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End Times Update 5/15/2021: SNL, the Gas Crisis, and Courtney Stodden

One clone's perspective on pop culture.

Each week one of Popdust's disposable clones — grown in a vault deep beneath the Mojave desert — is exposed to the outside world through a relentless feed of news, pop culture, and social media.

The arduous process accelerates their dissolution back into an amorphous clone slurry. But before they go, they leave behind a document of what they've absorbed and what they've learned — a time capsule preserving a single moment in the slow-motion collapse of civilization. We call these End Times Updates...

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Each week one of Popdust's disposable clones — grown in a vault deep beneath the Mojave desert — is exposed to the outside world through a relentless feed of news, pop culture, and social media.

The arduous process accelerates their dissolution back into an amorphous clone slurry. But before they go, they leave behind a document of what they've absorbed and what they've learned — a time capsule preserving a single moment in the slow-motion collapse of civilization. We call these End Times Updates...

End Times Update 5/7/21: Dogecoin, J.Cole, and Caitlyn Jenner www.youtube.com

Transcript: [Clone]: Oh hi! Welcome to another End Times Update, presented by Popdust. I'll be your clone host for this week, Sir Shh! Ronin.

Unfortunately, as a defective clone, my actual appearance would be far too disturbing, which is why I'm being depicted by the alien from Contact, being depicted by Jodie Foster's father, being depicted by actor David Morse. Okay, maybe just one quick shot… Did you catch the little bit of brain popping out of my nose?

As always, we'll be sifting through the week's news, pop culture, and social media to pick out the latest indicators of global dissolution. So, if you find yourself overwhelmed at any point by, you know, the onrush of mankind's inevitable downfall, just pause the video…long enough to smash that like button! And don't forget to subscribe for more existential dread.

This week has been chock full of sinister omens and disturbing portents. But where better to start than with Ben Affleck?

[Ben Affleck]: We were awaiting your arrival.

TikTok star Nivine Jay shared a video message that the Gone Girl actor sent her after she unmatched him on celebrity dating app Raya -- believing that he was a catfish. While Jay claimed that she was embarrassed by her mistake, and didn't find Affleck's message creepy, other people, uh...watched the video.

[Music]

[Ben Affleck]: Nivine, why did you unmatch me? It's me.

[Clone]: People who found it creepy may also have been informed by Affleck's documented history of groping women.

In financial news, this week the joke cryptocurrency Dogecoin, surpassed a 50 cent per DOGE price, up more than 200 times from a year. This puts the total value of Dogecoin around 60 billion dollars.

Spurred on by memes and hype promoted by the likes of Elon Musk, there's no telling how high the currency's value might climb. Especially after the Tesla CEO -- AKA the Dogefather -- appears on Saturday Night Live this weekend.

In the world of music, this week rapper J. Cole announced his forthcoming album, The Off-Season, and on Friday shared the first track entitled "I n t e r l u d e".

[J. Cole]: I be comin' in peace, but **** me. Best beware of the others. This s*** deep, undercovers creep. This Southern heat make unbearable summers

J. Cole - i n t e r l u d e (Official Audio) www.youtube.com

[Clone]: The hosts for this year's Met Gala were also announced this week. Widely recognized as the fanciest, most fashionable party in New York, the event will be helmed by an all-star crew of up-and-coming talents, with Call Me By Your Name actor Timothée Chalamet, Tennis Champion Naomi Osaka, inauguration poet Amanda Gorman, and "Bad Guy" singer Billie Eilish.

In political news, this week has been especially eventful for California Republican candidate for governor Caitlyn Jenner. Perhaps the most famous trans woman in the world -- because Laverne Cox, the Wachowski sisters, and about a million other trans women are badly underrated -- Jenner was once an Olympic champion decathlete known as the greatest athlete on Earth.

So it's only natural that people would want to know her opinion on the controversy that has recently been drummed up about trans girls competing in sports.

[Caitlyn Jenner]: This is a question of fairness. That's why I oppose biological boys who are trans competing in girls' sport in school. It just isn't fair, and we have to protect girls' sports in our schools.

[TMZ reporter]: But if someone transitions and now identifies as a girl, isn't it delegitimizing their identity to prevent them --

[Caitlyn Jenner]: Have a good day.

[Clone]: In 2015 Jenner received ESPN's Arthur Ashe Courage Award for coming out as a trans woman. But that's nothing compared to the courage of her latest stance, especially considering that Jenner herself has competed in women's golf tournaments, and also said this while receiving that award:

[Caitlyn Jenner]: I also want to acknowledge all the young trans athletes who are out there, given the chance to play sports as who they really are.

[Clone]: Whoops…

Another fun campaign trail highlight involved Jenner's appearance on Fox News' Hannity, where she made it clear why she's running for governor, championing the plight of California's beleaguered private plane owners, beset on all sides by the oppressive institutional power of, uh… homeless people.

[Caitlyn Jenner]: My friends are leaving California. Actually, we're -- my hangar, the guy across [unintelligible] airplane, he was packing up his hangar, I said, "Where are you going?" And he says, "I'm moving to Sedona, Arizona. I can't take it here anymore. I can't walk down the street and see the homeless."

[Clone]: Okay then…

Well, that does it for this week. If the world survives longer than I do, we'll send another clone with more updates. Until then, byyyyyyye...

FILM

We Need to Talk About Ben Affleck

The A-list actor has maintained a massively popular social media presence, despite his often-overlooked history of mistreating women.

courtesy of @nivinejay on TikTok

As a regular Twitter user, I've been forced to look at Ben Affleck's face a lot lately.

We gotta hand it to him: the actor, known for films like Gone Girl and Good Will Hunting, has a very memeable presence. He's a master of rather despondent cigarette smoking, which has led to a plethora of hilarious reaction photos over the years. Throughout the pandemic, he was nary seen without a Dunkin' coffee in hand — or spilled over his front doorstep — like the true Massachusetts man he is (watch out, Charli).

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A Long-Term Solution to the Snyder Cut and Similar Controversies

With fans of multiple franchises calling for various alternate cuts to be released, a simple solution remains on the table.

Update 3/19/2021: 10 months and $70 million dollars of later, the "Snyder Cut" of Justice League was finally released on HBO Max on March 18th. Zack Snyder's vision is finally being presented... in old school 4:3 aspect ratio — leaving the movie letterboxed on modern widescreen TVs and devices — and at the mind-numbing length of just over four hours. Despite the mixed reaction, it still seems like a lot of headache could have been avoided if there was a standard practice for handling director's cuts.

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In Hollywood Breakup Ritual, Ben Affleck "Trashes" Ana De Armas

In a mysterious Hollywood custom, a cardboard cutout of Ana De Armas was placed in ex-boyfriend Ben Affleck's trash.

For decades scholars from around the world have been studying the minutiae of social life within the unspoiled and oft-misunderstood culture known as "Hollywood."

The strange locals we have come to know as "celebrities" defy our understanding with their alien customs — moving in with estranged spouses, joining cults, drinking blood. And yet we are constantly reminded how much these exotic and beautiful creatures are "just like us."

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Is It Even Possible to Care About Robert Pattinson in "The Batman?"

People can find little details to obsess over in the new footage, but actually caring implies hope...

With director Matt Reeves' release of blood-red test footage, showing Robert Pattinson in costume for The Batman, one question comes to mind: Is it even possible to care?

It seems like just yesterday people were freaking out at the prospect of Ben Affleck playing Batman. After Christian Bale's virtuosic performance as a gravelly mumble personified, people scoffed at the notion of this iconic character being taken up by the star of 2003's smash hit Gigli. And they were kind of right. Not that Ben Affleck's performance was particularly bad, but the casting choice may have reflected a general lack of respect for the Batman legacy that would manifest in Batman shooting a bunch of people and the infamous "Martha" revelation.

www.youtube.com

And now Affleck has departed from the DCEU, Robert Pattinson has been brought on, and people who can best be described as terminally online are picking apart the minute details of the costume—comparing it to Affleck's Daredevil (from 2003's Daredevil), speculating about the out-of-frame ears, and doing some CSI photo enhancement to show that the bat symbol is made of guns. But does anyone really care? Is it even possible?

The outrage that would have erupted over this casting in 2015 would have set fire to server towers across the globe—"The fuc*ing guy from Twilight?! OMFGN%E^%$"—but Zach Snyder and DC have already done so much to erase the fan sentiments that Christopher Nolan's films built up. Even the shocking critical acclaim for Birds of Prey isn't enough to get people excited for the DCEU. The only thing that is still capable of working the fandom into a lather these days is imagining an alternate reality in which Zach Snyder is actually a secret genius who made a better version of 2017's Justice League that's hidden away in a vault somewhere—because, yes #ReleaseTheSnyderCut is trending again.

Honestly this might be the best scenario for Pattinson. He's had a chance to prove his chops as an actor with movies like The Lighthouse so—while he still seems a little improbable as an action hero—at least he's not just an emo heartthrob anymore. And as of last week, he's also riding high with his laughable ascension to the title of "most handsome man in the world." Couple all this with the fact that expectations for The Batman are so low, and Pattinson and Reeves have the chance to duck the fan pressure and really surprise us. It wouldn't be the first time that Batman has bounced back from an embarrassing era—even George Clooney's bat-nips and Schwarzenegger's Mr. Freeze couldn't kill the bat brand. But all of this is assuming that any of us will have the capacity to care, since caring takes hope.

george clooney batman nips Wherever you go, the bat-nips follow you...

The Batman is scheduled for release in June of 2021, so they still have a year and change to work up some enthusiasm for Pattinson's turn in the batsuit. Failing that, they could just say "fu*k it," and bring back Michael Keaton.