Tuesday, August 30, 2011

Piers Morgan vs. Steven Retchless on AGT

On that "other" talent show "America's Got Talent," caustic Simon Cowell wannabe Piers Morgan prides himself as being the one to tell it straight.

In the case of Steven Retchless, the male pole dancer, he prefers to keep it VERY straight.

Ever since Steven first auditioned (in heels, no less) Piers has buzzed EACH and EVERY performance (aside from the Vegas one, which he couldn't), all the way to the semi-finals. He has maintained that Vegas is no place for a male pole dancing act (which is kind of like saying Vegas is no place for a slot machine or shrimp cocktail.) More truthfully Piers himself wouldn't want to go see a male pole dancer, so therefore none of us would pay the money to go see it.

Speak for yourself, dude. People who don't mind looking at the beautiful lines of a fit male body kinda prefer it. When I do my armchair judging for AGT my main criteria is if I would pay $50-100 a ticket to see it in Vegas.

I'd pay to see Steven over some of the acts that have already made it through to the top 10, and *easily* over about eight of the twelve featured tonight.

Let's break this down a bit. Though pole dancing is traditionally considered more seedy and X-rated, what Steven does on the pole is not inherently sexual. It does demonstrate the art of the entire male body, but what he does has more to do with strength, poise, grace, and agility. In truth what he does on that pole is nothing short of poetry written by the body. He has taken what the male form can do and stretched it to every conceivable limit, and it is a beautiful, amazing thing.

BUT... Piers has decided that it isn't appropriate and there's no place for it.

This is a position he maintains even though Steven has been voted through to the semi-final around (and I hope on to the top 10.)

Here's my problem with his argument: It's bullshit.

He says that he buzzed Steven (even though the performance was flawless) because it has no chance to be a million-dollar act.


He doesn't buzz The Kinetic King (another favorite but let's be honest... he has 0 chance to win,) he doesn't buzz Snap Boogie even though he claimed to hate everything about the act and then he gives a standing ovation to Anna Graceman, who butchered "Home Sweet Home."

For the record, THIS is how you vocally blow apart that song: Carrie Underwood

Compare that to this version and you can clearly see how many times she missed notes, particularly in her lower register: Anna Graceman

(For the record I like Anna and have been a fan from the beginning, but if you're going to claim that you're keeping it real, by God... keep it real.)

So why, then, would Piers opt to buzz Steven each and every performance? The excuse that it couldn't be win or be an act in Vegas - not consistent. The argument there are no clubs or audiences for male pole dancing - bald-faced lie, as evidenced by the fact that is what Steven does FOR A LIVING. You can't support yourself with your talent unless there is an audience, and where BETTER in this country to do it than in the Anything Goes atmosphere of Las Vegas?

What seems far more likely to me, at least from where I'm standing, is that the act makes him uncomfortable. If that was a female pole dancer, doing the same kind of act and the same kinds of stunts, would he buzz her?

I don't think so.

For your consideration, I present exhibit A:

The very first time we saw Steven, note that Piers buzzed him when he spread his legs:

If he performed like this:

Piers' head might actually explode.

I think that seeing the male form in such an open and raw way challenges what he thinks about sensuality. In other words... it may be stirring the little Morgan, and that's why he has decided to be consistently critical of an act that by all his other standards is not only up to par but exceeds them.

He hasn't fallen, he doesn't mess up the routine, he accomplishes great feats of strength and agility AND he's doing something completely original. So that means the reason Piers continues to buzz him when he lets other contestants off the hook is completely personal, rather than objective.

And because of that, Piers Morgan has officially lost any credibility when it comes to objectively judging the acts on AGT.

Which is a shame, because that's really the only credibility he had left.

Being pissy to a talented dancer just because he makes you feel oogie doesn't make you a hardass.

It just makes you sound like a frustrated Queen who lost the keys to her closet.

Saturday, August 20, 2011

Fright Night 2011

For as much as I feared vampires throughout my teen years (thank you ever so much Stephen King,) the original Fright Night remains a not-so-guilty 80s pleasure.

Sure it's cheesy now but that was the essence of 80s horror. So I didn't know how I would feel about a Fright Night makeover - UNTIL I saw who was cast.

Colin Farrell as Jerry, the next door neighbor quite literally from hell? My doctor, David Tennant, as the cheesy, cowardly Peter Vincent?

I would have bought my ticket last year when I first heard it was filming if I could have.

Needless to say, even though I am one of those frustrated screenwriters who grits their teeth at every remake that clutters the cinema, I was looking forward to this movie.

The good news is it was money and time well spent.

The bad news is I have to wait until tomorrow to watch it again.

Jerry is a vampire we haven't seen much since the Twilightification of the vampire mythology. He's not brooding. He doesn't sparkle. He's a cold blooded killer who rather likes what he does to the point he'll keep his victims for days on end to draw out their deaths for his own amusement.

He also has no patience for a dead guy. There is no slow build to this movie, as Jerry has a substantial appetite that doesn't discriminate. He doesn't just separate the weak from the pack and then strike, he'll take down entire families at a time. When he catches the scent of Charlie Brewster (Anton Yelchin,) his clueless mother (Toni Collette,) and his too-hot-for-a-nerd girlfriend (Imogen Poots,) it doesn't take him long to make his evil intentions known. The movie only lasts the span of mere days, which means the stakes have to raise exponentially by each ominous setting of the sun.

Farrell literally sinks his teeth into his role as super nasty Jerry, who is long on menace and short on seduction. This separates him from Chris Sarandon, who originated the role in 1985. He brings a bad boy swagger to the role as an unapologetic beast with zero humanity. This makes him a very scary guy, so much so that I, who normally likes to see that CF bad boy persona, wanted to look away and cringe my way out of my seat every time he was on screen.

Unlike William Ragsdale before him, Anton Yelchin has a lot more moxy when it comes to immediately doing something about the vampire threat in his neighborhood. Turns out there appears to be a beneficial side effect to LARPing in that it prepares you in dealing with the undead. Unless, of course, you're Ed (Evil Ed from the original, played by Christopher Mintz-Plasse in the remake.)

It's not easy being a geek.

There are some surprises despite the rather well-tread vampire lore, one of the more surprising surprises was how our mild-mannered 10th Doctor turned into a foul-mouth, cowardly douchebag. But it's David Tennant, so there's still a lot to love, not the least of which he screams my name no less than THREE times. (I COUNTED.)

(Although being Ginger on screen doesn't necessarily work out much to HER advantage...)

My only complaint was that some of the storytelling felt a little convenient, and those things I originally praised about the new movie (lack of human servant for Jerry, no need for back story for the connection between Jerry and Amy) ended up an unnecessary plot point which made the story more hokey than it had to be. I cringed for the wrong reasons during Peter Vincent's "reveal". But even that quibble is minor. It certainly wasn't a deal breaker by any stretch because HELLO... it's David Tennant.**

**Hubby says that the plot point didn't seem convenient to him and actually helped explain the Peter Vincent character. I still think it doesn't fit the Jerry character, hence how inorganic it came across to me.**

"Fright Night" doesn't break any real ground for a more traditional vampire movie, but it's a helluva lot of fun. In that respect it is much like the first Fright Night, with a lot more "Fright" for your buck.

Four out of Five stars.