CULTURE

Sharon Osbourne Might Be the Worst Person on Earth

Ozzy used to seem scary, but Sharon's story about endangering and firing an assistant is pure nightmare fuel.

The Sun

As a child, I remember the Osbourne family getting a reality show, and hearing that the shuffling, mumbling Ozzy Osbourne had once bitten the head off a dead bat in front of a crowd of Black Sabbath fans.

At the time it was hard for me to process how this shambolic man could once have been capable of such a horrific act, and the mystery of that transformation made him somehow even more terrifying. I was much less concerned with his wife, Sharon, whose cheery screeching would have seemed at home in a HOA meeting anywhere in the world. To me she seemed like an ordinary suburban mom, unwittingly wedded to an inhuman fiend.

Ozzy Osbourne

Today, that's no longer the case. I have grown up, Sharon has unmasked herself, and I have come to realize that Ozzy was the innocent victim all along. His dazed shuffling was no act. It wasn't concealing anything. The recent rumors that he had taken to his deathbed were unfounded, but they reflect a deeper truth. He has long been drained of the dark energy he once held by extended proximity to a more powerful malevolent being. Sharon Osbourne is my new nightmare fuel.

She revealed her true form on a December 26th episode of the BBC game show Would I Lie to You? The format of the show involves celebrity panelists telling stories about themselves that the other panelists have to judge to be either true or lies. The story Sharon told about herself spoke of such outrageous and oblivious cruelty that there was no question she was telling the truth. Her summary of the events tells the story plainly enough: "I once sacked a member of my staff because he showed absolutely no sense of humor during a house fire."

Did Ozzy Osbourne on FIRE get his assistant sacked?! | Would I Lie To You - BBC www.youtube.com

Generally the summaries on this show—when the stories are true—are revealed to be slightly hyperbolic versions of the actual events, exaggerated so their fellow panelists will mistake them for lies. But as the panelists dug into Sharon's story, the details become more and more upsetting. She describes a mishap that unfolded with a candle gifted to the family for Christmas, with the result that she woke up to find their living room and half of Ozzy's hair on fire. After a failed attempt of whacking him with a magazine, she managed to douse her husband by pushing him into the fountain.

That part is fine—even if she does claim to have been laughing at his suffering. Where the horror begins is when Ozzy's assistant enters the picture. When panelist Liz Bonnin—known for presenting wildlife programs in the UK—asks where the assistant was throughout this first part of the story, Osbourne responds, with disgust twisting her features, "Sleeping!" She seems to think that it's this assistant's responsibility to operate at such a pure level of subservience that sleep ceases to be a basic bodily function and only serves as a standby state for such times when assistance isn't needed. Bonnin's baffled, "How dare he…?" summarizes the natural human response to this level of entitlement, but Osbourne is just getting started.

Sharon Osbourne upset Getty Images

Her next step was to rouse the assistant from the guest house and send him into the burning building to retrieve the family's dogs, but not before grabbing valuable paintings. It's certainly understandable that a person would want their pets rescued in a situation like this, and maybe even ask someone else to do the saving if you don't feel up to it yourself. It may not be a reasonable request, but emotions run high when pets are in danger. But the paintings? Do they not have insurance on these valuable works of art? If I were the kind of person who valued my things above the safety and well-being of humans, I would definitely get those things insured. But maybe for Sharon Osbourne, having a disposable underling on hand is the best kind of insurance. That seems to be her thinking when she complains that he was "hemming and hawing" at the order to re-enter the burning building that she herself would not go into.

The most disturbing part of the story comes after the arrival of firefighters, who provide the assistant with an oxygen mask to ameliorate the risk of Carbon Monoxide poisoning. In her own words, Sharon Osbourne's response was to say, "How very dare you! You work here, and you get more paintings out right now!" and to pull the oxygen mask from his face and give it to her dog instead. The hierarchy of value in her head is so clearly warped to only account for what serves her needs and desires. A dog has value as a companion, a painting has value as an asset, but a worker has no value as a human—only as means to their employer's ends. Their reliance on her wealth renders them subhuman.

sharon osbourne gif

Later on, when Sharon and Ozzy were laughing about the incident and the assistant expressed some small portion of their resentment at this inhumane treatment and the trauma Sharon Osbourne had inflicted—as well as some concern about the health of their lungs—Sharon, rolling her eyes, recounts saying, "If you don't think that's funny, do you think this is funny… you're fired."

No one thinks it's funny, Sharon. You seem to think this is a story of you being sassy and tough, but the truth is that you are the kind of monster that keeps sane people up at night. At this point, biting the head off a bat would humanize you.

CULTURE

The 4 Skating Games That Defined Our Childhood

Pro Skater 2, Skate 3, these skating games defined a generation

There was a special thrill that came from watching a pixelated Steve-O ride a mechanical bull through the streets of Barcelona.

From Nigel Beaverhausen to Bigfoot and Shrek, Steve-O was only one of the many crude unlockable characters available in Tony Hawk's Underground 2. Nailing trick combos as ludicrous as "Yee Haw + Acid Drop + grind + bull air," Tony Hawk's Underground 2 was not a game for those who couldn't suspend their disbelief, but that was always the anthology's charm. Kids who followed the series from its birth in 1999 were drawn to the game for its abundance in stupidity; exploring Area 51 in Pro Skater 1 or watching Spider-Man shred across audacious ramps in Pro Skater 2. In Underground 2, we'd send our avatars to the brink of death for no reason other than that it was fun to hear their bones crack.

Skating video games have a special place in the heart of '90s babies, mostly because the last few years have spawned no skater games that truly exemplify the genre's excellence. Pro Skater 5 was one of the most disappointing releases of all time, and 2018's Skate Jam is merely a hollow phone game with awkward controls.

However, hope was recently restored, as EA finally announced Skate 4 back in June. But thanks to COVID, it will be a long time before the project sees the light of day. As skate-enthusiasts continue to wait ever so patiently for Skate 4, let's revisit some of the best skating games that defined countless childhoods.

Tony Hawk's Pro Skater 2

While Pro Skater 1 is a certified classic, the nuanced details its sequel added made it one of the greatest video games ever to exist. The graphics were lush for a Playstation game, each of the massive sandbox levels containing minute details like graffiti and hidden areas, and the newly-unveiled create-a-character and skate-park editor modes provided players with an overabundance of customizable features that would go on to define the rest of the series. Playing alongside your friends in your own curated skate park was fantastic, ripping across them in the hopes they'd topple over mid-trick.

The soundtrack, which included a fantastic roster of Rage Against the Machine, Anthrax, and Bad Religion, was pure adrenaline. As a majority of game developers turned their attention to the imminent PS2 release, Pro Skater 2 was one of the last great games to honor its predecessor.

Skate 3

Just to clarify, Skate 1 and 2 were fantastic games, the latter just featured a lot of unnecessary bloat, such as the impossible "S.K.A.T.E." mimicry challenges and crap A.I., that distracted from the project's highlights. But for EA's (seemingly) final installation in the series, Skate 3 ditched the excess in favor of what it was known for: fluid, realistic skating mechanics, slick visuals, endless tricks, and fantastic creation tools.

While the game was criticized by some for not bringing anything fresh and new to the table, Skate 3 remains one of the most well-balanced games in the series. It caters to both newcomers and devotees alike. Gone are the security guards who would frustratingly chase you away from government buildings in Skate 2; and instead, as a decorative "pro skater" at the beginning of the game, the world is your oyster. Everywhere is free to explore, which may hinder a certain feeling of progress, but Skate 3 makes up for it with its surprising variety of challenges, sexy visuals, and massive trick catalog–and let us not forget the "Hall of Meat."

Tony Hawk's Underground 2

One can barely call THU 2 a skating game. The single-player campaign opens with your curated avatar being kidnapped by two people in hockey masks. He is brought to a dark room alongside other pro skaters like Bob Burnquist and Eric Sparrow. Bam Margera and Tony Hawk are revealed to be the captors and explain their plan for a "sick-as-hell" around-the-world "World Destruction Tour."

The objective is simple: to travel around the world to pillage and destroy and become a sweet ripper in the process. It's absurd, and the game is often panned by skating buffs for its insanely unrealistic game mechanics.

But for those who don't take themselves too seriously, THU 2 was a rip-roaring good time. It had varietal game modes, copious character creation options, and watching your character snap their board in half after activating the post-trick-fail "freak out" function was a hoot. The game leaned fully into its ridiculousness, and the payoff was rich for those who needed the lighthearted escape.

Session

Praised for being the most authentic skater game ever made, Session is an indie PC gem that shouldn't be played for those looking just to rip around. It follows a similar flick-stick mechanic to the Skate series but is much more difficult. It matches a foot to each stick so that to land a simple kickflip, you have to make sure both sticks do the right flicks.

It's a simple mechanical tweak that makes for a frustrating few hours of gameplay, but for those patient enough to learn a few tricks, the system can make even the simplest manual feel satisfying as hell. Speed, angle, stance, timing, and rotation need to be accounted for if you want to land some tricks, but for those willing to traverse Session's beautiful landscapes, the game is one of the most absorbing skate games in recent memory, and could potentially be as impactful to kids today as Skate was for us.

MUSIC

Post Malone's "Hollywood's Bleeding" Is Zombie Pop for the Tik Tok Era

Our favorite cursed Bud Light influencer has returned with a vengeance.

After he released his last album, beerbongs and bentleys, Post Malone left Hollywood for northern Utah.

He purchased a $3 million home, which he described as an "apocalypse shelter" on one occasion and a "fallout shelter" on another. "I'm just buying a place out in the sticks," he said. "I'm building it underground. It's going to be fun until the world ends. But whenever the world ends, it's going to be functional."

You can see this dichotomy (between ecstasy and paranoia, isolation and crowds, stars and neon lights) playing out on Hollywood's Bleeding, which adds scope and abstraction to his typically hedonistic trip-hop.

For all intents and purposes, his music shouldn't be able to emote and resonate the way it does. His lyrics aren't exactly poetic, to say the least ("Bud light running through my d*ck" is a very real line that appears on "Saint-Tropez"). His beats are relatively formulaic, and his image is shaped by absurdity and excess. The messages he sings about are destructive and shallow, and he only gets away with it because he's more of a caricature than a person. He presents himself like a dilapidated zombie, the mutated product of too many nights spent wandering around drugstores, surrendering to carnal impulses, and compulsively ordering from Postmates.

Yet Hollywood's Bleeding manages to be an excellent album, a hard-working fusion of genres that incorporates everything from anthemic 80s-style choruses to faded 90s punk to glossy 2000s trap. The 17-track album is a master class in the art of modern pop songwriting, which is to say post-genre songwriting, and every track feels baked to perfection (pun entirely intended).

Post is an expert at placing that perfect minor chord in that exact place where it'll derail an otherwise shallow or synthetic track. His music is almost robotically perfect, except in those moments where it cracks open and lets in the blues. Despite the absurdity of his image, there's an underlying darkness to everything that Post makes. His music is kind of like a sonic depression meme, never self-serious but built around a foundation of egotistical yet resigned desperation.

Because it's Post Malone, even the album's moments of vulnerability are calculated, wound together by exquisite production helmed here by none other than Kanye West. Like most of Kanye's mixes, no matter their content, every single sound is isolated in perfect detail, designed for crystalline sound even through cheap headphones or laptop speakers; you can't miss the grinding bass, the echoing reverb, or, of course, Post's signature quavering vibrato.

Aside from the production quality, Austin Post's voice might be the stitch that holds the whole industrial complex that is Post Malone together. No matter what he's singing about, his voice soars above it, raw and wounded. True Post fans have known for a while that he's the real deal, because they've seen his old Dylan covers and the like, but on this album, he really lets his vocals barrel through.

Bob Dylan Don't Think Twice, It's All Right Cover - Austin Richard www.youtube.com

Though they don't sound similar, his voice's raggedly meditative quality is sometimes reminiscent of Kurt Cobain's, especially on songs like "Im Gonna Be" where vocals take center stage. The thing about Post Malone is that no matter what he's singing about—ecstasy, breakups, death, or truly unfathomable quantities of beer—his music feels peaceful, largely thanks to his voice, which switches from primal screams to pillow-talk, from whispery rap to folky howling, before decompensating into lush choral harmonies. Like a greasy, sweat-stained, drug-fueled bear hug, his music can be disorienting at first, but there's a sense of relief to be found when you surrender to its warmth.

Still, with his gold teeth, face tattoos, and his endless rambling about getting wasted and wiping out, his music shouldn't be as comforting as it is. "Circles," the album's lead single, is a blend of beachy guitars and swirling, luxurious synths that somehow still manage to fit into a neat pop structure. Songs like "Allergic" start out with a boppy motif that sounds like it could get repetitive fast, but he doesn't let that happen, instead stripping things down at the chorus. The song winds up being one of the saddest on the album, despite its gleeful exterior; like many Post tracks, it's utterly resigned to its own misery, and ready to dance through it. If anything, that's Post Malone's message for all of us. Party with your demons (or laugh off their criticism), he seems to say, laugh at all of it, and build your shelter away from the disaster zone for when it all gets to be too much.


Post Malone - Circles www.youtube.com

Of course, he has a lot of help. Halsey shines on the otherwise unremarkable "Die For Me," and SZA brings her punchy rhythms on the bubbly, spaced-out "Staring At the Sun." One of the album's highlights is "Take What You Want," which melds Ozzy Osbourne's blistering guitar solos with hyper-modern beats, proving that boomers and millennials can get along after all.

There's a kind of liberation to surrendering to one's love (or, ahem, attraction to) Post Malone; like a modern Dionysus, he seems to promise revelry and relief. That's not to say that he's stuck in the past—with his post-ironic image that feels tailor-made for the Internet's landscape, his name feels prescient. Post Malone makes music for the post-postmodern era, when meaninglessness itself has become meaningless. On "Myself," he talks about Internet-era dissociation. "I'm sick of this American dream sh*t," he says in a rare moment when he looks beyond his chaotic inner life, only to see it reflected in the equally chaotic universe.

In many ways, his music is a natural fit for the Tik Tok era and for the schizophrenic and persona-driven entity that is social media, which tends to distort reality while making it unavoidable. On Hollywood's Bleeding, he seems more aware of that than usual, and there are moments he breaks away from it entirely. "The world has gone to sh*t and we all know that," he sings on the triumphant, melancholy "Internet." "People freaking out, like get to Prozac." It's classic Post Malone—outlandish, inappropriate, and bizarre, but somehow cogent at the same time. When the song surrenders to a dramatic string section, it feels inevitable. Post always had a symphony behind him. He's just letting us all hear it for the first time.