MTV VMA 2016: Minimal Effort for the Millennials (Editorial)

Ariana Grande and Nicki Minaj

Perhaps the only thing more annoying than the faux fanboy “influencers” comedy duo Keegan-Michael Key and Jordan Peele was the minimal  effort expended to entertain the millennial audience.  The show itself seemed to be an extreme answer to the lack of diversity displayed by the academy at the Oscars.

Hip-Hip ruled the night. Amid lackadaisical performances and the overreaction of the tweens in the audience this years video music awards was nearly unwatchable. The older performers were uneasy with their interactions with the younger stars.

Nicki Minaj looked almost hostilely bored during her number with Ariana Grande. Rihanna, who opened the show in a long dance number,  either could not be bothered to lip-sync most of her songs, or forgot.

Beyonce, the big winner of the evening, gave the performance of the evening. A monument to eclectic dance moves and lip-synced lyrics.  The microphone covering the mouth is a dead giveaway by the way.

The MTV Video Music Awards felt geared to a generation who did not cut their teeth on Michael Jackson and may even be tiring of Justin Bieber. This was aimed at the demographic who joined YouTube after  its heyday.  The kids who look blankly when MySpace is mentioned.

It was painfully obvious that the days of truly gifted and spectacular performers like Tina Turner are over.  Beyonce is a personal favorite, but hearing Tina belt out “Nutbush City Limits” was a special treat and not one performance by any female artist on the VMA’s came near that level of power last night.

The show was all about dry ice, flashing lights and a huge amount of dancers supporting the artists.  Perhaps the main problem was that all the music had a sameness to it.  There was no variety.

(On a sidenote, there could have been a lot more of Jay Pharoah)

This year felt sophomoric and apathetic compared to years past.  Miley Cyrus, who made the VMA her plaything was replaced by two comics posing as Twitter poseurs. And just to set the record straight:   Whoever thought  having Kim Kardashian-North present Britney Spears was a good idea?

Spears, the queen of lip-sync (cop the mic over the mouth) performed with G-Eazy who did the lion’s share of the work. The performance, like the show itself, was underwhelming.

The multiple hosts  this year were incredibly annoying: DJ Khaled and Nicole Byer, along with Peele and Key,  put the VMA at a level of irritation never before seen.

More interesting than the actual awards program were the camera shots of the rich and famous in the audience, arguably the best of any MTV VMA.  Kim getting a close of up of Kanye smiling with her smart phone.  West sidled up to Jayden Smith, and that wild hair cut. The clear excitement of the Olympic guests, who later presented an award,  and who all looked around 12 years old.

Jimmy Fallon came out to present the video of the year award and died.  Perhaps the average audience member is not allowed to stay up that late.  (Beyonce won this one, no real surprise there as this was her night.)

Beyonce won a total of six awards by the end of the evening.  Making her the woman of the “hour.” Rihanna kept upping her game and her final performance was her best. Less about the dancers and more about the singing, RiRi killed it.

Rihanna took the Michael Jackson Vanguard Video award after a long winded and slightly rambling intro from Drake. It was here that he declared his love for the singer.

All in all, the evening was pretty blasé.  A sort of masturbatory experience for a privileged few, we are talking about you Kanye and Kim, and  a total yawn fest  without the antics of Miley Cyrus.  When the highlight of the event is Drake declaring his love for Rhianna perhaps it is time to rethink the formula.

Bring back the spectacle guys and dolls, this was a major disappointment.

SNL Review: Melissa McCarthy & Kanye West – Leslie Jones Rocks

SNL: Melissa McCarthy and Kanye West (musical guest and participant in one skit with Kyle Mooney) were the honorees on the February 13, and 13th episode of the 41st season of the long running comedy show.

Saturday Night Live - Season 41

SNL: Melissa McCarthy and Kanye West (musical guest and participant in one skit with Kyle Mooney) were the honorees on February 13, and, coincidentally,  the 13th episode of the 41st season of the long running comedy show. The opening sequence where an invisible Hilary Clinton (Kate McKinnon) tries her best to woo some voters away from Bernie Sanders, set the tone of the evening.

This open was oddly eclectic but spot-on as Clinton was in the news for earning as much as Bernie in the polls after he won New Hampshire by a landslide.

McCarthy was the host, obviously, because the new gender-changed Ghostbusters is out this year; premiering in July and just as obviously, Leslie Jones was given a bit more to do since she is a co-star in the upcoming re-imagining of the 80s classic.

Jones was on fire in this episode. Ruling Weekend Update with her diatribe about her perfect man for Valentine’s Day.  Possibly the best bit had to be wanting a man who can:

“cook a steak but not have to cut into it and see if it’s cooked like a little b*tch.”

This said while looking pointedly at Colin Jost…

Keeping on the Jones “fan train” a bit longer, the entire sketch about Pick Up Lines, was funny with McCarthy playing a psychotic single. As great as Melissa was with her “my uncle is a serial killer” she was not nearly as funny as Jones who kept losing it throughout the skit.

Leslie Jones specializes in playing over the top and in your face type characters that are hysterically funny. The performer’s demeanor always seems to be focussed on the performance at hand, yet McCarthy had her Ghostbusters co-star almost continuously corpsing.

Saturday Night Live - Season 41
Leslie Jones corpsing added a lot to the sketch…

Before any of the show’s skits started, Melissa came out and did a “glove under the seat” gag and then began celebrating her “fifth” time hosting until Keenan Thompson, dressed as a number 5, tells her that she has only hosted 4 and 1/16th time.

The highlight of Lorne Michaels and his writers continuing the show’s black awareness crusade, that began with the Oscars tempest in an award’s program (started by the Smiths…), was the fake film trailer for “The Day Beyonce Turned Black.”

This was hysterically funny and Keenan Thompson gets the best verbal joke out of the entire skit,  with Aidy Bryant  getting the best visual (a take-off on The Others),  when telling Kate McKinnon’s character that in the Pink Panther movie:

“Okay, yeah, she (Beyonce)  was white in that…”

Although McKinnon goes on to get the best “homage” moment when she replicates the “pillow” moment in The Babadook.

Up next was an excellent parody of those audience reaction promos for horror films, in this case “The Cul-De-Sac” (a horror film, obviously) and the audience have a chance to view their reactions to the movie before signing their release forms. McCarthy is beyond funny with her character’s OTT reactions that get more extreme with each event.

For the record: McCarthy vomits, pees herself, attacks other audience members and rushes out the emergency exit.

Peter Davidson was funny in the “watching a sex scene with your parents” gag.  McCarthy played the “hand’s on” mom and Bobby Moynihan the father and all three gave great “voice-over” as their character’s inner thoughts got increasingly desperate.

Next up was Kanye West’s first performance, obviously West was on to promote his new album The Life of Pablo that dropped on Saturday.

Weekend Update featured not just a winning performance from Jones but allowed Vanessa Bayer to rock it with her Rachel from Friends impression.  The next sketch was the Pick Up Lines one with McCarthy just killing Jones through the entire routine.

Not content with just singing twice on SNL. Kanye appears in a pre-taped segment where Kyle Mooney does a “mockumentary” about his true ambition; to be a hip-hop artist and rapper who will beat out Kanye West in a battle.

Interestingly shot and crafted well, the moment that Mooney meets with Kanye backstage and begins to awkwardly “bring it,” the whole thing comes together with the snap of a bear trap springing shut. West leaps into the “we miss the old Kanye” and slaughter’s Mooney and the wannabe rapper ends the sequence convinced that he won.

In honor of Jones and McCarthy’s teaming in the upcoming Ghostbusters film, they get to work together in a bus sketch where Melissa’s character rambles on about Roots and increasingly annoys Jones’ character.  As the type of person one wishes to avoid on public transport, McCarthy does her bit to help race relations…not.

The skit ends on a “Speed” note. Afterward the second, overly-long, Kanye number is performed; backed by Young Thugs. The final skit had McKinnon as the cat-lady with McCarthy as her partner.  Line of the night, which is the second reference to O.J. Simpson since the Weekend Update segment, goes to McKinnon:

“We call this cat O.J. because he’s orange like the juice and a murderer like the athlete.”

Saturday Night Live - Season 41
O.J. in the Valentine’s Cat Giveaway.

All in all a good show but not one where McCarthy actually killed it her fourth (and one sixteenth) time hosting.  The performer still seems to be channelling her inner Tammyalbeit a more svelte version.

SNL with its 13th episode of season 41 had a few outstanding moments and allowed Leslie Jones to rock it.  There was at least one mystery in the show and that was the T-Shirt that Kanye was sporting at the end of the show.

Life in the Real Desert: The Stacy Keach Lookalike or Who WAS That?

Stacy Keach at film festival
Stacy…Was that you?

Life in the Real Desert continues to be amusing, challenging, frustrating and, sometimes, really odd. A perfect example of the “odd” occurred this morning when a Stacy Keach “lookalike” had a right old go at me outside the Burger King where I write most days. It may even have been Keach, Quartzsite is very close to the California border and I have seem people who look a bit like celebs pass through this little burg. If it was Stacy? Lay off the cocaine matey, it’s not good for you and makes you act like a grade A prick. Remember London Heathrow?

The details of my little “almost” altercation with Stacy Keach or his lookalike, began with my arriving and seeing that two well built (as in spending a bit of time on the old weights) chaps were sitting in “my spot.” (I normally sit in this booth because of the electrical sockets and it allows me to see my bike, it has been tampered with.) I had a chat with my mate and then got changed.

Coming out I noticed that the two fellers were still there. I decide to put my white box back on my Schwinn and then call my mum to tell her I’d heard from my daughter Meg. As I’m waiting for the phone to ring her end, I see this “Keach-looking” chap glaring bloody murder at me through the window.

I point to my chest and mouth, “Is there a problem?” Like a red flag to a bull, my gesture and question galvanized this man and he came charging out of the Burger King, I am still on the phone with it pressed to my ear. “Are you all right mate?” I ask, “Is there some sort of problem?”

Pointing a big “muscly” finger at me as he approached, very aggressively, he growled and said, “If you take another picture of me…” I pull the phone from my ear, “I’m not taking any pictures, I’m talking on the bloody phone.” My mother is on the other end asking what is going on and he then says “Stop taking pictures.”

I move the phone away from my face, “I’m on the phone to my mum mate. I’m not taking any pictures. Now you need to back off before I call the police, yeah?” (My inner London gangster type obviously comes out when threatened.) He replied that I could do just that but he then turned tail and went back into Burger King rather quickly. His mate came out as he went in and said, rather inexplicably, “The air conditioner is on inside.”

The whole incident lasted perhaps 10 seconds. “Stacy Keach” went back in the eatery and stormed up and down for a bit, apparently ranting about the issue. In the meantime a highway patrol vehicle drove up and went through the Drive-thru window. “Stacy” comes out and struts up and down outside Burger King, ignoring me, and then after making a big show of looking around the corners of the building got back into his car, shooting me a sideways look as he closed the passenger door.

It threw the man when I was not aggressive, but matter-of-fact. I did not threaten violence, although my hand was on the pepper spray and I was ready to use it. It must have sunk through that self important brain that I was not taking pictures of any type but he still felt the need to posture and act tough.

When he was storming up and down the walk outside, I actually pulled out my spray and opened my back pack to where my old prison baton was. Had he approached too closely again, he would have been sprayed and then thumped. Luckily for him, he will soon forget the old chappy with the MikesFilmTalk.com t-shirt who almost beat the devil out of him with an old prison baton.

The next time he may not be so lucky. Whether he is someone “important” or famous or really is Stacy Keach, he needs to curb that aggression. It’s not big, it’s not clever and it can get you hurt, or even worse, it can cause someone else to be hurt. I did not say it to you chum, but I had no idea who you were, or who you even think you are. Although after our little “altercation” it is apparent that he may think he is Kanye West…

Get a grip mate.

And if that was Stacy Keach? You just lost a long time fan mate. I do not think it was Keach, the man is 74 and I just watched his performance in the teen “weepy” If I Stay. The man who almost physically accosted me, just looked like Keach but younger, like the man did around his Mike Hammer days. Even when this cat realized that no one was taking his picture, there was no apology or explanation. A real gent…not.

One last word on the subject, during his entire stay at the local eatery, his car contained a dog in the back seat. There were no windows rolled down, that I could see, and this is the desert…in summer… Yeah, a real “tool” this chap, had I realized I would have called the police for the dog.

Top Five: A Chris Rock Take on Celebrity (Review and Trailer)

Top Five: A Chris Rock Take on Celebrity (Review and Trailer)

Written, directed by and starring Chris Rock, Top Five is his take on Celebrity with its pitfalls, problems, fears and since this is Chris Rock, the comedy behind the fame. This is the second time that the 49 year old stand up comedian, actor, writer, director, and producer has donned three hats for a film. In 2007, Rock was also a “three man band” on I Think I Love My Wife and that film, which was a romantic dramedy, was pretty much panned by critics upon its release. This is Rock’s third time directing a feature length film and his fourth time directing, when including one episode of his television comedy series Everybody Hates Chris.

Kim Kardashian Bare Bottom in Oil Tacky and Turbulent

Kim Kardashian Bare Bottom in Oil Tacky and Turbulent

Kim Kardashian has put her bare bottom, covered in oil, out there for the world to see and this tacky photo has created a turbulent whirlwind of controversy as the image was meant to “break” the internet when it appeared. While there is no real evidence that the magazine photo for Paper (whose theme for this issue was “Break the Internet) broke anything, it has certainly put Kardashian right out where she likes to be, semi-naked and on the net. In keeping with the usual fanfare surrounding a Kim Kardashian picture where she shows off inappropriate bits of her body, there has been a lot of fun poked at the reality TV star.