and boring as any reality show
Let's talk first about the part I love. The
show presents an awkward collective of
dudes forced into loud, trashy nightclubs
to approach strange women. Surely this
experience is made more difficult by the
fact that it forms a dramatic counterpoint
to their former lives of computer games
and Weezer concerts on Saturday nights.
I love these guys, and I only wish that
Mystery didn't have to kick off these
hilarious personalities once a week with
the indifference of an "America's Got Tal-
I'll be honest: I would be perfectly happy
watching shy kids with low self-esteem
throwing miserable scraps of small talk at
disinterested women till dawn. The show
should focus more on these embarrassing
The only mystery is how these guys sleep at night.
encounters while occasionally changing
up the location or throwing in some vari-
Why vote anyone
off? We want to see
the socially inept
duke it out.
ables - putting the boys in Speedos last
week was brilliant - that are guaranteed
to cut down their self-esteem while rais-
ing the relative levels of the audience's.
"The Pick-Up Artist" suffers from a
familiar problem, which I have named
"Survivor syndrome." The original "Sur-
vivor" created the model of a reality show
as a clusterfuck of elaborate challenges,
pointless tasks and tedious vote-off cer-
emonies all displaced from "reality" itself.
Most reality shows that are competition-
based - "Big Brother," "Beauty and The
Geek," 200 more - and seem to adhere
to this model a little more closely than
necessary, perhaps out of fear that there
won't be enough drama otherwise.
Why did you watch Survivor - to see
Richard Hatch carrying heavy buck-
ets of water over his shoulders, or to see
him carry his cojones around like he was
Tom Hanks alone on the island? Do you
really care who wins "Rock of Love," or
do you just enjoy watching the kind of
women who lust for sex with aging hair-
metallers? Reality shows need to do away
with lengthy challenges and vote-offs and
in turn focus on what matters most: the
drama among the contestants. There's a
reason "Real World" is in its 19th season
and still a solid fan base: It's human inter-
action at its most bare, with no bells or
"The Pick-Up Artist's" laser-light show
is a painfully drawn-out elimination cer-
emony that mostly involves lots of man-
tears and Mystery repeating inanities like
"This was the hardest decision I've ever
had to make." But the question is, why
kick anyone off at all?