Kimye to Wed at Versailles: "Leave it to the self-proclaimed genius to have a gilded ace up his sleeve. Nothing less than France's famed Palace of Versailles will do for his spring vows to Kardashian, 33." This makes so much sense. "Kanye has never been married and wants a big one. It will be over-the-top crazy." But leave the guillotines at home, please. "They are not working with a budget. He says this is his moment, marrying his ideal woman." Can't you already hear Kanye screaming "THIS WAS SUPPOSED TO BE MY SPECIAL DAY" when the wrong rare orchids show up for the table settings? There will also be "fighter jets" flying overhead, as promised by Kanye repeatedly. And fireworks too, of course. I mean they'll still probably make better use of Versailles than Sofia Coppola did.
I have a big family, which means that on Thanksgiving, a lot of people show up with food, hangrily wait for everyone to arrive, say grace, eat other people's food, become immobile for a few hours, and then make a few plates and leave. It's the best. Somewhere between the arrivals and the comas, however, all the conversations happen. Some are discussions that stem from something on television, some are side conversations, and occasionally there are those amazing moments when it seems as if someone's been waiting all year just to bring something up. And when that happens, all you can do is sit back and watch it unfold.
It's pretty magical, watching conversations go from one topic to another, often struggling to find the line that got the family from A to B to C. As I've gotten older, however, I've enjoyed throwing out a few curveballs in addition to observing, just to see how my family responds to the topics, be they political, sports, music, movies, Tyler Perry, whatever.
But sometimes it's awkward to start these conversations if they don't happen organically. It's not the most natural thing to just stand up and yell over the football game, "BUT WHAT OF KIM'S LACK OF NIPPLES IN THAT “BOUND 2” VIDEO, DO Y'ALL WANT TO TALK ABOUT THAT?"
That's a bit much.
But that doesn't mean you shouldn't talk about it. Because let it be known that tomorrow my family and I are watching that video together and then talking about it. Forever.
So that's my Thanksgiving game plan. And the following are nine ways I'm considering making pop culture segues on Thanksgiving.
Last week Kanye West released a video for "Bound 2." It is the year's most ridiculous musical achievement, which in 2013 is really saying something. But in part because West took all the air from all the rooms, not enough has been made about a couple of short films that've been making the rounds. Wes Anderson made one with Prada's backing called Castello Cavalcanti, in which a 1950s race car driver (Jason Schwartzman) crashes into a tiny Italian village at dusk.
The tracking shots are masterful (the wonderful Darius Khondji shot it). The camera simply moves from left to right, taking in Anderson's tableau, but at some point it abruptly stops and reverses when a character changes his mind about leaving the frame. When Anderson is at his best, there's no one better right now at using personal style to create surprise — sometimes his characters are more than dolls and props. At his worst, the air goes flat, and we're back to dioramas.
A great deal has been written and Photoshopped with regard to Kanye West's video for Kim Kardashian, "Bound 2." If you haven't seen the video, this would be the best time to watch it.
When I wrote about "Bound 2" last week, I expressed disappointment that the video did not play out exactly as I'd envisioned in my head. With that said, with every successive viewing, it began to grow on me. Not as in it's any less silly, but there's something calming about how harmless it is.
I emailed Grantland Channel producer David Jacoby the evening after this video's release and asked him if we could remake the video. But with my script. And Charlie Wilson. He responded to my query quickly, but my request was rightfully ignored, with David simply replying:
I didn’t write about “Bound 2” when I reviewed Yeezus in June because I didn’t know what to make of it. The album’s closing track is obviously gorgeous and superficially reassuring as a callback to West’s soul-sampling College Dropout aesthetic. But given what comes before that song on Yeezus, I couldn’t buy into the popular theory that “Bound 2” was somehow a “happy” ending to an otherwise diseased, exorcistic record. To me, “Bound 2” was like a warped parody of the “good” Kanye that people prefer to the more authentic “bad” Kanye that presides over the rest of Yeezus. (Only in the context of Yeezus could a line like “I wanna fuck you hard on the sink / after that, give you something to drink” pass for chivalrous.) “This might be what you want from me,” he seemed to be saying, “but can you really believe this bullshit after everything I’ve just shown you?” Watching the overtly cheesy video for “Bound 2” — dig the omnipresent Ellen logo, which only adds to the flimsiness of the presentation — confirmed this theory for me. “Bound 2” isn’t a love song, it’s a garish pantomime of love scoring cheap visuals and stiff “romantic” posturing. It’s a phony denouement to a downbeat story that passive-aggressively rubs the audience’s nose in its fakeness. I know people want to laugh at this video, and they should, because it’s knowingly stupid. But never forget: Nobody exploits the public’s need to feel superior to Kanye West better than Kanye West. He laughs harder, and more bitterly, than all of us.
Cranston and Paul. Sudeikis and Wilde. Will and Jada and Willow and Jaden.
These were some of the groupings that got their lives rocked by magician spirit David Blaine during his 90-minute ABC special, David Blaine: Real or Magic, which aired last night.
In any Blaine special, you know you're going to get a few things, always playing to his strengths. Some card tricks, a lot of calm talking, a hefty amount of glass eating, doing things with money, and magic done in the streets for groups of black people.
This is Blaine at his best: walking into a neighborhood and being a verifiable economic stimulus package, turning four teenage boys' 10 dollars into 100 dollars.
And then, because they are black, and he is David Blaine, and this is magic, you get this reaction:
In this, the fourth quarter of 2013, Kanye West sure is making it so you can't go a full day without hearing about him. He's in the middle of the newly unpostponed Yeezus tour, with the first of four New York City tour dates in six days starting tonight in Brooklyn's Barclays Center. This past Sunday, before his Boston stop, he strolled through Harvard's Graduate School of Design to give an impromptu speech on what he appreciated about those who "architected," even self-consciously asking the crowd (for which he bought 300 tickets) not to overly judge his set.
And on Monday, a new podcast series from American Psycho and Less Than Zero author Bret Easton Ellis revealed its first guest. And of course, that was Kanye West. They talk for an hour, running the gamut from 12 Years a Slave to There Will Be Blood to watching television with Kim. And that was only Part 1, with the second chunk to be released next week.
So what's Tuesday's Kanye news? The answer is a moment many, myself included, have been waiting for since first hearing the final 3:49 of Yeezus in June.
Thank goodness someone was thoughtful enough to film Bryan Cranston and Aaron Paul reading the final pages of the Breaking Bad finale's script. Paul is so good at tearing up that he even gets a little misty listening to Cranston read Jesse's fate. Apparently the clip is part of a two-hour documentary about the making of the final season, which sounds sensational. In ancillary BrBa news, Vince Gilligan re-upped with Sony Pictures TV today, signing an eight-figure deal that will keep his future TV projects in-house.
It was supposed to be a later Friday, November 28, 2003, but by the early days of that month, tracks on the album began to leak, much to the delight of the Kazaa-affiliated populace. "Due to individuals illegally distributing my album, I have no choice but to move the release date," Jay Z said in a statement, with the album then pushed up two weeks to November 14.
That was 10 years ago today.
The Black Album came out a decade ago, which means it's been 10 years since we were supposed to be done with Jay Z, the rapper, because of his retirement.
There's no need to build up suspense as to what happened next, because we all know the retirement was short-lived, and we are still living in the era of that reversed decision. But it's important to remember — as far-fetched as it seems in hindsight — that for a period of time, we all thought it was over.
Will Smith Caught Cheating: "Will Smith stepped into a private photo booth in New Orleans on Oct. 25 with a gorgeous, young blonde and, once safely ensconced behind the protective curtain, began nuzzling and hugging her, even baring his toned chest and pressing it up against her back as she suggestively lifted her own shirt, exposing her bra." SCANDAL. Will is known as a jokester, but "the closeness he exuded with his stunning costar, Australian actress Margot Robbie, was clearly more than mere friendliness." Robbie is the female lead in Martin Scorsese's The Wolf of Wall Street and Smith's costar in the upcoming Focus. Big Will "wasn't acting like a married man; he gave no signs that he was in a committed relationship. What kind of married man would go into a photo booth with a sexy 23-year-old girl and start to undress?" One who is in an open marriage, as Will and Jada have frequently been rumored to be? "Jada Pinkett Smith, Will's wife of 15 years, was nowhere to be found." Jada has made plenty of veiled references to cheating or openness in the Pinkett Smith marriage, but can they survive proof in the form of photobooth pics? Shooting Focus in New Orleans, Smith's family accompanied him on "a day of sightseeing in the alligator swamps" but left quickly thereafter. Witnesses at the wrap party claim Robbie and Smith were "hanging all over each other, laughing like they were a new couple in love." Smith had just finished shooting, so supposedly he wasn't drunk — "he knew what he was doing." Then Robbie climbed on Smith "piggyback style" and headed off to his trailer. "After they left the party, they were gone all night." The source says, "This was absolutely cheating in my book." Pinkett Smith was speaking at a Baltimore charity event, where she gave a telling speech that went "When you are going through a storm with your spouse … stop thinking about what you 'believe' a husband or wife should be." Hmmmm.
What do Kanye West and Justin Bieber have in common besides lack of filter, fondness for leather jogging pants, and close personal friendships with Jaden Smith? They both hate major labels! But for different reasons. In an interview with Amp Radio, Kanye lauded social media for giving consumers the edge over marketers when it comes to deciding what's popular. Sayeth 'Ye: "I love the Backstreet Boys' songs, so if any of them are listening, no knock to them, but there will never be another Backstreet Boys! Not in this day and age. It's going to be artists like Lorde, singer-songwriters in this day and age that are going to come up. This is Instagram, this is the information highway."
I guess Kanye hasn't heard about One Direction. But he has a point! Artists are no longer entirely dependent on the funding of a major label to publicize themselves. They can put up content and attract fans long before they get paid for it, and if they're extremely lucky, a devoted fan base can spark a bidding war. Of course, that's a very optimistic and utopian take on the new model: The Internet as testing ground doesn't always function the way Kanye thinks it should. It has caused some really horrendous one-hit wonders to get signed for multi-album contracts they can't possibly deliver on, since they'd already peaked on their big song by the time they got signed. And Lorde isn't exactly the grassroots phenomenon Kanye describes; she has been signed to a major label since the age of 13, and her current label is clearly spending lots of money promoting her. Kanye is bigger than Yeezus now, but most artists need all that promotional push, because consumers need to hear a name repeated ad infinitum on posters, billboards, and pop-ups to realize they're meant to buy things. Kanye also reminded everyone that "rant" is a pejorative word for his speeches, saying, "'Rant' has a negative connotation, and these are inspiration, visionary breaks in pop culture. Every time I talk it is a crack in the matrix." The Backstreet Boys? The Matrix? Somebody has been thinking about 1999 recently. Me too, 'Ye!
On this week's podghast, we start off getting into the Halloween spirit by discussing our Halloween costume hopes and fears. At what age is it appropriate to ask your parents to play the Castevets in a Rosemary's Baby group costume? Then it's time to recap our weeks in live music — Molly and Tess's evening of girl power with Katy Perry, Tegan and Sara, and Ellie Goulding; Emily's pilgrimage to the church of Yeezus. We also check back in with American Horror Story: Coven and compare notes on its success thus far, both as a TV show and as a season of American Horror Story. Finally, we wrap up with some Halloween movie recommendations for this evening. They were supposed to be scary movies, but if you're more in the documentary mood on this night of spooks, Molly has got you covered. Happy Halloween!
Kerry Washington Is Pregnant: "For the past several months, the Scandal It girl, 36, has been relying on a seamstress to help her conceal a huge secret: Multiple sources tell Us she and NFL Pro husband Nnamdi Asomugha are expecting!" A friend says Kerry is "about four months along," and just like her secret engagement and wedding, she has no plans to publicize the pregnancy. How will Scandal deal with the pregnancy? Either by writing it in or choosing to "just work around it."
There’s no way Kim Kardashian shouldn’t be on the cover of Vogue. She’s like the most intriguing woman right now. She’s got Barbara Walters calling her like everyday … and collectively we’re the most influential with clothing. No one is looking at what [President] Obama is wearing. Michelle Obama cannot Instagram a [bikini] pic like what my girl Instagrammed the other day … so it’s to say when we are there and [editor-in-chief of French Vogue] Carine Roitfeld supports my girl, that’s a breakthrough … there’s a wall of classism that we are breaking through.”
I can only imagine this is what Michelle Obama had to say in response.