Pop Culture Friday! Scream and Shout version

7 Dec

1.  Scream and Shout–will.i.am featuring Britney Spears—This is number 1 for downloads, and I was pretty curious about it, because I tend to like will.i.am and I don’t tend to like Britney Spears very much.  Well, this song and video didn’t really change my opinion of either.  The song itself is a club/dance song that is suitably ok, I guess–the song itself doesn’t really leave an impression good or bad, but I guess it would fit in at a club or during an exercise mix or something.  The first weird thing I noticed though is what is up with Britney’s accent–it’s kinda British or something, fortunately her singing is mostly relegated to the background (her voice never was very strong).  In the video she mostly poses with giant hair, says “it’s Britney Bitch!” and dances a little.  Will.i.am dances more and is generally cooler I would say.  The biggest thing though is how this song isn’t really about anything, isn’t even really that fun, and oh, how very much product placement is in this video.  Honestly, if you stop and watch with your critical brain on you’ll notice all the cameras and smartphones and stuff just featured in shot after shot.  The video has some shots of just a camera or some other product spinning like it was on some display.   The people are shown in the same way, like products more than people.  The one thing I can say is top-notch are the dancers they assembled, there’s some really good dancing, but too little of it to really leave much of an impression.  In the end I feel like I watched a trendy commercial.  Can I really complain that pop culture is empty?   Maybe not, that might be like complaining that McDonalds is unhealthy or that soap operas are unrealistic, but still–too much emptiness depresses me.

2.  The Black Box by Michael Connelly–The most interesting thing about looking at the top books in the NYT best-sellers is all these series that I had no idea existed because my reading tend to veer in other directions.  Not only is there a segment of American culture I am completely ignorant of, but also there’s some very good writers that happen to write serials.  Literary fiction does not hold a monopoly on good writing you know (I’m reminding myself of this.)  Anyway, the main character is named Harry Bosch, after the famous painter Hieronymus Bosch–who was famous for drawing hell.  From the little blurbs I read here and there, they are detective stories, but there’s all these bits that connect to make it more than that.  For instance The Black Box connects the L.A. riots to a series of crimes going on in the present day.  For me, the L.A. riots is an interesting event, because it’s not one that has universal memories of it (like say, September 11th) and we’re far enough away from them to be somewhat objective, while close enough to have real memories of it.  What I remember (I was in middle school at the time) is how shocking that rioting like this  would happen at all, I was living in NY at the time, and before the riots happened, the chance of a great big riot like that seemed about as likely as going to war against Germany or something like that–an event that should have belonged to an older era.  Though the causes are there, I’ve yet to hear real reports as to why this riot escalated so severely.  Anyway, Harry is looking for the “black box” or some set of evidence that is saved untampered somewhere to be found.  In Harry’s mind, information is always available…if you know where to look, and how to look at it.  The book is very influenced by noir (something that doesn’t necessarily thrill me in and of itself, noir is awfully overrated) but the psychology seems to be a bit more advanced.  I think I might take a gander at one of the Harry Bosch books–well I know what to get at the library.

3.  The Video I watched this week was the Extremely Scary Ghost Elevator Prank in Brazil–I have mixed feelings on this one–first, I think pranks like this are the teensiest bit mean, but also, I wonder how unscripted all these really are.  In the video people, presumably on a job interview, get in an elevator, the power goes out, and this ghost girl comes out and screams.  Sometimes she hides and comes back out again.  First, the entry office looks very sparsely decorated, second, the lady in the office shows them how to use the elevator–like really?  Is it that hard?  Third, the people seem tense before anything really happens.  Fourth, one man runs out of the elevator and out the building past the receptionist waving his hands in a way that is just a little over-the-top.  Even if it is real, it’s kind of laughing at other people’s horror, and I’m not so much into that.  Call me a prude if you like.

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