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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Shows like Brooklyn Nine-Nine make cops seem harmless, an illusion tainted with centuries of racism.
Two summers ago, during one of the darkest periods in my personal life, I found solace in Brooklyn Nine-Nine.
Brooklyn Nine-Nine is a sitcom that stars Andy Samberg as Jake Peralta, an NYPD detective with an impressive track record of solved cases despite his goofy, unsophisticated demeanor. Since its premiere in 2013, the show has been commended for its representation of LGBTQ+ and BIPOC people; the recurring cast includes two very smart (and never overtly sexualized) Latina women, as well as two Black men in the precinct's top roles. In 2018, the show received a GLAAD Media Award for its depiction of queer characters. Throughout its seven seasons, Brooklyn Nine-Nine has addressed serious issues like workplace sexual harassment, reconciling with an absent parent, and coming out to disapproving family members, all while retaining a sharp, tasteful sense of silly humor. Rotten Tomatoes has given multiple seasons of Brooklyn Nine-Nine a perfect 100% rating, likening it to "comfort food."
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Cartoon Twitter avatars strike again.
Cancel culture has reached unprecedented heights, and the latest battleground is Twitter's animation fandom community.
The seed of war was planted when popular animator Sr Pelo released his newest video, "Every StoryTime Animation." The video parodies StoryTime Animations (or "STA"), a genre of YouTube cartoons whereby someone tells a personal story alongside animation. Pelo makes fun of almost every major YouTuber in the genre, but it ultimately seems pretty lighthearted.
Every StoryTime Animation www.youtube.com
Pelo's video drew a lot of praise from the YouTube animation community, many of whom dislike the STA genre.
But Arin Hanson (otherwise known as "Egoraptor"), a well-known animator who currently hosts the Game Grumps web-series, had a different opinion.
"This is mean," Tweeted Hanson, expressing his feeling that making fun of other artists isn't in good fun and actually just hurts feelings.
Whether or not Pelo's video was intentionally mean-spirited or actually offended any of the people it parodied, Hanson was basically just saying that similar experiences hurt him in the past. Apparently, this opinion was enough to set off an angry Twitter mob, leading to "Arin" trending in the US with a constant stream of toxicity pushed by mostly cartoon avatars (naturally).
A lot of the anger directed at Hanson revolved around perceived hypocrisy. Hanson started his career by making animated videos on Newgrounds.com, a popular hub for independent animation in the late 2000s. Much of Hanson's early content was also incendiary, and posters dredged up the absolute worst of it.
One video from 8 years ago shows Hanson and his wife laughing about the n-word.
Another comment Hanson made 8 years ago to another animator wasn't particularly nice.
Obviously, Hanson's prior behavior was problematic; nobody is denying that. But people change a lot over the course of a decade, and Hanson has clearly grown as a person. For some reason, these posters think Hanson being an a**hole when he was younger and changing as he got older is throwing shade at his roots.
Arin had defenders too, of course. Many people viewed everyone making fun of a guy over trying to get people not to make fun of others as awful.
On Pelo's end, he didn't even understand why people were attacking Arin over a pretty innocuous opinion in the first place.
So why did a guy basically saying "bullying isn't cool" lead to people dog-piling him? Because as cancel culture, drama hounds, and the animation fandom community in particular have proven time and time again, they have absolutely no barometer for nuance. Everything is black and white to them. They seem incapable of looking at a situation and thinking, "I thought this video was funny, but someone else didn't and that's okay too."
Many of them seem young, so perhaps their venom is just a sign of immaturity. It's a lot easier to view people's personalities as immutable at 15 years old than it is at 30. Maybe they just don't realize that there's nothing hypocritical about someone being different than they were 10 years ago.
But regardless of their reasoning, these people (not Pelo, but rather his fanbase) are absolutely proving Arin Hanson's point. They are mean. They are bullies. And hopefully, one day, they can change.
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