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"Hey Billy, we love the thumbs up, but could we double it?"

"Hey Billy, we love the thumbs up, but could we double it?"

Today I talk with Erin about the recent wave of celebrity deaths, which celebrites we hope don’t die, and why celebrity death affects us at all.

You can now get the podcast in iTunes so, you know, do that.

Download Reactionary Century Podcast 02 – 062909

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By Ryan

trumpFew things in life are more self-important than reality television, and if I was any kind of writer at all, I’d throw in some killer examples of said things.  Still, I did just use the phrase “said things,” so at the very least you’re getting a high-school-student-trying-to-make-his-College-Comp-essay-sound-more-intelligent-than-it-is level of work.  And a ton of hyphens.  And fragments.  Anyway, I’d be remiss (or, at least, lazy), if I didn’t get to why I’m writing in the first place: I’m in love with a girl and I don’t even know her name, except that it’s not a girl, it’s a reality television show, and I know its name, it’s Celebrity Apprentice, quite possibly the most self-important piece of television history since the last Apprentice.

Look, you don’t need me to tell you how full of himself Donald Trump is.  Everybody knows he’s a egomaniacal buffoon, albeit a successful one (as opposed to the poor, homeless egomaniacal buffoons you see on city buses).  This season of Apprentice doesn’t show us anything we didn’t already expect out of Trump, but it does serve as a delightful reminder of how fun reality television can be at its very best and/or worst.

I don’t really watch reality television aside from a Food Network program here or there, but when I saw the cast list for this season’s Celebrity Apprentice I knew that the comedy factor would be off the charts.  Dennis Rodman?  Joan Rivers?  Tom Green?  Brian McKnight?  One of the girls who holds suitcases of money on Deal or No Deal?  Genius.  I’m convinced that nobody could honestly watch this show and find it interesting, but that nearly everyone who would take the time to watch an entire episode would find it more laugh-out-loud funny than almost every other television show-reality or otherwise-on the major networks.

I don’t want to rehash every crazy thing that’s happened on this show, so I’ll just give you my three favorites:

1.       Dennis Rodman drinking during every single task, not showing up to half of them, getting in the face of the half-his-size Clint Black for no apparent reason, and being accused of being an alcoholic by the entire cast in a shockingly somber boardroom that saw him leave the show.  And a hearty hats-off to whoever decided that putting up a “Know someone who has a drinking problem? Call AA at…” card at the end of the show was a good idea.  Comedy gold.

2.       Joan Rivers hating somebody different every week, going out of her way to stick up for her bitchy daughter (and fellow contestant) Melissa, and threatening to leave the show several times.  I’m not sure how much she drinks on the set-the camera only ocassionaly catches her with wine or champagne-but her reactions during boardroom and the firing process are completely inexplicable.  Last time she tried to smash a champagne flute on the floor, only it was still full of champagne and she got it all over her ridiculous outfit and stupid hair.  Also, Trump repeatedly states that she’s “one of the best comediennes of all time,” which is pretty damn funny for anyone who’s ever seen her “perform.”

3.       Trump is a class-A sleezeball with the ladies.  One of the contestants is a former Playboy model, and Donald continually hits on her.  She has probably the weakest skill sets of anyone, but she never gets fired because most of what Trump says to her in the boardroom is things like, “Brandi’s a beautiful woman, there’s no doubt about that.”  On one show, the contestants had to make “viral videos” for All detergent, and one team hired a model for their video.  Trump commented on her looks and then, completely seriously, cut off what one of the contestants was saying to ask her, “Do you agree that she is very sexy?” when it had nothing to do with the discussion.  He then asked for Brandi’s opinion, citing her as “One of the all-time queens of sexiness.”

I’m not trying to convince anyone to watch this show, as it’s an utter waste of time, but still…  It’s funny, and I’m out here, staking my reputation as someone with taste to say that I like this show.  Maybe I don’t like it for the reasons NBC wishes I would like it, but the end result is just as good: I watch it every week, and I can’t get enough of The Donald.  Last week he called the Fashion Institute of Technology “a real winner of a place.”  Anyone who talks like that gets two hours a week from me, no questions asked.  Here’s hoping next season’s cast is a bit more famous, a bit more crazy, and, just for Trump’s sake, “way smokin’ hot.”

By Ryan

Remember when Condi Rice was asked by the 9/11 commission the title of a PDB from August 6, 2001, and she had to respond, “I believe the title was “Bin Laden Determined to Attack Inside the United States.””?  Of course you do.  Can you imagine what she had to be feeling at that moment?  I mean, she had known that the administration was going to come under public scrutiny once this information came out, but to be forced to say it in such a public setting in such a sure-fire-sound-bite manner had to make her a bit squeamish.  I think this is how Michael Phelps must feel when he sees Ashton Kutcher defending him on Access Hollywood.

He even dresses like a moron

He even dresses like a moron

You see, Phelps is a rare breed of modern celebrity; he has only one remarkable skill set, and it’s only particularly useful every four years or whenever he’s being chased by a shark.  Because of the phenomena of the Olympics, where average citizens inexplicably care about sports you couldn’t bribe them to watch otherwise, Phelps can avoid the spotlight for the 206 Olympic-less weeks every four years, emerging only when he wants and where he wants.  That is to say, he is not Kobe Bryant, with the LA lights always on his every move; he is not Roger Clemens or Barry Bonds, still paying repercussions for wrongs they might have (probably) done years ago; hell, he’s not even Kutcher.  He’s a guy who lives in Baltimore and gets to chose which endorsements to take for millions and which parties to attend with whatever star-of-the-moment he’s currently hanging out with.

So it’s understandable that no one mentions his 2004 drunken driving incident, which occurred when Phelps was just 19 years old.  After all, it doesn’t make for good hype when you’re NBC and you’re trying to make Phelps the most famous American athlete of his generation.  He was young, he made a mistake, blah blah blah, I get it.  But now people are going to give him a break on this marijuana incident?  Please.

The average defense goes something like this: he’s 23 and all 23 year olds smoke weed.  Bullshit.  First of all, I know plenty of 23 year olds who have never done an illegal drug.  And, secondly, star athletes (and celebs in general) are held to a different standard than the average 23 year old kid.  As well they should be.  Most of the income Phelps earns is from endorsements given him because of his all-American good-boy image.  If people start to see him for who he really is-a dumbass frat boy with pretty limited talent-those endorsements could go away rather quickly.

Look, I’m all about second chances.  But second chances don’t have to mean getting to keep your $100 million in endorsement deals.  Second chances means you don’t get stripped of your medals, and you don’t get fined and get another black mark on your legal file.  Do I think smoking weed is a big deal?  Not really, but it is illegal, and if we’re going to rake other athletes and celebrities over the coals for their transgressions, then Phelps should get no free pass.  He’s proven himself irresponsible and, in interviews and an SNL appearance, uninteresting, and it’s about time he got called out on it.  Phelps, you’re a douchebag.

By Adam

I’m very excited about writing this column, as I expect that the simple act of committing these thoughts to digital paper guarantees my entry into some sort of special hell reserved for people who devour the pain of others as sustenance.  Everything I’m about to discuss is just soul-numbingly tragic, but I’ve always found that if you can’t laugh at your son’s premature, preventable death, what the hell can you laugh at?  Let’s get this macabre ball rolling with a death that is, for all intents and purposes, pretty funny:

ricardo_montalban

  • Ricardo Montalban died earlier this week, and while he was a pretty talented guy and will cause pangs of sadness in my heart every time a Fantasy Island rerun comes on, I can’t help but think that this death was orchestrated across generations.  Montalban is perhaps most famous for playing Khan, the evil badass with a fake chest in the Star Trek movies.  Minnesota went through a warm spell this week, largely due to nerds everywhere breathing a sigh of relief as their hero’s original nemesis finally bit the dust.  If we can learn one thing from Ricardo Montalban’s death, it’s the importance of separating fantasy from reality.  You win again, nerds. See you in five years when Magneto kicks it.

Heath Ledger

  • Death is really frustrating to me; not in that bullshit, “Hey, I lost someone I love” sort of cliché but more in a “Aww, I’m suddenly sad that this person has died, although I never gave a shit about their life while they were living.”  The epitome of this kind of vomit-galvanizing death is the passing of Heath Ledger, who died of an accidental overdose or taking the wrong combination of medications or blah blah blah.  Listen to me now: is anyone negatively affected by a celebrity overdose?  Is anyone even surprised anymore?  You can’t swing a dead cat in Hollywood without hitting some tween slut who is so jacked on coke that she’ll sleep with her own pseudo-celebrity father just to get a fix.  You can’t, Miley.  You just can’t.  But the whole point is that Heath Ledger did a bunch of movies that are largely forgettable-Casanova, A Knight’s Tale, 10 Things I Hate About You-and we forgive him for this, because he couldn’t read the label on his “legally obtained” painkillers.

george-carlin

  • For a guy who lived a life chock-full of vice (and not some lame “still watches Heroes” vice, we’re talking about a hookers-booze-drugs-hate-crimes-and-similar-vices vice), George Carlin kind out went out like a bitch.  Heart failure?  Really?  This guy wrote that his preferred way to die was “bursting into flames on the cross town bus.”  Heart.  Fucking.  Failure.  Actually, you know what?  This is all just a right-wing conspiracy to posthumously make this guy seem mild and tame.  You know how I bet he really died? Tyrannosaurus-Rex.

jett-travolta-gabbybabble

  • But I think the most recent death that was both legitimately tragic and shameful was the death of young, retarded Jett Travolta.  I know, I know: being autistic doesn’t exactly equal intellectual infirmity, but there’s got to be some sort of genetic link between his disease and his parent’s stupid fucking decision to not use antiepileptic medications.  Argue with me all you want Tom Cruise, but those things work, and I personally know at least 150 people who take them daily.  Xenu or whatever the fuck Star Wars bullshit you believe in is not going to make chronic diseases go away.  It’s like holding your breath while waiting for something or, you know, praying-you can do it, but why waste your time?  Do something productive like take a medication or make a milkshake or something.  I don’t know; I’m not a fucking doctor.

I hope I’ve enlightened all your minds (even you, ghostly, feeble-minded Jett) when it comes to celebrity deaths and why I think they are stupid.  If I haven’t, go fuck yourselves.  Hey, I think that will be my new catchphrase!  Go fuck yourself, America!  I feel kind of cutting edge.