Happy New Year, but also listen up.
Let's be real here: The 2019 pop culture landscape has been an absolute sh*t show.
From the billion think pieces about whether Joker would lead to mass shootings to Billie Eilish's 18th Birthday becoming a meme to literally everything related to the Cats movie, we, as a species, need to hold ourselves to a higher standard for the new decade.
Dwelling on the pop culture landscape daily is slowly killing me. That's why I've come up with this excellent list of 10 pop culture-related New Year's resolutions for 2020 that I need to follow, but you should probably follow, too. Because we need to do better.
1. I will stop supporting Disney's monopolization of media.
Slowly but surely, Disney is buying up the rights to everything you love, while simultaneously pumping out half-assed live-action remakes and spin-offs of everything they already own. It's time to put our feet down and say, "Enough is enough!" No more paying to see what basically amounts to the same Marvel movie every other month in theaters. No more buying Star Wars merch. Not even Baby Yoda toys. Okay, maybe Baby Yoda toys. But no other characters. And not that anyone cares about anything on ABC, but no more ABC either. Originality, the very soul of creative art, is on the line. It's time to stop Disney.
2. I will not see any superhero movies in theaters, for that matter.
It's not just Disney. Superhero movies have become a genre almost entirely made up of cookie cutter cash grabs that you forget the details about three minutes after you leave the theater.
3. I will see CATS for the third time in theaters.
I know what I said. Lunatic director Tom Hooper's Cats is nothing if not brave. He swung for the fences and accidentally threw his bat into orbit. That's the kind of moviemaking I support.
4. I will not seek out leaked exploitative celebrity pics, regardless of who that celebrity is.
Look, you can't say that Jennifer Lawrence's leaked pics were an awful criminal violation to her right to privacy, and then delight over DaBaby's (since debunked) video leak. That's called...you know...hypocrisy.
5. I will never defend a celebrity I like who turns out to be a total piece of sh*t.
It's totally fine to separate the art from the artist. If you still want to pump "I Believe I Can Fly" on your Sony Walkman, be my guest. But, for the love of God, stop defending monsters. If multiple people say your favorite celebrity kidnapped them for their sex cult, they're probably telling the truth.
6. I will stop paying attention to anything Justin Bieber is doing.
Seriously, I don't care.
7. I will pay attention to anything Justin Long is doing.
Dominik Bindl/Getty Images for Tribeca Film Festival
What happened to that guy anyways? He's 41 now, and that makes me feel very old.
8. I will ignore all the toxicity on Twitter.
Maybe this is a bit too aspirational, but if you shoot for the stars and miss, at least you'll slowly asphyxiate while anime avatars call you racial slurs.
9. I will buy all the Final Fantasy VII Remake action figures.
This one is personal. I'm not expecting you to join me.
10. I will treat other Entertainment Writers as human beings.
As much as we all love to rail against articles we disagree with (me included), going into the new year, we should do our best to remember that everyone else online is also human. When you shout at somebody online, oftentimes there's a real person reading your comments on the other side. So instead of just making your opinion known when you're angry, try spreading positivity instead. If you like something you read online, let the author know. It might make their day.
But don't just keep this in mind for people who get paid to write on the Internet. The same goes for everyone. The Internet doesn't need to be a wasteland of insults, meanness, and toxicity. Maybe if we want 2020 to be a better year than 2019, we need to start by remembering that people are people even if we can't see their face beyond a username. Negativity begets negativity. It's time to start trying to make positivity trend instead.
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Happy birthday to the world's biggest genre
On this day in 1973, Clive Campbell, the Jamaican-American "selector" known as DJ Kool Herc, hosted a "back to school jam" at 1520 Sedgewick Avenue in the Boogie Down Bronx of New York City.
Armed with a booming sound system and reggae beats, Herc– a shortened nickname for "Hercules"– commanded insatiable audiences across the South Bronx with his unique looping technique called the "Merry-Go Round." "[I knew that] they were waiting for this particular break," Herc later said, "and I got a couple of records that got the same break up in it. I wonder how it would be if I put them all together."
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It's not the advice they want, but it's the advice that they need
With the year coming to an end, the annual announcement of New Year's resolutions are kicking off.
People want to make changes in their lives, and a new calendar gives people the occasion to rethink their habits and try to live better in 2020. But so often we are not the best judges of our own problems. Like the friend who announces that he's going to start eating more kale as he downs his eighth shot of tequila, it's sometimes necessary to get some outside perspective from the people who love you most. With that in mind, it's time to take a cold, critical look at our best celebrity friends, and give them the advice they need for the new year—whether they want it or not.
Kanye West: Don't Start a Cult
Kanye, you've never been the kind of person who does things the easy way. You could have stuck with being a musical genius, but you decided to be a fashion icon too, and you created the Yeezy. When they gave a Grammy to Taylor Swift instead of Beyonce, you didn't tweet something passive aggressive—you got up on stage and did something about it. When you were in debt, you didn't talk to your bank, you asked Mark Zuckerberg for $50 million. And more than a decade after you said, "George Bush doesn't care about black people," when it seemed like the whole world was finally ready to stand up and condemn a Republican president's bigotry, you declared that Donald Trump was your brother because you're both "dragon energy."
So now that you've started your Sunday Services, released an album of spirituals, and produced a Christian Opera—Oratorio?—you are fully set up to devote the rest of your life to developing and running the cult of Yeezus. But is that really how the greatest artist of all time should be focusing his energy? Sure you could convert your fans into an insular flock of devout followers who would die for you. But at this point, that would honestly be too easy. It's time to shake things up. It's probably not too late to decide to be the most influential sculptor of our generation, or the greatest therapy patient of all time. Even if you decide to focus your energy on your 2024 presidential run, that's cool, as long as you avoid taking the easy path: Don't start a cult. Also, please don't tell T.I. that investigating his daughter's hymen is "god approved..."
Kim Kardashian West: Fix the American Justice System
Kim, you've honestly been doing some amazing stuff in the past couple years, and we all kind of feel like we were underestimating you. For too long we thought of you as just a reality show star and a fashion model—an artifact of America's vapid celebrity obsession. But you are so much more than that. Since 2017 you have helped free dozens of prisoners who were falsely convicted or hit with overly punitive sentences. In 2020, we're going to start setting our expectations higher to really help you reach your full potential. Starting January 1st, you have twelve months to fully fix the problems with the American justice system. If you finish early, maybe try to solve climate change too. And maybe check on your husband—seems like he's trying to start a cult.
Tom Hooper: Don't Make Any More Musicals
Tom, after you directed The King's Speech, you won the Oscars for both Best Picture and Best Director in 2010, and you clearly felt empowered to pursue your true passion—making star-studded movie versions of classic musicals. Les Miserables was a hit at the box office, and it even won some awards, but the reviews were mixed. You could have asked yourself why you cast Russel Crowe in a movie that required him to sing, or you could have taken that as a sign that your passion for musicals may not be aligned with your particular talents as a filmmaker, but you were undeterred, and we admire your perseverance. That said, with the selection of your second musical adaptation, you revealed something important about yourself: You have terrible taste in musicals.
Cats has always been a bad musical, and there was probably no way you could have made it into a good movie. You may have misunderstood the appeal that allowed the show to run for 18 years on Broadway—people liked the wild costumes, and the way the performers moved through the audience. The music itself was only ever decent at best, and your ambitious plan to put Idris Elba, Ian McKellen, and Dame Judi Dench in motion capture suits, and digitally convert them into cat creatures would have been misguided even if the result hadn't turned out so deeply unsettling. So, while you've scrambled to recover something watchable from the ashes of this disastrous movie (please don't—it's better as a disaster), we want to make sure you go into 2020 with this important lesson: never again.
Jeremy Renner: Make a "Cats" Movie
Jeremy, no one appreciates your genius. People spent much of 2019 mocking your musical ambitions and using your personal app to embarrass you. It's time for you to show the world that you have nothing to be embarrassed of. Take your incredible singing voice and your untamed energy to a project that truly deserves you: Cats.
We know it's not what people expect, but you're unpredictable, we gotta tell you. And sure, they tried to make a Cats movie this year, but they forgot the secret ingredient—that certain, special Rennergy. You could play every role! And also, all the characters names could be changed to Jeremy Renner, and instead of CGI, you could just be buck naked, covered in body paint. All us Renner heads would go crazy for it. It's a good idea, and it's how you should spend 2020.
Eddie Murphy: Don't Leave Us Again
Eddie, you were gone too long, and your comeback has been too good. Don't be a Mickey Rourke. Be a Michael Keaton—come back for good. Dolemite Is My Name is an amazing movie, and your recent appearance on SNL destroyed their usual ratings. So don't just tease us that you might get back into stand-up or you're thinking about another movie. Make 2020 your year. That is all.
Bill Maher: Lose a Lot of Weight
Bill, you made headlines in September by advocating for fat shaming saying that "it needs to make a comeback" and, "Shame is the first step to reform," and you couched it in terms that made it sound like you were helping people get healthy. You seemed to be implying that people who struggle with obesity don't even realize there's an issue, and they need your bullying in order to see themselves clearly. We were shocked, not because you were ignoring the fact that a shame spiral of yo-yo dieting is actually more detrimental to cardiovascular health than obesity itself, but because you delivered your proclamation with such the smug sense of superiority. It meant that you were absolutely right—that you can't even see what a disgusting pig you are.
Bill, you may think that you are as slim and svelte as ever, but the jowls beginning to form on your cheeks tell a different story. We have to wonder what you even see when you look in the mirror, because for must of us it's hard to even stomach looking at you. To put it bluntly, if you don't have the decency to be ashamed of yourself, we'll have to shame you into dropping some of the excess weight you're lugging around. An adult male skeleton typically weighs around 25 pounds, so our best estimate suggests that you should aim to lose about 135 pounds in 2020. That might sound like overkill, but trust us, no one will miss it when it's gone.
Elon Musk: Get Off the Internet
Elon, remember last summer in the aftermath of the Thai soccer team cave rescue, when people were criticizing your ill-conceived submarine plan, so you called that rescue worker "pedo guy?" And remember how now he's suing you? Or what about the people who have taken issue with your "mass transit" plan that involves drilling a new, single-lane car-tunnel every time traffic gets backed up? Remember how you called your critics "subway stalinists," and dismissed the recognized phenomenon of induced demand as "irrational?" And that's not even getting into all the abuse you took over the botched Cybertruck demo. That must have been hard for you, but not as hard as it was for the rest of the world when you tweeted that image of Tesla stock reaching 420.69...
The point is, you just don't seem to be mature enough to handle the internet. You are not alone, a lot of billionaires—and even "billionaires"—seem to have trouble controlling themselves on Twitter. The good news is, you can still have an active, vibrant life. By all means, keep developing new battery tech and launching free-internet satellites for the world to use. Just don't use the Internet yourself. Make 2020 the year of Elon unplugged. You'll be much happier without being confronted by all the people trying to poke holes in your genius, and we can maybe go back to thinking you're kind of cool.
Grimes: Leave Elon Musk
You're way too cool for him, and you know it.
Elizabeth Warren and Bernie Sanders: Please Save Us
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