Monthly Archives: March 2012
This is my confession: I didn’t realize how much I actually liked Usher until he was gone. Well, he wasn’t gone, but 2010′s big Usher “comeback,” comprised of radio-friendly dance hits “OMG” and “DJ Got Us Fallin in Love,” just didn’t do it for me. Despite his wide commercial success and his penchant for smooth moves and big collaborations, Usher is at his best when he embraces his introverted side. 2004′s Confessions was old school R&B at its best, poising Usher to be the next great crooner for a new generation. But that was almost eight years ago, and it’s only just now that he’s figured out how to do both; effortlessly blend his slow, ultra-cool ballad style with dance floor sensibilities. Thanks in part to wonder producer Diplo, “Climax,” off of Usher’s upcoming seventh album, is simply one of the best singles of the year thus far.
Animal Collective are another band that I love to hit “repeat” on when the weather starts to warm up a bit. I’ll admit it, though– I was late to the game with these guys. Prior to the release of 2009′s Merriwether Post Pavilion, an album which I’ve come to appreciate in its near-perfection, I had heard only tidbits of AC here and there, finding them for the most part to be a little too experimental for my taste. “Summertime Clothes” is one of the songs that changed my mind. Maybe it’s the trippy yet dancey vibe, the pulsing backing beat that sounds like nothing you’ve ever heard before, or the ‘summer in the city’ lyrics which somehow give you the feelings of both the stifling hot concrete and the refreshing warm breeze, simultaneously. Yes, the video is weird, but it’s mesmerizing, just like the track. It’s come to be one of my very favorite songs, and Animal Collective are now one of my very favorite bands.
Okay, so I get it. Everyone’s all worked up about the film adaptation of The Hunger Games being released next week, but that stuff is supposed to be for kids. I mean, they’re calling it the next Twilight, and on any given entertainment news program, you can find countless squirming pre-teen girls proclaiming their allegiance to Team Peeta or Team Gale. It’s pretty unfortunate because, is The Hunger Games anything like that whiny Mormon allegory of a supernatural romance saga?
Um, HELL no.
It’s not even really fair to compare the two book-to-film franchises, but since I’m clearly doing it anyway, there are several reasons why The Hunger Games is not only better than Twilight, but just plain good in general. First off, there is an actual story happening here; not just a love triangle. While Twilight is centered around Bella Swan, the modern day Juliet who lays down and wishes death upon herself every time her vampire boyfriend leaves her, The Hunger Games focuses on the story of 16-year-old Katniss Everdeen, an impoverished youth fighting for her family and her life in the ruins of what was once North America. Yeah, she sort of falls in love, or whatever, but that aspect of the story plays second fiddle to the greater, over-arching themes of hope, tragedy, political corruption, and what happens when a society becomes completely engrossed in its own decadence.
And while I won’t see the film until it comes out on March 23, I already know that The Hunger Games will be exponentially better than any movie from the Twilight saga. For one, there’s Jennifer Lawrence; a young actress who is not only incredibly beautiful, but is also a commanding presence on screen, which she proved when she was nominated for an Academy Award at age twenty for Winter’s Bone (an amazing film and performance– get on that if you haven’t yet seen it). Her portrayal of Katniss is already being praised critically, and she is joined in the film by veteran actors such as Woody Harrelson, Elizabeth Banks, and Stanley Tucci. There is so much more of a world for these actors to create in The Hunger Games; I’m most looking forward to seeing the over-the-top luxury of the Capitol contrasted with the poor, rural wasteland of Katniss’ home of District 12. As Lawrence told the LA Times, “The thing I like about this movie, which is different from many others, is Katniss is focused on survival, focused on a revolution and not focused on who is going to be her boyfriend.”
And while series author Suzanne Collins is no Jonathan Franzen or Jeffrey Eugenides– this is a Young Adult series, you know– The Hunger Games books are fast, addictive reads filled with dynamic characters and an engrossing, revolutionary premise: what happens when the tables are turned on a nation which controls its citizens through fear and death? As someone who falls just a tad above the YA target age group, I didn’t think that I would ever want to read The Hunger Games. Once I did, I didn’t put them down until I had devoured every last word.
Finally, there’s just Katniss Everdeen herself. Would Katniss ever cry for a week– hell, even an hour– over a guy? No way. Would Katniss ever fall for a few cheese-tastic lines delivered by some sparkly stalker that comes through her window at night? Nope. Would Katniss ever be anything less than a strong, resourceful, capable heroine? Not a chance. Yes, she’s a human being– she has her doubts, her fears– but Katniss is a dystopian Joan of Arc for the future.
All of this makes me happy– really happy. For me, the thought of a generation of girls growing up and idolizing the lovesick Bella is worse than the prospect of enduring a real-life version of the 74th Annual Hunger Games. Katniss Everdeen is just the latest in a line of incredible female role models, from Xena the Warrior Princess to Buffy the Vampire Slayer and Uma Thurman as The Bride. These are the badass bitches that girls should look up to! t’s now, as an adult, that I thank my lucky stars that I was a little less Cinderella and little more Mulan as a young girl. Katniss is a pop culture phenomenon, and not to mention, a pretty good shot with a bow and arrow. Who wouldn’t want to be her?
Six days and
shvitzing counting. Let the games begin!
If you know anything about me by now, you know that I think director/skateboard aficionado Spike Jonze is a total GEN-i-US. He is a master of cool music vids to begin with, but when you add 90s superstar DJ Fatboy Slim– not to mention the amazing Christopher Walken– it’s an explosion of awesomeness that I don’t really think your computer can handle. Give it a try anyway, though. Check out those moves!
*On a related note, I’m pretty sure I first heard this song on a NOW cd. Remember those bad boys? Throwback!