Thursday, September 06, 2007

Alvin and the Chipmunks and a quasi-scholarly analysis on the futility of taste (or, Joe is pretentious)

There comes a time in every cynic's life where it becomes meaningless to rail against the wrongs men do in the world, be they artistic, political, cultural or what have you. Whenever I come across something like the new Alvin and the Chipmunks movie and can barely muster up the motivation to articulate why it's wrong, I realize that so much of me that was once vital has long since died. There is something to be said for being so removed from modern pop culture that large chunks of it, even its most perverse offenses, can be rendered as surreal and meaningless abstractions; I credit a high-speed internet connection my freshman year at college and the subsequent realization that I didn't need to own a TV to occasionally watch TV shows as the first and most important step in becoming so sheltered that the only way I even find out about stuff like the Alvin and the Chipmunks is by rare accident.

And on those rare accidents, when something horrid slips through, I am at first horrified. When I was first made aware of My Super Sweet 16 (or whatever the show with the wealthy bitchy teenage girls yelling at their parents and friends is called), I was apoplectic that they were featuring these terrible, spoiled, and mean-spirited people as entertainment figures, but then my sister informed me that there were scads of shows pretty much just like it, and everyone agrees they're terrible and yet they're still hugely popular so what are you going to do?

It's sort of humbling, in a way.

So I don't really even have the energy to make myself care about Alvin and the Chipmunks anymore; after the initial flash of outrage in the taste centers of my brain, it's sunk into that dull blue-gray "that's just stupid/it's so weird they decided to make that/oh well, what are you gonna do" area of perception. Beyond the obvious fact that it's a children's movie and thus not intended for me (I am neither a child nor do I have children), there is a lot to hate here. There have GOT to be better opportunities out there for Jason Lee to make a big dumb Hollywood blockbuster borderline-career killer, for one. And the trailer I stumbled upon repurposes footage of a riot in which nearly 100 people died for comedic effect (it also features Alvin sucking on a piece of Theodore's shit... hey, it's a kid's movie!). And Hollywood remake necrophilia is a bummer and a half, especially when applied to a franchise as pointless (not to mention pointlessly remade) as Alvin and the Chipmunks.

But for the most part, I'd much rather save my ire for when something that ought to be good isn't (the last Arcade Fire album, f'rinstance... they're fantastic live, and Funeral matched the hyperbole for me, but Neon Bible just plain didn't bring the songs), rather than for shit that pops through my self-imposed isolation bubble and briefly spooks me by exposing the true values of the lowest common denominator. So I'm pretentious, and I'm a snob, and I'm giving up, but what am I gonna do?

It's Alvin and the Chipmunks. They were singing "Funkytown."


cb said...

yeah. jeez.

i hate those shows where dumb bitches yell at people and screak into their cellphones.

alvin & the chipmunks was good for one thing only, and that's the christmas song about the hula-hoop. it's cross-marketing promotional wonderland.

a remake of dumb shit is....i don't even know what you call that.


let us sip some fine wine and eat cheese and dates and discuss Nietzsche or something REALLY meaningful. maybe we can talk about Gravitys Rainbow!

Matt Deckard said...

Okay, between Underdog, this, and Scientology I think maybe Jason Lee has a brain tumor. But did you see that David Fucking CROSS is in this?! That's iconoclastic.

Mitch Meats said...

kill me now, i did not need to know that, joe.

jilly said...

yeah, what's up with david cross? I saw he was in that and has some other stuff coming up, too, including instant classics like "kung fu panda" and "cat tale"? man, I really hope he isn't heading toward the dark.

The Mayor said...

I feel sort of sick to my stomach, because you know that movie is going to spawn a sequel

tashikitten said...

Powder ( did an awesome cover of The Chipmunk Song (Christmas Don't Be Late).

As far as ALL of those stupid "reality" shows, they're a travesty and to this day, I cannot believe how they have caught on. Any time a friend of mine admits to being a fan of a reality show, my respect for them goes down a notch. You're not the only snob.

Anonymous said...

I'm going to numerate my response, because it's efficient.

1. Thinking a movie like Alvin and the Chipmunks is a stupid idea doesn't make you pretentious; it doesn't take someone especially pretentious or bright to notice that.

2. The key realization is that you're not the target audience. I don't like Gwen Stefani or Ashlee Simpson's music, but I don't have to, and nobody cares about my opinion. I'm not shelling the money out for it and I'm not even being marketed to.

3. I'm not depressed by the realization of any of this, I simply find better things to do with my time, like watching animal videos on Youtube or reading about the Boer War on Wikipedia. Or, I choose to enjoy something that is marketed to me, like movies with gratuitous sex and violence or gross-out comedies like Superbad. That's when you get to flex your critical muscles for the good of all those around you.

Mene Tekel said...

First, we could start a campaign or online petition to get people to promise not to see this bad movie. Then, when enough people don't go, it will bomb at the box office, and studios won't make these types of movies in the future.

Second, I liked the Neon Bible better than Funeral. You needed to know that. But at least you like the band.

Matt Deckard said...

You liked Neon Bible better than Funeral? What is your justification for that?

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