I’m a big fan of Current TV’s weekly Rotten Tomatoes Show with Brett Erlich and Ellen Fox. They have smart, funny reviews of each week’s movies with their own take and comments from viewers, looks at what’s coming next, top 5 lists from stars and directors pushing some new film, and very clever compilations — clips from a dozen different movies with characters saying things like “I have a bad feeling about this.” (It would be nice if they would include a non John-Hughes movie made before 1990 once in a while, though.) I get it as a video podcast and highly recommend it.
Erlich also has a “Viral Video Film School” series on Current that is wonderfully astute, a sort of combination of arts criticism, anthropology, and stand-up comedy. He compiles clips that illuminate YouTube trends I would never otherwise have known about and his commentary is hilarious and ill. Did you know that there are zillions of YouTube clips of people talking about what they just bought? Or about getting laid off? Erlich does, and curates them so expertly you don’t even get the usual “I just spent half an hour watching idiots on YouTube” feeling. (Some mature material)
Now that Archie has not just proposed to Veronica (issue 600), but actually married her, gone on a honeymoon, and is going to be a father (issue 601), the comic is hitting rewind and sending Archie down the literal road not taken, so he gets to propose to Betty. In issue 603, Archie returns to the “Memory Lane” road that took him from high school graduation into adulthood and takes the other path, one apparently endorsed by the fans as the New York Times reports 80 percent favor the blond girl next door over the glamorous brunette.
The series is written by Michael E. Uslan, a lifetime Archie fan, who told the Times that this idea was inspired by Robert Frost’s famous poem, “The Road Not Taken” as well as the Gwyneth Paltrow movie “Sliding Doors” and the song “Both Sides Now.” This dual storyline allows the characters to explore the way choices large and small affect the future. But Uslan promises that all will be resolved.
“I have written his final fate in one of these two futures,” Mr. Uslan said. “Now, back in high school, it’s up to the three of them. Everything they say, don’t say, every action they take and fail to take, is going to add up to determine which of these two roads are taken. And one of them will be.”
I am honored to share coverage of popular culture with the thoughtful posters over at Idol Chatter. Two posts I have especially liked this week are Ellen Leventry’s commentary on the new homeless American Girl doll and the Mont Blanc $25,000 pen commemorating Mohandas Gandhi, a concept so stunning that at first I assumed it was a parody. She says:
Sure, American Girl has been working with HomeAid America, a leading national nonprofit provider of housing for the homeless, since 2006, and they have successfully addressed important social issues with other dolls, including Addy Walker, an escaped slave who is trying to reunite her family, and the Depression-era, penny-pinching Kit Ketteridge. But, American Girl is taking a problem that is less safely historical and merchandising it in the same way. In this recession, with more and more individuals and families becoming homeless, surely the Mattel-owned company could give a generous percentage of the sales of the even-in-economically-good-times-exorbitantly priced doll to charity?
That would certainly reinforce the learning experience of this doll. And I agree, too, that while Mont Blanc is giving some of the profits from this pen to charity, including one approved by Gandhi’s great-grandson, there is something fundamentally inconsistent in the idea of honoring a man whose possessions could be contained in a shoebox with a pen that costs as much as a car.
I also loved Esther Kustanowitz’s post on “The Family Goy,” about an episode of “The Family Guy” that explores Lois’ Jewish identity. There’s a link to the episode, too, so take a look.