Saturday, June 13, 2020


I know, I've been a bit more lazy then normal lately, although I suspect that most of us have been distracted by events bigger then the hill of beans that make up our little problems lately. So, I haven't been saying or talking much; I haven't had much to say, which is a bit of a problem being a commentator, but I do have a workaround. So, let's get to it; every once in a while when I don't think there's anything going on the greater entertainment world that I think deserves an entire blogpost's worth of analysis or commentating on, I do a little Mixed Bag Blog. Here, is where I touch lightly on a few minor subjects that have caught my eye instead of focusing on a more in-depth piece on a singular subject. This time, I'm discussing some of the recent celebrity backlashes that have perpetuated the social media sphere, most notably Lea Michele and Ellen DeGenerous, I discuss the stars of "The Help" suddenly admonishing their own film, and I do an Album review, this time on Sheryl Crow's self-title album. Enjoy folks.


So, there's been a lot going on lately in the world, and it's frustrating and painful to keep up with it, and yet, there's not much else to do.... Yet there's still occasionally that kinda come out of nowhere. I tweeted about it, how I can't even stand up and clean the dishes anymore without my computer suddenly freaking out, and I get back to it and suddenly I have to hate Drew Brees and the New York Times now. Like, seriously, I need a break. I didn't even both looking up whatever it was Drew Brees actually said, 'cause I was just done with everything at that point, and I don't even really care. By the time I got around to it, there was already like ten other things new to react to, and I was tired of reacting.

I did however get caught in the Lea Michele backlash though. Now, forgive, I never liked "Glee" so I missed a lot of the references, but apparently she tweeted about Black Lives Matter and positively, and fine, but then she got called out by one of her former co-stars and then Samantha Ware, called her out on her obnoxious behavior towards her, and then the floodgates opened. I'll post one of many links to it, but basically, she got revealed to be a total bitch.


Honestly, that's kinda the nice way of putting it, she did some pretty lousy shit to people and the more you dug into it, the worst she seemed to get, and she's probably not only one from that cast, including her late actual boyfriend who seemed to possibly to have his own peckadillos.

I don't care about any of this regarding particular celebrities, they've always been around. The more you're in or around the industry, you usually hear stories about people, and some I've heard really dwarf some of these, but this trend of, I guess exposing who the true assholes are, has picked up in recent years. And it's not just one thing area of entertainment either; basically as social media has picked up and everybody's talking to everybody else, it's becoming a lot harder to keep things "Hush-hush". I mean, there's a lot we're still not quite hearing about from some, but Michele's not the only one.

We usually associate this kind of taking down with sexually immoral or other illegal behavior with the #MeToo, but it's also just been taken down celebrities who are just regular old assholes. And it's across every medium too; I talked about Channel Awesome's downfall awhile ago, regarding Channel Awesome's erratic and disturbing behavior, and that's just Youtube.

There's been several others too in recent years, but the big name that kinda got the hammer down recently was Ellen DeGenerous.

I'd heard a couple rumors and stories about her here and there, but man, apparently working for her is just Hell, according to basically everybody who's worked on her show. If you sort through the responses to Kevin Porter's tweet, it gets brutal the things she's done.

And honestly, after I did read all those, my first thought actually was something along the lines of-eh, "Man, what is it about daytime talk shows that turns these hosts into hellish monsters!?" Seriously, have we noticed that. Like I remember when Rosie O'Donnell's old talk show ended and there was a weird period after where she reinvented herself into some kind of, angry dyke bitch, for lack of a better phrase. There was a lot of tumultuous behind-the-scenes stories on that her daytime show as well back then, which at the time was like, the first really successful, celebrity-based classic, Merv Griffin-like daytime show in a while, but she really changed her public persona pretty radically at a certain point. It weird, 'cause she kinda embraced that new image of hers, and yet, in hindsight that was the image that was more-eh, of a show. In reality, she just had a lot of personal problems that she was struggling with, not-to-mention that, unlike Ellen, she wasn't, out, until the end of her series run, but she also suffered from depression, fights with producers and directors, she had an accident that nearly cost her her hand and she had to have a bunch of guest hosts for awhile, and at the end, she quit the series after only six years. She said that she just got tired of pretending that she was happy all the time on the show.

Ellen actually said a few things similar to that on her recent Netflix special too. She certainly regrets dancings around the stage for the last fifteen or so years. I actually liked that special, but yeah, I've noticed that I've had a hard time tolerating Ellen lately. And honestly, it's that damn game show of hers! That "Ellen's Game of Games", that show's awful, and I hated those games when they were on her show. Seriously, has she always been sadistic and I just never noticed? Like, on the show, it was sorta played for laughs, but more and more she seems to only ever be excited when she's putting guests in some very precarious position. She wants to see people suffer at her will, and shove them into water or pies and fall down holes, and I just,- It's cute once, but she kept doing it, and it stopped being funny even before she turned it into a game show. For what's it worth by the way, I couldn't find too many of these stories from before her talk show, which, I don't know maybe means that daytime shows like hers or Rosie's just drive it's hosts crazy.


It's a hypothesis I have. It doesn't explain why Lea Michele is such a bitch, but it was something I was thinking.

I guess I'm trying to figure out, what exactly is the line? You see, it's not like these celebs are ever just randomly thrown under a bus for their behavior, something usually triggers it, a statement they make or a position they've taken, or just an image that's contradictory to their supposed true self that they've produced. Basically, without digging too deep into it, I think more then anything else that this age of social media celebrity age has produced is, just a complete intolerance of hypocrisy. That's probably not just a recent thing, but it feels more prescient now. Within the time I started writing this Twitter got took over by among others, a movement to reveal Sen. Lindsay Graham's gay trysts that he's been rumored about for decades. This is noteworthy for him, because on top of being a preacher who's vehemently anti-gay, he's backed a lot of anti-LGBT legislation over the year. And again, it's not the fact that he's gay or apparently pays for male escorts all the time, it's that he's a hypocrite about it. That he's gay and that he's constantly hurting his own. There's plenty of politicians and celebrities who are gay and many of which has used similar services regularly but there's no real reason to bring them up. There's reasons it matters that Ellen is obnoxious and mean to her staff and others, there's reasons to call out Lea Michele, and Lindsay Graham, and several others.

Does that mean that if somebody mostly seems like a jackass in real life that we should call them out for that behavior too? Well, probably, but based on who's in the White House, I don't think that hits as hard as those who try to come off as better people then they are. Still, part of me does worry, especially thinking back to the Rosie O'Donnell example among others; I mean, anybody can be angry and explode and have disagreements with others under the correct wrong conditions. I don't think that's the case here, but there does seem to be more of an emphasis on the image then ever before, matching the person who's portraying it?

I thought about speculating why that is, and honestly there's a ton of factors about why that is, and I'm sure you can list a bunch of them, and you'd probably thought about all the old ones yourself.  However, to throw one that major new one that we might be underestimating here, honestly, I think mostly this biggest trend though is-eh, well, calling out the bullshit nature of NDAs.

Yeah. NDAS. And just to be clear, there is so much that is genuinely legitimate and valid about Non-Disclosure Agreements, I've signed NDAs about projects and there are legitimate reasons to keep certain details out of the public on projects. I don't want to bash the legal process entirely; I'm not Julian Assange, and I don't think complete transparency is a greater good.

However, that said, a lot of NDAs are mostly just, a way for powerful people to allow themselves to be complete and total assholes and get away with it. And frankly, something needs to be done about that. Thankfully we know that once the truth is out there, these sorta whisper campaigns and rumors can be put out into the open and you do see, a bunch of shit come out at once, and ultimately, I'm in favor of that. If finding out Lea Michele or Ellen or whomever are complete trash is part of the same public insistence on transparency in our institutions, including Hollywood that leads to the Harvey Weinsteins and Bill Cosby eventually going to jail, then you know what, fine. Just because what he tried to hide was worst then what they try to hide in most cases, it's still hiding behind a veil that they wouldn't need if they weren't acting like pricks to begin with. (Shrugs) Sorry.


As you've probably suspected, I've struggled to find stuff to write about in these recent strained times. Struggling to find something to write about. That's not unusual normally, but in these days people in general are also struggling to find things to do normally, and especially when it comes to keeping ourselves entertained, which, let's face it, is basically what we're all struggling with, and one of those is finding stuff to watch/stream or TV. I'm having trouble wiht it, and I'm sure others are who are also stuck scrolling the news and wanting to find something on TV that either makes them completely forget about all the world's and their own troubles and get lost in a fantasy. Or, alternatively, watch something that has some reminscence, reflectiveness and sympthatizes with the modern times.

I guess that's why for some reason, "The Help" broke the Top Ten on Netflix's streaming last week, to which my response was, "Eh, alright, whatever." (Shrugs) Yeah, normally, I don't particularly care what's hot or what's streaming or why, although, yeah, sure, obviously the protests were the catalyst for a nine-year-old movie about race relations in the South to be hot while streaming. Apparently some people thought that was, something of a problem.

So, I guess people decided that, seeing "The Help" become suddenly popular on Netflix was aenough of a reason and call-to-arms to start recommending other movies streaming on Netflix, ones that they say are better, more accurate and more relevant depictions of, I guess, the status of race relations in America. Also, because "The Help" is just a terrible movie; I'm sure that has a lot to do with it too.

I was gonna leave it at that and not even really bring this up, or recommend other films, 'cause others are doing it, and frankly I'm not that interested in scrolling through Netflix to find recommendations for others, but I did catch one blurb in that article that caught my eye. It was a link to another The Playlist article, that talked about Viola Davis regretting her role in "The Help".

That's a little unusual; you don't see too many actors talk so negatively or dismissively about, arguably they're biggest role. She got an Oscar nomination for that film, and many people thought she'd win for the role, it was an upset when she lost to Meryl Streep for, honestly one of her wost films too, "The Iron Lady" (The Academy really fuck'd up that category that year), but it basically made Viola Davis a superstar. I mean, I agree with her criticisms of the movie, but still; I would've at least thought that, the stars of the movie would talk positively about it?! Anyway, that was a couple years ago, she's been a big star and been in better films and television since,...

But then Bryce Dallas Howard, this week, said the same thing.

She said that, despite much of the accomplishments and personal experiences and friendships she got from the production that, "The Help" is a fictional story told through the perspective of a white character and was created by predominantly white storytellers. We can all go further." 


I mean, I don't disagree, that was and still is my original problem problem with the movie. In fact, I think the framing of "The Help" is particularly bizarre and troublesome; it was based on a novel written by a white person, but the white protagonist in the book and the movie, is writing a fictionalized novel about the real life African-American maids of Jackson, Mississippi, that supposedly causes a huge scandal, in the past, but the book was portraying a fictional-like, "Peyton Place"-kind of expose of the maids in Jackson...- honestly, more people should talk about how friggin' bizarre and weird the framing of "The Help" is-, I mean, it's so many bizarre steps away from an actual African-American perspective that frankly I'm wondering what the hell they were even trying for with that film and story.

However, with my opinion aside, um, I'm starting to wonder now if anybody liked this movie? And if they didn't, they why the hell did it get four Oscar nominations, including a win for Octavia Spencer for Best Supporting Actress and a Best Picture nomination? Like, what-the-hell, Hollywood, you voted for that!

Now, look, I'm not African-American. That said, I don't think a movie about African-Americans, needs to be from an African-American perspective to be good. I don't think that only Black people can tell black stories and have it be good, honest, realistic and/or accurate portrayals of the African-American experience. It probably helps, but it's not so much the perspective as it is the framing. How African-Americans are portrayed is what matters, at least from a sociological and cultural perspective, and I can't argue that "The Help" gets any of this right, 'cause it doesn't.

Still, can somebody defend "The Help" at this moment in time?

None of the filmmakers, or the actors at least, seem to want to. There's no word from Tate Taylor I can find; he's busy working on a TV show where Kim Cattral plays a Tammy Faye Bakker-type, which sounds like fun but....


I mean, I feel like somebody should come to "The Help"'s defense here. People are bitching about HBO Max suddenly removing "Gone With the Wind" in light of the protests, but I mean, that movie's has 80 years of debate on all sides behind it; I feel like "The Help" is getting short-changed here. Somebody must be able to defend this film in these times and do a decent job of it, right?


(Long pause)

Well, I'm looking online, and I can't find too many. Even most of the old reviews of it I can find, they kinda backhandedly talk about how unrealistic the film is. Roger Ebert positively calls it a fable. Wesley Morris bashes it, and begins with a tale about seeing a Mammy statue in a restaurant that the white owner found beloved because of how much she treasured the role of the African-American maid in her family's lore. I'm fairly certain he won a Pulitzer partly for that piece. I mean, it's not like this is liked a fixed thing either, "Green Book" which has just as many troubling portrayals of race relations in American won Best Picture just a couple years ago and that movie's just as shitty as "The Help" is, maybe worst even.

I mean, I get shit because I'm still the one who defends "Crash" which, yeah, I'll say it, "Crash" is a better, more accurate and better depiction of racism in America then "The Help"! I take the brave stances.

I joke, but that is something that should be evalutated too, especially in light of these movies that get the Oscar attention in recent years, that frankly are far less observant about racism in America getting the awards praise and until now, nobody really took a sledgehammer to them for that, but meanwhile, "Crash" still gets more hate overall and that movie's trying very hard to understand and doesn't act like everything's better now; it basically ends with it's conclusion being that, "Racism exists in American society", and that's a lot better then, "Racism ended with a car trip" or "With helping send white men to space" or "With a white girl writing a book about maids shitting in pies". Yeah, I'm not saying "Crash" is the best thing to watch right, if you want to find cinema and art that best expresses the values of Black Lives Matter or help understand the protests going on, but considering what the else the Academy has honored lately....

Yeah, "Crash" gets too much shit, and arguably "The Help" doesn't get nearly enough shit, but I'd still like to see somebody defend it.

I mean, I can't but somebody...?! It wasn't just the Oscars either, it got all this acclaim, can somebody please stand up and explain why? It's only been nine years, is anybody in this film's corner.

Look, I know the Academy is a popularity contest moreso then an accurate depiction of the best in cinema that year; it's all basically For Your Consideration campaigning everybody to death, and that's why "The Help" would get the honors it got, not just from the Academy but several other awards as well; it's easy to blame the system and the campaign for putting the film over. However, they could've just, not voted for it too. If this is what the people who starred in it think about it, then why was everybody else just going along with it so much? They could've honored something worth a damn instead.

How hard is it, you get those pesky phone calls from Weinstein or whomever, you say you voted for it on the phone, but you know, vote for something else on your ballot. It's a secret ballot; what are they gonna do, find out you lied? And if so, what's gonna happen?

I don't know; I'm not even sure why I'm complaining. Anything that gets people to watch better movies then "The Help" I'm all in favor for, but I still think the dynamic and implications are weird here. I'm not expecting the Academy or any awards to be perfect, but considering how much this was honored, I expect somebody to come to it's defense, and if even the people who made the movie aren't even coming up to defend this, hell, they're outright admonishing it.... (Shrugs) I don't know, can somebody who did stream it lately say something about it good? Some people had to have responded positively to it in some manner, right?


Well, let me know it someone ever does.


Alright, I've been looking forward to this one. We got, Sheryl Crow, one of my all-time favorites, and this is her self-titled, second album. Her first album was called "Tuesday Night Music Club" which actually was a musical collective she performed with and there's a whole long story about the group and that album and there was a lot of discuss about that album and the group itself and- you can look it up, there's a lot of drama and controversy regarding the Tuesday Night Club and Sheryl, and I won't go into all of it. Basically, what it led to, was her second album, being like, her first time, making an album on her own, and making her own statement.

It wasn't as big as "Tuesday Night Music Club" was, but it was still a pretty big album and I know some of her best songs from this album. That said, I never owned the album until now. I own and still listen to copies of "Tuesday..." and "C'Mon C'Mon" and "The Globe Sessions", her early stuff, I have and still listen to regularly, but I never picked up her self-titled album 'til now. I don't have much to blame but myself here; I collected albums late and cheaply in most cases, and in that respects, this album was actually a little harder to find. It was infamously banned at Wal-Mart, and I think it still is, because there's some derogatory lyrics about Wal-Mart in one of the songs. That doesn't sound like much now, but at the time, Wal-Mart was the biggest music distributor in the country, so not being on those shelves mattered a bit, and it mattered to me, 'cause that's where I usually shopped. Not always, and I bought some more controversial material elsewhere,- that's the thing, this is a weird album that Wal-Mart didn't ban because of the parental advisory label, but because the content offended them personally.

So, my early Sheryl collection is complete now, and now is the time to actually listen to the thing. One more reminder, not a music guy, this isn't an in-depth analysis, it's more personal preference then actual music criticism, blah, blah, blah, I'm not a music guy, this is just going through the unplayed CDs in my collection. So-eh, let's press play here:

"Sheryl Crow"


Hmmm... I'm a little more offguard on this album then I thought I'd be honestly, but I do like this a lot. It's clearly much more of a rock album. Now, she's always been pretty eclectic musically, but this is definitely a transition album, and it much more rocks; the powerful the songs the more angry and sarcastic they seem. There's definitely more traditional genre-blending between blues, country, pop and rock, "Redemption Day" is a beautiful quiet little protest song for instance. And the album, after "Maybe Angels", a classic blues-y opener reminiscent of "Tuesday..."'s opener, "Run, Baby, Run", is "A Change Can Do You Good", one of my favorite pop songs of hers, but this is a sign that from here on our, we're getting a more angry and angsty album. It's also an album that reflects disillument and overcoming those initial fallout of the "Tuesday Night..." issues. "Everyday is a Winding Road", around midway through the album is like her declaration that things are gonna to get better. Although she follows it with "Love is a Good Thing" that aforemention song that song that Wal-Mart got angry for the lyric about kids buying guns from them. (Insert your own "Bowling for Columbine" reference.) There's this constant swimming of confusion that perpetuates the whole album, which feels very reminiscent of the ennui of the mid-90s.

I've often argued that her breakthrough song "All I Wanna Do" doesn't get nearly the credit for being the song that killed Grunge. Seriously "Smells Like Teen Spirit" and "All I Wanna Do" are the same song, they're about confusion and unknowingness in the world, but as much as I do love Nirvana, Cobain was sad and mopey and frustrated with the world around him. "All I Wanna Do" is just as unknowing, but it's sure a free-spirit ride on the train. It's not, "Nothing matters, let's just take pills and heroin 'til this ends," it's more, "Nothing matters, let's skip work at lunch and get drunk on a Tuesday!" See, it gets it and fights it, in a way that while probably still, in not the best way, but at least it's uplifting and understands that the craziness of the world is a wild ride and it's better to enjoy it. Honestly, that sense of the mid-90s, where we were done with Grunge but unsure of how to approach the rest of the world, is all-prevalent through this album. I get it, it's that need to switch from "The World's fucking up" to, bitching about her the stuff her dumb friend does, to just self-reflecting on her personal issues, and overcoming the tragedy of recent events. I get it.

Now, personally, I think it's still a bit all over the place and she doesn't quite find a comfortable version of Sheryl Crow as a singular artist 'til "The Globe Sessions", her next album, which I think is her best album, overall, but I like this album a lot and am definitely gonna be keeping it in my rotation. This is still really good and it makes my collection of her work make more sense.

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