Sunday, June 27, 2010

Redeeming the Week in Entertainment: 6/20 - 6/27

The second entry into this feature again is going to cover some pretty wide territory from USA World Cup failures to Jason Derulo's breathy stylings. For those who didn't catch the first entry and have no idea what this weekly feature is about, here is a re-cap of the mission this feature sets out to be.

Instead of just simply looking to kill time or 'veg out', I'll be looking deeper into the entertainment I take in and try and glean something of value from it. This will probably manifest itself in a quick paragraph or two on a few of the things I watched the previous week. You might get an articulate discourse on deep philosophical themes, or just a quick unsupported opinion or two. Some of the items included may seem 'unredeemable', but certainly I feel the act of thinking critically about it and recognizing its' faults and weaknesses, can itself be a redeeming act. It's ultimately an exercise for me to continue thinking deeper about the entertainment I consume, as well as a way to kind of share a 'week in review' with anyone who cares to read. So lets get to it.

USA vs. Ghana
World Cup Soccer: Round of 16


College World Series

Both the Florida State Seminoles (I am a FSU grad) and the US World Cup Soccer Team were recent causes that I've taken up. It's not that I didn't like either (I've been to several FSU games and watched the last World Cup), but both recently made it to the final stages of their respective playoffs and cheering on the team not only became easier, but it quickly became a thing of passion. Of course, winning makes it easier, but with such a full schedule, I've just now gotten a chance to follow with any detail.

As fast as I became a passionate fan, FSU and the U.S. were knocked out of the tournament. FSU took a 7-2 lead into the late innings and ultimately collapsed. The U.S. allowed early goals in regulation and then overtime, only to succumb to a Ghana team that could've been beaten. Immediately after the losses my (as well as most people I presume) initial reaction was to be angry with the teams themselves. They blew it, they stunk it up, they choked, they were outclassed, and on and on the thoughts ran through my head.

That's when I really felt like I had to put it into the correct perspective. Certainly, there is criticism for each team and for the individual errors committed, but it's also so easy to lose sight of the accomplishments that brought me to watch the team to begin with. How easy is it to believe that the USA's loss just confirms what the world wants to believe, the US will never be good at soccer. What a minute though, we went to the round of 16 out of all the soccer powerhouses in the world. On top of that, we were one or two mistakes away from making the quarterfinals, a place we had gotten to in 2002. Perennial big dogs like France and Italy couldn't even make it out of their groups, leaving with disappointed teams. The world of soccer is competitive and tough, yet the USA has competed and been a force to reckon with for at least a decade.

What FSU and the USA has taught me is to strive to put my efforts and the efforts of others in the correct perspective. Remember how great the last inning strikeout was to get us into the College World Series? Remember the excitement that came with Donovan's wining goal in the 91st minute against Slovenia? We aren't owed these memories, and we should recognize them when they come around. Thank you USA and FSU for your passion and drive to win. It was a pleasure to get a chance to cheer you on.

Jason Derulo
Singer of "In My Head", "Watcha Say", & "Ridin Solo"
(Video is not suitable for all ages, and NSFW)

Right now it seems that top 40 radio is just dominated by the same breathy young R&B star in every song. Between Jason Derulo, Taio Cruz's "Break Your Heart", Travie Mccoy's "Billionaire", Drake's "Find Your Love", and the return of Usher & Kanye West, I don't know if we ever get a break from it (except for Gaga or Keisha it seems). I single out Derulo's "In My Head" because I think it's the worst example of the entire genre of r&b mixed with dance club beats that Usher and Kanye have pioneered.

The fact that the song begins with his own name as self-promotion is reason enough to turn it off, but listen to all the extra little things he seems to add to every line, with extra breaths and 'oohs' an 'ahhs'. In the tradition of Simon Fuller's critical eye, this song is so indulgent it takes on a self-parody flavor and has to represent the maturation and fall for this genre. Perhaps he can be cut some slack by just saying he was trying to do his best homage (more like impression) to Michael Jackson. In fact, the video in a way comes off like Michael's "The Way You Make Me Feel" video. That being said, this whole trend annoys me for it's emphasis on style (really an over-indulgent style) that only points inwards. Do I even need to mention the quality of the lyrics?

Lady Antebellum
"Need You Now"
(Click the Picture to watch the Video)

It's a song that has been in circulation for quite some time now, and I keep playing it over and over myself. I don't highlight this song because of the genre contrast with the R&B above (I like both genres equally), but because I think there is an honesty and simplicity contrast. From a Christian perspective, this song features two hurting people whom probably shouldn't be turning to alcohol to drown sorrows. However, what the song nails is the honesty of what it's like to hurt in needing someone. The music and vocal styling accentuate the melancholy and pain present in the lyrics and I think it's something everyone (even those not in that particular position) can really relate to and 'feel'. Besides the musical aspect of it, I think thats what makes this a successful cross over into pop radio. People always respond to an honest and sincere plea. It's the same kind (although spiritual in nature) of honest and heartfelt pleas that David makes in the Psalms. Something about human interaction finds it necessary, important, and healthy to share these feelings, and Lady Antebellum's "Need You Now" is a good example of it.

The Mythbusters
Television Show airing on Discovery Channel

I absolutely love The Mythbusters! I took a vacation last week and as part of winding down, ending up watching show after show (including one of their countdown specials). Mythbusters is a rare show that is always educating, while always entertaining. While they always do a great job in attempting to explain the science behind their projects, I think the shows major appeal lies elsewhere. The best thing the show puts forward is the amazing chemistry between their leads as well as the highs and lows of the projects they take on.

Like most of the best sitcoms, they feature casts that you would want to hang out with; people who love life, enjoy it in the moment, while also sharing their feelings and thoughts. For anyone who has watched multiple episodes of the show, you know there are plenty of inside moments, one-liners, and character on display, that we feel like part of the crew. The difference being that this essentially isn't a scripted 'fake' show. For the most part, the responses and relationships in the show are all genuine, and enjoyable to watch.

However, happiness and chemistry alone doesn't a great show make. It's the ability of Mythbusters to put that joy and chemistry at the service of their 'work' that makes it even more redeeming. What a great example to see such unity in a team, such drive and critical thought on a project, and great joy at a result well deserved. I think what makes it most appealing to this Christian man, is that they are enjoying and flourishing at the gifts of God. Unity, creativity, and productivity are a few of the qualities this show demonstrates. We all could take a few lessons from the Mythbusters.

Jackie Chan

I've begun a new featured list and it's Jackie Chan's Top 100 Action Scenes. It's required me to spend a lot of time reviewing Chan's films and sequences. For my thoughts on Chan and what he has to offer us, check out my Introduction to the List or the first few ones I've released below.



Anonymous said...

Love reading these short snipets of info! Got to admit I'm hooked on the Mythbusters as well. Did you see the one where they tried tricking and distratcing guard dogs?