Pop culture obsessives writing for the pop culture obsessed.

Friday Buzzkills: Grave robbers and grave pronouncements

There are days when finding something depressing to talk about is all too easy, and then there are days when even the most fervent digging for bad news turns up almost nothing. Luckily for the Buzzkills bureau, even supposedly uplifting stories often have a shady undercurrent: We will never run out of material so long as there are opportunists and charlatans out there taking shortcuts to cultural relevance and resorting to easy exploitation to earn their headlines. In short, every silver lining has a big fucking dark cloud. Let Friday Buzzkills be your upside-down umbrella.

- In case you were too busy perusing the new Britney Spears exposé to notice, today marks the one-year anniversary of America's first favorite trainwreck, Anna Nicole Smith. In much the same way that coverage of her death, funeral, and subsequent custody battle devolved into a "who can be the most vulgar and shameless?" contest, memorializing the former Playboy queen has taken a severe turn for the queasy courtesy of part-time lover (and court-approved father of paternity suit paycheck Dannielynn) Larry Birkhead, who took the opportunity to mark this sad (?) occasion by dragging his infant daughter–plus a gaggle of sensitive souls from The Insiderout to her mother's unmarked gravesite and forcing her to say "Mama" for the cameras. Short of exhuming her bloated corpse for an "Anna Nicole's Posthumous Diet Tips" feature, we don't really see how this could possibly be any more sickeningly exploitative. Nicely done, Larry.

- Speaking of grave-digging, rumor has it that this year's Grammy Awards will have another one of those "duets from beyond " mash-ups in the tradition of Natalie/Nat King Cole and Elvis/Celine Dion, this year featuring a sing-along between Alicia Keys and a "virtual representation" of Frank Sinatra. We're sure Ol' Blue Eyes would love being stirred from his restful slumber, gussied up with CGI. But hell, why not get the entire Rat Pack back together and have them do a reanimated version of "Crank Dat"?

- And speaking of soulless music, Disney recently announced it is developing a new attraction based on American Idol for its Hollywood Studios theme park. While it's still in the planning stages, the American Idol Experience will have parkgoers audition in video kiosks, then a select few will be "made over" before being trotted on stage to have their pitchy, "kind of karaoke" performances appraised by a panel of judges and a cranky theme park audience. Winners who successfully submit themselves to the harsh light of reality, producers stress, "will not appear on the Fox series," making the exercise even more artificial and pointless than the real American Idol.

- But then again, it's not like American Idol is the only indicator that music is hollow to the core: According to Neil Young, music is more meaningless and beside-the-point than ever. "I think that the time when music could change the world is past," he told reporters at the Berlin Film Festival. "I think it would be very naïve to think that in this day and age." When even Neil Young starts to believe he's useless, maybe it's time to pack it in, folks.

Have a super weekend!


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